Thursday, December 29, 2011


We live with my parents, aka Santa and Mrs. Claus.  My dad grew a beard, I think mostly so that as he continues to gray he will resemble the jolly man more and more.  So now we will compare and contrast the decorating prowess of the Claus couple with our own.  Pardon the blurry pictures.  Photography is not my forte.

The house were we live:

The decor in our two rooms:

Yup, vase with ornaments and berry things.  Don't worry, we have big plans for the house that is yet-to-be-purchased.  S bought a spool of lights on clearance.  You heard me right - a spool!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We built a tiny house

To prepare for our regular-size house, S and I built a tiny house.  My family loves Christmas, I will show how much sometime this week, but in all my Christmasy childhood I never made a gingerbread house.  Never ever ever ever.  S bought me a gingerbread house kit and he got a gazillion points.

See how it looks just like the picture on the box?

Totally just like the box.

Well, sorta.

I gave the gingerbread woman a little handbag.  
Then she kept falling over and we noticed that it looks like she's drinking an alcoholic beverage.  
Then we realized that her gingerbread husband has a leprechaun hat 
and all of a sudden we had an Irish pub themed gingerbread house.  

I will eat you tiny gingerbread people!

Never mind, Buddy and I will just take a nap.

Monday, December 19, 2011

That's right, I'm sporty

I'm not sporty, but being married to a natural athlete has helped me develop an interest in being more sporty.  In fact, since moving back to Oklahoma I am missing the hiking, hills, and mountains of north Georgia and the outdoorsy activities that used to be right outside our front door.  I've pledged to try rock climbing with S and our long-term goal is to live somewhere that we can be active every day of the year outside.

So yes, now that you mention it, I am sporty.  Well, not today.  Today I am in my pajamas.  But maybe tomorrow.  Or after Christmas. 

In the meantime, while I might not be actively sporty, I do want to shop for equipment!  I LOVE equipment!  Kitchen equipment, power tools, craft supplies, sports equipment - I really love to be prepared.  So you can understand why today I was really excited to learn about LeftLane Sports.  Did you know about this site???  It's like Ideeli or Gilt or One Kings Lane or Joss & Main but for sports stuff!  Apparel, gear, shoes....yippee!

This is a great site for 3-day gear - hydration packs and gear - most for 50% off.  I haven't actually purchased anything yet, but I'm excited enough to write about it so hopefully it will live up to my expectations.  Right now I want some of those freaky FiveFingers shoes!  So, you know, if you haven't gotten me anything for Christmas yet...they're half off...

Friday, December 16, 2011


I'm developing a love/hate relationship with Facebook, heavy on the hate.  Maybe you guys have developed a healthy relationship with this social experience but I have not.  Perhaps the things I describe are exactly how you interact with folks and it works for you and leaves you feeling more connected to the people in your life.  That's a great thing.  This is only about my inability to maintain healthy relationships through The Book, not an indictment of others.  And maybe you have similar experiences and can offer suggestions on how to stay "connected" while maintaining authentic connections.

I spend way too much time looking at other people's lives instead of living my own.  I often think, "how narcissistic can people be to think that their lives are this interesting?" and then I realize that I'm reading what they wrote and spending a portion of my life thinking about it so I guess they were right in the first place.  I realized before Thanksgiving that I only take pictures if I think they are going to worthy of sharing via social media or the blog.  I used to take pictures of everything all the time!  And I love looking at my old pictures even though most of them wouldn't mean a thing to anyone else.  I talk to my friends rarely because it's expected that I'll learn about what's going on in their lives via their posts when all I'm really getting is a sanitized version of the events of their lives.  I see that friends are pregnant or moved or whatever and they look lovely and happy and perfect but I don't know how they feel about these things.  I don't know if they are scared or disappointed or questioning or excited about something silly or need to recommend a flavor of frozen yogurt.  And they don't know those things about me because we don't actually talk.  I hate that.

If I don't care about how you are dealing with the big events in your life, then we are not really friends and I shouldn't be investing time and energy into thinking about your vacation in the first place.

Plus, it turns us all into bitchy teenagers.  Maybe not outwardly and maybe not you, but for many, it does, myself included.  Sometimes I think I'm going to whittle my friends list down to the people who I actually see or would speak to on the phone but then I message that guy from high school who's a realtor or that girl I met once who flips houses or that friend of a friend who is a construction manager for suggestions and advice (all happened in the past month) and I think, hmmm, this is kind of handy.

