Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We bought a House! OMG!

*Deep Breath In*

We bought a house in Yorktown today! Look at this beauty:

Photo by Coldwell Lundsford

First, let me just say, yes, this happened very, very fast. No, we didn't mean to jump into this. We thought it would take several months to find a house. But, you know me. I never do anything the way MOST people do things. I've always been the type of person who knows immediately when I find "The One." J., however, just kind of goes along with whatever. He doesn't usually get emotionally attached to things. We went to the open house Sunday and as soon as we pulled up we both went "ohhhhhhhh." The picture doesn't do it justice. The brick is BRAND NEW, as are the windows. You walk in to a very grand entrance for this price level. It's a bi-level home, so the foyer splits into two stair cases.

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, bathroom, and kitchen. Downstairs, there is a fantastic open space that will be perfect for a media room, but also for an entertaining space. We want to put a bar cabinet in the corner for when we have people over. It will be great to finally have somewhere to hang out with friends. There is also another large bedroom downstairs, which will probably be our guest bedroom (aka B's room, when J's best friend comes to stay).

We also have a 1.5 car garage. It has plenty of room for not only MY car, but also lots of storage! Luckily for J. we have a long driveway and a street to park in :). The other huge plus the yard. Wait till you see it! We have a HUGE deck AND a big yard with a privacy fence.

Really, it's the perfect starter home. J. loves it, I definitely love it. It's move in ready for us, with a few projects to make the house our own. The hardwood floors need to be refinished and sealed. That's something we are planning to do shortly after we move in. The bathroom floor also needs replaced, as the laminate has cracked. We have an allowance upon closing to purchase the flooring of our choice for that room. My kitchen needs the most work. The cabinets, while real wood, are mauve and are outdated. To start, I'll repaint and change the handles. Probably change the color of the walls too. But, I have high hopes for that kitchen and would love to add more cabinets and maybe add a breakfast bar. That will come later though, probably in a few years. We want to add another bathroom eventually, to increase the resale value later. I'm really looking forward to these projects. I've been dying to get my hands dirty for a year now, I even helped a friend of mine paint her house because I was so restless to decorate my own home! Some of you are rolling your eyes right now but I really am looking forward to have a chance to make my own home.

Unfortunately, we still have a long road ahead. We don't close until August 31st. J's gone for most of August and I'm going to be staying in a teeny tiny little studio apartment behind my office. I have to do some marathon packing next week and get everything into a storage locker. I'm taking the bare minimum with me to the apartment, basically my mattress and my computer and some paper plates. Maybe some clothes haha.

*Deep breath out*

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our House, in the Middle of the Street

You know, I've never understood those lyrics. Why would you want a house in the middle of the street? Could cause some traffic issues.

Any-way. Some news. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you've probably already inferred this but, after long deliberation, J. and I have decided to buy our first house! We decided earlier in the week but I finally ripped the bandaid off and told my Mom tonight. Not an easy conversation, but that's to be expected. She is just worried, that's what moms do.

Why now? A couple of reasons:

1. The big one, The $8,000 stimulus package. Why WOULDN'T we buy when we can get a huge chunk of cash back into our pockets? We can ammend 2008's taxes and use the money to make any repairs needed or buy furnishings, and of course, put most of it into savings for later use.

2. We are ready. We are sick of renting. I hate paying to live in someone else's house. I want to be able to have a yard, to plant a garden, to have a puppy, to be able to hang a shelf and put some pictures out. Yes, this also means that if my kitchen sink backs up, I have to pay the plumber to come run hydroscrub it. I have to mow that lawn (well, J. does anyway). But those are tradeoffs that we are willing to make. Responsibilities we are willing to take on. It's not going to be easy. But I think that's part of it. I'm ready for a new challenge.

3. Our jobs are as stable as they are gonna be in the next few years. Sure, there are no guarantees. Sure, I could lose my job tomorrow. I think everyone is in that boat right now. But I have to take that leap of faith sometime. I just have to know that God is gonna be there to catch me if that happens. If I didn't feel he was leading me in this direction, we wouldn't be at this point. But after so much talk and prayer, I really think He's telling us to take this next step, that it's ok to jump.

WHOOOOOHOOOO!!!! I am so excited! J. and I met with our real estate agent Wednesday and we got home and we both sat down and felt completely at peace. Well, maybe not at peace, we were both pretty pumped up about the whole thing. But we just feel really positive about it. Our agent is the type of person to be very upfront and honest, she's not going to let us shop out of our price range. She and I are going to get along very well, I think. She was very open to my questions, no matter how off the wall they were (or at least seemed to me).

