Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 year anniversary, a reflection


This month we celebrated 5 years of adventures, laughter and hardwork together as a married pair.  It is incredible to reflect on all of the highlights and accomplishments during this stretch, and to imagine the possibilities the future may bring. 

We started out as young passionate local missionaries living in poverty and striving to build community in a rough place. This time was exciting, challenging and built a foundation of love and compassion of the human struggle. We were very idealistic and were proud of rejecting the American dream. It was wonderful. 

In our second year adult responsibilities called, so we moved to the other side of town to be closer to work. We wrestled with reconciling our desire to actively live our faith and at the same time fulfill our adult responsibilities. Our faith matured to see all life circumstances as opportunities to love and serve, regardless of the structure. 

Year 3 was brave - we bought a fixer upper. Having little to no skill in home repair or construction, we set off to figure it all out. It was hard. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. It was demanding and stretched us to the max. We faced our fears, learned new skills and realized that we are not invincible. 

Thus, year 4 was about finding time to relax and take it easy. Taking time to focus on our health, both physical and mental was crucial. Sure there were projects yet to be completed, but our priority was restoring ourselves. We learned to let things go and be okay with things as is, to pace ourselves and know our limits. 

This year we celebrated our 5th year and it is exciting to begin with all of the lessons of the previous under our belt. I have learned so much about the reality of hard work, construction, relationships and faith. I have grown in my appreciation and love for David, and I have discovered so much about myself - my limits, my buttons and what I am actually able to accomplish. I am so thankful for David's continued belief in my ability to learn new things and to push me past what I thought were definite limits. 

It is exciting to go into year 5 knowing that I have a partner who loves me despite my dark side, who believes in me more than I believe in myself, and who continues to discover new things with and about me. And likewise I feel fortunate to continue to be impressed with David's love for learning, stability, and dedication to do excellent work. 

I thank God for these years and am truly excited for what the next years will bring. It seems like if a couple can overcome home remodeling, they can overcome anything. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Sunday with the Family

With the recent remodel of our kitchen, I have been rediscovering the joy of hosting.  Recently, we hosted a dessert date with my two lovely cousin-sisters, Kat and Irina and their SOs. While preparing for the date, I realized that I had just as much fun making the dessert and deciding how to set the table, as during the time spent together.  There is this joy that comes from making food that you know people will enjoy and considering its presentation.  Then the payoff of the time spent together, absolute bliss.

Christmas 2013 with my sweet family

So I am thrilled to be hosting our family Easter lunch this year.  My mom is having surgery on Friday, so I thought I would lighten the load for her and offer to have the gathering at my place. She is hardcore and said she will be bringing blinchiki, goluptsi and her famous broccoli salad. So much for my plan, right? Amongst everyone else (there will be 13 of us total), and their contributions, I really don't have to make much.

So I am going to take the opportunity to try something I've never done before, and go for a lamb roast.

On my Easter Menu:




And possibly a dozen Mini Pies.


Hopefully the weather will be nice so we can whip out some of them lawn games that have been collecting dust in the garage. Looking forward to Sunday, family time is the best! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Master Bedroom Remodel


We moved into the house before we had a chance to make any improvements. I remember the first few nights, all of our boxes and possessions crammed into the den, with our mattress laying in the middle of the room. There was no walking room, you had to climb over boxes and bags. We lived this way for a good few weeks as we figured what projects we would tackle first.
There was so much work to be done - we were basically remodeling it completely, so there were so many questions to answer:
  • What vibe did we want to set? 
  • What materials were we going to use? 
  • How would we bring our vision to reality? How much time, energy and effort would it take? 
  • And would it turn out as we imagined? 
Being novices with relatively no experience in home repair, we decided our priority was to prepare a room that we could call our sanctuary, our master bedroom.  It would be a contained goal that would serve as a point of sanity amidst the chaos of remodeling that would surely take a good while to complete.

And so the work began...

The master bedroom had a major animal urine stench. We knew we had to get rid of it first, so we ripped out the carpet and began our attack, deploying almost every scent removing strategy found on the internet.  Finally, we painted the floor with KILZ and it seemed to do the trick.






After succeeding the war on the terrible smell, we began searching for the perfect color scheme. We wanted something calming, inviting, and romantic. The good news was that we both wanted a similar vibe for the room. We settled on Hazel from Sherwin Williams.  I am glad we went with that choice; to this day, whenever I enter the room I feel a sense of peace.



Of course as silly as it sounds, painting the room was very stressful for me. It was my first time painting a room and knowing that it was going to be OUR room, I wanted it to be perfect. Thankfully the Cashmere paint was very easy to work with.



After the walls and ceiling was painted, we had to decide on the type of flooring we were going to install.  We didn't want to do carpet, and hardwood was out of our price range so decided on laminate. We sought advice from my cousin Alex who works in flooring, and he introduced us to NW Flooring Outlet in Beaverton. We scored a great deal on 11mm laminate that has a dark wood look with french bleeding.



After painting, installing flooring, and putting in our furniture, we were very happy with the outcome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I died and went to flower heaven


Our neighborhood is blessed with so many beautiful flowers that start to show-off their beauty this time of year.  I love the effort that our neighbors have put into making the neighborhood so colorful. This time of year, yellow daffodils decorate the sidewalks, and soon tulips and dahlias will bloom.





