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A Domestiphobe’s Top 3 Underrated Chick Flicks of All Time (Or at Least What I Could Think of During 5 Minutes of Brainstorming)

I’m sitting in the middle of the sofa, sandwiched by a couple of warm, sleeping pups, while the roof of my front porch makes scary, creaking sounds outside of the window behind my back.  Lucky for me, that’s the worst I’m experiencing of this hurricane, which is fantastic, considering my hurricane preparation consisted of getting out of bed twice in the middle of the night — first to fill 3 pitchers with tap water in case the water went out (which it did during my first hurricane experience back in Georgia), and second to grab a flashlight in case the power went out (which it also did during my first hurricane experience back in Georgia).

I didn’t even know if the flashlight worked, but I didn’t dare try because, upon ultimately discovering its failure to bring light during my nearly sleepless night, I knew I would only get depressed at my inability to prepare.  You would think that after living in south Georgia during the infamous hurricane season of 2005, I would know how to go out and purchase the basics, like jugs of water, flashlight batteries, and ice cream I’d be forced to eat if the power went out.


But let’s face it — in a true emergency, I would be the girl knocking on your door, half-starved and begging for a sip of water or even a bit of dental floss from your undoubtedly pimped-out emergency kit.

Trust me, that visual would probably be funny if it weren’t so… true.


The good thing about being on the outskirts of a hurricane or in the midst of any good storm is that it’s pretty much the only occasion during which I allow myself to just stop.  The only time I allow myself to just relax without constantly berating myself for not working on some kind of project.  It’s probably the only time I can sit through an entire movie outside of the theater, and in this case, several.

I enjoy plenty of action movies and comedies given the right combination of mood and film, but when my husband is out of town, I go full-blown girl up in here.  I’m not going to lie to make myself sound cooler — I like my chick flicks.  And, while the obvious choices are movies that apparently give women unrealistic expectations about love like The Notebook, P.S. I Love You, and Love Actually, I especially like chick flicks that, while inspiring warm, loving feelings of chocolate pudding romance and silly female antics, also have a worn, crusty edge of realism — that fight against the perception that

life is about looking for a “soul mate,” and is instead about fully loving and appreciating the souls in life whom you make your mates.

Unfortunately, these types of movies often tend to get overlooked for the aforementioned obvious choices.  So here, for your reading pleasure, are a Domestiphobe’s

Top 3 Underrated Chick Flicks of All Time (Or at Least What I Could Think of During 5 Minutes of Brainstorming):

3) A Lot Like Love

It’s silly, it’s quirky, and if you can deal with the fact that it has a cheesy guitar solo that I happen to love, it’s fairly realistic when it comes to assessing personality types and priorities when it comes to love, career, and expectations for both.  What else can I say?  I dig it.

2) Definitely, Maybe

Okay.  I will admit the premise sounds a little creepy when I explain the movie revolves around a dad explaining to his daughter how he met her mother and making her guess which, out of the 3 women he describes, is the woman he went on to marry, make a baby with, and then divorce.  But for some reason it’s not.  It’s touching.  The running themes, of course, are how life doesn’t always work out the way you plan, relationships are complicated and have good aspects as well as bad, and there are many types of people in the world who can make you happy for different reasons.

1) Vicky, Christina, Barcelona

I’m just going to say it.  It’s a Woody Allen film.  Whew.  Now that that uncomfortable bit is out of the way, I can talk about the movie.  It follows two young women on their extended trip to Spain.  They’re friends, but have quite the opposite perceptions of “love,” and what they want out of it.  While Vicky takes the more practical stance on relationships, feeling love should be stable, reliable, and treated like an investment on which the makings of a long and content marriage can be built, Christina finds that excitement, exploration of the depths of the unknown, and most important, passion, are the true ingredients of what make love — and any relationship — worthwhile.

