Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Proof that more expensive energy efficient appliances are TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Longest post title ever, but I am squealing with excitement.

We splurged on an energy efficient A/C (18 SEER) and furnace (90% AFUE) to the tune of $8,000 when we bought our house. The old one was well on its way out, so the sellers gave us a credit (not that much, but like I said, we splurged). Well, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT! I think it's pretty common knowledge that your HVAC uses up the most energy in your house. Well, perhaps not ours. Our power bill this past month was........drumroll please.......$52! It was also way cheap last month, but I don't recall the number. For comparison, our power bill at the 1,000 SF condo we rented was around $90 for hot months and the former owner's power bill for this month last year was $216! We also got a new fridge, washer and dryer (all energy efficient), which are contributing to our amazing reduction in power consumption. Of course, we also turn the A/C up during the day or when we're gone, turn out lights when we leave rooms, etc. but $52!!!!! I'm going to go do a happy dance now. Bye!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Updated House Pictures

Finally! It took me long enough, but I grabbed some pictures of the updates we've made since moving in.

The newly painted stairs (aka: the bane of my existence).

Front door without the lovely lace curtains.

We still have A LOT of decorating to do, but we're getting there slowly but surely. I think it's a HUGE improvement over the former look, and I know once we get more things on the walls and more furniture, it will look even better!

Edited to add: before pictures here, here, and here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Da Na Na Na Na

Go Gators!

It was a typical gameday weekend in Gainesville, FL... too many people crammed into the bars, 95% humidity levels, good friends, good tailgates, a Gator victory, and a dance party. I brought my camera and took pictures, but I have no good pictures of the hubby and me... once again. I'm determined that we get at least one good picture during our second year of married life. We have 354 days left to accomplish that, so I feel good about the chances.

We ended up with tickets to the game at $100 a pop, but we got them very early on in the day and it was worth the money to not worry about it and enjoy the tailgates. The seats were 11 rows up in the south endzone, so it was a view I had not previously experienced. It was awesome when they were down on our end of the field, and I was able to get a few good pictures of my future husband, Tim Tebow. Don't worry, Matt knows that when Timmy shows up on our door to whisk me away, I'm gone... he's on "my list". ;) In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Tebow were at the same tailgate we were, and it was pretty hilarious to see all the people that wanted to take pictures with them. They were very nice people and obliged. I wonder if it gets old to them or they are just relishing in the awesomeness that is their son.

Anyway, maybe I'll post some pictures when I get home, but probably not. I have a big event tonight for ULI Atlanta, an organization I'm very involved with, so I'm excited for that. It's the Annual Development of Excellence Awards, and it is our signature event. I'm also on the Executive Committee, so I'm looking forward to sitting at the VIP table (or as my co-chair, Ellen, called it, the FOE Table... Friends of Ellen). Then, tomorrow is Friday. Hallelujah. I'm ready for the husband to come home. Can you believe it's already been EIGHT months that he's been in Tifton!? Craziness.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Atlanta Flooding

Absolute craziness. I'm sure if any of you have been paying attention to the news, you've seen the flooding that's in and around Atlanta. It took me TWO HOURS to get home from work yesterday. It normally takes me 20 minutes, as my house and office are only about five miles apart. Here's what I saw yesterday.

You should click in to that to make it bigger. I normally drive on that street. To the left is Peachtree Creek. The road straight ahead where you can see the traffic light is Northside Drive and there is a small bridge (see next picture) that goes over the creek. That is the bridge I spoke of yesterday. Normally, the creek is a good 8-10 feet under the bridge.

Here's what I saw today.

Those barricades are keeping people from driving over the bridge until they can make sure it's stable. I drove down the once flooded street above to take this picture, and I was paying so much attention to seeing if the road was open, I forgot to look at the houses along the street to see what kind of condition they were in.

This is all mud washed up from the creek... look at that fence. This was on a street that ran perpendicular to the creek and there was another street that runs parallel with the creek all that water had to rise over to get to this house.

You can see the water line on this house. I think this was four houses on the same street as the picture above. I absolutely cannot believe the water rose all the way up here, but I don't know how else to explain that line.

