Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Success

Boy am I glad Christmas is over. That sounds terrible - like I didn't enjoy it. But I did, I had a blast.

I'm just glad things have calmed down after a very busy month of getting-house-keys-installing-appliances-moving-and-then-apartment-cleaning-and-more-moving-and-then-sudden-flight-for-the-funeral-and-then-unpacking-and-then-holiday-preparations-and-then-...

Note to self: if moving, don't do it around major holidays. Life happens, other stuff comes up, and it turns out you don't have as much time as you thought you did.

splorp! and I did well with our hosting duties. And we enjoyed having everyone over. It's just that we did a mad rush to unpack stuff before everyone came over to see the new place, and I am soooo tired of unpacking boxes. So yeah, I'm glad Christmas is over so I can be a slob again (kidding mom!).

We had lots of fun visiting with everyone who came to our home. Cooking the meals is something I enjoy, so that is never a problem. I have a sure-thing recipe for beef roast for which I always receive rave reviews.

And my family is great about pitching in to bring something for the meal, so I never actually have to do the whole dinner on my own. For example: my aunt brought mashed potatoes and rolls, my parents brought the green bean casserole and the deviled eggs. My dad loaded the dishwasher after the meal. So it's never a hassle to do the cooking. Mostly I prep the roast and then stick it in the oven and go back to socializing.

This was a tough year financially for a lot of people, and my family agreed to a low-key holiday. splorp! and I developed some photos of ourselves to put in holiday cards for the family with which we were not exchanging actual gifts. For each other we got things that would be more than just "I want" gifts, we got more useful things. I received a bluetooth earpiece (for my now-longer commute) and I gave him a battery powered screwdriver (for all the household stuff he's going to be doing now that we're homeowners).

For our other family gathering the day after Christmas, early in the morning I put spaghetti sauce in a slow-cooker with some garlic and italian sausage and let it cook all day. And then I just boiled up some spaghetti right at dinner time. My cousin's family brought a giant pie for dessert, so throw some garlic bread in the broiler and it's an easy meal that everyone enjoys. (Though the garlic bread was something else - I've never actually done it myself, and the first loaf cooked up much faster than I expected, so it almost caught fire. Lots of smoke and blackened pieces. Good thing I had more bread.)

So, like I said, a holiday success. I think we'll probably do it again next year. But without the moving to a new house part.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Home for the Holidays

I am happy to report that splorp! and I are completely done with the old apartment. No more cleaning, no more moving. We turned in the keys a bit early, and now we just wait for the refund of our security deposit, which should be coming any time now.

We didn't get the whole amount back - we allowed them to take money out of the deposit for cleaning because due to some unforeseen circumstances we didn't finish cleaning the apartment the way we wanted to. Oh well, it's a small price to pay to have a load off our minds.

Our unforeseen circumstances involved (in chronological order) first, the purchase of a new vacuum (the old one died while I was in the act of cleaning the apartment) and second a trip to see splorp!'s family due to the passing of his grandmother.

We had a whirlwind trip for the funeral. Though the occasion was very sad, it was nice to see the whole family pull together for the services and family gathering afterward.

Now we are home and gearing up for hosting my immediate family for the Christmas holiday on Friday, and a larger family gathering on Saturday.

We are grateful that my dad hung Christmas lights on the house before we moved in. I think with everything that has been going on lately we would not have been able to get around to it this year if he had not taken it upon himself to surprise us (and it was a pleasant surprise!).

I forget what day splorp! pulled the tree* and decoration boxes out of our garage (how cool is it to say "out of our garage" now instead of "out of the storage unit"). We got the tree put up and decorated in a fairly short amount of time. Then splorp! discovered our new fireplace mantel had holes in it already, so he used the existing holes to hang some stockings. I put up some fake green garland stuff that looks like pine and wrapped it with some red ribbons. Everything looks very festive.

So, decorations seem to be done, gifts are (mostly) wrapped, and we're pretty well set. I just need to do some last minute cleaning and some last minute grocery shopping, and we will be ready for our first party (well, parties). What a nice feeling to be almost done ahead of schedule.

We are looking forward to lots of food on Friday (day of Christmas) and then somewhat less food but a lot more people on Saturday as my extended family come to visit and check out the new house.

*Note: Yes, we have a fake tree we put up every year. Hey, I know there are some purists out there who think it's not "right" or something to celebrate using a fake tree, but there are a couple of reasons we use it:
  1. It was free, courtesy of my aunt who was downsizing her "stuff". Free and re-usable means we don't have to buy what is essentially an $80 dead tree year after year

  2. I have allergies that are greatly disturbed by fragrances, dust, and pollen (and all of that is included with the lovely pine tree), so a fake tree makes the holidays much more enjoyable for me

  3. We're not chopping down a live tree every year, which means that tree is still alive and is giving back to the environment and

  4. It's also eco-friendly to be re-using something we didn't have to buy. Not purchasing something new means there's no packaging waste year after year, there's no fuel costs incurred shipping a dead tree to southern California, and finally, see #3 again. It's an important point.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moving is Over!

We are now completely moved in. Though we have been living in the new house for a week, today we brought the last of the stuff from the apartment to the new house.

And by "last of the stuff" I mean Raymond and I dug up my avocado tree from the apartment garden and stuck it in the back of my car. It's now sitting in a pot on the patio, hoping it makes it in the ground soon. And hopefully I'll get to it this weekend, otherwise I'm thinking it's not going to make it.

There is still some cleaning left to do at the apartment before we turn in our keys. Unfortunately the old vacuum bit the dust before I finished over there. Yeah, burning rubber belt? not a pleasant smell!

Good riddance though. That stupid thing has had problems ever since we bought it used from my sister a couple years ago after she no longer needed it. Plus I was ready to get away from the bagless style vacuum. That's not a good design for anyone with allergies - you have to dump the gunk into the trash and tap the sides of the plastic bin to make all the stuff come out of the filter. And when you do that a cloud of dirt and dust blows up at your face and into your nose and all over your hair. You needed a shower after a simple cleaning job.

Enough was enough, and I wasn't going to repair it when it wasn't working for us, so we bought a very nice upright with a microfilter bag and a HEPA filter. I'm very happy with it so far, and I'll give it a good workout this coming Saturday as I clean the rest of the apartment.

Another bonus is that our washer and dryer got delivered and installed today, so I think we're pretty well set on appliances now. And I no longer have to save my Quarters to do laundry! Yea!

A couple of pictures of the "before". No "after" pictures yet.

Front Of Our House

Big Kitchen!

We're Home!