Monday, December 29, 2008

December Nephews (Part 1, the Older)

Dude, I love my nephews.

The big guy (who turns 4 in May) amused us during our Eve of Christmas Eve celebration by:

--Playing imaginary Star Wars games almost constantly. After he finished eating and was excused, he figured out how to turn off the dining room light. So the rest of the family ate silently in the dark for a minute or so. Until the little man, sitting to my right, decided that would be a perfect time to touch my arm with his moist little hand. The noise I made was somewhere between a screech and a giggle. The big guy thought that was hilarious and repeated the on/off lights experiment several more times in hopes of eliciting another funny noise.

--Wanting to hand out all the gifts, even though he can't read the recipent's names. I had color-coded the packages I wrapped according to family member (umm, yeah. . .I prefer to call it organized) and could amaze him by correctly guessing which gift went to whom.

--Opening a box of clothes, saying "Wow!" and flinging them into the air. Proceeds to ignore them for the rest of the evening. (Repeat performances available on Christmas Evening.)

--Thinking Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are the same person. When the person has brown hair, he is Han Solo. And when he has blonde hair, he is Luke Skywalker. Does not understand attempts to convince him that they are two guys who can be differentiated by level of cuteness or friendship with Wookies.

--Deciding that sometimes it is okay to wear things on his head, especially if his little brother is getting attention for wearing, say, a headband with felt reindeer antlers attached. Although the headwear barely lasts long enough for a photo, and then most are blurry because he is busy trying to poke his dad's eyes out with said antlers.

--Loving some song my brother has on his cell phone, which the kid refers to as the "rock out song." When the song is played, he starts dancing, and busts out some moves my bro has taught him. These moves include the robot and breakdancing. Believe me when I tell you that one of the most hilarious things you'll ever see is an almost four year old trying to do the robot and breakdance. If I'd had a video camera, I am certain I could win money on tv with a recording of those shenanigans.

--Standing by my chair on Christmas evening, as the rest of the group admired his little brother in his pajamas and robe. I said, "Everybody thinks that little robe is pretty cute on your brother. What do you think?" He answered, "My brother is so awesome!" Seriously. If I didn't know better, I would swear I ovulated right then due to the sheer force of child cuteness around me.


I'm behind in updates, so I'll go ahead and add possibly the most boring update first: books I've read recently.

My book club read The Chosen as our December selection. I thought the book was interesting, I did learn more about that time in history (1940s) and also Judaism. But, I found the overall style unsettling. I kept waiting for something very bad to happen, and it never did. I got a little bit bogged down in some of the intricate explanations of what different religious readings (might) mean. I think I gave this book three stars on Goodreads, but I wish I could've given it 2.5.

Over the Christmas holidays, I read Dead Until Dark. I'd seen glowing reviews for the book (and series), and had seen ads for the HBO show True Blood, so I wanted to give it a try. My main complaint was that the author sporadically uses poor grammar to indicate a character's southern accent. I find that incredibly irritating when I'm reading. I know where the book is set (small Louisiana town), I know many of the characters probably have some sort of accent, but throwing in a couple of instances of poor grammar to convey a "southern" accent? Bleah! I will admit that I will probably never watch the show because I can't stand Anna Paquin's fake southern accent, but at least I can imagine an actual accent in my head when I'm reading. . .without a random "don't got no"s (for example). I imagine the main character quite a bit like one of my cousins, actually, though she grew up in fairly rural Alabama, rather than Louisiana. I was honestly surprised to read that the author was raised in Mississippi and currently lives in Arkansas. If the poor grammar had at least been consistent, it wouldn't have bothered me. Anyway, I did still like the story enough to want to read the next one in the series, and I'm interested to check out her other series, which begins with Grave Sight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Hundred Minus One

I can almost never resist a good meme, and as usual, Joyco does not disappoint!

Items on the list that I've done are in bold:

1. Started your own blog: Umm, yeah.
2. Slept under the stars: Yep, although I am not a huge camping fan.
3. Played in a band: Two, actually. I played the clarinet in the sixth grade band. I played the tamborine one night in college at the Black Cat for a band whose name I can't for the life of me remember. Ahh, good times.
4. Visited Hawaii: Maui, on my honeymoon. Would love, LOVE, to go back.
5. Watched a meteor shower: From the roof of the house I lived in with three girlfriends after college.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world: Multiple times; my aunt/godmother has lived in Florida for 20+ years now, and one of their homes is in Orlando.
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo: Once, in church, I kept on singing even though the song had ended. Surprise solo!
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning: Ugh, yes, and it's the worst!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables: Used to grow tomatoes. My thumb has turned brown since.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight: Yeah, I have a brother!
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill: And usually ended up working a little from home anyway.
24. Built a snow fort: When I was in the sixth grade, it snowed in Austin. The neighbors a few houses down and across the street instructed all of us younger kinds to collect up snow from yards up and down the street and they built an igloo. It was AWESOME.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping: More than once. At least two of those instances are pretty good stories.
27. Run a Marathon: I try to only run when chased.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice: somday!
29. Seen a total eclipse: Pretty sure I watched one in a box "camera" in elementary school. Remember those?
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset: I haven't seen a sunrise in a while--I used to see them from staying up all night!
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors: someday!
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language3
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied: I feel comfortable, but one day I'd love to have enough money to not worry so much about budgeting.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke: No, and I consider that I public service.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight: Once right before/after doing something else on this list. hee!
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted: A friend of our family had my brother's & my portrait painted from a photo. Didn't look like us at all!
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling: Snorkeled in Maui. That ocean is cold!
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie: MrMonkey has!
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class: if Krav Maga counts, then yes. (Could also check off "accidentally punched self in face" after that class.)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason: MrMonkey likes to surprise me from time to time.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter: In the 3rd grade. It nearly crashed, but I never knew that until years later.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy: I have a whole toy chest full of favorites at my mom's house.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square: Love NYC, don't love Times Square. Too crowded!
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle: If I was the passenger, how would I know if we were speeding? Any speed felt too fast!
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car: On the list for 2009! So far I've only owned used cars.
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper: When I was a kid, the Austin American-Statesman had a Cooking for Kids club where they published recipes for families to cook together. Somehow, my family was chosen for an interview & they took pics of us making BBQ chicken.
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House: I haven't been inside, does posing in front count?
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating: I have eaten a fish that I caught, but I didn't clean it (though I had to watch), so I don't think this counts.
88. Had chickenpox: Jr. High. No fun.
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous: Met several someones famous. I acted like the biggest dork when meeting Jason Patric. He's so handsome! I got flustered.
92. Joined a book club: I think it's been three years since I joined.
93. Lost a loved one: More than one. :o(
94. Had a baby: 2009 will be my year.
95. Seen the Alamo in person: Seen it, toured it. Own a flag that flew over it. Have a husband who was in the movie.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit: Sortof. Car accident-related. I was a passenger in the car of the person who was involved in the lawsuit.
98. Owned a cell phone: Not 'til after college!
99. Been stung by a bee: ouchie.

I think I need to get out more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

November Nephew Time & Other Updates

Thanksgiving Day, K and I had dinner with my parents, brother, SIL and their boys.

The big guy (already 3 and a half!) was feeling a little overwhelmed from his lunch w/ SIL's family. Evidently, he is not fond of crowds right now, and there is certainly a crowd there. Poor kid. After we ate, he wanted dessert and my mom offered him a choice between pie, ice cream, and popcorn. He picked popcorn, so she popped a bag and split it into two bowls--planning to eat the second bowl herself later. I noticed him slip into the dining room (everyone else had moved on to the den) by himself and sit down in his chair to eat his popcorn and play with some star wars lego guys. I went in to sit with him and hang out. He told me the popcorn he was eating was going into the Death Star. I asked him if that was his mouth, but he said no, and pointed to his stomach. His preferred method of eating popcorn is to stuff his mouth full and then chew for a little while so he can have his hands free to play. He asked me to help switch around the heads on his star wars guys, so I did. (After laughing to myself about his question: "Can you take his head off for me?") He finished his bowl of popcorn quickly and said he wanted more. I told him he had to ask my mom if he could have the other bowl, and he did--of course she agreed. He decided it would be fun to make a weird screamy noise while he was eating, and then laugh like crazy. Naturally, I decided to join him in laughing like crazy. SIL heard the ruckus and actually came to check on us. We had a good time.

The little fella is approaching 2 (in March). He'd been feeling puny, but he rallied during dinner. Right after we ate, I was hanging out at the table with him, while my brother sat on the other side with the big guy. Little fella got a little fussy, and started to tug at his shirt around the arms and neck. My brother told me I could take the kid's shirt off, so I did. Immediately, the little guy started, uh, pinching the crap out of certain sensitive areas on his chest. Oookay! He seemed so pleased with himself, I couldn't help but laugh. My brother told me that's a new favorite for him. For some reason, this struck me as so funny that I couldn't stop laughing and had to leave the table. That little man is such a crack-up for me. Even though he doesn't look like my brother, he totally has my brother's personality. I just want to squeeeze that little guy!

