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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

As of midnight tonight, DJ and I will have been together two years. We’d chatted all fall at work, played a little golf together, and ran in the same circle of friends. When friends decided to go out for sushi on New Year’s Eve, we both decided to go to Old Chicago for pizza instead. Neither of us likes sushi (it’s an appetizer!).

After dinner we met friends downtown at Boodles bar, which sadly no longer exists after exploding last spring. The friends had a table and DJ and I joined them. For some unknown reasons, the group decided to go down to 317 (another bar) to ring in the New Year. With 15 minutes to go before the ball dropped, we left our nice table, headed down the street, and promptly found out that 317 was at capacity and we couldn’t get in. We ducked into the Eagles club across the street, and were standing in front of the Keno machines at midnight.

Yes, our first kiss was at midnight on New Year’s Eve, in front of the Keno machines at the Eagles Club. We keep it classy.

DJ over the past two years you’ve been an awesome friend, boyfriend, and fiancé, and in 2010 you’ll make an awesome husband. In many ways I already feel married to you. You’re often a better friend to me than I am to you, or myself. Thank you for being my sounding board, ski instructor, reaching for things on high shelves for me, and my driver. And so, so many other things.

Bring on the New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Setting up house: Getting Started

Before digging into setting up the house, I should probably evaluate the furniture we have, huh? I mean, it’d be un-thrifty to re-buy something we already have. And despite a $8,000 tax refund, I still need to be thrifty.

The basic stuff isn’t moving. The queen sized bed stays in the Master Bedroom. The Double bed in the Guest room. The dining room table in the… Dining Room (shock!). But the rest of it is all negotiable.

We have this Mission Style desk that I purchased from Pier One in 2003 for college. It’s huge, and I love it. It will likely end up in the office.

Now you understand why I want to get the office set up this weekend...

We have these book shelves, which although cheapy fake wood, at least match the desk. Another likely contender for the office.

Heh heh heh... it's a bit messy.(OMFG I'm hyperventillating at the lack of organization!)

We have this loveseat, currently residing in Shawna’s office at Bozeman High School. Office. (PS- yes, before we started dating DJ and I happened to buy the same couches. His are green, mine is tan).

We have these chairs, one a straight leg and one a rocking chair, which my Grandma Joyce gave me. They came out of the Parish house in Colton, Washington, and could be recovered easily. They could go together, or be split up. Maybe one in the Master Bedroom? One in the office? One in the entryway as a place to sit while putting on your boots?

Save the Date pamphlets on the chair.

Grandma says recovering them would be easy...

We have these shelves, which match this dresser and book shelf my dad made me as a kid.

 A Mike project.

The dresser fits perfectly into the alcove in the guest bedroom. The wall shelves are currently un-hung. The bookshelf is currently in the Master bedroom, and serves as my drop spot for jewelry since I don’t have a dresser in there. The bookshelf could move out of the Master Bedroom as long as its function was replaced.

Built by my dad. I could replace the drawer pulls...

We’ll buy new bedroom furniature eventually, but it’s not at all a priority right now. We get by with DJ’s dresser, his nightstand, and our closet. The rest can move in and out.

We have this cedar chest, which my grandfather built. It’s finished in a lighter stain. This could go anywhere. Maybe in the entry as a place to sit while putting your shoes on?

Built by Grandpa Bob.
We have this white small table, which my cousin built. It’s currently in use as a nightstand for me, although it’s way too small and short for the task.

Clearly I need more space for water glasses and books, and more water glasses!
We have these bookshelves, which have in the past been in my room as a kid, Gretchen’s room, the playroom, the Bonus Room and are now along the wall in our Dining Room acting as a sort of sideboard/ book display area. They actually work really well in that regard, and I’d like to keep them there until we can purchase an antique sideboard.


We have one extra small table that matches our living room set. There’s not really room for it in the Living Room right now, but it could be used in the Office to perform the same function. Right now it’s in the closet under the stairs serving as the catch spot for gloves, mittens, etc.

