Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Thought Wrong!

What I thought I was buying: Potato bread.

What I actually bought: Oatmeal bread. 

Not the same. Mama's not happy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How do you feel about that nap someone just suggested?

Suck: When you are four.

Rock: When you are over 24.

What In The World Is She Doing?

I decided to change the name of my blog. Honestly, I have been considering it for years. That isn't even really accurate. I have known for years I wanted to change it but kept putting it off because doing stuff is hard. You know what I mean.

Then, recently, a lot of people have asked opinions about changing stuff (blog names, and other stuff) and my advice is always "If you are going to change it do it now, so you can start to recover whatever losses occur because of it as soon as possible." Makes sense, right?

After giving this wonderful advice half a dozen times lately I realized I should possibly take my own advice. 

My husband has called me Velezita for as long as I can remember and I really like it. I also like a simple, one word name instead of the very long "If You Could See What I See". I started my blog to write about travels: Cities, museums, restaurants, hotels, operas, plays, ballets, shops, castles, train rides, movies, etc. Since then it has become a place where I write about whatever catches my fancy. 

Now my blog is more about me and my perspective. Also, when I first started writing I was writing more for myself than anyone else. Maybe I still am?  I never planned on having a comment from anyone.   Now I love them! I never thought I would write about building a house, but I have. 

When I named my blog so long ago, in November of 2006(!) I didn't think about the name all that much. It was more of an item which had to be filled in before I could get started. I plan to bring all of my blogs officially in to this one blog. 

I have officially bought the domain Velezita.com and thought I would have it fixed to work seamlessly by now, but it has not happened yet.  I followed the directions precisely and it's still not working. I do not know if it's an issue of waiting the possible 48 hours my hosting site says it could take, or if I have made a mistake somewhere along the line. I'm not sure how I will ever know, since I can not imagine actually waiting the 48 hours. 

There you have it. Sometime in the near future you should be able to come to my blog via this link! Yes, this is silly since if you are reading this you are already here, but I never claimed I was not silly. 

Pray for me, I'm going to need it. I can already tell since the start of this has gone so horribly wrong. I will get it conquered and I will get it the way I want it to be. It will take longer than I ever imagined. I've started already, so there is no turning back now. 

p.s. It's Monday. What more appropriate day to wake up and find something not working as planned? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why You Should Stop Reading Blogs


      How many times have we all heard the old adage "Comparison is the thief of joy"?  Yet, here we are. On the internet. Reading blogs, scanning Pinterest, joining facebook groups. We look for ways to make things better, to improve. We read about a nice lady who just creates these effortlessly (to us) beautiful murals, or pieces of furniture, or has DIY ideas and execution beyond what we had imagined. Yet, she's just like us! Simple, sweet, down to earth. She's not high on her own power. We can be just. like. her. Right?


     I mean,  maybe we can sew and staple and paint and caulk and clean and plant and teach and do all the things she has done. Maybe. But so what? Because in a minute we are going on to the next blog and the next amazingly talented lady. We want to be just like her, too. Maybe not exactly. Maybe she has a nose ring and we would never. Or maybe she has no nose ring and we would never, ever remove our nose ring! But we want to be the exact same perfect amount of clever and creative and amazing. Then, what do we do? 

     We hop right over to the next blog and the next woman we want to be just like. 

     The thing is, friends, none of the amazing women we admire are all of this. Yet we expect ourselves to be all of it. We just want to be calm and soothing with the vision and eye and talent of Marion, with the DIY expertise of Sarah and we want to build a duplex and our own furniture with a Kreg Jig like Ana and take photos and tell stories just like Tamara and be well-rounded and loving and have a heart like Ilene. Plus, we want to bake/garden/have a talk show like Martha (except we'll do it even better!) and we're going to be cowgirls who homeschool while shooting amateur photography and cooking for our television show while rejuvenating an old abandoned building to turn it into God-knows-what with a deli like Ree.(whew!) And of course we'll do it while scouring craigslist for Portals to Downton Abbey while being as witty, down-to-earth, and stunningly graceful as Victoria. Right? Right? 

     I haven't even mentioned how we're going to do it all in our pristine mansions while eating a healthy diet, exercising a lot without ever putting strain on our perfect bodies, smelling great and having the perfect hair teeth and skin. And guess what else!?!?


     On our professional looking blog we coded ourselves. 

     How insane is this? 

     Lucky for me, I'm not anywhere close to perfect. You don't have to stop reading my blog for fear of comparing yourself to me. But old me? Me in my twenties? Me in my twenties thought all I needed was a nice house and a new car and this many dollars and guess what? My life would be perfect and I would never feel stress again! We keep telling ourselves lies we don't even realize are lies. 

   Parts of our house are always a mess. Because we are us and we have five children and two dogs and we are enjoying ourselves and enjoying each other. Our priorities are: Watching Downton Abbey, napping, healthy debate, and doing dishes. In that order. If we don't do the dishes now, they will still be there in the morning and so what? 

