Monday, March 15, 2010

21 Houses in 2 Days

The house hunt is ON.  I saw 21 houses over the weekend, and I have it narrowed down to 2 (both townhomes).  They are in the same neighborhood and the same floorplan, just small things in each that are different.  This is so hard.  I'm going to visit the top 2 tomorrow afternoon back to back and I pray that God will steer me to the right one.  I know I'd be happy in both, it's just a matter of choosing!  My sweet mom came up this weekend to look with me, and it was so helpful to have here there as a second set of eyes - she also took about 400 pictures (ha!) over the 20+ houses, so I have great documentation of the details of each place, since after you look at 20 houses, they all start to blend together :)

So, I don't have too much to say at this point, other than I am beyond exhausted - house hunting is mentally, physically and emotionally draining. 

Because of that, I'm going to BED!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Heart Make-A-Wish

Today’s Show Us Your Life theme over at Kelly’s Korner this week is favorite charities.  My favorite charity is the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I’ve been volunteering for Make-A-Wish since last year, and it is such a fantastic organization.  I wish I’d started volunteering a long time ago.

Make-A-Wish is a non-profit wish-granting organization that is recognized nationwide, but I feel like there that there are a number of misconceptions about the organization.  I think the most common misconception is that the foundation grants the wishes only of terminally ill children.  This can be the case – but not always.  The criteria for a child being approved for a wish is that they must have (a physician-documented) life-threatening medical condition – i.e., a progressive, degenerative or malignant condition that has placed the child’s life in jeopardy.   So, it does have to be a life-threatening condition, but not necessarily one where the child is terminally ill (does that make sense?).  These kids and their families go through so much, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation is able to bring them a slice of joy in a world filled with frequent trips to doctors offices and hospitals and everything associated with those visits.

After a child has been referred to Make-A-Wish (this can be by a doctor, social worker, or even a parent), the foundation confirms their eligibility with the primary doctor of the child.  Once a child has been determined to be eligible, a team of Wish Granters (that’s me!!) is assigned to work on the wish.  The Wish Granters go out to meet the child and their family to learn about the child and find out their one true wish.  Wishes fall into one of four categories:

I want to have

I want to go

I want to be

I want to meet

So, a child could want to have a puppy, go to Hawaii, be a fashion designer, or meet Brad Pitt…or anything else!  Those are just some examples of what I would wish for :)

The Wish Granters capture the child’s wish, then relay it back to the local Make-A-Wish chapter.   The chapter pulls everything together (makes travel plans, arranges for the celebrity meeting, whatever the wish may be), and then the Wish Granters get to ‘deliver’ the wish to the child.  It’s such an awesome sight to see how happy these children (and their families) are when the wish is granted.

If you’re looking for an organization to donate either time or money to, I’d highly recommend you look up your local Make-A-Wish chapter and see how you can help.  You’ll have fun while contributing to a great foundation!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Kitchen Obsession

I recently got the coolest kitchen accessory and just had to share! My mom gave me a "Rub-Away" stainless steel bar of "soap" that eliminates yucky food odors (like garlic, onions, fish, etc.) from your hands...and it totally works!

I tried it for the first time tonight after chopping up an onion for my beef stroganoff (I'll have to share this recipe for for a Tasty Tuesday post - love it).  I have such a problem with my hands smelling like onion (or garlic) for DAYS after I chop the fresh stuff.  No more with this little guy!  You just "wash" your hands with this bar of "soap" and the odors are gone!  Something about the ions neutralizing the odors when combined with water...I don't know.  All I do know is that it works and I love it.  And, it looks cute next to my sink!  You should definitely try it out - worth the seven bucks (and no, I'm not getting paid for this post!)

Like my blog title's the small things in life!  Ha!

Glad tomorrow is Friday!  Any big plans for the weekend?  I'm house hunting!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Salsa Chicken

Today's Tasty Tuesday post is yet another crockpot recipe...yum.  Even though the weather is starting to get warmer, crockpot recipes are still a great go-to.  This is one I love to make, and it is SO easy, and healthy too!

Salsa Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 cup salsa or picante sauce
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup (like Campbell's Healthy Request)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (optional)

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Sprinkle taco seasoning over chicken.  Add salsa and soup.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.  Stir in sour cream before serving (optional).  Serve over rice!

Yum!  Enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scrap Exchange

Over the weekend, I went to the coolest store, the Scrap Exchange.  I'd heard about the Scrap Exchange and had been meaning to take a trip downtown to see what it's all about for awhile, and on Sunday I finally did.  LOVE IT!

The Scrap Exchange is a store that collects donations of all kinds of materials - everything from fabric remnants to glass vials to bottle caps - and sells them (for super cheap)...there is some awesome stuff there for those with a crafty bone!

Here's my haul (close-ups below):


Burt's Bees Baby Bee bottles ($1.25 each) - how cute would these be filled with pretty colored liquid soaps / body wash in the bathroom?  I need to find some sort of lid / stopper for them if I do this.

Ribbons for wrapping (the blue and the bottom tan are raffia) - $1.00 each

An "M" that was $1.00 (actually, I think it's a W...) - I figure I can paint and distress it, or Mod-Podge it to make it cute (my last name starts with an M)

These are wallpaper remnants - same pattern, one is light blue, one is tan.  Only $0.50 each!  I thought these would be pretty in black frames (maybe in a bathroom in my HOUSE??)

