Thursday, December 5, 2013

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was a success! Full of good food, fun, and the winds even died down after dinner so we could get the fire pit going for a while. Here are some photos that I think sum it all up.

 
Hubby, carving up the bird.

Proudly setting his masterpiece on the table.
Thanks to the timer setting, I snagged a family portrait, Hammy included, of course!
Enjoying our new patio set while the fire pit comes to life.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful.

Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. It'll be the first in our very own house, and we are hosting my mom, dad, and brother. Baking began last night with my double-layer pumpkin pie (it's a non-bake Jello recipe I've made for, oh, about 10 years at this point). Today means hypercleaning, organizing, taking out the "holiday" dishes and serveware, more cooking prep, and finally collapsing into bed before waking up at about 5:30 to shove the turkey in the oven (so we can eat in the late afternoon).

Right now the forecast looks dreary, but I'm crossing my fingers the storm will blow itself out and we can light up the fire pit for cocktails (hello, hot brandied cider) and appetizers (uhm...cheese and veggies are involved...need I say more?).

I am very much hoping to stop back in here during the 4-day weekend with some photos of The Cottage all festived up for the day of the gobbler.

I'm trying hard to not stress out, and to be kind to myself (and poor John, who is often upon whom my compulsions are the most apt to fall) while I juggle a lot at home and a lot at work, and a fried mental hard drive. But the good news is, I'm keeping on keeping on. I am immeasurably thankful for the love and support I have from those in my life, now more than ever since it's hard for me to provide those things toward myself.

I hope you all wake up and watch the parade in the warmth of your homes. I hope you eat too much good food. I hope you don't argue too much, and you don't spill the gravy when you pass it. I hope you are mindful of what you're thankful for.

Gobble gobble.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Maureen in Therapy

I have made the decision to begin talking with a therapist. I have been in this major depression (my term, not a clinical diagnosis...well, not yet anyway) for about 7 months. It's time to climb out of the pit.

It is something I've been thinking about for quite a while, but I think I hit the proverbial bottom recently, and then something weird happened: I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. I actually had to leave work one day because I was feeling utterly hollow, overwhelmed, and incapable of doing anything, let alone my high-stress job. So I left. I went home and in an effort to offgas some of the energy and anger and confusion, I spent a few hours setting up the office in our house. I felt good to be doing something, and to be doing something nice for John, since that will really be his sciencey man cave space. I let myself wallow in feeling awful for the rest of the night. Then I slept better than I had in a while, and I woke up feeling a little more hopeful than the morning before.

Granted, I was by no means my usual self, but there was that glimmer that said I was indeed buried somewhere in the shell I've been wearing, and there was something I could do to bring me back out. I muscled through the next few work days, and then my bosses sat me down for what I affectionately call The Intervention. It was everything an intervention should be: gentle and kind and caring and supportive. Again, something weird happened: I felt like I was going to be okay. Here were people who spend hours a week with me, and they just wanted me to feel better. I have been opening up more about being depressed, and as I continue to do that, I'm continually impressed with the support that is pouring toward me. Some people offer their own stories about depression and treatment and say they it was a positive and helpful experience for them. Some simply say they are glad I'm taking care of myself, and offer to help however they can. It's been good to feel valued and important to others, and to know they care.

I still think a big part of the depression is medication-related. I've since switched, but am waiting for it to be in my system long enough to tell if it makes a difference. I'm not going to hang all my hopes on that, though, because I know there are so many larger issues I need to work through, and another realization is that I do not have to work through them alone.

I still feel largely like a muted version of myself, and struggle to find pleasure in the things I typically enjoy. I still feel incredibly anxious and paranoid and sad and somewhat helpless. I worry about pushing away those I love. I've been looking through distorted glass for so long that it's hard for me to sit back and say, "No, Maureen, everyone does not hate you and think you're crazy. You do not screw up everything you attempt." But because I've been broiling in negativity and self-loathing for months, it's been difficult to focus on the positive and the good.

I have made the conscious effort to get better. I have created ridiculous mantras to repeat when I feel myself slipping and when it all just seems too overwhelming. I have put it on blast that I am depressed, and that I want to get better. And I made the difficult second step of actually calling and setting up an appointment with a therapist. Thank goodness for the resources I have here at Princeton. They have a wellness program here for us called CareBridge, and it gives you access to online resources as well as nutritionists, therapists, lifestyle coaches--and much of it is free or for a very nominal copay. For me, I will get 8 free sessions with the doctor, and then I think if I continue, it'll be a copay through my health insurance. I have to figure out the nitty gritty, but that is a bridge I will cross when I get to it.

In the meantime, I am still struggling. But it feels less like treading quicksand and more like treading water. It took a moment of clarity and hope for me to take this step. When I was entrenched in the mire, I couldn't imagine feeling any other way. But as soon as I had a time of feeling okay, I wanted to feel even better. And now I can bring the perspective of feeling a bit better to my sessions and hopefully arm myself with newfound knowledge about myself as well as ways to cope better if things begin to feel suffocating again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Off-Topic from Recent Posts, but Honest

My dear friends, I want to be up-front about something. For months I have been struggling with some pretty severe depression. I'm working on making it better, because I can't take waking up in a black pit every day anymore.

Some days are good days, and I feel like myself. Some days, however, are very bad, and I just feel awful and hate myself. I don't like the person I've become. That person is paranoid, harsh, negative to the point where I can feel others' eyes rolling, and just an overall prune to be around. I should take inspiration from my positive and happy friends, but instead of attempting to improve myself and rise to their level, I instead sprout a forked tail and try to drag them down to my level. Because it's dark and lonely, and it takes much less effort to just continue being a sour grape.

This has caused a particular problem at work, where I often feel confused about my depression, and have basically chosen not to say anything beyond my closest friends. But then I realize my behavior must just look bizarre to everyone else. Like, "Wow, that Maureen is a crazy broad." I often feel frustrated because let's face it, I'm at the bottom of the pecking order, so the higher-ups are probably wondering what I have to be worried about when my responsibilities are so small. Important, but small in comparison. I don't want to take time away from my coworkers', and especially from my bosses', ridiculously busy schedules, and so I kinda sit there, internalize everything, and just fester and rot from the inside. Which is totally unhealthy, and I know this, but I don't know what to do. 

I don't really have any words of wisdom, but just wanted to throw this out there. I think I've mentioned it in posts before, but I like to vocalize things because I'm then held publicly accountable. So here I am, now publicly accountable in my quest to get better.

I'll leave you with one of the things that has provided constant encouragement for me because it provides some much-needed laughter, but also really accurately describes how I have been feeling. I'm sure anyone who's gone through depressions can relate as well, and so I hope you fellows especially appreciate the sentiment of Hyperbole and a Half.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bakecation!

