All In! (For Real, This Time)

The Gingerbread Diaries

So, remember when I said the big move had happened and there were just a few things left at the rental to deal with?

I’m so eating those words–can they at least be covered in chocolate sauce? Wine? Choco-vine?!

We have spent the last month (with the exception of the weekend we were out of town for Ancient City Con) chipping away at those few loose ends at the rental. But on Tuesday I was able to hand in the keys and walk away from the property manager’s office with a spring in my step: no matter what, we are no longer under their thumb!

Of course, it wasn’t exactly simple getting this far (again, is it ever?).

Knowing we were seriously running out of time, each afternoon last week I was going to the rental on my way home, loading up my car with as much as could fit (mostly from the garage) and trucking it up to Thomasville to unload. Mostly onto the back porch because we lack the easy storage of a garage, here. More’s the pity.

What the back porch currently looks like. Storage solutions are definitely needed!

What the back porch currently looks like. Storage solutions are definitely needed!

Still, on Saturday, it took

  • 3 carloads by me
  • 2 carloads by Lyssa
  • and 1 carload by Todd
  • with a trip to Goodwill to drop off some old clothes in between

before we had everything except the cleaning supplies out of the rental. I met Lyssa at the house at 11 am and we didn’t end our day collapsed at home until after 6pm.

Now, Todd might seem a little light on that list, but he’d gotten called into the office that morning, so missed the first run Lyssa and I made. Then the plan was that he was going to mow the grass while we made our second run, only to find out that running was the farthest thing from the lawnmower’s mind. Todd spent the majority of his day trying to get it to crank, achieved that, but couldn’t get it to stay on.

So, tired, hot, and frustrated, we left the mower to sit and think about what it (hadn’t) done with the plan to try again Sunday.

Three guesses how you think that went?

Yeah, it wouldn’t run then, either, and Todd had tried every trick he knew. So we concentrated on cleaning the rest of the house (the hall bathroom, the tile flooring, and the kitchen) and still didn’t get done until after 6pm. This left two areas to address: the lawn and the living room carpet.

We ended up being able to borrow a lawn mower Monday night and Todd mowed until near-dark, not getting home until 9pm. Meanwhile, I met the carpet guy for round 2 of cleaning Monday afternoon.

The property manager requires you get the carpet steam cleaned by a pro and provide a receipt. I’d found a Living Social deal for $69.95 that would cover up to 5 rooms and a hallway. We only had 3 carpeted rooms and it was the first deal to come along in a while for carpets, so I snatched it up and made the appointment for mid-month.

Unfortunately, after 3.5 years of wear on top of not being great carpet to begin with (and us never moving the furniture to see the extent of the “traffic patterns”) there were some stains to deal with and some scrubbing to do. To the tune of an addition $150! Knowing we’d just get dinged for it after the fact, I went ahead and signed the quote and paid for the service by phone when it was done.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the rental after work that day and the living room carpet looked like it had barely been touched! And the cleaner had left 2 jugs of chemicals in the next room. Now, the 2 bedrooms looked great, but I not pleased with the living room and I might have unloaded on the owner’s voicemail a bit. I believe my exact words were

Yeah, I’m definitely going to need that detailed invoice because there’s no way the property manager is going to believe I spent over $200 for that!

Not my finest hour…

My ire was vindicated, though, on Monday when the owner came to try and fix the mess and agreed that it looked like his worker-bee hadn’t finished the job for some reason unbeknownst to us all (an aberration, he assured me, especially for that employee). An hour and a bit later he’d scrubbed and steamed that carpet into much better shape. The stains were gone and the traffic patterns were much improved. He said it’d take replacing the pad underneath to get the rest out, but that’s for the property owner to decide to do or not.

So, if anyone in the Tallahassee area is looking for conscientious carpet cleaning, I heartily recommend J&A Restoration. He could have just as easily told me it was too bad, there wasn’t anything he could do, I’d already paid and it was too late, but he was adamant about getting a chance to make it good and he did. Thank you, Josh!

