A Birthday gift to me

Friday was my birthday. My 36th birthday. Which meant three things. The first was that I got notifications all day long from Facebook, people wishing me a happy birthday. Lots of people that I love and care about… and some people that I can’t remember why their on my friends list at all! Each Facebook message – and each phone call from family – was a precious reminder that I’m loved.

The second thing that happens is that I make a call to schedule my mammogram. I’m 36, and my two closest female relatives have battled breast cancer. For those of us with a family history, we start making our annual dates with this pretty machine when we turn 35.

The mammogram machine

Yup, that’s the photo I took last year, on my first date with the mammogram machine. It wasn’t so bad. There were no flowers or chocolates… but I also was told not to put on deodorant. Any date where you don’t put on deodorant as part of the getting-gussied-up process is going to have a different bar for success, don’t you think?

It isn’t a coincidence that the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and MomSelect reached out to me to share this important message in February. For me, a mammogram in February makes sense because it coincides with my birthday. For you, it might make sense because of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s day is a great reminder to get an annual check. While you’re in the changing room trying on something lacy – make a quick phone call to the doctor to make sure that the curves that fill out that lace and trim is healthy – and stays that way! And if you’re not in a situation where you feel compelled to buy some lingerie mid-February, maybe you just need a reminder that your breasts need a little squeeze. A mechanical hug, if you will…

Love yourself - Schedule a Mammogram!

Last year I went for my mammogram, I was a little scared. It was like part of me was admitting that breast cancer could happen to me. And running away is so much easier, y’all. Thinking that everything will be fine. But getting the report back, confirming that everything is fine – that feels so much better! If you’re nervous about getting your first mammogram, check out the CTCA website and type “mammogram” in the search box. You’ll find lots of information on what mammograms are all about. Or, feel free to ask your questions in the comment section below – I’m no expert, but I’m happy to share what I know!

So, what is the third certainty that comes with having a birthday? Blowing out the candles and making a wish. A birthday isn’t a birthday without getting to make an annual wish while blowing out those dancing flames. I can’t tell you what I wished (or it might not come true!), but if you know me you’re probably guessing that I wished for something along the lines of a happy and healthy future for myself and my family. And you’d probably be right.

Yes, I received compensation for this post as part of a promotional program with CTCA and MomSelect. I am thrilled to participate because Mammograms are important.

How to rent a home in three days

Yes. How to rent a home in three days. I did it. Together with my husband, we spent 3 very stressful days finding a place to rent in the very pricy San Diego area. Mid-January hubby was offered a promotion, which we immediately accepted. Knowing that it would mean a move from our home of 8 years in Las Vegas to San Diego. This was a good thing. While we loved our friends in Las Vegas, and had an amazing community there, this move not only meant a promotion for him, but also a move closer to our family.

Once we knew the move was certain, we had about a month to find a new place, pack, and move. Not a lot of time. So we got started. If you have a big move in your future, here is how we did it (and some thoughts on how we would have done it differently).

moving truck

Day 1: Prep Work

The first day was preparing for our rental-hunting trip. Thanks to the internet and telephones we didn’t have to be in San Diego to get started. First, we had to decide on our wants and needs. We decided we needed 3 bedrooms (or two and a bonus space), we needed pet-friendly to bring our cat, and we needed garage space (attached or not did not matter). Wants included a yard for the kids, space for our furniture, on-site laundry (preferably in the unit) and a location close to hubby’s new work. We also set our budget, and knew we wanted to consider what school the rental was zoned for. We were pretty confident in our credit scores, but if you don’t know yours – now is a great time to check.

I went to websites to find locations. I started a list with the details: Address, rooms, cost, amenities. Then added the school district, school, and the school’s rank on GreatSchools.org. I checked with family to find out the areas to avoid. I tried to keep within our price range while still giving us as many options as possible: apartments, townhomes, and free-standing houses when possible. Having a list kept me from “finding” the same place twice – some were listed on multiple sites. I also added a couple that were more than we were willing to pay – it is always interesting to know what extra dollars can buy, and some of those amenities might make you re-consider your budget.