So I think I'm going to extract myself from daily interactions with the Book of Face.  I've removed the shortcut from my browser's toolbar.   I'm going to reset my preferences so that I get emails when I have invitations or messages.  But I'm not going to check it everyday.  When we get our house (fingers still crossed) or, one day, hopefully (prayerfully, impatiently, why isn't this freaking working out) have a baby, I'll share pictures and small updates here and there but I probably won't saturate my wall with photos.  Because I wouldn't be doing it for the right reasons.  The whole world doesn't need to see pictures of my life or know what I did today.  The world does not actually care, no matter how much I wish it would.

I'm going to make a commitment to live my life for myself and for my family and not for anyone else.  I'm making a commitment in 2012 to live in the moment and not for the moment as it will be captured on the internet for all eternity.  If nobody knows about the awesome dinner I made?  That's fine.  If you don't see all the Christmas gifts that I made this year?  No biggie (even thought they are really, REALLY cute!).  If I don't post about how awesome my husband is, that's okay, I probably told him to his face and it really doesn't matter if anyone else knows it.
all illustrations via

Anyway...I'm extracting myself.  Here's what I think I'll share: big announcements, information I think colleagues and friends would find interesting or would make them smile, and requests for help (for example, right now I need a good HVAC person!).  I pledge to check the aforementioned website only once a day, hopefully taking it down to once or twice a week.  The time that I did spend with the website, I am going to try to spend with actual real-life people either in person or on the phone, hearing their actual real-life voice.  If something big happens in your life and you want me to know about it, I would love to talk to you!  If you are feeling low and need to vent, I would love to talk to you.  Let's create real support, real celebration, and real relationships in 2012! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today I said...

"I don't know how stupid people buy houses."  Which may not be very nice, but this stuff is challenging!  Granted, our deal has many more strings attached than your average home purchase, but really, it's complicated!  There's also an inherent level of distrust in all the proceedings.  "Why weren't you working during this time period?"  "Why don't these addresses match?"  "Where did you hide the bodies?" I keep wanting to call the bank and tell them, "I'm a good person, I promise!  I'm doing the best I can!  Why don't you like me!?"  Then I remember that it's not their job to like me and I put on my big girl panties and sign a bunch of documents.

Today we met with the first contractor to start finding out how much our repairs and renovations will be.  $30,000 sounds like a huge budget until you start talking to a contractor!

Currently I'm on hold with the gas company trying to get the utilities turned on.  Current wait time is 33 minutes.  My call is very important to them.  I feel like Phoebe.

Rachel: Oh, Phoebe, are you still on hold? I was supposed to call my Dad back like two hours ago.
Phoebe: Oh, yeah, he clipped on, he said call him as soon as you get a chance, he’s at Flimby’s.
Rachel: What’s Flimby’s?
Phoebe: Oh, yeah, that’s the word I use when I can’t remember the real thing.
Rachel: Okay. Hang up! That’s it! Come on!
Phoebe: No! Rachel, that’s what they want me to do. My warranty expires tomorrow, if I don’t get through, they’re not gonna fix my crappy, broken phone for free! We cannot let them win! It’s us versus them!

Monica: (to Phoebe) Here you go. You can wear this. (hands her a sweater)
Phoebe: Thanks!
Monica: Uh-huh.
Phoebe: Okay. (on phone) Ooh, I’m setting the phone down. (does so) But I’m still here! Just don’t go anywhere I’m still here. (starts to put on the sweater) Don’t-don’t switch or anything, ‘cause I’m, I’m right here. (She has pulled the sweater over her head, but her head is stuck in a sleeve.) Just one sec. One sec! One second!! (She is now frantically trying to get the sweater on, as Monica returns from the bathroom.) Wait! One second! Just…
Monica: Phoebe?
Phoebe: What?! Monica, I’m scared!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

DMM's cranberries

There is one cranberry relish/sauce/whatever you want to call it that I've ever liked and this is it.

But before I share the recipe, allow me a moment to share about the friend who gave it to me.

DMM is Dr. Mayer-Martin.  Her first name is Donna so her self-chosen acronym works either way.  She was my music history professor, mentor, and friend.  I studied with her in Paris where I was the TA for the class that I was also taking.  She would hand me a test or quiz to copy with the instructions "don't look at it."  And I didn't.  Really.  She taught me how to write and was really hard on me when I was dumb.  She was really hard on a lot of people.  In fact, the mention of her name was often met with the rolling of eyes, the slumping of shoulders and the changing of class schedules.  She was tough on her students and tough on herself.  But she was my friend.  She flew to OKC for my wedding and then flew out again that evening just to be there for me.  DMM taught me to not take people's crap and to not use my own crap as an excuse.  She had crazy, unkempt hair and wore a lot of flannel and sensible shoes.  Her mind worked very, VERY quickly and I once documented this quirky email exchange on a former blog.

