Image

Home stretch of our new construction build

Preparing for our new home has sucked up most of my mental space and time these last few months. I’ve not been able to blog as much which I’m bummed about. Interwoven with work, I’ve spent most days packing, visiting the house, and planning with a little shopping in between. I’ve been on YouTube incessantly watching “Empty House Tours”, interior design videos, and the like.

We started packing in January so we would be ahead of the game. Since I despise moving, I definitely didn’t want to torture myself further by waiting until the last minute. Our two children have boxes piled in their rooms too. The downside of packing so early is our cats have been terrorizing some of the boxes – peeling off the labels and digging holes. Now, they both just seem overwhelmed with all the boxes and new packages. They know something is up.

Beignet having a serious talk with himself and my new purchases.
Beignet atop of Bryan’s new side table in the midst of the garage mess. Cannoli walking towards me.
Kitchen metamorphosis. LPC

If you’ve never had a home built, it is an exciting and fun process. It might not be for everyone because it’s a long process requiring attention to detail and planning. Our process has taken about 6 months. An added bonus is in that time, our credit scores have increased substantially which puts us in a better position at closing than when we started.

Some people may want/need to move in more quickly. If you have time, a new construction build may be the option for you. It was the best option for us although it wasn’t in our initial plans.

Once you’ve determined affordability for your budget and the best location, the main things you need are patience and imagination.

You need patience for the process – anywhere from 4 months to years depending on the type of home.  There are also many decisions you need to make (depending on your builder) which will challenge your patience,  especially considerating your budget. We signed our new construction home contract in August 2020.

Me on our freshly cemented foundation….maybe not so fresh😉. LPC

Your healthy imagination is needed to help you envision your home. There are usually model homes built with all the bells and whistles (i.e., upgrades). Those upgrades come with individual prices and they can add up quickly. It’s up to you to know and stick to your budget.

Freshly laid ceramic tile. LPC

We’ve been fortunate to have experienced this process with our first home circa 2000. With life’s twists and turns, we sold our home during the housing recession of 2007/2008. My husband, Bryan, was laid off work from the job that brought us to Texas. Things were tight for a couple of years before deciding to sell. Although it was painful, it was the best decision we made for our family. For almost 14 years, we’ve been renting a duplex.

Renting isn’t bad when it fits your needs. I’ve heard the perspective that renting is like throwing money away. It’s only been recently I’ve been hearing more advice to the contrary. I was tired of being house poor. I was tired of worrying about how we were going to pay the full mortgage each month. Although we downsized, renting a duplex was the best option because it was what we could afford and eventually allowed us to live below our means. Looking back, it was some semblance of the lifestyle we had been living in the house in that the rental had a huge back yard for our children to play, the same amount of bedrooms, and a garage for storage.

Master bath under construction. LPC

Our lives have evolved so much in 14 years and now it’s time to move on. In a few years, we’ll be empty nesters which was a very important factor in planning for our house. Our children are 15 and 20 years old. This will be our retirement home. I’m hesitant to call it our “forever” home as I often hear on home improvement shows.

My favorite space. LPC

What side of town do we want to live? How much space will we need? Do we want to walk up and down stairs? How much yard do we need? What rooms/features are essential for our lifestyle? Which builder will maximize our needs/wants within our budget?

With so much to decide in the planning, we are so pleased our structural and design selections have come together beautifully. You’re just not sure because you pick your selections at one time (or more depending on your builder) from pictures, swats, and samples. Also, the budget is the main factor in making the selections.

Once we ruled out other builders and selected “the one”, we selected a floor plan which was not the model home. We made extra efforts to view this particular floor plan to ensure it “SPOKE” to us and was OUR home. We found the floor plan at different communities outside of ours and made arrangements with that communities’ sales office to view.

We chose a single story, open floor plan with 3 bedrooms, a study, a large kitchen open to the dining and living rooms with a laundry room, pantry, and 2 car garage.

The boxes are multiplying

In less than a week, we’ll be closing. We encountered a plumbing problem at the walk through which delayed our closing by a few days. I’ll share what happened in a future blog post. I plan to post more detail about this new construction process in the coming months. I’ll even share video footage I recorded. I’m determined to learn how to record great videos!

The day after the walk through, 3/17/2021 🤯😱

Stay tuned…

Image

Food chronicles: October adventures

I’ve been doing it all wrong. I’ve been doing it wrong for a long time too. I remember watching Rachel Ray’s, 30-Minute meals on the Food Network back in the day and she did the same thing. She said the best way to store herbs is in a large zip lock bag with a paper towel inside to absorb the moisture. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I’ve watched countless food shows over the years and have seen herbs displayed in vases and jars, within easy reach for the chefs/cooks to pluck what they need. I don’t know why I haven’t made the connection previously, but a couple of weekends ago, I decided to change my method in storing herbs. I was getting tired of throwing away brown, rotten parsley and cilantro, especially cilantro! I despise wasting food!

Guess what? I placed a bunch of cilantro and parsley, each in their own mason jars with water, over a week ago, and they’re still beautiful. I admit I was skeptical. The cilantro would start turning black by now in the storage bag. Not only does the jar storage system keep them fresh, but it’s aesthetically pleasing to see mini herb bouquets when I open the refrigerator. Also, because they are visible and easily accessible, I’m likely to use more fresh herbs.

20191012_1641259161912457414868460.jpg

Our grocery supply is getting lower since it’s towards the end of the month. Remember, I purchase the bulk of my groceries at the beginning of the month. I get paid once a month on the first, so this makes it easy to pay large household bills and expenses like food right away. As the month goes on, I tend to need to stop at the grocery store only to buy fresh produce and herbs, which is expected since some have a short shelf life.

To help make groceries stretch, I purchase large quantities of frozen vegetables, including peppers and seasoning blends. The peppers above are frozen tricolor peppers I bought from Trader Joes. I buy about two bags per month. I’m thinking of buying three bags in November. They are very convenient, especially for cooking in the middle of the week.

20191020_1636111676899589247891342.jpg

Hash cake filling. LPC

For those who follow my site, you know by now I incorporate vegan cuisine into my weekly meal rotation. Frozen peas came in handy for this hash cake recipe that includes: cooked quinoa, chia seeds, green onions, parsley, garbanzo beans, peas, and spices.

20191020_1634447345124115618075799.jpg

Oven ready hash cakes. LPC

I love the hash cakes as a snack while I’m at work. I take about two per day and warm them up in the toaster oven. My taste buds love salty, crunchy, and savory foods, so these hash cakes hit the spot and I don’t have to worry about calories.

20191014_1914572099834278501929989.jpg

Jerk chicken, grits, & collard greens with cabbage. LPC

Something in me conjured up the combination above and it was absolutely satisfying and delicious. I learned a few years ago my grocery store carried frozen collard greens. I sauteed fresh cabbage and onions with frozen collard greens and peppers plus spices. The result was a delicious side dish. The grits were by far the star of the show.

20191025_1913166950971751789050464.jpg

Gumbo File. LPC

Another cold front came in this week, which prompted me to make a hearty and scrumptious pot of chicken and sausage gumbo yesterday. I was so proud of my roux. I really took my time with it and got it to a rich, dark chocolate color. It gave my gumbo so much flavor. I also used three bags of frozen vegetables in this recipe: a bag of frozen okra and tomatoes, .5 bag of frozen okra, and .3 bag of frozen corn. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers.

20191025_1913339127349106893754673.jpg

Delicious chicken & sausage gumbo. LPC

There’s no telling what ideas I’ll come up with for next week.

What are you cooking?