Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Holidays…

My little kitty Wilbur, doing his best statue impression. Secretly I think he is
counting down the days till he gets to open up his stocking. Yes! I give my cats a stocking!

L and I spent the weekend putting a few Christmas decorations around the house. We decided to do a full-size tree this year for our downstairs living room and put our little 3.5" artificial tree upstairs. I have to be honest—I think I still like the little tree best. It's just the right size and fills up nicely with the ornaments we have collected over the years.

Our full fire place—though I have yet to light a fire within.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy All Saints Day…

With yesterday being Halloween, L and I spent the day watching scary* movies, making marmalade from our citrus trees and carving pumpkins. We tried our hand at using the Dremel tool to carve the pumpkins this year. It makes removing the outer flesh very easy, but extremely messy as well. We sat outside in the beautiful fall Arizona afternoon making complete fools of ourselves in the process, but it was also a lot of fun. I chose to make a tiki face and he wanted a big grinning pumpkin with huge teeth.

Will I use the Dremel again next year? I'm not so sure. The orange of the pumpkin takes forever to get off your hands and face, and I'm not sure I'm too keen on another taste of vaporized pumpkin. I think I'll just try my hand at traditional carving next year.

*Ghost Busters and Star Trek. Not so scary.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Home for sale…

We finally have our house up for sale and in the *listings*. Having never sold a home before, everything is a new experience for both of us. The cleaning, the maintenance, the staging—it's all a lot of work plus keeping a business running on top of all that.

One of the first things I read while preparing to sell our home, is to de-clutter it. Needless to say, we had a lot of clutter, mostly in the form of toys on L's part. Oh man, does he have a lot of toy robots! We also removed extraneous furnishings, all family photos and anything that could be conceivably offensive or questionable to a potential home buyer—including but not limited to diplomas, books, nick-knacks and more. It all went into storage or to the donation bin.

We moved all our furniture to best maximize the space in the house. It doesn't feel very comfortable anymore but it does feel large in our modest house. I also painted our bedroom, bathroom and will likely paint my office.

Another thing I read is that if you have pets, to remove or at the very least contain them while showing the house. We had a test run of that yesterday with our first showing. I left our oldest cat, Moses, in the house as he just hangs out on the bed. I bundled the three little ones into one cat carrier and drove around the neighborhood with them, blasting the A/C in my truck. This did not go so well. Their nerves, coupled with the heat had them panting in quick order. Our littlest—Jupiter—looked like he was starting to show signs of heat stroke so I drove them over to their vet. He did much better when we weren't moving around, but they will now be bundled into their carrier and left in my office. It will just be a lot less stressful for all of them.

Our realtors, and a few others that we've talked to assure us our house is poised to sell well. It's at a price point that is currently selling, it's clean, it's move-in ready and we're offering a home warranty with the sale. So, here's hoping for a quick sale.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Packing dilemma…

This is why I can't get any packing done around the house. I turn my back for one minute and—BOOM!—a cat's in the packing supplies sleeping all cuddled up. Oh well… it's cute.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Saying goodbye to our little abode…

We're putting our house on the market. I know it's a crummy time to sell, but it's a great time if you're buying a house. L and I have been in this house 10 years now and we'd like to move to a new neighborhood. We'd been thinking about this for a while and thought it was two years out at least. But after analyzing interest rates, housing costs and the job market, we figured now is the time.

First though, I really hate packing. I can't believe humans can gather so much stuff. Why do I have so much stuff and why is it mostly in the kitchen?

Secondly, we have a lot of work to do to this house before showing it. Sure, we could show it as is, but to sell at a decent price, we're going to paint both interior and exterior, do some landscaping and clean out the entire house of any clutter, personality or distress. This weekend, we're moving almost the entirety of our home into a storage unit. We'll be living out of a suitcase for a while.

Right now, we have our eye on a three bedroom, two story house located in a neighborhood called Civano. It's a neighborhood focused on the idea of energy efficiency and according to its designers an "antidote to urban sprawl's five banes: loss of community, loss of open space, traffic congestion, air pollution, and poor use of resources,"

We just like the homes there, the feel of the community and the way the neighborhood is laid out. So for now, we are separating ourselves from our current house and working hard to get it show ready.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Our other reason for going to Arkansas was to attend my older sisters wedding. It was a casual affair with mostly friends and family on her new husbands side and I offered to photograph as much as possible. Unfortunately, I used my sisters camera and couldn't' get any of the images onto my own computer. D'oh! Oh well. C'est la vie.

