Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

A pretty little present…

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 11, 2009

With her amazing color combinations, never ending stock of ribbons, creative embellishments and layering galore, A Gift Wrapped Life is the undisputed master mistress of the gift wrapping universe.  Here are just a few of my favorites:



Seriously, are they not to die for?

So, here was my attempt (using what I had in the house) at wrapping a pretty little present for my newest little cousin.


My wrapping skills (and my photography skills for that matter) still leave a lot to be desired, but at least it is a step up from a gift bag, right?  🙂


Posted in Living | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Stella roo…

Posted by mandyhuckins on September 7, 2009

When my sister and her husband got married last September, I wanted to give them the perfect wedding gift.  (His sister and her husband bought plane tickets for them to come to England for a visit, so that is kind of hard to top!)  My sister has wanted a dog for many years, but apartment living in the city did not necessarily allow for it.  When she and her husband combined households into a little bit larger apartment, she specifically looked for one that would allow pets just in case.  She spent many months convincing her significant other that there was room in their lives for a pet and researching which breed would be the best match for them and their lifestyle.  She also volunteers at PAWS a no-kill shelter in Chicago.  So, I wasn’t going out on a limb when I decided to give them a dog as their wedding present.  Nevertheless, to be safe, I did contact her fiance beforehand to make sure that this was going to be ok with him. 

So, when I was in Chicago for the wedding, I presented my sister with a card.  Inside was a gift card to Petsmart and a homemade gift certificate to cover the adoption fees for any dog of their choosing.  I made sure to tie it in to the wedding theme by describing the joy, fun and dimension that our dog, Copper, has brought to our marriage.  By adding a pet, you go from a couple to a family.  Needless to say, she was very excited about it.  Yet, responsible.  She didn’t rush out and get the first dog she saw.  She knew she wanted a rescued Italian Greyhound and she wanted to wait until the spring to adopt one, when the weather would be more conducive to being outside for walks and house-training.  As the spring drew closer, they even decided to move to a different apartment that included its own small outdoor space in the back.

Finally, they were ready and they brought Stella into their lives.  She is about 9 months old, weighs 12 pounds, is a seal brown color and looks like a baby deer.  She is very skittish (who knows what may have happened to this poor baby in her puppy-hood), but has a loving nature and they are gradually winning her over. 

Melissa and Jonathan with Stella

One night, I even got to hold her.  At first she trembled in my arms, but I stroked her and talked softly to her and she eventually relaxed and even fell asleep.  I didn’t want to let her go!  She really is so cute.  They are going to try to bring her to my house for Christmas.  We are hoping that she might be more comfortable with them by then and that she might learn a little something from Copper’s exuberant love for all of us.

Holding Sleepy Stella

Posted in Living | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

I would starve…

Posted by mandyhuckins on August 11, 2009

if I had to grow my own food!  I tried to grow one little tomato plant in a pot on my back porch.  I eagerly watched as this little green ball grew and grew.  It started to turn red – my mouth started to water.  Then, it split open and when I picked it, it looked like this:


Blast!  Rotten!

The inside looked like this when I cut into it – delicious – but, I was too afraid to try it.


Thank goodness I can still go to the supermarket and buy vegetables other people have grown.

Posted in Living | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Is this really sad?…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 23, 2009

dawn logo

I am a crier.  It doesn’t take much to bring a tear to my eye.  Sometimes this is very inconvenient.  For example, songs often move me to tears, and there is one song in particular that has made me cry ever since I was a little girl.  Once, when I was in a store and the elevator music version of that song was playing, I had to leave rather than embarrass myself in public. 

My most recent silliness involves the Dawn dish soap commercial where they simulate removing oil from a duckling, a penguin and an otter by washing them with Dawn.  Have you seen it?  For some reason that sweet song paired with those sweet little animals really gets to me.  Now, whenever I hear it, the prickling begins. 

I thought the lyrics were “they’re gonna wash me” (actually, the lyrics say “they’re gonna wash away” in reference to troubles) – so I think what got me was the thought of these cute little innocent animals trusting humans to wash them and remove their troubles – the very same troubles created by humans in the first place.  I know…silly.  

