Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Hop, Hop, Hop

It took one house, just one ring of the bell, one "trick or treat", one reach into an overflowing bowl of candy, one drop of that candy into her open purse, one wave of her hand goodbye, one retreat back down their driveway, and she had it down. She gently patted the cats and dogs that greeted us; she dutifully bobbed her head up and down at each request of "how does the bunny go?". She was polite, obedient, and enthusiastic. She was the model trick-or-treater.

Now I fear our next stroll down the street will be a struggle to unteach all that was learned in that one night. No, we don't ring everyone's doorbell on our walk down the block. No, we don't hold out our purse to passing neighbors and go "yes, yes, yes". No, we really don't need to wear our bunny ears to leave the house. But yes, we can be oh-so-overly friendly as you always are, offering kisses and hugs to friends met minutes before. Turning and backing to make use of empty laps that grace the floor.

Needless to say, Madilyn's first trick or treating experience was well received.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Curl up with a good book and a hot apple cider. . .

I would if I could, but I can't. I currently don't have hot apple cider, or apple cider at all. I guess I could heat up apple juice, but that's not quite the same. We always have an overabundance of apple juice on hand now that Madi uses unspillable sippy cups. I do have hot chocolate, and tea, and coffee. So I guess those could work. But a book, a good book, I don't have one. I've read all that I can find at my house. So I need some help. I need some book suggestions. Do you have any? Can you leave me a comment with them?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mystery Series # 3: The Hound of Freezerville

Detective Version: I sat at my desk, my eyes peering through the case detailed before me. The day was slow, lethargic, apathetic, and it was starting to get to me. My desk was mahogany, the best available, and it sat facing my closed office door. A slight tap-tap-tap noise brought the world back into focus. I grunted my enter, and the door opened, cautiously. In stepped a black high-heeled, open-toed pump covering well-manicured toes. They were red, a blood red, the kind of red that makes you think of, well, manicured toes. Following the pump was a leg, long and smooth. I leaned back in my tall leather chair. My eyes moved from the charcoal low-cut dress suit to the crimson lips to the bobbed brown hair. She was beautiful, too beautiful, something didn't quite add up. But I could tell from her eyes that she needed me.

Husband's version: I sat at my desk, the one I bought for my college apartment and that has moved with me 2 times after that. I glared at the ever-cluttered desk before me. A stomp, stomp, stomp made me sigh, as my wife came down the steps after putting our daughter to bed. She entered the kitchen, her blue Penn State sweats nearly covering her white socks. She glanced in my direction as she headed for the sink full of dishes.

Detective version: With a nod, I directed her to the chair across from me. She hesitated, struggling with consciousness, then sat. She crossed her ankles, and as she brought her eyes up to meet mine, her story poured forth. She was in trouble. A valuable family heirloom was missing. Her great aunt had died, leaving her the sole heir to a large estate. The estate was known for a number of rare and valuable artifacts, but there was one of great importance. An alabaster elephant carved in the oldest of ivories. It was worth more than "The Mona Lisa" and "Starry Night" combined. It was always kept in a safe built into the wall behind her great aunt's bed. The key to that safe was stored in a book, "The Hound of the Baskervilles", in the library. No one knew of the safe or the key's existence, that is until the aunt died and revealed their locations in her will. The key was found as well as the safe, but when they tried the lock, it would not open.

Husband's version: I told her we needed to straighten up the basement. Currently, it was a mound of boxes all placed in the center of the room with no rhyme or reason behind their arrangement. Tonight would be the night we tackled this task.

Detective's version: Tragic eyes met mine, and a crimson blush spread across her cheeks. The elephant must be found, she cried.

Husband's version: The basement must be cleaned.

Detective's version: I agreed to take the case and meet her at her great aunt's home the next evening.

Husband's version: We both went down to the basement.

Detective's version: The house loomed before me surrounded by the cloudless, gray sky. It was still, eerily so. A bell clanged through the house, and I heard footsteps marching toward the door. A butler, silent and grave, opened the door. As I entered a long, narrow hall, I caught sight of a maid scurrying into a neighboring room. "This way," the butler stated. He led me into a dimly lit room with walls covered in bookcases. Stark furniture surrounded a fireplace, empty and cold. On a table, I saw a book titled, "The Hound of the Baskervilles", it lay open, and inset into the pages, was a small silver key. I turned my back on the book, and perused the vast array of shelves.

Husband's version: First, we began to move boxes onto the built in storage shelves. We organized by category, i.e. high school boxes here, college boxes here, Christmas decorations here, and baby items here. Then we began repacking boxes that were previously opened and had items removed and on the floor. The entire time we collected trash, some from us in the moving process, some from the previous owner who had left things scattered around.

