Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

I've lived a lot places that get cold. When I say, I mean the kind of cold where your eyes freeze shut after about 5 minutes of standing in the elements. The kind where you lose feeling in your limbs and don't get it back for hours after you've returned inside. In a word -- cold. This usually meant somewhere in -10 or 20F range with another 10 or so degrees cooler for windchill. I haven't been that cold for a long time, but this week brought back good (and some bad...) memories.

It's been in the single digits to even as cold at -3F here in the mornings the past week or so. The snow started last weekend on my birthday. I took a nap on Saturday afternoon, and when I got up, the downstairs was decorated with lights and my cake was lit with a "73" which I suppose could be my age in dog years rather than my birth year. He made me a scrapbook with photos in it from our first meeting until the present, as well as a plate painted especially for my birthday. What a great guy!

The last time I lived somewhere this cold was upstate NY in Ithaca. We would routinely get more snow than Syracuse or even Buffalo (although Buffalo always claimed to win the "Golden Snowball") each year. The cold was ushered in with snow. I love it when it snows. Time to have hot cocoa, sit by the fire, and snuggle up with your honey. We've been able to have a few nice moments of respite this week, despite our rather busy schedules.

About 10 years ago or so, when I lived in NY, we got a big storm right after Christmas. We were in an ice storm (2-3 inches) followed by 2+ feet of snow in less than 2 days. Snow was squalling (a word I learned upon moving to a state that butts up against a Great Lake) and visibility was zero. Thankfully, I was still on holiday, so I wasn't in need of having to be anywhere. We even dug out the driveway in anticipation of the plow knowing they'd pile all the street snow onto the driveway and if we didn't already clear what had fallen, we were sunk. There's a photo of me where you just see my hat -- not even my head -- due to the snow and ice. The weight of the snow and ice started to take it's toll. S, J, and I were outside enjoying the snow when we witnessed a brilliant flash of orange in the sky followed by more flashes and several pops. Seconds later our power (including all the street lights) went out. It was the start of a cold few days. Thankfully our pipes (one froze, but it came out on its own) were OK for the most part, but the sump pump stopped working. Water starting getting in the basement. Frost was forming on the interior of the windows. Not good. On a plus note, all our neighbors came together and made sure everyone was OK, had food, and a supply of candles. We tried to make the best of it and pretended we were camping in really cold weather. That was the last major storm I've been in.

Life in WA doesn't mean storms, but more likely little bursts of snow. It's still pretty here, too though, and I've come to have a fond remembrance of my days of snow (including Wyoming and Ohio, where we'd get a lot). E took a post-snow picture here to commemorate the event. Some years this is more than we ever get, so grateful we've even got this so far this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Re-Connecting with Friends...

Coincidently, the friend I went to France with, back in 1998, just got in touch with me again after I mailed off a Christmas card hoping that she'd still be at the address that I had. D and I had a great time in France, although I recall the trouble we had leaving it. We'd asked the SCNF (train) worker at the Paris station which train to get on. Although they pointed us to the correct train, they'd failed to tell us which part of the train to get on. A critical issue when it uncouples midway during the journey. We were supposed to head to Turino, Italy. Instead it was Montpilier, France. When we first got off I remember thinking "wow, they are really bilingual here," until I realized that everything was in French because we were still in France. Little detour through Nice, Cannes, and Monaco before heading to Rome, as we decided Turino was not meant to be for us. Italy and Austria were followed by Slovakia before heading back to France and home.

D called me last night and encourage me to check out FaceBook. I'd set up a profile back when I was still a grad student, but hadn't done anything with it...I hopped on tonight (although I really should be working....) and found lots of friends, many of whom I haven't heard from in years. It was really neat to see them and wonder what they've been up too.

D isn't the only friend who'd I've lost touch with that's gotten back in touch. A grad school chum from Cornell found me through my LinkedIn page. It was nice catching up. She'd since had three kids, including 1 set of twins. They are now all under 1.5 years so she and her partner are keeping very busy!

Off to logout from all things electronic...

What to do with all that stuff....Or at least a part

Moving was like going shopping, but for my own things. For years we'd lived in either small condos or houses, which made it difficult to even unpack half of our stuff. Knowing that we'd never afford buying all those items back, we decided to suck it up and just have a bedroom "of stuff" and a garage that was well-packed to the gills. Once I had a chance (and there's still about 5 or 6 bins to tackle) the majority of the items, I realized there were still some things, despite being able to unpack, that I still didn't know what to do with. Translation == mentos from past trips: (maps, ticket stubs, coins, etc), pictures (which I plan to pull into an album), my grade school report cards -- including kindergarten (OK - yes admittedly I need to get rid of these), newsclippings (including the "newspaper" my 7th grade class put together where I had a review of the British comedy "The Young Ones" and of the band "The Cure"), and even the bracelet I had as a newborn baby.

