Monday, July 31, 2006

The Dishwasher List

Signs you need a new dishwasher:

1. The top rack collapses while being loaded. Your husband fixes it temporarily, but you still quit using the sapphire plates until the dishwasher is replaced.

2. You suddenly lose your appetite when you notice grit marinating in the side of your half-drunk glass of water.

3. Your husband asks you to wait until after his movie is over to turn on the dishwasher.

4. You’ve seen shinier silverware at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

5. That smell! I don’t know what it is, but if I can smell it, it can’t be good.

6. You make a special trip to Costco to buy paper plates. (Please don’t lynch me, Ces!)

7. The cabinet under your sink is filled with every dishwashing tablet, powder, liquid, sanitizer, performance booster, and rinse agent you could find at the store. None of them work properly because your cheap @$$ dishwasher SUCKS!

8. You get mad at your husband if he changes the channel during an appliance commercial.

9. The plates come out dirtier than they went in.

10. You WISH your glasses would come out spotty. It would be an improvement!

It's a good thing we bought a new one because...

our dishwasher is SHOT!
The new one should arrive early this week...and not a moment too soon.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ms.Val's Unbargain of the Week

I didn't bring home any giveaway deals this week. In fact, the opposite is true.

Earlier this week, the boys and I took a trip to Target—because that’s what we do when we run out of things at home. We bought stuff like dryer sheets, paper towels, and some of those trash bags that can stop a bus from going over a cliff. I also had to buy a staple gun to repair the underlining of an ottoman I had to rip open after Jango got herself trapped in there.

This evening, I was looking at my Target receipt. I couldn’t believe it when I noticed what the most expensive item on my list was.

Razor blades. Yep—a 3-pack of Schick Intuition razor blades cost me $8.14.

Those razor blades cost me more money than the trash bags and a bottle of Excedrin Migraine. They even cost more than the heavy-duty Durabuilt staple gun with built-in tensioner!

Why are razor blades so expensive? Did a natural disaster hit the factory? Could it be that these particular cartridges are surrounded by a “Skin Conditioning Solid” that negates the need for a separate shaving cream, thereby jacking up the price to make up for the income loss incurred because the user doesn’t buy said shaving cream? I think I just answered my own question.

Anyway, I don’t see myself changing razors anytime soon. The Intuition is the only one I can find that doesn’t slice chunks of skin out of my bony ankles.

In related news, Jango has decided that it’s better to rest on top of the ottoman instead of inside it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mug Shots

I'm not a huge fan of decaled Fiesta, but I really love the pattern on these mugs. The bright colors and and the many carafes made these a must-have for my kitchen.

Quinton refers to them as my earthquake mugs because the carafes, teacups, and vases look like they are being bounced around the counter. That, or the dancing lady cha-cha'd her way into the table and bumped the cups, vases, and coffee servers.

I'd had my eye on these mugs for awhile. I hemmed and hawed and waited for a deal. So when Betty Crocker put them on sale for $7.99 for all 4, I decided it was time to pounce. Besides, this is probably the closest I will come to having a lilac carafe.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Before and After: The Back Doors

We recently replaced our sliding glass doors with beautiful, double French doors. We were going to wait until we remodeled the kitchen, but the sliders had just gotten too hard to open. It had gotten to the point where the boys were knocking whenever they wanted to be let in the house. THAT, I felt, was unacceptable.



A piece of advice: Don't ever paint outdoors in the summer if you don't have to. I did this last week when it was 115+ outside--WITH humidity! I rewarded myself by ordering pizza for dinner.

I should add that I'm not entirely happy with the unpainted window frames in the second picture. I'll likely be painting over those soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thursday 13

1. I fold t-shirts as neatly as any Gap employee.

2. I rarely ever turn down free furniture. A lot of our furniture comes from the Goodwill: the goodwill of my mom, my sister, my grandma, a neighbor, and my second cousin’s ex-wife.