It's Fall Break over at the U, so yours truly took off the week. After a semester that has been rolling along at breakneck speed, it is definitely time for some R&R&B. Rest and relaxation and baking. Today was actually the first day that was relaxing. The first half of the week was filled with appointments and cleaning. Today was simply baking and chilling.

Before I get any further into this, I want to stop and acknowledge that today is Hammy's 5-year adoptionversary! I can't believe he's been part of our family for five years already, and I also can't imagine our life without him. So as we sit here juggling trick or treaters, we're enormously happy to have our little fur baby along for the ride. Perhaps tomorrow or over the weekend I'll do an October wrap-up. I have fall decorating and costumes to write about! Even Hammy got in on the action, though he was rather unwilling.

So this week I have tackled three baking adventures, and will round it all out with a quick batch of shortbreads on Sunday. I had planned on making a sea-salted caramel cheesecake today as a test-drive for my 2013 Friendsgiving contribution. My mom is visiting tomorrow, so I figured a perfect test audience! It was the second cheesecake I've made from scratch, but also the first I've made in this oven. I'm still figuring out its little ticks, so I was a bit nervous about making something as delicate and sensitive as a cheesecake. But what's wonderful about this oven is that it has a window in the door and a light that I can use to check on my precious little lovelies! At the apartment, the only way to see what was going on was to crack open the door--a huge no no in cheesecake land!

Thankfully, that went off without a hitch. The new trick was homemade caramel. I found an easy recipe over on Joy the Baker that was simply add ingredients, boil til amber, chill. I can totally do that! I of course snuck a lick of the spoon when it was finished, and oh my...sooo delish! All I had to do was let it chill while the cheesecake was sitting in the oven for 6 hours (it was just as nerve-racking as waiting for the first one!). Then I stirred up the caramel, plopped it on top of the cheesecake (conveniently covering the shallow cracks that had formed), and admired my work. I can't wait to dig into a slice for dessert with John in a bit, and then to share it with Mommy tomorrow!

Since I had to buy light corn syrup for the caramel, it was perhaps kismet that I stumbled across a recipe in Food and Wine for chocolate shortbread pecan bars, which also called for the syrup. This is the beauty of baking as often as I do--I have 90% of what I would need for just about any recipe. ShopRite was also giving away free dozens of eggs with a special coupon, so that sealed the deal: this staycation was destined to become a bakecation!

And now that you've read all my words, here is the eye candy...my baking toils.

Chocolate Shortbread Pecan Bars

Shortbread crust, all packed in.
Lots of chopped chocolate and pecans.

Mmm, getting a little melty up in here!

Chocolate and pecans poured over the crust.

Lovely little bars. Mmm!



Sea-Salted Caramel Cheesecake


Amber bubbles means time to kill the heat!



  

Unwrapping the chilled caramel topping.
Oh. My. Goodness. Jealousy is the appropriate response.
Went all out with bakery box, twine, and labels.

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to stop writing about this cheesecake and EAT it.

Wishing you a festive Halloween!




Monday, October 21, 2013

Reeeeeeeeeeeeee-brand!

(Said as if you're a deejay going "Reeeeemixx!" of course)

Just a note that if you were looking for The Beat on Bordentown, you're in the right place. I've simply rebranded the blog title to reflect our current lot in life.

But do expect Bordentown to be a frequent flyer on here--we're still a stone's toss away, and love it too much to give it up that easily.

Cheers.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sprucing the Homestead

Well, we have joined the club of weekend warriors. My official initiation came when I had to make a return trip to Lowe's in the same day to exchange some cabinet pulls that weren't right.

Today we tackled painting the final wall of the living room--the one that goes up the stairwell, trimming the shit out of some hedges/bushes outside, John spray-foam insulated a few gaps around the house, he climbed a tall ladder and trimmed tree limbs that were resting against the house/looming over our power line; I toiled inside updating the kitchen cabinet hardware.

The hardware was. So. Gross. I tried my darndest to clear them, but it just wasn't happening. Thankfully, they were really easy to remove, and in about an hour and a half total, I had new sleek brushed nickel handles.

Here are some before/after pics of my hard work. Let's start with the before. I wish I could tell you what decade/century these are from. I'm gonna say 1980s impersonating the 1880s? Any takers?


Not too bad from a distance.
But oh dear, up close and personal is horrific.















So yeh. They had to go. The ultimate cabinet plan is to sand them down and paint them. I'm thinking white, but then I also think it might be fun to paint them a color--maybe even the green of our living room, and then paint the walls of the kitchen really bright and crisp white. But we'll see down the line. With all that in mind, I wanted to stay neutral and light and versatile with the new hardware. This is what I ended up with:

Ahh, much better!
Light and clean!
















I decided on some cup-style pulls for the drawers. They were a bit more expensive, but since I only needed three and the handles for the SEVENTEEN cabinets were way cheap, I didn't think twice about the splurge.

Enormous happiness.




















I realize I've only shown this one small section--mainly because it's currently the most photogenic area. To the right of the stove is a bar-style counter with three cabinets. To the left of the two drawers is the L-portion of the kitchen, with the sink, dishwasher, counter, and upper and lower cabinets.

I'll leave you with this, a stark before and after. Good night.




Thursday, October 17, 2013

So we're homeowners, and it's kind of crazy

Note: this is going to be sloppy cuz for some reason a few photos refuse to display correctly--they insist on lying on their sides when they should be standing upright. Boo.

It hasn't really yet sunk in because we're still very much unpacking. I now auto-pilot home from work to the new place, but it all still feels kind of surreal, almost like vacation--you know when you've settled into a hotel room enough that you feel "at home" but you're still strikingly aware that it's not really home? That's where we're at these days.

By this point, we've got the main living areas just about right, save a few furniture tweaks--they were the main priority since those are where we spend the most time, and the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom especially needed to be fully functional. That means, of course, that our peripheral rooms are frozen in time from moving day and are box wastelands.

But enough of my gibbering. Here are some photos!

I took this photo this morning as I left the house (it's been too dark when I get home to get a good shot). Here we are looking nice and autumnal. We hope to pick some pumpkins this weekend, and John is thinking about some corn stalks or something. So we'll see how it evolves. We have to be ready for trick-or-treaters come Halloween (which is disturbingly close)!





