Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Heat ~ Bre

Well this has been the HOTTEST summer I have ever experienced. As a first time homeowner I can tell you that the extreme temperature can greatly effect a home, and easily increase stress levels. First of all, my garden was an expensive fail...I was so excited to see if flourish and to enjoy the benefits of garden fresh tomatoes. However, I probably only had about 2 patio tomatoes, and 5 cherry tomatoes. Out of the four tomato plants I planted, only two produced anything. The other two grew huge, but never had a single fruit. My zuchinni and squash were a total flop as well. I blame this partly on the heat. I couldn't keep the garden watered enough without the heat sucking it dry.

The other stressor Matt and I have experienced this summer is our driveway cracks getting bigger, and the side of the house looks like it is pulling away. The foundation on the east side of our house is mostly dirt, it has not had any grass on it. Because of this there is no moisture held there and it seems like the super dry foundation is effecting the stability of the house. Matt is constantly worried about the wood pulling way and the cracks in the stone getting worse. We water the foundation when we can.

Another thing we have dealt with this summer is a more than double cost of electricity! We were shocked when we got our JUNE electric bill in the mail because it had more than doubled what we had budgeted. I don't want to see what July's will look like. We keep our AC at 78, but to keep it 78 degrees in the house it runs almost constantly.

Budgeting is tough for a first time homeowner on a teacher's and youth pastor's salary. We have experienced many hurtles this summer from our electric bill, buying a tv, having a puppy and the $1500 we spent fixing both cars.  It has been a good summer. I am learning a lot, and despite the sometimes stress and hardhsip, I still LOVE being responsible for a home. I like that I have to get up and water the yard; I like that I can walk to the end of my drive way and check the mailbox. I didn't realize how "not" grown up I was until I moved into a house and realized what real responsiblity feels like. Of course taking care of Molly has helped a LOT with that.

Last night was one of the first storms Molly experienced. She did great, no anxiety at all. Matt, Molly and I sat on the front stoop and watched the magnificent lightining show. It was pretty spectacular. She is getting so big, 30lbs now, and only 10lbs when we adopted her. I don't know what I would do without this sweet pup!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

plumbing one oh one - Jes

"Sinkmaster?" More like STINKmaster. One of the worst things I've ever smelt in my entire life was what was being cultivated in our sink when we first moved in. I know I mentioned the hamburger helper that the family ate as their presumably last meal given the forensic evidence found atop my stove, but I do not know if I mentioned what they did with the food and apparently much more before that...dump it down the sink. I don't know if you are aware of how a garbage disposal works, but it runs on this silly little thing called electricity. Which had been turned off. We dumped a gallon of bleach down there to kill whatever was living, but it didn't help the smell. Luckily we weren't staying at the house before the electricity was turned on, but we were coming by to clean things up and get the garden prepared so we had to smell it. Nothing like the smell of rotted beans and hamburger meat growing in a hardened pile just below your sink. We had to keep the windows and doors open wide until we got the power turned on.

And then. That poor poor garbage disposal that was so abused shouted its last clattering bang of disposaldom, ridding us of the hardened bean rot but taking its own life in the process.

Actually it turns out the reset button worked when we got up under there to take out the defiled beast. But the thing needed replaced. It makes a gosh awful racket and our new one has the rubber guard in it that keep you from accidentally dropping spoons and sponges down into it when you're trying to do dishes. It's a fancy one too. And by fancy, I mean new.

After a few spills of nasty water (we need to just throw away the dishwasher), and a hammer to break the sink part free we got the old one out. The new one wasn't too hard to get back in, but I wouldn't have wanted to install it on my own. A little duct tape here, wire cutters there. Some grunting and some screw drivers, and ta da! Disposal that works. No longer will the macaroni bits be tossed in the trash. Oh no, they will be chopped into oblivion by our handiwork.

All of this started when we went shopping for a mattress, stove, oven, and refrigerator today. We haven't decided on any of those, other than the dire conviction that we WILL have our own new ones soon, but the disposal was one small step toward kitchen comfort. Which I desperately want.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

trucks & helping hands - jes

 I drove the twenty four foot long moving truck the whole way. This thing was massive, but I reminded Marshall that I've got some truckers in my family and that came in handy to say the least. Almost ran over a few SUVs, but it turned out alright and we made it back safely. Not going to lie, there was a rapid internal dialogue ranging from cursing the other drivers, to praying for a safe ride, to excitement that it turns out I am actually not bad at driving the huge beast.

