Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas (we miss you)


Woof woof, woof whimper woof.

Woof woof bark woof woof bark woof woof woof grrr. Grr.

<waggle>

Monday, December 24, 2007

While the cat's away, the mice will...

Build.

You read it. Build. Karen's in the Lou, leaving me time to construct!

Why? Well weeks ago we added a new hole to our house and now it isn't as much of a hole. See?

As is usually the case when someone is out of town, it was a gorgeous [winter] day in Seattle, and I enjoyed my time outdoors! (now I just hope I remember the screwdriver and utility knife that's just slightly visible on the fence!)

Whatever... Happy to Holidays to everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our First Baby Gift - A Sushi Bib



In last night's mail we had a package addressed to "Future Mom and Dad Pinkard." Neither of us could figure out what it could possibly be.

Inside there was a small notecard that said "Congratulations! Your child will like sushi. Love Stef and Jonathan. " It was a baby bib, decorated with different styles of sushi. We both laughed so hard, and we absolutely love it.

Thank you so much Jonathan and Stef, for your thoughtfulness (and bonus points for creativity!!)

(Dan says he only gives bonus points if you actually deliver one of each type of sushi shown.) :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Official!

We are officially engaged! I know we set a date for the wedding and all, but I was hoping for an honest, down-on-one-knee proposal and today I got it.

Dan and I drove down to Leavenworth to go snow shoeing. The drive down through the Cascade Mountains was amazingly beautiful, and Leavenworth is a very quaint, Bavarian style town. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

On the ride down Dan had mentioned he didn't want to propose without a ring. Yesterday we spent the morning looking at rings and dresses, and found the rings we both like. But we are waiting for a quote from the jeweler before ordering them (and giving ourselves time to make sure they're what we want). The downside is even if we order the rings tomorrow, they won't be ready until mid-end January.

Anyway, after a few missteps in Leavenworth, we found someplace that sold the necessary permit, and coincidentally beautiful "engagement" rings - for $1.99. I had run in by myself to get the permit, so I picked a ring, ran back to the car and gave it to Dan to give to me when he was ready. What I didn't know is he was already planning to propose today sans ring - we sure do think alike sometimes :)

We arrived at Lake Wenatchee - and it was breathtaking. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. A gorgeous, serene mountain lake surround by towering pines and covered in snow. It was cloudy, and they hung heavy over the tops of the pines helping to silence the entire world. The next thing I knew, Dan was on one knee, asking me to marry him. The moment couldn't have been more perfect - or more us. A $2 ring with a million dollar view, and a man worth 1000 times that.






Friday, December 14, 2007

Monkeys at Keyboards

It has been said that enough monkeys given enough time would be able to recreate all of Shakespeare's blog entries, and here's proof:

Karen said I should post that we've narrowed down a date... and that date is....

I'm really surprised by how many people ask "how are you feeling about this?" or "are you going to eat those french fries," or "is Otis okay?" The obvious answers are "thrilled, no, and he's showing his age but doing OK!" Really, I couldn't be happier or more terrified. Or more elated to be sharing this experience with Karen. Seriously, there's just not time just yet to deal with more than that. Of course I'm concerned about building a local support structure for Karen and a baby, Karen's health during all of this, the financial stress of a family, the possibility for a problems, the general opportunity cost of it all, but let's take those one at time.

We've got a wedding to plan. And we're going to aim for....

But to be perfectly clear, I'm excited to be in this position and it's a lot easier to be here, on the sofa, unburdened by constant nausea and coping with fatigue. Still, we've made a good start at continuing our efforts to eat smart and work out. This evening, in fact, we hit the gym. In my case it was moving hazily between stations hoping to gain some ounce of fitness from my gram of effort while thinking, "Wow. We're umm.. wow." Karen gave it her all, and returned home to go to bed...

But not before pulling out a calendar....

I'm particularly fortunate in all of this as I'll get to have my parents here - for a wedding as much as a birth - but as much as I wish my grandparents were still around to share in the moment too, I'm oddly excited that Otis will be. It isn't the same thing, of course, and they're not interchangeable, but that furry beast has been through so much with me. Yay! (Can we have dogs in the ceremony? The cats could provide a choir!)

How about March 16th? Ish? It won't be much more than a pause to honor our union - the reception party will be in the Lou at some later time - but we'll find a way to include as many people as we can. More details to come!

One Sonnet down....


Oh, and this stuff is FASCINATING!
http://www.revolutionhealth.com/healthy-living/pregnancy/forty-weeks/first-trimester/fetal-development

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's True

It really is true - this was not some elaborate hoax we cooked up. Dan and I really are expecting a baby! We are both so excited about it. Nervous, scared, happy and excited all at once. Crazy - I still feel like a teenager playing house - not someone in their 30s running a household and soon to be mother.

I'm guesstimating how far along I am, but it's about three weeks. I have my first doctor appointment on the 9th, so that will hopefully narrow the time frame.

Best guess as of right now - there will be a Baby Pinkard in mid-August.

Somewhere in the next few months there will also be a wedding. We'll keep you posted as we figure things out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me


Today is my birthday, and what a wonderful gift I received.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nothin' But Class

Life with Dan will always be an adventure. For dinner last night, we went to the high class establishment known as the taco bus.

It's literally an old bus.

The front two-thirds (complete with drivers seat and steering wheel) has tiny counters that run length-wise under the windows on both sides with itty bitty stools for you to perch on. The back third is the cooking area.

Surprisingly the food was amazingly good. The tacos are to die for, and the burritos were pretty tasty too. And it's within walking distance of the house (well, walking distance for Dan and I - about 1.5 miles). I see us heading back there as the weather turns warmer (and dryer!) for some yummy lunchtime vittles.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Decorating for Christmas


We spent today putting up Christmas decorations. Dan and Otis are experiencing their first ever Crazy Karen Christmas. So far both seem to be taking things well. Dan and I decorated the tree together, and I decorated the pets :) I love Christmas so much. Dan says I may even manage to chase the bah-humbugs out of him. And yes, we'll both be in STL for actual Christmas day, but there's a whole month leading up to that! And it's our first Christmas together, in our house.


Mother Nature went all out in helping us get into the spirit. We got about two inches of snow dumped on us yesterday. We took the dogs and went to the dogpark to play in it. Everyone had a great time, and we were thoroughly worn out and slightly chilled upon our return. The snow was very heavy and wet, and quickly soaked through even water resistant clothing. By this morning though, all traces were gone.


We spent last evening with Kai and Christine at their holiday open house. It was a nice evening, and great to see some of the people I'm meeting again. I'm hoping some bonds of friendship are beginning to form.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Save The Cupcakes

I know I've mentioned my friend Stef's blog about cupcakes before, but she hit a home run this week with some fabulous sounding eggnog latte cupcakes. Anybody got a holiday party to attend? I am thinking of bringing them to a housewarming party on Saturday - they sounded so yummy I want to try them. She also has a brownie recipe she swears is more "cakey" than "fudgey" - and I love my brownies on the cakey side. Hmmm...wonder if I'll have time to make both?

She's also running a "Save the Cupcake" t-shirt contest. Apparently, cupcakes have come under siege in Huntington, NY - which to add insult to injury, is Stef's hometown. So go check out her blog and read about how to save the cupcakes. (And she has some awesome recipes as well as links to other fabulous sites.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Almost Done...


Actually, we've finished painting the room, and most of the cleanup is done. What we haven't yet accomplished is moving all the computer stuff to the new room, and setting up the guest room again. Anyone want to come visit to kick us into gear?

The color is very intense, but we both love it. It's like walking into a sunrise.

Dan also managed to cut a hole in the side of the house and install a new door to the "basement" area. We'd like to level it out some, which will require lots of shoveling, but it will be nice to have a storage area. We're even going to store some excess root vegetable (potatoes, carrots and onions) we bought on the cheap at Costco.