I printed out the school district maps, and bookmarked just about every website I visited so I could more easily find it again later. Google doesn’t always give you the same search results – especially if you don’t type in the exact same search term. I scoured property management websites. I made appointments where possible for Day 2 – our first day of searching.

One last important thing: I measured all of our furniture, and wrote down the measurements. We knew that we would be renting a much smaller place (about half the size), and we would need to know what furniture we would be taking with us, and what we’d want to sell/gift/donate before moving.

 

Day 2: Hunting

We started day 2 at a free-standing house in a fair neighborhood, about 15 minutes from hubby’s work. It had a lot of what we were looking for, but we didn’t want to jump on the first house. In retrospect, filling out an application and paying the fee would have been a good idea. It would have given us first right of refusal if we found something better. Even though it would have cost us about $50 in fees, it would have been money well spent for peace of mind.

We went through our list, taking photos as we went. I wish we would have taken more photos. Learn from my mistake: TAKE ALL THE PHOTOS. Take photos of everything. Take video as you walk through the space. It is all digital, you can delete what you don’t end up needing. You’ll think that you remember, but you won’t. Measure walls, and record them so that you’ll know later what furniture fits. Treat each place as if it might be THE ONE. There are no second dates when you’re house hunting with a tight deadline.

Our plan of attack took us across the valley. We started at the West end and moved East. This was an important time saver. Hopping around, on and off freeways in an unfamiliar city would have been a huge waste of time. Instead, we took it as systematically as we could. At the end of the day, we were exhausted. We decided that of all the places we looked at, the first place was the best. We called to get the paperwork started, but someone else beat us to it. We missed out on the first house because of our hesitation. Nothing else had us excited, but we had an idea of what the rental market here looked like.

Back at “base camp”, my Aunt and Uncle’s home, we got back to work. Hubby re-scoured all the rental sites for new listings or listings we might have dismissed too early, and I googled for property management sites. It was the beginning of a new month, and I wanted to see if they’d posted new properties. I also wrote down the name and phone number of each property management company to get us started on Day 3.

view of coranado

 

Day 3: Desparation

We had 4 days set aside for house hunting, and we were only in Day 2, but we felt like we’d already seen most of what San Diego had to offer. And though we knew that our new home would be much smaller and much older than the beautiful new-construction home we were coming from in Las Vegas, the reality was more stark than we’d realized. I began the day at 9am calling the list of property managers I had created the night before, asking if anything new was available that wasn’t on the website yet. After half a dozen calls, someone said yes, and off we went.

The apartment was newly renovated, and they were adding the last touches, installing a new fridge as we looked around. It was also tiny. 900 square feet. I measured the living room and started to cry. I didn’t own a single piece of furniture that would fit. My sofas, my tables, nothing would fit in this apartment that was barely larger than our master bedroom suite back home. Yes, I knew we’d been spoiled at the price of real estate in Las Vegas. Yes, I was ready to give up furniture and live in a smaller space as we made this step forward as a family. But as a work-at-home mom, I couldn’t see myself living, working, and raising my family here. I cried the ugliest cry right in front of that poor property manager and my baffled husband. It was the rock-bottom of house hunting, y’all.

We left. Not sure where to look next, we were close to a home that we weren’t allowed to schedule a tour for until we had driven by. With nothing else to do, we drove by. As we pulled up we noticed “open house” signs out front. Taking that as our invitation, we parked and walked through a cute little bungalow. The property manager was working in the kitchen, so we didn’t wander in there. We walked through the rooms. It was a little more than we had planned on spending, but not by much – and it had everything on our want and need lists – 3 bedrooms, an attached garage with washer-dryer hookups, 5 minutes from hubby’s work and walking distance from a school rated a 9 out of 10. It was expensive… but possibly worth it? We had a “maybe” house.

We spent the rest of the day calling property management companies, and looking at what was available. We went by a condo that was zoned for an amazing school – but it was hard to see the beauty in between the mess of the tenant who was still trying to move out. In the end, the maybe house won. We called, and submitted our forms. The house hunt was over.

house packed in boxes

Epilogue: The Days After

We were approved for the house, so we headed back home to the kiddos. My Mother in Law had watched them while we were house hunting so that we could focus on our task. Before leaving town we picked up an enrollment packet for school.

