29 July 2014

The day we bought a house!

Our journey to our first house:

I'll sprinkle pictures of the house into all the words I'm writing
here.  I just want to remember how the process happened, so if you're
not really into words, skip through and just peak at the pics.   I
know some of you might just be here for the photos :)  I would be.

[the front of the house]

We decided to look for our first house about 7-8 months before our
townhouse lease was over.  We wanted to find the perfect house for us.

Since we've started looking at houses I have found several houses I
love.  We found a perfect house  (overlooking a creek, closets the size
of small rooms, close to good friends, fireplace in the bedroom...), but it was about 75,000
above our price range (plus utilities were going to cost WAY too
much...) so we kept looking.

And when I say "looking" what I mean is: looking at what we could
afford in the radius I like (staying close to where I work.)  Its
shocking what homes cost this close to Dallas.  The only reason we
started looking so early is so that we would know what we like when it
was time to buy.  Houses were (and still are) FLYING off the market in
less than a week, so when you find a place you want it is important to
jump on it and know it's what you were looking for.  Several of our
friends have put in more than 3 offers on houses before finally
getting a house, so we decided to start looking early, figure out what
we want, and then jump on a house as we get closer to the end of our
lease.  We contacted a realtor who told us our plan was good, and sent
us a list of houses in our price range in the area we want.

We started by looking at houses online for a few weeks.  I refused to
even consider a house outside of 635 (the loop around Dallas), but was willing to compromise on
other areas.  Then we drove by a few houses that we both considered
possibilities.  I liked different things than Ryan does, but we were
just looking because we had 7 months left on our lease.  Ryan wanted
to see inside some of the houses to see if what we liked in pictures
was what we liked in real life.

We knew we wanted an "open" floor plan like we had at the townhouse.
We wanted a big backyard with a lot of room for the puppies, and a
garage.  We were willing to settle for a house that needed a little
work in order to be close to where we wanted to live.


[the backyard]

The first time we went out with the realtor (I HIGHLY recommend him if
you need a realtor in Dallas), Ryan gave me the "don't find a house
and fall in love with it speech."

I told him I wouldn't.

It was a Tuesday night and we were just out to have fun, see some
houses, and learn what we both liked/disliked.

We walked into the first house.  I really hated it.  The kitchen and
bathrooms were cute.  The floors had nice wood.  We walked through and
saw the size of the bathrooms (so small a tub wouldn't even fit
inside) and the closets (no walk-ins here).  The kitchen was slanted
down (leaning) and the house had HUGE cracks in the side.  I was ok
with the house, but Ryan didn't like it at all.  He said all the dog
toys (and eventually, hopefully child toys) would be lined up on one
side of the house because of how slanted it was.  Bummer.  This house
was pretty close to where I wanted to be, but this house was at the
top of our price range.

We walked into the second house and it was even worse than the first.
It had an "added on" sun room off the kitchen with a door that
wouldn't even shut.  The kitchen looked new, but there was a mystery
door just outside the kitchen that was rotted out, and no such opening
for a door inside the kitchen.  It smelled old.  There were layers
upon layers of paint.  It felt like our first apartment in the city.
Small but functional.  Which is what we were hoping for with a first
house.  I had just hoped for something that didn't look like it still
lived in the 1950s.  Ryan was ok with this house.  I was definitely

Then we saw the 3rd house. We both really liked it.  Ryan had been
looking at this one on the internet for a few weeks and kept telling
me he liked it.  I wasn't super impressed with the front of the house,
but it had a cute little pergola in the back that I loved.  It was a 4
bedroom house, but had no garage (the Master bedroom/bathroom suite
was built in the place that once housed the garage.) It was freshly
re-done with all new energy-efficient windows and granite counter
tops.  The kitchen overlooked a big backyard.  I was on board.  It
wasn't too far from work, just a little farther than I wanted it to
be, but in a nice area.  I liked it.  Maybe this home search wouldn't
be so bad after all! We can find something like this!