I almost forgot. . .when they were leaving, I asked the big guy if I could have a hug. Sometimes he's a little shy and doesn't want to hug, but he came over and let me hug him! Yeah, he didn't actually hug me, he just stood there and let me hug him. Eh, I'll take it.

In other news, I ended up being released from my responsibility to cater desserts at my friend's office holiday party. I had asked if her boss would make selections from my dessert menu, so I could give them a price quote and contract. The next day, her boss decided she'd rather order cakes from a bakery--cakes are not on my list. Whatev. It would've been fun to have that experience, but it's not like I have a ton of free time these days. In fact, K and I met with a realtor last week and not only hired her that night, but also agreed to list our house on January 1. Yikes! Hooray! I had some reservations about her before our meeting, but K was on board with her almost immediately. Our mortgage guy recommended her, and we didn't interview anyone else, but I am fairly confident in our decision. I think she will be a good asset in staging our house, and I hope that plus our willingness to price the house on the cheap side will be the key to a quick sale. I'm proud to say that I have managed to stay off since our meeting. I wouldn't want to find the perfect house too soon, right? Especially since I already found a house I loved, only to have K see the pics and shoot it down almost immediately. Cathedral ceilings (which we have now) are NOT on his list. Boo!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something New

I've noticed that I have an odd habit of offering to do things for people that I think I can do--even if I have absolutely no experience--because it sounds like a fun challenge.

For example, a friend was talking about her small company holiday party, which she's helping plan with the company owner. She was complaining about how they over-ordered food last year, and most of it wasn't very good. I gave her advice on how to figure out the appropriate number of attendees to tell the caterer, and some caterer recommendations. She told me how it cost their company $27/person last year, which prompted me to say "Are you kidding? That's outrageous! I'll cater your company party for half that."

Ummm, WHAT? She jumped on the idea, and I told her I'd think about it--think about a menu, cost and other logistics like where I plan to make and store catering for 40. I did think about it more, though, and decided (to put the crack pipe down) that I couldn't logically cater a party for 40. But maybe I could provide the desserts. I'm good at desserts. In fact, just a few days before this conversation, I had dinner with an out of town friend and another friend of hers I don't know well, and the other friend asked what I would be if I could be anything. I told her I would want to own a cupcake shop. Except I don't want to be the person getting up at 5am to bake the cupcakes, and I don't want to be stuck working the register all the time. I just wanted to make sure people got delicious pretty cupcakes, occasionally baked by me. I may have been on a sugar high when I answered this question, but I guess it stuck with me, because here I was delving into professional dessertery just a few days later.

I called my friend back and told her I couldn't really cater the entire event, but would be willing to put together a menu of dessert options for the owner of her company to consider. So I went through my recipes and picked out my best options. I included some boring options (she thought the owner would insist on cookies, so I included those), and made a spreadsheet of ingredients I'd need. I went to the grocery store and priced every ingredient, then I went through each recipe on the list and figured out the cost per bar/cookie/truffle. Then I doubled the cost for my price list. Easy enough, right? Oh yeah, I also tried out a small sample batch of a recipe I put together on my own (just combining two things I already had recipes for--I'm not getting crazy, here!) to make sure it was delicious and easy. I made a batch of White Chocolate Raspberry Bars, too. I sent half to work with K and delivered a small plate to my friend to share with her boss when I dropped off my price list.

Yesterday, she called to tell me that I was hired! Her boss does want a fancy chocolate cake (cakes are not on my list, though cupcakes were), so they'll get that from Central Market. Otherwise, she's going to leave the final decision of what to make to me, so I can submit a bid and probably some sort of contract. K offered his services as in-house graphic designer, in case I needed business cards or anything else. He started offering up name options. (Hello, obviously I would want a name that makes me giggle, and maybe include a pun.) Umm, suddenly I have a baked goods catering business? Nooo! But I did happen upon some eye candy on the internet, and have been inspired to bake delicious things, make them pretty, and see what happens.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quick Update

So my daily good thing bit the dust pretty quickly, eh? (sigh) I'm going to get back to that soon--I'm in a much better mood when I'm thinking about what's good each day instead of getting stressed or cranky.

Since my last visit, I've finished another book: In The Woods, by Tana French. I reviewed it on goodreads, but I will quickly summarize and say that I liked it, but I was hoping for more of a resolution to one of the main (old) mysteries introduced. I think the author has written another book with at least one of the same main characters, though, so I'm going to track that down and add it to my (extensive) "to read" list. (ETA: Found it!)

I am proud to report that I wrote thank you notes (#32) for a few gifts friends/family sent me for my birthday, and being able to use pretty cards did encourage me to get those finished. (Although they were sent nearly a month after my birthday. Bad!) Now I just need to continue to work through my stash of pretty cards, instead of hoarding them because they're pretty.

We're meeting with a realtor next week, and I'm excited but wary. Our mortgage guy recommended her, but I don't know if she's the right person for us based on the listings I've seen on her website. K really wants to stick with her because of the recommendation, but I may try to convince him to interview at least a couple of other people. I don't know. . .I'm trying to reserve judgement until I actually meet her in person. And having that meeting time set has helped kick the house projects into gear. We really do work best under a deadline.

Now back to cruising listings on More updates later!

Monday, November 10, 2008

#31 Reading

I finished reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down this weekend, almost in time for my book club meeting. I already left a brief review on goodreads, but I'll just add here that I am on a break from non-fiction for now. Luckily, my book club agrees and I think only one of our next six book choices is non-fiction. . .instead of five!

Good Things for. . .
Saturday: Book club meeting with girlfriends.
Sunday: K comes home, hooray!
Monday: Christmas at Caswell lunch with mom. The dessert was pumpkin creme brulee. I don't usually like pumpkin pie, but this was deeelicious. This is either the third or fourth year we've gone together--it's a fun tradition.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Good Things


Yesterday was our fourth anniversary, awww!

K surprised me with flowers in the morning--apparently, he'd hidden them away after secretly buying them the night before. He always gives me the best cards for our anniversary, too.

The Office was hilarious. One of my favorite parts: when Pam yells out "That's what she said! That's what she said! That's what she said!"

Kitty and I had an adventure with The Roach Who I Thought Crawled Into The Master Bedroom. K wasn't home yet, and we had to deal with it ourselves. I may have screamed a little bit. When I was reporting the story to K, I laughed so hard I snorted.


After I got to work, I MacGuyver-d a paper clip into a hair restraining device for some rogue bangs that weren't quite long enough to reach my hair clip.

K left me a sweet little note, since I was coming home to an empty house.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vitamins, Reading, Good Things

Hooray, I finally have been able to cross #50 (Take a vitamin daily for 30 days straight) off the list! I take my vitamin in the evening, and I have such trouble remembering it that I finally started using one of those daily pill organizers. Nothing else I do makes me feel more like a senior citizen, either. But I'll be the first to admit that it's worked for me--I haven't missed a daily vitamin in the last 30 days, and now I'm going to see how far I can get. I'm glad I was able to reach this goal before holiday travel; being away from home makes it easier for me to forget my vitamin.

I recently finished reading The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane. I briefly reviewed the book on goodreads, so I'll only mention here that Dennis Lehane is one of my favorite authors. But, I hope he returns to mysteries and/or thrillers soon. I liked the book, but I didn't love it--and I was expecting to love it. I think his last book prior to The Given Day was Shutter Island, soon to be a major motion picture. I'm looking forward to seeing that movie; I hope it is as well done as the book was well-written. Lehane is the author of two other books that have been made into movies: Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone.
Wednesday Good Thing:
* Saw a guy in my building at work who looked like 70's Elvis--chops and shades included; white jumpsuit presumably left at home. He had just arrived to deliver a package. Could not help but giggle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday Good Thing


How strange--I had an entry here about Tuesday's good thing, and now it has been eaten by the internet. Hmpf.

Anyway, Tuesday night, kitty was extra snuggly and wanted to sit on my lap any time I sat down. I just love that little orange fella!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Updates Again: Almost Done!

52. Visit a Texas winery. I just now realized I have TWO number 52s. haha! K and I have been talking about doing a wine tour sometime soon, now I just have to figure out a good place to visit that's close.

53. Learn to use food processor & use more than just the chopping attachment. Watch video that came w/ processor. I used my food processor all the time, but still haven't figured out how to do more than just chop.