You can watch the commercial here:  So cute!

When I was trying to find the commercial online, I happened upon a scathing blog post entitled “Dawn Kills Animals.”  This almost stopped me in my tracks.  I thought “well, if any of those animals actually died, then that would really give me a reason to cry.”  But, the primary complaint against Dawn by the blog author was that the commercial was “simulated” (of course!) and in order to film it, the company had to cover animals in non-toxic paint and corn syrup to simulate oil.  Horrors!  (read sarcasm here) Well…this is hardly killing them, animals get dirty and have baths all the time.  Just ask my dog…  I love animals, and I don’t believe they should be treated cruelly, but it makes me crazy when people take this too far.  The author apparently just wanted to use this to springboard to her main platform:  calling out Procter & Gamble (the parent company of Dawn) on their animal testing.  Leaving that big black hole alone…I have no problems with Dawn “simulating” an oil spill clean up in their commercial, so I am posting it.

Posted in Living | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

It’s the thought that counts…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 13, 2009

On Friday afternoon, my husband had a sad and weary look on face when he came home from work.  His day had been hectic, but the thing that put him over the edge is that he had bought me some flowers and then asked the lady to hold them in the cooler until the end of the day when he planned to come by and pick them up.  Well…he got busy with other things and then the day was gone and the shop was closed for the weekend.  Poor boy!  I told him I didn’t mind at all and that it was definitely the thought that counted.  In fact, I went over to get them today and they are gorgeous!


I think I will still be able to enjoy them for several days.  Now, if he really wants to be my hero, he will say yes to my dream tv stand.  (See my previous post on the subject.)

Posted in Living | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Wichita = Powerful Weather…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 10, 2009

As a Southerner, I am no stranger to big thunderstorms.  But, on Wednesday evening, I experienced a thunderstorm Kansas style.  Yikes!


(note: not the actual lightening I saw, but very similar to how it looked)

I thought I heard distant thunder while we were finishing up dinner, but it looked sunny and gorgeous outside.  I left the house a little before 9:00 PM to go take care of Dancer.  What should have been a 20 minute round trip, turned into a 2 and a half hour saga. 

While driving, I noticed what looked like a small patch of dark clouds off to the west.  It looked like rain and I thought I saw a few flashes of lightening.  I got to the stables and went inside.   I greeted Dancer and put the drop of Cosopt into her eye.  I went into the tack room to get something and when I came out, two riders were coming into the barn.  They had been riding in the outdoor arena in a lesson, but all of the sudden the weather turned dangerous and the instructor made everyone come inside.  The instructor told me that a “popcorn thunderstorm” had cropped up.  (What an innocent and fun name for something so scary!) So, I helped her to go around the barn closing all of the big doors and the individual stall doors that opened to the outside.  By the time we had finished with that (10 minutes?) the sky was dark black and HUGE streaks of lightening were zig-zagging all over the place.  The air smelled electric.  We turned on the weather radio and heard that the storm was carrying hail and I was advised that it wouldn’t be safe or prudent for me to drive home at that moment.  So, we pulled our cars into the indoor arena.  We discussed bringing in the horses that were turned out in paddocks without walk-in shelters and really wanted to do so, but determined that it just wouldn’t be safe to go out onto that flat land with that much lightening all around us.  I said a little prayer for those poor horses.

The rest of the time, we alternated between listening to the amazing reports on the radio (hail the size of quarters up to ping pong balls covering the ground like snow) and peaking outside to see this awesome force of nature for ourselves.  Another horse owner showed up (his horse was one of the ones outside), but when he saw how bad it was, he drove home again without bringing his horse in.  The lightening would sometimes bathe the property as if it were daylight for what seemed like seconds at a time.  Luckily, I had brought Copper with me on what I thought was going to be a very quick ride out to the stable.  If she had been left at home, she would have torn the house down, I am sure.  As it was, she did very well.  She was on-edge with her tail between her legs and her ears plastered back against her head and she stayed next to me like glue.  But, she did enjoy meeting lots of new people and investigating around a new place.