And now that everything’s truly in, we can start to get it sorted and unpacked. Here’s what the dining room and library (aka the main holding areas) look like as of this morning:

The library is really our toss-room at the moment. It also has our dining room set in the corner off to the right that we can't exactly get to at the moment.

The library is really our toss-room at the moment. It also has our dining room set in the corner off to the right that we can’t exactly get to at the moment.

The dining room is holding most of the kitchen stuff that we can't unpack until I give the lower shelves a coat of Kilz and some new liners.

The dining room is holding most of the kitchen stuff that we can’t unpack until I give the lower cabinets a coat of Kilz and some new liners.

But first, the weekend off that I promised myself. I’m going to have a mani-pedi I’ve been putting off for too long then go to lunch with a friend I see not nearly enough. After that I have some quality time with art supplies lined up. I really hope Todd will take advantage of the downtime as well. The to-do list is looming but the worst it can do is give him a paper cut!

A New Sort of Independence

Just for Fun

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but we recently moved into a home we own (bank and mortgage notwithstanding) as opposed to renting and it’s kind of a big deal that I don’t think has truly sunk in yet.

Some people say the first time you make a mortgage payment is when it starts to feel real.

Nope. Made two of those already, not feeling any different.

I thought the actual process of moving would help it hit home (pun intended) but this week has been so hectic and scattered that nothing feels right, so that’s not it,  either.

Maybe I’ll “get it” once we’ve made a major change to the house without having to a) ask a landlord’s permission or b) know we have to change it back/take it down when we leave. Or maybe once we no longer have contractor’s traipsing through any given day and I sign over that last renovation check.

One way or another that’ll definitely feel good!

When I first spoke with the bank and got the pre-approval (not just a pre-qual) for the mortgage, man, that floored me. You mean I’m enough of a grown up that a bank is going to trust me with property?! (Because, no, being 38 is not enough on it’s own to get rid of the 18-and-clueless feeling of most days.) From there it was such a climb to get the particulars settled with the renovation and insurance that any “fun” of home buying went out the window.

Except not our windows because they’re still painted shut*.

Still, even if I haven’t connected emotionally with the new house as home, I know we’re about to enjoy these few freedoms and I’m definitely happy about it:

  1. Freedom from the landlord. I know I sorta mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. No more landlord–that’s worth a party on it’s own. It’s also directly related to…
  2. Freedom to make decisions on our own. Two weeks after we moved into the last rental the hot water heater went down. In December/January. And it took two weeks of the management company and property owner dicking around and doing nothing before we gave up and Todd replaced both elements himself. Then there was the month we were without a working oven because there were three entities involved in the decision process and we weren’t one of them. Or the 4 months of extreme water bills due to botched pipe repairs. Point being: we get stuff done much faster on our own.
  3. Freedom from debt. Taking on a mortgage isn’t exactly getting rid of debt, I know, but our mortgage–including insurances and taxes–is only 2/3 of what our rent has been, so now I have a little more room in the budget to get my credit card debt paid off that much faster. It’ll be another month or so before I know how much the Dollhouse’s utilities and the additional tanks of gas to and from work affect that, but I’m confident there’ll be something leftover to put towards the consumer debt.
  4. Freedom of distance. I’ve lived in Tallahassee for the last 32 years and have attempted numerous times to “escape” the city for somewhere, anywhere else. It never worked, I kept getting pulled back in. Eventually I made my peace with it, but still dreamed of retiring somewhere that wasn’t Tallahassee. When Todd and I hooked-up I started day-dreaming about him getting head-hunted for a cushy Controller position somewhere out of state that would force me to get out. Needless to say, I’m happy to be even as far as over the state line.
  5. Freedom of reinvention. Along with living in the same town I graduated high school from (thus increasing the chances of running into people I knew back then), I’ve either lived or worked with my mother continuously since birth. There were those few months I left to finish my culinary degree before the plantation went bankrupt and I landed back at the office I’d left forever, but I’ve always felt a little caged-in by the way those who knew me (or thought they knew me) growing up see me and the way I want to be seen. Between the person I’m perceived to be and the person I truly am. A new town with new connections to make holds a sense of promise for me that ignores the fact that, for the next couple of years at least, I’m still working with those same people I’ve worked with for (gulp) 20 years. It’s something.

