Monday, April 30, 2007

Our First House

This is the newly-built house that Q and I bought in 1992. It's a small place, but it was pretty nice digs, considering that we were 19 and 23 when we bought it.

The kitchen. Periwinkle countertops. Periwinkle gridded wallpaper. Ces and Taffy would be proud. Q will probably kill me for posting a pic of his frozen hash brown accident, but it's a decent shot of the otherwise clean kitchen.

The dining room. More periwinkle: on the chairs and in the vinyl flooring (not shown, but it's there). I made the chintzy arched window treatment myself after getting shocked by a price quote for pleated shades.
The living room...complete with baby toys, college furniture, and..yes...MORE periwinkle.
The mural I painted in Kyle's baby room. Thanks to Barney, cartoon dinosaurs were very popular at the time.
Lucas' baby room. A Noah's Ark theme...complete with periwinkle carpet!!! I love this picture...even if the cloud jammies make me look fat. :-p
The back yard. Quinton estimates that he spent 60 hours putting in the sprinkler system for the grass.

We loved that house. We especially loved the mortgage payments, which were less than many car payments, or even apartment rent. We could have stayed there forever. But shortly after Lucas was born, it became apparent that we were going to need more space than a 1300 square foot starter home had to offer. We sold the house in 1999.

Since then, I have had a sporadic, nagging curiousity as to what kind of decor changes the new owner might have done to "our" house. And last night, I got to find out.

I was wasting the evening nosing around (a local real estate website). And for grins and giggles I decided to check out prices in the old neighborhood. That's where I found it. My old house is up for sale again! After a little more searching, I found pictures and a virtual tour!

It was so surreal seeing our old home remodeled and redecorated. Outside, the facade looks exactly the same. In fact, the whole neighborhood looks like it's stuck in a late '90s time warp. But in the back yard, the grass has been paved over, the oleanders were removed, and a spa has been added.

Inside, the only thing I recognized was the white-washed kitchen cabinetry. Also, the programmable thermostat my dad bought us was still there. But just about everything else has been changed...and for the better, I must admit. The chintzy chintz window treatments and aluminum mini blinds were replaced with faux stained glass. The glass and brass light fixtures have all been upgraded. There is nary a trace of anything periwinkle. And all the wallpaper has apparently been removed...a chore I do not envy.

It's nice to see that the lady who lived there after us treated the place well. In fact, she probably treated it better than we did. I don't think she had any kids puking strawberry waffle on the carpet. My hat is off to her for a redecorating job well done.

Anyway, I will be watching the real estate listing very closely. I'm curious to see how long the house stays on the market before it sells (we sold it in 12 days, during a market boom). I'm also very anxious to see what price it gets. The asking price is more than three times what we paid in 1992.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ms. Val's Bargain of the Week

Today, while running errands, we decided to stop for lunch at 5 & Diner. About halfway through the meal, Lucas spotted a giant gumball machine with a sign that read "Get a smiley-face gumball, and get a free shake." He immediately asked me for a quarter. I gave him the coin and went back to my lunch. About 10 seconds later, Lucas returned to the table wielding his yellow smiley face gumball. I also gave Kyle a quarter for a gumball, but his came out plain orange. Oh well...

When the waiter came by, we showed him the gumball, and he asked what kind of shake Luke wanted. The gaping look on that boy's face was priceless as the waiter began listing his options: Oreo shake...Butterfinger shake...Heath Bar shake...Reeses' Peanut Butter Cup shake... That's a very difficult decision for a 9-year old to make!

Lucas ended up choosing the Oreo shake. That's my boy!!!! He also saved us $4.29...less the cost of the gumball.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Weekend Wishes

I wish that the baseball games had fewer innings (3+ hours is a LONG time)

I wish Lucas would put his socks in the hamper instead of dropping them in the middle of the dining room floor.

I wish Jango would sleep in Kyle's room once in awhile.

I wish VH-1 would play something other than I Love New York.

I wish some radio station in the Phoenix area would play more 70's music.

I wish the litigants on these judge shows would use better grammer ("They didn't pay no rent for the month of..." or "Me and her, we had agreed that...)

I wish there was a public tennis court closer to home.

I wish Quinton wouldn't change the channel during Gene Simmons' Family Jewels.

I wish I weren't so frightened by cars with spinner rims. Even when the pimped out car is
stopped, it looks like it's still coming right at me.

I wish the shoe shelf in the downstairs closet would stay organized.