NM -- this is for you.....I figured out what to do with the maps--especially the really colorful ones. They look great in a frame. E and I were down at IKEA this past weekend and I bought several inexpensive (because we don't say "cheap" in my house anymore...) frames. I took out the metro map I have of Paris, which is especially colorful. What made it even less painful in cutting it up was the fact it was a freebie from the dept. store Samaritaine. They try and convince you to go to their store and ride to the top of the building for the "free view." Looks like the place has been closed since 2005.

I cut up the map and framed it. Voila -- bright new "art" for the cost of the frame.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Trees -- The Good, Bad, and the Fake

We pulled out the Christmas tree this past weekend and plugged it in. I love having the lights already on the tree. It makes it so much easier to get straight to the decorating. Not that I don't love real trees. We had real trees when I was a kid, at least until the cat climbed up the tree one Christmas and took out a clock, the tree, and a few presents on the way down. Time for the fake one....When I was in college, we were forbidden from all things green and Christmasy, as they knew the college psyche for lack of care for anything other than one's self would likely result in the "tree" turning into a fire hazard. By the time I got to graduate school, it was time for a real tree again. I remember one Christmas when E, J, and I went hunting for a tree at the U-pick place in Ithaca. We got a little over zealous, as it took about an hour to cut it and even longer to cut the trunk down to fit into the holder. Things seem so much smaller when you're outside. When we put it in the house, it was like it was spring loaded. It barely fit, but it was pretty. The cats, of course, saw this as a new toy. Drinking from the stand, attempting to eat whatever ornament was closest, and chewing on the branches (Charlie...) was par for the course. The house smelled wonderful. It reminded me of childhood. The "pine" air fresheners somehow just don't cut it....

Our tree this year.....

We finished pulling out our ornaments and putting them on the tree. We listened to Christmas music (Vince Guaraldi -- Charlie Brown Christmas is a favorite) and told little stories about some of the ornaments as we were putting them up. We like to pick them up as we travel. We have quite a collection from NM now, as well as some from the Maine, Wyoming, the San Juans, Quebec, Spain, and Alaska (thanks Aunt A). My favorite, however, as the ones that my mom gave me as I left home. There's the tin soldier my Grandmother made, the bird's nest we used to put in our tree every year (a Swedish custom that brings the family good luck), and the gold star of Jinx my first cat to name a few. I have to carefully remove the old hooks from a few of them, as getting stuck with any of them would have required a fresh tetanus shot.

E put up lights around the front of the house today. Although we wanted to put some up on the facing of the house, we decided that our 2 step ladder just wasn't going to cut it and it was getting dark.....perhaps next year.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. It's when you're snow bound (although this is the first time in my adult life I haven't lived in a cold and snowy winter climate), you are relaxing with friends and family, and celebrating just being in one another's company. It's hot cocoa, too many marshmallows, putting up the tree, listening to carols. I'm a sucker for all except the run over by a reindeer one and the song with the dogs barking in time to "Jingle Bells." My family always had clam chowder on New Year's Eve and then headed to midnight service (which was actually at 9 pm or so).

We're heading to New Mexico this year to spend the holidays with E's family. All his siblings will be there. We're very excited to see everyone and can't wait for the trip.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grandma Updates and More Babies

My Grandma fell the other night and unfortunately broke her femur. She shattered it in several places and is having surgery tonight to put in a plate and screws. We are all hoping she'll be able to walk again when she's healed. I'll keep everyone posted.


J and S welcomed their 1st baby yesterday! (: A little girl. E and I can't wait to see pictures. She was a few days later than her due due and I know her mom and dad were anxious for her arrival. They are bloggers now too so we are looking forward to their baby updates on their blog about little E.


E and I got to see our little nephew J for the first time this weekend. He is so cute with his little baby fingers and toes so perfectly shaped. E and I both had a chance to hold him. We also got to see his big brother, M, who is talking up a storm at 2.5 years old. He's got a great disposition and personality. He likes to take things apart and see how they work (blenders, coffee makers, ect).


We got to stock up on pantry staples at Whole Foods this weekend. Oh how I love to go there but always painful to see what I'm missing in our current city. Having used to live walking distance from one in Virginia, it's tough being so far away from one. We stocked up on various types of flours, some good olive oils, vinegars, capers, thai cooking pastes of various kinds, chips (chocolate corn chips --- good, not too sweet), and crackers. Alas we couldn't buy and keep fresh the very thing I really miss -- cheese. I love cheese, especially the kinds of exotic ones Whole Foods has. Just going the section brought back lots of great memories from when E and I used to walk over and grab some good cheese, some meat, and a little bread and head out for a picnic up on The Mall in D.C. or out at some park in VA. Alas, I don't think we'll ever be big enough to have a Whole Foods here, at least in my lifetime...