(I promise the recipe is coming...don't give up yet!)

Email from B to DMM:
I've been in the library this afternoon and evening and we cannot find the Searle. It was on the shelf in the reference area when we looked at it before and now it is nowhere to be found and not behind the circulation desk. I even went floor to floor looking for possible users hiding it, but to no avail. I'm going to look again in the morning (perhaps it took the weekend off), but I thought I would let you know. Also in my studying I realized that I am not clear about holographs. I understood that a holograph was a manuscript entirely in the composer's hand (hence why I thought all of the Beethoven autographs were holographs) but ----- told me this evening that holographs are the completed piece written out in the composer's hand (versus a manscript that is a working-out of the piece, as in all of Beethoven's autographs). Is that correct? If so, then I know that I was incorrect in my assessment of the Beethoven autographs.
Thanks! See you in the morning.

Series of emails from DMM, all received within about 10 minutes:

email #1
searle. sigh....thanks for info. Sources on reserve, etc:--this was going entirely too smoothly
holograph: only in composer's hand
autograph: may have other people (student, editor, etc.) in addition to composer's hand
above 2: may or may not be entire work-though typically a holograph IS an entire work

email #2
a "working-out" of a piece is probably a sketch

email #3
and who the hell other than beethoven would be doing one of his sketches?
excuse my french

email #4
i don't worry overmuch about the delineations between auto and holo for all the confusing reasons we have covered

email #5
luckily all my troubs and trouvs are dead and certainly were not musically literate enough to write their own MSS--so who knows what auto/holo means?  As I've always said to my theory colleagues: I really prefer a truly dead composer

The content probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but it gives you a glimpse of how her mind worked.  DMM passed away about two and a half years ago.  She had been battling cancer and we were living in Atlanta and I had no idea she was even sick.  The day I found out that she had died, I was just about to email her looking for guidance on pursuing doctoral work in musicology.  I miss her a lot.  Her dream was to retire and move to Paris full time.  She kept a Paris real estate book on her desk at the school to look at when she was stressed.  She was just about two years away from retirement when she passed.  Whenever I'm tempted to put off a dream, I think about DMM and how short life can be.

It was fall when I studied in Paris and we had an American Thanksgiving at our school so that all us expats could celebrate together.  And not be obviously American in public, like at a restaurant.  This was 2003 and, in case you don't remember, the French were not exactly our biggest fans.  DMM brought this cranberry dish and, after years of hating cranberries, I loved this!  I asked for the recipe and this is what I received-

DMM's Cranberry Sauce (Relish?)

Bring 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of orange juice to a boil.  Add a sack of cranberries (Ocean Spray, etc).  Bring to a boil again.  Add a handful of chopped walnuts (my edit: I also sometimes use pecans) and the grated rind from a large orange.  Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stire occasionally.  The cranberries will be a-poppin' --most of them split.  Take it off the burner and cool completely before you put it in the fridge or it will get watery.

I just made a double batch to take with me to Thanksgiving dinner.  I tried to take a beautiful picture of it cooling in the pan right after I took it off the burner but I could not get a beautiful picture at all, so here are some ugly pictures.

Do you have a favorite cranberry dish?  I bought a 3-pound bag so I have another pound of cranberries to use up!  And, can we settle this, please?  Sauce?  Relish?  What exactly is this recipe?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I am the 99%

This morning I woke up with very few covers.  And it was cold!  Well, very chilly.  Pretty chilly.  I put on slippers. 

Anyway, I had very few covers!  S got up to go for a run and the following conversation commenced -

Me: 99% of these covers are being owned by 1% of the people!
Him: Are you going to occupy the bed then?
Me: Yes!  For the next couple of hours!

Thus began the OTB movement.  Occupy The Bed is sweeping the nation.  I hear millions are joining in tonight.

S later corrected me that he is technically 50% of the people but I assured him the 50% of the people owning 99% of the covers still qualifies as bedding inequality.  The movement lives on!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From the front lines

Today's house update: we have a real contract!

We also have lead-based paint...on every surface of the's chipping and peeling.  And maybe termites.  Probably not, but we still have to treat for them.  And those foundation issues are TBD.


The good news is, if everything moves forward, we'll get the lead-based paint taken care of so our future children won't have brain damage or other issues caused by the neurotoxin.  That's a definite good thing.  And we definitely won't have the termites that we probably don't have anyway since the inspector saw no termites but maybe thinks they could possibly be there somewhere perhaps. 

Suddenly, I'm slightly frightened by the house that I loved.  Now I'm really glad we're not moving in until AFTER all the repairs are done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

203 what?

