Monday, September 28, 2009

The Decision is Made!!!

We've FINALLY found a rental! The kids have taken to calling her "Tiny" because that's what she is, tiny. But the place is adorable and like new. The owner had renovated and tried to sell, but lucky for us . . couldn't. Tiny is about 1/2 mile north of our current place, so not much disruption for the kids. We'll be downsizing for sure, as about 1/3 of our stuff will be in storage.

These photos give you an idea - the furniture belongs to the owner - she was staging it for sale.

It has 3 small bedrooms, 2 full baths, and 1 powder room. The backyard is big enough for that all-important campfire. The garage is one stall, so we'll just have to make that work. And starting this weekend, Johnny C. will be building a mud room.

This is the master bath - I'm so short I can only see myself from the neck up. Perhaps that's for the best!
The sad part is that we can't bring the cats, so we're trying to find them homes. Our emotions on this point swing back and forth between relief and grief. Much like leaving our current home. Talk about stress on the life-change scale!!!

The entire kitchen/eating/living area. We'll have to get creative. Right now we're building (yes, building) a long dining table that will use cabinets for a base = more storage. We've also got these groovy mid-century modern loveseats that will go in the sitting area. Luckily there is a family room in the lower level for the big comfy couch and TV. And we have to get the piano in there somewhere. Putting it in storage is out of the question!

So there you have it. Let the move begin!
On to the next adventure!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Hawkeyes may just kill Joe Pa

Once again, the Iowa Hawkeyes have been the sliver under Joe Paterno's pinky nail! Tonight we beat them 18-10 in a rough game at the Penn State home stadium. The Nittany Lions just couldn't catch a break against Iowa. Like I said last year, Iowa continues to be the raspberry seed in their wisdom tooth.

Joe Pa goes to sleep and has nightmares filled with Hawkeye fans! No matter where they're playing - the black and gold hordes follow them. Taking up the good seats, smiling their corn-fed grins, being all happy, and giving the "white-out" a black eye.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Between the trapeze bars

I'm between the trapeze bars . . . .
That's a phrase my sister uses about these stages of life when you've let go, or been pushed, from a position of comfort and you're hanging there, just hanging there, not knowing if you'll grab the next bar, fall into the net, or crash into the hard earth.

Waiting for the economy to turn
Waiting for a rental decision
Waiting for the water to boil
Waiting for the heartburn medication to kick in
Waiting for Johnny C to get out of the shower
Waiting for the cats to come in for the night
Waiting for either twin to call and say it's time to pick them up
Waiting for the dryer to finish
Waiting for the tide to come in
Waiting for health care reform
Waiting for some good news
Waiting for Michael to give me the disc he burned of "Glee", and to see his Europe pictures
Waiting for the next Netflix to arrive
Waiting for payday
Waiting for the kids to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher
Waiting for a break

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Old Women Rock!

If you don't already know them, please let me introduce Margaret and Helen. Two old broads who can tell it like it is. And they've got quite a following! I've been reading them off and on for two years, and am now finally adding them permanently to my blogroll.

You're welcome!

Monday, September 21, 2009

You are going to get SO SICK of me!

I know you're getting sick of hearing about our housing situation, but it's all I can think about right now. As soon as that is decided, I'll get back to bitchin and moaning about politics and other annoyances.

Here's our options now:

1. The tiny house I mentioned last time - we'll give them an answer by Friday.
2. A rambler in the country that needs some work but is on a drop-dead beautiful acreage, and I've always dreamed of a nice country setting just outside town. This is it. But on various summer days it may or may not smell like turkeys and pigs, both of which reside within one mile. Haven't seen the inside yet.
3. A huge victorian with a nice yard and large garage. Haven't seen the inside yet.
4. A cute little split level that has great room, but needs some walls removed and new paint throughout. In the same neighborhood as the tiny house. It's up for auction Wednesday, and an investor friend might buy it and rent to us until we can get a loan to buy it.

