For Earth Day CSP & I changed out all the regular bulbs in our house to CFLs , or swirly bulbs as we call them.  Just the downstairs alone that was 17 bulbs!  They are brighter and whiter than the old school bulbs plus our electric bill will go down I’m sure.  We received 2 packages of free CFL bulbs from our electric company so that really helps with the cost.  Check with your power company, they may have a similar program.  And since CFLs last forever, we won’t have to replace them for years and years.  We’re headed upstairs to change out those bulbs next!

house, ikea, shopping

The sofa search is over!

For the last 8 years (up until our yard sale in November) we sat every day on a bright red Ektorp sofa from IKEA.  We rented a giant moving truck and drove it up to the College Park, Maryland IKEA to buy it (before there was an IKEA anywhere closer).  We bought the matching chair and ottoman as well.  It all served us very well for a long time.  But the pugs took their toll on the back cushions.  Pugs are a wee bit catlike.  They (at least ours) like to sit up on the back of the sofa or chair.  This smushed down the back cushions and eventually they didn’t bounce back.  Zoe and her razor sharp puppy teeth took her toll on the slipcover.  We loved that we could remove the slip covers from each cushion to wash them.  We also loved that it was affordable.   As our move drew closer we realized that the Ektorp was not going to be taking up space on the moving truck.   The search for a new sofa was on!

We knew we wanted no loose cushions on the back so the pugs wouldn’t have any to ruin.  CSP decided he wanted a chaise instead of a chair and ottoman.  I wanted sofas on legs with space underneath.  That helps your room look bigger and I was tired of moving the sofa or chair and finding all the pugs’ toys and chewies shoved under there.  We also wanted wide arms.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything like that at IKEA or any of the local stores.  One day I was flipping through the West Elm catalog and saw the perfect sofa.  The heavens parted and angels sang!  No loose cushions!  Wide arms!  Up on stylish legs!  In our budget!  Fun colors to choose from!  No removable slipcovers but the fabric is treated to repel stains.  Loved the styling!  I showed CSP and sighed, dreaming of finding a sofa like that in a local shop.  In the meantime we’d just sit on our hand me down bonus room sofa since we were losing the bonus room anyway.  Then I closed the catalog and could not believe my eyes!  Charlotte has a West Elm store!  I thought the closest one was in Atlanta!  Woot!

We moved, got settled and went to the West Elm store to see my beloved Lorimer sofa in person.   I had a moment of panic on the way: what if it isn’t comfy?  What if the arms are too low?  But no, it’s fabulous! It was even more comfy than I had hoped!  CSP picked out his chaise in espresso, a dark brown.  I picked lichen for my sofa. SO pretty!  They’ll be here in 8-10 weeks.  Well, from the time we ordered them a few weeks ago.  And when we moved we received a coupon in the mail from West Elm so we saved a bunch of money!  Plus when you use their store credit card you earn Design Dollars (10% of your purchase price) to use as a gift card of sorts in the store.  Woot!  They won’t charge us until they ship so I can’t go spend my design dollars yet, but I’m sure making a wish list. I’m currently obsessed with throw pillows to go with the new colors.  Pale green and dark brown are a big departure from red!  I can’t wait for the sofas to arrive!  They’ll get here just in time for the Mustachio baby shower I’m throwing in March!

events, family, house

Beans don’t burn on the grill

We moved into our current house 4 years ago.  Since then CSP has been transferred to a new district.  Now the possibility of him ever working anywhere near our house is pretty slim.  In fact, his commute has steadily gotten longer and now is an hour long one way.  To keep his sanity we’ve decided to move!  Here’s a picture of our new digs.  We move in next week!  We will miss being so close to Marc & Sara’s house (my sister & BIL) and being just a mile from my BFF Christina’s house, but our new neighborhood offers so many plusses it helps to make up for it.  CSP won’t have any yard work!  It’s included in the HOA fees.  Sweet!   Plus we’re getting the vaulted ceiling in the great room and the hardwood floors that we lost when we moved into our current house.  Packing is NOT fun and everything takes longer than you think but it will be worth it.