I wish quality women's swimsuits were comparably priced to men's.

I wish I could motivate myself to clean out the den. And my closet. And the garage. And the guest room.

I wish I wasn't so tempted by pizza, ice cream, and cookies.

I wish the semester would hurry up and be over.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rarer Than a Bigfoot Sighting

I guess Jango was too thirsty to beg in the bathroom sink.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Waste of Money

A few weeks ago, Mark G. posted about waste of money that is the Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner. Here's how I wasted my money:

I bought an iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod. Since both of our cars predate the iPod, neither one is hard wired to play it. There are dozens of different iPod transmitters out there, but I bought this particular one because it's compact and wireless. It cost a little more, but--silly me--I figured if I spent a little money, I'd be getting a better model. It didn't quite work out that way.

First off, the iTrip doesn't easily pick up a signal. An empty FM frequency is needed, and those are hard to come by in the greater Phoenix area. But I do occasionally get one, and if I turn the volume up really loud, I can get decent reception. Until yesterday.

While driving home, the iTrip just up and quit. I went from listening to Carly Simon at moderate volume to a sudden blast of loud static. And since I didn't have any CDs on me, I was forced to listen to commercial radio for the rest of the car ride.

On the bright side, I can still listen to the iPod on my very primitive, wired cassette adapter. That thing works 100 times better than the iTrip. But I still have this worthless iTrip, and $50 less in my pocket.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Me and Quinton

Monday, April 16, 2007

Phoenix in the 70s and 80s

Having lived my entire life in the Phoenix area, I have witnessed tremendous growth. Many businesses have come and gone. And too many architectural treasures have been torn down. Today, I am waxing nostalgic about the Phoenix of my childhood. And, true to my character, most of these list entries pertain to shopping. My local readers--all two of them--will especially enjoy this one.

You lived in Phoenix in the 70s and 80s if...

--You remember when Bell Road (especially thorough Glendale) was the considered edge of civilization. There was nothing there but tumbleweeds and prarie dogs. Now, it's where you go to run all your errands.

--Your parents took you to Legend City.

--Mornings were spent watching The Wallace and Ladmo Show. When it was over, it was time to leave for school.

--You remember when Beardsley Road was a seldom traveled, two-lane blacktop. Now, it's the eastbound frontage road for the 101 freeway.

--Before there was Target, there was Gemco. Now, most of the old Gemco stores are Targets.

--You watched Star Wars at the original Cine Capri (I fell asleep...I was 4).

--You remember stores like Yellow Front, FedMart, Woolco, Newberry's, TG&Y, Sprouse Reitz, and Yates.

--You remember when Metrocenter had a below-grade ice skating rink. Watching skaters from the overlook above was the best way to escape the summer heat.

--Also at Metrocenter was a Farrell's ice cream parlor. No Farrell's trip was complete without getting to see two waiters run though the restaurant with a sundae resting on a stretcher, while lights and sirens whirred in the background. Sometimes, the ice cream would fall off the stretcher.

--You were bummed when Farrell's closed. The space was later occupied by 'Round the Corner, a burger and sandwich place similar to Red Robin. The decor reminded me of the Regal Beagle on Three's Company.

--You ever saw a concert at Compton Terrace.

--Your dad subscribed to the Phoenix Gazette.

--You remember when the Brass Armadillo antique mall was Angel's--a building supply warehouse similar to Home Depot.

--You remember when the Phoenix Suns were the only professional sports team in the state, and they played their games at Phoenix Memorial Coleseum.

--Your groceries came from Alpha Beta, AJ Bayless, Lucky's, or Smitty's. Smitty's even had a little coffee shop attached to it.

--A night out consisted of family dinner at the Lunt Avenue Marble Club. Their deep fried mushrooms were the best.

--You remember when eastbound I-10 ended at Dysart Road. In order to continue east, you had to take McDowell or Thomas Road 15 miles to I-17 and head south. I-10 started up again somewhere east of downtown.

--You ever ate breakfast at Sambo's.

--You remember when houses were built with carports instead of garages. Roofs were covered with wood shakes or asphalt shingles instead of concrete tiles.

--You remember home builder's billboards that advertised interest rates of 11% (I distinctly remember one such sign at the corner at 7th Street and Thunderbird).

--Your aspirin and cough syrup came from Skagg's, Revco, Thrifty's, or Drug Emporium.

--Your shoes came from Buster Brown.