Detective's version: I smelled her scent of lavender and rose before she spoke. "Detective, I'm so glad you're here." Her hair fell in curls, surrounding her face. Her eyes met mine, and relief filled them. She stepped forward. "You've of course noticed the book here on the table," she asked. She seemed shocked when I turned away and began pacing the room. "I've solved your mystery," I said. Utter bewilderment descended upon her, and she collapsed into a nearby chair. "But how," she cried. "Did your great aunt ever use the word book when describing where to find the key?" I asked. "Well, of course, she said to look in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Does not that in itself signify a book?" Her eyebrows raised as she examined my face. I turned from her and continued my path back and forth across the room. "Your great aunt did not mean the book, "The Hound of the Baskervilles", she meant the movie, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". If you'll notice in the corner adjacent the fireplace there is a row of DVD's. As I see that there is no TV or DVD player in this room, I must attest that they are there as a ruse. "The Hound of the Baskervilles", the 1972 version directed by Barry Crane, is indeed one of those movies, and I believe that in that case you will find the key to your safe and your alabaster elephant."

Husband's version: As we were peering into boxes, we noticed a small, white shopping bag in the corner which we had never looked in before. When we opened it, we found parts to our freezer which has been missing its ice dispenser. Sure enough those were the very parts that have been missing all these months. Those were the parts that we were preparing to call a service man to replace or worse still giving up on this freezer and purchasing a new one.

Oh yes, there are lots of mysteries being solved here this month! And of course, I'll post pictures of the basement in a future post.

For previous mystery entries, see the following:

Mystery Series # 1
Mystery Series # 2

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tantalizing Tease

Front yard tree removal is halfway done. There is still a mess of branches, and two partial trees standing. So as I know all of you have been eagerly checking and rechecking my blog for the after picture and dying in anticipation of the final product, here is a midway point picture to tide you over.

Pantry Intervention

So what was I up to yesterday? Taking care of this:

Madilyn and I went grocery shopping, and as we were unpacking the bags, I realized that nothing was going to fit in this mess of a pantry. So instead, we took everything out and spread it across the room. Here's the after picture:

Not an amazing difference, but I can at least see to the back of the pantry. Any other ideas or suggestions would be great. The door of our pantry is smaller than the space, so pull out shelves won't work. The pantry shelves are also really deep, so it is easy to fill up and not be able to see the back. It can be a little frustrating to organize.

I also worked on my spices. They were pretty organized, but I had some new ones to add.

And yes, they are alphabetized. In my anal-retentive defense, prior to organizing I purchased 3 jars of nutmeg at 3 different times because I didn't think I had any. The alphabetizing was really necessary to avoid an overabundance of nutmeg.

Here's what I should be tackling today, but I'm not feeling overly motivated.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Excavation, Part 1

The Jungle has officially been cleared... well, topped. Today, the lift was moved about our front yard, while the tops of trees were chopped off. Load # 1 of brush and branches is making its way to the compost area. Then more limbs will be removed, and more loads will be taken away.

Click here for before pictures.

And stay tuned for after pictures. You will not believe the difference it is making!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


So we all now officially are out for the count with colds. It's lots of fun. Josh just crashed tonight, actually before Madi was even in bed. Madi and I have had ours for a little now, so we are not in the crazy-head-pounding stage anymore. But I will say that things about the house are progressing, even with the germs trying to stop us. The family room walls are all sanded. My recipe book is newly typed and organized. I'll share pictures of that soon. So we've been busy, even if my blog has been lacking in demonstrating it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mystery Series # 2: The Case of the Unemptiable Bucket

Hesitantly, I reached forward and opened the basement door. It let out a steady creak filling the silent, still air. Instantly, my hands felt muggy, and the air seemed thicker. My breath came in rasps as I forced my feet to move toward the step. My hands extended and searched the wall for a light switch I knew was there. Flipping it on, I began my descent. Each foot fall let out a tap, tap, tap noise that grew muffled as I moved further into the heavy, still air. I cast my eyes back and forth, watching each step for any movement. Large animal-like bugs had been spotted along the walls and across the floors. I reached the hard, cold concrete floor, and my ears perked up. It was quiet, too quiet. No rumbles, no sounds, just the still musty silence of a humidity packed basement. Slowly, I moved forward across the room nearing the small, slumped figure that was my target. In the deep, dark corner, I could see a red light letting off a sickening glow. I let out a groan, and reaching down, grabbed the dehumidifier bucket and emptied it for the 10th time that day.

We had followed the directions, hooking up the garden hose as it said, but still the water would fall into the bucket causing it to fill, and the machine to turn off. Thus our basement would fill with musty, steamy air, reaching deep into the boxes of memories we had hastily stored there. My husband gave up, and called. The company said, oh yes, we've heard lots of complaints. The tray is tilted the wrong way, causing the water to run into the bucket. So 5 pieces of cardboard later and four different angles of tilting later, we have a dehumidifier that is empty, and a basement with humidity at 50%, not 90%. Hooray for another solved mystery!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

So I've been tagged by Kristen over at Following the Dream, so my job is to now tell 6 random things about myself.

