Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's showtime!

I always think of "Beetlejuice" when I hear "It's showtime"...when Geena Davis says "Beetlejuice" three times and Michael Keaton appears.

That movie was a hoot. One of my favorite parts is when the dinner party sings along to the Banana Boat Song. (This one is in English but has foreign sub-titles...couldn't find just a regular one.)

Anyway, "Beetlejuice" is not the reason for my post tonight. If plans had gone according to schedule, I would be here right now.

But VivaAerobus cancelled my flight "due to the swine flu virus." In reality, I think it's because they weren't making any money flying out of Austin, so they've cancelled all further flights from there. Now they're flying out of Las Vegas, however. We'll see how that goes. At least I got my full refund.

The real reason it's "showtime" is because I've officially put my house on the market and signed all the papers last Friday. So this baby is up for sale. (No "For Sale" sign in the front yard yet, though.)

Since I've been thinking about doing this, I've painted the entire exterior. (I did the tile work in the front entry shortly after I moved here in 2004, so that wasn't part of my recent improvements.)

Close-up of the telltale real estate lock box.

So I have totally de-cluttered, de-personalized and minimized furnishings in the house. Very few knick-knacks, neutral colors, etc. Painted the living room a neutral taupe...

And the dining room...

And decided to move my desk/computer into the quirky room with the cement floor off the kitchen/dining area...

...on the other side of the window I made (and posted previously) to give it some aesthetic appeal. It was empty before and some people don't have the ability to imagine what to do with an empty "bonus" room, so I thought making it my office would give it some definition.

Painted my bedroom 'Vanilla Wafer' (boring but sellable)...

And bathroom (a kind of light sage green...slightly more interesting)...

And painted the little deck on the backside of the house. My garden ain't got nothin' on Beck's, Ann's and Vee's yards. I should have paid them to come out and give me some tips. I just planted a few more flowers and threw down some fresh mulch. It's amazing how fresh mulch will make a garden look so much better.

Even painted the garage. I don't mind painting the interior of the house because the final outcome is always so gratifying...especially when you're painting a vivid color. But painting my garage was damned boring because I don't spend any time in my garage...only to get into/out of my car and when I'm looking for a paint can or tool or getting the lawn mower. The most time I've spent in my garage at any one time is about two minutes...tops. Except when I was painting it...then it was like a whole bunch of boring hours. (By the way, all those red boxes are full of books which I'm giving to the senior citizens center who I keep forgetting to call to have them pick up.)

So I sign the papers on Friday afternoon and the real estate agent goes out to my house to take pictures and measurements. She said I wouldn't have any action this weekend because it takes several days to post. NOT! I woke up on Saturday thinking I had the whole weekend to do little odd jobs like dust the ceiling fans, swiffer the floors and wipe down the cabinets. I pulled into the Target parking lot where I was going to get some new towels for the bathroom so it would look spiffy, when I get a call from my real estate agent. Someone from her office wants to show my house at 3:00. What time is it now? 2:15. Forget about the Jared to get him to arrange his room and clean his windows. Rush home and do as much as I can before 3:00. Throw the litter box and cats in the car (because we don't want potential buyers to think we have pets) and drive around for an hour listening to MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! while they're climbing on the dashboard, around my legs, wondering why I am being so cruel to them taking them away from home in this strange machine. (Why is it that dogs LOVE riding in cars and cats HATE it?) And since we're in South Texas where the days are approaching 100 degrees, I have to keep the air conditioning on so that they're comfortable. Wouldn't want the SPCA on my back.

Oh, well...that's what happens when you're selling a house. I'll have Sunday to catch up on those things I wanted to do. NOT!! On Sunday morning, I got calls for showings at 11:00 and 2:00. Shit!! I got the 11:00 call at 10:00 and still hadn't mowed the yard so I asked them if they could back it up by a half hour...which they did. So I mowed the yard, threw the cats and the litter box in the car and drove around for an hour to MEOW! MEOW! MEOW! Get the hell in the back seat and shut up, for God's sake! (I didn't really say that, but I may have been thinking it.)

Okay, so we get through the 2:00 showing and I'm thinking "Whew! That was fun." Then I hear, "...have another beer in Mexico..." (That's my ringtone.) I look on my phone and it's from the realtor. Oh, God, no...please, no.'s another 5:45 tonight. I have about three hours and I'm so tired I don't want to do a damn thing. I should be glad that I'm having this activity but if it weren't for the damn cats (who I love, but maybe not so much when I'm trying to sell a house)! One last time today...throw the cats and the litter box in the car and drive around. By this time the cats were actually getting used to it and just laid down in the back seat...probably from being tired of the whole ordeal.

