A Year in Review

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 21-07-2014

It’s been a little over a year since we first bought Betty (our home). In the scheme of things, a year is a relatively minuscule amount of time. But what’s amazing is how much can happen in such a small amount of time. A year ago, I would have never thought I’d need to own a shop vac, know how to install a kitchen sink, have a preference on weed killer, operate a nail gun, or be able to remove gutter gunk without gagging. I never imagined in a million years I’d get mild pleasure out of removing hairballs from drains, understand the difference between soffit and fascia (and even have those words as part of my vocabulary), know how to take apart and clean an air conditioner without breaking it, and experience removing mold from dry wall. And to be honest, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But instead of listing everything I’ve learned, experienced for the first time, cried about, and celebrated regarding homeownership, I’ve decided to share a year of homeownership in picture form (at least the ones we remembered to capture). Enjoy!

 

Lawn Envy

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-07-2014

Maybe if we stare at it long enough, it will start growing.

I have lawn envy. I’ve become obsessed with other people’s lawns. On my walk to and from work each day, I stare enviously at the beautiful lawns that dot my neighborhood. But as I round the corner and my house comes into view, a disappointed sigh escapes me. Is it silly and probably a little pretentious to envy other people’s lawns? Probably. But alas, I can’t help it. You see, when we moved into our home about a year ago, I had a dream of a beautiful lawn. The type of lawn where you can walk barefoot on it or lay in it and you don’t have to worry about ant hills, stepping on a rock, or being poked by weeds. The type of lawn where you can play bocce ball and the ball doesn’t get stuck in a crater. The type of lawn where mushrooms don’t grow and where you can mow and not look like Pig Pen from the Peanuts with a cloud of dust following you around. A nice lawn may be a strange thing to want out of all the things I could pine for, but the heart wants what the heart wants. So, days after moving in, we set about making my dream a reality– ripping up weeds, spot seeding, watering and re-watering, only to realize it was a lost cause. Our lawn was in such bad shape (and

6:00am watering is not as fun as it used to be.

sloping towards our house which is apparently a very bad thing) we just needed to start over.

After a year under our belt, we were ready to give it another go. And you know what we realized? Growing grass sucks. I mean, it REALLY sucks.

No amount of Googling prepared me for how hard getting a perfectly manicured lawn actually was. One article I read (yes, I spend my free time reading articles about lawn maintenance) told me to treat our new grass seed like a baby. So, like a baby, we (I mean Blake) wake up early every morning to water our grass. And every evening, we (I mean Blake) painstakingly cover every inch of our baby seedlings in water. While at first it was kind of cathartic, and I even wanted to join in on the watering “fun”, the novelty of it all quickly wore off. And now? Growing grass sucks.

People always say be grateful for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. You know what? I bet those people had nice lawns.

Come and knock on our door…

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-05-2014

We are currently in the midst of redoing our entire yard (story for another day) and needless to say the curb appeal of our home is, well, there is no curb appeal. So, after frowning every time I pulled into our driveway for the past few weeks, I decided Betty needed at least a little bit of a face lift. We were going to install a new front door. Actually, it would be more accurate to say Blake and his uncle were going to install a new front door. My plan was to be nowhere in sight because I knew this type of project would only stress me out. My general rule regarding projects I help with are those that do not NEED to be fixed immediately if there is a hiccup– and there is ALWAYS a hiccup. Removing a front door is not something you can just say, “Eh, let’s just put a curtain over it and worry about it tomorrow.”

So, my help with the door ended at the check-out line of Home Depot. And though I had full faith Blake’s uncle wouldn’t leave us door-less, I got a little nervous when the man behind us in line handed Blake his business card.

“What was that?” I asked.

Blake laughed nervously and said, “Uh, he was a contractor. He told me if this didn’t quite work out as we planned, to give him a call.”

While I appreciate the business technique, it didn’t give me a lot of confidence to know a contractor took one look at us purchasing a front door, and thought we might need some help. Apparently we don’t scream “handy couple”. I wondered if he had overheard me asking the Home Depot employee, “So, how does this whole door handle thing work.” And him responding, “Well, you turn it…”. Not one of my most articulate moments.

