I opened Haus of Ariella on February 29, 2012. Since then, I’ve had 941 sales and lots of fun. To celebrate my upcoming 2nd Etsy-versary, I’ve decided to have both a sale and a giveaway!
The giveaway will run from now until 2/28/2014 (yes, I opened my shop on a leap year). Enter here - http://tinyurl.com/k6ef74. You can get entries by liking my Facebook page, following me on Twitter or Pinterest, favoriting my shop, and more! The prize is a $20 gift card for my shop – good towards anything that strikes your fancy. Start entering today! Some entries can be done every day to increase your odds of winning. Good luck!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope yours is off to a good start. I apologize for my very lengthy absence from blogging, but life keeps getting in the way.
2014 is starting out to be a year of new beginnings for us. I will be starting the new year with a new job! It’s an office job in Arden that starts on the 20th. While it’s only 29 hours a week and I’ll have to keep a few nights at the restaurant, it should make my schedule less crazy and hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things here. I’m also hoping that I’ll have more energy to put into creating new items for my Etsy shop, Haus of Ariella.
John starts school tomorrow. He’s going to Blue Ridge to get an associate degree in auto body repair, which is right up his alley. He’s a bit nervous about starting school after not being in a classroom for so long, but I know he’s going to do amazingly. Plus, most of his classes seem to have brief classroom component followed by hands-on work in the shop, which he’ll love.
Other new endeavors include trying to be a bit healthier this year. As some of you may know, John and I tried to do that last spring. I was on Weight Watchers and John, while not on the plan, was eating the same meals I was for the most part. We lost a good bit of weight in a healthy way and were more active. Unfortunately, when I started studying for the bar, stress got the best of me and I threw WW out the window. I also stopped exercising as much. After I took the bar, I hoped to get back into a good routine, but working long hours at the restaurant threw my off and I never really got back to where I wanted to be in terms of weight or general health. I recently signed back up for Weight Watchers, and I’m trying to find a used elliptical to put downstairs (I’d just walk in our beautiful neighborhood in Pisgah Forest, but I know I won’t be able to motivate myself in this cold, cold weather). John is hoping to find time to work out between classes or after classes on his shorter days. Hopefully, with our new schedules, we’ll be able to commit to a healthier lifestyle that we can maintain.
I’m also trying to learn a bit of Spanish this year. I was hoping I’d be able to take courses somewhere, but the continuing ed courses seem a bit too slow for me and other courses won’t work with my schedule. I was thinking about getting Rosetta Stone, but it’s prohibitively expensive. Someone on my Etsy team told me about a website called Duolingo that helps you learn languages. It’s free and fun, and while it won’t get me to where I want to be, it’s a good foundation in vocabulary and basic grammar. It’s a good start, and I’d recommend it as a fun way to start on a new language or brush up on vocabulary from one you used to know.
All in all, I think we’re starting off in the right direction this year. Have you started anything new this year? Do you have any resolutions?
It’s been quite a while since my last post, but we’ve been quite busy. I’ve been working a lot and we recently moved into a new place! We’re renting a really cool house in Brevard from my mother’s former coworker and her husband. They had to move fairly suddenly when she was offered a job in Michigan, so a good bit of their stuff is still here and we had/have a lot of cleaning to do. We’re also going to do a bit of repainting to make it our own. We’ll be here for the next two years at least, so we want to really make it home.
We thought we would have it ready for company sooner than we actually will, so our plans for a cook-out have been delayed. In the meantime, here’s a photographic tour.
The kitchen is one of the first things we’re going to repaint. We want white cabinets and a mint green wall. We think it will look quite nice with the granite counter tops.
The dining room is really cool with built-in bookshelves over the sliding door. We’ve painted the bookshelves white since I took this photo, though the place is still mostly in disarray. Our new dining room set looks pretty awesome in there (thanks, Suzanne!).
The dining room goes into the living room, which is a rather large space. We want to paint the living room/dining room a light blue. We also want to get a small love seat to go where my desk currently is (the desk will go into the office once we repaint the floor).
Off of the dining room, there are french doors that lead to an enormous screened in porch. There’s also full sized outdoor table that isn’t shown in the photo, so we’re going to have space for some great cookouts.
There are three bedrooms in the house. Above is the former craft room that we’re going to turn into an office/craft room. the fabric and such are the owner’s, so we’re boxing them up for her and putting them with the other things they’re going to come back for. The floors are painted baseboards, so after we get it all out, we’re going to repaint those.
