Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Why does the bottle of hand soap in our bathroom have instructions for use on it?

I just noticed this yesterday, even though the bottle is old (we refill). No lie, it says something like, "wet hands, apply small amount of soap, rub hands together, rinse." It's a store brand, too, which surprises me even more since it should be no-frills. Um, didn't we all have people teach us to wash our hands when we were little?? God help us all if we had to wait to read it on the back of a soap bottle!

I really should take a picture of this. It cracked me up when I saw it.

I checked the soap in our bathrooms at work. We use Softsoap (national brand) and those pumps do NOT have instructions. Interesting. The more expensive stuff doesn't tell you how to use it. Should we consider this a bargain? Cheaper soap AND instructions??? :-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

We meal plan, too.

As mentioned in a previous post, we plan out our meals. How can you not, when you've got two people with different schedules and everyone needs to eat?

Sometimes it's a juggle to get food on the table with just two people. I can't imagine what it's like with MORE people, who have MORE things going on (sports, dance, religious ed, etc.), or...MORE likes/dislikes/intolerances/allergies.

I've noticed that there's a trend in the blogging community to make a post on Mondays about your meal plan for the week. I guess I could add mine too.

We usually do ours on Sunday afternoons. Here we go!

Sunday--beef short ribs w/ plum sauce in the crock pot (which has been thoroughly scoured!), rice, and salad

Monday--Chicken Big Mamou (courtesy Mr. Paul Prudhomme), served over pasta, and zucchini

Tuesday--leftovers (works out well since I have an appointment after work and won't be home until ~6:15 and T won't be home until almost 6)

Wednesday--(T works 12-8) grilled steak, some kind of starch and vegetable. Probably baked potatoes and a frozen veggie.

Thursday--deer chili (made out of stew meat, it's not your typical ground meat chili)

Friday--(T works 12-8) leftover chili (I think). I'm seriously drawing a blank right now as to what we're eating that night. This is what happens when your plan is at home, and you're posting from work. Although, fish keeps popping into my mind... Who knows?

Saturday--TBD. I am going to be with a friend for the majority of the day so I don't know what time I'll be home. Sometimes we end up going out or getting take out on Saturdays, or sometimes I'll cook if I'm around all day. Sometimes we eat odds & ends or leftovers.

Edited 11/30/10--I was right with this meal plan. Friday is deer chili leftovers. Sweet, no cooking!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Slow cooker update

One should not put water into the slow cooker's base. Who knew there were HOLES????

Good thing I didn't pour in much. I poured in just a bit, and had turned around to grab a rag, and...OH HELLO dirty water on my table and floor!

Luckily that little bit of super hot water was enough to loosen up what was stuck/burnt on the bottom. A rag with some dish soap helped break up the rest of the grease and burnt on bits.

I'm still shaking my head at the holes. Really, I had no idea. It's not like you could SEE them with all of the burnt on stuff at the bottom of the cooker.

By the way, this was my mother's idea. She said, "just put some hot water in there, with some baking soda, like you do with a pan that's got stuff stuck to it." Tomorrow, I plan on letting her know that the slow cooker has holes in the base...just in case she decides to take her own advice. ;-)

In the meantime, we've been cooking for Thanksgiving tonight. We're going to my parents' house, and will be joined by my brother and Turtle's family (his dad, brother, and grandmother).

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it's all about food and family and just a good time. There's no deciding which church to attend, which Mass/Liturgy, how the food will get cooked while at church, etc. (Yes, I'm Catholic and attend church weekly, but it does get HARD when you have to juggle hosting or visiting with religious services!) There aren't any presents, there isn't any build up and craziness. It's just a day to reflect and enjoy.

I made this, which is still in the oven: Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic.

I didn't take the picture, I stole it from Allrecipes.com. At least I credited it!

It's so good; it's like dessert at dinner. We've made it a few times now, and everyone loves it. This year, I doubled the recipe because when we made it last Christmas, it was devoured. I love leftovers--it's one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, so I would love to have some of this all weekend long! Thank you, Turtle, for finding this when you did.

Turtle made this, which is already done: Cranberry Conserve.

