Sunday, January 30, 2011

do you smell what i smell?

I finished taking my antibiotics a couple of days ago but my cough and respiratory problems continue to plague me. While I'm still exhausted a good portion of the time, I'm also noticing that certain rooms in the house are more problematic for me than others and we're starting to wonder if in addition to being sick if I'm also experiencing asthma-like symptoms from the carpets in our house.

I can smell them.

What the what you ask? You see, I have an extremely sensitive nose (but I'm not one of those people that hates perfume.) I can smell things other people can't. (Don't get me started on standing next to people with dirty hair - it truly makes me want to vomit.) And now I can smell our rugs and it's not good.

I can't tell you how many rugs we've gone through here at the casa. Pottery Barn, Target, FLOR (goodness, what a mistake THAT look was!), etc. We had one beautiful rug from Pottery Barn that we had to remove to the basement because of offgassing. Now, nearly five years after having purchased it, the rug in our dining room (which used to be in our bedroom when we first got it) is doing the same thing. Here's the rub though - your carpets/rugs are supposed to "offgas" when they're new, not years after purchase. But some foul stench is definitely in the air, and it's the same exact one that sent our previous rug to the basement.

And I'm starting to detect whiffs of it on our brown rug in the living room (not from the same store). The rug in our hallway, which is a custom job from a carpet store, has never been a problem. Neither has the braided rug in our office from Target.

So, that leaves me to wonder if maybe I'm super-sensitive to the wool and not-wool fibers in the beautiful carpets we've purchased and if in fact they're one of the causes of my respiratory ailments. Because I have to tell you, I'm not getting better.

I'm thinking we'll send the rugs down to the basement for awhile to see how that affects my breathing and wheezing, but then I'm fearful that'll leave us with cold, barren floors. And don't get me started about what bad shape our hardwoods are in and the multitude of sins being hid by these rugs. I may have to find some large scale 100% cotton rag rugs on the cheap (is that even possible?) and throw them down just to keep some warmth in these rooms.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kindle White Screen of Death

Oh, the things that Windows has taught us.

Tonight I turned on my Kindle to find that it wasn't recognizing any of my books. No matter which one I clicked on it took me to the last page of the book I finished reading yesterday. Then I noticed that it wasn't connected to my home's WiFi. So I redid the whole password thing. Then nothing happened. And then the screen went blank. I tried searching online for what could possibly be wrong with it but none of the answers addressed a completely blank screen.

So, I Googled "Kindle White Screen of Death."  You know, like the Windows Blue Screen of Death? Lo and behold others had experienced this as well. The answer? It's not 20 seconds to reset but 30. And then you gotta wait another 30 seconds before anything happens. And guess what? That worked.

So I'm here to report that all the problems I've had with Windows in the past saved me from throwing my Kindle across the room tonight because I knew exactly what term I needed to look up on the internets, having experienced that damn blue screen far too many times in my life.

need a new 'do

On November 13, 2009 I visited my local salon to get my pixie cut cleaned up so that it'd look cute and lovely in all of our photos from our trip to Ireland. Unfortunately the cut was a bit shorter than I had envisioned and unless I used a lot of product, I had what I felt to be a very manly looking cut. Thankfully I've got round cheeks and big eyes so no one mistook me for a boy, but it was definitely a masculine look.

Since then I've been growing out my hair and haven't visited a salon since. Yes, it's been well over a year since I've had a professional cut or color. The horror!

If my mullet started growing out and I needed those wispy ends cut off, I called Alan into the bathroom and handed him a pair of shears. If my roots started showing, I called on my friends Feria, Garnier or Clairol. After awhile my hair started to grow and I actually had a full head of hair to contend with, a situation pretty foreign to me since 2007 when I first went pixie. After Christmas I got tired of being a red-head and went back to dark brown. I also had my mullet cut off again, leaving me with a dark, blunt bob. It's kind of boring looking, actually. Very middle aged teacher, if you ask me.

