Posted in Food, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe

Pumpkin Soup with Chili and Ginger

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While I’m staying home with BabyGirl, there is a lot of opportunity to watch daytime television.  There’s an unbelievable amount of talk shows on that follow a similar format.  The Talk, The View, The Chew, The Real

I was watching Clinton Kelly (of What Not To Wear fame) on The Chew when he demonstrated a Roasted Curried Pumpkin Soup that I thought sounded scrumptious.  I happened to have everything that it was calling for and happily headed into the kitchen to cobble it together. 
Continue reading “Pumpkin Soup with Chili and Ginger”

Posted in Anti-Inflammation, Fitness, Food, Menu Planning, New Food

3..2..1..Paleo!

We’re getting back into Paleo eating, now that we’re in the new place.  We’ve done pretty well in the last week, but tonight, we’re gearing up for the Squeaky Clean Paleo plan featured in Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. Note: this is NOT a sponsored post.

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Pumpkin cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, spaghetti squash bolognese, ribs with green beans, pineapple teriyaki chicken, home made cranberry sauce

Call me crazy, but I feel like eating healthy should taste good.  The recipes that I’ve tried from this book hit that mark. Jeff is excited about cooking again, too, but not about the dishes…because cooking every meal requires lots of dishes.

Tonight I’ve dirtied up a few mixing bowls, some knives, pans, spoons, cutting boards, and towels cooking up some meals for tonight and tomorrow.  I’ve got stuffed cabbage rolls with a cranberry tomato sauce in the oven, along with a “swirly crustless quiche” made with carrots, zucchini, and about a dozen eggs.  I’ll be making mustard glazed chicken thighs shortly, and tomorrow we’ll have a braised beef dinner.

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Our fridge is fully stocked with yummy foods and I’m ready for this adventure.

What is your favorite thing to make in the fall? Share your favorite crafts and recipes, below.

Posted in Home DIY, Life + Living

First Time Home Buying Experience

My last post was made before we closed on the house–I’m sorry to have been away for so long!! The month of October absolutely flew by.  We are only just now starting to really feel settled into our home.  The closing went really smoothly.  I took half a day off of work and met up with Jeff and our Realtor at the office where our closing was being hosted.  We met the previous owners who seemed like really kind people.  The woman was dismayed to find out that I didn’t like pugs as well as she does, and the man let us know that the electrical update was just a partial update.  The signing of the paperwork flew by–it took less than an hour to go over everything and then we were presented with our very own keys!  Just like that we were home-owners.

We knew going into it that there would be some things to fix around the house, and, being first time home-buyers meant that we didn’t have any of the essentials that we would need to take care of the property.  Off we went to the housing store to get the essentials.  Mom and Keith picked up a new lock set for us, and we picked up rakes, shovels, ice picks, a furnace filter, broom, push broom, dryer vent cleaning kit, extension cords, paint, rollers, edgers, etc.  Over the next few weeks we’d make so many more trips to the hardware store.  We had to buy joint compound and mesh tape, hammers, scrapers, chisels, wrenches, dryer vent kits (x2, one of the expandable semi-rigid metal, and another of straight pipe style aluminum).  Just when we thought we could afford it, we splurged in a snow blower and a couple of leaf blowers… half an acre isn’t going to take care of itself.

Then we moved in.  We had a ton of help and really appreciated all of our family and friends who came out to support us.  Our driveways were full of the cars from all of the volunteers.  Shout outs go to Eli, Nickola, Wes, Gloria, Mike, Mom, Keith, and Michael.  Steph had to work, but sent good vibes anyway 😀  And to our long distance friends who totally would’ve schlepped boxes on our behalf: Corine, Lori, Ross, Ray, Anne, et al. Thank you so much for sending us your happy vibes.

The first week, things started falling apart.  First, it was the water main.  The seller’s disclosure said that they had to snake the main every other year for roots… so, I don’t know why, but I expected to be able to wait to do that until next year.  Nope.  We had water in our basement on day one.  On Day 2, we went to clean the dryer vent only to find it so stuffed with lint that it really was better to replace it–and luckily we found it because it was burned through on the back.  On Day 3, I had a technician out for our stove which was irreparable, and the home warranty company decided not to cover it.  I blew up at my Realtor for misleading us, and she helped us to get a new one.  Since I was home, we also had the internet service provider out–who found wires to be chewed through and that’s outside of his scope.  When it finally came time to install the replacement stove, I ended up coiling the gas line in on itself because I was a schmuck who didn’t know that you had to use two wrenches.  Then we had to buy a new service door because we couldn’t get the new lock set to fit on the old one, which had been rigged.  Needless to say, being home-owners was stressful!

