Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Bunch of Turkeys

Hey Guys and Gals!

Well, first things first, I've got to give mad props to bloggers who blog over holidays. Every time I would think to step away to write, another piece of pumpkin pie or my niece would call my name and it was over.

With that said, I'm back and I have more blogging fodder than ever so sit back, put your feet up (not advised if you are at work) and read on.

So Steph's holidays began in the coolest way ever -- watching my 3 year old niece for the day while my bro and sis went to look for houses (YES, they are moving to DALLAS! Par-tay!) This was my first time to watch Ausley EVER (was a little difficult to babysit her from NY) and in short, I was ecstatic about the whole thing. It took three days of prep to get ready for the little princess, but it was all well worth it! We began with what was meant to be 'Arts and Crafts Hour' which quickly turned into 'Arts and Crafts 15 Minutes' before we were interested in something else. No sweat, Miss Ausley, Aunt Steph will finish your ornament and Turkey Hats while you watch the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. 45 Minutes later and we have 1 ornament and 13 Turkey Hats/Indian Headresses which will be used in the future for family blackmail as needed. See below for imagery.

Even little Anna wasn't safe. Yep, we're all a bunch of turkeys in the Albert Household!

Next point of interest for Miss A? Presents. Ausley had gotten wind that Aunt Steph might have a present for her hidden somewhere in the house. And when a 3 year old as cute as she is asks you point blank where her presents are, you have no choice but to concede. And what did Aunt Steph get the little rugrat? A box of PRINCESS CLOTHES! And boy were we EXCITED! We modeled in front of Aunt Steph's mirror for a good 15 minutes.

She's sportin' those plastic shoes like they're Louboutins! Get it girl!

So with all this good, clean, fun stuff, comes a minor setback which came with lots of lessons for these first time home owners. When we arrived back to Dallas on Saturday night, we pulled into the driveway and I could tell that our closet light was on. Of course, I immediately start asking Tom why he left the closet light on, to which he responds he didn't. Well, knowing that lights don't just turn themselves on, I brace myself for what we are about to find (or not find) in our new home. BOO for getting robbed. And double BOO for getting robbed over the holidays. I swear, there are some pretty deadbeat people out there. And gross ones too. Who goes piece by piece through underwear drawers? The sickos that robbed our house, that's who. They made off with all my grandmother and mother's jewelry that they had given me, a computer, some purses and a money clip that Tom received as a gift. So after two nights of not being able to sleep in the house Steph decided to turn the house into what Tom has dubbed, Fort Knox. I went to our new favorite store (Lowe's) and said hi to Sheila (my new friend at Lowe's) and bought anything and everything that would make a sister feel safe in her own home again. Mace? Done. Deadbolts for all doors? Done. Timers for the lights? Done. A baseball bat? Done. Security cameras? Done. An Alarm? Done. Don't you even try to mess with this family again. I will hunt you down and spray you with hornets nest repellent.So this week I have been trying to get comfortable in my own home again which is so annoying, but so true. I had just gotten to the point where I felt comfortable and then this happened and I'm starting the comfort process over again. At least the cops are now my good friends - shout out to Joann and Lee of DPD for being so great to work with and for putting our house on the nightly watch!

Holy Cow! I almost forgot to share with you the thing that I know you all have been coming to this blog to see!! My Christmas Wreath!! Sadly, I learned after the wreath was made that my door is an awkward design for hanging wreaths, which is why my gorgeous piece of art now hangs over my kitchen sink so that I can stare at it with pride everyday when I'm doing the dishes. It might not look like much to the naked eye, but this wreath is made of real live cedar (bought from Whole Foods for $11.99) and pine cones (bought from Michaels half off for $1.50). Who spent under $20 on their Christmas wreath? I did!! Tom loves it when I'm under budget! Go me!

Much to Tom's dismay, the job hunt continues -- hey if anyone reading this knows any of the great folks over at Wisteria in Dallas, let me know! And if you don't know Wisteria you should check out their site for some of the coolest decor on the planet...

Hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving and that you've eaten all your leftovers.

A few more pics from the weekend that I loved...

Love to all!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Plumbing 101

So today began as any other day would begin the day after making fresh baked cookies -- with 2 chocolate chip cookies and a cup of joe for breakfast. With a well balanced meal under my belt, I was geared up and ready to go -- top of the list - fix the plumbing.

