3.29.2011

Paint: Go Bold or Play it Safe?

We painted our downstairs living/dining area, upstairs loft and master bedroom not too long after we moved in.  Everywhere else has stayed what I call basic builder white.  It's so boring and adds nothing to our decor so it's time for it to go.  I'd like to say that we are going to do it ourselves but that is not the case.  The first time around was really labor intensive and turned out to be a full day project.  Painting is a lot harder then it looks!  We will do the bathrooms and extra bedrooms ourselves later someday but since we are having crown moulding installed we decided to pay a little extra, leave it to the professionals and have them do some painting this time around.  We can't reach the high areas in the hallway as you go up the stairs anyways and me on a ladder or using an extended roller on stairs is an accident waiting to happen.   

3rd and 4th down are our neutral picks.  #3 would
be for the kitchen and #4 would be for everywhere else.
Picking the neutrals was not too hard.  We didn't agree on our favorites initially but were able to easily narrow it down to two using the darker one for the kitchen and a lighter one for everywhere else.  Then Mj decided he wanted to get bold for the kitchen.  Which is fine because I would love to liven things up with a bright color too but bold can be scary.  We went back to home depot and picked some brights.    We stood there staring at our sample colors on the wall for a while and couldn't decide.  We walked away, came back and looked again but still couldn't decide.  The Behr Paint app said that this shade of  Orange would go well with our curtains but it just looks so bright!! We actually don't have a huge amount of wall space in the kitchen.  It's so hard to visualize how it's going to look all over and once it's slapped on every inch of our walls we're stuck.  We don't want to have to re do this.  Especially since we are paying to have it done.

The bright orange is sort of scary!!  We did not like the mustard
in the middle but the Peachy one at the bottom is an option.
The crown molding will be installed tomorrow so we have to decide tonight. Do we play it safe with a neutral, go middle of the road with a lighter peach or do we go bold?  We have to make a decision very soon and I still have no idea!!!!

3.25.2011

Taxed to Death

When I was young and carefree and I heard "old people" complaining about things like taxes and property values I didn't really understand what they were so upset about.  Now that I am older, a tax payer and a consumer of more then just little things like food and clothes I get it.  Being a homeowner I get it even more.  My goodness...I seriously feel that I am being taxed to death.  I get my pay check and it's taxed.  I buy something at the store it's taxed.  I win a 2 night hotel stay and I have to fill out a W2 because it's going to be taxed.  I can't touch any retirement money I have saved before whatever ripe old age they have decided upon or else it'll get taxed.  When we bought our house we had to seriously factor taxes into what we could afford for a mortgage because it adds almost $350 a month.  The principal and interest payment might look pretty nice but when you add in the taxes and suddenly it's not so affordable anymore.  The only reasonable way to handle these monster property taxes is to set up an  impound account with your mortgage company and pay into it monthly along with your mortgage so that when the taxes are due twice a year the money is there.  All set right?  Well not quite. 

A couple months after we moved in last year we got a supplemental tax bill for $1,012.  They say it's typical on new construction.  We expected it but  weren't actually prepared to pay it so we asked for half to be be paid out of impound and by the time the other half was due this year they had already factored it in to this years impound and it would be taken care of.  We even got a nice escrow refund check.  Yesterday, we got yet another supplemental bill and the only thing it supplements is my annoyance.  This time it's $3,000 on top of our normal taxes.  That's not exactly what we planned on using our tax refund for so I call our mortgage company and thank goodness they agree to pay it.  It will raise our mortgage by $25.00 a month come May because it creates a deficit in our impound account but that hurts a lot less them ponying up 3k at once.  Now get this.  He says the reason could be for home improvements which allows the city to say that our house is worth more and therefore we owe more property taxes.  I wondered, how do they know anyways?  If we did anything that would require a contractor to get permits then it's reported to the city.  The only thing we did is our backyard so that must have been it.  We are already paying taxes on the house, then we get taxed on the landscaping job itself, then getting a 3k bill was like doubling the cost of our landscaping job-for  no good reason!  Apparently, California is notorious for doing their little shady re assessments on property value.  I suppose we better watch out when we get ready to do our kitchen remodel and we can probably forget about getting another escrow refund. 

But really.  It's enough to make your head spin.  At least we got a decent tax refund this year-goodness knows we've paid enough.  According to an old saying the only thing you can be sure of is death and taxes.  I may not have understood that as a kid but I certainly get it now.


3.20.2011

Injured List

According to the weather report it was going to be a gloomy day so we decided to postpone our day date.  Mj went on his Saturday morning bike ride as planned and I just expected to spend the day at home relaxing.  I didn't think we'd end up at Kaiser Permanente.

