Friday, December 30, 2011

resolution. one little word.

Each year as we near the new year, I begin to think about what it is I want to change heading into the new year.  Usually, these resolutions turn into lofty goals that soon disappear from my thinking shortly after the new year.  This year will be different.

This year I've chosen a word to guide me throughout the year.  A word to focus on, meditate on, and reflect upon during my daily life.  This year my word is....

I started this blog just over three years with the intention of sharing with those we love the life we live whether we're near or far.  It became a way to communicate with friends and family while living over seas and has continued to keep us in touch with those we've met along the way.  It's been fun!  But over the past year I've found it hard to come up with blog posts as we've begun to settle into our routine life here in Indiana.  Compared to the past few years, this year has been pretty boring.  Don't get me wrong, a lot has happened this past year, and we've grown exponentially...however it I often wondered if what we were going through on a day to day basis was blog-worthy.

So, as we head into the new year my resolution is to be intentional.  A new way of thinking about this blogging thing - doing it more for me and less for those who read it.  I appreciate those who read my words but instead of focusing on the reaction of those reading, I'm going to focus more on the content I share - sharing with intention.  Sharing what's on my heart and mind at that moment - whether a big life event or just a daily musing.  We shall see where intention leads me this year!

the past 365 days

trained a puppy.

did my frist photography shoot. {J}

got a job. {J}

quit a job. {J}

got another job. {J}

ran our first 5K together.

made my first quilt. {J}

made a second quilt for a friend. {J}

got snowed in.

planted a garden from seed.

spent months looking at houses.

bought a house.

packed up again.

moved across town.

lots of cleaning. cleaning. and more cleaning.

started to unpack.

gutted a kitchen.

designed a kitchen.

grew our first garden.

ate lots of homemade tomato sauce from our garden.

went over a month without a stove.

cooked on our grill.  a lot.

mowed our lawn at least 10 times {with a push mower}

rewired 1/2 the house. {D}

still without electricity in part of the house.

moved the plumbing for the sink. {D}

uninstalled and reinstalled back door.

installed 7 new windows.

visited Ikea 5 times.

built kitchen cabinets.

installed kitchen cabinets.

mud & sand. mud & sand. mud & sand.  too many hours.

went through 10 gallons of paint.

bought new stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer.

installed stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer.

got a full time job. {J}

did two more photo shoots. {J}

planted berries.

made saurkraut from scratch.

watched my little brother get married.

took lots of walks in the our woods.

cleaned out our flooded basement.

laughed until I cried.

cried until I was unconscious.

worked too much.

vegged out often.

watched hours and hours of 'Big Love'.

celebrated our 3rd anniversary.

stood by our friends as their marriages fell apart.

changed our eating habits.

cheated on our eating habits.

nearly lost our puppy.

nursed our pup back to health.

had a car accident.

didn't have to pay to get car fixed.

gutted a bathroom.

designed a bathroom.

installed new sink in bathroom.

drove the to PA for Christmas.

left my car keys in PA. 
found my keys a week later in the bottom of a bag yet to be unpacked.

enjoyed my first ever winter break as a teacher. {J}

more cleaning.

more unpacking.

drove miles and miles to visit family and friends.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Time well spent.

Totally put 1276 miles on this gal...
my lovely '97 Civic
209,010 miles and still chuggin' on!
over the past few days, and plan on putting a few hundred more on before heading back to work.

{great perk of being a teacher!}

While in PA we were able to visit friends from Harrisburg, Saxton, and even made a few trips down to Hagerstown to see friends from Maryland and Virginia.  On the drive out we stopped to have lunch with a friend in Ohio and this week will meet up with friends from South Carolina, Washington, and right here in Indiana.  Thanks to all those who made time in their busy schedules to meet up with us!

What a wonderful way to spend the holiday season!  Hope you're enjoying your time off {hope you get at least some!}  and time spent with family and friends!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

back to the house...

It's been a while since I've posted about our progress on the house.  With November being so busy, we spent very little time focused on the house.   However, over the past few weeks we've been able to make some headway.

One of the big projects that we've been working on is the pantry - which is now COMPLETE!  It was pushed back a little when we decided to sand the popcorn off the entire ceiling....figured we'd make a big mess before trying to put up our new doors.  But, at last, it's done, and I'm now able to hide all that clutter!

if you'll remember WAY back...this is the original kitchen and pantry.

And the pantry just two months ago...a big gaping hole...

Amazing how it's changed, in just 6 months!

