About Me

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I am a daughter, sister, wife, mom to three cats and one dog (each with their own personalities), working woman, renovator, landlord and friend. I love to laugh, read a good book, enjoy spending time with family and friends and hanging with the Zoo! This blog is keep track of the comings and going our house and this great adventure called life. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carpet Be Gone

Raise your hand if you spent your anniversary tearing apart your house....no one?  We did!

The carpet in our living room/office was nasty and that's an understatement!  We decided to tear out the nasty, stained, smelly carpet one morning thinking 'we can do this' and 'it will be so much better when done!'  Let me tell you, we were so right!!  We took out the carpet, padding tack strips and hammered any stub-worthy nails down. 

We are now living on the underlayment flooring (think this is what it's called) until we put down hard wood flooring, which will have to wait until after the holidays.  Plus, my mom passed along some throw rugs and they work perfectly in the space! 


I feel I lose ALOT of time everyday...figuratively and truly.  I have so much I want to put up here and say...so many things I want to document and remember in just the right way...not rushing it but truly reliving the moment each time I read it.

I create a lot of these posts in my head...while I'm driving, while I'm 'doing', while I'm thinking... I come up with ideas and 'write' the post in my head, rethinking the beginning and how I want to intro something.  Redoing the sentences until they are just right, portraying the perfect image.  I think about the pictures I'd post...who'd read it...  Needless to say, most of this happens while I'm in the truck on my way home in the dead quiet (outside of my grumblings at the traffic)...it's perfect and then I come home and forget the perfect way to say it.  It;s deflating to say the least...  I feel there's never enough time to truly write (type) it down for myself and others to read down the road. 

I have a bunch in my head, so instead of waiting and stock piling them so there's something to post always (what a good blogger would do)...there will probably be a good flow in the next week - mostly things that have already happened, which makes me sad I wasn't able to post them in a more timely manner, but that's the story of my life it seems...never enough time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Water and grass

The above puddle is the representation of ALOT of hard work!!  ALOT of unexpected work!!  This is our front yard obviously...  To make a long story short, each time it rained we would have this lovely frog swimming pool in our front yard.  Our clay soil (if you want to call it soil) is so rock solid that it wouldn't soak up any water, so the water would end up in our basement :)  Oh, joy!  Yep, within six months of buying the house we had water in the basement.  I still can't believe it.  When we knew the rain would come and we'd stand watch, checking the basement every so often; if water came in, we sopped it up with towels, sucked it up with the shop vac and squidgy the hell out of the lovely laminate tile flooring, always hoping it was the last time.  

In order to stop the issue, we gathered friends and family - you fabulous people know who you are - and we dug that shite up!  Jay had busted up one section of sidewalk to help October 2009 - Halloween day actually - and realized we needed more manpower.  So in June of this year, we recruited help in the nicest way...pretty please...  Jay and I got up early busting up the sidewalk and once help came the men tore that sidewalk apart getting out all their aggressions, while we dug up all the millions and millions of pebbles.  We used the dump cart and made a nice mound in the back beside the workshop to use for a future patio project.  In between trips to the dump - surprised we don't know them by name now - we'd stop and get a yard of dirt to fill in the vacant space.  Our plan was to regrade from the flower bed to the grass so the water wouldn't puddle and sit.  It was amazing that day and great to get good and sweaty being able to see our progress from the morning.  

Before Jay and I started that morning...

 After the sidewalk and good portion of pebbles are gone... 
In the end, Jay and I tore out the flower bed also to grade from the house out.  We probably have about 8-10 yards of dirt (thank you Lee Highway Nursery) and tons of shoveling experience it's insane!  Now that it's level, I'm proud to say that we haven't had water in the basement since mid-summer... 

We planted grass in the dirt area almost a month ago.  The Husband meticulously researched the correct grass seed to buy and lay...we leveled the area (it looks like a magician's hat to me) and pulled all the weeds...bought just a bit more dirt and laid some seed.  It's growing - some places better than others but it's coming along. 

We are supposed to get a frost tonight, so this is what a Wife does for her Husband's love of his grass...

Yes, those the original curtains from our living room - glad they can be used for something!
We have fabulous friends that have helped along the way of this journey....truly magnificent friends and family! 

The extension of this front yard project is the basement...more on that later.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Like a picture frame

Written a few weeks ago...

