Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bad Blogger!

Wow...I've really been slacking with the blog posts lately! If anyone actually still reads this regularly...sorry about that. We've had a lot going on, frankly. Let's see if I can quickly catch up.

More than a week ago (October 17), Shawn played an awesome rugby match. He was named "Man of the Match" (basically the MVP of the game) and he even scored a try! In rugby lingo, that's basically a touchdown. And for the position that Shawn plays, that's fairly uncommon. I would liken it to a Linebacker scoring a touchdown. It's certainly not impossible, but it's not something you see every game. In fact, until that game, I'd never seen Shawn score a touchdown in a "regular" game of rugby! (I saw him score once in a 7s tournament.) I was on camera duty that afternoon, but his scoring play was on the other end of the pitch, so I didn't get a picture.

Things are moving along with the house. We've finally gotten all the doors re-hung (after taking them down to be painted), the outlet covers back on, and the stairwell railings reattached (again, after painting). Shawn picked the color for his "Man Room" and bought paint last we just need to start painting. (He picked #2, by the way.)

This past Saturday, we invited a bunch of people over for a "Housewarming/Birthday(s) Party." We had a lot of fun! It's really nice to actually have room to have a bunch of people over, and I'm already looking forward to doing it again. We had way too much food, so I've been eating the leftovers all week. I bought Tostitos and salsa and pretzels. I made a tray of carrots, celery sticks, and strawberries, and we had also apple slices. I made a Caramel Toffee Fruit Dip, which was super yummy! I also made Cinnamon Chips, which were awesome alone or in the fruit dip. For more sweets, I baked a pan of brownies (nothing special...just from a box), and I also baked a loaf of banana bread. Don't worry...I didn't forget the meat. :) I made super easy crockpot meatballs, and I also made these really good bacon-wrapped-turkey-bites. Sadly, I took almost no pictures at our party. Our friend Thuy made us a housewarming cake...isn't it cute? :)
And finally, in other big news...I've gone full-time with my online teaching job! Technically, I made the move to full-time two weeks ago. However, neither my boss nor I knew that until last Wednesday, since HR didn't bother telling either of us that the paperwork had been processed. I also still don't have my company computer or my VOIP phone, so I'm not yet able to take on a few of the new responsibilities that come with being full-time (and that will more easily allow me to actually work 40 hours a week). I'll admit that I'm not super thrilled that I don't get some of the "normal" perks of being a full-time teacher (I only get 5 vacation days the first year, plus 7 or so paid holidays), but it should be an interesting experience.

So...yeah! I think that's pretty much it for us these days. Oh yeah, and my birthday was yesterday. It kind of snuck up on us, so we didn't really make a big deal out of it. Shawn and I went out to dinner at one of our current favorite restaurants for pizza and a few games of pool. It was a good night. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon, 1994 (870 pages)

I've noticed lately that I haven't been loving most of the books I've been reading. I've given most of them 3 stars (on Goodreads, that indicates that "I liked it"); a few of them have gotten four stars. I was glad to pick up Voyager a week ago...definitely a five-star book!

This is Book #3 in Gabaldon's series that started with Outlander. It continues the story of Claire and Jamie Fraser. In this book, Claire goes back to 18th century Scotland to find Jamie, after she discovers (through historic research) that he didn't die during the battle of Culloden like they both thought he would. At this point, they've been apart for 20 years, but they're both completely happy to finally be together again. However, a lot has changed in Scotland during this time, and certainly not everyone is happy that Claire is back.

Just like the other two books, this one is wonderfully written. This book is 870 pages, but it never feels like it's long or drawn out. I usually don't want to put the book down because I'm so interested to see what might happen to Claire and Jamie (and their friends and family) next. If you haven't read the Outlander series yet, you definitely should. I'm glad that there are still three more books left in the series, but I do plan on spreading them out, like I have the first three.
Total number of books read in 2009: 39
Total number of pages read in 2009: 14038

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Silas Marner

Silas Marner, by George Eliot, 1861 (183 pages)

I picked up this book at the library, thinking my friend Lis had said it was one of her favorites (in one of those silly Facebook "which of these books have you read" things). But I just double-checked it...and no, she likes Middlemarch. Oops...I read the wrong George Eliot novel. Oh well!