I'm going to go to some open houses tomorrow. J's at drill and I could use a partner, let me know if you would like to go with me!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. For the last 9 months, I've been working with an operations manager who has really taught me a lot. He and I communicate on a very similar level, so it's been great to shadow him during my last year of college. However, he is moving on and tomorrow is his last day. What this means for me is that I'm moving into dispatch, the position I've been striving for since I started at Mr. Rooter 2 years ago. I'm pumped up to start doing this full time, albeit a little nervous because its more responsiblity than I've ever been given before. I can handle it though! *Flexing my biceps*

Anyway, to celebrate Mr. C's last day, I thought I'd make a special treat, and if there is one thing he likes, it's white chocolate Reese's. Well, I can't recreate those, at least not without more than a few hours, so instead I'm making peanut butter cookies with white chocolate chips, using Reese's peanut butter. I just took the first batch out of the oven and while I'm not normally a white chocolate chip fan, the cookie base for these are fantastic.

A quick review, and then the recipe. I used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips for this. Now, I love Ghiradelli. The grocery on my way home only carries that or Baker's, so I almost always use it for my recipes. However, this is the first time I've used the white ones. While I don't claim to be a white chocolate connoiseur, I do like it on occaision (it's just a little sweet for me), so it's just not just a complete aversion. These taste very chemically to me. They are almost not sweet at all, it's very strange. Luckily, when in the cookies it's not so evident because of the peanut butter. My favorite white chocolate is Lindt, use that if you have it available.

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

(I printed this recipe off a loooong time ago, back for I started recording where I got them. I apologize if this is yours, you can have all the credit, these are wonderful! My guess is it came from or something similar.)

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened (If you like big rounded PB cookies, you might use 1/2 shortening, these flattened out quite a bit.)
3 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I melted it in the microwave for 30 seconds to make it easier to work with.)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine flour, soda, and salt. Mix and set aside.

Cream butter and sugars for 5 minutes. Add eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix and medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just mixed.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. With a wet fork, gently press cookies in a criss crossed pattern. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until slightly brown along edges.

This made about 4 dozen hand-sized cookies for me.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Cupcake Trifle and Health update

First of all, an update on all things health related. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am a long time sufferer of migraines, and they have been seriously plaguing me the past few weeks. I finally made a chiropractor appointment, and then the same day I called the chiropractor, a migraine specialist in Carmel found me on Twitter! I made an appointment with him as well. Tuesday I had my first chiropractic appointment. She checked my spine, took Xrays, and hooked me up to some electrodes for a decompression treatment. Wednesday I went back in and she showed me my Xrays. Basically, where my neck should be curved, it is almost completely straight, thus putting a lot of extra pressure on my spine, from the extra perceived weight of my head. So she took me out and did my first adjustment. OH MY GOD. It hurt sooooooo bad! We both knew it was going to, and she tried to make it as quick as possible, but I was in tears when I left the table. My bones have been locked in that position for awhile! I did another treatment and back to work I went.

Thursday was my appointment with the specialist. It was so quick and easy. I was lead into a dim meeting room, instead of a bright patient room. I had a discussion with the doctor--how my migraines appear, how long they are present, how they hurt, where they hurt, etc. He concluded that I have Occipital Myalgia, which basically means that the nerve in the back of my head is being pinched by my muscles. He put me on preventative meds and I'm going to have a nerve block done to stop the pain. We meet again in 6 weeks to see what's working and what's not. Overall I feel pretty positive about the appointment, and I really think I'm going to start feeling better soon.

Yesterday, I was invited to a coworkers family Fourth of July dinner. J. had to work until 10 and my parents were at the lake with friends, so I was going to be by myself. I decided I was going to bring my favorite chocolate cake recipe, in cupcake form. Unfortunately, the cake is an old fashioned layer cake and the batter was just too thin to translate into cupcakes. The frosting was also too thin, and couldn't cover up the flat cupcake tops. They were soooooo ugly! Just before I was getting ready to leave, a Twitter friend suggested I put it all in a bowl and put Cool Whip on it! What a fantastic idea! I had some heavy cream I needed to use up, and I'm always looking for another reason to use my trifle bowl. Look at how pretty this dessert is! (Please excuse the cell phone picture.)

By the end of the night, all of it was gone except for one scoopfull, which Jordan promptly ate when he got home from work. It was sooooooo yummy! I will be making this again, on purpose! Next time though, I'll skip the cupcake part, and just make the cake in sheet pans, then crumble it up in the trifle bowl. Here are the recipes I use:

Beatty's Chocolate Cake


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder I use Ghiradelli, it's the best my grocery store carries.
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature I only had large, which may have been the problem, caused the cakes to fall.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. You could also use a large sheet pan for this, since we are just going to crumble the cake up into the bowl.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (it is supposed to be really thin) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting: Just so you are warned, this frosting is to die for. You will be addicted. I cannot be held responsible.

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate Again, I use Ghiradelli, it's that or Bakers, which wouldn't work at all for this.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature Large works fine for the frosting.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip!

Cupcake Trifle

1 batch Chocolate Cake

1 batch Chocolate frosting

16 oz Cool Whip, thawed (or even better, REAL homemade whipped cream)

In a Trifle bowl, or any big serving bowl, layer cake, frosting, whipped cream. Do this three times, ending with whipped cream, smoothing out the top. I shaved some chocolate on top. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.