We hit Costco after Turkey Day, and the deals were great. We bought a nice fresh turkey for $0.49 per pound! We cut it apart and threw the big pieces (legs, thighs, wings and most of the breast) on the smoker and ended up with the best tasting turkey I've ever had. The rest (including about 1/3 of the breast) was ground raw into "hamburger" for future use. I then boiled all the bones and made some great turkey stock for soup.

More on Dan's first experience with Black Friday later!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope everyone is spending Thanksgiving in the way that they most enjoy.

Dan and I got up and started cooking some side dishes to bring to his friend Mike's house. Mike is hosting about a dozen people. He's providing a fried turkey, and asked everyone else to bring sides. So we (being consummate foodies) are bringing avocado triangles (an avocado mixture stuffed into a wanton wrapper), squash triangles, mint/basil dipping sauce, homemade fresh cranberry salad, rolls and a pumpkin-cranberry trifle that our neighbor said looked like something out of Martha Stewart Living. :)

We walked up to Walgreens with the dogs to grab a paper with ads for tomorrow's shopping...Dan and Kai have agreed to experience their first every Black Friday :)

All our love!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Begins Again


I know I said no home improvement projects until after the 1st of the year, but, well it IS Dan and me, so you had to know that wasn't going to hold :)

Our pink room is no more. Almost. It's actually still pink in places but it's mostly white. We've put 1 1/2 gallons of white (2 full coats) and still have pink showing through. It's doesn't look that obnoxiously bright, but it's proving very difficult to cover.
Tonight will be the last coat of white. Tomorrow we'll begin painting the color on the walls. The room will be mostly daffodil, with the jut-out (just visable on the right) a spicy orange.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Merry (Early) Christmas To Me

Dan gave me my Christmas gift last night - a 3 year membership to 24 Hour Fitness and 11 sessions with a personal trainer! I love it! He also joined, but opted not to take the sessions with the trainer. I can't wait to get started! I've already called the guy to set up an appointment, but am waiting on a call back.

We also met Kai and friends for tea, a quick couple games of poker, and dinner at Fuji Sushi in celebration of Kai's birthday. Dan and I gave her a different gift, but I think she liked it. She had been talking about hanging pictures, curtain rods and putting together some furniture - and how much easier it would be if she bought a drill - so Dan and I bought her a cordless drill. :) It came complete with a case and set of starter bits. Odd gift, but I know from personal experience a very handy one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beautiful Sunrise

Dan woke me up at 7:00 this morning to show me the most gorgeous sunrise I have ever seen. Outside the bedroom window was a sky streaked with red, gold and orange. Centered in the middle of it all was the magnificent Mt. Rainier.

Any grumbling I had about being woken up early vanished the minute I saw that beautiful view. It didn't last long, but wow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blustery Sort of Day

It is crazy windy here today. I'm sitting at our dining room table and the lawn chairs on our deck just blew by and down the steps. The rain is falling almost horizontal because of the intense wind. According to the paper the gusts are up to 92mph in some areas of western Washington. Around here (Puget Sound) they are 40-50mph. If the winds reach a sustained 50mph they close down the floating bridges because they are unsafe to drive on. That will be a traffic nightmare - highway 52o and Interstate 90 both have floating bridges. A nice day to be inside, and glad to be working from home :)

A nice bright spot is Dan is home! He was at a wedding in Dallas (that I was not invited to) all weekend. I heard all about it through drunken phone calls that lasted up until around midnight Pacific time. Goofball friends of mine - although I did get a kick out of the calls. Half the time I wasn't even sure who I was talking to, then just as I'd figure it out the phone would get passed again.

It sounded like a good time was had by all, although I wish desperately that I had been there. I would loved to have seen everyone again. Missing my great group of friends has been the hardest part of leaving St. Louis.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Happy Birthday Dan

Today is Dan's 32nd birthday! We went out last night to a bar to celebrate with some of Dan's friends (who I really like as well). I poured him into bed pretty late, and coffee was required to get him up and moving this morning. :)

His gift from me was an attachment for our KitchenAid mixer to make homemade pasta. I can't wait for us to try it out.

We're headed to Pike Place Market and the mall to do a bit of shopping.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Yelping For Fun!

Dan is an Elite Yelp! member, and last night we reaped the benefits of his celebrity status. :) He had received an invitation to the New Year Oyster Celebration at Elliott's Oyster House down on the waterfront. It was fabulous!

The restaurant had waitstaff serving hot appetizers and red and white wine. There was an ice bar filled with all the raw oysters you could eat, and a bartender serving mixed drinks. A DJ was playing music (not nearly as good as DJ Mano) and it was a general party/good time atmosphere. The oysters were fabulous, and we met several nice people and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I even bought a book about how to become an oyster connoisseur. Since I already love them, I'm hoping to learn about the subtle flavor variations and how to successfully pick really tasty oysters every time.

Go Yelp!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Settling In


Dan is adjusting to life with cats, and the cats absolutely adore Dan. :)

Dan made it home safe and sound Friday night. We found a new Italian restaurant that was fabulous - very European style - extremely tiny, doubled as a grocery store, a constantly changing menu, and fabulous food.

Saturday we spent the day shopping for householdy stuff. We got a new bathroom set for the upstairs bath, paint to repaint the office, and a bunch of misc stuff. We also looked at furniture - specifically a new couch and some easy chairs.

I know I put a moratorium on household remodeling, painting, carpeting, etc, until after the first of the year, but we have decided to switch the guest room and the office around. The current guest room is a little larger, and we could use the extra space. Plus, it has a much better view and more sunlight. Since I spend so much time there, it makes sense. The downside it, the room is pink. And before we move the office, it makes sense to paint. It will be a bright squashy/yellow color, with accents of "spicy orange." I think it will look awesome.

We also had some of Dan's friends over for movies last night. I had a great time, and I think our guests did too. Dan made homemade pizza in various flavors and we had a great wine from Snoqualmie valley.

Until later...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The View


The weather here the past few days has been unbelievable. Sunny, 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Amazing weather that everyone was out enjoying - even Mt. Rainier.

This is the view from my house. Pretty amazing, isn't it? Makes the grey days worth getting through just to get days like this.

Dan's been in NYC all week, but it hasn't been too bad without him. Yesterday I went to "Conversations" at Revolutions Coffee House. Kai has been going for some time and told me about it. It was a lot of fun. Just folks sitting around talking over coffee and scones. Very relaxed, very comfortable. Kai said there weren't as many there as normal because it was such a gorgeous day/evening - many were outside doing things. But I still met a few people, and later took Kai home and hung out at her place with her and her roommate. It was nice to have some "girl time." :)

All is well on the western front.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Daily Life


Last night was the first night I cooked and we had a meal together, in our house, with no one else there. It was nice. We took the dogs for a walk in the rain before hand, and afterwards cleaned the house a bit then settled in to play with electronics.

I now have a desktop!! I don't have access to our house network yet, but Dan's working on it. I think I have successfully managed to turn on the TV as well as record and watch something on Tivo twice now, so I'm pretty sure I got that down.

The dogs are still a little cranky with each other - Otis and Turtle got into it again today. They'll figure it out eventually. The cats of course, adjusted just fine. Grayson owns the place, and Bailey adores Dan. I think Bailey loves the kitty play room Dan created for her. It's filled with electronics, blinking lights and warm places to sleep. :)

No rain today, or at least no rain in Seattle-speak, but it is really, really, REALLY windy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Beginning to Calm Down

We're down to the final house guest. Michael left Sunday afternoon, and his mom left today. I'd say it feels quiet, but dad and Dan are installing a new microwave in the kitchen and the drills are quite noisy.

Michael was a tremendous help to us here. He went so far above the call of friendship. Besides the drive here, he helped move and ultimately unpack all (ok - most) of the boxes. (There may be a few that still need to be unpacked). He also was a great emotional help in keeping things feeling "normal" for me. It was a great way to transition to a new life without feeling completely lost. He had fun too - I'm pretty sure he can find his way around Seattle much better than I can. He took my car out every day and went exploring and doing whatever struck his fancy.

On last Wednesday Michael's mom and my dad both arrived. Michael and his mom stayed in a hotel, then took the ferry to Victoria, Canada. They stayed at a B&B there and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Dad has been helping with more unpacking, and making the place work for me. You know - having hooks on the doors, hanging organizer racks, little things that make a house feel more functional. The big job tonight is installing the over-the-stove microwave Dan bought. Counter space is at premium, so this seemed like a good solution.

Dad heads home early tomorrow morning, so then things will hopefully calm down and I'll have 2 minutes to think and return phone calls and emails.

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Is Why I Moved


This has to be one of the most beautiful places to live.

This is at Snoqualmie Falls - just shy of 30 minutes south of Seattle. I can't wait to start exploring more.

(oh - and Dan might have played a small part too :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Crazy - But Good

Just a quick update to let you all know I'm still alive. Things here are really good, although a bit chaotic right now.

Michael's still here, and his mom and my dad arrived today. I'm still trying to settle into a routine with the work-from-home thing. We've been dealing with boxes, and have made remarkable progress. We're down to the "oh crap-where do we put this" boxes now :)

More soon - I promise!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Almost There!!

We are within a few hours of Seattle!! We stopped last night in Ellensburg so we could drive through the Cascade Mountains in the morning - and see them.

Everything is going fine. Except for a blown tire in BFE Wyoming, we've had no problems. The animals are doing great - better than I would have expected.

Back to breakfast - we hit the road in a few minutes. I'll post more in the next few days as things settle down. Love you all!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Are We Done Yet?

Grayson has had enough of the craziness in this house, and has kindly packed himself.
I think that look says something like "geeze - that was easy. What's all the fuss about?"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

T-Minus 7

One week from today. That's all the time I have left.

During this last week, I need to:

finish packing
organize the boxes
see friends
contemplate what I've done
find a way to be happy and sad at the same time
find the excitement underneath the stress

This has been quite the adventure (and I'm sure it will continue to be!)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

12 Days Left

I highly recommend never, ever, EVER selling a house. The stress, work, stress, mess, and stress really take a toll. Did I mention the stress of it all?

My house has turned into a "wander through" zone - inspectors for the city, inspectors for the buyers, gas inspectors, surveyors, insurance inspectors, appraisers, the list goes on. This week I have more people coming as I install new air conditioning and have the furnace repaired. I'm also gearing up for a fight with the city about one of their inspectors' findings.

My closing has been moved up to the 28th - which should be interesting since I've said I'm not leaving the house until the 29th. Ah well - that's why I'm paying Matt. So far things have been amicable between the buyers and me, so I'm sure it will be fine.

Dan comes in the 28th around 11pm. His job will be truck packer/supervisor. I suck at packing, and as evidenced by his move, he excels at it. I hope we see a bunch of you there on the 29th - it will make things so much more enjoyable - and quicker!

Ok - back to the boxes.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Meet the Parents

Last weekend I was in Dallas to meet Dan's parents. I think it went really well. His parents are wonderfully sweet country folks - my favorite kinda people.

I flew in on Friday night and my cousin picked me up. We met up with another cousin at a local bar and had a great evening. Although I must say, it was the first time I've ever been in a bar full of drop dead GORGEOUS men, and not a one was even remotely interested in me. :)

Saturday we met Dan at the airport so I could also be on the rental car. We chatted with Randy, and went to lunch at an upscale Mexican place. Dan then took us on a flashback tour of his life - where he grew up, schools he attended, places he knew. It was wonderful to see that area of his life. (I even saw Otis' puppy hood home!)

After wasting some time in geek central (aka Fry's Electronics) we met a high school friend of Dan's for dinner. He was funny, articulate and a genuinely nice guy. I'm hoping he and his family comes to visit us at some point. By this point it was 9:30pm and we began the long drive to his parent's ranch. We arrived right around midnight, popped in to say hello then went and crashed from exhaustion.

Sunday morning we hiked up Round Mountain. Unfortunately no one has really been hiking it so the underbrush was really thick. My poor legs were shredded and chewed on something fierce. But it was fun to see, and I'm looking forward to doing it again - in jeans.

We hung out with his parents the rest of Sunday, and took them to dinner at a steakhouse Sunday night. Monday was a quick lunch with them, and we headed back to Dallas to make sure we had enough time to catch our flights home.

I spent most of my time with his mom, who was so sweet and so obviously proud of her son. I saw family photo albums and heard stories of his childhood. It was wonderful to know Dan better, and to feel so welcomed and included in his family.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Shift

Wow - check out this http://youtube.com/watch?v=OOzG0z1K3Do

It's an amazing idea. Each individual voice is important to the collective.

Friday, August 31, 2007

SOLD!!

It's official...I sold my house! I am scheduled to close October 1.

Talk about feeling mixed emotions...excited, scared, happy, sad - I've pretty much got them all covered.

The official packing party announcement will be forthcoming, but it will be probably be Saturday, September 29. I've reserved the truck for pick-up on that day. Last minute stuff and cleaning will happen on Sunday.

Wow. What have I done?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let The Games Begin

I received the offer, and it was very low. So I have submitted my counter. They have until 6pm tomorrow to accept or counter. I fully expect another round of negotiations before we come to a price agreement.

Then we begin the fun process of inspections.

They want to close 9/21 - which I don't see happening. I requested a close of 9/27.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Maybe?

Matt just called - there is a contract offer supposed to come in tonight. It seems, on the surface, unreasonably low, but we'll see where some possible negotiations might lead.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Trip - Monday and Home


We woke up Monday morning to find fog had engulfed the entire region. We couldn't see more than a few feet from the balcony - it was crazy! After a hearty breakfast from Holly, though, we packed up and hit the road.

First stop - Golden Gate Bridge. It was still relatively early, and a Monday, so there were nearly the crowds we saw on the weekend. We walked across and back - a little over 2 miles. Very worth it though. The views were constantly changing because of the shifting fog. One moment everything would be grey. Suddenly a gust of wind would blow through, clear it out and blue skies would appear. Then the fog would creep in, spreading its tendrils out as it sought refuge in the crevasses and rocks of the bay. I really enjoyed the walk.

Our next stop was more of an accident. I wanted to go sit on the beach for a while, but en route to the one Dan had found we stumbled upon a different one. There were some surfers in the water, but otherwise it was fairly deserted. We sat and watched the waves for a while, then strolled down the beach until we couldn't go any farther. I got some amazing pictures there, as the rocks were perfect for photographing. The water was ice cold, but it felt wonderful to walk in. After a few hours of wandering, the sun was coming out and the beach getting more crowded with dogs, kids and families enjoying a picnic. We decided it was time to move on.

A brief stop at Safeway for some Aloe, and some ice cream at a local place called Woody's, and we were back on the road.

We drove over the Oakland Bridge, through the Berkley area then back across the Bay Bridge and headed south. We found the hotel and checked in, then went in search of dinner. I had been craving raw oysters, so dinner was at a great seafood place called The Fish Market. Oysters, clam chowder, a salad, and skewered swordfish, scallops and shrimp lightly grilled. It was divine.

Dan then took me on a tour of Silicon Valley. We saw every major name in the computer world- including Google and Yahoo. It was an amazing sight. We had a nightcap margarita at a nice little Mexican place, then headed back to the hotel. Dan's flight out was at 6am, so he had an early morning. My flight didn't leave until almost 11am, so I slept in and took the hotel shuttle to the airport. I was home by 7:30pm.

All in all a very nice trip. I'm already looking forward to our next one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Trip - Sunday


We decided to ditch the car and take the ferry from Sausalito to the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It was a very good choice. We left around 11am, and the fog was still so thick you couldn't see more than a few feet in front of the ferry. It was crazy - like a wall surrounding and dividing the city. Once you passed through it, it was sunny and clear without a cloud in the sky.



We walked up Fisherman's Wharf (total tourist area - feel free to avoid it) and found the cable car station at Powell and Hyde. The line was huge to get on the car, so Dan bought tickets and I stood in line to get on. What I didn't realize (although Dan did) was the cable cars stopped at every intersection. So rather than wait an hour in line to get on the car, we hurried to the next intersection up and caught the first car - total wait was about 3 minutes. Yeah Dan!!



We hopped off at Lombard Street, which is dubbed the crookedest street in America. It is a series of switchbacks that is pretty cool to see. Your best view is from the bottom though, so we walked all the way down. Not bad, as the flowers are beautiful. Of course, then you have to walk back UP - which is a little tougher. They aren't kidding about those San Francisco hills.



Back on the cable car and we headed to Chinatown for a dim sum lunch at the Gold Mountain. The food was good and plentiful, and we had a nice time wandering through the strange area. The shops alone are worth browsing through, although you won't know what anything is.



Part of the joy of a cable car is riding on the outside of it. So after wandering Chinatown we managed to catch a car that had 2 spots on the outside - yippee! It was definitely more enjoyable to ride that way. We hopped off at Kennedy's Irish Pub for a beer for Dan and a Pear Cider for me. I don't recall where we were, but I recommend you find that place and have a drink - very nice.



We walked back and caught the 6pm ferry back to Sausalito, picked up the car and drove to Marin County Headlands. It's an old Army fort that overlooks the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. (My earlier picture of the foggy bridge was taken there). The view was spectacular. It was getting foggier and the temperature was dropping, so we opted not to walk the bridge. We walked around the area and took lots of pictures.



We could see traffic into San Francisco was horrible, so we opted for dinner in Tiburon at a little sushi place. Afterwards I took another soak in the jacuzzi and, quite literally, passed out as soon as I hit the bed. Poor Dan probably thought I was dead.



When we woke up in the morning, not only was San Francisco gone - the entire world had disappeared. We couldn't see 3 feet beyond the balcony railing because of the fog. Stay tuned for Monday's adventures...

The Trip - Arrival and Saturday


We had a fabulously wonderful trip out west. Because we flew into different airports, we met at the hotel on Friday night. A bit of sleep and we hit the ground running the next morning, fueling ourselves up at a great little French crepery.

We drove through San Francisco, and I got my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge as we drove across into Tiburon. We had rented a room from a wonderful lady named Holly there. I had found a website that let you rent a room from an individual. They often cooked breakfast for you as well, but these weren't businesses - just someones home. Holly said she rented out her room about 2x a year - whenever she was bored.

The room was fabulous - one wall was almost all windows and French doors that looked out over San Francisco Bay, the city, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We slept with those doors open every night - the weather was perfect for it.

Saturday afternoon we wandered around Alta Vista Park (where the picture was taken). They had some of the most spectacular houses. We walked over to Haight-Ashbury (the original hippie area) and walked through that area. We spent a bit of time in Dan's favorite place - Amoeba Records. There is still quite an eclectic group of people in this area - from hippie's to tourists to homeless and everything in-between. It was a fun place to wander, and turned out to be one of my favorite areas.

When we got hungry we headed to the Castro district (the predominately gay area) for food. They had some interesting window displays there, that are definitely not for the prudish. But we found a nice restaurant and had a great time.

We walked back to the car to head back to Tiburon. I soaked my sore legs in Holly's wonderful jacuzzi tub, then we both fell into a comatose sleep. When we woke up in the morning, San Francisco was gone! The entire city was blanketed in fog. It was the strangest sight, because the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky - except over Alcatraz and San Francisco.

Come back tomorrow for our Sunday adventures...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We're Back

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We're back from a fabulous tour of San Francisco. I'm sunburned, sore from all the walking, and very tired. It was a great trip though, and additional posts are forthcoming...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Not Much Going On

Still no movement on the house. In fact, Dan and I are discussing (at the recommendation of the realtor) dropping the price a few thousand. We'll see.

There's really nothing else exciting going on, or even unexciting. I went to a bridal shower Saturday, then to a movie with some girlfriends. We saw Stardust, and it was excellent. It's essentially a love story, but has a nice sci-fi/old English twist. Sunday Michael and I went to see Nancy Drew. It was really cute too. And since it's been between 95 and 100 degrees every day for the past two weeks, a cold theatre was a perfect way to spend a few hours.

In Dan News, he turned down the job he was offered. It was not an easy decision, and he's still not sure it's the right one, but he's opted to stay where he is for now. His current employer offered him some nice things to get him to stay, including managing a couple of underlings, additional pay, and more authority in the business. Add that to the incredibly flexible work hours he already has, and the extra vacation he gets and his current job morphed into something he really wanted to stay with. Both companies offer him wonderful potential, but in very different ways. We'll re-evaluate in a year or two to see how things are going. Who knows - maybe we'll take that position at Google in Sydney. :)

I honestly can't think of much more. Dan and I head to San Francisco for a long weekend on Friday. I'm sure I'll have more stories then - I've never been to San Fran.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still Holding...


The house is still on the market. A few nibbles, but nothing resembling a contract. I have another open house scheduled for Sunday, so say a prayer that things go well.

In other news...Dan was offered the job he interviewed for! I had no doubt he would wow them, and sure enough - they called with an offer within 24 hours! He told his boss at his old job, but I'm not sure if he officially turned in paperwork to HR. But he starts in 2 weeks!

I think we have officially hit five of the top ten stressors (good ones, anyway) that a person can go through. Our theory seems to be get it all out of the way at once!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Showings Begin

I had my first official showing yesterday! Today there is another showing scheduled at 11am, and an open house this afternoon. Please pray that the right person comes through and makes an offer.

Unless you've been living under a rock in a small cave located somewhere on Jupiter, you know that the 7th and final Harry Potter book came out Friday. I decided to join the throngs of goofballs who stood in line to get the book, and was rewarded by being the 24th person at St. Louis Barnes & Nobles to get my book! I was out the door by 12:03am and ensconced in bed reading by 12:30am. I read until my eyes were ready to fall out, then finished it yesterday afternoon.

(No spoilers, so don't worry) She did a great job with the book. She hit the ground running and never stopped! There were twists and turns and a lot of things explained. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Last night I did get out and have some fun. I met the gang at Dewey's Pizza to celebrate a great woman's birthday. The pizza was the best I had ever eaten, and the company even better. Afterwards we ended up at Traci's to test the next installment in the Cupcake Project. These were chocolate cupcakes with a crushed pretzel crust and topping. They were heavenly. Good job Stef! I've been extremely impressed with how beautiful and unique she's been able to make each cupcake. (The link to her blog is at the bottom, I highly recommend you check it out).

Nights like last night make me not want to leave St. Louis. I can't imagine ever finding such a wonderful group of friends anywhere else. I'm going to miss them so much. But my thanks to Capt. Jack for trying to reassure me. You are a sweetheart.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's Official


My house is officially on the market. The MLS number is 750955. For the curious, the listing may be found at http://www.cbgundaker.com/search/advanced/detail.jsp?type=res&mls_num=750955
Be sure to click on the "more photos" option to see the rest of the pictures. Matt did a fabulous job with them. And yes, there is an open house on Sunday. The dogs and I will be at dad's :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Almost There

Today Matt was over to do the final walk through and take pictures of the various rooms. I signed all the paperwork, and the house goes on the market Monday. I'll post the MLS link once I have it. Wow - all this work and it's finally coming to fruition.

Dan is moved into our new house. He's tied up in the 48 film contest this weekend, so I haven't heard much. But I know he really likes the new place, so that's good. We have a phone, Internet and TIVO - all the important stuff. :) He's been so wonderfully supportive during my various freak-out moments. He's had his too - our general agreement is we can't freak out over the same things at the same time. So far so good.

I told work about my plans on Thursday. My boss's reaction was "well I wasn't expecting to hear this news until the end of the year." She figured we'd announce we were getting married around year end and I'd be moving. I pitched my idea of telecommuting, and it wasn't dismissed. Both her and her boss are supportive of it. Now we just have to get the rest of the management team on board. The next big hurdle, Eve's boss's boss, is very pro-technology, so hopefully it won't be much of a hurdle. Say a little prayer - being able to keep my job would make the transition so much easier.

That's it for now - I'm beat!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Closer Still...


I now have a fully functional kitchen! It's not clean, but it has counters, a sink, a stove - everything! I love the new counters! The look through has been updated with new trim and everything has a new paint job. It really looks good. Thank you Dan for picking out the color of the new counters, and Michael for building them.
Bryan came over tonight to help. We finished edging the tile in the basement, so it is officially done! It was wonderful to have the company. That alone is worth its weight in gold. Thank you for helping me keep my sanity (such as it is) for one more day, Bryan.
I had some dental work done today, so I'm calling it an early night. My tooth hurts and I feel slightly ill. Until tomorrow...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Getting Closer...


Things are still progressing. I installed a new floor in the basement today - looks great doesn't it? Michael has been working feverishly on my new counter tops. I may even have them by the time the house goes on the market! Apparently they are a little harder than we anticipated.
(Notice the wall in the background - that's Dan's handiwork. Compare to the 6/17 pic of what that wall used to look like.)
I'm still plugging away at packing, sorting and trashing. Mostly trashing at this point. Most of what I can pack, is packed. The rest is needed for "staging" the house, or living here.
That's it for now. My hands hurt really bad tonight, and my knuckles are swollen. Too much manual labor :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Funeral

Dad and I left Wednesday about noon to head to the funeral of Annie's dad. The wake was from 2-9pm, and we got there about 4. We paid our respects and chatted with the various family members. Hundreds of people came through, including the bishop and the cardinal. Dad M was a well loved man.

Shortly after 6 I was hungry and Nora was getting bored. We headed to Baker's Square for dinner and had a very nice time. I told her we'd go swimming afterwards - big mistake on my part. I didn't book a hotel in advance, figuring how hard would it be to find a hotel on a random Wednesday in Alsip, IL? Yeah.....there were 350 flights cancelled out of O'Hare - every hotel between Joliet and downtown was booked solid. We finally managed to find one, but their pool was closed for cleaning. We settled for 2nd best and sat with our legs in the hot tub playing "I Spy." Later we went up to the room to wait for her mom to pick her up. I had given her a book with blank pages, so she started writing me a story. She has turned into a delightful young girl.

Thursday we were back at the funeral home for a 10am prayer service. It was beautiful. Part was in Gaelic, part in English and all Dad M. There weren't many dry eyes when it was over. We processed to the church for the funeral mass. It was about 1.5 hours long, because there was a ceremony to bring the casket in, including bagpipes, plus the full Catholic mass. At the end of the mass, Mary (the oldest) gave an exceptional eulogy. She did a wonderful job of sharing her father - the man. The fiery Irishman and the loving man of God. The father and the husband. The grandfather and brother. All that Dad M was to all of us.

We processed to the cemetery where a military ceremony was performed. It was also beautiful. When they handed Mom M the flag, she was able to give a small speech to the Army men about supporting our troops and praying that they are all home safe soon. She is one remarkable woman. I was having trouble coming up with a coherent thought, and she comes out with an eloquent speech.

After leaving the cemetery we went to a banquet hall for lunch. This was a time to sit and talk, to remember the good and fun that was Dad M. It was very nice. Dad and I headed home around 3:30pm and I pulled into my house around 10. It was a long trip, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

The world lost a good man on June 23, 2007. I love you Dad M.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Visit

Dan came into town this weekend to help me get my house ready. (I think he wanted to check out my furniture as well!) He was a tremendous help - both in terms of what he was able to accomplish, and giving me the emotional support I needed.

Many of you know that Annie's dad had been in the hospital. After a very emotional rollercoaster week, he passed away Saturday afternoon. The wake will be tomorrow, and the funeral on Thursday. Dad and I are driving up tomorrow. Unfortunately, Dan had to fly back to Seattle this morning, so I won't have him with me. As a testament to his wonderful nature though, he brought funeral appropriate clothing in case we had to go over the weekend. He was willing to fly to 2200 miles to see me, then drive to 5 hours to Chicago to go to the funeral of man he'd never met - because it was important to me. He's a good man.

As for the house, most of the rooms are painted. I have some trim to finish in the living room, and the doors/trim in the hallway. Dan replaced the wall in the basement (see previous post) that needed work. He fixed my gate, and bought new counter tops for the kitchen. Dad, Jean and Michael were over Sunday helping clean and paint as well. Dad marked off a section in the garage that is 8x16 to show me how much room I'll have in the truck. It's not nearly enough. :)

Dan also took me grocery shopping. Apparently a fridge full of wine, ketchup, butter, 5 different mustard's and rotten Chinese was not acceptable. He found some shelf-stable easy cook foods, and instructed me to not order fast food, pizza or Chinese anymore. :) Pot calling the kettle black...He eats out daily - although much better quality than I typically go for. I'm the fast, cheap and easy - he's more sit-down-ethinic-or-steak. He is a fabulous cook, though and wants me to eat healthier. Not that he does - but he wants me to. I get to work on him when I live there :)

We close on the house in Seattle July 3. Dan will start moving in pretty quick. He's already planning on gutting the kitchen. We boxed up his tile saw for him to take back on the plane today. Since it's his house, he can do what he wants to it. Luckily, I've seen some of his handiwork and it's very good. I have no problem leaving all the design up to him. He bought my counter tops with no input from me and they are beautiful.

Wow - what a busy weekend. More to follow...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Basement Work Begins


I've started packing/ destroying the basement now. We had to remove the panelling on that wall because of some rodent (thank you Abby the hamster) and water damage. I'll hang new panelling and paint it white to match everything else.
I have a beautiful (and functional) stove, thanks to dad and Michael. Thanks to Ran and Michael all the wallpaper is gone from my kitchen. Thanks to Jean, Naomi and all the garage salers who came to buy stuff, I can now afford to hire someone else to do the work :)
On the recommendation of Dan and Michael I am hiring a guy to come and "skim coat" my walls in the closet bedroom and kitchen. It will turn out much nicer than anything I could do, and go much quicker. Here's hoping...
And don't worry-I didn't make dad work too much on Father's Day. And I (sort of) cooked a meal on my stove. Of course, I do feel bad 'cause I can't find his present. It's around this mess somewhere.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Small Snag

I'm working on painting prep, but it's a slow process. Slower when I can't get the wallpaper glue off the walls. I think I've given up in the closet room and I'm just going to re-wallpaper. I spent most of last night trying to clean it, but with no success.

I patched holes and cracks tonight, and will finish washing the walls in prep for new wallpaper tomorrow. Not what I wanted, but I don't seem to have a lot of choice. Anyone know where to find inexpensive wallpaper?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Moving Along

Things are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Friday night I did some serious packing/sorting from my closet room. Dan says I only get a closet - not an entire room - so some massive consolidation was needed. Naomi saved me by coming over to watch The Devil Wears Prada and eat Chinese as we commiserated about the moving process.

I spent Saturday doing inventory and picking up packing supplies. That afternoon Michael and I picked up tables and garage sale stuff from Jean and grandma, and unloaded it at my house. I spent the evening packing and sorting - again.

Sunday Michael picked up stuff from Naomi that she wanted to put in the sale. Jean came over to help price and organize my stuff. Dad helped unhook electronics for the things I sold, and he took home some stuff he wanted. I had Craigslisted my TVs, mom's jewelery armoir and a DVD player. It's all sold. Yippee! I used that money to buy a new electric stove off Craigslist, and Michael went with me to pick it up last night. Of course the outlets have changed over the past 30 years, so I can't plug it in. He's working on fixing that for me today. He also hauled away the old stove and helped unhook the old hood from the cabinets.

