Category Archives: Random Life

Sorry.

Sorry, it’s been a long time. Life has gotten away from me lately, and I haven’t had the time or the will to blog. Let me give you a quick recap of my life so far:

1. Summer has officially begun. We took the boat up to the lake two weeks ago and went boating for the first time this weekend. It was a lot of fun.

2. This week Jason and I will have been married for one year (our anniversary is next Sunday). We’re planning on going to Washington, D.C. for our anniversary weekend. Should be lots of fun.

3. Also this week is the last week of school, meaning that on Friday I will no longer be a first-year teacher. Yay! I’m planning on being at Milton again next year, so let’s hope the second year goes a little more smoothly than the first.

4. Last week Jason and I played hosts to my parents. They came up for an extended Memorial Day weekend (Friday-Wednesday) and it was so nice to have them here . . . although it is nice to have our house back to ourselves!

5. Also, in some sad news, yesterday my texted me to tell me that their (our) cat, Harper, died. She was 13 years old and have had some thyroid and muscle issues. But, honestly, I’m a little bit devastated. Jason and I were with his siblings and their significant others stopping at some wineries when I got the text. I finished the wine tasting that I was in the middle of when I got the news, and then immediately proceeded to the car and started crying. Jason and I left early because I wasn’t in the mood for any more wineries. I am not a cat person, but Harper was the first cat we had that I was there for from the beginning. I was 10 years old when we picked her out from the SPCA, and I always joked that we got her for my birthday since it was during my tenth birthday weekend that we got her. I am sure my family is devastated right now as well. My sister was especially close to Harper, so it’s going to be rough couple of days (weeks? months?) for them.

In fact, I am starting to get choked up now so I will just leave it at that. Hopefully I will have time to blog more now that summer is *almost* here and I will have more spare time. Also, I am planning on starting a new project that I’m hoping to launch here in the next few weeks, and I’m excited about that.

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Easter Weekend

What a great long weekend! We spent the weekend with my parents in Georgia at their new house, and I gotta say, I love the warm weather of the south! Leaves were on the trees, temperatures were in the 60s/70s all week, and despite the tornado warnings Friday night, the weather was pretty great the whole time. It made it hard to come back to PA weather yesterday.

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Rundown of our trip: we (my husband, my sister, and I) spent Thursday driving – we left about 5:15 a.m. and got to my parents around 6:00, with only two stops. Not too shabby. Needless to say, Thursday night was spent relaxing. After a late breakfast at IHOP, Friday was a day of shopping, because there is SOOO much shopping to do down there. We went to the outlets, and to a great store called Parsons.My mom got my sister and I some late (her) and early (mine) birthday presents while we were shopping too. Then we made a quick run to the grocery store for stuff for dinner.

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My dad had Good Friday services, and just went he left, tornado warnings were all over the state left and right, so my mom, husband, sis, and I spent the evening preparing for a tornado. We’ve had tornadoes in Pennsylvania before, but my parents’ house in GA doesn’t have a basement, so it was a new experience for us in that regards. We had to hang out in the hallway, since it was windowless and centrally located for a while. And despite the danger looming outside, we still had fun. 

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Saturday we slept in and then did a bit more shopping. I discovered Hobby Lobby, and am insanely jealous of my mother now for all the awesome shopping. We went to Macaroni Grill for dinner (yum!), one of the area malls, Barnes and Noble for my hubby, and got gelato for dessert (double yum!) at a local gelataria. 

Sunday was Easter, which meant church and lots and lots of eating! We sat on the deck for a while, enjoying the sunshine and 70-degree temps. Then we all took naps after lunch and just hung out. It was a very lazy, and well-needed, day.

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Also, my parents were dog-sitting for some members of their congregation, so in addition to their two dachsunds and two cats, they had two other dogs at their house! Good thing we didn’t bring Molly and Baxter this time – it would have been a circus! And of course, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of all the furry friends).