54. Do something nice for next door neighbors, even if it is just a holiday card or treat. I don't like one of our neighbors, but maybe I'll do something nice for the others before we move. Or perhaps I'll just bake some treats for our new neighbors to introduce ourselves once we move.

55. Shred junk mail weekly. So far, this is a big fat FAIL. The pile next to the shredder just grows until I'm cleaning the area.

56. Donate to charity yearly. The charity my aunt was running closed its doors this summer, so even though I've donated already to a couple of things, I don't have a favorite new charity yet.

57. Email or call S in MN at least monthly. I am emailing her every couple of months, but I am so bad about calling. Hoping to see her in a couple of weeks.

58. Buy last two silverware place settings. Yep, need to do this. I think I have a Crate & Barrel coupon, too.

59. Use wedding gifts that have never been used, like turkey pan and margarita glasses/pitcher. The turkey pan is really a roasting pan that I've just never used. Time to figure out what I can make in there!

60. Organize & centralize all address & birthday information for family & friends. I've still got info spread out all over the place. . .but most of it is in google contacts. Maybe when we move, I'll send out cards with our new info, and that will inspire me to get organized. Ahh, when we move is going to be such a magically productive time. ;o)

61. Make an extra mortgage payment once a year. (1/2) Our mortgage guy even confirmed that this is a good financial choice!

62. Own diamond earrings. Might buy these as a gift for myself for my next birthday.

63. Get kitty's teeth cleaned. I hate taking kitty to the vet. Probably almost as much as he hates going. I just worry about him being scared and what they're going to do to him, and (since they give him anesthesia for teeth cleaning) if he'll be okay. The doc always reminds us that he needs it when we visit, though, so I need to just get over myself and get it done.

65. Clean & organize desk area and files. Files are fairly organized, desk area is not. This is actually on my (very long) to do list for this weekend.

66. Use new printer at least once a month to prevent cartridges from clogging/drying out. I'm printing like a champ since K got me the wireless thing that allows me to print from my laptop anywhere.

67. Dispose of empty shampoo & conditioner bottles promptly. If it's in the shower with an inch of product at the bottom for more than a week, it should be thrown away. Doing really well with this one, but I think it's a lame goal. Why don't I just throw the almost-empties away when I clean the shower? Who knows.

68. Review personal budget to increase savings. Haven't done a big review yet, but am being more aware of how I'm spending money.

69. Finish MN photo album by end of 6/08. Didn't happen. Maybe I'll finish it before 2009.

70. Develop & implement a better housekeeping plan. Yeah, getting behind and spending a most of the day on a weekend cleaning is not my idea of fun times.

71. Learn enough about native plants and gardening to spruce up landscaping before March 2008. I have been doing a lot of gardening research, but I haven't spruced up the landscaping yet. (Once again, part of the Great House Sale Project of 2008.) I'm partially there. . .I've bought the pots. Right now, I'm waiting to K to remove the roots of some bushes we took out. Then, I can move forward with planting.

72. Get measured & properly fitted for a bra yearly, or after significant weight loss. I did get measured a couple of months ago, and bought a couple of new bras accordingly. Turns out I hadn't changed sizes, so I was really just replacing some old bras.

73. Have makeup professionally done yearly to find products I love & make me feel fabulous. Throw out old blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, etc. that has expired or doesn't really work. I'm almost out of blush, so I'm planning a consult for new stuff soon. After that, I'm weeding out my old stuff. . .especially what seems like hundreds of lipsticks I can't stop myself from buying.

Finally, the huge update is finished! On to smaller--but probably equally boring--updates soon.

Good Thing for Monday:
*I got a library card and checked out a book! I haven't done that since college. I like to buy books that I really want (at Half Price Books or elsewhere), so I can keep them when I really like them. But I realized that more often than not, I'm pretty lukewarm about books I'm reading for my book club. So the library is a perfect solution! I'm reading a library book club book now, and kicking myself for not getting my library card a year ago.

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Updates: Getting Closer

36. Perform 10 random acts of kindness for strangers. I'm normally pretty good about doing little things like letting someone with just a couple of groceries go ahead of me in line, but I feel like I want to do more for these 10 random acts. I need to think about it some more.

37. Sincerely thank or compliment someone daily. I'm doing pretty good on this one. I fall into a habit of not being as complimentary (at work and home), so I'm keeping and eye on this item.

38. Plan a party for big birthday. I'll be doing this to celebrate 10/19/09. I need to start brainstorming!

39. Help someone complete an item on their 101 in 1000 list. Anyone need any help? I need to start reading other people's lists more closely!

40. Blog after each item on list is accomplished. Ongoing, and going well.

41. Drink at least 1L of water daily. I am kicking #41's ass. I'm up to drinking at least 50 fl ounces daily (the size of my water bottle)--at a minimum. I can definitely feel a difference when I start to get behind in my water intake. How did I ever NOT drink this much water?

43. Finish home improvement list before Spring 2008. Now I'm hoping to finish the list in the next few weeks to get our house on the market. I'm getting close, although we've had a couple of items added to the list, which isn't helping me finish any sooner.

44. Empty dishwasher before sink fills with dishes, always. (sigh) I'm getting better, but I'm still not where I want to be. I realized my sink is always cleanest when my ILs are in town, because apparently I like to kindof hide out in the kitchen and cleaning out the sink gives me something to do. Growing up, I was taught to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher. K was taught to leave dirty dishes in the sink. Since we married, he's been pulling me to the dark side, so I'm trying to break BOTH of us of this habit.

45. Take a picture every day for a month. Still planning to do this, still considering getting a better camera--although I do really like my point & shoot.

46. Clean out purse once a month. (3/24) Right, this isn't going to happen. And I've realized I don't need to clean out my purse monthly to feel organized. If I do it every few months, or even every six months, that's fine. I am flagging this item to revise it.

47. Keep car maintenance up to date (inspection, registration, regular maintenance.) I've been doing well on this item, although I need to get my inspection update by the end of this month and my oil changed.

48. Accept compliments gracefully. Upon receiving a compliment, my natural tendency is to say "thank you" but then start rambling on to deflect the compliment. Like if someone tells me "That's a great necklace!" I would say something like "Oh, thanks! It's so old, I barely wear it any more." I am doing a lot better (though still needing improvement) on just saying "thank you" and shutting up.

49. Clean out junk drawers yearly. So far, this hasn't happened. Instead, I think our junk drawers are multiplying.

50. Take a vitamin daily for 30 days straight. I've gotten SOOO close, only to forget and have to re-start the 30 day count. I think I'm on day 28 or 29 of my current count, so this might be it!

52. Find and maintain a good photo back-up system. K bought me an, uh, exterior hard drive thing (? obviously the technical term) and I've backed my pics up once using it. After I back my pics up again, and make sure I know how to access them, I'm crossing this one off the list.

At this rate, maybe I'll finish going through the list by 11/19. . .my thirteenth month anniversary of starting this list. ha! I'm already thinking of ways to revise the two items I'm tossing out, but I want to have some options that will make a positive change in my life, not just another "to do."

Sunday Good Things

*Iced grande non-fat chai. Mmmm.

*Baking goodies for folks who need some cheer. I made orange cranberry muffins and chocolate chip banana bread, and the house smelled wonderful.

*Ordering K's anniversary gift, after I couldn't find it in the store. I hope it arrives before Thursday!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Saturday Good Thing

K was out running errands, and he picked up lunch. He brought home a little surprise treat--an oatmeal raisin cookie!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

#13: Met with Mortgage Guy

Tonight we met with our mortgage guy, and it was a great meeting. One of my friends worked with him when she bought her house, and I can see why she selected him. He did a great job of answering our questions, and explained everything really well. He is pretty much the total opposite of the mortgage lady K worked with when he bought our house, and I am so glad.

Good thing for Thursday? Great mortgage guy meeting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Continuing with the updates. . .

(#22) I've started marking vacation photos that I think would be good to print and frame, but I'm going to hold off on actually doing this until we move. I will be totally knocking out my list once we move, it seems!

(#23) Yeah, as it turns out, PNV must have made my eyelashes grow, because I think they're pretty long now and the idea of wearing false eyelashes for some fancy occasion seems silly. I'm going to mark this item as something I want to revise.

(#24) I've been to the gun range with K a grand total of once (pre-list), and he's owned hand guns for like 7 or 8 years now. I feel like I should be confident using a gun if there's going to be one in my house--even thought it's not out or loaded. My brother became a gun fanatic when he married into a family who hunts, so surely between he and K, I will get to the gun range again.

(#26) Still working on finding the perfect panties. I am really liking a gap body bra (I think they call it a t-shirt bra?) that I bought a couple of weeks ago, so that brand/style may work for replacing my old VS bras.

(#27) Making progress on this, with the help of a book and tips from Pioneer Woman.

