Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

This year, I dressed up as a telecommuter. Actually, as some of my co-workers pointed out, I'm a bit overdressed for working from home, so I revised my costume description to be "working from home and the UPS guy just came to the door".

OK, sure, it's a bit of a cop-out, as halloween costumes go. But it's also
extremely comfortable. What's not to like about wearing your PJs all day? I could just doze off, here at my desk, at any momen..... zzzzzzzzzzzz....

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For Ted

I Did, in fact, eat a real Philly Cheesesteak. I had it 'wit' onions, mushrooms, and peppers. I was surprised to find out that the cheese is under the meat, not on top of it. It seems doing it this way helps keep the bread from getting soggy. The sandwich was really tasty and VERY filling. I wasn't offered any hot sauce, so maybe that's not considered an appropriate condiment for a true cheesesteak, but I think a bit of Tapatio would be an excellent addition. (Hopefully I didn't just commit heresy by saying that!)
The place was called Tony Luke's, and I was told it was one of the two original cheesesteak places in the city. They still have the sidewalk stand, but since it was cold and rainy we chose to eat in the nice warm dining room instead of outside under the freeway overpass. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Philly Blogging

Yep, I'm in Philadelphia! I don't mention my work much on the blog here (because this is supposed to be about my house) but it involves the international shipment of organic produce, much of which enters the US through four ports on the Delaware river: Tioga, Packer Avenue, Holt and Wilmington - collectively refered to as "Philly" in the trade, even though two of them are technically in New Jersey and Delaware. Despite having worked in this position (Import Coordinator) for nine years (whoa!) I had never, until this week, actually VISITED the area! And it's not like I only occasionally talk to folks out here - we're talking daily bossing around of these guys. So it's been a real pleasure to actually meet, face-to-face, people I've gotten to know over the phone throughout the last several years. Really, they're an all-around great bunch of guys (and I do mean guys, there don't seem to be many women in this field. But then, I grew up around loggers, so that doesn't really faze me.)

Philly itself seems really neat. I have not yet had a chance to check out any of the museums or historical attractions, but I hope to have some time either tomorrow or Friday to do so. For now all I can say is that it's rained steadily the whole time I've been here, which I'm sure is just to make me feel at home.

I have not yet eaten a Cheese Steak. (I'm not sure I'm up to it, frankly.) I did have some kick-ass cuban food though...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Double Baby Poker

My Tuesday Night Ladies' Poker group has recently celebrated the birth of not one but two babies! Both little guys were born the last week of September, just days apart. This week for the first time both new moms were back in the game, so we all got to check out the new kiddos.
From left to right: Silas, Charlotte, Annalise, and Hank.

Here's Hank chillin' at his first ever poker game, in Marcy's beautifully painted and super comfy rec room. He didn't seem too impressed by the game, but I'm sure he was actually watching closely so that when we DO deal him in (in a few years), he'll be able to read us like books. Silas wasn't so into hanging out with the poker ladies, so he went and played PS3 with his papa instead. :)
Left to Right: Marcy (Silas' mom), Iris (Hank's mom), and Jeny.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rose Hip Jelly

Freshly picked Rose Hips:
Now Jelly!
It looks and tastes great. I sure hope it sets. The pectin I used was expired, but I didn't want to run to the store to get a new box. It took a long time cooking to start to jell, and it still seemed a bit on the syrupy side when I ladled it into the jars. Oh well, even if I get syrup instead of jelly we'll still use it!

Berry planting

Today we took advantage of the clear sunny weather and planted some more raspberry and blackberry plants. We've still got a lot of plants living in pots in our nursery spot, but we've set ourselves a goal of getting them all in the ground before winter. We made good progress today, planting 5 raspberries along the driveway, and 5 upright blackberries along the edge of the lawn near the pergola.
This little blackberry seems to be confused as to what season it is!
We have another 5 or 6 raspberries in the nursery, as well as blueberries, lilacs, daylillies, coral bells, and lavender plants. We should be able to find places for all of them before the ground freezes up though. It's perfect for digging and planting right now, not too wet yet but not dry and hard either. It felt good to get out in the yard and get dirty - we've been resting since the wedding (which was wonderful) but I'm ready to get back into some projects. :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Appraisal Success!

I got the results from the bank today. Modesty prevents me from naming a figure here on the blog, but the appraised value is vastly higher than I had dared hope for. Not only will we be able to refinance the loan without paying PMI, we have equity! Wooo!!

I guess all that primping and cleaning paid off. Or maybe it wasn't necessary at all, I guess it depends on your point of view. I'm a glass-half-full kind of girl though, so I'm going to choose to beleive that our efforts were crucial to getting the results we did. :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Appraisal Ready

Whew. We spent the entire weekend getting ready for the appraisal tomorrow. We are in the process of refinancing from the 18-month construction loan to a regular 30-year mortgage. The appraised value of the house will determine the loan-to-value ratio, and could make a big difference in how "comfortable" a monthly payment we end up with. So we went all out spiffing up the house to hopefully get a nice high value.
Here's what we did:

  • Repainted the stairway walls,

  • Washed the windows,

  • Vaccumed and swept all the floors,

  • Deep cleaned both bathrooms, including scrubbing the hard water deposits off the shower wall and polishing the fixtures,

  • Cleaned the kitchen & did all the dishes,

  • Unpacked the remaining boxes from the move,

  • Cleaned & rearranged the office,

  • Cleaned & organized the sunroom,

  • Cleared everything off the porch except the bench, the big planter, the BBQ & the firewood,

  • Put away all the shovels, rakes, ladders, flower pots, hoses & sprinklers,

  • Mowed the lawn,

  • Cleaned up the garden,

  • Straightened up the mechanical room,

  • Cleaned the main entry room,

  • Took down the rest of the wedding lights & signs,

  • Washed, dried and folded all the laundry,

  • Cleaned & rearranged the spare room,

  • Cleaned & decluttered the TV room,

  • Bought & installed a blind in the TV room window,

  • Uncluttered & dusted all the windowsills,

  • Swept the ceilings for cobwebs,

  • De-cat-haired the living room furniture,

  • Put a new shower curtain in the upstairs bathroom,

  • Hung curtains in both bathrooms,

  • Hemmed the bedroom curtains (finally!),

  • "upholstered" the bedroom window seats with blankets,

  • Hung pictures & decorated empty walls,

  • Put a clean tablecloth on the dining table,

  • & put a bouquet of flowers in the living room.
All of this to make a good impression on a stranger who will be here tomorrow at 9 am, and probably only stay for half an hour. I'm exhausted, but I'm confident our effort will pay off. I'm also really anxious to have it done & over with...