This isn't our picture, either. It's from FoodNetwork.com, where the recipe is from.

But it's from THIS GUY. How could it be bad!?

Don't worry, it's delicious. It puts any other cranberry to shame. The cranberries we used came from the Mother Land (Cape Cod) from my aunt who lives there. You can't get more authentic than that, especially at Thanksgiving. We also made double the recipe of this. And, tonight, we discovered that a little bit is quite good on ice cream. Just in case you'd like to use it elsewhere.

Ugh, now it's time to clean up the kitchen. This should be interesting.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I thought I was done for tonight.

1. Does ANYONE know how to clean the base part of a slow cooker/crock pot? The pot roast I made yesterday bubbled over, and it didn't just spill onto my stove top. It also leaked from the insert into the base. Grr. It's a caked on, burnt on mess. I know not to immerse it in water, which I'm tempted to do.

2. Point of clarification from this post, also made tonight. The deer that Turtle shot was kept for meat. He did not keep the head to mount on the wall. I realized that my previous post might look as though he shot it, and left it to rot. OH NO!!!! Never would that have happened. Part of the deer is in our deep freeze, and the rest is at FIL's house, waiting to come home.

OH, which reminds me--there's another house purchase! Our big upright freezer, where we store almost everything that we buy in bulk that would tolerate freezing. Bread, veggies, meat, breakfast items...

It's late and I haven't eaten yet. Going to boil some pirohi that Turtle's grandma made for us a few weeks ago that was also in our freezer...and heat up some leftover pot roast. Good night!

Whoa. (budget-related)

Now that I have a full year of expenses and income, I'm a bit shell-shocked. I think a money tree might make a great Christmas present for us, too!

Here's a brief overview, along with some commentary on where we messed up, where we can improve, things that will help, etc. I also keep track of income, how much goes into savings, how much we transfer from savings, cash withdrawals, but I didn't put those in, only because I'm still kind of private, and part of me didn't want to look like a fool in front of all you bloggers out there!

Oil: 1,994.50
With the purchase of insulated curtains, adding a real door to our basement (we just had a hatch thing, this will seal off the hatch) and the wood stove, we're anticipating this cost to go WAY down for 2010-2011.

Electric: 1,442.66
We live in one of the cheapest areas in our state for electricity, too. We're better about turning off lights and all of that stuff.

Phone, internet, and my cell: 1,756.52
My cell has a plan which is so old, AT&T no longer offers it. This expense has been static for years. I might try and see if we could get a better landline deal in the coming year.

Cable: 809.86
I've switched us to a cheaper plan since we don't watch much TV anyway.

Gas: 3,363.54
Granted, this is for two people, each driving almost 30 miles each way to work. I am going to be looking for a job that is closer to home AND more family-friendly in the new year.

Groceries: 6,831.04
This is kind of gross for two people, but then again, I don't know how much families spend. It's not like we're eating organic, gourmet stuff, either. Healthy food but not top of the line (and yes, junk too. We're not perfect). Also, this is JUST food, not paper products, cleaning stuff, etc.

Eating out: 2,247.53
Yeah. This is one area we need to work on. Part of it has been because of Turtle's schedule and dinner not being ready (or ruined) when he finally got home, part of it has been "Screw it, the meat can marinade another night, I'm hungry and tired, let's go down to [local watering hole] for burgers." Also, it has been due to me not planning properly. We've gotten much better with making a meal plan for the week, and using as much stuff as we have on hand before running to the grocery store.

I'm not the only one who meal plans. Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter does too. (This post is probably the best place to start, but if you look at her sidebar [on the right!], you will see a section called "Happy at Home: Food Organization" which contains many more posts about this topic.) I wish I could thank her for this brilliant idea, but I have to give the credit to my darling husband. Yes, he introduced me to this idea! :)

This category also includes Dunkin Donuts runs. I wish they weren't every where. And that's all I'll say about that.

Doctors: 7,798.80
I hope not to have to be hospitalized in the next year, and that will save us $1,500 right there. (Our share of a hospital stay.) Also, Turtle no longer sees a doctor that doesn't take insurance, so there is some more money saved. Not that it really matters much since our contribution to our health insurance increased, but hey, it's something.