So, with the swipe of my card, and a promise from his uncle that he wouldn’t leave until we had a door, I drove away.

A few hours went by and I hadn’t heard anything. This was either a really good sign or an epically  bad one. Willing to take my chances, I headed home. As I pulled into the driveway I was met with a smiling uncle, a hole in the front of my house where a door should be, and no Blake in sight. Guess what? A hiccup.

“Where’s Blake?” I questioned.

“Oh,” said his uncle, “Blake just had to run out and get a few more supplies.”

“What kind of supplies?” I asked.

“Oh, just a few things to make the door go in a little better.”

“What do you mean, better?”

I soon realized the vague answers were probably on purpose. If I had known the truth at that point, I probably would have entered panic mode. Later, once we had a door, we were able to laugh about how the door wasn’t wide enough,  there wasn’t the proper size in stock, and there was a brief discussion about needing to board up our door for a few days.

But, seven hours later and we did indeed have a door. Two more hours and we had a lock and handle on said door (which meant we could lock it and call it a day). Three more hours the next day, and we had re-trimmed and painted the doorframe. And though we had to improvise in a few spots until we replace the siding, it looked great. Not just great. Amazing. After 12 hours, our front door looked amazing.

And though our lawn is still a wreck, if I squint my eyes and stare at our beautiful new door, I can imagine what it will look like. Maybe not right now, but eventually. Eventually, all this hard work will pay off.

Everything but the kitchen sink

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-03-2014

This weekend Blake and I embarked on a house project. Specifically, we decided to install a back splash in our kitchen and a brand new kitchen sink. And while there is plenty to discuss regarding the back splash (which turned out awesome by the way), this post is more specifically about the kitchen sink. Or as I like to refer to it, “The damn kitchen sink.” (Sorry, Mom).

Blake and I had been tossing around the idea of installing a back splash since we moved into our home last June. The bright red paint and coffee wallpaper border just wasn’t our taste. Unfortunately, I am super indecisive and we hadn’t found tile we liked. Let me rephrase that, I know what I definitely don’t like but sometimes have a hard time figuring out what I do like. Does that make me indecisive? Maybe.

“Hailey, but I thought this post wasn’t about the back splash,” you may be saying to yourself. Oh, don’t worry. It’s definitely not. The back splash was our reason for venturing to the first hardware store on Saturday, but the kitchen sink was what made everything interesting.

So, bright and early Saturday morning we ventured to our first hardware store in search of a back splash. In the process of back splash-looking however, we decided it was time to update our kitchen sink. Why? Well, because it smelled. I’m not kidding, our sink smelled, and no amount of bleaching and scrubbing would fix it. More importantly, it was ugly.

While shopping for a kitchen sink may seem pretty straight forward, I assure you, it wasn’t. Did we want stainless steel? If so, could we settle for a 20 gauge instead of an 18 gauge? What about a light colored sink? Perhaps white, or maybe beige? If that’s the case, do we want cast iron or granite composite?

What we decided was that we needed to check out the other two hardware stores in the area before making any decisions. So, off we went to hardware store #2 and hardware store #3. Let me mention however, we still had yet to buy our back splash materials because after all, we should look at the 2 other hardware stores first. Unfortunately, in the process of checking out the two other stores, we forget what was at store #1… including prices and styles. So, 6 trips later (that would be visiting each store twice), we finally landed on our back splash tile but decided to wait on the kitchen sink.

We hurried home and installed the back splash without much of a story to tell (other than shards of glass almost landing in Blake’s eye and me cutting my finger). Unfortunately, we were a little short on grout and needed to go back to the store on Sunday.

So, by noon on Sunday we were off to the hardware store to pick up the grout. However, after seeing how amazing our back splash looked, I had a change of heart. Maybe we SHOULD buy a new sink. This again required us to revisit all the stores from the day before. If you are keeping track, our store visit total is now at 9 (in less than 24 hours). We eventually picked out a sink and hurried home with our beautiful, beige, granite composite sink with brushed bronze faucet.