Once the pantry was finished we headed into the bathroom...because the flooring will continue from the kitchen into the bathroom we figured we should do some of the bigger jobs before installing the floor.  

So last weekend, when Dan had a normal weekend with me, we decided to tackle the bathroom remodel.  We began by pulling off the old floorboards and molding as well as the old vanity (we were planning to refinish it but found a great deal on a new vanity and mirror that it just seemed like a better idea than spending the time to make the old one look good!). 

We ran into a little snag with the old mirror/medicine cabinet that was built into the wall - we hunted for a replacement but could not find one to fit the hole and look good!  So we decided to cover it up and hang our new mirror there without a medicine cabinet (there's a decent sized closet inside the bathroom for storage).  This, unfortunately meant that the job (which they do in a weekend on TV!) was going to take much longer.  Dan carefully covered the hole from the medicine cabinet - matching up the depth of the drywall and old plaster was not an easy task...then we spent the week mudding and sanding (again!).  

This weekend I painted the walls and we installed the new vanity and mirror...even though it's not completely finished, check out this drastic change...

Try to ignore the hideous will soon change! =)

Without knowing we created more space in our little bathroom...the new vanity is significantly more shallow but wider, so though it seems to take up more space, it actually gives us much more room to move about the bathroom.

Can't wait until it's finished, but for now we can once again use our bathroom sink and I can get ready in the bathroom rather than on my bedroom floor in the morning! =)

Until next time...

Friday, November 25, 2011


feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.


We are so much to be thankful for this year. (as always!)

We are so very thankful for good jobs, with steady incomes;  a wonderful, miraculous puppy to come home to each day; our good health, family, friends, and neighbors.  We are blessed with a roof over our head and food on the table.  

This month has been full of "inconveniences" all of which have been out of our control, and have left us frustrated at times.  Regardless, we have much to be thankful specifically this month.  In late October Dan had a minor car accident {the hood of the car flew open while driving}.  Thankfully he was able to pull the car off the road before any injury or damage - we are thankful that the tire company who did not latch our hood {or tell us that it was not latched before we drove off} took full responsibility and paid for all damages {new hood and windshield = not cheap}.  Because it was going to take over a week to get the parts and fix the car, they even threw in 10 days of a rental car so that we were not without a car during this time! THANK GOODNESS...there is no way we could have survived those first few weeks in November without two vehicles.

On November 1st, our little Mei Mei was hit by a car and suffered major head injuries.  She remained unconscious {possibly in a coma} for 11 days, then miraculously woke up and began to slowly gain weight, strength, and mobility.  Today, she is able to move around on her own with little support, though she is very unsteady and runs into things.  So thankful that our wonderful puppy survived this often fatal accident!

We've spent much of the month working with Mei Mei helping her to gain her strength and because of this have not spent much time on the house.  Wednesday Dan finally started working on some final projects in the kitchen, however when he went down to the basement found that it had flooded!!  There was nearly 4" of water in the entire basement!!  Still not entirely sure what happened because when we finally realized, the sump pump was on and working!?  The water was completely gone in nearly 15 minutes, but left behind a big mess.  So instead of working on the house, the basement was the project of the day Wednesday!!  Thankful that there was only minor damage, and that the sump pump is still working, also it prompted us to clean up much of the basement that had yet to be cleaned up and organized since moving in.  We also moved EVERYTHING up off the floor with cinderblocks to ensure that if this happens again, fewer items would be damaged.

So, as you can see it's been "one of those months!"  But, we're so thankful for all that we have and where we are!

happy thanksgiving to you and yours!
-the ankney's

Thursday, November 17, 2011

easy peasy.

A few weeks ago I posted about food and our goal to eliminate processed food from our diets.  While I'll admit that it's not easy, we've been making some subtle changes to our eating habits and mostly to our grocery shopping habits.  Before we head to the grocery, we are more organized, with a list including specifically what we need for the meals we plan to eat the next week. **I've referenced the meal plans on for ideas!  Found on their facebook page.  Then while shopping, we not only ONLY buy what's on the list, but we look very carefully at the ingredients and buy ONLY those products that have little or no preservatives.  Surprisingly, for most products, there are quite a few options, you just need to be willing to take the time to look.  We do, however, end up spending a little more for those products - but at this time, it's a price we're willing to pay.

