The Final Progress Pictures

Things are wrapping up at Lot 256.  It’s strange to think that in less than a month, we’ll be settled into our new home. 

034

This will be the last set of progress pictures.  I know, so sad.  The next set will be during our final walk thru when everything is shiny and clean!  Lots of dust in the house right now.

The garage is finished and almost cleared out. 

016 

The carpet is down in the rec room.

017  018

The hardwood has also been installed.  All that paper you see throughout the house is protecting our newly installed floors (eeek!)

 010

Look at our kitchen!!  I seriously had heart palpitations (the good kind) when I saw how much had been completed!  The granite.  The cabinets.  The BACKSPLASH! 

019

The super ugly pendant lights.  I really, really don’t like these shades. At all.

020

021  005 

And I also don’t like the mirror in the powder room.  I know…I’m a brat.  But WHY would you design such a modern home and use all of these NOT-modern finishes???  (NOT-Modern is a technical term).  And why did they install a full towel rack in a powder room? And why is it called a powder room?  That is definitely not a modern description…I think it’s now called a half-bath

022

Carpet is in the office and guest room.  Yes, I tried to take the darkest pictures I could.

024  023

Tile and finishes are completed in the guest bath.  Notice the same NOT-modern light fixture as in the half-bath (it’s also in the master bath). Anyone in the market for a crapton of fluted shades?  Anyone?? 

025 032

Master bedroom is carpeted.

026

And the master bath is almost finished.  We just need a shower door.  

027  029 

And the closets are ready for all of our clothes. 

030  031

So you can see, it’s almost ready to go!  They have some touch up work to do on the paint and probably a bunch of other details I didn’t notice…but we’re in the home stretch! 

****************************************************************************************************

I know some of you have been on pins and needles waiting to hear about the resolution of the deck issue.  Well, we went back and forth with Heartland…Jerry stormed out of a meeting with one of the managers and I fired off a very nasty stern email to the same manager and the VP of Sales.  Bottom line…they feel bad but still, there is still nothing they can do.  Legally, we are stuck because we signed off on the deck as is.  The large deck was approved by someone no longer with Heartland.  So at this point, we’ve just decided to let it go and move on.  But I still clench my teeth every time I see that dumb deck.  It’s all good though, because we’re going to build a bigger, more kick-ass deck than the other end unit.  So there.

Spicy Asian Noodles

Another recipe?!?!  Normally I would try to space out my culinary masterpieces….but this was SO. GOOD!  It was so easy too and came together in about 20 minutes.  This is from Cooking Light….spicy asian noodles with chicken.  Of course I had to mess around with it…my changes are in red.

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used about a pound of shrimp)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) (leave out if you don’t want any heat in the dish…Chiquita, I’m talking to you!)
  • 1 (6.75-ounce) package thin rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) (I used brown rice noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts 

Preparation

  1. 1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Place in a large bowl. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and next 6 ingredients (through sambal).
  2. 2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cook shrimp in large skillet about 2-3 minutes per side.  Add sauce and noodles and heat through.  Sprinkle with peanuts.
  3. 003  004
  4.  I steamed some broccoli to serve with the noodles.  Please excuse this picture…I didn’t wipe down the plate. 

005

Update on the deck situation is coming up tomorrow.  Spoiler alert:  We agreed to disagree.

Lots of progress

They are making a ton of progress on Lot 256!  Unfortunately, Jerry and I aren’t making any progress regarding the dumbest deck in the history of the world.  I have a whole separate post on tap regarding this issue…but that’s for another day. 

I’m just gonna bomb you with a bunch of pictures.  They’re pretty self explanatory…

001  002

003

004   005

006

007 008

009  011

012

The trim and doors are painted bright white and the walls have the first (or possibly second) coat of a warm, almond hue.  The stair treads and railings have been stained and this will also be the color of our hardwood.  It’s a dark brown with warm tones. 

