spectating participant

July 22, 2006

happy birthday to me!

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:28 am

Today’s birthday gift — deleting 3000+ comments from this site. Here I thought that I’d disabled comments long ago, but I guess not. Oh well. Next I need to remove the comments options on each post, but I don’t feel like doing that right now. I’m obviously way too rusty at the command line and doing stuff in the mysql database. Sigh. it makes me feel … sad that I haven’t kept up on all of that stuff and that it is all fading away. To me, it will seem almost impossible that I actually had a job doing web work when now I feel like I’m totally lost. Just not enough time to play with stuff — otherwise, i’d have changed my webpage layout ages ago instead of keeping this default one.

July 20, 2006

ridiculously happy

Filed under: family, life — suzanne henderson @ 3:10 pm

I’m ridiculously happy and deliriously in love, in all the right ways. I love this feeling, just the ability to stop in the middle of walking to the mail box to smile at life, the ability to catch a flicker of light while driving and laugh out loud, the ability to just let time pass with a grin lingering on my face. This happiness isn’t new for me, I love how long I’ve found life enjoyable, even when things kinda suck. It is wonderful being able to love as I do, for it can be so simple at times and yet so delicately complex with endless intricacies to make me laugh, grin, and smile. Chris makes me smile, but more, he makes me laugh, laugh out loud, laugh until I cry, and makes each day great. Life feels wonderfully good right now, even with all its challenges, its stress, and complications. I’m happy and treasure the fact that life doesn’t have to perfect or in proper order to be happy and that even when stressed and lacking sleep, I can still be happy.

July 18, 2006

Housing Established

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:30 pm

We have a place to live starting August 8th. The cards simply did not play out in giving us a place to buy, but they have given us a place to move into. We’ll still be in the same town, alex will go to the same school, and it will cost way too much — but, it is worth it. Alex is so excited to be able to stay in the same school and so happy that the waiting is over. It will be plenty nice enough to live in, we’ll stay close to work (assuming I’ll get the job I want), and there will be little change.

So, I can’t wait to get out of here. i’ve been slowly packing my room despite the urging to get it done sooner. Hopefully now, having a place to live, it will go a little more smoothy. Yay — what a major stressor removed. *deep sigh* now, to refocus on finding a job.

That Girl Emily

Filed under: review — suzanne henderson @ 3:16 pm

That Girl Emily

Found a link to this site from a personal finance blog — guess it isn’t really money related — and found it amusing enough. The blogger that linked it commented on the sadness of the situation, but I guess I’ve just been “blogging” too long to actually believe that any of it is true. Now, of course, I’ll give some credit that I could be wrong and that it would indeed suck, but the frequency of the posts and the way every day seems to flow so smoothly, just doesn’t add up to me. Much less, having your world break like that doesn’t lend itself to vigorous posting and such a well developed plan ready and in action.

Storytelling is a fine art form, I’ve no issue with people developing blogs of fictitious events that are amusing to read, but they do remain in the amusement category without any consideration of concern about the events entailed.

sleep would be nice

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 1:43 am

I know that I’ve mentioned my inability to sleep many times. I lie in bed thinking, thinking thinking and the hours pass by. This happens almost every night, until I am truly exhausted or until I take something to help me sleep. It is so tiring to always be waiting for sleeping to come. Despite all of the relaxation techniques, the abstaining from vigorous thought before bed, eliminating caffeine, taking medication in the am, and other acts to limit external hinderances to sleep, I still lie in bed awake at night.

Out of curiosity, I scanned my entries to see just how often this issue appears. And, considering that I normally just stay in bed until sleep eventually comes, sometimes four or five hours of waiting, I’m sure it is a sparse representation of the hours I spend awake in bed.

Oh, before the listing of no-sleep posts, here is one where I commented on being able TO sleep — sure would enjoy another moment or two like this one: rain, rain, don’t go away.

May 1, 2006
April 27, 2006
March 23, 2006
January 3, 2006
August 22, 2005
June 9, 2005
May 9, 2005
January 5, 2005
December 20, 2004
December 1, 2004
October 1, 2004
September 30, 2004
September 30, 2004
September 29, 2004
September 24, 2004
July 24, 2004
July 18, 2004
July 12, 2004
June 16, 2004
April 13, 2004
August 9, 2003
July 25, 2003
March 31, 2003
February 5, 2002
February 2, 2002
January 27, 2002
December 6, 2001
October 9, 2001

That was a lot of search results to get through. It also lends to reading over previous posts from past years — some memories have faded away so fast and some I can still recall quite clearly. Now, the issue on my mind is wether or not I can get to sleep or if I should write up another book review…

July 16, 2006

Book Review: The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven

Filed under: review, books, cooking, food — suzanne henderson @ 10:28 am

The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven

[The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven] by [Richard M. Bacon] also had the titles “How to Date, Renovate, or Use an Existing Brick Oven, or to Construct a New One” and “The Lore an History of an Indispensable Part of the Kitchen from Colonial Times tot he 1800s”. Lots of titles for a slender book.

This is a very compact book with lots of descriptions, images, and diagrams. On first impression, I didn’t really find it useful for dating a brick oven, but maybe if I spent more time looking at them I’d find some of his descriptions helpful. What I really enjoyed was the detailing on how to build your own brick oven, the proper method for building a fire, and general baking instructions.

The images offer plenty of dimensions and considerations for building a working brick oven in your fireplace or in any other area of the kitchen. I look forward to building one some day and baking in the oven while cooking in the open-hearth.

Book Review: The Open-Hearth Cookbook

Filed under: review, books, cooking, food — suzanne henderson @ 10:12 am

The Open-Hearth Cookbook

[The Open-Hearth CookBook: Recapturing the Flavor of Early America|The Open-Hearth CookBook] by [Suzanne Goldenson] and [Doris Simpson].

This book provides a brief, yet detailed, overview of early American cooking in the fireplace. It discusses the cooking implements used for cooking and describes the differences between wealthy households and average households. Descriptions on how to build and maintain a fire, judge cooking temperatures and times, and how to use even a modern day fireplace to recreate meals from the past are included.

I found the details about how yesteryear cooking was accomplished very interesting and motivating for getting a fireplace big enough to try it out. The authors provide descriptions of their attempts to recreate past recipes and also include many recipes that most families, today, could use. There are little bits of information that really make this book an excellent resource for someone looking to bring open-hearth cooking into their home — like detailing the instruments used and stating how antique collectors make it almost impossible, financially, to obtain certain authentic, useful equipment. However, they do assure you that any modern blacksmith would be able to help to make equipment you may not be able to find.

I also enjoyed seeing how the cooking methods did not differ greatly from our stove top cooking today. The authors even explain how we continue to use the same senses to determine cooking temperature and times in meal preparation. They mentioned that the desire for gas ranges truly reflects how we’ve continued these early cooking methods because of the ability to allow our visual and physical clues tell us about the heat versus reliance on a electric cook tops that probably provides more accurate temperature control.

Great book for anyone looking to cook over a fire — be aware that it probably takes a little more effort and a lot more wood than you originally thought. This books goes well with [The Forgotten Art of Building and Using a Brick Bake Oven] by [Richard M. Bacon].

debt investment calculator

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 9:57 am

debt investment calculator

It looks like ti might be useful — not sure how it is any different than all of the other similar tools, but I’ll bookmark it just the same.

Chris is currently opening an ING account from my referral, but we’re going to probably take the plunge and get as HSBC account for the actual savings account, especially since it provides you with an ATM card for extracting money — something I wish I had with ING.

July 12, 2006

all smiles

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 1:59 pm

I’m in a great mood today — not quite sure why. We went to see the house again and found it to be as good of shape as we noticed before. I’m confident we can get the financing approved on this house and be on our way to finally having somewhere to live. However, I’m having a hard time coming up with the right price for the house. There is nothing to really compare it to because it is a one bedroom house. We need to come up with something by tomorrow when we’ll meet to put an offer on it.

I need to be moved out of my bedroom by the end of the week because M&M are having someone else move into it. Heh, so much for that argument that they just want to be a family of three for a while — but I know that they really can’t stop themselves from helping out friends. Hopefully it’ll work out having another person around until we leave. I was already planning to have my room cleared out, so it is not a shock or a push at all for me.

I have a job interview tomorrow. I had one the night before last over the phone and essentially got offered the job. She would have been happy for me to start the very next day but I needed some time. The problem with that one is that it is pretty far away - on the corner of DC, MD, VA just over the river on the MD side. That would be a drive. But, she said she’d be willing to have me work early, early hours in order to avoid rush hour. Like 5:30am early. Something to think about. tomorrow’s interview is in Silver Spring — also a drive from Arbutus area, but might be worth it. The first job met my minimum salary requirement without batting an eye, think I’ll move it up just a little to be closer to what I want for the next interview.

July 10, 2006

housing adventure continues

Filed under: family, life — suzanne henderson @ 1:41 pm

Yet another update of the ever changing wind of where we’ll live in the immediate future. The idea of staying in a one-bedroom basement apt, while had it merits, is not to be due to the requests of the homeowners. I’ve no problem with it cause it isn’t really what I wanted, just a response to the dire situation of not being able to find anything to rent that we can be comfortable in.

But, as of July 1, Chris has a raise and the minimal contribution it will annually provide has provided us an additional 35K of purchasing power. So, back into the housing quest because it is so obvious that it will be cheaper for us, monthly and maybe overall, to purchase versus rent.

We spent Sunday morning looking at 6 or 7 houses — I started to lose track. We found one, a four bedroom house with full basement, a spacious addition, and large yard for less than $200K. It was certainly the best of the bunch, but we’ve got concerns about the water and odor in the basement that we’re going to pass on pursuing. Our loan product requires that the house be in decent condition and we’re not going to spend almost $1K to find out that we won’t be able to get the house. Plus, it is not a neighborhood I was fond of and the middle school is quite poor.

The second to last house we saw was quite small. It is listed as a one bedroom house but has a finished attic currently being used as a bedroom. The attic is even finished properly as it is well insulated and quite cool versus all the other “finished” attics we’ve seen which are sweltering hot. This house is quite small, extremely small — but it suddenly grew in size upon our final house inspection when we saw a house even smaller (and for $12K more). The “one-bedroom” house is our pick of the litter and by no means a dream house for either of us. However, it is in great condition and it will provide us rental income when it comes time in a few years to move. It is in the UMBC area and is quite convenient for students so maybe we’ll rent it out to a graduate student family or something when we feel it is time to move. The house provides a decent school for Alex and a neighborhood that we’ll be happy to be in for a while. Also, we couldn’t afford to rent in this neighborhood for this much space, as limited as it may be.

Of course, we’ve not put a contract on it just yet — so I could be counting way too many chickens before they hatch. As soon as our agent gets back in town today, we’ll be in business to pursue it further. Hopefully this evening even. Also, while we now have another 35K of buying power, we’re only looking to use about 10K of it — just enough to actually open up some possibilities for us but not enough to hang ourselves financially.

Finally, what was our previous compromise to fit 3 people into an 1,000 sq. foot one-bedroom apartment seems reasonable to justify 3 people in a 1,112 square foot (not counting attic & basement) one-bedroom house.

July 6, 2006

two wedding pics

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:07 am

I finally figured out the server’s new ssh procedures, it really should have been more intuitive — I’ve obviously avoided the command line for too long.

mischief managed

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 10:04 am

I’m feeling great now that I’ve had a couple of relaxing days doing almost nothing. Monday was nothing but rest and an hour body massage for both my mom and I. Tuesday, my mom flew out first thing and I think I napped most of the day on the couch. Yesterday was interesting because I took back a lot of unused wedding supplies and then came home to help load up the two Unimogs onto a flatbed trailer that would be driving them to Oregon. We had the large tractor trailer in the road, a very large tow truck backed up to it, and a bunch of guys looking tickled pink because they were getting to play with really big trucks.

The stress of having no where to live is coming to a head at the moment. We have considered and inquired about an option that may be the worst things we can do to ourselves emotionally or physically while being the best thing we can do for ourselves financially. We are considering moving into Chris’s one-bedroom apartment. It would be cramped, would call for some interesting configurations to make it work, but would indeed allow us to save up some serious money and kick back debt big time. Chris has been taking large swings at his debt and this would allow him to continue (moving somewhere larger would put a major crimp in that). It would allow me to put nearly 100% of my income into savings for a house (plus kick whatever debt is leftover), and prevent us from having to move somewhere to rent for a year just to move again afterwards.

Alex would get to stay in the same school for another year and extend the longest she has ever lived somewhere by another year. Chris’ commute would remain short. He’d still have access to the workshop and probably spend even more time down there since the house would be crowded. We would not use the upstairs anymore and stay down here. Alex would still get to keep her friends and the beautiful setting out here and not have to adjust to a less than idea neighborhood that we’d probably have to live in if we rent somewhere else. I’d have easy access to DC for work options while also leaving Baltimore open for work too.

I think I’ll actually have the most issues with it just cause there is no where to get to when things feel too closed in. Burtonsville does not have a lot of places you can just go to hang out. I’d have to work out some plans for how to make that work. However, Alex and I have lived in smaller and for the right cause, being able to move into a house we really want, I think it would be doable for a year. We’re waiting to find out if M&M would accept that idea or not and then will have to figure out how to make the space work.

I told Chris that all of his stuff would have to be packed up and stored away. We can not move into “his” place but instead must make it into our place. Plus, this space is packed full of things and there would be no room for all three of us — there isn’t really room for two of us with how much stuff is in here. He thinks he could do it even though it’d suck to not have access to everything. Oh what an idea…

July 3, 2006

wedding complete

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 11:14 am

We managed to pul it off — wow, that was a bit ambitious. The wedding was beautiful and wonderful and I smiled and smiled and smiled. It was a huge flurry of activity beforehand as me, my momma, alex, and my sister cooked and cooked and sewed and created and did, did, did. I think I went up and down the stairs a few million times, probably doubled my leg muscle density in just a couple days. We eventually broke Alex on the third day of constant work when she just puddled into the floor cause she was tired and her legs hurt too. In good motherly fashion, Alex and I cuddled up on the couch to commiserate the exhaustion and take a much needed break from all the excitement.

I learned lots of things at this wedding. The first being that planning to cater your own wedding, make all the decorations, turning the wedding dress into a work of art, and have only have a couple of extra hands available, is not a great idea. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard for so long in my life, but it all turned out so beautiful. Good thing we’re only doing this once, plus I don’t think my mom and sister would show up if I even suggested doing it again. :)

As stressful as it seemed, it still got done in a mostly calm fashion. Family brought the usual stress that family brings and that was the only real tipping point in the stress scales — getting it done was not the big issue, managing people and personalities was.

So, my original menu of about 17 items, no counting the 12 or so pies I was going to make (bwahahahahaha — what on earth was I thinking) got pared down to just 11, not bad, and all the pies came from a local farmers market and costco. The food was amazing — or so I’m told. I only managed to get a cup of soup and eventually a slice of pie. It cracks me up that I did all that work and tasted none of it.

The greatest part of the prep — going to the farmers market and ordering boxes of veggies. We had boxes and boxes filled with fresh produce. Everything we made was compiled exclusively of fresh produce and it was so beautiful to see all of it all over the kitchen, the mud room, the garage, and everywhere in the fridge. We had some leftovers, not a great deal so I know that people we’re fed well — yay!

The ickiest part of the prep — chopping up 25 pounds of chicken and filing a 5 gallon bucket, to the top, with chicken and marinade. Interestingly, one of Chris’s friends came to help on Friday and turns out that he is pretty much a vegetarian but he spent at least 1 to 2 hours cutting up chicken for us. He was a wonderful gift of hands to have on Friday.

The funniest part of the prep — Friday morning, Chris, my sister, and I went to set up the shade shelters on site. While setting up the third shelter, a gust of wind decided to help up out in lifting up one side of the assembled top. It helped us to the point that it took the entire things airborne, started to flip it over, aiming right at the windshield of the nearly parked van. Luckily, I was able to give it enough of a push (we certainly weren’t able to stop it from flying away) that it missed the windshield and avoided any real damage. We then had an upside down shelter and Shanna asking, “We’ll now what do we do?” We just tipped up the side again, let the wind flip it back over for us and managed to awkwardly get it back to where it was supposed to be. It was hilarious.

Overall, beautiful day and I had such a wonderful time seeing everyone. I’m still happy and excited. I barely got to see Chris the whole time which everyone kept reassuring that is normal. We got home exhausted, jumped in the pool with some friends and eventually got to bed. Sunday, I took my sister and mom down to the Mall in DC to visit the museums.

Today, I’m going to try to do nothing, nothing at all. I tried to upload some images but scp isn’t working — argh. Think they changed something with the ports and stuff for ssh, grrrr. Will get pictures up soon.