This is killing me. I'm one of those people who needs home to be all settled and nice. Not disheveled and with all my favorite things in boxes. How long they'll stay in boxes is anyone's guess. Am I too materialistic? I just want to have my Dansk dishes and my Mom's china available for use.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dare I Hope???

We may have found a rental! It's the tiniest little place imaginable, but clean as a whistle and cute as a bug, and geographically perfect. It will be like living in a lake cottage. We can downsize and minimize for a year or two, right? HOPE HOPE HOPE HOPE HOPE HOPE . . . . . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Goodbye Woody

In 1997, we moved to Northfield, MN and started building our home. We based the design on a 1969 split level we owned in Iowa City. We liked everything but the split, so we took that out. Construction began immediately in the Fall while our little family of four - Mom, Dad, and three year old twin girls - lived in the smallest apartment imaginable. With Johnny C as General Contractor, everything was in good hands.

The little girls and I would visit the rapidly progressing home almost every day. They named it "Woody" for obvious reasons. Johnny C and I had built so many spec and custom homes over the years, we knew exactly what we wanted. Our budget drove a lot of those decisions as well.

In every possible corner, we stuck a closet or a cupboard. We fashioned a great laundry chute from the girls' bathroom. We arranged the best-ever mud room. We added a cozy wood fireplace that was easily accessed and visible from both the dining room and the living room. And of course we added our favorite - a large screened porch.

Several years later, we finished the basement into a family room and a large bedroom with bathroom. The twins intended to move down there someday but for many years it was the bunkhouse for all our visiting friends and family. In the family room, we were trying to imitate the wild Italian decor at Buca de Beppo.

Johnny C. built the best-ever shed/playhouse. It was a beautiful design with a small playhouse with it's one door and windows, and little porch, some shelves and tables, and the highlight: a "fireplace" made from brick painted paneling and a real mantel. We spray painted the firebox with chalkboard paint so the kids could "draw in" the fire. And about that time we welcomed daughter #3.

The landscaping was a labor of love. Our trees, lilac bushes, perennials, bushes, etc are just getting to the lush and lovely stage. This year's raised bed gardens were the perfect addition.

So now, we have to leave it all behind. It will be someone else's for a song. We'll lose not only 12 year's worth of equity, but all our hard work and plans. My Mom's flowers. My beloved lilacs. The campfire pit. Aunt Ruth's garden. The screened porch.

I'm hoping the Universe or God has a cozy place we can regroup and lick our wounds. Where we can be a safe little family and the kids suffer the least disruption. Where we can have a campfire in the yard. Where we can gather at the kitchen table with loved ones and laugh.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Unauthorized cooking with my unauthorized co-blogger!

Today we'll be cooking with my pal Mama in Wonderland and using her posted recipe for Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce. Her instructions are in black, my comments are in red. Why didn't I have this recipe earlier I ask you? This is WAAAAAY easier than the old boiling water/ice water peeling method.

First, we'll start with today's garden bounty: piles of tomatoes both plum and regular, four weird cukes, lots of little onions, two yellow peppers, and one red pepper. I will never grow these onions again. Too small, and too time consuming to peel.

Easy & Delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce
makes approximately 4 cups, depending on size/amount of tomatoes

3-4 lbs. fresh tomatoes, stems removed (I had so many tomatoes, I just kept slicing and seeding until I had filled a jelly roll pan)
1 medium onion, sliced (again, I followed the "fill the jelly roll pan" method)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I used 7-8)
1/4 cup olive oil (Enough to drizzle over the whole pan full)
1 tsp. salt (I was more liberal)
1 tsp. sugar (I used more like 2t.)
ground black pepper (to taste, optional) (Oh Yeah!)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice tomatoes lengthwise and place cut-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. (I lined the pan with parchment because I hate scraping off burned bits) (You may also double the recipe, use 2 baking sheets, and switch the pans around halfway through cooking time for even roasting.) If using cherry tomatoes, no need to slice; just spread in single layer on pan, as many as will fit. (Using my fingers, I seeded them after slicing. I'm weird and don't like seeds in there)

Scatter onion slices and minced garlic over the top of the tomatoes, then drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper.

