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I have big plans for this year. I want to garden, I want to turn our house into a home, and I want to expand my culinary horizons. Therefore, I have 100 dishes I would like to master. I say master because there are some on here that I have done before but there is room for improvement.

1. Beer Bread
2. Home Made Pasta Sauce
3. Home Made Salsa
4. Stuffed Pasta Shells
5. Crab Rangoon
6. Gyros
7. Live Lobster
8. Rack of Lamb
9. Home Made Stuffing
10. Pita Bread
11. Italian Bread
12. Home Made Stromboli
13. Wine
14. Beer
15. Sangria
16. Beer Battered Zucchini
17. Home Made Perogies
18. Home Made Ravioli
19. Guacamole
20. Fried Green Tomatoes
21. Chili
22. Cheese Fondue
23. Cornish Hen
24. Pasta Salad
25. Potato Salad
26. Beer Battered Fish
27. Mexican Tortilla Soup
28. Chicken Salad
29. Banana Bread
30. Chicken Enchiladas
31. Egg Salad
32. Gumbo
33. Clam Chowder
34. Buffalo Chicken Pizza
35. Fried Calamari
36. Tuna Noodle Casserole
37. Tater Tot Casserole
38. Onion rings
39. Vegetable Beef Soup
40. Potato Skins
41. Chicken Pot Pie
42. Bread Salad
43. Spinach Pie
44. Red Wine Vinaigrette
45. Home Made Mac and Cheese
46. Banana Cream Pie
47. Chicken Noodle Soup
48. Irish Stew
49. Pad Thai
50. General Tso Chicken
51. Apple Pie
52. Cheesecake
53. Eggs Benedict
54. Coffee Cake
55. Potato Pancakes
56. Chicken Stock
57. Sweet and Sour Chicken
58. Artos Greek Celebration Bread
59. Greek Pizza
60. Sorbet
61. Lentil Soup
62. Pepper Jelly
63. Pot Roast
64. Jello Pretzel Salad
65. Stuffed Grape Leaves
66. Hummus
67. Bagels
68. Peanut Brittle
69. Coconut Fried Shrimp
70. Lettuce Wraps
71. Jam
72. Bacon Vodka
73. Vanilla Extract
74. Irish coffee
75. Ceder Grilled Salmon
76. Quesadillas
77. Au Gratin Potatoes
78. Corn Casserole
79. Zucchini Cake
80. Stuffed Tomatoes
81. Sesame Noodles
82. French Onion Soup
83. Pico de Gallo
84. Cheddar Biscuits
85. Crash hot potatoes
86. The Perfect Burger
87. Baked Stuffed Clams
88. Pesto
89. Chicken Alfredo
90. Penne alla Vodka
91. Sesame Tofu Stir Fry
92. Crab Cakes
93. Fudge
94. Shrimp Scampi
95. Butternut Squash Risotto
96. Roast Duck
97. Perfect Ribs
98. Bruschetta
99. Chicken Cordon Bleu
100. Baked Beans

Whew! Like I said, there’s a few on here that I actually have made in the past, but I either want to improve on what I cooked before or I failed miserably the first time around (I’m looking at you, cheese fondue). Something else I’m looking forward to…using all my fresh garden veggies!

I think we are in for a delicious year!

This might make me sound like a crazy hippie, but I have decided to introduce more eco-friendly (greener living?) to my new house and husband.

Eeeek.

I’ve always been fairly environmentally-conscious, but mostly in the animal-impacting way. I refuse to buy anything that might have been tested on animals and I would love nothing more than to raid a puppy mill and string up the operators by their toes.

That said, that’s about as far as I have gone in being environmentally friendly, but I would like to change.

This really spurred from a documentary I couldn’t help but watch on one of our environmental channels. I really wish I could remember the name, but it was basically an inside look of how chickens are kept. Yeah, chickens. Random? Yes. Heartbreaking? Absolutely. I have no love for chickens, they freaked me out ever since I had my first up-close encounter at a friend’s farm when I was young, but the sight of the conditions that chickens are kept in (doesn’t matter if they’re raised for eggs or meat) was enough to make me sob. Seriously, I never thought I would find myself crying over chickens, but there you have it. Watching that led to my first truly conscious more environmentally (or at least more animal-friendly) change: I will only buy free range eggs and meat from now one. I’m not, nor will ever be anything resembling vegan. I firmly believe in the food chain and that we, for the most part, happen to be on top of it. That doesn’t mean that the food we consume should be that of tortured animals.

