Blog Name Explained

Oops! I’ve realized that my blog name (which was chosen out of a plethora of ideas that were spewed onto one of my Facebook status updates) may be a little confusing to those who don’t know me. So, here’s a quick explanation.

I suppose there is a double-meaning (or maybe even triple) to “Meg, Acting Out” (or megactsout, whichever). The most literal comes from my involvement at our local community theater group, Ilion Little Theatre Club. I’ve been acting there, thanks to my sister’s earlier membership (and a desperate last-minute need for someone who could, heck, READ) for a few years now, with several shows under my belt. More recently, (a year ago) I became a board member – secretary – which takes up lots of time, but is something I strangely enjoy. In all honesty, this place is like home; a home full of strange, mostly-wonderful family members whom I care deeply for — and whodathunk I’d find a FUTURE family member there!? Yep, it’s where I met Dave, where we started as acquaintances, moved to friends, and eventually became partners. Oh, and although he doesn’t readily admit it, he’s the president. πŸ˜‰

So, from the literal, we explore the abstract. I’m the youngest of four talented, unique individuals; we’re similar in some ways (particularly in twos — the older brother and older sister (1 & 3 in the line-up) are quieter and more reserved, in general; the younger brother and sister (2 & 4) share similar illnesses and allergies as well as their tempers and flair for the dramatic), but all quite different. I grew up known as the “spoiled one” — which is all relative. Compared to my siblings, yes. Compared to all of my friends, no.

I was also very vocal from a young age. For better or worse, and for all who truly know me, it’s who I am. My senior superlative was “Most Outgoing.” I’m slightly outrageous (but generally responsible and not prone to poor choices — can’t really do stupid things that’ll get you in trouble with the cops when you work in a school) and am known to say extremely random, at times slightly offensive things. I had a problem with interrupting family members at the dinner table. I’ve never liked being talked down to, and tend to speak up about it (can you picture a cute 4-year-old speaking up? Yeah, I’d want to give me a spanking, too). But, I was raised with enough sense to respect my elders (with exception to my mom back in the day, and my stepdad during my teen years, poor parents!) and never spoke rudely to teachers, grandparents or, well, any other adults. Regardless, my closest friends and family know that “Meg, Acting Out” just describes the person they’ve always known. I’m grateful that they’ve remained loving, and that I’ve been lucky enough to find a guy to put up with this quirk.

I suppose a third meaning could come just from living life, since that’s essentially what this blog is about. I could have just decided to write a blog about living green — but I’m not an expert. Or, I could have written about students — which I’ll, on occasion, do, but would rather not air their business too publicly. I could also have written a design blog — but, again, I’m no expert and would rather just share our renovations as they come. I could’ve written a wedding blog — but I’m not a hugely wedding-obsessed bride (although I’ll be writing more about the planning as we go along; besides, I’ve got a blog on our wedding web site). So, one reason the name appealed to me was in the fact that it somehow describes EVERYTHING I wanted to write about — which is, pretty much, EVERYTHING. πŸ™‚

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts….”

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I’m a lucky duck; got an extra day off. Hope it’s as gorgeous where you are as it is here.

You’re Really Writing a Post About Peanut Butter? Heck, Yes!

Peanut butter. How could we have survived childhood intact without it? Besides, what’s childhood without getting sticky fingers to use for strategically-placed hand prints to drive a harried mother crazy? My sister, particularly, wouldn’t be on a deserted island without it (and some milk to wash it down).

So, why talk about it? That’s because I’ve seen the light. Or, more specifically, tasted it: organic peanut butter made of nothing but PEANUTS.

At first, the slightly gritty texture and more pungent flavor made me raise my eyebrows. It also had to be stirred (which I only remember from when we had little money, when Mom got a huge vat of it in a red plastic container — with no label) and, since it hadn’t been refrigerated yet, it was ruuuuunny! So, it made me play with my food all the more. But, I’ve gotta say, once you go runny, you never go back!

One reason is that, after you refrigerate it, it gets less runny. However, you still get this gorgeous sheen when you spread it that you definitely don’t see in the old stuff. I still get excited just thinking about it! (No, really, I do!)

Once we finish this jar (yep, it’s glass), we’re going to bring it to Peter’s Cornucopia (about a half an hour away; we go there every few weeks to see what organics we’d like to splurge on) for a refill. Although this was store-bought PB, we’ll be SEEING the peanuts crushed before our eyes, filling our re-used jar, making us feel involved in the process. It’s pathetic, sure, but just thinking about doing this with our kids, having them involved with their food, never having to deal with wallpaper paste PB & J sandwiches. Yum!

