something with purpose.

Hello. I decided to take a step away from my usual themes and write about something I have been secretly passionate about for years now: skincare.

It definetly started back in 2009ish, when I had a boyfriend who was not so nice to me; I believe the term was “acne faced, wrinkled bitch.” Followed by a friend who made an off-handed comment to me of, “you could use a chemical peel.” And then the cherry was someone I didn’t know well at all, who came up to me after my return to NH, once giving me a look-over said, “Yeah, I’m getting old too.”

OH. HELL. NO.

Thus begun my journey to find the perfect skincare regimen and turn back whatever the hell everyone else was seeing on my face, that apparently I had not noticed. So it began.

Chemical peels, microdermabrasion, Botox, fillers, monthly facials- followed by THOUSANDS of dollars in any and every skincare line I had heard of, read aboout, seen on TV, etc. etc. There was no end in sight. I’m not going to name every brand because most of them test on animals, and I really do not want to give them the hyperlinks, backlinks or any other SEO help to boost sales and hurt more defenseless animals.

First step: Find a medical aesthetician. No problem.

I will say, due to one of the foremost injectors in the country, my face saw years come off it almost instantly. To this day, I rely on her talent and grace to keep me feeling my best, without overdoing it. Yes, she does say no if she feels I don’t need it. Most med spas will just take your money and not think twice. No, I don’t look like the damn cat lady, Jocelyn Wildenstein. I just look like I was supposed to, had I taken better care of my skin from the start.

Listen, I know that vainty is literally a sin- and as a good Catholic girl, well- I’m supposed to break the rules anyway. However, I still had not found the skincare products that perfectly worked with me on an every day basis.

Next step: Find a skincare line that works.

I’m digressing from the point of what I wanted to write about… so we will now fast forward to 2019, where I found the products that I had been looking for, for an entire decade: Save the Wave Skincare.

Side note: no, this is not sponsored, nor did they ask me to write this. I think it’s important to share something amazing when you find it. Maybe I will help someone else who is hurting.

The products from this skincare line are all developed by two friends of mine, who happen to be sisters. One is a Nurse Practitioner and the other is a Physician Assistant- both educated at Duke. (So, they are wicked smaht)

The thing I love the most about this company, is that every product has EVERYONE in mind, including the planet and the little creatures who live on it. From SPFs with a mineral base, making it safe to go ito the ocean and not destroy the reefs, plastic-free shampoos, conditioners and skincare soaps, to vegan and gluten-free items- it’s just all thoughtful and created with purpose. ALL of it is cruelty-free. The very best part about all of it is this: my skin has never looked or felt better. I actually LOVE telling people I am 41 for the reaction.

Aside: I know what you’re thinking- “she gets Botox, etc” but if you know anything about skincare, you’d know that needles alone don’t do it. You need a daily regimen to keep it up and smooth out the details. And this is it. (well, for me personally)

My favorite skincare items (in no particular order): I use most of these EVERY DAY on my face, neck, décolletage, and my hands.

There are SO MANY MORE items that would be perfect for many different concerns, the ones I listed just happen to work for me.

My favorite items that are not “regimen” based:

  • EVERY shampoo is insane. I cannot pick a favorite because they all work and all smell delicious.
  • EVERY soap works fantastic on my skin. You’d have to read the descriptions to figure out which would be good for your skincare concern.
  • The cream deodorants smell so good- and actually work, without the chemicals that people are flipping out these days. Charcoal Spearmint is my current favorite, but I love the Lemongrass too.

I could go on an on because I have tried 99% of their collection. Actually, my husband has too- and he loves it just as much. In fact, this is one of the only times I was confused as to why something was running out, and got the response, “I thought what is mine is yours?” ha ha. Well, okay then. He even lets me put the masks on him.

I have to say, looking back on every bully who has ever crossed my path, I love looking at my life right now and smiling. Some day I will get into the detail of true bullying I have dealt with over the course of my life, but for now, I will stick with the ones who made me look in the mirror and love what I look like today.

So, thanks.

leftovers.

It’s been a while since I have written (you know, life and all), and I promise I am not turning this into a recipe blog, but I do have one that I must share due to popular request.

If you’ve read this post, you’d know my feelings about Halloween. If not, don’t worry- you won’t miss anything. I digress. 

This year I had a bunch of leftover Halloween candy. Big bars. I pondered what to do with the leftovers (I was shocked to have leftovers, considering I let people take 2), so instinctually I thought of my colligate step son, Gunnar. I feel bad because the moment I text him about mailing it down to him- to which he replied “YES!”- I already had another idea for what I was going to do with it. Oops. Sorry, Gunnar. Next time. Maybe. 

