Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Taking a bite out of the big apple

I love NYC. The people. The lights. The 24/7 attitude. Unfortunately, when I got here last night I had lost my 24/7 attitude. Exhaustion had set in. I did find my way over to Toys R Us in Times Square to pick up a little something-something for Mallie. But then I came back to this:

Ahhh, sweet serenity! And then this (my $30 dinner):

It was well worth every cent. Probably one of the best hamburgers I've ever had. It came with this red wine sauce. Yummy. Couldn't sleep last night so I tossed and turned. Ended up watching Knocked Up until 1:30a, then got up at 6a to get ready for my meeting. Ran to the diner next to the hotel and had a more reasonably priced breakfast - $12.

After our meeting, we made our way back to the city. I saw the corporate offices for the first time. Shabby is about as good as I can get on this one. Then I walked the one million blocks in 500 degree heat while wearing black pants and a long sleeve button up. Okay, maybe it wasn't that far. But it felt it while I was schleping my 1,000lb computer and 250lb purse. (side note: maybe I should get out of this hotel and try to find one of those backalley purse places.) Of course, I had to get myself into a little trouble along the way and ran into one of these:
I would have taken a picture, but honestly I couldn't rip off the plastic fast enough to shove it into my mouth. And then the next thing I know it was all gone. I had seen them on QVC (yep ... I love it!) and just HAD to try a piece for myself even at the expense of ruining my dinner. And I think I have. I am stuffed. Like a pig. And now I have to pick myself up and meet my client at a restaurant then head off to:

It is going to be a late night, but lots of fun. The car service comes to pick me up at 5:30a so I can get on my 7:55a flight that connects through Chicago. Now the only question is ... should I even sleep at all tonight?!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sheeeerrrryyy, Sherry Baby

Ugh. I cannot get this song out of my head. Probably because I got to be an adult last night and see:

All I can say is that I know why it won the Tony (I think it was last year). I love music of all kinds ... and to me this is TIMELESS. I knew Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons did quite a few songs, but even I learned something last night. Did you know they also sang:
  • Cant' Take My Eyes Off You
  • Big Girls Don't Cry
  • Who Loves You (this one is running a close second to Sherry).
I've been singing Legally Blonde for the last few weeks (much to Mallory's chagrin; okay so she sits in the back seat and screams to the top of her lungs when I sing. I really am not THAT bad. I think. Growing up my catch phrase was, "I can sing." People looked at me like I was crazy. ) ... and I think Jersey Boys has overtaken it. Wow. That was an interesting sentence.

Even better than the music was that I got to treat my mom. These are the songs of her era. She kept reminding me how she grew up with them. And she was in awe and absolutely loved it. Even sang along to a lot of the songs (I felt like pulling a Mallory!) I am grateful that I get to do things like this for her.

Anyway ... I must be in a Broadway phase right now. I'm off to NYC tomorrow for a client meeting and have luckily arranged to stay over Tuesday night to see Spamalot. Not my first choice. I really wanted In the Heights but tickets were very difficult to get for it. Oh well, can't go wrong with Spamalot. It won the Tony for some reason, right? Guess I'll let you know. So, probably no blog update from me until at least Wednesday when I get back.

Shawn is going to have it pretty easy while I'm gone. Mallory left today to spend the week with my mom and dad. So, he's "bach"ing it with True. This should be fun to hear about when I get back. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A new resource for the $5 challenge

I stumbled upon a new resource for my $5 meal challenge. And, this one is close to my heart!

Ahh ... the ideas on this site make me heady with joy! It's easy food. How can you go wrong? The only work required for a great meal is to get the food out of the cabinet, fridge, freezer, etc. and throw it in the pot. What's 10 mins out of my day when it means no pots and pans to clean up after I eat?

I l.o.ve. my crockpot. I've been on a roll with it recently too ... I've cooked pork tenderloin, chicken stroganoff, chicken tacos and pinto beans. I'm sure there are some others but I can't remember right now. The good news is that I've made enough of each of these to freeze extra portions. You know where I'm going with this, right? NO COOKING REQUIRED! It's like I get to eat dinner without any of the real work. Just throw that sealed bag (another one of my favorite things: the foodsaver) in a pan of boiling water, heat and eat. Even better is that by the time you make so much of this stuff, the per meal cost goes WAY down so now I have even more ideas for my $5 dinners.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oops, I did it again

I'm on a roll with the home improvement gig. Yesterday I finished painting all of the door frames that were still wood. Now, the only wood trim left in the house is the doors. The new ones are in the garage. I'm just waiting on Shawn to paint them and put them up. To give him a little credit ... he did cut the holes, etc. in a few of them this weekend. Hopefully by next weekend I'll be able to post a pic of how the new doors have completely transformed my house. For now, salivate over this.

I know you want these doors, right?! What a throw back to the late 70s/early 80s. I have nothing against these doors. They open and they close. They even slam very well because they are hollow. But man do I think they are ugly.