Now, I would love to tell you that we got home and easily installed our sink. Unfortunately, that would not be true. I would love to tell you there were no tears shed and the language around our house was kept PG rated. But again, that would not be true. Instead, our kitchen sink… the damn kitchen sink… decided to wage war.

Removing our old sink was easy enough. We even remembered to shut the water off in our house. Though what was revealed underneath the sink was the most disgusting thing I had ever seen and I immediately told Blake to throw it in the dumpster next door (shh… I think that’s actually illegal). I debated on donating it, but believe me, nobody would have wanted that sink. Ever.

So, after the sink was removed, we were left with a gaping hole in our kitchen counter. We eagerly unpacked the new sink and got it prepped to drop in the hole. It was beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! We carefully lowered the new sink in the counter, being sure not to scratch our new back splash. And then… nothing. It was stuck. The sink would not go down any further. No matter how often with realigned the sink and twisted and pushed, nothing happened.

Now, I know your first question is, “Why didn’t you measure?” We did measure. I promise. The problem was not that the counter hole was too small, it was that the cabinets underneath the counter were sticking out by about an inch on each side (the “charm” of an old home). So, after a few tears (Blake is such a cry baby), our conversation went something like this:

Blake: “It won’t fit.”

Me: “Are you positive?”

Blake: “It absolutely won’t fit.”

Me: “What should we do?”

Blake: “I could saw down the cabinets.”

Me: “No.”

Blake: “I could… seriously… if I just…”

Me: “No.”

Blake: “Ok, so should I get the old one?”

Me: “Isn’t it in dumpster?”

Blake: “Yes.. but I could…” (note: I have a really good husband who was willing to go dumpster diving to save our kitchen)

We decided the only real option was to take it back and find a new sink that fit. Unfortunately, it was 6:00pm on a Sunday night, our water was shut off, and we had no sink. Hardware stores close early on Sundays. So, we dropped everything and sprinted out the door. Now, again, I’d like to say this process was easy. But that wouldn’t be true. We again went to four stores, one store twice (fyi- store count is now 13) and finally landed on a new sink that was not as pretty, but would fit… or so we thought.

While we measured the sink correctly, even taking the cabinets into consideration, we failed to notice we bought a sink that uses brackets to stabilize and not just glue, and the brackets take up room.

To make a long story short, I eventually snapped and used a hammer. The good news: we now have a kitchen sink. :)

 

 

Annoying Adult Decisions

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 24-01-2014

I think anyone that lives in the upper Midwest will agree with me when I say that waking up in the morning, when it is -30 degrees outside and your house is freezing, is one of the worst moments of the day. How I cope with this misery is by sprinting immediately into the bathroom and turning on a scalding shower. While it doesn’t help fight the cold outside, at least it makes the process of getting ready in my chilly house a bit more tolerable. So when I awoke a few weeks ago on an especially frigid morning (oh, around -30), that steamy shower was the only motivation to get out of bed.

I eagerly turned on the hot water and hopped on in. Fabulous. Unfortunately, my enjoyment was short lived. Within a few minutes my hot water slowly began to dissipate. Quickly, I turned the nobs to suck out as much hot water as I possibly could. To my horror, the cold water was completely off and the hot water was cranked up as high as it could go.

Everyone knows that a cold shower can turn even the most pleasant of individuals a little cranky. But a cold shower on a Monday morning, when it is -30 degrees outside and your house as ice on the windows, turned me into an absolute demon.

Moments later, after skipping the conditioner, I was shivering by a heater wrapped in about every blanket we had in the house, waiting to regain feeling in my fingers and toes. Okay, yes, I’m being a bit dramatic, but it was really really cold. When I finally thawed, I poured a bowl of cereal, made a cup of coffee, and began to ponder what to do.

Here’s what I knew: The hot water heater wasn’t completely broken because there was indeed some hot water. It was super cold outside, so maybe the water just felt colder because it was -30 degrees outside.

Here’s what I didn’t know: Is it possible for a hot water heater to “sort of” work? How much do plumbers cost? Do plumbers even fix hot water heaters? Where’s my hot water heater? (Kidding. Sort of…).