Call me a bleeding heart, but I’d rather have a bleeding one than none at all.

So I’ve already made the chicken change, so now what? Time to change all the rest of the meats I buy. I used to be happy purchasing all my meat at Walmart, never thinking about all the crap companies add. Well, lo and behold, the house we purchased it literally up the road from a local-run meat market! I stopped in on Monday and loved it! It’s a cute little old-fashioned country store with local produce and a huge meat selection. Meat problem solved! The meat was better quality for about the same price. It also is nice to know that it supports local business and farmers. I will only be buying local from now on.

What other changes are brewing? I finally have room for a garden! I love veggies, and if given the proper opportunity I could probably live happily off of tomatoes. Nom.

I plan on starting a garden this year with things that Justin and i eat regularly. That includes lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (all kinds), eggplant, squash, and perhaps corn. I also plan on buying a few grape vines online and seeing how I do with starting my own little mini-vineyard😉 We have an actual root-cellar in our basement and it would be a shame to leave it wine-less.

I also plan on having my garden remain completely organic. I’ve been reading up on companion planting which seems like it is all kinds of brilliant. Basically companion planting is planting a type of plant that bugs hate near the plants bugs love. If i get into a pinch and companion planting doesn’t work, my grandma used to spray her plants with a type of hot pepper water. That always worked for her tomatoes.

To follow up with my garden plans, I’m also attempting to…compost. This may or may not turn out to be a complete failure, but I love the idea behind it. Garbage into plant food? Sure, why not? I have a little canister sitting under the kitchen sink that I’m slowly filling with goodies like pear peels and coffee grounds. I’ll eventually get a garbage can and start a real production if it seems to work.

That concludes this Inner Hippie installment, please check back for Part II: Operation Bleach-Free.

Home Sweet Home!

Home is where your story begins….

Okay, western PA has seen enough of the fluffy white stuff. It can stop now.

No really.

We have about 2.5 feet of snow.

For the record, moving in 2.5 feet of snow is not the most brilliant plan I have ever come up with, but we did it with a surprising amount of success! We are about 95% moved into the new house. We still have one couch left at the apartment, a computer desk, and some other random things that didn’t fit into any categorized boxes. Right now we’re basically cleaning the house and the apartment and we can officially say goodbye to the place that had been our home for the last two years. It’s oddly bittersweet.

Owning a house is all kinds of amazing. Right now it is a project in itself to just put things away and explore some more, all while trying to find everything a “place”. I’m so glad we got ourselves a three bedroom house, and I’m shocked at how we already have a fully furnished place. I’m not sure how everything fit in our apartment, but it looks much better in the house!

Being the listy sort of person I am, I already have a list for just about every room in the house and what all needs done. When Justin and I were looking for a house we knew we wanted something we could turn into our own. We certainly got that with this house! We did get two really important features though, hardwood floors throughout and three bedrooms. The whole house has hardwood, save for the master bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. I love these floors. I think we’re going to put hardwood in the kitchen and master as well, but we are still deciding.

Just to give you an idea as to what we’re going to be in for for the next few years, here’s my To-Do List for the bathroom:

  • Spackle holes (Oddly there are numerous holes, like the previous owners hung a ton of…art? in the bathroom! haha)
  • Repaint or replace tub (The previous owners PAINTED the TUB. I don’t know what possessed them to do that, but there’s peeling paint and dirt got underneath. Eventually it will be replaced, but for now I am going to try to make do, seriously….who paints a tub??)
  • Replace handle hardware. I learned from HGTV that if you want to change the entire look of a room, start with the handles/knobs/hardware. Right now they’re a brassy gold, I’m thinking tarnished brown.
  • Repaint entire room. (Again, the previous owners…. the room is day-glo ORANGE. It’s like walking on the surface of the freakin’ sun!)
  • Check/clean exhaust
  • Repaint/re-stain cabinets
  • repaint/re-stain mirror
  • Repaint/re-stain wood trim
  • install a towel rack (they had one hanging behind the door, it lasted about 5 minutes with me. Annoying!)
  • Find some material for curtains. (I have a Martha Stewart Complex. I want to create!)

