Friday, April 29, 2011

What is Goin' on in the Engine Room? Were There Monkeys? Some Terrifying Space Monkeys Maybe Got Loose?

I came home from my trip to a very wonderful surprise: Drek finished the laundry room floor! He is just that amazing (this post is now updated). We moved the washer in and hooked it up (My washer! Oh, Washing Machine, oh how I have missed you. Oh, how I have longed for this day!) The next day I took the top peak of our mountain of laundry, put it in, and started the wash:

It works! I'm doing laundry at my house! It is amazing!

But that did leave me with a small problem: Our dryer that we have hauled through three moves and four states is electric and our house isn't wired for an electric dryer. The bill to get an outlet for our dryer into our house would be upwards of a thousand dollars, and we just can't do that. Especially since I'm fairly sure our dryer did not survive all that traveling. We could by a new dryer, but is has to either be a propane dryer (super expensive. And also rare). or a gas dryer and we have to convert it to a propane dryer, and that's just a hassle.

Besides, The laundry was in the washer at that moment and it would need to be dried in fifty eight minutes. So I decided to take advantage of our huge backyard and ample sunlight: I've always wanted a clothesline!

And then I realized I couldn't buy a clothesline: I'm not allowed to buy anything new from a store until May 22. I could go to Goodwill and see if they have one, but what are the odds? And I didn't want to take the time to look on Craigs list: I needed a line in fifty eight minutes!

So I got creative:

The people that lived in this house before us were obsessed with TV. Two satellite dishes, and one more satellite dish posted in the front yard the size of a small moon. There are cables in every room of the house. They are ugly cables, and they are useless since Drek and I don't even own a TV.

So I went through the house, cut the cables from the wall, tied them together and...Suddenly I was drying my sheets on a clothesline.

I love it. I am finding that hanging up clothes to dry is very calming. I think it's very therapeutic. I just love it. Maybe we just won't have a dryer.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Never Theorize Before You Have Data. Invariably, You End Up Twisting Facts to Suit Theories, Instead of Theories to Suit Facts

I spent last week in Hometown and, aside from being apart from Drek, had a great time. It was my niece's birthday and Ash had a wonderful time playing with cousins and spending Easter with grandparents.

I got so spend a little bit of time with my in-laws. Have I mentioned how awesome they are? Well, they are best in-laws anyone could ask for, so pretty awesome.

They have an Easter tradition of hiding Easter Baskets. I mean REALLY hiding them: taped inside of chimneys, screwed under floor vents, tucked up inside light fixtures, hidden under children's booster seats: they go all out. After we had all found our baskets, we were informed where the last remaining baskets were hiding, waiting for their owners to arrive later in the day. Am's basket was hidden inside the back of a clock. While we were discussing if he would ever find it, and guessing how long it would take when Mom said that it was either Am or D that could smell his Christmas presents, if they were food, no matter where she hid them in the house. She couldn't remember if it was Am or D.

Soon Am arrived, and after a delightful dinner, he was told he had a basket and needed to start looking. He casually glanced around the room while he asked "on a scale of one to a thousand, how hard is it to find?"

Even while Dad was answering "eight hundred" Am was walking toward the clock. He casually picked it up and asked "does this thing even open?" but didn't get a response, because all of our mouths were hanging open. He popped out the back of the clock and there was his basket.

"It was Am who could smell his Christmas presents." Mom commented.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

I'll Be The Grandest Bunny in the Easter Parade

Happy Easter!

Now that Drek and I are married, and have a child, and have a house, I suppose it's really time to start our own Holiday Traditions. There really isn't anything else to procrastinate for.

This year we talked about how we wanted to celebrate Easter. Drek's favorite part of Easter Saturday is hiding the Easter Baskets. This is where he hid mine this year:
Keep in mind the fan hangs from a vaulted ceiling. I found it, but I couldn't reach it.

My favorite part of Easter preperations is coloring Easter Eggs. This is an egg Ash colored this year:

Acouchi's favorite part is the egg hunt.
She's really good at sniffing those eggs out:

So I think we'll color Easter Eggs a few days before. On Saturday we'll hide and find Easter baskets, and then have an Easter Egg hunt and brunch/lunch/dinner at our house for friends, family and neighbors later in the day. We did that this year and it was so much fun. Hopefully next year we''ll have our yard a bit more presentable.