     Every project I start gets anywhere from 2% to 90% complete and then, eh, I'm done. I have lots of these ideas so great you just could not begin to believe... and I don't always get them to look anything like I had envisioned. I can't cut triangles. How many points will all of this deduct from my final score?  At the end of my life will I wish I had caulked just one more window? Will I long to scour the shower? I'm not saying we should stop growing or striving to be better versions of ourselves. I'm merely suggesting we remind ourselves who we are. We can't be all the things. 

     I challenge you today to be yourself. Whoever that may be. Let me know how it goes! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's Talk About Venezuela

     Venezuela is going through a crisis right now. There are problems:

  • There are shortages of things like toilet paper, chicken, milk, Harina Pan, a corn flour, which is THE staple in Venezuela, cooking oil and pretty much anything imported.  Since they have to rely heavily on imports, it is a huge problem. 
  • The government controls the media. Newspapers and television stations which refused to align with the government were shut down. They not only control the political rhetoric, they control how much of which music radio stations may play. Just this week they took away the cameras and equipment of CNN at gunpoint. They just thought they were being robbed, at first. Since then, CNN has been told they are going to be removed from the air in Venezuela if they do not 'rectify' their coverage. Update: CNN has now been told they can stay, with the threat of being kicked out again. 
  • The government is controls the internet. They have used this control to block access to websites people use to get news the government doesn't want them to see. They even blocked twitter so people could not use it to get out news. They cut the internet to a town where the protests are huge. 
  • The government has threatened to stop the delivery of gasoline to areas where protests are happening. They have done this in one city already. 
  • The government announced today that if you are involved in the peaceful protests called "Marchas" (Marches) your passport will be suspended for five years. 
  • Jan 22, 2003 the government enacted an exchange control. This means the citizens are not allowed to exchange their currency for foreign currency. It's been in effect now for 11 years. Imagine if you need to import goods to run your little business, or even your family, and you are not allowed to do so because you can not get the currency you need. 
  • The crime rate is higher than most of us can understand. In this country of nearly 30 million people there were nearly 28,000 murders last year. That's a little over one murder per 1100 people. Per Year. People are so used to being robbed at gunpoint that they hardly seem phased by it. 
  • Inflation is a beast. It was 56% last year. It's difficult to get a grip on this reality. 
  • Medications are scarce. So scarce that President Maduro took to twitter recently to announce he had secured enough medication to last approximately four months.  
     This is where I realize I could do a ton more bullet points and still not even hit all the crucial areas. It is so difficult to understand the how and why, and so simple at the same time. 

     Don't think it could not happen to us. I believe it could happen anywhere. Pray for Venezuela. It's going to take some kind of miracle to get them out of this mess and back on track. It is economy, safety, and a government which can't control it. They are trying, but they are trying with a heavy hand and oppression. In my opinion, it's not the best way to motivate good people. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

How I Tamed The Laundry Beast


Which part of laundry do you hate the most? 
  • sorting 
  • washing
  • drying
  • sorting (again)
  • folding
  • hanging
  • putting away
     I think most of us would agree the actual washing and drying is the easy part. Sure, we all have our own beliefs about how much of which washing agents to use. Some soften in the washer and some in the dryer. Some of us wash nearly every load in cold water and some use hot and warm water frequently. Most of us agree, though, that laundry is a time-suck of a chore we wish we could avoid completely. I've had discussions throughout my life where I have touted the merits of disposable clothing. Which mother hasn't secretly wished she could just toss those soccer socks in the trash and produce new ones? 

     A few years ago I started changing the whole way I do laundry. I declared the laundry chute off limits except for towels. Each of the kids got two hampers. These go in their room. That's ten hampers for the kids! My husband and I share two hampers. Each pair of hampers works simply; one is for light clothes, the other for dark clothes. When a hamper is full, it gets brought to the laundry room and I wash it. I haven't had to sort kid's clothes in years. And it has been life changing, I promise you. Not only do I not have to sit and sort clothes before and after washing them, but I never have to hold up an item and ask "Whose is this?" I don't have a basket full of stuff nobody will claim. Clothes aren't going to the wrong rooms. 

     It's been a sweet, sweet thing. I kick myself for not knowing this would be a better way to do things years sooner. When you know better, you do better.  How do you deal with laundry at your house? Enlighten me further, please. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Filling In The Holes

     I follow a lot of blogs on facebook. I do it mainly for them, because they want followers. There are a handful of blogs I actually allow to show in my facebook feed. Those are the blogs I want to make sure I do not miss. They are people who create something I find beautiful every time. Every single one of these women fills a hole in my heart I did not even know existed. 

     It could be the way Ilene makes me feel as if we've been the best of friends since third grade.

      Or, it could be the way every single one of Tamara's photos touches my heart. Also, read her "How I Met Your Father" story. The girl can convey anything. 

     My friend Carolyn and her mixture of sweet and sassy is always fun. She's like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. 

     Then there is Sarah, who can do anything. She has both great ideas and execution.  

     Marion can move mountains in her home. She even has her own paint (and more) line now! 

     If you want to read a blog where you laugh the whole time and totally relate you can't miss Victoria

     Katbiggie, also. She started this, which is very close to my own feelings. 

