eight hours, two cats, and a dog later…

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I made it!

Today I attempted something I’ve never done before: I drove to Orlando with all the animals – by myself.

What an experience! It actually went fine. At a few points, ALL three animals were in the driver’s seat with me! Hehe. After the first hour, though, they settled down and didn’t bother me at all for the rest of the trip. I’m used to driving to Orlando by myself, I’m used to traveling with the cats, and I’m used to traveling with Zoey – just not all at once. I hope now we’re all best friends.

So here I am, in Orlando until this weekend, visiting my mom and my grandparents. Tomorrow is my Grandfather’s 80th birthday! So we’re going to celebrate. :-) I am also getting to see Joanna, which will be very nice!

Other plans for this week: we are going to the fabric store to find fabric for my kitchen. I want to replace the ugly sliding doors in front of the laundry closet with a bright and cheerful curtain. So I brought one of my plates, and we’re going to find something that matches. My mom is then going to let me use her machine to sew the curtains. I also want her to teach me how to quilt! We also plan to rent a movie (with a coupon for a free movie rental!) – something girly that I wouldn’t be able to watch with Paul. :-) I need shoes, too – perhaps we can hit up the outlet mall. And, of course, talk a lot and hang out. Should be a fun week!

I miss Paul though. This is the first time since we’ve been married that we’ve been apart. And, since we share one cell phone and don’t have a landline, we can’t even talk this week! (Paul does have his sidekick, but he got the data only plan which means we pay by the minute.) We’ll survive, I know. When Paul was in Ireland we only got to talk once a month, and I survived then.

Oh and something funny from my trip:

I had stopped at Wendy’s and was in line. The guy in front of me in line mentioned something about the cops being out. I said, “Yeah they sure are thick today, aren’t they?” (I saw SO many cops today!)

The guy responded, “Yeah it’s because of Bush…” (blah blah blah, goes on about how Bush somehow is responsible for there being more cops on the road…) Then he turned to me and said, “Well it will all be better when Hillary gets elected! Go Hillary for 08!” He held up his hand for a high-five.

I hesitated. “I’m sorry, but I can’t slap to that,” I said.

He looked incredulous. “Why not? She’s the best we got!”

“I can’t agree with you.” When he pressed me, I said, “I’d really rather not get into politics!” He was really nice at that point, and wished me a good rest of the day.

I just thought it was funny. :-) This next election is going to be very interesting!

fall y'all! bloggy giveaway

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So, I wasn’t going to participate in this bloggy giveaway this time, but then I spied something in my house that needs a home! And what better way to find a home for it than to participate in a HUGE giveaway carnival hosted by Rocks In My Dryer! Be sure to check out all the other awesome things being given away; the master list is HERE! (The guidelines for participating are here, in case you’re interested in doing something like this on your own blog!)

Anyways, I am giving away “The Original bareMinerals Bare Escentuals Starter Kit”, complete with all the items shown in the picture below:

I bought the kit from Ulta, but then realized that this particular one is too dark for my skin. It’s never been used – the holes in the little jars are still sealed (as you can see in the picture) and the brush is still fresh. This kit contains:

i.d. bareMinerals Warmth All-Over Face Color (.06 oz)
i.d. Mineral Veil (.06 oz)
i.d. bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation – Tan (.06 oz)
i.d. bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation – Medium Tan (.06 oz)
Flawless Application Face Brush
How-To DVD
i.d. bareMinerals skin rev-er upper (.06 oz)

To win this fabulous product, just leave a comment on this post, and let me know something interesting about you! And if you are a fellow cat-lover be sure to mention that too. (If you hate cats, you can keep that information to yourself. ;-)) I will close comments on Saturday, November 3rd at 9pm (EDT). I will use a random number generator to choose a winner, and will announce the lucky winner sometime on Sunday, November 4th. Hooray! Feel free to browse around my blog and come back to visit often!

Note: Only US and Canada shipping addresses, please.

If you’d like to know more about what bareMinerals is, check out their website here.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed. Check back later for the winner!!

the heart of the home: the kitchen

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Shalee from Shalee’s Diner has tagged me for a kitchen meme. I have to name eight random things from my kitchen/cooking.

1. I don’t cook much, although I’ve been cooking more recently and it’s surprisingly not been as difficult as I expected. I am still amazed at people who are able to coordinate a whole meal without messing up a lot!