I got the call right after I got out of the shower.  He said he dislocated his shoulder and that we'd be taking a trip to the doctor.  I found out which location had walk in hours and was ready to go by the time he made it back home.  He started biking with his friends last year and now he has all the gear that goes with it.  He has a road bike AND a mountain bike.  He has the tight spandex outfits in bright colors and the weird shoes that clip onto the pedals and everything.  Today they went about 25 miles east to the mountains for a 12 mile bike ride.  It was freezing, there was snow on the ground in some spots and the altitude was really high.  Poor guy.  About half way through the ride he took a toss over his handlebars and his shoulder was unfortunate enough to connect with the only rock in sight.  I don't know how he managed to clip his shoes out of his pedals in time to detach from his bike.  He had to half walk half ride his way back with a jacked up shoulder for 6 miles.  He's such a tough guy.  You would never even know how much pain he's in.  His tolerance is pretty high and he's not a whiner like I am.

Those bones should not be that far apart

Kaiser is so efficient.  We were in and out of there with X rays done and Rx in hand pretty quickly.   The bustling pharmacy is staffed with an army of white lab coats taking orders and getting people their drugs.  Turns out he has pulled the ligament that is supposed to hold his shoulder to the bone and it's separated pretty far.  They put him in a sling and he'll need to follow up with an orthopedic specialist to determine if it can heal on it's own or if it will require surgery.  He's going to be out of town next week for work so it'll have to wait until the week after.  He and his buddies had a mountain biking mancation to Utah planned for the end of next month.  At this point who knows if he will be recovered enough to do that.


It was only a matter of time before SOMETHING else happened.  He has a bit of an accident prone past.  Years ago before we met he sliced his face open in Army drill team tossing swords in the air.  I can't remember exactly how many broken bones he's had.   He busted his eye brow open two years ago playing basketball while overseas and had to get stitches.  The eyebrow scar it left is actually pretty sexy but that is besides the point.  He routinely comes home from mountain biking all scraped up and this is his second major spill.  I love it that he has a hobby he enjoys that gets him out with his friends and keeps him fit but I don't love it that it can be dangerous.  A car could run him over on the streets and they get to speeds of up to 45 mph on those skinny tires.  If you hit a pot hole or an unexpected dip you are done.  Mountain biking is even worse.  The terrain is rocky and slippery with gravel and dirt.   A biker could tumble off the side of a mountain if things went really wrong.  Thank goodness they wear helmets.  I suppose it could be worse.  He could be on a motorcycle.  Well, actually that will never happen because I already told him he better not ever even think about getting one of those.  Nope.  Not on my watch.

3.17.2011

Thursday Thoughts

Just some random and mostly unrelated thoughts for the day.

  • Is anyone else having a hard time with the time change?  I know it has to be mental because there is no way that an hour lost on Sunday is still actually affecting me on Thursday.  If it ever did that is.  It's just so dark.  I can barely drag myself out of bed and barely give myself 20 minutes to get out of the house.  I couldn't even be bothered to wear green today.
  • There is a huge proliferation of shows focusing on the drama that is weight loss and eating disorders lately. In addition to the shows on Discovery Health and TLC about the struggles of the morbidly obese other recent shows are I Used to be Fat, One Big Happy Family, Freaky Eaters, What's Eating You?, Dance Your Ass Off, Heavy, Too Fat for 15, Ruby, Shedding for the Wedding, The Biggest Loser, Thintervention, and Heavily Ever After just to name a few.  There is a new one coming up later this month called Addicted to Food.  I watch most of them.
  • I love Teen Mom 2.  I really love it that I turned Mj into a fan and it's become one of our shows that we watch together.  I'm not sure what it is about that show but I am totally engrossed and look forward to the drama of each episode every week.  Jenelle's mom is so harsh and annoying but Jenelle does makes the worst decisions so she brings a lot of that wrath upon herself.  Everyone should have yelled "I told you so" and rubbed it in hard after Chelsea took her jerk of a boyfriend back and the relationship went down in flames again.  Duh.  What the hell was she expecting?  I love Leah and I hope she realizes what a great guy she has.  Chelsea would do anything to have her baby's father actually get a job to support the family AND want to marry her.  I'm glad Kailin got out of Joe's house.  What a totally awkward and uncomfortable living situation that was.  With the exception of Jenelle, they all wear way too much eye make up.
  • Yesterday I dropped $680 bucks to replace the carpet in my condo/rental property.  Yikes!  It's a really good thing I'm a natural born saver or else this could have been devastating.  Well, it's still devastating but at least I have the money.  I put it on my Capital 1 card for the points and I'll pay the sucker off when the bills comes.
  • I have always been somewhat obsessed but being able to track calories on my phone so easily has taken it up a notch.  It sure beats writing it all down and trying to add everything up.   I love picking out a cute little food symbol for my custom foods and watching my net calories rise and fall with the addition of new foods and exercise.  I like seeing how much over or under my calorie budget I am at the end of the day and planning out what I want to eat.   I have not missed a single day since I started in December.  It's like a game and needless to say, I am having way too much fun with it.
  • I am hanging onto my motivation to keep going to the gym.  Just barely!  But I'm hanging in there and have continued to go at least twice a week.  I so badly wanted to drive right on by today and head for home instead but I'm afraid if I miss even one week it will send me back to the couch every day after work for good.
  • I drive down the street that has all the frat and sorority houses on it.  I can't help but notice how young and carefree they look as they walk energetically and laughingly down the street in groups wearing their party frocks on their way to some Greek event.  Meanwhile, I'm driving home from a long day at work and can't wait to get into my jammies so I can get some rest and then do it all over again the next day.  Oh to be young.  I have a much better sense of myself now then I did at that age so I don't know that I'd necessarily want to go back but I certainly miss the ease and bliss of youth and all of the possibilities that it brings.


