Saturday, March 27, 2010

1100 Square foot Palace

Our house is looking gorgeous. It is such a departure from the stinky, blue-carpeted mess that I saw when I first met Ryan. All the floors are finished. Even in the bathroom. The furniture is beautiful. The trim is..well, almost all painted. I am so lucky that Ryan has dedicated himself to these projects as I have. He's actually done a hell of a lot more work on them.

Some of you living in cramped quarters in a big city like New York might say, 1100 square feet! That is the Taj Mahal compared to my 500 sqft one room hovel! Yeah yeah, I don't live in NYC. I live in a small country town, and squeezing us four people into this space is a challenge. Now that we have our w/d connection in the kitchen, we finally have a third bedroom. And once Ryan removes the old washer/dryer, we'll have a storage closet. Yes, we've lived with only two closets in this house.

All that said, I'm tired of living in a work-in-progress. I'm ready to live in a place that makes me happy. Where I can spend a day in the yard making it beautiful only because I want to. Not because I want the house to look sellable.

Anyway, the mac'n'cheese is almost ready, so I'd better get lunch ready for Katie Bel. She's gonna love it. Like usual.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Social Q at a Time

Every Friday, I look forward to reading the Social Q's column in the New York Times. It's found in the Style section, and the columnist answers readers' questions about etiquette. It's hilarious. But it's also scary how often it is published.

You'd think it's a whole week. Seven complete days and nights. All those hours and minutes, and yet, I feel like I blink my eyes, and it's Friday again. I spend my work days wishing away the time, praying for Friday to come. Monday morning is a chore for me, and I resent having to get up and go to work. Sure, I like work because it gives me some purpose other than being a wife and mother. Am I doing what I really should be doing, though, if I dread going to sleep on Sunday night? Winslow is going to be six months old very soon, and it feels more like six minutes. Time is passing me by while I have little to show for it. Much of that time I've spent away from my children, allowing them to spend too much time at daycare (which we call "school" to help assuage guilt). These days, it's a common reality for many of us. With depressed and stagnant wages, it is very difficult for a parent to stay home with the kids without making outrageous sacrifices. I don't mean cutting the restaurant budget from $400 to $200 a month. I mean cutting out all retirement savings. Forgoing all social activities. Sacrificing nutrition for the sake of saving a few bucks. I can't do that. It's tight enough with both of us working. For now, it'll have to stay the way it is.

As for figuring out what to do that is meaningful, i'm not there yet. I am praying to have no regrets when I look back on this time of my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Calgary Challenge

This past trip was a tough one. On our return home, our flight got canceled out of Minneapolis. We spend hours and hours at the airport trying to get to Atlanta, and our total travel time was about 32 hours. Exhausting. My travel companion was delightful, but I hope to never go through that again. Calgary was gorgeous, however. We'll see if I return any time soon.

The trip was tough in other ways, too. Coming home to my dear Katie Bel broke my heart. She has been so clingy. I am praying that my next trip is not soon. I'm not sure I can keep this up, especially since I don't have any hopes for more financial incentive anytime soon. Is this worth it?

On another note, Ryan is at the house right now finishing the floor work with his dad. The family is staying with his parents, and they are saints. Literally. We won't be back home for at least a few days while the wood cures and the fumes dissipate. I'm ready for the house to be finished. On Monday, I'm probably taking a day to paint the girls' room.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Housework Blitz

The house is a complete wreck! We are in the middle of some major projects...having the washer/dryer connections installed in the kitchen, refinishing the floors in the bedrooms, finishing the front porch work. The house is finally going to be the most livable it can be once the work is complete. The only problem? We have a storage unit now. I hate that.


I think storage units are for people with hoarding issues. Of course, there are exceptions. Needing to keep work files for a few years before destroying them...requiring space because of a temporary living situation...staging your home for sale. But right now, we are doing none of the above. Yes, we'd love to sell our house. Is it the right time yet? Doesn't seem so. Where would we go? Our mortgage payment is only about 15% of our takehome pay, and honestly, we can't afford to make it any higher.

So my plan for the storage unit is to see if I miss anything I've stored there. If we live without it for a couple of months, it's going to be sold or sent to charity. I will not allow my possessions to own me.

At the same time, we are in the market for some new furniture. Katie Bel is growing out of her crib, and she needs a big girl bed. Sure, I could buy something from Pottery Barn or The Company Store--there are some cute pieces there--but they're not made to last and tend to be made of pressed wood. I want something that my Katie Bel can have when she's grown. I found a matching pair of 3/4 sized beds built from solid Mahogany. Stunning. They are gorgeous and would cost about the same as a new pair, except that we'd have to get custom mattresses. Plus, where would we put the other bed? We haven't decided yet. The furniture is at the consignment shop and will be discounted 20% after March 16. Every penny counts. I'm headed out antiquing this morning to see if I find anything else.

I can't wait for the floors and the porch to be finished. Just in time for spring.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Today I had my Mirena removed. I got it a couple of months ago, skeptical that it would be okay for me since in the past, hormones have done a number on my libido and my moods. I was having pretty bad headaches and dizzy spells, so out it went. Ryan and I are going to have to just be careful for awhile because we're not quite ready to have another child. But soon, I'm sure we will be.

I had to pick Winslow up from the daycare. I'm not feeling so hot myself, so I guess we'll be grouchy and ill together. She got her shots today and really needs some sleep.

The house is a wreck, and it's going to stay that way. I'm not interested in doing one little thing today. Except nap...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Granola crumbs and moving boxes

We are getting our house ready to sell. I'm not sure if we'll wait to put it on the market or go ahead and do it, but we're working on finishing those lingering projects. De-clutter. Re-finish floors. Paint that pesky trim. It's all happening. Well, maybe not yet.

Actually, I just made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars. They're supposed to have blueberries in them. I felt like chocolate instead. I can't wait to dig in. I didn't put in the whole bag of chocolate chips, so I think they'll provide a mood lift without setting the family up for a terrible sugar crash once we're finished scarfing some down.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups uncooked old fashioned oats
1/2 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 13x9 pan with oil, or line it with foil or parchment paper and do the same.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt until well mixed.
3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter until fluffy. Beat in the oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, mix in the flour mixture until blended. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
4. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly in the pan.
5. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 min. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Lift by the foil from the pan and cut into 24 bar cookies.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We got it

Or we will on Thursday. We have a loaner right now while our van gets new tires and detailed. But we now own a Honda Odyssey. I'm pleased with our deal. No cash out of savings!