The 4th of July has never been in my top three holidays, but this year is has a special significance to me. We just finished clearing out and cleaning a third of the Tallahassee house and brought home two more carloads of stuff. After we cool off a bit, it’ll be time to put some burgers on the grill and then, if we’ve got the energy, head downtown to see the fireworks.

Even if we don’t, just being home–really home–this Independence Day is good enough for me.

*Apparently the last item on the contractor’s to-do list is to un-stick all of the windows. We thought that was going to happen Thursday (because that’s what his Wednesday-night text said) but something must have come up because they are still firmly painted shut!

We’re In the Dollhouse Now!

The Gingerbread Diaries

I don’t think anyone really likes to move house, least of all me, but I do like getting things done. For good or ill we moved last weekend. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but what needed to got done, so in that respect all’s well that ends well, right?

Not that I’m going to leave it there, of course!

Early last week we reserved a 26′ truck through with the understanding that we’d get a confirmation call Friday for the when and where (you pick a preferred location, but they can’t guarantee it). On Thursday I went by one of the local UHaul stores to pick up some more boxes and the guy in front of me in line was not happy about dispatch telling him he was going to have to drive to Monticello to pick up his truck tomorrow.

I don’t blame him.

I’d also opted to take Friday off to get more packing and organizing done. I managed it, but not quite as much as I would have hoped.

I called UHaul at 4:30 to follow-up on our reservation and our order hadn’t been assigned anywhere yet. I was told that usually the scheduling was done by 6pm, so they were probably working on it.

Sure they were.

At 8:30pm, Friday night, I still had not heard from UHaul so I called the regional “traffic” number I’d been given earlier to see what was up. A sweet, sympathetic lady named Cindy in Mobile, AL, apologized seven ways from Sunday but could not produce a truck any closer than (wait for it) Monticello. Now, for those not familiar with this area, Monticello is a good hour away, so travelling 2 hours round trip before we can even start to load the truck wasn’t really what we were going for. Still, Cindy said, something could “land” overnight and get checked in closer and that her office (on Central time) opened at 6am and to call back then.

So I set my alarm for the inhumane hour of 6:45am on that Saturday morning so that I could be at least coherent at 7am Eastern to find out our plan.

No one answered at that number for a solid hour. I tried, twice, to get tranferred to the National dispatch/traffic office but kept ending up at the corporate HQ in Phoenix, AZ (where it was 4 in the morning–I don’t envy that shift!). Still no one could find me a truck.

At 8am the recording on the regional traffic line changed and I got into the hold queue. I was still pretty calm but we were really running out of options as our helpers (Mom, Jason, and Kara) were originally planning to show up at 9am to help us load the truck. They were now waiting to hear what the new plan was, and we were seriously considering moving boxes all weekend in our cars and having to hire movers the following week to move the furniture. We’d checked Budget rentals but they only had a 10′ truck available and if we only used 99 miles (a trip and a half, basically) it was going to be almost $350!

Still on hold, Google pointed me to Penske’s website so I grabbed Todd’s cell phone and tried them. They had a 16′ truck, so still not big enough, but at least it was available right then and UHaul still hadn’t picked up. We booked the Penske truck, I hopped in the shower and then sent Jason a text that we were on track to start at 10am–only an hour later than planned.