One of the biggest challenges we've faced has been the time needed to cook with real food.  On the weekends it's not as difficult - and I'm getting better at planning ahead and making lunch items on the weekend. (Ever heard of OAMC?  Thinking I need to do this when we get a deep freezer.)  Planning out my week's menu before hand has helped also, but sometimes I -
1)don't feel like cooking after a long day of work, or 
2) don't have time to cook the planned item unless I want to eat dinner at 9:30pm!  
This week has been particularly frustrating because I've had meetings every night (until tonight - meeting was canceled!) and don't get home before 6pm.  Between work, meetings, taking care of Mei Mei, endless loads of laundry, keeping up house, and even more work to be done at home...dinner is the last thing on my mind!

Not tonight though!  Tonight I'm cooking!  I'm making one of our favorite Indian dishes - Vegetable Masala.  While it's not authentic, and not made from scratch - it's a pretty great meal with a lot of flexibility - not to mention extra easy to make.


Indian Vegetable Masala

1. variety of your favorite vegetables...I usually use what I have on hand.  Tonight I'm using the following...
-1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 4 med potatoes, cubed
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1c. peas, frozen
- 1c. corn, frozen
- 1c. broccoli, frozen

**I've also used fresh or frozen green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions.  Mix and match, add more of what you like and less of what you're not fond of!

2. 1 jar Patak's Tikka Masala curry (you can also use the curry paste pictured below, but you have to add plain yogurt to it)

Boil the vegetables until soft, drain, then add curry.  Let simmer for 10-20 minutes to soak up flavor then serve over rice. You can also add your favorite meat to change it up a bit!


Because I used the jar of curry, some of the ingredients are surely processed - the curry itself may even include a preservative.  However, I am able to read and understand the names of all the ingredients - which is rarely the case with processed foods.  The only ingredient in question is "modified corn starch" and the origin of the ingredients is not clear.  

Like I said before - we're not going nuts about this!  We like our Vegetable Masala and feel good about eating it - so we will continue to!  

Monday, November 14, 2011

in case you've been wondering.

Mei Mei is making progress!  

For those of you who are out of the loop:
2 weeks ago(11/1), our precious pup was hit by a car.  Dan took her straight to the vet (where our neighbor Jackie works) and they checked her out.  She was cold, breathing shallow, bleeding a whole lot, and unconscious.  As they warmed her and began to stabilize her breathing they did an x-ray of her chest and found that she was having difficulty breathing due to air in her chest cavity making it impossible for her lungs to expand fully. After the vet removed the air, her breathing became more steady and rhythmic.  Her other injuries were all located on her head, but due to swelling it was difficult to treat.  They kept her over night on an IV to keep her hydrated for the first couple of days.

On Thursday(11/3), seeing that the swelling was not going down, they spoke with a specialist at Purdue who suggested a a medication to help reduce swelling in the brain.  We began administering this on Friday, and saw the swelling nearly reduce entirely by Sunday(11/6 Mei Mei's 1st birthday!) - but Mei Mei was still unconscious.  After talking with the Vet, we decided to bring Mei Mei home on Sunday evening and monitor her ourselves.  They sent us home with an IV to keep her hydrated and we began attempting to feed her.  We started with meat broth - we'd wipe it on her nose and lips and she'd lick it up.  Over time we tried more - pieces of meat and soft food.  Still unconscious, but getting some food!

On Friday(11/11), she woke up!  She opened both eyes and began making movements on her own.  It seems that she is now hearing (before we were unsure if there was hearing loss) and she's responding to her name.  She still has a long road to recovery, but we have hope!

Her injuries are internal, so it's unclear how severe they are.  One of her eyes seems to be "chipped" while the other is on the side with the most injuries and rarely opens without assistance.  She had a cut on the top of her head that is healing, but there might be a scull fracture underneath as it looks as though it sinks compared to the other.

Right now, we're optimistic - we love our Mei Mei and can't imagine life without her!  Keep praying as there's a long road ahead of us, but she's a strong pup and a fighter!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thoughts about FOOD!

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  The colors are beautiful and the weather is just right.

Growing up, late summer and fall meant harvest.  It was the time of year when we spent countless hours picking vegetables in our garden and storing them up for winter.  My grandmother always had a giant garden and I can remember helping her to snap beans, shuck corn, and prepare cabbage for kraut.  My parents continued this trend and often we'd go weeks at a time without a trip to the grocery (we raised our own meat, purchased eggs and homemade butter from my grandmother).  I miss that!

Dan and I have missed these things about our childhood since we both left home.  It's been hard to get back to that lifestyle with all our traveling and apartment living, but now, we have our own home!  We now have our own garden to grow our very own fruits and vegetables and hopefully learn more about storing this produce for winter.  We are lucky to have been raised in families that value good real food, and are eager to get back to our roots.