We saw the 4th and it was at the top of our price range, but in an
area that was so cute and a bit closer to the lake and work.  It was 5
bedrooms but super dark inside.  The kitchen was small.  It just
wasn't what we wanted at all.  The whole house was cut off and
separated from each other.  The rooms were big enough but nothing
special.  Although there was a fire pit in the backyard, which was
pretty awesome.

We almost didn't look at the 5th house because our realtor said it
needed "a lot of love" but we had driven by it and I liked the outside
a lot.  Plus it was only 4 minutes away from where we were at the
time.  And we were up for a little bit of DIY remodeling.  On the way
there Ryan asked how much I liked the 3rd house.  I mean, I liked it a
lot; it was BY FAR the best house we had seen all day, but we couldn't
fall in love with it.  This 5th house was a joke.  We walked in and
smelled mold.  We walked into the living room and then saw the huge
water stains in the kitchen ceiling.  It needed more than "a lot of
love."  It was terrible.

As we drove home, we talked logistics of the 3rd house.  Ryan was the
one falling in love with the house.  (although if you ask him, he
would say I was the one that fell in love with it first)  We decided
to inquire about getting out of our lease, then move forward with the
pre-approval for the loan. (Our lending company had already given us a
price range, and the 3rd house was well within that price range, even
if we added on a garage to the backyard.

I felt like we were a little bit crazy, but I like crazy things.  Its
just like my wedding dress all over again.  I saw something I loved,
saw a bunch of stuff I didn't, and I went back to what I loved.


[looking from the kitchen, over the island, into the living room] (those are staged furniture)

Flash forward to the next day at work.  Ryan made all the phone
calls/emails: to the bank to get pre-approved asap.  We had already
gotten pre-pre approved so we knew what our ideal price range was, so
that made the pre-approval process super easy.  They just needed our
financial info, good thing we keep in saved on our computer.  Done.

Then to our realtor and asked if we could see the house again.  His
evenings were all booked up until next week.  But that was too long
for us to wait (I guess) so Ryan asked to leave work early for lunch
on Friday so we could see the house again.  I wanted to be there too
so I did the same.

Then he called the leasing company of our current property to assess
how much getting out of our lease would cost.

Ryan heard back from our loan guy.  (Who we also HIGHLY recommend, he
was always answering his emails in less than 30 minutes...even on the
weekend!)  He broke down how much it would cost us per month for the
house.  We would be saving at least 200 per month in rent/mortgage.
That's nice.  We figured we would be paying the same or more than we
pay to rent, so paying less per month was exciting!  We can pay off
our home faster that way!  (by paying more than we need to when we


Then Thursday, I re-analyzed all the pictures, and determined what we
need to measure.  Ryan analyzed the property value per the county, the
going cost of all the houses around the one we want, and whether work
permits were obtained.  (they were not).

At this point our realtor had gotten at least 5 emails from us each
day.  I was beginning to think we are driving him crazy.  I feel bad.

I also saw what schools the house was close to.  And I checked out the
grocery stores and restaurants around.  I determined we can't walk to
a bagel place, we can't walk to a Trader Joe's.  But we could walk to
a school and a park with swings, a teeter-totter, and a creek.  That
will work.  And Trader Joe's is on my way home from work.

Those are the things that are important to me.

[our pergola!]


Friday we went to see the house again to "really look at it."

We checked the outside for cracks in the walls or foundation, the
inside to see what kind of windows were put in (all the new windows
are double pained, the old ones are single) and to see if the cabinets
were good quality, if the drains worked, etc.

The drains definitely did not work.  But our realtor said that would
be checked by the inspector.  We had our friend Amberlee come along
and make sure our couch and our small group would all fit in the
living room because we're tight in the townhouse.  Good news: it will.