When we walked through the “maybe house”, we hadn’t taken any pictures. We weren’t seriously considering it at the time. We took a few basic measurements, but didn’t record any. This was a mistake. We knew our big couch would fit, but not which table. We should have done a better job recording these details, even on a house we didn’t think we were seriously considering. Relying on our memories – especially mine which was barely 30 minutes out of meltdown mode – was not a good plan. Especially… well, especially considering what we missed.

As the movers were bringing in the big pieces, I was taking smaller things out of my car. Including the boys’ sippy cups. I brought them into the kitchen to put in the dishwasher… the dishwasher… there … is … no … dishwasher. Our beautiful 1950’s bungalow did not come with a dishwasher. Luckily, we’ve moved one in – me.

the kitchen

There were other things we should have looked at. Like outlets. In Vegas, each wall had at least 2 outlets. Here, you’re lucky to find one per wall – and it probably doesn’t have ground.

outlets

So now, almost exactly a year later, we’re starting to feel settled. I thought I’d bounce right back in a month. Maybe 3. It has taken a year. I think it is all the firsts that makes it so hard. The first Christmas (where will we put the tree?). The first day of school (will he like his classmates?). The first Halloween (how much candy do we need?). It is also all the things that I never thought I’d have to decide again. After trying three different preschools with my oldest, I knew exactly which preschool would be perfect for my younger son – but I had to audition preschools all over again.

It has taken a while, but I no longer need Google Maps to tell me how to get to my favorite fabric shop. Or to the beach. I still need help getting to Ikea or the airport… but we’re making progress.

feeling like home

Eating the Frog, and having a whole Frog Farm

I’m coming out of the coma. The mental coma that moving put me into. Anyone who has moved recently knows that moving is brutal. And anyone who hasn’t moved recently probably doesn’t remember how brutal moving is because they’ve completely blocked it out of their memory. Which I hope to do soon. Very soon.

In January we learned that we were moving. We were moving for all the right reasons, and we were happy to move. More about all that later. Probably. Five weeks after the announcement, we were in a new home, in a new city, in a new state. Everything was different. As I unpacked the boxes that I had packed in the previous weeks, and tried to find the perfect place for each of our treasured belongings, I really lost sight of everything else.

When you move, it becomes your one priority. The move comes first – everything else depends on it. Want to make a sandwich? First you have to find the box with the plates, the box with the knife, and find out where the closest grocery store is to buy bread and fixings. And condiments – because all of your food was given away or tossed before the move. Want to take a shower? Find the soap, towel, and change of clothes. And hope the shower curtain was packed on top, or you’ll need some extra towels to mop up the floor. Which you’ll need to wash. But first you need to head to the hardware store for an extra fixture so that your modern dryer can attach to a not-so-modern home.

Everything takes longer. Sometimes days longer.

Which means that all the things that were important before the move have been demoted from first place to 5th. Or 8th. or 92nd.

But now I’m coming out of the coma. The shower curtain has been found and hung. The dryer works. We discovered we don’t have a dishwasher, but we’re managing. And all my old priorities get to be priorities again. We are rediscovering normal in our new surroundings.

But while I was away, my priorities multiplied. Now everything has been waiting for weeks to get my attention. And I can’t take it all on at once. So each day, I’m trying to eat the frog.

Eat the Frog - Always Expect Moore com

I pick one of the big frogs that is waiting for my attention, and tackle that one. One at a time, day after day, I’m taking on the frogs. Some frogs take more than one day. That’s okay. It is too daunting to eat the whole frog farm at once, so I’m eating them one at a time. I suppose that either they’ll stop croaking, or I’ll croak. Sorry. Bad pun. Couldn’t help myself.

Some of my frogs are as simple as sending out e-mail followup. Or writing a post I’ve been meaning to. Some are tackling bigger projects. But over the next weeks and months, I’ll gobble up all the frogs that have been needing my attention.

Though, I’m not sure that Mark Twain had it right. I think that if it’s your job to eat a frog, you should eat it first thing… and then update your resume second. Though I won’t be updating my resume any time soon. I love my job, and all the metaphorical frogs that go with it.