Hmm, with all of those moving parts, and all of those different stain colors… where do I start?

Home Decorating

I’m looking forward to taking down the Christmas decorations this weekend and getting to the business of setting up our house. I mean, it’s clearly live-able, but it’s not really put together, you know? Sure we’ve got the furniture arranged, and a few pictures hung, but I have a mile long list of things we still “need”. Like a living room area rug. A filing cabinet. My loveseat back from Shawna’s office. To set up the office, at all. To make sure the guest room bed is in the right place. I need a bigger nightstand for my water glass collection and books.

We did hit milestones this week. The blinds were installed on Tuesday so no more flashing the Christian kids! I’m relieved to say that they do everything I wanted them to do. Top-down/ Bottom-up. Insulating. Cordless. The only catch is that I can’t reach the top of them in the living room. Good thing Grandma Joyce got me a stepstool for Christmas!

Levalor double cell blinds in "Sand". Yes, a very boring color that pretty much matches the wall color. We're such squares.

Of note: the stepstool in the bottom right corner. Our Christmas Tree.

The electrician also came today and installed dimmer switches in the living room and master bedroom, hung the pendant above the sink, and installed a floor plate. No more dark living room!

Restoration Hardware schoolhouse pendant.

Dimmer lights in the living room.

We received a Pottery Barn magazine in the mail last weed and while browsing through it I started to get excited about putting the house together. I also looked at a couple of items, thought “ooh, I like that, but it’s probably too expensive” and then looked at the price and went, “oh, that’s not too bad”. Friends, apparently I have arrived. I can glance at a Pottery Barn catalog and not drop my jaw at the prices.

And I almost ordered these Pottery Barn window treatments for the dining room.

Pottery Barn Dupioni Silk Drapes in "Wheat", for the Dining Room.

Almost. They were 35% off. But even at that, they’re still $99 apiece. Times two windows. Plus a rod and brackets and loops to hang them on. Despite having arrived, I still don’t have $350 I’m willing to part with to cover a window that faces only the neighbor’s garage.

But, perusing the catalog did get me thinking about the overall decorating scheme for the house. DJ and I are both relative minimalists. I don’t do kitchy decorative figurines sitting around. We leave plenty of clutter all over the house by ourselves. We like neutrals, with a pop of color as needed. Organization is good. Have I mentioned that we’re cheap too? And I like old shit; like antiques? So yeah… we’ve got a lot of “likes” and “wants” and “needs” to fit into our “what can we afford”.

So over the course of the next few weeks I’m going to do a post dedicated to the décor inspiration for each room. Starting with the office, tomorrow. Because we’ve got random office crap all over our house. And it’s the one room in our house that is totally disorganized right now. And darn it, we need to file our paperwork somewhere other than a pile in the kitchen!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Joint finances?

DJ and I met with an accountant today to discuss my eligibility for the $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers. I’m pretty excited to say that I’ll be getting probably $8,000+ back in taxes, which will seriously beef up the rather paltry savings account. And DJ will get a nice sum back too.

Sidenote: as we were standing in the lobby, I mentioned to DJ that while I sucked at math in college, and hated it, I kind of thought it would be fun to be an accountant. :::BAM::: Mom, MOM! Wake up! You fainted at ME saying I wanted to be an accountant.

Back to the point, we’ll be filing separate taxes for the 2009 tax year (since we’re still separate, duh). And I asked the accountant if we should file joint taxes for 2010, since we’re getting married in 2010. His answer was a yes, since it streamlined the process and made the whole refund thing more streamlined.

We are, however, at my insistence, going to maintain some kind of financial independence from each other once we’re married. Frankly, it just seems easier. I don’t have to worry about not knowing what he’s spent out of our checking account; he doesn’t have to worry about me not tracking purchases down to the penny in a register. This is called the “Yours-Mine-Ours” strategy.

And I think every woman should retain some level of financial independence. You never know what will happen in life, and my parents paid for a college education so that I can always provide for myself. I’ll take that a step farther and keep the majority of my finances my own. Independent.