Complete with gems like, “only unfulfilled love can be romantic,” the sheer genius of the writing lies in the fact that the true, complicated, and never fully understood desires of women are captured in both Vicky and Christina.  While each of us may lean more towards one or the other, there’s no denying the fact that we all want fireworks, and we all want stability.  The trick might just be finding both.  Add to that a beautiful soundtrack of Spanish guitar, lots of Spanish wine, and an intriguing love uh… pentagon, and you have the makings of a sharp, intellectual chick flick that, if you let it, will make you want to introduce more passion into your life while appreciating the simplicity of a comfortable romance.

And P.S., for any guys out there who’ve made it this far through this post, there is also a kissing scene between Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.  You’re welcome.

I’ll tell you one thing — it really, really makes me want to go back to Spain, where the pace is easy and wine is a lunchtime staple.

I kind of think that’s the way I’m supposed to live.

How about you?  Know of some underrated chick flicks I should try?  How about movies that inspire you to live a different kind of life?  And the biggie:  Whether you’re a guy or a girl in Barcelona or elsewhere, are you more of a Vicky?  Or more Christina?

Every Room Has An Unshaven Armpit. Here’s Mine.

I know, I’ve kind of been MIA lately.

But I have an excuse.

Several, actually.

Remember when I showed you my nice, newly built desk that’s all pristine and clean and fantastic?

Well.  That’s all fine and dandy, but the other side of the room — the side I was too embarrassed to show you — has been looking like this:

Oh, the shame.  If the desk side of the room were the pretty face with fresh makeup and whitened teeth, this side would be the armpit.

It’s the unshaven armpit of my office.

It didn’t look like this due to laziness.

Okay, part of it was due to laziness.

But mostly, it’s my indecision that’s the cause of the hold-up once again.

I’ve definitely decided to paint the bookshelves white.  I’ve definitely (kind-of-sort-of-I-think) decided to stain the long wall shelves that will go above the long part of the desk a dark-ish color.  Although, I’ve since read that pine doesn’t like to stain dark very well, so now I’m considering painting them once again.

I also love this rug and want to have its babies:

Company C Tapestry Rug

“Tapestry” by Company C.  See it on my Pinterest page.

I could use something like this to cover up the horribly old and stained carpet in the office, but the more I look at it, I actually kind of want this for my kitchen.

And that doesn’t really matter because it is so far out of any rug budget we’d have if we actually had a rug budget, that I probably can’t afford to even look at it, let alone visualize it in any of my rooms.  So if you’re aware of a good knockoff or know how to knockoff any of the multiple online stores that carry it and get away with it, please let me know.

Anyway.  The good news is that I’ve at least managed to tackle some of that organizational nightmare that’s going on in that corner.  The bad news is that I don’t have time to show you right now because they don’t seem to like it when I show up to work looking like someone who woke up terrified in the middle of the night because her husband’s work pager was going off and now has to deal with the fact that he’s leaving town when there’s a hurricane coming our way.

But that’s another story.

Obviously I’ll need something to keep me busy this weekend, so let me know if you have any more office ideas!

There’s a Reason You Can’t Have 2 Alphas. No One Likes to Clean Up Blood.

For the past 5 years, the closest I’ve ever come to a hostile working environment is the time, only a couple of months ago, that I went all Office Space on my home printer and accidentally-on-purpose dropped it in a childish fit of frustration at its apparent refusal to do its job.

We haven’t spoken since.

Looking back, I realize I’ve been very fortunate.  Aside from one boss of questionable moral character and another with questionable people skills whatsoever, I’ve had some pretty fantastic co-workers throughout my adult working life.  (I say “adult working life” because we can’t even begin to explore the smorgasbord of bona fide taxed jobs I’ve carried since I was 15-years-old and literally flipping burgers at an ever-classy A&W Root Beer/gas station combo.)

Not the exact one where I worked, but you get the idea.

It started with my first “real” post-college job doing GIS (i.e. “making maps”) for engineers in an environmental consulting company, complete with the extra-private, 6-foot cubicle walls to ensure maximum productivity with minimum person-to-person interaction and an hour and 20 minute commute each way, and then continued when I moved on to working in GIS and then sustainability programs for the U.S. Army in an office full of mostly women — amazing women and one guy — surrounded by a world full of men and politics and acronyms and things that exploded and made the walls shake.  It even continued when I reverted back to waitressing in a bar where I worked only for shoddy tips and the occasional bounced paycheck and where I mopped floors for free.