Most Popular Projects of 2013

Top Posts for 2013 on Always Expect Moore

I had a lot of fun blogging this year! I blogged here, over at 30 Minute Crafts, CraftSnark, CraftyHangouts, Answers.com and contributed at Craft Test Dummies. So… lots of fun posts, projects, and roundups this year. I thought I’d share with you the most popular projects here at Always Expect Moore this year. Here goes…

10. Whimsical Holiday Entertaining Recipes
One of two sponsored posts to make this year’s top 10 list… this post was so fun to create! I hung out with my husband to come up with some delicious adult beverages, and whipped up some other fun treats as well. Perfect for holiday entertaining… or just entertaining yourself!
Holiday Entertaining with Smart & Final

9. How to Make a Wizard Costume
I love that so many of the top posts were favorites of mine as well! This tutorial on making a Wizard Costume was so much fun to make, and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed it too.
Wizard Costume

8. Fabric Fest Quilts
Teaching at Fabric Fest was one of the high points of 2013, and I loved sharing all my different fast quilts with you… if you’re one that enjoyed this post stay tuned… I have more fun fast quilting to share in 2014!
three jelly roll race quilts

7. Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower
A shower I put together for my Sister in Law last year, this was a fun project. I enjoyed sharing how the theme came together, and the little (and big) ways I incorporated Pooh into this simple shower.
Winnie the Pooh Shower Invitation

6. Hexagon Fabric Bracelet
I remember the night that I was inspired to create the first of these Hexagon Bracelets. I stayed up most of the night stitching them together, I was so excited by this idea!
Hexagon Fabric Bracelet Tutorial

5. Monsters University Juice Box Printables
The second sponsored post to make this list, these juice box printables were so fun to create. I especially loved this project because it was a chance to get my boys involved in crafting.
Monsters University Juice Setup

4. Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” Wallhanging
This might be my favorite project of the year. I loved everything about it, and will have a hard time coming up with an encore in 2014.
Dr Seuss Oh The Places You'll Go Quilt Wallhanging

3. How to Write a Thank You Note
This post became very popular on Pinterest… which makes me so happy! I’m glad that the world wants to know how to write a good Thank You note. It is such a simple but vitally important thing to know… and I’m glad I could share this tidbit with y’all.
How to Write a Thank You Note

2. Three Printable Boy Baby Shower Games
All three of my SILs had babies in the last 14 months, these printables were created for a shower I was unable to attend, but wanted to help out with. Since they were so much fun, I shared them online.
three printble boy baby shower games - just print, grab pens, and you're all set!

1. Fast and Easy Baby Shower Games
With the popularity of Baby Shower posts, I’m guessing lots of babies were born in 2013! These were three easy to whip together games for a last-minute shower.
Super Easy Baby Shower Games

So there you have it! The top posts for 2013… I can’t wait to start 2014… I have so many fun and exciting projects and posts in store for you!

 

Five Year Finish

witch quilt by buggy barn

This quilt is finally finished. It only took 5 years.

There is nothing overly complex about this quilt that made it take so long. I took a class at Quiltique when I was on maternity leave after having my oldest, who is now 5. I finished the blocks within a few days of taking the class.

A few years later, I put the blocks together and finished the quilt top. I had a friend quilt it.

A year or so after that, I made the binding.

This year, I stitched on the binding. Finally. It took 5 years, but this quilt is finished.

I have quite a few more UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) hanging in the closet that need piecing, quilting, and/or binding… I’m hoping to start working my way through them, instead of adding to them. I have already trimmed 3 quilts that need binding, and cut out their binding. I’m taking baby steps, but at least they are in the right direction.

Do you have any UFOs that you want to get caught up on?

PS – If you are interested, the quilt pattern for the quilt pictured above is from Buggy Barn. It is a fun stack-and-chop technique for making a quilt block.

Riley Blake Fabric Fest!

It is here! Riley Blake Fabric Fest!! Four days of hanging out with other quilters, sewing, teaching, learning… and shopping! Oh… the fabric!

I don’t have much time, but thought I’d share with you a few of my impressions from the first day… no classes, just registration, shopping, and chatting with other quilters…

 

This is what it looked like when the doors opened onto Fabric Fest. All the ladies looking forward to the fabric awesomeness behind the doors…

walking into fabric fest

Riley Blake and Quiltique did a great job of setting up all the displays and the fabric…

quilts at fabric fest

I love all the seasonal fabrics – Halloween, Christmas… yay!

