Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Holiday Spiritus

Being a Christmas Eve baby makes holiday spirit almost like a genetic trait for me. I am usually the person making holiday cards in October, and gathering cookie recipes and listening to Christmas carols by mid-November. This year has, sadly, been a bit different. Thanks in part to Eric's hectic business travels and my crazy school life, the holiday spirits have been running a bit, well, low. I didn't pull out my "Christmas with the Rat Pack" CD until a week ago! For shame! We did however, get in a bit of fun, including an Ugly Christmas Sweater party that helped us practice for our annual rowdy game of Catch Phrase at Jessica's. Watch out guys, because Eric is comin' for ya.

I have also found time to make a few batches of cards and some sweets, even if I am not eating any of them myself until Christmas. They are both very easy and quick projects that anyone can do, including kidlets. I also went through a bunch of my cookbooks hunting for new cookie recipes. My aunt basically told me that I have to make the Mascarpone cookies I made last year, but man were they a pain in the ass! Gorgeous and delicious, yes, but soo time consuming! I may have to do them again anyway, but I'm thinking these recipes look very promising:
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies, reminiscent of the ones Lyndsay makes. She still won't give me her recipe, so this new one will have to do! Cold Tea Gingerbread with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting which basically sounds like heaven to me, and Holey Moley Dark Mexican Chocolate Dulce de Leche Brownies. In the words of the ridiculous and infamous Zoe, "I die."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Crafty and not so crafty giveaways!

I love giveaways, because free is for me. I enter contests constantly, and never win anything. Well, that is not entirely true, because I accidentally entered and won a book contest a few months ago. I got a copy of a Christian book called Daily Worships in the Name of Christ Our Lord and Savior To Keep You From Burning in Hell. If you know me, you can probably figure out what I did with it. Some of the best giveaways are on crafty blogs and mommy blogs, because I guess, mom's and crafty people like and need free things. I've heard that babies are expensive with all of those diapers and rash creams and such.

Here are some fun ones for you to waste a day off work entering:
Tropical Tree Frog Costume GIVEAWAY!!!!
Free books!
Visit Mommy Bits for free baby stuff and Christmas gifts perhaps?
Free boots at An Island Life
And you can get the same ones here!

After you have filled out all of these entries, get off your lazy behind and GO VOTE!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hangin' mit zee Germans

So fine, I am a crappy blogger... It's just that occasionally, this thing that I have called a life actually gets hectic and requires my full attention. It's the new job really, which is thrilling since I was so terribly afraid I'd have to return to the old one in September! Honestly, almost any job would have been an improvement over Nameless Academy of Insanity, but the new one is even better than that! No more unprofessional staff, fraudulent business people, or bus drivers who sit you down in meetings to demand that silent reading be stricken from their children's language arts class. I love my new job!

That said, I am incredibly busy with it, but there has still been a wee bit of time for fun times. Eric and I hosted our first tailgate a few weeks ago, when U of M took on Michigan State. We did it right. Eric was up at the golf course setting up at 9 AM, with our backyard grill, an immense pot of chili, and a stuffed car. There was so much food it was a little ridiculous. At least 30 people showed up, and we still had leftovers. The chili was a bit hit by the way, so you should check out the recipe for your next football party! And p.s., that game we simply call "bean bags" back home? Yeah well, they call it "cornhole" in Michigan. Cornhole. For real. Didn't anyone out here watch Beavis and Butthead?

And of course, since I am crazy about dressing up for Halloween, here is another gratuitous costume shot. Eric's lederhosen were actually our wedding gift from his friend Gunther. They arrived months ago, after a lot of emailing, hinting, and confusion. We thought we were getting a case of wine, then the pants showed up on our doorstep. Somehow, they fit Eric like a glove. I suspect late night drinking and secret measuring may have occurred. I knew right away they'd have to make a public appearance, and our Halloween costumes were born: Dieter und Katja Julia Stefi von Dukenstein. His name was chosen because he bought me a stein with "Dieter" painted on it as a joke one year, and he could use it to accessorize. My name comes from the fact that 90% of the German girls we know are named Katja, Julia, or Stefi. Eric bought me the dyrndl when he was on a business trip last month, so we were 100& authentic. This is the first costume I have ever worn that didn't require any crafting at all, but I'm ok with it since it was not pre-fab and in a plastic sleeve! Eric's hat came from Target and his scarf is mine, but the rest is all bought in Germany, even the mini stein he has on his belt. We planned on using them for shots of Jager, but then we remembered I don't do shots of Jager. We still partied hard enough to make our namesakes proud, arriving home at 3 AM with Eric's favorite thing besides bacon, free Taco Bell. Mmm...