Now that winter is here and we've been in the house since August, we have a few projects that we want to try and tackle before the spring (or at least start planning them). One is the kitchen counters. The tile has got to go. Tough to clean and difficult to work on (have you ever tried rolling out pastry or cookies on tile -- not fun). We may just end up going and getting ideas, but we really want a change. I also hope to sand down the long sofa table in the living room/dining room and re-stain a darker shade of reddish-brown. I will likely try and tackle this as spring rolls around. Most of the de-cluttering and organizing is behind us (except for the cluttered and pesky office closet -- we're still working on it) and we're looking to dive a little deeper into home improvement this coming year.

E and I have almost filled up our DVR this fall. We've been so busy we haven't had a chance to watch too much tube. Mostly things on the History Channel (E has a program he recorded on V-day he's yet to watch), movie channels (I've got "The Wind the Shakes the Barley" and "Cold Comfort Farm" just waiting to be watched), and the ever perennial "Law and Order" franchises. However, we (OK just me -- E watches when he's in there but doesn't follow it like I do) watch a few reality shows -- namely "Top Chef." I get to deconstruct the show with fellow "Top Chef" watchers NM and V.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Baby - not ours! (:

S and K welcomed a new baby today - their 2nd! Little J was born at 8am this morning about 1 week early. We're heading down to visit next weekend and can't wait to see him. We hope for photos soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Just a quick note...We celebrated out first Halloween in our new house. We were supposed to carve pumpkins with our friends H and M last weekend, but I wasn't feeling up to venturing out. So alas our pumpkin sat uncarved until Friday afternoon. E decided he wanted to carve it -- with a Frankenstein face no less. He did a great job!

We didn't get as many kids coming to the house as we expected and ended up with about 4 extra bags of candy. I'm going to try and remember to take them to work tomorrow. Oscar decided the excitement was a bit too much for him and hid in the corner...

We ate dinner with some friends to celebrate their recent engagement on Saturday and had dinner with another couple on Sunday...Back to getting into the swing of things again. This cold really knocked the life out of me for awhile. It's nice to be back to getting out of the house again!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going, Going, Gone

I've been a very neglectful blogger this month. While I had great intentions of posting our latest actives, they were derailed by a few bad and persistent cold that I picked up last week. The first thing I lost was my voice. It started to go on Wednesday and by Friday I sounded like a squeaky frog. I even took several days (something I can't remember doing in the recent future) off and stayed home. Didn't even check email. I tried to sleep but afraid just as I'd start to nod off, I'd start coughing again. I found these great little things for the shower - like Vics but for the shower - and they steam and release a menthol in the shower. They helped a bit with the breathing, but really its just been time. I've neglected a pile of letters/bills that need to be gone through but thankfully the house is clean thanks to E, who incidentally was amazing and took the best care of me.

Can I just say I've got the best husband? He went out and found me mashed potatoes because it was only thing I wanted to eat. I wasn't able to taste anything due to the congestion, but the warm potatoes felt good. He brought me soup the other night. I couldn't really taste it either, but the heat was nice. He ran to the store and bought me kleenex (the nice lotiony kind), and throat lozenges, and moved my humidifier from room to room as I traipsed through the house in an effort to find a comfortable haven. I am a lucky girl.

We've been busy with a lot of little activities around the house. My dad was up a few weeks ago and he and E put together my childhood bed. My dad made this from sold oak (including hand turning all the posts on a lathe and even carving out the little buttons that go over the bolts) about 30 years ago. It's been in many houses -- VA to WY to OH to VA and finally to WA. Its a beautiful bed, complete with every little girls dream -- a canopy. My mom even picked out special fabric for the bed in which she'd made a dust ruffle, pillows, a bedspread, and a dresser cover. The fabric was from Laura Ashley, so it was very girlie -- white with little pink flowers. Unfortunately, I think the fabric is long gone and the canopy cannot go up with the current configuration of the room/ceiling fan in our house so for now it's just a pretty 4 poster bed. I also have my childhood dresser. I remember where it used to me in my old room growing up. It's odd now thinking it could belong to a child of mine. I'll post photos again when I have a chance to snap some photos.

We also got a mattress for the other guest room. There's a few cute little tables in there and it actually now *looks* like a guest room. My dad was the first to stay in it. We hope to have another mattress in the other bedroom at some point so we can house lots of guests (we always welcome visitors!).

Speaking of parent's houses...mine finally sold their house! Hooray! It's been a long road and thankfully they can buy a place out here. E and I are very glad they are a lot closer here now being a car ride vs. a plane ride away.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gonzaga...College Friends, Bing Crosby, and Attack Iguanas

E and I went up to Spokane this past weekend. We were looking forward to the short jaunt out of town for the day. We were heading up to visit a friend of mine from college, J, is currently teaching at Gonzaga. He showed us around the science building where he teaches. I was quite envious of the nice (new) facilities and the labs where each student has a computer per station. I remember using carbon paper and spiral notebooks! The biology lab has a resident iguana, who in characteristic fashion, lunged at us and hit the glass. If I didn't think it was stressing the iguana too much, I would have captured it on film...

