Thursday, July 28, 2011

Life in Michigan

This post has been brewing for a while.

It all started when I was annoyed by a number of . . . quirks in our apartment. I made a mental list of them and thought I'd blog about them, because isn't that what we do on blogs? Rant and rave about life's little annoyances?

But then I didn't want to come off as whiny. Nobody likes a whiner.

So then I started thinking of all the good things about our currently living arrangements. This time I made a physical list. (In case you couldn't tell, I'm a list person.) I put the grievances and the perks side by side.

The perks list was twice as long as the grievance list.

So instead of being a big fat whiner, let me share with you some things I like about our apartment here in MI (This kind of turned into a long list. But I realized that I haven't shared much about our home here, so hopefully this answers all your burning questions. Cause I'm sure you have them.):
  • Our complex is basically a neighborhood full of townhome-like buildings. We share no walls, only a floor. And our downstairs neighbor is a very sweet 95-year-old man who gives us cake and cookies and never complains about the noise. In fact, he told us he was glad to have us back in town and he'd missed Julia's stomping. The best neighbor we could ask for.
  • To go along with only sharing a floor, we live upstairs. Which means we have lovely high ceilings that keep us nice and toasty in the winter (and in the summer, but I am pretty sure everywhere is toasty in the summer). Of course, stairs are tricky for moving pianos. Ours didn't make it up. But our organ did! And in case you were worried, our piano spent a few months in the garage, and then was moved to a temporary home with some friends who are debating buying a piano. Sort of a test run for them and storage space for us. Win win.
  • Being upstairs, we have a balcony instead of a patio. This makes me much less worried about wildlife eating our tomato plant, as there are regularly bunnies and squirrels in our backyard. Also, I feel better about leaving our door open at night to cool things off. And balconies are just more romantic.
  • We brought my most favorite lampshade with us and it is hanging in our kitchen. It makes me happy every single time I see it.
  • We have a garage. The griper in me would tell you that it's only a one car garage, and it isn't automatic, and the key to it doesn't work which makes for interesting shenanigans when I get home from the grocery store with the girls, but it is a garage. And we have many boxes in it. Also, 3 strollers. What would we do without it?
  • Speaking of storage space. . . we have none. No, ok, I guess we have a little, but it's definitely limited. Luckily (see? you thought I was just whining, but no, here is the ray of sunshine!), our apartment is only 50 square feet smaller than our house. So while we've had to downsize a little bit (and get kind of creative in our storage solutions), we aren't cramped by any means. Which is a good thing, because we might be here for a while. (Our house is still for sale! Tell your rich friends!)
  • We are in a 3 bedroom unit! These appear to be rare around these parts. We only looked at a couple of other places, and I wouldn't want to live in those dungeons. This place miraculous opened up while we were in town looking for housing, and we snatched it right up.
  • We live by lamplight these days, which is really quite soothing. They don't believe in overhead lighting here. The bedrooms and the living room have exactly zero overhead lights. I find it strange, but whatever. It made for a very exciting move-in day. "The sun is setting. . . we need to find the lamps, quick!!"
  • We live in an apartment. This means they shovel the walks and rake the leaves and plant the flowers and mow the lawn. This means that when our dishwasher breaks down, we just call the office and Mr Fix-It comes by the next day to take care of it, at no cost to us. The golden days of apartment living!
  • But I think my favorite part of living here is Clark is a happy man. His work situation is much improved, and he's just happier. That alone was worth the cross-country move.
To close, I have to share a couple of gripes. One is that we have no counter or cupboard space in the kitchen. It's annoying. I keep hoping to find a solution, but there just is none. Sigh.

The other is the toilet paper holders. They don't hold a roll of toilet paper. This is their one job! And they fail miserably! They are the kind with no stick in the middle, just two posts, that are ever so slightly too far apart. The TP will teeter on there, but if you have any desire to actually USE it, it'll fall right into the garbage can. It's ridiculous. I think about this every time I go to the bathroom, and it's been driving me nuts!

The End.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

30 by 30, #29: Go to a Farmers Market and buy something.

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I realized how important it is to buy local. I wanted to make the effort to do this more often, I really did, but I really haven't been up to the task. Things like babies and small children and hot summers have kept me from being the regular I would like to be at the Farmers Market. I have been to a Farmers Market before, and I've even bought something there, but I'm pretty sure it was one time, and I only bought one head of lettuce. Kind of lame.

So I made the goal to get to the Farmers Market. It turns out Midland has a great one every Saturday and Wednesday morning from May to October. I've been meaning to go, but once again, things keep getting in the way. The biggest hindrance has been my fear of going to a crowded public place with two children by myself. (Clark plays basketball every Saturday morning.) I know, I'm weaksauce. Anyway, I finally made the effort this last Saturday, and I was very pleased with our haul.

I had to keep it small and simple since we a
re going out of town on Wednesday. I needed some yellow squash and zucchini for dinner on Sunday, thought spinach and peas sounded good and healthy, and couldn't resist the flowers, cherries, and strawberries. The flowers have added such cheer to our house, and the strawberries? WOW. How have I been eating these big fat tasteless things from the grocery store for years? These Michigan strawberries are FABULOUS! They are bursting with flavor. Little morsels of heaven.

We also went blueberry picking, and those taste amazing as well, but that will have to be another post. I must say, I'm a big fan of fresh, local produce.

Monday, July 11, 2011

And then my daughter turned one.

I'm sort of in denial about this whole "birthday" thing. How is my little baby one year old?!

Happy Birthday, Ella! Our family is more complete with you in it. We will be celebrating by eating lots of blueberries (Ella's favorite!) and then dragging her - kicking and screaming, I'm sure - across the country tomorrow. But at least we waited until the day after, right?

30 by 30, #16: Sew matching dresses / skirts for my girls.

In case you aren't familiar with the 30 by 30 Project, here is the original post, with the big fat list.

This project was a long time in coming. It wasn't terribly hard, just time consuming. I decided to make these darling twirly skirts, and then I picked out some awesome fabric, and then I realized how many little strips I'd have to cut out, and that I don't really know how to gather, and I sort of sat on it for a while. Then I asked my friend Mindy for help, which was the best move I could possibly make. First, she has a rotary cutter and self healing mat, which saved me oodles of time. Second, we got to have sewing playdates, wherein we sewed and our kids happily played together. Third, she showed me how easy gathering is. And fourth, I had an excuse to sit down and actually sew the things.

It took way longer than it should have (I thought they'd be done by Easter, and then I thought they'd be done in time for our family pictures, but no, I think I finally finished them on June 30), and they certainly don't look professional (seriously, don't look too close), but from a distance, I think they turned out pretty cute.

Uh, do you know how hard it is to take a decent picture of 2 kids? Pretty hard. This shadowy thing is the best I got. But it gives you the idea.