Our new window is spectacular!  I love it...  Who knew one window would make such a huge change in our house.

This old house is filled with the (what we believe are) the original casement windows by Anderson.  In never having casement windows, I was intrigued by the cranks and the latches.  I love how they are long - almost floor to ceiling in length!  There are no internal 'grids' or the normal middle obstruction from a double hung window, letting lots of light in and giving a feeling of being closer to the outside.  They are old school; each having their own second pane of glass that snaps in or out, in addition to an individual screen too.  When we moved in we realized that not all the windows crank correctly - major drag but at least one, two or three in each sectional open.  In order to keep track of which work and which don't, we keep the top open/close latch in the open position.  We would love to replace all the windows in the house, yet there are far too many so we are prioritizing by energy efficiency and use.

Along those guidelines, the first and largest sectional to be replaced was the living room.  Originally being five separate casements with only two of them opening, we decided it was our best option with the sunshine beating in a good portion of the day.  To help with energy efficiency, we bought thick, insulating curtains from Wal-Mart to keep the heat out and the cool in during the summer months and vice versa during the winter months.

We originally wanted Thompson Creek to come out but we are outside their district.  Therefore, our next option was HD who sells Renewal by Anderson windows.  A rep came out and priced it all out for us...being crazy expensive, we settled on the living room first.  In replacing the five separate casements, we chose a three pane window - large middle 'bay' window with a casement on either end.  This would be perfect to remove the vertical obstructions and frame our Japanese Maple perfectly, yet still have the option to catch a breeze.

The window was installed on Sept 18th by sub-contractors we were told are legal and professional.  In preparation, we had 'fenced' off the hydrangea and two grasses in the front yard, took down the window treatments and moved all the furniture off that wall.  Two men arrived - a larger, younger man and a smaller, older man - neither spoke english very well.  Jay, Hunter and I sat on the couches and basically watched what they did...curious to see how it was all going to work and to make sure we understood what was happening.  I had the camera also to take pictures along the way and document the momentous event - in a covert manner. :)

Everything was going smoothly... they took the old window out and hauled it away... tore out the rotted wood bottom frame, which I thought was nice of them... they then proceeded to replace the rotted frame with a 2x4 piece of wood - makes sense, but seemed strange to us... next it was time to install the new window... they stood outside for about 20 mins just looking at it... tried to cut down a seam to see if would truly become 'sections'... they tried to carry it sideways, but it started to buckle at the connection points between the three windows and realized that wasn't going to work... Jay and I were wondering what they were doing (?!?!)... we walked outside to get the mail and a stray piece of trash that had drifted into the court... once out there, we stood talking to our neighbor and just watching the spectacle... finally we realized the smaller, older man could not lift his end of the window to carry it into the house!!!!  You have got to be kidding me!?!?  I asked Jay if he was going to help them, but he said no way because if something goes wrong, it's our problem then - makes sense but it was torture watching them.  Finally he used a rope for leverage on his end and carried it inside.  The larger, younger guy lifted his end into the empty frame and then they switched places - the smaller guy held it in the window while the larger guy hoisted the other end...the entire time the window is perched on the current sill!!  I am in shock that he couldn't lift the window - how ridiculous!!!  The window is in place and we head back inside to keep watch on the situation.  There obviously are gaps between the old frame and the new window; they filled the side gaps with thin packaging foam...  I am sure this is fine, but I was again in shock this was happening.  At this point, Jay started to look up online about replacement window installation...nothing too comprehensive online, but everything seemed legit.  They used shoe molding to hide the gaps and then caulked the seams on the inside.  The outside needed some coverage due to the 2x4 for a bottom frame and the gaps on the side and top.  They used brown metal which he bent and cut on site.  It turned out to match as well as can be expected.  Yes, there were times we had questions about what and why they were doing things, yet didn't ask questions for obvious reasons - they do this every day so they should know what and how to do this with their eyes closed.  At least that's what you would think...  In the end, we are happy with our end result - a beautiful picture window!!