My family has a connection to Gonzaga as well. My grandfather as well as his brothers attended Gonzaga back in the early 20's. J gave us a tour of Gonzaga -- including the Bing Crosby "Museum," where we saw all the records, movie posters, and even products he indorsed (including a mouse trap, game, and even a toothpaste). Turns out Bing was a childhood friend of my grandfather, as they lived across the street from one another. As we were touring through the buildings, we came across a hallway full of old photos dating from the 1890s to the 1970s. I found several photos of my grandfather as well as his brother. My grandfather was quite the athlete...he played everything from water polo to track to basketball and beyond.

1924 Varsity Basketball

Water Polo - #3

1921 - Varsity Basketball - #4

1920- JV Basketball - #6 - Note B. Crosby is #1
1918 - JV Football - #6
1921 - Senior Class Officiers of Some Variety
1924 Varsity Track

After our tour of campus, we headed over to have sushi at It was really good and a nice treat for E and I, who haven't really found a place here in the TC that has pallatable suchi...
We were headed out of town and decided to take a last minute detour to do a little shopping. We finally got a matress last week for our guest bedroom (making at least 1 room passable for visitors) and "needed" some new lighted. Restoration Hardware was having a great sale, so we succumed.
Our next task is to tackle the other guest room. My father is coming to visit this weekend and the plan is to put together my canopy bed. My dad made this bed for me when I was 5. It's a oak 4 poster bed with a fully arched canopy. The problem is it takes multiple people (one of which needs to be my dad) to get it together. I'm hoping this will be the weekend. I also have some other projects on the docket. I would like to sand down and re-stain 2 of my mission oak tables my dad built for me in graduate school. I plan on putting a darker stain on them to match the new decor. I may also end up painting a little chest I have to match the white metal bed/new lamps in the guest bedroom, although I don't know if I can bring myself to paint hardwood....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tapas Dinner Party

We had friends over this past weekend for an evening of tapas and wine. I spent the day cooking -- it was wonderful. I pulled out recipes from my many tapas books and I ended up making 8 different dishes:
shrimp with bousin, basil, and prosciutto
egg and potato omelet
lemon chicken (visually unappealing but tasted OK)
smoked salmon blinis
olive tapanade
prosciutto and manchego/Parmesan wrapped in phyllo dough
baked tomato nests (which sound much better than the name implies...)
blanched almonds (which I forgot to put out...)

Our friends brought wine and homemade nectarine pie and focchia bread. All very good. We ended up sitting at the table and lingering a little longer than anticipated so as to not get a chance to play our newly gifted version of Cranium, but another time.

The kitchen didn't fare too well, but after 2 loads in the dishwasher and many rounds of hand washing, it's finally looking back to normal.

My Aunt would have been proud. I pulled out the Polish dishes (even the Espresso cups) and used these at dinner.

All in all a wonderful night of visiting and enjoying a meal together. Can't wait to do it again - although I'll probably be a little less ambitious on the number of things I try and tackle....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Re-arranging already

Moving is a great opportunity to cull one's possessions -- giving away usable clothes, dishes, linens, books, etc that are no longer wearable or needed. We'd planned to make our big move something this fall. However due to circumstances beyond our control, our timetable got moved up by several months. It all worked out in the end, as we found a house we truly love. The flip side, however, is that we packed in a short period of time and didn't have much of a chance to really clean out/give away items we didn't need anymore...Fast forward to the past few weeks. We have been going through our respective closets -- especially me who still have her favorite Benetton sweater from 9th grade. Ok, so maybe I can't wear it, but it is still so cool....about 20 years too late!

I took a deep dive and really gave away A LOT of clothes. 4 bags worth. Make that 4 large plastic bags worth. They all went to St. Vincent DePaul so that someone can get a second use out of them. Many of these pieces held lots of memories, which is perhaps why I was holding on to them. There was the rain jacket I wore all through Grad school. Ithaca had it's fair share of rain, but it was starting to look a little ragged and needed to go to the "give pile." I finally gave up (to the dust bin I'm afraid) my favorite pair of black sketcher type shoes. However, the while trim was now a dull brown and the soles were splitting from the rest of the shoes. I always tell myself I'm going to buy 2 pair of my favorite shoes and keep the 2nd in reserve. So far I haven't quite done it. Perhaps now I will.

E did his fair share of thinning out his stuff too. We also tackled the garage a couple of weekends ago. We finished unpacking the last of the boxes. I need to figure out how/what to do with all the childhood mementos, travel trinkets, and other assorted items (ribbons, charms, stamps, etc) that we've each compiled in separate boxes. Each is rather a mismash of things thrown haphazardly into a Rubbermaid bin and stored on the shelf. Perhaps one day when I have some down time I'll start to organize those.

We pulled out items to sell and need to get other items put up and away (hanging the bikes). I found a few more items I hadn't seen in several years, as they were packed up and squirreled away in our old house (less than 1/2 the size of our new place) and hadn't see the light of day since VA.