One of our neighbors stopped by and politely let us know we left our
keys in the door and then asked when open house was.  We told them we
were just looking at the house, not selling it.  I got weird vibes
though.  If they steal the house out from under us, I will be upset!
(Spoiler alert: they didn't)

Our realtor told us not to worry, because we weren't calling too much.
I think he's just being nice though.

We told our realtor that we want it.  We want the house.  He said he
would "crunch some numbers" and get back to us with what we should offer. Awesome

[looking from the dining room, through the kitchen!]


That Saturday (the next morning) I ate breakfast at a fun little
coffee shop/taco stand near the house, then I took my friend Diana to
go see the house. (Just drive by the outside)  Then we went to the
arboretum, since it is so close.  It was cool to see some awesome
restaurants and activities are in the same area!

While I was doing that, Ryan put together all the financials.

That night our realtor called us and gave us advice on what we should
offer.  We decided to make an offer for 10,000 less than the asking price. Our realtor thought it was a long shot, but worth trying.
We said Ok, then got our financial guy to give us a pre-approval

Sunday we went over the seller's disclosure checklist.  No fireplace.
The roof isn't as new as we thought.  But it has central AC and
heat...And is free of lead paint.  We told our realtor let's go!


[the new bathroom, also staged]

All Sunday evening and Monday morning we waited for our realtor to
draw up the paperwork.  (He works around the clock, I tell you, he
rocks!)  Just after lunch on Mondayhe forwards us paperwork to sign.
We get it back to him in about 30 minutes.  Then he submits it around
2 pm.

Then we waited.

Will we get it?  Do we have to negotiate more?  We keep coming up with
neat ideas for how we will fit our stuff into the space...We would
have been pretty disappointed if we didn't get it.

But sometimes life is about disappointment!  And that's ok.

We drove by at 9:30 Monday night to see what the neighborhood looked
like after dark.  I felt like we were creepsters, driving by slowly in
a car with the windows down.  I also felt like we maybe should have
done that before we put in the offer.  There were very few street
lights, but each house was well lit by their porch light.  We would
have an Oncor dude living across from us.  Which could prove
beneficial, but his truck would frequently be in the way.


We submitted our offer Monday afternoon.

We got a reply Tuesday afternoon.  They had a counter-offer.  (which,
by deduction, means we were the only offer/the best offer because they
would have picked another offer if they had one.)  I was ok with it,
Ryan was not really.  Our realtor urged them us give another counter
offer.  We offered it almost immediately.

And hour later we had a house.


We just offered and they accepted!  I don't know how that happened so
fast.  Only 1 week ago we were looking at the house for the first
time, now we owned it. (Kinda)

I've never bought a house before, apparently there are more steps than
just paying money.  We have what is called an "option" period.  We had
to get an inspector to walk through the house and make sure everything
is legit.  (the drains work, there is no mold, the foundation is
reliable, etc)  That lasts about 10 days.  Then we have to decide if
we want to keep it.  We had to pay some people some money.  This all
comes out of our big "total cost" so the money comes out slowly...


Then we waited for the inspector to check everything.  Apparently it
was a 20 page report.  Our realtor has already told us that since the
house is so old it will "fail" all the inspection markers, but that's
ok because codes have changed.

Is it really ok?!


Inspection day brought a zillion things.  It was during the day (9-11
am) so I couldn't go, only Ryan.  Which means, I just got the short
report about the inspection.  Our realtor looked over the 20 page
report and advised us on anything further we need.  (We are so
thankful for our realtor!)

Ryan gave me a phone report before my lunch meeting.  If you had been
listening in, you might have heard:

"There's a bird's nest in our attic?!"

"What do you mean our neighbor has chickens in his backyard?"

"Did the inspector actually let both showers run for 1 hour?!"

"What do you mean the stuff from the master bedroom toilet gets piped
above our heads to the drain line in the guest bedroom toilet?"

"Those scoundrels! How could they only paint 1 side of the fence!"

