Thursday, October 4, 2012

Au revoir

Dear Internets,

I think it's time for me to say goodbye (for now) to this blog.

I've been thinking about this for a while. (I even had a dream about it, which I won't tell you about, because as Ron Swanson Uncle Henry says, "Dear, no one likes to hear about dreams.")

Life has settled into a comfortable routine that is pretty darn great. Sadly, "My Comfortable Routine" doesn't exactly make for gripping blog material. The internet is already full of so much white noise; I don't want to put writing out into the world that doesn't sing (or at the very least, rap out a catchy drum beat).

I'll still be around, reading and commenting on your blogs. Maybe I'll even post again, someday. But for now, it's time to say "so long."

Love always,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Empty bucket

I was talking to a friend the other day about why I haven't done any stand up for so long. I told her really miss it, but I feel like I have run out of things to say. It's like I had a certain sized bucket of funny insights, and I used it up in 2010-2011.

I feel the same way about writing. I haven't been blogging or journaling regularly for over a year. The stories I *could* tell don't feel like they belong to me.

Maybe it's a question of just doing it. Maybe I really have run out of things to say.

Do you ever feel this way? If so, how do you get over it?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

About me 3.0

It has been about three-and-a-half years since I last wrote an "About" page (well, technically, since Gretchen Alice wrote it), so I figured it was time for an update.

My name is Sandra, not Jane. I originally wanted this blog to be anonymous (hence the "Jane,") but I gave that up and use my real name (Sandra) now. I comment on other blogs as Jane to be confusing out of laziness for consistency. I don't blog (or comment) as much as I used to. Sorry about that. (Or, if you don't like me: you're welcome.)

I'm in my early 30s. I live in Austin, TX with my husband Abe (formerly known as Achilles), my dog Bailey, and our three chickens. I have an adorable niece and nephew, another niece on the way, and the obligatory best friends and family ever.

Abe and I recently bought a house as close to the old neighborhoods in downtown Austin (where we both grew up) as we could afford. We are not very close to downtown Austin.

As far as my interests (particularly what I like to blog about), I like to consider myself a dilettante. For me, the term does not have a negative connotation. Everyone has their passions; my passion just happens to be trying lots and lots of different things (and watching scripted television shows that get canceled or changed due to criminally low ratings). I have tried my hand at stand up comedy, animal husbandry, baking, cooking, learning Italian, triathlons, knitting, playing the ukulele, sewing, cake decorating, gardening, and probably some other things I've forgotten about. I have a three-page (and counting!) list of other hobbies I want to try.

I like to think everyone has a little bit of Leslie Knope inside them; I am the Leslie that puts a lot of thought into gifts. (And possibly also the Leslie Knope that eats waffles a little more often than she should.)

I work as a computer programmer, which I mostly enjoy. Recently, I took a year or so off from computer programming to work from home for a Really Big Company (a "fruity" electronics company that made me sign one heck of a confidentiality agreement when I left). It was a good experience, but working from home turned out to be bad for me as a human being. So now I'm back to programming. I go to work at a Big College Campus, which requires me to do all sorts of exciting things, like change out of pajamas and ride the bus and interact with other humans who are not yelling at me.

A couple of years ago, my husband Abe gave up his lawyer job to become a police officer. I've since come to the conclusion that the only people the general public hates more than lawyers (until they need one) are cops (until they need one). I understand that you may have strong feelings about police. I prefer not to discuss them with you. Honestly, policing is not my first choice for Abe's profession, but he's happy, so I'm happy.*

My interests include food (eating it), funny people, all types of animals (especially dogs and elephants), Pinterest, reading, and watching teenage angst from afar. My dislikes include all manner of biting insects/arachnids, feeling broke, Facebook, and watching teen angst from up close.

Since it is the question I'm most frequently asked lately: there are currently zero babies in my home or uterus**. Someday, maybe, we'll have a kid that combines Abe's writing skills with my math skills, and everyone better watch out, because, wow, that kid is going to ace his or her SATs. (That, or s/he will inherit my writing skills and Abe's math skills and both of our ADHD and everyone should still watch out, because wow, that kid will be a hot mess.) Or maybe we'll adopt a child, or maybe we won't have kids at all. I promise, I'll let you know if there is any development on that front.

