Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best (and worst) of Pinterest

This post is a departure from our moving news, but I wanted to share with y'all some GREAT pinterest finds that have been very successful in making my cooking yummier and house prettier! And of course, I HAVE to report those pins that you should think twice about before trying!

Healthy Cooking Wins

Very easy and filling if you add a cup of cooked quinoa! 

I make these on a weekly basis- so yummy and nutritious! Garbanzo beans replaces the flour.  And instead of sugar, you use just a little honey or Agave nectar. 

I omitted the crust and added spinach to make it more nutritional. 

Very yummy...just make sure that you save some of the sauce! Because of the breading, there isn't a need to serve this with a starch. Serve with cauliflower or brussel sprouts for a whole meal! 

Skip This

Really soggy and just all around not appetizing

Home Wins

Pretty much all of my cleaning successes involve baking soda... Cleaning your stainless steel

For some reason I can't find this pin, so maybe I made it up? 

Use steel wool, baking soda, and lemon (lemon cleaner works). Scrub the glass with the steel wool coated with a lemon/ baking soda paste and the water stain pretty much instantly disappears and your shower doors look shiny and new. To keep the effect for even longer, spray the newly cleaned glass doors with rain-repelling car window cleaner. 

Home Fails

This just flat out didn't work...baking soda fails at cleaning silver. 

I painted my concrete porch...and it started peeling a few months later! 

Another pin that's worth trying...

Don't use if you have sensitive gums! I do this a couple of times a week and it works just as well as Crest white strips!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Endings before beginnings

It has been a tough and emotional week! I'm going to try hard not to cry while writing this, but just THINKING about the goodbyes from this past week makes me tear up. So here it goes.

Last week, I dropped my two dogs Cole and Dakota, along with my cat Doodoo head, off at Daniel's parent's home. We knew strangers were going to be in and out of our house since it is on the market to rent, and our dogs couldn't handle it. We take our dogs to our family's home all the time, but this time was so much tougher because I know we have 1 more month with them and then we won't see our pets for a long time. Anyone who is not an animal lover is probably rolling their eyes right now. I know, I know....I am ridiculous. On the way to drop them off, Coldplay's The Scientist came on my pandora and I actually started CRYING at this part:

Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part,
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard...
Oh take me back to the start.

Now, I'm sure Chris Martin did not intend for listeners to relate that song to their, uh, pets...but I couldn't help it!

A little secret. I love ALL of my pets, but Dakota is very special to me. She has been there for me for some really hard times. When Daniel and I were apart for a few months while he was in London, I really leaned on my dog. My home would have been so quiet and lonely without her, but instead I came home from work everyday with her waiting for my at the door, full of excitement and love. She helped me not be so sad while Daniel was gone, and she always seems to know what is going on in my heart. Daniel is my soulmate...but Dakota runs a close second. I don't know if I can handle saying goodbye for a long while.

OK, so that was tough, and then Thursday was my last day with my babies, my sweeties, my goobers (all nicknames for my students).

This school year was such a meaningful and special year to me. I starting teaching at a new school this year (Grace) and learned so much about myself there. Before starting there, I was really questioning if I was supposed to be a teacher. I wasn't happy, and I think I started to lose myself and my values as a teacher. Grace School showed me that I DO love teaching and reconfirmed that I value children, especially treating them with love and respect and challenging them daily. So it was hard to say goodbye to Grace School as a whole, but saying goodbye to my students? Heartache!

On the way to school on my last day, guess what song came on?

Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part,
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard...
Oh take me back to the start.

Open the floodgates while driving on I-10.

I only had 12 students this year, so the relationships that were formed with them were SO deep and meaningful. I love them like they are family, and not knowing if I would see them again...that hurts my heart to think about. I had to hold back tears on multiple occasions that day, especially when hugging my students goodbye for the last time. Simply put, it is really hard saying goodbye to people that you love.

OK, so that was long winded, but I wanted you all to know what's been happening on this road to moving. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Refinished tub and sink

This weekend was dedicated to lots and lots of home renos (along with a Dynamos game, my cousin's wedding shower, my sister-in-law's Gold Star celebration, and a wonderful dinner with friends....but mostly some HGTV worthy projects). One of our projects was refinishing the tub and sink in our guest bathroom. It was very rusty when we bought our home, but we were so focused on getting an amazing master bathroom that we looked past it. The bath and sink were pretty worthless and didn't want this to discourage hopeful tenants. 