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We got all of those issues taken care of (thanks go to my very flexible employer for allowing me to work from home while figuring this crap out).  That brings us to today.  I am working from home because I have (yet another) contractor coming out to take a look at issues that we’re having with this house.  When the stove was replaced, it was discovered that the floor was sinking underneath it.  This rang alarm bells quite loudly in my head and I told Jeff that we need to prioritize the fix immediately.  We knew that there were structural issues with this house, but we didn’t appreciate just how extensive or expensive they would be.  The home inspection said that there were “missing or insufficient” supports in our basement, but that we probably wouldn’t have to repair it immediately.  The logic was that the house has stood this long, it’s not likely to just fall down tomorrow.  The previous owners had lived here for 28 years, and so we listened and thought that we’d eventually fix the structure, but we’d save up for it first.  Seeing the floor bowing under the weight of the old stove frightened me, though–what if the new stove falls right through?? And with it being a gas stove, that could cause an explosion on top of it! (I have a really active imagination…)

We brought in a structural engineer to take a look at the place, and he made a lot of recommendations.  He even made some thinly veiled suggestions that were outside of his paid scope on things we need to seriously consider for the future as well.  I’d say it was worth every penny paid to be able to talk to someone who knew what we would be in for.

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Here is one of the photos that was included in the engineer’s report for us.  It shows the I-beam (with surface rust), a 6×6 support beam that has been cut to make room for the duct work, and the (empty) masonry pocket that the beam should be sitting in.  This is all right below where my stove sits.  What adds to the crisis is the fact that there is another 4×4 post that supports a whole corner of my house that has recently been discovered to be splintering at the bottom.  And splitting in the middle.  And there are two other steel shores that are missing from this set-up.

Now, the United States is a very litigious society.  In fact, when Jeff originally moved here, his Canadian insurance provider advised him to seek greater than $1M in coverage in case someone sues him.  It’s well documented that our first instinct is to sue.  So when these issues became revealed to us, I started plotting my court case.  I called the city to get a history of permits pulled on this property, I called my Realtor to explain the situation that we’re now in, I studied both the seller’s disclosure and the inspection report to find problems.  I found that the sellers indicated that the structure to this house had *not* been changed.

So here I was, all rarin to go.  I was worked into a tissy and determined that the sellers were going to help us shoulder this burden, come hell or high water.  And then Jeff piped up.  Are we blind? (no.) Stupid? (no.) Naive? (well…)  He didn’t ask all of these questions to make his point, but he essentially said that we knew that this house had issues coming into it and that it’s our problem now.  We noticed ourselves that there were missing supports, I noticed myself that the beam was cut when we were doing the walk through.  Just because we didn’t appreciate how much it was going to cost at the time doesn’t mean that it’s not our fault for buying this house when we knew it had issues.  He is of the opinion, and I am in agreement with him, that we bought this house with eyes wide open.  We should have done our research before signing on the dotted line, and now it is our responsibility to make sure that it’s done right.  To take responsibility for these repairs is not to let the previous owners “walk all over us,” as I had argued, it is merely to own our mistakes and acknowledge that we made the decision to move in here.  We’re not stupid, we’re not blind, and we’re not incapable of research, and so there’s no reason for us to try to pin this issue on the sellers when we were aware of it before moving in.

This, dear reader, is where I’ve been all month.  I’ve been moving in and cleaning, but mostly fixing our new home.  The issues have made me just a tiny bit bitter about the experience, but I am trying to take it for what it is:  experience.  This is still a lovely home and it will be a great home for many years once we get these issues out of the way.  I love the peace and sophistication of my dining room.  I enjoyed taking our outdated bathroom and making it our own.  The rooms echo with our laughter already and the cats have really settled in–running amok all over the place as often as they like.

If I had a piece of advice to offer a 1st time home buyer (or any home buyer for that matter), it would be this:  Get an inspection report and pay close attention to it.  If there is no cost for remediation, or if it’s out of the scope of your inspector, take the time to look online (at the very least!) or call around to get an idea of how much a repair is going to cost.  It was $168 to have our drains cleared.  $120 to have our stove looked at.  $1000 to have it replaced.  It would’ve been $300 to have it installed if I hadn’t taken on that project.  I’m getting bids on it, but it’s going to be close to, if not upwards of $10,000 to have the structural issues fixed… and that doesn’t even begin to cover the electrical or the plumbing.  Will it be worth it?  Emotionally, sure!  It’s a great house that we can really make ours.  Financially?  Who knows.  These are issues that should’ve never been a problem in the first place, so I can’t say that we’ll see a return on our investment.  What I *can* say, though, is that fixing these issues will make sure that they don’t count against us if we ever go to sell this house, and having these issues fixed will make us that much more comfortable while we’re living here.

