Archive for ‘Our home’

June 11, 2013

Two Months to 30

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. And without going into my entire complicated train of thought, I’m going to give you what it all boiled down to: It’s finally hit me that I’m going to be 30 in two months.

Now I’ve never been one of those people who fears birthdays. To the contrary, I LOOOOOVE my birthday. I have a policy of no driving myself anywhere and no doing dishes on my special day. It’s the only day I make ridiculous demands (like this year I NEED H&H Bagels from New York for breakfast. NEEEEEEEED, people!)…granted, my husband would disagree. Despite the fact that my wedding and subsequent events made me feel self conscious, my birthday is the only day I love being the center of attention.

And this year is the big 3-0. Which is fine with me. I’m kind of excited about it actually. And up until just the other day, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

So what happened the other day, I’m sure you wonder. Well I was on the elliptical machine at the gym and I was scanning the eight or so televisions lined up hanging from the ceiling, each broadcasting a different program, and my eyes landed on a commercial. I think it was for an iPhone, but I’m not 100% sure. It portrayed these 20-somethings in different scenarios: on a college campus, in different landmark locations around the world, hanging with friends, at the gym, blah blah blah. And I realized it: I’m not one of them anymore. I’ve passed that phase of my life.

And it sort of took me to this concept of time, and I spent a few minutes feeling sad, like my opportunity to go after my dreams had passed.

Of course, that’s not true. But I feel like I spent my 20’s stagnant when I should have been out having adventures and trying new things and being a little more carefree. And then I think about all that I went through in my 20’s, all the growth and all the change and, as Jim reminds me, all the adventures I DID have. I mean I traveled to Europe and New Zealand and Hawaii and to all 50 states. I worked for a professional sports team. I got a bachelors degree. I wrote a novel. I got engaged…and broke off a six year relationship with a man I thought was my forever only to find an even better one waiting for me a few years away. I married that better man. I started writing a blog. I started a photography business. I bought a house. I’ve done a crap-ton of things in the last decade, probably more things than a lot of people my age have done.

But among the things on that list are not: living in another country…or living somewhere else in the US. Publishing a novel. Ceasing to work for my parents. … … thinking… … thinking… … I guess that’s it. I guess those are the major things I haven’t accomplished that make me feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. Wow, I’m kind of a whiner, aren’t I?

By the way, I literally just figured that out for myself. See? Writing it down does help you figure out life’s problems.

And since we have some more time in today’s regularly scheduled program, let’s check out my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30 and see how I’m doing with a little over two months to go.

Ok, so I simply copied and pasted the exact list from the “30 things to do before my 30th birthday” page.

1. Try (or create) 30 new recipes

             End of Summer Stuffed Squash

            Carrot and Fennel Soup

            Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

            Granola Balls

            Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

2. Buy a house

So excited to finally be a homeowner! Photos to come!

3. Write a(nother) novel

I’m working on this one. It’s about half done, and I’m pretty excited about it. It may be THE one! 🙂

4. Go to a storage auction (like Storage Wars only I’ve wanted to do this since I was 7 and my friend’s parents brought home a whole crap ton of treasures from one!)

– I still want to do this. I suppose I could call the place where we had out unit from the apartment and see when they do them.

5. Read 30 books

            Where we Belong by Emily Giffin  – Not her greatest, but still entertaining.

            Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch – I have never been a fan of SNL and maybe that’s why I didn’t get this book, but it was really not very entertaining to me. I wouldn’t recommend it.

            The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – This book was so hard to get into. The whole first section was a bit confusing, but by the time the second section began, I couldn’t put it down.

            The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – I enjoyed this one enough. It was sort of strange, but it kept my attention throughout the whole book. I wanted to know what was going to happen.

            The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – For the seventh time, I adore this book!

            The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – It was good..and it was not my favorite at the same time. 

            The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I enjoyed this book far less than The Forgotten Garden, but it still kept me interested through the end.

            Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr – This book was amazingly enlightening. It made me rethink my entire life starting with what I put in my mouth on a daily basis.

            Marrying Daisy Bellamy by Susan Wiggs – Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are relatable, yet always end happily, which I love.

6. Sell one of my photographs

– I need to try harder here. If I don’t put them out there, no one is going to buy them, right?

7. Paint pottery

This one is just a matter of doing it. There are two pla

8. Create my own signature cocktail

– Again, just need to do it. Get in the bar and mess around with some stuff!

9. Throw a party (in our new house!)

– Technically we threw Jim and 30th birthday party and we had a housewarming party. I guess that counts, but I sure want to throw a really good party still!

10. Learn to be happy with my body

I’m trying. It’s hard, but I’m getting there. Maybe not 100% in two months, but it’s a work in progre

11. Revamp my wardrobe (get rid of crap I don’t wear, update my style a tick)

Began this by getting rid of a ton of clothes, and slowly I’m building it back up with new stuff. It’s hard to save money for things like windows and vacations AND build up a new wardrobe, so this is slow going.

12. Figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life

-The neverending challenge for me. I’m getting there, though. Again, slowly. One year was a bit of a small time frame for such a goal.

13. Learn to be happy in Roseville

-Again, getting there. I’m trying to be as involved in town activities and such as I can, and it’s helping. It’s also helped that we now own a house here instead of just renting. I may never be 100% happy, but I think I can be content here…for the time being.