Not wanting to sound like a clueless female stereotype, Blake kindly “volunteered” to call a plumber and explain our situation. A few hours later I was standing in the basement, next to our hot water heater, with a super patient plumber. Our conversation went like this:

Plumber: “So, what seems to be the problem?”

Me: “Well, usually we have a lot of hot water. And today when I showered we sort of had hot water. But it didn’t last very long. So, we called you.”

Plumber: *after touching the hot water pipe which I totally knew existed* Well, you definitely have hot water. Have you taken the panel off to check things out?

Me: “Uh, panel?”

Plumber: “Right. Okay. So, probably not?”

Me: “Yeah… no.”

Over the next few minutes, he patiently (let me stress how much patience this guy had with me) talked me through the process of turning off the electricity to the hot water heater, shutting off the water, removing a panel, explaining what was wrong (an element was burned out– and I’m pretty proud I know what that means now), and offering me a few options. Throughout this process, I was told that our shut-off valves on both the hot water heater and the entire house water shut-off were corroding. He highly recommended replacing them with shut-off valves from this century in order to avoid flooding our whole house in the future. I quickly brought out my mental calculator and began adding up how much everything was going to cost. Here were my options:

Option A: Only fix the hot water heater and ignore replacing the shut-off valves, but risk water leaking onto the ELECTRIC hot water heater in the future.

Option B: Fix the hot water heater and the shut-off valve for the hot water heater, thus avoiding water leaking on my electric hot water heater. However, do not replace the master shut-off valve that controls the water for our entire house and risk having a much greater problem in the future (ahem– flooded basement round 2).

Option C: Fix everything, avoid floods, be responsible, and pay a lot more money than I was originally planning on spending.

I have to mention, throughout this whole internal reflection process (and a panicked phone call to Blake), the plumber was incredibly understanding and I never felt pressured a single time. He did not treat me like a female stereotype and I would totally hire him again (FYI- Home Heating and Plumbing in Fargo).

Okay, so I was left with one of those obnoxious adult decisions. Do the responsible thing that costs a lot more and may never pay off in the future but create peace of mind, or do the less responsible option that would save money but may cause a bigger problem in the future. Needless to say, we picked option C.

While I would like to say I felt a sense of relief and pride in my responsible decision, I didn’t. Swiping my credit card and paying $250 more than we were planning on spending was super painful. Canceling New Years dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant  because we had to fix our hot water heater instead was not enjoyable in the least bit.

In the end, I know we made the right decision, but the right decision really sucked. Sometimes being a responsible adult is super irritating and it’s times like this where I think: maybe renting an apartment and building no equity BUT being able to spend money on date nights instead of plumbers would have been a better option.

So, as we curled to watch the ball drop in our sweat pants, with our home-made french toast and $5.00 bottle of champagne close by, knowing I’d have a hot shower tomorrow, I glanced around our cozy living room. The funny thing is, I wasn’t thinking about how I wanted to be at a fancy restaurant or questioning my plumbing decision. I was exactly who I wanted to be and exactly where I wanted to be: a responsible (temporarily broke) adult, sitting in my home, ready to ring in a new year. (Ok– well maybe not the temporarily broke part.)

Homeowner lesson #593: Spending an extra $250 to have peace of mind is probably worth it, even if it means canceling dinner reservations. And don’t underestimate french toast and cheap champagne.

 

Misery Loves Company

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 13-01-2014

Last week I attended my first session for the 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program sponsored by United Way. I am truly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing group of women. And while I left that day feeling both inspired and excited from the training that had taken place, I was also inspired and excited by the conversations I had been able to have and the relationships I had begun to form with the 34 other women in that room.

You may be asking yourself, “Okay– what does this have to do with your home?”

Well, I’ll tell you. While many of those conversations were about family, friends, career, and so on, a few evolved into discussions on home ownership. And as soon as I shared the struggles I’d been having with my home (foundation repair, wasps, mushrooms etc.), the flood gates were opened. Other women began sharing their own home problems (some more extreme than others). And as I sat there listening, a strange thing happened. I felt comforted. I know it is a terrible thing to say I felt a sense of relief hearing other people go through home situations similar to my own (and some even worse), but as the saying goes, “misery loves company”.