RXs: 341.58
This will probably stay the same.

CVS: 642.65
Yes, CVS has its own category. I'm in there ALL. OF. THE. TIME. I really should get a second job there. It's right around the corner from my office, so I go there a lot to kill time, which I KNOW leads to unnecessary purchases--gum, candy, soda, magazines... I do buy important things there, including my RXs (and I'm sure some of those purchases are included here if I forgot to separate them into the other category). It's a very tempting place...

Misc. debit purchases: 1,987.01
This category is for those things that don't have its own category here. The random item needing dry cleaning, printer paper, that sort of thing. I don't know WHAT could have cost this much, though...

Clothing/shoes: 811.89
OK confession time: my mother has been known to "treat" me to new clothes. But only once or twice a year, at $200 or so a pop. I am not really a shopper, regardless.

Hair cuts/waxing: 584.09
I'm pretty low-key when it comes to this stuff. Turtle's cuts & tip are $20 total. Mine are about $53 total. If I get my brows waxed, that's another $10. Oooh, we're so fancy here.

Gifts: 758.26
This was the year of no weddings and only one baby. My maid of honor is getting married in April 2011, so I expect this to be much higher!

Memberships/licenses: 528.29
Both of our licenses expired this year, at $66 a pop. NetFlix is also in this spot, but that's only $5 something a month. Turtle's shooting club dues were due this year, and that also went into this category.

Auto maintenance/repairs: 2,419.33
I had a little run-in with the side of our garage and the passenger's door mirror lost. That was a LOT of money. Also, Turtle's car had some weird sensor thing go out, which was also a lot of money.

Auto insurance, taxes, registration: 2,900.12
Luckily, when we do our taxes, we can claim our state car tax on our federal returns...or something like that. We always get our car tax money back.

House purchases: 12,322.30
YIKES!!!!! Yes, the wood stove was included here, and that was about $4,100, so there's 1/3 right there. And our lawn tractor was around $1,800. That's half of the money. We didn't buy all brand new furniture--the only thing we bought brand new for this house was our TV stand, and that was just under $700. (It's solid wood.) Oh and ONE Billy bookcase but that was under $70, and NOT solid wood, haha. The rest? Paint, painting supplies, garbage cans, grass seed, fertilizer, garden supplies, shelving, curtains, stamps, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc. And don't forget the new basement door!

Pets: 899.16
One cat got sick and had to sleep over at the vet's office. Everyone had their vaccines updated this year, but thankfully they are good for three years. The biggest expense was sick kitty needing to go on special food, which is just shy of $50 for a 20 pound bag. But it's cheaper than recurring bladder issues, which would result in more vet appointments and carpet cleaning!!

Donations: 750.00
Mostly to our church.

Bank Fees: 34.75
Mostly because of Turtle. I told him that if he didn't cut this out, he'd need to get a second job just for the fees. ;-)

Vacation Fund: 80.00
We just started this in September when Turtle got a raise. The "extra" money in his check goes here.

If you got through all of that, congratulations! I hope that next year, around this time, I can look back and see that I did a much better job. Especially since we won't need to do many of the house things we did this year. Here's hoping!

On my own, again

Turtle came home on "furlough" Saturday night, and stayed til this morning. Partly because he missed me and home, and partly because you can't hunt on Sunday here. He got his first buck on Friday evening--a 3 pointer. Big body, small rack--not worth keeping and hanging on our wall. He went back to hunting with his dad today, and will be gone until probably sometime on Wednesday. (Just in time to do a little cooking for Thursday!)

In my "time off" (so far) I managed to deep clean and really set up our family room. I also picked up and cleaned our library. Pictures to come in a few days, hopefully. Speaking of pictures, I've decided that the quilt made by my bridesmaid would look much better in the library. The colors just work better with our decor in there. In the family room, I plan on hanging a picture that Turtle took while we were in Hawaii on our honeymoon. It's of the Spouting Horn, on the island of Kauai. Turtle and I sort of came to a consensus on that at the same time.