John and my dad trimmed a lot of low-hanging branches from the front lawn trees on Sunday so now you can actually see the house. The branches also no longer sag right onto cars in the driveway. It feels so open. I made the candy corn garland you see in the bay window and on the door from a kit from Paper Source. I think they're adorable. Plans for the front garden include ripping out the lirirope and mealy hostas from under the bay, and planting 1 or 2 hydrangeas there, along with some seasonal annuals. I'd like to also eventually add some sort of border for the garden bed--perhaps some sculpted bricks or something. The front door and mailbox could also use a fresh coat of paint eventually, and we'll need a door knocker and numbers to put on the house. A later-later project is to replace the exterior lights on either side of the door. But for now, I think it's quite welcoming.

When you step inside, you enter the living room. We are so in love with our paint colors. The living room is Spring Valley. I spent a lot of time on the Benjamin Moore site, and when I presented my ideas to John, he was on board immediately. Thank goodness. The idea for the house is a light, comfy beach cottage vibe. We are smitten with all the historic details in the woodwork and layout--I don't mind the separate rooms because there are so many windows and doors and pass-throughs it all just flows together so naturally and doesn't feel cut off at all.

I don't know why this keeps loading sideways. Sorry. : (
From the living room, you walk through the dining room to get to the kitchen. The dining room sports a bay window and also a regular window on the opposite walls. Oh, and those two charming pass-throughs that peer into the living room. The dining room is painted Pilgrim Haze by Ben.







Once through the dining room, you're finally in the kitchen. Can we stop for just a moment to see how many people I can fit in this kitchen?! In the apartment, if John and I were in there it felt like suffocation. Here, though, I can have a little kitchen party, and there's even a spot for two barstools on the other side of the counter at the foreground of the pic immediately below.


The two large RubberMaid bins are in front of the cabinets because the doors don't stay closed. I plan to pretty immediately change the hardware and hinges because they are just really, really gross and cannot be cleaned. I hope this will help the doors close a little bit better, but if not, we'll get some small child locks or magnet closures to help them stay closed--Hammy has already climbed into the under-sink cabinets, which is no good!


Oh, hello sexy stovetop...that long center burner is begging for a griddle pan.


Beyond the kitchen is an addition to the house from probably about the 70s or 80s. It houses the laundry area and the house's only bathroom. Yup, you read that right: the only bathroom is downstairs, at the very back of the house. I'll let that sink in for a moment. I have no pics of the bathroom for this post, but here's the laundry area (the bathroom entrance is to the left in this pic), which is full of random stuff and furniture that is kind of useless now that we actually have adequate storage. The sheer panel that looks like a Chinese screen is the covering for the sliding glass door. That, along with all the curtains you see in photos, was left by the sellers. What looks like a wooden panel/bulletin board to the right is actually a box that covers the outmoded in-wall air conditioning unit. We may put something there to hang coats or maybe laundry that needs to air dry a bit. The jury is still out.



Upstairs there are three bedrooms. Ours, one that's perfect for guests, and one that we'll use as an office since it's very small. The sellers used it as the nursery for their wee one. Our room is good to go, and you'll see the descent into chaos in the other two rooms since that was the other area we dumped stuff we weren't quite sure what to do with.


 
Office...or cardbard graveyard.

Guest room (sellers left the twin bed frame--score!)




And that, folks, is where we stand right now. More to come for sure as we work work work. I'll have to post some outdoor pics once I begin attacking the garden. There is SO much to rip out. In addition to the front, there are tons of plants I want to replace in the backyard, and there's a long skinny garden alongside the driveway. That one has a few things I'll save, including a coveted hydrangea, but pretty much everything else will go.

For now, we are turning our attention to winterizing: thermal curtains, stopping up any gaps in baseboards, etc., and replacing a few windows.

Until next time, love from The Cottage.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

It's moving week, people!

We closed on Monday, and have already loaded in some boxes and painted one room.

I likely won't be on here very often with updates in the next week or two as we settle, but I have some vacation time coming up, and I hope to use the lazy(ish) days to upload photos, toss some on here, and all that stuff.

Slainte.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just to be clear: Laterposts

I mentioned this here when I put it on blast that we have found, bought, and will be moving into our first home. Don't be confused by the "Laterpost" series I just blurbed--those are posts I wrote while we were searching because I felt it was important to document the step-by-step, and how we felt along the way.

I also wanted to capture a non-HGTV snapshot of what it feels like to buy a house if you're a real person who can't afford heated hardwoods, granite countertops, and a heated marble bathroom floor with golden shower tiles.

Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about our hunt to find The One, and I can't wait to get back on here with photos and chronicles of our moving process. I hope to post a farewell entry to our apartment where we went from engaged to married, as well as the whole getting-started process on the house.

Ironically, NONE of the houses mentioned here are the one we ended up with! Maybe I felt I had jinxed the others, or maybe life just took off at breakneck speed as we moved further and further along the process, but I didn't write at all about our soon-to-be-house. Riddle me that.

I'm trying to think of a name. We always refer to the apartment as Casa Riggi, but I want to NAME the house--you know, like Skyfall, or Shadow Pond, or Button Cottage. So I'm working on that. I have a frontrunner in mind, but not sure if it's juuuust right. It's like naming a car...I need to live with it for a while and see what personality it has.

And with that, until next time...

#laterpost 4. Daily Double

Written July 10, 2013.


We are seeing three more houses tonight. On paper, one of them could be our home. I hope we'll like it as much in person, and hope that we can see ourselves there in the same way we could see ourselves in the one we offered on. It has a lot of the same charm, and a lot of the same qualities/wish list items as the first one we fell in love with, though this one is a one-story rancher and the other was a 2-story Cape.

And so here we are again. On the threshold of extreme anxiety, probably some arguing, and a tense few days ahead. I'm hoping, though, that a few things will be more easily in our favor this time than last time. For one, this house is priced better, and allows much more wiggle room, so hopefully we can go in all gangbusters and be like, "We are the best! Give us your house!" And they'll be all, "Okay! Enjoy your new life!"

But we'll see. Thankfully, the listing has a lot of photos, so there shouldn't be too much mystery left for us to discover. And from what we can see, much of the work we don't want to deal with has already been done, and the things left that need to be "fixed" are more things to just add our own personality--change out ugly bathrooms/carpets/etc., but all of that is down the line. None of those aesthetic things will crimp our lifestyle aside from perhaps a groan of, "Ugh, good morning again, ugly bathroom tile." And that's totally something I can live with until...well, until I just can't anymore. haha

So stay tuned, as I hope to pop back on here later tonight after seeing said house to jot down our initial thoughts and if we like it enough to move forward. That update will get written right below this paragraph.

Part 2.

Okay, the house we really wanted to see wasn't ready--the sellers' kid was sick, so they had to cancel our appointment. What we did get to see was the messiest house to date, and a house with what can only be described as...carpet tub.

As you'll notice I've been mum about the actual details of most of the houses we've seen, and that's mainly because while they all had reasons we didn't want them, none were really noteworthy. Just the usual mixed bag of no AC/no dining room/needs way too much work. Last night's houses, however, deserve a little pause.