Let me reiterate the fact that I feel EXTREMELY thankful I am able to even purchase a home of my own in the first place. I don’t for a moment take that for granted. However, there are definitely times as I’m dialing the plumber to fix my hot water heater when it is -30 degrees outside (story to come) or joking with friends about how at least my cabinets keep my glasses chilled due to the f lack of insulation in my home, that I question why in the world I thought it was a good idea to become a homeowner. In fact, I’ve been asked what advice I have for first-time homeowners, and I laughingly say, “Don’t do it!” And while I am mostly joking, there is that tiny part of me that is very very serious.

The fact is, whenever something breaks or floods or freezes, I have to give myself a pep-talk saying, “You didn’t buy a lemon. This could happen to anyone. This was a good decision. A home is a good investment.” It has even turned into somewhat of a joke with family and friends who call and ask, “So, did anything break this week?”

So when I do hear other stories from people who have been in the exact same situation I currently am in, that pep-talk becomes a little more effective.

I didn’t buy a lemon.

This happens to everyone.

This is a good decision.

A home is a great investment.

Stopping to smell the roses

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-12-2013

Lesson #1: grad school. enough said.

As 2013 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on the past year.  There were a lot of really wonderfully amazing things

Lesson #4. Marriage isn’t so scary after all.

that happened, and quite a few not so wonderful things as well. The fact is, what made 2013 so monumental was not all the life-events I checked off my list, but instead, the amount of change that occurred that isn’t visible. I learned a lot of lessons this year, even though some were extremely tough to swallow. In the end however, here’s my conclusion: 2013 was one hell of a year (sorry Mom).

My problem is I’m a do-er. While that can be a really wonderful and productive personality trait, it also means that I am really horrible at “stopping to smell the roses” so to speak. So, I wanted to write down a list of lessons for “2014 Hailey” to keep in mind before I start moving full-steam ahead ready to start checking off more items from my list.

  1. Completing your master’s degree was the most brain-sucking, tear-enducing, teetering on the brink of total mental meltdown, proudest moment of your life. Feeling stupid just means you’re learning. And hard work actually does pay off.
  2. Where there are five wasps, there are probably hundreds. Save your time, energy, and screams, and just call the exterminator.
  3. Storage tubs work as excellent tools  to bail out water from your basement.
  4. Marriage seemed scary. Then you remembered it’s the exact same thing you were doing before, except now you have a last name that gets confused with the word”goblin” and a life insurance policy. This makes marriage not so scary.
  5. If you see mushrooms in your front yard, kicking them over is not the solution.
  6. Measure your doorways before moving in couches, beds, and/or washing machines.
  7. Working 12 hour days for five months straight is exhausting. Appreciate those people who don’t have a choice to survive any other way.
  8. If you think maybe the brakes on your car are going out, they probably are. Fix them prior to going on your honeymoon.
  9. When a tool has a warning label  encouraging you to wear protective eye-wear, heed the warning.
  10. Even though you may not see yourself as someone capable of giving life advice when you’re still trying to figure out your own life, others do. That’s a big deal.
  11. Block foundations in ND= bad. Poured concrete foundations in ND= good. 11a. If you can see daylight through your foundation, that is bad. 11b. If you notice a wall leaning, it’s not okay. 11c. If your basement smells like mold, it’s probably because there is mold.
  12. Paint and patience have a lot in common (and not just because the letters p, a, i, n, and t are in both).
  13. If you find someone who is willing to hang Christmas lights outside in negative temperatures because you feel like the lights just HAVE to go up that very moment, they’re a keeper.
  14. Do not leave a floor vent uncovered. Kittens can crawl in them and get stuck. You will feel horrible afterwards.
  15. Though you will at times start to question decisions you’ve made and focus on the negative, realize you worked hard and make time to celebrate your accomplishments.

Home ownership: So many lessons. So, so, so many.

While I hope your next year will be filled with many happy moments, I also hope you are able to take something meaningful with you from this past year. Bring on 2014 and Happy New Year

 

Don’t break the rules… unless you have to

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 16-12-2013

Even though I was a fairly perfect and well-behaved child, on rare occasions, I was known to break a few rules.

