Thursday, June 30, 2011

Renters Found!

After being posted on Craigslist for less than 24 hours, we found renters for our house! What a blessing this is - we are ready to move into our new house on July 15. No more to-do's on our task list.

We've lived in our St. Paul house for 5 years and over time have spent many hours remodeling and updating our old house. I know what a beautiful home we have, but I think Andi and I forgot just HOW NICE we really have it here. We listed our place for $50 more than we thought it was worth fetching, received two phone calls within 12 hours of posting the ad and had interest from both groups who looked at our place. We selected two ladies as our renters and they're ready to move in August 1. No one bocked at the price which makes me very proud. We truly created a beautiful home here and it shows.

Finding someone to rent our place is bittersweet. Although this wasn't the first place Andi and I lived together, it feels like it was. It's the first house we picked out together and the first place we made into our home. It's the place we lived when we got married and the place our baby was made. Last night over dinner, as I looked at Andi and expressed my feelings with puppy-dog eyes, he reminded me we still own this place and we can visit anytime we like. I guess that's true, but it'll never be the same.

We're moving up to bigger and better things. I know we'll be happy at our new house - it's perfect for this new chapter in our lives. But this old house will always have a place in my heart.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Furniture!

Sometimes, I think my husband and I overwhelm others.

Andi called me at work Monday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go furniture shopping. Buying a bigger house is exciting and all, but you forget about the hidden costs of furnishing all of empty rooms! In particular, we'll have an empty upstairs living room and three-season porch. We also wanted buy a new bedroom set and move our existing downstairs to the spare bedroom. So! A lot to shop for!

After work, we visited about four or five furniture stores and really, they're all the same. Slimy salespeople following you around the store and truthfully, mostly the same furniture pieces at every place. It doesn't take Andi and I long to decide what we like once we see it; it was just a matter of finding it.

At 8:45pm, we bopped into the last store and apologized to the worker for arriving 15 minutes prior to closing. Cutting to the chase, we asked Stell, the sales lady, to show us her best stuff. And a half hour later, we walked out with a new bedroom set, living room couch/chair and a three-season porch sofa/love seat set.

Three-Season Porch Sofa and Love Seat

Bedroom Set
Living Room Sofa / Love Seat

Stell was surprised at our quick decision making to say the least. "You sure you don't want to go home and measure," she said, literally talking us OUT of buying the furniture on the spot.

"Nope, we're closing on a new house and having a baby," Andi told her. We'll take it all.

And so, we can cross one more thing off the list! New house is furnished. Movers are booked. Painters booked. Cleaners booked. This deal is really happening!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cabin Life

Life at the cabin just doesn't get any better this summer. Andi and I have spent nearly every weekend this summer at our hidden Wisconsin oasis and we're trying to soak up every moment we can before moving to a new house and welcoming home a new baby next month.

Last weekend, we spent the weekend at the cabin with Derrick and Ellie and their friends Tim and Kada. It was a quiet weekend compared to the party bus headed that way for Fourth of July this weekend.

We arrived at the cabin on Saturday morning (stayed in the Cities Friday night for our new house inspection). I woke up at 4:00am Saturday (thanks Baby!) and Andi's internal alarm clock went off at 5:30am (his usual wake-up time) so we decided to hit the road early. We arrived at the cabin by 8am. The weather was beautiful Saturday and after Derrick, Ellie, Tim and Kada arrived a short while later, we spent most of the day on the lake watching the boys wakeboard.

Mama and Baby

Andi wakeboarding

Kada and Ellie

Tim wakesurfing

Derrick wakeboarding

We spent Saturday night grilling up an awesome steak dinner and lounging around the cabin. And Sunday, Andi and I left the cabin early for a family baby shower. One of the best things about this year's digs is how close it is to the city so we're able to break away for a break from reality when we need it most. Another awesome weekend with friends. Now gearing up for a Fourth of July cabin party this weekend!

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Friday night after work, Andi and I met at the new house to meet with the inspector. I was interested in walking through the house with someone who's got an eye for detail. When you're on a house hunting tour with the realtor, it's hard to notice (or remember) everything about a place. This gave us a good chance to review every nook and cranny, take some photos and make plans. Thankfully we still love the place, but I was a little disheartened to walk through and be pointed to every flaw.