Disclaimer: it doesn’t have to be “leftover” Halloween candy to make these. You can totally make them on purpose with purchased candy bars from the grocery store.  I’ll allow it.  

Katie’s Left-Over Halloween Candy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:  (caveat: I do NOT measure, all sizing is approximate)

Before we begin- preheat that oven to 375. If you have access to music or a Kitchen TV, please put on your favorite background noise. I believe I was watching Nurse Jackie at the time. It very well could have been Gossip Girl, but I’m pretty confident it was NJ. 

NOW, what you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of Oats (I mean really, start the day with Quaker)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Flour 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of vanilla extract. To me, you can NEVER have enough vanilla- as it cuts the “floury” flavor.  Also, if you click the link, there are apparently healthy benefits of it as well.
  • Brown & White Sugar (recipes will say 3/4 cup of each, but I do a cup of brown and 1/4 of raw sugar)
  • tsp of baking soda
  • 2 eggs (no link for this- mine came from my back yard chickens)
  • 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of butter.  I discovered THIS BUTTER at Market Basket- and I will never use another.
  • Salt.  Most people will say 1/4 tsp, but I like the salt with the chocolate, so I add a little more. Perhaps you are on a diet without salt. No harm no foul. Simply omit this step.
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • Extra Halloween Candy chopped.  For mine, I used Snickers, Reese’s Fast Break and Reese’s Outrageous Pieces. Don’t chop them tiny- I suggest once down the center and then in 1/4 inch cuts. I believe I used a bout 4 BIG bars in all.

I like to melt the butter, then blend the sugar until its smooth. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl- combine flour, salt and baking soda. Then add oats to the powder mix.  SLOWLY combine the powder to the sugar/butter/vanilla mix until all combined.  NOW add our chocolate chips, then finally the candy pieces. Should be a nice thick mix of wonderfulness at this point. If I missed anything, just add it. 

Put tsp or TBS spoon size portions on a baking sheet (cookie sheet silicone is a miracle)- about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes. Cool on cookie rack. They WILL be mushy right out of the oven, so be delicate about getting them onto cooling rack. That will change to a chewy deliciousness you can hide in a cookie jar or do something a little more adventurous.

Enjoy.

these are not fat free.

 

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. They are 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 cheese (I went with gouda, but you pick the kind you like best)
  • truffle butter (most Whole Food-like grocery stores will carry this, if not, then find a nice truffle oil and we 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 always wing it for taste. Gordon Ramsey would be pleased. The only ingredients I actually “limited” before throwing 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.  The parmesan cheese I did a healthy handful…and then added some more. As for the spices, just add to taste.  It’s all up to you, really.  

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 and then flip, making sure the butter side is again down (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 serve, dip and enjoy.

 

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·po·lar 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 wedding! Date, venues, vendors, 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 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. 

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: 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 sport at this rate. IT NEEDS TO STOP. 

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. 

Low: We lost all but one of our chickens to a jerkface fox.  You don’t know sad until you see 9 piles of feathers all over your yard. 🙁  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. 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. 

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  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. 

 

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 newly painted walls in our new home. Perhaps only the visitors will be able to enjoy them. That’s it- it’s decided.  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? 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!): 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 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? 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. Wouldn’t yours?

We found 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. 

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.  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. 

um, hell yes i will.
um, hell yes i will.

The story is kinda funny and perfect- and ours.

 

the first 24 hours.

The first 24 hours of owning a home were 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 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. Apparently, Siri has a cousin in PC computers, making typos for all the world to enjoy. 

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. 

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 English, and has no clue where New Hampshire is on a map.  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, dammit! This is preposterous! There is a pause and the man on the phone gently states, “ma’am Time Warner Cable actually does not service that part of New Hampshire.”  Oops.

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

oops o͝ops,o͞ops/ exclamation informal
  1. used to show recognition of a mistake or minor accident, often as part of an apology.
    ““Oops! I’m sorry. I just made you miss your bus.””

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, 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. 

this concludes our broadcast day. click
this concludes our broadcast day. click

6. The million dollar dog strikes again.  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. All good. 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. Shocked. HOLY SHIT WHAT HAPPENED TO BUDDY! REALLY BAD. 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 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. Poor Little 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 champagne now?!

By the way, does anyone remember which boxes I put my clothing in? 🙂 

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. 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 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 appreciate that your friend’s daughter is trying to build up her client list, as she just got her real estate license, but I’m sorry, she simply will not do for what you 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 and mortgage specialist are AMAZING 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 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. 
  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 the underwriter will give you any dough. It’s almost like those “pre-approved” credit card mailings 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.  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 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! We have got emails past 10pm and before 7am from both our guys- that’s working.  We are plan on using food and libations to show our 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? 

As long as you stay organized, act immediately and follow directions- it’s really easier than people let on.  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!  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.

 

2015 goals.

Well, it has been an interesting year. I thought I would give 2014 a nice tribute by listing some goals for 2015. It’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Some of my items might be repeats from other posts, and some might “not be so original,” but they are my goals. I’ll limit it to 5 right now.

just do it. -Nike.
just do it. -Nike.

1. FIRST AND FOREMOST I am ridding my life of the final batch of toxic people. I am always a believer in the good in people, but time and time again I find myself wishing I had just listened to my gut. Well, no more. No more hatred, drama, lies, yelling, screaming, and general ugliness. Wow, that felt good. I actually feel better simply typing it. Let’s keep going!

ha.
#truth.

2. I will vow to train for and run a half marathon. I have accomplished two 5ks, beating my time each one- AND I even ran 4.5 miles on a treadmill without stopping.  I’m just thinking, if I can find the right playlist I should be golden. This may seem like a silly goal, but in being I was a sprinter, running a mile is a lot. 13.1 I’ve got my eyes on you.  Disclaimer: I will be happy with 10 miles. Just saying.

a run begins the moment you forget you are running.
a run begins the moment you forget you are running.

3. TRULY LEARN TO LIMIT SUGAR INTAKE. I have the world’s worst sweet tooth, and on top of it, baking is my stress reliever. Perhaps I would accomplish #2 if I could swap baking for running? I don’t typically eat my own baked goods, but the fact they are in the house makes it easy to grab one after dinner. I’m thinking Brad will approve of that one, too. I’ll think about it.

awww.
awww.

4. Make more time for reading. I love to read. I used to read a book a week. I love getting lost in the pages and not putting it down until I am done. I need to make more time to read and relax. I haven’t done that in a while.

5.  Stop letting people take advantage of my kindness. No more. I’m always the first one to offer to do things for people and I really need to learn that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” REALLY doesn’t work like you want it to.

not a good way to be, people.
what happened to the golden rule?

**BONUS: And EVERY YEAR I strive to love my family, love my friends, and love myself.  But, that’s a given.

my family. my loves. my hearts.
my family. my loves. my hearts. oh, and a really big tree.

Happy New Year!

 

#2.

Derek Jeter: His existence has caused me a couple of frustrations in my lifetime and I should be angry at this guy, but I’m not. Why? I’ll explain it all.

1. For some reason, the University of South Carolina lured many people from the greater New Jersey/New York area.  Many of them were my friends, and all of those friends LOVED baseball.  Side note: I also loved and adored my southern friends, but they were more into Carolina football WHICH ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME KNOWS I APPRECIATE, so watching baseball was reserved for the “yankees” of the school. I digress. Now, there will always be the rivalry within with The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.  This caused for some interesting interactions at Sharky’s (I tried to hyperlink this to the site, but as anyone who has worked, drank or driven by could assume- they don’t have a website). One particular evening, I was feeling saucy and decided to take the bet of “whoever loses has to take a shot of the winner’s choice.” Well, we all know what happened during that game in 1999 (ACLS series): Thanks for the shot of Everclear, Jete. Ouch.

A term and nickname created by Southerners and Confederate Civil War soldiers for a personwho is from the North (Midwest/Northeast). It was especially given to Union soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, usually havingto go into into The South in order to engage the enemy in combat. The Union forces invading Southern territory and also incidents where a few groups of soldiers pillaged and destroyedproperty and people’s lives resulted in making this nickname derogatory by some.
Ex. Northerners and Midwesterners get called “Yankees” a lot by many Southerners.

2. During the summer of 2005, my friend Mardi and I found ourselves in the VIP area of Whiskey Park (I guess it is closed down now). Well, us and the entire starting line-up of the Yankees. Don’t worry, A-Rod didn’t stay, as he was leaving as we walked in the establishment. However, we got to bond with some Yankees, as they drank and made strange conversation. Jeter sat with his K-Swiss sneakers and proceeded to try to hook-up with one of our friends, until he decided he didn’t want to talk to her anymore and my glasses were more amusing to him. Mardi and I had successfully avoided direct contact with any of them, aside from conversation, and merely accepted the free drinks (you know you would have too). He asked if he could try on my glasses. Mind you- the seeing kind, not sunglasses; I’m not that hip. I said no, to which everyone laughed. He had a HUGE head, and they were new, so I wasn’t about to have them ruined. “Like he can’t afford to replace them,” I believe came out of Posada’s mouth, to which I snapped back “LIKE I AM GOING TO SEE HIM AGAIN?!” I finally caved, he tried them on, stretched them- tried to fix them and “snap.” Thanks again, Jete. Those were Prada.

