be my valentine? a gift guide for you.

its never too early to start planning.

Well, hello there. I know, it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I’ll start with- Happy New Year! Moving on- due to some of my most recent freelance work, I was inspired to put some ideas to paper for the ever confusing topic of “what do I get my *other* for Valentine’s Day?” Valentine’s Day can be as frustrating as thinking of new positions to put your Elf on the Shelf every day (too soon?). So, here are some helpful suggestions that might get you going on the right path- based on my experiences. Opinions here are my own- and do mostly apply to Seacoast NH/ME/MA, but you can use the idea for inspiration in your own hometown. I won’t tell.

Disclaimer: I understand not everyone will have a Valentine come Feb 14. My suggestion is to not hate the holiday- roll with it. Indulge with a friend in any of these suggestions (well, many of them. Some might be a tad awkward). You can love in many ways- and I appreciate that fact!

  1. A weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. While you might think that an island off Massachusetts wouldn’t be ideal during the winter, consider the fact that you will get a super deal on even the nicest of hotels- making the weekend a tad more affordable. Sure, not everything is open, but the locals are amazing in the off season, less annoyed with you (actually they appreciate you more), and super friendly. We have stayed at the Vineyard Square Hotel & Suites, but it looks like they are not taking Feb reservations this year! Harbor View Hotel is also nice, and the rates are on sale! The ferry is $8, it’s a gorgeous ride and you skip the summer traffic through Boston to Rt 3. We got snowed in once and were “forced” to stay an extra night. Terrible. 馃槈
  2. You can NEVER go wrong with spa treatments. Hey- I even got Brad to take in a pedicure AND a massage on our honeymoon. He might be pissed I am announcing this to the world, but he totally loved both. Might I suggest Buff and File for the hands and feet? The staff are always friendly, extremely talented and its a very cool and clean spot that let’s you make your reservations online! For massage, do yourself and your loved one a favor and book Marni at Portsmouth Spa.聽 She has even put ME to sleep before! She has magic hands. You’re welcome. Skin- this is a tough one, as I personally get spoiled by many local spots in this area. I’ll keep it simple and make a list, which is in no particular order: About Face Medical Aesthetics, Making Faces and my new discovery Skin & Lash Lounge. For the hair, go for any one of the talented staff at Wink Salon and Spa.
  3. Jewelry. This is a very personal gift, as not everyone is alike in taste and budget. Might I suggest contacting Rachel at LYNX by RC? She designs, infuses with Reiki (healing properties), and hand makes each and every piece that goes out in Portsmouth, NH. Unlike a high end designer that will stick a price tag on a piece to reflect the brand name, Rachel uses each semi precious gemstone to personally talk to it’s wearer through it’s metaphysical properties.聽 Each stone has a meaning and a purpose- while also looking stunning on the wearer. For example, my husband has bad arthritis all over. I discussed this and his idea for style- and she created two pieces for him that he rarely takes off! Trust me when I say I can see a difference in him. She makes matching pieces- connecting you to one another, and pieces that inspired her by the beauty of her surroundings. If you don’t find something that you think your person might like- message her. She can ask the questions she needs and design the perfect piece(s) for you within your style and budget. I’d get your orders in early- as she tends to book up quickly.聽

    fabulous.

  4. I love dimly lit restaurants for Valentine’s Day- ones that are romantically lit by candlelight. No one wants to sit in a bright restaurant with a dozen other strangers when you’re trying be romantic. Might I suggest the following places: Cava, Mombo, Anneke Jans,聽 The Black Birch (side note: get there early, they don’t take reservations and there is often a line!), Ship’s Cellar Pub at the YHI (it was designed to look like the inside of a ship!), and Cure. Fun Fact: The first Valentine’s Day with Brad he took me to Mombo. 5 years later it was the location for our wedding reception.聽

    dancing at mombo.

  5. Is your significant other an activity lover? How about Ice Skating at Strawberry Banke? Grab a cup of hot cider and enjoy the times you slip and fall into each other’s arms!聽 Perhaps go somewhere for a slice of chocolate cake after?
  6. French macaroons! I found a new spot, La Maison Navarre, in downtown Portsmouth. Unless you and your partner are off sugar, this is a win-win for everyone involved. A less expensive option can be found at Trader Joe’s in the freezer section. They are just as good, but obviously not as fresh or offer as many flavors.

    yes. oh and yes.

  7. Hire a personal chef for dinner – stay in, while enjoying the spoils of going out, OR take a cooking class. We had an amazing experience with For the Love of Food & Drink out of Kittery, ME. The food is delicious and the owners are a lovely married couple, Bill & Wendy.
  8. Write a hand-written Valentine and leave it in their car for when they go to work in the morning. The unexpected message gets a smile 100% of the time. Brad does this for me and every time I am surprised- and carry them with me to reread.聽
  9. Paint and sip wine together! I have not done this, but have always wanted to. I have walked by this聽 “Painting with a Twist” in downtown Exeter many times, but have yet to go. Perhaps 2018 is the year!
  10. Last but certainly not least is for the extremely frugal couple. Since February 14th is on a week day this year, IF your employment allows for it- play hooky together. Take the day off and PLAN to spend the entire 24 hours in bed. I don’t mean that completely sexually, but make it fun: breakfast in bed, sleep a little more, watch cheesy movies you both secretly love and share the laughter (or tears) of watching together, binge on Netflix, give each other massages, cuddle, and sleep more. The point is to be together in the simplicity of doing just that- being together. It’s the most inexpensive option and if you present it correctly- could make for a very romantic holiday. Sounds like heaven to me.聽

I’d add more as I think of them, but this is a good list to get you started. Feel free to give me ideas or suggestions you may have!