--You remember when CBS was on channel 10...ABC was on channel 3...and channels 5 and 15 were independant. Now, CBS is on channel 5...FOX is on channel 10...ABC is on channel 15...and channel 3 no longer has a network affiliation. NBC and PBS are the only ones that stayed on their original stations (channel 12 and 8, respectively).

--You remember when channel 15 broadcast pay-tv at night (I believe it was called ON-TV).

--You spent hours watching early music videos on UHF channel 61. Due to the limited number of videos at the time, songs like "Down Under", "I Ran", and "Come on, Eileen" were repeated quite often. You were lucky if you could get decent reception.

--You accompanied your dad to the True Value Hardware store in Westown in hopes of getting to stop at Baskin Robbins afterwards. (We once tried to get ice cream at 9:30 in the morning, but BR was closed.)

--You shopped at Valley West Mall before it bacame a ghost town, and was ultimately torn down.

--You shopped at Phoenix Spectrum Mall when it was known as Chris-Town.

--You woke up to Bruce Kelly in the morning on KZZP.

--You rode the "Tico" to Park Central.

--You remember quality local programming like Open House with Rita Davenport or Sun Spots with Jan DiAtri.

--You accompanied your dad to the LaBelle's catalog showroom to buy your mom's Christmas present.

--Before he was governor, you remember Evan Mecham as the owner of a Pontiac dealership in Glendale.

--You remember when Castles 'n' Coasters was known as Golf 'n' Stuff.

--You remember when the entire state of Arizona only had one area code. Now, there are three in the Phoenix area alone.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sunrise in Arizona

Saturday, April 14, 2007

He Does All His Own Stunts, Part 5

Here, Lucas is risking life, limb, and Fiesta because he wants to make a batch of lemonade.

Friday, April 13, 2007

More 80's!

Remember when these commercials were on every five minutes?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It Runs in the Family

The other day, Lucas asked me if he could have a blog of his own. Since he loves to write an draw, I thought a blog would be a good outlet to show off his artwork, stories, and how he can write his name in Somali. He just had agree to a few ground rules, like not posting our home address and phone number.

After months of sitting on the armrest of my chair, watching me post and edit my blog, Lucas is pretty well versed on how to use Blogger. In fact, he might be able to teach me a thing or two...just like he did with MS Paint.

Lucas' blog is called Standard Stunt 99. The URL is There's not much there now, but that's because I haven't had a chance to scan his drawings. I'll get to that this afternoon.

After he heard about Lucas getting a blog, Kyle promptly asked if he could have a MySpace page. Ummm....give me about 5 years to think about that.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Children of the 80s.

I recently wasted an entire afternoon reading "you were a child in the 80's if..." lists all over the Internet. Below, I included some of my favorites and added a few of my own. The most comprehensive (and VERY long) list can be viewed here.

...You and all your friends discussed elaborate plans to get together again at the end of the century and play 1999 by Prince over and over again.

...You ever dressed to emulate a person you saw in either a Duran Duran, Madonna, or Cyndi Lauper video.

...You ever owned one of those embarrassing crimping irons.

...You remember when Banana Republic only sold safari clothes.

...You actually thought the KISS song Lick it Up was about brownie batter.

...You attended birthday parties at Showbiz Pizza Place.

...You wanted your first car to be a Pontiac Fiero...just like Ferris Beuller's sister had.

...You wanted to be on Star Search.

...You wore a banana clip in your hair or one of those slap on wrist bands at some point during your youth.

...You yearned to be a member of The Babysitters Club, and tried to start a club of your own.

...You dragged your mom all over the mall looking for stirrup pants. Every store was sold out in your size.

...You own any cassettes.

...You remember and/or own any of the Care Bear Glass collection from Pizza Hut.

...You enjoyed riding in the hatchback of your mom's Datsun.

...You ever had a Swatch Watch. If you had 2 or more, you wore them all at once.

...You had a collection of Smurfs figurines.

...You collected stickers, which were kept on their backings on display in a photo album. The scratch-and-sniff stickers made you sick, and the "puffy" stickers were like gold in trading circles. You dreamed of owning a sticker store when you grew up.

...You wore jelly shoes...even if they made you feet sweat.

...You were warned about eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke together.

...The girls' bathroom at your school reeked of AquaNet.

...You thought growing "a tail" was cool.

...You thought the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak was scary.

...You remember when Saturday mornings on ABC were NOT all Disney cartoons.