My husband had returned to his office in an attempt to keep up with the overwhelming tide of email he receives on a daily basis.  So, unfortunately, his car was outside when the hail began.  He rushed outside and drove the car to a car wash, where he waited for 45 minutes for things to calm down.  Unfortunately, his little BMW is now covered in dents.  [I wanted to take a picture to illustrate the damage, but I wasn’t able to really capture it.]

We had detritus from our trees littering the yard in the morning morning and alot of the blossoms on our new plants were blown or pounded off, but miraculously, the plants themselves look ok.  All in all, I think we were very lucky.  The worst thing would have been if I had been out to the stables earlier, I would have put Dancer outside and she would have been pelted with hail.  Ouch!

Posted in Living | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

A piece of good news…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 9, 2009

I just found out yesterday that I was selected for a job I applied for weeks ago.  I had almost given up hope.  It is a position within the same organization, but moving back into the area in which I worked while living in Germany.  I like my current position, but I think I will really love my new job.  It will also give me the opportunity to travel a little bit, which is fun, and if I am lucky, maybe I will even make it back to Europe for a trip.  How wonderful would that be? 


To top it all off, my salary will increase significantly.  Of course, I am happy about this, but it does feel a little weird to be receiving a salary increase when other people I know have lost their jobs entirely.  I will not take this blessing for granted. 

Thank you Lord – you are too good.

Posted in Living | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The 4th of July…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 8, 2009

Usually means relaxation, but this year it meant yardwork.  As you can see from this picture, our new house, while blessed with mature trees, does not have much else going for it in the yard department. 


Here is the after:


The side/front before:


And after:


On Saturday morning on my way to the stable, I stopped for gas.  Then, my car would not restart.  I called my husband.  He came, poked around under the trunk, tried to start my car by using the jumper cables and determined that the battery was bad.  We went home for tools to remove the battery and so that I could change out of my riding clothes.  We took out the battery and headed to WalMart to have it tested.  Yep – they confirmed it was shot, but they did not sell the kind of battery I needed.  Luckily, for a mere $135, Sears did.  Back to the gas station to install the battery.  A quick lunch a long and expensive trip to Wal-Mart and we were ready to begin.


While my husband was unloading and organizing all of our supplies, I had to go back and retrace our steps because he thought he had lost his Blackberry.  After going back and searching and waiting in lines to be able to ask someone if it had been turned in to a lost-and-found to no avail, I called home to report the news.  “Um, babe, you will never believe this” he says to me, “I just opened the door to the car and it was in the pocket.”  Hmm.  You didn’t thoroughly check in the car before you sent me off on  goose chase?  Like that should surprise me – this is the man who asked me the following set of questions while we were getting ready to attend an evening function on Thursday night.  “Mandy, were are my rings?’  (By the kitchen sink where he took them off to wash his hands.) “Mandy, have you seen my blue shirt?” (I don’t know where that turned out to be.)  “Mandy, where are the shoes that go to my uniform?” (Those were left at his office when he changed clothes after a change of command ceremony earlier in the week.)  “Mandy, have you seen my cell phone lying around anywhere?” (That turned out to be out in his car.)  So, I should have learned to check behind him by now.

I digress…my point is that after all of the running around, we weren’t ready to do anything in the yard until about 2:00 in the afternoon.  Not exactly according to plan.  The ripping out of old things took quite a while.  So, all we were able to accomplish before we had to shower and get to a 4th of July party that evening was planting the geraniums and mandevilla in the planter box and replanting the red-tipped bushes on the side.  My husband also tilled up the front bed and we planted some hydrangeas I bought weeks ago in the back yard. 

Here they are…beautiful!


I hope they stay blue.

On Sunday afternoon, after a trip to Home Depot for more supplies, we finished up the front bed.  Here is a close up of some of the flowers we planted.





In the middle is a butterfly bush.  The two larger bushes are forsythia.  Too bad we have already missed their beautiful, golden, flowery displays this year.  We will have something to look forward to next spring (if they survive!).  And, the other plants are spirea.  We should still get some blooms on them this year, I think.