Frustrations and BAD relationship stories aside (Mariah Carey), I have a lot of admiration for the guy. He is an amazing athlete and has loyalty to his team- and seems to be a regular guy from my interactions. Okay, so there was this moment:

ahh, memories.
ahh, memories.

Lately, the news (and his PR team) have done an excellent job at showing the “real” him. I gotta say, I respect it.  In this world of beatings, natural disasters, crazy people with guns and knives, war, and beheadings; I am appreciative of positive/happy and uplifting news. ESPN did a piece on him here.  But the thing that you know warms my heart is the recent Gatorade ad. My eyes watered. I simply LOVE this commercial. Watch it with the volume on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfgS1lvqX8I

His last game of his career in Boston is this Sunday. Bittersweet. It won’t be the same watching the Boston/New York games without #2, although now some of our rookie pitchers will have a chance to get better, without being scared as hell to throw to him.

I wish you the best, Jeter, and if you happen to read this post- can I have the money for those glasses?  Thanks.

 

 

good karma.

kar·ma
ˈkärmə/
noun
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

If I can remember anything from high school, it was the sole value my principal was trying to instill into the student body: integrity. For some reason, this was the one word I remember from every single time he would speak. He was that principal who would make the varsity basketball team practice on one half of the gym, so his spoiled, obnoxious sons could take foul shots on the other half the day before a game. I once got yelled at and called to his office for calling him an asshole, during class, for saying to Vanessa Kermick that women were never going to be as smart as men. I’m not even a feminist. I just remember the look on her face when he said it, and the words came out. My point in telling you this is that my principal wasn’t the nicest man, but he did teach me about integrity. Regardless, the word integrity has become part of something I have always admired in people- and the most attractive quality someone can have. Good thing Brad has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. Perhaps that’s why I love him so much.

With integrity, comes living your life well. Brad said something to me once that has always stuck out. “At the end of the day, the only one who has to look in the mirror at yourself is you.” So, for the almost three years we have been together, I have striven to live my life with the utmost integrity. Not for the return on investment, but because it’s true. I’m the one who has to look at myself at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how fantastic it has been to smile every day I do so.

This past weekend, however, I have learned that my actions have resulted in FANTASTIC karma! I shall relay the past 24 hours to you, as it’s insane.

This weekend, we decided to go to see Lady Antebellum, Billy Currington and Joe Nichols.

Side note: The history of the name “Lady Antebellum” stems from pre-Civil War, before the north won and celebrating the south.  A little surprised that name went over so well, especially given the omnipresent racial war. Being I was raised in NH, I didn’t know the meaning of the Confederate flag, much more than that was the decor of the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee, but I learned very quickly the real meaning of it once college came. Don’t judge my lack of knowledge, my history teacher wasn’t that great- and New England tends to focus the curriculum on Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party.

just a good ole boy.
just a good ole boy. Never meanin’ no harm.

First act of good karma: I was looking for a hotel room in walking distance to the venue. Not only did someone cancel 5 minutes prior to me calling, but the woman was so nice she gave me an additional $20 off the room.

Second act of good karma: It started to rain like something out of a comedy. We got lawn seats, and of course assumed that we would be in the 20th percentile when it said there was an 80% chance of rain. I went to buy us ponchos and of course they had just sold the last one. Well, the woman behind the counter gave me one look, and simply reached into her bag and gave me her own poncho to take. “Seriously? What will you use?” I asked. “I have an umbrella.” I was in awe of her kindness.

advice: invest in an umbrella.
advice: invest in an umbrella.

Third act of good karma: I only got one poncho, so when I walked back to the completely soaked and smiling Brad, I had nothing to hand him, but the plastic bag the poncho was in. He smiled and proceeded to poke a hole and place it around his head. The people in back of us then handed him a brand new poncho to use.

Fourth act of good karma: 45 minutes in the pouring rain came an angle in our sight with an umbrella. “I have two extra seats inside if you would like them?”  So then our luck moved to the 4th row of the upper section- inside, out of the rain.

you deserve to be inside.
you deserve to be inside.

Fifth act of good karma: I had new earrings in- somewhere in between my dripping wet hair and the slow process of it drying, my earring ripped out of my ear and dropped on the ground. I found it within 3 minutes, directly in front of me.

Sixth act of good karma: I was waiting in a very long line, in the rain, for the bathroom. Upon entering, even though I was third in line to go, the women in front of me insisted I go- for no other reason than I made them laugh.

When things go shitty in your life you can get angry at the higher power or everything around you, even reflecting and blaming within, but it is these little moments of happy that give you hope that good karma really does exist. Either that, or I am one lucky girl.  If I am being honest, it’s probably a little bit of both.

Hope your weekend was as nice as mine.