Sunday we'll get to wear our new clothes (that were in our Easter baskets) to church and try to keep Sunday Easter Celebrations limited to activities focused on Christ. Sounds like a good Easter to me! Now I just need to get organized!

One year we might even be organized enough to celebrate Passover! One year...

Friday, April 22, 2011

If the Earth Dies, You Die

Happy Earth Day!!

This year I was introduced to all sorts of fascinating ideas. The first one was called Global Buckets and is a way to recycle, feed starving people, and grow a garden wherever you happen to be. I decided to try it.

A Global bucket is a version of an Earth Box. An Earth Box is the fancy name of what we tried to make two years ago out of cardboard boxes: basically a very un-fancy raised garden bed with the fancy benefits of being cheap, easy, no weeding, and a lot less watering.

In order to make a global bucket you need two five-gallon buckets. You can buy these, sure. but, you can also get them free at any store with a bakery (besides WalMart). The stores just throw them away, so they are happy to give them to you for free, and you are saving two buckets from ending up in a landfill. Hooray!

You also need:
1" PVC pipe, 24 inches long--$1.67 for a really long piece, I think you can get three out of it
1 plastic cup. I have a collection of odd plastic cups. I buy a package, and then all but three get used, and I save those three. That is what I used for this.
Dirt-- This is the hard part. On the Global Buckets website, they give you a very specific formula of dirt. I went to Home Depot and bought 3 bags for $3.97 each, and that still wasn't enough dirt. That is too expensive for my taste. I am looking for a wholesale way to get special dirt, or I might just use normal dirt.
1 plastic garbage bag
1 plant
zip ties, rubber bands, or string, whatever you have.

Cut or drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of one of the buckets. We'll name that bucket "bucket A". Make the hole big enough for the plastic cup to rest in. Now cut another hole to the side, big enough for the PVC pipe to fit through. Now drill lots of tiny holes so Bucket A looks like this:

top view:
Drill holes three or four in the sides of the other bucket, which we shall name "Bucket B". Evenly space them so they go all around Bucket B:
Now go back to Bucket A. When you put the PVC pipe through the hole, you'll want to tie it to the side of the top of Bucket A. Measure where those holes should be so you can use your zip ties, rubber bands, or string to secure the PVC pipe:
Bucket A, on left, Bucket B on right:
Top view:
Now slice your cup three times, take your dirt, wet it, and fill the cup up with the dirt so it looks like this:
Put Bucket A inside of Bucket B, and put the cup inside Bucket A:
Insert PVC pipe, secure the pipe to the side of the bucket, and fill Bucket A with wet dirt. Compact the dirt in the middle, but leave the dirt around the sides loose:
Plant your plant, and cover with a garbage bag, cutting two holes: one for the plant, one for the PVC pipe:
There you go. Now add sunshine. You can put your bucket on a rooftop, a patio, a balcony, or in a backyard. Supposedly this system is fool-proof, and people in third world countries and make them to grow their own food. I'll let you know how my cherry-tomato plants works out.

Another fascinating idea I found is a minimalist lifestyle, which Drek and I have embraced and are currently working on. I LOVE it. It is actually fun. That lead to doing a bit more research on the Story of Stuff. If you haven't seen that video yet (it was viral a while ago) you really, really should. That lead to Non-consumerism, which I am just starting to get serious about. I think to celebrate Earth Day this year, I will take action! I am not going to buy anything new (besides food, of course) from a store for an entire month (end date May 22). I'm hoping in a month, I can do it again for an entire year, but that scares me, so I'm taking baby steps. So where can I shop? Thrift stores, Craig's List and yard sales of course, but mostly the idea is to really evaluate what I buy: Do I really need it? Really? Is it worth the toll it took on the environment? Do I need it more than the money it costs? Or do I need/want that money to be used for something else? Do I want that item to take up space in my house? Or do I want that space for other things (like nothing: easy to clean, easy to move, easy to replace). If I buy it, will it own me? Will it make my life better?

The last idea was a zero-waste lifestyle. Which after watching that short video, I want. I don't know how, but my end goal is to have four months of trash fit into my hand. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"It's Deadly Fun, But Will Sulk in the Sun!" That's it! Devil's Snare Hates Sunlight! Lumos Solem!