(#28) So not close to making vacation photo albums, unless you count organizing my digital photo files on my computer into folders. I need more free time!

(#29) Fourth wedding anniversary = November 6th. No photo albums in sight. And K is a graphic designer! I don't want to distract him from other (house) projects by asking for his help on desiging a photo book. . .for now.

(#31) I knew I'd do well on my reading list--I love to read. I tend to read in spurts, though. When I'm really busy, I only seem to find time to skim through magazines and read books for my book club. But I'm ahead of schedule of this task, hooray!

(#32) So far, so good. I do need to write several thank you notes that are birthday-related, but I plan to work on these in between trick-or-treaters on Friday night. I'm behind! Having a chance to use pretty stationery is a good motivator, though.

(#33) I keep losing and gaining back the same 3 pounds. Current goal: not gaining weight over the holidays, and getting back on track with exercise.

(#34) Actually, I'm going to sell my bike and buy a new one that's easier to ride. Eventually.

(#35) I have a group of girlfriends I grew up with, and after high school, we spread out to different colleges and different lives. But we kept in touch and remained close. After college, we decided to reunite yearly in different locations. That was--wow--about 10 years ago? We met in New Orleans our first year, followed by Sedona, Boston, Portland, Chicago, and Minneapolis. But at some point, our group of gals started getting married and having babies. So a yearly trip became more difficult, or a yearly trip included husbands/boyfriends because we we traveling to someone's wedding. That was so not the same as hanging around in our pajamas and talking about the elementary school days. Now, four of us live in Austin, one gal lives in Houston, and one is in Minneapolis. All but two of us have kids. We were hoping for a get together this year, even if we just gathered in Austin, but so far it hasn't worked out. I really, really hope we can all get together in 2009. It's been too long!

Wednesday Good Things:

*packet of Tylenol in my desk drawer at work. Morning lifesaver!
*news that KXAN is back on Time Warner. Hip Hip Hooray!
*office vending machine re-stocked the bottled Starbucks frappuccino drinks after months of an empty slot. One of those was exactly what I was craving this afternoon. Sweet!
*Hershey's Special Dark Miniatures. (insert Homer Simpson-style drooling) A little Froggi tipped me off to these, and I broke down tonight to buy a bag. SO glad I did. Also glad that I exhibited a little self control and only ate three. New favorite: Special Dark Mr. Goodbar. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update O'Rama

Hip, hip, hooray, we're meeting with the mortgage guy on Thursday! (#13) This will be a huge step in finally, FINALLY, starting the process of putting out house on the market. I mean, other than all the other crap on my house "to do" list that I've already finished. I've only wanted to move for the past two years. Now if only K would get his rear in gear to clean out his office/man room. . .

So, right, #14--put our house on the market. Spring has come and gone, but we have actually been working on this item. Well, let's say *I* have been working on this item quite a bit, and K helps out here and there. Most importantly, he finally wants to move as much as I want to move. Let's just hope that the local housing market works for us on this item. Ideally, we'll list our house and find a buyer practically immediately. At the same time, we will find a house we love (#15) and be able to buy it shortly after selling our own house. So we won't have to have any transitional housing, and we'll be able to use our considerable (to me, anyway) equity towards the new home purchase. We'll be selling cheap, and that's fine with me.

(#16) I have cleaned out the guest room closet (which is my auxilliary closet), but since I still have all the give-aways lingering in my trunk, waiting to be dropped at Goodwill, I'm not counting a second cleaning, yet. I know there will be more cleaning and purging, especially when we move, so I think this task will be easily accomplished. Oh, how I dream of having a master closet where I can keep all my clothes instead of spreading them out all over the house.

(#17) A project I envisioned for moving time, and one that K has started already. Well, he's taking photos of his guitars, at least. (eye roll)

(#18) I've had my Accord (Cherry) since 2002, and she has almost 110,000 miles on her. But, I've decided that I'd rather have a new house than a new car (#19) for now. I will need some sort of four-door vehicle before the baby I'm not even pg with yet arrives, so I'm not feeling rushed. As long as Cherry is running smooth, I'm not looking to replace her.

My car is usually full of crap. I have a bad habit of using it as a storage space, so there are often books, jackets, etc. filling the passenger and back seats. But, I've had her in guest-passenger-worthy shape for a month (#20). Except that the trunk is full of junk. So, I'm not going to start the six month count on this one just yet.

Our pantry (#21) is still in amazing shape. I LOVE our walk-in pantry--it's our closet under the stairs. I'll miss it when we move. Whatever our new kitchen ends up being like, it definitely has a lot to live up to. Our kitchen is huge. Seriously, I have friends with homes twice the size of ours (okay, just one friend with a house that big), and their kitchens aren't nearly as big. We have tons of counter space, a giant pantry, and we've replaced the appliances with stainless. Plus, we installed the floor ourselved. The only thing keeping it from being our dream kitchen are the white laminate countertops. (That and it's not in our dream house, of course.) I know we've been totally spoiled with such a great kitchen!

Tuesday Good Things:
*Morning kitty. Lately, when I open the door to the bedroom in the mornings, kitty is waiting to run in and jump on K in bed. Kitty starts purring like a machine as soon as his paws hit the mattress, and he walks up to K's face and head butts him. Then, he'll either stand there until he gets petted, or he'll look for a place to curl up next to K to wait for petting. This morning, K wasn't very awake, so kitty had to give him a little punch/knead combo until he responded. It was so stinkin' cute! Then, I picked him up to take him to get his food refilled, and he snuggled up in my arms (I was wearing a fuzzy robe) and didn't want to get down. I just wanted to squuueeeeeze him!

Monday, October 27, 2008

More Updates

I missed my deadline for #6, which was baby M's first birthday in September. What's particularly patethic about missing that deadline is that I started that gift at her mama's baby shower, in the late summer of 2007. Mama A suggested that our close group of girlfriends have a small baby shower with us and our moms (her SIL threw a huge shower for her several weeks earlier), and one of the things we wanted to do at the shower was have everyone write down a funny Mama A story or baby advice, or a nice memory, and make a little booklet for baby M. Except that two of the moms and one of the gals couldn't be there due to last minute emergencies, so we were down to four girls and three moms. Only Mama A's mom brought a note, which she read at the shower. It was a sweet and wonderful message to her only daughter about the upcoming birth of her daughter, and I think everyone else at the party got intimidated. No one else wrote down a message. Well, knowing my friends, I knew I'd need some time to harrass them and nag them until they finished their messages. I'm still missing messages from two of the gals and all of the other moms. I'm thinking about just framing the Grandma A message with a photo for little baby M and calling this one DONE. I'll have to check with the other gals, first, of course.

I've done a great job of using my grocery sacks and cute lunch bag, so I'm glad I was able to cross those items off already.

I am behind on cooking dinner with sides at least once a week, on a weekday! (#9) I should be a lot closer to 50. But, cooking a full dinner during the week just doesn't always happen. I am getting better about planning ahead when I go to the grocery store, so I'm hopeful that by early 2009, I'll be knocking this one out of the park on a regular basis. I've cooked three dinners since I last updated, and I'll add the newest recipe once I retrace my steps and find the link again. I think that I'll stop blogging about every meal I cook, and only blog about the new recipes.

My pile of loose recipes grows. (#10) I have a lot of recipes that are only saved in my computer, so those aren't really an issue. The problem is everything I tear out of Cooking Light, Real Simple, etc. I'm thinking about going with a big binder & clear plastice sleeves for those. I also really need to cull through them and take out the ones I'm really just never going to make.

I can't bring myself to bake bread or yeasty goodies (#11) during the summer--too hot. I'm really intimidated by kneading, though. I saw a tasty-sounding recipe for beer/cheese bread the other day, so I might start out with that option and see if I can baby-step my way toward this goal.

Summer is also too hot to grill (#12). Well, it's too hot for ME to use the grill, because I don't want to have to stand there and feeling like I'm broiling while I wait for my meat to finish. Right now, the weather is ideal for hanging around outside, though. Maybe I'll actually use the grill in 2008! If not, we're definitely looking for a new house to have an awesome outdoor area where I won't mind grilling in, say, December. Or March.

Monday Good Things:

*Sent flowers to a friend whose day need some brightness.

*Wearing the new red panties for the first time, giggling.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Good Things

*Post-church lunch at Phil's.

*Tiny Mexican vanilla Amy's ice cream.

*Being on a sugar-high w/ K.

*New shoes & bag on sale + coupons!

*Iced grande non-fat chai.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Good Things

*Sleeping late.

*Kitty taking a nap on my lap while I read.

*Date night with K; dinner at Mandola's, cinnamon gelato for dessert.