Now, what does this mean for our adoption? Over the summer we came to the point in our adoption process where the next step was home inspections.  We were already thinking about moving so we put everything on hold.  Our social worker is waiting for us to give her the go ahead once we get settled in the new joint so she can come out and start the home visits.  It just didn’t make any sense to have the old house inspected then turn around and have to do it all again after the move.  So, God willing and if CSP’s schedule allows it, then we’ll have all our home visits completed by Christmas.

We are so ready to be out of this house.  It has been like a black cloud over our heads for 4 years.  So many bad things happened to us here.  Right after we moved in China changed their rules and we were out of their adoption program.  Then we switched to Guatemala.  I had knee surgery.  Guatemala closed.  I had a hysterectomy.  We were matched up with a birth mother in SC.  She changed her mind a few months later and broke the news to me over the phone while we were driving to Disney so I could be a bridesmaid in Lisa’s wedding.  I had to deal with a huge family drama that changed a few relationships forever. CSP was transferred multiple times.  Sara got sicker and sicker.  I caught that nasty virus that put me in the hospital then led to pneumonia.  Whew.  It’s been a rough time.

We are ready for a fresh start!  I’m finally having the motha of all yard sales that I’ve been wanting to have forever.  CSP will have so much more free time after this move.  Time to spend with our little nugget.  We’ll be able to get that all wrapped up then start the waiting process.  A really wonderful thing is happening to one of my best friends this spring that I am over the moon excited about.  CSP & I are planning our next Disney cruise to celebrate his 40th birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary.  SO many good things on the horizon!  We’re moving on up!

house, shopping

Learning to fly

In my heart I am very organized.  In reality that isn’t always the case.  Quite a few years ago I found the Fly Lady and I’ve gone back and forth with her.  I don’t agree with all her practices (she’s anti yard sale and I’m not) but she has great principles and you can tell she’s incredibly kind hearted.  She really encourages her followers.  What finally really clicked with me was her tools.  A few months ago I bought a few of her tools and I’ve been hooked.  She’s right- the right tools make all the difference.  The Fly Lady doesn’t know me from Adam and she doesn’t know I’m writing this.  I am not getting compensated in any way for this post (although I certainly wouldn’t turn down some freebies!). You know I like to share my favorite things with you so that’s what I’m doing.

My favorites:

  • The Rubba Scrubba– only $4.95.  This thing is amazing.  I bought 2.  One for upstairs and one for down.  I bought it after I read a testimonial that it worked wonders on shower door tracks.  It does.  What I love is that it doesn’t splatter stuff all over.  The little rubber nubs are tough enough to get the job done and flexible enough that it doesn’t spray gunk everywhere like nylon bristles can.  I use it on everything.  It gets pug hair off the furniture.  It cleans my stairs.  And of course, my shower track doors.
  • The Detail Duster–  $9.95. This is a mitt you wear to dust.  It’s amazing.  I quit buying Swiffer products when I realized I was just paying money for my own garbage.  Anything disposable can’t be good for your wallet or the environment compared to permanent items.  This duster goes right in the washing machine when I’m finished with it.  It has 2 sides: a flat side -perfect for the tv screen, and the fluffy side which is great for dusting everything else.  Dust doesn’t fly around anymore.
  • Fly Lady Mop.  I replaced my Swiffer sweeper & Swiffer wetjet with this mop.  You can use it dry or damp.  The microfiber cloths go right into the wash to use again. LOVE this thing.  And it’s sturdy.  Oh, and the handle is adjustable.  I can make it short for when I’m leaning over getting underneath things or stretch it out long to clean the ceiling fan blades.  The cloths trap dust better than any swiffer cloth and I’m not adding to landfills.
  • I saved the best for last.  My favorite product is the Purple Rags in a Bag set. You get 3 cloths for $9.95 and it comes in a mesh bag for washing.  Now, I HATE the word Rag and it took me  a good while to bring myself to pay money for something called a RAG but I kept reading about how amazing they were.  So I bought my first set.  Then quickly bought a couple more sets after that.  You wash them in your clothes washer when they are dirty and dry flat or hang to dry.  Anything you would use a paper towel for you use your purple cloth for instead.  And you don’t need chemicals.  You can clean your glass doors, windows, mirrors with no streaks just using a purple cloth and water.  These things are miracle cloths.  One side is kinda smooth and the other side is ridged so you can really scrub with them.  I swear they clean everything. I keep at least one with a bottle of Windex in every bathroom and in the kitchen.

