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Showing posts from January, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

err... I mean blogs.

On this snowy, cold Saturday, I thought I would share some of my favorite blogs. Just so you know on top of reading lots of books, I read a ridiculous number of blogs {I subscribe to 178 in my Google Reader}. To be completely truthful, I browse rather than read all of them - I probably only read a handful. The others, I look at to get inspiration for work, remodeling, do-it-yourself projects and new recipes.

Some of my favorite blogs {that I actually read} are as follows...
Five blogs written by real-life friends:   Life As We Know It With Izzy Bug is written by my sister about life with her new baby, Izzy. Since I live in a different state, this blog allows me to keep up with what is going on in their day-to-day lives. Not to mention, my little niece is ridiculously cute {but I'm not biased}. The Cutest Thing
My friend, Sally Loftis, writes a blog where she gives a "Girls Movie Review" of secular movies. She does an amazing job of giving a Christian persp…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Books 4&5

For the past two weeks, I have tried to read two books with little success. Normally I am able to plow through books, even those I don't particularly care for. But on occasion, I opt to not finish. This would be the case for both of these books.
The first, Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, examines the world of Wall Street trading and how randomness plays a part. I found the writing to be extremely arrogant and condescending, not to mention outright boring. This book was extremely disappointing, especially after reading a review that compared it to Freakonomics (which I found fresh and interesting).
Quotes I came away with {from the parts I read}: Symobolism is the child of our inability and unwillingness to accept randomness; we give meaning to all manner of shapes; we detect human figures in ink blots. Mild success can be explained by skill and labor. Wild success is attributable to variance.
One cannot judge a performance in any given field  (war, politics, medicine, i…

18,000 Pounds and Some Good News

Today a lady from the moving company came by to do an estimate of our stuff. We are allowed to have up 18,000 pounds moved free of charge. Beyond 18,000, we will have to pay some hefty fees {or move the extra ourselves.}
It is just the two of us in a 1,800 square foot house, but we do have quite a bit of stuff. Thanks to all of the tools we have accumulated, our total weight estimate comes in at 15,000 pounds. We won't know the true total until moving day, but the estimator said that she normally shoots a bit high and is generally within 1,000 pounds. Let's hope so.
Now for the good news... Daniel talked to TVA today and it looks like there is a really good possibility (95% chance if you are into statistics) that he won't have to start work until February 15. Thank you God for that!!! We were both starting to get overwhelmed with the idea of Daniel leaving so soon. An extra two weeks means we should be able to accomplish everything on the house and have some overlap time of …

Traffic Calming

In Engineering terms, traffic calming is the slowing or reduction of motor-vehicle traffic to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. (I know this term because my husband is an engineer). One example of traffic calming is a roundabout. This is a type of circular intersection in which traffic must travel in one direction around a central island forcing the traffic to slow down, but enabling traffic to continue to flow. Example of traffic calming. Photo found here.
Another example of traffic calming can be found in our living room. We recently added a coffee table and found that this prevents our dog {Sophie} from hurtling herself across the room and onto the sofa at full throttle. Instead, we find her running {at a somewhat reduced pace} through the living room, around the coffee table and onto the couch where she proceeds to find a comfortable spot and go to sleep. Traffic calming for our dog. Photo by Cheree.


Overwhelmed

Taking a moment to feel overwhelmed and indulge in a cookie {or three}.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies  Recipe from Smitten Kitchen Makes about 3 dozen cookies
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove (I did not have this ingredient, so opted for all spice instead)
1 cup quick-cooking oats (I didn't  have quick-cooking oats, so I used the regular kind, this may have contributed to their flatness) 2 cups chopped pecans (I used what I had on hand - about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (I substituted 1 tsp of orange extract - the orange gives a beautiful, unexpected flavor to the cookie)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used 6 oz because that is all I had on hand. They turned out really chocolaty and I am thankful I didn&…

Capacity for Joy

Daniel and I have been married for a little over 7 years and it has been a wonderful 7 years. We have a great marriage. Not perfect, but pretty darn good. In 7 years, it is easy to fall into the routines of life and what is normal.

When we got Sophie, we weren't really sure what to expect. The night before she came to us, we even doubted the whole idea of getting a dog. Were we ready for this? It was so sudden, and we didn't *feel* excited or ready. We didn't even get to meet to meet her beforehand - we had only seen a photo and had a guarantee that if it didn't work out, we could give her back.

So here we are 8 months later and we are amazed at how much she has become a part of our lives. Before we had her, we thought we were pretty happy (and we were). But now, we have experienced a new type of joy. One we didn't even know existed. We were perfectly content but now we can't imagine our lives without her.

As I write this, she is cuddled up next t…

Countdown

We are officially in countdown mode. Daniel will start work two weeks from today. Kind of hard to believe. We are {hoping} to put our house on the market this weekend. Realistically, it may not happen until next week, but it is good to have goals.
Today our friend, Benjy, came over to help with the final projects on the house. They were able to install the vanity in the hall bathroom and measure all of the walls for the baseboard and crown molding that still need to be installed.
Tomorrow will be a big push to install Pergo flooring in the hallway and get baseboard installed.
It is such a relief to already have friends in Chattanooga that Daniel can stay with when he starts work. It would be even more stressful to be trying to finish the house and find a place for him to live.