14. Get rid of everything I don’t need (We finally had our yard sale! So nice to have all that stuff gone!)

15. Find my perfect lipstick (inspired by my good friend, Jenny, who feels lipstick is a necessity in life)

-Another one I just need to do. Note to self: text Jenny and go to Sephora.

16. Find the perfect little black dress

– I got A black dress. It’s not THE black dress. So I need to go for take-two on this one.

17. Pay off all debts (excluding house from item 2 and car)

-Getting there! By my birthday our wedding rings will be paid off as well as almost everything that we charged before I wrote this. Since then we’ve had to make a few large purchases (mattresses and appliances) that we’re not going to be finished paying on by late August.

18. Try one of the crafts I’ve pinned on Pinterest

-Still need to do this.

19. Take a photo that really makes me go “wow”

-I take a lot of photos of people. And a lot of them catch my breath, but the one I’m thinking of isn’t going to be of a person…see? I might just be too critical of my own accomplishments…how many times now have I written “I did this, but it wasn’t good enough to cross off the list”….oy. Gotta work on that.

20. Go hiking in Yosemite

-Probably not going to accomplish this one, but hey, I’ve got two months!

21. Purchase a nice (non-Ikea) piece of furniture 

master bedroom3

22. Read a whole book in one day

-Oh, to have time for stuff like that these days…

23. Learn the live completely in the moment (starting with practicing mindful breathing and meditation)

-I think this is going to be another work in progress item. It takes time!

24. Take a class with Jim (maybe a cooking class, maybe a photography class or a tennis class, to be determined)

-Just gotta do it…

25. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet

-Jim learned how to do this one and showed me…although I have yet to do it for myself.

26. Compile a cookbook of my most-cooked recipes

-I’ve been doing this on the blog, but not in a book format

27.  I need to come up with something new because I couldn’t donate my hair to Locks of Love

28. Get a dog This is Katie!

29. Take a yoga class My sister-in-law and I have been going to yoga for about two months now and we love it!

30. Have an amazing 30th birthday

 

So there you have it. Progress for the most part. I haven’t really given up on any of them, and I sure have a lot to do in the next two months!

Is anyone else turning 30 this year? Do you have a list like this? Does anyone turning a different age have a list?

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March 29, 2013

New House: Master Bedroom

Back in November when we bought our house, I promised you I’d show you all photos. And I haven’t done that yet. Mostly for two reasons: #1. It’s taken a while to get it all together. #2. It’s not necessarily always clean enough. But the other day I found myself in a clean bedroom, so I snapped a few photos to share with you. Enjoy!

master bedroom3

I love love LOVE our bed. I bought it from One Kings Lane, and waited for over a month to get it. The decorative pillows are from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Our nightstands are from wayfair.com, the lamps are from Target and the bedspread was from West Elm.

master bedroom1

I also LOVE that chair. It actually reclines, too. We got it in the clearance center at RC Willey. I’ve had my dresser forever. It’s Ikea.

master bedroom2

The mirror is also Ikea. Katie decided she needed to get in on the action, so she poked her little head in the door.

I’d say our room isn’t quite finished. I want to get something to put above our bed, I think. And eventually I’m going to make a necklace hanger out of that picture frame that’s in the corner. And the bird cage is going to be hung about directly above where it’s sitting. Also, just behind Katie we have a pretty big blank wall leading into the bathroom. I’m not sure if I’m okay with it or not. If I find the perfect thing to go there, I’ll probably hang something on that wall too.

I think I may be almost ready to show you the living room, too, so stay tuned!

March 11, 2013

Officially Moved In

This weekend we finally had our yard sale, sold or donated the rest of the crap we didn’t need or want and left a big, deliciously empty space in the garage. I figure that, even more than having our housewarming party, means we’re moved in! Of course, now we have to finish organizing what’s left in the garage. But that part’s easy.

The yard sale took up most of our Saturday, and I even remembered to take some photos to post (which I still haven’t really gotten used to doing), but my camera was going whacky on me yesterday (the reason why the rest of the photos in this post are of the lovely cell phone variety). But it’s okay. So is life sometimes. But seriously. It feels SOOOOOO amazing to have all that junk gone. I hate clutter. I hate messes. I hate extra junk. I need to have clean and tidy and put away and that mound of junk was bringing me down.

Anyway, Saturday night we decided to go out to dinner instead of cooking. There was no way I was going to be able to come up with anything besides tater tots and frozen pizza, so we went to sushi instead.

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

Popcorn Shrimp Temaki

We have a new…I hate to use the word “favorite” because while their Popcorn Shrimp Temaki is probably my favorite hand roll of all time, the rest of their rolls are…well…eh. In fact I almost yacked on the spider roll we ordered. I had to spit it in my napkin. Gross, right? Jim told me to. I wasn’t going to. It’s kind of rude (but then again so is yacking at the table in  a restaurant, right?). Then he held up his left hand, palm toward him, wedding ring toward me, and said “and that’s why it’s okay.” He’s so funny. And he’s right, of course.

Sunday we woke up a bit later than Saturday…and then an hour later than that because of the time change. Stupid time change. I made breakfast, which I usually do. But I have this problem. I can spend one day at home and then I nut up. So since we were home almost all day Saturday, Sunday morning came along and I had a serious itch to get the heck out of the house.