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Just a quickie update to note that our photos from the professional photographer are finally here! I was praying they'd come in so that I could have our album finished before the new school year began, but alas. You can check my favorites out here if you are so inclined. I'm very happy with them, but wondering what happened to some of the photos I know were taken. What about the shots on my Grandmother's steps and pinning on her corsage? And all of the photos of our friends on the balcony lighting sparklers? Hmm... I may have to make a phone call. In the meantime I will just laugh at these:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Meet the Mrs.

Yep. It's official. I am now a Mrs. Of course that had noting to do with the ring exchange, vow renewal, or the big party, but the fact that my dear friend Jessica (far right) was finally there to witness it. You see, she swore my marriage was a fraud until she could see it with her own eyes. Happy now, Jess?

All jokes aside, I can't actually believe it! All of the work and planning that went into the party was so worth it! Everyone had a fantastic time, and we got so many compliments on the little things. Of course, those are the things I worked hardest on, so I was thrilled that they were actually appreciated by our guests. Here are some of our favorite things that made the evening really special for everyone:

Frozen Del's Lemonade. We served virgin and alcoholic versions as our signature drinks with a little slice of lemon. They were a huge hit! Of course these are a R.I. tradition, but no one serves it at a wedding because we drink it all of the time at home. Being far away made me crave it, though! Plus they fit the color scheme, and matched the cake flavor, 'cause we're good like that.

Mini African Violets. The favors were another favorite! Did you know violets are Rhode Island's state flower? I had actually forgotten that trivia bit until I was hunting unsuccessfully for a supplier online. It made them even more fitting for our party, and they played double duty as centerpieces. I just hope some of them survived!

The Sweets. Monica at Ferns and Flowers is the best. I handed her a photo of a monstrosity of a cake from a magazine, and she made me a smaller, more homemade version for a fantastic price. It was beautiful and everyone devoured it. So often wedding cake looks lovely, but is dry and tasteless, but not hers! It was amazing, and I recommend F&F highly! The cookies my mother and I made were also worth all of the extra time. They pretty much disappeared!

The music. I sent emails to most of the people on our guest list asking for their Top 5 Must Have Wedding Songs. As was to be expected, I got tons of responses asking for every lame line dance known to man. Those were rapidly deleted. Sorry people! What we did get was a great mix of some fun ideas, and we sent them all on to my friend Peter, who offered to be our DJ for a steal. We also chose a huge mix of songs for the cocktail/dinner hour that reflected a summery feel, everything from Jack Johnson to Seals and Croft to Stevie Wonder. We were announced to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" which seemed apropos considering we've been married a year and a half. For anyone looking for wedding songs that are not disgustingly cliche, feel free to borrow ours:

Matron of Honor Processional : "Here Comes the Sun" Instrumental by Fred Benedetti and Peter Pupping
Bride's Processional: "And I Love Her" The Beatles
Recessional: "You're My Best Friend" Queen
First Dance: "The Way I Am" Ingrid Michaelson
Cake Cutting: "Icecream" Sarah McLachlan

Let it be known that I did cave after several drinks and allow the Cha Cha Slide to be stricken from the No Play List. However, it was a tremendous disaster, as only three or four people knew it. The rest of us staggered around the dance floor like idiots while complaining loudly that the dance was moronic and too confusing. Actually, that may have just been me.

All in all, I'm sad it's over! I can't wait to get the photos back, all of which I will be linking here. Right now there are only a few teaser photos, stolen mostly from Jessica and Libby! Afterwards, E and I spent an amazing week at a little beach house at Sand Hill Cove, complete with visits from friends and family and perfect beach weather, got to Fenway to watch the Sox kick some butt, and basically relaxed. It was the best vacation ever. I just don't know what I'll do with all of my free time now! Anyone want help planning a wedding?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Crunch Time!