3. It is my dream to live in a high-rise condo. It WILL happen. Oh yes. Someday…

4. I love it when little kids refer to me as “Mrs. Lucas’ Mom”.

5. I have spent all week doing research and shopping for a new dishwasher. Our old one is such a piece of crap that the dishes are coming out dirtier than they go in.

6. I once met Frank and Doug from Trading Spaces while shopping at The Great Indoors. The $1,000 budget won’t go far there!

7. I have a very diminished sense of smell. My sister, on the other hand, can tell when I accidentally leave wet clothes in the washer overnight.

8. I love Jango, but I think about Skitz on a daily basis. He will always be my first baby.

9. I learned to drive a stick shift before I even attempted to drive an automatic.

10. I have my belly button pierced.

11. I once visited the cul-de-sac where Knots Landing was filmed.

12. I lose my temper easily. Just ask the kid I once caught peeing in my yard.

13. I logged only 30 minutes of cell phone usage last month. Most of that was Lucas calling his dad to tell him that we’re just 2 minutes from his office. I really need to get out more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fun With MS Paint (Kyle)

Kyle has spent much of the summer reading, playing outside, and eagerly anticipating his next meal (this boy LOVES to eat). He is also discovering the possibilities that his computer holds. I have even taught him and Luke how to e-mail their MS Paint pictures to me.

Lightsaber Handle

Geometric Cube

Super Mario Brothers

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fun With MS Paint (Lucas)

Aside from his interest in learning the Ukranian alphabet, experimenting with my hair products, and music, Lucas has been discovering the fun of Microsoft Paint.


Eddie Van Halen (Luke did this one special for me.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

On My Soapbox

I am addicted to HGTV. I can watch home and remodeling shows all day. I have even adapted some of these decorating tips into my own home. And when my mother-in-law visits, she and I bond over this stuff.

But my favorite home shows are the ones that pertain to real estate and home buying. They’re unrealistic. They’re so badly acted its funny. They’re funnier, in fact, than anything on network TV.

My Farced Place
I’m finding it increasingly difficult to watch My First Place on HGTV. Too many of these “first places” are outfitted with refinished hardwoods, original leaded glass accent windows, and fireplaces with complete mantles and dentil molding. Oh, and the homeowners are these lovesick undergrads who found the dough to fashionably escape the Animal House lifestyle.

Once—just once—I’d like to the decorators revamp a home with pee-stained shag carpeting, faux wood laminate countertops, mirror tiles with gold veining Liquid Nailed to the bedroom ceiling, and velvet wallpaper. The owner: a single mom who works three jobs to buy food, gas, clothing, and health insurance for her family.

I'm Flipping Out
Shows like Flip This House, Flip That House (yes, they are two different shows), and Property Ladder are train wrecks that you just can’t not watch. My favorite episodes are the ones where a quick-cash hungry Barbie girl takes on a $400K mortgage for a dilapidated 2 bedroom cottage.

The place reeks of urine. The walls are covered with char marks where a meth lab exploded. And there’s an oil drum in the living room that squatters had used for heat. But her hopes are high! Armed with a 2-week deadline and a $50,000 budget, Barbie is going to turn this place into Xanadu and sell it for $899,990.

But first thing’s first. Barbie hops in her H3, and heads to the home improvement warehouse. There, she picks up 24 inch travertine tile, cherry hardwood flooring, and orders a whirlpool bathtub just like one she saw on MTV Cribs.

8 weeks and $120,000 later, the newly-laid travertine flooring is ripped out to repair a foundation leak. The house is covered in a termite tent. And the $5,000 bathtub is sitting on the back porch, half full of muddy rainwater. Foreclosure is looming large and the thrice delayed open house is TOMORROW!!!!!

House Already Hunted
The early seasons of HGTV’s House Hunters were all too predictable. The buyers always got the third house they saw (or second if they were outbid on the third). Yawn. The format has since been tweaked a bit. The buyers are still shown three houses, but the viewers are kept guessing as to which house will ultimately be chosen.