We have a favorite bike trail that we like to ride. It’s about eleven and a half miles around Lake Natoma. There are usually a lot of people…joggers, walkers, people on strange contraptions (like the elliptical machine thing we saw one guy on…wish I’d taken a cell phone photo, but I was about to die about that time), horses along with the bikers?…cyclists? The folk who ride the bikes. Us.

Lake Natoma

However, we decided we wanted to bring Katie. And since she’s not terribly fabulous on the leash yet, and she certainly has never done an 11 mile jaunt attached to a bike before, we chose to walk it instead. (This is the part of the weekend where my camera decided to stop reading the card that was in it and I almost threw it off the bridge into the lake).

Can't believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

Can’t believe I had to facebook jack my own photos

It was a beautiful day. About 70 degrees, warm, a little wind coming off the lake. The trees were green and those that bloom were doing their thing. It felt really good to be out there….until it didn’t. Until we got almost halfway around the lake and realized, hey, walking might be a bigger pain in the ass that bike-riding, not to mention we’re trying to train a dog to walk on the leash here. By the time we finished, four hours later, we were both so beat all we could do was fall into the car. Katie even slept the entire way home.

It was a good thing I already had dinner in the slow cooker (it’s a Cuisinart, not a Crock Pot), or else we would have been going for those tater tots and frozen pizza.

We had a nice evening, though. We watched an episode of Property Wars (anyone else love that show?!) and an episode of…uh…can’t remember the name….they fish for tuna? Jim? Are you reading this? What’s that show called? Anyway, we watched, we ate, we had some ice cream in bed and then we were out.

Unfortunately a bird outside our bedroom window wasn’t aware that the time change didn’t mean he was supposed to sit and squawk at 2 am. Between him and the nice little sunburn I procured on our little walk, I probably didn’t sleep more than three hours all night. And we went to bed early! Hopefully he gets with the program tonight!

January 20, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I’ve been busy in the kitchen this weekend! Well, busy period, but I somehow found a way to whip up two new recipes for you in the midst of cleaning and planning and shopping and otherwise trying to get our house together. I’ll post you an update on the house soon, too, but for now, here’s pancakes!

blr pancakes1

I decided to make these because we got some lemons in our Farm Fresh to You box and I haven’t gotten around to coming up with something profound to make with them, and since they’re starting to look a little less than perky, I put them to good use. Jim loves lemons, so I figured he’d enjoy this recipe. And he did.

Blueberry Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1 tbsp baking powder

3ish tbsp flaxseed meal (I like to add it for a little bit of fiber. Go for it. It’s good for you.)

1 egg

1 1/4 cups almond milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 tbsp vanilla extract (if my husband didn’t hate it with all of his being, I would have used almond extract. Feel free to make the change if you’re fortunate enough to have the option. I won’t blame you for deviating)

zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated

handful of blueberries

powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, almond meal, baking powder and flaxseed meal. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup (or another bowl), whisk the egg, almond milk, ricotta, vanilla (or almond) extract and lemon zest until they’re just combined and the ricotta is mostly un-lumpy. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the blueberries. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle pan in whatever size you prefer. Meanwhile sift powdered sugar into the lemon juice. Add just enough so that it starts to turn a whitish color and gets a little thick. It’s just a glaze, and since lemons come in different sizes I can’t really tell you how much you’re going to need. Let’s just say, you’re going to keep adding sugar and you’re going to think it’s too much but it’s not. It’s okay. Add a little drizzle of glaze between each pancake in your stack and top with extra blueberries…and why not? A little more glaze on top.

blr pancakes2

This recipe makes enough for about three pancakes for two people. That was a little too much for us, so we had two each and a bagged the rest for Jim to take to work.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

December 27, 2012

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is over. Gone. Past. Done. Most years I could regale you with how much I enjoyed the season. Baking cookies with my mom. Driving around and looking at houses adorned with millions of tiny colored lights. Making a trek to Nevada City for Victorian Christmas. Picking out the perfect tree and then decorating it whilst sipping cocoa and idly tuning in to a Christmas movie in the background. I could tell you about how my DVR is 92% full with every Christmas movie and special that aired. I’d tell you about shopping trips and adventures in wrapping. And picking a handful of names from the Angel Tree.

Katie "helped" with the little wrapping I did do

Katie “helped” with the little wrapping I did do

But this year I got nothin.

I guess that’s not entirely true. Mom and I did our baking. Granted, it was a seriously condensed version of what we usually bake. Only ten different types of cookies plus fudge. You’re probably laughing because yes, that is a lot of cookies, but we usually do about twice that. I did, however, try several new recipes. I’ll share my favorite with you later. I may have to make another batch because I think they all got eaten before I had the chance to take photos.

We also did get a tree and decorate it and I did make hot cocoa. But we got our tree from Home Depot because it was the week before Christmas and they were the only ones with trees left that didn’t belong at Charlie Brown’s Christmas pageant and we just didn’t have a day free to go pick out and cut down one like we wanted to.