We did set up a joint checking and joint savings account in November though. The bank where my accounts are offered a promotional deal if we got our mortgage through them and opened a joint account at that banking institution.

The plan for semi-joint finances is as follows. DJ will transfer all of his accounts over to the bank where my personal accounts and our mortgage are in the next month. We will both continue to have our paychecks direct deposited into our personal checking accounts, and from there will set up auto-transfers of a specified amount via online banking into our joint checking account. Bills paid out of joint checking will be the things we share. Right now, that’s only mortgage, home insurance, taxes, and cell bills. Eventually though it will include car insurance, groceries, etc. All of these will likely be set up on an auto-bill too, so we won’t have to think about it.

Mine, Ours, Yours

Right now the joint savings account is only seeing action as a wedding fund. We’re both putting a specified amount into it each month, so we don’t have to put wedding expenses on charge cards. Once El Weddingo is past, stuff like tax refunds and monetary gifts will probably go into our joint savings account.

Our personal accounts are that, personal. I don’t care to know how much DJ has in checking. Or for DJ to know how little I have in checking. My personal accounts will pay for stuff like girl’s weekends, gifts, fun money, etc. And we will both only be able to see the accounts our names are on when we log into online banking.

Do you think it’s foolhardy to try to keep accounts separated? Are you an all-in type of person? Or did you join accounts, but now wish you wouldn’t have?

Do you think this plan is going to go down in a ball of flames in a year?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 Part III

Hey there! We’re back from the Washington Parent Pilgrimage that was Christmas, and whooo boy was it fun! 1,775 miles of driving over the course of 10 days, what’s not to love!!!

Ok, perhaps my enthusiasm is unfounded. For the driving part at least. Our last stretch from Clarkston, a stop in Colton, and onto Bozeman included my sister Gretchen, who is spending the next 10 days with us in Bozeman. And while DJ’s ’02 Tundra is totally sufficient for the two of us, it’s totally cramped for three people over an eight hour drive. The kicker is that the roads were fine the whole way and we could have taken my more comfortable Nissan Altima. Oh well.

Because 1,775 miles doesn't seem like a ridiculous amount to drive in 10 days.

It’s tough wanting to split time between three families (mine, DJ’s mom’s, DJ’s dad’s), especially at the holidays. Since both sets live in Washington State, well, it feels like we might as well do both. If DJ’s family lived in Minnesota, we’d go to one or the other, not schlep our stuff around to see everyone. But once you’re to my parents, you’re “only” six hours to DJ’s parents. You might as well go the whole way, right?

The downside is that I don’t feel like we really got to spend enough time with everyone. I could have used two more days around my mom and dad, and I know DJ feels the same way. I’m not sure what we’ll do next year. We’ve kind of agreed to not make any decisions until after El Weddingo.

It’s especially hard for me to consider missing Christmas with my family when my grandparents are still alive and my extended family gets together. And if we hadn’t done the big roadtrip, we wouldn’t have gotten to stay in Harrison, and check out the restaurant that is the location for our wedding reception

The Landing Restaurant, Harrison, Idaho.

And peer through the windows to see that the bathrooms are ripped out and remodeling is, indeed, taking place.

It'll get done, right? RIGHT???

We couldn’t have gotten the last two cinnamon rolls from Harrison Traders, on Main Street in Harrison (YUM!).

Seriously, you WANT a cinnamon roll from HTC.

Or checked out the park in the middle of Harrison that overlooks the marina (somewhere in the fog) and the campground. We’ll host a Welcome BBQ here on the Friday before our wedding.


Or peeked into the One Shots building and giggled at how fun the after-party at One Shots will be.

Grandpa Bob and Grandma Joyce have been coming to One Shots since the mid 1940's.

And had we not gone to Castle Rock, we wouldn’t have gotten to see DJ’s brother get his year-long hair be cut, and donated to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love.
And had a fabulous dinner.