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tomato soup for the soul.

On this very cold March day, I decided to create a meal that isn’t very diet friendly: tomato basil bisque & grilled cheese with truffle butter. I’ll start planning for bikini season tomorrow.

After a first tasting, I decided I would share my recipes for all to enjoy.聽They are聽that good.

I used a crockpot and a Ninja for the soup. A stove with a frying pan for the sandwich.

Spices needed: pepper, sea salt, garlic powder (or save yourself some time and just buy Camp Mix)

When you hit the grocery store, this is your list for the soup:

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil
  • 2 cans of 14oz organic diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes diced that would equal 28oz- if you have the time)
  • 1 CAN (yes, can-not a jar) of organic tomato sauce
  • either a block of parmesan cheese or a bag of fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 container of organic chicken broth
  • butter (I like the sea-salted)
  • 1 small container of heavy cream (I went with Hood).

And for the sandwich:

  • 1 block of聽cheese (I went with gouda, but you pick the聽kind you like best)
  • truffle butter聽(most Whole Food-like grocery stores will carry this, if not, then find a nice truffle oil and we聽can melt down the butter and mix this in)

    oh hey, little friend.

  • bread (Listen, we NEVER have bread in the house, so you know this is a big deal. Anyway, I went with a gorgeous Tuscan Pane White)

    best thing since betty white.

  • Optional ingredients I know my husband will request: tomato and/or any kind of meat.

As far as how much of what to add for the soup- I never follow recipes to a T. I聽always wing it for taste. Gordon Ramsey would be pleased. The only ingredients I actually “limited” before throwing聽into the crockpot were of the dairy and spice categories. I used 4 tbsp of butter and a good pour of the cream that probably amounted to 3/4 a cup.聽 The parmesan cheese I did a healthy handful…and then added some more. As for the spices, just add to taste.聽 It’s all up to you, really.聽聽

To cook soup: add ingredients to the crockpot and set on high for 3 hours. I went ahead and blended all the ingredients (to make it a more smooth consistency, but you can keep it chunky if you like) in my Ninja after about an hour, and then added it back to the crockpot to continue to simmer. Add fresh basil on top to garnish.

For the sandwich, I would start by truffle-buttering one side two slices of bread. I might even use the truffle butter to oil the pan. Hey- I love truffles and butter, don’t judge. I think by this point if you don’t know how to make a grilled cheese from here then I certainly would be delighted to help you: butter-side-down bread to pan, cheese (add as much as you like), bread-butter-side-up. Heat on medium. I would do 3 minutes聽and then flip, making sure the butter side is again down聽(but you keep checking to make sure it gets a nice brown, not black). My husband would have me add two slices of tomato with the cheese, but I go with the basics.

to answer your question, yes, he wanted tomatoes. told you.

I suggest making more than one sandwich. Don’t worry, it will get eaten. Now聽serve, dip and enjoy.

 

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2016.

I haven’t written in a while. Sure, I have sat down to write many times, but just couldn’t formulate my thoughts enough to do them justice. Until today.

If you could put a medical diagnosis on a period of time I would classify 2016 as bioplar.

bi路po路lar聽adjective
1.having or relating to two poles or extremities. “a sharply bipolar division of affluent and underclass”
2. (of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only.

 

Seriously. You. Have. No. Idea. Or perhaps you do in your own world. If so, you are not alone in thinking that 2016 was bipolar.

I’ll begin with a bit of history, 2015.

2015 Seemed like the upswing of amazingness; bought a house, went on an amazing and romantic West Coast trip, got engaged, work was successful, my father was seemingly feeling better from his treatments, and I can actually remember being in the car smiling- thinking THIS IS AWESOME.

I remember immediately thinking after that- this will all come to an end soon. Well, then we welcomed 2016. Oh hello.

Here are some of the lows and highs of the year from my imperfect point-of-view.

Low: Terrorism is at an all-time high to where I am actually afraid to go anywhere.

High: I started planning our聽wedding! Date, venues, vendors,聽priests, wedding party, favors and dress. Check.

Low: Our political system went from stupid to something Cypress Hill would sing about- and now the writers of SNL have fallen into a deep hole of the same boring shit every week. We get it. You are bummed Hillary lost and you like mocking Trump. Can you please move the fuck on and bring back Justin Timberlake or Andy Samberg? Or both? Thanks.

High: The Ice Bucket Challenge actually made a breakthrough in ALS research!

Low: We lost so many people in 2016 that TIME MAGAZINE’s Person of the Year is the Grim fucking Reaper! I mean we lost the ultimate creator of the chick-flick, Willy Wonka, the crazy heiress who slapped a cop and married nine聽men, Professor Snape, the guy who invented that ice tea & lemonade drink that Gunnar and my father loves, the boxer who makes the argument in Coming to America’s barbershop scene come to a close, Dr. Jason Seaver, the Russian dude from the new Star Trek movies, an astronaut, “The Artist,” Patty Duke, Scrooge McDuck, Janet Reno, Natalie Cole, Grizzly Adams, Miss Cleo, Punky Brewster’s dad (on the show), the mayor who famously says “Bring me the Ghostbusters!”, the man who wrote Hallelujah, the guy who wrote Hotel California, Mr. Hockey, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Larry Sanders, R2-D2, Mrs. Brady, Bowie, the man who made the sentence “I want your sex” actually make sense, Princess Leia AND her mother, and SO MANY MORE. We have been depleted of so much talent. I fear for the tasteless and vulgar “comedy” stylings of the Amy Schumers of the world that we are left with.. I miss the time when there was a little mystery and grace.聽

Side note: yes, I know I swear a lot, so I’m not saying that I am graceful. At all. I digress.

trust me, I know.

trust me, I know.