     There are sometimes blogs I did not get to know well, but still get on the facebook feeds because they touch me somehow. I wait and see what they do. Yesterday, one of the wait and see bloggers, Franchesca, wrote this. And if you know me at all, you know it spoke to my heart. Deeply. What else she did, though, was even more magical. She linked to this piece Ann wrote. It's the best thing I have read in a long, long time. There were tears. Then, through a cracking voice, I read some of it to my husband. I'll give some of it to you, but really, go read the whole thing.

We married wrong.
Don’t buy what anybody else is selling:  Everyone always marry wrong.
Because what’s wrong in the world is always us.
Marriage and love and time, these are the enormous forces that inevitably chisel and change us into strangers. The springs sag. Mattresses sigh. Marriage changes us into strangers who have to meet again and introduce each other to love.

     I'm not even saying this is the best part.  It's a part.

     I've been a little melancholy lately. Some people would blame the dark days of winter, or the bitter cold, or the epic amount of snow we have had, but I am not convinced it has anything to do with winter weather. I think it's more to do with migraines and low thyroid and just needing some quiet time. I grew up an only child. Maybe it has something to do with the need for solitude? My mom had five siblings and she has always needed her time alone. My grandmother is the same. Maybe it's built into our DNA, the need to be undisturbed. I need to be able to sit and not have anyone bump the table, bed, or chair. With five kids, a husband, and two little dogs sometimes just sitting undisturbed is an impossible thing. 

     Another thing I have been lately is grateful. I feel like prayers have been heard and answered. God always sends me answers in two. Two people at the door, two people on the phone... it's pairs of people he sends to show me he has not forsaken me. He has not forsaken my family. He's heard me and said everything is going to be alright. Not perfect or easy, no.  

     One thing has happened by way more than twos this year. The people I have found online, who I can really relate to? They have come pouring in at warp speed. People who I feel belong in my life. Bloggers who still blog to tell a story. Whether it's about a DIY project they did or something magical they did for their children, or a trip they took, they have shared their heart and I have enjoyed it. 

     Thank you for being great, thanks for caring. Thanks for reading. If you leave a comment, a million thanks. Like Erin said on twitter once: "Whenever I have zero comments and then I get one... I kind of want to make that first commenter cupcakes or something."


Friday, January 17, 2014

Calling All Amazing People!

Wedged between two days of celebration, my daughter's birthday and New Years Eve, is the most difficult day of the year. The day of gone-too-soon. The day is bittersweet. Sweet for knowing a perfectly lovely person and getting to be in her light. Oh how it shines. Bitter because she is gone. I can not even say 'too soon' because there never could have been a good time. And yet it was too soon. Way too soon.

December 30th became this day for me in 2009.

It has changed every day since then for me. I can not get past the anxiety every time anyone leaves our house in a car. Obviously, most people leaving our house on any given day are leaving in cars. It annoys my son, because I think he feels like I should not have been so deeply hurt. The whole thing was terrible for him, and I wasn't strong and stoic like I think he wanted me to be - like I think he still wants me to be.

I bring up Victoria too much. I do not bring her up enough. I am forever changed. I know this. I think about her mother, father, and brother every day. I do not reach out to them nearly enough. I feel silly in their company, not because they have been anything but lovely, but because I do not feel lovely enough. I feel unworthy. I feel like I do not know the right things to say. Or even worse. I feel like I always know how to say the wrong things. Like sitting with Ethan at the viewing and laughing at something completely wonderfully silly he did and saying "Oh Ethan, you're going to be a great uncle!" Yes folks, that's me. If there's a completely absurd, insensitive, downright stupid thing to say? I will think of it and say it. Then I will feel immediately embarrassed and ashamed.

Because she is gone I go out into the world trying to spread some of the joy and kindness she gave to the world. I smile at everyone. I hold doors for whoever chooses to walk through them. I choose to let people go ahead of me in lines. I pass out compliments like I am throwing candy at a parade. I let people out into traffic. (even those people, because they deserve kindness too) I try to do little things to brighten the day for people. Maybe it will be the only nice thing anybody does for them or says to them the whole day?

It's been four years. I realize I can not do it myself, but I can do my part. You are all pretty amazing people. I know this because I pretty much know everyone who reads my little blog. I'm asking for your help.

Would you help me this year? Help me shine some more light on people? I know that alone, I can never do enough to make up for this one amazing young lady. But if you could help me, by doing even just one more little kindness every day? We could brighten things up a bit, right? What things do you do? What things will you do this year?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Can You Spare a Square? What Food Pantries Really Need.

Christmas is just two days away! How did this happen so fast? My mother asked me, just this week "What happened to December tenth through the Nineteenth?" No, she's not a crackhead. I think she spent that time sewing quilts for some of the little cousins. But really, It feels the same to me - as if someone had grabbed a giant straw and sucked a big chunk of days right out of our month. Here I sit two days before Christmas, with gifts yet to buy. I have not sent out Christmas cards. My cousin said mine was usually the first one they got. She wonders what happened to me. I explained that I used to make them myself and I would start in the summer. Now I buy them, and I can never find some I like so I refuse to buy any and I end up with nothing. At this point, should I even bother with them?

