Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Lovely Shrimp Recipe

On our recent trip to VA we got to see (and share a meal) with my cousin Nate (not to be confused with my son) and his wife Doris. I can't believe I'm actually going to be living just minutes from one of my cousins since I basically grew up mostly without them.
I only remember seeing Nate twice when I was growing up. He was older and his parents were divorced. He lived with his mom most of the time so even when my sister and I spent the summers in NY, he wasn't usually around.
It wasn't until I attended his father's funeral (my mom's brother) that we reconnected. At the time I lived in Raleigh so it wasn't a bad drive at all.. and we got up to see him a couple of times. He and Doris have two beautiful girls and a very handsome son and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better.

DSC01667Okay.. so back to the shrimp... Doris had set out a wonderful spread of foods for us to dine on but my favorite was the shrimp. This is actually quite funny since up until a couple of years ago I wouldn't have touched shrimp with a ten foot pole.  Now, I really enjoy it.  It was a cold shrimp salad with tons of shrimp, cut up tomatoes and onion with lemon on it. Simple yet delicious!
I made my own version of it this week. It looked pretty and Richard enjoyed it but silly me threw in a few changes and it wasn't nearly as tasty as Doris's.
I used red onion (which Richard prefers) for the color but I think it was a bit too strong for this dish AND I used lime juice which I usually prefer over lemon. It should have been lemon. I did use both red and yellow tomatoes which were fine but I think once we move to VA I will try making this again, maybe under Doris' directions!  I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Meet My Besty

I have to tell you all... I have the best "besty" in the whole world! Her name is Mary Ann and she's a whole lot like me only more!
I'm fun, she's funner. I'm talented, she's amazingly talented. I'm a giver, she's generous to a fault. I can shop, she's turned it into an art form! She says she's my evil twin ~ but really she's a sweetheart.

She and I met back in 2001 when I lived in Raleigh, NC. We both worked for the YMCA. She was working in the nursery and I was in the front office yet we didn't know each other. We even took a quilt class together and our whole conversation went "You work at the "Y" right?" "Yes." "I thought I recognized you." That was it! We had a mutual friend at work, Ann, who kept telling us (separately) that we should be friends but it really didn't happen ~ not sure why. Then one day she came into the front office to see Ann and she had this amazing dress with her. It was a Halloween dress she had made for her youngest daughter. Now THAT caught my attention and we started to talk but only at work.
The next thing I remember is that some of us in the office had been given a recipe and I was trying to make it but had some questions. I called a friend who didn't know the answer but gave me Mary Ann's phone number and told me to ask her. I think somehow that was the turning point. After that we just were. Can you say inseperable! Unfortunately 6 months later we moved to Florida and you'd think that would be the end of the story ~ but no ~ we are closer than ever. We've managed to travel back and forth all these years (still hoping for an instant transporter machine!) and now I will be moving close enough that we will be able to get together any time we want!!!  

Not only is she a talented seamstress ~  check out the dresses she made for our daughters... She's a talented knitter, and all around crafter of so many mediums.  She just opened her own Etsy shop here.  It's more of a supply shop with some great fabrics and yarns.  Definitely worth checking out.

She's got an eye for color and a flair for the unique.  I learn something from her every time we are together.
I'm telling you ... she even makes beautiful babies.  Just look at her girls up there with her!

She's also a fantastic cake baker & decorator.  She got so many requests for her incredible edibles she recently started her own business.  Mas Dulce (translates into much sweet) which is really cool cause MAS are also her initials!   Check out this incredible cake she made over the summer for a wedding.  Her tasty treats also made an appearance at  "The Black & White Affair" in Raleigh recently.  I'm telling you, there is not much this woman cannot do.

DSC01526And it that wasn't enough  ~ check out what she sent me for my birthday this year....    Yes, she painted it ~ just for me!  It goes so amazingly well with my dining room and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love it.  This picture of it does not even begin to do it justice.  There are so many layers and highlights, it's just incredible.  I can't wait to hang it in my dining room once we move.

