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Zombie-fied Blog

When was the last time I posted? (Looks at site.) Oh yeah, April. How depressing. I guess summer is blog hiatus time, then, huh? Well, I think it is time to raise this thing from the dead, zombie-fy it, if you will.

Where has my summer gone? I would really like to know that as well. It’s not like I’ve been on a real vacation or anything like that. Maybe I’ve been uninspired to post because it sometimes feels like the world more or less shuts down during the summer months? Maybe it’s because distractions abound? Or maybe it is just falling into a daily grind which results in sheer laziness? In truth, it doesn’t really matter which reason it is; the end result is the same: no blog updates.

So what has been going on these past few months? The biggest project we’ve been undertaking is trying to buy our first house. I’ve felt kind of strange talking about it because there is so much uncertainty intrinsic to the process.  We started seriously looking into financing in early May. Throughout June, July, and August we’ve been looking for houses. We are looking to move out of the farthest-tier DC suburbs to the small city of Frederick in more Northern Maryland. We are deciding to move farther away from Joe’s work in order to lead a more relaxed life. Although the DC suburbs have been fine, I’ve found myself missing a place with a real sense of identity. The area we live in currently was developed only over the last twenty years or so. It is not a terrible place, don’t get me wrong, but it is a more or a less a series of strip malls divided by apartments and subdivisions. There is nothing wrong with this; it is just not the place for me. Having grown up in a small town, I find myself yearning for living in a place with a sense of self; a place where people take a real pride in their community as a unique place. And I think I have found that place in Frederick. Frederick is a more rural community, though many people now commute from there, but the people who live there really seem to want the city to succeed as a real entity, not just as a place to sleep at night. The downtown is beautiful, historic, and walkable.

Just a taste of downtown

So within that parameter, Joe and I have probably looked at 30 houses, basically everything that is on the market that fits our needs and our price range. It has been, needless to say, an exhausting process. Back in June, we thought that we had found “The House.” Good location, good price, fit what we were looking for. We liked the place a lot, spent Saturday talking to neighbors about the neighborhood, checked it out at night, checked what schools were associated with the neighborhood, figured out our negotiation plan. Early Sunday morning we called our Realtor to make an offer and were disappointed to find out that someone else had made an offer late Saturday night. We were beaten to the punch by only hours. I will admit I cried a little bit hearing that and kind of needed a week or so to regroup afterwards.

We got back on that horse, though, and kept looking, even though our options seemed to be dwindling more and more. At the beginning of this month, we found a house that we liked and made an offer. At this point, we have accepted a counter offer from the sellers and are waiting for the paperwork to be completed. Next week (hopefully) we’re going to be getting our inspections done and so forth, and barring major issues, we are hoping to be closed on the house sometime this fall. It has been hard for me to be in a sort of ambiguous area. The house we may be buying is old, and with an older house comes problems. Part of me wants to get excited and love this house, but the other part of me is trying to be more reserved, fully willing to walk away without heartbreak if there is something seriously wrong with the place. Being in house purgatory makes me feel ambiguous towards the place. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it, it just kind of “is.” And although I am a big fan of shades of gray and ambiguity in movies and books, I don’t really love those feelings within myself.

So just like expected, house hunting has been a real roller coaster of emotions. It has been a lot more mentally draining that I thought it would be. But regardless, I will try to update more often!

Monday Link-Around 4/25

Another Monday, another link post. This week I guess I have been in a real food mood; a lot of these are about cooking, baking, etc. Can never have too many how-to’s or new recipes!

But first, starting with the non-food-y things:

Mexican paper flowers

DIY festive Mexican paper flowers from 100 Layer Cake – I vaguely remember having made these a very long time ago. It seems like they would be fun and easy to make; and I think they would look fantastic tied on a wrapped gift.

CraigEasy from Storage and Glee – I am so going to start using this program that re-sorts Craigslist postings into a more easily scrollable, blog-like form with an emphasis on pictures. When I am browsing CraigsList for furniture, the pictures are what I want to see!

A couple “how to’s” are next:

How to Prepare a Round Cake Pan from the kitchen generation – Step-by-step instructions on how to prepare a pan so your cake will turn out perfectly. Will definitely reference this one in the future.

Roasted Beets from The Galley Gourmet – I love beets, but have been terrified of the roasting process. This seems pretty simple, I just need some disposable gloves for getting the skin off.

And a yummy:

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen – I am a carrot cake fiend; never thought about Carrot Cupcakes before! My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

Monday Link-Around 4/18

It’s been a bit of a quiet week for me, both online and off. So not a ton of links this week.

Custom Table

 Custom Coffee Table from Storage Glee – Really cool custom made tables that show off your favorite coffee table books. So neat!

Recipe for White Bean Soup with Ham and Rosemary from Kalyn’s Kitchen – This recipe absolutely makes my mouth water. It’s pretty funny how much of a soup fiend I am.

latest obsession: photographs by larry yurst from good bones, great pieces – Lovely panoramic street scenes. I love the bright colors.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Annie’s Eats – My favorite kind of muffin!