House 1 was still very much lived in. So much lived in, in fact, that the owners didn't leave when we showed up. They just hung out in the yard. Uhm...AWKWARD! I was like, "heehee, what a lovely home." ::shifty eyes:: It wasn't a horrible house once you looked beyond all of their personal items--dirty laundry and dishes included--that were strewn about as if no one, especially not a potential buyer, was coming to visit. In the end, the repairs that needed to be done were more than we were willing to take on, and we felt the house was priced rather above where it should have been. An exciting point, however, was that there were chickens in the backyard! The couple kept three chickens to have fresh eggs. I won't lie. It was quite charming. I kinda wanted to run over and snuggle them. Are chickens snuggly? I don't know. But I wanted to anyway.

House 2. What can I say? It started off with promise. Great curb appeal, nice backyard. There was an inground pool, which was fun to think about until you factored in the cost of keeping it clean and safe. Ka-ching! Inside was okay, too. It was plagued by ugly carpet, but had a workable layout, good space, and a nice closed-in porch off the back of the house. It didn't get weird until we went upstairs. I was first in line, with John behind me and our realtor at the back. I dead-stopped at the top of the stairs because the first thing you see is the bathroom. With a jacuzzi tub. And that jacuzzi tub had carpet all over it. I'm talking carpet on the front wall of the tub, and then all around the perimeter of the tub. You know, where you place wet things and over which you have to step to exit the tub. All I could think of was for how many years that had been going on. Oh, and the toilet was recessed into what was the original dormer, so it was legit a little throne room. This bathroom will forever be all I think of when I recall that house, and out house-hunting in general. Bonus of the house was it had the nicest basement we've seen to date--they had Pergo wood floors, a nice, sturdy, attractive set of stairs leading down there, and irony of ironies, the NICEST and most modern bathroom in the whole house! It was clearly added in this decade because the tile was neutral and tasteful, the fixtures were modern, and, oh yeh, there was no inexplicable carpet.

Sunday is an open house at the one we were most eager to see today, so fingers crossed that kiddo feels better.

With that, my friends, happy Friday. Tomorrow is a beach day, where we will unplug from the entire stressful world. It'll just be us, sand, and waves.

#laterpost 3. Back to the Drawing Board

Written on July 8, 2013.

Well, after some back and forth, the house is under contract. With someone else. We and the sellers could not meet in the middle. Not terribly surprising, as sellers never want to go down in price and buyers never want to go up.

John and I both feel enormously deflated, and a little pessimistic about the whole thing now that we've found, and lost, what really was a dream house. Attainable, and hit just about every item on our wish list. Now not only will everything else pale in comparison, but we're finding as the market tightens and interest rates creep up, our options are getting fewer and fewer.

I feel bitter. Like...we work hard, so why does it seem like everyone else can so easily get what they want? It has been an awful 3 weeks from finding the house (we saw it and offered after it had been on the market for about 7 days) til now. We've lost hours of sleep to stress, we've spent hours crunching numbers, I've spend days living in fear of waving goodbye to our savings. I guess I also feel kinda numb to the whole thing. The scared little girl wants to just stay where we are because while it's often very frustrating to live communally, it's also familiar and comparatively easy to moving into a home of our own where it's all on us.

I'm not sure what's next. For now we're soldiering on, but it's at the point where we've already looked at all the current listings about a hundred times over, and we're waiting on new stuff to pop up.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#laterpost 2. Idling

Written July 2, 2013

Well, not entirely unexpected, but we have hit a stalemate with our offer. The sellers won't come down, and we can't go up. Friday was lots of back and forth and I don't think my heart stopped pounding all day.

It's been an absolutely tumultuous week. Right now, all the excitement is gone for me, and all I see ahead is a gaping black hole of stress. John and I are regrouping and going over numbers (again and again and again).

One thing that is extremely frustrating to someone like me is all the unknowns. No matter how well we plan, how much I highball estimates (and hope for much lower realities!), in the end, we just won't know what numbers we're actually playing with until it's pretty much too late. Sigh. Bills: huge variable. Taxes: way too damn flexible. They could be fine now, but what if we buy the house and they quintuple? Instead of focusing on the things we can control: energy efficiency, switching cable packages, scaling back where we can, I obsess over the unknowns I assume will swallow us whole.

Perhaps as the sellers get closer to finding a new house of their own, they'll be like, "Hm, that nice couple did make a solid offer. Maybe we should call them back." I will be blatantly honest: when we didn't move forward right away, my first thoughts were of relief: oh, good. We can keep going as we have been, which is obviously comfortable and works for us.

It's the simple fact that uncharted territory, especially territory so tricky and financial, has me scared shitless.

And so this is where we stand now. Again, when I put these posts on blast, we'll have either bought this house or moved on to search for others. But for now, we're dwelling in Limbo. Sigh.

#laterpost: 1. Starting the Hunt for a House

Written July 1, 2013.

So if you know me, you know that A) I'm not a patient person, and B) I'm not good at not having answers.

Those two traits, coupled with my extremely anxiety-ridden general state of being means that buying a house is probably one of the worst adventures to embark upon. But alas, here we are...traveling down that path.

John and I have spent years talking about owning a home, and dreaming about bar-be-queing in the backyard. I've fantasized about a kitchen more conducive to my baking addiction. We've hoped for storage well beyond the spaces into which we've been cramming our belongings for the better part of 5 years.

Whole 'nother ballgame, however, when you're staring into the abyss that is your financial life: somewhere down there, a monster is chained up, howling with laughter because it knows that when you fall in, the feast is afoot.

We started our house hunt kind of by accident at the end of May. We had been planning to start looking over the summer once Hell Week at work was over for me. Then our church advertised a first-time homebuyers' seminar, so we were like, "YAY! Information disbursed in a friendly non-committal atmosphere! People who are in the same boat as us! Just what we need!" So John called to RSVP, only to find out it had been cancelled because the realtor who would be hosting it was away or something. But John got to talking with another realtor at that firm, and we decided to meet with him to kinda talk about things. That meeting turned into the beginning of our house hunt. In fact, I think we saw some places that very weekend. It was all fun and new and exciting.

I should also add that we spent a lot of time--a LOT--on real estate websites learning about the process, obsessively using mortgage calculators, researching loan options, making budgets like were frigging accountants. Seriously. I would blink and see math and dollar signs. It was a relief to know we could actually afford a home that was not a hovel, and that many of the features that were important to us were feasible. Would there be compromises? Hell yes. The difference between us and 90% of the couples on HGTV? We are okay with compromise.

