Wednesday, October 29, 2014

making a house a home: the new place

So I think we have finally, mostly unpacked. A few people asked me for house talk and pics, so those few people are getting what they asked for. Sorry, everyone else. But, who I am kidding, I mostly want to remember this awful/awesome time in our lives.

Let's rewind. If you remember, a simple news article I read to Andrew is what set this whole thing in motion. I asked him the other day if he thought we would have moved had I not brought it to his attention and he said he didn't know, which translates to no. We've considered moving twice before so we knew we were basically on the same page. Since our purchase of a new house was dependent on the sale of the old house, the timing had to be perfect. We kept our eye on real estate listings daily and very few things caught our eye. Houston's real estate market is booming and a lot of great homes were out of our price range.

Here's what we were looking for:

Two stories (just personal preference, no real reason)
Covered outdoor space
No pool
Large master bathroom and closet (enough space for us to get ready at the same time, hampers, etc.)
Indoor utility room
High ceilings
Gas stove
Built in 2000 or newer

And here are some things I was oddly picky about:
Double sinks in the bathroom
No door to the backyard in the living room (I prefer it in the breakfast nook)
As little carpet as possible

This one house kept popping up, as did one down the street that was the same floor plan. One was more expensive since it had more upgrades. We toured them both on our own, since we had yet to receive an offer on our old house and our realtor didn't want to look with us until an offer was in place. And, something about the more expensive home (of course) just felt right to us. A week went by, and both homes were still on the market when we got the offer on our house. After that, we told our realtor that we had found THE house. We put in an offer (I went into a little more detail about that here) and it was accepted! Honestly, house hunting for us was so easy. We did a lot on the internet, there weren't many choices, and we got really lucky. I was really looking forward to a day of hating perfectly good houses and an agonizing decision, though.

As far as moving, we did as much as we could ourselves and with my mom and step-dad. All boxes and light furniture came with us. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but since the houses were 48 miles from one another, we put in a lot of miles and spent lots of time just driving back and forth. We hired movers for the heavy stuff and they made everything look so easy that in the future, we would want to put as much in their hands as possible. I was mostly just happy when it was all over.

Our last pic outside our old house | One of many trips | Boxes | Bauer loved the giant wardrobe box | Duncan wanted to ride shotgun on the way to the new house

So, back to that list from the beginning. Does this house have everything we want? Almost. It only has one sink in the master (#thestruggleisreal) and there's no gas stove. The entire house is laminate or tile, so that was a huge, unexpected bonus (but man, why are rugs so expensive?). It has things I never knew I wanted, though, like green space beyond our back fence, an improved commute to work (for me - Andrew's is worse), and a huge dishwasher. It's been a month now, and I still look around the house and it feels too good to be mine. I've just never had a place that I picked out and that I was proud of - I went straight from my parents' house to living with Andrew. And now I do. But keeping it in good shape is a lot of work. Should have added "live-in maid" to my must list...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

we did dallas

A few months ago, pre-Ebola scare, Andrew and I bought tickets to see the New York Giants play in Dallas. He was born and raised a Giants fan and I've learned to love them in the almost nine years we've been together. Since it's a four hour drive, we decided to make a little weekend of it.

We got to Dallas and stopped for lunch at Off-Site Kitchen. It's a small place with counter service and a large patio. The 48-hour smoked brisket was highly recommended, so Andrew got that (it was freaking fantastic) and I got the bacon chile cheeseburger with special sauce. Also good, and great prices. Small place with no frills that I would recommend if you were ever in the area.

Repost from Instagram

We checked into our hotel then went to the JFK Museum. I went in high school but didn't remember much, and Andrew had never been. He is really into JFK and all of the different theories about the assassination, so I thought he would like it. Tickets are $16 each and everyone gets a headset to go up to the 6th floor of the book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald (allegedly) shot JFK from. There aren't too many artifacts to see at the museum, and you get a lot of information overload between the headset and all of the info presented on the panels. It's an interesting historical account of the facts of the day and looking out the window and seeing the X painted on the road where the fatal shot hit the President is a unique experience. I think it would be better on a weekday, or if you had a lot of time to listen to the headset and read all the panels - a Saturday afternoon was just too crowded. But we got the gist of it, and also walked out to the grassy knoll and saw where Zapruder stood for his famous film.

Next to the grassy knoll. The spot you can see on the road is an X which marks the spot JFK's car was at when the fatal shot hit.

The next stop on our tourist's trip to Dallas was the Dallas Arboretum. I admit that basicness took over and I had to go see its awesome pumpkin village in person. Can you blame me? The pumpkins were the main attraction, but there were lots of paths and flowers and plants. It was a beautiful space.