Ah, but it’s still predictable. In fact, House Hunters is faker than a Gucci bag in Santee Alley. If you watch closely, the buyers almost always pick the house that was shown unfurnished during their “tour”. And that’s because they already picked it! They have probably already closed escrow by the time the tour is badly reenacted for the cameras. I’ll bet there’s even a loaded Bekins van around the corner waiting for the camera crew to clear out.

At least they stopped doing the fake phone call where a lady squeals to her husband: “Honey, we got the house!” Now, if they would just give us viewers the asking prices on these houses. Yep, I’m nosey that way. That and I like to see how people trying to sell a house don’t attempt to decorate or even clear off the kitchen counters.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

I have a love-hate relationship with going-out-of-business sales. I love getting to buy stuff at rock-bottom, sometimes below-cost prices. But I hate diminished selection, the lack of morale among soon-to-be unemployed salespeople, and the fact that I will never get to shop at that store again. This is the case with the Betty Crocker catalog.

I’m going to miss BC. Not only did they have the best selection of Fiesta dishes, but if you mailed in enough Betty Crocker points, you could get free shipping—a bargain hunter’s dream.

Wednesday’s mail brought what will probably be my final shipment from Betty Crocker. Yes, I was a bad girl. I bought LOTS of marked-down Fiesta goodies that I previously had only a lukewarm desire for. But I hold true to a saying my dad taught me: A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs. A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item she doesn’t need.

This week’s bargain arrived in that shipment: a pair of cinnabar Fiesta juice pitchers. Retail price on these is $50. Betty Crocker’s liquidation price was $9.99—a little more than 80% off.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hot in the City

Yesterday in Phoenix, the daytime high reached 118. According to the TV weatherpeople, it hasn't been this hot since June-something 1995. So in honor of this momentous non-event, I present this e-mail list that has been circulating for as long as there's been e-mail. I even added a few of my own at the bottom.

It's so hot in Arizona that...

--The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
--The potatoes cook underground, and all you have to do to have lunch is to pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.
--Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying hard-boiled eggs.
--The cows are giving evaporated milk.
--The trees are whistling for the dogs.
--You no longer associate bridges (or rivers) with water.
--You can say 113 degrees without fainting.
--You eat hot chilies to cool your mouth off.
--You know that you can make sun tea outside faster than instant tea in your microwave.
--You learn that a seat belt makes a pretty good branding iron.
--The temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.
--You’ve experienced condensation on your butt from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
--You would give anything to be able to splash cold water on your face.
--You can attend any function wearing shorts and a tank top.
--The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
--You discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car.
--You discover that you can get a sunburn through your car window.
--You notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
--Hot water now comes out of both taps.
--Its noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is out on the streets.
--You actually burn your hand opening the car door.
--You break a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
--No one would dream of putting vinyl upholstery in a car or not having air conditioning.
--Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
--You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
--You discover that a baby sock makes a great cover for the stick shift.
--You fix your family smoothies for dinner.
--You wait until after dinner to mow the lawn.
--The swimming pool is no longer “refreshingly cool”.

--Forgetting to use the windshield sun shade is grounds for a sanity hearing.
--The back seat of your car is littered with empty water bottles.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Poor-Man's Remodel, Part 2

Because I wasn't willing to leave well-enough alone, I removed the door from the cabinet to the right of the microwave. I then moved my colorful glasses and mugs there. That cabinet had previously held a hodge-podge of crap and wine glasses I never use. Those got moved to the cabinet where the regular glasses used to live.

I would love nothing more than to remove the doors from above the microwave, but they hide a large glavanized aluminum vent pipe.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The House List

1. The exterior has as much character one can get from a Phoenix area tract house. I think it looks somewhat like a San Francisco row house

2. It has an honest-to-goodness front entry hall. Here, we have space for a bench and console table with mirror. We could even add a coat rack…if we lived in a climate where coats were even worn!

3. The bedrooms are completely separate from the living areas. When one of us can’t sleep, that person can go downstairs, turn on all the lights, start the dishwasher, fix a batch of microwave popcorn, and watch reruns of Celebrity Deathmatch…all without disturbing the upstairs occupants.

