It's Friday.....

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

And I don't have a solution for "The Situation" yet. (Not to be confused with Jersey Shore. Ugh.) There are a couple things in the pipeline, but no official word yet. Keep us in your thoughts and prayers. :)


Winter garden update

>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I've forgotten to take pictures because there wasn't much to see, but we lost most of our winter garden after a hard freeze we had a few months back. Jason & I had taken care to cover the plants every time, but it just got to cold. All that was left was broccoli and carrots. We knew the carrots had done okay since we had pulled a few. The broccoli, on the other hand, was stuck in some sort of time warp. It hadn't grown (or died) in a long time. After we had some warmer weather a few weeks ago, I peeked out the window and was surprised to see there was little broccoli heads growing! Here's a picture of it:


This was taken as Jason cut some off for our dinner! The carrot plants still look good as well, but they are definitely ready for picking:


And then we had some funny-looking carrots that actually looked a little naughty!

We'll be enjoying carrots and broccoli for some time!


Reality just b*tch-slapped me in the face

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On Saturday, my sister and her friend Sarah were in town. We visited my cousin and then spent the afternoon at my grandma's house. I hadn't seen her in quite a while and neither had my sister. After I dropped my sister off, I came home to an empty house and decided to take it easy and watch some shows on the DVR. It had been a pretty good day.

Until Jason came home.

Remember when I said that we had roughly 8 or 9 months left of savings to live off of? Well, reality suddenly hit Jason. He has a company that wants to hire him, but is trying to find an open position. He should hear something about that this week. He has also applied to a few other places which we should also know about shortly. So J told me that if nothing pans out in the next two weeks, then we had some really important decisions to make. Here's what he told me:

  1. Find some type of job that would pay enough to keep us afloat. (Easier said than done, obviously)
  2. Find a renter so we can rent the house out and live with his parents in town.
  3. Sell the house so we don't ruin our credit in case we lose the house in 9 months.
  4. Turn off everything, move in with Jason's parents and hold onto the house for a little longer provided we both find minimum wage jobs.
Now you may thing that the last thre choices are drastic. So did I. Believe me, I didn't want to think that this could possibly happen to us. But Jason's right. In this economy, it would take us nearly 9 months to sell our home and hope that we got what we paid for it. Renting would be hard because of the price we would have to charge in order to make the mortgage payment, taxes and insurance and not lose money. Finding a minimum wage job would help us hold onto the house longer as long as we could get our absolute minimum bills paid (mortgage, student loans, insurance, etc.) but it would still mean moving. This is such a harsh reality that has hit me in the face full-force.

How could this happen to us? We don't have any debt but our mortgage and student loans. We've always paid off our credit cards. We're both educated with degrees. The sad reality is that our economy stinks. And it's something that we can't change no matter how hard we wish it to be different. I know that many other families have been in our situation, but I don't know any personally. That part makes it hard because we feel very alone.

My plan is to call up some friends and see if they can get me hired at least as part-time help.  I don't want option 1 or 2 to happen. I've waited to do this because I keep hoping that I will get hired somewhere. It's hard for me to do this because I worked so hard to finish my Master's degree. I thought I would be doing something more. But things are what they are and only Jason and I can change. I am hoping that by the time this post is up that I will have something to report. Please keep Jason and I in your prayers. We are going to need them.

P.S. For those of you who just started reading this blog, the bathroom renovations had been completed for quite a while. The materials had been bought way in advance with money we had put aside for that project.


Allison's birthday

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

Remember when I mentioned that I had two parties to go to the weekend of Valentine's Day? One of those was to go to my friend Allison's 30th birthday. She just says that it's her annual 21st birthday celebration. Jason wasn't feeling well that night, so I went solo. We met at Luna to see Ruben V play. He's an awesome Texas blues guitarist.....amazing. You have to see him in person if you live in the area. Anyway, here's a pic of the birthday girl and I:


I look so weird in that picture! What is wrong with me??? I found it funny that we both grew our hair out at the same time! I also finally got to meet Allison's new boyfriend Markus (left) and her brother Todd and sister-in-law Allison. The brother and sister-in-law live in another state so I've heard the names for years.