It was actually much easier than we anticipated. They sell refinishing kits at Lowes for about $50. If you choose to do this, make SURE that you tape off everything else and maybe even put a tarp on your floor. The refinishing spray was very thick and everything had a thin layer of white on it after Daniel was done with this project! 

I love how the sink looks! It is SO white and shiny now- not a speck of rust or discoloration! The faucet on both the tub and sink could definitely be prettier...might have to replace that soon, if we can get the darn things off!

Anyway, we showed our house a lot today and several people were interested. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

House updates

It's funny how you just get used to your home's eyesores  Chipped Paint. A chewed up blind. A dirt pit for a backyard. Especially when renovating a home, you focus on the things that mean the most to you and look past the "quirks" of your home.

We have been looking past our home's "quirks" for the past 3 years, and now we are having to face them head on. It is overwhelming. So many small projects! We have probably been to Lowes...4 times in the past 2 days?

It feels SO good getting some of these projects done! We have painted our outside trim, hung shutters, built a deck, laid new grass, cleaned things that we didn't even know that we were supposed to clean. I'm feeling a whole new sense of pride of our home and I keep wondering why haven't we completed these projects sooner!

With all of that being said, our home is now listed on for rent! We are going to see how this goes for a week or so, and then decide what to do next with our house. I don't know how I feel about randomly posting the HAR link for all to see where I live and our asking price. If you are interested or just really nosey like I am, just ask and I will send you the link. OR type in 77009 (our zip) and see if you can guess which house is ours! If you guess right, I will give you our home (just kidding).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Renting our House

This past week has been a rollercoaster when it comes to our home.

Some background: We bought it in 2009 after MUCH thought. Daniel at first was very hesitant. He saw the condition the home was in when he helped move my Great Aunt Kathryn out...basically, she shared her home with a bunch of 4 legged varmints and 6 legged creatures. On top of that, it hadn't been renovated much in the past several decades. Guys, there was a TREE growing through the window. Green shag carpet. Asbestos. Discolored walls from people smoking in the home for the past 84 years. I always loved it no matter what- it's what I was used to and I had so many special memories growing up in this home. But Daniel, not having the nostalgic connection to the Heights home, wasn't sure if he wanted to take on the work to make our now home livable. After 6 months of every weekend being devoted to sanding, painting, and tearing down...we can now look back on the decision to buy our heights home and can confidently say that it was probably one of the best financial decisions we could have ever made.

Which leads us to the rollercoaster. Our home is our baby. We know it's worth, which makes us so torn right now about what to do with it.

Option A: Sell it. Probably not going to happen unless we get an amazing offer that we cannot pass up.

Option B: I can't get into a lot of details, but it would basically mean us getting back a smidgen more than what we pay for our home each month from a couple and a third party that is paying for their rental, plus we would have to pay for their utilities. We would basically break even with our monthly mortgage payment. Remember guys, not only did we buy this home from my family, but it was on the market for YEARS and probably would have been torn down if anyone else would have bought it. So what we pay each month is not exactly what our house is worth. Oh, and with this option, there is NO deposit.

Option C: Find another renter and get what our home is actually worth. I have a job for the next 7 days, and then my income is no longer coming in. We are moving to one of the most expensive cities on the planet.  We put A LOT of work into our home to make it what it is. It would be nice to actually make money off of our house.

We were planning on going with Option B. It would mean we don't have to show our home, we don't have to move our furniture, don't have to worry about some of the renovations we never got to. However, after thinking about all of the "unknowns" in our life right now (What if I can't find a job when we move back? What if we have babies? What if London ends up being a lot more expensive then we planned on?) we are now leaning heavily towards Option C.  If our goal is to get the most from our home, that means that this weekend we needs to:

A. Repaint any damaged walls
B. Repaint our outside trimming
C. Lay grass in the backyard
D. Refinish our middle bathroom
E. Replace some blinds that Cole decided to eat
F. Clean, clean, CLEAN

On top of next Thursday being my last day of school and moving across the world in a little over a month, we don't know what we are doing with our home and don't have a lot of time to figure it out. I am VERY stressed out!

Just trying to remember that this is out of my hands, and my little glimpse of stress is nothing like the amount of worry that some people go through daily. But, this is my reality right now, so I am sharing it with y'all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bummer for me, n 7uuuu8oiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir

...I was trying to think of a clever way of saying that the situation I am about to write about is a bummer for me, but (insert positive word that was big in the 90's...tubular?) for Daniel. And then my cat walked all over my laptop, and I decided to leave it.

OK, so my current bummer can probably resonate with many women. I can't shop. I want to so badly, but I can't because of this move.