You know what's amazing about this house? The sunlight. It's been a while since I've had sunlight in my house.

This house has lots of big windows, especially in the kitchen. This is the view from the window over the sink. It looks out onto our backyard, and you can see our neighbor's chickens, geese, and pigeons. And also our horrible lawn that hasn't been mowed in three months.

This is the view from the sliding glass door, also in the kitchen, also looking into our backyard. You can see our sad fence.
close up:

A few days ago there was a chicken loose in our backyard. I've also seen a bunny, a mouse (being chased by Acouchi) and a hawk. I love our backyard. So does Acouchi.

The amazing thing about having sunlight in our kitchen is that my bread actually rises! I had no idea that was the missing factor! Sunlight! It works miracles. Here are my breadsticks:
See? Amazing. No wonder my bread wouldn't rise for the past three years! I can see lots of fresh baked bread in the future of this kitchen.

Chicken in the yard:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Raise Your Head Up, Lift High the Load Take Strength From Those that Need You Build High the Walls, Build Strong the Beams

This house was built the same year I was born. When we had a general contractor come over to look at the house, his first reaction was: "Wow, I hope you guys got a really good deal on this place." It was that bad. He then went on to explain how at twenty-five, things just break. It's an age where everything just falls apart and stops working. I told him my birthday was in a few weeks and I was taking that personally.

But he was right. Our house was an REO, meaning it was a foreclosure. It had been a rental for several years before that. So, imagine a house with twenty-five year old carpet, that had several renters in and out. Now imagine these renters are teenage partying boys with no personal hygiene. Now picture that the carpet wasn't installed right in the first place, and was fraying, coming up and just all over gross. It was the kind of carpet that made you sick to look at. It was bad.

Master Bedroom before:

Master Bedroom after: 

Guest Room Before:


Drek's office before:
Drek's office after:

The Hallway before:


There was also the scary carpet in the front room:

We decided not to put carpet back down. Instead, we ripped up the carpet in the front room:

gathered supplies:
and did the laminate ourselves. We had a laminate-laying party one night and got HUGE help from our friends. Drek finished it the next day.

Beautiful, no?

Laundry Room:

We tore up the carpet in the laundry room:

and Drek installed the new floor. We moved the washer in:

Cleaned up and fixed the desk:
And then Drek installed cupboards!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It Stands To Reason We Deserve It Too

I feel kinda sorry for Birthdays. People have such high expectations for birthdays, they are measured with such high standards and that must be stressful for them. They have so much to live up to; always in the shadow of that first big grand birthday when a tiny baby is given the miracle of life. It's hard to top that, or even match that. A day can be a normal day, or even a better than average day, but if that day is a birthday, it's a bad birthday.

The actual day of my birthday was actually quite awful: a horrible day by any standards. So I won't even try to measure it with birthday standards. Instead, I'm going to focus on the day a few days before me birthday, which was a fantastic day. When measured with birthday standards it comes out on top: one of the best birthdays ever. That was the day I learned that my friends are first-rate actresses.

A trip was planned to visit the Gardens. I was invited and wanted to go, so I went. To my delight, everyone else decided to come too! It's very rare that we get all four of us on an outing with all the children in tow. The gardens were beautiful, everyone seemed to be having a great time and I took some fun pictures:

Once we got to a good picnic spot I lined up all eight of the children (fifteen months to six years) and tried to get a picture with all of them looking at the camera, which is no small feat. I was so busy concentrating I didn't realize the adults sneaking up behind me with balloons and a birthday cake. I turned around and everyone yelled surprise! I was stunned! I had no idea this outing was by birthday party! It was the very first successfull surprise party (and second attempted) I've ever had. It was amazing. I really had no idea, that's how good my friends are at acting. Really. Hollywood better watch out.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Something About Tentacles, Got It. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Well, I'm twenty-five today.

For a long time I would mistakenly group myself in the "teenage" category. When I saw a teenager walking around I would describe them as "my age" even though I was twenty three and twenty four. I just still felt like a teenager, I guess. Several months ago someone asked me how old I was an my first instinct was to reply "Nineteen." But I stopped myself and answered with the correct answer.

Sometimes I still feel really young, like when my real estate agent offered my champagne; It took me a second to realize I actually was old enough to drink it. But for the most part, I now think of myself as an adult. I should; After all, I'm married, I have a toddler, I own a home, a car, and a retirement account. I have bills to pay and meals to plan, shop for, and cook. I know all sorts of boring things about car insurance and health insurance. That's an adult, right?