Moving on.

High:聽I got accepted into the MBA program at UNH for Spring 2017 and Brad got commended for saving a man’s life!

Low: Hatred of EVERYBODY is at an all-time high. I have never before seen anything like this and it scares me every day my husband puts on his uniform. People are being killed for the sake of being killed every single day. In America! I understand that comment might come off ignorant, as people have always died every single day, and now because of social media we are more aware of it, but it feels like its gratuitous聽sport at this rate.IT NEEDS TO STOP.聽

High: We got 10 chickens! I was told not to name them, but I did. I mean, I had to have a Cocky. Don’t worry- I kept Brad in mind as I named the biggest yellow one Clay Matthews.聽

Low: We lost all but one of our chickens to a jerkface fox. 聽You don’t know sad until you see 9 piles of feathers all over your yard. 馃檨 聽RIP Chicken Cocky and Chicken Clay Matthews. That one remaining chicken now lives with our neighbors- who also have chickens. I suggested bringing him in the house to be domesticated, but I guess that isn’t a thing. I tried.

High: Brad finished our beautiful home inside and out. We bought a house, but Brad made it a home with his talent and craftsmanship. Work was good for us and our relationship has been stronger than ever.

Low: Brad lost the two women in his life who raised him. First his mother, Barb. Her failing health just overcame her very slim frame and she took her last breath in February. Then, in July, her younger sister Joanie followed. I don’t know exactly what took her from this life, but I truly believe it was a broken heart. They were best of friends. They were crazy, silly, Wisconsin-salt-of-the-earth women, with good hearts and bright red hair. They raised one of the most amazing men I have ever met in my entire life. Celebrities had nothing on these two women.

red and barb.

red and barb.

High: I got a job offer from an amazing company, Lindt & Sprungli. It was a hard decision to leave the Boston Globe, but the close proximity to home (for my father) and dream position of finally being able to create something had me hooked.

And now for the finale:

Lowest Low: My father’s seemingly dormant prostate cancer came alive and his failing health took an evil turn for the worst as it hit his liver. This was an extremely rare cancer, as apparently prostate cancer metastasizing to the liver doesn’t happen often (so I was told). The real hit was that he kept the actual state of his health from me- so I wasn’t prepared. I never really knew the whole truth. “All you get to know is that I am sick” was what he said to me. Finally, without wanting to be a burden on anyone, and with the full knowledge that he was losing his freedoms with every moment, he took his own life on June 16th. He was only 68.聽What I do know from this horrible loss is that my father loved Brad and Gunnar. He blessed our upcoming marriage. He blessed Brad as a son. He let me know how proud he was of me and that he loved me very much. He taught me to be confident within myself vs. seek approval. What I wouldn’t give to have him randomly show up, too early in the morning, for pancakes, bacon and orange juice- with pulp. We miss him every single day. I have now made steps to join the Death with Dignity movement. You should too because you never know what hand you’ll be dealt later.聽

my father's first (and only) selfie.

my father’s first (and only) selfie.

Highest High: Brad and I got married in the most wonderful celebration I have ever known in Portsmouth, NH. Aside from the lows of the year, we were able to put it aside for one day and celebrate our love. We had friends and family come from all over the country to join us on this champagne and blush, with a touch of Tiffany blue day. We marched down the isle to the most beautiful music of Craig Armstrong (I walked in around the 6 min mark). Gunnar gave the most amazing best man speech on the planet. The music was fun and lively, by the talented Julie Kramer of RadioBDC. The event planner Casey at our reception space聽聽managed our small group of 100 like a pro. Holy good food! Just go there for dinner and imagine that quality of food-multiplied.Nicole Friedler couldn’t have taken better pictures. Everyone got along and laughed the whole day. This might have had something to do with the open bar, but I’m going to take it. And sure, our wedding party was of comical size, and the flower girl refused to turn around for pictures, but we got it done….in a blue 488 Ferrari (Thank you, Ezra!). Our honeymoon on Key West and Little Palm Island was warm and offered the spoils we needed to congratulate us on our nuptials. We did it!

my favorite kiss.

my favorite kiss.

If you can believe it, there are some more lows and highs that have happened this year, but I’m a little spent rehashing all of it. I’ll leave it with what I have recorded and save the rest for another time. You get the picture anyway.

OH! Almost forgot- did I forget to mention today Brad and I have been together five years? Yep! Five years since that first day he opened the gate in my Chicago apartment, touched my hand and changed my life. We are spending the evening at a resort in Maine, and then back home to celebrate our first Christmas as husband and wife.

Mr. & Mrs. Von Haden

introducing the Von Hadens.

2016: So much loss, but so much love.聽

 

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intolerance

in路tol路er路ance 聽
in藞t盲l(蓹)r蓹ns/聽noun
  1. unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own.
    “a struggle against religious intolerance”
    synonyms: bigotry, narrow-mindedness, small-mindedness, illiberality, parochialism,provincialism; More

Intolerance. When you look above at the definition- it’s horrible in orientation. Just the reading of it makes people immediately defensive, at least that’s what I think.聽No one wants to admit that they could be intolerant- quite the opposite. The irony is that every person I have ever met who preaches against “intolerance” of their fellow man is, in fact, the intolerant! (I felt that sentence needed an exclamation point) Unless you believe exactly what they believe, how they believe it, to the degree and manner of such belief, then they are intolerant of YOU. The Mad-Hatter has nothing on these crazies.

yes. yes you are.

yes. yes you are.