I also did some shopping. Two days before Christmas. And that was all. We bought gifts for nieces and nephews and our parents and the rest got homemade salted caramel hot chocolate…which, by the way, was fabulous in itself. I’ll share that with you soon as well. I actually DID get photos of those. For now, here’s Jim making salted caramel sauce.

caramel sauce1

And one of me in the cutesy Christmas apron my grandmother gave me. Jim pretty much made the sauce by himself. I just wanted to pose with my apron.

caramel sauce2

We didn’t even hang out stockings this year. We got new ones. Pretty Pottery Barn ones (granted, mine showed up all messed up from the embroidery machine, but it still works. They did give me a refund in case you were wondering), but we also got a new mantle, which was still too tacky after being painted to put anything heavy on. So it held our cards (and Jim’s birthday cards) and stockings lived on the floor.

You'll have to excuse the phone photos. They're all I've got at the moment.

You’ll have to excuse the phone photos. They’re all I’ve got at the moment.

I bet you’re wondering why Christmas was no big thing this year. I mean it was our first Christmas in our first house and it should have been special right? Well, I think that’s part of the reason. We still haven’t really finished unpacking and the house has pretty much taken all of our energy and attention (minus what Katie requires). Christmas more or less sneaked up on us. We have just been too busy. Not to mention I’ve had a nasty bug of some sort for the entire month of December, so I haven’t felt like doing anything. Not even putting our house together. On Saturday, we had our first of four days off and the plan was to work on getting the rest of the stuff in the garage put away, clean the inside, get it all nice looking again. We sat on the couch and watch the first two Lord of the Rings movies instead. And you know what? It felt darn good.

Now that the holidays are essentially over and my cough is finally chilling out, life can start to find its way to normal. I’m excited for the new year, to get settled into our new home, our new life with our new pooch. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be amazing.

How was your Christmas? Do you have big plans for the new year?

November 27, 2012

Finding Happiness

To say that I’ve been busy lately would be an understatement. To say that my life is chaotic at the moment would be one too. And to say that I’m completely and utterly happy would be a third.

In August, when I put together my list of thirty things to do before I turn 30, I added “Learn to be happy in Roseville.” It seemed like such a daunting task. There are so many things about this town that I just despise: the lack of character, the cookie-cutterness of it. The fact that most of the restaurants and stores are national chains and the neighborhoods are a sea of suburban track housing. How could I ever be happy in such blah surroundings?

I’ve always believed that old saying that wherever you go, there you’ll be. Problems and all. That’s probably why I never moved to Boston or London or any of the other crazy locations that I was sure would make life so much better. Don’t get me wrong. I still think I’d rather live in either one of those places, but I was always aware that simply being there wouldn’t change me. I do, however, think I’ve remedied a couple of the major problems that made me feel so strongly about my current locale.

First things first. I am NOT a beige person. I believe our previous housing situation is to blame for my unhappiness in two three four ways. The first is beige. Our apartment, the hallway to our apartment, the exterior of our building was BEIGE. Is there an uglier, less happy color? Secondly, It was roughly the size of a shoebox which meant we had to rent a separate home for all of our pretty wedding gifts, our camping equipment and our childhood mementos in the form of a storage unit. Not to mention, it ALWAYS  looked and felt cluttered and that causes me some serious cognitive dissonance (I’m not a messy person, but there’s nowhere to put it all!). I can not handle clutter (insert involuntary shudder here). Thirdly, it was dark. When you have to turn on a light to see in the kitchen regardless of the hour, there’s no way you’ve got enough natural light. Lastly, I believe that not having a place that was really home was getting to me. I mean sure, we had a place where our stuff lived and where we slept at night and had our nosh and Scooby Doo or Nancy Drew video game marathons on Sunday afternoons, but it wasn’t ours. It was…standard. And it wasn’t enough.

In walks our new house (no, not literally…we actually walked into it, but that’s not the point). Which, by the way, we love. And we OWN. And while it WAS beige when we moved in, now it’s a pretty shade of grey with a touch of blue and more than enough sunlight to satisfy my vitamin D requirements. We’ve put holes in the walls with no regard for a security deposit. As I mentioned before, we painted….the WHOLE HOUSE. We even painted one wall a dark blue and one room a beautiful teal green color. We have a garage for our camping stuff, a big enough kitchen for all of our shiny new wedding gifts and even an entire room just for my books!

I know, I know. “We want to see pictures!” Well, you’re going to have to wait. Because while I’m uuber excited to have enough space for all of our stuff, we are still living in clutter, the clutter of the still-needs-to-be-put-away. So when I get it all together, I’ll write a whole post full of photos of our new house. Deal?

For now, I’ll post this one for you: Our new pooch, Katie.

We rescued her from the SPCA in Sacramento. She’s the sweetest dog, about a year old. She loves to be around people and hates the back yard! Which is too bad for her because she’s going to be spending some time there, especially while we’re still getting stuff put away. Her previous owners brought her to the shelter because they didn’t have enough time for her. She comes to work with me every day, so we don’t have a problem there (and don’t feel so sorry for her for having to spend time in the back yard. She is by no means neglected)! She’s part black lab and part…..we don’t really know. The vet speculates terrier, but she also looks a little like a basenji. We won’t ever know for sure, but we don’t care anyway. We love her regardless of her pedigree.