Mini chalkboards ($0.75 each) - not sure what I'm going to do with these, but I've seen so many cute chalkboard ideas on blogs that I'm sure I can find something to do with them!  Definitely will need to paint the frames.

What a cool store - I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The House Hunt Is On!

I've decided to take the plunge and go full speed ahead with house hunting - EEK! I met with a realtor this weekend, got pre-approved for a loan, and even looked at a couple of houses! I can't believe I'm actually moving towards buying a HOUSE!  Three months from now, I'll (hopefully) be a homeowner!

On Saturday, I met with a realtor who came highly recommended to me by some friends who bought a house with her help a few years ago.  She had chosen a couple of homes / townhomes in my price range in the area of Raleigh that I'm looking to buy in, to give me a taste of what's out there. Below are pics of three of the four that we looked at this weekend.

Townhouse #1 (built in 1995)
This townhome is in an established neighborhood that has a good mix of townhomes and single-family homes.  It was a cute, 2 bed / 2.5 bath house with hardwoods downstairs and a great wooded area in the back.  But, it had popcorn ceilings, which I despise.  I know they can be removed, but ugh...I really do hate them.  The HOA fees in this neighborhood are really high (like ~$200 a MONTH!), which I have to factor into the price.


Townhouse #2 (built in 2003)
This townhouse is a bit newer, so things were a bit more updated than in townhouse #1.  But, I felt like the neighborhood was a little too cookie-cutter for me.  It also backs up to another row of townhomes, so you don't have any privacy in the back.  Not a huge fan, but it was still a cute place.


Single Family Home #1 (built in 1998)
I hated this one.  Nothing good to say.  It did have a garage, but that's about the only plus.  Definitely not interested in this one!

So, that was what I saw on Day 1, just as some options my realtor had selected to get my feet wet.  I'm supposed to be going through the MLS listings posted online, and I can let her know what ones I'm interested in going to visit.  I'll probably go out with her next weekend to look at a bunch.  I think my mom is going to come up to help me do some searching the weekend after next, so I may bring along a friend this coming weekend for a second set of eyes and opinions.

This is a very exciting, but scary time!  I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Have a great week!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Day In The Life

I'm participating today in Show Us Your Life over at Kelly's Korner today. Today's theme is "What is your typical day like?" So, here's my typical day (sadly, not too exciting!):

7:15am - Wake up, beautify myself (sometimes this includes a shower, but in full disclosure...sometimes it does not!).  Before I leave for work, I have to feed my 2 kitties, who will cry until they are fed!  Ever since Jackson had "problems" back in November, I've had to feed them wet food, which is so much more of a pain than dry food (and so much more gross).

8:15am - Head out the door to work, which is about 15 minutes from where I live.  Very little traffic because I'm heading the opposite direction of most commuters, so that's nice!

8:30 - Get into work, check my e-mail. I'm not a big breakfast person, so I usually try to bring something in to eat while I'm at work, like some dry cereal and fruit, or something like that.

8:30 to 11:30 - Work, work, work! I'm a Project Manager for a computer software company that develops systems used to manage data in clinical trials.  Sounds boring, I know, but it's actually pretty interesting!   I snuck a pic of my cube today with the camera on my phone when no one was around (sorry for the poor quality).  My co-workers hate the overhead lights, so we keep most of them off, which makes it a bit dark...I do have a lamp and a light under the shelf (and there's windows all around), but it's still a bit dark for my tastes!  Part of the picture got cut off, you can't see my laptop docked on the left-hand side of the picture, and there are a bunch of binders on the shelf you see on the right-hand side of the picture.  I had to be quick and sneaky taking this so someone didn't happen upon me and think I was a total loser for taking a picture of my cubicle, ha!  (It's not exactly something I think I'll remember fondly 20 years from now!)

11:30 - 12:30 - Lots of days (like today!) I go out to lunch with friends - I have lots of friends who work within 10 minutes of me, so it's easy for us to meet up for lunch.  I am trying to be better about bringing lunch though, since it's cheaper and healthier.  Just not as fun :)

12:30 to 4:30 / 5:00 - Work, work, work!  I usually leave around 4:30 or 4:45, which is nice - my job is pretty flexible with hours, and since I have a work laptop, I can always do stuff from home if I really need to.

My after-work routine varies.  On Thursday nights, my girlfriends and I all get together and do something - whether it is going out to dinner, or for drinks, or just hanging out and watching TV and chatting at someone's house.  If I don't have anything going on after work, I usually come home, pull dinner together, then spend the evening catching up on blogs, surfing Craigslist for furniture to re-do, and watching TV!  And, if I'm really being good, I sneak in a workout before dinner.  Sadly, that hasn't been happening recently (I've been so bad, ugh).

I usually go to bed between 10:30 and 11 - I always try to read my daily devotional before going to sleep - it's a good way to wind down the day.

So, that's it!  My typical day...not all that exciting, but it's a good life :)

If you're stopping by from Kelly's Korner, welcome! I'd love to have you as a follower!

PS - I took another little blog hiatus in the last 2 weeks of February, but my entry count for February was over twice what it was in January! Here's to March being twice February's count!