"How can the windows all be painted shut?  Isn't that a fire hazard?"
(Our inspector agreed)

So we'll wait to see what can and can't be fixed. No major red flags,
which is hopefully good!

**They have agreed to fix everything.  Except we didn't ask them to
fix the paint on the fence or the pergola.  We will stain that


Friends. You have to sign about 1000 things in order to get a
mortgage. (I may have exaggerated but only by 1 zero.)

I mean, you can "e-sign" some, but others you have to "wet sign."

I honestly think you have to sign more stuff to buy a house than you
do when you have a baby.

But I haven't had one of those yet, so I'll update you if that changes.


[the kitchen with appliances and no fridge.]


When you buy a house it comes with an empty hole where you can put a

Which means we had to buy one or otherwise we have nothing to keep our
food cold.  Has anyone been refrigerator shopping?  How do you even
begin to make that decision?  Should we go with black like all our
other appliances?  Or stainless steal because that's cheaper by at
least 200 dollars and that's all they have in the showrooms right now?
Should we get the one with the new "3rd door" for grab-and-go foods?
Is that important?  Will our theoretical kids be able to use this
fridge?  Will it fit in the space? (even though we have measured it?)
What about when we open the doors, will they be able to open all the
way?  Will we have to buy the more expensive "counter-sided" kind?

And this is where my husband reminds me to take a breath and stop
worrying about the "what ifs."

We were hoping to buy the weekend of July 4th so we could take
advantage of the sails!

And we did!  I felt so good because we got a refrigerator for way less
than the normal price!  Ryan says they just put the normal price on
there so you feel like you're getting a good sale.  But our fridge was
at least 2,000 less than normal, which was discounted more than all of the other fridges! We got the best deal, for sure!


[the living room looking into the new master/guest bedroom]

Ok, so we've had a few friends move into their new place, only to
realize that their refrigerator doesn't fit into the little slot.

We measured our "little fridge slot" before we went shopping, but just
to double/triple check we decided to go back to the house to measure
it.  Just in case.  You'd hate to drop 2 grand on something only have
to cancel the order.   So we talked to our realtor, the patient guy he
is, and he agreed to meet us at the house.  We took a bunch of other
measurements while we were there so Ryan could draw a diagram of the
house and put all our furniture inside the diagram and see where we
should put everything.

Turns out we were super thankful we stopped by.  The A/C was broken.
Fully broken.

Just 1 day after the option period ended.

The good news is, now we can have a new one installed before move-in
day (thankfully) .  The bad news is, now we're dropping another 5
grand on the house (for a new A/C).  Good thing we negotiated for the
seller to pay a bunch of the closing costs for the house.  Now we can
afford to buy a new A/C and  new Frige.


After the option period is over we just had to wait for the house to
close.  We were still looking for someone to take over our lease on
the townhouse we live in.  We were also getting rid of a bunch of
stuff we don't use anymore but we keep holding onto.

Why do we keep holding onto stuff?!

Its plates I love or bowls he loves or knife sets or coffee mugs or
old clothes that don't fit.  We sold some of the more valuable stuff
(a bike, dog kennel) and gave away some things (knife set, sundresses,
plastic cups) and gave most of the rest to good will.

Really, we just need to keep from buying excess stuff in the first
place.  In our defense though, most of the excess happened because two
people with cheap stuff got together and got married and got a bunch
of nicer stuff and hate getting rid of anything.

If we could just keep from buying stuff I think we would be winning at life.

At least we're purging a bunch before the big move!


We're also playing the game of moving-tetris.  The game where you fit
as much as possible into neat little boxes.  I thought I was good at
moving-tetris.  I can make things fit in boxes and cushion them with
extra sheets and blankets creating the perfect box.

But Ryan rocks at moving-tetris.  He takes things out and rotates them
into the perfect-fit boxes of super relevant things.  He fit all our
movies into one box by carefully stacking them at different angles.

No wonder he's so good at video games.