1. As a child, I was nicknamed Spike because I was tough. Apparently, Miss Madi is very similar just a little more intense, so she is inheriting the nickname of Spike, Jr from my parents. And just for fun, my sister's nickname was Sponge because she liked to sit in the front yard and drink out of the house until her belly was HUGE! Sorry, Jessie, but you did call me a name in your first blog comment to me. Hmm. . . I wonder if I could find a picture to share.

2. I love organizing! From recipes to closets to basements, I love it. It is relaxing for me. I always wanted to work on one of those TV shows where they help people declutter their homes. I debated starting my own decluttering business a few years back.

3. It takes me a long time to warm up to people, but once I'm a friend, I'm a friend forever. I once had someone comment about me and their wife, that we would be great friends as we were so similar, but it would take us a year to get to know each other.

4. I played alto saxophone for 8 years in elementary, middle, and high school. I took private lessons, was in band, marching band, and jazz band. That's how I met my husband--at a fifth grade band concert. He sat right next to me. Seriously, we have it on video. And he'd kill me if I didn't mention that I was a foot and a half taller than him. All I can say is that he played too loud.

5. I substitute taught for a total of 3 times. It was horrible. I will never do it again (if I can help it). The first day was with 6th graders the day before Halloween. When I asked fellow staff for help controlling the class, they told me to "just scream louder". If you've ever met me, I'm not one who screams, even at sporting matches. Let me just say that was one of the worst days of my life.

6. I became an Orthodox Christian through a street preacher nicknamed The Willard Preacher. He preaches outside the Willard building on the Penn State campus. I am now good friends with him and his family.

That's it. I tag, Megan from Mommy Meg. She just entered the blogging world, so stop on over and say hi.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Mystery of the Unopenable Door

Today, I solved a mystery. Not the kind out of an Agatha Christie novel, but a perplexing puzzle none the less. Let me back up. At our home closing we were issued the usual keys and garage door openers. We held on to the keys, but primarily used the garage door openers to get in and out. They were fast and easy to use. We left an opener with both sides of our family for a while as we were not officially moving into the house for a few months. Mysteriously, the garage door openers stopped working one day when our relatives came to get something. Since then they have been utterly useless. We looked over the openers, and finding nothing wrong, eventually concluded that the system must have reset itself. Mystery solved. . . or so we thought.

Now move with me to the present. As most of you know, the state of most items in our home can be summed up with the following sign:

This is our refrigerator with the built in ice and water dispenser. We were shocked to find once me moved in that not only was it not working, but the refrigerator was not even hooked up to any water supply. So we got the water supply hookup kit, and went to work only to discover:

We were missing the compartment that transferred the ice to the door. Hmm. . . Not a good sign. As we were investigating this, I noticed this:

I don't know about you, but having a pile of ice at the bottom of your freezer does not seem to be quite right. Now to discover the problem, I don't feel like eating all of the food I have diligently stock-piled just so we can defrost the freezer. So instead we are transferring it to our deep freezer in the garage which was not hooked up yet. This was from my Grandfather, and when moving it, we did not leave the door open. So I had to clean out the mold layer first. Did that, and plugged it in. Nothing happened. The electrical outlet in our garage does not seem to be working, and low and behold that is where the garage door opener sensor was plugged in. Mystery solved!

Now we just need to figure out why our freezer is flooding, where the ice compartment is, and why the garage electrical outlet is not working. Sounds like I will be writing a mystery a week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 15 Minute Race

Where: our kitchen, living room, and dining room
When: between 12:30 and 1:30pm, every day; and at 7:15pm, every day

I call it the 15 minute race. It takes place only twice a day (if I'm lucky), and is the period of time right before Madilyn's nap or bedtime. Madilyn always has a head start as she never really stops her portion of the race. It involves carrying and discarding toys, objects, and papers as far from their correct location as possible.

My leg of the race begins after a brief internal dialogue or pep talk. It goes something like this: "You are faster. Your legs are longer. If you do this now, then you won't have to once she's in bed." The last one seals it every time. Oh, to not have to pick up a myriad of scattered toys and papers during the blessed two hours of quietness. To have even a moment where I can devote a thought to something other than tidiness.

It is thus that I begin my endless circle from living room to dining room to kitchen putting things in their correct location, and as always, on my heels is a little girl trying desperately to claim each item after it falls into place. Little cries of angst escape her lips as she sees her books returning to their basket, her utensils and bowls filling previously empty drawers, and her paper scraps entering the recycling box. Bolstering myself against fatigue, I pick up the plastic golf clubs for the 3rd time and return them to their bag. Moving frantically as I hear the pop, pop, pop of a push toy pursuing me, I throw the diaper bag and my purse into the closet and whip the door closed.

Today, I won, but some days, I forfeit.