 Paul, Brian, Michelle and Christmas Dinner!
Or tried to take a nice family photo.

Look, a bird!
And had we not gone to Clarkston, we wouldn’t have gotten to open presents with my parents.

Opening gifts.
 Or tried to take another nice family photo.

Sandi, Mike, Gretchen, Courtney, Dusty.
Or sat through Christmas Mass in St. Boniface Church in Uniontown, Washington. Where although I wouldn’t say I’m a practicing Catholic, I do feel part of the community.

St. Boniface in Uniontown.
Especially when I walk out of church and grab my sister, grandmother and girl cousins for a quick Kramer Girl photo.

Hannah, Grandma Jan, Jessica, Whitney, Gretchen, me, Mollie
And then go out to my aunt and uncle’s, and watch my 76 year old grandmother talk to my cousin over Skype.

Joyce, Skypeing with my cousin Taylor.
And spend Christmas Day out at my Grandma Jan’s, with my extended, extensive family.

Kramer family on the farm.
Where I have a ton of girl cousins, who are all growing to be beautiful, accomplished young women.

Gretchen, Jessica, Mollie.
Whom DJ gets to meet.

Christmas Dinner: round FIVE.
And after dinner we all end up playing trivia games.

Who DID win the NCAA national title in 1987?
That sometimes get very heated.

Sports trivia questions. DJ only stayed around through the baseball round.
Because if we didn’t spend nearly 24 hours driving, when else would we get a chance to gather with family and celebrate just being together?

Kramer Cousins: Kyle, Zach, me, Tyler, Ryan, Whitney, Gretchen, Mollie, Jessica, Hannah

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wedding Band Options

I went to Seattle with DJ’s mom when we were in Castle Rock over Christmas. Since she’s doing the alterations on my dress, I wanted to figure out early what kind of underwear I’ll don under my wedding dress. And we needed to pick up DJ’s brother (and our wedding webpage designer) Brian and bring him down to CR for Christmas.

As we walked from the parking garage to Nordstrom, I spied a Tiffany’s store. Now you’re wondering how someone who is so hell bent on spending money in local stores in Bozeman can want to go in a Tiffany’s store. Well, they’ve got pretty shiny things, and I’m a sucker for those things.

Since I’m no longer in the market for an engagement ring, I browsed their wedding rings. Or rings I could use for a wedding ring. Specifically, I’ve always eyed their Celebrations line.They’re interesting, different, and it would be fun to create a stack of them over time.

…ha ha ha, did you just hear DJ fall over and die at the thought of me demanding asking for a “Celebration Ring” every time something exciting happened around our house? Usually something exciting is something that we’ve spent a lot of money on too. Nothing like asking for an expensive ring after buying a house, buying a car or having a baby. Because we’re not already broke enough!

Regardless of cost, I did ask the Tiffany girl to pull the Swing ring out of the case. I put it next to my engagement ring, and am hooked.

Tiffany Swing ring

My engagement ring is very streamlined. I love its simplicity, sturdiness, and Art Deco feel. And we’ll probably go back to the same jeweler who made it, to ask him to build my wedding band. The simplest thing would be a plain band just like the band on my ring. Maybe in a smaller width.
But that might be, I don’t know, boring?

I’ve considered adding Yogo Sapphires to a band matching my engagement ring. I like the symbolism of a Montana-mined gem tying me to DJ.

But our trip to Tiffany’s evolved the idea. My engagement ring next to the Swing ring is a very interesting juxtaposition. They play off of each other. The straight lines of my engagement ring really sets off the fluid lines of the Tiffany Swing ring. And it has an option with sapphires in it!

The Tiffany Swing ring on the bottom, paired with the Lucida band, which kind of looks like my engagement ring.

The price of a Tiffany ring, however, is not in our budget. As in, will not be, maybe ever. So my plan is to take in photos of the Tiffany ring and ask Ken the jeweler to create something similar, with Yogo Sapphires.

