Tuesday, November 29, 2011

And then it died ...

So as my last posted stated we had a struggle getting our tree, here it is all set up and pretty by our window ... no thanks to Elbie who slept the whole time we set it up :) 
And then I noticed a LOT of needles ... I had watered it every day but because of how long it took for us to get the tree home and into water ... I think it is now repaying us by dying. I am so sad!!! But can't really keep it inside any longer because there are literally handfuls of needles piling up on my floor ... and if you so much as breath near the tree you are covered in a shower of green. I am so sad! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

We got our first Christmas tree as a family :) 

I grew up in Massachusetts where you go out, pick out and chop down your own Christmas tree ... Peter is used to getting the tree out of the attic so I introduced him to correct way of finding a Christmas tree :) We had so much fun! The day started with me, so excited that I was jumping on the bed .. literally haha. We have 1 car and its a small one so we drove to Peter's parents about 40 minutes from our apartment to borrow one of their cars. From their house we drove 1.5 hours to get our tree! (there aren't very many tree farms in DC :)  

Pretty sure Peters favorite part was the saw :) 

We found the perfect one! Isn't it so cute!!?

It's ours!

Me and my puppy! He had fun too, chasing rabbits and peeing on all the trees ... lucky for us he hasn't peed on the one in our house yet!

So after all of that we drove straight back to our apartment to leave our tree and dog and head back to Peter's parents to switch cars and then head to a friend birthday party ... so to review:
                          - 40 minutes from our apt to Peter's parents
 - 1.5 hours to the tree farm 
           - 1.5 hours back to our apartment
It was at this point that we realized that our keys had been left at Peter's parents when we left our car ... 
- 40 minutes back to Peter's parents
- 40 minutes back to our apartment
                     - 40 minutes back to his parents to switch our car 
                   - 40 minutes home again at the end of the night 

Some days are just more of a struggle with us Brandts ... but hey, our tree looks great and we have a story to tell the kids one day about the day we got our first Christmas Tree ... literally the day ... a simple trip to get our tree turned into over 6 hours in the car. Tired all of us out, including the pup :) 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life is an Adventure...

Life is an adventure ... the craziness never ends. Peter and I are slowly learning to enjoy life even when it's beating you up. After a month where Elbie was attacked leaving not only his body but also our bank account deeply scared, (by about $3,500)

Then theres me leaving my full time job to work part time and go back to school, and oh we just moved into a new (significantly more expensive) apartment... all at the same time... We have learned to count our blessings and love each other through stress... I say goodbye September not sad in the least to see you go!

Since none of the above events are things we can change or avoid we have had to step back and re - evaluate our life style. It is so easy to live comfortably and to forget about all the random things that can come along, thank you September for screaming a loud wake up call in our faces!

So here comes the hard part ... we've wanted iphones forever and can finally afford it and Peter's phone just broke oh yea and we don't get service with Sprint in our apartment ... so it's time to switch but we have lots of bills between, life, school loans ... and honestly we've been pretty inspired not to be one of the "99%" of people mad at wall for their money issues ....

So heres to: Shopping for lame cell phones that do nothing but make phone calls, BUT save us almost $100 a month. Packing our lunches every day which isn't as yummy or convenient as buying out, BUT saves us almost $400 a month. Searching and using coupons for groceries, but also movie tickets, restaurants... pretty much everything!! Kinda annoying and takes more planning BUT saves us on average $200 to $300 a month.


- Sometimes life stinks.
- Sometimes choices and sacrifices that have to be made are not fun.
- It's not so bad having a husband who supports you, in going back to school, making less money, finding      ways to save money even if it isn't fun.  :)
- Being very intentional with how we spend and save and pay off debt is not fun but pays off, literally :)
- Lame phones, packed lunches, discounts and coupons equals about $800 a month in money otherwise

I'm not going to lie, in 2 years when our contract is up we are getting iphones! But until then we will be living as a poor, money saving young couple with me in school and the goal to be debt free .... when we make it there, we will have a party and invite you!!! ... Seriously though it will be a biiiig party :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Back by popular demand ...