God bless Michael - this would be much more difficult without him. Whoever would have guessed we'd turn into this? (And yes, I bought him dinner and gave him gas money as a thank you)

I did take a break Sunday and went to gossip with the neighbors a bit. I went to ask if I could buy some of their painting supplies (he was a professional painter prior to retirement). She wouldn't let me, but gave me everything I could ever need - much better quality stuff than I could buy too. Rollers, nap, coveralls, extenders, about 2 dozen paintbrushes in various sizes, putty knives in various sizes and 100 razor blades and scrapers. What fabulous neighbors I have - they are going to be a hard act to follow.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Next Steps


I met with Matt, my realtor, tonight. It was a good news/bad news kinda thing. There is a lot of work to do on my house, but it's all cosmetic.


I need to tear down the wallpaper in the kitchen/hallway area and repaint. Fix some small cracks in the living room and repaint, and of course, repaint my closet room. He also recommended scrubbing the kitchen cabinets with TSP (TCP?? whatever that stuff is) and installing new counter tops. New carpet is a possibility as well, but I may hire Stanley steamer to try and salvage mine.


All this by July 1. After sitting around and feeling overwhelmed, I called Dan for moral support. He helped tremendously and I got a few more boxes packed. I even got the first drawer emptied out!

This is starting to feel real.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We Got It


Well, Dan got it. He put an offer on the house we were looking at and it was accepted! It's in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. It has 4 bed/2 bath, tiny deck, yard (unfenced) for dogs and a view of Mt. Rainier. There are three parks within three blocks of the place. I am so excited! His closing is scheduled for July 10.


I meet with my realtor tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

It's All Falling Together...


or apart, depending on your view. My house is officially turning into a disaster zone. On the bright side, I'm cleaning out 6 years worth of accumulated stuff. The downside is there is A LOT of stuff. I haven't even put a dent in cleaning my closet - and I've got 6 huge garbage bags full of stuff to go to Goodwill.

This shows my normally immaculate dining room slowing being taken over by stuff for the garage sale. You can't see the piles to the right of the camera, or the huge pile behind me. I have also filled up every empty box and bin I can find with stuff I plan on moving and have begun hauling it out to the garage.
This ain't gonna be pretty.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

One Down, 893,909 To Go

I have packed my first box. Ok, it's a small box and it's just filled with books- but it's a start, right?

I looks like we are buying a house. We've spent the past couple of days scouring real estate websites and IMing back and forth on what we like/don't like. We found a few so far that might bear a second look. He's going to check out one or two this weekend.

The sheer amount of work that must be done is overwhelming. Anyone have sage words of wisdom to help me survive this?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Changes in Store

Well, it has happened. I have finally found someone I am willing to take a gamble on. I am putting all my money on red and going 100% in. I am selling my house and moving to Seattle to live with Dan.

My head is currently spinning, and my emotions are on overload to the point of shutting down. I'm happy, scared, excited, nervous all at once.

There will be more to follow, but for now I've processed all I can for one day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Blog Favorite - the Cupcake Project

Check out my friend Stef's new blog - the Cupcake Project. She volunteered to make cupcakes for our friends wedding. This blog is a log of her successes and failures as the big day approaches.

http://www.cupcakeproject.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Anniversary


This week was my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Johnny's 50th wedding anniversary! Quite the accomplishment! Their kids threw a small party for them to celebrate. Johnny doesn't do crowds...actually Johnny doesn't do people, so the party was very small. Just their kids, the grandkids and their spouses, and the great-grandkids. I'm the long-lost daughter, so I was invited as well. :)


Saturday Marilyn and I did a bit of shopping before the party, and went to Kaldi Coffee for lunch. Sunday we went to a new winery OOVDH (oof-dah) - it's Springfield's first and not too bad. I bought some blueberry and concord grape wine. He also had the coolest garden I have ever seen - I can't describe it very well, but I'll try. He planted two long sheets of metal about 3 feet apart and filled in between them with dirt. The garden was planted there. Everything was waist high - no bending to weed or pick. It also doubled as a fence for his yard. It was very cool.


We had a wonderful time, and it was great to spend time with my cousins again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This Is What I Do




The hardest part of my job is trying to explain what I do. I work in a manufacturing firm that manufactures something no one has heard of - or even thought about. What are conveyor and palletizer systems?


Here is a picture of our final assembly area. There are no machines showing, but you can see what our machines do. Conveyors move things from one end of a warehouse to another. Palletizers stack the products on pallets - as shown in the picture.


It actually requires a fair amount of computer electronics and programming to make sure everything stacks correctly. You want as much as possible on every pallet, but not too much so it tips over or crushes the lower boxes. Some of the palletizers also add the shrink wrap to hold everything in place. Depalletizers (which we also make) obviously do the opposite - they take the pallet stacks apart and put the product on conveyors. Palletizers and depalletizers use suction or robots or both to accomplish this. (The robots are pretty cool.)


So now you know - this is what I do. If you are interested in more, our website is www.fkilogistex.com The portal into my little world is the second tab - manufacturing systems. It has some pretty good pictures of the machines and the robot assemblies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yardwork


I have spent

much of the past few days working on my yard. I got a truckload of mulch, about 800 bricks, and enough flowers to plant three hanging baskets. The bricks will be used to create a tree ring and a sidewalk. My patio is brick and I'd like to have a sidewalk running from it to the driveway. Since the bricks were free (gotta love Craigslist) I decided this was a good time.

I love my backyard. Especially when the honeysuckle and peony's are in full bloom - it smells wonderful.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm a Genius


It finally happened - my work recognized me for the genius I am. :) We have a semi-monthly ezine called Future Flow. It's a way of communicating to the employees around the US what's going on in the company. To encourage us to read it, at the end is a quiz about some random subject. If you answer the questions correctly your name goes in for a prize drawing.


In March, it was called the Genius edition. I (with the help of Dan, Aunt Jean and Grandma) answered the questions correctly, and won! I got a $35 gift certificate to Amazon.com as my prize. Then last week, I got a box addressed to me, and inside was this lovely trophy. It's official - I now have an award that clearly states I am a genius.


You can't imagine the ribbing I took.

Friday, May 11, 2007

US Secretary of the Treasury - Henry Paulson

We had a bit of excitement here at work today. The US Secretary of Treasure, Henry Paulson, came to visit. He toured two St. Louis facilities to promote foreign investment in US companies.

It was an interesting experience. I've never met a cabinet member before. The company chose 50 employees to stand on stage with him. I put my name in, but wasn't chosen. It's ok though, because I think we had better seats on the floor.

Here's an article about the visit...

http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2007-05-10-foreign-invest-usat_N.htm

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nashville Country Music Marathon


WE DID IT! Five of us (Michelle, Eric, Ran, Michael and I) left for Nashville Friday morning to compete in Saturday's Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon . It has been a wonderful trip.

Saturday the weather was gorgeous, but the traffic was awful. Approximately 30,000 people came to compete, plus all their family and friends. It took us over an hour to get to the race site, and it was only a few miles away from the hotel. Michael and Ran ran, while the rest of us walk/ran. Final time 3 hours, 49 minutes.

Saturday afternoon was spent in the hot tub easing sore muscles, and Saturday night at the post-race concert. Sara Evans was the headliner. I really like her and was excited to see the concert. My body had other ideas - namely sleep. I managed to doze off in the middle of 20,000 screaming people. The part I saw was good, and I slept like a baby that night.

Sunday we slept in, only to be awoken by the fire alarm. We're pretty sure the hotel people figured it was the only way to get 200 exhausted people out by check-out time. We headed to The Hermitage, home of former president Andrew Jackson. It was beautiful and very interesting. By the time we left Nashville it was almost 3:00. I finally pulled into my driveway about 10:00.

Very long, very fun weekend. Ran, Eric, Michelle and Michael are wonderful travel companions. I can't wait till we do it again (well, maybe not the running part)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day!


The dogs and I spent today in Forest Park in celebration of Earth Day. We met one of my oldest friends, Janel, and her family down there. It was so good to see her. We grew up next door to each other and haven't talked in a while. I miss her. Her daughter is a sweetie, and they are expecting #2 in October. Hopefully we can get together once a month or so.


The weather was perfect, and I am a little pink from the sun. It was great though, to see so many people come out to celebrate our planet. The beautiful picture is the Grand Basin, Art Hill and the Art Museum at the top. It was a perfect day to be out, and a ton of people seemed to agree.
I also ran into a few friends there, and stayed to listen to a fabulous band - The Bottoms Up Blue Band. They put on a wonderful show, and have a brand new CD coming out.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What a Wonderful Day for a BBQ


My friend Amie had a BBQ today at Tower Grove Park. It was an absolutely perfect spring day. I took the dogs (as did everyone else who owned them) and headed out to join my friends. We had so much fun! It was great to hang out in the fresh air and enjoy each other's company.


Turtle is checking for any food that may have dropped. Mickey hung out by the grill most of the day to get first dibs.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's DONE!!

I have finished my bathroom, and I love it!!! There's a few touch up things to finish yet, but it's minor stuff that most folks won't even notice. My house is still messy, but we've downgraded from all out catastrophe to just a mess. Most of the tools and such have ended up back in the basement, although not necessarily put away. Michael has taken his tools home.

What a relief! I can shower, dry my hair and brush my teeth - all in the same room!!

Casa Karen is open for business once again. (Ok, it never closed, but now you don't have to worry I'll make you go potty in a bucket and shower under a hose!)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Making Progress - Slowly


I'm about at the end of my rope. I'm not sure I can live without a functional bathroom much longer. Call me a whiner, but I am not dealing with this well. Fortunately, I am making a bit of progress. I finally got some paint on the walls, and tomorrow night the sink should go back in.
Remind me to never do this again.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Travelin' Fool

This summer is going to be an on-the-go one. I have officially booked my trip to Seattle for the end of May. Then, for good measure, Dan and I booked a trip to meet in San Francisco in August. He thinks I'll love it there, and I've never been, so it seems like a good time to go. Anyone have any ideas on what to do or see in San Francisco?

The bathroom is coming along veeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyyy slowly. It takes forever for the mud to dry. So I mud, wait a day, mud some more, wait another day, mud, wait, sand, wait, mud, wait - you get the idea. I'm hoping the final stages of mudding are here. I have to go help Michael with his floor this weekend, so I won't get much further until next week. Oh well. I do what I can. I'm learning to live in a completely trashed house.

Last night I did take a break and met up with some of the gang for a night at the Funny Bone. Very enjoyable evening, mostly do to the company. Thanks for a much needed night out, guys.

Now - on to taxes. Somehow it's already time to mail them and I'm not done. Oops!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Hug From My Mom

Mom sent this to me a few weeks before she died, and I just rediscovered it.

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then I have to remember
That it's in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Moving Forward

I have completed my dining room! I nailed the quarter round down and moved in all the furniture. I even washed the walls and baseboards for good measure. It's wonderful to have something done.

I did put another layer of mud on the bathroom walls, and I finished painting the register and cabinet. I think it will look very nice when it's done. The medium color is a little pinker than I'd thought, but it will be good.

The workweek will be tough without a functional bathroom. And of course this is the week I have something going on every night - and nothing can be changed. Oh well. My one bright spot is I think I'm going back to Seattle over Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Coming Along


It's coming, although slowly. I finally have all the drywall up, and the first coat of mud on. Does anyone know how to do corners? That's the one thing Michael won't do. The large hole is where the medicine chest goes.


I bought paint and plan to spend tonight painting the cabinet and register vent. I also started painting the quarter round for the dining room. Since it's red it takes about 6 coats.
I am so ready for this to be done.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Dark Before the Dawn


Things always get worse before they get better, right? Well, here's worse. I had no water in my house all day yesterday. I had to shut the main off because none of the shut-off valves worked. I have since replaced them all. Of course, the cold water one was so corroded I couldn't get it off, so we cut it out. Michael then taught me to pre-tin and solder new pipes then install them to the existing pipes. Once that was done, I replaced the shut-offs.

You know you're in the midst of a major remodel when your bathroom sink and toilet end up on your bedroom floor.

After working until 2 am though, I had a sheet of drywall behind the toilet, a new floor, and water. We replaced all the stuff inside the toilet, as well as the seals and washers. As long as it was apart and in pieces, why not?

For now, a long soak in the tub, followed by Advil and bed. I begin again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Fare Thee Well, My Bathroom

I have begun the process of updating my bathroom. As you can see, things are not going quite as planned. I got a wild hair and decided to remove the paneling that was there (you can still see it behind the sink - it looks like brick). Unbeknowst to me, there were no walls behind the paneling. YIKES!!

Step two will consist of me learning how to drywall. Step three will be using a chair rail to hide how much I screw up the transition from drywall to plaster.

On the bright side, it will be much easier to re-wire the lighting since all the wiring is now exposed. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Peep for President


When I was in Seattle, Kai mentioned the local paper was running a Peeps photo contest. Several days later, when Dan's friend hiked up Mt. Si with us, she and I discussed what she was planning on doing to enter the contest. She even sent me a picture of what she submitted. I happened to be perusing our local paper last week, and what do I see? A "Primp Your Peep" photo contest! I promptly decided to enter and spent several days mulling over what to do. Peeps are not the easiest medium to work with. They are sticky and sugar gets everywhere. Markers, glue and paint tends to melt them. It was a challenge to come up with an idea, and then a way to make it work, but I loved it!


Ultimately I met with success and designed a "Peep for President" political rally. I am very proud of my photo. The contest ends today, so wish me luck in my first ever photo contest!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Floors


It's done!! All that's left to do is lay the quarter round (edging) and clean! I can't believe how wonderful it looks. Compliments will be accepted at my standard email address. :)


I'm not planning on doing the edging until Memorial Day because I need to paint it all before it's installed. Hopefully the cleaning and putting furniture back will be accomplished by the end of the week.
Tomorrow night I'm going to Aunt Jean's to help her out for a while. Saturday I'll take grandma on her usual shopping excursion, then to lunch at Jean's.
For now - to bed.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Carpet's Dead


I did it! I successfully ripped out all the carpeting from my dining room. Let me just say - eeeewwwwww. It was disgusting, and I'm very glad it's gone. It wasn't nearly as difficult to do as I thought it would be. For one brief, shining moment I thought I had beautiful floors under the carpet. Turns out it was glue on laminate and not in great shape. Michael was even kind enough to pick up all the old carpet and take it to his dumpster.

Sidebar - We've finally made peace with each other and our differences. We are simply not meant to be together. Thank you to Dan for giving me the final knock up side the head I needed to see it, and be finally be ok with it.

I pulled up all the tack strips, and Michael helped me lay the underlayment in preparation for putting down the laminate . We couldn't finish because I needed a saw with a special blade that I didn't own. Dad has one though, and he's bringing it today. With any luck I'll have a brand new floor tonight!

Dad is coming in to take my grandma to the doctor. Aunt Jean handles all of this normally, but true to form, when it rains it pours. Grandma's health is really going downhill. She is having trouble breathing and the fainting spells are increasing. She's afraid to leave the house to even get the paper. (Of course, no one mentioned this to me until yesterday.)

Normally, Jean stops over every day after work and makes sure grandma's ok. Last night, she called me in tears. She had just fallen down her steps and thought she broke her ankle. Her husband was at the store, but she thought he'd be home soon. I did find the phone number for the store he was at and had him paged. Unfortunately (fortunately??) he had already left and was en route home. Mostly she was concerned that I get a hold of dad and make sure he could take grandma to the doctor today.