All of you know that I call my darling husband honey ~ well she's my other honey!   I believe when you love someone you should never miss an opportunity to tell them so.  We end every conversation with "Love you" ~ and I do.   
Thanks honey, for being my besty and for always being there for me ~ I'll always be there for you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still On The Roller Coaster

Things just keep getting crazier and crazier.... Last weekend Richard and I flew up to Virginia to do some (rental) house hunting. Richard had done quite a bit of research (of course he did!) and had a list of houses we wanted to see. I called a realtor who said she could see us on Sunday only so we gave her a list of about 8 houses and then called a different realtor to take us out on Saturday.

We left on Friday evening and drove to Jacksonville to drop Nate, Julz and Sadie at Jens for the weekend. Spent the night there and had to get up at 3:30 AM!!! to get to the airport in Orlando. Probably should have made our flight arrangements out of the Jacksonville airport but a) I didn't think about it plus b) it's about double the price to fly out of there... anyway...

Got into Dulles about 9:30 and picked up our rental car (have I ever told you how much I hate flying?), checked into our hotel and grabbed some lunch at a very cute and tasty restaurant.

Our first realtor met us at noon and took us to see about 8 or 9 houses. She was really good about telling us all about the area, the different neighborhoods, etc. I have to say after a while some of the details all started blending together. But in any case we saw some really good houses and some really bizarre ones as well. We looked in several different cities (Sterling, Reston, Ashburn, Herndon, Oak Hill and Chantilly) all DC suburbs in two different counties (Loundon & Fairfax). This is me after a REALLY LONG day. I was so exhausted I couldn't think straight!
The next morning we met the next realtor at 11:00. Here's Richard bright eyed and bushy tailed the next morning with his Starbucks fix!   Again, another 8 or so houses ... some great ~ some, not so much.  This realtor was not nearly as nice as the first.  Basically she had one rental house listing and was looking to unload it (on us!).  It was a big house but looked a bit shabby.  Didn't feel like it was in a neighborhood but more like it was out in the country. Trust me, I'm not ready to be country.   She sounded just like a used car salesman and actually asked what they (she and the home owner) could do to get us into that house ~ OMG!

We did find a house when we were with her that we fell in love with in Reston, just 3 miles from Richard's office!   Two issues with it though.  First one was that we had heard bad things about the elementary school in the area and secondly the house was also on the market to sell.  They would, of course take it off the market for the year lease but we were concerned that we'd have to move again after the first year.    After the realtor dropped us off, we went back to the neighborhood and took a walk.  Being the shy demure person that I am (cough cough) I accosted a mother and daughter walking in the neighborhood and asked them about the area and the schools.  The daughter (now in college) had lived in the neighborhood all her life and attended all the "questionable" schools and LOVED them.  They couldn't say enough good things about the schools and the area in general.  Now we were really excited.   We called the realtor back and asked her if she could find out about an extended lease and if so, we were ready to commit.   Long story short (too late for that huh?) she didn't get back to us because she was upset we didn't choose "her" house.
In the meantime the favorite house from the day before had someone else interested in it and unless we put in a bid (at a higher price, of course) we would lose that one.  Decisions, decisions....
I called the second realtor one more time to see if we could get an answer to our question on the lease length and her answer was for us to submit all the paperwork and checks and then we'd see what we could find out. Oh HELL TO THE NO!
I want my questions answered before I give you thousands of $$ so we decided to go with house #2 in Sterling.    This guy was really anxious and must have called me 4 times to see if we were going to go with his house and we'd need to get him the paperwork and $$ before leaving VA on Monday morning.    Stayed up late, got the paper work done and dropped it and the checks off at 6:45 on the way to the airport.  We were excited about this house.  It's beautiful, huge, great neighborhood and schools.   End of this story is that our realtor called us after we got home to say that the guy decided to go with the other renter instead.  Fortunately he did not run our credit so we will get both checks back.  We think he was just using us to get the other tenants to up their price.  Sucks, right?

So, at this point we've decided to try for house #1 once again.  Since we had no luck getting answers from Realtor #2, we asked Realtor #1 to get us the answers and we'd use her as our agent for this house.  Unfortunately this house has fallen through as well.  They really need to sell the house and will only give us a 6 month lease.  There is no way I'm moving again after just 6 months but I'm telling you, we love this house and if we were in the market to buy a house, this would be the one.