The other day, I went to Rice Village with a friend. I saw so many flowy maxi dresses, colorful summer dresses, bright shorts...and I couldn't buy them. Because I am about to move somewhere that is cold for all but 2 months. And to a place where I might not even have a closet!

It's funny, because my shopping partner just moved here from France (which is also mostly chilly), and she kept buying cardigans and looking at sweaters. I was like, "It's about to get hot here! You need summer clothes" and then every time I would like at a cute little summer dress, she would be like, "You will need a sweater and tights if you want to wear that in London." I guess she could shop for me, and I could shop for her?

I. Why I haven't shopped since November (when we decided to move)
    1. Ultimately, we rather save money to travel
    2. Also, I rather save money for Topshop.
    3. I don't know the style in London...I might buy things now, wear them when I get there, and everyone's  
        like "Wow, that girl is soooo not from here."
    4. Right now in Texas, they are selling things for summer. Right now in London, it is 50 degrees and rainy.
       And the average high in July is 67 degrees.
     5. The less things I bring with me the better, because..
          a. Do I really want to pack it?
          b. Do I really want to unpack it?
          c. Will I have anywhere to store it?
          d. Will I even wear it?

To make matters worse, I got really ambitious and sold about 1/2 of my clothes...and now I literally have nothing to wear. So on top of just wanting to shop because I'm a girl and like new clothes, every time I look in my closet, I see empty racks, just waiting to be filled.

Bummer for me, tubular for Daniel (he, like most husbands would, thinks that since I have more than 3 shirts, I have plenty of clothes to wear and don't need to spend money on such frivolous things).

So, to make a really long, drawn out story short, if you see me in my same shirt and same jeans, you now know why.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Visa Obtaining

Getting our visas has been the most anti climactic event ever regarding this move. I had drafted a post about it, thinking that I would have a lot to say about it...and I really don't! 

First, we had to fill out ALL of this information online. The questionairee was loooonnnnggggg and asked all sorts of strange questions, like where all we had traveled in the past 10 years, where our parents were from, how much money we make a year, etc. Took about a week to fill out. 

Next, we had to schedule an appointment to get our visa picture taken and fingerprints. It was actually very costly, so I am thankful that Daniel's work paid for it. We also had to pay extra to expedite the process, since we are moving in a month and a half (wow!!!)

Today was the day for our appointment. I already had a half day because of field day, so I left work right at 11:30 to come home for our 1:00 appointment. I figured it would take forever, so I brought Daniel's PSP to play Lumines (I'm obsessed with Lumines and can play for fact, I will probably go play it after I'm finished with this post!)

We left way earlier than necessary because the weather was terrible and we didn't know where we were going, so we arrived about 30 minutes early. It was in a shady stripmall next to an Aquarium shop...totally not what I was expecting. I'm not sure why we had to make an appointment...once we got there, we just took a number and waited. They wouldn't let me play Lumines and they had to check our phones to make sure they were turned off, but thankfully it was a quick wait. This place was about a step above the social security office and DMV- not the nicest.  

We took our pics and fingerprints then ended up leaving before our actual appointment even was supposed to start. See? Very anticlimactic, but a part of the processes so that's why I'm writing about it.

Afterwards we went to Trader Joe's and bought way too many snacks...I sure wish that there were a Trader Joe's in London!  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Too much stuff

So, what does one do before moving from a Texas-sized (though not really- our house is pretty small for being in Texas) to a teeny tiny 600 sq feet flat? Basically, purge. Everything. I ask myself these two questions:

1. Will I need it in London?
2. Will I still want it when/ if we move back? 

Usually, the answer is no. So far, I have made some good junk change selling old books and DVDs to Half Price Books. I also got rid of almost all of our clothes, since we certainly won't have a walk in closet in London. 

I never realized how much "stuff" we had until starting to pack up. It's really pretty disgusting. I'm hoping that London will teach us to be less materialistic, since we won't have any room to store our materials! 

What is giving me trouble is trying to decide what to bring with us. We know we will live somewhere furnished, but we don't know how furnished it will be. Of course, appliances and actual furniture is a given, but flats vary on whether they have kitchen utensils, towels, sheets, etc. Do I bring our own household things at a risk of not needing them and having no room to store them? Do we bring nothing and just buy stuff once we get there...stuff that we might not use for that long? Hmmmmmmm....

Packing is one of the many things we need to do. But it is probably the most overwhelming.

Monday, May 6, 2013

If you were wondering...

First of all, thank you everyone for your encouraging comments about our move! It means a lot to me, and I know especially when I am away from all of our family and friends, I will appreciate your comments even more!