The rest of the day was something of a blur. Todd and Jason moved most of the furniture while Mom, Kara, and I concentrated on little things to fill the gaps and putting boxes into cars, etc. It only took a little over an hour to load up the first truck-full so while they headed to the Dollhouse, I went straight to Publix to pick up lunch. We made one more trip the 5 of us which took care of all but a few shelving units before our helpers had to leave: Mom had to pick up Molly from doggie daycare and Kara has a reunion to get ready for.

Our plan was to do a final trip with the truck just Todd and I. We’d get the rest of the shelving units and the bulk of what we had boxed, then head back to Tallahassee to return the truck, pick up Todd’s car, and then grab clothes and fridge stuff for the final carloads. That would have worked great if it didn’t take us until almost 10pm to unload that last trip and I refused to do another round trip that would put us after midnight getting home.

It wasn’t until 7:53pm on Saturday that someone from UHaul actually called me about the reservation, saying there wasn’t anything available on Saturday but that they had a truck come in for Sunday! It was at that point I informed her that we were effectively done moving and that I wouldn’t be needing a truck from them any time soon.

I’ve learned an important lesson, folks: I’m good for 13 hours of constant activity. At hour 14 I start to get whiny and at hour 15 my body starts to shut down. Todd pointed out that this wasn’t surprising considering the 16 hours awake/8 hours asleep ideal. I think I was more impressed that I lasted that long before collapsing.

On Sunday we did that final run, I got the pantry and fridge unpacked and pushed things around in my office (which is also acting as a dressing room since the downstairs bath is the only one with a shower). Then the a/c stopped being at all effective and we sweltered through the next few nights, depending on an oscillating fan a piece to keep us from melting.

There’s still a lot of flotsam and jetsam at the Tallahassee house to pack up and move up here but at least the bulk is done. Not much unpacking has happened, but we’ll get there eventually. But, hey, we’re officially in the Dollhouse now!

Tuesday Reviews-Day: TGIP (Thank Goodness It’s Publix!)

Tuesday Revews-Day

Every area has their local favorites of every sort of vendor, and there’s usually a regional grocery chain that inspires a deep, unabiding love in its patrons. For those of us in the southeastern US, that grocery store is very likely Publix.

People may make fun of the name (and plenty of visitors have butchered the pronunciation–it’s public with an s, by the way) but no one who’s had one of their birthday cakes or their white mountain bread will accept any jeering at the chain’s expense. The stores are bright and clean and the shelves are stocked with a wide variety of products, even in the smaller locations, with the larger, newer shops including fancy cheese selections and extended Greenwise (organic, etc.) sections.  Many area brides opt for a Publix wedding cake over an independent bakery for more reasons than just price and people who’ve moved out of the area practically salivate at the mention of a Publix deli’s sub.

Turns out, their wraps are just as tasty.

For this weekend’s move it was only right to feed our crew as a (beginning of a) thank you for their help. We started with bagels, doughnuts, and coffee from Dunkin’ Doughnuts before loading the truck, and then lunch after the truck was empty at our destination. Not that we made it in one trip, but that’s a story for another day.

Pizza is pretty usual for this sort of thing: it’s quick, they deliver, and feeds a crowd fairly well. But pizza requires either good timing or waiting, and quick alternatives like anything drive-thru turn out not to be quick when you’re ordering in multiples of 5. This is where the Publix deli comes in.

On Thursday before the move I called with the intent of ordering a sub platter, but while browsing the website I saw they offered a Wrap Platter, as well. Thinking that wraps would be a touch lighter for what was shaping up to be a hot weekend, I ordered an assorted wrap platter, Medium-sized, with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. Even though the small platter feeds 8-12, it’s actually only 6 wraps cut up, so I worried that it wouldn’t be enough for a group of 5 who’d worked up a healthy appetite moving furniture and boxes. I was right.

image via was too busy moving on Saturday to take pictures

image via–I was too busy moving on Saturday to take pictures

For $60 (I picked up some bags of kettle chips as well as a small fruit bowl as well; the platter was $45 alone) we fed the five of us for lunch that day, Todd and I for supper that night, and us again for lunch on Sunday. They’d called a couple hours before the platter pick-up time to verify if I wanted mayo and mustard on the subs and if I had a cheese preference or just wanted assorted. They could have just done the assorted meats as the original order was written, but I appreciated the follow-up. When I arrived right at noon to pick it up it was ready and waiting, nice and chilled from the cooler.