Eating healthy is very important to us.  As we sit down for dinner we often marvel over the lack of vegetables, or color in our diet.  This doesn't happen often as we rarely eat a meal together with our schedules, but the flip side of that is that we're often eating alone and cooking heavily processed boxed or canned foods.  We know that what we're eating is probably not the greatest for us - but lets be honest, it sure does taste good!

Over the past few years, the author Michael Pollan has become somewhat of an expert on the American food industry and has written some very reader-friendly guides to help the average American understand where our food comes from.  Though I've read it before, I decided to pick up "In Defense of Food" again.  In this book, Michael Pollan answers the question of what we should be eating in three simple phrases...

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

What I'm learning is that now that we can be in control of what we eat, we should be!  Over the past few years I've used my somewhat nomadic lifestyle as an excuse to not eat right.

I don't have the time.  I don't have the money.  I don't have a garden.  I don't know how.  I don't have a kitchen. I can't find the right food.  I don't like that kind of food...etc.

These excuses controlled what I ate, not the reality of what I had access to.  To be honest, living in Taiwan, though without a kitchen and having to eat out nearly every meal, we were probably exposed to far fewer processed foods!  These processed foods are the foods that line our grocery isles and clip our coupons for.  You don't often see a coupon for fresh produce or whole grain baking supplies!  One of Michael Pollan's points in his book is that these processed foods aren't really food, they're man-made, genetically altered replacements that we have somehow come to believe are better for us than the real thing.

Knowing this makes it really hard to head to the grocery and buy a whole bunch of junk.  So, Dan and I have decided to make a conscious effort NOT to!  We know it'll be a challenge, as much of what stocks our pantry is making the "list"(the list includes those items we are no longer aloud to buy!).  This list will hopefully be replaced by more healthy alternatives.  In my research, I stumbled upon a website that I think will aide in supporting our new goal.  100 Days of Real Food chronicles the day to day eating of a family of four who cut processed food completely out of their diet for 100 days.  They have links to recipes and resources as well as meal plans and educational guides.  If you're ready (and we're not just yet) you can sign up for their 10 Day Real Food Pledge.

We know it's not going to be easy, and we're not trying to be crazy about our food choices - there will be the occasional chocolate craving!  =)  But what can it hurt!?  Over the coming months we hope to wean ourselves off of those processed foods that we eat most often and replace them with more healthy choices.  As we head into the new year we hope to start fresh and begin our journey into the real food world.

This weekend, Dan's parents were visiting and we spent much of our time outside enjoying the weather.  We nearly doubled our garden with some bricks we found around the property.  We planted a variety of raspberries from my father-in-law's garden and some flower bulbs I had from the spring.  This will hopefully help us to grow more of the food we eat next summer  and allow us to put up with real food for winter.  We're also hoping to get some chickens next spring and begin raising our own eggs.  We already buy our meat from my parents farm raised beef cattle and free-range chickens, and hope to swap produce with friends and family as we have it available.

We've nearly doubled our growing space and begun to prepare the soil for next spring with some mulch from our backyard.  Also, we constructed a compost bin by recycling some old pallets.
Here are some more resources if you're interested in learning more about your food choices.  It pays to be informed!

Michael Pollan - author devoted to nature and culture
Food Inc. - documentary about the food industry
100 Days of Real Food - great resource for real food options and recipes
No BS Nutrition - a high school friend who's passionate about nutrition and exercise
 - registered dietitian's blog about food and nutrition.
Polyface Farms - featured in Food Inc. Joel Salatin and his family share about their farming and animal raising practices
Mother's Against Junk Dining - pdf of an article written featuring the author behind 100 Days of Real Food and two other mothers on a quest to feed their families good real food.

Please feel free to comment and share other resources you may know of as I'm eager to learn all I can about the food I'm consuming on a day to day basis...because, well, we've all gotta eat!!

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

my creative outlet.

It's been a long couple of weeks...lots and LOTS of meetings and paperwork for my job.  Unfortunately it doesn't look like it's going to let up for a couple of MONTHS!  But, despite the busy week, I'm trying to find ways to really relax on the weekends.

This past weekend we tackled our bedroom - we've been in need of a new mattress for quite a while (since returning from overseas!!).  We spent a day shopping and that night enjoyed a very restful night!  I'd been wanting to update our bedroom look and this gave me just the excuse to go shopping! =)

My inspiration was this beautiful fabric I found on

When we moved in, I painted one wall in our bedroom a chocolate brown, but left the other walls white.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time decorating because I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do.  When I found this fabric, I knew right away that I wanted to try to make some of these roman shades - I stumbled across this tutorial through my friend Rachel's blog a few months ago.  