Original five windows

Hunter keeping watch :)

Like a picture (try to ignore the ladder)
Torn in strips to fill the surrounding gaps after new window in place

2x4 as new base with no insulation stuffed in the cracks
Beautiful window!
From the outside

I am glad I documented all of this because there is are two unfortunate middle chapters.  1) The trim on the window sill had to be replaced due to the Chinese fire drill of putting the new window in the frame.  It was wrecked pretty bad, so I called and they replaced the bottom trim molding.  2) Now the window is leaking water into our house!!  The caulking looks to have pulled away or deteriorated from the outside of the window around the metal casing.  We noticed this Tuesday evening and realized it's probably been happening for a while.  There's water creating a small puddle in the living room and creeping along the wall edge, plus damage in the basement joists below the window.  Fun stuff!  I called HD again and someone was supposed to come today and is now coming in the morning - see below post.  Hopefully they will be accommodating because who knows what is happening behind the dry wall or above the basement joists (between the underlayment floor and sub flooring).  I will let you know how it goes...

In retrospect...

We are going thru a water issue (I hate water!) with our month old HD living room window as of Tuesday evening. 

I left work early today for an appointment with a field inspector to come check things out.  I pulled into my neighborhood and he calls saying he's going to be late - after dinner late - so we rescheduled for tomorrow morning!  Glad since Jay will now be home to stick it to him, but I had worked myself up to being mad and angry, to not take 'this is all we can do for you' as an answer...then he goes and reschedules - relief and frustration.  Completely let my fences down as I said goodbye and he came back with one more question...'where is the water coming from since we haven't had any rain lately?'  Stupid me answers, 'since we are trying to grow grass, we do have a sprinkler that hits the windows, yet there is extensive water damage in the basement, so since we just saw the puddle on Tuesday in the living room the water damage could be from previous rains.'  IDIOT!  I should have just said 'I'm not sure.' and left it at that but I opened my mouth....  I mean, he will be able to see the sprinkler set up towards the house when he arrives in person, but he hasn't even seen the window and I feel like I've blown it already.  I'm going to beat myself up about this for hours...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Dance

Yep, I did the Happy Dance this morning while getting ready!  Been living on two (technically three, but third pair isn't super comfortable) pairs of work pants when I have five doubled-up hangers in my closet swinging with different choices. 

What was the cause for my Happy Dance you ask??  I am wearing pants to work today that I haven't worn in over a year plus!! 

I just did the Happy Dance in my chair...  Wahoo for 'new' clothes!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mason the Dog...

Oops, I mean Mason the Cat but truthfully sometimes we wonder with him!

He lounges in Hunter's crate at times...

 He has taken to drinking out of Hunter's water bowl, when there is a water bowl not even three feet away which has been there since we moved in and was his previous drink of choice. 

He plays with Hunter's toys too!

He is a lovable guy who can't sit still when you pet him and is always getting into something...  I love his kitten face and his beautiful coloring...  I got Mason (named for my alma mater) and his brother, Chase on October 15th, 2005 from the Fairfax County SPCA.  They were a BOGO free deal :)  I had planned on running a sprint-tri but my wisdom teeth surgery was still bothering me, so to cheer myself up I visited the SPCA...dangerous!!  Look how stinking cute he was...


  And today, five years later... 

He has a few nicknames - Bengal Cat (for the Cinn Bengals - Jay's team), Mason the Dog, Bird Cat, Invincible for practically dragging himself across the yard and inside with a hurt paw and most recently 'Rambo' since he now has a nice scar across his nose from a scuffle over the weekend.  Love you Mason the Cat - wouldn't be the same without you!

Chase the Cat and his tribute tomorrow...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PC vs. Mac

We got ourselves a second round of tax money (WAHOO!).  All of the first round, plus most of the second round went towards the dreaded credit cards, which is a nice relief.  We only paid a piece of the large one (new house buying mecessities accessories and wedding make up that whopper of a card), but were able to fully pay off the remainders (belonging to The Husband).  Enough about mula - boring!  Which leads me to my point...

The Husband decided since I wasn't able to enjoy any of the money (ie: pay off my credit card), we should use the last small bit to buy me a computer.  My very own.  He vows not to add music or movies or random applications to it.  I can solely dedicate it to the blog, my pictures and the internet.  Can I tell you that I've been lusting over a Macbook or iPad for a while now and I'm completely a Dell girl at heart, but there's something about those beauties that make me smile. 

So, my dilemma is that since I know pretty close to nothing about an Apple anything...who wants to share some info with me?  Their website is of course 'buy this, buy that, love us not a pc' but I tend to not read that stuff since I'm easily swayed over something I want so bad :)  Bring it on world...what can you tell me? 