The icing on the cake for the weekend was when Marshall's car broke down approximately ten miles north of our rental place. Being in a broken down car stinks. Being in a broken down car, in the middle of three digit heat, on the side of one of the busiest highway ramps in Oklahoma (where 44 turns into 35 south...if you live here you know) with a dog and two dying cell phones. The oil light came on. The car is dead. We hopped some cement barriers and passed Rocket over between us. Made it to a hotel and got a cab ride to town. Then we walked a mile to pick up our moving truck.

After that went down, our friends started coming out of the woodwork and were completely fabulous as they helped us with the rest of the weekend. Summer took us to get Marshall's car towed then stuck around the rest of the day lending a hand. Sarah, Arne, and Garrett all helped out with moving heavy things (and not so heavy things). Zach helped by finally getting rid of the car in our driveway, though I in no way blame him. That blame and annoyance goes out to a certain ex-roommate from all of us.

 We all sweated together, hauled pianos together, filled boxes together. Our neighbors drove past and told us a better (i.e. the correct) way to use the loading ramp. We filled up the whole darn truck. I cannot believe how much stuff we have. (This past weekend we had to rent a trailer after we realized Bob's truck wasn't big enough to hold the last of our things.) When we got back to Tulsa my Mom and Dad met us at the house ten minutes later, and ten minutes after that Phillip showed up and the four of us had the truck unloaded in two hours.

We're here. For good. Norman is done. We could probably have done it without the help, but it would have been one of the worst experiences of my entire life. We are so lucky to have surrounded ourselves with such wonderful people. Everyone helped out more than we deserved to be helped and we're both so grateful. I feel closer to Marshall after having gone through this though. Our last night sleeping in Norman at that house was bitter sweet (but mostly sweet because I wanted to get the heck to our new house).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Miss Molly

One of the big draws to buying a house was that Matt and I could start our family! No, not a baby, but a pet. I have been ready for a dog for over a year now, but have had no yard for one. Now that I have a beautiful backyard, it is time for that puppy! I have been looking online for the right dog for months now. While Matt was gone at Middle School camp I came across the PERFECT pup. I just new when I saw her picture on Petfinder.com (I have been searching shelters) that she was the one!
Molly is a rescue pup. She is 12 weeks old and was found abandoned in the woods of Hollister, MO with her two sibblings. She was rescued by Taney County Animal Control. To get Molly, Matt and I drove to MO last friday. We stayed in a rather sketchy hotel and woke up the next day to go adopt our new addition to the family! We spent the next 4 and a half hour bonding in the car! She is a great car rider.

-The first night with Molly was very tough. She whined and pitched the biggest fit when we put her in a crate for the night. The only way she would calm down was if Matt or I laid in front of the crate so she could see us. When she fell asleep we would sneak into bed. Throughout the night when she whined we would take her out to go potty.
-The second night there was just a little bit of crying, 15 minutes or so. The third night there was maybe 5 minutes and the 4th night (last night) there wasn't even a peep when we put her in her crate!

Molly wanted to drive the car with Daddy yesterday. It was the cutest thing in the world! However, we realized this was dangerous and teaching our dog bad habits. Therefore, since then we have successfuly crated her in the car without whinning. I didn't realize how needy puppies are when you want to try and train them well. She needs constant watching. Matt and I have a pretty good system. Matt and I take turns waking up at 2 hour intervals to take her potty! Matt takes her to work in the morning while I teach summer school, and I go pick her up after school at 11:30. She has even stayed away from my garden, which now has a few green tomatoes growing.

I love summer days at my new home!

cucumbers & books - jes

Well the big move is fast approaching. We've been slowly hauling things a few boxes at a time, but on Friday we begin loading up the official moving truck and transporting our big things plus eight hundred boxes of books to their new permanent residence. It's so odd that we have yet to move such big things, since this house already feels like my home.