So here we are. About a month after beginning our journey, we have found The One. It was the first house we walked through where both of us realized, "This feels like home." It's cozy and charming and, I feel a little like Goldilocks, but just right. We submitted an offer last night, and now we are in the terrifying, knee-knocking phase of waiting for a response. Because I'm a pessimist, I expect them to return the offer with a photo of them flipping us off. Don't get me wrong--we made a strong offer that we feel is very attractive and confident. But I just assume that Murphy's Law is always against me, and that nothing will work in my favor. We are the only offer on the house currently, and we just hope this family wants to play ball with us.

So, that's all for now. Although, of course, when I finally post this, the process will be done and you'll be able to read in quick succession what happened next (lucky you). So this is really my way of documenting how I--we--feel at each stage along the way, much more for my own benefit and sanity than your reading pleasure, but thanks anyway for coming along.

And so...until I have more to report on, adieu.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home, Sweet Home

Well, we've made it Facebook-official, so may as well put it on blast here, too.

A large part of the reason I've been MIA here is that we are now just a few weeks away from moving into our first home. Yes, friends, no more shared walls, no more fighting 6 other adults for 1 washing machine, a real yard to garden in, and a terrifying new financial commitment.

It was a months-long process to even get to the point where we found a home we liked enough to offer on, and when we finally found it, and didn't get it, we didn't know what to do. Quit altogether, save for another year, and then go back at it? Dust ourselves off and keep on keeping on? We obviously chose the latter, and found an even better fit the second time around.

What I'd like to do, too, is to post entries I wrote way back in July when we first started looking. I was saving them until we had found a place for purely superstitious reasons. Also, I wanted to curb questions I simply wouldn't have answers for. So the rest of this week, I'll throw up a "laterpost" (like a #latergram) so you can see how we ended up where we are now.

Our soon-to-be-home is 90% move-in ready, despite being 100+ years old. There are, of course, plenty of maintenance issues, most of which are on the outside.

And so Hubby and I are just beginning to pack, and are mentally steeling ourselves for the next few weeks and how they'll certainly be a challenge, but will be totally worth it.

I will have a kitchen big enough to comfortably cook in and even have people in there with me!
We will have a driveway all our own, and won't have to worry about not being able to find a spot!
Kitten will have so much new kitty TV to watch!
Storage. Oh my gosh the storage possibilities...
And I already mentioned the laundry excitement.

For a while, things were so stressful we were ready to give up and run away. But I think now we're back to a place where we're excited. We can think about paint colors. About where to put furniture. About what new furniture we'll need. About Ikea trips! And about spending our first cozy Christmas snuggled up in our very own home.


As for this blog itself...I'm undecided what to do with the title. We're quite heartbroken to leave Bordentown behind, but at the same time we love it so much that we definitely plan to keep the beat on the goings-on. So I'll see what inspires me, and even if I change the name of this here little blog, there's always something going on in downtown Bordentown we'll be happy to report on.

More details to come, but if I go AWOL again, you'll know why.

With love,
XXX

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Off the Wagon

You guys, I totally fell off the writing wagon, and I'm sorry. (I like to apologize like that. It lets me maintain the illusion that someone other than myself reads this thing.)

So freaking much has been going on, and I just haven't had the energy to create. Instead, I've been absorbing--reading lots of other blogs, magazines, books; listening to music. Well, okay, I've done the usual cooking, baking, and singing, so I suppose some creation has been going on. I've just also been so busy that I can't be bothered to turn on my computer much these days. I can get the quick glimpses I need on my phone, and that's often all I'm interested in.

I hope to have some news here soon about adventures in house-hunting.

Now that's it's September, I'm eager to dive into apples and pumpkins and warmer comfort foods. But I'm holding back for a bit longer. So Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks can chill for a second. There's just something that doesn't seem right about sipping a pumpkin latte or eating a slice of warm apple pie until there's a crisp chill in the air.

And so, my friends, stay tuned, as ever for more. I'll have lots of goodies for you soon.

Until then, happy September.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Seminar

Tonight I am making lavender-blackberry scones: a summer seminar in delicious fruit and relaxation. I finally tracked down a place to get dried food-grade lavender (Whole Earth Center in Princeton town), and have a pint of freshly picked blackberries at home waiting for me.

Yesterday, John and I went to a friend's crop-share since she is away on vacation. Since she would be losing money on "wasted" produce, herbs, and fruit, she offered us her pass and wished us well. Aside from the heat and swarming mosquitoes, it was pretty much heaven. My favorite activity was picking blackberries and flowers. There's a lovely bouquet on my table at home. My favorite smell was standing amidst the lemon and lime basil. I probably could have stood there for hours. If the mosquitoes at the approaching dusk was a drawback, the perfect lighting made up for it a hundred-fold. Check out this pic I snapped on my iPhone in one hand while balancing a bucket of flowers in the other. Yeh. That one's like a gift from the photogenic gods...the fuzzy faded summer light at the back...come on, son.



But scones...I've been wanting to make these since initially discovering the recipe months ago, but was having trouble finding the lavender. I know this is counter-productive at this point, but I was too lazy to order it online. When I get the baking bug, I need to bake, and I need to bake NOW. No time for delivery! If I can't run out and pick up what I need spur of the moment, then the recipe gets tabled. I know. I told you it's ridiculous.

As I sit here and daydream about the aroma of these suckers baking, I'm also finding myself reading (and rereading and rereading) the recipe. You guys, I love reading about food as much as I love eating it. I have cookbooks at home that I will sit down and read cover to cover like a novel. (Also, a cookbook without photos is a waste...SHOW ME THE FOOD! In addition to being something delish to look at, I also like to know what to expect along the way as I bake...)

A good recipe is like Shakespeare (bold, I know...and you know I love Shakespeare). It's poetry in motion seeing disparate ingredients come together to form one beautiful sonnet. Oh, and then you get to eat that sonnet. Mmm.

Stay tuned for my latest work. I hope it turns out well. I hope to come back and post a photo of the finished lovelies, topped with lemon curd. Yes.


Friday, August 9, 2013

On Small Miracles

There are a few things that happen everyday that are small miracles. I'm not talking about babies being born or cancer going into remission. Those are pretty large miracles actually.

Not that the things I'm thinking about are super easy or low-priority. I'm mainly thinking about falling in love, buying houses, and getting jobs. In all three of these aspects, there are so many forces against you. I mean, to find a person who is stimulating, supportive, and you actually like being around is hard enough. But to have that person have all those feelings right back at you (at the same time, I might add)? When you think about it, it takes up a huge portion of our time as human beings. Sitcoms center around relationships--potential relationships, developing relationships, long relationships, crumbling ones. It really is a big deal when everything works out and ends in happiness and fulfillment. When you think, too, about handing your heart over to someone else, you're pretty much laying on your back, belly-up saying, "I'm vulnerable. Please be careful." That's terrifying! John and I are together for almost 10 years at this point, and while I feel incredibly secure, I still often feel vulnerable. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I screw this up? Why does he put up with me? Small miracles.