Cabinets have been installed in the kitchen, guest and master bath and you can see what the bathroom granite will look like.  We used the same one for both bathrooms. 

The light fixtures are in…and are going to be at the top of my list to change once we start on the low priority adjustments.  We didn’t have a choice in the pendant shades and they are just not our style. Nor are the ones above the master vanity.  I don’t like these at all

  010

But they are fine for now and we can just sell them on ebay/craigslist when we’re ready to switch things up.

The tile has been laid the the bathroom floors and showers.  And we have toilets!!

So things are moving right along.  We are @ 30 days out from settlement, which is very exciting!  I have no idea how they’re going to get the rest of this done…but I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

Embarrassingly Easy Fish Tacos

After 4 days of eating everything that wasn’t tied down (so. much. food), Jerry & I  a) didn’t want to go out to eat on Sunday & b) wanted something lite for dinner.

I had some cod in the freezer so I decided fish tacos would be a good idea.  We are both partial to the grilled version vs. the breaded, fried version.  It was kinda ugly out so I skipped the grill and just browned them in the skillet.

038

Here is the recipe I used:

1 lb of cod (or other white flaky fish)
taco seasoning.

The end.

For those of you who are sticklers for details, I defrosted the fish, sprayed it with non-stick spray and sprinkled taco seasoning on both sides.  Then I headed a drizzle of EVOO in a large skillet and cooked on medium high for 3-4 min per side.  Once it was cooked, I just chunked it up with the spatula and sautéed it around in the pan.  Throw it on a corn tortilla, top with slaw & a chunk of avocado and eat.  Done & done!

036  037

I made a simple slaw out of packaged coleslaw mix (why would you ever buy a whole cabbage for slaw??  Convenience for the win!)

Dressing:
2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup EVOO
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk dressing in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped, and 1/2 a bunch of scallions, diced. Toss to combine. It’s better if it sits overnight.

035

Simple and delicious!

4th of July Weekend Wrap Up

I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July than at the beach!  What a weekend!

028

Despite the threat of Arthur, we were blessed with 2.5 amazing beach days during our trip to Fenwick Island, DE.  Skies just don’t get any bluer than this…

We started out our mini vacation with a trip to visit Jerry’s sister near DC.  I’m happy to report we had zero point zero trips to the Emergency Room this time around!  Jerry’s ulcer meds are working well.

We made a pitstop en route to DC at a rest stop on the turnpike.  Heaven on the Highway!  Pizza Hut, Starbucks AND Auntie Anne’s all in one place.  We were starting this trip the right way!

001

I reluctantly bypassed PH and Starbucks and headed straight for Auntie Anne’s…only to be told they were out of cheese.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE OUT OF CHEESE?!?!  All the cheese too…nacho cheese, cream cheese and (my favorite), the cold, pasteurized cheese-product type cheese.  I had to settle for marinara. Whatever.  I made up for it by helping Jerry house a bag of Munchies (which, for the record, is pretzels, Sun-Chips, Cheetos and Doritos. All the good things).

002 003

We made excellent time and arrived @ 4:00ish.  We had some guacamole, salsa and chips and then freshened up before hitting Uncle Julio’s for dinner.  I don’t know why I forgot to take pictures (probably b/c I feel like a creepy weirdo photographing my food in public) but I had some amazing chicken and cheese & onion enchiladas.  #cheeseismyfavoritefoodgroup

We were out the door by 6:30 am the following morning and crossed the bay bridge with little traffic….

005

I had my feet in the sand by 10:30.  Yes, I know my feet look huge and really, who wants to see pictures of my feet?  But here they are…with BLUE toenails!  I generally stick with old school toe colors…red, coral, pink…but I decided to get funky for the holiday.  Don’t worry, I’ll catch up to 2014 by 2026.  Always a few steps behind the times…it’s part of my charm.