Don’t watch R-rated movies. Well, if I’m at a friend’s house, it doesn’t count, right?

No dessert unless you finish your dinner. Yes, but if I dump my meal outside on the patio, no one will find out.

Don’t go down the laundry shoot. Psh– you only live once.

Curfew is midnight. Well, if my mom is asleep when I come home, she’ll never know if I walk in the door at 12:30am instead.

There were however, a few rules I knew never, ever, to break:

  1. Don’t talk to strangers.
  2. Don’t cut your own hair.
  3. Don’t stick metal in the microwave.
  4. Don’t eat or drink anything with a Mr. Yuck sticker on it.
  5. Don’t stick your finger or any other object in a light socket.

Needless to say, when Blake noticed the bottom prong of our Scentsy plug-in had broken off in a light socket the other day, I was completely stumped about what to do. I mean, how do you remove something stuck in an outlet if you can’t stick things into an outlet? So, after some intense deliberation, we decided this was one of those times you had to break a rule.

Step one: turn off the breaker switch for that outlet. The problem? There were four switches labeled “living room”. So, we plugged in a lamp into the good outlet, called each other on our cell phones, and proceeded to flip a bunch of switches until we found the right one.

Step two: find something to stick in the outlet to remove the jammed prong. After triple checking that the outlet was indeed off, Blake grabbed some tweezers and crouched down by the outlet. “Wait!” I screamed. “I need to get something to hit you free from the outlet in case you get electrocuted!” I did pay enough attention in middle school science to know that if Blake is getting electrocuted, and I touch him, he will just transfer the current to me. So, armed with a pillow to hit him free should the worst happen, we were ready to go.

Step three: have at it. As I watched my husband go from tweezers, to a needle, to a different pair of metal tweezers, a feeling of extreme discomfort washed over me. I was witnessing him break a rule I had been taught since I could walk: don’t stick things into a light socket. And though I know we had taken all the precautions necessary (pillow included), I couldn’t shake the feeling we were tempting fate at that very moment.

Over the next 10 minutes, Blake poked and prodded at the outlet, and I sat next to him, armed with my pillow, staring in horror, with the occasional “ergh… ahh… be careful… gah…” punctuating the silence. Alas, our efforts were in vain. Next to taking apart the entire outlet (and at this point, it was 11:00 on a Friday night), we had no way of removing the stuck prong.

So, what do you do when you have a fire hazard sitting in your outlet but you have no way to remove it (and it’s late at night)? Keep that switch off on the circuit breaker, grab some tape and a Post-It note, and slap a “DO NOT USE” sign over the entire thing.

Problem solved.

Lessons from Mushrooms (and other things)

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-12-2013

For the past three Christmases, Blake and I have maintained a tradition of each picking out an ornament to add to our Christmas tree. The catch is the ornament has to represent one of us in someway or ideally, represent something that happened throughout the year. And while our Christmas tree now looks a bit more eclectic and mildly chaotic than many other families who have color coordinated and well-planned trees, at least it has meaning. This Christmas was no exception.

A few weeks ago we headed to the store to pick out our ornaments for the year. It was a big year: graduation, new jobs for both of us, wedding, honeymoon, and of course… our first home. And while Hallmark had an ornament to represent all of these major events, it felt a little corny and cliche to pick out one that had a romantic cuddling couple etched into glass with the words “first Christmas” underneath (especially when this wasn’t actually our first Christmas together). Similarly, an ornament shaped like a house with a smiling couple standing out front and the words “our first home” scrawled underneath seemed a bit too obvious and gag-worthy for our taste.

Christmas 2013 Ornament: Blue, sequin, mushroom

And then, I saw it. A blue, sequin-covered, mushroom. This was our ornament. This represented our first home better than any literal “first home” ornament could. Let me explain–

A few months after moving into our home, I noticed mushrooms sprouting in our front yard. While I love eating mushrooms, yard-mushrooms annoy me to no end. So, I did the only logical thing I could think of. I ran up and kicked them over. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, a few days later, as I walked out to my car, I noticed not only had the mushrooms miraculously reappeared, but they decided to bring some friends along with them. Again, I walked up to the patch of mushrooms and kicked them over. Good riddance.

