Posted in Food, Life + Living, New Food

CSA Day: Mario Edition

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Today’s CSA included Mario turnips! Hahaha! What better to do than to reenact some classic veggie-throwing Mario goodness?

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Also included were:
– Beets
– Kale
– Romaine
– String Beans
– Broccoli
– Peas
– Turnips
– Multi Grain Bread

We’re heading to Costco right now to pick up some protein to go with all this veggie goodness. We’re going to pick up some frozen fruit, too, and start having smoothies in the morning.

I’m thinking of sending messages to my sister and her hubby to get a good recipe for borscht, and I might get a little daring and put cheese over the broccoli…

If you have ideas on how to eat these great veggies, leave your thoughts in the comments 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.

engineer

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 Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

Menu Making: Giada and EatBetterAmerica

I had a hard time coming up with ideas for dinner today so I put it out on Facebook and Bloop that I was trying to plan a menu and asked for people to chip in ideas.  I knew I wanted to make Momma’s Chili, but then I got recommendations for a few things from EatBetterAmerica.com and from Foodnetwork.com.  At the grocery store, I got (among other things) brown rice, arugula, goat cheese, green lentils, mint, diced tomatoes, jalepeños, zucchini, pears, bananas, mushrooms, chocolate, etc.  I have all of the ingredients to make everything on my dinner menu, plus healthy snacks, breakfasts and lunches for later in the week. 

This week, we’re having all of the following:

The ‘healthified chicken skillet’ was pretty tasty.  Basically just cook chicken in a fry-pan with olive oil, salt and pepper then slice zucchini and cook in the same pan.  It was pretty tasty and came together really quickly.  Eat Better America was already linked above, so check it out–you can sort recipes by calorie count, prep time or meal type.  I like it so far.

I am really excited about the apples that Mr. and Mrs. Roomie picked up, though.  They went to an orchard today and brought home the first round of Honey Crisp apples.  Mrs. Roomie is looking around for an ‘Apple Crumble Pie’ recipe, but I’m not sure what she’s talking about so I can’t help her with that.  I just want to eat them straight-up and delicious.

I’m also excited to try a couple recipes up there.  Almost every one is new.  I’ve got 4 jalepeños to use… I haven’t quite decided if I’ll use them in the chili or if I’ll save them for the spicy Mexican dish on Friday.  I’m just excited to get cooking 😀

Tomorrow starts Phase 1, Week 2, Day 1 so I should go finish drinking my water and get some sleep 🙂

Posted in Fitness, Food, InBody230, Menu Planning, Self-Reflection, Strength Training, Warrior Dash

Wanna Be A Warrior

I have a lot to update on.  When last I wrote I was talking about not having a plan.  It has really hit me in the wallet and in the GI tract to not have a plan this week.  Even Rah-rah noticed it! Tonight on the way home, I asked what he wanted for dinner and he replied “I dunno… We really haven’t had any good food this week..” and he sounded so sad!  I guess that this means I need to keep up on that menu-making 😉 

After I post this entry, I’m going to make 2 more pages for my blog–a “new foods” page and a “Favorite Links” one.  I think it would be a good way to keep things in order and to share some resources with you.

Spaghetti Squash

Earlier this week, I was gifted with a Spaghetti Squash from one of my co-workers.  I had never tried it before so he brought me one from his very own garden.  His suggestion was to cut it in half (which I almost needed a hatchet to do…) and then microwave it.  Mrs. Roomie ended up doing the rest of the cooking after I cut it up because I simply had too much to do on my list.

She browned some lean ground beef and added a jar of Classico Tomato Basil sauce, then served the meat sauce over the stringed squash instead of over pasta.  The review that I received from Mr. and Mrs. Roomie and Rah-rah said that it was cold and kinda chewy.  When I re-heated it when I got home, I thought it was pretty tasty.  Maybe it just needed to cook longer?  Rah-rah rated it a 6 out of 10, so we’ll probably try it again.  Mr. Roomie said it was pretty tasty with just some olive oil and some garlic powder.  Who knows? The flavor is so mild that the possibilities are practically endless.

