Sunday, October 31, 2010

Post-Halloween break down

For the first time in many, many, many years, I passed out candy. I mean, I'm finally in an honest-to-goodness neighborhood again ... where it's conducive to have trick or treaters.

I must say, there was a great amount of kids that came by ... probably close to 40. But I still have candy ... candy I'm not sure what to do with. I suppose I can take it to school, but I don't want to deal with the fall-out of that Sugar Atom Bomb. Perhaps I'll toss it all in my Prize Box.

I had some interesting costumes, none more interesting than the mom walking with her kids, dressed as, what I can only assume, was a street walker outfit. Wait! Maybe she was just getting off of work ... not entirely sure. Or the middle schoolers that sauntered by in face paint and street clothes. Their main objective was candy. Nothing more.

But I had some cuties too ... like the little Batman that opened my front door himself and walked right in! Or the little Butterfly that ran to my door and shouted, "I'm a butterfly!" Apparently, there'd been some question at houses previous to mine, so she thought she'd better beat me to what she felt would be the inevitable question.

I had Audrey, Jack and Sam ... all very excited about their candy and costumes and the fact that the cat was sticking her paw out from under the basement door. There was much jumping and shouting and giggling and showing of stuff to be had. I kinda felt badly ... like I should of had a trick or treat goodie bag for Elly and John ... say a bottle of wine, for instance.

I had Princess Maddie and Baby Brian. Actually, Maddie came as Cinderella, her favorite Disney Princess. Decked out in all the jewels and shoes and sparkly what-not, I can't help but admitting that I felt slightly under-dressed in my own home! Princesses have that effect on people, don't you know?

Lest we forget Maggie the Bumblebee ... my friend's teacup chihuahua, that served as the prep team that cleared the path for the late-arriving Powell Children, dressed as characters from Toy Story, all very cute!

Overall, Halloween was a huge success, and I believe I will be doing it again next year!

Emmy the Cat and Maggie the Dog meet for the very first time

video

My little experiment

This is my friend Tabby's dog, Maggie. Maggie had just walked the runway, showing off her Bumblebee costume for the Pet Costume Contest at the Pumpkin Fest downtown yesterday. I was attempting to conduct an interview with Maggie, but she was not having it. Apparently, she doesn't really like the paparazzi.


video

Sunday, October 24, 2010

She likes to "help"


The "upstairs" hallway



The hallway "upstairs" is pretty large. So, I've placed two eye-catchers, for lack of a better word, in the hallway to make it seem less vacuous. By the way, I HATE this wallpaper. But I plan to live with it until such time as I have the time and energy to start ripping it off. Oh yeah, and money too. It's going to take money to buy the paint, I suppose.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Officially, it's been a week

This time last week, I was waking up in my very own home. The house that I now own. No one else owns it; just me!

I made coffee. I stood and surveyed the piles of boxes and STUFF, and I smiled to myself, thrilled at and in awe of how God all worked it all out.

Here I am, a week later, and I'm STILL unpacking boxes -- not as many, thank goodness! I'm getting used to the sounds the house makes when I walk across the hardwood floors. I'm getting used to the cars that drive by, and the way their headlights play on my living room wall at night. I'm figuring out the neighborhood dogs' rhythms, and I'm still trying to figure out what car goes with what house. But as I stand looking over the living room, coffee cup in hand, I am again struck by the excitement and awe of how God allowed this all to fall into place.

The house is still mine, and I LOVE it! Nothing has changed in that department. In fact, those feelings have perhaps gotten even stronger. From the very first time I stepped through that door, I felt like I was coming home!

I am home, and it feels good. And as I stand sipping my coffee, a few less boxes in place, I am amazed at how I got to this point ... how I landed in Kentucky, in a town I truly love to live in, with a job I love, and surrounded by people that are absolutely amazing. I love this life!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's for dinner?

This is a great site that Elly turned me on to. I've printed three recipes so far that I plan to try this coming week. First on the docket? Crockpot Tamale Pie. I bet it freezes well ...

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2007/12/alphabetical-listing-of-recipes.html

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's for dinner?

I rocked the culinary world this evening. I don't mind admitting it.

I bought some chicken breast on sale a few months back, and when I was pulling out one or two out of the freezer to do with whatever it was I was going to do to them, I noticed on the packaging it said that these particular cuts were "good for chicken scallopini recipes."