If you have any questions or want to be best blog friends, please do tweet or email me. If you want to contact me for some other reason, you should know that I don't do sponsored posts, and generally speaking, I don't do product giveaways.

Also, I try to be a nice person, but sometimes I am bad at humor/life/social skills. Let me know if I offend you, and at the very least, I'll try to do better next time.

Love always,

*I never even felt like a "police wife" until a few months ago. One night, a call came out about a possible shoplifter. My husband, a rookie who was expected to take that type of "annoying, routine call," was about to assign when an officer who was closer took the call instead. The officer who took the call was shot and killed in the line of duty. I bring this up to explain why I am not interested in debating police use of force or civil rights here: it's just not something I can be unemotional about.

**But thanks for asking, random coworker I met three minutes ago.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


We closed on our house last week, and moved in over the weekend. We're still waiting on most of our furniture, an electrician, and some other boring (to the Internets) things, but we have some pictures! (The nice ones are from the original listing. Sorry about the weird small sizes; Blogger is confusing me.)




Living Room:

Master Bedroom:


Office, 3rd Bedroom, guest bath:

We love it so far. I'll probably post more pictures and things as we get going (and get furniture!) and start various projects.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Info Hoard

I think I might be an information hoarder.

I have thousands of bookmarks, Pins, lists, and Google documents all neatly filed away into various categories: interesting online shops, things to make, places to visit, workouts or recipes to try. I see something interesting and tuck it neatly into a folder to look at "when I have time."

In fairness, I'm relatively organized about my hoarding; I can find anything I'm looking for within a few seconds, and I keep my computer desktop, browser windows, and dock clean. My information is easy to access, and since I mostly store everything online, my hoarding doesn't really cost me anything but time. And when Abe is working nights, and I'm bored or lonely, it is pleasant to browse through my online lists and make vague plans to do something with the stuff I've accumulated.

The thing is, though, that I'm not doing anything with all this mental fluff I'm saving. For me, planning is the ultimate form of procrastination.

Now that I've recognized the problem, I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm pretty sure if I make some sort of plan to deal with all my links, I'll just be procrastinating anyway.

Maybe I'll just shut the virtual closet door and ignore the problem until it goes away.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moving day

We (hopefully, fingers-and-toes-crossed) close on our new house in one week. Two days later (fingers-and-toes-and-eyeballs-and-anything-else-we-can-cross) sell our condo two days later.


That's our new kitchen. I'm excited.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flirtation with frugality

I'm a big fan of personal finance and frugal-living blogs, and over the years, I've tried a lot of tips to save money. For example, I'm willing to try just about any DIY beauty or cleaning product at least once. Lola the Corolla has been paid off for several years, and I'm in no hurry to replace her (and I'm willing to do some car maintenance myself), and when I do, I'll probably buy another used car, or consider becoming a single-car family if it's feasible. I'll also happily make my own lunch, reuse plastic food containers for other things for a while before recycling them, and take the bus when it's practical.

However, there are a few common frugal-living tips that I've come to realize I'm just not going to do:

  • Turn the thermostat way up. I work from home. In Texas. I firmly believe people should be comfortable at work, and one can only take off so many articles of clothing. I'm perfectly willing to bundle up in the winter, but in the summer, I want my MTV A/C. 
  • Completely kick my caffeine habit. I would like to do this. Really I would. I just function so much better on caffeine. (I blame ADHD. And Abe's and my weird sleep schedules.) I do try to avoid ordering soda at restaurants and getting fancy coffees too often, but I don't know if I can ever give up caffeine entirely.
  • Make my own laundry detergent/Oxy-Clean. It's cool that people do this. However, making my own laundry detergent seems kind of messy, and (considering how much you make at a time) kind of a waste of space. Frankly, I'd rather just wear my clothes a few more times between washes. Oxy-Clean is a necessity in our house - it's the only thing that keeps Abe's gym clothes from smelling like dirty filthy grossness. Keeping gallons of hydrogen peroxide around to make my own just feels a lot less practical (and seems like it would generate a lot more plastic and gasoline waste) than getting a giant box of of Oxy-Clean from Costco every six months or so when I have a coupon. 
  • Cancel cable. I'd actually be perfectly happy without cable, but it would make Abe miserable. I'm not willing to sacrifice one of my hub's favorite ways of relaxing for the sake of saving money. He has a stressful job. 
  • Buy cheap beer/shoes/meat/dog food. With the exception of flip-flops, I've learned I always pay for cheap shoes with my comfort. (Flip-flops just aren't going to be comfortable regardless.) As far as meat goes, I'd rather eat a few extra vegetarian meals a week than eat tons of growth hormones and pink slime. I'd probably feed Bailey less expensive dog food, but he's allergic to a lot of the ingredients in cheap dog food. I'm willing to pay a little more for grain-free food to avoid doggy IBS accidents and excessive trips to the vet. Life is just too short for cheap beer.
  • Tip poorly. If customer service jobs suck, waiting tables sucks to the power of 11. If I were to have service that was bad enough to warrant not leaving a tip, I would consider it my mistake for not speaking with a supervisor or letting the waiter/waitress know there was a problem. 