We also started packing early (2 weeks out, does that count as early?)
as much as possible.  Its shocking all the things we don't need on a
daily basis that we keep.  Cookbooks.  Actual books.  Jewelry.  Home
decor.  Extra blankets/sheets.  Which makes me wonder how long we
could live without that stuff?  Do we actually need to keep it?  Does
it add value to our lives?? (It does, or we would just get rid of it)

But there's a lot of stuff we just can't pack yet.  Kitchen stuff.
Workout equipment.  Clothes.  First-Aid kits.


We scheduled the move for a Thursday.  We figure it will be easier to
get the moving truck into our current driveway without blocking all
the neighbors on a weekday.  We scheduled the fridge to be delivered
on the same day.  We figure we'll divide and conquer.  We have a
friend (who is also off that day and super sweet to give up her
day-off to help!) who will be there to help making sure we have all
our bases-covered.

This is what God gives us a small group for.  Not only did this sweet
friend offer to be there for us to help move, but she also offered to
make us dinner that night (knowing the day you move usually involves
an exhausted, late-night fast food run because the kitchen is never

She is really helping ease the transition.  We are so thankful God has
surrounded us with people who love us, and show us this love.


I really hate to admit this, but its the truth.

I was frantically packing one night.

Only to discover we have THREE weeks until we move, not just two.  The
best part is I kept telling people we move next week, on the 31st, but
no one has told me that's three weeks away.  Now I just feel silly.

And over-packed.

And now, 1 week till move date, I am tired of playing box tetris.  I
am tired of looking at blank walls and filling box after box.  I just
want to be done with filling boxes.

We closed on the house the next day!  Woah.

We signed a million more documents, but I was just so excited that I
didn't really care we were signing everything.  We stopped by our new
place on the way home then we grabbed some dinner!  We would have hung
out for longer but the A/C was still broken...and we had nothing to
sit on...and we were hungry!

Then it was really ours!  And we could put up window treatments and
let the dogs play in the backyard.  And yes, those were the fist two
things we did!  (because we don't want those nosy neighbors to see
into our house and see all the stuff we have) and because we're so
excited we have a yard for the dogs!!

[the pups enjoying the view out the window!]


The next day (Saturday) we took the dogs over to the new place and let
them run around.  They loved it.  So fun!  But so sweaty!  We decided
we would be geniuses and go back than night instead.

We spent about 1 hour at Home Depot looking at all the
home-improvement things.  I felt like I was the only female in the
store at 8 pm on a Saturday night.  Then I saw another woman there
with her husband.  Clearly, its not one of the hottest
date-night-spots :)

Our house is though! (Hot. It's the hottest date-night-spot right now) Somehow, it was hotter inside our house than it was outside. We don't have screens on the windows yet (they were taken off to show the house) so our house stayed hot.

We popped open a cold Shiner, sprayed the baseboards with puppy-safe
bug spray (smelled like peppermints!), and caulked a few of the

We would have done more except we were super sweaty, and we made a
little mess, and WE HAD NO WATER.

Why did we have no water?!

Seriously, the city of Dallas could turn off our water on the day we closed
we closed at the seller's request, but when Ryan called the same day the soonest they could turn it back on was 1 week later.

What are we supposed to do without WATER for a week?

I don't think having zero water is compatible with life.

Good thing we still have access to our townhouse!  We'll just bring
over water and deal with it until the water gets turned on.

And by deal with it, I mean I will have to stop by the old place to
shower and get water after we move in.  That's kinda lame.  City of
Dallas, you need to get your stuff together.  I'll give you my money!

[the nosy-neighbor blocking curtains]


And then we packed more boxes.

I found the ultimate adult puzzle with the Kitchen Aid Food Processor Box.

All these pieces.  And a perfect styrofoam shell to hold them!  I had
to make it fit!  I didn't unpack the food processor, so I had no
knowledge of where things should go.  (So it was a brand-new puzzle to

Where do you think this goes??