006

This is AT.  You may remember her from our girls weekend in Hershey.  She and her mom were our gracious hosts for the weekend.  Mrs. T has an awesome house about a mile from the beach.  I’ve known them since I was 15.  They’re like my family.

008

So after spending 4 or 5 hours on the beach, we came home and relaxed for a bit.  Then we hit the Crabcake Factory for dinner.  We got a seat right by the bay.  The weather was perfect!

041 042

This place is known to have amazing crabcakes and they ship them all over the country.  So much lump crab packed into a perfect little package.  Mac & cheese for life on the side.

009

Friday morning was a washout.  It rained all morning and early afternoon.  We Jerry and Amy watched some World Cup soccer and by mid afternoon, it had cleared up a bit.  AT took a nap and Jerry & I took a walk on the beach.  The waves were unreal!

013

We decided to make the spend the rest of the afternoon poolside.  I finally finished Gone Girl.  Not a fan of the ending…

014 015

Dinner Friday night was steamed seafood heaven from Rippons.

016

Peel and eat shrimp, little neck clams and some crabby cheese fries (which are as amazing at they sound) from Smitty Magee’s.  Plus some local white corn…sweet as sugar.

017 018

It was pretty cool in the evening and I was very glad I packed some fleece for the trip.  All fleece…all the time…

019

Saturday morning was picture perfect at the beach.

022

024   023

Saturday was also the day I made my way to Ocean Side Pizzeria for the world’s greatest cheesesteak!  I make a point to stop at Ocean Side every time I’m in Fenwick…I’ve been eating these sandwiches since 1989.  It’s nostalgia on a bun.

025  027

On the way to Ocean Side, I walked past the Stone’s Throw condo we stayed at 26 years ago.  They’ve done some updating but it looks the same.  Just with a fresh coat of paint.  AT & I met in Fenwick when we were 15 and my family stayed in this condo.  We also stayed here for the next 7-8 summers…I spent many hours lounging on those decks.

021

The town of Fenwick hosts a bonfire for the 4th and they do it up right.  There is a DJ, lots of activities for the kids and fireworks. It was a lovely end to our holiday weekend.

031   034

Jerry and I were up and at em at 5:45 on Sunday morning.  We wanted to make sure we were home in plenty of time to pick up Jacob at the Dog Stop (he stayed at the new Sewickley location…he had a ball!).  Home by 1:00 with plenty of time to get ready for the week.

Thanks for AT & Mrs. T for a lovely, relaxing weekend!

Let’s talk about decks, baby

Yes, you should be singing the title to the tune of this song….

Ahhhhh, the deck.  Sick of hearing about our dumb deck?  Yeah, me too.  But it’s my blog so I get to ramble on and complain about it all I want.
 
In case you haven’t heard…we get a 4×18 deck included with our townhouse.  WHATISTHEPOINTOFTHISSTUPIDDECK?!?!?! Sure, it’s a cute little deck, but it serves zero purpose.  We can’t put our grill on it.  We can’t put our chairs on it.  We can put some herb and flower pots on it.  It’s a garden deck.  And we can’t extend it until after the closing.  We absolutely have to wait until after closing…no way around it. Per Heartland.
 
 
004
 
 
You can imagine our surprise when we saw this big, beautiful deck on the other end unit in our building.  
 
 005
 
Here, take a closer look…
 
 
003
 
That is definitely NOT a 4×18 deck!
 
006
 
You have got to be kidding me.
 
So I sent an email to our sales rep and project manager…(I did not say Jerry, I used his real name)
 
Jerry and I stopped at Venango Trails on Saturday to see how things were progressing.  We were shocked to see a crew building a very large deck on the other end unit.  On our previous stops, we noticed they didn’t have a deck on the back of their unit and figured they had made arrangements to have one built after closing.  We were kicking ourselves for not requesting the same option b/c we have made it very clear during this process that we planned on building a larger deck onto our unit immediately after closing. 
 