2. Our kitchen is a Mexican theme, and I love it. Our dishes are all Pfaltzgraff Sedona pattern, and we also have accent plates of green, red, and yellow. I like having different color plates. :-) I think the inside of our cabinets are so bright and cheery! When we move into a house, I would love to get cabinets with glass doors (like these) so you can see all the pretty colors.

3. My specialty is brownies from scratch. I have made them countless times, starting from, around middle or high school. They are pretty simple, but seem to be a hit at the parties I take them to.

4. I hate frying things. Oil or butter splattering from a hot pan scares me. Suffice it to say, I’ve never made bacon.

5. My favorite (small) appliance is my George Foreman… or my fajita maker. I have two George Foreman grills: a small one I use for sandwiches, and a bigger one we use for meat (one of my favorite meals is hamburgers!). I like to make fajitas when we have people over.

6. I have a nice little “drink corner” with a hot shot, basket of tea, and sugar. (Yes, I like lots… and lots… of sugar in my tea.) [By the way, this was true in my old kitchen. I’m still setting up my new kitchen, and I haven’t found a place for my drink corner yet. I like the concept though so I’ll probably make a place for it.]

7. I prefer to cook from a cookbook rather than a recipe online. My favorite cookbook is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I also love my Wycliffe Cookbook. And yes, I prefer to use cookbooks that have nice design.

8. I tend not to keep my kitchen stocked. I dislike going grocery shopping. I am always running out of food. Once, my brother-in-law and his girlfriend surprised us for dinner and I felt bad that I had very little food to serve them. So, if you’re going to drop by, then some warning would be good. :-)

Okay, I tag Joanna, Beth B., Beth Z., Jes, Tree…. and whoever else wants to join in! :-)

wfmw: moving tips

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I have moved so many times in my life, and here are some things that I’ve learned over the years. Of course, this is applicable to our circumstances: moving from one nearby place to another, with the help of friends (no paid movers!). So take it with a grain of salt. (Oh, and check out lots of other helpful advice here!)

1) Don’t procrastinate packing. Mark all the boxes with what is inside. Try to pack rooms together – think about where they will go in the new house/apartment.

2) If you can, get the measurements of your new place and decide where all the furniture will go. This will help you with packing and on the day of the move. You can use a room planner for free at sites like this one.

3) While you’re packing is the best time to sort through your stuff and get rid of things you don’t need. When friends come to visit, let them pull out things they might want.

4) For fragile things, wrap them first in paper towels or toilet paper, and then with newspaper. The paper towel will keep the newsprint from rubbing off, and you won’t have to wash any clean dishes once you’re moved. A good place to find newspaper is a recycling bin.

5) A good thing to have on hand when packing is small baggies. I used them for anything that had multiple small pieces. It’s especially good for screws and nails for things you have to take apart.

6) If you are asking people to help you, make sure you are ready for them. If they are helping you pack, have plenty of boxes, packaging tape, scissors, markers, paper towels, and newspaper available for them. If they are helping you move, make sure all your stuff is in boxes and ready to go. Be respectful of their time. If you ask someone to help you and they seem less than eager to help, give them a way out. Moving is hard work, and it doesn’t make it any easier to have someone helping who doesn’t want to be there.

7) If you can, take a day or two off work around the move. You will appreciate the extra time to rest your muscles and get your house in order!

8) Finish off the food in your pantry and refrigerator/freezer right you have less to move. Also now is the time to throw away all that expired food!

9) Put together a bag of stuff that will be the first thing taken to the new place. It could include: toilet paper, soap, hand towel, dish soap, a sponge, paper towels, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, etc. Also, get a pack of bottled water and put it in the fridge for those who are doing the tough part of moving.

10) Pack an overnight bag for your family with all the necessities you’ll need the day(s) of the move. We moved in 3 days, so I packed three outfits for each of us, plus our basic toiletries. I made sure the bag stayed with me. It was so nice, at the end of the day, to know I didn’t have to find my clothes or my toothbrush before collapsing into bed.

11) If you have pets, then now might be a good time to find a temporary home for them. The hustle and bustle of packing and moving can be traumatic for pets, and you might be too distracted to keep a good eye on them.