After a visit to the ER visit it turns out she broke her left ankle, sprained her right, and tore some ligaments in her right. She is not allowed to put any weight on her feet for at least 7 days. She's pretty upset about the whole thing - and worried about grandma. Her husband got a wheelchair and a shower seat, and has arranged with his work to be with her for the first week or so. They meet with the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow so we'll have a better idea of how long she'll be down.

In the meantime, I have grandma duty. I'm going to stop by every night after work to see how she's doing - not matter if she says I don't need to or not!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reclaiming My Yard


Whew - busy day! I took a class this morning at the community college on how to survive a power outage. I know - I probably could have taught it, but I did learn a few new things. It's also nice to have someone confirm what I thought I knew, and offere a few tricks I hadn't thought of. The best tip I got today is regarding frozen food safety. Keep an ice cube tray in your freezer. When your power goes out, immediately lay a penny on top of the frozen tray. When your power comes back on, you can see how far the penny sank into the ice. If it's at the bottom - throw out all your frozen foods.


I also spent the day trying to reclaim my yard from Mother Nature. I made quite a bit of progress, including getting the pond clean and running again. The hyacinth in the picture is one that is growing along my driveway. The backyard has about a dozen more in pink, purple and white. I love my backyard. I'm itching to start planting!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rock Climbing

I tried my hand at the local vertical gym last night - it was awesome! Ok, not as awesome as Seattle. I plan on going back a few more times to see if I find a group out there.

Dan and the gang are headed to Vegas for Eric's birthday weekend. Have a great time guys! Spin the roulette wheel for me - $5 on 12. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great Book Recommendation

Work began at the ungodly hour of 6:00am. Who gets up that early?!? We were all here around 5:30am to get organized, and promptly at 6 the annual inventory count began. Once a year the whole company shuts down and we count every nut, bolt, bearing and roller in the entire place. With luck, it's a one day process. The company feeds us breakfast, lunch and (if necessary) dinner to help keep everyone on track. Our customers are less than thrilled about us being closed, but it's a necessary evil. We close our fiscal year 3/31.

I've been reading the most amazing book Dan gave me called "What Should I Do With My Life?" by Po Bronson. It may even be worthy of the Captain Canuck reading list. The book is, essentially, a collection of short autobiographies. He explores his premise, that "nothing is braver than people facing up to their own identity," as an anthropologist and autobiographer. He tackles thorny, nuanced issues about self-determination. Among them: paradoxes of money and meaning, authorship and destiny, brain candy and novelty versus soul food. Bronson’s stories, limited to professional people and complete with photos, are gems. They include a Los Angeles lawyer who became a priest, a Harvard MBA catfish farmer turned biotech executive, and a Silicon Valley real estate agent who opened a leather crafts factory in Costa Rica. I highly recommend everyone read this book - it is that good.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Again


After a long and arduous process at the airport, I am once again in good ole St. Louis. Dan dropped me at the airport on his way to work, where I planned on just hanging out until my 1:00pm flight. The flight was overbooked - and I volunteered to be bumped. The next flight was at (possibly) 5:00pm or for sure at 7:00pm. For my inconvenience I received a first class upgrade, a $10 dinner voucher for that day, and a $300 voucher towards a future ticket. Yeah me!! Free travel!! Little did I know. The 5pm flight was re-routed to Dallas, and I could have been on it, but there was no guarantee of a flight out of Dallas until the next day. The 7pm flight was cancelled. Good grief. After many phone calls to Dan (in case I needed a place to sleep) and Michael (who was picking me up in STL) they finally got us out sometime after 7.

The flight turned out to be awesome. There were a total of 16 stranded passengers, so we got the ENTIRE plane to ourselves. Of course, the airline re-booked us all in first class, so the the whole coach section was empty. A glass of wine before lift-off. Warm nuts and a cocktail, followed by a warm cloth to wipe our faces. Dinner with real dishes, brie, crackers, wine and linen napkins. Warm cookies with milk for dessert, followed by coffee and liquor. At the end of the flight we were offered a champagne flute of M&Ms. And of course, roomy seats with lots of leg room. Craziest flight I've ever been on, but it was AWESOME!!!

I was sad to leave Dan and Seattle, but with my free ticket, hopefully we'll see each other soon. My final days there were a whirlwind of activity. Friday night (after returning from Lacey) we went to a vertical gym to go rock climbing with a friend of Dan's. I loved it - and didn't do to badly either. My stomach was pretty upset for some reason, but I ignored it as best I could in the face of having a safety harness winched around me. After climbing we headed to a cute outdoor cafe for dinner. As we waited for a table, my stomach all out revolted. Standing on the edge of the street in downtown Seattle I completely lost it. I would have been embarrassed if I hadn't felt so crappy. Dan helped clean me up, then drove me to his place to rest. He and his friend went back out for food after they had me settled.

Saturday I still felt a little queasy, so food for the day consisted of hot tea. Kai joined us for breakfast at Dan's favorite cinnamon roll place. Afterwords we headed to an art festival, which was awesome, then the traditional St. Patty's Day dinner of sushi. Don't ask. It was really good sushi though. (Obviously I was feeling much better by this point.)

Sunday Dan and I headed to the mountains. We hiked Mount Si just south of Seattle. It is four miles to the top, with a grade of about 22% all the way. For us flatlanders, that means it is VERY STEEP. We ran into a friend of Dan's en route up the mountain (it's the Seattle equivalent of running into someone at the gym) and she hiked the rest of the way with us. Once at the top any pain of the climb is forgotten as you look out over the amazing views. Of course, then you have to go down. Not as tough, but my legs were shaking by the time we hit the Jeep. I was pretty sure I was going to sleep in the Jeep because I wouldn't be able to move. After a great steak dinner, though, I felt good as new.

Dan and I ended up staying up all night looking at pictures, talking and burning music CDs. I figured I'd sleep on the plane then go to bed early. (See beginning of post to see how that turned out!) I did feel bad that Dan had to go to work on no sleep, but we were having so much fun. Of course, he caught my stomach bug yesterday, but I think he feels better today.

Michael picked me up from the airport at 1:30am, and we talked about my adventures until about 3:30am - I was too keyed up to sleep anyway. Actually, by this point I think I was just overtired and beyond exhaustion. So I'm at work, running on about 3 hours of sleep over the course of the last 48. Ouch.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Work Is Over, Let the Fun Resume

I just arrived back in Seattle from my three day stint in Olympia/Lacey. As you may (or may not) know, the entire reason I was able to take this fabulous sojourn was because my office needed some of us in Lacey to work the new Target IW job. Lacey isn't that big, so we stayed at a hotel in Olympia - right on the Puget Sound. As you can imagine, the seafood was beyond divine. Salmon, oysters, shrimp - I was in heaven!! The state capital building was across the sound from us, and the overall atmosphere was lazy and nice. The hotel was great - huge rooms, nice breakfast, and a pool that we never had time to use.

It was a good thing the food, wine and company was good (I enjoy the folks I work with) because the work itself was a little rough. Things got off to a slow start. Things the IW should have had done before we got there weren't even started. We spent the first 3 hours doing their work. That put us very far behind schedule. We had anticipated finishing everything and being out of there by 2:00pm yesterday - at the latest. Instead we were still there at 7:00 last night. We all left exhausted and a little cranky, but we got the job done.

Working in any warehouse is manual and very dirty. It's a nice change of pace from my typical workday. Sore muscles and aching feet - not to mention dirt and grime streaked clothing - usually don't accompany 8 hours in front of a computer.

My team headed for home today, and dropped me back at Dan's place. He's at work at the moment, so I've hijacked the washer and dryer to do laundry. Next on the agenda is a nap - it's sunny and nice, but I'm beat. I have a sinus infection and am on some nice drugs for it. I feel good, but they are making me sleepy. I'm not sure what's on the agenda for tonight. More later though...