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Monday morning we had breakfast at IHOP (yes, again), and then the three of us packed up and headed home. We got back at about 8:15 last night, and then I had to run to the grocery store quick for some staples: bread, cereal, and milk. Overall, it was a great weekend. And the good news is, my parents said they were planning on coming up to visit over Memorial Day weekend, which means I don’t have to wait until July to see them again like I had previously thought! 🙂

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I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!

Look what I found in our front and back yards this evening:

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p4050016p4050018 The flowers have been making an appearance for the past few days, but the buds on the tree were a new discovery for me as of ten minutes ago. Gah! I am so excited! There are times in the deep throes of February and March when I think that I will never see another flower or leaf on a tree again . . . and then April arrives and I am ecstatic.

And now here I sit, in our new comfy chair, with the sun porch door open, day light still illuminating (although somewhat dimly) the house, and my hubby spent a day doing outside work at my in-laws. Does life get any sweeter?

However, if you take a look at the first and third pictures, you will notice that we have plenty of yard work in our near future. Time to get out the rake and start hauling the mulch soon, I guess!

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How did I do?

Alright, time to take a look at my March goals and see how well I did. Don’t hold your breaths:

My March Goals:

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes cleaning after work every day, BEFORE t.v., computer, etc., Monday-Thursday (I figure I have some leeway on Fridays). – Kind of, sort of. Some days I slacked, and some days are really good. I’m going to try to redo this one in April.
  2. Go through my clothes and donate the unwanteds to charity. –  That was a big NADA.
  3. Read at least five books (this will also benefit my March’s book blog – February’s will be posted soon). – I got three read fully and two almost finished. So I didn’t quite make it. Boo.
  4. Have a great (not just good) day at work. – No. And I don’t see this happening any time soon.
  5. Walk the dogs at least once a week. – Yeah! Finally one accomplished. We even bought Molly a new harness to make our walking easier.
  6. Cook something from scratch at least twice. – Nope.
  7. Host a dinner party. – Another nope.
  8. Get all my lesson plans for the rest of the year done (this could help number 4, as well). – Almost. I have about one week of unaccounted school time – I just need to figure out what to do that last week of school.
  9. Cut back my internet time to 30 minutes a day (yikes!) – school work doesn’t count. – Yeah, I’m not so sure about this one.
  10. Figure out a better way to organize our recyclables in the garage. – I did figure it out – just haven’t put it into place yet

Alright, 20% fully completed is not a good number, although I guess I did get a lot of partially completeds in there (but they still don’t count). I need to work a bit on this. I’m going to think of my April goals and get back to this. Let’s hope April goes better than March!

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Cooking blahs

First of all, I got my pictures uploaded to the computer, after a temporary freak-out when I thought the USB plug in the camera was broken (luckily for me, my helpful hubby gave me a hand!). So I will probably do a lot of blast-from-the-past posts as I blog about a lot of the pictures I have taken on it. (Ok, ok, I’ve only had the camera for five months so it won’t be THAT much of a past blast). Oh, and having all those pictures on my camera really, really makes me want to have photoshop so I can so some playing around (*hint*hint* J since my birthday is coming up!).

Anyway, way back approximately a year ago, J and I were house hunting. We found our house, the one we’re living in now, after only looking at one other house before it. Our realtor e-mailed me pictures, we went to look at the house the next day, made an offer later that week, waited nervously because there were three other offers on the table, and got the awesome 9:00 p.m. phone call on a Tuesday night letting us know that the house was ours!

I loved a lot of things about the house – the wood floors (which needed to be redone a bit), the two-sided brick fire place separating the dining room and living room, the huge windows, the space that was largeenoughbutnottoolargedoyouknowwhatImean?. The master bedroom was large, the backyard was cute (and a corner lot to boot!), and the house had a lot of character.

However, one thing I did not like about the house was the kitchen. While the previous homeowners tried to update it with new paint and a nice island (the only part of the kitchen I did like), overall, the kitchen felt dark, outdated, and not very homey. See exhibits A and B:

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Now, if we were looking to live in the house for 10+ years, I would say gut it all: new cabinets, new floors, new appliances sans the fridge since we just bought it. However, we are not planning on staying in this house for this long; we’re probably looking more at 5-7 years at the most. So the Ebenezer Scrooge in me, looking to save a buck or two, thinks it’s silly to gut the kitchen for how many (tens of?) thousands of dollars. Yes, yes, yes, I know that money in a house should be spent in the kitchen and bathrooms (I do watch my share of HGTV). However, I’m nervous that for a two-bedroom house, no matter how much we update the kitchen, we’re not going to see the return since it does only have 2 bedrooms. Plus, I don’t want to over-update the kitchen for the area. Many of the houses in our neighborhood are older, ranch-styles, and I can’t seem them having solid surface counter tops and high end appliances. I’m assuming many kitchens are similar to ours.

With that said, we have GOT to make some changes in the kitchen or I think I’ll go nuts. First of all, the pink tile (yes, that is PINK tile, it is also in the half bath) needs to go. Secondly, the oven and the stove are original to the house, circa 1968. Now, I think it’s pretty awesome that these appliances have lasted so long (how many people can say their brand new stove or oven will last the next 40 years) but they are so old and outdated. Plus, they don’t necessarily cook the best (in fact, the oven OVERcooks – I always have to lower my cooking time and/or the oven temperature). Also, the countertops and cupboards are horrendous. Despite some good windows in the space, the room always feels dark and drabby. Shall I go on? Needless to say, I need a culinary change, and quick!

Now, I love to cook, but all motivation I have felt to cook completely leaves me every time I step into the kitchen. I want a light, airy, homey kitchen that I want to spend a lot of time in and entertain in. The space is rather large, but half of it isn’t being used anyway. The island is really nice, and I want to keep that, but the rest of it . . . ug, I don’t know. I’m thinking painting the cabinets and changing the hardware? New countertops that aren’t too expensive (a nice laminate versus granite or other stone?). I would love to get working on it this summer even (cabinet painting, anyone?) but I don’t even know where to start!

So, can anyone help me with my kitchen dilemma? Pretty, pretty please?

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Blogging on the Brain

I’ve been thinking about my favorite blogs lately and what sets them apart. One of the things that I have noticed and have tried to incorporate more is the use of pictures. I don’t use a lot of pictures in my blogs, but I think that I need to start doing more. I got a brand new stinking camera in November (a beautiful one, I might add, that takes really good pictures) and I have not uploaded a single one. And I have a lot of pictures on that camera – pictures that I took especially to blog about, too. I hate being a slacker, and I want to take my blog up to the next level, so as soon as I hit the “Publish” button on this post, I am going to attempt to load the pictures on my camera and actually do some real, hardcore blogging. Whooooo.

Wish me luck.

P.S. Chattingatthesky, you made my day having you comment on my blog! 🙂

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I’ve got a spring in my step

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I’m feeling pretty good lately. Yesterday, the PSSAs ended and spring officially began. The countdown to the end of the year has officially begun. Days are longer (and a little bit warmer), Easter break is a mere two and a half weeks away, and next week ends our third marking period (which means only 9 more weeks of school to go!). Yes, life is feeling better.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am still stressed. My students are going to get spring fever soon (if they don’t have it already), and any sense of productiveness or urgency that the PSSAs lended is out the window. My team teachers warned me of the “Last Nine Weeks” as this ominous time where nothing gets done and the students are even lazier than normal (great). I am sure I am going to get a lot of “can we watch a movie today?” or “can we play a game today?” or “do we HAVE to do something today?” – I’ll probably get those questions every day. And I still want to TEACH them – I’m planning on starting the big Greek Mythology Unit on Monday (which is going to take us a month) and I still want them to read and I still want them to write and I still want them to THINK because they seem not to do a lot of that outside of school.