I haven’t bought this next item but if I were just starting out with bringing my own bags I certainly would.  I have  a TON of reusable shopping bags so I don’t need to add to the collection, but this set is VERY reasonably priced and the quality is apparently superb (based on testimonials). You get 3 purple grocery bags and 2 black insulated bags for just $10!!!  I’ve paid almost that amount for one bag (before I rediscovered Fly Lady).  All of her prices are reasonable.  The shipping is super fast.  And I truly believe that when you have the right tools it makes all the difference.  I never wanted to clean before.  But now I do.  Well, let’s not go crazy, I’d certainly rather have my man servant take care of the cleaning but since he hasn’t materialized it’s still up to me.  And now it’s much more fun!

house, shopping, travel

It’s all about the Benjamins, baby

money_tags_1Recently a friend of mine told me “You’re always on vacation!”  Which isn’t entirely true.  But, vacation & travel rank very high on our list of things we like to spend our money on. There are tons of things we have to spend our money on.  So when we have any left over we are very picky about how we spend it. Continue reading “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby”

house, ikea

Red Star Spike

Cool plant from IKEA Nanny bought me this cool plant and pot at IKEA while she was in town. I just love the way it looks on the half wall between the dining room and the living room. I hope I can keep it alive! I have a bit of a black thumb! *Ok, so just learned while finding the links for this plant that it is ideally an outdoor plant.  Sigh.

fun, house

Salty dogs

Papa & Gigi converted their pool to salt water a couple months ago, just in time for the warm weather.  I tried it out on Mother’s Day.  Morgan, Mom & I swam for just over 2 hours.  The difference between the chlorinated pool and the salt water pool is just amazing!

Cons: the initial cost to convert the pool.  That’s it!


  • Cost: before Papa & Gigi had to spend about $80 a month on pool chemicals.  No more!  Salt is super cheap & rarely has to be added.
  • Fewer bugs.  You know how you have to skim out the pool before you swim?  Now it takes no time at all because there are so few bugs!  And no frogs or snakes either.
  • Taste.  I was wondering if it would taste like I was swimming in the ocean.  Not at all.  It’s like swimming in saline/contact lens solution.
  • Doesn’t sting your eyes.  I opened my eyes under water while swimming and there was no sting.  Also, my eyes didn’t get all red afterward.
  • Skin/Hair-  Usually after swimming my skin feels really tight and it dries out.  As soon as I got in the water I could tell a difference.  It was softer and my skin felt smoother.  After swimming there was no tightness or dryness.  And my hair felt like it had been conditioned instead of all brittle from chlorine.  I could run my fingers through it both in and out of the water with no problem.  I have excema so the skin thing is a huge deal to me.
  • No pruney fingers.  This was weird.  We didn’t prune up.  2+ hours in the pool and no wrinkly fingers.  I also didn’t get thirsty like I usually do while swimming.  Wonder if those two things are related.
  • No chemical smell.  I could smell the flowers surrounding the pool instead of chlorine.
  • Other benefits: easier on your bathing suits (won’t bleach them out). Won’t ruin your highlights or hair color. More gentle on pool toys.  The salt & the pump equipment still produce chlorine- just naturally through the salt.  No more pool shock chemicals.  No stinging eyes when you get splashed.

I’m so excited about swimming at Papa & Gigi’s this summer!