The second room is the cat/guest room (sorry guests, but we’ll move the boxes to the office before you come). The cleaned the carpeting that was in the room prior to leaving, but they had 7 dogs and 4 cats who had done a bit of damage prior to that. Of course, if an animal smells that another animal has peed somewhere before, it becomes an automatic invitation to go there again. So John ripped up the carpet (we were given permission to do so, if you were wondering) and used a ton of Nature’s Miracle on the boards. We’re also going to paint that floor.
Next is our bedroom (please ignore the half-folded laundry on the bed). We’re going to try to find a cheap bed frame that preferably doesn’t require a box spring. Other than organizing and doing a bit of decorating, our room doesn’t really need anything.
Our bathroom is in pretty good shape too. I need to get a new shower curtain and a bathmat. John made a small vanity for next to the sink for us to replace the shelves in the photo, which is nice. I love the medicine cabinet mirror in there!
The garage is kind of packed, but a lot of it belongs to the owners’ daughters, and they’ll come pick up their stuff soon.
Last, but not least, is the workshop. It’s enormous! John has been working so hard to get it organized and to get the shelves with their stuff on them to the sides so that we can have a more open space. He also killed the mold that was infesting one of the walls and re-Drylocked it so that I can go down there and breathe. He also made the sliding door down there functional again, which is really nice. I’ll show photos of the finished project at some point, but it’s looking very promising. He’s also going to attempt to revamp the piano they left for us (the action is pretty much gone – he’ll have to replace most if not all of the bridle straps).
We have a lot of work to do, but we’ve already made a good bit of progress. Hopefully we’ll be able to have company soon, especially since John’s family will be here at the end of the month!
As some of you (i.e. everyone who has had any contact with me in the past three months) may know, I recently took the bar exam. It was a two day ordeal of the complete opposite of fun. I think I survived, however, I’m less sure that I passed. I’ve honestly been having nightmares about certain bizarre questions that appeared on the exam, but I try not to worry too much during the day, since there’s not a damn thing I can do about it now.
John and I both start work next Wednesday. He has a part-time position at Lowe’s in Brevard, which is good because then he can apply for full-time positions as well, plus he can always request more hours if they’re available. Even their part-time permanent employees are eligible for benefits, too, so we’ll have to look into how much that would cost. I’m going to start waiting tables at The Black Rose, which is a pub in Hendo.
Waiting tables isn’t exactly ideal (having a stable legal job would be ideal), but it’s money coming in and the schedule is fairly flexible, so I can transition to practicing law as I get legal work coming in. Once I find out if I passed the bar, I’m going to (hopefully) look into renting a small office space to meet with clients. I saw something that looked perfect and was a great price, but entering into a year-long lease without knowing whether I passed would be a bit foolish. Of course, the ideal situation would be going to work for a firm as a full-time attorney, but I might have to gain a bit more experience and make some more connections for that to happen.
Our big challenge right now is finding a place to live. It seems as though every other house out here is for sale, but there’s almost nothing for rent, so the prices are unreasonably high for a lot of rental units. We really aren’t expecting much from a house, but if we’re going to be living in an old, run-down, 700 square-foot house with one window AC unit in a bad part of town, we don’t want to pay $800/month for the privilege. There are very few apartment complexes here too, so they can charge just about whatever they’d like. Asheville seems to be better as far as the rental market goes, but since neither of us currently has a job there, it would be a bit silly to move that far away from where we’re working.
Of course, we did find one place that seemed perfect – reasonable price, decent size, pretty good location. The problem: we have cats. Apparently that was a non-negotiable, so we’re back to the drawing board. Our goal was to be out of my parents’ house before our anniversary, which is September 22nd, but that might not happen.
My biggest problem with the housing hunt is really how we’ve been treated by the people we’ve spoken too about properties. Apparently, renters are the scum of the earth around here and deserve no respect whatsoever. I made an appointment with one agent to see a place. We got there at the appointment time and another couple with kids had just driven up. The agent basically ignored us, let us all in, then said we could fill out applications. I wouldn’t have had an issue with it had the guy 1) told us in advance that someone else was going to see the place at the same time and 2) actually acknowledged our existence at some point. The place was a bit iffy for us anyway, but the way we were treated while looking at the place made us quite certain we didn’t want those people as landlords.