These are questions that I get asked a lot, and I just want to lay them out there for y'all in case you were wondering the same things.

1. Why are you moving? We are moving for my husband's job. He works in oil and gas as a trading systems analyst.

2. What will you do? As of now, I will be able to work while we are in London if I want to. I do not want to do anything full time. Daniel will have a lot more vacation time while we are there, and I don't want a job to hold me back from being able to travel (usually if you start a new job, you do not get your vacation time until after a year). Ideally, I would love to substitute teach, work at a boutique, or at a yoga/ health club. A lot of people have jokingly suggested becoming a nanny- after looking into it, I've realized this job isn't ideal, since usually the hours are in the afternoon. If I find a job, I want it to be at normal working hours! If I am unable to find a job, then I will volunteer, do lots of yoga, be our own travel agent, and tour the city!

3. What about your pets? This is honestly the hardest part. Anyone that knows us, knows that our dogs and cat are our babies. They are such a huge part of our lives. Well, we can't bring them. First of all, Cole has pit mixed in her. This breed is not allowed in the UK and she would be euthanized.  Can't bring Dakota and leave Cole- they are best friends and they won't even go to a different room than the other...I don't think they can handle being half a world away. Even if we could bring our dogs, they would hate it. They need a backyard, places to run off their leashes- they would be so unhappy being confined to a small, crowded, backyard-less flat all day. So, Daniel's parents have graciously agreed to  adopt them while we are away. People who don't have pets will think that this is absolutely ridiculous, but we almost said no to London because we couldn't bring our pets. Then we figured that (please pet lovers don't hate me) that we really can't let our pets hold Daniel back in his career.

4. Where will you live? We don't know this yet. When we move, we will be placed in temporary housing while we try to figure this out. Daniel will work in Canary Wharf (yuck), which is East London. We have several different areas on our radar to live- Clapham, London Bridge, Chelsea...but we really won't know until we look. We need to live somewhere that is a short tube ride to Daniel's work. I, of course, want something old and with good character. What can I say, I love old homes!

5. Have you been there before? Daniel lived in Canary Wharf from October 2009-December 2009. I foolishly stayed in Houston to work. I guess I shouldn't say foolishly- I knew Daniel was going to be there for a short while and I just starting teaching and didn't want to quit midyear. During that time, I went and visited for about a week. Gotta say, I didn't love it. It was cold, windy, gray, and wet. Hopefully others that have been to London will get this: I felt like my feet were constantly cold and wet because it didn't matter what kind of shoes I wore...after being outside for awhile, I always came back with soaked through socks and shoes. BUT I think living there will be different than just visiting, and being in a nicer neighborhood will make a huge difference!

6. When will you come back?Who knows? If we love it, then I want to stay. And if we miss Houston too badly, we will come back after a year.

7. What about your house? We are going to rent our home out furnished. It's too meaningful to us for us to sell it!

OK...I think that's it. But please, if you have any other questions, ASK!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New Meaning

I started this blog after a year of marriage when we bought my great grandparent's home in the historic Heights. It was in pretty bad condition and all of our weekends were devoted to sanding, drilling, cleaning, and general de-grossifying. When I started bloggin', it was to chronicle our home renovations.  I pretty much gave this blog the lamest and corniest name - No Place Like Home. I figured that title summed up what the content of this blog would generally be about- home.

If only I would have known at that time what the title No Place Like Home would mean for Daniel and me.

I figured home was going to always be in Texas, let alone Houston. Daniel did a stint in London in 2009 and in the back of our mind, we always knew that we had the option of moving there if we wanted to. But Houston is home- our family is here, the job that I love is here, our dogs are here, and we wanted to start a family here.

Something clicked for us in November. We still didn't have a baby. Although I loved my job, I knew that this probably wouldn't be what I would do forever. Daniel was hearing a lot more at work that they wanted us to move. And we finally thought "Ok....let's do this!"

And that brings us here.

We have two more months in Houston, and then we are moving to London. We don't really know how long we will be there for- at least a year, but probably longer if we enjoy it. There is also the possibility of moving somewhere other than Houston (most likely in Europe) if we decide we want to. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that travel was important to me and that I wanted to see the world. This is the right decision for us and our life.

So, No Place Like Home will no longer be about our house in Houston. Home is with long as we are together, that's home. So Home will now be London, and this blog will now serve to chronicle our preparations to move, life in London, and hopefully lots of travels.

I will blog more about logistics later, I just wanted to share our news now! I hope if you do not follow this blog, you will begin to!


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