So so many pretty spots. Photos don't do it justice.

After that, we wanted to check out Half Price Books' flagship store since it was nearby. It was huge and very impressive, but unfortunately, everyone must look there for record bargains because we didn't find anything amazing.

So lately, and I know this is a shock, but I have been food-ed out. I just wasn't in the mood to get dressed up and eat a big meal on this trip. Andrew found a place that had won awards in Dallas magazines for being great for coffee and dessert, so we decided to go there. We followed the GPS and couldn't find it, so I turned to Yelp and realized... it was inside a mall. Now, think about it... how many great restaurants have you dined at inside a mall? But a plan was a plan and I wanted to stick to it, so we went in the mall, found the restaurant, and even though there were several empty tables, we were told we had to wait fifteen minutes. A table still wasn't ready, so we left.

Deep Ellum is an up-and-coming part of Dallas. It had some highly rated casual restaurants so Andrew suggested we go there since I didn't want anything fancy. Sometimes in life, especially when we are together, it seems that the simplest tasks are made exceedingly difficult. Finding parking in Deep Ellum was one of those things. After 20 minutes of driving around, we gave up and headed to another location of the first restaurant we tried.

The restaurant is called La Duni, and to put it simply, it kind of sucked. The service was bad, food was "eh," and the dessert that had been touted as award-winning and the best of Dallas was overpriced and nothing special. At least my mojito was good. We stopped at the hotel bar on our way back to the room and if we're snapchat friends, then you saw that I took a glass of wine to bed with me to watch Jeopardy. Party animals.

The next morning, we went to Ascension for coffee which was good, but again, more expensive than I'm used to (and I spend money on food all the time!). We made our way back to Deep Ellum to get in line for barbecue at Pecan Lodge. When we visited last year, I fell in love with their mac and cheese, so I was pretty excited for a return trip. We got there at 9:30 fully expecting a line (common at top Texas BBQ places) and there was none... the next person didn't arrive until 10:10. We were joined by many more in line by the time the doors opened at 11 (including lots of Giants fans!) and were the first people to order. I wasn't excited about the meat at all and the mac and cheese was better in my memory. I don't know if it was the fact that they changed location or my expectations were too high, but this wasn't my favorite Texas barbecue spot. But, the decor was really cute...

If I ever post a house tour post, you'll see why I loved the decor so much!

After a necessary stop at Eatzi's, a deli-cafe that closed its Houston location years ago, we headed to Cowboys Stadium. Parking vouchers started at $35 online which I thought was insane. I googled a little and came across ParkWhiz. I had never heard of it, but I found parking the same distance as the $35 parking for... $8. I figured it was worth the $8 gamble, so I bought it. You guys, ParkWhiz is legit and it's awesome. Businesses that are close to attractions basically make their parking spaces open to people for a fee. We parked at a law office that was about a mile away. It had an attendant when we arrived (other places had someone the whole time) and we just stuck our pass on the dashboard and that was it. So easy and I love saving money. (Not sponsored, but I needed y'all to know about that site!).

 There was a weird reflective thing kind of like the Bean in Chicago... we're somewhere on the left.

Our seats were awesome | the glasses were awesome (and free) but I sent them to Andrew's coworker since they had an awful Cowboys star on the side | Hi, Eli! (#10) | We could see the small screen and it was plenty big. The large screen was unreal.

Anyway, so after being offered a jello shot for being a Giants fan by a stranger (Andrew wouldn't let me take it... he thought it was roofied), we made it to Jerry World. It was awesome. An open air plaza with dancers and drumlines. A Rascal Flatts concert. Guy Fieri was even there. Those last two aren't my thing, but it was cool that they were offered. Our seats were in the end zone, which was cool, but I really wanted a glimpse of the massive screens almost as long as the field. Unfortunately, you needed tickets to get to that part of the stadium. There were a good amount of Giants fan there, though, so while we did get booed a few times, we had a few allies, too. The lines for the ladies' room was totally manageable, but the line for the men's room was insane, like a herd slowly being allowed into the room. I've never seen that before. The stupid "We dem Boys" song that they play all the time is catchy and I hate that I think so. The cheerleaders never stop moving - it's super impressive. The Giants lost and we were sad, and then we Andrew had to drive four hours home. It was a fun weekend but I've been feeling behind ever since. Also, Houston is still better than Dallas.

Friday, October 17, 2014

some things lately

It's Friday and I'm going to Ebola Central Dallas this weekend. I'm packing plenty of Purell and don't have any plans to get crazy and exchange bodily fluids with any strangers. I'm excited to attend my first-ever New York Giants game, but after the way they played last week (lost 27-0) and the fact that my favorite salsa-dancing player, Victor Cruz, is out for the season, my excitement is tempered. Regardless of how they play, I'm sure Jerry's House is a sight to see so we'll have a great time.