You can see the creek behind those trees and all the muck it left when the water receded.

I am thankful that we did not have any trees down, and our house is dry and has electricity. I knew it would be really hard for our house to be flooded, but we do have a creek that runs UNDER our property. Weird. It runs in a pipe under our property and our neighbors', but opens up to a creek a few houses down. So, who knows if that pipe could burst, but that would be very unfortunate for us. The thing is, a lot of these people probably did not have flood insurance, because many of the places that flooded are not in the 100-year flood zone. Hopefully things can dry out before it pours again!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Holy cow, y'all. It's raining cats and dogs in A-town. I am pretty sure it has rained every single day since last Sunday. And, it's been on and off downpours since we returned from Heaven... I mean, Gainesville... yesterday (more on that later). I wish I could've stopped for a picture, but when I was driving to work this morning, Peachtree Creek had broken its banks and was about 150 feet up on the Bobby Jones golf course. The creek had risen to a level that it was only about a foot under the bridge. And, with the ongoing deluge, I may not be able to drive that road home for fear of being washed away. Two roads flanking the creek were completely covered in water, and I think another couple of inches has fallen since then. I hope our house doesn't flood! Well, I don't think that would happen, but our crawl space could.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We are the boys...

...from old Florida.
Where the girls are the fairest,
the boys are the squarest
of any old state down our way.
We are all strong for old Florida,
down where the old Gators play.
In all kinds of weather
we'll all stick together..........
for F-L-O-R-I-D-A.

I can't wait to sing this at the end of the 3rd quarter with a 40 point lead over the Vols. Hopefully we'll get some tickets to the game, but if not, I'll still sing it in the middle of Salty Dog or Balls or whichever classy college bar we choose to watch the game from. Gainesville, here we come!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bad Commercials

I really wonder who comes up with some of the commercials out there. In general, pharmaceutical commercials are the worst, but of those, I think the birth control genre takes the cake. Don't get me wrong, erectile dysfunction and irritable bowel syndrome are right up there, but the unbelievability of birth control commercials just makes me laugh. I am the target audience, and I would NOT buy a specific brand of birth control due to their ridiculous advertising. Take the NuvaRing commercial, for example. One of the commercials shows a group of 20-something girls sitting around discussing birth control with a TV on in the background. First, I don't know about y'all, but my friends and I often have very interesting conversations, but I don't think we've ever spoken that in depth (or cheesily... I made up that word) about the type of birth control we use. Yes, a question or two has been asked of those that do use an intervaginal birth control or an IUD, but it's mostly, "Can you feel it?" or "Does it interfere with you know what?" My favorite part about this commercial is that there's a NuvaRing commercial on in the background and when the side effects come on, one girl hushes the others and tells them to listen. I mean, I get that it's required by the FDA, but it always seems like such a funny way to tell people they might gain a lot of weight or experience hair loss. Yaz is another one that's pretty bad. So, that's my random rant for the day. Are there any commercials out there that just make you cringe?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Busy weekend... busy life... can't complain

Well, I had every intention of blogging last night about the weekend, posting some pictures from our wedding just over a year ago, etc. but I worked kind of late, then decided I really need to start working out again (if you're pressed for time and have Comcrap on demand, Jillian Michael's 20 minute workouts are actually kind of hard), then whipped up a salad for dinner and it was 8:30 and I didn't feel like sitting in front of a computer. Do you care? Yeah, I didn't think so. :)

Anyway, so the surprise anniversary plans were tickets to see Chicago (the musical) at the Fox Theater! So fun. I love the music, but I have to admit, I'd only seen the movie! It was very different to see it in production... the set was very minimal, but I enjoyed the choreography and singing, and the show had some funny moments that weren't in the movie. It also featured Jerry Springer as Billy Flynn. He was good, but he wasn't as good as Richard Gere in the movie. The actor who played Amos Hart was awesome, and Matt and I both agreed that our favorite song of the show was Mr. Cellophane. Overall, we both enjoyed it, but I was worried Matt would be let down since the only other show he's seen was In the Heights during its initial run on Broadway. I told him that this was going to be very different, so I don't think he was let down.

One of my best friends, Dai, and her fiance, Andrew, were in town this weekend. They stayed with Jenn and Matt, but they all came up on Saturday. The girls did some wedding dress shopping in the morning (and found the one) and then we all met up at Park Tavern for lunch with Matt and Jenny. After lunch, we returned to our house to watch the Gator game (a bit delayed thanks to DVR) and hung out until dinner. We went to JCT Kitchen, which was delicious, as always. And, to our surprise (and argument), the out of town guests picked up the check. Very unnecessary but appreciated, nonetheless. Then, we all parted ways, and I think Matt and I were in bed by 11:00 that night. Only a year in, and we are old married people.

Sunday was our actual anniversary. We exchanged cards in the morning and then went to the Falcons game. Just after 5:00 on Friday, I had some brokers call and offer me their tickets. We'd never been to a game and didn't have plans, so I thought what the heck. I don't want to say I didn't think we'd enjoy it, but we're not exactly Falcons fans, so I figured we'd go once and have our fill. Well, we had a really good time and definitely got into cheering for the Dirty Birds. It helped that we had great seats, it was a good game, I really like Matt Ryan (the QB), and one of Matt's fantasy football players is a Falcons receiver. We left at the beginning of the 4th quarter, did our Sunday grocery shopping, and prepared a nice grilled chicken salad and bruschetta with our home grown tomatoes for dinner. Then we watched True Blood. We LOVE that show, and I'm sad the season is over. Sunday nights will be back to me watching Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters on my own while Matt watches whatever he watches.

So, all in all, it was a great weekend. I do have to say that I'm becoming a picture slacker in my old age... a few years ago, there's no way our first anniversary would have gotten by without a picture... and I have none save a few from the Falcons game and we aren't in them! Since I never really posted any of our wedding pictures, I leave you with some below.

I love the happiness and excitement in my face in this one.

My bub "giving me away." We're so grown up now.

The church we were married in is amazing.

Check out our view!

Party animals... both of my grandmas tore up the dance floor!

The photographer left before the reception was over, but some of the best pictures are definitely the randoms from the end of the night when everyone was having a really good time. The dance floor was packed. A year later, I look back with great memories of that day. There's nothing like having the people you love most together for a big celebration. As Matt said, it was the best wedding we've ever been to.

P.S. Happy birthday Momma Kath!!!! xoxo

Friday, September 11, 2009

Surprise Anniversary Plans...

Sunday is our one year anniversary. Matt has surprise plans for us tonight and all I know is I can wear "jeans or whatever." I'm really at a loss...

We also have one of my bestest friends coming in town, doing some bridal gown shopping, and the Falcons game Sunday! Exciting weekend... I'll come back and reveal the surprise.

Never Forget


Eight years.

Hard to believe.

Still remember it like it was yesterday.

Thoughts and prayers with all of the family members and friends who lost dear loved ones that horrible, tragic morning.

Never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Healthcare Reform"

I really dislike the moniker "healthcare reform". Our healthcare system is actually a pretty good one... we have some of the best and most highly trained doctors and nurses in the world. It's our health insurance system that needs to be reformed. I've thought this for a long time (well, as long as any 27 year old would care about health insurance). It's absolutely ridiculous that an insurance company will not pay for a diabetic to get a special boot to increase blood flow to his leg but will then pay for the amputation required, because he couldn't afford the boot and his foot basically died. Let's talk about how much more that amputation costs - hospital stay, surgery, prosthetic, rehab, etc. What would be even better is for that insurance company to help said diabetic get rid of the disease (talking type 2 diabetes as a result of being overweight). I realize that is HIGHLY contingent upon the individual, but we should certainly have preventative programs in place that insurance will cover, considering obesity is one of the biggest health concerns in America.

Back to the topic of "healthcare reform" and President Obama's address last night. I agree with the basics of his plan - insurance companies cannot deny you due to a preexisting condition, you cannot be dropped if you get sick, and people without employer-based coverage can join together to negotiate with insurance companies. I am stating this all from memory, so I'm certain there were other things he proposed that I agree with. But, I still don't agree or don't understand HOW this is going to happen. And, I don't agree with other areas, for example, requiring everyone to have health insurance. Although, I think it's a wise choice, how can you require someone to have health insurance? That could be a constitutional violation of each citizen's right to choose. President Obama compared it to state's requiring auto insurance, but I don't see it as the same at all. I drive an automobile, which is a dangerous machine that I could seriously injure or kill myself or others with or could be killed or injured by someone else. Now, car insurance certainly doesn't prevent that, but should you be involved in an accident, you have some level of coverage by way of the insurance. I do think everyone should have health insurance, but constitutionally, I'm not so sure you can require it.

Also, Obama stated that the "estimated cost of this plan will not increase the deficit." Well, pardon me for siding with the nonpartisan CBO on this one, since the administration's "estimates" about the stimulus and unemployment were very wrong. I don't see how requiring better coverage and increasing the number of people covered will be cheaper. Maybe in the long run as people start doing more preventative care, but the CBO doesn't see it this way. And, I just really don't believe that they will cut billions in waste from Medicare and Medicaid to help pay for this plan. The day the government cuts wasteful spending out of our budgets, I'll shave my head.

Also, as ridiculous as it was for the Republican congressman to lash out at the president during a congressional address (really, are we in 3rd grade!?), he DID misstate the truth. The previous bill did create government bureaucracies that would have a say in your health care and did cover illegal immigrants. Perhaps this current proposal does not, but the House Bill did. I wouldn't advise it, but you can read it here if you're bored.

Do I have the answers? Heck no. But, I sure expect our government to work together to come up with a plan that will not bankrupt us and keeps government involvement as little as possible. But, there are still a lot of questions left unanswered after last night. How is this plan going to save money? What would be cut if the costs are what CBO predicts? Will this be like paygo that so many Democrats ran on in 2006 and then abandoned when they wanted to spend money? What about frivolous medical malpractice suits and tort reform?

I could go on and on about this... health spending is 1/6th of our economy. HUGE. Beyond huge. Trillions of dollars... money I can't even fathom, and I manage a several hundred million dollar real estate portfolio and stare at big numbers all day. I hope they get it right...

Edited to add: Forgot to touch on another hot topic. Illegal immigrants who do not pay into our system yet clog up our hospitals and don't pay their bills! Fix our immigration issues and that will take a big bite out of health care costs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thai Yellow Curry

I had a craving for yellow curry last week, so Matt and I headed to the Dekalb International Farmer's Market on Sunday morning to pick up the ingredients, plus a few other things. As a side note, I absolutely love that place... much of the organic produce is cheaper than Publix regular produce, huge selection, tons of fish and meat, and all much cheaper than your normal supermarket. We picked up 30 oysters for under $5 and enjoyed them for lunch that day. YUM. Anyway, the curry came out good, although I'll do more tweaking next time. If you're a curry lover like us, here's the recipe (it's EASY).

Yellow Curry Sauce
3-4 Thai chilies (or other red chili pepper... Thai chilies are small, so if you use something else, check the heat and adjust appropriately)
2 shallots
1 2-inch piece of ginger (or galangal if you can find it and want to splurge)
3 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried turmeric
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 can coconut milk
juice from 1 lime
1 tbsp ketchup

Other Ingredients
1/2 chicken, cut up in small pieces
2 potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 stalk lemongrass, outer stalk removed, chopped
green or red pepper, seeded/cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1 small container cherry tomatoes
1/2 onion cut into 1 inch pieces
jasmine rice
Thai basil for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place all of the curry ingredients into a food processor and pulse until mixed well. Add the chicken to a casserole dish and cover with curry. Cover and cook for approximately 40 minutes. Add the veggies and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Garnish with Thai basil and serve over jasmine rice.

Next time, I'll tweak the sauce a bit and definitely add salt prior to cooking. I might also add a bit more of each spice, being careful to taste along the way. The joy of this is once it's done, you can taste the sauce and add whatever you feel it's missing... if it's too spicy, add more brown sugar or coconut milk... too sweet, add more cumin and coriander. I could also use more veggies - more tomatoes and maybe add carrots, too.

