Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our First Sweet Deal of 2011

Our kitchen in our townhouse is quite nice, but there is a spot next to some cabinetry that is open because if there was much more cabinetry there, it would block the walkway.

We don't have a pantry now (and we have much less cabinetry and drawers than in our NC house), so we decided to put one in the space, rather than using precious cabinet space for food items. As a temporary solution, we used an old bookcase that was previously in Jennifer's craft room.

It worked, but as you can see, it wasn't exactly attractive. So, after months of trying to find something that would fit in the space, hide the mess, and sort of blend in, we finally achieved success.

And a shot of the inside:

It's actually a little bit deeper than the bookcase, so that works out well. Here's the best part: We got it 40% off! Office Depot sends us occasional coupon e-mails (because we have a rewards card; like the grocery store cards, not a credit card). Well, they sent a coupon for 40% off any one item (except electronics), which included furniture. So, we found this baby and they let us use the coupon even though they didn't have any in stock. AND they delivered it right to our door four days later, no extra charge. All we had to do was assemble it. So, since it was originally $100, we only had to pay $60 + tax. Sweet!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Goals for 2011

I make lists for almost everything. Prepare to see a lot more lists on this blog (technically, the year-in-review post was also a list). This list is mainly for accountability purposes. These are goals we need or want to reach this calendar year, in no particular order.
  1. Start a blog and actually use it…and let people read it. I’ve started at least 8 blogs since blogging began and have never stuck with it for the long haul. My first blog was part of a grad school course, and once it was over, I deleted it, which was really dumb in hindsight, because I had the blog name “On the Fritz” (with the URL and everything!), and then some random person (whose name does not include Fritz, by the way) came along and took it, so I can’t use the name anymore. I figured now that we’re farther away from friends and family, it’s a good time to officially re-enter the blogosphere. So, I’ve already met the first half of this goal, but the challenge is to actually post stuff…and tell people that it exists.
  2. Sell our house in NC. Well, we don’t have a lot of control over this one, but all I have to say is that if it doesn’t sell by the end of is going to happen. It’s been on the market and has had a few showings since September, so we’ll see if things pick up soon. (Now it's time for the shameless plug: Anyone know someone who's looking to buy?)
  3. Get a new job in IL (Jennifer). I mean, I like my current job, but it’s in NC. This can’t go on indefinitely. It would also be nice to meet some new people.
  4. Send our tax forms in before April. We always say we’re going to send them in as early as possible, but we usually end up putting it off until the last minute. Although, last year, I think we sent them out in February or March.
  5. Join a local church. We’re working on this, but it’s taking a while.
  6. Save more money. We plan to put what we would have been spending on our mortgage in savings every month once the house sells. This will help us to save up for buying a house here (and keep us from getting in too big of a hurry to buy).
  7. Exercise an average of at least 4 times a week. It’s good for your health, and we both have sedentary jobs.
  8. Do something fun together. We hear the Wisconsin Dells are fun, and we’re only about a two-hour drive from there. They have amusement parks, water parks, boat rides, and zipline tours. We’re totally trying the zipline tour.
  9. “Do” Chicago. Now that we’re only an hour and a half-ish from Chicago, we need to go see and do some Chicago stuff…and eat some pizza and hot dogs.
  10. Pressure-can something. We've been a little hesitant to pressure-can, but after more than a year of using our pressure canner as a boiling-water canner only, it's time to put it to its intended use.
We'll let you know if/when we meet these goals throughout the year--with photos, when applicable. Then again, you probably don't want to see photos of us exercising, sending in our tax forms, or saving money (although, we can show you the results of those things in the future).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010: Year in Review

Since we weren’t blogging in 2010, here’s a quick run-down of what we were up to last year:
January: Jennifer went on a work trip to Washington, DC, with a side work trip to Annapolis, MD. She can recommend a few good restaurants if you're interested. Ed and his dad went to re-fight WWII at MMP's annual Winter Offensive in Bowie, MD.
February: Jennifer didn’t get the flu (up until this point, she would get the flu just before Valentine’s Day, like clockwork)! We went to the Wisdom for the Heart banquet on Valentine's Day--always a good time.
March:  Ed and his dad again went to a WWII ASL tournament, the Bitter Ender, in Raleigh, NC. Jennifer, her mom, and her grandmother went to Myrtle Beach, SC for a women's retreat and had fun together.