The inspector sent us his list of recommendations later that evening and I felt completely overwhelmed again with the number of things needing attention. Nothing was a major fix, but there's always little things that can be improved. We submitted our list to the sellers and the negotiating began - AGAIN. Back and forth all weekend with counter-offers on what we wanted them to fix and what they'd agree to. I'll tell you, I'm so sick of negotiating and I'm not even the one doing all the work! Andi's been dealing with all the realtors and seller directly.

Late tonight, we finally came to an agreement for both parties. I'm relieved. Relived to be over and done with it. All that's left is the final walk-through and closing on July 15.

ps... it should be said to all those out there who think buying a house at 8 months pregnant sounds like a fun idea. It's not. It's literally driving me to drink. Well, if I wasn't pregnant that is ....

The brightest spot is being married to the ultimate task master. Andi's taken care of all the negotiations, and even arranged to having movers come into our current house the day after closing, pack everything up and move it to the new house. What's more, he's hired a cleaning crew to deep-clean the new house as soon as we close on July 15. The cleaners are also cleaning our current house before new renters move in in August. And did I mention he's hired painters to paint the new nursery and our new master bedroom? All of this is a huge relief so I won't have to do as much of the work the last few weeks before the baby's born. If there's ever a time to pay money for these things, I think this is it. I'm pretty sure he's referred to me as the crazy pregnant lady a few times to the seller (part of his negotiation tactics, maybe). But at this point, I don't even care. Blame it all on me, the hormonal one, if that's what it takes to get us into a new house and over all the stress!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Spin for the Win?

Do you own a Salad Spinner?

Friends, I do not. I've always thought they were one of those silly kitchen gadgets you don't really need and just take up cabinet space. But now we're receiving a BOATLOAD of leafy lettuces in our CSA box every week, I'm starting to think a salad spinner wouldn't be such a bad investment. I find myself spreading a long row of paper towels on the counter top and patting down lettuces until I just can't dry them anymore.

Do you have a favorite model?

I am eyeing up this one on Amazon.
Think it's worth the purchase? And more importantly, the precious cabinet space?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Celebrating Two Years

Two years. Seven-hundred and thirty days.

Next month, Andi and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary. I can't believe it's been so long, and yet I can hardly remember a time we weren't husband and wife. Crazy how two married people really do become one.

Last year, we took an amazing trip to Vancouver to celebrate our first anniversary. It was one of our favorite trips yet; we relaxed along the Sunshine Coast, ate lots of yummy food and stayed in a fabulous bed and breakfast overlooking the water. And while we'd love to take another trip this year to celebrate two years together, we're limited by my pregnancy. I'll be 22 days from my due date, unable to fly and unwilling to be within driving distance from our hospital.

We were thinking about booking a bed and breakfast around the Twin Cities for the weekend and taking advantage of the time to relax and reconnect before the baby arrives, but now it seems we'll be moving to a new house instead. I need every last second to organize our new house before the baby arrives, but I also don't want to overlook our anniversary. Two years is a special milestone and I want to make sure we celebrate it.

Here are my small-scale celebratory ideas:
  • Dinner at NorthCoast Restaurant (the place we ate following our wedding)
  • A night's stay at W Hotel (the place we stayed on our wedding night)
  • Spa appointment at Ivy Hotel
  • Spend the morning at the Farmer's Market
  • Walk around Noerenberg Gardens (the place we got married)
  • Get pedicures together (well, I'd like one ... we could do this as a couple, right!)
  • Go furniture shopping 
Any other "small-scale" anniversary celebration ideas? I'd prefer things that don't center around booze (because I can't drink any) or activities that aren't too intensive (I'll be 9 months pregnant, remember). Shout your ideas my way!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CSA: Going Where We've Never Gone Before

It's our third week receiving our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box with fresh organic fruits and veggies. This week we received:

Lovage (a perennial herb that can be finely chopped and used in cooking for its strong celery flavor)
Chinese Cabbage
Strawberries (from the greenhouse)

My favorite part of receiving the box of produce is identifying what the items are. We receive an email from the farm each week with a list of the items, but it still takes a lot of sniffing and analyzing for me to  tell what they are. I actually think it's kind of fun; how often do you have a bunch of Lovage on your hands, smell it and think "wow, that smells just like a celery stock!" Quite the learning experience.