Did your engagement ring come with a matching wedding band? Was it a wedding set? Or did you get to create something to fit your style?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Roadtrip Part II

Today we’re leaving for the second round of the roadtrip. We’ll drive from Castle Rock to Clarkston, hopefully getting into town just in time to mix up some mulled wine, and have round two of Christmas dinner. Last night was Prime Rib, Twice Baked Potatoes, layered salad and pies at DJ’s mom’s house. YUM!

Leg two of the Washington Christmas Trip. 393 miles and seven and a half hours.
My immediate family (Dad, Mom, Gretchen) has always opened our gifts to each other on the 22nd or 23rd. It’s our tradition, driven by our annual road trip back to Colton for Christmas. The joy of having both of your parents be from the same small town is that both sets of grandparents only live six miles apart. So whether we lived in Helena, Bozeman, Federal Way or Bozeman again, the four of us would always pile in the car for the trip “Home” to Colton.

Then Christmas Eve is with my mom’s side of the family, the Heitstumans, and my dad’s side is visited on Christmas Day. It’s a lot of food, laughter, family and loudness. And I love it. I love that the holiday gets stretched out over four or five days.

My mom though, has always been bothered by the idea that the four of us don’t have any Christmas traditions. Since my parents now live only a half an hour from Colton, my mom tried to institute a new Christmas tradition of opening presents on Christmas day. Gretchen and I, however, are insistent that we continue our tradition of opening them earlier, at night, after a fun dinner. Apparently what we’ve been doing for the last 26 years doesn’t constitute a tradition. We’ll see who wins.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Trip

DJ and I have only been together for almost two years, so we’re still in the process of developing a routine for spending the holidays with family. Both of our relations live in Washington State, but unfortunately on opposite sides of the state. They live close enough that we can drive to visit, which is a much nicer alternative than flying during the holidays. They also live close enough that we feel guilty visiting one but not the other; especially when we’re halfway to the other’s house already.

So last year I proposed that we’d drive over and spend Thanksgiving with my family in Colton, and we’d take a week off over Christmas and drive through Colton, see the fam for a few days, and then drive on to Castle Rock and spend Christmas Eve and Day with DJ’s family. It was a good solution, as Thanksgiving with my extended family usually includes “Sausagefest” on the Friday after Turkey Day. My dad’s family makes homemade pork sausage, and the event pulls in as many as 75 extended family members.

DJ participating in Sausagefest '08.

This year, we stayed home for Thanksgiving. Going into the fall we weren’t sure when the house would be done, when we’d be moving, and when we’d need to be available to sign paperwork. It was less stressful to plan on being home, but unfortunately we had to cancel our plans to go to DJ’s mom’s house outside of Tucson. And it was my parent’s year for Christmas.

So I’m writing to you from DJ’s mom’s house, where we’ve been since Saturday evening. We left Bozeman on Friday, stayed in Harrison (and attended the community Christmas Party), got up Saturday and drove to Castle Rock, where we will be until Wednesday morning when we leave for the Colton area. We’ll be in the Colton area from the 23rd through the 28th, when we’ll return to Bozeman.

In case you’re wondering what kind of a trip that looks like, here’s the first leg:

First leg of the roadtrip.

Its 800 miles and 14 hours. And mostly, I don’t mind it. It gives DJ and I time to talk, catch up, plan things. DJ always does all of the driving. I like roadtrips, especially when the roads are clear. And I have a hard time not imagining seeing our families over Christmas. Especially when my grandparents are alive.

There will come a time, however, when this kind of a road trip just won’t happen. Someday in the 5-10 year future we’ll have kids, and although I was a good road trip kid, I’m realistic enough to understand that strapping a squirmy kid or two into a car seat for eight or fourteen hours Just. Ain’t. Happening.

I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to work out a rotation with our families. One year at my parent’s, one year at his parent’s and one year at our house. But man, establishing that tradition will be tough…

Has where to spend the holidays become a discussion point in your house? Do you fly or drive, and do you enjoy it?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Confessions of an Addict

I have a confession to make. It’s not news to a lot of people, especially DJ. I am an addict.