Now, for a rewind. There's been lots of stuff in my head and on my phone that I haven't shared yet.

I read this and I no longer want to enjoy my formerly beloved Two Buck Chuck, yet somehow the $4.99 bottle of wine sitting next to it is still okay in my head. Ignorance is bliss, especially when cheap wine is involved.

In September, pre-move, we went to Austin for a day for the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. I don't know if it was the threat of rain or the glut of things going on in the rest of our lives, but I was hugely underwhelmed. The festival was as organized as it could be, but several places were disappointing and the best ones had lines we didn't feel like standing in. I think I'll sit this one out next year, but I was happy to experience it once for myself.

On the way home, we stopped in the small town of Smithville, where the movie Hope Floats was filmed. We've stopped there often and I really like the shops in the middle of town - all kinds of vintage items and antiques, a candy shop, and the world's largest gingerbread man, all in one place. Unfortunately, Sunday afternoons aren't ideal shopping times in a small town, so a lot of places were closed, but we'll definitely stop there again soon.

The BBQ Festival with the Austin skyline in the background | Smithville charm | Duncan on the trail

I've decided I love baths. We have a separate tub and shower in the new house which means the tub takes far longer to get dirty when it isn't used daily. I'm fully getting on board the "baths are awesome" train and look forward to spending lots of money at Lush soon... what do you recommend?

For the past few years, Duncan hasn't been very good on his leash. I thought a change of environment might lead to a change in him, so I've been trying to take him out for a walk every day. We've discovered lots of cute paths and trails in the neighborhood and now that fall is finally trying to come to Houston (highs in the high 80s instead of 90s, whoa), it's been really nice to be outside every evening.

There's a pumpkin beer that Andrew developed a love for a few years ago. It's a limited release, and normally there's a two bottle limit at most stores. We normally spend a few days looking for it and getting plenty of bottles so he can enjoy some now and age some for later (especially now that he has his own beer fridge...). Well, this year, I happened to go to a nearby grocery store for gas and found tons of bottles of this beer, no limits, and we were able to get all he wanted. It was a pumpkin beer miracle, I tell you! Maybe our new suburb isn't too bad after all...

And on that note, I think you're pretty much caught up, other than house stuff. I like to be nosy and read about other people's house stuff, so I will probably write a ton about that. Maybe next week. No promises, though. A month in and I still have unpacking to do...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

this is where i jump right back in

Oh hey. Believe me when I say I've missed you all.

We're all moved! And kind of unpacked. I will overshare all of that in another post, surely. If you follow me on twitter, then you know I lived a long ten days with no internet but that problem is now resolved so... no excuses. Except for the fact that I no longer carpool with Andrew so I don't have my extra hour in the mornings anymore. That's kind of an excuse.

In other, non-moving related life happenings:

- I saw This Is Where I Leave You a few weeks ago. The cast is so good and it made me like Adam Driver a lot more (even though he's very similar to his Girls character). The movie itself just feels like it would be better as a book - I bet the characters make a lot more sense on paper. It was good, but not worth full-price admission in my opinion.

- Houston's Food Christmas has arrived. If you've ever clicked on the "Eat" tab above, you'll see that I'm keeping a record of the restaurants I've eaten at that are on Houston's Top 100 List. Well, 2014's list came two weeks ago and I'm pumped to have been to 46/100 (lots of ones I had been to are off the list or have since closed) and eager to try the 54 I've yet to visit. 

- TV is back! What's on your DVR? I'm excited for the final season of Parenthood. I recorded Gotham and Red Band Society too, but so far nothing else new. Between unpacking, working late, and just other general life things, I haven't watched much yet.

- I chopped off five inches of hair. I've been growing it out for years, and it was time. I'm still not sold on it being shorter, but at least it's healthier, so there's that.

Due to the head tilt, it doesn't look as short as it feels, okay? Also, perfect chance to tell you that we celebrated Sarah's baby girl over the weekend! This is Miranda and Sarah if you don't already know them.

- It's my birthday month, and also my last month in my twenties.  More to come on those feelings, for sure.

- Bauer is completely terrified of the new house. It's been two weeks and he won't voluntarily leave my bedroom. Luckily, he has dared to venture from the safety of laying in his letterbox (ew) so... progress?

I've missed blog life and real life and all things not involving unpacking or buying things for the house (very first world problems, I know). I have super old comments that I do want to respond to so expect some very dated emails to hit you soon. So tell me, what's new with you?