This is not at all what I came here to talk about today. My mother posted a link to this article on facebook this morning. I want to share it with all five of you who read my blog. Ten things food banks need but will not ask for.  It hit me because the shelves at our local food pantry were so bare last spring that Romeo's pizza organized the local high schools to do an emergency food drive. We live in a fairly affluent area. The most wealthy county in the state. Even so, we have more and more people at the Sharing Center  at St. Paul's in Sharon Center all the time. 

From the list in this article I can tell you I have never seen spices at the Sharing Center. Sometimes we have a rogue packet or ten of taco seasoning, but nothing beyond that. I have never seen even salt and pepper. I never even thought about it, honestly. Feminine products? I don't think I have ever seen them, either. Believe it or not, I have never seen crackers or tortillas, but everyone does love them. I've seen baby formula one time. Ditto baby food. Not much of that is donated. I assumed it was because there are other programs, like Women, Infants, Children? We get a lot of canned pears and peaches along with pineapple. If there is cream-of-anything soup? It's a big hit. Not a lot of it gets donated. Before a holiday there will be 'holiday' items like a turkey breast or a small ham. I don't know if there always is, but they do try. Boxes of stuffing mix and instant potatoes and cranberry sauce, etc. 

Toiletries? This is always the area which makes me feel terrible. When a person is asking for a $1 package of toilet paper and you have to point to the little tag on the shelf which says "1-2 people  -  1 roll" and open a package and take out a single roll and hand it to them? It's humiliating. For both of you. Proctor & Gamble, are you reading this? No? Dangit. Kimberly Clark? Anyone? Hi mom! Hi Tamara & Ilene! If there is laundry detergent, people always choose it as one of the two personal items (per family) they are allowed. Dog food? Cat food? These are very important items as well. I wish I could remember which pet someone was talking about last time when they said "There is never anything for..." was it birds? I honestly can't remember. But it hurts. 

So I guess what I'm saying is this: If you are so inclined, I would love for you to find out which little local food pantry is close to you and donate straight to them. Not the food bank - because the little local pantries have to buy from the food bank. Donate straight to your local place. Take some case of special treats. Or spend an extra $36 at Sam's Club or Costco and take them a couple of giant packages of Charmin. Use coupons to get wicked good deals and deliver toothpaste, toothbrushes, laundry detergent. Go fancy and drop off some fabric softener. Or break the mold and take a case of crackers. Round up a few neighbors or friends, or if you are super desperate, even family members(!) and drop off a load of stuff. 

If you do? Thank you! You just made life better for a handful of families! If you can not do it right now, that's okay. Some day, though, you'll find a long lost $20 in your jeans and you can go drop off 20 packages of Dollar Tree toilet paper. Someone will be thankful for it. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rocking Maggie

Some days my heart bursts with love and joy. 

Have you ever seen anything sweeter than Maggie the little Shih Tzu on a rocking horse? 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Old Friends Come Calling

In our little town there is a facebook group where you can buy and sell Christmas stuff. A couple of days ago I found this:

Which may be no big deal to you, but when I was growing up we had these exact candles. When I saw them on facebook I might have gasped. Then I wrote  as fast as I could that I wanted them, before someone else could beat me to them. Wouldn't you know it, when I was picking them up (along with a few other things from these ladies) they were telling me how many people were complaining about not getting them in time. When I unwrapped them from their tissue paper and felt them It was like being transported through time. I used to play with these when nobody was watching, because they are so doggone adorable. Can you tell how happy I was to reconnect with these old friends?  

I love how every year, when we go through the Christmas decorations, it's like opening an old yearbook. There are all your old friends, just exactly the same as they were so long ago. There's all the magic you forgot and all the magic you haven't forgotten, all in the boxes, every year, just waiting for you so faithfully. 

New friends, old friends, whoever you are; I hope you have had the chance to rediscover your magic lately. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Time I Have Spent With Kings

     Sometimes love is all dressed up in its' Sunday best having an awesome time. And sometimes love is wriggling around together, barely breathing, in the deepest, soul-wrenching pain. Sometimes love is exciting and new, like they sang about on The Love Boat.  Other times it is sitting side by side reading or the rhythm of the dryer balls clunking. Love can be massages and tickles and it can be pulling things out with tweezers or holding the dog while someone else gets the goop out of his eye. Love brings you flowers. Love brings you dirty laundry. Love celebrates in big over the top ways. Love says it's okay to celebrate by just being still. 

Bill & Jean King 70th Anniversary

     Last weekend we celebrated 70 years of love between my grandparents. They were married in 1943, when they were 17 years old. I do not have to explain to you that they have seen it all together.  They have opened their home and their hearts to anyone who crossed their path. They have welcomed many, many people to their table. They have always worked hard, and still do. They still keep a garden. They still can and freeze food. These 87 year old sprites just hosted a house full of people last week.  He's been splitting wood and stacking it for winter. She's been cleaning and cooking and baking. They make the rest of us, especially me, look lazy in comparison. 