After I gave myself a pat on the back for finally finishing some painting, I decided to make another curtain. My poor plain laundry room needed a little inspiration. Even after my 15 minute mistreatment it still needs something (some paint maybe?!). But, at least I have a little ray of sunshine now. Even better, this little mistreatment only cost me about $3. It's held together with stick pins and push pins.

I think my next project will be doing something with these cabinets. I have the same ones in the kitchen and I painted them creamy white. But these are calling out for something a little more creative. I was going to decoupage diamond paper on them, but now that I put up that curtain material I don't think diamonds along with diamonds will work. I'm just not sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Daddy isn't allowed anymore

Let's just start off by saying that now I know why many mommies choose NOT to rely on daddies to get certain tasks done. A lower chance of disaster. And let me tell you, we have had a slight disaster around here. You may think I am exaggerating, but just keep reading and review the exhibits. I have learned my lesson and from here on out will happily take on all tasks related to personal grooming of the children. Now, bet you want to know why I am talking about this.

Late last week, my (not so) dear husband and I were talking about how True's hair needed to be trimmed. Just a trim to get the hair out of his eyes. Shawn agreed. I agreed. Shawn stepped up to the plate and said that he'd take him on Saturday to get a hair cut. Since we had agreed upon what needed to be done I thought it would be nice for him to have a father/son bonding moment. Not to mention the fact that I already had a cut and color scheduled for Saturday at the same time. However, this is what really happened.

Exhibit A - My sweet baby before haircut (and his perpetrator)

Exhibit B - My (insert adjective here) baby after haircut

I guess in Shawn's world this constitutes a trim?! I'd say more like a scalping. It's a good thing that Mallory didn't really need a haircut. What would she have looked like?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

You shouldn't have to bury a baby

Devastating news today. A three month old baby in True's daycare class died last night (Thursday) from bacterial meningitis. It was like someone threw a bowling ball at my stomach when I found out this afternoon. For a moment, I lost my breath and the world stopped. My knees buckled in disbelief. My heart twisted for those poor parents who yesterday had chubby arms and legs to hold on to, but today are planning a funeral for their sweet child.

How unfair. And unreal. It happened overnight so there was no time to process what was happening. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this. Maybe because I am mad at God for doing this. Or maybe because it hits so close to home.

Life goes on. Now we watch True like a hawk since he has potentially been exposed. We took him to a kids' emergency room this evening where he had a blood culture taken and a dose of precautionary high-powered antibiotics. Pray this bacteria does not show up in his samples.

Friday, July 18, 2008

$5 Challenge

I don't know why I insist on torturing myself. Between a full time job, a husband, two kids and three animals I really have my hands full. But, the sadistic person in me has decided to give myself yet another challenge. Just one more thing to contemplate.

The $5 Dinner Challenge

Yes, I am challenging myself to make dinner for a family of four (really only three ... two kids = one adult; although, Truett is getting close to eating us out of house and home). The sad fact is that I've told too many people about this to back out now! The lazy monster voice in my head keeps telling me this is crazy and will require too much time. But, my brain (that controls my wallet) is saying .. do it, do it, do it (those Nike ads really work). I find myself thinking wether this is really possible for a person like me? Yes. Will the meals be the healthiest dishes on the planet? Probably not. But they will be tasty.

I am a perpetual food planner. Food is VERY important to me. I'm not a gourmand, but I do enjoy my food. I want to know and think about what I am going to eat every day. I look forward to it from the time I get up in the morning until the sweet morsels hit my mouth (except for pork chop day ... I don't like it very much). And to meet the goals of this challenge planning is a must-have skill-set.

Since today is grocery store day, I already have the menu planned out. Here goes:

Pinto beans ($1) and cornbread ($.33), ingredients to go into beans/cornbread (about $4)
Total: $5.33

Frozen stir fry (I already have it ... save resources and use what I have in the freezer!)
Total: $5.50

Homemade waffles ($1), bacon ($3) and hashbrowns ($.50)
Total: $4.50

Mac n cheese ($7.50, but you freeze half so per meal cost equals $3.75), frozen veggie ($1)
Total: $4.75

Baked eggs (this may change) ($2), toast ($1.50)
Total: $3.50

Leftover beans, cornbread ($.60 with all ingredients)
Total: $.60

EAT OUT! I will be exhausted from trying to scrimp on these cost-saving meals. :)

Okay ... so there goes my first week of $5 dinners. I have been thinking of a few others:

  • Manwich (this takes me back to when we were first married!)
  • Chicken tacos (yummy!)
  • Mushroom chicken and rice
  • Ziti casserole
There you go ... I've told a few people about this and everyone seems amazed that I am even trying it. But, with the price of food and gas, you gotta try something to save some cash. I'll let you know how it's going. And if anyone has any other ideas then please send them my way. I don't want the family to starve.

All this talk about food is making me hungry ... off to get a snack!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Meet Cinder

I am just plain crazy. A home is not complete without a cat. And we didn't have one. So, I had to go get one. Even more crazy, I did in on a day I was going out of town so Shawn had to deal with said cat, two dogs and two kids by himself. But, we did end up with one of the cutest kitty cats ever.