Silas Marner is a linen weaver who is wrongly accused of a crime. He exiles himself to a different village and basically becomes a recluse, only interacting with others in the town when they need him to do some weaving. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but Silas does eventually begin to interact with his neighbors after he himself becomes the victim of a crime. And as it says on the back cover of my copy of the book, "Ultimately, Marner finds redemption and spiritual rebirth through his unselfish love for an abandoned child who mysteriously appears one day in his isolated cottage."

One of the major themes of this book is that everything happens for a reason, and this is something that I wholeheartedly believe. Even things that seem negative at the time often have a way of turning into something good.

I'm going to have to say that this is another one of the books that I think I would've liked better if I had just read it faster. I do enjoy George Eliot's style of writing, but I felt that this book took a LONG time to get to one of the main plot threads of the novel (and to introduce one of the main characters). But it is definitely worth reading! I've also learned that in 1994, Steve Martin wrote and starred in a movie based on this novel, called A Simple Twist of Fate. I might have to see if I can find that. :)

Total number of books read in 2009: 38
Total number of pages read in 2009: 13168

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Paint Choices

Before we moved in, Shawn and I managed to paint the living room, the office/guest room, the master bedroom (including the "dressing area"), the stairwell, and both the upstairs and downstairs hallways. Oh yeah, and all the trim and all of the doors upstairs.

We do eventually want to paint both bathrooms, and I'd like to paint the downstairs family room. But the next room on our list is the 4th bedroom...the one downstairs. AKA, the Man Room. Or the Preparation Room. Whatever you want to call it. Basically, since I've known Shawn, he's let me know that he would eventually love to have a room where he can keep all of his outdoor gear...camping gear, hiking gear, rock climbing gear, outdoor clothing, trail maps, technique books, etc... He loves the idea of having everything well organized and easily accessible in one room. When he's ready to go out and do something, he can use this room to prepare for it (hence the "preparation room" name).

So when we bought this house and it had that fourth bedroom downstairs, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity for Shawn to have his preparation room. (By the way, I just call it the Man Room because I think it's funnier.) Let's be honest...I love the idea of all of his "stuff" being out of the way of everything else. I also like the idea of keeping all of that dirty equipment downstairs and away from the main living area. That downstairs bedroom gets bonus points for being right next to the garage.

Before the move, we just ran out of time for painting the Man Room. At the moment, all of Shawn's outdoor gear is in the garage. (It's okay...we can't park our car in there right now anyways since the door is broken and needs to be replaced. Had I mentioned that little detail yet?) We want to paint the room before we bring in all of the gear and the tall shelves that will house it.

I told Shawn that picking out a paint color for this room is his job. I'll gladly give input if he wants it, but ultimately, the choice is his. He started out with these nine colors as possibilities.

After he and I discussed the options, he went to get samples of some colors. He had narrowed it down to four. These are our choices.

#1 is Aspen Gray, #2 is Stone Mason Gray, #3 is Porcelain Shale, and #4 is Mountain Smoke. (Do you see any trends in the names of these paint colors?) Once these dry and Shawn picks a color, we'll paint the room! I'm hoping to get it done this week. But let's be realistic...I'll be happy if it's done before Shawn's family arrives for Thanksgiving. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We Need Rakes

I'm sure the fact that it's the middle of October hasn't escaped your attention. And unless you live somewhere with absolutely no deciduous trees, you probably know that we are very close to that time of year when the leaves decide they've had enough, and they all come tumbling down. Since both Shawn and I have been renters for quite some time, we don't really own anything for taking care of a lawn...that's what landlords are for. But of course, we no longer have a landlord. It's all up to us now to take care of these "minor details."