Posted in College, Gaming, Life + Living, Self-Reflection

This is the homework police – step away from the internet!!

Facebook, pinterest, iwastesomuchtime.com, sparkpeople, gmail, pinterest, facebook, oriental trading catalogue, youtube, wordpress…

Nope, I don’t have trouble focusing at. all. …

At least I got it together long enough to dye my hair yesterday.  The highlights were positively atrocious by the time I bought the box and fixed it.  Originally I got the highlights to impress my fiance because he was going to be in the company of comparably more-beautiful women and I wanted to show a little effort.  The subtle caramel highlights that I *asked* for, though, had turned into crazy brassy blonde streaks..

Huh. Twenty minutes later and I’ve got cellphone, facebook, sourcefed, gmail, mspaint, and now back to WordPress.  How’s that studying going?

Oh, yes. I love my “new” (old) hair.  It’s back to my “natural” hair color and I was turning heads at work today.  “There’s something… different… about you…You just seem prettier.”

Anyway.. Work is.. work.  Very busy/frustrating today.  My weekend went very well–most of it was spent watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Netflix with Jeff.  It’d tough to switch from that show to Ringer.. Sarah Michelle Gellar is such a great actress, though, that I can distinguish Buffy from Siobhan from Bridget-playing-Siobhan from Bridget-playing-herself (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar).  Have you seen that show?  It’s pretty good.  Also on Netflix.

The switch back to standard time is helping me to get my sleeping back on track.  Except for the fact that it’s supposed to be 10:30pm according to my internal clock and I’m just kind of wired.  Of course, that might be due to the five laffy taffy’s I just had about 20 minutes ago…

I’m really just off track.  I need to get my sleeping in order so that I can get my fitness in order and if those two fall in line then eating will fall in line naturally.  And then, maybe I can better focus.  And sleep.  And write.

Thanks for reading.  I am sure I will come up with something better for you soon 🙂

OH!

Here’s something better – the latest screenshot from GW2.  There was a halloween event.. I was a ghost–best costume evar.

Posted in Food, Recipe

Fall is here! It’s apple time! (mini apple pie recipe)

 

It’s officially fall in Minnesota, and what better way to kick off the season than to go to the apple orchard?  My niece called me this morning and got my bum out of bed for a last-minute invite to the orchard.  Mine and my sisters’ misters couldn’t come, so it was just a girls day down on the farm.

 

I had never been to an orchard before (to the best of my knowledge) so it was quite a fun experience to buy our little bags and then go pick apples fresh off the trees.  Honestly, I’ve been drawing apple trees wrong the whole time.  They do not have tall trunks and bushy tops with apples dotted along the outside.  These apple trees had short trunks with sprawling limbs that nearly (and sometimes *did*) reach the ground.

With my haul, I decided to make mini apple pies for Jeff and I.  The types of apples we got to pick were “Haralson” which were small and kind of tart.  They were zippy!  My opinion of Haralson is that they are good for baking, but need a little help from sweeteners (white or brown sugar), but they would be good for snacking on with some honey or melted caramel. Mmm!

The best part about tagging along is that I got to tell my niece one of my favorite clean jokes:  What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?  … Finding half-a-worm in your apple!

hehe!

 

Megan’s Healthy Apple Pie:

Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

Filling:
Apples
Cinnamon
Sugar
Butter

Mix together flour, oil, and milk with a fork until it starts to hold together in little balls/crumbles–don’t over-work it!  Use your hands to form it into 2, 3, 4–however many crusts you would like.  Roll out between sheets of wax paper. Use a cutter of appropriate size to form mini crusts or just use a regular sized pie tin.  Make sure you have enough crust to cover your pie.

If you are making mini pies, dice the apples so that you can fit quite a bit into each cup.  If you are making a regular pie, slice however you like.

“Season” with cinnamon and sugar to taste.  Top apples with a small pat of butter… maybe 1/2 teaspoon per mini pie.  Use a couple teaspoons of butter for a full-sized pie. Just eyeball it, it’s just to keep things moist and provide that hint-of-butter taste.

Top with the remaining crust(s), brush with a little bit of butter (just enough to glaze the top of the crust) and sprinkle with more cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve with ice cream (vanilla bean or caramel would be superb!) and enjoy!