Also, getting a job. In modern times especially, there are so many people fighting for jobs. To have someone even look at your resume deserves a victory dance. Then you have to hope you shine brighter than everyone else, and then you have to hope to wow in person at the interview. All while hoping the job is something you actually want to do (because let's face it...finding a job that is attractive to you isn't easy, either!). I think in watching friends and family hunt for work, I realize I've taken my own career for granted. I'm very much aware of the small miracle that has me sitting at a desk at Princeton University. Big leagues, you guys! It's been 3 years, and I still wander around campus like a tourist, craning my next to take in all the buildings. To think that I was picked out over other applicants blows me away. I'm so grateful to be part of the Orange Bubble.

And houses. Ugh, this is my current headache. It really is a small miracle to have the stars align and to have a house sale go through! Much like falling in love, you approach house hunting with a mile-long wish list, looking for just the right Mr. Tall Dark'n'Handsome House. So once you find it out there, you hope you can afford it, you hope no one else is competing with you for it, you hope you come to a clean agreement with the sellers, you hope the inspection doesn't turn up nightmares, and then, finally, you hope to move in, collapse, cry a little, and sigh the relieved sigh of someone who has checked off a huge accomplishment on the Things Grown Ups Do list.

Small miracles. Where so many things can go wrong and you have little control over the circumstances, there are things that happen every day. People fall in love. People find employment. People buy houses. I'm lucky enough to have the first two taken care of, and am hoping the third will be next.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unnamed

Perhaps as a nice compliment to my previous post, this one will tell you about my first batch of homemade Irish cream.

This isn't something, like cheesecake, I'd always wanted to make myself. I was happy to head to the liquor store and pick up a nice bottle o' Bailey's and to nurse it as a nice liquid dessert til it ran out. But while I was reading my favorite Irish food blog, and was drooling over her post about making pavlova, she linked to a recipe for homemade Irish cream in case you were feeling adventurous enough to make it to use in the pavlova recipe. At the time, I was more interested the how-to for the meringue, but the drink recipe stayed in the back of my mind.

It was probably a day or two later that I found myself killing my lunch hour in one of my favorites fashions: perusing the shelves of Kitchen Kapers, sighing wistfully and lusting after dream gadgets and things I could make when I finally have a "real" kitchen in which to toil. Then I happened upon the most lovely and perfect vessels for homemade Irish cream. Gorgeous glass carafes with an airtight seal. I walked away from them at the time, but I couldn't get them out of my head.

So here I am, a month later, with two bottles of homemade Irish cream in my fridge (and a nice-sized glassful in my belly). The recipe is ridiculously easy, and yields a more chocolatey flavor than the bottled Bailey's. Now I just need to think of a nice name for my blend, so I can hang a pretty label around the bottle neck to serve during the holidays. The initial idea was to make it to bring around for our holiday visiting. But it all happened so fast...I bought the bottles, got them home, and just HAD to make some. A test run. Clearly justified. What if it was awful, and I needed every bit of the 3 months between us and the first holiday of the season?

And here, my friends, are some photos of my process. (PS: when I make it for an audience wider than John, myself, and a few other test-drivers, I'll spring for more quality ingredients. For this batch, store brand seem to have done just fine.)

Here is just a smashing shot of the bottle necks.

All of the ingredients. That's right. Cream, condensed and evaporated milk, coffee, chocolate, and whiskey. Done.
Whisking it all together: chocolate was melted in a double-boiler, then the bowl removed from the steam. From there, add in the liquids (and coffee), and whisk it til it's smooth.

 Here's the coffee before getting dumped into the warm cream.
 Mmm. Frothy. By this point, it smelled awesome in my kitchen--sweet from the melted chocolate, and boozy from the whiskey.

These bottles are just so amazingly elegant. We chose Bushmills whiskey over Jameson simply to try something different. I feel like Jameson is the go-to here in the states because of the name, but Bushmills seems to be equally popular in Ireland, so we gave it a whirl. It smelled and tasted heavenly. Definitely a good choice.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yearning Again for the Motherland

When John and I got home from Ireland (almost a whole year ago...where has the time gone...?), we talked a lot about two things: one, how we wanted to go back, and two, what we would like to do on a return trip.

We agreed we definitely wanted to see more castles. I think, too, I'd like to stay in and explore one region more fully rather than take a brisk trip around the whole country. Perhaps it's the cool weather that's moved into New Jersey today, and maybe it's the grey clouds and slight threat of rain, but I've found myself thinking a lot about Ireland this morning.

And with that thinking came an idea, and a partial plan of what I'd like to do if we are ever blessed enough to go back. When I think of our trip, there are, of course, so many highlights they all sort of blur together in a pastoral scene of green meadows and meandering livestock. But when I think a little bit harder and let the more "white noise" images fade away, the one place that I felt truly at home was standing on the rocky shore of Galway Bay, feeling the ocean spray from the other side of the Atlantic. Listening to wind lash at our window all night, and waking up to see the whitecaps on the water...I really think I left part of my soul there on that shore. John dunked his feet into the lapping waves, baptizing himself in the waters of our homeland (for his last name may be Riggi, but he's also half Murphy).

And so as I thought about it more and more, if--when--we return, I'd like to do a more thorough study of County Galway. We can walk amongst the ancient fishing village of The Claddagh. The national aquarium is even right there. There are castles. There are parks built around the ruins of castles. There is the bustling, vibrant city center. There is Rathbaun Farm and Francis' scones, and Ted the sheepdog.

This, of course, presents some very real logistical questions. We'd be unaccompanied, without a tour guide to help us. We'd have to manage our own transportation. At least we've already been there, so we know what to expect as far as narrow roads, lots of roundabouts, and excellently helpful road signs. Driving on the other side of the car/road? A minor hiccup.

This also presents the question of travel priority, as there is so much in the US John and I want to tackle, and we also very much want to visit Italy and explore the other part of our heritage. Heck, I may even get to Denmark some day, though I can see that as an empty-nester vacation down the line when John and I have more life behind us. So, much to think about, but for now my Irish eyes are smiling at the prospect of returning home.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stressbusters!

This post is going to take twice as long to type. Hamlet is currently curled up on my lap, and is resting his head on my right hand. While the left is free to type per usual, the right one is pinioned down in most devout snuggle time. It's funny how unbalanced it feels to have one hand stymied. Ah, well. Eventually he'll get annoyed enough at my constant movement that he'll adjust. Until then, the beat (on Bordentown) goes on...