I’m not really sure why that end unit has received preferential treatment but honestly, we’re starting to take it personally.  All of the units should all be receiving the same options…and it’s really unacceptable that we’re not.  First the situation with the windows, which you have offered compensation with the side windows (and that was very generous of you)…now this issue with the deck.  We weren’t given the option of having the deck excluded from the unit so we could build our own.  And we were very firmly told we were unable to extend the existing deck until after closing.  That is understandable.  Jerry and I are not unreasonable.  We realize this is the first JJA building in Venango Trails and there are bound to be some hiccups.  But we feel we’re being treated unfairly in relation to the other end unit.  And that is really souring what has been an otherwise favorable experience with Heartland.  
 
Not too mean, right?  I wanted to insert my favorite video clip from the Legend of Billie Jean…FAIR IS FAIR!  I didn’t.
 
I mean, look at that nice functional deck.  You can put a table on it. You can grill on it.  You can hang out on it.  AND you can have a garden on it, too. 
 
 

008

So now we’re waiting to hear back from them.  They’re supposed to call Jerry today…I’m much better via email :).  I know there isn’t much that can be done now, but they I would like to see them credit the cost of the deck and the cost of the deck removal from our contract.  After all, fair is fair. 

Chiquita, I’m guessing that you haven’t seen that movie…I’m coming over soon and we’re going to watch it.  It’s a classic! 

Weekend wrap up

What a great weekend!  The perfect combination of relaxing, productivity and FUN!  I had Friday off from work so my weekend started on Thursday night.  Picture taking was a total fail…I will get better at this!

Thursday

My friend L & I went to Soba to try out their Vietnam tasting menu.  So amazing!

first:
nem nuong: grilled pork, bibb lettuce
spicy meatball lettuce wrap – a perfect bite. Not too spicy but a nice little kick.

banh bèo: shrimp, scallion
steamed rice pancake with diced shrimp and scallion – I actually didn’t remember what this was so it wasn’t too memorable

goi cuon: summer roll, hoisin
shrimp summer roll with cilantro and cabbage – best part of the appetizer course. The flavors were so fresh and bright. I’m a cilantro maniac and it was well represented.

second:
lotus root, chicken, green papaya, nuoc cham
julienned vegetable salad with smoked chicken – I just about licked my bowl clean. The salad was so flavorful and the chicken was very subtle. The veggies were definitely the star. Actually the dressing was the star. Who cares…it was yummy.

third:
crispy bronzino, lemongrass,  radish & cucumber pickle, rau muong
marinated, fried whole bronzino with pickled watermelon over sesame spinach – I have never eaten a fish served with it’s head still intact. I’m weird about that kind of stuff so I try and avoid it. But this was some of the best fish I’ve ever had! I’m definitely a bronzino fan. And pickled watermelon is also a new favorite!

001

dessert:
cassava coconut cake, lychee, black rice ice cream, mango
That black rice ice cream was out of this world!! The cake was ok.

Friday

I had some doctor’s appointments to get out of the way so that’s how I spent the morning.  In the afternoon, I settled in at the salon to wash that grey right out of my hair.  It was time.  My stylist freshened up my layers and cut 22 2 inches off the length.  Jerry was pouting about my new short hair.  He would prefer I look like Crystal Gayle.

source

RB and CB home from Charlotte for the weekend so we picked up some takeout from The Flame BBQ…pulled pork, ribs, mac & cheese, cornbread, macaroni salad, baked beans and some collard greens for our southern belle…and headed to Chiquita’s house for the evening.  We spent a lovely evening catching up with our dear friends and even though Jerry and I made it until 11:30, our time with them was way too short.  Man, I miss those two!  But they are thriving in the south and it’s wonderful to see them so happy.  Can’t wait to visit!

Saturday

A much overdue pool day!