So I'm looking for a new do. I can't decide if I want to keep the length and just style it up a bit or if I want to go back to something shorter. I've been looking around online and it appears that all the styles I'm drawn to are worn by blondes. Given that I just went dark brown that's not happening anytime soon. Also, these people are all much thinner than me, so there's that whole situation to contend with.

Here are a handful of the hairdos I like and am thinking about, but I just can't narrow it down to one. The last one would be the easiest I think, in terms of change, as it's about the same length I have now with some layers and style thrown in for good measure. And of course the Michelle Williams cut would be the most extreme given that it's the shortest version. Torn.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Wineland

Last weekend we took Alan's parents up to Sonoma County to taste along the Wine Road as part of the annual Winter Wineland event. We started off at our favorite haunt in Healdsburg, Manzanita Creek, then made our way to Hawkes Wine to pick up our December shipment. From there we went to Dutcher Crossing, Michele Schlumberger and finally Mounts Family Winery. The weather started out iffy - cold and foggy until about noon - but for the remainder of the day it was clear and sunny which definitely lent itself to a more convivial atmosphere at each of the participating wineries. At Manzanita Creek we picked up a case of one of my favorite Zinfandels but otherwise kept the purchases at a minimum for the rest of the day since we're currently a one-income household. A couple of years back - after experiencing a rather hectic and overwrought Barrel Tasting Weekend - we'd decided to skip out on events up in Wine Country but given that this event is in January, right after the holidays, it tends to attract a smaller crowd. Also, we went up on Sunday so all the big groups had already made their way through. It was a really great day and a fun way to spend time with Alan's parents, but I have to admit that it took a lot out of me with this lingering sickness. That night I took a long nap and the next day I slept in quite late. And no, it wasn't because I had a hangover.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

bathroom decor

While out and about yesterday I purchased two white wood 16x24 frames with an 8x10 mat inside to hang in the bathroom. Ever since we decided on paint color and overall look & feel for that room I've known that I wanted to frame some pictures I took in Paris back in 2008 to add some elegance and drama to what is otherwise a pretty crappy room. (Yes, I went there.)

After playing around in Photoshop today, these are the pictures I've narrowed it down to but I'm having a hard time choosing my absolute two favorites because I'm somewhat attached to each photo for its own unique reason.

So, which two would you choose?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

bathroom update

We've been working on updating the bathroom since the weekend before Thanksgiving - painting, adding architectural elements, so on and so forth. It's not *quite* finished but it's coming along nicely.

Friday, January 21, 2011

mama called the doctor ...

After being sick for over a month I finally got an appointment with my doctor this morning.

They checked all my standard vitals (my blood pressure continues to be comically low) and had me blow into some tube thing. It took three tries to do it without coughing but apparently I managed to do it well enough that third time to show fine air flow.

My doctor says I don't have pneumonia - yet - but likely a bacterial infection given the repeated fevers and exhaustion. She's put me on antibiotics and if I don't feel better in a week to ten days I'm supposed to go get chest xrays. Unfortunately, because I'm allergic to codeine I can't get any awesome cough medicine so for now I have to stick with Nyquil and Dayquil to control that problem. It's a good thing I'm a weirdo and like the flavor, especially the cherry one.

With that it's back to bed for me. I'm supposed to get plenty of rest too and not overdo it. She asked if I needed a doctor's note for work. Bwah ha ha ha ha. That would require the places I'm interviewing with to actually make a decision.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

in the ghetto ...

One of my favorite episodes of South Park, EVER, is the one where Eric Cartman sings "In the Ghetto." That song is much on my mind this week as I think about the area we've chosen to live. And let's not forget the epically awesome Bed Intruder Song.

Back in 2006 when we sold the loft and were looking for a new place to call home there were a couple of neighborhoods we put big red X's over. This area, adjacent to the Temescal area (cute shops & great restaurants) and Berkeley - was one of them. We'd driven by a couple of houses that were for sale in the neighborhood and hated the vibe we got - thugs out on their front porches drinking 40s in the middle of a Saturday afternoon (sadly, this is not just racial stereotyping but actual scenes we witnessed), houses that clearly weren't being taken care of, graffiti on all of the public buildings.