I hate to say this to my preachy friends, but they聽then become the exact synonym of their聽very own dictation. It’s kinda funny if you pay attention to it, or it will equally drive you mad.

I have been in conversations where someone(s) claimed to be of the utmost liberal, free-thinking, open-hearted human(s) on the planet. I warn you, these are the worst of the “intolerant” thinkers. When you speak to them, they will yell. Instead of fact or logic, they revert to name-calling and lots of adjectives. Their ability to reject, block and resist, with the force of the Heisman Trophy,聽even the sound of your voice as you try to interject even the smallest opinion is a gift worthy of that aforementioned award. “You can’t possibly have an original thought! Just agree with me, or I shall continue yelling until you concede! It’s my way or the highway, pal!” It’s these aggressive, knee-jerking, illogical reactions that should clue you into this strange being.

If you are an educated person, then this rigmarole will be clear. If still in the “vulnerable” category, then I give you this caveat: be careful not to fall victim of the persuasion into this dark hole of punitive behavior.

Not to sound like an old fart, but I feel bad for the youth of today. The voices that are carried the furthest through social media are that of the聽intolerant. The majority聽of them do not have an interest to believe in God, or any sort of a faith, yet will boast of the anti belief. The voices speak more of hate, fear and insubordination. They guide the masses to聽gather in support of criminals and push hate and intolerance on those who protect us- without bothering to pay attention to any of the evidence or facts. I don’t know about you, but this scares the shit out of me.

Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. –聽Mahatma Gandhi

Where do we draw the line anymore?

 

 

 

 

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social insanity.

Fun Fact: A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word “Facebook,” according to Divorce Online. And more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking in divorce proceedings is on the rise, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.聽May 24, 2012

Here is a Forbes article linking Facebook to depression.

Don’t take social media so damn personally! Seriously.

I write this note with so many stories to back up my feelings on it, yet am a hypocrite, as I have been subject to falling for the craziness that sets in resulting from over sensitivity to social media interactions. I’ll admit it. (insert brave face) I’m not ashamed. Side note: totally ashamed to have acted as such. I vow moving forward not to just bitch and give advice, but to practice what I preach.

This morning I wrote up some advice for a friend and I felt I would share. I’m not saying I channeled Hesse, circa 1922聽Siddhartha, but I felt inspired.聽

Words of advice I learned along the way regarding social media:

  • If people are heated about a topic on a public forum (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc), it’s probably best to keep your opinion to yourself- unless you are prepared for the heat to be directed at you.
  • If you don’t understand a conversation, stay out of it. Not your problem.
  • If the conversation is not directed at you, stay out of it. 聽Not your problem.
  • If something is posted on social media that you don’t agree with- ignore it. Not your problem. Do you really want the drama?
  • If you insert yourself into someone else’s conversation- you are actually making the reaction your problem. It is 100% your fault if someone doesn’t agree with your engagement. You should have stayed out of it in the first place. (All together now) It wasn’t your problem.
  • If you do commit to putting it out there for all the world to read, own it.
  • If someone unfriends you on social media, or blocks you from a group or discussion- they were not your friend to begin with and you shouldn’t let it bother you. Have you had lunch with this person? Would you invite them to your Christmas party? No. Then why are yo so upset? They are not as wonderful as you anyway.聽Move on.
  • Don’t humble brag; It’s REALLY annoying.

I support the friends, colleagues, family and business portion of social media; Sharing life’s happenings, new developments, homes, babies, break ups, work news, pets, relationship happiness and promotions for brands (obviously). I do not support the part that causes drama. Anymore.

For those of you who know me well, will smile at that last word. For those of you who don’t,聽probably are not meeting me for lunch anytime soon- and can consider themselves unfriended. Don’t take it personally, I know I won’t. 聽馃檪

Keep it simple. I find that when life is boring, I smile a hell of a lot more. Try it.聽

the fact this picture existed online when i searched "facebook depression" is just awesome. enjoy.

the fact this picture existed online when i searched “facebook depression” is just awesome. enjoy.

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beauty loyalty, take 2.

Happy Fall!聽The leaves that peak through my sky-light in the morning are bright with shades of oranges, reds and yellows. It’s stunning! Makes me happy and makes me think of all things pretty. New to my findings are some local, small businesses that I have discovered and will forever be loyal. 聽I present to you beauty loyalty, take 2.

  1. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit that I am 37 years old. In fact, I embrace it! I’m happier than I have ever been in my entire life personally, professionally and spiritually. With that being said…37 doesn’t come without it’s “aging” accompaniments. 聽I decided to start being proactive with my skincare, in addition to my monthly chemical peel and micro from the wonderful making faces, to fight aging before it lands directly on my face. 聽Trust me when I say visit Ericka. Don’t ask questions, just do it. She is brilliant, wonderful, and you know that old saying “don’t get a haircut from someone with bad hair” (Okay, maybe that is just something I say), well once you look at her- you’ll want whatever she’s having. Trust me. Now, I’m not sending you to Isabella Rossellini聽circa Death Becomes Her, she isn’t giving you a potion with a warning, she IS giving you the education and foundation to keep your “glow” about you longer than nature intended.聽

    screw the natural law!

    screw the natural law!