I service my addiction daily, or six times a week at a minimum. I’m late to work because of my addiction. I sacrifice time with family when we travel to get a fix. I get cranky, crabby, and easily irritable when I haven’t gotten a hit in the last 24 hours. Cravings for my addiction have caused me to do things I never would have thought of, like take time away from doing things I love while on vacation.

I often annoy the heck out of DJ by trying to squeeze time into an already busy day to feed my habit. I make us lake for the company Christmas party, late to leave for trips, and get up early to make sure I feed my compulsion. I get short-tempered when we travel and I don’t have access to a gym or running trail.

I need it. My body needs it. And while I might not look like an addict, I sure as hell hate going a day without at least 45 minutes of gym time.

I, my friends, am an exercise addict. Or rather, I’m addicted to the endorphins I get after exercise. I feel so much better after working out. I sleep better. I eat healthier too.

Ok, my definition of addiction does not go as far as  WebMD's definition of exercise addiction.  Clearly it’s a real and serious issue for some people. But I do plan my day around when I can sneak a gym session, bike ride or run in. I also don’t strive for perfection; I like wine and chocolate too much to strive for 5% body fat!

But I do plan crazy things, like getting up at 6am to go to the gym when my day is too busy to squeeze it in any other time. Getting  up at 8 am tomorrow at the lake to go for a run on the bike trail. Scheduleing a two hour bike ride the morning of our wedding. Setting reminders on my work computer for all of the gym classes I like to take, and marking my availability as "tenative" during those times.

It can feel selfish too. I prefer to exercise alone. I like to go at my own pace, jamming out on my iPod. Fast on a bike, slow when running. It takes me away from my family and friends when we’re together. A few years ago I went with my dad on a bike ride and left him in the dust, which he reprimanded me for when we got home. Apparently a leisurely bike ride with my dad wasn’t something I had the time for, not when I could go all out for an hour.

Biking in 2005 at the lake.

My mom and me getting ready to bike it out.

It’s been a lifestyle choice for me for nearly five years now. This obsession, this need, and this craving. My worst nightmare is blowing out an knee, because then I couldn’t exercise while I recover. How would I handle that?

I’m making light of my gym obsession. And I know most doctors would prefer if their patients were so motivated. But I also recognize that sometimes, I should just lighten up on it a little.

How can such a good thing sometimes feel so… self-interested?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Colorful Editing and the Newsletter

A few weeks ago I found myself losing sleep over El Weddingo. Something about planning this wedding makes my anxiety level skyrocket. This particular freak out was related to communication, specifically, how to communicate the wedding in my head to everyone helping plan it. And how to delegate tasks in a way that helps people help me. I came up with two answers.

The first was a word document called “Wedding Brainstorming”. I pretty much just wrote out everything I’d thought of in regards to wedding stuff. Then I emailed it to DJ and asked him to edit the document in a different color of ink. Then I emailed it to my mom, who used another color of ink, and then to DJ’s mom, who used yet another color of ink.

It got colorful.

It seemed to work out pretty well. I think at this point we’re all on the same page. And this will help all of us talk about things over Christmas. I’m actually hoping to set up a sort of Wedding Conference call on the Saturday after Christmas with my mom, my sister and DJ’s mom.

The second anxiety reliever sounds so nerdy, but really has helped me focus on what has to get done this month. I finally decided to do a newsletter. So dorky, huh? But it made me feel better! I plan to send them out on the 10th of each month, since we’re getting hitched on the 10th.

The first version was five pages, and included blurbs explaining what the newsletter is, what the overall wedding vision is, where we’re at in terms of wedding planning, this month’s task list and what to think about for next month.

And the good news is that a lot of these items can be crossed off. But whoo boy… there are a lot of remaining items to get done before the next newsletter goes out on January 10!

How did you communicate The Big Wedding Picture to your helpful friends and family? Did you find a good way to delegate tasks?