Things Are A-Changing — Yay!

As we all know, thanks mostly to the economic downturn here in America (or, should we say, in the Western world?), life as we know it is changing — and I hope it’s for good. It’s time we reevaluate our priorities if we haven’t already. Here are some ways that people are making changes.

Hey, look! We’re already making some changes that they listed. Sweet! Oh, and it should be known that while the area that we live was affected in a different way by the recession — we’ve survived because we have insanely low cost-of-living to begin with and our job force was already running at its lowest ability (in most areas; schools are finally getting pounded). So, I think that most of our residents were already used to the “tough stuff.” But, we weren’t completely safe — I mean, our house WAS a foreclosure.

Anyhoo, here are the changes that we’ve been making (as compared to the 21 listed at the link):
1- Monthly Debt: We’re living without this, but to an extent. We were already watching our credit debt since we both have it. We’re both working HARD at cutting down on our debt, so clearly we’re still making monthly payments, but not adding a penny to it.
3- Simpler Gadgets Rather Than Bells ‘n Whistles: This is one we’ve considered. We have 3 computers (2 laptops and a VERY important desktop) between the 2 of us — sounds off, right? Well, we do host the theater’s web site and Dave stores lots of movie and news stuff on his, so what we’re talking about doing is selling my hardly-used older laptop and purchasing a simple netbook — especially since we’re newly in LOVE with GoogleDocs. He’s already using it for his writing! I’m so proud. πŸ™‚
4- Clutter-kicking: Since we have such a small place (and had moved two pretty sizable apartments into it just about a year ago), we’ve been working at getting rid of lots of STUFF. Dave’s much better at this. I need to work on thinning out my wardrobe; he works VERY hard at selling off comics and other randomly-found items. We also have an annual garage sale — fun!
(5 – Quitting Cable: MAAAAAN have we considered this!!!)
6- Cell Phone Over Land Line: We’re both cell-only, which has followed us from the apartment days.
8- Home Cookin’: When Dave and I were first friends, I used to grab his favorite dinner at McDonald’s on my way to the theater — knowing that he got out of work really late and would head straight to rehearsal rather than eat. Sweet at the time, perhaps, but since then (and much more recently), and thanks to the fact that we’re going organic, we eat at home a lot more. We’re also a lot more verbal about when we are going out to eat.
11- Coffee Out, Tea In: A norm in the McCoy-Dellecese household is tea — and usually quite inexpensive tea (can we say Christmas Tree Shop?). I drink this at work and home; Dave grabs his coffee (when he drinks it) at work. Plus, we don’t have a single Starbucks. Yes, I said that. (Dunkin’ Donuts, however, are rampant. A lot easier to avoid those.)
12- Guilt-Free: I shed my guilt complex for buying “the best” within the last day. I set my standards when shopping accordingly — “Will buy sandals if under $10” — and, today, went to Goodwill for the first time to actually SHOP. I’ve gone for theater stuff (and, once, inadvertently found our awesome TV stand) and was able to do so with a clear mind, so why not try it for MYSELF? By the way, two skirts and a glass cake stand for the wedding. Ka-ching! I’m braggin’, you know it. I will only allow myself cheaper clothing, at least until the wedding is paid for, my credit debt is gone, and I’ve got better savings. Yep. I can do it pretty easily, actually. πŸ™‚
17- Run It Into the Ground: Dave’s doing well with this one; I, however, purchased a brand new Sportage last year. It’s served us well, though, and I’m not planning on getting a new car ’til…eh, the kids are driving this one, maybe? Anyhoo, Dave has a policy on his car where he can trade this one in for a new one or keep paying on it (like lease-to-own) — and he’s doing the latter. He’s proud that his car has held up relatively well, and there’s little to no reason to get a new one. I’d say this is definitely “new wave” way of thinking.
18- Regulating Ourselves: We’re lucky. When we moved in, we already had a programmable thermostat. And, that heinous tree out front has helped us keep the cool in during the summertime (although we do occasionally run an air conditioner in the bedroom). You’ll find me covered in blankets (and sweats) in the winter and scantily-clad in the summer (Dave’s not a fan of wearing shorts, but he’s getting better). We try.
20- Low-Key Dating: What?! Who has time to date anymore?? No, actually, we’ve come to enjoy our “home time” together (especially on work nights) more than we ever thought we would. So, heck, the rare date we do budget for is even more enjoyable — and we usually use gift certificates for those, so it’s pretty much free.
21- More Debt: This seems like a repeat of #1 to me, but who am I to complain? Like I said, we’re workin’ on it!!