  2. Wink. No, I’m not flirting with you. It’s the name of a salon in Portsmouth that just had a major lift of it’s own. I’ll start by saying that聽I am a fan of the blow-dry bar. In Chicago, I would go at lunch, but hadn’t found a good one in NH, until now! While my pup was getting groomed last night, I decided to visit this place that I heard had wonderful ownership and a great reputation. 聽The rumor-mill was correct! Aside from the fact that my stylist (Ashley Varney- visit her) was probably one of the most interesting, determined and sweet 23-year-olds that I have crossed in my days, the price-point and options list are amazing! For only $35 you get to look and feel pretty damn awesome (if I do say so myself). I added on the deep conditioning for $10. 聽I’ll tell you, even a day later I can’t stop smelling my hair! It’s awesome. I believe they used the Moroccan Oil product line. Janna will always be my one-and-only with the cuts, but I will visit Wink from time to time from now on for a fluff. You should too.
  3. My last of the day is not a place, but a person. Actually, she’s a bridesmaid in my upcoming nuptials. I have a friend who can literally hang from her ceiling, do that pose where only your arms are holding you up, and is a barre-yoga queen. I am determined to let her mold me into the hottest bride on the planet, but at this point, I have only done the arm exercises she assigned. Don’t judge me, I still run at the gym in my office, but I do need to do more. I know that. I’m judging myself. I digress. She works for a great new company called “Barre and Soul,” with locations in Portsmouth, NH and Melrose and Cambridge, MA. I don’t know how she does it, but she inspires me to do more every day by just reading her Facebook updates in my daily feed. Even writing this I feel guilty I don’t go with her every time she says “take my class!” or “come with me to the 5:30 class!” 聽In the meantime, my loyalty is to her.

    meet crissy. ain't she cute?

    meet crissy. fun fact: she was mrs. nh聽2014

That’s enough for now. I hope everyone is enjoying the start of fall! It’s almost our聽first Halloween in the new house. Serious question for you: do we decorate the yard to scare the shit out of the kids (of course enlisting Gunnar to help me do so) or do I play nice with the giant candy bars? Decisions, decisions…

 

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enough!

I’m in an “accident prone phase” and I don’t like it one bit. Sigh.

I won’t deny that clumsiness runs in my family because it totally does. My father has had fireworks blow up in his face, my mom face-planted onto a sidewalk and my sister used to get into her own bits of accidents. I have done a damn good job of avoiding it, until recently. I have always believed that things come in 3s- and in this instance I REALLY need to believe that the third annoying, painful, frustrating and downright stupid third thing has already occurred. Meaning: I am safe now. Nothing else can go wrong.

Side note: I use to think that if you get pulled over by police for speeding, that you are solid for a while because you had your turn. I thought that, until I was pulled over 3 times, 3 weeks in a row. You might remember my letter (Well, okay, Laura’s letter) to the great state of Maine? 

I bring you to the phase: I have sciatic pain in my legs. It gets really annoying when trying to sleep, sit still at all, go to the movies, work, drive, etc. Sometimes it’s downright unbearable. I know, I know “stretch more, Katie.” Yeah, no. Won’t happen. I can lie to you and say I will, but we all know I won’t.  Anyway, my father told me to buy this cream: Capsaicin. I have used it and while it burns like hell, typically it’s no issue for me. That is- until the phase started. I took a bath one night after work and applied the cream. No big deal. 15 minutes passed and I found myself standing over the freezer, putting ice on my legs. 20 minutes later- I find myself in the bathtub, with freezing water. All of a sudden, my face is equally burning. Brad walks upstairs because it has been a while since I have been seen. Where does he find me? Butt-ass naked in front of the fan in the bedroom- trying to get the air to blow on my legs that felt as if the skin was burning off of them, bawling. Awesome. And hot. (note sarcasm and the tricky pun I used there) “Did you get it on your face too?”  Yes, Brad. I did. Next thing we have Brad on the phone with poison control, trying to figure out how to make it stop. Note: there is no cure. You have to wait it out. Fanfuckingtastic.

Next portion of my phase was this past weekend. This is about 4 days after the Capsaicin incident. I was not feeling well at all, in fact, I even stopped at an urgent care on the way home from work Friday. Well, carry that feeling into the weekend. You with me this far? Okay, so Sundays are Brad’s “Officer Von Haden” days- leaving me home alone. Typically I will go grocery shopping, clean, do laundry, meanwhile binge-watching Netflix. Usually, I like my Sundays. Usually is over; I did not like this Sunday. 

Gunnar needed to leave for work and he asked me to move my car, as I was blocking him in the driveway. Sure. No problem! Well, my stomach had started to really hurt me. Like stabbing pain. I tried ignoring it, and decided that instead of moving my car, I would go grocery shopping. That made it worse. I got home and found myself laying down, trying to get it to pass. UGH.  My leg pain was making it hard to lay down. I shall wash the dog! This would help.

deep down, i know she loves baths.

deep down, i know she loves baths, despite the face i always get from her.

Washing the dog went fine, but she left a trail of water all over the house- that I could not see. Think black ice on a winter morning, but worse. 

black ice, sometimes called clear ice, refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent, allowing black asphalt/macadam roadways or the surface below to be seen through it鈥攈ence the term "black ice".

black ice, sometimes called clear ice, refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent, allowing black asphalt/macadam roadways or the surface below to be seen through it鈥攈ence the term “black ice”.