Katie’s been with us for about two weeks, which means she got to meet the families at Thanksgiving. They all loved her. And we had such a great time seeing all of them. Although there was one person missing at the dinner table this Thanksgiving: Jim’s uncle Ken, who passed away at the end of July. There was a moment toward the end of dinner when I realized that the last time I’d sat at the formal dining table at Jim’s parents’ house had been…I don’t even remember the occasion… but Jim was working late and didn’t make it to dinner. Uncle Ken was being his obnoxious self and terrorizing Jim’s sister, Tricia. It wasn’t a particularly eventful evening or memorable in any way except that he had been sitting across the table from me during that dinner, and now he won’t ever again. Uncle Ken would have loved Katie.

Two Christmases ago, Uncle Ken and his wife, Elaine, spent the holiday in Mexico with my family. Uncle Ken is in black next to me. The guy above him is the bartender at the hotel where they stayed. He’d become part of the family by the end of our trip. And the head in the background to the right of the bartender is my youngest brother, Dan. I can barely remember Uncle Ken without that giant smile on his face. For as much of a pain in the butt as he could be at times, he sure did love life. I’m so glad we got to spend this time with him.

But enough of hanging out on the verge of tears. Life is good. And there’s so much to love about it. Uncle Ken would have been so pissed if he knew we were sitting around crying over him. He’d want us to feel the joy in our lives. And between owning our own home, having a new pooch in our little family, being closer to Jim’s family, and the numerous little things that make life amazing, I think I may just be able to stay happily in Roseville. …for a while anyway.

October 17, 2012

One year down, the rest of our lives to go

I know, I know. I promised you a full report when we got back from our anniversary weekend, but things got a little crazy in the meantime. Jim gave us about half an hour to eat lunch when we got home from Monterey before we were off with our realtor looking at more houses. She had six lined up for us and boy were we striking out.

The first one was…weird. That’s the best we could describe it. Not bad. Just weird. Like you walk in from the street to what is essentially the back yard, with a pool and a patio and a bbq area. We then walked around the other side of the house, looking for the front door, but all we found was a small patch or tan bark surrounding the walkway…we’re talking a few feet from the fence to the house. The door was there, but it was…yea, weird. We went inside and into the first bedroom to the right. It had double closets, which was nice….but in the back of the second one was a door…to the next room, the den, basically. Weird, right? The kitchen was nice, good size. The living space was…big…and there was a little..sunroom? except there was no door, so it was more like a nook of windows…it was…yea, you guessed it. Weird. The master was small. Master bath was small. Overall, it wasn’t bad. We didn’t cross it off the list…not till later. But I’m getting there.

Next we saw two foreclosures on the other side of town, the side I don’t want to be on. I gave it a chance. It struck out. What can I say? These houses were AWFUL. Completely trashed, needed so much work AND priced way too high for us to even consider.

There were two houses in Rocklin. One the owners accepted a cash offer pretty much as we were on our way there and the other one, it ended up they weren’t ready to show it yet.

The last house we saw was in central Roseville, pretty much on the very edge between “I won’t live there” and “I’ll consider it for the right house.” We drove up and I wasn’t impressed yet. It is painted a pretty icky brown. But paint isn’t permanent and it really isn’t a huge deal to me. I just don’t care that much. What I did love at first sight was the red door. I have always told Jim I want a red door…in the past we even joked about him buying me a red door for our future house. So this red door was promising.

Once inside we found ourselves facing a lovely open floor plan, three bedrooms, a beautifully updated kitchen (in the exact color scheme I would have chosen myself) a really cool little den with french doors and a cute little backyard, a tiny bit smaller than we were hoping for, but it’ll do.

We put an offer in that night. They accepted the next morning. We had the contract by that afternoon and I was in the loan guy’s office the next morning signing paperwork. That being said, we’re in escrow! We just had the home inspection last night and there are no major problems. The house isn’t falling down or rotting from the inside out, so we’re moving forward. Appraisal should be next week and that’s pretty much our last major hump. As long as it appraises at or above what we offered, we’re moving forward!

So that’s why I haven’t posted about our anniversary yet. I haven’t had time to sit down and edit photos, mostly. And my brain has been on overdrive. Anyway, better late than never right?

The actual date of our anniversary was Monday October 8th, so we decided to take a long weekend, starting in Santa Cruz for a night with Jim’s grandparents.

Highlights of night one:

Hours of enjoyable conversation with the grandparents

Delicious dessert crepes at The Crepe Place (which won out over ice cream at Marianne’s because Jim hates the crowd and The Crepe Place has an amazing outside garden patio area)

Rescuing a cat from under the house

Grandma’s scalloped potatoes

In the morning, we started south for Monterey and stopped at one of Jim’s favorite beaches, Seacliff State Beach.

Toward the end of World War I, when the country was facing steel shortages, this ship, as well as two others like it were built of cement, but weren’t finished until the war ended. This ship, the Palo Alto, was towed here and settled into the bottom and became an amusement attraction with a dance floor, heated pool, cafe and other such concessions. The company that owned it went broke after two seasons and it was stripped and left to the seagulls. (source)

Its kind of sad, really.  It just sits there, half sunk and stinking like seals and seagull poop. We didn’t stay long. Just long enough to take some photos before climbing back up the 150 steps (yes, I counted) to the parking lot.

Once back on the road, it took us close to an hour to get to Monterey. We settled into our room and walked down to the wharf.

You like my gettin all crazy with my saturation? I think it looks cool.