I've already started moving some of the pictures around the house. I think in our zeal to move in and make it feel like "home," we put things up on the walls perhaps a bit too soon. Now that we've had a bit of time to reflect, we've been playing musical walls. It's just a nice feeling to know that they are our walls. If we put a hole or two in them, it's not like we'll loose our deposit.

What a difference a little piece of paper like a deed makes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Comfort Food....And anniversaries

I wasn't feeling so well on Sunday and decided to make a batch of Cowboy Casserole. Total comfort food. Reminds me of cooking as a little girl with my mom. I think this recipe came out of a compilation my elementary school put together and sold. One without any pictures, which for this recipe would actually be a good thing. It doesn't really have any visual appeal, but the stomach has a different story. Before I tell you what it is, I should preface the recipe with the following: don't knock it till you try it. I've made this for several friends, many of whom were skeptical at first. Once they tried it, they were sold.

Cowboy Casserole
2 large cans of baked beans (variety of your choosing)
1 lbs of ground beef
dash of onion powder
1-2 tbsp of worshishire (sp?) sauce
1-2 tbsp of BBQ sauce
~12 fresh biscuits (or canned if you're low on time)
2-3 c. of cheddar cheese

Brown the meat. Sprinkle in onion powder and a little salt and pepper to taste. Drain the meat. Pour meat into large casserole dish. Dish in BBQ and worshishire (sp?) sauce. Stir in the 2 cans of beans. Stir in about 1/2 of the cheese. Cover the dish and bake at 350 for about 30 min or so or until the mixture is hot and bubbly. Take out of the oven and place the biscuits on top. Place on half of the remaining half of cheese. Bake until biscuits are browned and cook through (~12-15 min). Take out of the oven and immediately sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.

Pure comfort food heaven.

It was fortunate that I made it on Sunday, as I started feeling crummier as the week went on -- nursing along a cold compounded by allergies. The sagebrush or something equally evil is blooming and taking aim at my head.

We post-poned our anniversary celebration until later this week. Thanks to all for the well wishes. Two years has just flown by!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wii have succumbed....

We broke down and bought a Wii. After weeks of looking and coming up empty, we just happended to be at Target yesterday and found not only the Wii but also the Wii fit.

Two words...I hurt. Yes, as in I am sore. We played tennis, baseball, golf, boxing (we both got a little winded), and even bowling. What fun. It was especially fun playing one another. We had a blast. If only all exercise was this fun.

The Wii fit board lets you enter in fitness goals...I think I'll like the aerobics. Jury is still out on the yoga.

We'll let you know how it goes....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sprinkler Woes

Today R and I noticed a problem with the sprinklers. We left for church this morning and I saw a strange sight. The sprinklers were running in the front yard. This was an odd sight, since we have the system programmed to water the front part of the lawn in the wee hours of the morning. By going off in the pre-dawn period, we do not have to water as heavily as if we watered during the late morning (evaporation is a BIG problem here our arid climate); and the water pressure is actually heavier during the early morning hours as opposed to the late morning hours.

By the time we returned, we noticed they were still on and most of the water had runoff to the sidewalk. YIPES! I started playing with the system and was completely flummoxed. I started out checking basic things: battery, fuse, and power source. All of which were snake eyes. I then tried playing with the program. I switched from one zone to another zone, but the water in the front would not desist.

Finally, my lovely wife called our lawn care service representative--who incidentally was also heading out for church--and he suggested shutting off the water main to the irrigation system until someone could show up to troubleshoot the problem.

Later that morning, I returned after washing the car and saw a car pull up to our place. Sure enough, the visitor was one of the guys from the company we have caring for our lawn. I described the situation to him and he diagnosed it right away: clogged filters. We went to the side of our house, and he lifted up two plastic covers from the side of the house, scooped out some thick, dusty residue off a water main filter. We then flicked the water back on and VOILA, it worked.

I thanked him for coming out on a Sunday and helping us. He probably thought we were king sized dweebs!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Cannon Beach Adventures

We spent the last four days driving up and down the north coast of Oregon. We stayed in Cannon Beach (highly recommend The Inn at Cannon Beach -- it was wonderful) and used that as our home base for the trip. The last time I was there I was an itty bitty (maybe 8 or so at the most) and E has never been, so it was nice adventure for us both to explore. We started out early on Saturday and made it there by 11 am or so. We did a little browsing in the shops, but were really eager for some good fish and chips and a little beach combing. The tide was coming in, so we figured we'd save Cannon Beach for the morning and headed out south of town for a little drive. We went to a couple of really nice parks -- Hug Point, Acadian, and Oswalt West Park. There were a few pretty view points as well along the way. The weather was cool, but sunny for the most part. He are few snap shots of our Saturday adventures.