And, of course, the most important thing was that the wraps were divine. Turkey, roast beef, and ham were matched up with at least Provolone, American, and cheddar cheeses on white, whole wheat, tomato, and spinach wraps and sliced into 3-4 pieces each so that it was easy to get a good sampling of all of it in a few pieces. I didn’t ask if they had gluten-free wraps, instead I just ate the insides (Todd ate most of my cast-off wrappers).

Ordering the wraps was probably the best decision we made of the entire move, even though that’s not saying much all things considered(as you’ll hear if you come back on Thursday for the next house update). IF we ever have this situation in the future or anything like it, you can bet I’ll be calling upon the Publix deli to help me out again.

This was not a sponsored post, I am receiving no compensation or consideration for sharing this, I just think they did a fabulous job and it was worth sharing!

When’s the Last Time You Checked Your Pantry?


Or, for that matter, the condiments and containers in your fridge.

If you’re anything like me, you check the crisper drawers and larger items for freshness the night before the garbage run. The pantry and the refrigerator door shelves (where the condiments live) tend to get checked less, but I thought we were doing a pretty good job of keeping up with everything.

Until, of course, I went to pack up the pantry and fridge goods to move from one house to another this past weekend. Between both of those, the sodas that had expired on the bar, and the older items from the chest-freezer that were passed their prime, we filled 2 kitchen bags to take out to the trash along with the numerous bags of still-usable items.

The sodas were easy to forget about–we hadn’t been doing as much entertaining and since I’m not making cocktails every week anymore that might use them as mixers, they lost their fizz without a peep. We have a free-standing pantry that is fairly compact, so there’s not a ‘far back’ for items to get pushed to, but we obviously need to do a better job of using our stores–I found several partial bags of rice and quinoa (thankfully not out of date) that will be getting used up this week!

The fridge-level condiments were the worst, though. A bottle of this or that, purchased for one recipe or another then forgotten, we had quite the collection! After throwing away quite a bit of it we still moved over several bottles to the new fridge: my mission is now to use them up (good thing chicken and tilapia are so versatile!) and to make a more concerted effort to replicate those sauces and condiments in small batches per recipe rather than buy a bottle of something we’re not likely to use. Sticking with staple ingredients will probably be the best bet for avoiding the problem in the future.

We also designated a “contraband” cabinet in the new kitchen: a place for the things that are too High-FODMAP to regularly use in dinner preparations but that Todd might want to have if I’m out for a night. It also includes flours or other items we might use when cooking for someone else. It’s not like I ban High-FODMAP foods from coming into our home–it’s hardly necessary and a little extreme considering Todd doesn’t need to adhere to the same restrictions as I do. But by placing staple ingredients that aren’t going to mesh well with my digestive system in a separate place makes it less likely we’ll use something by accident.

The kitchen is the last thing to be packed up and moved over, but as a stop-gap I tried to grab the basics in case it takes us a few nights to finish up:

  • a large frying pan
  • a large stock-pot
  • a medium-sized sauce pan
  • knives and cutting boards
  • cookie sheets
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • salt, pepper, and a few other spices
  • and the vase of spoons, spatulas, and so forth that sits next to the stove.

I think the should be enough, but I have a feeling I’m going to be grabbing for all sorts of things over the next few weeks that haven’t been brought over or unpacked yet!

More about the actual move later this week, but I’m certainly glad we don’t have to depend on take-out for the next few days!