     I am so lucky because I got to be their first and favorite grandchild. I got to hear him whistle and play the harmonica. I got to eat endless amounts of her cooking. I  sat behind her on the top of the couch and combed her hair. I went on tractor rides with him. He used to bring a snack pack pudding cup, when they were still in cans, home in his lunch box for me. She would make me potato pancakes. Their love has always been safe, a refuge from any storm out in the rest of the world. The example they have set for all of us who are lucky enough to be theirs is beyond compare. I am so grateful to get to witness this legacy of love. 

     I hope that you have some people just as wonderful in your life. I hope I grow up to be as wonderful an example to someone else.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wadsworth Blue-Sky Drive In Movies


      Today I wish my blog had millions of readers. Because today that kind of reach could make a real difference. Our local drive in movie theater, the Blue-Sky Drive In, could be going away. So many drive in movie theaters have already gone away. They are already nearly extinct.

   The Blue-Sky Drive In was built in 1947. Today you can load up your car with people and get into the theater to watch two movies for a total of $18. All seven of us can see two first run movies (and a lot of weeks they show three movies) for a total of $18. At any other theater around you can see fourteen movies for $10.00 per ticket, so $140. Plus you get to sit in your own comfy car with no distractions except the ones you bring with you. At least you can tell your own people to hush if they get rowdy.

     Here's the rub: The movie industry is going digital. Simply put, that means no more movies on film. It also means new projectors, which cost $80, 000. Considering the price we paid to get in was a mere $10 until just a couple of years ago, I think this theater has been operating more as a labor of love than a bid to get rich. It has worked. We love it.

     There's a way we can help save our Blue-Sky Drive In.  Honda is giving away the new projectors to five Drive-Ins. All they have to do to win is get the most votes. All we have to do is:
  •  go to Project Drive-In every day and click the "vote" button. 
  • And text Vote53 to 444999 once per day.
     Share this. On twitter, on facebook, on Pinterest, via email. Ask every teenager you know to text every day. Please and thank you.

     Remember the playground at the front of the drive-in movies? Where you played with kids you didn't know and made friends in ten seconds? I want my someday grandchildren to be able to do that, too.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nine Things I Would Do Differently When I Build This House Again

     After living in our Ryan Homes Ravenna for a year and a half now, I am ready to build the same house again. If the sales staff thought we were the 'non-standard request' people then, they would surely know it after this time. There are so many things we did right, and I can't tell you how much all the research, planning, hard work and spreadsheets have led to us being thrilled with our house and our choices. Having said that, we have now had time to get to know the house. When you get to know your house and how it works for your family you realize what tweaks would make it perfect for you.

     We had to push for some of our requests. Some requests took a lot of work by our PM, in the research phases. Some requests were simply refused. We do not regret a single change we made to what they offered. There are a few more changes I would request.

     Upstairs, I would move the laundry to the big hall closet between the bedrooms. It could hold the machines side by side, there could still be a shelf and rod above them, and the space in the hallway is actually wider than the space remaining after the machines are in the laundry room, so there would be plenty of room to load the machines. I am certain there is plenty of room to run pipes because in between that closet and the bedroom closets is a good two feet of space.

     The space which is now laundry room could become more bathroom/closet space. I would extend the vanity all the way to the end of the wall with the window. The two sinks could be further apart with plenty of counter space. And room for more drawers! I would extend the small bathtub they put in this model. The Avalon has a more suitable tub. Although I would not want it in a giant tub deck like the Avalon. I do enjoy the practical way we can get in/out of the tub without a huge deck around it. I would love to have a larger whirlpool tub instead. The shower could be little larger to include a seat. The Closet would become just a little larger, as well.

     The mud room, as Ryan Homes calls it, is non-existent. Even in my mud-room loving mind, I can not call this a mud room. It's a tiny space with, count them, four doorways in it. There is not enough wall space to do pretty much anything unless you live in this giant house with just one other person.  I would rip out the coat closet and have actual mud room space. I think it would be better utilized this way.

     And the office? I would make it into a butler's pantry. Built ins all around the walls to house every baking tray, sheet, pan, silpat mat, fondue equipment, crock pots, roaster ovens, George Foreman grill, blender, juicer, coffee maker, etc. you can imagine. I could hold the extra refrigerator and freezer, and house the housecleaning supplies - especially all the stuff for the central vac. The perfect place to put the hoses and attachments still eludes me. (But what a beautiful dilemma to have!) I can imagine hooks full of potholders and aprons. Shelves full of glistening appliances, extra gallons of milk, ALL the housekeeping stuff all in one place, neat and organized.

     Of course, my husband still needs an office. He does work from home, after all. But in this house there is plenty of space for his office. We'll put it somewhere else. Maybe upstairs? One of the bedrooms  could easily serve as an office. And if we used the bonus room there could be (maybe) enough bookshelves installed to hold all the books.  Or we could build the morning room next time, but ask them to wall it off like a study.  Or, better yet, we could use the morning room as a dining room and use the dining room as a big office. It would require the simple installation of two doors and it would be lovely. Even my beautiful little front room would make a nice office if it was closed off. Especially if someone who worked out of their home had their own business and clients who dropped by. Not the case for us, so being near the main entry might not be the best idea for us. Still, it could work.

     The french doors we paid for instead of the sliding door? They aren't really french doors. I wish I had known this when we were in the planning stages. I would have made sure they were. Only one door actually works. The other is stationary and it can not be changed without buying a new set of doors. If they would offer only one real door I would have preferred to have more windows in the wall instead of a fake door panel next to the door. I find it odd. I would make some kind of adjustment to this.

     I would take the three car garage. What was I thinking?  It could have served as the 'shed' without being separate, without needing to submit plans to the HOA design committee for approval. And it would be way more secure than a shed. Plus, where in the world would we put a shed?  Do they make sheds for slopes? It is funny in a sad way that I did not consider this when we were planning. Why didn't anyone shake me and tell me I needed this extra space?

     I would ask for even more driveway. Ours is short enough that we need extra width. The third car width garage would help a lot with this. But with a Ryan, you still need to extend the driveaway area to the outside of the garage instead of where they end it, which is at the garage door opening. This is especially true if you need to open all the doors and load/unload things.  

     I would ask for a custom front porch. As it is I could not get both the elevation and the porch I wanted, and my compulsive need for things to be centered and balanced took over the decision making when it came to elevations. I simply could not abide having two, differently sized, off-center gables on my house. The horror! Could you imagine!? I think I would have become an insomniac, because there is no way I could have slept in such a house. The porch had to go. Building it today I would have asked for the porch of my dreams and told them how I wanted it. With the elevation and stone we have now.

     I would ask the basement bath to be extended all the way to the outer wall. I can not figure out whey they squeezed a small full bath into that tiny space instead of going the extra few feet and making it as spacious and grand as it could be. It is another thing I just did not think of because I didn't see it first. The model homes have a half bath in the basement, and it is plenty roomy. When you squeeze a tub/shower combo in there, it is game changing. There should always be room enough to both sing and dance in a bathroom. Don't you agree?

  *To read more about our Ryan Homes Ravenna click the "Our House" button at the top of the page.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Update: What I Have Been Thinking Lately. Because Doing is Hard

     While I realize this is possibly both useless and senseless, here is a little update into my life:

  • I still have tens of unfinished projects going on. Bed, bookcase, dressers, etc.
  • I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at different fondue on Pinterest lately.
  • I am possibly fondue obsessed, having been to the Melting Pot three times in five weeks.
  • I am, as of late, unsettled. It's like my axis has been mis-tilted. I have no idea why. Yet.
  • I feel a deep need to purge.
  • And shop.
  • I am lazy enough that all the purging and shopping is on indefinite hold. 
  • Just like the unfinished projects! It's a pattern...
  • I have to stop myself from beginning new projects on a nearly daily basis.
  • My husband has begun saying "Remember, my bookshelves come first." 
  • The bookshelves are in his office.
  • I've started thinking his office would make an EXCELLENT, giant butlers pantry.
  • Shhhh... don't tell him.
  • Because he works from home. He might take it wrong and find it offensive. 
  • But another fridge could even go in there and hello? How awesome would that be? 
  • Maybe the built in bookshelves could be for small appliances?
  • And then the coat closet turned appliance garage could be a coat closet again?
  • Or something EVEN BETTER?
  • What do you think?
  • Do you know how I can ban my husband from reading/commenting on this post?
  • Not that I would ever do that. 
  • This is pretty much my exact stream of consciousness.
  • You're welcome, world.

Friday, July 19, 2013

This is Why I Always Listen to My Gut

     Since my husband is taking a couple weeks off work right now we have been gallivanting around doing some of our favorite things. So, mostly eating. Yesterday we spent the day at Barnes & Noble, where I read half of the new David Sedaris book. I did not get to the diabetic Owls yet. No spoilers, please.

     First, though, we went to Outback Steakhouse. We shared an obscene blue cheese wedge salad. Those are amazing, and honestly, it was the happiest part of my meal. While we were noshing on bread, my husband got this:
     A mini milkshake,chocolate. Guess what? It is the best chocolate milkshake either of us has ever tasted! I'm not a milkshake fan because they always give me an upset stomach. But this was beyond amazing. It's made with Bluebell ice cream, which is, I suspect, also the reason it did not upset my stomach. Lots of places make milkshakes with something other than ice cream. If you want to taste the be-all end-all of chocolate milkshakes get thee to an Outback Steakhouse this summer!

     They are small, and I actually asked them to bring a second one. My husband loooooves milkshakes! After we ate, our server and the manager were talking with us about the banana pudding milkshake so we tried it, too. Oh my gosh! It tastes exactly like the whole banana pudding with vanilla wafers dessert!  Eventually, our table looked like this:

And then I ate the vanilla wafer.     
Don't be sad. This little army lives on in our hearts and minds forever. 

     We headed across the street to Barnes & Noble. I grabbed the new D. Sedaris book and found a seat. Not the soft comfy seat I used to be able to find at a Barnes & Noble, sadly. I sat in a hard wooden chair for an hour or two, then headed down to the cafe. Now, this B&N cafe has turned into a bizarre bazaar. There's just nothing like it anywhere else in my world. Yesterday the thing I could not stop obsessing about was this. As you can see, I felt it was billboard worthy:

     Oh yes she did! She took off her shoes and put her feet up on a chair in the cafe. As if to say: "Oh, nothing, just lounging around with my feet up doing paperwork." The truth is I felt a little angry because it is what I wanted to be doing all along, but did not let myself. You remember when you were a kid and your friend would do something and get away with it, for like an hour? And then you did it? And after .39 of a second your parents would be all over it? Yeah. That's how this made me feel. 

     Finally we left, and my senses told me that there is no fairness in the world. It was hot, and muggy, and we still had kids at home. To drive places, feed, nag, you know - the whole nine yards. We stopped by the grocery store and got 'a couple of things'. Which loosely translates into a hundred dollars worth of crap. 

     Of course our local store has, no word of a lie, at least ten open self checkouts and two actual cashiers. This is always how it is. So I do self checkout. Everything was going swimmingly until the dang red apples. This may have been partly my fault, because I kept picking up one apple to get the four digit code, and then it would start to weigh the apples as I was putting that apple back in the bag and it would get confused. Finally, as the last item of the transaction, I was able to pull it off! Or so I thought.

      I scanned my coupon, scanned my payment card, pressed 'finish and pay' and I got this blue screen which would beep at me every few seconds telling me help was on the way. Lying blue screen. Help was nowhere around. After a couple of minutes (which felt like an hour, stranded there with no ability to help myself) help arrived. Help told me I had not paid for my gala apples. I told her I had, see? She said I paid for granny smith and macintosh, but no gala. I explained that I only had one bag of red apples and one bag of green. After a thorough inspection of our cart she agreed and fixed the problem. I guess I look exactly like the type of person who will try to scam Giant Eagle out of four red apples. You've been warned.

     We left the store for the heat and humidity. I pulled out the keys and started opening the tailgate as we made our way to the van. Oh! I forgot my receipt. But it's hot. And who needs a grocery receipt, right? So I decided to forget it. Then something nagged at me. I did not know why, but my gut was screaming at me to go back and get it. So I did. Because, and this is the only reason: I learned years ago to always, always, always listen to my gut.  

     I went back into the store. The lady who helped me was standing in front. I told her I forgot my receipt, but now I couldn't remember which lane I was on. I started checking machines for a dangling strip of paper, with no luck. She walked to my machine and simply said:

"You didn't pay."

     Embarrassed, I paid, got my receipt, and left. What would have happened if I decided to go home without the receipt? Would I have ended up on the local police facebook page? The one where they post pictures of people shoplifting and ask you to call if you know who they are? Or would they have just used my frequent shopper card to look up my address and send the police to my house? Or called security when I next scanned my card? 

     The moral of the story is: Listen to your mother. Keep your feet off the furniture and listen to your gut.

*Anyone who knows me well knows I would never steal from the grocery store. I have always said it would take a bank or casino job. My integrity does not go cheap.

P.S. Someone told me she was unable to comment on my blog. If anyone else is having that problem, would you please let me know? Maybe send me an email tammigirl at gmail dot com or tweet @tammigirl  or tell me on facebook? I would really appreciate it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sleeping Like Babies

Have you ever tried to buy a mattress? Did it make you want to poison people, or am I just watching too much  The Borgias?

I told you about the terrible time we had trying to buy a mattress from Macy's.

I swear to you it was the biggest part of no-fun we have had in our married life. And our history includes surviving The Great Paro (political strike) of 2003 in Venezuela with five kids in the house. Fun times!

I still  contend  shopping for a mattress is even more complicated than car shopping. I can get you a good deal on a car - just call me. But mattresses? Ugh.  The names are different for each store, lots of places have a gimmick with the mattress brands where they do some little thing different for them so they can say nobody else carries one like it, etc. It's the shadiest industry, I swear. The mafia's got nothing on the mattress world. I think this is the true reason why they say "Go to the mattresses" -  they know!

We did so much shopping, deliberation, comparison, had quite a few less than stellar nights of sleep, before we made a decision. I read lots of reviews and paid attention to the reasons people did or did not like the decisions they made.

Finally, I decided to call  GoTo Mattress. I am so glad I did.

We ordered the "Beautyrest Recharge World Class Annapolis Place Luxury Firm Pillow Top Mattress Set" The prices they had beat everything, plus delivery and take away of the old mattress set was included. (Also? No sales tax!)

We have been sleeping like babies for a month now on our new mattress. I'm so happy we stayed with Beautyrest and so happy we decided to buy from GoTo Mattress. I was a little worried about ordering online and not being able to go to the store if we had a problem. Oh, the horror stories people tell when it comes to mattresses! Our experience with GoTo Mattress was great. They even helped me make sure I was getting what I really wanted by researching the mattress I wanted from Macy's and making sure the components matched. There was a very slight difference (It's the mattress game, remember?) but it is wonderful and we can not feel any difference.

This is not something GoTo Mattress asked me to do. They don't even know I am writing this. But gosh, with the trouble we had finding someone we wanted to buy our mattress from I wanted to share the good news about this great company.

You can even go here to try and win a Beautyrest mattress from them by liking them on facebook. They are going to give it away when they get 2,000 likes.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Food Truck Roundup at the Park: Norton, Ohio


Food trucks at the park!