Halloween Riley Blake Fabrics

I’ve got a quilt at the quilter right now that I made with Dresdens… I love this colorful version (and I can’t wait to share mine with you next week!)

dresden bursts

Pinwheels go very modern, and very colorful in this quilt.

colorful pinwheels

I always have hexies on the brain lately, and I love what adding a chevron print did for these hexagons!

chevron hexagons

More coming soon… I promise!

This week was brought to you by: The Letter T

T is for travel. We’ve been traveling this week with a fun trip to visit my mom. We met up with my brother, his wife, and my baby nephew, and had a fun weekend. I love hanging out with my family, and giving my little brother (who stands about a foot taller than me) a hard time. And my son LOVES visiting with all of them! The rest of my family is way more fun than I am!

T is also for trouble … as in car trouble. And for Towtruck.

car on towtruck

I went to pick up my son from “kindergarten camp”, and when I got back to the car, it wouldn’t start. I was stranded in a parking lot 2 months ago with a dead battery, so I was sure it wasn’t that… and I was right. The car needed a new starter. Luckily, I have a handy husband, so after having the car towed back to our house, he was able to replace it.

T is also for.. TIME! As in… it is about time! I FINALLY got a new laptop. I’m still working on the old laptop some as I make the transition… moving programs, files, links… everything I need over to the new computer. I’m very excited to have a computer with a battery life more than 2 minutes (I only wish that was an exaggeration), and can’t wait to get it all set up.

I also am finally getting my own space. We’re moving around some rooms in the house to give me my own room for writing, crafting, and sewing. And I really need it. It is a work in progress… here is how it looks now:

sewing room progress

Have you seen what I’ve been up to lately? I FINALLY shared my variations of the Jelly Roll Race Quilt… and I’ve got one more I’ll be sharing soon!

I had some fun with Mod Melts and made some Butterfly Decor and decorative paperclips. American Crafts sent me some fun supplies as well. I made Candy Fireworks, a Light-up wand (great alternative to sparklers), and paper bunting straws.

I also started a new series with my friend Brandie, called “Cook and Craft”. She cooks something, I craft something, and you get two fun things to do with the kids this summer! I made a school backpack turned summer pack (to pair with her yummy granola bars), and Movie Printables (to go with her PB&J popcorn).

Last week I went on a mommy-son date with my oldest to see the new Monsters University. I made him a special Mike Wazowski t-shirt to wear to the movie preview.

I also participated in Watermelon week, and made some mouth-watering Watermelon Plates for Watermelon Week. You won’t believe they only took 30 minutes to paint!

And, since I’ve been writing lots of notes, I thought I’d share my Tips on how to write a Thank You Note. It might come in handy for someone, so feel free to pin it.

One more thing… you might have seen my post on Facebook about picking up my son on Wednesday. The teacher mentioned that Friday the students should come to school dressed as Wiazards. So… I spent most of Thursday making the best Wizard costume I could come up with! I’ll be sharing the how-to soon, but wanted to share the finished result, in case you don’t follow me on Instagram

Yup, T is for TOTALLY AWESOME. Which is what my son said when he tried on his finished costume. This was the best thing I did all week!

Wizard Costume

Come back tomorrow… I’m sharing a fun giveaway!

This week was brought to you by: the letter V

V is for Vacation. We just had a 3-day weekend, and I’m about to create another 3-day weekend for myself! The boys and I are having some fun this weekend… I’m sure I’ll be posting about it here soon!

I think I’ve earned it, considering all that I’ve been up to. This week the boys both needed to go to the doctor for a check-up (and shots!). Poor kids…

Remember all that work I did in the yard? Well, it is finally paying off! The Home Depot sponsored this campaign, but you can feel like a sponsored blogger by signing up for their e-mails! Just by signing up, you get $5 off your first $50 purchase, plus $300 of savings year-round! Sign up here with the Code GCSweeps  http://pages.homedepot.com/joingc

Earlier this week I created some fun stackable, squishable fabric blocks that are featured over on the Art Gallery Fabrics blog. You can see them on the AGF blog!