Throughout the history of these endeavors, my co-workers have always made the job, no matter how mundane, interesting and worthwhile.  They understood the fact that we were all in this together.  They joked, they laughed, and they didn’t mind when I launched the random stress ball over opaque and foreboding cubicle fortress walls.

They were good times.

But apparently, times are a-changin’.

At the risk of someone discovering me and subsequently finding myself dooced, I have to say — things at my new job are not so easygoing.  Imagine 3 women working together in a 6′ x 6′ closet, trying to be productive and answering phone calls and pretending to be tech savvy, all while the big boss is away for an extended stint in the Reserves.  Then imagine that 2 of those women can’t stand each other, and the third — that would be me — was only just brought in as extra help and currently feels like the knotted sock her dogs like to pull taut between them with clamped and barred teeth.

Only more uncomfortable.

On the one hand, we have the fiercely strong and independent Alpha Female, who territorially stands her forged piece of ground, the boarders carved deep into the earth with her constant pacing and panting and paranoia.  Judge her as we might, the pack can’t help but admire the Alpha for her undying loyalty and self-assurance.

Drawing by: Beeju

On the other hand, we have the timid-yet-determined Under Dog, the one who knows she was brought in to be the boss, knows she has to strategically yet tactfully put the Alpha in her place, and knows that in any good plot line, the underdog wins.  The pack likes the Under Dog.  We know she can bring good things to us.  But we’re afraid to show our faltering faith in the Alpha.

Drawing by: Beeju

And then there’s me.  What role do I play in this little saga?

So far, all I can figure is I’m just the one who cleans up their shit.

And for right now, I’m thinking that’s the best place to be.

Happy Monday!

The Momentum of Mediocrity — My Race Against Life

I’m going to be honest for a second. (I mean, when am I not?)

I’m tired.

And there’s not even any real reason for me to be tired.

It’s like I try so hard to be all these things — independent career type person, decent wife, acceptable cook, counselor to friends and family, responsible dog owner, assistant property manager/marketing person, knowledgeable DIY project-doer, good speller (pretending I didn’t have to look up the word “knowledgeable”), writer, extrovert, smiley, computer-savvy, photographer, compassionate, professional, on top of things — all these things that I know I can be, but not necessarily without practice.  And almost definitely not all at once.  And it’s sucking the life right out of me.

And I don’t even have kids.

But maybe that IS life, you know?  Feeling crazy all the time.  Fortunately, I’d like to think that if I’m aware of my craziness, I can’t possibly be insane.

Comforting, no?

I can’t describe what has been making me crazy.  It’s been happening for over a year now.  I keep waiting for it to go away, or for it to magically resolve itself, or for a sign to drop down from the heavens, grab me by the shoulders with iron fists, and literally steer me in the direction I’m supposed to go.

Just like in the movies.

There’s a silly movie from 1994 called “Don Juan DeMarco” with a young Johnny Depp who thinks he’s the actual Don Juan of yore — celebrated lover of women and passionate pursuer of life.

Until recently, I hadn’t seen it in years.  But Justin was bored one night without our cable, and I had taken a moments pause from my manic pursuance of one project and then another, so we streamed it from Netflix.  We made it a good hour into the movie before I ran off to do something else.  This is not uncommon.


Marlon Brando plays Depp’s psychiatrist, who initially is cockily confident that he can “cure” young “Don Juan’s” delusional illness in the 10 days before his retirement.  Instead, he finds himself getting swept up in Don’s tale of adventure, love, and sex.  Then one night, in bed, Brando confesses to his wife his fear of getting swept up in the “momentum of mediocrity.”

And that, I think, is one of my greatest fears — getting so caught up with life’s little distractions, that I forget to enjoy it.  Or worse, worrying so much about how to enjoy it, or how I’m not enjoying it, that I let it pass.  Brief.  Unnoticed.

So, how do I do this?