3.13.2011

Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet

Photo Source:  Joffrey Ballet
Mj's job has monthly drawings that they can put in to win.   This time he entered to win the ballet not because he has any desire whatsoever to see a ballet but because he knew that I would love it.  He didn't expect to win but lo and behold he did and off to the ballet we went.  I rushed home and changed after work Friday then we headed downtown because we wanted to get something to eat before the show.  Mj was also interested in drinking as much as he could to help him cope with a two hour ballet performance.  We found this cool place with awesome happy hour prices.  I was able to buy one single slider for $1!  Love it.  We split some really cheap appetizers.  I had a cosmo and Mj had tequila AND  10% alcohol beer.  Then, it was a 5 minute walk to the theater.  

Everyone is so casual here but I actually think that this is the one time I didn't see anyone wearing jeans.  The wide sweeping lobby with the rich carpeting.  The tuxedoed ticket takers and the plush red seating.  That's before you even get to the dancers who are perfection and beauty in motion.   There is something about those gorgeous pink toe shoes...it's just beautiful.  There were three pieces all performed by the Joffrey Ballet Company and two intermissions.  Mj kept asking if it was over yet but I was captivated by the music and the exquisite dancing.  They make it look so easy but having taken ballet myself I know how hard it is.  Every arm placement and every leg movement must be precise.  Those tiny little flutter like frappe's are quick and small but when done badly (like I did) they look awful!  It takes so much control and flexibility.  It was nothing like the Nutcracker. It was very lyrical and a whole lot less stiff and structured from the music to the costumes and backgrounds.  There were no tutus in sight and one entire piece was done without pointe shoes.  It was cool to see something different and I really enjoyed it even if Mj just tolerated it.  We've done baseball games and football games.  It's about time we gave some attention to the arts!  But at $75 per ticket even I wouldn't have wanted to pay that much so I'm glad it was comped.  It was a great date night and as far as I'm concerned everything really is beautiful at the ballet.

3.08.2011

Girls & Baby Family Weekend

Out at happy hour Friday night
When it comes to spending time with family there doesn't need to be a plan.  Just being together is enough.  Mom, big sis, and little sis came down and spent the weekend at our house while Mj was away at drill.  The bonus is that my little sis was able to fly down from SF and join us when we didn't necessarily think she would be here.  The only real set plan we had was for Friday night and we would just play it by ear for the rest of the time.  Friday they all met at up my house while I was at work.  Once I got off my sister's joined me and my friends for happy hour at one of our favorite hang out spots while mom stayed home and watched the baby.  We had a great time there drinking and eating then got home around 9:30pm and stayed up watching TV and talking until we couldn't keep our eyes open anymore and had to go to bed.

