Will We Live Long Enough to See Our Dream Home Finished?

Or will we kill each other in the process?
Last night was a lazy night, as was the night before. Every day and night has been lazy, with the exception of me researching tubs for our guest suite, which Sexy Nerd took no part in. So, imagine my frustration this morning, barely awake and getting ready for work, when a certain someone frantically demanded that I drop everything and choose a tub right this instant. Apparently, I'm holding up the entire project, and being late for work is a small price to pay for not causing any more problems.

*Grumble*

Oh, and that part of the drawing that says "matching ceiling plane"? I might just insist on changing that, just to irk you-know-who.

Construction Photos


Construction on our mountain dream home, week one:
(This is post 2 of 2. Click here for post 1 of 2.)




See that fence? Don't get too used to it. The neighbors will be moving it onto their property any day now. If only we'd caught them before they'd paid someone to build it...and before the posts were cemented into place!

(There's that neighborly guilt again.)



Here's a weird question for you - what do you think of this part of our lot? I call it our dry riverbed and Sexy Nerd calls it our canyon (it's hard to tell from this photo, but the ground dips down here) and we like it so much we've designed the hot tub in the master retreat (hee, hee) to look out over this area. However, the last time we both thought something on our lot was really neat (a gnarled old tree trunk), every person we showed it to was like, "That's really ugly and stupid and what's wrong with you two?" The construction crew was just going to fill this in with dirt and rocks until we told them otherwise...not a great sign!

 
  


Just 24+ weeks to go!

Construction Week 1

We broke ground last week and have been amazed by how quickly everything is rolling along. Within only 4 days, the crew created a driveway, cut down all necessary trees, removed all the waste (including a pile of wood from when our crazy neighbor cut down a bunch of our trees, much to our dismay, but that's a story for another day), dug a pit/created a mountain, and more!

Photos from Week 1 of Construction (post 1 of 2)(click here for post 2 of 2)


Can you imagine how disappointed our neighbors must have been when they drove home and discovered a porta potty next door? Even worse, the neighbors on both sides of us just moved in and neither family had any idea construction was about to begin! I know there's no way around it, but I can't help feeling guilty. There are doorstep goody bags (with balloons!) in their future.

Truth be told, I don't look like I feel guilty at all in this photo.


On day 3, the ground was flat. The next day, we had our very own mountain!

When you discover you're the proud owner of a temporary mountain, you must climb it. 
Obviously.

We had a fairly good idea what our view would be like before all this began, but seeing it for the first time with the trees cleared was still a great surprise.

 "Yes, this will do nicely."
Building up the nerve to climb into the driver's seat for a photo. Is that allowed...or would the photo just be evidence against us? Perhaps we'll keep that one to ourselves.

The beetles had a rough day, what with getting run over and buried and clobbered and all. They're entertaining to watch (when they cross paths, they violently duke it out, only to continue on their merry way moments later) so I'm happy to see some survived.

Ask me how I feel about them the first time I find one in our house.

 
Right at home.

The Biggest Time Wasters on the Internet

Today I will...
...stop wasting so much time on the internet!

When Sexy Nerd and I were in Iceland last year, our Airbnb rental had Wi-Fi that worked great on his tablet and on his phone. On my tablet and on my phone? It did not work AT ALL. Weird, right? No matter how hard we tried (oh, how we tried!), my devices refused to acknowledge the existence of the perfectly functioning internet signals beaming all around them. It made me crazy.

A funny thing happened though. Without the internet constantly in my life, I was able to think more creatively, enjoy my free time better, and even came up with a few genius ideas for my novel (you know, the one I've been working on for the last decade, darn internet).

No mindlessly scrolling through my never-ending Facebook feed. No "just checking my email real quick". It was like my brain had been freed! 

Of course, you probably can't just ban the internet from your life altogether. How would you keep up with your favorite website, Kitty Deschanel: A Sexy (Nerd) Lifestyle Blog? (LOL!) Today though, you're going to think of your biggest time waster. Is it Twitter? Instagram? You're going to close it and I recommend going so far as to delete its app. Delete it! Challenge yourself to see how long you can go without visiting the site. You can even modify your parental control settings to block it.