So, this makes me wonder how others are faring on these stats. Rolling your own cigs? Driving your ’98 jalopy into the ground? Oh, and here are the 10 things that people AREN’T giving up during this recession (although the TV findings seem contradictory to this study).

Lookin’ Rosey

It’s been a bit of a busy week thus far, so I’m excited to write about what we got accomplished last weekend. While we got started on some larger projects outside, such as building the frame (and filling it) for my garden, major weeding, and laying some loose stone for a one-two punch under our front porch (working to both kill weeds and make it look purdy), I actually finished ONE project. But, this one’s been coming.

For my birthday, my co-worker, Debbie, got me one of the most thoughtful gifts — a rose plant. I cheerily brought it home aaaaaand proceeded to have yet another busy weekend. Followed by a busy week. While Dave and I rushed to and fro, the little plant watched and thrived in its bag — to the point where I noticed new shoots coming off of its woody branches, with pretty leaves and everything! So, I knew this thing was ready to hit some dirt.

When we moved in, there was an empty patch of dirt near an off-shoot structure of the garden which used to house a swing. This spring, it came back as a weedy, grassy patch — which would’ve been fine (except for the weeds), but it’s in a prime morning-sun spot for growing something beautiful! We don’t have many of those around our shady house, so we’re trying to use what we’ve got. Aaaand this is what we had:

Woo. Hoo. So, after some digging, we had…

DIRT! I mixed some organic soil in, as well. And all the while, the quiet rosebush sat aside, patiently watching; polite, but still hoping I knew what the heck I was doing.

Okay, enough personification. I dug down as far as it told me to, performed a water soaking ritual and, ultimately, got the thing planted and *hopefully* happy. (Apparently I lied, personification abounds. Ohhhh, just wait ’til we plant our veggies and herbs!)

Well, what do you think? Happy guy?

I’ll give you an update whether he took to his new home or not. πŸ™‚ This weekend looks to be another busy one, with Pre Cana all day Saturday — but if the weather looks good enough, Sunday is the big garden day!

Cave Cow Burgers

Lots of fun (well, in terms of this blog “fun”) stuff happened today, but I’ll save some of it for other posts. One of the exciting things that Dave and I have been waiting for is our first taste of grass-fed beef — and, today, we had it! As the Lord would say — “It was good!”

I bought 3 vacuum-packed, frozen 1-lb. packages of ground beef at this week’s Herkimer Farmer’s Market. After talking with the owners of the booth (and farm, presumably), I found out that the beef that they raise is called Limousin (pronounced like the vehicle you took to the prom…or your wedding) rather than Angus. She explained that the difference between them is in their digestive system; they look completely different, so the way their flesh and fat develop look completely different, too. She then handed me a sheet filled with information on the breed and I grabbed my purchases and left.

Dave asked to read the information later, so we did so together. I ended up finding out that this type of beef is a lot leaner, but that many agricultural colleges have performed taste tests (among other types of tests, like cholesterol — it’s equal to that of eating chicken) and that this breed scored high every time. I’m pretty pleased with the not-cheap purchase, overall. Most of all, knowing that the burger I was eating was raised (and slaughtered, but I try not to think about that part) in Little Falls — the shortest distance my meat has ever traveled!

Another informational tidbit about the Limousin is that they have been around for over 20,000 years — in fact, they’re the cows that you’ll find painted in the caves in Lascaux. So, I’m lovingly referring to them as cave cows. I just think that’s so cool!

I considered just having normal burgers to test the taste, but I was in a chef-y mood. Here’s what I did, instead:

(from, Chris’ Bay Area Burger, which I prefer to call…)

Italian Burgers


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 4 hamburger buns, split


  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. Mix together the ground beef, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Divide into four balls, and flatten into patties.
  2. Cook the patties for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. The internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Remove from grill and place onto hamburger buns. Top with desired toppings and condiments.