It took me longer than I want to admit to figure out this is how the pieces sit.

That was a smart place they made the blades fit... But where does this piece go?

Finally, Ryan had me just shove the last piece in because he didn't
remember where it came from.  That worked well, and the universe was


Did you know there's a website called mymove.com?  They have a packing
checklist that you can check off!  Instead of packing half the kitchen
into more than 10 boxes, and not feeling accomplished, I could have
been checking off a list and felt awesome.

Next time.  I'll know better.

I hope next time is super far-away!

16 July 2014

The day I got my second Fix!

I LOVED my first box with stitch fix. I've been too busy/too lazy to shop since my last fix. (well, we bought a refrigerator and a house, but those don't count...ps a FULL blog about the house is on it's way as soon as we close!)

I loved all the classy/timeless pieces and I was excited to see what was in my next box!

My second box came a day early, yay!! I dug in right away so I could maximize my time deciding on what clothes to purchase.

First I pulled out a dress. It was so pretty and unlike anything I owned. It was very similar to the shape if some dresses I had already pinned on Pinterest! (Stitch Fix let's you link to your Pinterest account!) 

Next was some jeans. I asked specifically for work pants in this fix, and while I CAN wear jeans on Friday and I haven't bought any jeans in the past 2 years, I didn't need jeans.  And they were the wrong size. All stores are a bit different when it comes to size, so I figured I would try them anyway.

Then I pulled out black pants. Yay! I'm looking for a good pair of black work pants. These had a special "tummy slimming" feature inside designed to "make you look 10 lbs thinner." Really? I need to look thinner? They also had no pockets or buttons on them so I was immediately skeptical.

Next was a cute black shirt that would be fun to wear, but was too low cut for work.

Then was a beautiful blue/turquoise shirt but it had funny metal details on it. Not super classy or timeless, but worth a try!

I proceeded to try everything on, trying to keep an open mind.


[the pups wanted in on my mirror-photo action!]

[i could get used to these jeans!]

I tried on the jeans first.  They weren't huge on me like I expected, but they were big.  They felt like good material (I found out later the brand is sold at Nordstrom, so they really are made of good materials!  I never shop there because I don't feel fancy enough... But maybe I could in these jeans!) I've been hoping for skinny jeans, and these were skinnier than most of the jeans I have, but they were so big I felt like they weren't skinny enough.  I wondered if my size would fit me better.  They weren't falling off and they looked nice, but I wasn't sure about them.

[cute puppy!]

[cute top??]

I tried on the black lace top with them.  I liked the top, it looks like one I already own.  This top was just a little big.  It was also SUPER low cut.  I would have gotten it if it hadn't been so low cut and I hadn't had another top just like it. 

[10 lbs slimmer?]

[do I look slimmer? I don't feel like I need to!]

Then I tried on the black pants.  They were a little tricky to pull over my hips because they had no button, and when I got them into place they felt big.  I was prepared to hate the pants, but when I put them on they were super comfortable!  They were also skinny in the leg, which I wanted.  I thought about getting them, but I just wasn't sure if they would be worth the money (almost 100!) because I felt like I could never tuck a shirt into them and wear a belt with them.  In the end, that's why I didn't get them because I didn't feel like they were versatile enough for the cost.  I did love how comfy they were!

[that looks fun!]

[but what about that metal detail? And is this going to be hard to iron?]

I put the blue/turquoise top on with them.  I was ready to hate this top too, but I really liked the way it fit.  Not too tight, but with a fun neckline and fun lines.  I still wasn't sure about the metal details on it.  I wanted to branch out, and I really thought hard about this top.  In the end, I just didn't feel like this was a "classy/timeless" shirt.  It was also wrinkley and I wasn't sure if I could iron the fabric. 

[legit modeling is hard, but this is so fun!]

[got to make sure it looks good with the rest of my closet!]