...You carried one of those brightly colored purses that had looked like a duffle bag. It came with a miniature version of itself that was used as a key ring/change purse. I believe I had a blue one.

...You remember when McDonald's sandwiches came in styrofoam boxes.

...You appreciate the simple fun of the original Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Game.

...You used to expect green slime to fall on your head if you said "I don't know".

...You have watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and said "Hey that's the guy from Reading Rainbow".

...You remember when cable TV became available in your neighborhood. It was a banner day.

...You know that the higher the ponytail the cooler it is.

...You put on pink eyeshadow thicker than a hooker in an effort to look cool and "adult".

...You remember that before Toys-R-Us, there was Lionel Playworld and Toys by Roy.

...You wore Dove shorts...even if your underpants did peak out the bottom.

...You played Chinese jump rope at recess.

...You watched hours and hours of the USA Cartoon Express.

...You know the significance of 'Dare... Double Dare... Physical Challenge'.

...You remember thinking you were cool if you wore your bookbag on only one shoulder.

...Your favorite show on MTV was Remote Control.

...You thought it was so cool when cars won on The Price is Right had an actual retail price five digits long.

...Your Domino's Pizza was delivered by a guy driving a Chevy Chevette emblazoned with the company logo.

...You ever watched music videos on Night Tracks.

...You ever wore parachute pants.

...Your mom watched PM Magazine.

...You have casettes that have little blips every few songs because you recorded them from 8-tracks.

...You know what a paddle controller is.

...Your family's first VCR was a top-loader with a wired remote. The remote quit working after a few months.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter to All!!!!

The day started out with an Easter Egg hunt. The boys were kind enough to hang out upstairs and watch cartoons until Q and I decided to wake up. Since the Easter Bunny brings plastic eggs filled with chocolate, I informed the boys that any eggs they didn't find were mine. In all, there were four: one perched on a lampshade, one inside an oven mitt, one inside Jango's food storage resevoir, and one in a corner.

The Easter Bunny brought small panorama eggs for the children.
Lucas chewed his down to look like a toilet:
The Easter table. Dinner was served on mostly retired, pastel Fiesta. The menu consisted of beef burgundy, creamy mashed pototoes, broiled asparagus, Caesar salad, and multi-grain bread. Drink choices included chocolate martinis, wine, or water. For dessert, we had a tres leches cake that my sister made.

Clean-up never looked so good.

My niece enjoyed wearing my boots.
I had a great hair day.
AND, tonight's Desperate Housewives is a new episode. No rerun or clip show.
All in all, a great day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I Don't Play Sports....

But if I did, I would buy my equipment at Target:

Friday, April 06, 2007

They Have Got to be Kidding!!!!

I was thumbing through my latest copy of the Anthropologie catalog when I spotted this item:
Now, I like distressed furniture as much as the next guy. I even have a few shabby chic pieces in my house. But this ottoman goes way beyond rustic. It looks like it was attacked by a pack of feral cats, who scratched, puked, and peed on it. Then it was chucked out in the alley, where it sat for another 30 years before Anthropologie scavanged it, took its picture, named it the Trunk Tarp Ottoman, and slapped on a $998 price tag. Oh's now on sale for $747.95. MUCH better....NOT!

For those who really want this piece of furniture to grace their homes, the look can easily be achieved for a lot less money. All it takes is a trip to your local area thrift store. There's a whole string of antique and consignment shops along Cave Creek Road in north Phoenix and along 7th Avenue in central Phoenix.
I once bought an ottoman at a department store closeout place for $13. It was covered denim fabric that slightly soiled and had a small rip in it, but it didn't look near as bad as this one. In fact, I still have that old ottoman. When I reupholstered it a few years ago, and I paid more money for the fabric than I did for the actual furniture piece.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Best Cookies Ever

Chef Q makes these oatmeal and white chocolate cookies quite often. On Tuesday night, he made a batch to take to a potluck event at work the next day. I ate four of these before he reminded me what they were for. Oops!
Well, there were obviously enough cookies to go around because the leftovers are pictured above. Actually, there were five left, but I ate two shortly after Q came home.
The recipe came out of the Joy of Cooking cookbook.
Preheat oven to 350.
--1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
--1/2 cup granulated sugar
Cream with:
--1/2 cup butter
Combine and beat until smooth:
--1 egg
--1 teaspoon vanilla
--1 tablespoon milk
Sift together and add to the above ingredients:
--1 cup all purpose flour
--1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
--1/2 teaspoon salt
When beaten smooth, add:
--1 cup uncooked quick rolled oats
--3/4 cup chocolate chips (we prefer 1 cup of WHITE chocolate chips)
Beat mixture well. Drop cookies 2 inches apart on well-greased cookie sheet and bake until light brown.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sad Songs Say So Much