The first week of our CSA was challenging. We had SO MUCH spinach I wasn't really sure what to do with it all. You can only eat so many spinach salads, you know. But reading back through the newsletter I realized this is the only time of the season we'll receive spinach so while it's abundant, we should enjoy it. That said, I ended up composting the last half of it because I didn't plan well enough with other grocery items on hand.

This week, I assumed we'd be receiving more fresh spinach and kohlrabi so I researched recipes ahead of time that used these items. I also purchased some poppyseed dressing and slivered almonds ahead of time anticipating more greenhouse strawberries. I'm planning to make some yummy spinach salads this week.

But by far, my favorite recipe of the week is Squash and Kohlrabi Empanadas I made last night. It was super easy to prepare and used kohlrabi (something I've never eaten before). Plus, the empanadas freeze really well so I made six, ate one and froze the rest for another night. Husband will love having something easy to pull out of the freezer and bake for dinner.
My new friends - Kohlrabi
Squash and Kohlrabi Empanadas
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and cubed
1 yellow squash
2 green onions
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1 pinch nutmeg
1 egg
1 (15 oz) package of pie crust

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook and stir until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in kohlrabi, cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in yellow squash and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in green onions, spinach and nutmeg. Add more salt and pepper, as needed. Cook 1 minute. Set mixture aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Beat an egg in a small bowl; set aside.

Roll out the pie crust and run a rolling pin over it once or twice. Cut out 6-inch circles using a large cookie cutter or cereal bowl. Fill the center of each circle with 1 Tbsp of the kohlrabi mixture. Fold the dough in half so the empanadas make a moon shape. Crimp the edge of the dough with a fork to seal and place on the baking sheet. Prick each empanada with a fork and brush with egg wash.

Bake in oven until golden brown and flaky, about 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy! These were flaky, warm and filling. The kohlrabi and squash mixture wasn't overpowering, but I loved the hints of ginger you'd get in every bite. I'd definitely make these again and perhaps utilize the technique to stuff them full of other veggies I have on hand. Yum!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home Owners - Again!

We did it! Today, we settled on an offer for the new "suburb" house. Inspection is this Friday. We close July 15. And if you're keeping track, baby is due August 22. Just a few things going on here, just a few.

Andi's traveling for work this week, so it's been difficult to touch base regarding the housing situation. He sent me a few text messages this morning saying he was 90% sure the deal would go through. The final counter-offer was proposed by the seller and was $29K less than the listing price but $10K over our final "we don't want to pay more than this price" amount. In the end, Andi and I decided the extra $10K wouldn't break the bank and because the house is in such good shape (move-in ready; no major projects need to be completed) we would be able to swing a higher price.

Around Noon today, I received a calendar update from Andi titled "close on house." I phoned him, but of course he didn't answer as he's in the middle of a photo shoot, so I waited for what seemed like forever for him to call me back. About an hour later he did, and I received confirmation we'd come to an agreement. WE BOUGHT THE SUBURB HOUSE!

A mini-panic attack about packing and moving and having a baby all at the same time immediately set in. There's so much to do, I don't even know where to start. But the more I thought about it, I realized it's really not the end of the world if everything doesn't get done right away. My goal is to have a completed nursery, have a place for us to sleep (even if the master bedroom isn't decorated) and a functional kitchen by the time the baby arrives. Everything else will come with time.

Fortunately, we do not have the stress of selling our current house. We'll need to market it for rent and find a quality tenant, but it shouldn't be too much trouble. We're planning to begin renting our current house on August 1, which perfectly coincides with the beginning of the school year. We live very close to several private colleges so finding a renter at that time of year is not usually an issue.

July 15. That's 24 days away. There's a lot to do before then.