What do you think? Do you have any frugal tips for me to try? Is there any frugal advice you just won't take?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bullet points and some pictures of my dog

  • We got Bailey one of those dog couches at Costco. He likes it.
  • I'm applying for a new job that I probably won't get. It pays more, and I wouldn't be working from home full-time anymore. I think it would be a pretty enjoyable job, but mostly, I just need to stop answering phones for a living. Last week a guy told one of my coworkers that if she turned out to be wrong about some information, he'd find her, gut her, and string her intestines up like Christmas lights. Um. Yeah.
  • I think my family is pretty much fed up with me. At least Abe's family likes us. 
  • I am overwhelmed with Things To Do. I just don't know where to start so I stare paralyzed at my to-do list while it continues to grow.
  • Sometimes, I think Bailey and I should just trade places Freaky Friday style.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


You know how sometimes you accidentally delete your blog template, header, everything? And you are pretty sure you backed it up at some point, but you're not sure where?

No? Just me?

Well. Welcome to my new blog layout.

I call it "Better than nothing."


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Demystified: In Bullet Points

My last post was sort of cryptic. I feel like I owe the Internets an explanation.

Life has handed us some lemons in the past few weeks, though only one major one thankfully. [That particular story is not really mine to tell. Very short version: Abe was closely involved in that situation. We had a lot of difficult Life Conversations we'd been putting off, and dealt with some Very Sad Things.]


We sold the condo. Then the sale fell through at the very last possible moment, due to some new government regulations that our HOA had (unbeknownst to us) completely ignored. We were disappointed.


Then we (almost) bought a house. It was a wonderful house, in a neighborhood I've dreamed of living in since I was old enough to have those kind of dreams. Unfortunately, it turned out that the reason we could afford the house was because it had such severe structural damage that it needed to be torn down and rebuilt. We could not afford to do that. We had to back out.


We found two more (nearly) perfect houses. They were sold minutes before we put in offers, for more than we could afford to pay.


My best friend at work (and sort of in life right now) found a new job. I'm happy for her, of course, but sad for me.

I got (what I thought was) a promotion at work. Then it turned out the position I had been offered didn't exist. My supervisor had offered me a new position in order to get me to step down from my current position, so that she could give my job to a friend of a friend.

I sobbed at Abe, updated my LinkedIn, and considered quitting. Instead, I wrote a carefully worded letter that got me transferred to another team, and documented the situation just in case. (I have a record of Very Shady Things my supervisor has done, such as changing time cards so we wouldn't get overtime and encouraging us to work off the clock.) Most days, I feel like Tom Smykowski.

Weirdly enough, though, things are basically going well. A few weeks ago, we sold the condo again, hopefully for good this time. (We'll know for sure by the end of the month.) My new schedule is much closer to Abe's, so we have more time to spend together. We found a contractor who is going to help us find an affordable home and remodel it. I started a new workout regimen. Parks & Recreation and Community had new episodes on the same night.

Nothing's gonna stop me now.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on lemons

When life hands you lemons, I think you should put the lemons in the freezer (in case you need them as evidence) and go get yourself some donuts.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2nd Anniversary - Cotton

Almost two years ago, Abe and I got married. One of our favorite pictures from the day was this one:
photo by (and mustaches courtesy of) Melanie Dodds Photography

Since the traditional second wedding anniversary gift is cotton, I decided to design a t-shirt for Abe. Here's how it turned out. (Artwork by me, printing by CustomInk.)
Finished shirt

Close-up of design

How awesome is this wrapping paper? Half Price Books!