Overall, a beautiful ceremony where the torrents of rain let up for exactly the right amount of time. Congratulations to the new bride and groom!

The grooms' cake

The wedding cake and center stage

Goofy chihuahua Cocoa playing in the yard

The flowers for decoration

Monday, May 31, 2010


Our number one reason for our trip to Arkansas, was to see my nephew graduate high school. He is the eldest of my nephew's and nieces and I remember well taking care of him at a young age while his mom—my sister—had to work. He'll be entering the Armed Forces this summer, going to boot camp for the Army. He follows in his mother's footsteps doing this at a time when many are trying to get out of the military. If he plays his cards right he can make a career out of this decision. But I digress…

I only vaguely remember my own high school graduation. It was early in the morning and I really didn't like high school. The only reason I went or did well was to get into college. I knew from a very young age that I was going to attend university. My nephew's graduation was fairly short, held indoors in the evening due to heavy rains, and had at least 3 prayers throughout. Not sure how I feel about this. It is a public school and I had though separation of church and state was law? On one hand, I'm sure they still have Halloween and Christmas parties, on the other, it was weird to hear so many prayers. Different part of the world I guess…

After graduation, we headed to Chilies for the graduation dinner. We had a party of 8 to seat and my sister called ahead twice; once to see if they took reservations and a second time to tell them we were on our way, which is what they asked us to do to prepare (because, no, they didn't take reservations). We pile into the restaurant and take a seat in the waiting area. Will we seperate into sepeart tables? No, we won't. Ok, there'll be a table just as soon as possible. We wait. And wait. And wait some more. Hey, aren't those people getting seated before us? Aren't there about 7 people in that group? What's going on here. The host finally stops by and says completley deadpan, "I'm sorry, I compleelty forgot all about you." It's been about 30-40 minutes now. OK… manager comes out, "We'll really take care of you." So, now another 30-40 minutes after the original host says for at least the third time "are you sure you won't do two seperate tables?" we finally are seated. The taking care of came in the form of free chips. Whoopdie friggin doo. Oh well. Both L and I are patient people and we had no where to be that evening. L was looking forward to a Presidente Margaritta. Uh oh. This is a dry county. Whoops! That's OK, he gets enough Margarittas at home.

Overall, the graduation was nice and I'm happy to see my nephew moving on from High School. I wish him the best as he moves forward with his life.

Up next, a wedding.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A childhood revealed, a wedding and a graduation


This past weekend I had the great fortune of seeing firsthand L’s childhood home and haunts in Hot Springs Arkansas. As part of a weekend adventure to a fellow A-state—we being in the A-state of Arizona of course—I learned of the myriad schools and adventures my husband had as a young child.

The morning after arriving in Little Rock, we spent the morning visiting his granddads house, which was unfortunately now in ruins. It seems, no one has spent time in the house since his death nearly 10 years ago, and the forest primeval is all too eager to gobble up the house as soon as it can.

We then headed to Hot Springs. After the morning just outside of Little Rock, I was unsure of what to expect of the city L grew up in. It's hilly, forested and beautiful in Hot Springs. I immediately fell in love with the history of the city, the wonderful forest trails and the surrounding lakes. I somehow felt even more connected to my husband of 12 years, understanding more of where he came from. We saw… no we stalked his old house; a house he is positive is haunted. I was seriously worried the neighborhood watch was going to call on us—“what are these two youngsters doing at this house!”

After both driving and walking around town for a few hours we finally had some real southern Barbecue at a famous place in Hot Springs called McClard's. We could seriously not stop joking about the name–pronouncing it Mac Lards—but boy was it good food. Vegetarians may want to look away at this time.

One of the main attractions in Hot Springs is the 'Gator Farm, a place with over 200 alligators and other various animals, and some of the biggest darned Cougars I have ever seen. Unfortunately, I got no good pictures of them. The highlight of the trip was the petting zoo full of adorable baby goats and lambs.

After a long day, we stayed the night in the famous Arlington Hotel and Spa. After a latenight drink at the bar we tucked in for the night watching the city go by 10 floors below.