Or How to Not Have a Breakdown When Your Wedding Day is Rapidly Approaching

Wow, I can't even believe that we have almost two weeks left until the big day! Luckily for me, yesterday was the last day of school, so I have lots of free time on my hands. It's a good thing, too, since I still have quite a few things to get done! Most of it will need to wait until the week before when I arrive in RI (can't wait!) since I can't exactly ship ten handmade cupcake stands. Being busy should keep me from getting too stressed out. Plus, we're already married, so it's not like we can get cold feet!

Instead of worrying about the people who have yet to RSVP, the random family dramas, or the possibility of thunderstorms, I've been:

Whipping up test cookies. My mother and I are making four kinds of cookies to serve as dessert along with the cake, so I've been trying out new recipes. In addition to a family favorite, we'll be making:
White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Making the boutonnières. Actually, these were very simple, and didn't take me longer than an hour once I settled on a design. I've posted a tutorial here if you want to try your own! Plus, most of the materials were in my stash. The only new things I had to buy were the florals, and they only cost me a few dollars. I love cute and cheap!

Finishing the dress!
Actually the first dress has been finished for a while now. And no, I'm not going to show it to you. I did however have to wait for the second dress to come in, which finally happened this past week. Second dress, you say? Since my gown is long and doesn't bustle, I'm terrified that someone is going to step on my train and tear it off. The dress means a little too much to me for me to allow its destruction! This is where the second dress, or the "dancing all night/going away" dress comes in. I bought something short, but equally amazing (yes Ralphy, it's amazing!) for the evening. And no I'm not going to show it to you.

Making playlists, photo lists, lists of lists. I'm a list maker. Lists make me happy. You won't be surprised to know that I have sent a list of songs to the DJ, a list of must have photos to the photographer, made my cookie shopping list, crafts-still-to-do list, stuff-still-to-buy list, stuff-to-pack list, and so on. I don't want to forget anything!

I think the best thing to do to avoid pre-wedding breakdowns is to be organized and to be ready for curveballs. Considering our luck, I wouldn't be at all surprised if a drunk cousin falls into the cake, or if the gazebo gets hit by lightening. I'll just have to breathe and tell myself it will make for some awesome photos. And breathe some more. "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Random Photo Fun

As I'm a tad hungover and Eric is still sleeping, I need to pass my time this early AM with mindless flickr fun. I found this on Girl Land's blog and thought it would be fun to try out, so here we go!

The Questions

1. What is your first name? Joanna
2. What is your favorite food? Mom's spaghetti and meatballs
3. What high school did you go to? Pilgrim
4. What is your favorite color? Turquoise
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Jude Law
6. Favorite drink? Frozen lemonade
7. Dream vacation? Fiji
8. Favorite dessert? Chocolate Cake
9. What you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut
10. What do you love most in life? Family
11. One word to describe you. Excited!
12. Your flickr name. jmgallo

The Concept

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

Here's what I ended up with:

This is interesting because the top left photo (my only result from the "jmgallo" search) is a photo of my friend Sarah in a dress she made which I now own and adore. My search for "turquoise" turned up a photo by Judy Scott, an artist whom I quietly worship, and the "chocolate cake" search found a photo from Christine who is in the same recipe share group as moi. Hmm. So try it, it's kind of fun.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Windy City

Shop (and walk) 'til you drop or What to do in Chicago in the summer

Ok, ok, so I've been laaaazy lately! Somehow in the craziness of spring, I've neglected to post for two entire months! It's been so busy here with traveling home for my best friend's wedding, working on wedding planning, and finishing up the school year that I've been completely distracted. Jenny's wedding was gorgeous (how could it not be when you are on the beach in Newport?), and the most fun I've had in a long time! It was so fantastic to be home spending time with my friends! Just one more wedding to go... Luckily, things are really coming together in that department and I only have one more week of school!

In the meantime, I'll post some photos of our long weekend in the Chicago area, visiting my parents. Chicago is just about my favorite place to visit in the United States, so here are some of my highlights for Chi-town in the summer:

- Visit all of the usual Chicago landmarks: The Bean, the Botanical Gardens, Millennium Park(especially the amphitheater and the Crown Fountain), the John Hancock, and the Skydeck. Oh, and the Magnificant Mile (or anywhere really!) for some shopping. You can't visit this city without doing at least a little shopping, even if the sun is shining down on you. Take a break from your walking tour and retire to the AC at Nordstrom, you'll feel recharged :)

- Check out the Navy Pier. Just don't plan on spending lots of time there. It's very commercial and plastered with corporate logos, but it's classic. Spend the six bucks to ride the ferris wheel because the view is beautiful, grab a beer, walk the length of the boardwalk for people watching, and you'll be done with it. Or at least we were!

