Flannel

Flannel seems to be a theme right now.  It first began with a candle at Bath & Bodyworks called Flannel.  It was only the beginning of September when we found it but I liked it so much I insisted we get then.  We already went through that one and another called Leaves, already I have bought a second Flannel candle and I don’t think it will last through November.  It smells so good…

FlannelA few weeks ago when the nights started to get cooler I picked up our first pair of flannel sheets.  Oddly enough Honey and I have both had flannel sheets at different parts of our lives but between the two purges we made of items with memories and things that just wouldn’t fit, both of our sets of flannels never made it to the beginning of our cohabitation.  I kept on putting off making up the bed with the new sheets. “Next week, if it gets cooler” I would tell him, but I just kept on cleaning the lighter sheets and putting them back on the bed.  The lows were only going in high 40s and I wanted us to acclimate to the change rather than forcing a fake heat.  Finally over the weekend fate (aka a hairball) gave me cause to change the sheets immediately.  I am really happy I did because last night we had our first snow of the season.

It was only a light snow, but it still got us excited.   When we moved here last January and were greeted a few weeks later with a good snow, we were warned by other residents that what we experienced was rare.  Some winters it doesn’t snow at all, but Honey and I hoped in the back of our minds that we would get to see snow again this year…and what do you know-we did and even unseasonably early.  Once again we were the only crazy people outside in the snow, with the exception of an idiotic, dark-clothed bicyclist.  It was nothing like the snow we had last February but it was comforting to know that we will get to experience at least little snow here from time to time.  The temperatures will be going back up into their Fall pleasantness tomorrow but in the mean time it is kind of fun to get bundled up.  While I was doing some errands this morning I realized it was the first time I had ever looked at Christmas cards in a coat and scarf.  It was good R&D for the knit scarves I have been making for family members.  I stayed nice a toasty and the darn thing didn’t fall apart (win!).

I know this may seem silly to those who grew up with defined seasons, but for me it is so amazing to see things that the calendar pictures I saw growing up depicted around me.  I just looked up the weather in our old town the last week has been in the 80s and 90s.  That seems warmer than I remember for this time of year, but the high 70s low 80s would not be considered unusual.  Here we will only get up into the mid 40s today, so we’ll be enjoying our various flannels tonight I’m sure.

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Happy Halloween!

Greeting Ghouls and Gals!  I hope you have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

It’s been fun, yet overwhelming to decorate this year on a new canvas.  I was at our last house for almost eight years and I was running out of new ideas to doll up the place for Halloween, but now I get to start fresh.  We waited until this weekend to decorate outside and I think I have unfortunately started a competition with our neighbor across the road.  They had a grave yard and some skull lights for weeks but once we put out our grave stones and orange lights, along with my Skeleton Three Tenors they started decorating more.  Now there are individual lights on the gravestones, cobwebs in the bushes, and a skeleton projector on the garage.  All within the last three days.  I stuck to my original decorating but I did bring the fog machine out of retirement to mist up our graveyard.  If I can manage it I’ll take pictures outside tonight (a neighbor informed me we will have over 100 trick-or-treaters)… but in the mean time here is what it’s been like inside.

Boris & Bela

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

With the way I cook I could have that poster up all year.

My Spooky Corner

Halloween hallway

My Monster

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

Luckily he is still a sweetie.

My Little Monster

My Little Monster

 

 

 

Getting Out in the Green

Since we moved here my walking lifestyle has changed.  I used to be able to walk to the market or various other places if I wanted and walk around The Lake with or without my various walking buddies.  When the move really became official I was so busy cleaning, gardening, packing, and planning that I relied on my car when grocery shopping and my Lake walks seemed unnecessary.  When we got here I was in a state of exhaustion for about a month. No really the pictures are quite terrifying, I looked like the Crypt Keepers’ younger but more ragged looking sister.

After a doctor’s appointment where I was “encouraged” to start exercising regularly again I began walking around the neighborhood where we were renting for 30-45 minutes a day.  We sold my car before we went East, so I was limited in location.  The neighborhood was actually quite beautiful but cut off from walking anywhere outside of it.  There were trees, plants, challenging hills, and circular streets so I could make a huge lap rather than retracing my steps.  Another drawback was I had to walk on the street and most people forgot they were in a residential area, so there were a few accidental games of Chicken every so often.