I called about another place today and asked if we could possibly see it today. Instead of answering that, the woman grille d me about our income and savings. Clearly our income is an issue when renting a place, but could we please just see the shanty (and it did look busted from the ad) before we fill out an application. We have a reasonable idea of what we can afford and OF COURSE we have enough to put down the first month’s rent with a security deposit. Why would we be asking to see run-down little shacks if we couldn’t afford it? The conversation was off-putting enough for us to say forget it to that place.
There’s a small possibility that we could be able to rent from a friend of my mom’s, but I’m starting to think that might be a little too perfect to actually work out. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting table and anxiously awaiting bar results. Hopefully something will come together for us soon.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to a great Etsy shop, Cloud Nine Designz. The owner, Mandee, is a teammate of mine and a wonderful person. She describes herself as “a women with an often chaotic life who savors the simple bits that make it all so wonderful.” Although, like so many others, Mandee and her husband have had a rough time in this economy, she has a remarkable ability to stay positive and bring joy to others.
Cloud Nine Designz carries a variety of jewelry and gifts made with many mediums including gemstones, swarovski crystals, pearls, sterling silver, handmade glass blown beads, and handmade polymer clay beads. One of my favorites from her shop are these gorgeous hand blown glass earrings.
If you’re more into, say, flowers or bracelets, she has those too! This handmade clay flower bracelet is simply stunning.
In addition to her beautiful jewelry, Mandee also makes items for the home like wine charms, coasters, and magnets, all of which would make lovely gifts. These nautical wine charms are absolutely lovely and would be great for a beach house.
She also makes great magnets and coasters. For any UNC fans that might be reading this, Mandee accepts custom orders and I’m sure would love to make these coasters or these magnets with a more appropriate team.
Best of all, Cloud Nine Designz is having a Christmas in July sale! All of her prices are marked down 20% for the entire month of July! I can only show you a small portion of what she has available, so I highly encourage you to take a look at the rest of her shop.
For those of you who are crafty, you should check out her supply shop, Cloud Nine Supply Shop, as well.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July!
I am crushingly disappointed right now – I just found out that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for in Virginia. Meaning we’ll be moving in with my parents for a while, at least until after I take the bar and can start waiting tables. We’re very thankful that we have that option, but clearly it’s not ideal for anyone.
Thus, I am going to write about something happy – kittehs! Seriously, cats always make me feel better, even when they’re being horrible. I think the cuteness is a defensive mechanism, because that’s probably the only thing that keeps us from killing them when they shred the toilet paper, wake us up at 4am by screaming at the door, or knock over a glass of wine…onto the computer.
Our cats are currently helping us pack. Above, you can see Lily hard at work. In case you haven’t met them (and how many people have ever met Darcy?), here’s an introduction to our cats.
Jude (full name: Judas) is the elder of the group. He’s 16 years old and still quite active, though he does have a habit of standing in corners and yowling occasionally. We’re not entirely sure if it’s a sign of senility or if he just likes to annoy us. John has had him since he was a kitten and claims he doesn’t actually like anyone, he just likes stealing warmth. He clearly does like my lap, but he just as clearly loves John, so I don’t think that’s entirely true. If you’re looking for Jude, he prefers small, dark spaces like under the printer.
Next up: Lily (full name: Lily Potter, aka: Bitch). The photo above is black and white; she’s actually more brown than that. I remember my mom reading me a story about a misbehaving kitten when I was a kid. The last line was something along the lines of, “Babykins was such a good kitten…when he was fast asleep.” That’s Lily. I got her from a shelter in Brooklyn right after graduating from Columbia. She was super affectionate and somewhat older (about 9 months) than the kitten I originally went to the shelter to meet. She really is a sweet cat…as long as she’s getting her way. If she feels thwarted or thinks you aren’t paying attention to her. She’s toilet paper’s worst nightmare too. I’m convinced that her tiny little heart just can’t contain the rage she feels when we callously refuse to feed her at 3am, thus the toilet paper has to die.
Lily is the cat who brazenly jumps onto the kitchen counter while you’re serving dinner, then gives you the “what’s your problem” look when you yell at her. She also clearly doesn’t quite understand the concept of hiding since her favorite hiding spots when she wakes us up in the wee hours of the night include the bathroom sink, under a bar stool, and behind my closed laptop.