Yeah...something tells me that raking the leaves isn't going to be such a "minor" detail for us. Do you remember this picture I posted a month or two ago? It shows a very small part of the very large tree we have in our backyard.

Although both Shawn and I really like this tree (okay, I'll admit it...Shawn likes it way more than I do), a very large tree comes with some very large leaves. Like this one.

Now, you should keep in mind that this is actually a fairly small leaf for this tree. This was just the biggest one I could find that had already fallen to the ground. Many of the ones still attached (and especially the ones much higher up) are easily double the size of this leaf. And there are lots of them! Maybe you can kinda see it better in this picture.

So that explains part of what we're up against. Have I mentioned (or have you just noticed it for yourself by now) that this is some kind of a maple tree? Maple trees have "helicopters." At least, that's what we called them when we were kids, because as they drop from the tree, they spin around and look like helicopters. You know...these things:
Well, our very large maple tree with its very large leaves also has very large helicopters. Again, that was one of the smaller ones. And not only are these helicopters rather large....there are thousands of them!! All those brown things in this picture are helicopters, and again, this is just a very small section of the tree, near the bottom.
Like I said, this is a pretty awesome tree. It's a formidable thing to have growing in our backyard, and it will provide plenty of shade for us in those warm summer months. But I have to say...I am NOT looking forward to cleaning up after it in the fall!! Maybe we'll get lucky and all those leaves and helicopters will just blow right over our house and into our neighbors' yards. A girl can dream, right? :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Day of Rest

After our busy day on Saturday, Shawn and I wanted to have a relaxing Sunday and just enjoy our house! Shawn got up a bit earlier than I did and went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. He seemed happy with what he found...lots of trails, playgrounds, and play fields. After we went to Mass, we also stopped by a bakery/cafe that's close to our neighborhood. So far, we've enjoyed the snacks, sandwiches, and coffee that we've gotten there, so I'm looking forward to making it our "local" coffee shop. :)

Almost as soon as we got home, a couple women from our church came over to do our House Blessing! Instead of sending a priest every time someone wants their home blessed, our church has commissioned lay people to do the blessing ceremony. I thought it was really nice! The four of us started at the front door to start with some prayers and a Scripture reading. Then we went from room to room, saying a prayer appropriate to the room's use ("bless the meals that are prepared in this kitchen") and sprinkling holy water. They also gave us a nice little plaque-type thing that we can hang up.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch, watching football. We were thrilled that CBS switched over to the Broncos/Patriots game after the Seahawks game ended, so we were able to see the Broncos win in overtime. Then we headed out to meet friends of ours at a dinner theater! Tim and Thuy were given free tickets to a dinner theater in Bellevue, and they invited us to come along. The four of us agreed that the show was rather cheesy (it was "A Mafia Musical"), but was free! And parts of it did make us laugh, and it was something different.

Overall, we had a great weekend, and we're looking forward to a good week!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Domestic Saturday

This was our first Saturday as homeowners...and we definitely dived right in to the "domestic" activities! Well, I will admit that we did sleep in first. But then we went grocery shopping together (I don't normally do this on Saturdays, so Shawn usually doesn't go with me...but I hadn't gotten around to it yet this week). There's a Safeway less than half a mile from our house, so that's nice!

We picked up a carpet cleaner while we were at Safeway. Once we got back to the house, I actually went out to lunch with a friend of mine (at the Applebee's that's also less than half a mile from our house!), while Shawn stayed home to get started on the carpet cleaning. He said that our power actually went out for a little while, but he did already have one room done by the time I got home. As I'm typing this, we've gotten 3 of the four bedrooms done, and the downstairs family room. Our plan is to do the living room and the hallway right before we go to bed tonight, and then we'll do our master bedroom after we get up in the morning. Here's Shawn cleaning the office/guest room.