When I head to my job tomorrow and have to call people because their rent is 21 days overdue or a contractor decided that painting a room with primer only and slopping it over the switch plate covers is acceptable (puh-lease, like I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to painting a room); when I realize my one and only work skirt isn’t clean because I blogged instead of doing laundry tonight; when I remember it’s Friday and I still haven’t picked my home project to complete over the weekend; when I take a breath and realize the photographer I assisted at the wedding shoot last Saturday still hasn’t given me any feedback about my photos; when my friend Alaina calls and tells me her baby is on its way and our lives as we know them are about to change forever; how do I do this?

How do I live in this moment without continuously counting down until the next?

I firmly believe that there is a disconnected wire somewhere inside this screwball brain of mine that makes me think these daily things — these things that make up life — are just the build-up to what I’m really supposed to be doing.

That, at nearly 29-years-old, my life hasn’t even started yet.

Well, I’m here to tell myself that’s about the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I should ignore the feeling that I could be doing something more.  But it does mean that I shouldn’t be wishing for days to pass by more quickly so I can get to the good stuff.

The good stuff is turtle cheesecake in the break room at lunch.

Wet puppy noses.

Dinner on the deck.

Goodnight kisses.

New life.

Why would I want those things to pass by more quickly?

Such is the bane of the “right-brained curse”, as one of my favorite bloggers, Brittany from Blunt Delivery would put it.

I hate my restlessness.  And I love it.

And, until I figure out how to beat the momentum of mediocrity, I’m afraid I will never be able to rest.

That’s just kind of… sad.

Tastes Like Chicken. Only Better.

So the thing I’m beginning to learn about cooking is, it has a flow.

Like the progression of a really good date from the opening of the car door, to the perfect restaurant ambiance, to the nice, slow dance of the will-we-or-won’t-we first kiss, it’s all about timing.

Perfect, delectable, I-can’t-believe-it-worked-out-like-that timing.

As with any true Domestiphobe, sometimes my timing is spot-on (because I’m a perfectionist), and other times it’s… not.

And I’m just going to say, the dinner I made last night was tricky to time.  It was one of those simple meals that looks fancy and feels like it should take a while to make, but is actually deceivingly quick to come together.  Too quick.  Like, twenty-minutes-before-Justin-gets-home quick.


So, I’m going to share in mostly blurry photos, to the best of my ability, the sequence in which this simple-yet-fancy-looking-and-tasting dinner should be prepared.  But you should probably start preparing it only about 15 minutes before you’re actually ready to eat it.

Consider yourself warned.

I made this fancy, schmancy halibut picatta with capers (from A Sweet Pea Chef — her photography is amaaaazing).  Halibut picatta is like the chicken picatta you see at restaurants, except with halibut.  Which is a fish.  A delicious fish.  But, truth be told, it’s pretty expensive.  At least around these parts.  So when I make this recipe again, I will likely use a less expensive white fish, like tilapia or cod.  However, if you’re dealing with someone who’s picky about seafood tasting like seafood, I’d recommend  the halibut.  Because it’s meaty, like chicken.  Except it’s fish.

I varied from the original recipe only slightly, because I was impatient and ended up cooking frozen halibut fillets instead of thawed fillets.  I’ll let you know where the change-up happens.

Before you can begin the first date flow process of preparing this recipe, you need to assemble your cast of characters.  I don’t just do this for blogging purposes — it really does make it easier to jive in the kitchen when everything is ready at your fingertips.  You will need:

  • 1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus
  • 2 whole 6-ounce Halibut Fillets, Skinned (I used a package of frozen, boneless fillets)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Divided
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • ½ cup Dry White Wine (I just used a cheapo, open bottle of chardonnay)
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers
  • ½ whole Fresh Lemon, Zest And Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, Chopped
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Now, for the flow.

Get about 1/2 cup of water boiling in a pot on the stove.  You’ll be using this to steam the asparagus.

Also, in a separate non-stick skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Turn the heat to medium-high and let the butter melt (watch it so it doesn’t burn).

While you’re kind of watching your butter, quickly chop off the tough, thick ends of the asparagus.  Just don’t chop off your fingers because you’re too busy watching the butter.  You’d regret that.