What do you think?  
The pictures aren't that great - the wall is a bright white, as is the background of the fabric.  I lined the back of the fabric with a white flannel to give it a little less see-through quality, as well as to aide in warmth in the winter as we have yet to change the two windows the shades hang on.  I love the look of the shade being drawn - I may just leave them up most of the time as these windows are on the back of the house and get some great evening sunlight.

I opted for blue for bedding - a light baby-blue for the sheets and a lovely navy comforter.  I even found this great pillow with embroidered birds that I think tie the bed and shades together well.

Again, the picture isn't that great...but I really like the navy and chocolate brown together, as well as the way the shades look on the white wall.  

My next project is to create a headboard for the bed...I'd like to do a simple upholstered headboard.  What do you think of these fabric choices?





I'd really like bring in some of the orange/rust color from the fabric and the pillow...but not sure how much is TOO much.  What's your vote?  Other suggestions?

Let there be light....

It feels more like a kitchen now that we have lights...

Can't wait until we have a REAL floor!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One year ago...

It's hard to believe that a year's gone by already...but it's been an entire year since we were in Taiwan!

It's amazing how time flies, and how much has changed in the past year.  We never in a million years thought we'd own a house and be living in Fort Wayne, Indiana right now....funny how things have turned out.

Last night we hooked up on new computer (I'm in love!) and I decided to look through some of the photos from our travels.  As I opened the first file, I realized that it had been exactly one year from the date these photos were taken.  This time last year we had spend our first night in Singapore and were headed out to explore the city.  We didn't spend much time there, but packed a whole lot of sight-seeing into our short visit.  It doesn't feel so long ago, I can still remember the sights, smells, and feelings we experienced in that city....I wonder how long that'll last!

We are so thankful for the time we were able to travel and for the places it has taken us.  We love our house and being home....we have jobs, and a puppy, and couldn't be more content in life.  Though browsing these photos we long to do more traveling, right now life is good!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

moving forward.

*This was written well over a week ago - but I'm just now sitting down to add photos and didn't see the point in rewriting it!

Life can feel like a catch 22 sometimes....we want it to go faster, then slower...we're always waiting for the next thing, but when it arrives, we still aren't satisfied and therefore look toward the next thing!  This reminds me of the way the Chinese refer to things in the future.  In reference to something 2weeks out, they'd say "next, next week", 3 weeks out = "next, next, next week".  Today I feel like the to-do list has gotten so long that I am looking forward to next, next, next year! (hoping that the majority of the home improvements will be taken care of in that time frame)

To be honest, things are moving rather quickly here, whether we like it (we do right now) or not (and we don't too!).  I've already been in school three weeks!  It's flown by, but I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my position every day.  I love my kids, and look forward to seeing them each day - they've already made such progress.  On the flip side, it's already September, and with the new month has come cool (even cold) weather.  There have been nights when our fleece blanket and comforter has left us shivering in the middle of the night!!  We've found that by closing the windows, we're actually trapping in the cold air...we get so little direct sunlight that the air in the house doesn't warm up with the outside air during the day.  This has left us feeling pressure to get our attic and basement fully insulated.  Also, our furnace isn't working yet...which could be a major issue if the temperatures decided to drop below freezing!  Fingers crossed, the repairman who is coming to look at it on Monday will have a quick fix!

Okay, enough about logistics...the KITCHEN!  If you've been following our pictures on facebook, this is probably the last image of our kitchen you've seen...

This was in fact the end of our work day last Saturday...we continued to spend countless hours on the kitchen Sunday AND Monday (so thankful for a real 3-day weekend together!)  By the end of the weekend, this is what the kitchen looked like...

...and these are the best parts!

No more dishes in the bathtub!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Advice, please!

I'm more of a Suzie Homemaker than a Mrs. Fix-It.  

While the kitchen is still very much under construction, I'm working out decor and organization in my head.

One thing I'm stuck on is whether or not to do crown molding in the kitchen...?!

I LOVE the look, but am not sure if my doing it in the kitchen means that I then will want to do crown molding throughout the whole house!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

the Heironimi

This morning I spent some time hanging out with friends of ours taking some family photos for them.  What do you think?

I LOVE Avery's face!!

"Nathan, smile!"

I love Heather's face in this one!

Where's Avery?!

There she is!

I think this is my favorite picture of the morning!

Thank you, Heironimus' for a fun morning!!  
You have one stinkin' cute little girl!