Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Maiden Meal

Monday night I invited Dave over for dinner and used my brand new gas range and oven for the first time to prepare the inaugural meal in my new home. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos but the menu went like this:

Main Course - Lasagna

Vegetable - Cooked Carrots

Side Dish - Garlic Bread

And for Dessert - Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am happy to report that my oven works very well. Everything turned out great! And I even think Dave enjoyed his first taste of my cooking. However, I still have lots of left over lasagna. If any of you need to pack a lunch this week come on over...just bring your own container.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Home Ownership

So, I think I'm just beginning to figure out all the actual financial responsibilities of home ownership. After making a 10% down payment and writing a check for the closing costs not paid by the builder, I thought my money-spending was over until the first mortgage payment came due. Boy was I wrong.

First came the window blinds. Mind you, I have 13 windows in my 1600 square-foot house. That's a whole lot of windows and 5 of them in my master bedroom/bath alone. With construction workers on site just across the street those blinds were very necessary.

Next was the water softener. I could have had the builder put one in but it was triple what I ended up paying. Even still, it was an expense -- one that I thought I could delay a little but my skin started screaming after washing only one sink of dishes.

I thought I was well prepared with everything I needed in the kitchen. I have literally been buying and storing things away for nearly 10 years. However, when I suggested we heat up a can of soup for dinner the night I moved in, Dave asked if I had a can opener. No! Can you believe I forgot something so simple and important?!

Then I have also had to buy groceries. I never realized how much I took my mother's well-stocked kitchen for granted.

And my list of small incidental things needed continues to grow...TV cable, clothes hooks, nails to hang pictures and a hammer to pound them in the walls, scrub brush for dishes, stamps and envelopes, etc, etc, etc. Not to mention the larger purchases I'm dreaming about...coordinated bedroom furniture, rugs and accent pillows, coffee table and entertainment center, garage storage units, patio furniture, backyard makeover, etc, etc, etc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Official!

After paying an exorbitant amount of money, signing and initialling about a hundred papers, promising to send in a monthly check for the next 30 years, and receiving a set of 12 keys, I can officially declare myself a Homeowner!

Take a look at the journey!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fruits of My Labors

It all began around 4:00 this afternoon...

Twenty pints (less the one we lost in the hot water bath) and 6 hours later.

Say hello to the first items in my food storage!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Boring Brownies?

Sometimes your average pan of brownies can put you to sleep. They're just so plain chocolaty.

Ever thought of sprucing them up a bit?

Next time that hot pan of brownies comes fresh out of the oven, top it off with good things from your pantry.

Marshmallows, Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter, Nutella...the possibilities are endless and oh, so good. You'll never have a boring batch of brownies again!

Note: Be sure when you make this recipe while babysitting your niece and nephew that you eat it just before their parents arrive. That way mom and dad can deal with the inevitable sugar rush and subsequent hyperactivity instead of you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Much Halloween Spirit Do You Have?


When it comes to enthusiasm for Halloween, I'm just about average. As long as my costume or Halloween event doesn't require too much effort or creativity, I'm happy to be the bridge between the Halloween flaunters and the fakers.

Adequately Scary

Monday, October 13, 2008

Newsy Soundbites

October 3: Maggie turned two years old!

October 5 & 6: General Conference was wonderful, as usual!

October 9: Ryan turned 18 years old and submitted his Eagle paperwork with hours to spare!

October 11: The Utah All-State Choir concert with 700 high school students went off perfectly!

October 12: Daniel blessed the twins, Coleman Daniel Hinckley & William Cannon Hinckley!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blessings & Miracles

So, you've probably all caught on by now that I'm about to become a homeowner. I feel as if this whole process has been one blessing and miracle after another. Let me explain.

Back in June, I spontaneously took a jaunt to several new condo and townhouse developments around Davis County. We ended up in Foxboro North at the Berkley Townhouses. I have never wanted to move to Foxboro but something about these new townhouses just felt right. I pondered, prayed, and fasted about building there and finally decided to do it. The house cost quite a lot more than I had wanted to spend on my first piece of real estate but I kept feeling that I needed to just take the plunge and everything would be all right. Before long, I began to recognize the many ways the Lord was blessing me.

These are just some of the wonderful things that have happened in this process.