I think some other pictures from Hawaii would be fun to add to that room, too. This one was taken by yours truly. It's a hibiscus, and I think this was taken near our hotel on the Big Island.

Next up is the dining room. Lord, help me... I have so many "antiques" from both grandmothers, a few great grandmothers, some aunts...I don't know what to do with them. Who needs all of this STUFF???? I don't need flower of the month teacups, I don't need little Asian figurines...I think I'll try consigning it, maybe I can make some money off of this stuff? The things that I have memories of, I've kept, but some of this stuff, I didn't know my relatives had until it came to live with me. Freebies are great, but only when they can really be used.

I'm finally getting around to updating my budget spreadsheets. Honestly! My checkbook registers are sitting on the desk in front of me. Yes, I still use checkbook registers! How else does one track monies which are withdrawn by two people on any given day, at various places? I'm a voracious debit card user and rarely carry cash. (A random fact about me.) I'm also on my bank's website daily, making sure I check off which transactions have cleared, which ones Turtle made, which ones I forgot to write down... It's good to keep track of these things!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The budget

It might be a dirty word to you, or it might be one of your most favorite words. Maybe it's a word you don't think of too often. Maybe it's a word that you think "ohhh, yeah, I should do something about that," but then you don't.

Around the beginning of the year, I started keeping track of our spending in a spreadsheet. I wanted to see where our money was going, and on what. Plus, we were new homeowners and wanted to make sure that we had our money going to the right things. I am also a data nerd (I actually enjoyed the two graduate level statistics classes I took) so the idea of making a spreadsheet, filling in the data, and then analyzing it sounded fun. Turtle did not think so. He also did not enjoy the stats classes HE took. This is part of the reason why I do the budget :-)

I had been doing a great job keeping up my spreadsheet, filling it in, comparing numbers from month to month, showing Turtle how much we were saving and things like, "hey, look, the electric bill was $20 less than last month!"

Then I fell off of the wagon. As many of you know, we lost my grandfather at the beginning of October, after he was sick for a few weeks in September. I just opened my spreadsheet this morning and that's where I fell off. September's spaces are not complete. Ugh, I have some work to do to bring me up to date.

What I would like to do after I finish updating it is to provide whoever is out there, reading this, a bird's eye view of a homeowner's first year. As with anything new, there were a lot of surprises--both good and bad. Do I wish I'd known more before buying this house? YES. Would I change anything, really? NO. I don't think you can prepare yourself 100% for anything, so regardless of how much research we did, how much money we had saved, there would have been something else to throw us off.

Speaking of surprises, I'm home from work this morning because something is wrong with our furnace, and a guy is here working on it. You might remember the A/C post from this summer. And this one, too.

I think he's almost done, and I haven't updated my spreadsheets. Oops. There's always tonight, or tomorrow, or...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm on display!

Sort of.

Crystal over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff has featured my costly health insurance issues in today's post!

Go check it out...and yes, now you'll see how much I make...and how little I really take home. Sad, but true.

One thing I really did want to focus on with this blog was money stuff. We really try to be frugal, and many of the blogs I follow are about budgeting, saving, etc. I wanted to talk about that here as well.

I'm a little discouraged with my blogging. Often times, something will inspire me (doesn't have to be money) and I'll think "what a great issue/opinion/topic to blog about!" But when I finally get a chance to sit and write, I've lost my creativity. So many things interest me...it's hard to focus on them in my real life, nevermind in my blog life. Hopefully I can carve out more time to write...even if I have to write quick things at work in an email and send them to myself to post here later.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

House to myself

Nope, didn't kick Turtle out. He's away with his dad, hunting, for a few days. Lucky him--he's got more vacation time than he knows what to do with...and there's me, going to work pretty sick because I have none left. His company is far more generous than mine. He'd beg to argue that, given that he makes less than I do and that I have more daily perks (regular trips to the bathroom, regular meal/break times, etc). But the grass is always greener....

Time for me to spend the evenings catching up on a few projects that have been neglected over the past few weeks. It'll be good to cross off some "to-do's" from my list.