There are a few things that invariably calm me when I'm stressed. The best stressbuster in the world for me is a day at the beach. From the moment I get the first smell of salty ocean air, my stress disappears. I don't know where it goes, and I don't care. I have very few thoughts or worries at the beach, outside of when to put on more sunblock and when I feel hot enough to go back into the waves. But this is a special treat. Maybe that's why it's so effective. It's something we can't do everyday, so the charm has never worn off.

Next best is writing, though sometimes when my stress mixes with depression, I can't bring myself to write. But when I do, I feel better afterward nearly every time. It could be a short poem, a blog post, or an email in which I vent to a friend.

Perhaps what has the most direct effect on my racing mind is to clean. I have always felt when my physical world is neat and in order, my mental world will follow. Even taking a few minutes to tidy my desk during a hectic work day reminds to slow down and take a moment to care for myself.

But aside from the beach, what makes me happiest? Baking. Maybe it's the satisfaction that it's something I'm good at. Maybe, too, the act of preparing ingredients, following (or diverting from) a recipe is routine and comforting. Plus, unless it's a more delicate baked good, I can usually have a delicious result in about 20 minutes,

Why am I boring you with all this? Today I left work at noon when the feeling of being overwhelmed finally bubbled over. It's been a stressful few months between work craziness and John's and my start to house hunting. (Wait, what? I know this is news to some of you--I've been blogging the whole process, but will post them all once we've found a place to call home...it'll be an interesting retrospect by then. As well as a testament to our survival.) It is absolutely the most stressful thing we have ever undertaken together, and certainly the biggest financial commitment I am endeavoring after in my own life, let alone my life together with John. So that's all I'll say on the topic for now. The hunt is still very much on the DL, but there you have--I've chucked it out into the void. Stay tuned for more.

So yes. I've been feeling close to the edge for weeks now, and today it all just came out and I couldn't hold it in anymore. I came home, had a good cry, and rested for a while. I guess I should add Hammy to the list of stressbusters. He is so intuitive when it comes to knowing when I'm upset. No sooner had I flopped, face-first, into my pillow than he was already hopping up beside me with a chirp and began nuzzling his face against mine. He then curled up with me and purred like a lawn mower.

Once all of that wallowing was done, I got up, had lunch, and started in on the organizing. I paid bills (less financial clutter...? Maybe simply less money.). I did dishes. I tidied the dining room table. Then I remembered I had buttermilk in the fridge. Scones. Scones must be made. This idea rumbled forward from the back of my mind, and I was off: I didn't have enough regular flour, nor did I have dried fruit, so I decided I'd try some savory scones we could have with dinner tonight. Done deal. Grabbed the whole wheat flour and some fresh grated cheese. Following the familiar recipe felt good, and using whole wheat flour and guessing the "right" amount of cheese felt like just the right amount of daring. Kneading out the dough and cutting small circles felt right. I even tried an egg. Why not? The result is sitting on my dining room table, waiting to be tasted.

When John gets home, we will go to the farmer's market in town, and then, finally, I can taste my little scones. With the herbed butter I made. Oh yeh...I went all out. I softened the half stick of butter I didn't use for the scones and whipped it til it was smooth. Then I added some pepper and rosemary, flavors I figured would complement the nutty whole wheat and cheese of the carbs. Rolled it into a tube using plastic wrap, and it's chilling and re-solidifying now

Looking forward, recipes on my radar to try:
1. Homemade Irish cream (that's right, bitches...makin my own Bailey's) I even have the storage vessels picked out...Kitchen Kapers, you saucy minx...
2. Homemade quick jam (no canning required...perfect for this quasi-lazy chef)
3. Blackberry-lavender scones (as soon as I find some dried lavender...)

All good things to think about! I'll try and will my mind to think of these when it wanders into the Dark Place.


And so now here I sit. Still stressed and still worried, but also a little more accomplished, and with more space on my mental hard drive. In short, it was the recharge that I needed.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Pavlova Perfection

Well, I'm pleased to pronounce I have achieved pavlova perfection. Well, at least as far as I can tell! Never having tried pavlova before, I assume this is what a perfect one tastes like. haha

The meringue was a sinful backdrop for the sweetened mascarpone and fresh fruit that topped it. The meringue itself is yummy, but really the point is to get a little of everything in every bite. Mmm. I will definitely make this again, and am already thinking about making mini personal-size pavlovas as well as meringue cookies for the holidays. Oh yes, friends, a new tool in the arsenal.

And now, the eye candy. (If you lick your screen, I won't tell anyone.)

Firstly, this is NOT how you beat eggs and get meringue...boo.

















This, however, is success in a bowl:
 
















And here we have it: all three components, ready to top up and get devoured. And since I made this for a post-4th of July celebration at my parents', I even managed some patriotism with the strawberries and blueberries on the white plate.
















Ah, a perfect forkful indeed.



Friday, July 5, 2013

Holy Meringue, Batman!

I'm working on overcoming a baking quandary, and I think I've got it figured out. I first encountered this issue when making the Italian rainbow cookies. Simply separating egg whites was challenging enough--I'm a sloppy egg-cracker. Every time I have to open an egg, I think of Audry Hepburn in Sabrina where she's in the French cooking school, and they are, well, learning how to crack an egg. Perfectly and with one hand. Whoa. I'll get there someday. Anyway, so I'm getting better at cracking and separating eggs.

But beating  them into a lovely frothy foam to turn into meringue...? That's another story. The first time I tried (for rainbow cookies), there was some latent moisture in the mixing bowl/on the mixer whisks, and I tried much longer than I should have, cursing them for not whipping up. When I eventually admitted defeat and started over, blammo: stiff peaks in like 2 minutes flat. Of course.

This time, I think my mixing bowl was the problem. I first tried in my huge aluminum bowl (perfect for making ice cream or ginormous batches of cookies). The eggs, cream of tartar, and sugar got all smooth and shiny and thick, but wouldn't come together to form peaks. Not even soft ones. After again beating for longer than I should have, I scrapped that, grabbed my trusty, ancient, plastic Tupperware bowl. Re-measured and started over with new egg whites. Again, blammo: fast, perfect meringue. Sigh. Next time I'll just start with that method. haha

My reason tonight for whipping up some eggies was to make a pavlova. I had seen this recipe on my favorite Irish cooking blog a while back, but was nervous. Cornstarch? White vinegar? I know...really basic ingredients, but still, two things not already in my arsenal. I was scared. Then, in last month's Coastal Living magazine, there was a beautiful pavlova topped with mascarpone and strawberries. Again intrigued, I scanned the recipe, and saw that this one lacked the cornstarch, so it was to be more like a traditional meringue (pavlova is a little marshmallow-y inside with a really crisp crust thanks to the vinegar and cornstarch versus a meringue which is a consistent solid texture throughout). I thought, "Hm. This one looks pretty damn simple. Why not!"