I think the hardest part of being an adult is that people expect me to pay attention when they are talking about boring things. Adults don't really expect teenagers or children to listen, but they assume adults are listening. I've had to catch myself a few times: "Self! Pay attention! He's talking about which forms you need to send to buy this house! This is important!" or "Self! This guy is talking about how to get your car fixed after the wreck! You need to know this!"

Even worse is when other adults want boring information out of me.
Real adult: "So why hasn't your house closed"
Me: "The lender is lazy."
Real Adult: "No, really. What exactly is going on?"
Me: "Well, the lending agent mistaking thought that once her job was over, we could close immediately, but really, after the lending agent, the paperwork has to go through a closing agent, then the title company, then back to the closing agent, then back to the title company, then we can sign, then the title company and the closing agent have to agree on the closing fees, APR, interest rate, and concessions, then it can be submitted to the county, and twenty-four hours later we can record. After that we can officially close and get the keys. Aren't you impressed that I know so many big and important words?"
Real Adult: "So are you still in escrow? What stage are you in?"
Me: "Does this seriously interest you? Because it's my house we are talking about and I'm already asleep. Oh, look! Something shiny!"

But most of the time I think other adults are just as board as I am, they are just being polite while I am pretending to be an adult. Sigh.

But I know I am an adult now, because subjects that I used to find boring, I now devour. Last week NPR (Yes, I listen to NPR. See how adult I am?) broadcasted a segment on taxes, and I turned it up and parked so I could pay close attention to what they were saying. I was very interested in what they were saying, but at the same time I was making fun of myself (Taxes? Really?). I am now immensly interested in budgets, both mine, my states, and the government budget. I love to hear how other people budget, what they budget for and how much, and in what way the government has failed to budget this quarter. Where did that interest come from?

And to top it all off, I am now old enough to rent a car. For a while there I was trusted with a child, a cat, a household, a mortgage and a bank account, but I could not be trusted with a rental car. Odd.

So, in conclusion: I'm twenty-five! I am not upset (is not getting upset over birthdays a maturity thing?). In fact, I am glad I am twenty-five. It sounds like a nice age to be.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I Know That the Drop Off is Desirable With the Great Schools and the Amazing View and All, But Do We Really Need so Much Space?

Okay, so you might have caught on that the pictures are not of our new house. They are actually pictures of Celebrity's mansions. That's Charlize Theron's Bedroom, Justin Long's Kitchen, Mel Gibson's backyard...yeah, you get the idea.

But, we did actually close on our house yesterday. We met our real estate agent at our new house and he got out of his car filming us with his iphone and holding a bottle of champagne to celebrate the big moment. As he walked toward us with the champagne a whole conversation ran through my head:

AAAAHHH!! He's offering me Alcohol! What do I do? What do I do?! Okay, Don't panic. Stay calm. He obviously thinks I am an adult. Oh wait, I just bought a house. I am an adult. Should I tell him I don't drink? How about I just smile an accept it graciously. Okay. Go.

This coming a few days after this conversation with Drek:

Drek: "If we close while I am on my business trip you might just want to rent a U-haul and start moving some boxes over by yourself."
Me: "I can't rent a U-haul."
Drek: "Why not?"
Me: "You have to be twenty-five. I'm too young. They won't let me drive. I can't rent a car either."

More about that weird age thing next week. But this post is about the house: We now own a house. We have the keys. We are moving on Monday. The carpet is being installed today and Monday. I'll post before and after pictures when it's all done and then you can see how very different those pictures are from the pictures I posted yesterday.

So, anyone know any good recipes for cooking with Champagne?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Great News!! We got the call today that our house is finally our house. Phew! Never doing that again.

But, anyway. I thought I better post the photos of the house up on my blog. So here is the photo tour of our new house!

The entryway:
The house we bought is an REO, meaning it was sold as-is. So all the furniture is included.

My favorite room, the kitchen:
(Don't you just love the double range oven and huge kitchen island?

The bedroom:
Very simple: only one fireplace, nothing to elaborate.

But the bathroom is perfect, don't you think?
To the left is the walk in shower.

The backyard:
and last but no least, the pool room:

Do you like it?