When we moved here I was very exited because there were actual sidewalks and I saw people walking all over the place at all times of the day.  I have walked here a few times but I find it’s hard to get motivated, it’s just not like my other walking spots have been the last few years.  It is a very well kept neighborhood and people do beautiful things with their yards, but it is all so sterile.  But a few weeks ago we discovered the Greenway and I think it will become my new Lake.

Greenway

Greenway

Greenway

 

These sites are just within a two mile are of each other, it’s like you are going on different trails  You have pine trees, marshes, and ponds.  It is beautiful and there is life everywhere from tadpoles and turtles to hawks and bunnies.  It’s like the Lake where I have to walk to a certain spot and then turn around, but now that I have an App for that I can stop with the guess work and really know what progress I am making.  Though those moms with the newborns in the strollers are a certain level of hardcore I could never compete with.

Greenway Trees

What I’ve Been Up to This Time

As John puts it, “it’s been a bit stale” around here.  Once again, I apologize. Yes I got busy with life again and I was in the middle of things that I couldn’t write about out of some strange superstition I have, but once again I have returned and I’m ready to start saying what’s on my mind and catch you up with everything else one post at a time.

So the biggest reason I have been all quiet on the Blogging Front is that we moved again.  It was not the elaborate logistical challenge of moving across country (which was only six months ago) but a more manageable in-town move into Our new house.  When we moved to NC the plan was to rent for a year and start looking for our own house in the fall.  But then Spring came as did the For Sale signs and John an I found ourselves adding Redfin and Zillow apps to our phones and checking them as often as we checked the afternoon weather forecast.  I must admit I dragged my heels on the whole buying a house thing.  I kept on saying not yet, we need to get to know the town more, and really figure out what we wanted out of house.  Since the houses are much different here than in SoCal we weren’t sure where we would “fit”.  Also I did want to stick to the plan and buy in 2014 and I convinced myself that my constant Redfin surfing was just fact gathering and research.  The research led to me the conclusion that we should start officially looking.

I looked up some local realtors through the internet, unfortunately this town does not use Yelp as much as San Diego, so no one had a customer review that they had not hand picked.  I was planning for us to buy the house on the sly without telling any of my family whet we were up to, but after a not so good feeling from a “highly recommended” relator I called my cousin and asked for a recommendation.  She put me in touch with the guy who had help them find their first and second house and sell their first house as well.  My Aunt and Uncle also used him when they bought in South Carolina, I think he can now be considered the official family realtor.  He (unlike many residents) grew up in Charlotte and knows this town like the back of his hand.  He is a riot and can keep you entertained on a long day of looking 18 houses in a row.  The house buying/selling process is very different than what I experience in San Diego, so I was happy to have someone who understood and explain it to me.  He liked me because I was no nonsense about house hunting, I could look at a house and if I didn’t like it leave without seeing the whole thing.  Some of his clients would just keep on looking and bad mouth the house for another 10 to 15 minutes.  I didn’t see how that was worth my time.

Originally it was just me looking at the houses with our Realtor.  John trusted my judgement and through online searches and our Realtor’s insight we had an initial list of around 20 houses.  We discussed what we wanted at lest a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom (there was no way we were going back to one bathroom after knowing life with 2.5) with a good size yard, a garage, in a good area, maybe with a wood burning fireplace, or screened in porch.  The Realtor and I set out at 9am on a Wednesday morning and by 3:45 with a half hour lunch, I had whittled the list down to 3 that I wanted John to see.  It was very House Hunters.

Did they chose House #1- the split level with the hardwood floors and the small pool? House #2-The small cottage without a garage in the great part of town? Or did they chose House #3  the newer construction with all kinds of upgrades but a small backyard? We chose House #3, but we didn’t buy it.