One thing that we really love about this neighborhood is our friendly neighbors! Shawn met a neighbor while he was getting the mail this afternoon (about 8 mailboxes are all together, right across the street from our house). This neighbor, Jim, let Shawn borrow his lawnmower! So Shawn mowed our lawn this afternoon. It was definitely a job that desperately needed to be done!
While Shawn mowed the lawn, I actually cleaned out the car. It's so nice to have a driveway to do things like this in instead of dealing with an apartment complex parking lot! And some neighbors that we had met a couple weeks ago (the first weekend we had the keys) drove by...and honked and waved. Such a nice feeling!

And then....we thought we'd spend a few minutes pulling some weeds. We ended up pulling out tons of weeds from our front yard flower beds! I didn't take any pictures since we were losing the sunlight, but it looks so much better! I'll take pictures tomorrow. Our next door neighbors also came over and introduced themselves while we were weeding. I had met the mom, Wendy, earlier, but her husband, Mike, and their daughter came over, too. He made the mistake of telling us that he's a contractor.....what a handy neighbor to have! :-) He's also offered to let us borrow some of his lawn stuff (like a trimmer) until we have the time and finances to buy our own!

So...that was our Saturday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall is Here!

We've been having some really beautiful weather lately! I remember that last October was like this, too, and I was warned that it was unusual for this area. I'll take two years in a row of unusually beautiful weather! Fall is definitely here. The temperatures have been much cooler...only in the upper 50s for the highs. But the leaves are finally starting to change, and the sun has been out!

We have a few trees in our backyard. One...I have no clue what it is. I'll need to look it up eventually. Another one is gigantic! I can't get the entire thing in a picture. It's some kind of large maple, and we're guessing that it was originally about 10 separate trees planted close together, and now they've morphed into one giant tree. I'll do my best to get pics of it soon. And then we have another fairly small maple. Its leaves have started changing, and it's really pretty! I took this picture this morning, when there was still some fog hanging around.
We've been busy this week trying to get things unpacked and put away. We've still got a looonngg ways to go, but I'll try to do an update post in the next day or two, showing off the finished kitchen. Our plans this weekend involve more work on/in the house, and then we're taking Sunday "off" to enjoy the fact that it's actually ours! And hopefully we'll do a little more neighborhood exploring, too. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

We've Moved!

Sorry about the lack of blog posts lately...but we've moved! (We just got internet access at the house today, so I'm definitely going to use that as part of my excuse, in addition to just being downright busy!) So here's a quick recap of the last 5 or 6 days.

First of list from the last post. Pack - Check! Paint - partial check. Clean carpets - nope, didn't happen. Put outlet and switch covers back on - Check! Purchase and install shower curtain rods - check! Purchase and put down shelf paper in bathrooms - check! Power wash and stain deck - nope, definitely didn't happen.

So let's see...that last post was on Thursday. On Friday, Shawn took the day off from work and we spent the entire day at the house. We really spent most of our time painting (and taping...oh my goodness do I hate the taping!). Check out the video posted here to see what happens when I've been doing lots of painting in a poorly ventilated space. :-) Once we got tired, we went back to the apartment and packed until about 1:00am. On Saturday, we went back to the house, where we finished the painting with the help of our awesome friends, Tim and Thuy. Seriously, Thuy (pronounced "Twee," in case you're wondering) is a trim painting goddess! There are seven doors in our main hallway. She painted the trim around six of them in the time it took me to do one. I'm not kidding. At some point, we had to admit that the carpet just wasn't going to get cleaned before moving in. That's now our #1 priority for this'll just involve the rearranging of furniture in order to do it completely.
We did take a brief break from house stuff on Saturday, and we went to the Mariners game Saturday night. We had actually gotten the tickets as part of the "Date Night Package" that Shawn bought at an auction in June, so we didn't want them to go to waste. It was actually really nice! We enjoyed the game (which the Mariners won), and it was fairly short, which was a nice bonus. Plus, we scored a free parking spot (you just have to know where to look for them around Safeco)! Once we got home, we kept packing until about 2:00am.