Ok, real time now. This was our view at dinner. Not too shabby, eh?

It just occurred to me that I didn’t take any actual photos of the wharf. Oh, well. I did get this shot of Jim with our appetizer course before dinner (we had an hour before our dinner reservation and we were STARVED).

I know San Francisco is supposed to be The Man when it comes to clam chowder, but I’m not sure they’ve got Monterey beat. The next day we had another bread bowl from a different restaurant and we couldn’t tell which was better they were both so dang delicious…and different.

And I did get this photo of me trying on a cool mask in a store.

That night we picked up a bottle of wine from a little boutique wine shop after chatting wine with the owner for like half an hour. He was cool, knew his local stuff. We also stopped at the chocolate shop along the way and grabbed some dessert to go with our wine.

Don’t these look delish? Mine were the one with the jelly bean on top. It had peanut butter inside and the s’mores one with the graham crumbs on top. Jim’s were peach and coconut…also in the photo above you can see my dark caramel marshmallow and Jim’s key lime which were eaten before the photo below was taken.

The wine was so-so. A little dry for my taste, but it was drinkable.

The next day we went to the aquarium, Jim’s favorite part of Monterey. We were a little early, so we went to look at the bay and finish our coffee.

Jim doesn’t let me take many pictures of him…or us together for that matter. He gets so annoyed. So I’m going to post all four of them.

The first place we went was the penguins because they were being fed right as the aquarium was opening. This is my favorite shot. It’s blurred because he’s diving, but I love the spray of bubbles behind him and how just smooth he seems to be slicing through the water.

From there we went to check out a few other feedings, including the puffins. The one in the bottom left of the photo below was heading toward the door where the guy eventually came out with food. He sure knew where his meals came from!

My favorites are the jellies, I think. They’re so pretty and so bright and colorful. I don’t know, though. Seahorses are pretty dern cool too. They look so peaceful and serene…and also a bit mystical, like they might not exist outside of a fantasy or something.

The rest of the day we spent just sort of roaming around by the aquarium and resting. We got a couples massage, which I think is pretty overrated. There’s not much special about simply being massaged in the same room. Although I’m not sure what else I expected. Then we had a relatively early dinner, followed by another trip to the chocolate shop.

Dinner was interesting. We bought a living social deal for the hotel, which included a room, a spa credit and a restaurant credit. Well the restaurant was Spanish inspired, so they served tapas, which I’ve had only once before and Jim’s never had. It was interesting. And delicious and we would definitely do it again!

Grilled peaches with goat cheese and spinach and a tomato tart. I didn’t get a photo before we devoured our first course: hardboiled egg with shrimp and something spicy, watermelon with feta and fig and goat cheese toasts. Oh man, I want some just writing about it!

Free “Happy Anniversary” chocolate cake with raspberry gelato!

After dinner was the most special, though. No! Not like that.

On the last evening of our honeymoon in Santorini, we shared a delicious bottle of wine and watched the sunset over the Aegean Sea.

For Jim’s birthday last year, my mom bought (Read:imported) him a bottle and we decided to save it for our one year anniversary.

The next morning we left Monterey around 9:30, got home just after noon, ate lunch and met Kia to look at houses! And you know the rest.

October 4, 2012

October madness: Train and House Hunting

Welcome to my life, October! My busiest month all year, I think.

I gave you a brief rundown of all the goings on of this month. Last weekend we saw Train in Reno with my youngest brother and his girlfriend and my mom. I wish I’d gotten some photos, but we were having such a dang fun time, I didn’t even pull my phone out once to take one. My bro took some video. If you want to check it out, his ID is MrTacoBoat. My favorite part of the show was the mash up they did of  songs through the years. And there’s a point in the Drops of Jupiter video where he moves his phone around and gets a shot of all of us. If you’re into that kind of thing. For now, I guess the best I can do for you is this: both bros and I at my wedding.

My youngest brother Dan is to my left. Matt is to my right. He’s 3 years younger than me. (photo by Sarah Maren Photography)

I love my bros. I got pretty lucky in that department. They’re pretty awesome people and great brothers! This is actually one of my favorite pictures from our wedding…you know, that doesn’t feature Jim and I.

Anyway, so today is Thursday, and Jim and I leave for Santa Cruz on Saturday morning where we will begin our one year anniversary celebration with Jim’s grandma and her husband, Lutz (who is for all intents and purposes “grandpa” but we call him Lutz…I guess because he’s not Jim’s mom’s dad? I dunno. But it works).

The only photo our photographer got of the four of us. It’s cute, but it’s supposed to be a portrait. What the heck? (photo by Sarah Maren Photography)

We are spending the night with them on Saturday before heading to Monterey for the rest of the weekend. I got a living social deal for a hotel there that included credit at the restaurant and the spa. We’ll probably go to the aquarium, cruise around town, go to the beach, maybe check out Carmel for one day. Who knows. We don’t have plans further than the dinner and spa reservations I made. We are exchanging gifts on Friday, I think, because we both bought things that were way too big to bring with us. I wish I could show you now what I got Jim. I’m SOOOOO excited about it. He’s going to absolutely LOOOOOOVE it. I just know it.