 If you see something which looks like this?  Park your car at once! Get out and explore. Stuff your face. Recruit people to share with so you can taste lots. I wish we had made our boys go with us instead of leaving them home. We brought stuff home to them, but we could have forced our wishes on them and made them share stuff with us. Next time.

For today, I find it necessary to award two blue ribbons: 

Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, Truk balls, fries, green tomato fried w/crab meat, invisible brisket sandwich
Orange Truk passing out food

The Orange Truk had buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches. They were SO good! Definitely the kind of fried chicken I wish for any time I have fried chicken. I cut the giant piece of chicken and took a portion, leaving my husband with plenty to more than cover the large bun. They also served Truk balls, little fried risotto balls. They are delicious, too.
Orange Truck food truck Northeast Ohio

My other favorite truck was Pig Lickin' Good BBQ. Their brisket sandwiches were fantastic! I've lived in the heart of Texas, and I know good brisket. For me, it's not even so much which region you are from and style you prefer. It's about the meat prepared well. This brisket was as tender as you will find anywhere. Great seasoning on the sandwiches, too. A little kick, but not too much. They added grilled onions and a slice of cheese. Yum! I am going to try to follow this truck and sneak up on it when I can.
Pig Lickin' Good BBQ food truck

Friendly smile from the man with the Q!

This guy Was friendly and had a happy truck/shop vibe.They were having a good time in the truck.
His BBQ melted:
  •  in my mouth  
  •  my heart.

Good food makes me ridiculously happy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Hate to Damage the Psyche of a Good Chair

     The last few weeks have been a blur of what to eat/not eat, what needs washed, dried, folded, put away, wiped up, wiped down, swept, mopped, scrubbed, mowed, pulled, watered, filled, drained, heated, cooled, painted, sanded, waxed, taken, dropped off, heard, written, crossed off, let in, fed, taken out, walked, hugged, ripped out, replaced, straightened, shined, polished, caulked, replaced, checked, adjusted, verified, etc. I bet yours have been about the same. 

Gratuitous photo of Audrey with her buntings. Because I know some of you require pictures.

     The most difficult part for me? Was the eating/ not eating. I had a health scare, and I have the all-clear from my doctor now. I feel like I can breathe again. But saying I had a health scare makes me feel like I am downplaying how I felt by about a kajillion. I started eating clean, eating what I should eat for my kidneys, to be precise. 

     Let me just tell you that in my whole life I have always eaten a lot of junk. Not lots of McDonalds or something - but lots of sugar went into this container of awesomeness. I was downing way more soft drinks than I want to admit. I swear there were days when I drank ten cans of Pepsi. No lie. 

     Add to that chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. And other candy. Every day. Many a day. And the baking. And the no-bake stuff. And the desserts, which are official. All that other stuff was unofficial, in case you were wondering. 

     Have I mentioned cheese? Because I really, really, really like cheese. Really. A lot. Times ten. 

     All that stuff (and oh-so-much more) was bad for me. And I stopped it. And I was making myself miserable. Also, I was hoping for a miracle when I had my next blood tests. I was hungry and sick of berries, cucumbers, cherries, celery, watermelon, onion, garlic, and whatever else was on the super-kidney list. I may have been feeling pretty sorry for myself. And very much afraid. I'm not good at admitting it when I'm afraid. I just get cranky. This way nobody can tell if I'm just my regular cranky or afraid. Great plan, isn't it!?

     Like I said, the blood tests all came back improved with everything in normal range, so it paid off. I lost nearly 30 pounds in those seven weeks, and my thyroid is now doing better than it was. It's still not good though, just improved. 

     My point, if I ever had one was "The last several weeks were miserable for me. Now I am feeling a great sense of relief." 

     On top of the great sense of relief, I am also feeling better in general. The pain I have had all of my life? The daily, constant, inescapable pain I always had in my neck and shoulders? It's gone! I'm going to attribute it to eating clean. You really should try it. You will probably like it! 

     I will still have occasional treats. Key word: occasional. Meaning not all day every day. (This note is more to remind myself than for you. I am sure you know what occasional means.)
  To celebrate my new-found peace and health I did a little shopping of the Craigslist variety. We agree we want a large table in our dining room. We want a large table which we can make extra extra large. My goal is a table which starts at nine feet and can expand to fifteen feet. We will use it at nine feet for day to day and pull it into the long room and run it and other tables all the way from the stove to the fireplace. 

Which would make this the 'before' photo

And make this the 'during' photo.

        Sorry Charlie, there is no after photo. Not yet. 

     Craigslist did net me these beautiful chairs from Yugoslavia. They are quite old, they are sturdy, they are comfortable, and best of all, they are mine.

    They don't match the table at all. But I do not care. Wait, that's a lie. I care. I am not sure if I can paint them yet. I know I can paint them. I mean I am not sure if I can do that to the chairs. I do not want to damage their psyche.  For now the table will be covered with a tablecloth. But I love that table so much that I like to look at it. So the chairs may have to take paint. We'll live with it a while and get to know them. I do not have to decide right now.

In Summary: 
  • I feel better
  • Chairs

  *To read more about our Ryan Homes Ravenna click the "Our House" button at the top of the page.