I'm back!

It's been a while and a crazy while at that! Since I've been gone:

1. I gave my 2 weeks notice at work
2. Elbie was attacked by a dog
3. I decided to go back to school and pursue my masters (with the full support of my wonderful husband)
4. Peter got a new job
5. We moved
6. We got T.V. ... sure not as big a deal as some of the other items on the list but I'm going for full disclosure here
7. Summer came ... and went

I could go on .. but I think that gives me a pretty good starting point as far as filling you in on our crazy, should write a book about, you may think I'm lying sometimes, life :)

Let me start with point 1 ... and 3 they probably should have been combined but instead I stuck a 2 in between them ... lets just say it symbolized our chaos life well right now. So yes, I am both leaving my job and going back to school. I will be taking pre- requisites for the next 2 semesters and then applying to grad school for Occupational Therapy. I am very excited and very nervous all at once. Oh and I have 2 weeks from today to find a part time job ... or we can't pay our bills. I had an interview and am waiting to hear back ... #learningtotrustGodinahugeway!  (too long for a hash tag?)

Points 2,4,5,6 and 7 will have to wait until tomorrow to be discussed due to the fact that I'm tired. Apparently my body forgot until just now that it is 25 years old and not 19 and in college ... meaning staying up past 11 equals a very tired Rachael in the morning ... seriously when did I grow up? Also Peter who is to my left is soundly sleeping ... but it would appear, with all the kicking and huffing and puffing on my right, that Elbie is not appreciating the light from my computer. We made a rule that he wasn't going to be allowed on the bed ... yet somehow his head is currently on my pillow ... huumm  #persistencepaysoffforthepooch 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Photo Shoot with the Ho Family

This past Saturday I had the privilege to meet the Ho family! I went to take photos of the newest edition to their family as well as their 1.5 year old and the family as a whole. Here is a preview, I am still waiting for my new computer and lightroom so these are pretty unedited (don't judge!).

Things I learned: It is very difficult to get good pictures of a 2 week old when they are awake. I have never done a baby photo shoot where the baby is under 6 months and so awake and alert! I learned I need to book more time for a baby shoot in case this happens. Eventually he fell asleep... after we moved on to the family photos of course :)
I also learned, although I already new this, my husband is amazing. This was the first shoot he came on with me. Peter helped lug props around, distract the kids and afterwards encourage me with: "Whoa I have a lot more respect for Photographers now!" He helped make my job so much easier! I may try to recruit him full time!! :)

 So here is the preview:
In one word I would describe this session with the word 

Joy in Discovery

Joy in Motherhood

Joy in family

Joy in Unity


Joy in being finished with the Photo shoot :) 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Change is a comin ...

This Saturday I have the privilege of doing a 2 week old baby photo shoot. Then his big brother who is 1.5 years old, and then the family and a family friend. It is kind of a lot for one morning! But it promises cute children and a great family! It will be a fun challenge for sure.

In other news I am really trying to get my Photography up and running, this weekend I will be investing in a new computer and Lightroom ...  I seriously haven't been able to sleep with the excitement, call me a nerd it's fine!! I have a decent amount of shoots lined up ... I am a happy girl :)

Also, Peter just got a new job (he will blog about that and I will let him ... I just have to say how proud I am of my husband *waving my pom poms*) We are also looking at apartments in the city! Who knows when that will happen, but change is a comin in the Brandt house, and is being whole heartedly embraced.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Recent Life Fails ...

Yep you read that right... this is a post dedicated to the most recent fails in my life ...

We've been married for 6th months (today actually)
 and we are still getting our wedding thank yous out ... embarressing FAIL!

I had bought a tea kettle at TJ Max ... when I went to use it, after already throwing
away the receipt, I realized, after having my kitchen fill with smoke, that it didn't
whistle. I finally bought a new cute one from Kichen Aid ... it is so cute and green and
and matches my pot holders ... AND DOESN'T WHISTLE. Clearly we are cursed
to have non-whistling kettles forever.