Well, I decided to look for chicken scallopini recipes, and I found one that I ...
a.) had all the ingredients already in my home (and could find them in the moving disaster I currently live in),
and
b.) thought actually sounded good.

So, when I got home from my professional development this afternoon, I set the chicken out to thaw and began the process of creating CHICKEN SCALLOPINI.

It is here that I must report on the amazing marriage of tastes when you mingle fresh lemon juice with white wine and butter and chicken broth and capers! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!! I served it on a bed of rice with baby sugar peas and a little salad.

I made enough for leftovers tomorrow, and I have no doubt that the sauce, marinating overnight, will be even better tomorrow.

Yum ... yum!

Reality bites

I had to go to school today for a professional development, and it occurred to me, as fought my desire to stay under my warm, comfy blankets, that, yes, starting Monday, it is back to a routine and a schedule and the Insanity and the feeling of inadequacy that seems to follow me these days and the overwhelming feeling of being overwhelmed and .... and suddenly, I didn't feel so relaxed.

My mother pointed out something to me the other day that I've spent years fretting about. It's really a good thing she pointed it out, too, because now I can put the money I would have spent on a therapist toward something useful -- like "Re-do Megan's Bathroom Fund" or something along those lines. She pointed out that I've always been the type of person that sees a task as either something I need to be perfect at or as something that requires so much from me that it's too overwhelming to achieve perfection. If I perceive it to be too overwhelming, I just won't do it because I would hate to fail at it and not be perfect.

You know what? She's right. That's right, Mother! I said you were right. Mark it down on a calendar that on Thursday, October 21, 2010, at approximately 5:11 p.m., I said that you were right. And she is. I HATE the thought of failing at something. It makes me crazy to think I might not actually do it absolutely correctly. So, if it's a task with insurmountable odds, I might walk away from it.

I suppose that is why I have busted my tail to get my house in order. I want it looking perfect. I don't want boxes laying around for months and years. I want it perfect.

I just finished sending a friend of mine an email comment about enjoying the small moments and not sweating the small stuff (or the big, ridiculous stuff, for that matter), and here I am, in need of the same words of encouragement. Perhaps, I should go back over to her blog and re-read what I just posted for her.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lists

Today, I stumbled upon THE COOLEST SITE EVER! http://www.zotodo.com/index.php
It's a site that allows you to create a to do list with boxes to check off your tasks as you do them. You can keep it on the computer, thus being a bit more "green." Or you can print it off and travel with it. It is DA BOMB!

While we're on the subject of lists, let me just say that home ownership changes the scope of one's shopping list. For instance, I recently found these items on my shopping list:
  1. Rake
  2. Garage door light bulbs
  3. Telescoping light bulb changer
  4. Dryer vent duct
  5. Dryer vent clamps
I've become a full-fledged grown-up dork. Any coolness factor I had, left the day I ...
a.) Thought a TO DO LIST website was cool
b.) Started getting excited about telescoping light bulb changers.

The Kitchen/Dining Room

I present to you my kitchen and dining area. Please note that I HATE the wallpaper border -- a cherry pie in the making still life. It is coming down, eventually. Also, I'm not fond of the chair rail being a different color than the walls. Still, it's the biggest kitchen I have ever had, and tonight, I made some gingerbread -- let me just say, it's an absolute joy to work in a kitchen with LOTSA space!






Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I have a teeny, tiny little SHOE issue ... just a small one

BEFORE



AFTER

It is important to note that in this AFTER shot, the clothes to the left of the photo are covering approximately 10 to 12 pairs of sandals. Yeah ... they had their own box when the moving began ...

The Living Room

Okay, yes, that is Dr. Phil on the tv. I'm on fall break, and I've just spent two and a half weeks packing boxes, moving them, and then unpacking them again. Don't judge!








The Murray Estate -- Kentucky Style


Here it is!! My new house!!
I'm slowly getting organized, and as I do so, I will be be adding photos of each room. I have a A LOT of stuff. Oy vey!

Friday, October 15, 2010

I can't sleep, but I have a house!

I'm not sure if it's that I fell asleep downstairs on the sofa and took a three hour nap or if it's excitement or worry or the endless list of things that need to be done OR, quite possibly, the ABSOLUTELY freakish CSI I watched earlier, but here it is, 2:30 a.m., and I can't sleep.