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 3

It's just the start of week 3, but I just finished up a delightful little book by Hugh Macleod. Ignore Everybody and 39 other keys to creativity is a fun, quick read that I would recommend to anyone in the creative field.

We all have creativity in us and more often that not, we find ourselves yearning for something more than the 9-5 job that we work in order to be responsible adults. Hugh MacLeod talks to that yearning and gives some decent advice on how to pursue those desires. While not earth-shattering, it is presented in short, witty chapters that I found enjoyable to read.
His cartoons on the back of business cards, I could take or leave. Some were pretty funny, some were just out there. If you are bothered by language, he uses the F*bomb a lot {just so I warned you}.
Some of my favorite passages {I have been trying to limit myself to a max of five in these posts... this book is full of great quotes}: Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates succe…

Our New IKEA Couch

It's here!!! Getting our new couch from IKEA proved to be difficult. We were originally going to purchase it back in November {for my birthday} but we opted to go camping in the mountains instead.
And then we were going to get it sometime in late November, but Daniel decided we should buy a trailer instead of renting a truck. So finding and buying a trailer ate up another weekend.
Then Daniel got his job offer and we were ecstatic and felt even better about our furniture purchase. With Christmas on the way, and an upcoming visit from my brother and Daniel's dad, we tried to get our basement finished and furniture purchased.
We went to IKEA the day my brother got to town and lo and behold, our particular couch {2+3/3+2 with chaise} was a SPECIAL ORDER purchase. If we had done our research in the first place, we would have known that.
For some reason {I think I was extremely tired and grumpy and it was close to closing time} we decided to hold off on the purchase.
So... the Monday af…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 2

This week's book continue with the theme of homes but with a decidedly different perspective. Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us by Alyssa Katz is a look into the housing boom and subsequent economic crash.

The substance of this particular book made me mad at the government (Democrats & Republicans) as well as at private industry (at least the individuals who perpetuated mortgage fraud). It looks into the history of real estate and the patterns that have been repeated since the 1920s when Americans traded their freedom for debt.

A good portion of the book describes how the poor and uneducated were affected, but later in the book, the author explores educated people who were scammed out of large sums of money (if you are from Arkansas and had a negative experience withAvedis, you might understand the educated people who lost big bucks in scams in Florida).

Here are excerpts of some of my favorite passages from this books: "Sub-prime lending joined malt liquor and the lott…

I Love You Moore than the Details

Things are shaping up. We found out {last week} that Daniel passed his background check. They called me to verify that his unemployment record. They asked questions like "Did I know Daniel" and "When was the last time I had spoken to him?" As his wife, I certainly know him and I had spoken to him that morning.

Tomorrow he heads to Huntsville, AL for a quick overnight trip to get a medical screening and a psych evaluation at the Browns Ferry plant. As long as all goes well, he should be in the clear and officially ready to start on February 1st.

We are working hard to get the house wrapped up and on the market asap. For the very first time, we payed a friend to help us with a project. We decided to tear out the carpet on the stairs and install wooden treads that would be stained to match our pergo.

We {finally} got lucky on a project... we thought we were going to have to rip out all of the trim and stairs and replace them. When Daniel pulled up the {nasty} carpet, he …

Thanking God That We Are NOT Moving to Alaska

Charlotte, North Carolina is generally a pretty temperate city. We get a few truly cold days a year and I am fine with that.

This past week has been something else. I know that the whole country is experiencing a cold spell, but man oh man, it has been cold. I have worn 2-3 layers of clothes daily. And we haven't even been blessed with snow.
All I keep thinking is that I am glad Daniel didn't get an offer to move us to Alaska. I realize that moving to the Tennessee mountains will bring a colder climate, but it will have nothing on Alaska. I can't imagine these frigid temps ALL OF THE TIME. My Canadian blood isn't helping me out too much. I guess I am just a wimp and have lived in the south too long. 
Besides it being cold, we are doing our {final} tiling project today. For some reason, we always manage to tile when it is freezing. This gives us near frostbite on our hands and puts us both in a bad mood while we combat frozen limbs and tiling dilemmas simultaneously. Someh…

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Book 1

After managing to read 60 books in 2009, for 2010, I have decided to take the time to document the books I read.
To kick off the year, I read The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. It is a book that delves into why we respond to certain types of architecture and design and how the spaces we live in impact our lives. 

Here are excerpts of some of my favorite passages: "It seems reasonable to suppose that people will possess some of the qualities of the buildings they are drawn to." "Our working routines may be frantic and compromised, dense with meetings, insincere handshakes, small-talk and bureacracy. We may say things we don't believe in to win over colleagues and feel ourselves becoming envious and excited in relation to goals we don't essentially care for. But, finally, on our own... we can slowly resume contact with a more authentic self, who was there waiting in the wings for us to end our performance.""We might even come to better underst…

Outdoor Adventures | 2009 edition

2009 was one of the hardest years we experienced. Daniel was laid off in March and our lives were turned upside down. Our focus became finishing our house remodel, Daniel studying for his P.E. license while also trying to find a new job. We didn't have a lot of time or money to devote to adventures. We spent a lot of time walking our newly adopted dog on our local greenway while trying our best to stay afloat.

