Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hippy Recipe

Hippy as in "Peace, Love, Man". Not Hippy as in, adds more inches to your hips. That is a recipe I don't need. Anyway. So, I say it's "hippy" because it doesn't involve any meat and, in fact, you can make it vegan if you want and it will still taste good.

Tempeh Shepherds Pie. I love shepherd's pie - anything involving mashed potatoes is a friend of mine. It's inspired from a version I had at the Stone Brewery restaurant over here in San Diego (good beer, too). Last time I ordered it, I inspected it, to see what was doing in there, read the menu description a couple times so that I could try to recreate it. Of course, theirs is still better, but mine is pretty damn good for a civilian attempt. Even the Husband, who recoils from all things soy, likes it (brought it to work for lunch twice this week!).

Anyway, some of you are probably going: What the eff is Tempeh?

It's a fermented soy bean cake.


(above picture was five-finger discounted from wikipedia)
BRAINS!

Don't run away screaming yet. Hold the phone.

It's not the most appetizing thing to look at, however the end result looks nothing like it. Tempeh is also a great source of protein with little fat and carries all the benefits of soy. It's sold at health food type stores; surprisingly, our local Trader Joe's doesn't carry it, but the other Whole Foods type stores do. Sells for $2.49 per 8-ounce package in my neck of the woods.

This recipe makes quite a bit - I end up using two white pyrex casserole dishes (can't remember the sizes of them)

Serves 8 or so.

Ingredients

2 8-ounce packages of tempeh
2 zucchini
1 pound of carrots
1 large onion (or 1.5 medium , or 2 smallish)
1 can of corn, or 1 ear of corn (or 2 ears - it's up to you)
3 pounds potatoes (for mashing, whatever potatoes, I guess Yukon Gold is the standard but I used Russet - cheaper)
Olive Oil (or Veg oil, whatever you have) for cooking the ingredients
Butter (or Margarine, for vegan)
Milk or Half and Half (or Soy milk/soy creamer for vegan)
16 to 24 ounces of Vegetable Stock (if you only have Chicken, or whatever, go for it, unless, of course, you don't eat meat)

[The above are the basics - the rest, are spices I used, and, the best results are through improvisation - throwing a bit of each in tasting the concoction, adding more, etc.]

Tomato paste (start with 1 tbsp, and if you decide you need more you can add - too much and it tastes a little to sweet, so, be careful with this one - my first attempt at the pie had too much - it was still good, but not what I was going for)
Worcestershire sauce
Soy sauce
Salt and Pepper
Curry
Cumin
Paprika
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
dried sage and/or thyme

Here we go.

Cut the tempeh into 1 inch cubes and pulse in a blender or food processor until it's crumbly (texture of cooked ground beef). I do this in two batches in a blender.
Finely chop the onions, carrots (peeled), zucchini. I suppose you could do this in a food processor, but I am not sure how (too lazy to figure it out). Probably is quicker though. If you're using fresh corn, cut the ear in half and cut the kernels off with a knife, length-wise down the cob.

Peel the potatoes, cut them into quarters. Put them in a large pot of water and boil until they are tender - 20-30 minutes. Don't wait until they are falling apart. Drain them when they are done.

Meanwhile, get A big-ass saute pan. I use a wok since I don't have a nice big saute pan. Works works great (I think I got mine at Costco or Target for like $20, or maybe less). Add oil to pan, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. Throw in the onions - cook them up for a bit, maybe 5 minutes, then add the carrots and zucchini (if you are using fresh corn add the corn, too). Cook until they are tender - taste it to make sure. You can add a bit of stock to loosen it up while cooking (add a little bit at a time if the veggies are sticking to the pan). Towards the end, if you are using canned corn, add the corn and mix with the veggies. When it's done, set aside in a large bowl for later.

Add a bit more oil to the wok and throw in the crumbled up tempeh. Add some stock a little at at time - the tempeh will soak it up. It shouldn't be sticking to the pan - if it does, either you need more stock or the heat is too high. The tempeh mixture can be a little bit wet (not runny or overly soupy). Here is where you improvise. Start throwing in the tomato paste, soy, worcestershire sauce and spices - little bit at a time, more stock if you need it, etc. Taste the mess you are making, add more stuff, repeat, until you deem it tasty enough. Me, I add a bunch of curry and cayenne - I like it a little spicy, but you may not, so do what you want with your tempeh. Tempeh takes maybe 10-15 minutes to cook and don't worry about exactness of cooking it - you're going to put it in the oven for more cooking anyway (plus, it's a vegetable product - no bacteria or parasitic issues like with pork, beef, chicken, etc). When it's done, combine the veggies and tempeh (either in a bowl or in the wok) - mix it all together.

Mash your potatoes - if they finish cooking while you're in the midst of your tempeh creation, just drain 'em and set aside until you are ready. Get a masher, a ricer, or a fork, throw the potatoes in a bowl, toss in some butter and milk (or soy milk, whatever), and go to town. Again, start with maybe 4 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 a cup of milk and add from there until you get our desired "mashed potato consistency." Not an exact science. Just go with it.

Take your casserole dishes/pans, put the tempeh mixture at the bottom (divide evenly amongst however many dishes/pans you have - level it out with the back of a spoon (or whatever utensil you have handy). Spoon the potatoes on top, level them out. Sprinkle some paprika on top. If you want, you could add cheese here, it's up to you.

Throw it in the oven, uncovered, 350 degrees. Bake until the potatoes start to brown.

Voila! You are done. It takes a while, but it lasts me the whole week as lunch for work and the cost works out to be around $2 dollars a serving (depends on how expensive your materials are and if you are missing spices, etc).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Can we talk about things crapping out again?

Because it is seriously a weekly occurrence in my life. On a recent Home Depot trip on Monday night I was passing the clearance section and spied a cordless phone system, 2 handsets, answering machine, for a recession-worthy price of $37. Now, our old one, has 3 handsets, one of which doesn't work because Nikki chewed the antenna part back in 2004, the second one doesn't charge properly anymore so you'll be in mid-conversation with someone and the phone will just DIE and you can't even get the dial-tone (so you have to run downstairs to get the other handset to answer the person calling you back). This left us with one working handset which is annoying in a 2-story house. This has been the situation for at least 6 months. So I snagged the system (which, by the way, at Target the same one was $84). I hook it up and the phone jack STOPS WORKING. This leaves us with only one easily accessible jack to plug the phone into which is in the garage. Yeah, phone in the garage. Luckily, last night, I was able to work my mojo with a new jack, wired it up, and it's working (woo hoo! and I didn't get shocked - turns out you can touch bare wires of phone lines - at least the ones I touched).

That was the minor crap out which was easily remedied for about 6 bucks. Unfortunately, the following crap outs will not be fixed for 6 effing bucks:

(1) Receiver of our audio system periodically shuts off and won't turn on until you get off the couch and WHACK THE TOP OF IT. Yay for technology. It's a Harmon Kardon, too. At least it lasted 10+ years. But still. This was not on my list of things I was planning on buying any time soon.

(2) The TV, which The Husband calls his Engagement Gift. Back story: he insisted that if I was going to get an engagement ring that he should get a TV (silly argument since diamonds have lasting value as an asset, a TV does not). Fine. We bought the TV, a 42" plasma that isn't even HD because at the time, in late 2004, a 42" HD plasma TV was $2500, and there was no way in hell I could agree to that. Still, at $1800 it was hardly cheap. Fast-forward 4.5 years later and it appears we are already losing plasma. We discovered a little spot last night that is green-ish and stays that way regardless of what is happening on screen. It's minor in the sense that it doesn't affect "watch-ability," but I suspect it will probably get worse. Hopefully not anytime soon.

(3) The doozy of all crap-outs that can't be remedied by whacking it or ignoring the green spot is my car's wheel bearings. I think the 2 years I spent driving the Ortega Highway (which some folks refuse to drive, as it's a ridiculously curvy mountain road with some points having no guard-rail) to work took a toll on my vehicle. Replacing wheel bearings is around $500. J, M, and also J (Jesus, Mary, and also Joseph).

(4) The Husband's check engine light came on yesterday and it's yapping about the Throttle Positioning Sensor (TPS). Again. The car drives fine, so I am reluctant to get it fixed right away seeing as my wheel bearings being shot is actually kind of a dangerous situation if I let it sit for too long (it's already been a month).

Did I mention I am tired of things crapping out on me? Did I mention my pockets are not bottomless? [sigh]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yet More Kitchen Adventures

This weekend, I got through all the back splash that was on the "wall" - now all that's left is that little ledge over the sink which I can guarantee you if going to involve a stream of swears flowing out of my mouth. It is very angle-y, so, I know it's going to try my patience. Hopefully I can finish it all this weekend. It's a big goal, but, seriously, I have been working on this backsplash for too long.

Here is a newly tiled, not yet grouted, area which is nothing to "wow" over.


The unfortunate part of tiling that area was the outlet on the right that bit me. Lesson #... oh, who's counting at this point... Even if you think you're hands are dry enough, but may be slightly damp, don't touch the damn electrical outlet! I have handled the metal part where it screws into the wall a million times without gloves and the electricity on, but, I guess, never with slightly damp hands. I dried them on a dish towel, but I guess since my fingers were practically prunes from rinsing off mortar every two seconds, it was impossible to dry them completely. I let out a scream that scared the crap out of the Husband. I haven't been shocked since I was four when I decided to find out what would happen if I put my finger on the metal plug as I inserted into the extension cord. Never did that again. Anyway.

The Husband also got around to installing the molding at the top of the cabinets - IKEA calls it the "deco strip". We ended up putting it in with construction adhesive since all other ways of attachment with screws/nails post-cabinet installation was messy. It's hardly an area that gets "traffic" so, glue is fine. Hopefully he will get to molding that goes at the bottom of the upper cabinet this weekend. That'll help hide upper seam of the backsplash and also hide under cabinet lighting should we ever choose to install it.



Oh, and I splurged on a red kitchen accessory that was 50% off at Target ($7). For now, I've got my wooden spoons in there and if I ever decide I need a different color, I can spray paint it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Where Does Your State Rank?

Cool little US map with data points - give me a map AND numbers and I'm good for at least an hour: Economic Pain - State by State

California is #1 in budget deficit, #2 in unemployment, and #4 in foreclosures. The foreclosure number is surprising (3.9%), we are well below Florida and Nevada - so I am breathing a wee sigh of relief that maybe the real estate bleeding is starting to slow. There are lots of other states very close to our percentage like Ohio, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Maine.

Overall, though, I'd say California and Florida are probably tied for #1 as far as overall economic crappiness.

In other news, I thought that my old neighbors hadn't sold their house, but I was wrong! They did - we have new neighbors. I haven't yet knocked on their door, but I really need to this week, if I don't run into them outside. They have the cutest bloodhound (I spied from my bedroom window) and, looks like, another little dog. More barking company for fuzzy Nikki! I am itching to find out what it sold for, but I'm sure it'll take a few weeks before Zillow gets the information from the county. I am hoping it's good because whatever it sold for, we can expect to get the same amount (once we finish the remodel), easily. It's 200 square feet smaller than ours and our kitchen is way better. Hoping for 400K - that would loosen my vise-grip of home-value worry. Anything to shrink the hole we are in - instead of 70K we'll only be 40-50k underwater!

Gotta find the silver lining, even if it's a bit tarnished.

The Bird is the Word

Girly Stuff always comes up with the best random topics. Anyway, 10 songs.

Here they are - they are amongst many that I can play over and over AND OVER again until you want to stab your ear drums because you can't take it anymore (like the Family Guy episode where Peter keeps playing the "Surfin' Bird" song over and over again resulting in Brian and Stewie destroying every copy in the city. Peter then attempts to get another copy and meets Jesus Christ who works, incognito, at the record store. I can never get enough Family Guy). Anyway, if you're me, you can listen over and over again with sheer OCD pleasure. Drives the Husband insane that I listen to the same stuff all the time.

What'cha Know About - Donovan Frankenreiter (think, Jack Johnson, but better)
Blue Sky - The Allman Brothers (I love southern rock)
Strawberry Swing - Coldplay
I Will Not Be Broken - Bonnie Raitt
Cigarettes - The Wreckers (what the heck happened to these two, one album and then nothing)
Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
I Hope - Dixie Chicks
#41 - Dave Matthews Band
Power of Two - Indigo Girls
Heal Over - KT Tunstall

Progress was made this weekend on the kitchen - I'll have to post about that later!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bump In The Night

I hope I am not the only one with this weirdness, but, is it not the worst thing to have to sleep alone in a totally empty house?

Last night, The Husband was gone for a work retreat - one involving Indian casino gambling and booze - why don't I work there, too? He's not in some lurid field; he works in construction. Ok, yes, I know the whole Construction Worker Who Leers and Jeers at Passing Women, but that's not him (he's on the planning side). So that left me by myself and resulted in me getting a whopping total of 4 hours of sleep. Even the dog was freaked out (I think she was feeding off my anxiety - animals are intuitive like that) and in watch-dog mode. I can't stop myself from thinking some wacko is going to break in and chop my head off or something. Am I crazy or do you guys have similar issues?

I think it was also worse last night because the neighbors moved out completely yesterday. They are selling their house and (as far as I know it hasn't sold because they are smoking crack with their listing price) I guess found another one and got the heck out of Dodge. I am so used to having them there -- even though I hardly ever spoke to them. Another weird thing: I am TERRIBLE with getting to know my neighbors. Lying there in bed last night unable to sleep for fear the boogie man was going to get me (I slept with a full-on light - not a little night light - until I was 8 years old - and slept with my parents until I was 4 - I was very much afraid of the dark), I thought to myself "You need to get to know your neighbors, that's what they are here for - safety in numbers." So, I think I have another resolution, if I can get off my anti-social behind and get to know my neighbors, already. Geez Louise.

I just hate bugging people - what if they don't feel like talking to me? You know? Or am I just being stupid? When you get a ring/knock at your door, do feel bothered or excited? I think I usually feel bothered. I had some work to do with my neighborly attitude, I think.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Addition to "Blah Blah Blah"

Girly Stuff is right about making a list of things we can do (in response to my last soap-box spiel post). I'm not just going to "blah blah blah" at you and then sit on my ass lounging around in status quo.

Step Up the Recycling
I have always done some kind of recycling, especially bottles and cans to get back deposit money (partially selfish motivation). We usually also recycle big cardboard boxes, and wine bottles, and, when I'm not lazy, things like cans (from tuna, beans, vegetables, soup, etc), cereal boxes, plastic milk cartons, etc. No more being lazy. If the city will take it as recycling, it's not going in the trash.

Start Re-using Ziplocs
I used to think this was kind of extreme, but it is seriously a waste of plastic and you can't recycle ziploc baggies. I'll probably go for the freezer bag type which are sturdy and can handle washing. Good for the environment, and good for my pocket.

Make My Own Cleaning Supplies
...for certain things. I'm not going to be making my own laundry or dishwasher detergent or anything crazy like that. But I would like to try using baking soda and peroxide in place of bleach, as well as vinegar and essential oils for multi-purpose cleaning. This item may take a while to embark on because I have a slew of cleaners left by the previous owners that I'm not going to throw out. When something gets used up, I have to make it or try to find an acceptable green alternative (even if it costs a bit more - so far we're using environmentally-friendly laundry and dishwasher detergent).

Donate Monthly to a Charitable Organization
We don't attend a church, so we aren't regularly donating money. We give randomly and haphazardly which makes me feel like I probably am not giving enough. I'm not going to give to the same charity every time. I think, again, if all your money goes only locally, who is going to help the really poor areas that don't have affluent, middle-class citizens? It's one of my issues with only donating to your church and nowhere else. Unless your church goes out of its way to help people outside the congregation, what are the poorest of folks without a financially healthy church in their area going to do? So I am going to make it different each month. This does put me at the risk of getting bombarded with 18,000 mailers from various organizations asking for more money, but, hopefully there will be some way to keep that in check. I'll start next month.

Donate My Time Every Other Month
That doesn't seem like much, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. We used to help out at a dog rescue nearly every Saturday but that has fallen by the wayside amidst the remodel. Also, I don't want to only donate my time there and nowhere else. So, I am not going to count the rescue volunteer work because, considering we did it all the time before, I should be able to swing that as well as something else every other month.

I think that's good for now. Hopefully this blog will keep me accountable.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stepping Up

I just read Obama's speech in it's entirety- I was on my way to work, listening on the radio, and this one part of the speech, brought tears to my eyes because it is so right on:

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."

There are so many people that don't think about anyone else but themselves, or their group of family and friends, their church, their job, etc. The world is such a big place and we have, as a nation, such a huge impact on the world - economically, environmentally, socially. Our bad decisions, our choices to lead lives of excess - all has an impact on the world.

I was driving home from work on Monday night and this truck had a sticker on it that said "I love my carbon footprint." This is just one of many mindsets that need to change. It is NOT OK to pollute the earth because you can only see as far as your lifetime and maybe your children's. It's not ok to unquestionably support politicians that have allowed the mess on Wall Street to happen because they turned a blind eye to the possible consequences of de-regulation and lack of oversight. It's not ok because now the global economy is in recession. We have dragged millions of others down with us. It's not just us. It's not a matter of "patriotism" to consider only your country first, it's a matter of irresponsibility not to consider those outside our borders.

You're probably wondering why I wasn't riled up like this yesterday. Listening to the speech on the radio, I didn't get the full impact, and I was riding the high of having a new President sworn in after 8 years of failure (well, ok, maybe 6 years, Dubya wasn't so bad the first 2 years - not until he got us into the Iraq mess - it was then that I knew we were royally... how do you say... f*cked?). No more happy high today.

Anyway, so, my hope is that, as Americans, we will begin/continue to think outside our circle of friends and family, myself included (don't get me wrong - I may be choosing to live more "green" than in the past, but there's a heck of a lot more I can do, community service-wise).

I'll get off my soap-box now (it's been a while since I stepped up on it, so, bear with me, if you would).

Oh, and I faced the music this morning - with clothes on - no shoes - 119. Highest ever for me, but at least it's under 120.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

01/20/09: The End of an Error

California was blowing it up this morning at the Inauguration ceremony. Diane Feinstein, the master of ceremonies, Pastor Rick Warren from Orange County, and Nancy Pelosi. And I have to tell you, when Aretha Franklin sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", I got pretty emotional. The whole thing was just awesome to watch and I can't get over how cute the two Obama girls are. It's refreshing to see a young family in the White House - it brings to life how they are so much like every American with a family, jobs, homes, etc. It is such a historic day... however, this man has a huge mass of problems ahead of him - I hope he will be able to lead us out the hole we are in. In my own weird way of talking to God, The Universe, Higher Power, what have you, I will pray for him because I think he needs it. He's got a a hell of a storm to navigate in the new few years.

I am happy to report that after yesterday's run I am able to walk down the stairs without feeling like a decrepit old woman. After 2 weeks of slowly ramping up the working out business, I still have not mustered the courage the get on the scale. The scale and I are not on speaking terms anymore because she is too honest with me. It's probably been 6 months since I weighed myself, and the reality is that it's because I am fearful that I have crossed 120 (at 5 ft tall I'm closing in on the upper number of the normal range - 128). I will need to face the music, though, so I can see if the level of effort I'm putting in with exercise is having an impact or if I have to kick it up a notch.

In addition to picking up paint yesterday, I hung up a bunch of stuff in the office that had been languishing on the floor, including my newly framed diploma (8 years post-graduation). While I still think paying $100 to frame it is highway robbery, at least it's done and looks nice. To the right of the diplomas is a new little arrangement of frames that I had yet to put up on the wall. I tried to not stress too much about lining it all up - I just made sure each one was level.


I hung up the corkboard but have yet to find anything I want to stick on it. Because of the existing hanging hardware in the back, it doesn't really lay flush against the wall, so I will have to be careful not to throw the whole thing off level when I stick something on it. Notwithstanding (love it when I can use this mouthy word), I can't complain about something so substantial in size and texture that only cost me $10.


I also rearranged a shelf with my two little blue frames of pictures from the only time it snowed while I was in college. I guess I got lucky, or maybe not because for me, the only good thing about winter is snow. The rest of winter, the dreary skies, searing wind, and freezing temperatures are just miserable.


The two paintings on those shelves were done by Yours Truly (the little guy in 1999 and the other one in, I think, 2oo2).

Finally, is anyone watching the Bachelor? I know. I know. Whatever, I like watching mindless TV. Anyway, so, the dress on that Nikki chick? Holy Moly with the boobs. Personally, I think she is a Bitch on Wheels with her hoity-toity-ness, but, by God, if I were a man in his shoes, I'd probably overlook the sourpuss-ness as well. Geez, that get-up was certainly riding the fine line of trashiness with them things hanging out like that.

Nothing like ending a post with boob commentary. Have a good Tuesday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dude Abides

My legs finally stopped hurting today. Why, you ask? Well, I decided to go for a 30-minute run during lunch on Thursday and I haven't run since Thanksgiving so, you could say that I'm a bit out of shape (though, cardio-wise, I was ok). Now, I've run two marathons, so I know post-run soreness, but, seriously, the soreness after this run was up there with post marathon pain. Not as bad, but certainly, worse than I've ever felt after 5 or 10Ks. I think it might have been some of the hills I did, I don't know - walking down the stairs required the use of the handrail. I'm going to put myself through another run today at lunch and hope that tomorrow I'll be able to sit down in my chair without gripping the arms for dear life.

This post is going to be all over the place, just so you know.

On Saturday evening (after I did yet more backsplash tiling - I am ready to be done with this damn backsplash, already), we decided to redneck-it-up, or as they say out here, get in touch with your inner East County, and go to the Monster Truck show at Qualcomm Stadium. For $10 a ticket, it's cheap entertainment. We went with a group from The Husband's work (he really lucked out with the social aspect of his work - they are a fun group). They started tailgating at 4:30pm, 3 hours early (we got there around 6pm). I had my fair share of Coors Light that evening. Anyway, so Qualcomm is kind of falling apart. Around 7:30pm we made our way to the entrance and on the way there, we hit an impasse: a flowing river of dirty water that even a 6-foot-tall lanky dude would not be able to take a running leap over. Fortunately, there was a guy and his pickup - whilst drinking a can of beer - giving people rides across the river. Basically, groups of like 15 people would get into back of the truck and he would drive in reverse, drop people off on the other side, and then pick up another group. I think he was making bank, because we gave him 5 bucks and others were giving him money, too. Still, it was a pretty cool thing to do.

That was not the end of the water troubles, though. On the ramp up to the ticket-takers, there was yet more (though cleaner) water flowing down, but passable by foot. Before I sat down, I went to the ladies room and, while it was not the nicest smelling place, everything was functional. About halfway through the event, I have to go again (seeing as I drank 3 cans of cheap beer), and this time, things were not hunky dory. I was able to flush the toilet - after 3 attempts - but the sinks were dry. No water. Shortly thereafter even the toilets wouldn't flush. What a mess. A sold out stadium of Monster Truck loving folks who drink copius amounts of cheap beer and no water in the Potty Room. Not ideal. We're thinking that maybe the river of dirty water flowing through the parking lot might have had something to do with it. Overall, though, it was fun to watch the trucks do crazy jumps with several losing wheel in the middle of a stunt. The winner was some dude from Texas. Don't mess with Texas. Totally worth the $10.

Oh, and, in case you are planning on doing painting soon - today, Home Depot is having an MLK Day event: $5 off a gallon of Behr paint (up to 5 gallons). It ends today. It's one of those rebate things - but they are usually quicker to send you the money than other rebate programs. I grabbed my primer and red paint for the stools since I already had the color picked out (high gloss California Poppy!), I figured why not save 10 bucks and just buy it now.

Enjoy your holiday, if you have it off. Tomorrow we'll have a new President! Woo Hoo!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Looking South From East Campus

Crazy with the US Airways plane landing in the Hudson River, right? What a relief everyone is OK. I always wondered if water landings would actually work, and, here I see they do! One less thing to worry about when I fly.

I can't help wondering if I were at my Alma mater, in my senior year dorm room, would I have been able to see any of the spectacle. My senior year dorm was (and still is) 20 stories tall. On-campus housing for sophomores, juniors, and seniors was picked via lottery number draw, and you could group together to try to get a suite in certain dorms. I didn't pick the number because I have the opposite luck of the Irish. I never win anything. At least I don't remember picking the number, but my memory for details is sometimes fuzzy (might have logged this in one of my journals...). The draw was pretty good, not one of the first low-low numbers, but good enough to get us the 18th floor with a group of 2 seniors, a junior, and a 2 sophomores (had we been 3 seniors and 2 sophs, we'd probably have been on the 20th).

From my dorm room, I could see the Hudson River (and, obviously, the "lovely" state of New Jersey) and with a little bit of straining to the right, I could see the George Washington Bridge. From our common area, with, again, some straining to the left, you could see the Twin Towers, way down the island of Manhattan. That must have been quite a view in 2001. I'm not sure I'd have wanted to see it, though it's certainly a story to tell your kids. I can at least say I used to work across the street from it and eat lunch by the fountains in the courtyard. I still have a few things I bought back in 1999 from the shopping center in the basement - a J. Crew sweater and a Gap shirt. I don't think I'll ever get rid of them. Just because it's something from a place that will never exist again.

Sometimes I miss the Big Apple. Looking at the CNN shots of the river and the plane, it was cool to see all those ferries coming to the rescue - how many cities have that many ferries running around the city daily (in addition to a huge subway and bus system)? Not many. Lots of people like to comment on how New Yorkers aren't friendly, everyone's rude, etc. There are a fair share of those types of folks, but the reality is, when, it's necessary, that city rallies together. I remember one time I was on the subway, heading down to my first REAL internship/job (the one where I worked across from the towers), decked out in my suit, all 98 pounds of me. I had been coming down with something, and, standing on the train, gripping the pole for balance, I could feel the light-headedness of a fainting spell coming on (I've fainted maybe 3 times in my life - I tend to have low blood pressure). I saw a seat open up and went for it, but this guy grabbed it before me. Another woman could see I was not doing well, and told the guy to get up and let me sit. She even gave me her Diet Coke as the closest thing to sugar she had. So, yeah. There are tough New Yorkers out there. But there are also lots of friendly, awesome New Yorkers.

Even though I only spent 4 years of my early adulthood there, I think I'll always think of it as one of my "homes." I really couldn't have asked for a better place to spend my college years.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

State of Chacha's Union

Part of the stuff I blog about is also personal finance since I am trying to get my husband and I out of debt. So, while I haven't decided on any 2009 goals as of yet, I figured I should review 2008. Since I didn't dive wholeheartedly into aggressively paying down debt until like March of last year, I am not sure what the initial balances of certain loans were last January (not without going to my file cabinet at home, which I'm not going to bother doing at this moment). So I am estimating.

Loans we had in January 2008 and approximate balances:

Car #1: $8,000
Car #2: $7,000
Student Loan #1 (mine): $300
Student Loan #2 (mine): $11,168
Student Loan #3 (his): $1,800
Student Loan #4 (his): $300
House 1st: $413,006
House 2nd: $47,095 (to hell with this 2nd!)

January 2009:

Car #1: PAID
Car #2: $950
Student Loan #1: PAID
Student Loan #2: $10,253 (915)
Student Loan #3: PAID
Student Loan #4: PAID
House 1st: $407,884 (5122)
House 2nd: $45,073 (2022)

Total Debt Paid in 2008 (approx): $24,500

Considering the size of our mortgage payment, that's pretty good. Take out the house debt repayment that we can't NOT pay and we still paid down more than $17,000 of other useless, crap debt.

Savings
In the category of tax-deferred retirement accounts (401k), we contribute around 6.5% (not including company matching). That translates to be roughly $11,000 last year. Unfortunately, that money (along with a whole bunch more) has been flushed down a commercial strength toilet called the stock market. That's a bummer.

Cash savings increased by $1,400 since January. On the surface, that's not all that impressive, but had the plumbing disaster not occurred, it would be $5,600 more. The plumbing mess necessitated the kitchen remodel, which, thus far, has cost around $12,000. So, without those things (because they were not in the plan for the2008), we would have saved nearly $20K. I am happy, though, that we didn't decrease our savings from these unplanned expenses and projects. I do wish we could have saved more to get to the magic number in savings where I feel more at ease (in the event something bad happens).

Only one loan remains (aside from the house, which, really, I have no grandiose ideas of paying THAT off in the near term, and we'll pay off the other car next month). According to Sallie Mae, I still have 92 months of payments left. That would make me 38 (!) when it's finally done. That is just wrong to be nearly 40 years old and still paying undergraduate loans taken out 20 years prior. I did some calculations for two scenarios (1) if I just kept paying the regular payment and let that same amount sit in the bank, (2) pay it off and make the monthly payments to savings. I used an estimate of 3% interest for 7 years (since we're at 2.1% right now for our money market and we'll probably be down here for a while, seeing as the economy will suck for at least another year).

Scenario 1:
Leave $10,250 in the bank and keep paying loan minimum:
$12,875 after 7 years of interest at 3%
$12,943 total repayment cost (incl. interest)
Loss of $68

Not that much, really. It's almost break-even. However...

Scenario 2:
Let's say I pay it off and put the $141 each month in the bank getting that same 3%
$141 monthly contribution to savings for 7.67 years at 3% compounded daily: $14,161
Subtract the 10,250 I paid to Sallie Mae.
Gain of $4,161

I was kind of shocked, really. I didn't expect the difference between the two to be $4,200. Sure, in 7 years that might not be as much as it is now when you factor in inflation, but still. There's a significant gap there.

This calculation sold me. Sure, our cars are getting up there - the Husband's car is approaching 130,000 miles. I'm not sure how much life it has left. Mine has 104,000 miles, so its not so spry either. We could, rather than pay off my student loan, keep that money for a vehicle purchase in a year or so, but seeing this four thousand dollar gap, I just can't see doing anything but paying it off. There is no point keeping this loan - it is a burden. A useless burden. So, I guess I have one goal for 2009: by June, I want this sucker paid off.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If I Actually Had a Checklist...

...I could cross the pot filler off as DONE! I actually have about 18 million ad hoc to-do lists, so perhaps I could cross it off several times on some old, scribbled down, doodled lists in my work notebook. The only annoyance with the pot filler is that it's a little crooked, through no fault of the plumber. I read another guy's comment of this same fixture on Amazon and he said his leans as well. If I really had it in me, I would harass Danze about it, but it works, it's not leaking, it just leans some likely because of the weight of the it (it is definitely a solid fixture, nothing flimsy about it). Probably, they'd just send me another one of the exact model (after 9 weeks, no doubt) and it would do the same thing and I'd be out more money to the plumber.


Gratuitous shot of a completed backsplash section:


Here are the assembled stools from Walmart I am itching to paint red. They look nice as-is (can't knock 'em for $37 a piece), but I am jonesing for some colorful pieces like Girly Stuff's red hutch and Liz's (Mabel's House) turquoise cabinet.


Sitting there on the side is a can of spray texture from Lowe's - it is the most evil smelling, caustic stuff ever. The orange-peel spray from Home Depot smells good and washes up with water. This stuff from Lowe's smells dangerous and cleans up with paint thinner. Last time I buy orange peel spray from Lowe's.

Also, just to show you how haphazard I am with house projects lately, I had the overwhelming need last week to hang something up in the kitchen area that was decorative. It's a little strange, but I just couldn't help it. So I painted up that area with the Water Chestnut and hung up my $5 Ross Wino Art.


High today is 80 degrees and sunny! Too bad it's not a Saturday because that's totally beach weather.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still No Potfiller

Off all the contractors to fall off the earth, I did not expect it to be my plumber. And, well, maybe I'm exaggerating by saying "fall off the earth," but this is a guy that always answers calls (literally, the only time I have ever not had him pick up was when he was in TJ with bad reception) and knew that I was going to call on Sunday to have him finish the potfiller hook up. It's strange. He as at the house Friday night to move the pipe, I said I'd call Sunday and I left a message at 1pm and haven't heard anything. I'm hoping he just flaked and nothing is actually wrong with him or his family.

So, yeah, potfiller still not hooked up.

I did manage to tile a bit more of the backsplash - I have the entire stove wall done along with the other wall by the refrigerator. That still leaves me like 50-60% left to complete - I have a feeling that 4 boxes of tile will not be enough. I figured I had picked up more than enough, but with mistakes, it's not looking like it will be. Eh. At least it's only 22 cents per tile. We also got the stools in from Walmart and then aren't too bad for the money. A little low with respect to the counter, but what can I do - it's either 29" which is too high or 24" which is a bit low. I figure if I get crafty with that sewing machine I can make some small cushions that lift everyone up a bit. I can't wait to paint them red! However I'm trying not to start 14 million projects at the same time. Currently, I have some painting partially done, some back splash going, the cork board that needs mounting, waiting on my diploma from Michael's (thanks for the tip, Girly Stuff!), cabinet molding still needing to be installed, drywall hols still to be patched and textured, and the list goes on and on. Seriously. So I'm trying to tell myself to get a grip and not start painting the stools right now because it can wait.

Did anyone watch the Golden Globes last night? I hope so because I have comments. Drew Barrymore? Did she not look like some kind of washed up 80's hag with crazy hair and the blue eye shadow? She looked disheveled and way older than her age (she's like 33 or something, but to me she looked like 45 in that get-up). And the one British gal from that movie "Happy Go Lucky", can't remember her name, but she was seriously scary thin. Aren't we over that whole anorexic look? She needed to eat herself a sandwich. I've heard the "fast metabolism" argument, but that looked beyond fast metabolism and more like sickness. No? Anyone?

I have a new "assignment" of sorts at work - I've been proclaimed as the "expert" of this one programming language when, in reality, I am so far from expert it's not even funny. And they kind of know that, but it is what it is. The fact is I just happen to be the one in the company to have done the most with the language (I just learned how to use it, on my own, a few months back). And "the most" is hardly anything very complex. There are a few good things about his development: (1) could mean I have will have a little more security in my job than I thought, (2) I will learn something completely new, (3) they think I have the ability to pick things up quickly. A few bad things: (1) I really have no idea what I am doing concerning this new application so the opportunity for failure is a bit high seeing as there is no one here to ask questions - Google is my only mentor, (2) it's taking me away from my programming specialty which is Java, (3) maybe I didn't have enough to do and figured, eh, we can just put her here for now. Number 3 is more my normal paranoia which is ever-present, but the others have merit, in my opinion. It's a bit of sink or swim on this one - if I can't pull it out of my ass, then I won't come out of this looking very good. I need muster up some motivation on this one since I am feeling rather sluggish to start in on what could require a a bit more brain power than I usually expend.

Finally, Southern California found itself this weekend. It was having a bit of an identity crisis, in my opinion. After months of strangely cold weather (high's in the 50s, lows in the 30s when the average high temperature should be around 68!), we were finally back to the 70s and sunny. I spent about 2 hours sitting outside with my book, getting some sun. Having that wonderfully sunny day yesterday totally reminded me why the heck I live here and not back east in the freezing cold and snow. It was nice to give the furnace a break from running up my gas bill.

Friday, January 9, 2009

So you know how I was saying...

...that I have to finish everything I buy regardless of it's suckiness? There is an exception to that rule and that would be Things That Give Me Bad Gas. Yes, we are talking about farts on this blog. You can navigate away now if you are above talking about flatulence. I am not. No surprise there.

Anyway, so I got this cereal, recently, from Fresh 'N Easy (a new British-based super-market chain which has excellent prices on dairy, canned items, pasta, etc) because it was high in fiber, good price, looked tasty, etc. Turns out it is tasty... also tasty for my lower intestines - so tasty, in fact,they are vociferously and odiferously expressing said tastiness. When I bought it, I only paid attention to the fiber content because, generally, fiber does not give me gas. I didn't pay attention to the protein content and the type of protein - it's soy protein. I have no issue eating tofu, tempeh, soy sausages, etc, but the soy protein they put in cereals and those soy crisps reek havoc on my intestines. I have eaten the cereal for 4 days and without fail, every afternoon into the evening, I have been stricken with The Gas.

I have the same issue with Kashi Go Lean Crunch which is a real bummer. Kashi Go Lean Crunch is seriously awesome. Great source of fiber, protein, and tastes good. I can literally snack on it like chips. I have been told that your body eventually gets used to the protein, but the question is when? I liked that cereal so much that I tried for several weeks just eating a small amount and ramping it up little by little to build a tolerance. No dice. One day it was so bad, that I had to leave work early because the bellyache was unbearable. I shared an office with this Indian guy and I was literally 4 feet away from him so there was no good way to let it out discreetly. And the bathrooms were those big one room deals where if you toot it will be known to everyone else sitting on the bowl. Six years later I still remember that day. That was when I had to chuck the rest into the trash. That's where the second half of the current offending box of cereal is going. I know, you're thinking, "can't your husband eat it so it doesn't go to waste?" Right. And then pigs will fly out of my ass along with the gas. He is very particular about his cereal - I have only seen him eat Frosted Mini Wheats in the 8 years I've known him, so, unfortunately, it will have to go to waste.

At least it's biodegradable.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Whole Bunch of Nothing

I still haven't called the daggone plumber. Why? Because I hate calling people. It's stupid, really, but I just get all lazy about having to bug someone and explain my situation. It's weird. I know. I just have a thing about calling up places and making appointments. It's the same with doctors, dentists, hair dressers, etc. Hate dealing with it.

I got up before the sun shined its ass on San Diego this morning to go to the gym with the giraffe I call my husband and - ALREADY - the number of cars in the parking lot is down 20-30% since Tuesday. I did the elliptical machine this time. Last time I could only imagine doing the recumbent bike - the other machines seemed to require large motor skills that I didn't have at that hour of the day and I figured I'd hurt myself, so best stick with what the old ladies work out on so I don't break something. This morning, though, I felt a little more confident and figured the I should be able to handle the elliptical machine. The thing with those elliptical trainers is that I think they are totally lying to me about calories burned. I entered my weight in (well, what I'm hoping it is) and after 20 minutes it told me I burned 250 calories. That seems like a heck of a lot of calories for the work I did. I don't know, I think the elliptical machine is full of shit. The bike on Tuesday seemed harder and I only burned maybe 150. I want honesty in my fitness machines.

Oh! I almost forgot. Girly Stuff's addiction meme. This is a good one, because obsessions might be my middle name. Well obsessions until I get bored with them and pick something else.

(1) Home Improvement/Houses/DIY/Anything house related: this one is here to stay like Hepatitis C (no, I don't have that, but it was the only thing that popped into my head as a disease that will never go away). Ever since buying my first property in 2003, I have been hooked.
(2) Searching the MLS: Another time wasting addiction, but I do it almost daily. I love looking at houses for sale and fantasizing about buying them.
(3) Diet Coke: There was a good year or so (2006/2007) where I didn't drink hardly any, but I haven't been able to permanently shake it. I generally go the weekend without it, but it's free at work, so it's hard to deny myself the pleasure. Ever since freshman year or college, when I switched to diet sodas to lose the freshman 10, I have been hooked. Hook, like, and sinker. Did you know that the latest slang/abbreviation for prostitution is "hooked"? Heard it on the Stern show yesterday when they were talking about some actress named Amber Smith and how she "hooked." Anyway.
(4) Checking My Finances Daily: I check our checking account balance and credit cards daily (usually) to see how much we've spent, cross off bills that have been paid from my low-tech paper-based income-expense worksheet, and calculate projected savings and additional debt repayment for the month. I am determined to be rid of this last pesky student loan that carries a whopping interest rate of 6.375% that I can no longer deduct from my taxes. I consolidated my Stafford loans right after I graduated because the rates had fallen, but it turns out that the rates continued to fall and have never risen to 6% since (8 years ago). Where is your flippin' crystal ball when you need it?
(5) This one is sort of icky, but picking at my face. I can't seem to leave the "blemishes" (euphemism word for zit, pimple, etc.) alone. It's not ideal - it seems like at least once a week I am messing with my face and it's genetic predisposition to acne handed down to me from my father (who had it much worse, so I really can't complain). A 4 month course of Accutane didn't clear it up and I'm definitely not going on that drug again - that stuff is evil. Clears up your skin, but way too hard on your body.

Anyway, that's all I got for addictions. For now. I am going to just tap more than 5 and it's up to you on participation, you can ignore the meme, but if it strikes your fancy, go to it!

Frankie Can't Relax
Cape Cod Makeover
Circling the Square Table
These are the Days of Our Lives
So Not Zen
Fry Pan Amnesia

And I finally called the plumber - Friday the pipe will be moved to it's new, righteous location!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

When is The Next Holiday?

So I had my final dentist appointment for a while, at least until June when I get my regular check-up. The numbness this time around is unreal. He had tried to just numb as little as possible as it was one of those toofers closer to the front. Anyway, first couple drills were fine, by the fourth drill I felt it. There is nothing like feeling the drilling of your tooth - I can't describe it as excruciating as much as it's truly a freaky type of pain that has a weird linger, like it's gone, but the ghost of it is still there for a good 20-30 minutes. So he had to shoot me up with more juice. Now I'm talking like I'm half Fran Drescher or something. The numbness has crept to the very back of my mouth apparently affecting my speech in a way that it now comes out nasally and a wee bit slurred. It's lovely. Really. I'm ripe to be made fun of over here. I'm just hoping it'll unfreeze enough so that I can eat lunch by 1pm.

I've been thinking about my college diploma. It's not framed up nicely at all, I just put it in a decent Target document frame. The Husband keeps picking on it, saying it's not framed right like his (he went to Rensselaer, we are two dorky engineers), blah blah blah. The reason I never had it framed is because you practically have to take out a 3rd mortgage get it done ($100 or more) and back when I graduated, I didn't have lots of extra cash lying around to do that. I needed to save my moola for my cross-country move to LA. But now that I'm older, I'm thinking that I should get that damn thing framed right, like it deserves. I put it hard work and have loans I'm still paying nearly 9 years later to get that degree, shouldn't it be dressed up? Do you guys have yours done up nicely?

Speaking of moola and mortgages I stopped avoiding my net worth thingy that I started updating back in June. I skipped 2 months of updates when the stock market went down the toilet and we started bleeding cash from the kitchen renovation. Avoidance at it's finest. Anyway, the latest update is sorry one indeed. I should have started it this month so that the bar would be much lower. Starting this net worth thing in June was not ideal. We started with $98,485 in June which I was pretty happy with - I felt like I had accomplished something, financially. Latest number is $29,026. That would be a net worth decline of 70% in 6 months. The only positive thing I can think of is that my house has only lost 7K this past month which is down from 10K and 12K. I sure hope it means we're hitting bottom over here in the San Diego real estate market.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lesson #1,576,774 in Kitchen Remodeling

It might be a good idea to choose your plumbing fixtures BEFORE you have the plumber run the lines. What now? Right, what now, already, with this project.

Obviously, I didn't have my faucet or potfiller decision made until after walls were up, plumbing in place, etc, etc, etc. Further compounding the problem was that the matching potfiller to my faucet was a special order item - according to the supplier - 1-3 weeks. Turned out to be 9-10 weeks. I finally got it yesterday, so you can imagine I was in a hurry to get the durn thing in place considering I'm been waiting FOREVER for it to arrive. So I busted my hump to get tile and grout in behind the stove. Here are some lovely photos:



What's that ripped up area over there over the stove, you say? That would be lesson #1,576,774. The pipe is too high. The potfiller doesn't fit - it hits the bottom of the microhood. I was annoyed last night when I discovered this. Very much so, but I think I'm getting more mature in my 30-year-old-ness because there were no tears. In the past I might have had to get all female and cry about it after putting in all that work on the tile, but I was able to hold my shit together. So this morning, after I dragged myself to the Y with The Husband (Yes, 5am. Yes, I am a masochist), I started popping tiles off so that the plumber will be able to move it 3 inches down and 3 inches over (because directly down is a 2x4 running horizontal across the studs - thanks to the mid-remodel pictures we were able to figure out that directly down probably wouldn't work).

The other item that was successfully installed by The Husband was an overhead fan in the family room. Took him a couple hours, and he did call it a "piece of shit" a few times during the process, but he managed to get it installed and working. I was just glad I didn't have to do it.


What's the deal with that trophy, over the bookshelf, in all it's plastic gold glory? That is yet another thing that my mother in law left at our house and I'm too short and lazy to get it down. Apparently, it's some little league trophy of my husband's from when he was a kid. On the second shelf is also a miniature cannon that was my husband's, also from her. This is one of the reasons my mother in law drives me nuts. She brings/sends us all kinds of useless stuff from his childhood - this is the second trophy she has brought us from her secret stash. The other one she brought last year is packed up somewhere in the house and says something like "Most Outstanding Seven Year Old." She is the Bringer of Clutter. She also brought us one of his senior year research papers - what the heck are we supposed to do with that? Marvel at his 17-year-old writing capabilities? I mean, I have keepsakes from my childhood, too, but not EVERYTHING. Lord knows what happened to my little gymnastics trophies from when I was 5 and 6, but do I care? Am I pining away for them? No. Eh, it's a useless thing to bitch about. I can't change it. I'm destined to be presented on a yearly basis with a box full of clutter.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Setting the Alarm for 4:50am

Right. That wouldn't be me. But that would be my husband so that he could get up and hit the Y at 5am to... WORK OUT. It's kind of crazy, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it - he is a bit of lazy bum when it comes to physical activity. I've done countless 5K's and never once have I been able to convince him to do it with me (even when I was in crappy shape and he, for sure, would have been able to keep up). That's not to say he's overweight - he's 6'2" and hovers between 185 and 195, but for whatever reason, January rolled around and he decided he needed to start working out.

Um. OK? It's kind of impressive but the end result is me feeling like a sloth when I got up at 6:30am. If he (The Champion of Couch-Sitting) has decided to start working out it may mean that I need to get with the program. Ever since this remodel started, I have let exercise fall by the wayside. I have almost always kept up some kind of routine either with running or yoga, but right now? Nope. And in my book, teaching yoga doesn't count. Same thing happened in 2003 when I remodeled my townhouse in LA, but back then I was 25 years old with a less cranky metabolism.

It's really, to me, a matter of me being a bit lazy. I'm sure there are lots of less active people than me, and it's not like I waste a lot of time sitting around. But I'm sure I can steal some time from this remodel project and maybe not watch that House Hunters at 10pm and instead hit the hay so that I could get up a tad earlier. We have showers at work, for pete's sake! I should be able to do some kind of activity a few times a week - 3 times a week would be a flippin' start.

Anyway, so I guess I have a New Year's resolution by association. A resolution based on shame that my lazier counterpart has the wherewithal to get up at 4:50am to workout.

Feh.

I started the backsplash - in fact, AGAIN, the house trumped my workout plans. I had planned to go to a power yoga class Saturday morning but knew that if I did, I wouldn't be back home and working on the backsplash until like noon. So I chose the backspash. The potfiller is currently on a UPS truck somewhere in my town waiting to be deposited at my doorstep. I knew it was arriving today, so getting the portion behind the stove done AND grouted by today was a priority. I ended up working for 6 hours on the backsplash - I am about 30% done (we have A SHLOAD of area to tile - somewhere between 40 and 50 square feet which is quite a bit for a backsplash). By Saturday evening I was POOPED. This is one of those times where being short really helps - I don't have lots of bending and hunching over to do the job since it's just lower than eye level. I grouted on Sunday and did a wee bit of painting. I promised pictures but I didn't have time to get them uploaded this morning, since the kitchen needed cleaning. Effing kitchen.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolutions Schmesolutions

If you haven't figured me out yet, I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions. I'm not sure why. It could be (1) laziness, (2) a self-defense mechanism so that if I don't achieve aforementioned resolutions then I won't be disappointed in myself, (3) I have way to many to-do's in my head that it would be futile to try to organize them into a prioritized list, or (4) I am overly content with my perfect self. I think I'm going with (1) and (3). I am lazy and my head is always swimming with entirely too much information.

Today is not an official day-off at the office but there might be 3 or 4 people here, in total. In fact, I don't believe that there are any others in the office higher up on the totem pole than myself so I guess I am the master of my own universe in the office today. Ha! I plan on getting some work done but, I am not so pious as to stick around until 5pm. I'm generally a hard worker but I'm also not stupid.

By the way, my Chiquita Banana is labeled with "The Food that Fights for You!". Um, thank you? Will you help me get a good raise this year, then? Should I bring you with me, Banana, to my review with my manager? Then you fight? No? Ok. I will just put you in my belly, then.

I begrudgingly started the backplash last night. I say "begrudgingly" because yesterday could have been better as far as productivity is concerned. My indulgent self had entirely too much Red Truck Merlot (which, by the way, is excellent - Wine Spectator scored it in the high 80's and BevMo has it for $7.99 - that's a deal!) the night before which resulted in a morning of laying on the couch bemoaning my existence. I basically did shit-shine-ola yesterday morning. I dragged myself to a yoga class in the afternoon, hit up Lowe's with another $10 off $50 coupon , and then forced myself to do something with the kitchen. I textured one more drywall hole and put the last mudding on the final kitchen hole. I then had a internal battle about starting the backplash. I SO did not want to do it, but I told myself to just mix a small bit of mortar and start it, already, Lazy Butt. Turns out the last time I mixed mortar was for floor tile so I mixed more than I bargained for - it was enough to do a 3-foot wide chunk of backsplash when I was thinking I'd maybe do half that. So far, it looks good. I'll probably try to do more tonight and maybe get some pictures up this weekend. I think plain white subway tile was the right choice - thanks bloggy friends!

And I made a decision on bar stools. I did quite a bit of research - I even tried finding used ones but, generally, on Craigslist people sell bar stools in pairs. I have only seen one decent set of 4 and they were too high (29" instead of 24"). I priced out many options, including unfinished ones from a local store. In the end, guess who had the best price and the best option? Effing Walmart. Like 5 bucks cheaper per stool and they have a deeper seat for your fanny than the others ones I had been looking at. And free shipping if I pick them up at a local store. Can't beat it with a stick and I so wanted to get a big stick and beat it hard. Oh well. So I ordered them and they'll arrive, hopefully, next week.
My plan is to paint them red.


California Poppy from Behr is what I have "settled" on. If I can ever settle on a paint color, because while I am really liking the Water Chestnut, I am thinking that for the living-dining room that has cathedral ceilings, it could be nice to have a shade darker than Water Chestnut just to help it feel less expansive. What color NOW, you ask? Bonjour Beige. It's one step up on the same Glidden color card as Water Chestnut. Google research seem to indicate it's a color that lots of people use and like. I'll probably try it first in the master bedroom since we need to paint in there after having to patch 10 drywall holes from the plumbing re-route. Yeah, 6 months later we still have not fully recovered from the original mess.


With all my changes to the supposed "plan" that I had with my previous mood boards, I decided to throw the updated one together to see what it looks like. I haven't added the flooring choice yet since we are not sure anymore. Go figure.


Basically, I suck at designing in advance. Designing in real-time? Not so bad, because I am really liking the mood board now. But I don't know that I could have pulled this out of my ass in October. I guess that's why they pay designers the big bucks. They can see the final decorated outcome before they are knees-deep in the muck. Me, I need to get halfway there, change my mind 14 times, and then finally settle on something that works.