My biggest time waster? It isn't any of these. Mine is a delightful website that goes on forever, tempting me with photos of glistening marble countertops and cheery yellow-painted clawfoot tubs. I'm on page 793 of the site and there's seemingly no end.

I'm looking at you, Home Bunch.

Today, for the first time since discovering the site months ago, I've closed the tab on my browser. Aaaah, so much more free time, just like that! I feel like such a responsible adult. I may even skip Home Bunch altogether from now on.

Which site will you be fasting from today?

P.S.
If you've never heard of homebunch.com until now, this post to help you stop wasting time may have the opposite effect. I'm sorry.

This post is part of my #TodayIWill series of self improvement blog posts.

The Biggest BBQ Mistake You Can Make

Summer has officially arrived, marked by 100+ degree weather here in Albuquerque, a haircut for Biscuit (she looks so tiny now!), and homemade burgers on our patio. I arrived home from work yesterday to find a buffet of topping options on our kitchen island, courtesy of Sexy Nerd, and we quickly got to work building the perfect burgers.


I can never resist a unique sauce/dressing/topping/condiment/anything food whatsoever when it's on clearance, so we've accumulated quite a few unique burger topping options.

Mango Habanero Ketchup? Check.

Parsley Garlic Sauce? Of course.

Mojo Picon? Obviously.

Truffle Oil? You know it.

Wasabi Sauce? Duh.

Tabouli? Burger-topping extraordinaire.

Cranberry Horseradish Mustard? It actually tastes identical to everyday brown mustard. I may have been scammed on this one.

Pickled Beets? Is it even a burger without this?

Olive Paste? Olive you, olive paste.

The list goes on, and I had to find a way to include every single option. I divided my two burgers in half, essentially creating four gourmet varieties, threw on the mandatory cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce, and joined Sexy Nerd on the patio.

I took a bite. Good, but nothing like I'd expected. Something was off with my burger. I continued eating, not sure what the problem was, until about halfway through. Oh...

I'd forgotten to add hamburger patties to my hamburgers.

On a side note, Sexy Nerd and I could not be more different. He omitted all of my fancy toppings and made two completely identical burgers. So boring, right?

To his credit though, he remembered to include the main ingredient.

Cake Mix Cookie Bars (That Actually Taste Like Cookies!)

There's no bad time for a chocolate chip cookie. A hearty bowl of oatmeal, mug of coffee, and a side of chocolate chip cookies? What a great way to start the day!

Unfortunately, chocolate chip cookies are time consuming and kind of a pain to make, especially when you just want to eat the cookies right this instant. So, you try to save time and effort by baking a batch of cookie bars, but they often end up tasting more like cake or brownies. Cookie bars don't really taste like cookies, do they?

Until now!

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Recipe
Quick & Easy (I Promise!)
  • 1 15.25 oz Box White Cake Mix (I usually use Pillsbury Funfetti - a relief after you saw that neon photo above, right?)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 C Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 C Milk (I've made these with everything from skim to whole - use whichever you have on hand.)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract (optional)
  • 1 C Chocolate Chips
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a rimmed 9"x13" baking sheet or pan. If your pan isn't these exact dimensions, the recipe will still work, just your cookies will be slightly thinner or thicker - remember to adjust the baking time accordingly.

By hand, mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips until just combined. I've made this recipe many times and have found that it's best to work out any lumps in the cake mix before adding the other ingredients and that a stiff spatula works better than anything else for stirring.

Now, gently fold in the chocolate chips. Press the "cookie dough" into a greased 9x13 pan, spreading out the mixture evenly, which will result in a fairly thin layer. A spatula or the back of a spoon works well for this. Bake on the center rack for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown slightly.

Note: Not overly mixing is the secret to making these taste like actual cookies. If you mix this to the consistency of cake batter, you're going to end up with Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. Not that cake is bad, but you're going for cookies! 


The perfect Nascar-watching snack? Let's see if they pass the Sexy Nerd approval test:

Cautiously taking a bite and wondering why the cookies are speckled with neon green. Sexy Nerd hopes it's just Funfetti cake mix, not Crayola. 