- Food. Period. Every time we visit Chicago we eat like kings. This time we went for lunch at my parents' favorite pizza place Pizano's and later went for French at Brasserie JO. I recommend both highly! If you want dessert after dinner, just skip the Godiva next store. Although the ice cream is delicious, it is not worth the 45 minute wait (yes, 45 minutes for a cone!) and the service is embarrassingly bad. I think they hand out free chocolate at the door so your mouth is too full to complain. Have pastries at the restaurant instead!

- Festivities Galore! If you plan accordingly, you can hit any of the huge summer events. We happened upon symphony practice for the Memorial Day concert at the ampitheater, but had to catch a train before the real event! I'm also bummed that we won't be able to get out there for the Taste of Chicago, which is supposed to be fab, but you know, I'm getting married that weekend.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What's this all aboot?

Let's go curling!
or What to do in Windsor, Ontario year round

This week Eric got a phone call one of the few people we actually know out here in snowy-even-in-springtime Michigan, inviting us out for the weekend. Ana is one of Eric's friends from college who just happens to be living out here, about an hour away. Usually when we get together, it is your standard dinner and drinks fare, but she had something else in mind. Curling. Yeah, I said curling.

It turns out that there is some radical underground curling movement going on that I have been sadly left out of. Ana's company sponsors a group of young professionals and they host little outings; this week's outing was to Roseland Golf and Curling Club, for a rousing bout of bocci on ice. Well, not quite bocci, but that's the best comparison I can come up with. You know by now that I am not exactly an athlete, nor is my darling husband, but the beer was free so we were all about it. We got a quick lesson from the most limber kid I've ever seen, and then we curled for almost two hours. Here are a few things I learned, for those of you who want to try:

- Curling isn't only for retired people. While the elders were there in force, there was also a big group of young people hanging out and getting hammered, which I'm not sure is a great idea when you are sliding around on ice.

- You must wear good shoes. Since I'm not about to spring for a pair of professional curling shoes, and neither are you, you need to wear a pair of shoes with super sticky rubber soles. You need one foot to grip the ice, the other gets wrapped in packing tape to create a glider. If you can't grip, you're going to fall on your face.

- You are going to fall on your face. Unless you have perfect balance or luck, which I apparently have, since I miraculously didn't fall once. So proud! I saw many people fall, however, including Eric at least 3 times. The winner of the evening was this poor kid Tim, who literally scissor kicked both legs up into the air before landing sprawled out his belly. I'm sure it left a mark.

- You are going to suck. For at least a while anyway. You'd think a sport that is played by old folks would be easy, but it is way harder than it looks. We sucked something awful for at least an hour. Then we started to get the hang of it. Don't get me wrong, we still sucked, but at least we were getting it.

In the end our team won by a slim margin, and I only bruised my right knee a little. It was a pretty good thigh workout, and lo-and-behold, it was pretty damn fun. We're thinking of getting some other friends together to go again, and maybe we'll improve our skills a bit. At least it's an alternative to bowling!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Loco for Gocco!

I'm officially an addict. I ordered my PG-5 months ago, with plans to print our wedding invitations, but got sidetracked by work, moving, and life in general. This past week I had February break, and of course Eric had to be in the Fatherland the whole time on a business trip! It was his birthday Tuesday, too, so he had to celebrate it alone. Actually he was stuck with a few colleagues, so he may as well have been alone. Pobrecito! Since I was also to be alone for the week, I took off for my mom's house with my gocco in tow, and within two days, we were running like a well-oiled machine. All of the invites and one side of the RSVP cards are finished, and we had too much fun printing them!

It was so easy, my nephews could have done it. It took a bit of playing around with pressure and inking to get the effect I wanted, but once we had the hang of it we flew through it. For anyone interested in the process, there is a simple tutorial here with step by step photos to help you out! The lovely Bonnie did the graphic design work for me, don't you just love it? All of the paper was ordered from Paper Source in butter, because their selection and pricing rocks. The Riso inks are Japanese purple and pastel pearl purple, in case anyone is dorky enough to care.