Friday, October 24, 2008

October Nephews & More

#4 on my list is spend quality time with my nephews monthly, and I had a chance to visit with two of my favorite little fellas last weekend, when my family gathered for lunch. As soon as we stepped on to the porch, the metal mail slot in one of the front double-doors popped open and a tiny face peered out. Nephew #2, C! I leaned down and played peek-a-boo with him a little bit, until he ran away giggling. As it turns out, 19 month olds don't have a long attention span.

Nephew #2 loves stickers. My mom keeps a sheet of happy face stickers on hand--I suspect they were a potty training aid for Nephew #1--and N2 had a couple of stickers stuck to his face and arms. He handed me a purple happy face, so I stuck it on the end of my nose and wiggled my nose up and down for him. Instant fascination! I knew my stupid human tricks would come in handy eventually.

I also played a little bit of chase with Nephew #1, who is about 3 and a half. (Holy crap, he's already 3 and a half!) All kids sure do love to run away and peep around corners. Our kitty is the same way, heh. I sustained a little bit of a broken heart when SIL's brother and wife stopped by to pick up their daughter (who'd spent the night with my brother & SIL), and Nephew #1 was jumping for joy to see his other Aunt. Stories from my SIL about how much he loves his Aunt V, and how she's his favorite are hard enough--but to see it in person (on my birthday!), sigh.

I managed to win him back later though--I asked him to help me open my gifts. haha! I also showed him the gifts K had given me at lunch. One of them was a book with scary mystery stores, and Nephew #1 was very curious about it. When I explained that the stories were scary, he said "It's not for little boys." I agreed, and told him it was for grown up ladies, like me. His response? "And like my mommy?" Yep! Another book I received was what I like to call the Funny Kitties Book or Cats with Bad Grammar. Yep, it was the LOLZ: I Can Has Cheezeburger? A LOLcat Collekshun. I flipped through the book with him and tried to describe the cats in funny ways. He thinks every cat who is laying down is sleeping, though, despite what I told him. He did laugh like a tiny crazy person when we got to a couple of pictures of kitties "driving" cars. It was time to go, but he didn't want to leave because we were having so much fun with the funny kitties. I think I'm going to always have to have that book in my purse now. My memaw always had gum (Wrigley's Spearmint); I'll always have pictures of funny kitties.

So, for the first 5 items on my list over there, I've only really had success with the nephew visits. We're working on #1. We've been saving extra for a new house, so I haven't created our extra investment plan yet. I've been too lazy to create a master list of all "in case of emergency" info. I am waiting for input on on of my friends to complete #5. That one is really frustrating me, so I just need to remind her more often that I want to wrap that up.

Daily Good Thing(s):
*I'm looking forward to dinner & drinks tonight with some girlfriends.
*Weather = Still Awesome

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good Things

The last week or so has kind of been a crap sandwich.

I hadn't felt the October love for several days after facing disappointing news and hassles with contractors. I was keeping my chin up, though, until last Friday evening (around 8pm) when K found out that his Dad & Uncle Ed were planning to arrive in Austin the next day to visit their brother (Uncle Jack). Evidentally, Uncle Jack had a stroke a week prior, and his daughters (who live in Pflugerville) had told FIL & Uncle Ed that they thought he wasn't long for this world. Their unexpected arrival put a crimp into my weekend plans. . .which included having fun with my husband and celebrating my birthday on Sunday with a family lunch. Instead, I spent Friday evening and Saturday morning doing things like giving the guest bathroom an extra scrub and washing a load of guest towels & sheets. I must admit, I did consider for about 30 seconds that K may have planned some sort of surprise birthday get together at our house, and news of their arrival was an excuse to get me to clear the calendar and the clutter. Luckily, I came to my senses and realized he knows better than to think I would cheerfully uber-clean our house for my own party. Plus, he's only surprised me once in the nearly eleven years we've been together. I like to call that surprise "when we got engaged."

Anyway, to keep the story of the not-going-as-planned weekend short, let's just say I spent the whole weekend feeling selfish, annoyed, and a little depressed. I'd hoped to celebrate my troubles away, and that wasn't happening. I simply don't deal very well when things don't go as planned, even though I've had plenty of experience in that arena.

One of the things I'd planned to start around the time of my birthday weekend was a report on how my "73 in 730" list is progressing. I started the list on my 2007 birthday, and plan to finish on my 2009 birthday, so I thought this year's birthday would be a good opportunity to reflect on what's going on with the list, as well as catch up on a few things I'm behind on reporting. At the same time, I've realized I need a jolt out of my funk. So in addition to re-examining my list, I've decided that I need to find at least one daily good thing to report until Thanksgiving. Another blog I enjoy includes a daily Good Thing, and I think it could be a great motivator for me to stay positive.

Today I happen to have a list of Good Things:
* The crew working on the exterior of our house showed up before I left for work (earliest arrival ever!)
* K called me at work and told me a funny story about our kitty, who had been feeling puny the past couple of days but is now on the mend
* The internet made me laugh
* The weather is awesome, and I love it
* I had a cup of delicious frozen yogurt, generously paid for by surprise by a co-worker

I'm feeling better already. Next up, I will bombard my blog with updates!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Other, Part II

My doppleganger Valerie Jones is at it again.

Actually, since I first mentioned her here, I have discovered that there are, in fact, more than one Valerie Joneses out there who are not me.

One of them used to row with the University of Victoria team, and is regularly invited to reunions and events.

One of them lives in the NYC area and recently received a couple of rejection letters for Assistant Editor positions.

One of them has a mom who loves Paul Newman, can't get used to her daughter's new married last name, and who is urging her to NOT paint blue stripes on her walls.

One of them received a reminder from the Arlington Public Library that her book is due in three days.

One of them is having a party somewhere in California, and has received quite a list of appetizer options from her caterer.

And, of course, there's the one I've mentioned previously who joined match to look for love. It seems she either found what she was looking for or realized she wasn't receiving her match emails, because it's been a couple of weeks since her matches were directed to me.

But one member of the Valerie Jones army joined myspace today, and evidentally she won't be logging in any time soon. All of her log in information came to me. Yep, log in name and password, right there in my "in" box. Oddly enough, the email was addressed to "Jordan." So I alerted Tom--or whoever is actually in charge over there--that THIS "Valerie Jones" is not signing up for myspace.

Although now I am wondering it there's a Valerie Jones out there who is thinking "I didn't order curtain rods online, and I don't live in Texas!"

A Little Less Conversation

Scene: evening at home, on couch.

Me: My monthly visitor arrived today.

K: Oh. (forehead kiss)

Me: You know what this means, right?

K: We get to do it a lot more!

M: Well, I was going to tell you that I need to monitor things better or differently this cycle, but, yes, I guess this does also mean that we get to do it a lot more.

K: Hmmm. Do we need to do it more than once a day?

M: (one eyebrow raised) I. . .don't think so. I mean, probably not.

K: Maybe you should check your book just to be sure.

M: What book?

K: The book with the sticky picture. You know, the book? With the sticky picture?

M: ???

K: You know, the big book! The sticky picture!

(I stare at him in confusion for a minute, then it dawns on me.)

M: OOOHHHHHhhh, Taking Charge of Your Fertility? Is that the book? I haven't read that in a while, since I went off birth control. . .wait, what is the "sticky picture?"

K: You know!

(He makes a hand motion. It dawns on me that he's referring to a photo of EWCM. He makes a "yuck" face.)

M: haha! That's what you get for peeking over my shoulder when I'm reading, Mister Twice-A-Day-Plan!

K: I'm willing to do whatever it takes.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Agnes Skinner

Until Wednesday, I didn't know that Principal Skinner's mom was named Agnes.

Recently my husband, who is a huge fan of the Simpsons, told me that lately he's been thinking about Agnes Skinner. Evidentally, there was a Simpsons episode where Homer was Henry VIII, and various other characters portrayed Henry's wives. At one point in the episode, Agnes lays down on a bed and says "Climb aboard the king maker!"

Creepy, right?

Just let me put this story in context: K told me that he remembered the episode when he asked if I was "ripe" (his loving term for ovulating) last week. When I heard the story, I'm pretty sure I gave him the same look he gave me when I explained (after he asked) how ovulation prediction kits worked. The look can best be described as imagining yourself thinking "WTF?" Um, I guess I should be glad he has a sense of humor about the TTC process?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

#42 Finally Get Wedding Dress Cleaned


Since our wedding--November, 2004--my wedding dress and veil have been hanging, dirty, in the guest room closet. Sure, I kept them in the bag from the store where I bought the dress. And I loaned out my veil almost twice (once in 2007, then I took it to MN for a second friend to borrow, but she ended up deciding to go without). With a (hopeful) move and our fourth anniversary looming, I knew it was finally time to get moving on this task.

In June, I placed my order with wedclean. They sent a box and instructions for packing up my dress. Naturally, this box lingered in the guest room for a few more months. But at the end of September, I followed the easy instructions, packed up my dress (strips of packing tape included!), and only worried a tiny bit that I'd never see it again. But, I received an email when my dress & veil arrived at wedclean. About a week and a half later, I received another email that my dress & veil were clean and on the way back to me. After one slightly creepy trip to the after hours UPS pick-up (wedclean requires a signature for receipt), and I have my dress and veil back home and clean.

. . .And back in the guest room closet.


I am starting to get a little bit behind, so I wanted to clear the decks and add a bunch of updates at once.

Last week, I finished reading The Book of Fate, by Brad Meltzer. I already posted my review on goodreads, so I'll just add that I really enjoyed the book. I had an opportunity to meet Meltzer a few years ago at a book festival in Florida (I was visiting relatives), and he signed a book for me. I don't recall the title of the book off-hand, but I do remember that part of the story took place in tunnels below the White House. For some reason, I was compelled to tell him that the dorm I lived in during college also had tunnels underneath. I'm sure he was like, "Ooooohhhkay." But he pretended to be interested in my lame story, and I thought he seemed very nice and smart. He's one of the authors on my "always read" list.

As an aside, sometimes I really embarrass myself when I meet famous people.

Also last week, I made calzones one night, so I've crossed another weeknight dinner off the list. I realized that I need to make new recipes on the weekend and do more of the old favorites during the week, so last week was a good example. When I make calzones, I use reduced-fat crescent rolls (the kind that come in a tube at the grocery store). I spread one side (a rectangle made from two unseperated crescent rolls) with spaghetti sauce, then add whatever meat/cheese/veggies we have on hand, and cover with cheese and another rectangle of crescent roll dough. Bake at 375 for 13 - 15 minutes, and eat. I always make extras, thinking I'll freeze them, but usually we end up eating them as leftovers. One weekend, I just need to make a bunch of these, actually freeze them, and make a weeknight dinner even easier on myself!

I'm steadily crossing off my list of things to do around our house to prepare it for listing, and this weekend knocked out almost all the upstairs painting. I just have a little bit of trim left to paint in the bathroom. Then, I'll have trim painting in the kitchen, painting the kitchen ceiling, and just a few touch-ups left. Well, I'll probably help K paint a wall of the garage, since our contractor has agreed to fix the hole in the wall his crew accidentally punched out last week, and we don't want the wall repairs to be noticeable. It shouldn't take too long--and it certainly doesn't have to be perfect.
That's the other good news for today; our contractor came out this morning to take a look at the areas around our house where his crew screwed up last week. He admitted they had screwed up, and would fix those areas. The meeting went much better than I expected, although of course it's still going to be like pulling teeth to get them to complete the job. (For example: 40% chance of rain today? Sorry, no workers. Sigh.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Actual Fudgeyness

It is kindof a rip off to expect fudge and get complaints about a fudgin' motherfudger, isn't it?

So, I am happy to present something to fill the fudgey goodness void: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch Bars, from Cookie Madness.

I made those no-bake bars for my last book club meeting, and they were not only easy to make, they were delicious. The gals loved them, and K loved the leftovers. I'll definitely make them again.

Incidentally, Cookie Madness is an awesome source for tasty treats. Every recipe I've tried from that site has turned out to be a huge hit, especially the one I now consider my signature dessert. I always give credit where credit is due when I share the recipe, but more often than not, I claim that particular recipe is a secret. Shhhh!


Let's say the 'F' in question refers to the appetizing photo of fudge I posted on Wednesday.

Fudge is the color we selected for the trim of our house. Several of the items on my to do list over there ---> involve preparing our house for sale, selling it, and then moving to a house we both love. There have been a few setbacks. Let me back up a bit.

K bought our house a couple of months before we got engaged. At the time, we'd been together for six years, so I suspected a proposal might be forthcoming. I was involved with the home selection process to a degree--he pre-screened all of his choices in his price range, and we both happened to like our house the best. He's lived there for five years now, I moved in about six months before the wedding (shhh! don't tell Dad!). We've done a lot of work on the house, starting the day he closed. We've painted every room of the house, swapping out the prison-wall grey to lovely shades of sage, yellow, dark green and blue. We've redone the kitchen floor, updating it from a roll of crappy linoleum to nice tile. We've added or changed out ceiling fans and fixtures throughout the house (and still have a few left, actually), and we've upgraded the kitchen appliances to stainless. It hasn't been easy, in large part due to the crappy "work" the previous owners did around the house--in many cases, we've been fixing their half-assed attemts to hold stuff together. But we've done it all ourselves, and our house looks pretty great on the interior, if I do say so myself. I personally have wanted to move for the last two years, but K is finally fully on board and we're slowly moving forward to get it done.

The exterior is another story. We knew that in order to attract buyers, we needed to make repairs--at the very least. We started with siding estimates. We nearly fainted when Sears quoted us $20,000 for the job. After a few other estimates, we decided to look instead to just doing repairs and fresh exterior paint. We didn't want to put more money into our house than we'd get out. So we ended up hiring a company (that came with great recommendations), and also fit our budget better than the other estimates we received.

Unfortunately, the company hasn't impressed us at all, and after last night, we're considering firing them.

I faxed over the signed contract Wednesday, September 24th. I included a note with some questions, and asked the guy to call me. He called me Friday, the 26th. He said his crew was wrapping up another job in the area and would be over towards the end of the day to start powerwashing. He's also drop off paint samples then. Upon arrival at home, I saw that the paint samples were there, but no work had been done. Monday, I called him with our paint choices (fudge! alabaster!) and asked when we could expect to see his crew. He thought they'd start work the next day. To our surprise, they showed up Monday afternoon and half-assed the powerwashing. K took a look around the house after they left, and found some pretty large areas they missed. He left our guy a voicemail. Tuesday, despite the lack of a call back, the crew showed up again and powerwashed again. They left for lunch (when K was arriving home for lunch) and didn't show up again. Wednesday (yesterday), they actually started doing some work. Not a lot, but it was something. I called the guy (who still hadn't called us back) and asked for an estimated date of completion. He thought they'd finish the repairs by the end of the week and start painting next week. That is, if it didn't rain. If it rained, they'd get back to work four days later. No idea why such a long wait was required, but, whatev.

Thursday night, we came home to find that the work that had been done on the outside of the house was sloppy, uneven, and unprofessional. Several areas where they replaced the trim were crooked. Many of the panels they replaces weren't flush with the old panels. It was bad. But, even worse: there are holes in the interior of our house. A big hole inside our garage, and four small holes inside our kitchen. I don't know if their nail guns were set wrong or if they just don't know what they're doing, or what, but we simply cannot live with that type of workmanship.

I walked in the house last night to K leaving a very strongly worded voicemail to the guy. K has decided that he can't be the one to talk to the guy right now because he would only be yelling at the guy and that isn't productive. Not to mention, the guy has never returned a call to K. He's answered when I call, or he's returned my messages. So this morning, I called the guy. Luckily, he answered. I went over the problems, and he had some excuses (including telling me that the damaged areas on our house were more numerous than he originally estimated, so he brought in five extra panels--which, frankly, is not my problem), but he agreed to stop work until he could personally take a look at the areas we are unhappy with. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I do know it's a total pain in the ass that we shouldn't have to deal with and it's pissing me off.

Plus, KXAN is off the air and I had to get ready to GMA in the background this morning. I'm cranky, and I'm using a lot of an F-word that isn't Fudge lately. (Thought not at all with the guy; as much as I wanted to. Motherfudger.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

#31: Reading and #9: Dinner

Last week was Bacon Week, so I made breakfast for dinner early in the week. (And again this weekend to finish out our monthly pound of bacon.) I think we have a new favorite bacon flavor--Cinnamon Apple Spice. Sounds weird, but it was delicious! And it smelled so good when it was cooking, too. Our bacon this month was from Edwards & Sons of Virgina. Their company website only sells wholesale, and I can't find another link for the bacon we loved, but I know K would love more of their bacon.

Speaking of bacon, would this be a disgusting stocking stuffer for K? I am fascinated & a little repulsed by that. My brother is also a big bacon fan--perhaps there's bacon floss in his future, too.

A week or so ago, I finished reading Listening Is an Act of Love, which was a book club selection. I reviewed it on goodreads, so I won't add a long review here. I really enjoyed this book, although several parts of it moved me to tears. The last section of the book (Fire and Water) was especially poingant, since it was stories about September 11th and Hurricane Katrina. I finished reading it the first week of September, so the past couple of weeks, the book has remained on my mind. I've never been a listener of the Story Corps Project on NPR, but reading this book made me want to hear every story, from start to finish. Someone in my book club said the stories are played on the radio some mornings, but there is no way I could listen on my way to work--I don't need to show up to work weeping!
I think I mentioned this on goodreads, but if not, it bears repeating: I wouldn't recommed this book to other book clubs. It's a wonderful book, everyone should read it, but it doesn't leave a lot for discussion. We talked about our favorite stories, talked about a few stories from our own lives (as related to the book), but that was it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thoughts for Thursday

"Valerie Jones" has joined match.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my email box to see an email from match with the subject line "New! First matches selected for *****" (her user id for match is not her real name, or, thankfully, mine). Naturally, I had to open the email.

Evidentally, she is looking for someone 33 - 40, and is probably 27 - 33 herself. She lives in California. I don't know exactly how match works, but each photo of a dude in the email has their age, their height/weight, their relationship status ("has been in committed relationships, but never married" is popular among these fellas), their religion (most have selected "Christian/Other" or "Spiritual, but not Religious"), and how they feel about having kids ("Someday, he will want kids" is a popular choice). One dude is 37 and looking for women who are ages 20 - 40. Twenty?? Good luck with that, buddy. Especially when you try to buy her a drink at dinner and she gets carded.

I tried to respond to the email to let match (and possibly Valerie Jones) know that there are 15 fellas out there who might be a match for her, but instead their info has gone to happily married me. It's one of those generic email addresses that just bounces back. I guess she's supposed to use the email as a reminder to log in to her account?

And it seems like she might still be looking for Mr. Right. I got another email today from match with the subject line "Your new matches!" I'm afraid to click on any part of the email. I do not want anything to do with match or the future Mr. Valerie Jones.

I wish I could email Valerie Jones and suggest she pick SeekinBaySista (he's tall, and has a nice smile) and drop Den01067 (whose photo shows him half in shadow, on his cell phone--creepy!), but all I can do is hope she realizes she isn't getting any match emails and fixes the situation on her own. Talk about lookin' for love in all the wrong places. I'm not THAT Valerie Jones, fellas!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Other

My first name and maiden name are fairly common. Well, my maiden name is in the top 10 most common American last names, and I think my first name is less common, but not unique among ladies my age. For the sake of this story, let's say my first name is Valerie (because I always wanted my name to be Valerie when I was a kid) and my maiden name is Jones. It isn't, but Jones is #4 most common on the list I found, so let's go with that.

Before I married, I opened a gmail account using my first and maiden name--like valerie.jones @ gmail. One of the easiest name changes I did after getting married was opening a new gmail account using my first name and new last name. I kept the old email address open, and use it when I'm signing up for mailing lists (Ann Taylor, amazon, etc.) and contest entries, etc. Here and there, I have received email intended for valeriejones @ gmail (no dot between the first and last name) and it generally gives me a chuckle. I always respond to the sender to let them know that their email has been misdirected, and explain that sometimes that happens--the email system sometimes gets confused and thinks the address without the dot is mine. I've tried to get it fixed, but no dice. Occasionally, it leads to a chuckle, and I thought it would be fun to post some of the examples or stories on the blog to keep things moving while I'm still trudging away at my list.

One of my personal favorites was the baby name email chain. It went a little something like this:

Micah: Hey!! Incase you haven't heard yet, IT'S A GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As far as names... we got nothin. I am a big fan of Olivia, but Andrew doesn't like it so much. He really likes Kally, which I really like, too except it's just weird because of kally m*****r, which really shouldn't matter seeing htat I haven't even seen the girl in 5 years.

Shannon: First off, CONGRATULATIONS!! Olivia is a super cute name, but I will tell you that it's already on the top 10 list for more popular baby names in recent years. Which may or may not make any difference to you guys. Whatabout...Esmerelda? or Sascatchawan? Oh don't worry, we'll think of some good ones. (She includes a list.)

Kathleen: So I may have made up Valerie's email (meaning me) but everyone elses was their name @ if Valerie doesn't get this maybe someone can intervene...Secondly! CONGRATS MICAH! Finally. I like Olivia too, but I really need first/middle names. Because Olivia is good, but if Mowgli is the middle name I have to recant my vote. If IIIIII had a daughter...Alyssa something. Oh I do like Kally C******. I just freakin love alliteration. Oh and I like Hannah and Hailey. Sorry I like names that are cool in 2007 Shannon. My bad.

Jennifer: As for actual names, I am a huge fan of Olivia, but other than that, you all know I'm not good at this stuff. I always wanted to name my kids after characters in books. Is that weird to doom your children to nerd-dom before they're even a reality? How about Jane? Is that a weird name? It just came to me this very second, for no particular reason.

Micah: Ok, I have 2 funny stories to tell you:
1. Last night Andrew and I picked the name! For sure, both loved it, we were going with it. I was proud of myself because it was such a great compromise, combining his love for Kally with my love for Olivia---Kally Olivia C******. Alas, thirty minutes after our celebration, andrew ruins it with "wait, doesn't that spell KOC?" I'm not sure thos eare the greatest initials.. So, we are back to square one. (#2 was talking about a mutual friend of theirs, apparently, who wants to name their unborn daughter "Dolcinea.")

At this point, I checked that email address (it had been a couple of days) and decided I needed to step in. My email to the group:

"Kathleen, I don't know that you made up the email address for your friend Valerie Jones, but whatever email address you sent to was misdirected to me. It happens from time to time--I think Ms. Jones and I must have very similar email addresses.

For what it's worth, I love the name Amelia. Doesn't go with Olivia very well, but I think it's adorable. How cute would Amelia Jane sound?

Best to all,The OTHER Valerie Jones"

So naturally, I thought that would be the end of my inclusion on the email chain. I was so wrong.

Kathleen: Valerie, Shocking to the both of us, I intended to send that message to you. Sorry it interfered with your normal life pattern. I like Amelia Jane too. I like Amelia, Jane is kinda boring but its better than the mental names Jenn is sending out there. I know no other Valerie Joneses just to clear that up.

Yikes! I responded again:

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid there's been some misunderstanding. I'm actually not the person you know--I don't recognize your name or any of the names of your friends, and I live in Texas. My email address is valerie.jones, so I think a lot of times I get email directed to valeriejones or possibly other variations of that address. I was just trying to be cheeky by signing "the OTHER Valerie Jones" and suggesting a baby name. I'm apologize for not being clearer in my message. Best, Valerie."

Micah: I don't get the whole Valerie Jones thing.........................................

(hours pass)

Micah: Wait... I'm sorry, I think I just caught on-- This isn't my friend Valerie Jones, is it??? hahaha! Sorry to bother you! ....and if this is my friend Valerie, you have left me very confused! By the way, I think Amelia Jane is very cute, I'll run it past my husband :)

My final response was "Correct, this is not your friend Valerie. I am a Valerie Jones who lives in Texas and does not know any of you ladies. But I wish you all the best!"

I haven't heard from them since. But how crazy would it be if Micah has a baby named Amelia Jane right now??

Hang On, Sloopy!!

Early last week, K and I had just finished working out and were resting a moment on the couch before getting dinner together. He was flipping though the channels, and ran across a group of older guys on KLRU singing. Here's how our conversation went:

Me: Hang on, sloopy!
K: No, that's not what they're saying.
M: What?
K: They're saying "hang on SNOOPY."
M: I'm pretty sure they're saying "sloopy."
K: That's ridiculous. Why would that be in a song? That's not even a word.
M: I don't know! It is what it is!
K: Of course, it's "Snoopy." You know, famous cartoon dog?
M: Well, it sounds like SLOOPY. Hang on, sloopy!
K: Famous cartoon dog! SNOOPY!

Of course, I had to immediately turn to the internet. When I googled "Hang on Snoopy" I was directed to a website for famous examples of mondegreens--when a statement or song lyric is misheard. My next move was googling the lyric I thought was correct, and I was rewarded with Hang on Sloopy, which I've now learned more about than I ever thought possible. Including that the song is the official song for the Cleveland Indians.

So I've been taunting K and calling him "Sloopy" for almost a week. haha!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

#4: August Nephew Time

The last weekend of August, my family got together to celebrate my SIL's birthday with a Sunday afternoon lunch. Luckily, that meant some fun time with my two little nephews.

Their oldest son (AC) is just over three years old, and talking up a storm. His latest accomplishment is potty training, although he's still new enough to that adventure to expect a prize every time he, uh, makes a deposit. When K and I arrived for lunch, he was asking everyone to go outside to the backyard to swing him. (My mom has rigged a swing from a tree limb in her yard.) Of course, it was a bazillion degrees, plus my dad was busy at the grille and my mom was busy in the kitchen, and my brother and SIL had not yet arrived. I volunteered, and out we went. AC wanted to strap himself in--he is a big boy now, after all--so my only job was pulling the swing back as far as it would go and releasing him. If I didn't catch the swing on each upswing, it would get crooked, so I ended up having quite a workout. As soon as his parents arrived, he decided he'd rather chase his dad around the yard, so I got to sneak back in to the airconditioning. Later, I went outside again (everyone else was tending to his younger brother, who was just waking from a nap) and he wanted to show me a bug. He told me he wanted me to pick it up. I told him I wasn't going to do that. (Bleah!) Turns out, it was a cicada shell, not actually a living bug. I got brave and picked it off the tree for him to look at up close. I think he was impressed, because he wouldn't let me get too close to him with the "bug". . .although he did ask if we could pull the legs off. Ummm, no.

During lunch, he decided my brother was Patrick from Sponge Bob. Apparently, this is a game they play quite a bit, because my brother has a special voice he uses for Patrick and Patrick likes to encourage AC to eat lunch by telling him he should eat up his "crabby cakes." It was hilarious to see them playing pretend like that! I've never watched Sponge Bob, so my brother had some explaining to do for us non-fans. K and I were both cracking up to hear AC's tiny voice saying "Patrick. . ." and then my brother responding in a silly voice.
The little guy (CT) is about 17 months old, and cute as a button. He was waking up from a nap just as we were sitting down to lunch, so he wasn't quite up to all of his usual antics. I did find out that apparently, he's very sensitive to people telling him "no" or using a loud/harsh tone of voice towards him. My mom says my brother was the same way at that age--she thinks he would just get really embarrassed when he was caught getting in trouble, and that caused a burst of tears. Same thing for the small fry. I was proud to see that he's still seperating his food (I don't like foods to touch, neither does he) and he has learned a couple of funny new tricks. He'll point out each of his facial features when asked (i.e.: where is your nose?), but when it comes to tongue, he opens his mouth wide and sticks out his tongue long, Gene Simmons-style. He'll also make a funny suspicious face when asked if his food is hot. My mom thinks the face is so funny that she asks him if his food is hot A LOT just to see the face. . .and then she pretends to blow on the food. CT still thinks K's little tiny soul patch is stare-worthy, and that always makes for a good game at lunch. (CT stares at K, K makes funny faces and makes the little beard bush out, etc.)
We're going to have to find an excuse to see them in September--it's a rare month without a special occasion in our family.

#9: Weeknight Dinner

One night last week, I made another quiche--it's become one of K's favorite dishes that I make. Weird, right? I think I make it differently each time. A couple of weeks ago, my bacon had spoiled, so I used an 8oz package of lunch meat (smoked turkey) cut into small pieces. That time, I threw a little diced garlic in with the onion when I sauteed them.

Last week, K requested another quiche, and suggested I include TurkeyRoni in addition to the smoked turkey. So I did about six ounces of turkey and maybe three ounces of T-Roni (as it's called in our house). I also left the onions uncooked, since I was in a hurry, and it turned out great.

I think my next quiche adventure will have to include making two and freezing one to see how well it works in the freezer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

OMG. Cupcake Heaven!

I may be on a total sugar high, but I do believe I've died and gone to cupcake heaven.

How have I not known about this place until now?
Some kind soul just delivered Polkadots cupcakes to our office. I don't know who it was, but I want to hug him/her!
I managed to make it to the kitchen before the vultures I work with devoured all the delicious treats, and WOW, am I glad I did. The inside of the box looked like a party--each cupcake was different, but beautiful. I had to stand there in awe and admire it for just a minutes. Naturally, I immediately started peeking around to see if I could find a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Score! Back at my desk, I peeled back the paper and took a huge first bite. Only to be surprised by a vanilla bean pudding filling. OMG. That's when I died. Luckily, I was able to revive myself with another bite. Swoon! Further research tells me I likely enjoyed a Boston Creme Pie cupcake. Love! I see these taste treats in my future. Just like I see an evening of shredding on tonight's agenda. Know what? Worth every calorie.
And it's a damn good thing this place wasn't open when I was at UT. My apartment was at 28th & Rio Grande! Ooohhh, but maybe I could've worked there. . .like that would be any better for my waistline.

#31: Reading

I just realized I haven't updated for the past three books I've read! Well, I've updated goodreads, but I want to be sure and make a note for posterity here, too.

Just before/during/and after our early August vacation to Boston, I finished the Twilight series. The third book, Eclipse, was my favorite of the series, I think. Actually, it may have been my favorite book because I was looking for answers to a lot of questions the second book raised, and the book answered them in a satisfying way. Of course, all of the books are now kindof blending together in my head, so I might be wrong about which is which, but I liked learning all the werewolf lore and the rest of the background stories about characters that didn't seem fully developed previously. Of course, there's the cliffhanger of who Bella will choose, but luckily I didn't start the series until the last book was about to be released, so I didn't have long to wait to find out.

Coming home from Boston, I started Breaking Dawn. And that is one long book! Luckily (I guess) we ended up with a bunch of flight delays, so I had plenty of book to keep me from getting bored and annoying the bejeezus out of K. True confession: I got teary during more than one part of the book. That's at least as embarrasing as getting teary at the end of Harry Potter, right?? I'll blame stress from flight issues and ummm, lack of sleep due to vacation. Okay, okay, so the wedding was dreamy! And then the honeymoon was a little weird. The story took a direction I did not expect, or particularly enjoy, although I think the final outcome was good. Bella gets everything she wants, after all. I can appreciate a happy ending. I would like to read more about the Cullens, though, or even Jacob and his adventures with Nessie. Surely Stephanie Meyer isn't ready to let the Twilight characters (or the revenue they generate for her) go, yet?

I probably should've taken my book club book for August on vacation, but who wants to read about people dying from tuberculosis when teen vampire angst is available? ;o) I finally FINALLY finished Mountains Beyond Mountains, though not in time for my book club meeting. I was about half-way through for the discussion. I'm glad we read this book, although it was a bit much for our book club right after Three Cups of Tea. This book was definitely an eye-opener about global problems I didn't realize still existed. It was also interesting to compare and contrast Dr. Farmer and Greg Mortenson, both to see the similarities and differences between two men who have taken on such huge problems and their approach to solving them. Honestly, I like Dr. Farmer best. However, I realize that may be due to how each man was presented. Mortenson tells his co-author that he should ask people for the good, bad, and ugly about working with him, and I think that came out in the book. Kidder definitely presents Dr. Farmer in a glowing light, but I fell for it. My only complaint about this group is that the core people in the book have kindof a short hand with each other than includes a lot of abbreviations. I had trouble keeping track of those. Portions of the book were a little bit dry because of the medical or political aspects of the story, and I found those slow but necessary.

Our next book club book is Listening is an Act of Love, and I've just started it. So far, I'm enjoying reading a few stories each night. But I'll be back to fiction soon!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Six is Enough

Thanks again to Joyco, I am unable to resist a blog game!

Here are the rules:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you: Joyco

2. Mention the rules on your blog.

3. Tell 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.

4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking to them. (Tag, you're it! If you haven't played already, now's your chance.)

5. Leave a comment for each tagged blogger to let them know that they have been tagged

Six Quirks about me:

1. Six is my lucky number. I don't know why, specifically, it just always has felt lucky for me. However, the fact that my anniversary is on November 6 is actually a coincidence--it wasn't our first choice of dates, just the date our reception location happened to have available. Turns out it was a perfect day to get married!

2. My knees are double-jointed. Well, I don't know if that's the exact term for what they do, but I can straighten my legs out so that they are bowed backwards. I should take a picture some time; it's hard to explain. My brother can do the same thing. We get it from my mom. I wonder if his boys have the knee gene?

3. My maiden name and married name have the same number of letters, and end with the same letter.

4. I've never tried eggplant. It creeps me out for some reason! I have a feeling it would be spongey, like flan, and that would make me gag. Flan makes me think of eyeballs.

5. Nearly every work day at 3pm, I walk over to the cafeteria in the building next to mine and get an iced tea. Sometimes, I am bad and get one of those little glass bottles of starbucks mocha frappuchino, instead. Yet, on the weekends, I'm almost never thirsty for tea at 3pm. Maybe because I sleep later?

6. I don't like different kinds of food to touch on my plate. If foods are intended to mix (like peanut butter and jelly, for example), that doesn't bother me. But I don't like my corn juice leaking into my mashed potatoes (for example). I love divided plates for this reason, and I always bring my own to my family's holiday gatherings. My brother is the exact opposite--for example, at Thanksgiving, he piles his plate with everything he wants to eat (all smushed next to each other), and covers the whole plate with cranberry sauce (the kind from a can) and gravy. Naturally, his seat at the table is across from mine. Ugh! My non-touching food preference extends to items of different flavor, like candy. I eat one flavor at a time; I would never just throw a random assortment of Jelly Bellys into my mouth. Yet, that's my husband's favorite way to eat candy. Bleah!

Your turn!