We put in an offer, which even though it was below list price our realtor thought was too much.  It was a very good offer and he expected she would answer within the hour-she didn’t.  Instead she waited a day and change the listing to a “multiple offer situation” and wanted our best offer by the weekend.  Not to mention wanted a really long escrow and the option to rent back and some other things I don’t even want to bring up.  We withdrew our offer, though I doubt she let the other people know.  We didn’t want to deal with this BS when the house had been on the market for over two months without a single offer.

So a few days later we hit the road again looking at potential houses.  It was probably one of the most rainy days we have still ever seen here, but our Realtor was at the helm and got to ten houses in a few hours without incident.  John fell in love with the first place we went, but I had reservations.  The second to the last house we went to that day was the one we ended up buying.  Like I mentioned it was raining like crazy that day. The sky was rumbling and dark, it made you just want to curl up under a blanket with a hot cider and forget the world, but when we went into the house that would be ours, that feeling drifted away.  It felt really good in there.  The walls in the entrance were painted a neutral light beige but it reflected what little bit of light was coming out of the sky without a single light bulb on.  In the rental I had noticed the darkness from the trees being filled in was starting to get to me after week three of no sun, so I thought a place like this might be good for me.  The kitchen a family room were equally lovely and the mater bedroom windows faced the forested area behind the property.  So now I wake up to this view every morning

bedroom view

We went to another house, and while it nice it was not what we had just seen.  So we made an offer and were in escrow by the next day.  I am thankful we moved on buying a house when we did because soon after we closed they started raising the interest rates on home loans.  I really like the house, still getting to know her and I haven’t fully bonded yet, but that takes time.

We moved in as soon as we could because we had my little sister Firefly coming to town a few days after we closed.  Though I couldn’t unpack everything before she got here we were able to set up the guest room and bathroom so she had a comfortable place to sleep off her jet lag.  I’ll talk about her visit in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Differences

A few of my Southern California friends have asked on occasion what is it like in our new city, I am on the other side of country so it has to be a little different, right?  To be honest it has a lot more in common with San Diego than you would believe.  People are friendlier and occasionally you’ll hear an accent but like San Diego, Charlotte has become a town of newcomers from all around so I hear as many different accents here as I did back home.

But there are some differences and here they are, in no particular order. =)

The water is soft here, it makes our skin and hair feel softer which is awesome.  The tap water tastes funny to us, but it’s good when it goes through a filter.

It has rained at least once a week since we got here so I haven’t had to water until the landlord just had the lawn treated and now I have to water everyday for two weeks (blah).  Apparently during the summer you have mow at least twice a week to keep your lawn in line, this is totally new to my chaparral yard techniques.

It is amusing that people outside of California are so scared of earthquakes when the thunder here rattles buildings more than most quakes I have felt.  (On a side note… I am still very scared at the prospect of tornados, which do happen here).

You can’t buy spirits in the same place as beer and wine.  I can buy a bottle of wine or a six pack at Target or a grocery store, but I have to go to a state run store to by the hard stuff.   Also you cannot buy alcohol before noon on a Sunday, so if you want a mimosa for Sunday brunch, you better plan ahead.

Sunday, before noon

And the city is significantly emptier on Sunday mornings.

The gas nozzles don’t have vapor guards.

Paper seat covers are not always provided in public restrooms.

Most commuters use surface streets to get to work and brag about their newly discovered faster route, but never share the details.

The major freeway is circular here so the 485 can be North, South, East, West all at the same time and on the same trip.  The Garmin gets tripped on this all of the time.

Having deer in our backyard is so common that I hardly notice them anymore.

deer

I go out state every week to go see my cousin, it is only 15 minutes away.  To get to another state from San Diego you better have a at least a half full tank of gas and make sure you take a potty break before you leave.

The trash service does not provide bins for yard waste, you can buy your own or just leave bags or even loose branches out and they will pick it up.  The recycling bins are only picked up every other week.

They mostly use pine needles as mulch here instead of wood chips.

Chick-Fil-A’s are everywhere.

There are occasionally posted signs that read “concealed weapons are not allowed on premise” on business doors.  I am not used to that be an option.

Sunrise happens much later here, even before the time change.

The dirt stains your clothes from the iron in it.