But, since the burgers had such an Italian spin to them, I roasted some sliced grape tomatoes for Dave (in some olive oil and basil) and the following aioli:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (and its zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil


Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife. Whisk together yolk, lemon juice, and mustard in a bowl. Combine oils and add, a few drops at a time, to yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all oil is incorporated and mixture is emulsified. (If mixture separates, stop adding oil and continue whisking until mixture comes together, then resume adding oil.)

Whisk in garlic paste and season with salt and pepper. If aioli is too thick, whisk in 1 or 2 drops of water. Chill, covered, until ready to use.

So, our first taste of local, grass-fed, no-hormone beef was a huge success! Tomorrow, we’ll be setting up my victory garden (it’ll be victorious if we actually get it growing) — but, next weekend, hopefully I’ll be able to plant. With my fiance in cahoots with the weather people at his station, I’ve been told I need to be patient; we’ve had a pretty chilly spring as far as our usual season goes. (However, in my next post, I’ll tell you about something I WAS brave enough to plant!)

(Picture from

“Pret” Another Good Experience

Last Wednesday, I accompanied a small group of seniors (12th graders; not elderly) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While I was mesmerized by the King Tut exhibit and inspired and awed by the rooms filled with Picasso, I’ll instead write about something else — our eating experience.

While at the Met, my tiny group and I ate in the cafeteria. While they offered plenty of healthy foods, I was disgusted by something else — the rudeness. I was expecting extremely over-priced items (to the tune of around .78 per pound of cold sides and salad; my total came to over $13), so that wasn’t too bad. However, I couldn’t believe how utterly despicable people were. I’ve been to NYC numerous times and the streets are what I call “adjustable” — they’re not rude, you just have to adjust your thinking and think more like they do. But, this was nuts.

I hate to say it, but most of the other “tourists” (the ones being literally pushy and giving you the evil eye) were French. So, let’s just say that our lunch was crowded and tense. And, did I mention expensive? Well, again, THAT was to be expected, at least.

The main teacher who set up the trip had planned in advance for us to visit Pret A Manger for our pre-bus dinner. I had visited one of these establishments when on an NYC trip with Dave, but I didn’t think much about it at the time. This time, I paid a lot more attention. This time, after wishing so many times that “fast food” restaurants (or any restaurants, really) offered more all-natural food alternatives, I came into this eating experience with eyes much more open.

For those of you who don’t know, Pret A Manger is French for “ready to eat”, which sounds a little misleading. A lot of fast food commercials lately talk about how they make your food once it’s ordered — which sounds great, right? Sure, but that stuff’s still manufactured meat and never-go-bad fries.

This is how the experience went:
– We arrived at the Pret next to Bryant Park. Luckily, it wasn’t insanely busy, so it accommodated our 14ish people. I noticed several perma-smiling employees waiting to let us pay (or to take an order), but who didn’t rush us to pick out our food.
– I turned to a wall of food and beverages. They present you with an open cooler of sandwiches and salads, all made with close-as-possible vegetables (some grown on-premises) and daily-made fresh bread. Most of the beverages are as all-natural as possible, from lemonades to juices, smoothies to flavored waters (although there is the occasional Coke). I picked the Pret Pure Ginger Beer (which we had to remind the students several times was NA). It was the strongest ginger beverage I’ve ever had, to the point of being wicked spicy — I had a carbonated water the next day and I still could only taste ginger. I liked it.
– Next, to figure out what to eat. Some of the items I considered were: roast beef baguette, cheddar and chutney sandwich, chicken/apple/cranberry sandwich, corn chowder, and sweet butternut squash soup (among others). I settled on a balsamic chicken and avocado sandwich and grabbed some all-natural chips. Later, I ruined a lot of the health factor with a chocolate chunk cookie, but knowing that it was fresh-made that day (and still warm!) helped me reason with myself about eating it.
– Sitting down, I noticed many slick posters that informed me about what I was eating. This is some of the info I learned that day, from

It’s important our sandwiches and salads taste better than everybody else’s. To achieve this, we build a beautiful sandwich kitchen in every Pret. “Every night we receive good, natural ingredients and our chefs get cracking early in the morning. …We don’t like big food factory/depot/processing places. We make our stuff fresh so we can sell it fresh (it’s old fashioned but works well). We donate our sandwiches to charity instead of keeping them over to sell the next day. Because we make our food by hand in each store throughout the day, you won’t find “shelf life” dates and “display until” messages on our salads and sandwiches. We simply don’t need to sell old food.