According to Pop Culture Madness, the 10 saddest songs are:

1. He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones
2. The End of the World - Skeeter Davis
3. Last Kiss - J Frank Wilson (or Pearl Jam)
4. Tears In Heaven - Eric Clapton
5. Alone Again, Naturally - Gilbert O Sullivan
6. Concrete Angel - Martina McBride
7. I'll Be There - Escape Club
8. Send In the Clowns - Judy Collins
9. The End of the Road - Boys II Men
10. Hurt So Bad - Little Anthony and the Imperials or Linda Ronstadt

Some of these I have never heard of (3, 6, and 7). Some I've heard, but haven't listened to the lyrics closely enough to shed tears over them (2, 5, 8, 9, and 10). I wholeheartedly agree with number #4. I also agree with #1...once Q explained it to me.

There are 67 others on the list--including You're Beautiful by James Blunt (#40). Personally, I think that one's more pathetic than sad, but whatever....

Anyway here are my choices in no particular order:

--Wildfire - Michael Murphy
--It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes - The Oakridge Boys
--Coward of the County - Kenny Rogers
--Think of Laura - Christopher Cross
--Goodbye Girl - David Gates
--Honey - Billy J. Tyler

Monday, April 02, 2007

Two Weddings and a Funeral

Those are among the reasons I haven't been posting lately. Also, I haven't been feeling particularly inspired, and it's been too darn nice outside to be cooped up at the computer.

My cousin got married last weekend. Q and I used this as an opportunity to allow the boys to stay home alone. They were given two choices: put on nice clothes, comb their hair, take a one hour car ride to Mesa, and sit still for long periods. Or they could stay home, and McDonald's while watching Cartoon Network in their underwear. Guess which option they chose.

The boys did quite well alone. They answered the phone only when Q or I called (we have our house phoned programmed to emit a special ring when the call comes in from Q's or my cell phone), and they didn't let anyone in the house. The only faux pas--if you can call it that--came when Kyle answered the door because a neighbor boy who came over to play apparently saw movement in the front window. Well, he was not going to quit ringing the doorbell until it was answered. After he sent his friend away, Kyle felt guilty enough to call me and confess his sin. I promised that I wouldn't chuck his Nintendo Wii into the pool.

The wedding was nice, and I didn't even get drunk on free booze...although I smelled like it when my sister accidently spilled half of her glass of wine on me. My dress was black so it was no big deal.

The following day, Q had to fly to Minnesota to attend his grandmother's funeral. She was 88 years old, and apparently passed on while taking a nap. I will remember Grandma Martha best for her handmade baby quilts. When I was pregnant with Kyle, she asked Q for a piece of the cartoon dinosaur wallpaper boarder I had used to decorate the nursery. Apparently, she sensed my disappointment when I didn't get the store-bought one for my baby shower.

Well, Grandma's blanket was way better. She had a friend of hers use fabric paint to copy the pattern onto cotton fabric, and used it make me the most beautiful lightweight baby quilt. In fact, Kyle would still be using that quilt if I let him. But earlier this year, I convinced him to let me put it away so it wouldn't become tattered. This will definately be an heirloom piece.

Wedding #2 was this weekend. I bought a new dress for this event because wearing the same outfit to both weddings would be positively gauche! Many of the same people attended both. Anyway, this time, my grandma got married. Her husband is a really nice man, who seems to really make her happy. This is the kind of happiness Grandma thought she'd never see again after Grandpa died 4 years ago.

The ceremony was held at the Wrigley Mansion--a posh locale perched atop a hill, offering sweeping views of downtown Phoenix. This place is breathtakingly beautiful and very grand--when compared to our suburban tract house. So much so that I felt a little self conscious driving up in our 6-year old Dodge with a cracked windshie. That feeling quickly passed when I spotted a Hyundai Accent at the valet station.

Anyway, for those who are still checking in, I will try to post more. Between, messy houses, report cards, finals, registration for the fall semester, taxes, Q's medical bills (we now call him the Half Million Dollar Man), and Phoenix traffic, I'm sure I'll find something to gripe about.