The previous owners of our house were avid gardeners who grew a large variety of roses, white calla lilies, tulips and clematis. So far we have been lucky enough to reap their efforts, and we are trying to learn how to care for these so they keep coming back in bloom each year.





This year, in a fit of fury from a hard day at work, I managed to trim our rose bushes pretty low to the ground, so we are a bit worried about their comeback. But they appear to be resilient and are starting to show little buds. I am cheering and crossing my fingers for their success.





One of my favorite things about having so many beautiful flowers blooming outside is coming home from work and seeing how David creatively arranges them inside the house:







Sometimes I even discover new flowers that I didn't even know were growing in our yard, like these bleeding hearts.




 I hope we can plant some gerbera daisies soon, they're my favorite.




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Oh great, another blog!


Hello there, thanks for stopping by! My name is Elena Knepprath and I am a twenty-something trying to figure out this thing called adulthood.

 So far, I've managed to find a meaningful job in the affordable housing industry, one that I look forward to each day.  I have a husband named David, who besides being my best friend is also the most thoughtful and hardworking man I know. 

Our recent adventures include purchasing a major fixer upper in 2011 and consequently discovering what homeownership and remodeling is all about. We are also dabbling in gardening and are continuously rediscovering what it means to live a healthy and balanced life.

As we are exploring these adult things, I hope to share what we've learned along the way, along with things that inspire a saner and happier life.

Thanks for joining on this ride, I hope you will share some of your insights with us as well!

Monday, March 10, 2014

What kind of tomatoes should I grow?


We were ambitious (nothing new here) and purchased 4 tomato starts last year at the Annie Ross Plant Sale. All proceeds benefited the homeless family shelter of Clackamas County.
 We had two cherry tomato starts, hot house tomato, and the pretty yellow pear tomatoes. We didn't know what to expect - how well these would grow, and which we would enjoy more. They all sounded lovely so we decided to go big. Well the tomatoes did grow big and plenty. We had more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. Here is how these three varieties faired for us:



Hot house tomatoes - these took the longest to ripen, but when they did they were huge! They had a lot of flavor and worked perfectly roasted, sprinkled with salt or sugar or as soup. Also could have worked well for salsa. 


Cherry tomatoes - these grow quickly and are very easy to eat. We liked these best roasted and added to pasta or in a caprese salad. These were also great as a snack by themselves, nothing else added. 


Yellow pear tomatoes - these were fun for the variety. They didn't produce as fruitful as the cherry tomatoes but they were definitely flavorful and worth the novelty. These were so cute we preferred them plain as a snack, and often thy didn't even make it to the house. 


Going forward, I think we will have one cherry tomato plant, one hot house and one heirloom. This produces a variety and will give us many options for preserving. This year my goal is to can some, make salsa, and donate the extras to the local food bank. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Recap from our first garden

Last year, my husband and I finally got around to getting our green thumb on. It was the first time that either of us took gardening seriously and committed to seeing our efforts through to the end, and the result was satisfying.

Here is a look at our gardening adventure.  My hope is that you can learn from our adventure and be inspired to have a gardening project of your own.  It really isn't an impossible task, especially if you live in Oregon!

1. Prepare the land. 
First, the house we purchased in 2011 already had a nice little garden plot that had excellent irrigation and a watering system. The challenge was discovering it under the weeds. After a few days of labor intensive weeding and tilling we cleared enough space to plant some seeds.



2. Decide what to plant when and where.
This was both fun and stressful at the same time. We wanted to set ourselves up for success so we consulted with OSU Extension Services and the Oregon Tilth for a list of low-maintenance vegetables and when they needed to be planted. We decided on radishes, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and the assortment of our most frequently used herbs - dill, cilantro, basil and parsley.

We drew out a map of our garden and marked where we were going to plant what. We also discussed what would be best to plant from seed and what would benefit from coming from starts. In the end, everything we planted came from a seed with the exception of the tomatoes.

Now I admit, we were a little sloppy on clearly labeling where things were growing and where the paths were. This year, we will be more realistic in how much walking space we need and how explicitly we need to label our plants. This didn't negatively impact our results at all, but it did make for a few awkward moments navigating the garden.


3. Maintain the garden.
Living in Oregon, this was the easy part up until late July, early August.  Thankfully we had the great sprinkler system that covered the area of the garden pretty well, and then for some of our more particular plants we used a watering can.  This also included thinning out the radishes and keeping an eye on any plants being attacked by slugs and bugs.

4. Enjoy the produce.
This was of course the most rewarding and exciting part. We were blessed with an abundance of produce.  It was the most rewarding thing to come home from work, go to the garden and pick the vegetables that would dictate dinner.  I will share my favorite garden recipes in a future post.


I also took many instagram pictures. I was proud, if you couldn't tell.

All of that reflecting aside, we are excited to get an earlier start this year, be more strategic in where we plant and how we label, and also have a better plan for what to do with the produce.  Last year we had more than we could eat at one time, so this year I want to be more strategic with our produce.

Here's to happy gardening!


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