Even though I'd like to consider myself a competitive gift-giver à la Leslie Knope, I suck at waiting to give people gifts, so I gave Abe his shirt about ten minutes after the mailman delivered it.

He approved.

And because it wasn't too much more (and I already had the credit card out) I got one for me, too.
I'm threatening to force Abe to wear the shirts every time we go on vacation so we look like we just stepped off the weirdest most awesome tour bus ever.

Happy Distractible Household Anniversary everyone! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicks, man

Howdy Internets. Nothing is really new in my life. I probably watch too much television. Here are some pictures of the chickens:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We were supposed to close on the sale of our condo today. That did not happen, due to a cluster of annoying factors not really related to us. The offer we had is most likely going to fall through, and we'll have to start the whole process over.

However, I'm trying to stay positive, because today is Leap Day. When you have a whole extra day in a year, you should not spend it being sad. So here are five things I'm grateful for today:

1. Even though I would have liked to have a bambino (here, or on the way) by now, it's nice to be able to maintain a laser-like focus on Getting This Condo Situation Taken Care Of ASAP. And it wouldn't be as crowded if (ugh, worst-case scenario) we end up moving back into the condo.

1b. This also meant that last night (when everything fell apart) I was able to enjoy a glass of wine. (OK, two glasses...)

2. My sister/Realtor is awesome and being super helpful.

3. Bailey is unaffected by this. And adorable.
4. Rather than dreaming about new houses, I can go back to my (even more enjoyable) fantasies about quitting my job.

5. We will probably have our tax refund back in time to use it to pay any additional condo-related expenses that come up.

Everything will work out eventually. And even though I'm not sure that this quote really applies to our situation, it still makes me feel better:

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank among those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat"
~Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate and Tea and Me

A week or so ago, I won a giveaway on Crystal's blog. This morning, the mailman left this in my mailbox:

Swiss chocolate, tea, and a handmade keychain that will be perfect for holding my keys while walking Bailey? You had me at chocolate.

I ate the chocolate for breakfast (because I am an adult and I am allowed to do that, Mom) which made me think of my short study abroad in Switzerland, which made me think of how that trip finally got me away from a lying, cheating, scumbag of an ex-boyfriend and allowed me to move on with my life. I am a fan of Swiss chocolate, is what I'm saying.

Thanks Crystal! You made my day!

P.S. Crystal's blog is awesome, and you should read it if you aren't already. She writes about some of my favorite things (Canada, food, cats in sweaters, husbands who are police officers), and some of my less-favorite things that I can still absolutely relate to (dogs that panic and bark all day when you leave them alone, jobs that are four-letter words).

P.P.S. Thumbs up to the French & U.S. Postal Services. Crystal's package arrived at my house in Texas in about a week.*

*This may impress me because I picture overseas post getting to my house through a combination of old-fashioned carriages, rickety boats, and the Pony Express. But still. Good job postal services!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How to Make Valentine's Cupcakes in 46 Simple Steps (with pictures!)

Step 1. Several weeks before Valentine's Day, be inspired by adorable cupcakes on Bakerella's website. Tell everyone who will listen that you are making these cupcakes for Valentine's Day.

Step 2. Forget step 1 entirely. Forget that Valentine's Day exists.

Step 3. Remember Valentine's Day and cupcakes. Decide you would rather make vanilla cupcakes, as red velvet always reminds you of a song about a prostitute.

Step 3a. (optional, but encouraged.) Schedule a dentist appointment the same day you plan to make cupcakes. Get four or fewer hours of sleep.

Step 4. After your dentist appointment and/or a few hours before your dinner reservation, remember that you had planned/promised to make cupcakes as a Valentine's gift. Realize you lack nearly all necessary ingredients.

Step 5. Head to store to purchase ingredients. Get distracted by cute Valentine's-themed mini cupcake liners. Decide that you should make twee little mini cupcakes instead of full-sized cupcakes. Head home.

Step 6. Mix cupcake batter.

Step 7. Fill 36 mini cupcake liners with batter. Realize you have only used 1/4 of the amount of batter you mixed.

Step 8. Continue filling mini cupcake liners with batter.

