Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Big Dog

Our little dog Digory has a pretty good exercise routine. He does this several times a week as he attempts to show the neighbor-dog who's boss.
video

Oh, and you can't hear him in the video, but the neighbor-dog is a 200lb bull mastiff named Fang. Yeah, Digory is lucky there are two fences in his way.

K

Monday, September 14, 2009

Present

Drew & I normally don't give each other gifts. Our first Christmas we bought a washing machine. Our first anniversary we baked a Funfetti cake and went to dinner using a gift card. Second anniversary Drew did surprise me with a wonderful Funfetti cake made by the same baker who baked our wedding cake. Other than that nothing. So, it was exciting to be able to surprise Drew with a gift on a random Monday last month.

I bought Drew a present he's waited three years to receive. Earlier this summer I told Drew I had two surprises for him. One, was a mention of him in a sermon at church and the other came a few weeks later when he had forgotten that he had another surprise. Late in the afternoon I texted Drew several clues about the present.

Clue #1: "Man in uniform."

Next clue was texted by my brother. Clue #2: "you can smell it."

Clue #3: "For clue the third, "face" your "wall". The clue meant for Drew to check his Facebook to see a video post by Weird Al Yankovic singing "Eat it."

Clue #4 was sent by text from his friend Jeff: "like a fine wine"

Clue #5: "twenty"

Clue #6: "Greenville"

then I texted to say, "Final clue will be found with a hug from man's best friend."

Digory dog had the final clue attached to his collar which just read "Bedroom."

Drew was rather eager to find out what was in the bedroom and this is what he found waiting for him.

His expression was perfect.

And what did all the purposely unhelpful clues lead to?

Yup, a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer. Drew has waited three years and many Macy's gift cards to use one of these to make cookies. The best part? Well other than Drew's excitement and my joy of being able to surprise him... after gift cards, rebates, and free shipping Macy's will actually pay us $1 for our purchase! Yay!


K

Thursday, August 20, 2009

House Hunt

We are officially looking to buy a house. We enter into this search humbly, yet with boldness in hopes of finding a great home for less than $100,000. 'Is this possible?', you ask. 'Hope so,' we answer. We certainly hope so.*
*We also are not officially pre-approved for a loan so we also hope this story won't be followed with another post saying we are looking for a house for under $50,000 because, while it be a nice challenge, it isn't one we want to take on.

Today was the first day out combing the town with our fabulous realtor. Drew had to work, but I got to visit 10 houses this morning. We were locked out of one of the houses so we really only saw nine.

How did day one go? Well, most were decent options, but I ended the day with a clear favorite, another I also liked a lot, and one that was so awful it made me feel physically ill. Oh, and I brought my camera.

First the good. I didn't take many photos, but it was a three bedroom house with an eat-in kitchen, nice fenced yard perfect for a dog to roam and vegetables to be planted, and had good floors. It is on a quiet street not too far from friends, our church, and close enough to Drew's work. It is also just under $100k. Score!
I won't say the address or post a photo for privacy reasons and let's be honest, I don't want anyone else to know about this house because I want it.

Hard to see, but left photo shows a built in cabinet in the house's mud room which could hold things like china & crystal or linens or big manly tools. The photo on the right shows the laundry room behind the door from the previous picture. The laundry hook-ups are on the right with shelving above and on the left are shelves perfect Drew's jar collection.. yeah, it's for holding nails and things. Next to Drew's jar space is a big peg board where Drew could keep his many screwdrivers and hammers.

Now onto the ugly. After looking at it my realtor and I agreed it needed to be gutted from the bottom up. It is in our reject pile. It looked nice on the outside with a good yard and cute brick planters on the front of the house. But when you began to walk around inside it was like a train wreck; horrible, yet hard to look away.

I froze for a minute when I entered into the living room, which was by far the best looking part of the house. It was full of so many things to look at that my eyes were confused. I wasn't sure if I was in someones grandmother's home for tea time or if I was at an estate sale and told to look at everything including the two fancy doll houses in the living room. There was also classical music coming from a back bedroom which made me feel like a voyeur disturbing someones morning. Alas, the mystery owner was not around leaving some questions unanswered.


The kitchen was where the bad things started. It was very dated and the green laminate floor was coming up and a few roaches were easily spotted.

The kitchen led out to a screened-in porch with a view of the above ground pool filled with green slime. It and the decking around it looked expensive to destroy. There was a laundry room too. My notes just say, NI (needs improvement) and noted that there was water damage and mold on the ceiling.
I ventured to look at the shed in the back but was greeted by a large brown dog who did not seem happy to see me in his yard. Not knowing what was in the shed or wanting to see the dog's teeth I retreated back inside.