House Update

The short of it: we're still negotiating.

And the long? Well ....

Friday afternoon, while we were relaxing at my parent's house, Andi was bouncing on and off the phone with our realtor. We made an offer on Thursday on a new "suburb" house which is just minutes away from Andi's office on the West side of town. Ball in their court. They countered. We laughed. We countered back $5K more than our previous offer. They countered back $10K less than their previous offer. From the looks of it, we were going to be there ALL DANG DAY.

Then my resourceful, charming and gutsy husband remembered something he'd noticed the very first time we looked at the "suburb" house. A Mastercraft dealership uniform. Husband happens to have a friend who works at said Mastercraft dealership in the Cities. He randomly called his friend and asked "hey, do you happen to know a dude who works at the dealership who is selling a "suburb" house?" And because this is just how things work in my husband's life, his friend says "why yes, yes, I do." Andi jots down the cell phone number for Suburb House Seller and voila, he randomly phones the seller and introduces himself. Seriously, this husband of mine never ceases to amaze me!

After a few phone calls back and forth, and explanations of the situations of both people, the seller and Andi agree to cut to the chase and find a compromising offer. With all the yo-yo'ing back and forth out of the way, the seller and Andi agree to an option they think will work. The seller says he wants to check back in with his realtor and get back to us.

We wait.

There's a call from our realtor, who's slightly shocked (but not surprised) Andi's been doing all this side work. Andi and our realtor discuss the latest proposal.

We wait some more.

No word from the seller's realtor. Likely, we're waiting until Monday for word.


On Monday, Andi called me from work to tell me the situation. Suburb House Seller countered back with an offer $8K higher than the last proposed. Dang. The ball's in our court now. Andi and I discussed the offer (What's $8K more a month, like $30? It's not like that'll break us). Andi says it's the principle. Apparently, he doesn't want to be the one to give in because we said we wouldn't agree to higher than our final offer made this weekend. He tells me he'll keep working on it and keep me posted.

So we're waiting.


I seriously feel like I'm walking on a tight rope. Part of me is still very excited about this house. I can SEE us living there. It's beautiful and spacious and will be a great place to welcome our daughter. On the other hand, I'm NERVOUS. We have a baby arriving in 9 weeks or less. I'm buying my first house at 8 months pregnant. Moving is stressful and it's a lot of hard work. I'm not sure I can do this all at the same time.

So we wait. It's either READY, GO! or PHEW! We'll see what happens tomorrow ....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wedding Bells and Frito Pie!

More on our Nebraska visit this past weekend ...

Andi and I spent the better part of Friday relaxing at my parent's house. My parents had to work, so Andi slept in late (And took a nap! My poor husband never slows down so when he does ... it's over) while I updated my baby registries, sat outside and read my Kindle. It was HEAVENLY. I am fully aware these moments are numbered for me and I enjoyed every ounce of the relaxation upon us.

Around 6pm, we arrived at the church for the rehearsal. Andi and I weren't in the wedding, but many of our other family members were. We sat in the front and entertained the babies while the wedding party practiced for the big day.
Brookie practiced her flower girl duties

The wedding party
So, completely random story.
For the last few months, someone has been delivering bunnies to my cousin Jes' (the bride) house every day. She has no idea who is doing this, but every day bunnies are sitting on her porch or decorating her car. In all, she's collected over 300 bunnies! Isn't that strange and creepy and aren't you all thinking WHAT THE HECK?!?! We guessed it was her dad or dad's brother because they are both big jokesters, but the giver never revealed himself. At the rehearsal dinner, Nate's (the groom) mom thought it would be funny to decorate with some of the bunnies. Hence this photo ...
Wedding bunnies
After the rehearsal dinner, Andi and I talked my parents into cruising by the local festival also taking place in town. Andi's a total sucker for carnival food and he saw a sign for Frito Pie as we drove to the dinner. He was set on stopping by to try some. He'd never heard of it before! (Do you all remember Frito Pie from elementary school? It's a individual-size bag of Frito's, cut open and topped with chili and cheese). I remember the lunch ladies serving it to us in elementary school. Healthy, huh? Anyway, the Frito Pie stand was closed by the time we arrived so we settled for a funnel cake and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

On Sunday morning, we woke up early to attend the festival parade. I seriously hadn't been to this parade in over 15 years so it was a nice trip down memory lane to be back. Coming from a small town, I was in the parade in one form or another for many of my middle and high school years. I also have fond memories of sitting on the curb, catching candy and watching all the floats and clowns pass by as a small child. It was fun to be there again!