I had a great time meeting her family and boyfriend and loved hearing Ruben V for the hundredth time!
The next day, on Saturday, Jason and I went to my cousin's 25th birthday party. It was a crawfish boil. I enjoy seafood, but I've never tried crawfish. They just look creepy. The birthday girl, Becca, made me try a piece and it was okay. It was kind of spongy like crab, but luckily it was spicy from the sauce. No, I didn't such the head. Gross! I only got one picture of the birthday girl and birthday boy (Brian - never met him before):

You gotta love that Texas-shaped cake! It even had little margarita candles on it! Even though I hadn't planned on staying a really long time, Jason and I were there until most people had left. We got a great visit in with Becca and her husband, TJ. Thanks for inviting us guys!


No-butter Butter Chicken

>> Saturday, February 20, 2010

This recipe was featured on the Tasty Kitchen blog and it looked delicious. The recipe is called Butter Chicken, but I cleaned the recipe up so it's much healthier. Instead of the 1/4 cup of butter, I used a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I eliminated the heavy cream at the end and I thought it still tasted wonderful. Cream sauces do taste good, but they're super high in fat. I also didn't use the cilantro because Jason's not a fan of it. Jason and I both enjoyed it very much. The recipe is nice and spicy, so if you don't like it spicy, cut down on the cayenne (I almost added more because recipes aren't usually very spicy at all). Here's the pic of the finished product served on top of brown rice along with some steamed veggies from our garden:


What's great about this recipe is that it's so easy. You marinate the chicken overnight, then all you have to do the next day is saute onions, add chicken, add tomatoes and sauce and simmer for 30 minutes. Easy peasy! Here's the link to the recipe one more time: Butter Chicken

PS If you go to the store and find that Cardamom is spendy, go to one of the HEB's that sell spices in bulk. I paid a fraction of the cost for it that way.


Half-bath renovation

>> Friday, February 19, 2010

This has been done for a few weeks, but I keep forgetting to share! The half-bath in our home is tiny and sits behind the stairs in our hallway leading to the laundry room and garage. This was the plan for this tiny space:

  1. Re-grout the existing tile (even though the tile is a tiny bit crooked)
  2. Smooth the ugly over-caulked walls (the previous owners had slathered the stuff on the wall for some unknown reason)
  3. Paint
  4. Replace all door trim, baseboards and add in crown moulding
  5. Replace sink fixture, toilet paper fixture, add in a new towel bar and replace lighting
  6. Remove the existing mirror and replace with an oval one
I'm going to go through this step-by-step. This is going to be a bit long, so grab a snack and take a potty break before continuing! Here's a picture before:

1. Re-grout existing tile.
This seemed like a fairly easy task. Jason & I took a trip to the hardware store and bought new grout in a darker color. The existing color matched the tile and it always looked dirty. The store employee showed us a little metal tool that we could use to scrape out the grout. After it was scraped, we then just had to mix the grout correctly, and apply it with a float. (I think that's what it was called.) Sounds easy, huh? Yeah, not so much. After removing the toilet and the sink, it took Jason 2 hours to scrape around one tile with that tool before the tool was deemed useless. We went back to Home Depot and bought this Dremel plus this grout removing attachment. Nope, we didn't pay that much. There was a promotion that day, plus we had some leftover gift cards. I think we paid $40 out of pocket. So the Dremel was a little better. The only problem was that it kicked up dust like a bunch of wild horses stampeding through the desert and made your hand shake for 30 minutes after using it. It drove Jason crazy. Literally. (And why wasn't I doing it? Because the half-bath wouldn't fit both of us!) It still took Jason several hours to get this done. Finally, he was able to put in the grout and we later sealed it with three coats of sealant. Here's the grout before:

And after:

2. Smooth the ugly over-caulked walls (the previous owners had slathered the stuff on the wall for some unknown reason)
Apparently, I forgot to take pictures of the ugly mess of a wall. There were two stripes (yes stripes!) of rough-looking caulk or plaster that ran down the sides of the wall next to the toilet. Jason sanded them down and after painting, you could hardly tell where they were. 