Monday Link-Around 4/11

So I’ve been sick all week. I’ve spent most of my time this week sleeping terrifyingly long hours, watching television shows on Netflix instant view, and playing casual online games while installed on the couch. So not a whole lot got done this week. Regardless, here are some things around the internet that were interesting to me this week.

Terrarium

 

we like it wild: recycled fixture planters from Design*Sponge – Cute, clever, and crafty terraria made from thrift-store find light fixtures.

Stationery – mr. yen from print & pattern – simple graphic paper goods. I want these so badly!

Bandits from Storage Glee – Little elastic/hook band thingies. Hard to explain, but really cool. I hope I can get some of these when they are produced; they seem super handy!

Tzatziki Recipe from two peas and their pod – I Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors so much, and refreshing yogurt sauces are a part of these cuisines. Never thought about making them myself before, though. This would make a fun project along with making my own pita bread.

Monday Link-Around 4/4

Good morning Monday! Starting my week off right with a jaunt through what caught my eye this past week.

Yellow Chairs

 

yellow bistro chairs from the style files – Quick, cute round up of yellow chairs outdoors. Makes me desperately want a brightly-painted outdoor dining set. I wonder if these cheapies from Ikea would take well to a spray painting?

Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics from poppytalk – Classic books with gorgeously illustrated covers that look like embroidery. Want.

Baker Kavanagh Architects from desire to inspire – Gorgeous modern interiors that incorporate gorgeous woods. The staircases are completely drool-worthy.

I guess I’m on a huge DIY kick – here are three cute and fairly simple projects:

DIY: Patchwork Picnic Blanket from Centsational Girl – Perfect for spreading out for a (well sun-screened) afternoon nap or for a fabulous picnic meal.

A bowl full of rosettes (tutorial) from kiki creates – I love these cute little flowers. I think they would make fabulous brooches!

DIY: Colorful Dessert Stands from Centsational Girl (again) – Made from garage sale or dollar store finds, these brightly colored stands are totally up my alley.

This is one of my all-time favorite go-to meals–chili! Now, I am not by any means a chili purist. I like my chili completely full of yummy beans, and I am completely laissez faire about the meat. Nonetheless, this is pretty much the easiest, fastest chili to make; it makes great leftovers, it freezes wonderfully; what more could you want? I have been making this chili for a few years now and I don’t remember the original source for the recipe, but honestly, I have modified it so much it barely resembles the original anymore. Also, I tend to make it a little bit different each time–more of this, less of that. It is really a recipe that holds up well to modifying for taste, what’s already in your pantry, or general capriciousness. Also, just a fair warning–your can opener will get some heavy duty use for this recipe!

That is one thick bowl of chili!

 

Kathy’s “Dump It in a Pot” Chili

  • 1 package (16 – 20 oz.) lean ground beef or ground turkey (Heck, you could probably even use vegetarian crumbles if you wanted to make this a vegetarian meal)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green peppers, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained and rinsed
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 – 2 tsp. cumin

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef or turkey, onion, green pepper, and garlic until the meat is browned and the onion is translucent and tender. If needed, drain fat. Stir in the beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green chilies. Add chili powder, basil, oregano, black pepper, and cumin. The chili will be quite thick and stew-like. If needed/desired, add a couple of cups of water to thin it. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer at least 20 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese if desired. Pairs well with cornbread or tortilla chips.

 

 

Monday Link-Around 3/28

Another Monday morning,  a start to a new week, time do a quick reflection of the week past before jumping headfirst into the week ahead.

Blue Trees from Poppytalk

The Blue Trees from Poppytalk – An art installation for the Vancouver Biennale. So lovely.

Devil’s Food Cake from The Pastry Affair – This cake looks so yummy, I can’t wait for an excuse to make a cake! Also, since baking a layer cake is on my 25 Before 25 list, I think I need to get on this one ASAP!

Striped Coffee Table and Drawer Console from design*sponge – I could take or leave the coffee table, but the console absolutely makes my heart sing. I have been on a several-year quest for a buffet for the dining room, and have been having a bear of a time finding something stylish and affordable. This Ikea hack look great! Unfortunately it appears the drawer units are near impossible to find, and may even be discontinued. Still, the idea is a great one, and it may be implemented with similar products from other stores. Want!

Cheap Plastic Wardrobe Turned Spray Painting Tent from Apartment Therapy – Living in an apartment with minimal outdoor space, I had figured that any spray painting project would be too risky on our tiny balcony. This solution, at least for small items makes a ton of sense and gives me a bit of motivation to maybe try this whole spray painting thing.

Making Paper Orchids: The How To from in words and pictures – Gorgeous cut and glued paper orchids. I can imagine them in white or in naturalistic colors, perhaps framed in small individual shadow boxes, mounted in a series. I have got to try this one!