Up next, a graduation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Had a busy weekend…

A couple weekends ago I finally got L to Disneyland. In his 35 years he has never been to a Disney park. I prepared him for the worst—“it's crazy, crowded, ultra clean and nary a vice to be found!” A couple of new things I learned while on this trip:

  • You have to pay extra for parking. Wait, that $70 ticket can't cover parking?
  • I got completely overwhelmed by the entrance—there are so many points of entry I couldn't hardly figure out how to get in and almost tried to go in the California Adventure side—oops!
  • The fast-pass. Blessed be the fast-pass.
  • Wear good shoes and trim your toenails. Seriously. I bruised my toes because of this issue and it's not pretty.
  • Bring more snacks.
  • L really does not like heights or roller-coasters. At all.
Before we really got into the park, we checked out a few of the shops and picked up some trading pins. I also got a few pictures of L in front of Disney and the mouse.

Our first ride was Pirates of the Caribbean. Somehow, I had worked myself up so much during this trip, I got really sick immediately after getting off that ride. So, a trip on the train around the park and a quick stop to "It's a Small World." That one is actually one of my favorite rides—but L was not amused. I actually think he had a look of abject terror on his face about 3/4 of the way through—“it just won't stop!” Our next stop took us to the Tea Cups and to be honest, I think I had more fun on those than just about anything. Initially, I was worried about my sinus problems making me very dizzy, but nothing happened.

We were able to get onto every ride we wanted to except the Indiana Jones ride. We had a fast-pass for Splash Mountain, but it was 4 hours out. At the end of the night that was one of our last rides and I warned L, “this one is really steep and long” and at the end of the ride, you keep going and he kept asking, panicky, “is there another slide?”

On our way out we tried to get into Indiana Jones, but the wait was an hour, and by that time, we were so exhausted we just said forget it.

The fireworks really are excellent at Disneyland, but unfortunately, those coincided with us trekking across the park to make our fast-pass ticket. The crowds that formed were nearly overwhelming, and though the employees make good way-finding directors, very few people actually listed to them. If you want to watch the fireworks, sit down, but please; get out of the lanes of movement. Really, my only down point for the entire adventure.

Overall, L's feedback on each ride:
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: lame. He thought they had really cheesy animatronics, though I liked the smoke induced Davey Jones.
  2. The Disney Train: fun, but that's not the Grand Canyon. Hey, that dinosaur didn't exist with that therapod.
  3. It's a Small World: weird, but really cool engineering. Personally, it's one of my favorite, and I love the updates to the ride.
  4. Tea Cups: weeee. Did this one twice and the second time nearly made us sick.
  5. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride: Awesome! I thought we were going to actually hit that train. And the "going to hell" portion reminded me of a motorcycle ride we took once, where we had to drive through a portion of a forest fire. Creepy.
  6. Alice in Wonderland: really cool.
  7. Rockets: His response; too high, too fast. I personally had a blast and am glad we took separate rocket ships.
  8. Haunted Mansion. Those trees are creeping me out! So fun we did it twice.
  9. River Tour: our tour guide, what can I say but it was clearly a long day for him. What a weird-o!
  10. Autopia: No way am I standing in line to drive little cars that get in traffic jams—let's get out of here.
  11. Splash Mountain: holy cow that was fast, steep, long, thought I was going to pass out.
  12. Roger Rabbits Spin-Out: fun, but we had to wait nearly an hour and that was just too long. Couldn't get our car to spin very fast.
  13. Gadgets Go-Coaster: L: “I don't like roller coasters.” I personally loved it. It's only 30 seconds long but it was fun.
  14. Innoventions: Kind of lame, but we got to see an ASIMO demo. That was really fun.

Sunday, we drove to San Diego in the hopes of having lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, but not remembering it was Valentine's Day, we ended up searching for nearly 2.5 hours until we just decided to head down the Silver Strand and have lunch at one of our other favorite places.

All in all, it was a great trip, the cats behaved themselves at home and it took us a bit to recover—foot wise. I'm still bruised on my toes.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010

Both L and I are rather happy the last year is behind us. We were spared from losing our jobs or having any health or family woes, but we had a pretty rough last 1/2 of the year with Ashley's illness. I honestly don't know how people coping with an ill loved one do it.

So, in celebration of the new year, we had a meal of Turnip Greens—representing financial wealth in the new year, ham—representing positive forward movement and black-eyed peas—representing prosperity. We also added in some honey corn bread, which was delicious.

I don't really agree with the whole new year's resolutions such as losing weight, stop smoking, etc. Those really are the old standbys. But, seeing as how the resolutions started in ancient Babylonian times—where apparently the most common resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment I thought I'd share a few of my own resolutions.

  1. Don't dwell on my mistakes. Learn from them, but move forward!
  2. Take more vacations
  3. Enjoy life more fully
I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish any of these resolutions yet, especially number 3, but I'm going to work on them anyway.