I'll be in the TV room if you need me...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Plans for the rest of 2010--the downstairs

Looking ahead, here's what I'd like to get done by the end of 2010. I'm going to focus on the downstairs, given that's where we spend most of our time when we're home, and people see this when they come over. These are just the inside tasks--Turtle & I have a list of things to do outside, in the basement, and in the garage which can be done on weekends or over the winter. This post is more of the domestic/homemaker tasks that I enjoy doing, and that Turtle wouldn't care about because he's a guy! ;-)

1. Finish setting up our library/office.

(This was our library/office soon after we moved in. No newer pictures, those will come after we've really set it up. We did add some other furniture and a wood stove.)

We took two armchairs from my Grandpa's house which were old, but in very good condition. I bought slipcovers for them, so they'll have a new look, but they need something else. Throws? Pillows? I've got stuff around the house from other places I've lived and engagement/shower/wedding gifts that we still haven't used, so I can dig through those to find something.

Also need to clean up the JUNK that has migrated into here, and hang pictures on the walls! Make it more homey. This room is the house's formal living room, but we are not formal living room types. This room houses our desk, computer, books, papers, so why not use it more like a library? With two comfy chairs and a great big table we bought at a used furniture place for super cheap (a 4'x4' Lane coffee table for $150--score!) and the wood stove, it's going to be our new home for the winter. Because I don't know what the wood stove will do to the walls in terms of smoke and soot, I don't plan on painting this room for awhile. The previous owners painted it white and didn't do much damage to the walls, so everything looks fine to us. Plus, the biggest wall is covered with bookcases. Ahh, IKEA Billy. How I love thee.

2. Finish setting up the TV room.

(This was taken the day of the closing. It was gross, that's why no close up pictures. I think they lived in here... More pics to come, promise!)

This was the first room I painted. Ha, funny, that's the ONLY room I've painted! It's sage green. (By the way, Turtle is not a painter. Very much dislikes, so I do that job, but I actually like it.) This room doesn't need much more. I bought new blinds yesterday, since the ones which were left behind are dirty, gross and probably covered with nicotine. YUCK! Just need to put them up.

Also need to get new lampshades at the ones on the lamps in there have survived a few moves and are almost 10 years old. They've gotten a little...beaten up? Finding lampshades is harder than one might imagine, and they are also pretty expensive. But I'll keep on it.

One of my bridesmaids made us a lap quilt in our "wedding colors" and with our names and wedding date. It's absolutely gorgeous but I'd much rather use it as a wall hanging...so I must look for some kind of quilt rack/hanger. I'm also trying to figure out what else to hang on the wall. The biggest wall in the room is the one opposite the three windows. The quilt might go there, but I'm not sure.

We recently made our biggest furniture expense since we've moved in here--a new TV stand. We'd had one that belonged to my aunt from when SHE was single, so it's over 20 years old. My parents had it for a bit, then I took it when I got my first place after college. It's for a tube TV, not a flat screen, so when our tube TV died, we had to put the flat screen ON TOP of the stand, which was one of those 4' tall deals. It looked so funny but we waited to find the "right" new TV stand. It was delivered 2 days after my grandfather died, so moving things around got put on hold for a bit, but as of last night, all of the electronics have been moved, rewired, set up, etc. Just need to push it back to the wall and figure out how to hide the cords. Oh, and we have to rearrange the furniture since things got moved around before the stand was delivered. Lovely!

3. Paint the half bath.

I already have a color picked out, which took awhile. It's a tan color with a bit of peach thrown in. Glidden's Dapper Tan, but I don't know if I want to use Glidden specifically. I just grabbed a bunch of sample jars at Home Depot. I might have it color-matched in another brand.

The tile is white with gray and peach/tan vein things going through it, and all of the accessories are brass, so I think that color will look good. I'm not good at making decisions when I have 1000s of options. I also did not grow up in a house with wallpaper and paint (all wood, almost like a log cabin), so I am not seasoned in the way a typical 30 year old might be.

We need to take down the oh-so attractive border that the previous owner put up.