I tried on the dress last, sure I would love it.  I did love it!  I even tried it on with a belt and shoes!  The stripes were so small they made it look like an optical illusion in the mirror, which totally freaked Ryan out.  He told me he didn't love it.  But I had already decided I liked it.  Done!  I felt like it was classy for work but could easily be worn for a friend's wedding or something. 
All in all, I felt like this fix wasn't as classy as my first stitch fix.  I had asked for work pants, which they provided (good work!) and I pinned a bunch of lace tops on pinterest (which they noticed and sent!).  I was pretty happy with that.  I liked that they tried to branch out with styles, I just didn't end up loving some of the stuff they sent.  But I loved it much more than going shopping on my own!
I'm in for another month!  I'm already looking forward to my next box!

Have I convinced you to try it yet? 


Seriously though, it's a lot of fun. Even if you are a fantastic shopper or if you already know your style, it will make you branch out and try on things you never would have picked up! And I feel so classy in my new clothes :)

15 July 2014

The day I made popcorn and lost my fingerprint.

If you know me, you know how much I love popcorn.  This post is a little bit about popcorn.  But it's also a little bit about things that burn.  Like popcorn, fingers, and fireworks.  So if you like any of these things, read on!  If you need a good laugh, read on.  If you have better things to do but you're trying to procrastinate, read on! 
Back to the popcorn.
And not just ANY popcorn.
Fresh made, organic, home-popped popcorn.

[my awesome Mother-in-law hooks me up with organic popcorn from the Farmer's market. I had no idea there was white popcorn and yellow popcorn. I thought yellow popcorn was just white popcorn with butter all over.]

[my co-workers hooked me up with popcorn before I left my old job!]
Have had a zillion popcorn poppers in my life.  Oil popped.  Air popped.  Stove-top.  Self-turning, manual-turning.  Its crazy.
I would like to note though, I don't buy these things for myself, they are all gifted to me by people who know me very well and love me.
Popcorn has been my go-to salty snack since I was in college.  You can't make anything else that's this fresh so cheaply.  And, depending on how its popped, it can be low calorie.
Although, lets be honest.  I like the kind that's popped in oil and covered in real butter.
I've almost mastered the art of popcorn making.  My favorite popcorn maker, the Cuisinart pictured below, has seen its fair share of popcorn.  I've used it at least twice a month for the past two years, so I've made at least 50 or so 4 quart bowls of popcorn.  That's a lot.  And trust me, I eat it all.

[this popcorn was before I learned about organic popcorn]
Typically, I mix butter and vegetable oil in the bottom of the popcorn maker (although I've used coconut oil for a healthier, different tasting, dairy free alternative!) And when the butter melts I add just over 1/2 cut of popcorn kernels.  Really though, I've stopped measuring and now I just dump it in until the bottom is mostly covered.
I let the plate get hot and when it starts to sizzle, I add salt.
Then it pops with the salt and when the popping slows down, I pull the handles to lift it off the base and I flip it over.
Boom.  Warm, fresh popcorn.
The machine is a little hard to wash, and while I love it, It has broken on me a few times.  I've broken both handles off the top piece and I broke the popcorn bucket (It fell off the counter onto the floor and cracked.)  My sweet mother-in-law, who bought me the this popcorn maker, has one just like me but the bottom piece of hers broke.  The company offered to fix it for a fee, but she decided to just buy a new one.   She gave me her old bottom piece and popcorn bucket, which works but it's a bunch of different colors.
But lets be real, it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it works!
She also got me a new brand, called the Kettle Krazy, last Christmas.  I decided to use the old one until it completely died before trying the new one, but my husband gave me an ultimatum : Only 2 popcorn poppers can move with us.  (we currently have 3)  I decided to try the new one and see which one I liked better.
And that's how I lost my fingerprint.
I read the instruction manual before starting, because I'm that kind of a person.  The way you add butter is fascinating.  You put it on top and let it melt in, which I never tried before.  My old popcorn maker had holes in the top, and I wonder if I was supposed to do the same thing, only I never read the directions right.  All I remember my old one saying was to melt the butter and pour it on top after popping, but that never works right, so I just add it into the bottom when popping.  This new machine warned me NOT to put butter in the bottom (because of the low smoke point).  It also told me I HAD to use vegetable oil because of the high smoke point, but I figure I can still use coconut oil if I want to because it has a high smoke point too.
Anyway, after putting in the oil, I added the popcorn.  It specified that I had to add the popcorn cold.  I don't know what kind of a difference that makes, but the manufacturer made it a point to put that in the instructions.  I keep my popcorn in the fridge anyway, so that made it easy.
The instructions also say not to use the machine in your freezer.
Just in case you had an extra outlet in there and that's the only place you could find to pop the popcorn, it won't work.
And its a safety hazard.  Bummer.
So I added my vegetable oil to the bottom, then the cold popcorn, then added butter to the top.  I normally only add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter, but the recipe told me to add 3.  So I added 2.5 because I couldn't bring myself to use 3 full ones. 
And I let it pop.