When S started talking me into buying a house and planting the seed that maybe rehabbing houses could become a main source of income, I thought, like my friend Carrie did this weekend, that he was asking me to buy a house for $203,000.  203k on our first house!?  We can't afford that!  Other than our real estate agent and our lender, no one I've talked to has heard of a 203k so I thought I would share.

This is a fantastic FHA loan program, at least I think it is right now.  Since we haven't actually gone through the whole process, I can't say for sure but so far, so good.  Some things to be prepared for with a 203k:

- it is a long process because of the hoops you have to jump through and the kinds of properties you're working with
- major renovations are an inherent part of this program so if you hate that idea, then steer clear
- there are only a few lenders who offer 203k mortgages
- not all houses are 203k eligible and some sellers aren't willing to wait for the longer closing process

Here's where it would be a great option:  Say you find an awesome deal in a great neighborhood.  Maybe it's a foreclosure or a short sale or a HUD home or just a house someone is trying to get off their hands quickly.  An awesome deal would be a house that is priced SIGNIFICANTLY less than the comparables, like 40-50% less.  Why is it so cheap?  Well it probably needs a hella lotta work which would scare away anyone other than investors.  It might need a complete remodel, new floors, foundation work, a whole new kitchen; it might smell bad or be missing a wall; it's generally a rather scary place on the inside.  But it's a great location and a great size and if we only had $30,000 lying around to put into it, then we could get it, make the improvements, and build a TON of equity.  But we do not have $30,000 so, bummer man.

BUT WAIT!  Have I got a deal for you!  If you and the property qualify for a 203k loan, then you are in luck!  You can finance the house, just like you would with any other property, AND finance the renovations and repairs, all within the same mortgage.  So if you got a house for $50,000 and put in $25,000, you would have a mortgage for about $75,000.  Ideally, you've made smart improvements and your home is really worth between $100,000 and $120,000.  You've basically done a flip but you are going to live in it for a while before you sell it and collect your equity.  The 203k is an owner/occupant loan so you have to live in the house for one year before you can sell.

You also have to have all of the work done by a general contractor and since we are getting a HUD home, all the work we do must be approved by a HUD consultant so that mean two groups of people have to approve the works that's done.  Some people might be turned off by all the oversight, but I love that so many people are going to make sure that the project is done right since it's our first major reno.  The downside is that it means no DIY projects until after all the major work gets approved.  So, I would love to take down all the wallpaper myself to save some money but we know that the walls will need some repair work after the foundation is fixed which means the wallpaper needs to be removed BEFORE the end of the reno work so, thank you contractor for removing the wallpaper.  On the upside, I don't have to remove wallpaper! :-)

We are still waiting to be officially under contract on the house.  Veteran's day slowed that process down a bit.  Hopefully this week we'll get our structural inspection, the make or break inspection.  The amount of the foundation repair will determine whether or not we move forward or walk away.  Keep your fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I shared "the good" of our hopeful home with the hardwood and built-ins, now here's some ugly.  Shabby chic perhaps?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back with GOOD news!

This has been a hard year.  I'm totally over 2011.  I'm going to re-categorize the days that remain in this exhausting year as "pre-2012."  We wrapped up 2011 (see, I've already transitioned) with a bit more disappointment.  My mom and I missed the 3-Day to be able to be with family after my Grandma Boone passed away.  It was so good to be with family to remember my grandma and learn some little known facts about her life (jitterbug champ!?).  But is was a bummer to miss out on the walk.  However!  We are already registered for next year.  The sweet 3-Day folks let us transfer our registrations and, while I hope that I can raise the full $2300 for 2012, we'll be able to count our 2011 fundraising toward the 2012 walk.

Now, on to the good news.  S and I have been house hunting for a couple of months.  I was not sold on staying in OKC.  Originally I agreed to live here for ONE year and ONE year only.  But I don't exactly have a plan for the end of the one year so we decided it would be okay to plan for 2-3 years and then make a change.  S also got it in his head that rehabbing old houses would be a fun "hobby" so why not start with our own?  We are one phone call away from having a contract on a cute 1919 craftsman house in a historic neighborhood and I am finally doing my happy dance!

I'll share a bit more as we move forward with the process - our HUD home, 203k financed, renovation-tastic project.  Hopefully everything will move forward without a hitch but there's always a possibility that the deal will fall through.  In fact, we thought we had missed out on this property because it was already under contract when we found it.  That deal fell through and we swooped in.  We're learning with these great deals that swooping is really important because lots of investors are waiting in the wings.  We missed out on several other gems because of our failure to swoop.  With this one we are cautiously optimistic.