Next to the fact that they donate their leftovers (when they have them) to charities at the end of the day rather than re-sell the next day, I’m most impressed by the fact that they will not franchise. They’re a privately-owned company and they’re growing slowly — over 3/4 in UK (where Pret started), only a handful in the states. While I wish it would travel upstate, knowing their slow-moving approach, I’m okay not having one here quite yet. Our area isn’t the most 21st century (or, at all?) — we don’t have a true Starbucks. I’m praying for a Whole Foods — the best I can get is Hannaford’s. But, I’m looking forward to having a place in the city we visit the most to actually eat the way we’re trying to “upstate.” So, all in all, I give Pret a huge red star (actually, the best customer service workers get a Tiffany silver star for good feedback, ha!) for staying true to their ideals and helping us do the same.

Organic Shopping Budgets Itself

Hi, again! I dropped another chunk o’ change on some healthy goodies at Aldi’s and Hannaford’s tonight — and don’t feel TOO badly about it. There are a couple of reasons to feel guilt-less (or less guilty, at least) about my expensive purchases. (And, yeah, I’m an Irish Catholic — one of the guilt-built-in breeds; the occasional twinge of “is my mom watching me and did she just see how much that organic kumquat I just picked up was?” does hit me in the grocery store.)

  1. When I know how much I spent on something, I take a lot more care in preparing it. My cooking ability has improved greatly just out of fear of ruining a not-too-cheap ingredient. Organics make you a better cook.
  2. I think more about snacking. I finally bought some organic snacks that I’ll feel much better noshing on after school; for awhile now, I’ve gotten home and either starved when my salty cravings hit or went after the worst thing in the cabinets. Now, I don’t have ANYTHING really bad in the cabinets and, again, knowing how much I spent on the good stuff, I’m not likely to eat the whole bag in one sitting. Organics make you watch your diet.

    (This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that someone mentioned Doritos today and my mind immediately went to, “What the hell is IN those?!” — when I used to think, “Mmm. Dip ’em in PB or cream cheese, you’re golden.” I can’t believe it.)

  3. Dave and I have been a lot more conscious and verbal about what we eat. He’d prefer to be able to grocery shop with me every time it’s called for, but his hours just don’t work out in his favor on this front. So, today I showed him absolutely everything I got — and, no, he wasn’t bored by it. Organics make you aware and, dare I say, bring you closer together with your significant other.

  4. When shopping for organic and natural foods (not the same thing), you’re much more in-touch with the shopping experience. I don’t buy half of what I’d like to, and I don’t shop at Walmart anymore. Shopping at Hannaford’s, I KNOW I have to watch myself because I could spend a whole paycheck on groceries. Walmart is, admittedly, cheaper but stocked with SO MUCH CRAP that I’d end up leaving the store with more crap than cupboard space — oh-so healthy, oh-so what they want you to do. So, I have to shop fully aware and almost in a trance — which is also helpful when you see people you’d rather not talk to while you’re grocery shopping. πŸ˜‰ Just kidding! Regardless, I think to myself, “Will I have time this week to make homemade granola? Should I buy the ingredients now, or put it off?” My priorities this week concerned healthy snack foods and a few less expensive, quick lunch options (organic cup o’ soups). So, that said, organics budget themselves and make you prioritize.

Yeah, all the italicized ideas are vast generalizations, but sometimes it’s fun to make them. Overall, the cost being spent so far hasn’t put us in the poor house, the act of purchasing has been therapeutic and conversational (“When we have kids, they’ll drink these” conversations are always uplifting), and we’ve taken to enjoying cooking AND eating a lot more. I like the new consciousness. I think I’ll keep it.

Cooperstown Farmers’ Market – Our First F.M. Adventure of the Year

Although the weather forecast seemed doomed, Dave bouncily suggested that we head to our first farmers’ market of the year – in Cooperstown. With all that enthusiasm, how could I possibly say, “What, no cozy, “stay in and clean” day?” Plus, I already knew that it’s one of the area’s only indoor markets — it’s open every other Saturday throughout the winter, with normal hours the rest of the year. After hearing some great things about it, and with such an eager partner in tow, we left beneath a steady stream of chilly rain.

Strangely enough, by the time we reached the baseball rhetoric-riddled Main Street, the sun had taken over and our jackets were unnecessary. It made the short walk toward the barn-like structure used for the market incredibly quaint, especially with other locals and travelers meandering their way with grocery store reusable bags and homemade baskets in tow. The vendors were overflowing to outside its doors, which we saw as a good sign.