004

Despite my excitement over the opening of the BM pool, I’ve only visited twice.  Whomp, whomp.  I enjoyed 2 glorious hours in the sun, reading Gone Girl (it’s finally picked up and I’m totally sucked in!) and turning into a bronze goddess.  Ha!  How bout a less-pasty-white-than-usual goddess.  That’s better.  But…I have freckles.

We met some friends at Bonnie & Clydes for dinner (yum, burgers!), shopped for a washer & dryer and then capped off the night with some frozen yogurt.  In bed by 9:30.  We know how to do the weekend right!

Sunday

Jerry golfed and I took a long walk with Jacob.  Then I hit a few stores to stock up on supplies for our 4th of July beach trip (yay!) and watched 15 episodes of Flip or Flop on HGTV.  Oh, HGTV, how I love you!!

We had a little early birthday celebration for my Mom at Luciano’s Brick Oven in Mars.  #1 I love pizza  #2 Kendall no longer bursts into tears when she sees her Aunt Jenny…there are smiles and giggles now.  We may have turned the corner with that little peanut  #3 All of my Mom’s birthday cards had cats on them.

We got 2 extra large pizzas and our pizza lovin’ crew polished them off with only 3 slices remaining.  Overall, I liked their pizza…the sauce was a bit on the sweet side for me but the crust was good.  But canned mushrooms…I just can’t.  Note to pizza places:  stop using canned mushrooms!!!

Jerry and I finished up the weekend by lounging around, watching Big Brother (what are the thoughts on this season?  I’m having a hard time getting into it.) and then lights out @ 9:30.

On to Monday and a 2.5 day work week.  Bring on the beach trip!

And the drywall goes up!

The inside of Lot 256 is starting to look more like a home!  The garage is bursting with all kinds of fun stuff.  Doors, appliances, trim…all waiting to bring our little townhouse to life.

006

When you enter the house from the garage, you get a glimpse of the Rec Room in all it’s drywall, mudded glory!  Our dishwasher is hanging out waiting for the kitchen to be build

007  010

Here is our entry.

009

Come on in!

   012

I know these pictures are dark…sorry for that.  But here is our kitchen/family room.

016

And the living room.

015

The guest room & office are looking good…

018  020

As are the laundry room and guest bath.  Tile is being installed!

021 022

The master bedroom

027 023

And master bath…tile is going down in the gynormous shower!

024   026

Our pre-settlement walk through is definitely set for August 1st.  The place should be ready to go by the following week.  We’ve extended our lease at Berkley Manor through August 31st.  As that’s Labor Day Weekend, we hope to be completely moved out by then.  We have a super busy August but at least we’ll have some time to transition gradually.

It’ll be here before we know it!

House of Blues

The siding is up!  We are officially the House of Blues.  Blue is my favorite color so I couldn’t be more thrilled!

001

Not so thrilled with the color of the front door…but that will apparently change.  The “dirty diaper” brown is just primer.  I’m hoping for a black door.  And black shutters.  No, we don’t get to pick.

002 003

We are also officially locked out of the house.  Not sure if I mentioned this earlier in the week, but the garage doors and front door are locked at night and over the weekend.  No more snooping around when no one is there.  I plan to stop by one day next week and take some progress pics from the inside.  That’s not creepy, right?  I assume these guys are used to home owners wanting to check out things during the construction?

The John Jacob Astor Model at Venango Trails

As you may recall, Jerry and I decided to purchase our townhouse without seeing a model at Venango Trails.  We drove to DC to see the models in Virginia and Maryland (and visit Stephanie!).  But that was in November!  It was really hard to remember how the townhouse was laid out and how much space there was in each room.  So we were VERY excited when the JJA model opened for us to revisit.

The onsite model is different than our townhouse in that they have the street entrance on the second floor.  You enter into the Living Room.  The model has the Rec room in the basement.  Our townhouse has the street entrance on the ground level and you enter into the Rec Room.  I’m not really sure which layout I prefer.  I guess it really doesn’t matter at this point!  With the exception of the entrance, the layout of both townhouses is the same.