As most of you already know, I come from a home of love and DIYers *for those of you that aren't DIY-ers (Julia) that means Do It Yourselfers*. My pops owned a very well respected plumbing business and my Papa a well respected AC business in San Antonio for the majority of my life. It was with this knowledge that I stood face to face with the inspector we hired to check out our new home and told him I wasn't worried about 97% of the things he told me needed to be fixed on the house.

Fast forward to conversation with dad where we are reviewing the inspection report and he's *sighing*, taking deep breaths and asking me to explain why we decided to purchase this home. *Sigh*. Fast forward two weeks when we are finally in the house, and I, as the dutiful wife that I am, have set up appointment after appointment with Bug guys, Electricians, Tree removers, Yard guys, Pool Guys, you get the picture. Learned after about half a day that the going flat-rate quote to get anything done in Dallas is $1000. We had an electrician quote us $500 to put up two beautiful wall sconces in the living room. Really? That's more than the sconces cost. No thank you. So what did my strapping young stallion of a husband do? You guessed it kids, he wired and hung them HIMSELF! See Exhibit A below as reference. *I am offering up Toms sconce hanging talents to anyone in the Dallas area for a small fee of a dinner with good wine.* Good job, Tom!

   So, as one might guess, with a house full of projects to look forward to, Tom and I instantly became the world's biggest fans of Lowe's. Next item to tackle - the guest bathroom. Here's the scoop -- when we moved in, the guest bathroom had no vanity/sink - nothing. Just some pipes coming out of the wall that looked like they might connect to something that water would come out of. A bit embarrassing when you have guests staying at the house. So as the plumber's daughter that I am, I decided to devote a day to learning the tools of the trade *or enough to get me by until my dad came for his next visit.* Dad spent an hour and a half on the phone with me taking me through exactly what needed to be done. * Bless him.* Thorough instructions with precise directions on exactly what to buy from Lowe's. A trip to Lowe's, some latex gloves and some plumber's putty later, and I was tackling that sink like it was nobody's business. 3 hours and LOTS of plumber's putty later and we were in complete working order. No leaks. Fast forward to yesterday - somehow the plumbers putty that was holding everything together last week wasn't working as well as the warranty said it would. I took a step back and had to laugh at the fact that my first venture in plumbing resembled more of a 7th grade clay art project than plumbing. See exhibit B below *note excessive plumber's putty usage*:

But look how pretty the top part of the sink turned out!!

So I've accepted the fact that a.) plumbing is harder than it looks b.) my dad was right - there would be leaks and c.) I should stick to the aesthetically pleasing things in the house like decorating.

So, in short, if you are one of the many people that Tom and I have invited to stay at the house in the next month or two, we still welcome you with Grananan's welcome mat and you will have an exquisite sink to look at, but unfortunately you will be brushing your teeth next to me in our bathroom. Looking forward to having you!

Now I must depart for the night as I have my Cheeseburger Club to attend. More on that later.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holiday Spirit

Happy Thursday Folks,

So today I began the daunting task of finding myself a job *insert long winded sigh here*. It began with a trip to a local headhunter who specializes in marketing careers, where I was soon to find out that Dallas is not the fashion marketing mecca that I had hoped for, and that there would be bigger opportunities for me if I expanded my job search to include companies that make calculators, have oil derricks or make computers *insert 2nd long winded sigh here*. So it is pure, unbridled, hopeful optimism that I officially get my nose to the grindstone to get myself employed at a company that exudes fabulousness. Wish me luck *and if you know of any such job, please, please help a sister out!*

On to the more fun part of the day -- decorating the house for the holiday season!!!! Having lived in an apartment that was a little smaller than most Texans master bathrooms, I can honestly say that when it came to Christmas decorations, my collection consisted of 12 ornaments *2 of which are broken*, a strand of white Christmas lights, a gold ribbon which served as the star on my 2 foot tall tree, and a pewter nativity scene that I bought in Mexico when I was in highschool. Alas, let the Christmas decor shopping begin!! I had envisioned a scene straight out of The Family Stone for my first home holiday decorating experience -- decorations in every room of the house, fresh cookies baking in the oven, a fire in the fireplace, Christmas songs on the radio.