Let me know if you try it out and what you think. It was an easy meal with minimal prep work.

Friday, September 4, 2009

California Recap - Part 2

I was a little under the weather this week, so I'm finally back to wrap up our California vacation recap. We picked up a rental car on Tuesday and headed to San Francisco to check out the city. We first went to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked half way across, took lots of pictures and walked back. It was pretty foggy, so our pictures weren't great.

The view toward San Francisco.

That's Marin County behind me (Sausalito).

After we'd had our fix of the bridge, we drove through Sausalito but opted for In-N-Out Burger instead of getting out and walking around there. :) Matt had never been to an In-N-Out so we really had to do it. We then headed up to Muir Woods, which is a gorgeous redwood forest practically in San Francisco. It's crazy how you can cross the GGB and then go up a mountain and feel like you're in the middle of no where.

After we finished up there, we drove down the PCH to Stinton Beach. It was something like 65 degrees and there were people in bathing suits and even in the water! Crazies. We drove back to Alamo for our last night there.

We headed to San Fran on Wednesday around lunch time and stayed there the rest of our trip. We went to Golden Gate Park and had every intention of going to the California Academy of Sciences, but the line was honestly about a mile long. So, we walked around the park and decided to go grab lunch. We ate at Red's Java, which is a hole in the wall at Pier 30 that Matt saw on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Matt got the fish and chips, and holy heck, that was the best fried fish I've ever had. I had their burger which is done on French bread and it was good. Some time after that we checked into our hotel, returned our rental car and did a little shopping at Old Navy in Union Square. Gotta love heading to SF to shop at ON! Neither one of us had a jacket or sweater, so we both bought zip-up hoodies and a few other things. That night we had sushi at Godzila Sushi in Western Addition/Lower Pacific Heights. It was just a little neighborhood sushi joint that was recommended by a friend, and it was good and very good to the wallet. We had some cocktails at a bar down the street after that, made friends with the bartender, and returned to our hotel for a good night's sleep.

On Thursday, we tried to get an Alcatraz trip booked, but there were no openings, so we booked a GGB cruise instead. We took a lot of pictures this day near our hotel on Nob Hill, walking down the crazy steep streets, in Chinatown, and in the bay. We had awesome dim sum at a place in Chinatown that I don't remember the name of and then we walked a very long way to Pier 39 with a pitstop along the way at Coit Tower.

California Street in front of our hotel.

Our hotel is the one in the middle with the flag on top of it - Intercontinental Mark Hopkins.

I don't know why I thought this was funny... prob because there's underwear and I'm very immature.

Bay Bridge

A view of the GGB you don't see every day.


That night Matt's aunt, Mariah, and new hubby, Brad, came to the city to take us to dinner. We had a great meal at Jackson Fillmore, an Italian restaurant in Pacific Heights. It was very good.

Friday we hit up Haight Ashbury. We decided to take the bus and then walk... well, it was a long dang walk from where we got off the bus, and I think I burned 500 calories with all of the hills. Haight was okay... I don't ever need to see it again. It was like Little Five Points in Atlanta, but bigger. After walking around for a while, we went to Alembic and got some cocktails. Matt had a delicious Bloody Mary and I had the Sazerac. I won't get it again, but it was one of their specialty drinks. This place made everything from scratch, pretty much. It was fun to watch the bartender. We then took a bus back to Pacific Heights and grabbed a few drinks at a bar there before heading back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We had an amazing dinner at Kokkari Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant in the business district. Oh my, it was sooooooooo good, and one of our most expensive dinners to date. We did splurge and got wine that was more than we'd usually spend, but it was worth it... so good and complemented our food perfectly. After dinner, we found a nice bar down the street from our hotel and made friends with the bartender, like we do everywhere. Then it was to bed before our long flight back on Saturday. We didn't bring the camera out with us Friday, so no pics. :( It was a great trip, and we both had trouble adjusting back to real life. I think we need to win the lottery, so we can do that all the time. I love traveling with my man.