Compared to the, admittedly, only other farmers’ market I can recall attending, it was kind of sparse. I’m sure the local ones I’ll start attending next week will be teeny-weeny, so I’m not necessarily complaining about it. There were plenty of vendors, several with the same goods (which we LOVE — it makes it easy to compare prices), mostly incredibly friendly and willing to talk. However, several of the goods were pretty irrelevant to us — tie-dyed shorts, anyone? And there were only a couple vegetable vendors, each with few items we could actually choose from.

Having worked on a dairy farm and lived in a quasi-rural area my whole life, I’m not ignorant about the reasons I wasn’t overwhelmed by lush and plentiful goodies at the CFM. I know. We’re still pretty much off-season. And, I knew that when Dave asked me to go, wide-eyed. Mostly, I wanted to see what the place was about, what the farmers and artisans and cheese-makers were like, and whether it truly is worth it to schlep 45 minutes away for locally-grown goods. There arises a paradox: If you’re going to release your fossil fuel into the atmosphere with a 1 1/2 hour round-trip to get organic, locally-grown goods which are good for you and the environment, is it really equaled-out?

Mind you, it was a wonderful drive (other than for the occasional rain shower) and we did get our first-ever free-range multi-colored XL eggs, Amish cheddar cheese (INCREDIBLE!), very well-priced European-style yogurt and some homemade, environmentally-friendly soaps (all well-thought-out and exciting purchases) as well as a side-trip to visit the ducks at the Fly Creek Cider Mill.

And, as far as the quandary is concerned, I say we still hit the ball out of the park (I do spend too much time at Cooperstown! We’d live there if we could! – not for the baseball). While we used up some gas, we got a great overview of what to expect when the yields REALLY start coming in. I foresee perhaps visiting the CFM once a month while supplementing the occasional CSA and local farmers’ markets more regularly, but it’s definitely not only a great resource for healthy, sustainable goodies, but an always-needed excuse to get away for part of a day.

***I realized after I wrote this that I’d taken a bit of a novelistic approach. Perhaps a slightly-more-sophisticated version of Donna Thompson *cringe*? (If you’re local, you know what that means.) Just a thought.***

Appreciate the Now

After reading this article, it dawned on me that our current surroundings may not just be a starter home — it may be our after-starter home. Certainly not our ending home, but a bigger player in our future as a couple and family and careers than expected. I’ve gotta start coming to terms with that.

We found this house a little over a year ago, thanks to my mother. She was on the look-out for a cheap starter home for us (it seems lots of people were — my sister and Dave’s brother both bought their first homes around the same time). In luck, she found a foreclosed property in our suburban area for a great low price. Yeah, no. Ridiculously low. Dave and I walked through, knowing that it might have some unforeseen issues (the realtors couldn’t inform us due to its foreclosure status, which we were fine with), but the place seemed just right for our needs. I think once Dave saw the brightly-lit sun room in the front, he silently fell for it — I think the age of it (close to that of my first home, where I lived for 18+ years) did me in.

Shortly after moving in, we discovered that the house hadn’t been winterized in sufficient time, so the pipes had burst. A funny story involving our kitchen’s leaking ceiling fan and my niece calmly proclaiming that, “The light’s got water coming out of it” will always be engraved in our memories of our first day in the place.

With great thanks and appreciation for my step-father, before too long we had all new pipes, toilet, and energy-efficient water heater and furnace. Then, he and Dave worked together to put in a pedestal sink, vanity, overhead light, light/heater/fan, front door locks, etc etc etc. Dave’s dad supplied us with well-priced windows, which we’re still working on getting put in — a vast majority are finished. We’ve turned our eyes to getting the lawn green (in a green fashion — like by using his old-school push mower, as mentioned in this post) and will be planting a modern “victory garden” when the weather stays warm for a bit.

Oh, we’ve done more — much more. Lots of painting and cosmetic stuff, but nothing too costly (yet). We put in some cool vintage-looking (but modern material) black-and-white-check flooring in the kitchen, painted nearly every room, and am in the midst of finishing the cellar-way. Oh, and as a wedding present, my stepdad will be helping us put in a back deck. But, we’ve talked over other plans and what we’d like for the rest of the house while we own it. This is where it gets a little complicated.