Then comes priming/Kilz/whatever the ceiling since we had a small leak due to a clogged gutter, then painting everything. The previous owners had sponge painted it with a dusty pink, which I couldn't tell until AFTER we'd moved in, since every time we'd been in the house it was either cloudy or near dusk. Whoops. You might be able to see it in this picture:

After that, painting the walls and the trim (white). I also need to paint the back of the door, because that is also pink. The previous owners were a couple (divorcing, or already divorced, yeeesh*) and their two teenage sons. I think this was the one room where the wife felt she could be girly. The lights are flower-ish, the mirror has flowers on it, so does the border. The curtains did too. It's just VERY pink and not me at all. I love pink (the sweater I'm wearing right now is almost hot pink!), but not like this. I want to make it more back to nature, more earthy. Which is why I'm going with tan and white, with wicker baskets. Just to "ground" things. I scored a valance for $6 yesterday--the material almost looks like burlap, both in color and texture, and there are faint shells printed on it in white. I also got a few hand towels in chocolate brown for $1.50 each.

4. Clear junk out of the dining room. I don't have any good pictures of the dining room--because the room is either completely empty or filled with the junk that went there after we moved in.

We did acquire an oak dining set (table, 6 chairs, and a hutch) at an estate sale for only $500. It was in very good condition and to buy it brand new probably would have been 5x as much, if not more. In all reality, I only paid $100 since my parents generously gave us the rest of the money--they had wanted to buy us something when we moved into the house, but I didn't find it until April.

We need to find homes for all of the miscellaneous things that have found their way into the room. We don't use it very often, but it's nice to have a place to put more people, as our kitchen table is only for 2 or 3!

It needs to be painted, and I'm pretty sure I can handle that myself, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to doing it. Definitely not before December 31st, as we will most likely be hosting Christmas dinner here.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the house is entirely white on white, save the TV room and two out of three bathrooms, so I'm lucky in that I don't have to look at too much hideous paint while I wait for the right time and save enough money to repaint things.

The kitchen and the entryway/hallway also need to be painted. I can do the entryway myself, but NOT the kitchen. There are some weird issues with the ceiling, which need to be fixed (and we don't know how to even begin to tackle that!) and I'd never be able to reach the areas above the cabinets because of my build and my low level of grace. Best leave a job like this to the professionals. I also plan on having pros paint our bedroom because I sometimes take longer than planned to do things, and I'd rather have it over and done with. Probably the stairway too, only because it'll be one clear shot--kitchen to hallway to stairway to master bedroom. But the rest of the upstairs I can handle. Just might take a week...or month per room. :-D

I'll talk more about the upstairs in another post. I think I've posted enough about my plans for today!

* I'm not against divorced people! But it sorta creeped me out that the reason that this house was for sale was because a family split up. We did have the house blessed.

One year later

October 26 was the one year anniversary of our house closing. October 28 was the one year anniversary of moving day. (The picture was taken after we'd lived there for about a month, and we hadn't done much at that point, especially to the exterior.)

Here we are, one year later. Wow. I know everyone says time flies, but in this case, it both did and didn't.

When we moved in, I had these grand ideas about what I'd do first and what color I'd paint which room and what I wanted to buy. But soon after we moved in, it was the holidays, so we got a bit sidetracked. Then it was the winter...and I think I had a little of that seasonal affective disorder. That, and home ownership overwhelmed me in regards to what to do first. I am very hard on myself, and I often bite off more than I can chew, even with just my ideas. When nothing gets done, even because I don't know where to start, I am hard on myself.

Spring came, and I was looking forward to spending time outside, reclaiming our yard. On April 1, which was Holy Thursday this year (see previous post to see how screwed up THAT timing was), I broke my hand. Lovely! Which, as many of you know, was followed by surgery, then recuperation, then physical therapy. It was July before my hand was close to normal. I scrambled to try and get things done before Fall set in, since when it gets cold here, it REALLY gets cold.

Turtle's work week is Tuesday-Saturday. Wednesdays and Fridays he works 12-8 and the other days he works 9-5. I work Monday-Friday, with flexible hours, but I try to keep it 9-5. I have a problem with getting myself ready and out the door on time, so if I get there AT nine, it's a miracle. If I get there BEFORE nine, my boss wants to take my temperature.