Fast forward to me, walking down the stairs, in flip flops… that hit the water, causing my feet to slide out from under me. The entire weight of my back SLAMMED on the stairs, and proceed to fall fast, SLAMMING me against the front door, one stair at a time.

Julius Caesar would have been disgusted, as I did exactly the opposite of him: I paused. I felt. I CRIED. I think I was hyperventilating by the time I was able to crawl over to the phone and call Brad.  You know that ugly 2 year old cry you never thought was possible past that age? Well, it is. As I am typing this, I feel the pain of my back, butt and the bruising all up my arms.

Feel bad for me yet? It gets worse.

Last night we got home from back-to-school shopping and dinner, and were all watching TV. I decided to get my bunny to snuggle with me before bed.  (yes, an actually pet bunny, this is not a strange nickname I have for Brad). Well, as bunny is being sweet, licking my neck, being the cute little woodland creature he was meant to be, I decide to give him a kiss on his belly. Well, before you think I am giving TMI of my snuggle-session, out of NOWHERE, Mr. Bunny decided to KICK. My face. My eye. I saw stars. Not wanting to draw attention to what just happened- I slowly get up and put bunny back in his enclosure. I then walk upstairs, and proceed to see blood and scratch marks dripping down my face.

Brad had no words when I called him into the bathroom other than, “you want me to take care of the bunny for you?” Nice. And no.

I’m going to go ahead and be more careful for the next few days. You know, until the phase passes.  Scarlet O’Hara said it best: After all, tomorrow is another day. 

that's all folks.

that’s all folks.

UPDATE: 2 days post attack.

#selfie #streetcred #aintnoshameinabunnybeatdown

#selfie #seriousface #streetcred #aintnoshameinabunnybeatdown

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yes

I have been sitting on the details of our California trip for a couple weeks now. How much do I share? I have many pictures that I started emailing myself from my phone, but then I kinda decided I wanted to keep some of those for just us. I know Brad has a plan to print them out, mat and frame them for the聽newly painted walls in our new home. Perhaps only the visitors will be able to enjoy them. That’s it- it’s decided. 聽Sorry, in order to see the photos, you’ll have to come for a visit. Don’t worry though, many of you will see them soon enough…

Wanna hear how Brad asked me to marry him?聽It’s good. It’s messy and unorganized and frustrating and funny, but it was perfect.

Here goes:

Brad had been working with my very talented friend, Tracey, on the design and production of a ring. Tracey owns The Ruby Door in Boston, MA. She was actually a client of mine from 2003-2005, but we developed a friendship and I am blessed to have her in my life still.

Fast forward to the day (July 14th, Bastille Day!):聽We had been out West for 5 days at this point. We had been to Vegas for two nights, Santa Barbara for two, and we were now on our way north via聽the PCH. We had decided to go hiking at Big Sur- then spend the night in Carmel.

We had heard about a waterfall, upon stopping to buy a map. Yes- a real map! Side note: there was NO service on the PCH for a good stretch, so we thought we would use this old-fashion way of getting around. Alas- the $15 item just sat in my bag, never opened once. It’s the thought that counts?聽Instead we took the advice of the locals and “winged-it.” I’d say that was a good decision.

oh hey, julia pfeiffer burns state park.

oh hey, julia pfeiffer burns state park. you’re purty.

There were many people in the area, taking probably the same exact photo that I did, making the area very crowded. We appreciated the beauty of the spot and decided to go up the road to another hiking location. At this point, my attention is focused on the bottle of champagne we purchased at a mountain store the moment we entered Big Sur.聽Wouldn’t聽yours?

We found聽another trail and stopped the car. My heart is pounding. I’m half thinking “this won’t really happen and I am getting in my own head” and the other is thinking “this is it!” Well, we find the trail “Buzzard’s Roost.” We start up it- and realize that it is hidden behind Redwood trees- with no view other than that of bark. It wrapped along the mountain…going…going…going. No view. No opening. No top. Just more trail. Brad starts, “maybe we just go back and find another?” My heart drops. Now, mind you- my mouth had been SHUT the entire time. I pretended to be nonchalant when he wanted to buy champagne. Cause everyone has a bubbly bev while hiking, right? I was quiet; didn’t say a word. I was “cool” and chill. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a VERY DIFFICULT TASK.聽

Okay, so there I am, in front of Brad as he is thinking out-loud to go to another spot, one with a view. It is then that I find my face finally matching my head and out comes, “but I thought..” I IMMEDIATELY catch myself (BAD KATIE!!) and shut up. I then try to “fix” it with a, “no, I am sure there is something up here! Let’s keep going!” Right. Cool as a fucking cucumber, Katie.聽 Brad smiles and agrees that we keep going.

We come across a staircase in the middle of the mountain. Brad decided he was a little hungry. He hands me the block of cheese and asks me to cut him a couple slices. I then hear the words that make my entire body feel a warm sensation: “You know I love you?”

Interior monologue: “Oh my God. He is doing it now. He is going to ask me and I am literally cutting the cheese. I am CUTTING THE FUCKING CHEESE WHILE HE PROPOSES?!”

Here is the play by play:

Me: yes.

Him: Do you love me?

Me: yes.

Him: Want to spend the rest of your life with me?

Me: yes.

Him: (gets down on one knee) Will you marry me?

Me: yes.

I was completely overwhelmed and in shock that this moment was really happening. I can’t explain the feeling of happiness- or the way our relationship has strengthen EVEN MORE since that moment in the woods.