The geraniums and in the back a crimson mandevilla:


 My grandma Judy is known for her geraniums.  If I can get these looking half as good as hers, I will be very pleased.  And, my grandma Gladys gave me a mandevilla as a housewarming gift when we bought our first house in Charleston.  It was a pink one (my preference, actually), but the red looks better here.

In the back yard, we each have a tomato plant in a pot.  We got these when we first moved in.  Mine is short, but has two good looking tomatoes on it.



Colin’s has been growing like a weed and is much taller than mine.  It has its first small tomato:


It sure is fun watching things grow.  I have been watering everything and the weather hasn’t been too bad for the past few days.  Please cross your fingers that everything will survive.

Posted in Living | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Copper is content…

Posted by mandyhuckins on June 30, 2009

In the photos from yesterday, I neglected to take a picture of the little reading nook in the living room.  Here is Copper enjoying it last evening:


Sleeping dogs sure are cute!



Posted in Decorating, Living, Reading | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Hello Wichita…

Posted by mandyhuckins on June 30, 2009

I am not dead – just overworked.  Sorry it has been so long since my last post.  I now have so much to share, I should be able to do a post every day this week to make it up to you.  I thought I would start out with some photos of the new digs.

Here is the exterior – no one said government housing was exciting from the outside…


The houses on this side of the base are 50 years old.  And, I must admit that when I saw the inside of the home, it was not as bad as I had feared.  And, I am doing my best to give it personality and warmth and make it our own.

Here is a picture of the living room:


I am sitting in the reading chair in the corner to take this picture.  Notice that I painted the walls in this room a peanut-buttery color.  I just couldn’t stand all off-white everywhere I looked.  I think it really warmed up the space.  I would have liked to keep on going, but the big china cabinets were already placed in the dining area and I just couldn’t move them.  Note: I did this painting while my husband was gone for a week.  I knew that he wouldn’t want me to do it (mainly because of the hassle of having to repaint everything to off-white before we move), but once something is done, it is done.  So, I did it.  To try to make the repaint easier, I did leave a tape line at the bottom and at the top of the wall (kind of like a fake molding), but that will mean that we can just slap the off white up there when we leave without having to worry so much about edging.  (I hope!)

Here is the view of the other side of the room – the chair I was sitting in to take the first shot:


Hmmm….I can almost hear you wondering about that lovely entertainment center.  Remember the argument I had about it with my husband before we left Montgomery?  (Read about that here.)  Almost immediately, my husband started talking about going out and buying some “cheap, plastic tv stand” to put all of the electronics in/on.  I almost flipped!  I reminded him about how he wouldn’t let me buy something in Montgomery and that I knew he was going to want something right away in Kansas.  So, we made do with this sofa table we already have.  It isn’t a permanent solution and at least it buys me some time to look for something else.  Sheesh!

Here is a picture of the kitchen.  I will need to show you some more in here later, including my ingenious window “mis”treatment (to use a term coined by one of my blogging idols, The Nester).  But, for now, this is all I have:


The beautiful linoleum floors in here have a definite pink hue to them.  My grandmother would love them, but I hate them.  So, I am just choosing to pretend that they aren’t even there.  I am not decorating around them or trying to find things to match them.  I am just setting up my kitchen as if the floors were taupe tiles or slate.  (I wish!)  I also wish I could paint these cabinets white and add knobs (but I really, really cannot).  I could paint in here, and I still might, but going around all of the cabinetry is quite a challenge.  Especially when I would have to do it again in two years.  So, laziness might win out on this one.

Here is our truly lovely backyard:


And eating area on the back porch – we have used this already a few times.


Copper loves it back here because squirrels and birds come on to the ground to pick up seeds they dropped from the feeder in the trees and Copper can stalk and chase them to her hearts content. 

Of course, sometimes it is absolutely too hot to be outside for more than a millisecond.  I am very surprised to find the great plains are so hot!  All last week we had highs in the lower 100s and lots of humidity too.  I thought I was going to get a break from some of that by leaving Alabama.  So far this week, we have had a cold front from the north, bringing our temps down into the 90s and it does feel much, much more reasonable.  Weird.

Well, that is all for now.   I will be back tomorrow with more pictures of the house and I hope to get some pictures of the new stables too.

Posted in Decorating, Living | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »