room mate roundup

I have this fantasy where I live in a giant luxury dorm condo complex and all my favorite people are my neighbors. I am surrounded by all my best friends and we win the lottery, quit our jobs and just laugh and drink champagne and walk barefoot through meadows. Or something like that.

I first started this daydream my sophomore year of college, when Anna and I lived next to two of our girlfriends. It was amazing – but short-lived, as the “economical” complex we had chosen was plagued by a panty bandit that spurred us to move – true story.

Anyway, I loved being able to walk to see friends, and know that I’d always have someone to hang out with and that a party could begin at a moment’s notice. We ate brownies or cereal for dinner and I never made my bed. I don’t know that we owned a vacuum and I had no idea what the word Swiffer meant. Glorious, I tell you.

I lived with a series of room mates after college and had a lot of adventures (and dramatic falling outs over absurd things). I always loved the comfort of having a full house. Especially because it quadrupled my wardrobe and provided endless junkfood.But, in time, we all grew up. And fell in love with boys. And then took the crazy wonderful step of living with said boys (and in my case: his dog, two snakes and sword collection).

People warned us that it was going to be so hard (I’m saying those words in a stupid voice in my head), and that we’d really be tested by cohabiting. Well – that never really happened, once the snakes miraculously disappeared…

Jim and I have now lived together for more than three years and I can honestly say he’s been a fantastic boyfriend, fiance and now husband. He somewhat begrudgingly plays the part of my former female room mates by: A) telling me I look fine no matter what I wear, B) eating Doritos with me as I simultaneously complain about feeling fat and C) taking turns cooking and cleaning.

I love my husband and my house, and am excited to come home everyday.

But man I do miss the extra outfit options.


Queen Creek Olive Mill

The idea of going to a mill reminds me of going to Plimouth Plantation as a child. Makes me want to churn butter and make my own flour.

I’ve since learned that doesn’t happen at an olive mill.

But – there are all kinds of delicious olives, oils and spreads. Pretty cool spot to spend a rainy Sunday with a friend, before the two of you spontaneously devote eight hours to redecorating your bedroom.

Decorating preview…


A few weeks ago we went to Ben and Katie’s house for a birthday party. I was a big fan of the refreshments – smore’s and hot cider. Made for a perfect fall night, which is hard to come by in Arizona. I guess I must’ve raved about the experience a bit much. Because when I came home from work yesterday, Jim had built a firepit in our backyard, so that I could have smore’s ANY TIME I WANT!

Happy girl.

Happy not only for the smore’s accessibility, but also for the fact that neither human nor dog was harmed by the large flames in our backyard.

Dessert is the most important part of any meal. Actually, it’s really the most important part of life. But just so you know I don’t exist on processed sugar alone, here’s what Jim made for dinner…complete with a homemade marinade.

And yes, apparently I’m eating meat again.

Home Ownership: A Year in Review

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we settled into our first home. An event of this magnitude can only be summed up in list form. Here are my highlights and most poingant memories from the past year:

1. The blissful realization that I don’t have to move this summer – for the first time in nine years. Actually, I don’t ever have to move ever again unless I feel like it.
2. Shock and awe at a $9,000 plumbing estimate. Kinda made me wish I’d been a plumber. Note – we still haven’t resolved the tree root problem, but are $9,000 richer for it.
3. The joy of having friends and neighbors in the area pop in.
4. Mice and rats and exterminators, oh my.
5. Building a block wall.
6. Witnessing dog jump over block wall.
7. Modifying block wall to dog-proof it.
8. Countless dinner parties, wine club nights and bbq’s with friends.
9. Freaking out when I got my property tax assessment. Called parents, realtor and friends in a panic – only to learn it’s irrelevant to the actual value of the house.
10. Learning how to bribe Jim into endless projects (love you).
11. Trying to plant flowers for the first time with little success.
12. I feeling of pride I get every time I show someone the house for the first time.
13. The harsh realization that there’s no landlord to call when things break.
14. The even harsher realization that any discretionary money is now spent at Home Depot, not on clothes.
15. The irony of getting an anonymous complaint from the City that our weeds are too high.
16. My first experience cleaning baseboards.
17. The rainiest winter in years means roof leaks abound!
18. I have a new interest in seasonal decorations that had previously remained dormant.
19. Dogs + irrigation + grass = mess
20. I love being a home owner.

dead mouse walking

You may recall that just a few weeks ago we had a teensy tiny issue with a stinky dead rodent in our attic. It was pretty disgusting and not something I hope to experience ever again.

I thought we might be in the clear, but yesterday we learned that we are apparently rodent magnets.

Let me set the scene:

I got home from work amid a huge downpour. It had rained all day – a rarity in the desert – and it was all I could do to get home, in heels, without landing on my face.

I hopped on the elliptical and got a workout in before I had to head to my neighborhood book club. As I got off the machine I saw something small and dark scurry down the hallway. Within ten seconds of witnessing this I had four simultaneous thoughts:

1. As much as I hate cockroaches I really hope that was a roach and not a mouse.
2. Did I completely imagine that?
3. If I ignore it, does it make it go away?
4. Can the dogs fix this?

At any rate, I made a swift leap onto the safety of my bed (reminiscent of the hot lava monster game of childhood when you couldn’t touch the floor) and called Jim in a panic.

In hindsight, I can’t blame him for laughing at me, but in that moment I needed someone to be as hysterical as I was. A MOUSE. In our house. A MOUSE! Fievel, Mickey, Mighty MOUSE.

As luck would have it Jim couldn’t leave work to save me, so I called my next lifeline, Zoee. I immediately announced to my favorite realtor that it was time for me to move. I could not possibly live in a house with mice. Zoee also found my situation purely hysterical, but agreed to come to my aid despite torrential rain.

My heart rate had now been raised to cardiac arrest level for about 10 minutes. I could’ve lifted a car with all that adrenaline.

Zoee arrived and with the courage of a valiant knight surveyed the house for a mouse (found none) and blocked all the doors with towels to keep the little bastards confined.

At this point I was more than ready to vacate the premises and head to book club. I enjoyed a wonderful evening with some fabulous ladies despite a lack of electricity. Fortunately Emily keeps a large stash of candles and wine on hand.
What’s also fortunate is that Jim doesn’t seem to possess one ounce of my rodent fear. He’s been a trooper setting traps and ‘removing the goods.’ We’ve caught three mice so far and are continuing our efforts with a vengeance. Stuff like this definitely makes me miss the days of renting and having a landlord who was obligated to fix everything. On the other hand, I suppose one day this will be funny. When that day comes I’ll be sure to let you know.

Did I mention that the roof started leaking during all of this? Right.

latest adventure in owning a house

Last week Jim and I noticed a bad smell in the hallway by our water heater. It seemed to come and go so at first we tried to ignore it and blame it on the dogs. Then it started to get really bad.

Jim was concerned that we might have a gas leak, so he and his dad set to work making sure we didn’t. I had no idea that spraying soap bubbles on a gas line can reveal a potential leak. Fortunately, that wasn’t the issue. My mom told me you can also spray soap bubble on a tire to find the leak. Who knew?

Our investigation and the increasing odor let us to an anonymous conclusion: dead rodent.  Where was it? In the attic. Somehow. The little bastard must’ve climbed through our roof vent and then tragically died when he couldn’t escape. I feel terrible that a creature met it’s death in our home, but he didn’t knock when he came in.

The miserable task of exploring the attic for the carcass fell on Jim’s shoulders. Mainly because I’m a girl and that’s a blue chore, not a pink chore. Poor guy was up in the nasty crawl space for 45 minutes and couldn’t locate the source of the smell amid all the insulation. He did, however, find a dog Kong toy. it wasn’t ours, and how that got up in our attic is a mystery to me.

Today I googled ‘dead rat in attic’ and was floored at how many sites came up. No one had surefire solutions but at least I learned we’re not alone. Moral of the story? Jim is a good sport and scented candles are a must.

how good friends make bad news funny

Today we had a plumber come out to assess why our toilet kept clogging. I was anticipating a $200 bill and that would be the end of it. Maybe the use of a glorified plunger?

Not even close. it turns out the reason our toilet was getting clogged is because the trees on our property have root systems running through the drainage line. Or something like that. The bottom line is we got an estimate that made me come close to dry heaving at work.

$8,665.80 + tax. They couldn’t even make it a nice round number, but had to throw in the extra 80 cents. Bastards.

I got this news on the eve of a lunch meeting and had to try to hold it together for an hour before I could completely freak out. I was 40% successful. Fortunately, Jim’s grandpa and my favorite realtor Zoee came to the rescue with some resources for cheaper options. They aren’t surefire fixes but hot damn it’s worth a try to save six months of mortgage payments.

I decided to share the news with our friend Jared, who’s had his fair share of home ownership woes, and this is how our conversation unfolded:

me: so we have fun new house drama
Jared: oh yeah?? Outside of dog bills me: our toilet kept clogging. so we called a plumber. i’m thinking it’d be maybe $200 bucks. NO. apparently tree roots have grown through our drainage line and the estime we got was $8,700.
Jared: WHAT!!
me: yeah no jokeBut…Jim’s grandpa and dad have plans for a do-it-yourself-er. we may need your help digging 🙂
Jared: I’m good at that. I require beer in trade for digging
me: we have beer and Joose. imagine hyper drunk digging
Jared: I am almost positive that if I drank joose and dug in the heat…..I would puke. Then I would have to dig out my puke. sounds like extra work
me: i think until the weather’s better we’re gonna use root killer and some crazy saw the grandpa has. i was fascinated to learn plumbers have the same kind of cameras surgeons have to look at underground pipes. digging puke ewwwwwww
Jared: So Jim called me and told me about a 350 vet bill. he mentioned nothing about a 9000 root problem
me: tee hee ain’t life grand
Jared: I’m sure homeowners would cover that though
me: nope, already asked
Jared: damn that sucks
me: they don’t cover root damage. and the city won’t help either. jerks
Jared: I’ll dig for sure Jared: I have lots of shovels since we broke like 3 or 4 when we dug my hole
me: thanks. the dogs will also help dig
Jared: If only you could aim them
me: we need groundhogs. those you can aim i bet
Jared: Might be worth the investment. maybe you can find others with groundhogs and tell them they are fat. you will work them out for a small fee. Two birds….one stone. use the personal groundhog training cash to pay for the new pipe
me: damn there’s a plan. i might even blog about it
Jared: as you should. So am I digging this weekend….or sometime in the future?
me: oh no, future i believe