Last week, we buttoned up the last of the crap we needed to do for our pre-approval for our home loan, so this past week, we’ve been looking at houses. The market in California, and specifically the area we are in, is insane. There are so few houses and so many buyers that there are often multiple offers on one house and bidding wars are pretty common from what our agent tells us.  It’s a little discouraging for first time buyers, but not impossible, and we have a conventional loan, not a FHA, so we should be okay.

That being said, we found a house we love! I’m trying so hard not to get too excited because the likelihood of us getting the first house we put an offer on is pretty slim, I guess. But it’s so cute. It’s the perfect size and it has a really nice yard and it just needs some minor work…interior paint and carpet. The layout is great and there are some neat little unique features. The neighborhood is really nice, schools are great and there’s a park just around the corner.  I think it would be a really great first home for us.

Anyone else ever use the Snipping tool in Windows? This photo is from Google Maps. So freaking amazing.

We saw it on Tuesday night, the day after it came on the market. Tonight we’re going back to see it during daylight. I CAN’T live in a house that feels like a cave, so we need to see what kind of natural light it gets…and hopefully I can see that through the awful bright paint.  Our moms are coming along mostly because they’re curious but also because we value their opinions. The seller isn’t reviewing offers until Sunday, so tomorrow we’re sitting down with our agent and putting together our offer. We’re hoping people are scared off by the paint and also the mild smell that betrays the fact that the current owners have cats. And it’s not updated. Our agent says the seller wants a family or a young couple ready to start a family, and we fit that bill perfectly!

We also looked at a different house on Tuesday. It’s a bit different. It’s brand new. Built in 2008 and its questionable as to whether its been lived in at all or not. It’s technically zoned as a condo because it’s in a development made up of six houses that all share the same driveway. They all have their own garage and their own yard. They’re independent of each other, but they share a driveway. The one we liked faces out to the street, so it’s not sharing a driveway like the others are. It has a very small yard, but the square footage is good and the layout is good and we’d be comfortable there. It’s not a dream house. It’s a first house. And it’s priced $60,000 less than the one we are putting an offer on. The downside of this one…besides the small yard and close neighbors…is that it’s currently tied up in a bankruptcy deal with the two houses next to it and a decision won’t be made on the case until January. At that point, it might not even be for sale depending on the judge’s decision. So this one is in the backup position at present.

The one we are looking at is the one with the star. The one that google marked is also for sale, but it’s smaller and just too cramped in the corner for our taste

I’ll keep you posted on our house hunting progress. It’s so exciting! Cross your fingers for us that our offer will be accepted on Sunday! I’ll try to post again before the weekend, but if not, I’ll have a full recap when we get back!

September 26, 2012

It’s today!… And a little Train lovin’

Today is moving so slowly! But then again, why shouldn’t it? Don’t all exciting days go by slowly? I mean Jim and I have only been waiting for this day for six months. And even so, it may not end up being THE day afterall.

You’re probably wondering, by now, what the heck I’m yammering on about. And I’ll get there, but first let’s talk about breakfast. After all, it is the most important meal of the day.

Doesn’t that just look scrumptious? I mixed a little pumpkin in with my oatmeal this morning (by the way, I cook my oats in almond milk to make them creamy. It works so much better than adding the milk after cooking with water). Then I topped it all with a splash of maple syrup…real maple syrup, none of that Mrs. Butterworth’s crap, some toasted pecans and just a few chocolate chips.

Honestly, as much as I love chocolate, I think I’d omit the chips in the future. Yesterday I was craving the crap out of something gooey and warm and chocolatey, and I thought maybe the chips would do it for me…it accomplished what I needed, but even though the flavors worked well together, it just seems like it’s gonna be a one time thing. Anywhoo, like I said yesterday, I looooove anything pumpkin, so there ya have it.

While I’m leaving you hanging, I’m going to let you know this is the last post I’ll be making, probably, this week (Although I may post you the recipe for some delicious little morsels I’m making for a birthday party on Saturday, but we’ll see how I’m feeling at that point) because tomorrow I’m off! For four days! I’m beyond stoked, I must tell you. This weekend kicks off our Manic October filled with birthdays, our one year anniversary, a trip to Disneyland with a special dinner at Club 33, a grape-stomping event at our favorite Napa winery, and of course, this weekend’s fun!

I am so stoked!!!

My youngest brother is going to school at UNR in Reno, so we figured this was the perfect venue for this year’s Train tour. It occurred to me only last week that we’ve been to see them every year for gosh only knows how long. Last year we saw them at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln. This one was good. We had super close seats and…well, once the sun went down (holy nasty squinting face!) it was an amazing show…although their shows are always pretty amazing.

The year before it was in Berkeley at the Greek Theater (we passed on this venue because it was MISERABLE seating. Tiny narrow bench style stadium seating with about 12 inches to all your own and no back support. We were lucky to find a nice security guy that allowed us to sit in a vacant section by ourselves) for my mom’s 49th birthday. We stayed in San Francisco and had afternoon tea at the Palace Hotel the next day.

Mom and I looking a tad like we’re about to mug someone and the two men we observed taking in afternoon tea at the table behind ours

Let’s see, the year before that we saw them….oh, San Diego! July 6th. We spent the 4th at Disneyland and watched the fireworks from…wait for it…the parking lot by Paradise Pier Hotel! YES! That’s where our car was, and wanna know something? We could see them perfectly, we had our little snacks and there wasn’t a soul around!