Not only did we work on invites, but we bought the fabric for my gown and put together the mock-up pattern. Well, my mom did that part! I just had to stand there like a dummy while she draped muslin over me. Now I know how those models on Project Runway feel! I'm in love with the pattern and fabric we are using, and the modifications will make it even better. I'm was nervous at first about the whole gown thing, but now I am so thrilled that I'll have something so personal. Nothing like a little mother-daughter bonding over stick pins and tape measures. (I won't even get into the horror of being measured everywhere! I'm not 20 anymore!) Two major things ticked off the to-do list, sweet! Next thing to do, find musicians for our mini-ceremony. I'm thinking two or three people, maybe guitarists. Or someone who plays jazz flute?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I got a job!

Hoo-frickin-yay! I must tell you, I hate not working. That is not a lie. Don't get me wrong, I do love time for myself, time to cook and craft and hang out, I do! But when that is all there is, and all that time spent in school is wasted and your brain is rotting, you get a bit pathetic. I've been living in the land of pathetic for a while now.

Thank God for Monday! I went in for an interview at 11:00 and was working by 2. I started teaching another class the next day and had a full schedule the next with no rosters, no curriculum, nothing. A bit off, yes, but all good! It's a tiny multicultural charter school, so basically it is as far from Scituate as you can be! These kids have been without a full time English teacher for months, so they have basically wasted a whole school year so far. We have lots of catching up to do. It's wild and unstructured and nothing like I'm used to, but I'm digging it so far. And the kids are so cool. They all have these beautiful names that I struggle to pronounce, like Nadjeama and Ahma'a. Plus I get to work with little ones for the first time! I have one-on-one reading with first graders a few hours a day, and they are so cute I just want to take them home with me. Don't worry though, I won't! A few at once is great, but a whole room of them I couldn't handle.

Now I'm full speed ahead creating my own curriculum with very few materials, trying to figure out new state standards and get these kids ready for state testing in a few weeks, learning how to pronounce African and Arabic names, sorting out a whole bunch of new personalities, figuring out who can't read at grade level or speak fluent English yet, and still get home to cook dinner. Phew. Should be an adventure.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bring on the weekend!

Oh, how I love accomplishing things! This week, we are ticking things off our big to-do list of life with a vengeance. Sunday we registered for wedding gifts, and in way under three hours, hooray! Not to rub it in to Jenny and Tim, who spent five, count 'em five! hours in Bed Bath and Beyond doing their registry. I still don't know how exactly that happened. Eric should be proud of me, because I'm so ridiculously organized that I had most things picked out before we entered the store, and we wasted no time shooing the bridal consultant out of our way. Eric was ready to go in an hour, and holding the little scanner did nothing to excite him, despite the consultant's assurance that it would be thrilling. The girl even wrapped me in a bath sheet at one point, swearing that EVERYONE just HAD to experience the plush, cuddly joy of an insanely over sized blanket after a shower. We didn't register for those.

Monday we picked up our new car. Our first new car, actually. It is Eric's car of course, since he didn't have one at all, and I actually like my RAV4, even though he calls it a lawnmower. He got a Mazda 3, the same car my brother in law and his best friend both have, and in the same color, too. If you ask him, he will tell you that it is not the same car at all, because it has four doors and theirs have five. True, yes, but still. I actually love it, and the color. It's a really cute car, but don't tell him that.

I also applied for several new jobs and scored an interview on Friday. Sadly, a massive snowstorm is scheduled to hit us late tonight, with snow continuing into Friday evening. Great. Instead of cute interview outfit and heels, I'll be donning layers, a snotty nose, and snow boots. I'm sure to get the job.

Eric leaves for a five day business trip to Germany on Saturday, which means he misses the Superbowl festivities yet again. Luckily our informants told us that for the first time ever, the game will be broadcast on German TV for free! The hotel is setting up a projector and screen for their group to watch the game together. It will be around 3 in the morning there, and I'm sure they will all be hammered. I'm going to amuse myself by imagining Eric trying to teach a bunch of drunk Germans all about American football: the fouls, the plays, the padding. It's really funny if you know my husband and his utter lack of sports knowledge. Think of Mr. Rogers doing the commentary for a WWF wrestling match and you get the idea.