12) Think through where you want people for the most productivity. For example, when the downstairs was empty, I moved all the couches, etc. towards one wall, then brought everything down from upstairs. That way, when Paul and his brother were loading the car, they were able to easily see what still needed to go. Also, they didn’t have to go up and down the stairs, which saved them energy.

13) Hand trucks are worth their weight in gold. ‘Nuff said.

14) Keep a running list of places you need to contact for address changes. The post office will forward your mail (go here to change your address online), but it won’t forward anything sent out bulk rate. And don’t be fooled – bulk rate doesn’t necessarily mean junk mail. For example, my parents send their newsletters out that way. An email updating friends and family of your new address might be a good way to keep everyone in the loop.

I had a pretty horrible moving experience a year ago, and this past weekend was SO much better. I attribute my particular case to these things:

1) Last time, I wasn’t organized and ready to move. I asked too many people to help, and it was chaotic. This time, I only asked a couple of people, and I tried very hard to be ready before they arrived. Also, I had a plan of what exactly I wanted them to do, yet I tried to be flexible.

2) Last time, we moved in a day and this time we moved in 3 days. To be honest, I prefer the 3 days (but I wouldn’t do more). It was less pressure to get everything done and we were able to ask different people to help on different days. We moved all the boxes the first day, the small furniture the second day, and the big furniture the third day.

3) Last time, Paul was working the day we moved. That was horrible for me – I am bad at decisions and I rely on him a lot. This time, Paul took two days off work and he was able to help me direct everyone and make decisions as well. It wasn’t all on me. This could just be a personality thing, but it worked better for us.

What advice do you have to add to this?

all moved… and exhausted

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Well, we are all moved! It was an absolutely exhausting weekend, but I’m glad that we are finally done.

Paul took Friday and Saturday off work, which was so nice. Friday morning dawned nice and… rainy. But, we are having a serious drought here so I really can’t complain about the rain! And it wasn’t too bad.

I was so nervous about the move that I slept a handful of hours, and was very grumpy. Paul and I signed the lease, then Paul stayed behind in the new apartment to fill out the move-in damages checklist thing while I returned to the townhouse to meet Mrs. G who came to help us move. Having her there was WONDERFUL! She brought her van, and in the 4 or 5 hours she was there, we got tons of stuff moved! We felt very satisfied with our progress.

She and Mr. G returned on Saturday. That was unexpected, and SO helpful! We were planning on renting a Uhaul truck or van but we ended up not needing to. They helped us move the rest of the boxes and all the smaller furniture (bookcases, cat condos, desks, etc.). They left mid-afternoon, about the time that Paul’s brother came to continue helping. We moved all the other stuff until he had to leave, then Paul and I worked into the night to get everything else moved. We also brought downstairs and took apart all the big furniture, which would be picked up the next day by my uncle and his truck. After returning to the new apartment, Paul fell asleep in the middle of the floor while I organized and made room for the bigger furniture (couches, beds, dressers). In all, I started about 11am on Saturday, finished moving at midnight, and went to bed at 2am. We were SO sore and EXHAUSTED. We ended up oversleeping the next day and missed church. :-( But it was okay – we slept in, took showers, and relaxed until my uncle got there at 1:30. Since we had taken apart all the furniture the night before, we were ready for him. We managed to get everything else moved in only about 2 or 3 hours. He went home and we returned to the townhouse. I wanted to scrub the carpets a bit more, to make sure that we wouldn’t be tacked with any staining damage fees.

Then, we locked up and left the townhouse for the last time. We were so tired, and yearning to just relax. We decided to just leave everything Sunday night and take it easy.

So, about the apartment! It’s really nice, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It also has a screened in porch! We haven’t been able to enjoy it yet due to the paint on the porch floor STILL not being dry (they really put the paint on too thick). I have the task of getting everything to fit. So far, we have the rooms arranged as we want, but are still sorting and organizing. For one, the kitchen here is a bit smaller so I am trying to figure out how to make everything fit. Also, I am debating about what to do about bookcases. The $30 Target fake-wood ones we had in the townhouse are now so warped after only a few months that I’m hesitant to put anything else on them. But real wood bookcases are SO expensive. So, I’m debating about forgetting the bookcases and just leaving out books boxed up. I don’t know; haven’t decided about that yet.

Well I need to get to bed. I plan to do a post on “do’s and don’ts” of moving tomorrow for WFMW so look for that. :-)