I also took their new Urban Mod line, and created the quilt Urban Sprawl. You can see it here, and get the instructions on how to stitch one up yourself. PLUS, I’m giving away a FQ pack of the fabrics I used for my Stackable, Squishable fabric blocks, so check out the bottom of the post for details. Giveaway ends on Monday – so enter soon!

I’ve been doing a TON of sewing. New sewing projects include my circle clutch, hexagon quilt, and a half-square triangle project I’m working on. Yup. Lots of fun stuff.

Did you miss the wreath videos I did with my friend Angie last week? I created a fun patriotic wreath, a kids submarine porthole wreath, and a fun no-sew fabric wreath. All have different techniques you’ll want to check out.

Oh – and I have a great Washi Tape Giveaway going on over at 30 Minute Crafts as well – pin a few images, and you could win 25 rolls of washi tape!

Hope you have a great week!

Ironing Board Cover Class

Amazon links are affiliate links.

Many of you know that I used to work at a quilt shop here in Vegas. After my second son was born, I became a full-time at-home mom, instead of working outside the home. But, I couldn’t give up all the social interaction of hanging out with others, so I found a middle ground. I teach classes at the quilt shop – allowing me to stay home most of the time, but still get out and play with other quilters sometimes, too! Taking and teaching classes, as well as staying active in the local Modern Quilt Guild are so fun for me… so I’m excited to share with you the new class I’m teaching this summer!

I’m teaching a class on making an ironing board cover. I don’t know about you, but my ironing board is out all the time. I never put it away. And as a permanent piece of furniture in my home, I think it deserves some beautification, right? I love this pattern, and the cover is simple to put together. There are a few simple tricks that make it even easier (come to the class and I’ll tell ya)! You can sign up for the class on the Quiltique website.

If you’re not a local, but still want to make the ironing board cover, you can get the pattern online at Quiltique here. Cotton Way has another ironing board cover pattern as well, it is available at Amazon here.

This week was brought to you by: Star Shaped Bubbles

Today we burst my son’s bubble when we explained to him that it doesn’t matter what shape the bubble wand is… the bubbles will still be circular. Even star shaped wands make circle bubbles.

yes. that is his “I’m not impressed” face.

When he asked “why?” in typical four-year-old fashion, I’m pretty sure my answer was, “Well kiddo, it has to do with surface tension, and that a star doesn’t make for a very secure structure.” With answers like that, I’m not sure why he even asks “why” anymore!

This whole week has been a pretty amazing bubble, though! Over on 30 Minute Crafts I’ve been doing Craft Lightning, with a whole week of crafts that can be done in FIFTEEN minutes or less! Yup, for Craft Lightning week, I up the ante. I shared tutorials for my Falling Star and Tumbling Heart EarringsFelt Cowboy VestFabric Flower topped Gift Box, Fabric Banners, and  Fancy Felt Clutch. Each evening I shared a roundup post with quick crafts from my friends about the interwebs. You can catch the roundups for Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, and Day Five.

The fast crafting doesn’t end there, though! At 4pm PST Monday and Friday of this week, I’ll be live crafting TEN minute crafts with Angie from the Country Chic Cottage as we do live crafting videos. Check us out, as well as our other awesome participants at Crafty Hangouts.

Here on Always Expect Moore, I shared my Mod Podge Dinosaur wreath, and then wrapped up the Dinosaur birthday party, and shared with you how to make super easy ice cream pizzas. Yum!

I started a new series on Craftsnark on the difference between the terms DIY and Craft. {{spoiler alert: I’m not a fan of one of them. No, I’m not telling you which one. Yes, that wasn’t much of a spoiler. HA!}}

We had some fun this week. Wednesday hubs got a year older, and we celebrated on Thursday by watching him jump out of a practically fine airplane. You might have caught whiff of it on Instagram. And it is the inspiration behind a fun parachute craft project I’ll be sharing here later this week!

Then today I took the boys to the park for a Mommy and Me event. It was quite a few hours in the wind and sun, but they both loved it. And that’s all that matters, right?

I hope you have an amazing week! And enjoy this last photo… my son is a “ladybug whisperer”. Any ladybug will find him, or he will find it, no matter how giant the park!