And yet, the stresses of all that are underlined by the fact that summer is almost here. Almost here! Anyone who knows me knows I live for summer. Yes, I love the fall and Bloomsburg Fair week, and I love the holidays, but during both of those times, underneath it all, I am longing for summer. I can’t help it – warm weather, boating, swimming, no school  . . . how can you not love it? (unless you’re my husband who hates hot weather because he likes to be cold . . . but even he is looking forward to summer this year). Knowing that summer is only an arm’s length away makes all the stresses above that much tolerable. In January/February, it is like you’re stuck in this thick, black fog where the only thing you can see is the day ahead of you. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel; in fact, the only thing you’re moving towards are the state-mandated tests. In that fact it’s dark and depressing, and you feel as though you’ll never get out of it. Yet, now that the fog has lifted and it is bright and sunny (which it is right now, in fact), everything feels that much better, even if it’s not. I feel optimistic. I feel hopeful. (I kind of feel like campaign Barack Obama).

However, and I just told this to my husband yesterday,  I also think part of my optimism is that I am not resisting teaching middle school. In fact, I think I kind of like it. Yes, I do feel stressed out about it a lot, but a lot of that is because of our crazy schedule and the lack of walls/doors in our classrooms (did I ever mention that before? – we have no real walls or doors in most of the classrooms – noise carries. It sucks) and the stress of being a first-year teacher. While there are some high school openings coming up this summer that I could apply for, part of me is hesitating now. I can do a lot of cool things with middle schoolers. I have a lot of freedom with my curriculum. If I moved schools or taught high school, I am pretty sure that freedom would go out the window. Now, I don’t think that Milton is necessarily the right school for me – in fact, I’m leaning in the other direction on that one – but I’m willing to give it another shot or two.

So, with warm, sunny weekend ahead of me, and summer just down the road, it is easy, I think, to see why I have a spring in my step. And I must admit, I have been dragging my feet for so long lately, that it feels really good.

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‘Tis a gift to be simple

In the past six months or so, I have become a blog addict. (My favorite blogs are over on the right-hand side, if you want to check them out.) At first I was looking for green blogs, but that slowly emerged into green/housemaking blogs, and then into housemaking blogs. But no matter what the focus is of these blogs, one thing is characteristic of all: they stress the need for simplicity. Whether in cleaning, in eating, or in decorating, these blogs all focus on how important it is to live simply and enjoy life without all the EXTRA stuff. 

Needless to say, I have become really inspired by these women and their blogging. I love the idea of living simply and thriftily but not in an uptight, out-of-control way (for example, because you are constantly stressing about money all the time), but rather in a way that reflects the thoughts of “I don’t need all the extra clutter in my life. I don’t need to spend money on things I don’t need. Yes, I can have nice things, but there are different ways to go about that.”

For example, cleaning products. I am really trying to streamline my cleaning products. Right now I use on a regular basis vinegar, baking soda, Mr. Clean magic erasers, Lysol (for those really gross things, usually related to dogs) (although I’m still experimenting with floor cleaners – haven’t found an environmentally friendly one yet that I like). I really like the simplicity of using some microfiber cloths, and vinegar/water combo to clean almost everything. It just seems so simple and so . . . fresh. Simple cooking is another aspect. I love the idea of cooking with few, fresh, wholesome ingredients. Now, due to lifestyle, sometimes that is not always possible, but when it does happen, it feels really good.

Buying products is another thing. I have found myself become very interested in antiques and second-hand items. I am starting to love the look of vintage items, but I don’t just want the LOOK, but the actuality of it too. It seems silly and wasteful to me to purchase a brand-new product when you can get the original one (and often for less!). Plus, there seems to be something rewarding in finding a “treasure” when you are at antique stores and second-hand shops. 

I am going to try to live my life a little bit more simply now – perhaps less “noise,” less “clutter,” less “junk.” I still want to have a beautiful home, but hey, if I don’t need something I should get rid of it – but not throw it out! Donate it or regift it (!). It seems like a lifestyle that really makes a lot of sense to me, and, I got to admit, perhaps those Shakers knew what they are singing about.