See, the house itself is pretty small. I’m not sure of its exact square footage, but I’m pretty sure it’s misleading when I say we’ve got 3 bedrooms. In actuality, we have one bedroom (slightly cramped), one guest room (it’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s covered in my clothing — it contains a closet and a large dresser, but I still don’t have much room for clothes), and a den/office which houses 3 not-big desks (Dave uses this closet for some of his clothes; he also has 2 dressers in our room, plus the tiny closet). Add a small bathroom and you’ve got our upstairs.

Downstairs is a little roomier. Our living room feels pretty expansive, but once you get 4 people in it you realize how uncomfortable it really is — it’s a hard room to furnish correctly! But, YAY, at least it’s got a sufficient closet; still tiny, but works for seasonal items. The front door and “sun room” (tiny!) open from the living room, as do the kitchen and dining room (each have a door; this is the 1920s, after all). The kitchen is a sufficient size, but there’s not enough storage and some of the cabinets were downright abused by the prior owners. Mom always says it’s the brightest kitchen she’s ever seen in her life, so once we add a back door onto the deck, it may just be my favorite room. The dining room isn’t very big, and won’t be once we get my piano in there, but it fits its purpose.

The basement is a “future project.” It’s pretty expansive, but with lots of opportunities for head-bumping. We’ve discussed how to do over the basement and have decided not to completely finish it, but to waterproof it and designate storage areas — and even a comfy TV area and bar. Oh, and there’s already an area for a possible 1/2 bath, so it only makes sense to put one in. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to get some kitchen pantry/storage built in!

Outside, however, is another situation. We have a tree in front of our house which has pushed up the sidewalk and doesn’t allow much to grow around our foundation area. It’s also buckled our already-curvy driveway — so, those projects would pretty much be a necessity if we’re going to stay.

So, that’s what we’re dealing with. I already know that I simply need (need vs. want) to downsize lots of my stuff, particularly clothes. Perhaps we both do. Who knows? I know that people only use 10% of their clothing, which is a discouraging figure, so to garage sale it or give it away would only make sense. But, this is just to get it to be a comfortable living situation for a young-ish engaged couple now — what about the next step?

I’ve thought a lot about what will happen when kids come along — I think we both have. It’s pretty obvious that, for now, we’d stay here; but how long? The article makes me re-think it. When we moved in, I mentioned that things’ll be very different when we move out, to which we both agreed; I figured we’d have a toddler running around, Dave thought we’d have teenagers helping us. Very different ideas!!! I can’t possibly imagine raising 2 or 3 kids in this house — but, I’m sure it was done, back in the day. I know of a family with 3 grown children who did just fine in a house as small as ours, if not smaller…but, they were uber-close and uber-religious (we weren’t raised to be “close” in the literal sense, and our religion was always pretty mute).

But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s not that things are desperate now, just tighter, and I can’t imagine how tight they’ll be with young ones around. However, it may not be plausible to just move, and I’m considering whether we should put more money into the place than we were originally intending to (that tree was definitely a “eh, leave it” thing before).