We kept looking in other areas but couldn't find a house that spoke to us. And then I saw the listing for this house. I mapped it out and was disappointed to see that it fell just inside the area we had previously x'd off the map. But the photos. Oh, how I longed to see the inside of this house. I showed Alan and he liked what he saw, especially at the listing price (you have to remember, this was at the height of the housing boom so everything was super expensive, even in the worst neighborhoods). We drove over here before our regular tour of open houses in nicer, more "upscale" neighborhoods and instantly loved the street. We decided that we'd come by at the end of the day to check out the open house. We walked in and I fell in love.

We knew when we moved here this was a neighborhood in transition. We did not go into this blindly. But this immediate area? Adorable. We have great neighbors that look out for one another and every house - except for a couple - are well-cared for. There are artists, cooks, retired folks, nurses and tech folks all living on this street - essentially, we've got a lot of walks of life and a lot of racial diversity. And for awhile this area's crime stats were looking good, real good.

But that's all changing.

In the last year we've had shootouts on our block - mere houses away - based on an ongoing gang drug war. We've had neighbors' friends get mugged, cars broken into and houses robbed. Yesterday our neighbors across the street became the latest victims, in broad daylight. Yes, in the middle of the damn day, in a 1.5 hour period when they left the house. I was here the whole time and didn't hear a thing. So far the worst that's happened to us is someone cased the Mini when we forgot to lock it. We keep nothing in our cars so thankfully they didn't take anything.

We've got a very active neighborhood watch who means well and does an excellent job of keeping everyone up to speed on what's going on, but we have absolutely no police support. We can't arrest these thugs. And I'm not about to approach them for fear of getting my ass shot. I hate to say it, but I'm afraid to live here. What if you come home in the middle of being robbed? Yeah, I don't want to be the one to surprise an intruder. I am no Antoine Dodson. I do not want to go looking for the homeboy.

But what can you do? We've all complained multiple times to the police about suspicious activity, loitering and ongoing drug deals. Nothing happens.

I'd love to get the hell out of dodge, but I guarantee you the banks aren't going to let us walk away from this one. We're $150k (at least) underwater. We couldn't sell this place and leave even if we wanted to. So here we are, continuing to brainstorm with our neighbors "creative ways" to put the thugs on notice (seriously, I'm not kidding - this is the big plan to keep us safe) and reporting disturbances that mean nothing to our local politicians. I've told Alan if I get held up, I'm outta here, house & credit be damned.

The sad thing about all of this? With the exception of what is becoming increasingly obvious targeting, the neighborhood is actually pretty great. Quick access to public transportation and the freeways, and walking distance to excellent restaurants. But the thugs and dealers are effing with us and there's no recourse.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

curried crab & rice

I've spent the last couple of days getting caught up on my Google Reader and that's meant reading a lot of food bloggers talk about some pretty amazing food. In the midst of all the hundreds of recipes posted, there was one whose photos made my mouth water. A pile of crab in a red curry sauce served with a bowl of rice.

I was supposed to go to dinner tonight with two former colleagues but because of my 4 a.m. bed time and all-night coughathon wasn't really up for going into the city and hanging out so dinner at home was the solution. I decided that rather than the leftover beouf bourignon I made for dinner last night as tonight's meal I absolutely, positively must have crab.

Dragging Alan to Safeway, we picked up two crabs, cilantro, jalapeno and ginger for the meal. In cooking the sauce my version came out a bit more watery than the photos - this is my fault: I like to add stock to coconut milk to break up the richness. I also found upon opening up my red curry that a science experiment had grown in the jar so I was forced to improvise: green curry paste, red pepper sauce and siracha chili sauce. After that was all boiling I added in some ginger, the jalapenos and green onion. We pounded the crab so the curry would reach the meat and let it boil for a couple of minutes. I put the rice a bowl, covered the rice in the curry sauce and then topped with the crab.

It tasted marvelous.

It was messy as hell.

And now here we are at 10 p.m. suffering because it was far too rich for both of our stomachs. Maybe next time I take it easy on the coconut milk.

thoughts on blogging (or, what do people want to read?)

I wrote this post last night while I was up hacking, hanging out in the living room in hopes of not waking Alan up. Because it was late and I was nearly delirious, there's a lot of strange (and in some cases incorrect) phrasing or terms that I suppose I could go back and fix, but nah.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s 2:17 a.m. and much to my continued chagrin I am awake due to a hacking cough that seems to be worse when I’m laying down than when I’m sitting up. To pass the time, I’ve been reading a lot of travel and decor blogs and it’s made me think about why I blog and whether or not I have anything interesting or substantial to say.

On the surface, this blog gets a decent amount of traffic. Well, “decent” being a completely subjective term. I have what I also consider to be a decent number of Twitter followers so I imagine there are enough people in the world that are interested in my ponderings, albeit in bite-sized 140-character chunks.

On any given day this blog receives between 75 and 500 views, depending on the topic. I know that is probably nothing compared to well-known bloggers that likely receive thousands of hits per post, but given that there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to what I’m posting it suits me just fine. That is, until I dig a bit deeper into the traffic stats and see that the majority of the traffic to this blog is because of a short post I made on June 6, 2009, citing the appearance of a possum in our backyard. The accompanying picture is, apparently, a favorite of the folks who troll Google Images. For all the photos I take every year, it’s not even one of my own but a random one I pulled off the net. That little scary bugger really seems to resonate with people. Or maybe there are just thousands of other folks that have their own possum problems and they come to my post thinking I’m going to tell them how to get rid of the creatures? Sorry, no help. I just pretend they aren’t there, lurking in the dark, waiting to infest me with any number of disgusting rodent diseases.

Because it’s late and the mind wanders when the house is quiet, I started down a couple of different paths. I was thinking about what would make this blog more interesting. What do my readers want? What’s its focus? Does it need a focus?

Heck, who are my readers?

I know my mom is a faithful commenter, and I get a few drive by comments from fellow bloggers in the community (a network that I joined way back when we first got the house and were spending significantly more time and money on making this place into what it is today) and a few friends who check in once a month or so. Oh, and the occasional bit of random spam on a post that is eons old. Those are always fun.

Going back to focus areas ... this one has changed over the years. Like I mentioned, at first this was a blog to chronicle the home buying process, from signing the papers, to taking possession, to sprucing it up ... ultimately the story of making this nearly 100-year-old house our home. I feel like we’ve done that, and that is reflected in the tone of my posts and the lack of updates about the house (minus today’s nasty molded windows). Sure there is more we could be doing, but we’ve found that we’re not really crazy DIYers. We’re good with paint (although don’t look closely at the borders because these walls are not straight and that makes for some pretty ugly lines), but there are only so many rooms you can paint in a 1600 square foot house. Including the bathroom (which we still haven’t revealed yet because it’s not completely done), the only three rooms in the house that haven’t seen a coat of fresh paint are the kitchen nook, the laundry room and the awkward hallway leading into the back bedroom and bathroom. Otherwise, we’ve painted it all.

We’d love to redo the kitchen one day but we’re already over $150k underwater in this house so I’m not really interested in sinking another $30k into a home that will likely never recover its value so that I can have a prettier kitchen. Right now we have an extremely functional kitchen that suits the way we live and is a great room to cook in. The only thing I want to do at this point is to replace the ugly, stained grout 80s white tile countertops with butcher block countertops and trade in the standard issue stainless steel double sink for a white one, other apron or not. Given how long it’s taken us to do what we’re doing in the bathroom, I think that’s a project best conceptualized than conceived.

Speaking of kitchens and cooking, a lot of people have told me that I should become a food blogger because I actually cook at home moreso than anyone they know. It’s true, I do cook a lot. Am I good at it? There are some meals that I am excellent at making. Others are trial and error but nearly everything I cook is edible. That said, we make the same meals over and over again. I don’t know that I could maintain a blog by showing you braised chicken with rosemary and garlic, sauteed greens and roasted potatoes. Because really, we eat that meal every week (yes, even in the summer). There are some excellent food bloggers out there who have a real knack for describing food in a way that makes you want to run home and make exactly what they’re talking about, and I don’t think I am one of them. Not to mention that I am just too impatient to ever photograph food the way it needs to be done to have a quality food blog. I’m more about the iPhone photos right before I dig in, while sitting in front of the TV. It’s a fact of life - we eat while watching TV, every single night. Sue us.

Finally, bringing this post full circle ...

Travel blogging.

If you look back over this blog, the majority of posts from the past two years have been about our travels - planning them, taking them, photographing them, remembering them. Travel is one of my greatest passions in life. I must have gypsy blood because I long to see the world like other girls long to go shopping. It’s an intrinsic need of mine to get on a plane at the beginning of the day close to home and to step off a plan somewhere different, where the hustle and bustle of my daily routine fades away and I can just observe.

Based on my posts about the places we’ve gone, my sister thinks I should be a travel blogger/writer. I’d love to think that she’s on to something, but alas, I read the popular travel blogs and I lack a whole lot of what they have. For starters, we’re not very adventurous in our travels. At least, not the adventure that “sells.” Also, I think there are times when we are out and out tourists and that’s not what people want to read about. They seemingly want either authentic, off-the-beaten-track experiences, or high-end luxury trips that are more fantasy than reality for the rest of us.

I know it was one of those types of vacations that cemented my first “gripped by the travel bug” memory. About 15 years ago I picked up a copy of a random travel magazine that profiled the wilds of Vancouver Island, specifically Tofino. Getting there required so many different types of travel that it seemed so remote, so unattainable. Then a couple of years later I was reading Conde Nast Traveler or Travel and Leisure (subscribed to both at the time my travel bug was so new and fierce!) and they profiled a high-end luxury camping resort in Tofino and my imagination ran wild. It was right then that I decided someday I absolutely had to visit Tofino and stay in that exact resort.

The problem? That particular resort is $1200/person per night and is completely unattainable for the common traveler. We do alright for ourselves and hope to one day do ever better financially but I vow to you I will never spend $2400/night to sleep in what is essentially a tent. But through the magic of magazines - and later the Fine Living Network’s “My Own Private Island” - I could pretend that someday I would and I could dream that someday I’d go to Tofino and it would be as magical as it was in the pictures.

And you know what? We did go to Tofino in 2010 and it was magical and everything the pictures had told me it would be and I had an absolutely fabulous time and I hope to one day return. But you know what else? We stayed in a wonderful, comfortable, homey lodge-style hotel that was by no means luxury (3.5 star rating in fact) and it was very expensive. When it comes right down to it, on paper our trip was pretty mundane and not all that different from the thousands of other people that make the trip there every year. We took a boat to see bears - us and 20-30 other people. And tomorrow another 30 people will take the boat out again. We didn’t do anything spectacularly extraordinary. We relaxed. We hiked. We ate and we drank. We talked. We read. We spent time with one another away from the extreme pressures of work and that was marvelous in and of itself.

But people across the country - the world - take very similar vacations all the time so why would anyone want to read my blog when they can pick up a glossy magazine with professional photos and get transported to a dream destination without spending a dime? Because really, I think that’s what travel magazines and travel blogs are all about - helping us see these places without having to go there ourselves. Or, if we’re really lucky, giving us enough insight on a place to make us want to visit someday and then actually do it. But for us and the retelling of our trips? There is no glamour in the mundane. There is no mystery in the trips we take. Anyone could do it; thousands do.

The other side of travel blogging - what seems to be the prevailing popular theme among these professional bloggers (if you will) - is the whole nomad thing. And Southeast Asia is wildly popular for the young blogging set. A former colleague of mine did it too so I get the appeal - go teach English in Japan or China or some other jumping off country and then spend the next several months traveling around Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam ... wherever. The scenery is beautiful, the dollar goes far and these places are set up to serve expats and backpackers beautifully. Could I ever do it? Hell no. I am a fan of the creature comforts and would not do well sleeping in a hostel. Even as a 21 year old the idea of sleeping in a hostel was off-putting to me. Then again, I’m a bit of a germaphobe and even the communal showers in my college dorm was hard for me to endure. To me there is absolutely nothing appealing about this lifestyle. And yet, I can understand why people want to read about it. I read about it ... because it's not mundane? Because it's completely foreign and so far out of my comfort zone as to sometimes be shocking? Maybe.

But at some point you have to look at all of the blogs out there and you begin to realize that some of them exhibit a sense of superiority because they are so “off the beaten path” and are doing it solo or are having "a truly authentic experience." Strangely, I see them having THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE as the other expats and bloggers around them. Not to take anything away from these people at all because they are happy and they are loving their lives and I know firsthand how important it is to grab on to that, but in the past three months I have read basically the same post from three different people about their time in Bangkok and Phuket. Perhaps these are authentic experiences in that area, but ... I dunno. When every bar serves the same bucket of drinks and every blogger is posting essentially the same pictures and talking about waking up with a hangover at their hostel, I’m wondering how that experience creates such a demand in readership. Heck, I’m part of that readership so clearly there’s something to be had from it. Entertainment? Again, the foreignness of it all?

That lifestyle though is simply not how we vacation. We are not vagabonds, we are not backpackers. With the exception of some of our stops in Ireland and British Columbia, we are extremely value conscious travelers. Heck, I would argue that even our most opulent experiences in Ireland were value conscious as we went in the off season and got the absolute cheapest rates on those luxury accommodations that can be had. Maybe our trip would have been more interesting to some if we stayed in bed & breakfasts every night instead of hotels? I don't know. I know what I like and it's exactly the way we travel. But I don't think it makes for very good storytelling.

Back to that whole value thing and the vagabond superiority. Is it just me or does anyone else get a smug vibe from these posts as they tell you about their lodgings for $3/night. It's kind of like rich girls in reverse. Whereas people used to try to outdo one another with how much they spent, these bloggers seem to be in some sort of competition to see who can spend the least.

I get a lot of flack from some people about how much we vacation. A girl I used to work with would quite loudly bring up how many trips we take a year and how much money we must spend on vacations in very public, and very inappropriate times. But really most of our trips to Hawaii revolve around reward points and timeshare exchanges. I can go to Hawaii every year because I was smart about which reward card would give me the thing I wanted most. (Although as you have seen from my tweets, I'm not loving it currently.) I'd like to say these trips are very value-conscious, but how can I compete with living on $10/day when I wouldn't ever want to.

And about those authentic experiences? We stay in condos along with the hundreds - thousands? - of other vacationers to the island at any one time. With the exception of slight changes in furnishings, they are all cookie cutter units. Little boxes, on a golf course. (Gold star to the person who gets that reference.) We’ve considered renting jungle houses 30 minutes from the closest swimmable beach because that seems like it would be a more authentic version of Hawaiiana and more like the locals live but in the end we chicken out and go the resort route. Why? Because we like it ... and that’s not a crime. But, it’s also not something that creates a demand in readership or a spike in blog traffic so I just have to accept that I will likely never be a popular travel blogger either, despite my love for travel.

So, now that we’re firmly in 2011, I ask myself what this blog will be this year. Clearly it has an evolving identity. Maybe - and this is okay too - it remains a way for me to blather about the most random things in our lives for the handful of people that actually care about what it is these two crazy kids are up to. If that’s the case though, I really need to look into switching to Blogger because $180 a year is a high price to pay for random blatherings and what is essentially a vanity project.

So my 10 or so loyal readers, what do you want me to talk about?

Edited to add: I published this post at 3:31 a.m. and I'm still coughing. Blerg.

coming over from typepad

I've been wanting to ditch Typepad for awhile, but not unless I could somehow re-claim my old blogger "casacaudill" web address. After a year of trying - and failing - to do so I gave up and just accepted that Typepad was going to have to be my blog's home. At $189/year it was a tough pill to swallow, especially since I knew Google had done a significant upgrade on the Blogger platform and I could have the exact same look and feel on Blogger for free. Seems like a no brainer, no? So imagine my surprise when I logged in today and in the FAQ saw the exact question I'd been asking for so long addressed toward the top of the page. A few quick clicks and voila - casacaudill is mine again!

Cheers all around!

I spent the morning customizing the layout so that it's essentially what I have at Typepad - minus the yellow flowered background - and have copied over two recent blog posts to play around in the compose feature to see how it all looks when it's up and on the web. After learning a few tricks to remove borders from images (whew!) and make sure my photos are posted at the size I intend, I'm really happy with it all.

So now, without further ado, I'll be moving our blogging over here full time.

problems with our windows

We have some projects here at the casa that are ongoing, but nothing right now that is worth talking about or showing pictures But trust me, the time will come. (We've got a bathroom makeover in the works that even in its "during" state is a huge improvement over what we had before but I want to hold off for a high impact reveal.)

I know a lot of people that read our blog are interested in updates on the house, so as to give you what you want, boy do I have a post for you!

Do y'all remember back in the Fall of 2008 when we got new windows put in? It was a beautiful day. And then winter came and the angels rejoiced because when it rained, our window sills wouldn't flood. And in the morning when the garbage truck came, our windows wouldn't rattle in their own sashes. Yes, it was truly a happy time.

One of these new windows is directly behind our bed, but we keep the shade drawn about 97% of the time because it looks out directly into our next door neighbors' kitchen, and they spend a lot of time in there. I'm not really down with them being able to see into my bedroom and I doubt they really want to see me anyway, so keeping the blinds drawn just seems like the best course of action for everyone involved. [And no, we can't move our bed. Because of all the doors in our room there's no other wall for it to go on without us having to get rid of a dresser and that ain't happening.]

(The red rag rug, paper lantern and curtains have been changed, but otherwise everything is the same. In fact, this is the exact bedding that I'm sitting under right this very minute.)

Where was I? Oh right, the glorious, perfect, wondrous windows.

Um, right.

This weekend we had Christmas 2 at the casa and we wanted it to be all light & bright so people wouldn't think we live in a cave. Part of that was opening up all the shades (because we don't normally) and that's when we found it - MOLD! *IN* our window. Not on the outside, not inside, but in between the two panes of glass are hundreds (thousands?!) of tiny little mold spores!!

Where did they come from? When did they come from? And most of all, how the eff do we get rid of them without replacing the whole damn pane of glass?

You see, there's a bit of a situation with our windows. We had them done on the side. By a guy who didn't return any of our phone calls when a piece of plastic on one of the other windows broke off about a year and a half ago. We have no way of getting in touch with the guy who did them, no contract, nothing. I know it was dumb but the guy came recommended from a friend who just had his windows done and the price was right. It was either go this route or the $40k Andersen windows and I'm a girl that likes my vacations better than I like windows so that wasn't going to happen.

But now we're sitting here saying, "well hot damn, would you look at that." I imagine we're going to have to get some window people out here to take a look at this because this little bit of drama is well beyond our DIY skillz.

is there a doctor in the house?

It's been a month since I've felt well. ONE WHOLE MONTH!

It all started on 12/17 when I went to bed nauseated. On 12/18, I spent some time acting out scenes from The Exorcist.

And then we went to Ohio and I caught whatever stomach bug Nora had at the time. I've been told that once you get one strain of the flu, you can't get it again. Apparently California and Ohio have different strains going on because just a week later and I was down for the count again. Days later I had a sore throat, extreme sinus pressure, fever, exhaustion and a cough that made me sound - and feel - like an 80 year old with emphazema.

And here I am on 1/17 - a whole month later - still sick, and still feeling like crap. Oh sure, I have good days. But I also have terrible days. The terrible days are usually immediately following the days I feel well and seemingly overdo it. Today is one of those days. I haven't stopped coughing since I woke up. I have absolutely no energy and my body hurts.

I've got a request in to the doctor to see if they can give me something to make this all go away. I've tried Nyquil, Dayquil, neti pot, steam, garlic, ginger, and a plethora of other remedies to try to get better to no avail. I'm calling in the professionals because this can't go on.