PS.  I'm going to go to the Apple store on Monday during my lunch break, so you have until then...

P90X continuation...

We started this 'meal plan' - feels like I'm back in college when I say that - a few weeks ago and it's been a bit derailed by me due to a bad cold I'm still trying to get over.  Yet, I did manage to take a picture of our 'First P90X Meal' and it was delicious! 

My dinner - scallops, asparagus and wild rice - YUM!
Jay's dinner - swordfish, asparagus and wild rice
It was AWESOME!  We both looked at our plates and agreed that we felt we should be at a fancy restaraunt...some fine dining!  Jay put on some Bob Marley to go along with the mood...  Best dinner we've had in a long time.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I will always remember that day one year ago today.  ...seeing the Caller ID and knowing it wasn't going to be a happy 'How ya doing?' phone call deep in my gut...  ...the strength Lauren had to tell me the news.  I will always remember not wanting it to be true...  ...the instant tears, the shaking and my knees going weak.  I will always remember the uncontrollable sobs while at work and needing Tiffany to hold me up...  ...the disbelief on one hand wanting just once more to see her,  yet the relief she's not hurting anymore.  I will always remember her smiling face, her laughter, her positiveness, her strength and her love.

Today is the one year mark of the death of a beautiful person and an amazing friend.  We met in 2nd grade and were instant forever friends - bossum buddies from Anne of Green Gables, BFFE (Best Friends Forever and Ever).  Heidi and I grew up together with our families intertwined, 'second families', to the fullest extent.  She was the strongest person I knew, always active - playing softball, breaking records in track & field, soccer when we were younger.  We were constantly laughing together...

Heidi was diagnosed with colon cancer in Fall 2003, which spread rapidly to her liver.  Over the next six years, she underwent a few surgeries and chemotheraphy numerous times with remissions in between giving us all hope to believe.  She was an active person during all this; if you didn't know, you couldn't tell she was fighting the battle.  She was amazing! 

She was married to her soul mate, Eric, on October 13, 2007 - one day before her 26th birthday and was truly on top of the world - in mind, health and love.  I was honored to be a bridesmaid in her wedding where she literally created almost every detail by hand - she was a crafty girl! 

Walk Like An Egyptian became 'our song' - hahaha!  I remember being home at her house and playing it as loud as we could on the stereo then singing and dancing around her living room and dining room table, just cracking up!


Once I became engaged, I wanted her by my side - one of my dearest friends.  She was healthy and vibrant at the time, so I wasn't concerned.  Unfortunately as the year passed, her health deteriorated and the cancer fought harder.  She wasn't able to stand up there beside me - the hardest decision I'm sure she had to make - but she promised me she would be there, in the audience, to see the momumentous event.  We had been through everything else together...  She came and she looked gorgeous!  I made a smaller bouquet from sunflowers (her signature flower) and she was holding it when I saw her, in the seat on the end, being the very first smiling face I saw walking down that aisle.  It was perfect.

After the ceremony, she hung in the cottage on site waiting for the reception to start, wanting to stay that evening for as long as she was able.  I was able to hang out with her, Eric, Terry and John (her 'rents) before the reception - fabulous moments I will cherish. 

The next day, her and Eric took a vacation to Mexico (while we were on our honeymoon)...an all-inclusive resort where they were pampered, relaxed and spent the entire week together - just the two of them.  She sent emails and pictures of their happenings each and every day talking about how happy she was and all the fun they were having.  We both returned from our trips - me, trying to catch up on real life again and her, (unbenownst to me) sick with a cold from traveling.  It took me two weeks after returning to call, wanting to chat about her trip and let her know how much it meant to me that she was at the wedding - I left a message on Monday, Oct  5th.  She didn't hear that message.  I got the call from Lauren the next day. 

The next week is a fog of memories...  Going with Joy to their house, seeing Eric, crafting with her supplies to create flower pins to hand out to the family and close friends at the funeral, sleeping until it didn't hurt anymore...  I hate that she didn't hear my message to her.  I had written thank you cards also - one to her and Eric and one to just her...  I read them to her and everyone at the funeral - one of the toughest things I've had to do. 

I have two notes here – one, a thank you card to Heidi and Eric and two, a note for Heidi.  I wasn’t able to mail them in time for Heidi to read them – typical me - so I’d like to read them to you and her now. 