One day I was on my way to work ... I took this train and when I got
off and was about 5 steps from my building (warning, here is where the
story turns sad!) My shoes were eaten by a grate in the road!
Seriously though ... have you ever seen the movie wedding planner?
I was like JLO ...

Took Peter to his first antique store ... enough said

Elbie ... broke my favorite lamp. Somedays Elbie decides the floor isn't
good enough for him and he should take advantage on us being gone so
he can crawl on our kitchen table ... well here are the results of that :(

Who knew keeping a 16 pound puppy in a crate would be so difficult.
This crate started out locked, with Elbie inside, then turned so the door was
against the cabinets... he managed to push it way from the cabinets, open the lock
and let himself out... Win for him ... Fail for his people.

One day I got a call from Peter that went something like this ...
P - "um hi .. you don't have hidden keys anywhere right" R- "um no
why?" P - "I'm locked out of the front door to our apartment... I think I may
have dropped them in our hallway ..."  So when I got home I found
the above picture, Peter's Keys in our apartment door...

Let's keep this one short and sweet ... Elbie now rides in a cage in
the backseat.

Yet ... he has a problem, he won't admitt it but we are working on it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shelves and Such

As described Here, with Elbie's help, Peter fixed up the shelf for my kitchen cabinet.... so simple but it makes such a difference!

Our Coffee and water bottle cabinet...  Before...

And After!!!

So as I mentioned Here Peter has been talking and planning and researching making a shelf type cover for our T.V. ... he found some that he liked Here, we don't currently have $3,200 to spend on a T.V. shelf. So thank you Horchow for the good ideas ... and the longing I now have for one of the beautiful T.V. shelves on your website!
Have no fear, Grandpa Thomas is here! Grandpa Thomas ... how to describe this man, we brainstormed one night and he had the unit built the next! Now we are just trying to figure out our paint, stain, and doors. Do I want full doors, half, desgin, no desgin ... ? The possibilities are endless, which is great and also not. *insert Peter pulling out his hair here as I change my mind 438594 times.*

And the next project ... our bed. Going for a mix of This and This

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Living room ... Ready for living!

So although we still have some things that we would love to add to our living room, such as shelves above the couch, a nicer rug, and a cabinet covering the T.V.... to name a few. It's tough when you rent because you want it to be your home, comfortable, clean, cute, functional and portray you. On the flip side... you are renting, you don't know how long you will be there and while making some changes are necessary ... how much time and money should you really put into it? Here is the progress of us making our first apartment ours as inexpensively as possible!

Lucky for us we inherited some pretty great pieces from my mom. 
The table is an antique card table, it is fantastic! it has 2 leafs that open when we have company, and a great little drawer that we keep our pens and paper in! Now because we only have one closet ... and a very small amount of floor space we had be get creative with the chair situation. Thank you bed bath and beyond for having decent looking fold up chairs! They have a lot of options!
Our chair (which will do for now, although when we have a bigger place we will have real chairs) were being discontinued, they were $29.99 each and I had to travel to 3 stores to find all 4 of them, but it was worth it for the price and functionality!

My favorite gift from my mother is Nanny. Yes we named our trunk who doubles as a coffee table, *oooo aaaaahh*! Nanny was named for the Nanny Beckman who owned the trunk in 1908. How did I figure that out you ask ... well we have 2 things, 1. a really awesome ceiling in our apartment which is 15 feet high and original to the building ... beautiful tiling ... you should come lay on our floor and check it out for yourself!! and 2. we have a puppy. Needless to say between those two things I'm on the floor sometimes and one day I noticed the tag (seen below right above the torn New York tag) Barely visible is the name Nanny Beckman and the name Lucania which we found out with some research was a pretty sweet ship back in the day. Nanny Beckman is on the record at Ellis Island for coming from Sweden, through Liverpool and ending in New York. We could find out much more about her but we named the trunk in her honor.



Another pretty cool thing we stole received from my mother were a few wooden crates. They are from from old apple orchards and such, but have since become our end tables and storage boxes. I love antiquing ... it's sorta a problem of mine but I have found 4 old suitcases that I use for storage, tables and decoration in our living room. All together I paid about $40.00 for them.

So having all those great things to decorate with we had our work cut out for us cleaning up the space. So we scrubbed and painted....
Notice the patch of color! It took forever to find the perfect yellow,
especially since I had my heart set on a red couch

Found cheap furnishings ... and made them look appropriate :)

  *sigh* MUCH BETTER!!

 Here are a few before and after photos of the place we now call home!

First thing we did was get rid of the blinds from the windows .... they were so gross!
Add a $20.00 lamp from TJ Max, Picture frames with photos that spell BRANDT (a wedding gift)
A large clock, that sadly makes too much noise so has been retired and now just looks pretty, from World Market, which is where I also purchased my curtains. Those curtains ... I saw them and fell in love, they were $30.00 a piece but I decided they were a must have, and then I ended up basing my entire living room color scheme around them!

Here is our kitchen table area... it looks so much better than it did but that T.V. ...  the T.V. is currently being fitted for a home. Peter has been working on setting up a nice little shelf unit to hid it, it's wires and speakers, which will be wonderful and provide more table space! (there are 3 speakers and they are always in the way!)

Hello Red couch from Craigs list! Thank you for costing only $40.00
...  and our lovely wall map ... wanna know a secret? It's from Ikea :)
Also please notice our window ... it faces the hallway so the last tenant just boarded it up... interesting... So we freed the window and frosted it :) Bought a new lamp and put up a mail box under the window.

So call me ridiculous but I have never before purchased a floor rug. I had no idea how expensive they are! So after recovering from my near heart attack I took a trip to my favorite store, TJ's, better known to the common folk as TJ Max. TJ's didn't let me down!! I found that lovely floor rug for $30.00 ... pretty good when all the other places I had looked were trying to steal close to $100 from me! rude

And two people in Love and a puppy who loves himself as much as we do, I catch him staring at himself often .. sometimes he even sleeps in front of the mirror so he can wake up to his own face.... ridiculous, and you got a happy little apartment :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Attempts at craftiness ...

So this weekend Peter took me for a little get away for my birthday!! It was amazing, we spent a night in D.C. went to my favorite Italian restaurant, and then the next night met up with friends... I also got tickets to 2 RED SOX GAMES, when they play in Baltimore and these TOMS oooo aaaaaaww. One of the best part was that the pup was not with us! Don't get me wrong ... I love the guy but sometimes it's like having a child... So the Elbie went to DOGTOPIA! It's a kennel ... but instead of shutting them up all day they get to play with other dogs ... when we picked the Elbs up ... he was less than excited to see us haha he loved DOGTOPIA and was pretty ready to trade this people in and stay there. We realized really quickly when we got him home that DOGTOPIA was not only Elbie's favorite but ours as well ... the little guy plopped down and was out like a light for the rest of the day *insert HUGE smile here* So with the wild child down for the count I decided it was finally time to scratch the art itch.

So my brain has been swimming full of ideas but one that stuck was wall art for babies nurseries. So I went to the art store ... grabbed a bunch of materials and headed home ... luckily my hubs is a great artist and could help make my blobs into the animals I was attempting to draw, with minimal laughter, I would insert my attempts here but really ... they are beyond embarrassing so I'll spare myself :)


So I cut and pasted and ironed ... and after night one this is what I have! I Peter still has their features to make and I have one more piece to make, so they can hang over a crib or changing table three in a row ... so yeah, there ya have it. Martha Stewart done Rachael Style hehe.

And the only thing I ruined was our iron ... yeah. In the middle of pasting and ironing I slowing turned to Peter ... um hey .. so you didn't need to iron anything for work tomorrow right? He laughed pretty hard as I sheepishly showed him the chard bottom of our once clean iron ... So I have some things to learn :) I'll post the final pictures when these little creatures have features!