Dave (full name: David Lo Pan the Big Boss of Chinatown) is our fat boy. He’s about 4 years old, but he got neutered a bit late. After that he ballooned up to over 18 pounds! We put the cats on a diet (we can’t feed them separately, so they’re all on it), but Dave is holding steady even though the others lost weight. We aren’t sure if it’s his thyroid or just a complete lack of appetite control, but unfortunately we can’t really afford to take him to the vet to find out. He’s a super sweet cat, though he’s still a bit paranoid because John’s former roommate was, well, not the nicest person to cats. His favorite things in the world are cats toys. Seriously, he loves them all and tries his very best to destroy them. He’s particularly fond of jingly balls. They get really annoying for us, but that’s okay because they get him active and moving. He and Darcy are buddies, but Lily seems to think he’s a punching bag. For instance, I’ll throw her off of my desk and she’ll run over and swat Dave. I feel bad about it, but he seems to just keep going. He’s a really great lap cat, too. If I ever want a cat up on my lap while we’re watching something, I just have to call him.
Last, but certainly not least, is Darcy (full name: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, aka: Weenie). I got Darcy as a teeny, tiny little kitten when I lived in Korea. Clearly, he’s not so teeny tiny anymore. He was supposed to be a foster cat, but I’m obviously not cut out to simply foster cats, so he came home with us. Darcy is a big, powerfully built cat. He actually weighs as much as Dave does, he’s just not nearly as round. He’s capable of making incredibly frightening wild-animal noises, however he’s also an incredible weenie. Really, the cat is afraid of nearly everything. If a stranger comes in the house (and he still has questions about John), he will run and hide in the bathroom cabinets. He’s a sweetie when he’s not freaking out though. John swears I’m the only living person he likes, but he loves to cuddle up under a blanket with me. He also tries to burrow in my robe a lot.
Darcy loves Lily and is best buddies with Dave, but his arch-nemesis is Jude. Darcy is generally the cat who doesn’t cause problems, unless, of course, someone (ahem, Jude) is looking at him. He’s also definitely the cat you are least likely to see if you ever visit the Carver house (or downstairs at the Goolsby house in the near future). Darcy (if no strangers are around) is usually under the bathroom cabinet, on a shelf in the bathroom closet, or basking in the window on his spiffy Union Jack cat mat.
I interrupt this study schedule to bring you this breaking news – I have discovered an incredibly easy, yet amazingly simple recipe for shredded beef tacos.
Actually, credit for this bit of genius belongs to my brilliant husband who refuses to let me publish the adorable picture I took of him looking pissed that I was taking a picture of him while making these.
[Photo of John looking pissed, yet adorable holding plate of taco meat]
We’ve been looking for ways to make healthier food with less red meat, so I was combing Pinterest for ideas. I came across this recipe for slow cooker chicken tacos that piqued my interest. We actually made them for enchiladas over the weekend, and I’ll probably post that recipe too at some point. But then, my absolutely amazing husband said, “We both love beef. Why don’t we try it with beef instead?” And this deliciousness was born.
Shredded Beef Tacos
- 2-2 1/2 lbs chuck roast (other relatively fatty cuts of pot roast beef can be used as well)
- 16 oz. salsa
- 1 package of taco seasoning
- 1 package flour or corn tortilla shells
- Preferred taco condiments
- First of all, mix together the salsa and taco seasoning in your slow cooker. If you prefer spicier food, go for the spicy options, but which ones you choose are really up to personal preference.
- Cut your chuck roast into slightly smaller chunks. While this step isn’t completely necessary, we feel that it helps get maximum flavor from the sauce. Keep in mind that the more beef you use, the less saucy the end result will be.
- Add the beef to the sauce and make sure it’s covered. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- Once the beef is falling apart, take each piece out of the slow cooker for shredding. Take two forks and use them to pull the beef apart.
- Put the shredded beef back into the slow cooker and cook on low for another 30 minutes to an hour.
- Your beef should have the consistency of really good barbeque. We used 2 lbs of meat for this culinary experiment – if you prefer less saucy tacos, use a bit more beef.
- Put the beef on your tortilla shells, slap on your favorite condiments, and dig in!
This meal was absolutely delicious, super easy, and quite economical. We got two nights of dinner and one lunch for two people out of it, despite the fact that we both kinda hurt ourselves the first night since it was so tasty. After that, all we had left was this: