Archive | June, 2012

Home. Sweet Home.

We are looking around at our house and wondering.

Should we? Shouldn’t we?

Are we capable of making this work?

How much medication would I TRULY need?

Seriously, it’s a big decision. Especially now, in this economy. Do we stay or do we go?

We love our little house. In all honesty, people balk when I tell them that we literally did a quick walk through of the space before we put an offer on it, but that’s all we did. I walked in for the last ten minutes of an open house – we had both planned to go, but Jack had gotten sick on the drive over, so Bryan took the boys home and I went alone.  I saw the kitchen, saw the wine fridge, noted the bedrooms were perfect – a master, a boy’s bedroom in space theme, and a nursery – and told the realtor I was finished. She asked if I had any questions, and I said, “Nope, thanks. You’ll be hearing from me soon.” I’m sure she thought I was crazy.

But Bryan and I had been METICULOUS about our first purchase together. We had made two other offers – both on bigger homes, but both houses needed LOTS AND LOTS of work – and ultimately had not been able to reach an agreement. (Um, we’re not going to pay you above-market-value on a home that has an obvious foundation issue or a kitchen from 1960.) So after MONTHS of planning every waking moment around open houses, I knew this was our home.

I called the realtor back and asked her to hold the open house for another half hour so we could switch kids, and Bryan did the same quick walk through. That night, we made an offer.

And we’ve LOVED this little house.

But we quickly outgrew it. Kids grow up, and although the big, bulky baby items leave the nest, the kids seem to quickly absorb the empty space with stuff. Three dogs, 1 (and a half?) cat, a snake, two boys, Bryan, and little ole me.. is too much in our house. Not to mention the fact that we can’t comfortably have company.

So. We’re at a crossroads. Do we sell and move? Or do we expand on our current home? And we’re not sure.

Our local housing market says they’re okay. Sure, that’s what the reports say, but I can personally report that there are three foreclosed houses two streets over that have been FOR SALE for – literally – years now. I can’t speak for the condition of the houses, but.. that doesn’t bode well. Also, that afore-mentioned cadre of folks/animals that live here? That’s a lot to juggle in and out for showings.

Not to mention the chaos of moving is giving me hives just thinking about it. OCD and moving are oil and water, my friends.

So do we build on to our existing home? I’ve often contemplated the idea of adding a second story to our home. It’d give us just enough space to grow into. And honestly, I love our kitchen SO SO MUCH that I’d almost be okay with the constant flow and chaos of construction happening in our home. But I know nothing about that world. NOTHING. I’m way more versed in the world of real estate – buying and selling – than I am about construction. My knowledge of construction and renovation is centered solely in that movie The Money Pit.

AND THEN THERE’S LOCATION. We’re not deeply rooted in our neighborhood now. If we had our druthers, we’d love to move to the north end of the city (or even the county!), where there’s a bit more .. diversity and acceptance. (And people will not boycott my Halloween candy because of the Obama sign in my front yard.) But the houses north are generally more expensive AND smaller. (I guess diversity comes with a price.)

Has anyone built an addition on to their house? Would you do it again? Would it drive me out of my mind? I imagine that while it would probably be just fine, when it comes to preservation of my OCD-sanity, moving may just be easier.

Thus endeth this incredibly mundane and pointless post.

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Some Stuff I’ve Bought Lately: Slapdash Edition

You know how when you, as a blogger, really only have one thing you want to talk about? But that’s the one thing that’s off the table for blogging? Yes. THAT.

Instead, let’s indulge in some retail therapy, shall we?

SOME STUFF I’VE BOUGHT LATELY.

Although I have a confessed addiction to a more expensive facial scrub, I decided to give the Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub a try when I ran out of my old standby. Also because AndreAnna raved about it. Also because it’s about $30 cheaper. And? Not bad. The scrubbers are a bit larger, so it’s a little more harsh on my skin (which was what I love about the Clarins scrub.. smaller scrubbies mean less abrasion on my skin), but it’s not bad at all. Plus it’s pretty “pure” as far as facial products go. So if you’re looking for a cheaper solution, this may be your new best friend.

I am pretty awful about forgetting to eat during the day. You wouldn’t know it to LOOK at me, I know, but I do. I often skip breakfast and don’t even think about eating until I’m home and cooking dinner. I’m trying to fix that a little bit, or at the very least, keep around decent snack bars for when I have ten minutes at work. I am pretty much in love with these KIND Fruit & Nut bars. The flavors are ALL amazing – seriously, I’ve tried everything I could get my hands on and I’m  hard-pressed to pick a favorite – and they’re pretty filling. Most of them are under 200 calories, and most of them also contain other good stuff. And I can pronounce everything on the ingredients list, which is awesome.

I have been making my own laundry detergent and fabric softener for about a year now and have no qualms about it. It literally takes me ten minutes to do either and the detergent lasts me five or six months. (The fabric softener lasts a little over a month.) While I love doing this, Bryan complains that the laundry doesn’t smell clean to him. (Translation: it doesn’t smell like ANYTHING. Which is clean, but unscented.) So when I make detergent, I throw a bottle of these pellets in for a little touch of scent. But Gain’s new Sweet Sizzle Fireworks smells SO good that I throw some in with every load. And the scent really lasts! So now everyone is happy: my laundry has minimal additives and Bryan smells good. Win win.

THINGS THAT I WANT

I am a CRAZY hot sleeper. I get overheated quickly, I don’t want to be touched, and I am generally miserable through most of the summer as a result. When I saw the Bed Fan from Brookstone the other day, I immediately emailed it to Bryan with a simple WANT attached. Because OH MY GOD, IT’S LIKE THEY KNOW ME. Now, we have a footboard, so I’m not sure how well this would actually work with our bed. Chances are, I’d just need it on my side anyway. BECAUSE EVERYONE SLEEPS ON MY SIDE.

I am not one to believe in the power of pillows. Mostly because I’ve always had hand-me-down pillows and I just stack two or three on top of each other to get comfortable. I’ve NEVER found a pillow to be firm enough. UNTIL. Oddly enough, this is ALSO a Brookstone product (they taunt me with expensive, ideal sleeping conditions), but I found it at Bed, Bath and Beyond. As I tend to do, I just squeezed it as I walked by .. and then I came back. And squeezed it again. And laid my head on it. And then began to wonder how I could convince Bryan that I NEED A $70 PILLOW. Because I do. My God. This pillow .. it is magical.

If anyone has any other ideas on how I can sleep cooler, lemme know.

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Let’s Talk About My List.

Cause I am in a particularly masochistic mood today.

It is now June, which means I’m halfway through 2012. Here was what my To-Do List for 2012 looks like currently. Go Me – sort of.

Replace the HVAC unit before the worst of summer hits. Um, we are plum in the worst of summer (please, please, please let this be the worst even though I know it won’t be), and we did not do this. Because do you know how expensive A/C units are? We just keep slaughtering virgins over our current unit and hoping that pleases the Freon gods.

Spend a long weekend (or week!) at the beach. Yeah. Well, there’s still time. And our state had this REALLY GREAT IDEA of standardizing all school systems in the state so that there’s a longer summer vacation period now, so all of the local beach places have jacked up their rates. I’m thinking this one may have to wait. Which SUCKS SO HARD.

Spend a weekend in Atlanta. Oh yeah. Been there, DONE DID THAT.

Gracefully grow my hair back out. So, yeah. I think I’m doing okay here, but I also don’t know when to cross this one off. Here’s my hair at the beginning of the year:

Totally cuter than I remember it being.

And my hair now:

I have a soft spot for the Tri-Sarah-Tops.

I’m not quite at ponytail length, but I can pull the sides back and we’re very close to being able to pull it out of my face entirely without the use of french braids or headbands. Ultimately, I want hair long enough that I can do those cute hair styles on Pinterest.

Run at least 9 miles a week. I crossed this off, because I figure I’m AVERAGING 9 miles a week. I’m currently running 9  miles a week, but I’m hoping to start a training plan in August for longer distances – I’m still waffling between training for a 10K or a half marathon – and that should cement my year-end average. Also, to note: I have not lost one pound doing this. NOT ONE FREAKING POUND.

Replace the various dog-eaten furniture in our house. This hasn’t even begun to happen, mostly because the dog is still chewing. EVERYTHING. DirecTV now knows us as “the house with the dog”, because the only reason we’ve ever called is to replace a dog-eaten remote. However. I am coveting a living room suite from Ikea. I know some folks abhor the place, but the idea of having an ENTIRE COUCH slipcovered (in a cute fabric) is very compelling. Also, I like the look of it. Admittedly, I’ve never been to Ikea, much less sat on a couch from there. But someday.

Continue paying down our debt We are like grown-ups, y’all. We still have two credit cards open – one because Bryan had NO revolving credit, so we couldn’t refinance the house (WHICH IS LUDICROUS), so Home Depot card it is! – and we have a payment plan for a tax surprise. Other than that, we’re doing marvelously well.

Start school. I totally want to strike through this because IT’S DONE. I start in late August at the University of Alabama (ROLL TIDE), and I’m calling myself a red-shirt freshman because .. well, better late than never, I suppose.

Finish the Harry Potter series. I am kind of abandoning this because soon, I will be in school and reading will become a thing of luxury OR a mandatory thing that makes me want to stab my eyes out. Either way, time will be an issue.

Have breakfast with my husband at Cafe du Monde. Still working this. Who knows.

Get Tony in some sort of organized sport/activity We’ve done really well with this. We’ve done swimming lessons, which he loved, and just this last weekend, we tried a class at The Little Gym, which he also loved. The child believes himself to be a Power Ranger, so tumbling/flipping/balancing is great for him. Although I’ll have to harvest a kidney, we’re going to enroll him.

Get Jack organized. I feel like we made HUGE AND SWEEPING STRIDES in this. Of course, a new school year starts soon, and WHO THE EFF KNOWS what that will hold, but I feel like the Jack we have now is such a more solidified, assured child than the one we had at the beginning of the school year. I’m hoping we can build on that.

Make time for Bryan to play racquetball 2x a week. Yeah, we’ve DONE this, but it turns out Bryan doesn’t want to play racquetball 2x a week. Funny thing.

Go to the dentist. I’ll.. get back to you on this. 

Spend a weekend in Lexington. This used to read “Spend a weekend in Savannah”, and while I would still love to do that, my mom gave Bryan a getaway in Lexington for his birthday, so it seemed much more realistic to change the end destination. So we’ve got the big picture taken care of; we’re just lacking details like WHEN.

Get back onstage. I’m just thinking this isn’t going to happen. Part of me is very, very sad about that, because we’re coming up on a year that I haven’t been onstage. The other part of me is fine, because no show seems to be coming up that I’m stoked for.

Replace the carpet in the house. I dunno. We go back and forth on this. New carpet? Or wood flooring? Do it ourselves? Have it installed? We may just flat-out move before we come to any decision on this.

Learn to make a great mojito. I haven’t even attempted this, because every time we’re all gathered together, I mention learning it, and inevitably someone just makes me a mojito instead. This is the greatest thing ever, and I worry that if I learn, people will stop making them for me.

Join a CSA. Yeah, this was a lovely thought. A lovely, well-intentioned, really expensive thought. And sometimes I see folks pin recipes or what have you utilizing their fresh-from-the-farm ingredients, but I’ve just accepted that my family doesn’t EAT stuff like that. They prefer the overly processed, dripping in preservatives fare that I buy prepackaged at Sam’s. Is this a good thing? Hell no. But it’s reality, and sometimes, a to-do list is about facing reality.

So there you go – my to-do list updates. Looking at the list here, I may have some sweeping changes to make. Things in my house and my life.. well, they are a-changin’. No sense in clinging to what doesn’t work.

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Father’s Day: What I Cooked

Father’s Day was a day of cooking for me. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being in the kitchen, but MAN WERE MY DOGS BARKING by bedtime. In fact, I don’t think I even said goodnight to anyone.. I’m pretty sure I just crawled into my bedroom and threw myself at the bed.

BUT IT WAS ALL PRETTY DAMN DELICIOUS. And I took not a single picture of any of it.

Here’s what we ate:

Our Main Course – Spiral Sliced Honey Baked Hams, provided by Apple Lane Farms.

Image Courtesy of Apple Lane Farms

Apple Lane Farms is a local joint and I first came to know them through their overstuffed sandwiches, and they are my HANDS DOWN favorite boxed lunch for catering work events. When I realized late Saturday that I didn’t have a main course, I called them in a panic, thinking that I’d need to give them 24 hours notice to get something ready. AS ALWAYS, they were awesome, and this was a delicious ham. Really, really good. I am drooling just remembering it.

Our Sides

Image Courtesy of Southern Plate

Collard Greens and Pepper Sauce from the Southern Plate

(You’ll see that most of my sides come from Southern Plate. If you’re not familiar with Christy Jordan, you are MISSING OUT.)

I am a HUGE fan of greens, but my boys are decidedly not. But even they ate these greens happily. (I think the ham hock helped.) And the pepper sauce included with it was good on EVERYTHING. I wish collard greens weren’t such a hassle to prep, because otherwise I’d have these at every meal.

Image Courtesy of Southern Plate

Black Eyed Peas from Southern Plate

Black Eyed Peas are another southern staple that are just a hassle to prep if you don’t have time. Because we had such a late night on Saturday, I didn’t make it to the grocery store to let my beans soak overnight. Which means I had an extra pot to watch the next morning. But you know? No big deal. I let these babies cook in the crock pot (after the soak, obviously) on HIGH for about six hours with another ham hock and they were perfect.

Image Courtesy of Pioneer Woman

Soul Sweet Potatoes by The Pioneer Woman

These are my staple dish. If there’s a family dinner, I’m asked to bring these. I’ve learned to allow longer cooking time for the sweet potatoes (honestly, I usually leave them in the oven for close to 1.5 hours), and this round I actually used coconut milk instead of whole milk. (Verdict: we liked it better. It made for a lighter, fluffier casserole.) I also crush up some ginger snaps in the topping.

Image Courtesy of The Sisters Dish

“Boston Market” Cornbread from The Sisters Dish

This was my unknown dish – the one thing my father had requested was cornbread, and I had never made this recipe. It caught my eye on Pinterest, but in reality, we don’t have a Boston Market around these parts, so I didn’t even know what it was supposed to taste like in the end. But! Hallelujah! The fates were with me, and this was delicious. It was sweet, like most southern cornbread, and made A TON. Next time, I’d like to add some corn niblets to the batter.

For Dessert

Image Courtesy of Southern Plate (AGAIN, CAUSE SHE’S SO AWESOME)

Banana Pudding from Southern Plate

When I gush over Christy Jordan, this is where I start, because this is where I started. My husband has an affinity to banana pudding, but only HIS MOTHER’S BANANA PUDDING WILL DO. So one day, I saw this randomly, and Christy was so unassuming and fun that I thought, Hey, maybe even I can manage this. And thusly, I became the NEW QUEEN OF BANANA PUDDING. Jenni totally saved my bacon here when we didn’t have any confectioner’s sugar for the meringue, and she made one out .. of .. something. I don’t know; ground up unicorns maybe. But it was very good, even though she and I were too stuffed from earlier to eat any.

All in all, there were many trips back to the food, and everyone left way too full and giddy from the joy of eating a meal that was cooked ENTIRELY from scratch. Which is awesome and I love that and it was perfect.

We even obliged Daddy in a Father’s Day Picture. He did request we find a way to not get a glare off of his head, though.

Only for you, Daddy.

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How I’m Ruining My Child (Today).

Tony moved up to “the big class” a couple of weeks ago. He has been OVER THE MOON about it, and so have we, because the teacher in there is one of those skilled teachers who just exudes calm. Even with the largest class in the school, and the same class of rowdy boys Tony’s always been a part of, the class is just quiet and focused. It is something to behold.

First Day of Pre-K

 

(The picture is blurry because 1) I was hurried and 2) I WAS CRYING SO EVERYTHING WAS BLURRY.)

I dropped him off at school one morning a week or so ago and his teacher told me how he was such a calm, focused child. Which, coming from her, was an AWESOME compliment. “He’s really big into routines,” she said. I nodded and beamed, Yep, that’s my boy! Happy to have a routine. “He’s great in routine,” she said, “but he gets a little out of sorts when we’re not in routine.”

I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN. I KNEW I WOULD BREAK MY CHILD.

I kid. A little. We are those parents, though, and I wondered if there would be a downside to it. We are the parents who are home by the little one’s bedtime, who just avoid social outings if they run later than dark, who schedule around naptime. We are those parents. And thus far? I would swear that I would do it all the same way again.

Upsides: he’s a GREAT sleeper. He’s loads more independent, knowing what routine lays ahead of him. (He makes his own bed, dresses himself daily, and cleans up his room. Because that’s just what we do.)

Downsides: Um, this last week is a great example.

So, I took his teacher’s advice to heart. It’s summer, and it’s Tony’s summer too, and so we’ve started .. experimenting a little. Bedtimes are later, naptimes are sometimes non-existent. We’ve stayed out till 9 or 10 p.m. a couple of times this last week – sometimes even on school nights – and skipped our bedtime routines.

.. it .. is .. not going so well.

Thursday night brought a visit from Tony’s favorite “Aunt Mary Yew” and we ended up being out until 9 or 10. He had a blast all night, since he then had Aunt Gee to Power Ranger with.

Aunt Gee Won This Round

 

Tony Has Avenged His Own Death!

 

(They took turns “getting dead”.)

But getting him to bed that night was a nightmare. And he was up twice over night and then was quite the difficult child the next morning.

Friday night, we had a family movie night with Captain America.

That Baby Bogarted All the Popcorns.

 

And going to bedthat night was also insane.

Saturday, there was no nap. (For myself and the boys. Bryan got a little shut-eye.) Saturday night, we decided to visit the new high school of my alma mater and see Oliver!

They Can’t Dance or The Breakfast Club 2012

 

Which was a total nightmare. Tony had meltdowns in the following locations: at home before leaving, at dinner, in the lobby, in the balcony alcove, in the lobby AGAIN during intermission, and one more during the second act before he finally passed out on my lap.

.. Sunday was much of the same.

“Out of sorts” is just about right. He just has trouble dealing with things that are maybe unexpected to him. Or things that he didn’t do yesterday. And I guess I’m just supposed to keep going this route? Where we do new stuff just because? BUT THE MELTDOWNS. Oh, they are awful. And honestly, they’re just not like him.

Our city does amazing, free, outdoor summer activities that are evening-based, and I’m thinking we need to do ALL of them. Even if it sucks. Because life isn’t exactly routine, right?

Regardless, we got two great shots yesterday in between the crying spasms:

Look at Dem Purty Boys

 

Aaaaand the Truth Comes Out.

 

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