Heidi and Eric – Thank you so much for being a part of our special day!  Jay and I were honored you were able to be there.  You both looked fabulous – Heidi, with your radiant smile and Eric, looking spiffy in your suit!  It was wonderful to be able to spend some time with you before the reception began and I’m so glad you enjoyed yourselves and stayed for as long as you did!  It was a perfect day and could not have been the same without your presence and love surrounding us!  All our love, Susan and Jay

Heids – I can not begin to tell you how much it meant to me to have your smiling face be the first I saw walking down the aisle!  Can you believe I’ve joined the married crowd?  It’s absolutely fabulous and I find myself using the title ‘husband’ as much as possible!  I know Jay and I will do just fine if we have an ounce of the love you and Eric share – I’m so happy you found each other early in life!  He is amazing and you are both so blessed.

I know it was difficult for you to come to the wedding, but you looked beautiful and were so brave.  I was thrilled to have some time alone with you and Terry in the cottage, before the craziness began!  I hope you know how special you are to me and how much inspiration your strength and friendship has given to me over the years.  Twenty years – can you believe it?!  We’ve been there, together, for so many moments – big and small – first dances, new school years, slumber parties, 4-H camp, pigtail softball, Monster Mash, more birthdays than I can keep track of, lots of laughter, talent shows, learning how to drive, graduations and most recently each of our weddings!  There will be so many more to come…I can’t wait!! 

I know things have been rough these last few years, but you are so strong and surrounded by so much love!  I am always here for you – just a phone call away - anytime.  Thank you for your friendship!  Love you always…

(This part was written after she had passed...)  I will miss you forever my dear friend.  I know that you are at peace now and no longer hurting; you are watching over all of us and enjoying the show with family and friends who have gone before you.  We miss you here – very much – but have all been blessed in how you have touched each and every one of us, even those who couldn’t be here today.  We will remember you always.

Maidzilla Party - May 2007


May 2007

Senior Year of High School - 1999

Senior Prom - 1999

Girl's Night - 2007

Heidi's 28th Birthday - Oct 2008

Absolutely Beautiful

Heidi's family and friends are gathering tonight to visit her and have dinner.  It will be hard, but I can't wait...

HERE is a YouTube slide show her brother, Logan put together - it is beautiful and he did an amazing job! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Jay bought P90X a few years ago and introduced me to it when we started dating.  I dabbled in one or two workouts and was destroyed on a regular basis.  That shite is tough, but it definitely does the job!!  Tony Horton pushes you through...  In addition to the workouts, there is a nutrition guide with multiple phases that change dependent on your level of commitment.  It has monthly menus laid out for the meal planners or a mere list of options to choose from - protein, grains, etc. 

In appreciation of our healthy lifestyle change, we went grocery shopping today and consulted the P90X food options.  We used the meal planner section for Phase I.  We had to look up a few replacement choices for cottage cheese (neither of us like, so a glass of milk with sub in) and mushrooms (essentially any veggie will suffice).  This grocery trip was expensive (healthier foods always seem to be) but our trade off is that we'll feel better.  We bought alot of meats - fish (only wild caught fish), scallops, ground turkey and turkey burgers, beef chuck cubes, and chicken breasts.  You best like veggies on this meal plan because you will eat A LOT of them!  Our shopping cart was half full with veggies of all kinds - to be used for breakfast, lunch and dinners. 

My first concern was how am I going to eat well and make meals - breakfast and lunch - while at work??  Instead of veggie omlets, we decided to hard boil a dozen eggs and each evening we can roast up those veggies and I can grab a few hard boiled eggs with veggies to cut up and eat at work.  With our opposite work schedules, we are breaking up the food making as follows:  Jay will make the dinners before he goes to work, taking half for himself and leaving the other half for when I get home.  Once I'm home, I will heat up the Jay made dinner and make our lunches for the next day, packaging each separately. 

We have scallops and fish for dinner tonight with rice and asparagus...sounds delicious!!

Oh and a new development in my taste buds, I like yogurt :)  I have never liked the tang at the end of a yogurt scoopful, but it's so good for you that I need to start to like it.  I bought four Yoplait yogurts - strawberry whipped, light chocolate mouse, thick and creamy strawberry banana and original berry.  I must admit the strawberry whipped was my snack today and quite delicious! 

The times they are a changin'...