If the butter has melted, go ahead and plop your 2 halibut fillets into the pan.  Whether you’re using thawed or frozen fillets, you want to brown this first side for about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the top.

If the water in the pot is boiling, go ahead and add the asparagus.  Turn the heat down to low, close the lid tightly, and let the asparagus steam for 7-10 minutes.  Set a timer if you’re easily distracted.

Once the halibut has cooked for 3 minutes, flip ’em over.  They should be lightly browned on the first side.  Now.  Here’s where I differ because my fillets were frozen.  If you’re using thawed fillets, just cook them for about another 3 minutes on the flip side.  If you’re using frozen fillets, stick a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium or medium-low (still watching to make sure the butter doesn’t burn), and cook for 6-7 minutes until tender and flaky.

Using a lid on frozen fillets will help them cook through.  You could use a much smaller pan that this — unfortunately, this is the only non-stick pan I have with a lid.

While the fish finishes cooking, chop the garlic, parsley, and zest 1/2 the lemon.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that super cute curl of smoke above the pan, shall we?

Who knew steam could be cute?

When the fish is cooked, set the fillets aside on a plate.  Turn your heat back up in your butter/oil pan, and add the chopped garlic.  Let it sizzle for about a minute — it will smell heavenly.

Then pour in about 1/2 cup of white wine.

Aren’t you proud I didn’t pour it directly from my glass this time?

Turn the heat to medium and let everything reduce for 5-10 minutes.  Now would probably be a good time to check your asparagus.  When you remove the lid, you’ll notice it’s turned this amazing, vibrant shade of green.

Use a fork and bite into one.  If it’s still super crunchy, put the lid back on and give it a few more minutes.  If it’s steamed to the consistency you like, remove the pot from the heat and push the lid slightly to the side to keep them warm.

Meanwhile, back in the pan, you can turn off the heat.  Add your remaining tablespoon of butter and lemon zest…

…juice from 1/2 a lemon…

…2 tablespoons of capers (you can find jars of these little green ball things near the pickles at the grocery store)…

…and tablespoon (or so) of chopped parsley.

Stir everything together until the butter has melted.  Now would be a good time to taste it.  If it tastes super lemony, add a bit more butter.  If you’d like more lemon flavor, use the other half of your lemon for more juice.  Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper as well.

To make this look super fancy, just lay a bunch of asparagus on a plate, top with a halibut fillet, then spoon your sauce over the top.

Notice you can add a couple of lemon slices to make it look not just fancy, but fancy schmancy.

I’d say this is the perfect thing for a Domestiphobe to serve if you’re looking to impress someone, because it’s a lot easier to make than it looks.

And we kind of thrive on that sort of thing.

Just don’t — you know — serve it 20 minutes before that someone gets home.

I’m pretty sure I make these mistakes so you can learn from them.  It gives me purpose.

And so, it turns out, does halibut.

Value is Subjective when it comes to Money, Time, and Peace of Mind(lessness).

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, sipping a glass of wine, and realizing this is the first moment I’ve taken in quite some time to just relax.

Why am I at my kitchen table, when I have that beautiful new desk in my office?

Frankly, I’m too lazy to move my base camp — aka. the chaotic stacks of folders, reference books, rental listings, a wedding invitation, day planner, notebook, memory cards, and a packet called “Couponing in Camo: A Guide to Civilian and Military Couponing” from my here into my pristine new office work space.

I mean, look.

It’s clean. Untouched. Simple and uncluttered.  Aside from the glaring lack of accessories, it looks like it could be in a magazine.  A magazine that features beautiful, clean white desks on dirty old carpets.  I know that when I start to work in there, it won’t look like that ever, ever again.

What was that?

You’re wondering why I have a packet called “Couponing in Camo: A Guide to Civilian and Military Couponing” sitting on my kitchen table?

And you’re wondering if “couponing” is really a verb?  One that should be used not once, but twice inside a Domestiphobe’s home?

According to the rocket scientists at TLC and their “Extreme Couponing” show I hear so much about, it is a verb.  And apparently TLC viewers aren’t the only ones who know about it.