    The floor in the bathroom is kind of up in the air right now. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I think it’s probably because it’s overshadowed by the orange monstrosity that it the current paint job. If we hate the floor later then it will be replaced, but it is not a priority at the moment.

    I actually think I might start another blog specifically for documenting out decorating and renovating projects, which will include absolutely every room in the entire house, starting with the bathroom. The living room is next, but a nice coat of paint will transform that room completely. The living room is like swiss cheese though, the previous owners went to town pounding holes in the walls. Oh well, at least now it’s our swiss cheese🙂

  • We CLOSED!

    I know, it has been awhile, huh? Every time I went to post an entry, all I wanted to do was talk about the house, but actually writing about it was putting even more stress on a very high-strung situation.

    Long story short, as of 3 PM February 3rd, 2010 Justin and I are proud homeowners🙂 It’s kind of crazy, people buy houses every day, but it’s a whole other ballgame when it is you buying a home. I can’t believe how many dreams have suddenly come true in the past year. I married Justin and we bought a house together all in a seven-month span. It’s actually kind of funny, our original closing date was set up for exactly six months after our wedding date, but sadly it got pushed back six days.

    We started to move in yesterday after we closed. Justin swapped out all the locks on the house and Brittany helps us unload some things. I hope to actually sleep over there tonight, even if it’s just us, some wine, and an air mattress🙂

    I was really scared before about talking about the house at all. It has been such a long time coming that I think I almost talked myself into believing that there was no way we were going to end up getting it in the end. We literally had such a roller coaster of a ride to get those keys in our hands, but I think it makes us appreciate it even more in the end.

    The house right now is nothing much to look at. Justin and I both love projects, and this is going to prove to be the biggest project of our lives. We’re basically redoing the entire place and making it completely our own (red and black kitchen for me!) Sometimes watching those HGTV shows where people buy houses already completely done seems so…impersonal to me. That’s not to say that I would turn down a $50,000 kitchen if it were handed to me, but I’m so excited to take on this crazy adventure with my husband.

    Right now I’m frantically googling absolutely everything DIY related when it comes to houses. The room I want to attack first is the kitchen/dining room, simply because we don’t have to re-drywall that room (the rest of the house is covered in painted paneling, ick.) I’m debating creating a new blog dedicated to having all my home-based decorating and renovating in one place, as well as cross posting here. There’s so much to do, it will keep us entertained for years.

    I’ll post some pictures when I finally get around to taking some. It will be awesome to see some before/after shots when the renovations get rolling!

    Buying a house, while exciting, is probably the most irritating experience I have ever had. The worst part about it is that apparently I’m the only one who feels that way.

    This house has never been a guarantee. We put an offer on the house 24 hours after it was listed. Seller accepted, we were contingent. Then we started worrying about the roof. Would it pass inspection? Would it need replaced asap? Wait, wait, wait.

    We got it inspected. Roof did not pass, but it has at least a year on it. We’re relieved, we don’t have to walk away…yet. Wait, wait, wait.

    We battle trying to figure out if we can get the seller to pay for the roof, after all, no one wants to eat the cost of putting a new roof on the house before it is theirs. Seller can’t replace it now, but we can get a credit at closing. My husband is handy, he would be able to replace the roof without an issue. Now we need to get the appraisal, and the house needs to appraise to an amount that the bank will give us the mortgage. Wait, wait, wait.

    We got the appraisal, and it was right where it should be. It actually appraised $2,100 more than what we’re buying it for, but now there’s some issue that that extra $2100 might not cover some taxes? I don’t understand it, and I’m really reaching the end of my patience for the whole thing. It seems like it is one jerk around after another and I don’t understand why.

    I’m just frustrated. I’m frustrated that I’m frustrated when apparently Justin is being cool as a cucumber about it. I’m frustrated that I’m frustrated with him because I think he should be antsy right along with me. I don’t believe he’s taking this all as well as he says he is, but that could simply be due to the fact that this entire ordeal is driving me up a freaking wall.

    We are supposed to close two weeks from today. If something falls through this far into the process then I’m walking away from home ownership for a long time. It’s going to take a lot of relaxing before I’m ready to go through this all over again.

    Still looking for a green light here so I can finally start getting excited about the biggest purchase of my life. Wait, wait, wait.