So these are a few things I did to boost the sale. Good smelling candle...

Fresh daisies on the table...

And even bought an inexpensive fountain with zen-like water trickling...

So I'm at work on Friday and I'm telling the UPS guy that I'm trying to sell my house. He says, "Isn't there something you're supposed to bury in your yard to give you good luck?" Hmmm...come to think of it, I had heard that myself but couldn't remember. Then the lab technician guy comes in an we ask him. "Yeah...I think it's St. should Google it."

So I did. And St. Joseph it is.

I guess you're supposed to bury him upside down next to the "For Sale" sign facing the house. I'm not Catholic but I've learned through the years that we should get all the help we can get, so what the heck...I got one. I don't have a "For Sale" sign yet, so I'm waiting to bury the poor guy (seems kind of cruel to me...especially upside down for cryin' out loud), so he's perched on my window sill above my sink.

So my office is the only place in the house where I have some momentos. These are sitting on the table next to my printer. My real estate agent was at my computer last week looking at local listings and she said, "So, is that your son?"

HaHaHaHaHaHa! That was a good one! I told her that was one of my favorite photos from Isla Mujeres...a little island off the coast of Cancun. I took this picture in May of 2007...he was one of the workers building the new pier. He was about 100 feet away from me and didn't have a clue I was taking his picture...which makes his cocky pose genuine.

Well, I wish I could be like a bug in the window and hear what potential buyers think about the house.

And, finally (thank God)'s time to relax...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I am so freakin' sick of...

...working on my house, I'm about ready to scream!! Come home...paint. Come home...spackle. Come home...clean the laundry room. Wake up on on the yard and paint. Wake up on Sunday...clean, paint, work on the yard and more spackling. Oh, Lord, I am SOOOO ready to sell this place.

So I was painting tonight and noticed some blooms on one of my house plants. I took time out to catch the moment.

Next week it goes on the market, and then the adventure really begins.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For Sale's official. I've decided to put my house up for sale and hopefully move to San Marcos. No, this is not my house...

One of my favorite TV shows is "Designed to Sell" on HGTV. I have learned a lot from that show on how to stage a home when you're putting it on the market. So I have been doing a lot of home improvements the last few weeks in the effort to get my house "buyer friendly."

So far, I have painted the entire outside a neutral gray tone, painted the inside a neutral taupe, have totally de-cluttered and de-personalized the interior so that any potential buyer can just move in without having to paint or remove wallpaper. (By the way...does anyone wallpaper anymore???)

I know that you have to get rid of unsightly areas so these were the ones I tended to today. This is the left side of my house which I never see. I could probably count the number of times on two hands that I've walked around to this side of the house since I moved here five yeas ago.

So this is what I did to it today. I took the railroad ties from the back yard and put about five bags of mulch the whole deal coast me about ten bucks. Can't beat that with a stick.

This was an area that had rotted out due to a prior roof leak.

And, voila! All clean and tidy! Replaced some boards and you'd never know. Cost: $2.00.

This is definitely a questionable time to be putting a house on the market, but there are also a lot of tax incentives out there for new buyers right now, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm definitely not going to give it away, but you just never know.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So much for the classics...

I met my brother for coffee this morning and he told me he sold a bunch of his classical music CDs on because they're getting to be hard to come by these days. Stores like Borders and Barnes & Nobles offer slim pickings in the classical music genre. I was surprised to hear this and it made me very sad.

My mother loved classical music and had me take piano lessons at the St. Louis Institute of Music when I was only seven years old, so I became very familiar with Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, etc., etc. So when I heard that classical music is on its way out, I had to do a post.

I've included a couple of my favorites. They're long, but if you have any appreciation for this type of music, it doesn't last long enough. They still give me chills. The first one of Leonard Slatkin conducting Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings brings some childhood memories because he used to be the conductor for the St. Louis Symphony and I still remember taking field trips in grade school to hear them play. (Do schools even do that anymore??) My advice would be to get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (depending on the time) and close your eyes and listen to both of them. They are mesmorizing.

In my opinion, classical music was the beginning of all music. Symphonies across the country are suffering because no one wants to hear them anymore. The sad thing is the only time we may hear this music now is in the background of a current movie. Sure, I love popular artists of today, but I would consider it a horrible loss if we forget where they came from. But, then again, just add it to all the losses we've incurred in recent history due to the times and the economy...newspapers, magazines, journalists, artists, writers, etc. Who is John Galt?

