House Hunting Stinks

February 15, 2013

Hubs and I have been looking for a house off and on since we got married (taking a break in China, of course). We have a small budget and big plans. I’ve never wanted this blog to turn into a “life is happy and perfect and wonderful, let me show you how!” mom blog, so I’m about to get real.

Every time the Hubs and I look at house listings, we fight.

It got so bad we had to compromise. Hubs and I are prone to drastic compromises, and this is no exception. I resigned from house hunting. I’m done. I’m done getting attached to houses that we have to walk away from. I’m done looking at beautiful online listings only to click the map and find they are too far away from everything. I’m done wishing we had a bigger budget. I’m done.

From now on, Hubs looks at listings, Hubs decides what houses to go see, Hubs goes and sees them. Alone. If he finds something he thinks I’ll like, then I’ll go see it with him when he goes back the second time. If we both like it, he’ll make an offer (he’s the budget man anyway). We don’t know if this will make it better or worse, but we’re going to try it anyway.

Wish us luck, he’s going looking with our realtor friend on Monday.


The Bento Life

February 14, 2013

Have you seen the bento craze? If you’re not familiar with it, it is (most basically) a way of compactly assembling lunch in a box that originates in Japan. There is more to it than that of course, including guidelines on how to choose the right size and pack your box so that you get the proper number of calories in the proper proportions. There are also people who send hours making cute bentos or charaben, but that’s a side shoot of bento making as a whole.

I started reading bento blogs over a year ago. After making do with several rubbermaid containers and some thrift store finds, I finally last month invested in some easy to use Lock n Lock bento boxes for Mario. I wouldn’t doubt if we’ve made the money back already in lunch packing! Not only does it encourage me to pack his lunch more often (I had gotten pretty slack about it since the arrival of Little Bit), but the way of packing small amounts of a variety of foods means that we don’t throw a scrap of anything away anymore. Two pot stickers, three broccoli florets, a quarter cup of rice — it all goes in the bento.

Here’s the Hub’s Valentine’s Day bento


Box 1: Oranges and blueberries, carrots with ranch in a tiny container, tomato salad topped with parmesan.

Box 2: Rice balls (molded in a novelty measuring cup from Dollar General!) topped with paprika sprinkled through a stencil (also DG), surrounded with green beans to make them stay.

Box 3: Mandarin chicken leftover from last night’s dinner, topped with cupcake picks (DG).

All three boxes have sealing lids, and they stack inside a snug little cooler.

Usually his bento is just leftovers thrown in boxes, nothing special like this. It generally takes me no time at all, since I pack it the night before when I would be boxing up leftovers for the fridge anyway. This one I spent a bit more time on, just because I wanted to, Little Bit was in bed, and the hubs was off at a guys only thing.

Happy Valentine’s!

I used to be a Republican. Then one day a bunch of people decided to sleep in a park on Wall Street and I read their (admittedly fuzzy) statements about why. So I decided I was a liberal. Then I remembered I was still decidedly pro-life in all areas including death penalty, war, and yes abortion. So I decided I was Libertarian. Then I found loosely regulated guns disturbing. So I decided I was confused.

Home Style

February 11, 2013

I frequently receive compliments on the styling of my apartment. It has happened enough times to prod me into writing this post. I learned most of these things growing up with my mother, who is a wiz at interior design. This is the first of what I hope will be a series about finding a style, sticking with it, and styling your home on a shoestring. This post will explain what I mean by those three things.

The most important thing to do when decorating your space is to find your own style. I learned this the hard way. When we decided to move back from China, I knew I was coming “home” to nothing. No couch, no bed, no table. Nothing. I started planning. Problem was, I looked at a ton of blogs and picked out things I wanted without stopping to consider what I liked. I ended up buying several things that are now sitting in our storage closet.

Second, stick to your style. It does absolutely no good to pick out a style that is 100% you, then only stick to it 75% of the time. If you buy something that doesn’t fit your overall style, you will end up unhappy with it or replacing it. Neither outcome is a good use of your money.

Third, this can be done with very little money. I hate it when I see a pinterest picture claiming to have inexpensive styling tips, only to click on it and find a budget of $1500 to makeover one room. That’s not my idea of a shoestring! Patience and planning can result in a well styled house on any budget. My living room cost about $750-$800. We started with an empty room and bought everything (couch, chairs, art, lighting, bookcase, tables) new for that. If you have anything already in your living room, or you have the time to craigslist or thrift, you could spend far, far less.

In the following posts in the series, I’ll explain much more about these three things, as well as share how I found my own style, how I stick to it, what I spent on what and why, and my biggest mistakes. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here’s half of my living room. I decided to take the picture without touching a thing (yes, that’s the plate from my lunch on the coffee table!). There’s still a looooong way to go, but it does accurately reflect my style.


Little Bit

February 9, 2013

My son will be six months old in ten days, and I decided it was high time I introduced you to him and got back to blogging. He is the most handsome baby that ever was!   We call him Little Bit, but he’s certainly not little for his age at this point!




Break Your Own Rules

August 10, 2012


Discipline is vital to art. A local artist once told me “hard work beats talent every day of the week.” I think that is true. That’s why I started working systematically at filling sketchbooks. I can see by flipping through them that the discipline has been good for me.

In college I often started sketchbooks but never finished them. After college I even stopped starting them. When I began in the big black sketchbook, I made a rule for myself that I would henceforth always fill a sketchbook before moving on to another.

Rules must sometimes be broken. Especially your own rules. After finishing the black sketchbook, I bound one of my own. I’m going to confess something. I’ve hated that sketchbook since the day I knotted the Irish waxed linen and signed my name inside the front cover. I hate how heavy it is. I hate the color and texture of the paper. I hate that it feels too precious to draw in.

I’ve been in that damn sketchbook since February of last year. I’m 37 pages from filling it. I’ve had enough. I closed it this morning and decided I’m going to go buy another black one. Now if only I wasn’t nine months pregnant and actually felt like going shopping!



August 9, 2012

I stopped journaling when we came back from China and only started up again last week. I find that the line between my sketchbooks and my journals tends to blur. I journal in my sketchbooks and draw in my journals. Even so, I’ve never had the urge to combine them, and when I’ve tried I’m always unhappy with the results.

Here is today’s sketch out of my little black journal. Very rough, but it feels good to journal and doodle again.