Meet Cinderella (aka Cinder)

She's a cuddle bunny. Purrs when you love on her. Wants to nurse your arm, neck or any other exposed body part. Just kitten heaven! I rescued her from the pound and the vet said she was proabably 4 - 5 weeks old when we got her.

The whole family loves her. Mallory chases her around trying to pick her up. Truett just wants her tail and says "ka ka" in an attempt to yell Kitty Kat. And the dogs, well, they are better than the first day she came home.

It's a good thing that cats don't do therapy. I might not be able to afford the bills if they did.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My mistreatment

Nester advocates mistreatments. So of course, I had to throw my hat into the ring and see what I could come up with. But, I couldn't do it with just any set of rules. I set off to become the McGyver of curtains. First experiment: the windows in the kid's playroom.

First off, the previous owners should never be allowed to own a home again for the treatment they did on the walls - cedar planks. Really, who would think anything that could give you a splinter works in the house, much less looks good? Not to mention the fact that I live in the middle of suburbia ... not a cabin in the north woods. For now, it stays but it is on the list of home improvement projects from hell. Hopefully by next summer the walls will be replaced with beautiful drywall. Until then, I have to spruce up the castle somehow. Hence ... the new mistreatments. What did I use to concoct these babies for four windows?
  • 5 yds fabric (@ $5/yd)
  • 4 yds pom pom fringe (@ $2/yd)
  • Hot glue
  • Stick pins
  • Staples
A whopping total of $38 (including tax) in these curtains. And not one stitch. I just hot glued and then stapled the material onto the valance of the existing blinds. Since the material was 54" wide, I simply folded it over. But then I had to figure out a way not let on they weren't lined when the sun shone through ... simple soultion, lower the blinds behind them and no one will ever know!

I'm proud of my handy work. They aren't perfect. Heck, they aren't even straight. But they are beautiful to me and my family. Thanks for the inspiration, Nester.

In a funk

Not the kind that could be described as a dance. No ... I am not sure how to describe it. It happens periodically when I realize that there is more to life than work. As I finally open my eyes and realize that my family is right in front on me and I am missing so many great moments. Inevitably, that leads to wanting to stay at home and spend every waking moment with the kids. I might miss something, you know. (I know I should not take this thought so literally). I need to snap out of it before it's too late.

There has to be a way to creatively balance both work and family. Can you tell me how?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Before and After

When our other house unexpectedly sold, we only had 30 days to find ourselves a new house and close. We were up a creek because we hadn't even started looking. But, within two weekends we had it narrowed down to two houses. Neither of which we currently live! The first house, Burr Oak, was beautiful and new. Open concept. Its problem -- I heard terrible things about the builder's quality and it had a terrible backyard. Not to mention it was at the top of our price range. The second house, Landershire, was a 30 year old home and had a great layout. Beautiful saltillo tiles. But, it had foundation issues and a filled-in swimming pool. Then, we found this little gem (forgive the bad picture).
I don't know if I was just tired of looking at houses or if this one truly spoke to me. But, we made the decision right then and there to put in an offer. Our realtor thought we were crazy because it was like a time warp back to 1978. But, I could see past all the cosmetics to know that this had that special something. We've put in quite a bit of work in the last year and a half. I am truly proud of what we have created. We have:

1. Replaced the windows.
2. Replaced the floors in the main living areas (carpet to hardwood).
3. Torn down wallpaper out of multiple rooms.
4. Painted every room the house (okay, minus laundry and the bar).
5. Emptied and painted the garage floor.

It may look like a short list, but man do those things take time and money. Not to mention the fact that we had a little boy - our man Truett - about 6 months after we moved in. I could post a ton of before and after pics ... but the living room is the place where my heart swells the biggest these days. Take a look. I still have a ways to go, but I think everyone will agree that we've made 100% improvement.

Before (it was like the Black Forest in there)

After (see how imperfect it is? just the way it drives me crazy.)

Saturdays at our house

Busy, busy, busy. But every once in a while we take a break. It usually looks something like this. Lots of kids around. We love our neighbors.


This needs no explanation.

The Three Amigos

Great movie. Even better in real life. Meet Beth (on the left), Cheryl and myself. I wish we all lived closer together. This was a great day of BBQ, kids playing in the pool and great conversation.

Shout out to the Nester

I know that I often fall down on blog duty. I have no real excuse besides my laziness and the fact that there are so many other things on the WWW that capture my attention. Those of you who know me understand that I often find myself in an "obsessive state" about someone, something, some store, etc. The obsession usually burns bright and then eventually the embers fade. But for now, my newest obsession is The Nester. You must check her out.

She is innovative, creative and definitely not afraid to get her hands dirty. Everything this Martha Stewart-wanna be isn't! I drool over the pictures she posts and have FINALLY come to the understanding that this is the style that I want to decorate my house in ... with a little modification. I mean really ... who doesn't drool over this sofa? I might give up an arm or a leg (definitely not both) for it.
So it will be a slow process to get there since I have oh, 5,000 pieces of leather furniture. But, I'll get there.
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