And so now here I sit. With about 20 minutes left of bake time (that's it at the left, just as I popped it into the oven). Then it has to sit in the oven for 2 agonizing hours, much like the cheesecake I recently attempted (OMG you guys...I haven't written about that yet...read on!). Which kills me. If it's an epic failure I'll never know until it's too late. Someday I'll have an oven with a window so I can peep in without opening the door and ruining the temperature. For now, though, I'll have to sit here in agony until I can open up and behold my creation. Call me Bakenstein. I hope my monster will be beautiful. And delicious.


Cheesecake. Holy. Hell. This recipe is really easy, and so you may be wondering why the hell it took me so long to make one. One word, my friends. One word, which has struck fear into my heart for years: springform. I was terrified that I'd put all this work into a delectable dessert, and then the damned pan would be its undoing. So when my dad requested a cheesecake for his Father's Day dessert, I said, "Springform, I shall vanquish thee!" I sprinted to the store, bought a pan (actually, it was a 3-pack...go big or go home!), and came home, armed with chutzpah and hardware.

Well, I sprayed the bejesus out of that 9-inch pan, crushed up the graham crackers, mixed them with butter, and made the cream cheesy heavenly filling. Dumped in said filling. Popped the cake in the oven. And panicked. When I opened the oven door (after it cooled in the oven for 6 hours...yeh, it was pure torture), it looked like a cheesecake. But what we going on under that browned crust? Was it cooked? Would it taste okay? All questions that had to wait until the next day when we'd serve it up at Mom and Dad's. Thankfully, I had sprayed the pan so well the cake actually shrunk away from the walls as it cooled and baked, so un-springing it from the pan was remarkably simple. And it tasted. Amazing. Amazing. If I had it in a white box tied with red baker's twine, you'd've thought I bought it at a Brooklyn bakery. No lie--it was that good. Ask anyone who ate it.




I hope I can pat myself on the back after Mr. Pavlova finishes. The difference here is I've never had a pavlova, so however this tastes will be my litmus test. Wish me luck, friends!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Probably-Stupid Observations


After watching this time lapse video of Reunions Weekend and Commencement activities on Princeton's campus, it's kind of mind-blowing to summarize my life in a likewise fashion.

In short, it's amazing to think that not so long ago, I had to ask my parents to drive me to friends' houses, ask them for money, ask them permission for pretty much everything. Then college came and offered new freedoms--my own car, my own schedule, and less asking for things. Finally, I got a big girl job, moved out from under their roof and under one with my boyfriend. We got engaged. We got married. Now we're planning to buy a house.

I have friends who have houses of their own, and we sit in their own backyards, bar-be-queuing and sipping beer or wine or whatever. I have friends who have kids I'll get to watch grown up.

It's one of those moments where time feels elastic: I'm 7 and 17 and 27 all at the same time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's been a long, long, long time...

Perhaps little known fact: my favorite Beatles song isn't a McCartney ballad. It is, in fact, a quiet little Harrison number on the White Album: Long, Long, Long. I feel like it's so different from their other songs, but also kind of what got them started: a simple love tune. I love it. And it has, in fact, been a long long long time since I've written, so while Hubby watches Game 7 of the NHL Playoffs (Blueshirts all the way!), I'm here to finally cough up the updates I owe you.

Two weeks ago, I ran my second 5K race and PR'd with 32:27. I still finished in the last pack of runners, but damn it, I still wasn't last! This race was smaller, with only 107 runners (I placed 75th). The race meandered along a bike path in Mercer County Park, and it was a completely lovely day: cool, sunny, with the trees and flowers just beginning to bloom. Of course, that meant I could literally wipe off a layer of pollen from my face afterward (and I really did). But I couldn't have asked for better weather.



This was Hubby's first race, a test run, if you will, before his obstacle 5K next month. Oh, and by obstacle, I mean zombies chasing him. In addition to slogging through blood-filled ditches and climbing up a rope ladder and other "fun" things. I will be watching from the sidelines, thank you...the only thing I want to wash off after a race is sweat. No interest in mud, goo, or zombie remnants. haha But he and another friend will be running for their lives, and I'll certainly be there to support them. We have funny post-race photos planned based on the outcome (survivor/victim).

I've checked off some shopping wins recently. I had two specific shopping needs: spring evening wedding and 2 Gatsby-themed parties. I actually nabbed the Gatsby dress a month or so ago on a trip with my Mom. We popped into m y favorite consignment shop, Rebecca's Vintage Consignment right in town here. There was a dress I had been eyeing for a while--the perfect 20s party dress. But alas, it was about $70, and I just wasn't that into it. But when Mom and I went in and it was still there, and 50% off...well, damn it, that merited a try-on. What the what? It was waiting for me, in my size, 50% off and fit perfectly? That sucker came home right away. It's currently in the capable hands of a talented friend who is repairing some of the beadwork for me so I can flap the nights away.

I also just crafted a 20s-inspired headband to wear, and found great shoes at Rebecca's on a later shopping trip (scored for $8, thankyouverymuch). On this later shopping trip (just this past Saturday, in fact), Tara and I were patrolling the wares of Bordentown, and since I wanted to look for a Gatsby hat (the only thing I struck out on!), visited the consignment shop. No dice on the hat, but I found shoes that would work, and then Tara pointed out a dress to solve my wedding-wear conundrum! Hubby and I will be attending a friend's wedding in two weeks at the lovely Moorestown Community House, and as the wedding is an evening spring affair, I wanted something fun, romantic, and colorful. I had been watching a few dresses at David's Bridal for a few weeks, waiting for a good sale. I was set to check them out, but then Tara pointed it out: everything I was looking for! I checked the tag: it was my size! I checked the price: $30! I flung myself into the dressing room and crossed my fingers. Blammo. Perfection! I waltzed out and sought Tara's opinion. All it needed was a pair of shoes I already owned to keep the hem off the floor, and I was sold. Signed, sealed, delivered. Further win? The shoes had no price tag, so Rebecca said, "Meh, $8." And with my resident discount, both dress and shoes came to about $33. Hot dang! Every time I look at the dress I'm convinced it was kismet--I can also wear it to lots of other events in the future, so definitely worth every penny.




No spoiler pics of either dress for now, but you won't have to wait long. I will share pics, however, of my recent baking success. See the next post for that, though--don't wanna cram too much in here! Also to come: spring 2013 gardening.

Cheers until then.