With only ONE day off together, it has been a challenge to get projects completed around here. Especially since our day off together is Sunday, and we attend a church which is a half hour from our house. Many projects could benefit with two people working together for two days, and we don't have that! We've had to rely a lot on my parents and his father to assist us. We are so grateful that they are healthy and able to help us, and that they live fairly close by. My mom has come over on Saturdays to help me clean the windows, my dad drops off firewood and has hung my curtains. His dad has come over on Mondays to help him split and stack said firewood. His dad, luckily, is retired, and has generously come over when we've both been at work to clean out our gutters or fix things. (The house next door is for sale, and we keep telling his dad to BUY IT! hehe)

Here's what we've done in our first year:
  • Had the carpets cleaned
  • Had the locks changed and a deadbolt installed
  • Painted the TV room
  • Cleaned all windows (inside & out)
  • Deep cleaned the house
  • Power washed the siding, deck and porch
  • Stained the deck and porch
  • Repaired the deck
  • Made/set up a work bench in basement
  • Cleaned up all flower beds, which included shrub removal, extensive weeding, planting some new things
  • Trimmed the trees in the front of our house, which experienced stunted growth. They'll never catch up to the ones the neighbors have which were all put in at the same time.
  • Rescued the lawn from a sure death
  • Started a compost pile
  • Grew awesome tomatoes :-)
  • Bought a wood stove
  • Acquired some new furniture, and not spending a lot of money in the process. Most of it was secondhand.
  • Learned how to reprogram the garage door opener and the "head" thing that is on the ceiling of the garage
  • Dealt with a broken AC unit
  • Battled with ants!
  • Found a firepit in the wooded area on the side of our property, buried in brush and overgrowth, and started using it.
  • Hosted our first holiday--Christmas!
I think that's it...I'm sure there are other things we did, but those are the biggest that stood out. Even with a broken hand, DH's very stressful job (he celebrated THAT first anniversary in August), my job issues, family stuff, health stuff...we managed to get that much done. Of course, I'm still beating myself up on what I didn't do.

What do I want to do? Separate post!

ETA: Apparently we HAVE done a lot of work becuase the neighbors have raved at how great we are doing and how fast we improved things. I know that the house was probably spruced up a "bit" before it was put on the market, but I would have loved to see what it looked like before they decided to sell. Probably in worse shape than we bought it...and it wasn't THAT bad really, just neglected a bit.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why Rabbit and Turtle?

It dawned on me tonight while driving home that I've never explained why this blog is called what it is, and why I go by this alias.

First, why an alias? Years ago, when I was younger and stupid, I was on a message board and posted my first name and where I worked. Hello, large university with an online staff directory. Someone put the pieces together, figured out who I was, and emailed the chair of my department, telling them that I was posting on this site and what I was saying (just ranting about how miserable I was at my first big girl job, wah-wah). While I never got into huge trouble--I was "spoken to" about my extra-curricular activity--this really scared me. Someone found me out! (By the way, I never was able to find out who ratted me out.) I've always been paranoid about being "discovered" ever since. Some of you do know my real name, and that's fine. I trust you. It's more for the people who might stumble upon this blog and say "heyyy wait a sec..." I try not to post too many specific details about my life, which is a double-edged sword. Posts might be easier to understand or easier to relate to if I could use names or details. But on the other hand, it gives me a sense of security, even if it's thin.

How did I get *this* particular alias? (it's a long story, better get comfy)

When Turtle and I were dating, he was in a bad accident and almost died. I'm actually debating on how much of THIS to share, but let's just say he was an innocent bystander and was minding his own business. Initially, his injuries presented as very minor, but a little stomachache, followed by a random CT scan probably saved his life. A year later, thank God, he made an almost full recovery. This was after a few surgeries, an ICU stay for 3 weeks including a medically induced coma, a temporary but life-changing procedure, a tenure at a rehab facility (for physical therapy, not painkillers, jeez people! I have to make a funny somewhere in this seriousness), more surgeries (including one to reverse the life-changing procedure), some freaky scares including ambulance rides back to the hospital...you name it, he probably had it. It was a slow and painful process to recover. He still has scars and pain, but for the most part, he's the same as he was before the accident.

Oh yeah, so how the names came about. The accident happened on Holy Thursday and he almost died the evening of Easter Sunday. Yeah, we get the symbolism, and it's really creepy, and Easter is very serious business for us. Moreso than it was prior to the accident. While he was in the "he'll be fine, he'll go home Monday" part of this adventure (before he got REALLY sick), I was putting a few things together in a little Easter basket for him. It was our first Easter together and I wasn't really sure what to put in a basket for a 27 year old man! Besides candy...

There was a turtle beanie animal (not a Beanie Baby) at the drugstore where I was getting the candy, so I thought, why not, and got that for him. He fishes and hunts and likes the outdoors, and if he didn't want it, we could give it to my cats. He didn't get the basket until months later, when he was in rehab, but he got the turtle almost immediately. I gave him the turtle to have while he was in ICU. He was heavily drugged as part of his treatment--his body was so sick/hurt that sedation was really the only way to help him heal--but I wanted him to have SOMETHING. The room was so bare and cold.

The turtle would become a metaphor, as well as a name. I'm sure you all know the Aesop fable. And when one is recovering from any sort of physical set back, you have to take it slow. Slow and steady wins the race, right? When he "woke up" and began to readjust to life after this injury, he was very slow. Even talking was difficult, since he'd been intubated. He said it was like the worst strep throat times 100. He couldn't really feed himself too well, as his body was "asleep" for 3 weeks. and pretty stiff. Everyone kept reassuring him that he'd get back to "normal" and that he just needed to take things slow and steady, like Tortoise in the fable. He had his little buddy there to remind him that he would get to his finish line, eventually.

The turtle was named Turtle and he had a lot of adventures, including going for rides in laundry carts and going for swims in washing machines! There were some near-losses, which freaked out the "real" Turtle. But he always came back to us. Now he lives on Turtle's nightstand, nice and safe and dry!

So...what about the Rabbit?

Hello there! I can get pretty hyper at times. I have a hard time sitting still when it's necessary. I can also be very impatient. I like to see results, and FAST. Tomorrow? No, how about YESTERDAY. Turtle's recovery was the best thing that ever happened to me in regards to learning to be patient. Just because the doctor said he could go home next week, didn't necessarily mean it would REALLY be next week. Oh, we have to wait for the infection to clear...bummer. What do you mean, my boyfriend doesn't want to hang out with me tonight at the hospital/rehab center/his dad's house because he's sick/tired/in pain/annoyed?

Also, looking back, there have been a lot of rabbits/bunnies in my life. I was a bunny for my first Halloween (like so many other babies, I'm sure), my favorite aunt called me Bunny when I was little, I was a bunny in my first/last (haha) ballet recital, there are some other instances, too. I also have an uncanny knack at spotting rabbits while driving, walking by a field, etc. Before anyone else sees them. While driving on an interstate, seeing them on the side of the road, nibbling grass. It's weird how I can spot them.

Although many years have passed since we acquired these names/identities/whatever, we still emulate them, but the lines have blurred a bit. (By the way, we've never called each other Rabbit/Turtle, it's always been more of "I'm being a Rabbit today" or "Remember, slow and steady.") I've slowed down somewhat (althought Turtle might beg to differ!) and Turtle's actually gotten a little hyper. I think the accident and recovery made him more impatient about the little things in life, only because he's dealt with serious situations many of us will never experience.

That's our story. I wrote it in two parts, so I think the writing is a little lacking towards the end. But I think the important details are there :-)

[Oh, another thing about anonymity on the web. We have a sort of built-in anonymity, as our first names are VERY common for people our age...so common that I'm sure you can guess what mine is ;-) Our last name is a fairly common Irish one. I mean, my first and last name together are SO common that there are THREE of "me" at my eye doctor's office! Two at my dentist! But still, you can never be too sure.]