Well.  All I’m going to say to justify that packet’s existence on my own kitchen table is that the seminar was free.  And my shredder is in the office.  And my neighbor enticed me to go with the lure of free food of the hors d’oeuvres variety.

If there is one thing you should know about me, you should know my inherent weakness for finger foods.  Seriously, it’s like a curse.  It’s so bad, that I may or may not have snagged a meatball from the serving tray during the cocktail hour at the wedding I assisted photographing this weekend.  Fortunately, I believe the sole witness only speaks Spanish, so if word of the heinous act I may or may not have committed gets around, at least it will sound really, really beautiful.

Anyway.  I’m sure the packet is full of very useful information about this so-called “couponing,” most of which I would have heard had I not been busy stuffing my face full of homemade chicken wraps, guacamole, pasta salads, and some type of indescribable medley of sweetness, caramel, and grapes, of all things, that was so wholeheartedly unique and delicious, that I won’t stop harassing the military spouses in charge of the Family Readiness Group until they give up the secret.  It will be so bad that they’ll wish they’d never harassed me first.

Actually, the girl who taught the class was incredibly sweet, and anyone who stockpiles a year’s supply of food and toiletries for her family along with “overage” items she doesn’t even use, including about 30 cases of Maalox, 15 cases of KY Jelly, and other assorted donatable goodies by spending hours of her time compiling, organizing, and buying — yes, I said buying — coupons that end up saving her family literally hundreds of dollars a month, wins my respect.

And my confusion.

But mostly my respect.

This is not the girl who taught the seminar.  I believe this image was taken from the Extreme Couponing show.  America at its finest.  Represent.

Personally, I value my time, and I would rather spend those 8 hours a week (not including hours of shopping time) reading.  Writing.  Eating food I paid for in full.  Drinking wine.  Learning about photography.  Whispering sweet nothings to my pristine, white desk.

Basically doing anything but couponing.

It seems… excessive.

But that’s just me.  And maybe I’ll be sorry when the economy shuts down and I have to — you know — grow my food rather than survive on boxes of Hamburger Helper and Maalox.  I might be found huddled in a sad, dusty corner somewhere, begging for leftover cases of KY and licking my shiny fingers with greed.

I’m sure about a zillion extreme couponing bloggers and readers would agree.

How about you?

I’m Workin’ 9-5. Then 7-8:30, then 10-6, then– Why Is My Favorite Chinese Place Closed??

I’m not really sure what’s going on with my life, except for the fact that I went from having no job to having what feels like 3 in about 4.7 seconds.

There was no transition period.

And I’m pretty sure that everyone needs a transition period.

I’m assisting in a wedding photography shoot on Saturday.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up in my one freelance writing gig.  My dogs are vibrating balls of energy because I haven’t figured out how to fit walking them into our new schedule.  Dinners are becoming slightly more “convenient,” and the Chinese take-out place down the street might start recognizing us once again.

Also, things are hectic in the land of real estate assistantship.  Assistantry?  Asskickingshiptry?  Apparently I’m doing something right, because after exactly a week-and-a-half of part-timing it, they want me to help out full-time.  And I’m torn.  On the obvious hand, it would be great to have the extra money.  On the other hand, it will take away serious time from my writing pursuits, including my little land of Domestiphobia.  Which is obviously already suffering.

I think I will take it on for a little while, mainly to help the team out of the current bind that’s caused when a group already manages over 50 properties, then takes on 40 more it knows nothing about all at one time.

On the plus-side, I’m learning a lot about the land of juggling showings, repair companies, and the egos of finicky clients.  I’ve pulled my travel coffee cup from the back of the cupboard, dusted off the mothballs, and can once again enjoy the de-stressing qualities of an aromatic cup of Kona on a 30-minute morning commute.  I feel a little bit important and needed.  The world is getting interesting again, and that’s never a bad thing.

On the negative side, well.

Let’s not worry about that unless we come to it, shall we?

Progress. It’s A Beautiful Thing.

My, oh my, my desk is finally complete.

After Justin was gracious enough to build it, I had that puppy painted and poly’d in 2-3 months flat.