So now we are on to house #3.  It's a really nice house in Ashburn.  It has the longest commute for Richard but still only about 25 minutes or so.  It's a great neighborhood, great schools.  It's a 5 bedroom with a full walk out sewing room , um, I mean basement.   So yesterday (the day before Thanksgiving) realtor #1 gives us instructions to get 2 certified checks. One to run our credit report and one for the security deposit and to make them out to her realty company.  Also to get it done quicker, make copies of the checks and fax those along with our rental application to her immediately.  Now, Richard came home from VA and promptly got a nasty cold so he's doing the paperwork from bed while I'm at the school setting up the holiday shop.  So, I get home, pick up the to the bank... get the cashier's checks.... go to the UPS store ... get copies made...  try to fax them only to have the realty fax machine not working correctly .... meanwhile the UPS store is trying to close early for the holidays....  the fax finally goes through but now the last pick up has been made at the UPS store so it's off to the post office .... send the papers and checks overnight to our realtors office .... get home ... .Guess what??? It turns out our realtor screwed up!  First off,  her office is now closed till Monday so I sent them all overnight for nothing AND they were supposed to be made out to the listing realtors company and sent to him, and oh yeah, they didn't need to be certified!  Now there is a possibility that we could lose this house because of her screw up. 
Fortunately this guy seems decent and is willing to work with us.  We emailed him a copy of the rental application and mailed him a (non cashiers) check for the application fee.  He is going to get started on it right away because he realizes that the screw ups were not our fault...

So my friends, some positive thoughts our way would be most appreciated.  I know that we have much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving weekend.  I'm grateful that Richard was able to find a job so quickly and that we are in a position to be able to make this move.  I'm grateful that we are all together and (mostly) healthy.  That we have a wonderful family and friends.... and I'm thankful for you, my followers and friends.   Your comments always make my day.
I'm wishing you a wonderful holiday with much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Riding The Roller Coaster That Is My Life

Did ya even notice that I had gone MIA? I wanted to write, I really did. Just couldn't seem to make myself sit down long enough. That and I just can't seem to get my thoughts together enough to make sense... but here goes nothing....

DSC01599So, Richard is getting laid off from his job here in Melbourne. They are pretty much cutting their whole software department. He'll be working till the middle of December ~ can you say "Merry Christmas?" Actually it's not that bad. We had seen the "writing on the wall" and he had already been looking to see what else is out there. The good news is, he has been offered (and has accepted) a new job. The other news is, it's in Virginia! Bottom line is that we will be moving (just outside DC) over the Christmas break.

My head is spinning with everything that has to be done before then. We've gotten estimates on movers, we've notified our landlord (thank goodness we were renting!)... We are flying up to find a house to move in to.... then there are the new schools, doctors, banks etc.

We really hated the idea of moving. We love our house, our pool, our neighborhood, our schools, friends, etc. We had hoped to stay here forever. But now that it's happening, we are looking forward to the next adventure in our lives. The kids are handling it really well. I'm guessing with facebook and cell phones, they'll stay in touch with their friends. It doesn't hurt that one of Julz's good friends moved to Baltimore last summer and now she'll only be an hour away. They are already planning weekend sleepovers. We'll be living very close to one of my cousins ~ and just a few hours away from Alex and her boys.

DSC01600The worst part though is moving away from Jen, Jeremy and my Charlie. That, my friends, is what's breaking my heart. Jen is in the process of doing interviews at colleges around the country. There is a possibility that she could end up at a college about an hour from us.. but the strongest possibility is just outside of Atlanta so either way, she was moving away from us. Never imagined we'd be moving first. Can you say "Frequent Flyer Miles!"

Well, that's my news for now. I'll "try" to post more regularly ~ keep you all updated..... We have been doing some fun stuff as well so I'll be posting about that soon too.

P1000699I've gotten to spend lots of time with the wonderful Miss Charlie who is growing like a weed and just gets cuter by the minute.

I have been getting some sewing done. Some fun stuff for Charlie and some stuff for the upcoming "Night of the Arts" at the school. I've got a couple of overnight bags to make for a customer. Made myself a new bag too.  All will be revealed eventually!

I haven't been reading blogs either but hope to be able to catch up on all of you, in the mean time,  I'd love for you to leave me a comment and let me know you are still out there.