Acadian State Park
Hug Point State Park
Hug Point State Park -- another self portrait
Viewpoint along road to Tillamook

On Sunday, we got up early to hit the low tide at Cannon Beach, while peaked at 7:30 am. The sky was a bit gray, but nothing too ominous. Of course, right was we trek down and walk down to the rock (we had a bit of a walk to go to reach it), it started to rain. Actually pour is a better word. We didn't do the best job of packing and somehow forgot our rain slickers. I attribute this to working pretty much right up until we left and I basically packed about 2 seconds before we left. Not my usual plan of attack, but since we didn't have any other option since we were out on the beach and quite a distance from shelter, we just put the cameras in the pack so they stayed dry and enjoyed the cool rain. We saw some blue sky in the distance and held out hope that it would come out way soon. About 15 min later we were blessed with about 5 min of sun before the rain started again. We walked through the tidepools at the base of Haystack rock in both rain and shine and enjoyed seeing various starfish and seastars on the rocks, as well as crabs, mussels, and the ever present barnacles.

Caught in the rain at Haystack Rock

What a difference 15 min makes!

We headed up to Ecola State Park in the afternoon. The scientist in me kept wanting to call it E. coli park. We couldn't decide if it was E-cola or Ec-ola so we settled on E. coli. There was a wedding going on when were there. The bride was gorgeous, but not sure how she managed to walk along the path in the shoes she was wearing.

The sun broke through a little and we were rewarded with a few minutes of calm weather for a walk along the beach. It was quite popular with the surfers. I think at one point we counted over a dozen.

Ecola State Park

We took a drive down south of Cannon Beach (again - but a little farther) past Tillamook to the "Three Capes Scenic Drive." Cape Lookout was by far the prettiest and came complete with a lighthouse tour. I sat that one out and E took the stairs to the top. Cape Mears was also quite pretty, with a long trail out to the ocean. The final cape was crowded and just not very scenic at all. We felt a little cheated out our third cape. Really overdeveloped and not too well preserved.

Cape Lookout State Park

E in the lighthouse at Cape Lookout State Park

Cannon Beach at Sunset

We spent our final full day heading north to Seaside and Astoria. We went to both Fort Clatsop/Lewis and Clark National Park and Fort Stevens. At Fort Stevens, we saw the point where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet - quite amazing. The Lewis Clark Nat'l Park had the guides in period costume. We saw an interesting talk by one of the docents discussing the last few months of the trek there in Oregon until the final completion of the journey. We explored the park a bit before we headed back.

We slept in until 7:30 our final morning (believe or not a luxury to sleep that late) and wandered down one last time to Haystack Rock. Murphy's Law -- the last day you are somewhere and just about ready to leave -- the weather is amazing. We took a few final shots before we headed back home.

Our final morning in Cannon Beach

Not wanting to say goodbye....

We're already planning our next adventure....

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Set of Firsts -- Dinner and Birthday (E and I) Parties

We had friends over last weekend for dinner. E cooked out on the grill. I have to admit I'm still a bit intimidated by the grill. It's run by natural gas and plugs directly into the house line. Thankfully E is happy to be the grill master so I turn it over to him. Excited to be trying out a more new recipes and bringing out the old ones -- anyone remember the shrimp, bousin, prosciutto and basil? Pure heaven.
He loves to putter in the yard. The tomatoes and the flower/ornamental grass beds have become his new hobby. He is usually out in the evenings watering and carefully maintaining the garden. He's already had to re-stake several of the tomato plants since we've moved in. Needless to say, we've got LOTS of tomatoes. I think I may make some sauce or blanch and freeze them. I don't want them to go to waste.

It was also E's birthday yesterday. I baked him homemade pizza with pineapple and Canadian bacon - his favorite. Amongst his presents were a new turntable (will also burn the LPs to MP3s) and an indoor/outdoor weather station. For those of you who know about E's Weather Channel fix (who else would know the names of anchors and that they have their own shows??), he was very excited. He was playing the records and enjoying ones he hadn't heard in years.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

We'll we've finally gotten a bit chunk of the boxes unpacked, with many thanks to my parents for their help. The kitchen is unpacked and we've been able to sleep in our own bed for the past week and a half. We've only gotten about half of a dozen or so left (all books and can't get unpacked until we get more book cases...) to go and are like we're starting to settle in. There's an odd sense of appreciation and ownership that overtakes one (at least the case for us) that we have a new found sense of home. Not just a place we are paying for (aka renting), but rather a place that we have a sense of roots in. It was a big step for either of us to make the leap to buying a house, given that we'd both been serial renters for so very long. It's a nice feeling coming home to that just it, our home. When we go out and stake the tomato cages or water the flowers, they are our. What a great feeling, although you all out there (our family and friends) have all taken the plunge and bought a house so we've not likely telling you anything new. It's just our new to us. At least for awhile. Kinda of like new car smell. Great for awhile, but then you realize that it starts to fade away and you find a rhythm. I'm sure it will be like that for E and I with our new home.

E went through the house and some pics -- they are below. We hope that you'll all be able to come up and see us sometime. While the Tri-Cities is a bit off the beaten path, we've got a lot to offer.

Our still pretty empty Living Room...Perhaps in the next year or so we'll get some additional furniture...