The puppies LOVE popcorn.

The sound of corn popping calls them from the farthest corners of the house promising the reward of crunchy yumminess!
They know if they sit and stay and then lay down when I ask, they get a piece of warm, unsalted popcorn. 

[they know to sit]

[look at those faces! Who could say no!!]

I turn off the machine when the popping slows to every 3 seconds and then I unplug it, as the instructions indicate.
I grab the handles to flip the entire machine over (away from my face like the directions tell me) and I immediately jump back, almost spilling the entire contents of the hot oil and popcorn bucket onto me, because my finger touched a screw in the handle and it burned!
It hurt so bad!
I re-read the flipping instructions wondering if I did something wrong.  I didn't.  They say NOTHING about a hot screw!  (they do say not to over-tighten the screw, but it comes pre-assembled, so why is that pertinent??)
I then grabbed the handles again, careful to avoid the screws, hoping that my popcorn hadn't burnt in the mean time because burnt popcorn is one of the worst smells ever.
It didn't burn (thankfully).  But my finger did.
I put it under cold (not freezing) water because that is proper protocol for burns. Ice will just make the burn blister more and could cause worse pain.
My finger hurt all the rest of the evening.
And it hurt even worse in my shower.
I was seriously concerned.  I put some coconut oil on it (I couldn't find ointment, and it seamed like the next best thing)  then I put coconut oil on a cotton pad, covered the pad in tape, and stuck the oiled pad to my finger.  I slept like that.
It felt better the next morning, but it still (1 full week later) is burned.  The lines of my fingerprint are gone!

[the night I burned my finger]

[one WHOLE week later!]

Look!  It even looks like the top of a plus-sign screw. 
Stupid instructions.  Stupid machine.  Stupid company.
Yummy popcorn.
I still have to try using the machine again before I can fully judge. 
Just know, if I ever go missing and they find a girl with normal fingerprints and then a 4-petal flower design burned in her middle finger on her right hand in the shape of a plus-sign screw, that's me.  Unfortunately.
You know other stuff that pops and burns?! (but is way less painful!)
FIREWORKS!!  I have some photos/videos from Independence day! 
Just don't watch the videos if you get dizzy easily because my video skills haven't fully developed yet.  Also, I was balancing on a rooftop trying to film two fireworks shows so there's a lot of wobble and panning back and forth. 
4 July 2014:

[at our friend's house]

[neighbor friends on the roof-deck!]

Oh! And mega Pinterest fail: I tried to make these for the 4th of July. I made one. 

Trust me, alcohol doesn't freeze well and I ended up licking all the liquidy flavor off the bottom so it wouldn't drip.  Then the top got all icy. It was a brilliant idea. But not so great in non-Martha-Stuart-reality.  Which is where I live!

In the end, life is good. Popcorn is good. And my God, who by grace allows me to live freely and find enjoyment in the small things, is great!