In the car on the way to Carmel, Brad was quiet. “What’s wrong?” I ask him. “You didn’t even cry. You cry at everything and you didn’t even cry!” It made me smile like you have no idea. Damn, I love this man.聽

um, hell yes i will.

um, hell yes i will.

The story is聽kinda funny and perfect- and ours.

 

Posted in dating, love and relationships, reality, sunshine | 6 Comments

the first 24 hours.

The first 24 hours of owning a home聽were聽certainly not boring. I’ll explain in 6 instances.

1. It rained the morning of the close. I had this theory, like some people do with weddings, that if it rains, that must be good luck! Well, it rained. It eventually cleared up, but it was a wet start to the day- which ruined my “really good hair” I had planned on sporting when signing the dotted line 50 times- and also put a little damper in not getting our stuff wet. Bring on the good luck!

2. Most聽the documents had “Kathleen Schmidt” on them. I pointed out that it wasn’t my name, and I guess this was a big deal. So, other than the fact the closing went smoothly, there was a small delay as they fixed the name.聽Apparently, Siri has a cousin in PC computers, making typos for all the world to enjoy.聽

3. There is a random sheet you have to sign that lists your public aliases on it. Interesting. I signed, but I am pretty sure that I am not the only “K Schmidt” out there, nor did I know I went by “K.” Guess my Men in Black career is done. They know who I am.聽

Okay, I will stop boring you and get to the good stuff:

4. The oops I made. We ALL have dealt with service providers before and the complete road-rage-esque feeling when you have to get an actual human on the phone, a bill to be correct or an appointment to be on time. I’m always the one to set up utilities, so let’s call me a pro at dealing with these people and getting a desired result. OR I just yell until they fold. I was on the phone with 3 different people, 2 different times to get my wifi/cable/landline set up, initially. I thought it was set. Done and done- got an appointment for the next day between 8-10am. I was mistaken (kinda).

Fast-forward to next morning. I decide to call and make sure that we were on schedule. I call and get some guy who can’t pronounce my name, barely speaks聽English, and has no clue where New Hampshire is on a map. 聽He couldn’t find my phone number in their records, so I gave him the address- while also going up one side of him and down the other with frustration. I’m right,聽dammit! This is聽preposterous!聽There is a pause and the man on the phone gently states, “ma’am Time Warner Cable聽actually does not service that part of New Hampshire.” 聽Oops.

I’m quiet. “oh. Time Warner Cable, you say? Ha! I have the wrong number.” 聽I hang up, feeling like an asshole. Why, you ask?聽My appointment was with Comcast.

oops聽o蜐ops,o蜑ops/exclamation聽informal
  1. used to show recognition of a mistake or minor accident, often as part of an apology.
    “鈥淥ops! I’m sorry. I just made you miss your bus.鈥”

5. Karma in the form of the totally paranoid and insulting Cable guy. Now, while I will forever and always immediately say the title “cable guy” in my head exactly as Jim Carrey says it in the movie,聽I don’t ever expect Chip Douglas to be standing at my door. That being said, I also don’t expect the super insulting, paranoid Comcast man either. Where do I begin? Well, he walks in and only actually seeing the staircase and one room states “Well, this house looks a lot bigger from the outside.” Thanks, jackass. You have seen one whole room, but I appreciate the judgement. He said some other comments while he was there, but I am withholding those, as I am still wounded. Bottom line: he was rude.

“Joe” goes to install the cable, wifi and phone. When he is done, he gave me this very long and angry nervous schpeel about how if I have an issue PLEASE call him and not Comcast. Something about how they dock his pay and black marks on his file. I got the feeling this guy gets more than a few complaints about him. He went on and on and on and on about it for a good 15 minutes. “Put my number in your cell phone” he commanded. “Uh, sure…” I put it in the “notes” section and not the address book. Take that, JOE.聽

this concludes our broadcast day. click

this concludes our broadcast day. click

6. The million dollar dog strikes again. 聽This is how it went: I got home from bringing Brad a snack and running at the gym. All good. I let the dogs go out to pee. All good. I let the dogs in. All good. I fixed the dogs dinner.聽All good.聽I poor myself a well-deserved glass of champagne. Alllllllll good. Buddy starts doing the throw-up dance. Not good. I open the door to let him out. Not good. He comes back in. Better. He starts scratching something on his person. Not bad, but not better. I check him out, nothing. Better. I look at his face.聽Shocked.聽HOLY SHIT WHAT HAPPENED TO BUDDY!聽REALLY BAD.聽His face looked like he was the victim of getting hit in the face during a baseball game.

his modeling days are over.

his modeling days are over.

I race to the store to get Benedryl聽because Brad thought he must have been stung by something. I look like I’m abusing him in the parking lot, as I am not only trying to hold him down, hold his VERY swollen head, but also open his clenched jaw to put pills down his throat. Took me about 10 minutes, but I was successful. PoorLittle Buddy.

In conclusion: I’m having friends over for dinner tonight to show them the new house. Let’s hope the next 24 hours go a lot smoother. Can I please have a glass of聽champagne now?!

By the way, does anyone remember which boxes I put my clothing in?聽馃檪聽

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home.

It’s official: I’m an adult! Just went through the home-buying process for the first time. Well, not officially, as we close on June 23, but the paperwork is all done and approved.聽I thought I would run through the process for other first time home buyers, and give some tips for how to make it painless- and perhaps add some things you didn’t consider before. Both our聽mortgage broker and realtor have mentioned that I should teach a class on “how-to for the no-clue”, so I shall blog instead. I have had friends who have cried through the process, and others where it was seamless. Well, here is my experience.