Our new Dining Room. The small table in the entry way is from J and E (my maid of honor at the wedding). J made it for us as a wedding present.

Note the lamp in the right hand corner here. My dad made it from an old surveyor's tripod and an antique lamp shade he found at a tag sale. It's even prettier when lit up.

Our new Family Room....Many of our pictures on the walls are from my Aunt. We finally have enough wall space to put them up.
Our little eat in kitchen area.

Our office, which is covered on 3 of the 4 walls with books. Somehow either E nor I can seeming part with a book. We've got many years of them between us, which is necessitating a trip to IKEA to pick up some more inexpensive shelves. The trick is to find more wall space for them.

Here's a final wave from E. He's fixing the part of the banister the movers dinged with our dresser. It's all still a work in progress, but coming along.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Last minutes signing and boxes (lots of boxes)

We're finally in! We had some additional papers to sign on Monday due to an error by the mortgage company. Our real estate agent and I drove around town getting E's signature and returning them to the appropriate place so the closing could go through as planned on Monday. I think we got it in at the 11th hour and finally got keys late Monday.

Friends came over and helped move a few fragile items and the fridge/freezer food, but most of the items were boxed up in the garage waiting for the movers. They came early Tuesday and got everything out of the old place and into the new. When we started moving boxes in, it started to get a bit more real. Still sinking in, but as we unpack more and more, reality starts to hit. It's nice to finally have space to unpack things. I opened boxes that hadn't been unpacked since E and I lived back East over 3 years ago.

The prior owners took great care of the place. So much so, that when we came to pick up the keys, the Mrs. was here watering the plants (she let us know we needed to water them 2x daily) and taken out the garbage so that we had an empty can when we moved in the following day. Nice, but I think perhaps they are having trouble letting go......Not having owned a house before, I can't know how it must feel for them.

My parents are here helping out with the cleaning and unpacking. My mom has been dusting and cleaning and helping get the kitchen unpacked. My dad has been tackling the garage. It's been a really big help.

We'll post photos once we find the connection to the camera. Seems to have been misplaced in a box somewhere.....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Signed on the Dotted Line....

We finally did it! Nothing like getting things in at the last minute....The paperwork was there just shortly before we were to sign. E and I are excited and can't wait to finally get into the house on Monday sometime (likely after 3 or so...). Doesn't quite yet seem real...Perhaps when we walk in with the keys and it will all come together. (:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Waiting

It's Thursday night and still no papers.....We were told there are 2 applications in front of ours to still go through underwriting....Plus the fact they got it in late (miscommunication between their staff). Our Realtor assures us this happens and that we should be OK to close Monday. Not keen on cutting it so close, but as long as we can sign tomorrow (we have a late appt. at 4:30) we should be OK. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Slight Hiccup

The plan was to sign the papers tomorrow and the closing would record on Monday (28th). When I talked to the title company today they said, "well maybe you'll be able to sign...." Turns out our mortgage company hasn't gotten the paperwork to the title company on time....We finally got word the papers will be to our title company sometime tomorrow so we can sign on Friday. This will give us a close date of Monday, but now likely not getting the keys until the evening. The movers are scheduled for first thing Tuesday morning.

On a plus note, we did a final walk through. The staircase railing was fixed and the hose bibb will be fixed on Friday. The homeowners kept all the paper work (including the original folder of documents detailing all subs who worked on the house). They showed us how to work things, including the sprinklers, oven (it took the house inspector a bit to figure out how to pop out the buttons), where the water shutoff is, and to change the filter in the fridge, etc. They are leaving us a rug (it covers up a faded spot on the hardwood anyway) and a warranty/service contract for the furnace and heat pump. Since they are not moving into a new house right away (it's being built), they cannot take it with them nor get their money back. Bonus for us! They'll come in the Fall and set things up for us, change the filter (a special one for high dust filtration -- changed 1x year), and check out of the system.

Still feeling a bit reserved and trying to not get too excited yet. I think it will finally seem real once we get the keys. Then I can relax a bit....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Counting it down - 1 week and counting

So we close on the house next Monday. It seemed for close when we first picked out the date and now as it gets closer, the time seems to not be moving fast enough. We've got most of our stuff packed up, including the kitchen, so we're living off the rest of the food in our freezer to try and finish it up before we move.

We have our final walk through on Wednesday, where the sellers are going to go through all the details of the house, like how to work the sprinklers, the heating/cooling system, the gas shut off, ect. Our Realtor said they've even written out all the instructions for us, which is quite a help for us.

All that is left is for the papers to be signed, the check to be delivered to the Escrow company, and the movers to take our boxes to the new house....We'll take pics and post as soon as the dust settles!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Packing it up

It's amazing the amount of stuff one can accumulate over just a few years. My husband and I moved out here at few years ago and did a major purge of our stuff before the last move from coast to coast. We did another re-organization of our stuff, including going through the boxes we never unpacked from the last move (we're in a much smaller place vs. our old condo) back on the East Coast. Even though we did another major "let's recycle, donate, junk item X," we've still got a lot of boxes. I'm just wondering how long it's going to take to fully unpack, something we haven't done from the last 2+ moves.....I guess that will be the fun part (or at least trying to tell myself that) finding a place for everything and then deciding what move we don't need and can give away.