Lot's to do tomorrow, and I'm going to need my beauty rest. Aahhh, but sleep eludes me.

A little over 12 hours ago, I became a homeowner. It hasn't quite sunk in yet. It will, I'm sure, just about the time that I have to write out that first mortgage payment, I'm guessing. Right now, though, it's still so surreal. And let's be honest here, I've had no real time to let any of it sink in, really ... why, within an hour of signing the last paper, I had already made my third trip to Lowe's in as many days. In fact, I am close to being on a first name basis with the Cute Appliance Dude there. Yet another reason for the beauty rest, people!

I've packed and piled and dusted and cleaned and scrubbed and pretty much fried the linings of my nasal cavities with the fumes from the cleaning products, all in anticipation of this move. The HUGE pay-off is that by this time tomorrow, I will be in my cozy NEW HOUSE, hopefully snoozing away with a cat close by!!

YAY ME!!

Home ownership isn't for sissies, I'm coming to realize -- that's okay. I'm up for the challenge -- I think! However, Cute Appliance Dude seems knowledgeable in the ways of home ownership. Perhaps I should cultivate that further ... I need a good-looking handyman on retainer ... someone willing to work for food.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things that have made me squeal, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!"

  1. It now costs $6.15 to send a certified letter ... across town.
  2. While we're on the subject of the United Postal Service, shall I mention that if I would like the convenience of changing my address via the Internet, that convenience now costs me $1.00, which the USPS will gladly charge to my credit card. ONE DOLLAR! NO THANK YOU! I much prefer the inconvenience of standing in line for a half an hour and smelling some one's body odor AND get that whole, enviable experience for free!
  3. My credit union does not "do" certified checks [insert snobby, nasally voice here]. Thankfully, cashier's checks trump certified checks. Otherwise, I was going to be forced to promise certain unsavory things to another bank in order to get a certified check for my closing tomorrow.
  4. Apparently, I need to bring everything short of a blood sample to prove my new address and permanent residence when I go to change it on my driver's license tomorrow. Hmmm ... back in Michigan, the Secretary of State's office was always all, "Mmmm, all righty. Fill this out and sign that." Nope. Not here in Kentucky. Apparently, in Kentucky, you've got to prove 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. Oooooh ... I can't wait to stand in THAT line!
  5. I forgot to ask my mortgage guy who the cashier's check should be made out to ... for some reason that never entered my mind as important. Really!? With every thing else going on in my life right now, you want me to think?
I know this will all be a funny string of stories to be told at a cocktail party (because I get invited to those ALL OF THE TIME), but right now, it feels as though my head is going to explode.

Not at all happy that her queen size bed has been dismantled

You can tell a lot about a person based on their Catch-All Room


I have a Catch-All Room. Some might argue that I have a number of Catch-All Rooms, but in my mind there is only one. Currently, mine is my guest bedroom/office. After spending the great majority of the day yesterday packing it up, I am really hoping my resolve to become more organized actually "sticks" this time because, honestly, I inhaled enough dust to host a couple of colonies of dust mites within my nose alone.

Here are some embarrassing things I discovered while packing (dumping) items in more boxes than I care to count:
  1. Why does a person spend $12 on a wrapping paper keeper and then store SIX rolls of wrapping paper NOT in the keeper but right next to it?
  2. I have a SERIOUS allergic reaction to filing paper it would seem. Juxtapose to that, I have a SERIOUS allergic reaction to giant piles of papers in a laundry basket. You can see where I am in a bit of a conundrum where paper management is concerned.
  3. While I've really done a good job (for me) paring down the random crap that accumulates in my life, I still have an inordinate amount of it floating around in the cracks and crevices. At some point, this will need to be dealt with ... probably sooner rather than later, I'm afraid.
  4. I really like walk-in closets, not for their accessibility to clothes, but for their sheer ability to contain massive amounts of "I'm Not Sure What To Do With This" items.
Today, it's my job to finish up, what I'm lovingly referring to as, The Packing Project in the Black Hole. I will then begin working on my bedroom and the last bits of the kitchen.

I don't want to jinx anything, but in the six moves I've made, this packing process has been the smoothest so far ... despite my hoarder-like tendencies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Making some changes

I don't know if it's because it's Monday or because I'm buying a house (and there's a lot of craziness that comes with that one!) or if it's because of the change of seasons or because, once again, I feel myself slipping away from this active, productive life that I envision for myself but which is not a reality ... at all. Whatever the reason, I woke up this morning saying to myself in the mirror, "YOU HAVE GOT TO MAKE A CHANGE."

I'm not just becoming a statistic, I AM the statistic, and it's gotta change!

I know, I know ... I say that all the time, and yet there's never any change. I never make exercise a habitual part of my routine.

I never make self-discovery through books and Bible study a habitual part of my routine.

I never create more time to "be out there and among people."

In other words, I pay lip service to it, but I never actually get around to committing. Does that make me a commitment phobe? Not sure, but while I'm searching for the answer to that question, I'm rapidly slipping into hermit mode. I'm just a fountain pen and a personal manifesto away from Uni bomber status, I fear.

And while I ponder that scary fate, another, more challenging question jumps up and grabs me: How come some people take to change in their lives so well, while others of us can't make it stick?

I love change! LOVE IT! I change my furniture around ALL the time. Used to never have the same hair-do twice ... change my make-up ... change my style ... I change everything! Variety is the spice of life, and I love spice life! So, why then can I not make positive changes that will affect my health and well-being? Why do I only choose to make cosmetic changes? Why am I afraid to make deep, life-changing changes?

Hmmm ... maybe because I'm actually afraid of the change? Maybe because I don't like change as well as I thought? Maybe because I'm afraid of failure?

Wait a second! Isn't this stuff for a therapist to discuss with me? Oh! That's right! I'm buying a house! I don't have money for a therapist. Silly me!

At any rate, changes must be made. So, while I'm packing more boxes and writing yet another paper for school, I'm going to make a list of the changes that need to be made ... an intentional list. A list that is completely do-able. And I'm going to start working on it. It's the only TO DO list that counts ...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I'm closing on a house and other things that prove I'm a Big Girl

I got the call I've been waiting for finally! I have a sorta closing date ... either Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

All of a sudden, my home ownership is more of a reality than ever, and I find myself scared and excited and overwhelmed and giddy and happy and relieved and panicked ... all in one! I'm told this is normal.

After 14 long years of renting, I am finally going to own a house of my own, and I couldn't be happier. I excited because finally I have the freedom of paining my walls any color I'd like ... including fuchsia, if I so desire, which, by the way, I don't. I can hang a picture at 2:30 in the morning and not worry about waking up any neighbors, and if I get the bug in my bonnet to clean at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday, I can, without worrying that my vacuum cleaner is going to wake the dead.

I can do whatever I want because it will be MY HOUSE!

I have a lot of stuff that I need to do ... piddly little things in the whole grand scheme of things, but items that need to be taken care of ... the sign you are a true home owner, the TO DO LIST is already good and lengthy.

On the heels of finding out that I get to sign a bajillion papers, thus inducing a permanent case of writer's cramp, I also discovered that Lowe's is having a sale on appliances, gutter guards, and down spout extensions, all of which I need. Further proof that I am finally growing up.

Friday, October 08, 2010

She's absolutely NO help whatsoever ...



Any other day, I'd have to fight her into the kitty carrier. However, on this day, when I am trying to pack stuff up in and get it organized, she is all about getting right in the middle of stuff and tucking herself neatly into her kitty carrier, nice as you please.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS

Today, I purchased a wedding gift at Wakefield-Searce Galleries (www.wakefieldscearce.com) in Shelbyville, Kentucky. It's a wonderful place full of unique antiques and Kentucky-esque items that absolutely fascinate me to my core.

Wandering around in there a few weeks back, I discovered a unique gift for an upcoming wedding I was suppose to be attending (still waiting on that elusive closing date), and because I am just that devoid of any sort of creativity, I ran back there today to purchase the thing before someone else, equally as inept at gift-giving, snapped it up.

The sales associate at Wakefield-Searce Galleries was kind enough to ask if I'd like my purchase gift wrapped, and, because I am just that lazy, I smiled sweetly and replied, "Why that would be just loooovely."

Yes, I have turned into a southern belle with a northern accent. Don't judge!


My photo does not at all do it justice, but it is the most beautifully wrapped package with thick, frosty white paper and a mound of frothy ribbons. Why, it looks like a miniature weddin' cake, ya'll! Almost good enough to eat!