You best not confuse the term BBQ with Grilling, that is a whole other ball game.

People are very into having those banners outside their house with either a big letter of their last name or a seasonal display that I swear changes every fortnight.  This might just be a ‘burbs thing, but it’ new to me.

People always wave and smile at you when you’re walking, even if it’s not your neighborhood and you are a complete stranger! Weird, huh?

 

All joking aside, it is a great town.  I hope at some point all of our friends will come out and visit so we can show off our new city …though hopefully not all on the same weekend.

Our Winter Wonderland

This may seem strange to post now that spring is in full swing, but our first snow day was so fun I had to write about it.

The third weekend we were here we got a real treat, our first NC snow.  It was in the forecast but I didn’t expect much because I heard the snow in Charlotte isn’t usually the stuff of holiday movies.  I had heard it was icy and didn’t really stay around long enough to create our perception of a winter wonderland.  I have seen snow before when traveling but Honey had never seen it fall before so I hoped it would at least stick round for the morning.

When we woke up that Saturday it was raining but not a snowflake in sight, so I started making waffles because we were finally getting a chance to stay home and relax on a weekend (our first time in months!).  At first we didn’t see that the rain had turned into little snowflakes, but once we did we were kids again.  We went ran out to the back deck in our pjs and warm hats and let the the flakes catch on our hair and on our clothes.  As expected they melted quickly but that didn’t stop us from grabbing our cameras and taking pictures of the snow lightly dusting our back yard and catching in the trees.

Eventually we went back in, I finished making the waffles and played music from my laptop.  Trying to set a mood, I typed in the word “snow” to my iTunes library and it gave me a song from The Fountain soundtrack called “First Snow”.  It is an instrumental piece that  has that feeling of building with a  melancholy backbone, I highly recommend giving it a listen.  As time passed we noticed the snow had not let up. I was impressed when the snow fell hard enough to stay on the ground and not melt away…

Snow just startingI started really turning into a giddy girl when I saw it become what I had always imagined a snow day to be.

More Snow

 

Our Snow People

BloomIt was absolutely gorgeous! We were outside for at least three hours taking pictures, feeling the snow crush under our shoes, and throwing the occasional snow ball.  Sorry about that Honey.  And yes we were the only people in or neighborhood that were out playing in the snow.  I could just imagine them coming to their windows watching us and thinking those “crazy Californians.”  We even let Bailey out onto the deck to examine the snow.  He loved it so much we had to escort him back inside.

It snowed into the night but stopped by the next morning so we went for a walk around the neighborhood.

021713_1067

021713_1071

The sun was out and the snow melted by Sunday night, so in a way it was a perfect little snow storm because it came on the weekend and all evidence of it was gone by rush hour on Monday morning.  I spoke with my cousin later that week and she said that was not the typical snowfall here so I took as an incredible welcome to our new home.

 

 

 

 

So Where’s the Party, Man?

Right now our house looks like we have been having a kegger for the last six weeks.  To be honest, at first I minded-but not anymore, because in those shockingly cherry red containers of joy lies the seedlings of future ingredients.  John planted Serrano peppers, thai basil, catnip, German thyme and regular basil.  We didn’t know if it was going to work or not so I told him to save some money and use the left over cups from our last BBQ to plant them in.  At the time I thought he was going to plant maybe two of each, nope-not my man, he planted enough to keep the whole neighborhood going on fresh peppers for months.  They have been sprouting, it is actually kind of neat to watch John check on them every night after he gets home, you know to see what they’ve done that day.

Our front porch gets the most direct sunlight this time of year, so really it is the only place to put them.  Soon we will plant them in a more permanent place, but for now it looks like either we have had a continual party since January or I am a really lazy housekeeper.

In other views from around the house, here is that lower yard I have been working on.

It still has a long way to go, more sand needs to be shoveled, weeds pulled, branches cut, etc.  But the fun part is coming:planting.  It is also important to remember that this is how it usually looks this time of year.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with it.  Also if you have any suggestions on what color I should paint the lower portion of the cement wall in picture three, let me know I am up for suggestions.  Believe it or not I am not planning on painting it Frida Blue.