April: We went to Charlotte, NC to see Bill Cosby live. We did a lot of little projects around the house: more canning (pineapple jam), making two rain barrels, starting a garden, and some more baking (bread, pizza, and pretzel rolls).

May: We finished up the BSF year and stepped down as leaders. We went to the Biltmore Estate and finally got to see the flowers in bloom (until then, we’d only been there at Christmas time, which is nice, but we really wanted to see the flowers). 

June: Jennifer finished her first (and, so far, only) year of Chinese lessons at work. We went to colonial Williamsburg for the third time in a year, the first time in hot weather (we had to get our money's worth out of our year-long passes!).
Parade in Williamsburg, VA in June

July: Jennifer went on a work trip to the Dominican Republic. She'll talk a little more about this in the future. Stay tuned. Oh, and we canned some fresh cherries in a light syrup and saw Erwin Lutzer guest-preach at Colonial Baptist Church.

August: Ed got a new job (yay!) at Aqua-Aerobic Systems, Inc. in Illinois. Before starting his job at the end of the month, he went to Florida to help with some work at his grandmother’s house. We and Alexis also went to a Tears for Fears (TFF) concert (which was super fun) in Charlotte.
September: The movers packed us up (which feels really weird but is nice when you’re moving that far away) and Jennifer prepped the house to go on the market. Lots of painting and cleaning. Jennifer and Alexis went to another TFF concert over Labor Day weekend in Richmond, VA and got to be in the front-ish row (the “rows” were sort of fluid—standing room only). The next weekend, the girls (Jennifer, her mom, Ed’s mom, and Alexis) went to a theatrical performance of Mary Poppins in Charlotte. The performance was good and we had a good time together. Later in the month, Jennifer flew to visit Ed and unpacked a lot of our stuff (we didn’t know Jennifer would be moving in October back when we bought the non-refundable plane tickets).
October: Jennifer moved to IL to be with Ed and work her NC job remotely. We went to Ed's cousin's wedding in MI. Jennifer went on another work trip to Miami, FL and met a child star. Ed joined a community band because they had a bassoon he could use.
November: We got a water softener for our apartment (due to a chunky brewed tea incident...yeah). We canned some kiwi preserves because kiwi were 8/$1; it's really good, by the way. For Thanksgiving, we went to Minneapolis-St. Paul to visit with some friends from our church in NC who had relocated there. We also discovered that Jennifer apparently can handle the drum part on Rock Band.
December: We went to FL to visit with Ed’s grandmother and her side of the family for Christmas. While we were there, we went to The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. After that, we spent way too much time watching movies and shows on Netflix, but we needed some down-time as we recovered from colds (again).

At the beach in Ft. Pierce, FL
So, those are last year's highlights for us. We are so thankful that God provided for our needs, especially a job for Ed, and that He still is providing.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Blog

You may be wondering why we decided to start a blog (as opposed to other technologies) to stay in touch. Well, here are some advantages to blogging:
  • You have a lot more control over what you put on your web space than social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc. In fact, you can have complete control if you're willing to spend a little money and know how to create a web site of your own, but we don't really have time for that right now. 
  • People don't have to sign in or "friend" you to see what you post. 
  • It's a creative outlet for writing, photos, etc. 
  • You can write as much as you want (unlike Twitter). 
  • It's a handy place to keep all of your favorite links. 
  • It makes writing a Christmas letter a lot easier (but potentially pointless if everyone who gets your Christmas letter reads your blog...). 
Some disadvantages to blogging: 
  • It takes time, which can be a down-side if you're busy. However, if you have too much time on your hands, you may not have much to write about. 
  • You have to be careful about personal information you post, because anyone can see what you post if they know how to find your blog. 
  • You have to consistently post new stuff or a) people get bored and stop coming to your blog site, b) you forget you have a blog and you stop coming to your blog site. 
  • You generally have to take more pictures so you can post them on your blog. This requires taking your camera everywhere, which isn't easy when you share one. Another camera = $$$ + lots of nice photos. Okay, so this one is more of a toss-up (both an advantage and a disadvantage to blogging).