The girls

I woke up bright and early Saturday morning for no particular reason.  I was just so excited to have them all at my house. It was so cool to finally have a place big enough to invite them over to.  Mom, big sis and I did P90 Yoga and then we all got dressed to meet the carpet guy at my rental property.  Too bad he was a no show but we got a chance to take a peek into my recently vacated condo.  Sadly, it's a wreck.  After that we went back to my house and brought out the stroller so we could walk over to Outback steak house for lunch.  It's a short walk and such a perfectly beautiful sunny day that we wanted to get out and enjoy it a little.  We were too early!!  They don't open until 3:30pm so we walked to Blockbuster to get some movies stopping at 7-11 along the way to get Slurpee's.  We spent about an hour and fifteen minutes walking all together.  By the time we made it back to Outback we were all STARVING!!
We all got Slurpee's for the walk
Mom and little sis
We enjoyed a nice lunch then walked to CVS for a few things.  Back at my house we watched gymnastics that I DVR'd earlier that day.  It was the American Cup.  Mom is usually too busy running around to catch it and little sis (who is also a former gymnast) is usually at work so it was awesome that we could all sit there together and watch it.  After that it was movie time.  We got our popcorn, candy, wine and other munchies together and watched Life As We Know It and Love & Other Drugs back to back.  Big sis had to tap out and take the fussy baby up to bed but the rest of us managed to barely stay awake and finish watching the last movie.  For not really having any plans it turned out to be quite a full and fun day.
We love this kid. 

Sisters & nephew DJ
We lounged around eating breakfast, chatting and watching TV until late afternoon on Sunday.  There is never a shortage of things to talk about.  Then all too soon it was time for everyone to get moving and get dressed.  They had to get on the road and head home and I needed to go grocery shopping.  We stopped at Wendy's so they could grab a bite to eat.  I'm usually the one who isn't ready to eat yet so I just held the baby and snatched some fries for myself.  I wasn't even going to go but I just didn't want the weekend to end and was trying to spend every last minute with them that I could.  I was so sad to see them go.  I love spending time with them and I'm so glad that we got to do just that for an entire weekend.    I already started missing them as soon as they got into the car and drove away.  I love them so much!  I feel so incredibly lucky to have each one of them in my life and am glad we are so close.  We didn't do anything spectacular but it was still a spectacular weekend just because we were together. 

3.07.2011

Shopper's High

Source:  DSW.com
Shopping is such a high.  Who needs drugs when you can shop?  I've been on a spending lock down since December.  I've spent so little money that when I got gas, a car wash, AND bought something at Bed, Bath & Beyond that it triggered a fraud alert on the credit card I use for day to day expenses!  I didn't care how much money I didn't have I knew I was going to be using my DSW coupons before they expired this month.  There was no question about it.  When I walk into that store with the intent on spending money I am literally giddy with excitement.  The jazzy music being piped in buoys that excitement and the pristine rows of shoes all lined up in rows and rows as far as the eye can see call out to me.  I headed straight for the pumps since I've had my heart set on some nude ones for a while.  It took me all of 30 seconds to decide that the Tahari ones were perfect after I tried on the Jessica Simpson's and found them to be just as cute but not nearly as comfortable.  That the Tahari's were $10 more at $69.95 mattered not.  Once I had that in the bag I went to the clearance section.  DSW usually has such a good selection that you can't walk out of there without at least taking a peak.  In about 15 minutes I picked out some great Grey Steve Madden suede flat boots that will be perfect with my leggings and a pair of hot high heeled sexy boots that can replace the ugly ones I've been wearing just because it's what I had.  I hate it when I find myself doing that.  They were both an additional 30% off the clearance price marked. 

I did all of this on my lunch break.  What is it about that store? The last time I went there on my lunch break I walked out with three pairs of shoes and this time too!  I had a $10 and a $20 coupon that I'd been holding onto for a while.  I had just gotten a free tote coupon in the mail so the timing was perfect.  I spent $134 on three pairs of shoes and got a really cute free bag.  Basically, I cleaned up.  It was a Thursday afternoon but it felt like my weekend had already started because that shopping trip put me in such a great mood.  I don't know when I'll be out shopping next but I think this fix should keep me going for a while!

3.03.2011

I'm at The Gym

me approaching those double doors
 I've had quite the love hate relationship with the gym and working out over the last few years.  Mostly hate hate if I'm being honest.  I boycotted the place for close to two years and only worked out sporadically after my work schedule changed from getting off at 3:30pm to getting off at 5:00 pm.  Morning work outs are so never happening for me and I have only so many precious hours each night.  After a hard days work I feel entitled to come straight home and relax.  I never made excuses for myself.  I just knew that when the right combination of cosmic forces came together just so that eventually I'd be back.  I could not force myself to go and that was that.

So where have I found myself twice a week every week for going on 3 months?  The gym!  It is practically a miracle but somehow I found it within myself to start going.  It was a goal of mine for the new year but I actually started taking action in December.  I went once or twice before Christmas.  Then, when I had that long 10 day Winter break from work I went quite a bit.  I was hoping it would kick start me into the habit of going once I went back to work and it did. 