In the meantime, how about this shot of the dining room, taken from the living room?  Fireplace, built-ins, hardwood floors, vintage wallpaper...I'm in love.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I've always wanted to take a sabbatical because usually it involves traveling and doing exciting things.  So I am going to take one!  But just from blogging for a little while.  You'll be relieved to know that we will be back, I know that you were worried.  We are currently working on business plans and family plans and dinner plans.

In the meantime, I'm still raising money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Shocking, I know.

People ask what happens if you don't raise the full $2300.  Here's what happens: I have to pay the difference!  Really.  Nothing like the threat of having $700 deducted from your bank account to motivate you to beg for money.  So, here are the two ways you can help:

Make a donation here!  This is the easiest and most helpful way.
Visit Boonaroo's and order some Christmas presents!  Especially dishcloths. I have many, many dishcloths.

Thank you and see you upon our return!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

32 days

I have 32 days to finish my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure fundraising.  I'm sweatin' bullets over here!  Last year I was DONE with my fundraising by the middle of August but this year, as I've mentioned, I recruited my most generous donors to walk with me and it is coming down to the wire!

But with 32 days left, we can do this!  Last year I was so proud when I finished the walk but I was even more proud when I reached my $2300 fundraising goal.  I can walk 60 miles on my own, I mean, if I had too; but I cannot contribute $2300 on my own, not right now.  It took a lot of people standing with me to reach that goal and it's going to take a lot of people again.  We're over halfway there but there are a few (figurative) miles left.

My family has been touched by cancer, specifically breast cancer, so many times that I have a document on my computer titled "Family Cancer History" and it is a full 8.5x11 sheet of paper.  My family on my mom's side was the subject of a cancer research study at the University of Oklahoma.  It's like being famous except it sucks.

I do not want to give this document to my kids.  I don't want to add my mom's or my aunt's or my own name to the list.  I want to send it to the recycle bin and delete it forever, but I can't, not yet.

And that's why I walk.  I walk so I can delete that document.  Walking 60 miles shows solidarity, it shows strength, it shows sacrifice and commitment but without the funds for research and education, it's just a symbol.  It's a lovely symbol, but it's not going to have any lasting impact unless we back it up with financial commitment.

But you can help!  You can have a lasting impact on our world with a small gift!  And if you pass this along to your friends and family your impact will be even greater.  If you utilize your employer's matching gifts program for charitable donations, your gift could be multiplied!  Just click on any of the links in this post and you'll go to the page where you can donate.

Thank you for journeying with me!  I am confident that we can do this together.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Trend sitter

Not to be confused with a trend setter, a trend sitter is one who sees a trend, likes the trend, but then sits on it for a while to make sure it's sticking around before jumping on the bandwagon right before it goes out of style.

 That is me.  Hi.  It took me two years to embrace capris because I was CONVINCED they wouldn't stick around.  Oops.  And skinny jeans.  And boots.  Are you getting the idea?  Ballet flats however, well, I was all over that.  Remember in the 90s when every shoes you owned had a heel or a giant sole (I'm looking at you Doc Martin sandals).  Far thee well, ugly shoes, until you return on my children's feet and I say "that's what WE wore in high school!"

My current trend sitting involves the zigzag, um, chevron pattern.  Actually, I'm not really that behind, I did make this pillow earlier this year.  I painted the fabric and everything!

But now I am SO trendy because I painted these beauties.

Ooo....ahhhhh...  I know, right?  Gray, yellow, chevron...I'm like every Pinterest pin ever pinned but in real life!

These canvases were from a failed painting project.  They once held my attempt at painting "botanicals" but there was nothing botanical about them.  So they each got covered in white craft paint and sat in our "little living room" for two weeks because I dreaded the next part.

Taping.  I was going to have to tape our the pattern and I really didn't want to.  I get antsy pants when it comes to detail work and it makes me want to jump up and down and scream.  But I used the method and the pattern that I found here and, two reruns of 30 Rock later, they were taped.  And I didn't take pictures because that's kind of boring.
I lightened up my gray paint with some white and paint, paint, paint...they were done!  Now they hang next to the TV and look subtle and pretty. And making the rest of the wall look really bare.

Now, time for a BIG UPDATE.  The toilet paper roll mirror had a makeover.  See if you can tell.

Well, as you probably can't tell from the really dark picture, she got a new coat of paint!  We upgraded from Colonial Red to Apple Red.  Uh-huh, she's sassy now.  And she got another layer of rolls.  For humans this would be a horrible thing, but for a toilet paper roll mirror, it's spectacular!

Alright, I'm off to trend sit on my giant customized subway art with special meaning that only we understand and my yarn wreath.