Step 9. Continue filling mini cupcake liners with batter.

Step 10. Begin to question the wisdom of making mini cupcakes instead of full-sized cupcakes. Tell yourself you are almost done and to stop being so whiny.

Step 11. Continue filling mini cupcake liners with batter.

Step 12. Get bored and color the rest of the batter pink.
Add Image
Step 13. Continue filling mini cupcake liners with batter.

Step 14. Finish filling mini cupcake liners with batter. Realize you haven't cut out the little hearts that are supposed to adorn the arrows shooting through the cupcakes. Decide to do this while cupcakes bake.

Step 15. Realize how tiny these little hearts are going to have to be to fit on mini cupcakes.
Unpainted Ron Swanson Christmas ornament shown for size reference.

Step 16. Cut out tiny hearts.

Step 17. Cut out tiny hearts.

Step 18. Contemplate telling people most of the cupcakes burned so that you can stop cutting out tiny hearts.

Step 19. Hear the heater turn on. Watch in horror as your tiny paper hearts flutter to the floor.

Step 20. Feel the tiny heart inside your chest flutter to your stomach. Wonder if the five-second rule applies to tiny paper hearts.

Step 21. Decide that the floor, even if clean, is still, you know, the floor, and sweep tiny hearts into the trash.

Step 22. Cut out more tiny hearts.
Step 23. Look at small pile of tiny hearts. Think of 100+ cupcakes baking in the oven. Contemplate actually burning the cupcakes.

Step 24. Finish cutting out tiny hearts.

Step 25. Remove cupcakes from oven. Put them on plates to cool. Realize almost your entire counter is covered in tiny cupcakes.
Step 26. Wait for cupcakes to cool. Realize your dinner reservation is in two-and-a-half hours, and you haven't showered yet.

Step 27. Stab a cupcake with a toothpick. Notice that due to the size of the mini cupcake (or perhaps due to aggressive nature of toothpick stabbing) that the cupcake becomes slightly misshapen once it has been "shot."
Step 28. Decide the cupcakes look sort of heart-shaped, and you will tell people you did this on purpose.

Step 29. Sing Bon Jovi until you notice the dog burying his head under blankets in the other room.

Step 30. Sing even louder. Accidentally-on-purpose stab a few cupcakes hard enough that they break in half. Sample broken cupcakes.

Step 31. Add little paper hearts to cupcakes. Develop carpal tunnel.
Step 32. Realize you used the only bowl large enough to make frosting to mix cupcake batter. Wash dishes.

Step 33. Mix frosting.

Step 34. Sample frosting. Discover it tastes of sadness and despair. Throw away frosting.

Step 35. Wash dishes.

Step 36. Make as much frosting as you can with remaining butter. Frost about half of the cupcakes. Run out of frosting.

Step 37. Wonder if it's too early to start drinking. Look at clock. Realize your dinner reservation is in an hour-and-a-half, and you don't have time to go to the grocery store. In desperation, make more frosting with strawberry cream cheese. Don't measure anything or write anything down.

Step 38. Sample frosting. Discover it tastes of rainbows and magic and is a lovely pink color. Realize you will never be able duplicate this frosting.

Step 39. Frost remaining cupcakes.

Step 40. Text your sister: "If I ever say I'm going to make mini cupcakes again, please slap me in the mouth."

Step 41. Decide it is not too early to have a glass of wine. Add cheerful sprinkles to cupcakes. Decide they look rather cute.
Step 42. Box up cupcakes.

Step 43. Get ready for dinner with minutes to spare.

Step 44. Present cupcakes to husband, who has just returned home with flowers.
Step 45. After dinner of Mexican food and mojitos, decide that cupcake adventure was not so bad after all. Eat a cupcake.

Step 46. Realize that when the front heart is removed, the cupcakes sort of look like tiny hearts being stabbed with tiny stakes. Tell anyone who will listen that you will be making vampire heart cupcakes for Halloween.

Alternate Time-Saving Valentine Cupcakes (that your 30-year-old husband, 2-year-old niece, and 5-year-old nephew will appreciate just as much)

Step 1. Purchase cupcakes.

Step 2. Present cupcakes.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Put down the tablet, Jane

Dear Self,

Put down the tablet.
I mean it.
Put it down.