4. The house faces north. That means the master bedroom is the coolest room in the house…in more ways than one.

5. There are no other two-story houses around us. The neighbors can’t see into our yard, but—if we were that type of people—we could see into theirs.

6. Separate tub and shower and double vanities in the master bathroom. If necessary, Q and I can get ready without waiting for the other to finish up.

7. We have great views of the mountains two blocks north.

8. Our formal dining room is anything but. We eat all our meals in this room, mostly because the table is bigger than the one in the kitchen. On the flip side, we can easily gussy up the dining room for holiday dinners and other formal occasions.

9. The space under the stairway serves double duty as a closet for jackets, shoes, and baby items I don’t want to part with, and a hiding place for Jango.

10. Our next door neighbors have a huge tree that hangs over our fence. As a result, our pool is mostly shaded over by 1:00. Messy, yes, but the tree only sheds two months out of the year.

11. Unlike most of the houses on our side of the street, there are no utility boxes or street lights in our front yard.

12. The game room. This upstairs loft-style space can—and does—serve any number of functions. It started out as a toy room for the kids and the last stop for cast-off furniture before going to the sidewalk with a handwritten “FREE” sign. Currently, the loft is used as a hangout for the boys to watch TV and play Nintendo. The walls are lined with wood storage cabinets and we managed to jam some exercise equipment in there as well. Someday, Quinton hopes to put a pool table there.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Ok, I have officially lost it....

Every piece of Post-86 Fiesta I own is out on that table. A lot of it needed to be dusted, but mostly I wanted to rearrange the cabinets. The pastels went into the kitchen and the brights went in the dining room cabinet. I'll rotate the vases, platters, and other display pieces later.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Jango List

It’s been over a month and a half since Jango joined our family. In that time, her personality has done a total about-face…and that’s a good thing. There was nothing wrong with her before. She’s always been a sweetie. But losing her former owner and coming to a new home made her a very fearful and depressed kitty for awhile.

1. Jango is LOUD! Definitely a typical Siamese. She meows. She howls. She screams. She even has this one long, drawn-out cry that sounds like Whitney Houston hitting a high note. Lucas: “Geez, take a breath, Cat!”

2. Jango prefers to play with garbage. When we first got her, I bought her a bunch of new kitty toys, but she turned her nose up at all of them. Instead, she prefers to play with wadded up gas receipts, Band-Aid wrappers, cotton balls, and the little plastic seals from the lids of milk jugs.

3. Jango Fetches…just like a dog! She lets me know when it’s playtime (usually around 5am) by bringing a cotton ball up to the bed for me to throw. And I do. And she brings it back. This goes on until the cotton ball gets kicked under the bed or tossed into the clothes hamper. Someday I’m going to get a video camera to film this.

4. Jango is afraid to go outside. Once she followed me out front to put out the trash. But once she got to the end of the footpath, she stopped and froze in fear.

5. Jango almost never sleeps on our bed. Apparently, there’s not enough room there for her liking.

6. Jango sits guard on the bedroom floor. If I get up in the middle of the night to get a drink or adjust the thermostat, she follows me through the house and talks endlessly. She thinks its playtime.

7. Jango’s favorite hangouts include Kyle’s beanbag chair, my closet, the cabinet under the playroom window, and on a stack of boxes in the stairway closet. We just have to be careful to leave the door open when she’s in there.

8. Jango’s favorite treats are seafood flavored Whiskas Temptations, Pounce, and Feline Greenies. She won’t touch canned cat food, and she requires fresh water at least twice a day. Quinton says I spoil her.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The decorating bug bites once again...

I decided that the kitchen needed just a little more color.



I like to think of this as the poor-man's kitchen remodel.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Purple Family goes to Payson!

Tank of gas: $27.87

Lunch at Cousin's Subs: $21.42

Admission to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park: $6

Post-hike snacks at Dairy Queen $11.04

One night at the Payson Days Inn: $78.19

Dinner at the Pizza Factory: $20.77

Gas and snacks for the drive home: $27.41

A vacation where NOBODY fights with ANYBODY about ANYTHING the whole entire time: Priceless