So far so good?

The cookie bars are a success!

More Sexy Nerd mind reading: I agreed to be in your silly cookie bars post for one photo. Now get out of here!

BIG NEWS!

Excerpt from an email I sent my BFF on 12/13/11: 

A few months ago, Sexy Nerd and I were browsing land and houses online, not really planning to buy anything, and came across a listing for a 13.1 acre property in the mountains. It was described as having "various meadows and views of 4-5 mountain ranges", which seemed funny to us. We walked the property and, although we didn't find anything we would consider to be a meadow, we bought it. Now we're designing a home to build on it. 

4.5 years later, I received this nifty email from Old Republic Title:

Congratulations, we have closed, funded and inspected.  You may start construction. Happy Homebuilding!


That's right. WE'RE BREAKING GROUND TODAY!!! Can you believe we're finally, FINALLY going to build? Woo hoo hoo!


We spent the weekend shopping for tile FOR OUR DREAM HOME THAT WE'RE ACTUALLY BUILDING!
(Not this exact tile. Ick.)


Oh, and now I finally get to use this:

 Why did I resist watching you for so long, Breaking Bad?

Our expectations of what would actually be accomplished today were pretty low, figuring "breaking ground" would amount to setting up a porta potty and not much else. But guess what?


The side says "Central Mexico Pumping". I'm just going to go ahead and assume the "New" got scratched off by mistake...from both sides...

Panorama Homes has already set up the porta potty...we're ahead of schedule!

A Healthy Recipe: KALE CHIPS (Also, No Recipe!)

You've probably noticed some changes to my blog lately. There's a new header almost weekly (I really like my new one and think it's here to stay...though I said the exact same thing about the last one, which is dead to me now), I'm posting more frequently, and I've been cleaning up some of the nonsense in old posts. Wow, there's so much nonsense! 

Plus, I've completely done away with anything lamb-related from the good ol' LambAround days, so if you're a new reader to this blog, you're going to be confused if you look very far into the post archives, which is lamb everything. I'm working on it! I see all these other blogs succeeding and think Hey, I can do that. Call it a side effect of my latest crazy brain meltdown.

Today, I'm looking through drafts that were never posted. Here's a gem from 2011, where I took a million photos to teach you how to make kale chips. The photos are from 2011 and the text is from today because in 5 years, lazy me never got around to writing anything. Also, there will be no kale chips recipe included with this post because EVERYONE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE KALE CHIPS. If you don't, Google it and I'm sure you'll find plenty of other bloggers happy to help.

I just Googled it. Guess how many results came up?

2,510,000

Wet kale! OMG

Wet kale swishing in a colander! That piece on the right was photographed mid-air. I know I'm supposed to be making fun of these old photos, but damn that's awesome. Way to go, 2011 me.

Oh, wait. My mid-air piece of kale is actually still attached to the stem, which is not at all mid-air. Shucks.

Still more photos of wet kale, can you believe it? I must have worried you wouldn't believe I actually wash my veggies unless I showed proof.

(And then maybe that first proof, and then the second, might not be enough to convince you.)

Magically, the kale is now dry and seasoned. I think we may have missed a step here.

You must see it closer! CLOSER!!

Are your baking mats red too? And they don't actually work very well? This is what happens when you're too cheap to invest in a Silpat.

Kitchen Pig (remember him?) is terrorizing my tiny green city.

Om, nom nom.

(This order makes no sense whatsoever.)
My spices aren't all from the dollar store, I swear.

This piece of kale appears to have a spider web attached. Do you see it, over toward the lower right? What the heck is that and how did it survive being washed and baked?

It's overcooked and undercooked, all at the same time.

Pica wants some kale.

This piece looks better, though I suspect it's actually the same piece of over/undercooked kale from before.
Very sneaky, 2011 me.

Biscuit wants some kale too...though she doesn't actually like kale. I know once she gets it, she's just going to hoard it away in her bed and ferociously growl any time Pica comes near. Considering they share the bed, that's pretty messed up, Biscuit.

Also, THAT TONGUE!!! She is such a goober.
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