The times...they are a-changing...

Friday, May 15, 2009

What a week and a half...

Have you ever been a single mom to three boys? I'm guessing most of you haven't. It can be overwhelming...especially as they get older. The past few years have been the most challenging as cars and insurance have become part of the package. **sigh** I've posted this picture before, but here is Jeffrey, my oldest (he'll be 23 in October)...with his girlfriend Erica. (He hates this picture, by the way.) He lives with friends in Austin and is going to Austin Community College and will transfer to the University of Texas-Austin next year. He's hoping to get into architecture.

Jared is the middle one...and will be 21 in September. He's going to Texas State and isn't really sure what he wants to do with his future yet. This past spring was his first semester. He had a '95 Mazda Protege which died about 10 days ago. We didn't want to put $2,000 into a refurbished engine so he had to think about getting a new car. I told all my boys that I would help them with the first car, but subsequent ones were on them. But I went shopping for him last Saturday since he had to work and found this for a great deal.

It's the same thing I got as a rental last January when my other son, Jonathan, had his accident from hell.

Since Jared has an excellent credit record, he was able to get it at a very low interest rate with low payments, so here he is...the proud new owner. (Mom just had to co-sign...didn't have to shell out any money.)

And here's Jonathan (and me)...he's the "baby." He'll be 19 next month. Jon's the wild seed...he definitely lives by his own rules. He originally wanted to join the military, then thought twice about wanting to go to Afghanistan. He's not a studious kid...and works at Carino's as the saute cook...and does an excellent job and they love him there. At 18, I'm proud that he's good at what he does and has a strong work ethic. While I hope that he will eventually go to college, I give him a lot of credit for wanting to be independent and self-sufficient. Considering all the self-absorbed kids there are out there today, I consider myself blessed that I have children who want to carry their own weight and pay their own way.

But Jon's truck that we got after his accident had to go into the shop for work last Thursday. This is something I dread with every fiber of my body because I automatically think it's going to be the most major thing that could possibly go wrong with it. $203. **sigh of relief** Personally, I think anything under $300 at a garage is "cheap."

I've had many conversations with instructors at the University this past semester who say this has been the worst for kids expecting A's for doing minimal work and are VERY upset if they don't get them. This generation has grown up with instant gratification for little work...which says little for our (or their) future.

So then there was Mother's Day...I got a new watch...

...and some new earrings from a friend...

So it hasn't stopped there for being a heck of a week and a half.

I received an e-mail from VivaAerobus this morning that my flight to Cancun was cancelled for May 28-June 7. I'm supposedly getting a full refund because of the swine flu deal. To tell you the truth, I wasn't suprised. This will be the last time I book anything through VivaAerobus. I plan on rescheduling with another airline later this summer. I'm hoping the fares stay low. So I will not be enjoying these sights the end of the month...

Another **heavy sigh**...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mexican cuisine gone wrong...

I received a complimentary copy of Bon Appetit magazine this weekend and was totally impressed by the cover photograph of shrimp enchiladas. So it became my Sunday project and was really looking forward to enjoying a gourmet Mexican treat this evening.

This was not a small project by any means. First I had to go to the grocery store to get all the ingredients. This was my first purchase of tomatillos. (Those things are really sticky, by the way, when you remove the shucks...shells...whatever.)

I had to broil them for about 10 minutes...

Here are some of the onions, shrimp (of course) and cilantro (of course).

This is what it looked like when I blended all the garlic, cilantro and tomatillos together. Kind of a blurry picture, but it was kind of a blurry mess anyway.

Here's what went into the include Feta cheese. That had me doubtful when I read the recipe. Feta is mainly a Greek ingredient, but I like Feta so I thought it might be interesting in a Mexican dish.

Here's the dish ready to be popped into the oven with the salsa verde over the top.

And here's my "artistic" equivalent of Bon Appetit's cover photograph. I even went to the trouble of getting Mexican crema instead of using regular old sour cream.

And here's my review.

YUCK!! WAY too much work for something that turned out to be muy disappointing. I should have known when they called for Feta cheese. My bad.

It's a very messy dish to this is what I have to look forward to...which I do not feel like doing tonight at all. Oh, well.

Just because it comes from a magazine called "Bon Appetit" doesn't necessarily mean it's good eating. My little bit of advice...beware of Mexican recipes that call for Feta cheese.