We will get to decorating, redesigning, moving and Pinterest another time.

Tips from a first-time home buyer:

  1. Make sure you have a team that you trust- and is well seasoned.You can聽appreciate that your friend’s daughter is trying to build up her聽client list, as she聽just got her real estate license, but I’m sorry, she simply will not do for what you聽need. You need experience, savvy and balls. You are buying a home post 2008 subprime mortgage disaster, so the lenders are going to dig DEEP into your life before giving you a dime. Do you really want a 12 year old helping you with this? That’s what I thought. You need to have a team that has been around the block a few times. My realtor聽and mortgage specialist聽are聽AMAZING聽at their craft. If you are buying a home in NH/ME- TRUST ME and use these guys.
  2. Make a folder on your desktop to put all forms, PDFs and other information that is requested and sent to you. Save everything here. You will find that being organized and taking one little step to do this will make it MUCH easier, should a file get misplaced and you need to resend.
  3. When they send you forms to sign- print, sign and scan IMMEDIATELY. This way it is done. You won’t forget – and no one will be sitting around waiting for you. I often find that if a part of my job depends on getting information from someone else, I get very unhappy if I have to wait for it. Get it done.

    he who hesitates is lost. -english proverb

    he who hesitates is lost. -english proverb

  4. If you know there are other offers on the house, make your offer at least $500 over asking price- and keep in mind that the closing date your realtor sets might win the vote, not necessarily the price tag. Just ask Jessie.
  5. Make sure you have access to your original employment offer letter or contract. Make a digital copy, put it in the folder. They will ask for this information/proof.
  6. Ask your payroll department if there is an online portal to your pay stubs and to verify employment. Save the last two months from when you plan on closing.
  7. Pay down your credit cards to under 20%.
  8. Don’t buy anything big! Wait until you close聽to purchase that new furniture, car, TV, etc. I have a horrible shopping habit, so this one was hard.
  9. Be prepared that the appraisal of the house might be less than the asking price. The appraiser doesn’t take into account the market (low inventory). This person is only looking at the value of the home and the selling price of the homes in the area. If the appraisal comes in LOWER than the asking price- then remember that the bank will only give you a loan based on the appraised value. Which either means you have to come up with more money out-of-pocket at closing or you need to negotiate the asking price after you are already under contract- or both. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
  10. If your parents are going to give you money for the down payment, make sure it is in your account 60 days prior to when the underwriters will see your account, unless they are willing to write a “gift” letter and show the underwriter a copy of their bank account. It’s super invasive, but they want to make sure you’re an honest person and not laundering money.
  11. Be prepared to explain your tax write-offs, and to have to write letters explaining every decision you made on your tax forms. They want to understand how much money you are actually spending and how this affects your income. Got excited you were able to write off a lot last year, so you got a big return check? Well, this is where that will bite you in the ass. I even had to explain how many miles I drive daily. Thankfully, this move brings me closer to work and they liked that fact. phew.聽
  12. Get better-than-you-need insurance by a real insurance company. I upgraded to Liberty Mutual– and combined all our auto and home on one rate. It’s more efficient, and while in college and post-college-ignorant-twenty-something years it was cool to skimp on monthly car insurance, this is the real world and you want to make sure the big boys are behind you.Sorry Flo. It’s not you, it’s me. Well, it might be you a little.
  13. Make sure you get a good home inspection and keep the digital receipt. This will come in handy, as the underwriter will request it. Be prepared that the home inspection will take a really, really long time.
  14. Just because you were “pre-approved” for the home loan doesn’t mean you will actually get the loan. There are still many hoops to jump through before聽the underwriter will give you any dough. It’s almost like those “pre-approved” credit card mailings聽you got in the mail in your twenties, when your credit was shit from poor college decisions. You might have the direct mail in your hand, but honey, there is no way you are getting that card. Sowwy.
  15. When starting to plan your move THROW SHIT AWAY. I have boxes of shit I have moved with me since college (I graduated in 2001), I am going to guess I don’t really need that stuff anymore. Just toss it. Purge! I even threw away 8 pairs of shoes. Gulp. 聽I have not really begun packing yet, but I will soon and the less I have to pack/carry/unpack- the better. Oh shit, I said I would discuss moving later. I digress.

Side note: who is this “underwriter” I keep mentioning and what does that word mean? To the lay people (IE people not in the real estate industry) it’s basically the person who will be giving you the loan. Their opinion matters MOST. This is the determining factor on whether or not you get your home. The realtor and the mortgage specialist work for you- well, the underwriter works for the bank. I shall be sending cookies.

My last bit of advice聽would be this: Don’t forget to THANK the people who are helping you purchase this home! You have no idea how much work they are doing on your behalf. Most of the time, people are unappreciative and thankless. Well, just be sure to remind them from time to time how much their hard work has meant to you. Be sincere, damnit!聽We have got emails past 10pm and before 7am from both our聽guys- that’s working. 聽We are plan on using food and libations to show our聽true thanks, but you can do as you choose. I’m sure a note card works just fine- or perhaps hyperlinked contact information in a blog post?聽

As long as you stay organized, act immediately and follow directions- it’s really easier than people let on. 聽Either that, or my A-type personality was actually useful for once.That’s about all I can think of for now. We close on June 23rd on the new house and cannot wait! 聽Pictures to come…

click photo for music by none other than the legendary motley crew.

click photo for music by none other than the legendary motley crew.

 

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