This pattern continued for a few more days (apparently it takes a while for me to learn a lesson) until the point our yard was more mushroom than grass. That’s when Blake suggested that maybe kicking mushrooms over was not the right solution to our problem. Some quick Googling revealed he was indeed correct. Kicking over mushrooms does not only NOT get rid of them, but can actually spread them.

Our option was to either buy chemicals to kill the mushrooms or to dig them out, making sure to remove the entire root

Blake removing mushrooms.

system. Digging them out seemed like the right option to us. What we didn’t think about was how, as mentioned, our yard was more mushroom than grass. In fact, when all were removed over the next few weeks, we filled four large recycling bins full of them (don’t worry, we just used the bins as a bucket… we didn’t actually try to recycle them). When all the mushrooms were removed, small holes pocketed our entire lawn.

The lesson here: try reading about how to remove and/or fix things before you start kicking stuff over.

As evident in this blog, our first home purchase has not been without trial, tribulation, and a lot of tears. However, we have also learned a lot about home-ownership in the mere six months we have owned Betty. And while some lessons have been ones we hope no one ever has to learn (such as who to call when your foundation is crumbling), others have simply resulted from typical, clueless, first-time homeowner problems (such as mushroom removal).

Our mushroom ornament represented more than a Hallmark ornament could. It’s a symbol of how hard we have worked, how much we have learned, how we still have a lot to learn, and most importantly, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves throughout this whole learning process.

Snow. Enough said.

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Posted by Hailey Goplen | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 05-12-2013

It seems only a short time ago I was discussing my regret over living in a neighborhood with mature trees due to abundance of leaves those mature trees produce and the amount of raking which was then required. Now, as I stare out my window at six inches of snow, I only wish it was raking that were making my muscles sore and not shoveling snow. Why you ask? Well, for one, raking occurs when it is above freezing outside.

Last night, Blake and I returned home from 70 degree Phoenix weather to a winter storm advisory producing six inches of snow and snow drifts even deeper. As our taxi pulled up to our house, the driver hesitated. Our extremely long driveway (which I loved only a few short days ago), was now covered in a blanket of snow so deep that the taxi would have for sure become stuck had the driver pulled in. “Don’t worry,” I said, “We can just get out here and walk.” So, as we trudged through snow that came up to my calves in some spots to our front door, suitcases in hand, I began to worry about the task that lay before us– shoveling.

By the time we dropped off our suitcases, fed our cats, and pulled on our snow gear, it was completely dark outside and the windchill was in the negatives. So, we flipped on the Christmas lights to add a little cheer, and headed outside to start shoveling. Now, I’ve shoveled snow in ND before– but only at an apartment (when Blake wasn’t around). Prior to North Dakota, large amounts of snow were relatively rare, so when I did help shovel, it was somewhat enjoyable. I assure you however that this shoveling experience was neither little nor fun.

Even with both of us shoveling and deciding to leave the alley parking space behind our house until the weekend, the chore still took an hour at least. And while it was indeed a good workout, I had never felt so cold (yet oddly sweaty) and exhausted in my entire life. Worst of all was watching our neighbor across the street effortlessly clear his driveway and sidewalks in mere minutes with the help of his handy snow blower.

So, as we sulked back inside, peeled off our layers, and collapsed on the couch, I came to a conclusion: we need a snow blower. “Seriously?!” questioned Blake with a mix of shock and excitement. You see, I am an incredibly… umm… thrifty… person. Sure I go on a shopping spree from time to time, but always off the sale rack. However, I have a list of items I will always, and I mean always, empty my pockets for, even if they are expensive, no matter how snooty I sound:

  1. Haircuts/coloring (I mean, you have to look at your hair every day)
  2. Shoes (cheap ones are never comfortable unless they’re flip flops)
  3. Hotel rooms (cheap hotel rooms are cheap for a reason)
  4. Poultry (I watched a scary documentary once)
  5. Cat food (because my cats are my children)

And after last night’s shoveling fiasco, I decided to add another item to my list:

6.   Snow blower