This used to be me!
After the parade, we went back to my parents and got ready for the wedding. It was a beautiful day! My cousin Jes looked beautiful and was so happy. Andi and I had fun spending time with all of our family whom we don't see very often.

My little bro Adam and his girlfriend Josi

Bride-to-be getting her hair done

Brookie - the cutest little flower girl in the whole world - got her hair done too

Zach walking Grandma down the aisle

Babies Henry and Lauren rode in a wagon together down the aisle
You can imagine there were many audible ahhh's from the guests - they were absolutely adorable!

The reception was fun too! The food was great, we spent lots of time chatting with relatives and Jes and Nate even had a photo booth which was a favorite activity for all of us throughout the night.

What a great weekend with family. Congrats Jes and Nate!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Family Reunion

Andi and I flew home to Nebraska yesterday to celebrate my cousin Jes' wedding this weekend. Thankfully we decided to fly - it's a one hour flight vs. a seven hour drive - and we arrived into town about 10:30am yesterday morning. Coincidently, my cousin Tara, husband Henry and little Baby Henry arrived at the airport from Philadelphia at the same time and it was fun to see them after almost a year.

Yesterday afternoon, Andi and I hung around my parents house while they worked. We grabbed Amigos for lunch (YUM!), I relaxed around the house while Andi worked and then we visited my mom's new office and toured their church pew factory. She works as a salesperson in the office, but it was really cool to see how much detail goes into the development of their pews, chairs and furniture.

For dinner, my parents hosted my family for pizza. My cousins Jen and Tara brought over their little babies and we had an awesome time catching up and relaxing over dinner. I can't remember the last time we were all together in one room!


 Baby Henry

 Brookie hamming it up for the camera

 Baby Lauren

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two out of three is .... CRAZY

They say the three biggest moments in life are getting married, having a baby and buying a house. And as if things aren't crazy enough around here, Andi and I made an offer on a house today. If all goes through, we'd close in mid-July which is just three weeks before Baby's due. We started looking at houses a few weeks ago, so I suppose we brought the chaos onto ourselves. Honestly though, I didn't think we'd find something so quickly.

The house we found is in a Twin Cities suburb, about 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. It's a beautiful 4 bedroom / 3 bathroom rambler with an open floor plan, fireplace, three-season porch, big backyard and attached two-car garage. Simply stated, it's WAY more space than we have now and all the finishes are top-notch.

There are a few glitches. First, they're asking more than we're willing to pay, so the business of negotiating begins. I'm doubtful they'll come down to our top offer so it may not even go through. We're also still wrestling with the idea of moving to the suburbs because we'd be giving up the centralized location our current house provides and all the urban charm it offers too. On the flip side, the "suburb" house is about five minutes from Andi's office and would provide a greater work/life balance for our little family. If Andi could spend evenings at home and be less stressed after sitting in traffic after work, I think a move to the suburbs would be worth it (as long as we weren't too far from the city). Finally, the new house is closer in proximity to Andi's parents which would be an awesome benefit with a new baby.

The timing of this whole thing couldn't be more complicated. If all goes through, we'd close in mid-July which is just weeks before Baby is set to arrive into the world. I can't wrap my brain around the thought of packing up our current house at nine months pregnant or leaving the brand new nursery I've worked so hard to decorate. I asked Andi if he was stressed about it all and he responded with a simple no. We aren't selling our house (we'll rent the duplex level we live in and the other half of our place is rented until next spring) so he says we'll bring the baby home to our current house and can move to the new place in our own time. This makes sense in theory but in reality means I'll then be packing and moving and un-packing with a newborn baby swaddled to my body. Not exactly the calming, nurturing environment I imagined bringing her into.