Sunday...we were up by 6:00am! When Shawn left to pick up the moving truck at 9:00, I stayed back and kept packing. Five of our friends (and a baby) showed up around 10:30, and we all managed to get everything from the apartment and into the house in just over five hours! It was pretty impressive, and we're incredibly grateful for our friends' willingness to help! We couldn't have done it without them.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Three More Days!

How on earth is it already October 1st?? We've had so much going on in the month of September, no wonder it went by so quickly. On September 1st, we were relaxing in Maui (ahhhhh.....). If I remember correctly, September 1st was our first full day there, so we just hung out on the beach all day. :-) While we were in Maui, I had a few students in my online classes, but the week we got back to the mainland, my job really took off with the addition of 17 students in one day! That was the same day we signed all of our paperwork for buying the house, which we finally took possession of two weeks later (on September 22nd). The day we closed on the house was the same day that I was given two new sections to teach...which added 83 new students to my roster in one day! So for the last week, I've been really busy with the online teaching and also getting over to the house to do work in there. All this time, Shawn's been really busy at work, putting in extra hours and often working past midnight at home.'s October 1st. Absolutely nothing is slowing down for us right now...we're moving on Sunday! Fortunately, I got all caught up last night with my teaching (as of 11:00pm, I officially had no assignments left to grade, no messages to respond to, and no discussion board posts to read). I have a couple meetings today, but I'm hoping to spend most of today doing things to get ready for the move. Here's what we're hoping to get done in the next three days!

  • PACK!! As of right now, I've packed a whopping 5 boxes. Yep. That's it.
  • Paint: We still need to paint the stairwell and downstairs hallway, the downstairs bedroom, all of the trim, and the bedroom doors.
  • Clean carpets: A friend and coworker of Shawn's is lending us his heavy-duty carpet cleaner. Eventually we would like to replace the carpet, but we just don't have the time or money for that right now, so a deep clean will have to do.
  • Put outlet and switch covers back on.
  • Purchase and install shower curtain rods.
  • Purchase and put down shelf paper in the bathrooms. Whatever used to be lining the vanity cabinets and drawers is no long there...and there's a disgusting residue left over that I can't scrub off.
  • Power wash and stain deck. Something tells me the deck's not getting done this weekend, but I'm putting it on the list anyway.

There's definitely more to be done, but I think everything else can pretty easily wait until after the move. In fact, I think some things (like installing the entryway chandelier) will be easier after we've moved in. I did feel bad that Shawn had to spend a beautiful Sunday a couple weeks ago working, but that does mean that he can take off Friday without using a vacation day. So what do you we have any chance of getting all this done before we pick up the moving truck at 9am on Sunday? :-)

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, 2002 (302 pages)

I've often heard good things about this book, but I've avoided reading it. I read another book by the same author (The Mermaid Chair), which I did NOT like, so I was worried that this book would be similar. However, I was given a new section of English to teach, and one of the required readings for the course is this book. Considering I'm supposed to be grading assignments based on the book...I figured I'd better read it!

I actually really liked the book! It's set in South Carolina in the summer of 1964. Lily is a 14-year old girl who leaves home in search of information about her mother (who died when Lily was only 4). One of the few things Lily has that belonged to her mother is a picture of a Black Madonna with "Tiburon, South Carolina" written on the back. This picture leads Lily to the Boatwright sisters, who keep bees and make "Black Madonna Honey."

This book is a story about love, about mothers and daughters, about friendship, about racism, and about healing after emotional pain. It's beautifully written, and the characters are very likeable. It's definitely worth the read!
Total number of books read in 2009: 37
Total number of pages read in 2009: 12985