I am continuously amazed at just how many books Marshall and I have. Those in the picture comprise of about a third of the ones we will end up transporting. I should have expected that, however, since it seems as though every time we buy another bookcase it's already full as soon as we set it in place. My father is convinced that the written word is obsolete, and that my generation has no need for books. Not that having so many proves him wrong, but I'm sure as heck not getting rid of them any time soon. Luckily Marshall is on the same page as I am when it comes to the awesomeness of having the books we need at hand. Believe it or not we turn to them quite often, despite the fact that wikipedia is a quicker method.

Our garden is getting more and more exciting. The squash leaves are bigger than Rocket, and we have several jalapeno peppers started, two squash, two tomatoes, and lots of banana peppers. Yesterday Marshall and I munched one right there in the garden. It was warm from the sun, crispy and spicy. Delicious. As far as home improvement is concerned, for the most part we're just focusing on getting the move out of the way, though there have been many discussions about upcoming major purchases, such as a new stove and a grown-up bed since I've been using Cody's futon for six years now.  My back wants a mattress. We subscribed to Consumer Reports which would make Grandpa Dix proud and will hopefully help us find some good deals on the big things.

Although I'm not sure it counts as a recipe, for a delicious and incredibly refreshing drink, simply slice up a cucumber very thin and plunk it in some water. Let it set for a bit and I'm telling you, better than lemon in water. I'm drinking some right now and it's totally quenching the mid afternoon Oklahoma swelter. Plus it's healthy! We made an entire pitcher from our one cucumber and it's kept for three days. Still as refreshing as the first.

Friday, June 3, 2011

drying tasty things - jes

As the other pictures I've posted show, we're big on gardens. One thing we planted extensively was herb, so I have embarked on my first step of preserving things from my garden for later use. There are far too many fresh herbs, so after reading a couple of books and settling on one method, I've begun drying a variety. I've started with spearmint, peppermint, thyme, and parsley. So far it seems to be working. I bought quilting circles at Michael's for a dollar each, and a few glass jars to store them in (hopefully it works well). The thyme seems to have taken to drying the prettiest, and I'm hoping that the mint is looking like it's supposed to. I promise I've been doing stuff on the inside of the house as well, but the gardening thing is really exciting for me. We had a garden last summer, but it did not get used as much of it should have and much went to waste. I'm hoping to keep that from happening.

Part of my enthusiasm comes from knowing that all the work I put into the garden now, will benefit Marshall and myself for months and years if we put in the right amount of time and effort now. Previous gardens always only held the promise of that season. This home will be one we stay in for an indefinite amount of time, and because of that any work we do is ours to keep. I love our gardens. Walking out in the morning with my first cup of coffee, watering the plants, tasting the herbs, keeping an eye on the tiny peppers and cucumbers growing from their flowers. It's so exciting. It also doesn't hurt that I kinda enjoy getting my hands dirty (so long as it's dirt-dirty) and I've been tearing through Michael Pollan's books and they are changing my life. His take on bettering what foods you eat is so practical and exploratory. My thoughts have been provoked to say the least. It's turning out to be a very rich summer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Cookout

Matt - The Grill Master!
This is actually only our second time to use our grill.

Yesterday we had Matt's family over for some grilling in the backyard in honor of Memorial Day. We pulled out the grill that we used once last summer (it is hard to grill when you live in an upstairs apartment and have to walk down to the sidewalk to do your grilling). We couldn't decide between hot dogs or hamburgers, so we did both! Not only could we not decide between the meats, we could not decide which kind of hot dogs we wanted: all beef, normal, or fat free - so we grilled all three. In addition to the delicious grilled main course, Ray Oberdick made some German potato salad. This was my first experience with this dish, and I must say it was wonderful!

Nephew Chase eating his enormous hamburger!

This was our first time hosting a large family group at hour new house. I think it went pretty well. We still do not have any back yard furniture so Matt borrowed a large table from the church and some chairs so that we could eat around a table. We do have 2 patio chairs, and 2 fold up (take to soccer games) chairs, and I borrowed 3 from my mom's house too. There was plenty of seating. I already new I loved our covered patio, but I LOVE it even more now. It really does create a lot of shade and coolness. One thing our house is not, is kid proof. This is something that we quickly figured out with little nephew and niece Ben and Emma, but the backyard is just right for kids! It is also just right for a pet...I am working on that one.