So wish us luck! Or send a prayer or two our way ... I'm not sure which to request. We should know more news soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Leafy Surprise

I came home yesterday after traveling for work this week and found an unusual surprise in our front yard: a new tree.

There were 100 degree record temperatures in the Twin Cities the last few days and my flowers and grass were scorched. Watering was much needed. And as I dragged the hose and sprinkler to the boulevard I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw this baby oak tree planted on our boulevard.


I walked back inside and asked Andi who had planted a tree in our yard. He came outside just as dumbfounded as I was; he hadn't even noticed it.

Maybe it was our renters? But why would they just take it upon themselves to plant a tree in our yard?

We concluded it must've been the city as we noticed two other baby trees planted alongside our street. After talking with a few people at work, I guess the city owns the boulevard area of our yard. I never knew that. So then, I wonder why I'm the one planting sod there, mowing it and watering it daily?

I suppose it's a good thing the city is investing in our neighborhood by planting more trees in our area. I only wish they would have planted it in a better spot in the yard (or better yet, in the neighbor's yard). And I would have appreciated a note from the city letting us know to expect it.

It is what it is; we're the proud new owners of a new tree. Lucky us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Special Delivery: CSA Style

Our first delivery from Blackberry Community Farm arrived on Tuesday. I was out of town for work, so my sister-in-law Lindsay picked up our very first box of fruits and veggies (she is splitting the crop share with us).

Today when I arrived home from my trip, I opened the fridge to a bountiful bag of produce. Included this week were lettuce, chives, spinach, oregano, sorrel (a lemony salad green), cauliflower, greenhouse strawberries and rhubarb. We also received a jar of homemade lip and body balm.

I hadn't been to the grocery store this week since I was out of town so I scrounged the Internet (and my refrigerator) for a quick spinach salad recipe to whip up for dinner tonight. I selected this Wilted Spinach Salad recipe which turned out deliciously! I served my entree salad with fresh strawberries. It feels great eating ingredients grown organically from a local farm just over the border in Wisconsin.

Wilted Spinach Salad
*recipe from
(Adapted to 2 servings)

         1-1/2 eggs
         1/4 pound bacon
         1/2 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and dried
         1 green onions, thinly sliced
         1/2 eggs
         1 tablespoon white sugar
         1 tablespoon white vinegar
         1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place 6 eggs in a medium saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring water to a boil, and
immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove
from hot water, cool, peel, and chop.Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat
until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside, reserving approximately 1/2 cup of drippings in the

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and green onions.

Heat the reserved drippings over low heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 remaining eggs, sugar, white vinegar, and red wine vinegar. Add to warm grease, and whisk for about a minute, until thickened. Pour at once over spinach, add crumbled bacon, and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped egg.


Tomorrow night, I'm planning to make strawberry rhubarb crisp for the cabin this weekend. I also thought I could bring the chives and oregano to the cabin this weekend and whip up an awesome potato side dish or serve them over a breakfast dish.

The CSA is going to challenge me this summer in new ways. I'm forced to explore new recipes with foods I'd likely never purchase on my own and taste all the new flavors that accompany them. Excited!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On The Hunt

As if we didn't have enough life changing experiences looming in our future, Andi and I started house hunting again. There's a myriad of reasons for why we want / need to move to a new house. Luckily, none of them are urgent so we have time to find the one that fits us best.

We figure this will be house #2 in our purchasing portfolio. The next house we buy won't be the home we retire in, or probably the one our kids graduate high school in. We're looking for a good house with more room than our current digs that can get us through for the next five years.

Our current house - a duplex we own and rent the other half - is perfect in many ways. We absolutely love our neighborhood and all the charm of a house built in the 1900's has to offer. But it's also on a busy street, only has two bedrooms (of which, are both very small with even smaller closets) and only one bathroom (which isn't a big deal until both of us need to use it and then it gets a little awkward). We do have a basement for storage but there's only so many problems that solves. Eventually (like when baby #2 arrives someday), we're going to be out of space.