The movers are here in a week and a half. We're glad we decided to use them...especially in the likelihood of 100+ temperatures at the end of July.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Waiting Game....

So now we just have to hurry up and wait. We did all the insurance related tasks, have taken care of gettnig utilities turned off, changed out, address changed, etc. Now we just have to wait. We sign papers two week from tomorrow/walk through and have the final closing the following Tuesday. The movers show up bright and early on Wednesday the 29th and we hope to have everything out and over to the new place in under 8 hours.

Here are a few more house pictures.....

The living room and dining room

The master bedroom

The "office"

The entry way

Eat in Kitchen/Dining Area

Just a few more weeks and we'll be able to call it home.....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jump Run and Roll

Hello readers

We are eager and ready to move into our new home. Although each person within earshot always says, "before you know it you will be in your new home," it seems like this last stretch is an obstacle course. Instead of the traditional obstacle course commands of JUMP, RUN, ROLL, we have to navigate a maze and SIGN HERE, MEET SOMEONE THERE, and TALK TO MR XY AND Z.

This being the case, I find myself wanting to come home and take a nap when we need to pack and wrap more stuff. Our little cat can pick up on the weird vibe. He is freaking out a little bit with the furniture moving out of one room to another room. The other effect is that Rachel and I are eating late and falling asleep in front of the Tube pretty early.

So who was on the agenda for this evening? It was the mover. We hired a local firm to help us move. The estimator worked quick; he was real efficient, professional and personable. He actually looked like the high school math teacher who doubled as the band instructor. He was this thin guy with a head of gray hair and black rimmed half-glasses.

So ladies and gents, just remember, when you move, it will be time to go through the obstacle course.

Eric out

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Home Inspection, Parts I and II

We had the home inspection the other day. Only a few things that need to get fixed. The sellers, however, balked at fixing any other them, calling it a "laundry list." It is, however, important that the newel post get fixed. We don't want anyone taking an unintentional leap from the 2nd floor. Upon hearing what her clients said, the seller's agent stepped up and said she'd get the items fixed (at her cost -- including the hose bibb and the door). Great news. We didn't want to have to haggle over a few last minute items.

We're getting an estimate for how much to move our heavy items (bed, armoire, dressers) from a local moving company. Many of our friends have used them and said they worked quickly and did a good job. We hope to have a "moving" party for our friends here to help us with the small boxes. Payment = food and drink.

My parents are graciously coming up to help us at the end of the month --cleaning up the old and new places before the respective moves. This will be a big help. We are glad to be leaving our old neighborhood here in Pasco. The gang graffiti and the proximity to Walmart will not be missed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Little Look Inside

We followed the home inspector around for a few hours today. Only a few things to fix -- a broken hose bibb and a loose newel post/bannister on the top of the stairs. We close on the 30th of July.

We have a home warranty so hopefully if anything goes wrong, it will happen in the first year.
The house is a tri-level. The lower floor has a office/4th bedroom, utility room, and a family room. The middle floor has the kitchen, a full bath, an eat in dining area, formal dining and living room. The upper floor has bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.

The pictures don't really do it justice, so to see for yourself you'll need to visit! (:

The Entry Way/Middle Level.

The Kitchen

The Living Room

The Family Room

The Eat in Kitchen/Dining Area (didn't get a photo of the formal dining room)

The camera started going out, so we only got another few photos of the bathrooms, which aren't anything too special. The mirrored closet doors in the master (cover a walk in closet) are in the 1st to change out list, but otherwise we're really happy with what we've found. We don't anticipate we'll have too much to do beyond getting some doors and perhaps new carpeting in the lower level in year 1.

Till our next adventure....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We finally did it!

After many failed offers, we finally were successful. Unlike the current housing situation in the country, the market here is pretty tight. Within hours of going on the market, the house had been shown multiple times. We submitted an offer 24 hours later, only to be told another was on the table as well. No surprise, as it is a great little house with wood floors, 4 bedrooms, and a really nice open floor plan. We liked it the instant we saw it. It has nice touches inside as well and the sellers even threw in the appliances and a large gas grill, a nice bonus since we have 0 appliances from our many years of renting.
Buying a house is scary business. Your credit goes under a microscope, there are a pile of papers to sign to even put an offer in, and you have to look at a lot of really different (aka ones having very personal touches only that person would love -- green and brown faux painting anyone?) houses before you find just the right one.
Now the fun part begins. Inspection, insurance, and mortgage. Luckily we've done quite a bit legwork upfront on the mortgage and the other two shouldn't be a major headache.

We've already started thinking about little things we'd like to change, but nothing major for now. The fun will just have to wait. Until the next payday.....