So, what will help make the house more user-friendly in the long run? I’ve got a few ideas. πŸ™‚
– Well, obviously, get the tree/sidewalk/driveway taken care of. *shivers* These are “little at a time” projects, but, in this case, a priority.
– Finish the basement. Dave recalls his childhood home as having a sort of rec room basement where he and his brother could crash and play to their heart’s content. Well, why can’t our kids have that? We already have an extra TV and entertainment center, and eventually when we get a new living room set, we could easily put our “old one” down there. Plus, waterproofing will help the organization we do create even safer. (And an extra bathroom is helpful in ANY house!)
– Once we have our back door, life will be a lot easier. Currently, our driveway is on one side of the house and both the front and side doors are on the complete opposite side. With the plan of adding this entrance, we can bring groceries directly from the car and into the kitchen — what a luxury!
– If we’re living here long-term, the floors will have to be re-done. While we can pretty easily live with the cheap living room/stairway/office carpet with just the two of us, no amount of steam cleaning will make it sufficient for when we’ve got babies crawling. I’d like to see what wood we’re working with and whether it’d be cheaper to have it repaired/refinished or to get a nice carpet throughout.
– DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER, DE-CLUTTER!!! We’re currently using pretty much all of our space, which I think is a little bit much (I’m guilty as much as Dave is!!!). This is something that we could pretty easily accomplish without much, or any, money. πŸ˜€
– Re-analyze our needs. Do we need all the books we’ve got? Dave does a great job with purging his collections through eBay and, but our bookshelves are full. Do we NEED more bookshelves, or less books? (No right or wrong answer.) Do we NEED 3 desks, or more office storage? Do we NEED the huge extra bed in the guest room? (That’s probably one that we won’t work on until *dun dun duuuunnnn* eventual pitter-patter.) Organization isn’t easy in this house, and once you let it slide for a few days, you’re buried — with Dave being pretty particular about his space and us both being brought to tears by the shows about hoarders, it’s pretty obvious what we’ll need to do.
– Eventually, a small kitchen reno — and, hopefully, some new appliances. The cabinets under the sink were very poor quality and currently stink when you open them — seems they had a moisture issue and the bottom of them fell through. I’ve still got some items down there for my cleaning, etc, but it’s pretty ridiculous. Can’t wait to have them GONE and simply something cleaner (and that match the rest of the kitchen — white!) and better-quality. While we’re at it, we may get some granite-esque tops for them, and the old, original cabinets.
– This summer, I’m planning on re-doing the main bathroom. It’s small, but I like it. The tub isn’t white, but it’s livable. The mosaic tiling on the walls I find disgusting and the floor and trim need an update. The paint isn’t staying on correctly, so that’ll take some sanding, and I’d like to fix up the cabinet to be a nice, open concept. Since we have some new items in there already, it shouldn’t be TOO costly — but let’s see if summer school + bathroom reno + wedding planning = happy Meg. πŸ˜‰
– A cohesive, non-green color scheme outside. (And I don’t mean non-eco friendly, hee hee.) The shutters are pretty yucky and, after replacing the tree, will be quite viewable, so I’d like to paint them a high-gloss black, along with thresholds and doors (possibly a tan thrown in), but we’ll see when the time arises.

So, those are some ideas for our “home sweet home” if it’s going to remain such for 5+ years. If another great deal (higher-priced but within our budget) comes along before that, ’tis fine, but for now my philosophy of “get out and spend relatively little before doing so” may have to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Not (Just) a Couple of Hippies

Just so that you don’t think we’re nothing but Buddhist hippies in this household (oh, we’re so much more — and there’s not an ounce of patchouli in the place), I thought I’d let you know what else I’m about. Come along. (BTW, no offense is meant by “Buddhist hippies.” I love both groups of people!…hmm, if I generalize toward the positive, is it still bad generalizing?)

My last post let you know about Dave’s blog, which is about finding his Buddhist “side”, as it were. I’m super excited that he’s working to implement what he’s been learning into his — and, in a way, OUR — everyday life. It helps him deal with his high-stress job and appreciate life more, which definitely spills into my life. While we were both raised Catholic (and are getting married in the Catholic church), we are pretty non-religious. So, it’s not as if we’re converting to Buddhism. One great post that he made concerned the fact that Buddhism is actually a way of living that can coincide with (and should work quite well with) other religions — and even work in the lives of the non-religious! When I mention Buddhism, it often elicits a raised eyebrow, but we’re very much ourselves and are quite a down-to-earth (I hope!) and “normal” couple. To look at us, we’re not hippies.

While I’ve had hippie tendencies throughout my life (I love the Beatles and many of the hippie ideals), it doesn’t define Dave or myself. We have many varying interests. For example, we met at our local community theater, became friends, and the rest is history (in short). Hence, the name of the blog! Currently, he’s the president and I’m the secretary of the theater, so it’s a pretty important part of our lives. Oh, and when we have time, we like to make stops at antique shops. I think that, in a way, this goes hand-in-hand with our timelessness. We’re a pretty classic couple, so when we choose lifestyle paths, it’s based on our true feelings and connections, not fads (‘cuz that would get even more expensive!). I’m lucky that Dave has been not only supportive but just as enthusiastic about our eating and other lifestyle changes as I have. Little did we know that with a couple of minor choices we first bought our house a year ago, we were already on our way to a greener lifestyle. Dave was all about energy efficiency (more for cost than Earth-saving reasons) and bought nothing but energy-efficient light bulbs. Also, it being our first house, we needed a lawnmower — so I bought him an update of the old school push mower (pay no attention to the reviews; we give it 4/5 stars). He can mow as early as he wants on weekends without waking a single neighbor, and the “whirring” noise is lovely to listen to. It’s also a great workout, and he really enjoys using it.

So, that’s a little bit about us. We’re a pretty passionate, low-key couple. To learn more about how our wedding plans are going, check out our wedding blog.