I hated putting it into my flat rate box because I know that, once inside the confines of our United Postal Service, all hell will break loose, and it may just arrive at its intended destination wrapped in worn and smudged Dilbert comics and smelling of old tennis shoe.

Monday, October 04, 2010

THEY PAY LOTS OF MONEY IN HOLLYWOOD FOR PERSONAL ASSISTANTS




In Hollywood, they pay BIG money for personal assistants. I pay my personal assistant in kibble. This just proves you get what you pay for ... clearly.

FEELING IMPATIENT AND OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS

So, despite a part of my brain telling me I needed to wait until I heard a definitive "YES!" on my closing date, another part of my brain told me to go ahead and start packing stuff up because waiting until the last minute was more than my entire brain, and let's face it, my emotional self, could take. And so, for the past four or five days, I've been tackling a few boxes at a time until I've now massed probably 12 containers full of "stuff" currently stacked in my living space downstairs.

I spoke with my mortgage guy today, who is nothing if not the male version of Pollyanna, who said everything is "Fine, just fine. Just a couple of things I've got to work on from my end." Since the economic crash, banks and mortgage companies and the like have become jumpier than a lady of ill-repute in church. As a result, they are nit-picking every little detail of every little detail ... and so things are taking forever, it would seem. I just wish everyone would recognize my time line. I have one, you know, but no seems to want to follow it.

I have managed to create a gigantic MESS in my townhouse, as you can see from this photo. This mess only aids in amping my stress level up a few notches.

Still, I continue with my plans of getting things packed and ready to move. Either way, I've got to move. I'm just praying it's to this new house! My dad insists I have nothing to worry about ... that it's the banks being the banks. When did he get so mellow and chill?

In other, equally as riveting news, I am getting back on track with a desire and need I've had for some time now ... to make everything homemade again. Meaning, I need to stop buying so much stuff randomly at the grocery, and I need to start being purposeful about what I purchase. I am also finding it necessary to really think about how to stretch my grocery budget as far as I possibly can.

Today, I ate left overs for breakfast and lunch, and I made homemade Mac n Cheese with steamed tomatoes for dinner. LOADS and LOADS of mac n cheese left over. Bonus!

I'm in the market for some yummy, cheap casseroles. Send the recipes my way, if you've got some good ones.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU'VE SEEN IT ALL

Payday was Thursday.

I hit a local bank downtown to withdraw some cash for some upcoming purchases I knew I'd be making.

Okay, okay. Perhaps "hit" isn't the most appropriate term to utilize in this particular circumstance.

Perhaps I should say that I swung by a local bank to withdraw cash.

At any rate, I took the "scenic route" home -- through a part of town that's, well, there's no other way to say it. It's seedy in parts, at best.

I was happily driving down the road, singing along to the radio, which was probably a bit too loud, when what unfolded before me caused me to swerve in the roadway, narrowly missing a parked car.

For what I saw explicitly explained my job more fully and caused me to say, out loud, "Are you freakin' kidding me?"

Coming at me, from the opposite direction, going at a pretty good clip, was a scruffy man on a bike. One hand held firmly to his handle bars, while his other hand was behind him, holding tightly to a metal grocery cart. The cart was occupied by two very young children, the youngest one just a bit past one, I'd say. He/she sat in the part of the grocery cart most grocery shopping folks put their children - - when they are in a grocery store ... not on a local street in and among speeding cars.

This little toddler was white-knuckling the handles of the cart while the world whizzed by him/her, all the while bobbing in the plastic-covered seat of the cart like a bobble-head, white-blonde hair flying this way and that in the considerable breeze being whipped up by the sheer speed of his/her father's pedaling. The man could have given Lance Armstrong a run for his money, I think.

The older sibling, possibly three or four, knelt in the back of the cart, also white-knuckling it, while the cart violently bumped and bounced on the pocked concrete road.

And suddenly it hit me! Some children can not overcome the educational hurdle because they've fallen victim to one of their parents' "brilliant ideas" and have suffered irreversible brain damage -- a sort of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of a rogue grocery cart.

SIGN OF FALL



I miss the falls of my youth -- one of the things I do truly miss about my home state. Nothing can compare to the vivid colors of the hardwood trees in Michigan as they morph into a bloom of brilliant color.

Central Kentucky has a pretty boring fall as far as color goes. But when the mums begin to bloom at least then I know fall is here!