1. The builder considered the lower offer I made and in the end consented to give me both $5000 in free upgrades and $3000 towards closing costs.
2. All the upgrades I wanted came to just barely over $5000.
3. After doing a little research on mortgage loans and presenting my findings to the lender, they significantly lowered some of their closing cost fees.
4. I easily found roommates one day during a visiting teaching lesson when my sweet visiting teacher mentioned she needed to be out of her house at the exact time mine would be completed.
5. By shopping sales, scrounging through clearance items, using coupons, and haggling with salesmen, I have bought nearly everything I need from furniture to muffin tins at remarkably discounted prices.
6. The stock market crashed and brought interest rates down with it. The timing was impecable and I locked in at one of the lowest rates in months.
7. The builder just reduced the prices of all their houses and even though I had already agreed to pay the former price, they were generous enough to submit an addendum to my contract and credit me $4000.
8. I have been able to save a hefty down payment in just a few short months.
9. Some of the money for my down payment has been tied up in CDs and I have been worried about needing to close on my house before they matured. The builder has now set the closing date which falls exactly 3 days after the CDs mature. Perfect timing.
10. (There is at least one other blessing that I have seen which I cannot yet disclose. Just know that it has been the best blessing and miracle of all.)

Remember, this list of blessings/miracles is by no means comprehensive. I know there are many others that I have failed to recognize. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father who has provided the way for me to buy this house. Words cannot express the gratitude in my heart for the way everything has been coming together. When it all started I knew I was doing the right thing but I still had so many fears and worries going into it. The worries are still there but they have been lessened as I have seen the hand of the Lord in this process. It has truly all been a MIRACLE!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Post Conference Post

The 178th Semiannual General Conference session has come and gone. It was a great weekend.

We ended up with 365 children in the Primary Choir -- only one more than we have seats in the choir loft. The extra child sat on a folding chair at the top of the left section and blended in so well you couldn't even tell we had an excess.

Preparing snacks for the kids.

Three of my wonderful missionaries: Carol, Diane, & Marietta.

Friends from the Church Music Committee: Dennis & Teri.

The MTC Choir came in with the perfect number of elders. It was fun to watch and listen to them practicing HSI -- Hable Su Idioma! Ah, the baby-Spanish days of the MTC.

Sadly, I didn't get a chance to hear much of conference but I'll get to it soon, thanks to the wonders of technology and the archives section on the internet.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

178th Semiannual General Conference

Tonight I'm enjoying an evening of calm before the storm. Rain and cold temperatures are in the forecast for the weekend here along the Wasatch Front. But, you also mustn't forget that bright and early tomorrow morning begins the 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Since most of you readers get to lounge around the house in your pajamas eating hot buttered popcorn with dark chocolate m&ms during the next couple of days, I want to let you know just exactly what you'll be missing at the Conference Center front lines.

Saturday, October 4
4:30 a.m. -- alarm sounds
5:30 a.m. -- leave for Salt Lake
6:00 a.m. -- greet and mingle with the Guest Service Missionaries
6:30 a.m. -- prayer meeting in the Tabernacle
7:30 a.m. -- breakfast and take care of any last-minute needs
10:00 a.m. -- first conference session begins
10:30 a.m. -- meet leaders of the visiting primary choir
11:00 a.m. -- 367 primary children ages 8-12 arrive
12:00 p.m. -- primary choir snack time
1:00 p.m. -- take primary children to the choir loft
2:00 p.m. -- second conference session begins
3:00 p.m. -- 364 elders of the visiting priesthood choir arrive
4:00 p.m. -- exit primary choir from the building to safely meet their chaperones
5:00 p.m. -- take priesthood choir to the choir loft
6:00 p.m. -- third (or priesthood) conference session begins
8:00 p.m. -- exit priesthood choir from the building
9:00 p.m. -- return home, early to bed

Sunday, October 5
4:30 a.m. -- alarm sounds
5:30 a.m. -- leave for Salt Lake
6:00 a.m. -- greet and mingle with the Guest Service Missionaries
6:30 a.m. -- prayer meeting in the Tabernacle
7:30 a.m. -- breakfast and take care of any last-minute needs
10:00 a.m. -- fourth conference session begins
12:30 p.m. -- meet up with a cute boy
2:00 p.m. -- fifth conference session begins
4:00 p.m. -- return home, exhausted

Now I know you're all sad to have to stay home and miss the fun at the Conference Center. Just let me know when you're ready and I'll get you signed up as a Guest Service Missionary or Event Coordinator Missionary so you can come join the front lines with us.

Because you are all such devoted readers of my blog (and made it this far down), I'm going to let you in on two little secrets about conference.

1. We have three more primary children than we have chairs in the choir loft. They have all worked so hard to prepare for tomorrow that we couldn't tell the extras to stay home. So, the solution is to let those three children sit on folding chairs above the choir. When they all stand up to sing the three kids will fill in the back row between the center and left sections. You'll have to watch for them.

2. Louie is a great boss and because I'll be working so hard on Saturday, he has given me permission to go off-duty for the last session of conference. I'll still be in the building but I'll get to sit and watch the last session with Dave!

Despite the hectic schedule I keep during General Conference, I love this time of year! It is such a privilege every six months to help put on the most important meeting held in the Church. Sometimes I just have to stop and marvel at how I arrived at this place. What a wonderful blessing!