Place in oven and roast approximately 1-1/2 hours (Mine took longer - my oven is slow) for large tomatoes and perhaps 45 minutes for cherry tomatoes, or until tomatoes have collapsed and are browned in some places. (You may need to check occasionally to get the timing right; it varies, but do not let it worry you too much. Just don't let it all burn into a black mass.) Do not be concerned if partway through this cooking time you see the pan fill up with juices; this will cook down.

When roasted, carefully spoon/pour contents of pan(s) into blender (or food processor, if you have one, but I don't, so bear with me), including all juices. (I also added a handful of my basil, and some more garlic salt. Hmmmmmm this is so stinkin good you'll want some soon!)

Puree until smooth. Taste and add more salt and/or sugar if needed. Either use immediately for pasta or pizza, or let cool completely and then spoon into 1-cup containers to freeze. When frozen solid, you may turn out the blocks of sauce and place together in a labeled Ziploc freezer bag, which saves space in the freezer and frees up your containers again. (We're a hungry family of five, and that will perfectly dress a pound of pasta for Tuesday night's supper!)

Thanks Mama,
you are one awesome cook!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Go Hawks!

Once again, my Iowa Hawkeyes have beaten back our rival Iowa State Cyclones 35-3!

The game was played in Ames, Iowa, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, at the Jack Trice stadium. Which is a good story: the following is plagiarized from various sources.

Jack Trice, Iowa State’s first black athlete, was also the first athlete to die for Iowa State. On the night of his first football game, October 5, 1923, Jack wrote in a letter on some hotel stationery, “My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family & self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part. On all defensive plays I must break thru the opponents' line and stop the play in their territory. Beware of mass interference. Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good.”

It was ISU's third game that season; previous teams had refused to play against a black player. On the night of the game, Trice had to stay at a different Minneapolis hotel from his teammates.

During the first half of the game he had so anticipated, Trice suffered a broken collarbone. He continued to play during the third quarter, until he was thrown on his back and trampled by three Minnesota players. He died three days later. Four thousand students and faculty members attended his funeral service on central campus.

As a result of his death, ISU did not renew their contract to play against Minnesota after the 1924 game. They would not play again until 1989.

In 1973, Jack Trice’s legacy was renewed and a promotion began to name ISU's new stadium after him. In 1974, ISU's student body government voted unanimously to endorse this effort. In addition, the Jack Trice Stadium Committee compiled more than 3,000 signatures from supporters. However, an ISU ad hoc committee voted to advise then-ISU President W. Robert Parks to name the stadium "Cyclone Stadium".

In 1984, the stadium was lamely named Cyclone Stadium and the playing field was named “Jack Trice Field.” in a retarded attempt to appease history. The ISU student body government, wanting to do more to honor Trice, raised money to erect a statue of Trice in 1987. Due to the persistence of the student body government, students, alumni, faculty and staff, and other supporters (including public figures such as Paul Newman and Hubert Humphrey (a guilty Minnesotan), the football stadium at ISU was finally named Jack Trice Stadium in 1997.

Even though they are arch rivals, IOWA HAWKEYES and IOWA STATE CYCLONES have to get along. Because everyone misunderstands and underestimates folks from Iowa.
So it's us against the world.

Iowans - we so corny!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Idiot or Stress?

The new job is exciting but LOTS of information coming at me. And as I've mentioned about 10,000 times we're packing to leave our house at the end of October with absolutely no idea where we'll go. Sweet Jebus I'm so sick of all this.

Anyway, today when leaving work I start digging for my car keys . . . they are GONE! My first thought is I've locked them in the car again, like I did earlier this week. But then I remember that at least this time, I have my purse with me and therefore the spare key. So I keep walking to my car with my spare key in hand. But the car isn't there. Oh, that's right, I parked over HERE today. Car's not there either. OH CHRIST! Did I drop the keys and someone stole that piece of rust? Will the insurance be enough for a new one? When your car is stolen, do you call 911 or the non-emergency number? Who's going to pick up the kids at school?