My rigorous exercise regime:
  • Two work outs per week minimum at home, the gym, or any other form of exercise of my choosing for a minimum of 30 minutes.  So far, I've mostly been going to the gym and doing the Elliptical but I could do classes or home exercise videos or anything else. 
  • Every other week those two work outs need to be 60 minutes minimum and include some hard core cardio.  I usually do 1 hour on the Elliptical where I burn between 500-600 calories but it could be anything else that gets my heart pumping and my body sweating...a lot.
  • Thorough stretching at least 1 time per week up to and including the splits.  This could mean doing an exercise video or just making the time to get some stretching in on my own.
  • I also throw in a minimum of 100 crunches while I'm watching TV or whenever randomly if I didn't do them at the gym.
That's it.  I am so not hard core.  Some would call my work out schedule pathetic but I don't care.  It's what's working for me right now.  I figure some is better then none and if I push myself more then I want I will grow to hate it and go on strike again.  If I worked part time or not at all I could definitely see myself going a lot more and enjoying it but not with an 8-5pm full time job. 

When I've had a long day at work and didn't get enough sleep the absolute last thing in the world I want to do is drag myself to the gym, change clothes and spend an hour sweating but I've been doing it.  I used to exclusively do the treadmill.  I can't believe how long its taken me to discover the Elliptical.  I can burn more calories on it in a shorter amount of time AND it's still low impact.  I used to only listen to music but right now the only thing getting me through those work outs is TV.  There are tons of flat screens around the gym and mounted on some of the machines.  A couple weeks ago it was Basketball Wives on VH1 and Judge Judy on KUSI.  I watched Hugh Hefner and his new fiance on CNN and there's always Dr Oz or catching up on the local news.  I also downloaded some new uptempo techno work out music.  Whatever gets me through the work out.  On my light days it makes it easier to go knowing that I will be in and out.  I'd like for at least one work out per week to be at the gym to keep me in that habit and so far I have.  I've even exceeded my work out minimums some weeks just because.

And what is my reward for giving up my beloved couch, DVR and pajamas right after work every day?  I feel better about myself and a little bit less like a lazy bum.   I'm getting my long lost flexibility back too.  As a former gymnast it made me feel sad and down right old when my splits started to get too uncomfortable.  I'm back to putting my face to my knee in the splits on both sides.   I love food but have a tendency to under eat so even with just these work outs I've lost weight.  My mom wouldn't be too thrilled but I'm not mad about it.  I weigh less then I did on my wedding day and the only downside is that some of my pants are hanging off of me.  Not a cute look.  It sucks getting myself there sometimes but I really feel great after a work out.  I enjoy feeling fit, toned and active.  It's not just about losing weight.  I'm giving my heart, my bones, my body what it needs and that's a good thing.  If  I was physically unable to exercise I know how upsetting that would be so simply because I CAN is a good enough reason to go.  Getting back in the gym was a long time coming and now that I'm there I need to stay.

3.02.2011

Caller #9 and Meatloaf

How in the world does anybody ever get through?  Because every time I called all I got was a busy signal or an automated voice telling me that my call could not be completed.  I didn't win the Cirque Du Soleil tickets, Hornblower cruise dinner for two, Disneyland family four pack OR the Lady Gaga tickets (which I was planning to sell for profit).  But I did win the two night stay at the Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs!  On my way home from work yesterday I heard them ask for caller #9 again so I figured I'd give it another shot.  I dialed and then pressed the speaker button since I don't have blue tooth.  I can't hear if it's ringing or what so I raise it to my face and immediately drop it down when I see 5.0 to my right.  The last thing I need is to get pulled over.  It's just ringing, and ringing, and ringing and just as I am about to hang it up that DJ voice I hear on my radio is telling me that I won.  He's like what are you calling in for?  I stutter out "...Uh, the tickets."  He laughs that I don't even know what I was calling for.  I was just so distracted by the fact that I actually got through and trying to make sure the cop wasn't coming after me that I turned into a stuttering idiot. 

I got home and said "Hey honey I won something else!  Road trip time."  I probably wouldn't have planned a trip there but since the hotel is free....I'm there!  We probably won't be able to go until September because apparently he's made it his mission to travel as much as he can in 2011.  Starting at the end of this month his business and pleasure trips are taking him to various cities, four different states, and out of the country over the course of the next six months.  He's so booked we barely managed to schedule in our SF trip that we've been wanting to do since last year.  I don't care when we go as long as we do.  In the meantime it's nice to have another fun trip to look forward to.

In other news.  I made my first meatloaf using the simplest recipe I could find.   I'll probably make a few changes the next time I do it but it turned out pretty tasty and was very easy to make. I don't cook a lot but still, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd actually be doing it at all.  Just trying to be a good wife.  If that means cooking dinner and winning us weekend getaways then so be it.