As for me, I'll be hanging out with my few MI friends and trying to convert them all into Patriots fandom, since their Lions suck. I'll also be feeding them healthy food, without them knowing it, to cancel out all of the crap beer they drink. I hate that Superbowl falls a month after the holidays, when lots of people have lost some of that holiday weight, only to dive right back into those five pounds thanks to a platter of pigs in a blanket and the big sandwich. So I leave you with a few of my football party favorites, lightened up. Trust me, no one will know, but your belt will thank me.

Reduced Fat Spinach Dip
Easy Guacamole
Cha-Ching Chili

And no I will not apologize for the gratuitious Brady shot. Go Pats!

Monday, January 21, 2008

All I need is food and creative love...

I realized that I haven't posted anything craft related in a while, so it's about time to share what I have been making lately. Especially since I was really excited to learn that a scrapbook I made as a gift for my mother was chosen as one of the Craftster Best of 2007! There are literally thousands of projects posted there over the course of a year, so it was really nice. Anywho, being temporarily unemployed and in a new town has given me lots of free time! Of course, I should be working earnestly on the wedding to do list, but more on that later. In the meantime I have had Valentine's Day on the brain. I know it is a bit early for some of you, but go look in the stores and you will see I am not the only one!

The Little Chapel of Love you see above was inspired by a tiny bronze bird and the Paper Crafts Sheet Music Challenge over at Craftster. I made this up as a Valentine for Eric, but not to worry, he never reads my blog, so I am fairly certain it is safe to post it! It is constructed of corrugated cardboard and lots of embellishing, with a removable roof. Through the window you can see a photo of us, with lots of little romantic notes inside (for reading in the future when we get all cranky with each other :P). I've entered it in the challenge and voting opened today, so make sure you pop on over and vote for me!

I also made a ton of Happy Hearts, inspired by the lovely Sarah. We'll be swapping a bunch and making pretty little garlands to display them. You can download her template and make some of your own. I used mostly vintage ephemera and ribbon for mine, but you can do anything. It makes a great project for kiddies, too!

I've also designed a bunch of new valentines which you can check out on my flickr account, but they will have to sit in a box until next year. Why? Because my invite design is finished, and I have got to start printing! The amazing Bonnie helped me by doing all of the Illustrator work, so I have my own custom made designs for my invites now. I've ordered my ink and paper, so hopefully I can get gocco-ing in the next week or so. My little print press has been waiting patiently in the box for months, because I didn't want to waste any screens until my designs were ready. Yeah, I'm a cheapskate! I can't wait to break it out, and I'll certainly be posting my results asap!

Monday, January 07, 2008

On the Road Again...

...for what I dearly hope is the last time for a long time! This weekend Eric and I made the long trek back out to Michigan from Rhode Island with a 17 foot Uhaul, towing my car on a trailer. He did all of the driving, while I tried desperately to find anything other than country music and Christian ranting on the radio. We made excellent time, found 32 of 50 state license plates, and arrived at the condo before noon on Friday. I was really excited, as we have been gypsies for over about a year and a half now. Finally, our own furniture, our own bed, and my whole wardrobe back at my disposal! Sadly, the buzzkill was pretty immediate. The condo was filthy. The previous tenants hadn't even cleaned the bathrooms when they moved out, so you can imagine my distaste. Two of the three bathroom sinks were rusted, and there were other minor damages. The real estate agent brushed the whole thing off, as is her job, I'd guess! After the movers left, I spent 6 hours scrubbing the place down before we started unpacking. Then my parents arrived Saturday afternoon and we did a massive overhaul. We did some bargain hunting (4 lamps for 13 bucks!) and worked a little decorating magic. By the time they left on Sunday afternoon, the place was clean and livable, cozy even. I spoke with the owners (who live overseas) and they were really apologetic. They gave us a credit on the rent for the mess, and are sending a plumber over tomorrow to replace the sinks and fix the rest of the issues. I love cooperative people! Plus we are in a great location, a very short distance from downtown and the football stadium. It took a few days, but the place has grown on us already, and should feel like home pretty soon. Eric started work today, so now my job hunt is on and we'll soon be off to explore Ann Arbor. That and to learn about Big Ten football, spread the Patriots love, and make our friends eat hot wieners.