 3. Paint
We used Behr paint from Home Depot for the project. "Harbor" went on the walls to coordinate with some towels I had found at Marshall's a long time ago. We used "White Fur" for the trim. Painting trim was a PITA even though we used pre-primed wood. The white we used didn't saturate the wood as well as we would have liked, so it took more coats than expected. Oh, we also painted the ceiling since it was small. We figured the blue ceiling would make white crown moulding really pop!
Here's the towels with the painted wall:

 4. Replace all door trim, baseboards and add in crown moulding
 Neither Jason nor I was happy with our door trim or baseboards. We had talked about putting in taller, more decorative baseboards in the entire house since we have high ceilings. We selected the baseboards, door mouldings and crown moulding that we liked and painted them. Then the nightmare began. We bought these little corner pieces that we thought looked cute. They fit in the corner of each wall eliminating the need to make 45-degree angle cuts on the baseboards. I took out all the existing door moulding and baseboards myself (see...I did something!). Jason then began nailing in baseboards. This is where we figured out that the walls of our half-bath are not straight. At all. The wall behind the sink actually makes an S-curve. That was was bad enough. Then, we found out that rather than nice 2X4's behind the wall, there were some type of metal plates behind the plaster instead. It became a b*tch to nail the boards to the wall. I could hear Jason cursing down the road! Worse yet, the wall next to the toilet has no supporting beam in the corner. The walls are supporting walls, so it's not required, but it meant that one side of our sheetrock was kind of floating. Jason had to very carefully nail it in the wall. Because of this missing beam, we had to leave our dreams of crown moulding in the garage. There's nothing to nail it in that corner and I really didn't want anything crashing down on our guests' heads when they use our bathroom. We thought about Liquid Nails, but we would still need something to hold those pieces up there. It just wasn't happening. The baseboards and wall trim do look nice, though. However, after finding this out about our baseboards, we may abandon the idea of replacing all of them if it's going to be this rough. Here's the before with everything taken out:

Here's a picture of the corner pieces and new baseboards:

 5. Replace sink fixture, toilet paper fixture, add in a new towel bar and replace lighting
 This was one of the "easier" tasks. Jason made it a bit harder by replacing the water shut-off valves. He wanted better ones installed, so that was a small project added on. I couldn't find the exact fixture we used, but this is the closest to the lighting: Here. We also bought this sink fixture at Home Depot which I think was on sale at the time. The towel bar and toilet paper fixture we got from this collection at Bed, Bath and Beyond using 20% off coupons!
Here's Jason painting around the newly-replaced water shut-off valves:

And here's a couple pictures of the new fixtures and hardware:


6. Remove the existing mirror and replace with an oval one
This was way harder than it looked. The original rectangular mirror had been stuck to the wall with a gallon of Liquid Nails. Jason tried to pry it off the wall, but he ended up having to break it before he could take it off. This left three holes in the sheetrock, but the replacement mirror (that I found for $40 at Ross!) was large enough to cover them all up! Here's the finished (for now) view. Lights on!

Lights off!

I haven't put anything on the wall yet, but I'll get to that eventually. It took Jason so many hours to do this because of all the unexpected obstacles, but I am so proud of him! We are happy with how things turned out and aren't embarrassed to send people to the bathroom anymore! :)


Valentine's Recap

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

We didn't do much for Valentine's Day, but the one thing I did want to do was to wake up and make pancakes for breakfast. They just always seem so warm and delicious and holiday-icious. Yes, I just made up a new word. So Jason got to work making cinnamon-pecan pancakes while I supervised. I shoved him aside to make an attempt at one special Valentine-ish pancake. Isn't it cute?


And let me tell you this: this adorable little pancake was even better smothered in maple syrup and washed down with some hot tea!


Mmmmmmm..............delicious! I had dreams of making a nice dinner, but we were too full from breakfast to want anything substantial for dinner. We decided to snack and snuggle for the rest of the day. :)


Birthday Celebration

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My birthday was a few weeks ago. January 30th, to be exact. I turned 31. And I'm writing incredibly short sentences for no apparent reason. The weeks leading up to my birthday (and those following it) have been rough. I haven't been in any mood to do anything but wallow in self-pity. I've avoided outings just so I don't have to hear about anyone else's happy life. My life is happy except that Jason & I are living off of savings.

Did you read that? We've been living off of savings for 6 entire months now and we can possibly go 8 or 9 more. That is plain depressing. That's 6 months of Jason not being able to find a job and makes over a year and half for me. Our prospects are not looking good right now so we've buckled down and tried to be very frugal.....and patient. With both of us in the house all the time, we are constantly reminded of our situation and it's downright depressing. I feel guilty even thinking about spending money on non-essentials, so it was hard for me to get excited about my birthday. I'm not trying to make this a depressing post, but these are the things that are constantly in my mind and it really brings me down.

Anyway, I wasn't in the mood to go out. I was actually just going to stay at home. But my friend Shana told me that she was going to break down my door and make me celebrate if I didn't make up my mind. My friend Stacy actually had the entire weekend off and I don't get to see her enough. I decided that we could make it a small celebration....just us and our significant others. Stacy's sister, brother-in-law and nephew came in town that weekend so they ended up coming, too.

The plan was to go to PF Chang's for dinner. I hadn't been there in FOREVER. Like, well over a year and possibly closer to 2 years. I called early in the day to see if they took reservations, knowing that no place in town took reservations on a Saturday. I was in luck! They took reservations. Hooray! But they couldn't seat us until 10. Boo! I didn't want to wait that long, so the girl said we could just come and get on the list. I asked if they had call-ahead seating at least. After all, I was bringing 9 people! You'd think they would want to know that.

No, they don't. They don't take call ahead seating. So, we showed up there about 7 and the wait time was 1 1/2 to 2 hours. REALLY? We left and drove around the corner to Paloma Blanca. The wait time was about 45 minutes, which was much more reasonable. I had a beer (on top of the 1/2 bottle of wine I consumed earlier) before we got seated.

Finally, a table! We ordered and waited. Someone ordered guacamole and it was the best I've ever had in a restaurant. Honestly. I could've eaten that stuff for dinner. The server brought out the ingredients (including an orange slice for the juice!) and ground it up at the table in a huge molcajete. (Yeah, I linked the Wiki definition for anyone that doesn't live in Texas.) I had enchiladas verde and was not disappointed. After the dinner, we had cake! Shana made me a German Chocolate Cake and it was delish! Here's the pic of me and Jason before we dug in:


After all was said and done, I had a good time. I was glad it was just a small celebration, though. It's about all I can take these days. I truly hope that this time of my life ends soon because I have plans!


Ten On Tuesday

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Ten on Tuesday from Roots & Rings.

1. If you could open any type of store/place of business (money is no obstacle), what would you open?
A clothing store that only carries clothes for women 5'10" and over so I could always find things that fit me.

2. If all jobs paid equally, what occupation would you want? Why?
I'm going with Stay at Home Mom, too. (Even though I'm not a Mom. No, not even close.)

3. If you could be any animal in the world, what would you pick? Why?
I always thought tigers were pretty cool. I get to be sneaky and pounce on things and just be awesome. Although, I really like cinnamon so I'm not so sure how good of a tiger I'd be.

4. If offered one “service” free of charge, which would you choose? (chauffeur, maid, personal shopper, chef, etc.)
Definitely a maid service so I wouldn't have to vacuum. Or scrub showers.

5. What is one habit, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to break?
I don't think I really have a habit that I'd try to change. I'm perfectly happy with my weirdness.

6. What is one thing that no matter how many you own, you still love to buy all the time?
Undies....there's never two pairs that are alike!

7. Out of all the game shows (past and present), which would you want to be a participant on and play?
I always wanted to be on the Price is Right so I could play Plinko with Bob Barker! Now, I'd be happy to be in the Cash Cab.

8. If you could play the lead role in any movie that’s already been made, which movie would you pick?
That's a hard one. I don't have the slightest clue.

9. Name 5 things on your bucket list (things you want to do before you die).
This is something that's been on my mind lately! My bucket list has to include visiting the Egyptian pyramids, seeing a total solar eclipse in person and probably go on an African Safari. I haven't thought about much else. If I got to do other cool stuff, then it's just gravy on my mashed potatoes.

10.  Which one of your birthdays was the best? What did you do that day?
I think my 27th birthday was probably the best because that's the night that I got to talk to my now husband Jason all night and had a feeling that my crush on him was mutual!


Random Things and Thoughts

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

  • A few days ago I made Chicken Chile Verde. It turned out really good and looks just like the picture in the link. I decided to make brown rice to go with it and burned rice for the first time EVER. At least it was only the bottom layer. I had so many pots going on the stove that I had forgotten to turn the rice down and I cooked it on high the entire 40 minutes. It smelled a little like slightly burned popcorn. We had peas and corn with it which is what Jason chose as the veggie. Kind of a strange combination, don't you think?
  • I did much better in BodyAttack this week. By better, I mean that I kept up for the most part. There's still one turning move that I just can't quite master. I even did pushups! Yes, they count even if they're done on my knees. 
  • We bought paint for the kitchen. Hooray! Now to figure out when to actually START the project.....
  • It's freaking cold today. What's up with this weather? If it's going to be this miserable, we should at least get some snow. Just saying....
  • Rented A Night At The Museam: Battle of the Smithsonian and it was so-so. It felt like the writers just threw a script together for the heck of it. I'd save your pennies and see something else. Although Hank Azaria's character was pretty funny.
  • Believe it or not, Jason & I are going to two parties in the next two days. We're coming out of our hermit crap shell just a little bit at a time.
  • Finally discovered the local library. I've forgotten my love for books. It's been over a decade since I've been to a library other than a college library. Awesome.
  • Made my stuffed peppers tonight using quinoa instead of brown rice. Jason & I agreed that it was a good substitute worth making again.
  • Other than the gym, I've pretty much spent all day upstairs in the loft watching tv, reading and catching up on blogs. I live an exciting life, yo.
  • We don't really have any Valentine's Day plans. It's a little late to make reservations anywhere and we're trying to be recessionistas right now anyway. :)
  • I really like bullets. A lot.


Ten on Tuesday

>> Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Because I lurve surveys and you know you want to know more about me, I'm doing Ten on Tuesday again from Roots and Rings!
1. Fill in the blank. Sometimes I wish my life was more ______.Financially stable. Actually, I don't wish that's all the time. Jason & I have worked hard to make financial plans with our lives. We have so many things that we want to do and goals that we are poised to obtain. The fact that we're both unemployed gets in the way of that. Once we get stable again, we'll be fine. Until then, worry, worry, worry. Ugh.

2. How do you cure the hiccups?I take a deep breath and hold it for as long as possible. Spoonfuls of sugar and scaring me DOES NOT WORK.

3. What are three of your favorite indulgences?
Dark chocolate hidden in the pantry. (Guess that's not a secret anymore.)
Crappy TV late at night - it doesn't really matter what show it is, but it has to have drama fo yo mama.
Red, red wine makes me feel so fine! Actually, I don't discriminate when it comes to wine colors.

4. Where is the most exotic place you would like to travel to? The most mundane?
Anywhere where it's not too touristy. The rain forest would be awesome. I also read that there is a total solar eclipse happening on Easter Island this July. What I would give to see one of those in person.....
The most mundane place would just be visiting my hometown - good old Woodsboro, TX.  
5. Does having your time planned out stress you or relax you?Relaxes me most of the time. I like to know exactly what I need to do and when to do it for the most part. Schedules and routine are my best friend. If it's thrown off, prepare for a two-year-old-type temper tantrum.

6. What are your favourite fabrics to wear?Whaaaa? The best thing ever is a super soft cashmere sweater. But it's mostly too hot for that. Cotton works, too.

7. Do you sleep through the night? 
Normally I do, but for some reason I've gotten up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night for the past two nights in a row (Sorry, TMI). That needed to stop, like, yesterday.

8. When you were younger, what did you think you would be doing at this age? How close is that to what you are doing?Oh my gosh. I thought I'd be married by the time I finished college and be done with having children by the time I was 30. I also thought I'd be on my way to a career in medicine. What rose-colored glasses I must have worn! It's so far from the truth it's not even funny. I married at 29 and haven't had children yet. I'm nowhere near medicine, but I did go on to get my Master's, so I guess I can check "yes" for the higher education part.

9. What has surprised you most about growing up?That I can do things that I didn't think I would do at this age. I went skiing at 30, for one, which I thought I was already too old to learn. I've done a little traveling as well and intend to do much more. You are never too old to try something new!

10. Are you good at keeping secrets?
I'd like to think so. Wanna give me your bank account number?


Cassius' New Toy

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

Jason and I have been worried that our kitty baby, Cassius, has been getting bored lately. He doesn't like to play with his little jingle-balls as much as he used to and his old string just got too ratty. I found this funny little mouse on a string that you attach to a doorway at the grocery store today. The little mouse squeaks and it's on a rubber band-type string. I put it on the door and this is what happened:



Now of course I forgot to get the camera out right away, so by the time these had been taken, he had already played for quite a while. Here's a video of him playing. The meowing you hear? Yeah, that's what Jason and I hear all.the.time. But this time Cassius is annoyed that he can't hold the mouse down to play with it on the floor. (Sorry that it's sideways, but I can't figure out how to fix that. If you're a techie, let me know please!) Oh, and the squeaky toy went a little haywire for a few seconds in this video. If you listen carefully, you can hear Jason yell from upstairs.

The next video is just funny because Cassius had been batting at that mouse for so long that he finally gave up and laid down on the floor!

After Jason and I got tired of watching him play, we went upstairs. Cassius followed us up, but he didn't stay long. He went back downstairs and all we heard was more meowing and squeaking. Then, we heard a SNAP and realized that he had broken the toy. He had had enough and that mouse was coming down!

Just thought I'd share a little of what goes on in our house. Cassius never lets us forget he's there! If he's not in our laps, he's yowling at us from downstairs!



>> Thursday, February 4, 2010

 I have been wanting to see Avatar ever since I saw an interview with James Cameron on 60 Minutes a few months ago. I was so impressed that he had this idea a decade ago, but waited to make the movie until technology could do it justice. My friend Stacy gave me a gift card to Regal Cinemas, so you know I wasn't about to let that puppy go to waste.


Even though J & I are having some tough financial times, every once in a while we try to treat ourselves. We decided to have dinner at the fairly new Zio's near our house, then go to see the movie. We both forgot the time and realized that we might not be able to do both. It was 6:07 when Jason got in the shower and the movie started at 7:30. Did I mention that Zio's is right across the street from the movie theater? By the time Jason was dressed, it was 6:30 so I tried to see if there were any other show times earlier than the 9:45 one that was next at our theater. Bingo! Found an 8:00 showing at another location! We had our dinner at Zio's where I splurged and had the Grilled Vegetable Lasagna. It was pretty tasty. I actually liked the tomato sauce in it (most marinara sauces are boring to me). I think I've only ordered lasagna one other time at an Italian restaurant because I hate the amount of grease that comes with it. Luckily, my lasagna only came with my side salad and not a side of grease. It was really good! The one disappointment that I had with the restaurant was that their "Italian Dipping Oil" that comes on the table was mostly canola oil. WTH? Seriously? Olive oil is what gives it flavor!

Okay, rant over.

So, we raced to the other theater to see Avatar in 3D. The $3.50 3D charge per ticket sucked, but at least I wasn't paying. On to the movie. Avatar was awesome!!! The scenes were gorgeous and the 3D really did make a difference. The movie itself was so well-written. I could tell that James Cameron had gotten a lot of inspiration from the American Indian history. The premise of the movie is that the Na'Vi "people" on Pandora have this amazing connection with their entire planet.....every tree, flower and animal. The human race has discovered a very profitable element located under Pandora's crust and of course, the most concentrated source was under the Na'Vi people's home. The humans want to drive the people out so they can ravage the planet for profit. Of course, there is love and learning along the way and a great fight! I HIGHLY recommend this movie and I also HIGHLY recommend seeing it in the theater in 3D to get the full effect. It was truly an epic movie.


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