In the wood-paneled, wood-floored den I again found lots of things for the eye. The dated furniture was cool and there were lots of books. Some of the books were a bit odd. Two titles stick out to me, one was titled Idol Worship, the other had a scantily-clad male on the cover and was titled Hung. The other books showed people like Marilyn Monroe and others and made me curious about the grandmother I pictured occupying the home.

On to the bedrooms. One was rather stately and grandmotherly with a poster bed. The other room had a computer and clutter and posters of women on the walls. I didn't photograph this room, but if memory serves me it was again women like Marilyn Monroe and not the bikini-wearing leaning on a Porsche type.

Finally, the one bathroom was awful. A second shower curtain was used to cover the walls around the shower/tub. This was hiding missing tiles, mold and more mold. I must be allergic to mold because I got a sudden headache just being in that room. Other rooms of the home had distinctive smells, which probably didn't help.


Our realtor ranked this as perhaps the worst homes he had ever seen. I agree. The price tag for this wreck? $90,000. This one was not a foreclosure and in my opinion it isn't really worth demolishing. It had some cool features like sliding doors separating some rooms, but it will hopefully be the worst home I visit in our search. Even part of the door fell off on our way out!


K

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summertime

Hello we are the Longs and it has been over 6 months since our last post. We are still attempting to continue this blog so maybe we'll do a little better at updating it in the second half of 2009.

Here are some highlights of our summer so far.

We went to Westchester County, New York for a week in June. We drove 10hrs each way, but were thankful for good health while traveling. We even got to stop in and visit Katie's brother & wonderful sister-in-law. We also stayed a night in Deleware with Drew's aunt, uncle, and cousins.
Brother grilling up a feast of veggies & steak. Oh, and his wife just got him the new apron. It says, "Have you hugged a Presbyterian today?"

The New York trip was our big adventure for the summer. I spent my time being poked with needles and hooked up to lots of computers in a lab at NY Medical College. The mad scientist doing the tests was great as were his assistants. It proved to be a useful trip to help learn more about POTS from an expert. No cures or magic pills were given, but useful knowledge that helped narrow in on why I gets dizzy most days.

This represents my e
xperience. Waiting in the car while Drew shopped at an A&P [apparently they still exist in NY]. If you can't tell it's a photo of my leg with four band-aids on it.

Drew spent his time in NY eating pizza and exploring. He found his friend's parents organic farm where he spent time collecting eggs, eating scones & cheese, and picking rhubarb. Drew also managed to find the Readers Digest global headquarters and venture into the city for a day.

Readers Digest HQ, Holbrook farm and store, and NY, NY.


Other travels: Drew went to Iowa for work and got to set-up & tear-down a show for Shawn Johnson, of Olympic gymnastics & Dancing with the Stars fame. While there he happened to meet a young man from the tv show Hannah Montana. Drew was not impressed.

Drew created a garden in our front yard with tomatoes, basil, rosemary, green beans, and okra. He has done a great job taking care of it and has said that we may have grown the best tasting tomatoes ever. This from a man who eats his tomatoes like biting into an apple.

Okra plant getting very tall and hard to see, but there is also basil & rosemary in the left photo. Below it are some of our yummy tomatoes.

Guarding our plants is what I think is the biggest spider I've ever seen. If not the biggest, it is certainly the scariest.


We had a huge 100yr old oak limb fall across the street and into our yard. Before it hit our grass it took a chunk from our neighbors roof, totalled his car, and brought down several power lines. The 3am wake up call was not appreciated by Katie who was home alone with a very concerned little dog. The dog was in fact so concerned he found it necessary to pee out his fear in our back room, which Katie found as she stumbled through in the dark. [missed my photo-op on this big news story. Fortunately 3 local news channels picked up the story.]

We have already eaten at least 5 cartons of ice cream this summer and numerous popsicles, both bought and homemade. The ice cream quantities are a result of finishing off our $50 gift card to Harris Teeter which we exclusively used only for ice cream over the past year and a half. It also is due to HT's frequent ice cream offers for 'buy 2, get 3 free.' On the popsicles, we created watermelon popsicles and a homemade vanilla/caramel pudding pop. All very tasty.
We also baked some tasty things. Thanks to a friend from church we got a recipe for our new favorite cookies, homemade Oreos.

Really, really good cookies! I even got to use my piping bag to squirt the filling onto the cookies. We've already made two batches less than 2 weeks after getting the reci
pe
.

We've made & eaten A LOT of pizza. We have a pizza stone & pizza peel, both of which are used at least once a week thanks to Trader Joes 99cent pizza dough. While eating a piece of pizza last night Drew commented that "yes, I can. I could eat pizza every day." Unfortunately for him, "no he can't". His wife won't let him.

We also ate some Chick-fil-a. It's possible we were dressed as cows at the time.


In dog news, Digory has managed to stay out of the emergency vet for all of 2009. We pray this continues. We also are more wise about keeping chocolate chips on the top shelf of the pantry rather than the bottom near his food bowl.

For entertainment this summer we have attempted to watch every episode of Friends' ten seasons. Thanks to a wonderful friend from church we have 40dvds to make this dream a reality. As of posting, Katie has watched all but season 10 and half of season 2. Due to Drew having a job, he is lagging behind by a few seasons.



I think that about covers the big highlights for us. We still have a little more summer to go so perhaps there will be more interesting things. After all, thanks to Drew's family we now have a big $44 bag of various fireworks sitting in our dining room. Who knows what will happen.

K

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's been a while...

Since you last joined the Long adventures... Yeah, so it's been over a month this time, but while I hate giving excuses I actually have a decent one this time. Aside from the busyness of the Christmas season and many migraine and dizzy days I briefly lost a close companion of mine. Yes, that's right... sometime around the new year my faithful laptop took a nosedive off of the couch and sat in disrepair for almost three weeks. While no tears were shed, prayers were prayed as it is difficult to replace such a priceless friend. Fortunately, my tech-savvy husband diagnosed the problem and took it to the proper treatment center and for a mere $50 my friend is back on my lap purring like a.. well, like an older model laptop that had a fall but still works great.

In other news, we had a lovely Christmas in Greensboro with the Longs, although we missed seeing the Lipsetts. This being my second married Christmas at the Long home I was able to notice a few more differences between our two families. Drew and I quietly began a mental list of things that "would never happen at the Lipsett home." I say this carefully knowing both families are some of my main blog readers and I will be questioned intensely on this, but it is still worth the interrogation.
Overall, the best moment of things that "would never happen at the Lipsett home" began harmlessly enough after dinner; when all the Longs, plus cousins, were talking about the rudeness of some noisy neighbors who have band practice in a shed that backs up to their backyard. The band happened to be practicing that night so the conversation quickly turned to what could be done to quiet them down. [note- I don't exclude myself from any blame in this scene, but I was focused on more pressing matters.. I really wanted Rice Krispy Treats.] Anyway, it was resolved that what was needed was a certain type of fireworks, a cigarette fuse, dark clothing, and an element of swiftness. So within a few minutes we all reassembled in the living room with one cigarette fuse & lighter, dark-enough clothing, and an entire bag of fireworks... but unfortunately, of all of the explosives found in the home [this is also on the "never happen" list] we did not find the precise type of firework that would make the band know we were annoyed with them. So it was back to the idea stage... almost a twenty minute conversation of how to prank the neighbors. Amazing. My favorite highlight came following my suggestion to make Rice Krispy treats and take them to the band. I figured they would all have to stop playing and we could talk to them and ask them nicely to stop playing so loud. Guess how that went over? Yeah, I think one response was, "Okay, Martha," quickly followed by, "Does anyone have any smoke bombs?" Ah, what a wonderful family. I truly love being a Long, but anyone who knows my maiden-name sakes are well aware that this could/would/will never happen in the good land of Lipsett.

K

Friday, December 19, 2008

Purple Toes

My most recent attempt at blogging began last week as a medical update saying how great I'd been feeling the last couple weeks, but was delayed due to illness. So, after a week of migraines and pre-9pm bedtimes, the dizziness returned to join in the fun. Thanks to some new magical red pills my doctor called in a few days ago my migraines seem to be gone and I even got to go in for another visit to Dr. S. That made two visits in two weeks! And, to note I am doing pretty well today.

So, since I haven't really given much of a straight-forward medical update in a while here it is. I have POTS, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is most likely [for me] a chronic heart condition that can be treated but not cured through medicine and exercise. The exercise part is still slow going, but I'm not on the couch all the time anymore so that leads in to the great improvements made in my medicine regime. I take a fair amount and it is clearly helping me to be able to be more functional, less dizzy, and do more. The drugs won't "fix me" but as an example this week I got dizzy Tuesday with a migraine and felt as though someone had kicked my head, sent it spinning off then reattached it improperly so it was a bit rickety and then stomped on it for good measure. Wednesday, was better, I took my special liquid medicine, of which my doctor is having me learn how to titrate my own dosage during bad spells, and I also got a magic red pill that put me to sleep and took away my migraines. By Thursday no one was drop-kicking my head, it wasn't spinning, I could walk into the kitchen and make a sandwich [albeit with a strong desire to be sitting]. And now on Friday, my head is alright and after upping my liquid meds [still within doctor limits] I was able to take Digory dog for a brief half-block walk today by myself. oh, and did I mention I'm blogging? Tuesday reminded me of last year before I was dizzy for a 2-3 month spell, but praise God I'm doing much much better, much quicker.

Back to the specific medical update.. that really is the gist of it. I have this POTS thing and now I have some working medications and a great doctor. Now Drew and I just have to get used to having medications that help some and try to understand how much I can do and be prepared to rest [me, unfortunately not him] when things 'flare-up' again like they have this week. Oh, and on a lighter note I have noticed lately that when I stand up for a while my feet turn purple. They don't hurt and I asked my doctor and he says it's normal.. for me.. so please don't worry, you can think it's cool like I do. I get excited and make Drew come and see. He isn't as impressed as I am, but really, think about it God made me able to stand [at least for a while] with a ton of blood in my legs when it should really be in my brain and I'm not passing out... just able to admire His handiwork. I think it's cool, but then again I'm weird.

K

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Casserole

So back the week before thanksgiving I decided to try my hand at making Chicken Pot Pie from scratch. Aside from some confusion with the crust that arose (or lack thereof) from my inexperience it was a hit. I made it again the next week and got the crust right and decided its time for my pepper/chili kick to be over and start a new one.

Casserole.

My first was a turkey tettrazini with leftover thanksgiving bird. Instant hit. But tonight was even better.
Back story.

Katie wanted some chicken for lunch but was unwilling to wait wile it baked so she 'suggested' I cook it in a pan. We longs don't have muck experience frying things. We can grill a shoe and make it taste good but frying just ain't us. But I gave it a try anyway. Three chicken breasts, some olive oil, salt and pepper, lots of splatter, 15 minutes later there was some decent fried chicken. There was also a pan with a wee bit of oil and lots of tasty brown bits. Hummmm. I couldn't waste such a pan full of flavor. I added some butter and more oil and simmered five cloves of minced garlic (I love some garlic). Then I added about a quarter cup of whole wheat flour and stirred it up to get an ugly thick paste. Last went in some milk and chicken broth from Trader Joe's. Then I stirred and simmered till creamy. Now at this point I didn't exactly know what I was going to do with this cream sauce I had just created, so into the fridge it went with the two uneaten pieces of chicken
Tonight all I did to make the final casserole was to chop up the remaining chicken, cook some spaghetti, stir fry a diced green pepper, open some peas, grate some Parmesan cheese, mix it all together, bake it for half an hour, and eat. Next time I'll cover it so the top doesn't get so crunchy.

D

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cookies


Drew has been cooking up a storm lately. I went to Montreat this past weekend with women from my church and while I was away he made his special "Long-cakes," which are very delicious pancakes. He also made himself a small vat of chili this weekend, two pumpkin pies a couple weeks ago, and my favorite was the incredibly delicious chicken pot pie he made from scratch to serve me for dinner when I returned from my mountain retreat.

Tuesday night he decided he needed to make cookies. I'm sure I don't understand what a blessing I have, but I have been having to tell him not to bake more than one item a week.. and he has been begging to make these particular cookies for a while. Maybe it is the holiday season that brings out his desire to bake or he just inherited his mother's exceptional culinary abilities and needs to use them when he has free time. Whatever the reason, the result this week was Lentil Cookies. Yes...there were lentils in the cookies. I honestly enjoy them. We have shared them with others [including children] who all enjoy them. They just have a terrible name for a cookie. He coated them with sugar and some with cinnamon this time so they are sweeter than you might think and even packed with protein, but really.. lentil cookies? I tried to sell that to a 3 year old yesterday. No dice. Want a cookie with sugar on it? Yeah, that worked a few seconds later. If you have any ideas for a better cookie name or for what Drew should make next, feel free to let us know.

K

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good Service and Good Pasta


We finally tried the fresh pasta store. Oh my. I have attempted to go back every day since, but have only gotten away with it once. We got some chicken ravioli and a nice marinara sauce as well as some pumpkin ravioli. Yes that's right Pumpkin. I'm not usually swayed by decor but the place has the feel of an old world market. (no I haven't been to the old world, but I'm sure the markets are like this) The best part was the two employees we were helped by. I haven't been to a store where the people were so genuinely helpful in a very long time. I'm talking way beyond Trader Joe's kind of helpful. I didn't know there were people this passionate about pasta.
Anyway the stuff we got was nothing short of amazing and now I'm hooked for good. If you want good Italian food in Charlotte skip the restaurant (and I do Love Frankie's) and head to Pasta and Provisions on Providence Rd. You'll be glad you did.

D

Friday, October 31, 2008

One more video

Thanks to a rather humorous email from our church featuring one of our pastors and two guys promoting man's night with fake mustaches and fake beer guts I found myself once again on YouTube. I did a quick search for any new relevant videos that might be helpful to explain why I don't do much any more and I found one that is pretty good. Again not perfect.. a little dry, but the story is somewhat similar to mine. Hope it proves to be informative. Click here to watch video.
My favorite videos are still these by Chronically Kyli, Part 1 and Part 2.

K