Before that we saw them as a family in Clear Lake. This one was special because I was at school and my dad flew the family down and picked me up before heading to Clear Lake. Except the resort where the concert was was on the other side of the lake. So he rented us a limo for the night. Boy did we feel cool riding up in that thing! This was actually the first time I’d even ridden in a limo. It was pretty cool. My dad is pretty cool when he’s not letting his other stuff get in the way…but that’s not a chat for the blog.

Anywhoo,  the first time I saw them was in 2001, I think, and I had just started college. I remember thinking “the best concert ever would be Matchbox 20 and Train.” The next week, they announced Matchbox 20 would be touring with Train. I bought tickets immediately. And the second time I saw them was my sophomore year in college when they played Alice’s Now & Zen fest in Golden Gate Park. Mom and I took the ferry into San Francisco and walked from the ferry building to the park. It was a pretty amazing day, too. They’re all pretty amazing experiences. We always seem to make a to-do about it, even though its not really intentional. I do feel like I’m missing one, though. I’ll have to ask my mom and I’ll get back to you.

Anyway, the concert is tomorrow night….after acupuncture at 10 am and the hour or so drive to Reno. I’ve actually developed a pretty interesting response to the acupuncture: I fall asleep. Every time. I remember asking my mom if she ever fell asleep when I first started. She said in 12 years, she’d fallen asleep maybe twice. But I do it every. single. time. Not that I mind. It’s just interesting. I lie there with needles in my back, trying to focus on my breathing and relax all my muscles. I guess I’m successful because it never fails. I’m zonked within five minutes. So I guess we should add a short nap to the list of things that come before the concert tomorrow.

But also before the show, we’re having dinner with some really close family friends, one of which was diagnosed with cancer this year, and isn’t expected to live too many more years. One of our favorite places to eat with them in Reno is the steakhouse at Harrah’s, so hopefully he was able to get reservations there. If not, I’m sure he’s got another place up his sleeve. That guy knows EVERYONE is Reno.

Okay, I’ve delayed enough, kept you hanging a sufficient amount of time.

This afternoon Jim and I have an appointment with the mortgage guy at the bank. We’re going to apply for our pre-approval for our home loan!!! So exciting, right?! Now we can REALLY start looking for houses…hopefully. If we’re approved.

That’s all I’ve got for you for now. Wish us luck!

June 28, 2012

Side effects

Yesterday I posted about the foods I miss since I can’t eat corn or wheat. Today, I figured I’d balance it out by sharing with you the positive “side effects” the change has had.

1. I get ideas

I used to get these fabulous ideas for things I could do: creative birthday gifts, DIY projects around the house, new recipes, get togethers with friends, weekend plans. I think eventually my brain got tired of these ideas being rejected that it just stopped having them. I used to feel so guilty when I would come up with such a cool idea and then not have the energy to go through with it. I am finally starting to get these ideas back…and I’m doing them!

2. My apartment gets clean

I won’t say that it IS clean because I’ve been in sort of a slump. The pain from my knee kept me awake at night for a whole week. Pair that with last weekend’s adventure and I’ve been feeling less than motivated. I know, however, that it is temporary and will pass (that in itself is an amazing feeling!). And probably, with any luck, by this afternoon, our apartment will at least feel clean again.

3. I want to wear high heels

I have so many pairs of heels that I love. And in the past few years, it’s just seemed like such a pain, so much more effort than I could afford to wear them….now I just need my dang knee to finish healing.

My fabulous wedding shoes may see the outside of their box again!

4. I’ve started writing again

I think I mentioned this one before. I stopped working on my large writing project just after we got engaged. I told myself I’d be too busy planning our wedding, but beyond that there was a little nagging feeling that I just didn’t have the energy to produce anything good. And that’s partly my own self-loathing speaking (fueled by a number of rejections of my first novel… “Can I really do this?!”), but somehow, I’ve found the courage and energy to pound out some words and have started a fresh draft of my current project. Wish me luck.

5. I want to redecorate

I won’t claim to be the world’s most amazing decorator. Hell, I won’t claim to be one ounce of good at it at all, but ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this amazingly keen desire to redecorate, rearrange rooms every few months or so. I was actually a little hesitant to move into my first apartment after college because my bedroom was too small to move the furniture around. Could I really live like that? Well, I managed. And again, our room is too small to do much moving around. But for a while there, I had no desire to make changes at all, and while I still can’t move the furniture, I have this desire to freshen up the decor and find myself often cruising House Beautiful and numerous home decor blogs in my free time.

6. I want to be my best self

And I feel motivated to make the changes necessary. Not major changes. Just little things like making time for exercise every day (and not just when I already have time for it). Taking time for MYSELF every day…to read, to write, to watch a television show. And sticking with my new diet…lifestyle really…because that’s what makes all of the items on this list happen.

Prior to finding out about these allergies, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to feel “normal” again. I was sure there was a good possibility I would just be tired forever, unable to muster the energy to get through every day. The “side effects” have been amazing. Now I believe there’s a good possibility I may actually find a bit of contentment in my life, a bit of happiness that lingers rather than falling away as soon as it arrives.

Have you ever been so discouraged by something you can’t control that it feels like it may never go away? How did you cope with that?