 The reality of the day went something like this... headed over to Tuesday Morning, went over budget in the first 15 minutes, put back 75% of the things I had picked up, left the store with 4 items and still managed to be over budget. Came home, realized that the items I bought took up 3% of the space I had envisioned them to take up and I still had the rest of the house to go. *sigh*. At least I could make the house smell like fresh baked cookies though, right? Right. So that's what we did. Cletus, Winston and Steph  made cookies. And since they were such good and helpful dogs, they were allowed to eat whatever *accidently* fell on the floor. Fast forward 2 hours to 2 dogs puking on white couch. Still not going exactly as envisioned, but at least the house smelled like cookies.

As a logical thought progression, I came to the conclusion that to get this house decorated *and not get in trouble for spending money on items that come out for one month out of the year* it is imperative that I begin The BW Holiday Decoration DIY Club. Right now it consists of me and my dogs, but we don't discriminate, all are welcome to join the BW Holiday DIY Club. And I'll wave the membership fee for those sincerely interested. First project for the club -- a wreath for the front door that costs less than $25 to make -- why are wreaths so freaking expensive anyway???? I know you all ask yourself the same question when you see the prices on those things. Just to whet your wreath appetite and encourage participation, I've included some spectacular looking wreaths from the one and only convicted DIY-er, none other than Miss Martha...

Holy Star Wreath! Aren't those fascinating! If anyone in the Dallas area is interested in making their own wreath for less than $25, shoot me a comment, if I have no comments by Saturday, I won't get my feelings hurt, and I'll have a Gorg Christmas Wreath on my door by Sunday and you won't. Think it over. Happy to host a wreath making party with fresh made cookies and spiked apple cider is there's a real interest.

Hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit, that everyone is staying warm, and that you do the right thing and join my club.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Texan-izing Ourselves

Well, after five years in the Big Apple, we have, as Tom likes to say, "Hung up our party boots" and moved back South for some long overdue family time mixed with great friends and lots of college football. This part of our journey began about 5 months ago -- I heard the faint sound of Texas calling in the distance, and when Texas calls, you answer. In response to Texas calling, I began subtly (or not so subtly) hinting to Tom that I was ready to head home. The subtle hints turned into a quick change of job hunting direction and here we are 5 months, a house, a car, 2 dogs and a lot more furniture later settled into our first (and most adorable) home. Peace at last. Here are our two bundles of entertainment...Cletus Wray and Winston Bowen Wright...

You may be asking yourself, why am I here? Well, today it's because I sent this to you and the nice thing would be to read it, but in the future, hopefully you will like what I have to say and come back on your own free will for little Wrays of inspiration. As for me, I started this blog as more of a way to keep me focused than for any other reason. I wanted to be sure to take in this whole experience of starting our lives together, in a new city, with old friends, new and old pets and endless opportunities before us. I hope to write in it every day -- about the little things in life that capture me.

On October 22, 2010, Tom and I moved into what we have both dubbed our "perfect" home. Perfect in the sense that it's got a beautiful garden (or 'backyard' for the Texans reading this), it is big but not huge (the perfect transition from a 600 square foot apartment in NYC), it is a maximum of 15 minutes from all our dearest friends (i.e. dinner parties!), it's got charm -- the house was built in 1935 by a former Dallas mayor (back before the Super Homes started taking over) and coolest of all, it came with a doggy door already installed (making Cletus our min pin and Winston our King Charles Spaniel very, very happy.) We've packed the house full of things we love and the welcome mat from Grananan went out just the other day -- ready to welcome you on your next visit!

Something I've learned about myself during this whole home settling in process is that I'm a hunter, not a wild game hunter (sorry dad), but a hunter of treasures. A little well kept secret in Dallas is a store by the name of The White Elephant, it is an antique store to beat all antique stores. It is a treasure trove of peoples past lives, histories, memories and passions and I cannot think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon than rummaging through someone else's old stuff! Another secret I'm going to let you in on is a place called the Vogt Auction in San Antonio -- Tom and I have lit-tra-ly furnished our entire home from the goodies we found at this auction house. Some of the most exquisite antiques I have ever seen make their way through this door and go for 80-95% off what you would buy them for in stores! They send out pics every Thursday for the following weeks auction and you can bid online and they'll ship to you if you're the winning offer! Holy cowballs! Amazing! here's the link   and here's some pics of the goodness we found at that very auction!

That's all the time I've got for today, off to get ready for my first duty as VP of the Wives Committee at Tommy's new job!! Mi Cocina margaritas anyone??

Love to all and come back for more if ya know what's good for ya!