Because I’m good like that.

Here she is butt naked:

And here she is all gussied up:

It’s a terrible photo because the lighting is crazy and there are cords on the floor and my dogs are performing PDAs all over the internet, but as you can see, it didn’t turn out half-bad!

I really lucked out because I used an old bucket of white paint I had sitting around, and the color match happens to be pretty close to the desk I’d already bought (the one with the drawers).

I’m not going to lie — the process of getting her sea-worthy was a long one.  Justin built her and then primed her with an oil-based primer using a high quality bristle brush.  (Oh, you didn’t know my desk was a “her”?  Well, she is.)

Then I used my leftover white, water-based (latex) paint and applied 3 coats using a brush.  I used a very fine-grit sanding block between coats (it said “between coats” on the label).  Finally, I put on 3 coats of Minwax water-based Polycrylic using a foam brush for protection (sanding between coats), since I’m pretty sure the whole office project is going to shrivel up and die by the wayside and we’ll end up using her for beer pong.

Yes, the surface has some streaks.  In fact, I’m pretty convinced at this point that the only way to avoid streaks is to spray the paint on — not brush it.  And next time, I might go with a Poly that you rub on with a cloth, rather than apply with a brush.

But overall?  I’m happy.

And since my life is made of checklists these days, and this little office project is taking longer than expected, I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally cross something off.

Office Checklist:

  • Buy small desk
  • Build large desk
  • Stain/paint and hang shelving
  • Organize
  • Paint book shelves (I’m pretty much dreading this)
  • New office chair?
  • Prettify

Perfectly Imperfect.

This weekend we went camping.  Not roughing-it-in-the-woods-with-a-tent-and-no-toilets camping, but sleeping-in-a-trailer-with-hot-water-and-a-bathroom-and-air-conditioning-and-a-full-size-refrigerator camping.

The good kind of camping.

Especially when it’s over 100-degrees outside.

But that’s not the awesome part.

The awesome part is who went camping with.  Remember Catherine, from Simply Solo?  I wrote a guest post for her a while back.  Well, we figured it was time to bring our blogging friendship to the next level — the real world.  And since her family has a camp site about half way between where we both live, she was gracious enough to invite us out for the weekend.

And I’m pretty sure I had a blast, from what I can vaguely remember.

There was a lot of food, a lot of alcohol, and many, many good times.

I mean, how can you not have a good time in a place like this?

I probably had a little too good of a time, because we spent the first couple of hours playing beer pong on a floating raft in the water, and suffice to say I don’t really have any pictures after that point.


After reading each others’ blogs for so long, Catherine and I already felt like we knew each other.  I was a bit surprised, though, when she confessed I seem younger in person than I do on my blog.

At first I wasn’t sure what she meant, but after some explaining, I think I get it.

My blog is all over the place.  I know this.  You, as a reader, never know what to expect from me.  Will I be lamenting about my quarter-life crisis, talking about depression and failed relationships with counselors and my quest for my dream job?  Or will I get all Martha Stewart on yo’ ass and come at you with hippie recipes for chipotle sun-dried tomato hummus and spinach feta turkey burgers?  Will I organize a closet?  Will I try to figure out my design style?  Will I bitch about work?

No one knows.  Not even me.

But it made me realize that, over the past few months especially, I’ve started trying to portray a level of perfection that simply doesn’t exist. At least not for me.

Even though I tell you stories of how I ruined a quiche or how our carpets (circa 1994) are so heinously dirty that I tell people to leave their shoes on when they come in my house.  I could even tell you about how I stabbed myself with a corn skewer at dinner with Catherine, the infamous Chef, and her parents this weekend, but some of you still, for some reason, will think I have my sh*t together.

The problem is all those DIY home improvement Martha-esque blogs out there that make people — myself included — want to attain that practically unattainable level of perfection.  We all try so hard to pull our own weight.  To keep up with the Joneses.  To be better wives.  Husbands.  Cooks.  Housekeepers.  Professionals.  Our focus becomes one of competition — how to be better at something than someone else (or at least just as good), and it doesn’t even matter if that something is a thing we even give one ounce of a damn about.

And that, my friends, is how you waste a life.

So I think that what I’m trying to do right now is remind you — and remind myself — that I am one hot mess of a human.  I screw things up.  My windows are never clean and my finger nails are probably dirty.  I like cooking, but I detest figuring out what to cook.  I’m too cheap to buy new underwear or get my hair cut when I need it.  Sometimes my refrigerator smells and I don’t know why.  I had braces for 2 1/2 years.  Dusting bites the big one, I kill all of my plants, and perfume makes me sneeze.  I Google everything because there is a lot I don’t know and I want to get it right the first time.  Yet that desk I painted still has streaks.  I’m chill in public but get stressed at home, and I feel bad that Justin always has to see the worst of me, and I’m terrified of wasting this precious, precious life by spending it in a competitive, restless trance.

I have a lot to figure out.

But I’m working on it.

And, in the meantime, I might need to share the occasional hummus recipe that turned out awesome to remind myself that I’m not a total failure.  That sometimes I get things right.

And I highly — highly — suggest you do the same.

We’re all in this together, you know?

Welcome to the Country. Where No One Can Hear You Scream.

Okay.  I’ve always known that Justin and I currently live in the type of area that many people around the U.S. would refer to as “the boonies.”  Or maybe the suburbs of the boonies.

But I didn’t fully come to grips with that fact until yesterday, when I was working my new job.

See, the city of Fayetteville is not that terrible.  It has all of the basic amenities, a very small mall, a slurry of chain restaurants and fast food joints, and more and more “urban-chic,” privately owned cafés, coffee houses, restaurants, and specialty shops are cropping up here and there.  Thanks to the existence of multicultural Fort Bragg and a high Hispanic population, we can be treated to all kinds of hole-in-the-wall culinary delights, if we know where to look.

The non-sketchy half of downtown Fayetteville is cleaning up quite nicely.

Much of the time, however, I prefer to visit friends in nearby Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, or Pinehurst/Aberdeen/Southern Pines, just to feel like part of a non-transient community for small fractions of time.  And sometimes we visit the beach.

The problem is that military communities, in general, can become run-down relatively quickly if the city doesn’t stay on top of things, because if people don’t consider a place a long-term home, they don’t tend to care about long-term aesthetics.  Abundant pawn shops, strip clubs and tattoo parlors cater to a young soldier’s basic needs, but it takes a bit longer for a wine café or an independent book store to attract a steady customer base.

So.  I would consider this a transitional period for this area.

Then, there are the outskirts.  The outskirts are a little… sketchier.

My new job as a real estate assistant involves a lot of running around, primarily stuffing the tracker full of lock boxes and corrugated cardboard signs, then fiddling with keys and combination codes and attempting to use my high-heeled sandals to stamp signs into the ground in 100+ degree heat while wearing a pencil skirt.

It ain’t pretty.

Add to that the fact that  yesterday I was so middle-of-nowhere lost, that directly in front of me lay a beautiful field of goldeny wheat looking stuff, but I was too afraid of the ominous meaning in the shotgun pellet-riddled sign I’d just passed to stop and take a picture for you.  Or maybe it was the lease we’d just signed with a guy who threatened to shoot us if we tried to get on his property without permission.  Or maybe it’s the eviction stories I’ve been hearing around the office.  Empty houses.  Strangers’ secrets.

Yeah… maybe I’ll get that picture for you next time.

Those of you who are scared of the city and its petty thefts and crowd anonymity should come take a look at the country where everyone has a gun and no one can hear you scream.

Who would’ve thought working in real estate could be such a scary job?

I’m curious about you readers — are you city or country dwellers?  Which do you prefer?  More importantly, if you’ve ever worked in real estate, just how do you not end up looking all haggard, sweaty and bedraggled at the end of the day?

P.S.  We’re doing something exciting this weekend and I’ll be back to tell you all about it next week.

P.P.S.  I finished my desk and will be back to show you pictures of it next week.

P.P.P.S.  I need my coffee.  There really was no point in telling you that, except that I wanted another post-script.

Thank you for your time.