March
Daniel was laid off and it was life changing...

May
We adopted our first dog.

June
Hiking at South Mountain State Park | Connelly Springs, NC
Colonel Francis Beatty Park | Matthews, NC
Linville Falls | Linville, NC

July
Backpacking at Carver's Gap, NC

September
Canoeing on the Haw River | Saxapahaw, NC

November
Hike at Max Patch Bald, NC

I Love You Moore, even when our sense of normal isn't normal

So what do you do when you are young and don’t have a clue about renovating? You just dig right in and you don’t look back. This early in the game, you believe it will only take a year or so to finish (even with all of your big plans).



You rip out carpet with a vengeance. You paint walls like you always had mad skills to use a spray gun with oil-based KILZ. You wind up with your eyelashes fused together and scratch your head wondering what got you into this predicament. You tear out walls and tell yourself it will be back to normal soon.



A year later, you thank God that you finally have a working kitchen and wonder when you will have floors installed on every surface (verses exposed plywood sub floor).






Another year passes and you learn to ignore the unfinished things. You start trying to reclaim your life and stop sweating the small stuff. By now you have learned what to waste your time arguing about and what to let go. And your sense of normal has changed significantly.




Another year p…
We purchased a 5-speed Subaru Forester today. It is the *youngest* vehicle we have ever owned - coming in at 10 years old.

It is due for a timing belt change, but once Daniel does that, we should be good to go for another 100,000+ miles. Well that is not completely true... it is used and will have general wear and tear on the engine but our in-house mechanic (Daniel) does a pretty good job of keeping our old vehicles in good working order.

I talked to my brother today and this is the gist of our conversation.

Mark: How was your new year's?

Me: Good. We bought a car today.

Mark: Awesome. What kind? How much did you spend?

Me: A Subaru Forester for $XXXX.

Mark: Wait... you won't spend $4 to buy more Christmas lights for your Christmas tree, but you will spend $XXXX on a car?

Me: Yep.

Mark: You guys are going to be millionaires some day.

I Love You Moore than our House Renovation

Once upon a time {about 5 years ago} a young couple {Cheree & Daniel} purchased their first home. They had grandiose ideas of renovating. He was an engineer. She was a {graphic} designer. It would be so easy

And it was.

Kind of.

Starting out was easy. They had no idea what they were doing, but they jumped right in. They ripped out carpet. They installed new floors. They painted. They disassembled a kitchen. They tiled. They did a custom master bathroom with a CUSTOM shower. They moved walls. Seriously. They moved walls. They were nuts.

They learned how to argue and disagree about things like what appliances to buy, what would be the best {most complicated} tile pattern to lay and what walls to move. What walls were load bearing and couldn't be moved. What was possible. What was not. What was ridiculous.

He learned that all of her idea generations was just her way of brain storming. She learned that Excel spreadsheets are absolutely necessary to renovate. They worked hard. Through b…

Reading Resolutions

I was planning on making an unofficial resolution to read 52 books in 2010 - one a week. And if I had time, I would blog about the books as I read them.

Out of curiosity, I looked back at the books that I read in 2009 to see how many I read. After reviewing my online BookShelf and tallying them up, I discovered that I had actually read 60 books last year, so I'm thinking that 52 books is kind of a low resolution.

60) Heaven
59) One True Thing
58) The Middle Place
57) The Virgin Suicides
56) The Schopenhauer Cure
55) Julie and Julia
54) Farm City
53) Traveling Mercies
52) The Glass Castle
51) Always Looking Up
50) A Long Way Gone
49) The Help
48) A Grief Observed
47) The Road
46) Left to Tell
45) How Capitalism Saved America
44) Beautiful Boy
43) Blue Like Jazz
42) Honeymoon with my Brother
41) Sorrows of an American
40) The Vegetable Gardener's Bible
39) Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
38) Good Dog. Stay.
37) World Made by Hand
36) The Sex Lives of Cannibals
35) Th…

Word for the Year: Fortitude

I was reading the blog, Bloom, and came across a post contributed by MySparkle regarding New Year's resolutions. Instead of picking specific things to accomplish in the coming year, she focuses on choosing a single word that represents an overall theme for the coming year. 
I love the idea of purposely choosing a word to set the tone for the year.
As I look at 2010 I know that we are on the brink of some major life changes. A new job. A new city. New (and old) friends. There is a lot to think about and to plan for in the coming weeks and months. But we are ready to embrace these changes.

Fortitude:Strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage.
I believe this sums up how I feel about the changes to come. We will embrace strength of mind and face the changes to come with courage.
It is exciting, but also scary to move to a new place. To start over. We have no idea what is in store. We don't know if I will still have a job. We don't know where we will l…