Obviously the model has ALL of the upgrades.  And the designers did an amazing job outfitting the house.  The color palate is mainly aqua and lime green and it flows into into every room.  These vibrant colors aren’t for everyone, including us. At least not on this scale.  But it’s still pretty stunning!

So let’s take a tour!

The exterior of the model is all brick.  Ours is partially brick.  But the doors, railings and landing are the same.

IMG_0312

They did a great job with Rec Room!  There is a wet bar and a powder room on this floor.  We roughed in the plumbing for the powder room but didn’t bother with the wet bar.  Our intention is to use this room as a Media Room (aka Jerry’s mancave).

IMG_0282

The living room has tons of light and is very spacious.  There are 3 windows in this living room, plus the light that comes in from the front door.  So almost 4 windows.  We have 2.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr….  But we also have that side window so I’m sure it’ll be fine.  This entire floor has hardwood, as does ours.

IMG_0315 IMG_0316

There is a powder room on this floor as well.  The model also has a small closet.  It would be perfect for the vacuum and cleaning supplies.  We don’t have anything like this in our place.  Guess I just won’t clean this floor.

IMG_0318   IMG_0317

Right off the living room is my baby…the kitchen!  Boy oh boy, I can’t wait to put on my apron and get to work in here!!

IMG_0335

We chose these exact cabinets…same style, same color.  But our granite has more grey and the tiles in our back splash are smaller.  It’s hard to tell in this crappy light (it was sunny and there are too many pictures to edit…sorry), but the granite in the model has a lot of brown in it.

IMG_0320  IMG_0319 - Copy

We do not have the French door fridge.  Ours is side by side.  But the rest of these appliances mimic ours.

IMG_0326  IMG_0328  IMG_0329

This floor is so open and airy.  Everything flows from one end to the other.

IMG_0324  IMG_0330

Parallel to the kitchen is the dining room.  They have a six foot table in here, but they also have a fireplace in the family room.  We do not so we will have a larger dining area.  So we’re planning on a 7 foot table.  It’s still up in the air if Jerry is going to make one.  He has until November 15st to complete it or we’re buying one.

IMG_0332    IMG_0314

The family room is right off the kitchen/dining area.  Those French doors lead out to the deck.  The silly 4×18 I mentioned in a previous post.

IMG_0321

And I mentioned we didn’t get the fireplace in the family room and here’s why.  See that little box in the wall.  Yeah, that’s it.  So dumb.  And it was really expensive! We opted for more room in the dining room.

IMG_0323 IMG_0322

Upstairs are the bedrooms.  They have one staged as an office, as we intend to use it.

IMG_0284

The other is the guest room.  Ditto.

IMG_0286  IMG_0285

They didn’t even give us the option of these tiles in the guest bath.  Bummer because I love them.  We chose the standard 8×8 square tiles and I’m sure it will be lovely.

IMG_0287

And then we move on to our behemoth of a master bedroom.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  Not at all!  It’s gorgeous and so. much. room.  I love the sitting area!  We did not get the side windows…it’s just one big wall.  I think that gives us more furniture arranging options.

IMG_0290

IMG_0291 IMG_0292

The master bath is amazing.  You can’t tell but we have TWO showerheads in our enormous shower.  What the what?!?!  I think next to the kitchen, this is my favorite part of the whole house.

IMG_0293  IMG_0294

His and her closets.

IMG_0289   IMG_0288

The model has the 3rd floor and it’s unreal.  There is a full bath AND a roof deck, in addition to this living/bedroom/office/playroom.

IMG_0295   IMG_0297  IMG_0296

So there you have it!  I can’t wait to be settled in our place and see how different it is.

Jerry talked to our project manager tonight and it looks like our pre-settlement meeting is August 1st.  We should close within a week from that meeting. Yippeeee!