P.S. I updated my links with some of the new blogs I just discovered – check them out!

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“How can I plan for the future if I can’t afford today?”

So if you make money
You gotta save money
It goes fast, no cash . . .

 Ah, sing it, John Reuben.

It’s no surprise that a money post should emerge sooner or later. I mean, turn on any news channel, and the economic status of our nation is 9 times out of 10 the talk of the show (and NEWSFLASH: We’re all DOOMED!). However, I guess it is a bit of a surprise that it would take me this long to talk about money, considering that said news channels have been broadcasting this information for the past 8 months or so. However, as the nation’s (and world’s, for that matter) economy gets worse and worse, it only seems fitting that I should blog about it.

I should preempt this by saying that, as a couple, J and I are relatively off financially, especially for a young couple just starting out. I mean, we’re not millionaires or anything, but we make a pretty good living. Plus, both of our jobs are jobs that are relatively secure despite the high rate of unemployment, unless things get so bad that nursing homes and schools have to start downsizing (which I guess is not totally out of the question). However, even though we’re making okay salaries, we have also spent A LOT of money this year. A LOT. We used to have about $25,000 in savings between the two of us, but that money has been flushed down the tubes. However, I guess this is to be expected when you look at everything we have purchased/spent money on this year: a wedding, a honeymoon, a HOUSE, appliances, and furniture. Plus, the expenses don’t stop coming once you have those things: every month, we still have a mortgage, oil bill, electric bill, internet bill, TV-satellite bill, gas for our cars, and groceries. Lots on groceries.

Groceries . . . I guess that is from where this post stems. It seems as though every week, J and I plan our grocery list to a T. We ALWAYS make a list, we ALWAYS plan our meals for the week (sometimes to the day). In the beginning, we used to just plan our meals regardless of the ingredients, but then, as bills piled up and we realized we needed to cut our spending, we started planning based on what was on sale in the flier. I started clipping coupons. We started looking for deals. My “going green” also helped: now that I’ve been cleaning mainly with water, vinegar, and baking soda, we haven’t spent any money on cleaning supplies, hardly (a bottle of Lysol here and there). Last week we went to the grocery stored armed with 10 coupons, our bonus card, a (relatively) small list, and the Giant sales flier in hand . . . and walked away $120 lighter.

WTF, mate? How can we work so meticulously to save grocery money and yet still spend so much EACH WEEK? We don’t buy anything extra – we don’t stock our pantries. We buy food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a few extra snacks (but not much!). By the end of the week, we’re literally scrounging for food; our cupboards are bare. Now, this week I did stock up on extra chicken and hamburger that was on sale, because we will use it for future dinners. However, every week when our bill is high, we say, “Well, we bought toilet paper and dog food this week, so it will be less next week.” But every single week there is something on there, something necessary, that makes our bill seem high. Or maybe it’s all the stuff added up? And then we think, how are we going to afford groceries when we have kids? It is just the two of us right now (plus a bag of dog food and some dog bones once a month) . . . what happens when our family doubles? 

We try not to spend money on superfluous items. We do eat out occasionally, but it’s not like we go on shopping sprees every week or even once a month or every two months. We do have some luxuries, like satellite television and an SUV, but it’s not like we’re trying to spend extra money. Yet I don’t feel like we’re saving anything . . . we live paycheck to paycheck . . . where does all the money go?

I know there are ways that we can decrease our spending – cell phone packages, satellite television, no eating out, no brand name foods, no alcohol. And yet, I don’t think we’re willing to cut out that stuff. We like our lifestyle the way it is, is that so bad? Hmmm . . . I guess when the Great Depression II hits, we’ll find out, huh?

John Reuben, I need to take your advice a little more, I guess.

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In two days . . .

Season 5 begins. I am so excited, I can hardly wait. Ben Linus, I have been waiting for you.

The winter has just gotten a little less colder!

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