So we've started the search for a new house that offers all the same character plus a third bedroom, more closet space and a ideally a master suite. If there's anything we know after living in a bedroom the size of a shoe box for the last five years, it's that we're certain a master suite is in our future. Andi's single biggest desire in life is to have his very own side table next to the bed. How sad is that?

The big debate in our house hunting whirlwind is location. Since we're only going to be living there for five years, we don't necessary have to worry about school districts just yet. However, finding a home closer to Andi's work would save him, at minimum, two hours a day in traffic. That's two more hours he could spend at home with our baby and with me. Plus, he might not be so cracked when he comes home from work had he not been sitting in bumper to bumper traffic following a 12 hour work day. However, if we move closer to his work in the Western suburbs, it would be me who'd have to add more commute time to my day. Plus, we'd be living in the suburbs. Nothing wrong with suburb life at all, other than the fact Andi and I love living in the city for all it offers (restaurants, shops, cafes, movie theaters, grocery stores, etc. all within walking distance from our current digs). On the flip side, we can get a lot more house for our dollar in the suburbs (think twice as much!) so there's that factor too.

Is trading in a long commute worth compromising the charm and character of old houses and quaint neighborhoods? We're not sure yet. In the meantime, we're scouting houses in both areas and hoping to stumble into a real gem (a "real gem" - anyone read Lonely Planet travel books before vacations? I think it's funny when they classify must see's as "real gems." Who says that?)

Now for your viewing pleasure, here's some random house hunting photos we've snapped along the way. Since we're shopping for both houses that are move-in ready and also some we'd buy cheap and remodel, we've seen some interesting things in the last few weeks. You're welcome for all these classy shots!

Freak-NASTY basement shower anyone?

This was funny enough to snap a photo of until we realized it was probably for someone who had Alzheimer's. Then we felt horrible. 

This one looks like someone went for milk in 1972 and never came back.
Holy Boogie Nights flash-back 
What a lady at 7 months pregnant looks like after touring 17 million house showings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meal Planning Calendar

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my desire to become more organized in meal planning. There's a variety of reasons in wanting to do so; mostly, I'd like to establish a dinner ritual for our family (as we grow to three later this summer).

Growing up, my family ate dinner together every night. We gathered around the dinner table; we talked about our days; we spent quality time together. I'd like my own family to develop the same tradition. Plus, I think it's REALLY IMPORTANT for little kids to have manners around the table. I want my kid(s) to know how to eat a meal at the table, talk about their day with the family and spend quality time together. A few months ago, Andi and I were eating breakfast at a restaurant in San Diego. There was a mom with three little girls (ages 3-7 probably) and those little girls were so well behaved. You could tell their parents WORKED WITH THEM on how to behave at the table, how to be polite and how to eat their food at meal time. I was so impressed! It obviously takes lots of practice and patience to get there and I'm determined to do it. So I'm thinking, if Andi and I start to develop a dinner tradition now, it'll be easier to reinforce to our budding family.

I've read some blogger suggestions to create a recipe binder of meal ideas or lay out plans on dry erase boards in the kitchen. With much thought, I decided to create a Google Calendar for our family's meal planning. Between Andi and I's work schedules (mostly his), there are several days during the week where no meal is needed. I thought a Google Calendar would be the best way for us to lay out our month's commitments, plan ahead for the days we are both home for dinner and share the calendar electronically between the two of us.

For my calendar, I color-coded travel (no dinner needed) dates in purple. I marked meals in yellow. I also used the "calendar description box" to copy/paste the recipe into the calendar, along with the website link where I found the recipe.

So far, Day 1 of my menu calendar didn't go as smoothly as I'd planned. I failed to share the calendar with Andi beforehand and my menu plan for BLT Sandwiches wasn't so appealing to Husband as he'd eaten one for lunch. However, I quickly bumped tonight's meal plan for Chicken Divan Casserole up to last night and we were all set. (We'll have BLTs another night I guess). Andi was happy to have dinner on the table after a long week of traveling for work and dinner preparation was much easier for me as the recipe was already selected and loaded into my computer.

I'm hoping this new plan helps me stay organized and develop a great tradition for our family.