The rest of the nights, we pretty much had a gas-station diet–frozen pizza, sandwiches, etc.  It was really expensive and I’m going to have to be careful with my cash over the next week.  I’ve got my dry-erase markers ready, though! The menu shall be made!

Warrior Dash is a mud-crawlng | fire leaping | extreme run from hell | Are you a warrior?

Mr. Trainer has asked me to join the 2012 Warrior Dash

.  Now, on SparkPeople, I joined a great group of girls called the Weight Loss Warriors.  I haven’t been much of a warrior lately.  I have lost touch with a few of the girls and I have been avoiding spark like the plague for various reasons.  Be that as it may, however, the Weight Loss Warriors are some of the best, most supportive, consistent people that I have met.  Most of them have already met their weight loss goals, and if they haven’t, they’re still plugging away and making good choices.  I feel like doing the Warrior Dash will not only “make me a warrior” to them, but it will also provide some validation for myself.  If I can get through that race, hell, I can do anything.

Warrior Dash
Warrior Dash Participant (from Warrior Dash on Facebook)

Since it’s more of an obstacle course than a race, I’ve made a serious commitment to fitness.  On Monday I start Phase I with Mr. Trainer to begin preparations for the event.  It is about 9 months away and so every 4 weeks until July 2012, I have committed to meet with Mr. Trainer so that I can be ready.   Right now, I love sweets and carbs and cuddles–and I have been avoiding the gym.  With something like this on the horizon there will be no choice except to shape up.  It will be either get ready, or get hurt–one of the two.  I’m going to aim for the former, not the latter.

Posted in Food, Menu Planning

My Current Food Palette

So, growing up in the Midwest, there are certain foods that I’ve grown accustomed to eating.  When I think of how many foods are out there, this list seems even narrower.  The truth is, though, that this is my current palette–the expanded edition.  I brainstormed for almost an hour trying to think of all the foods I eat in various combinations as a part of my diet.  Over the next few months (autumn will be good for this), I hope to expand this list even more.

Things I like for Breakfast:

Eggs – Over Medium, Scrambled, Benedict

Cereal – Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut Cheerios, Oatmeal

Fruit – Bananas, Blueberries, Oranges, Strawberries, Kiwi

Other – Coffee, Chocolate Milk, Chobani Yogurt (Black Cherry, Strawberry), Toast

Things I Like for Lunch:

Fresh Foods
Fresh Foods

Sandwiches/Wraps: 

Deli Turkey, Deli Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Tuna Salad plus…

Provalone, Pepperjack, Cheddar plus…

Lettuce, Tomato

Sauces – Frank’s Red Hot, Miracle Whip, Yellow Mustard, Ranch, Bleu Cheese

Salad – Baby Spinach, Iceburg Lettuce, Cranberries, Nuts, Fruit

Things I like for Dinner:

Chicken – Baked, Broiled, Fried, Grilled, Hot, Cold, Kabob’d

Beef – Steaks, Burgers, Ground Beef

Seafood – Shrimp, Salmon, Tuna, Tuna Steak, Talapia, Cod, Haddock

Pork – Tenderloin, Chops, Kabob’d

Veggies – Carrots, Beets, Peas, Beans (black, green, kidney, navy, white), Broccoli, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Onion, Corn, Cucumber, Tomato, Yellow Squash

Sides – Bread, Pasta, Couscous, Brown Rice

Things I like for Snacks:

Banana, Yogurt, Grapes, Apples, Apple Sauce, Celery, Baby Carrots, Nuts, Cheese, Peanut Butter, Chocolate

So, now I challenge you to go through the same exercise: What do you like to eat for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack?  How does it differ from my list?  Where are you from?