All this time I'm wandering the parking lot dazed and confused.

Then I remember.

The van's in the shop.

Idiot or stress? It's anyone's call.

And the shop bill was $225.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

YIKES is the new normal

Started the new job this week - a study in patience and perseverance. Of course, I can't blame the school system. I'm coming from employment at a ritzy liberal arts college where they send an ergonomic expert, fer cryin out loud, to make sure your desk area is just perfect.

And where there was a snack bar with an espresso machine.

I understand the kiddos need to eat healthy, and the public schools need to promote that, but couldn't we have a clandestine Starbucks in the back room for the grown ups??? One that sells Rice Krispie bars too???

Still looking for a rental, with 1.5 months left.

The van has decided it needed a new starter, and the "tie rod" or whatever it is is going out on the front tire.

Locked myself OUT of the van, at home, for the first time in forever.

Have to use up all my medical flex account at Carleton RIGHT NOW or it becomes an after-tax expense.

Soccer games, school fees, kids' social lives, packing, meals, more packing, leaving my home, . . . .

Did I mention YIKES?!!!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Construction Ahead: Be Prepared to Slow Down

My blogging and facebook posting is going to slow down for awhile - PLEASE don't give up on me!!

Tomorrow I start my new job in the Public Schools: 30 hours a week plus some evenings. I'm also looking for a little part time job that can grow for summer hours.

It looks like we've been able to short-sell our home, which will greatly help our credit rating in the long run. But it means we're now scrambling to find housing. Our city government has the most ridiculous, restrictive rental policy for landlords. Just last week the local paper reported that 26 homes were turned down for rental licenses. Which means 26 families like mine can't rent those homes. So finding a rental isn't easy. And the short-sale situation will leave us unable to get a mortgage for at least 1-2 years.

I'm sick in my heart about leaving this home. I'll post on that later.

In the meantime we're packing. LORD HAVE MERCY I hate moving!

So here's my mantra:
Change is GOOD!
Good things are coming our way.
When a door closes, a window opens.

Friday, September 4, 2009

More school supplies

Hey Governor Pawlenty,

Remember when I told you how freakin much school supplies cost? Well, today I had to shell out $90 for a graphing calculator so Twin #1 can work her Advanced Algebra and Intro to Engineering classes. Word has it that Twin #2 will need one too. And take note of the $185 I shelled out for a Varsity soccer uniform, bag, and warm ups and the $110 check we wrote so the kids could be in the Fall play. And we haven't even BEGUN to write the checks for lab fees, art fees, and others. That starts next week with the first day of school.

Yeah, I guess we could just keep them out of those classes and activities and avoid the cost - yeah, that's a good choice for us poor until-recently-middle-class families. We shouldn't expect that our kids will go to college anyway, right? We're the new face of poverty and need to lower our expectations while you rich fat cats just line each other's pockets and advance your own kids, right?

Back in 2005 a group of Northfield citizens begged you and your party to raise the public education budget by a mere 5%. Remember our rally, where hundreds turned out and signed letters asking for this increase? You probably don't, because you were too busy arranging the tax increase to fund the stadium for the billionaire Pohlad family. I'll remind you, you shot it down and now we have increased fees and up to 40 kids in some classes and struggling families going broke to send their kids to public schools.

Thanks a bunch you cretin.
PS - you suck.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What the Hey?

Do you believe that the Universe, or God, or the Source, or the Goddess puts you where you need to be? I've always kind of believed this, but someone's just MESSIN with me!!!

We've had what feels like 100 housing choices come across our path, only to fall apart or become unavailable.

So Dear Universe, if you have the right place in mind than please just QUIT throwing all the other options at me too. I'm just getting confused and overwhelmed and pessimistic. And quit toying with my hopes. Don't let me get all excited and start imagining my furniture in there, then give it to someone else. What did I ever do to you?