It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to not blog for 3 weeks, but…hey, that’s what happened. No specific reason either, just general life busyness and for that last week, sheer laziness. After a busy and supercharged summer, this fall has been relatively uneventful, but I’m kind of digging the low-keyness of it. It’s been relaxing, peaceful and it feels needed.
Officially boot season.
Despite the uneventfulness, let’s get into a few random updates and thoughts anyway. Because it’s been weeks!
I loathe our upstairs neighbors. They just moved in about two weeks ago and already they’re driving me crazy with their guitar-playing (the same song over and over and OVER) and loud stompiness (seriously, it’s like there’s lead in those boots) at all hours.
We’ve had leaks in the bathroom and a possible leak in the coat closet. The bathroom drains have been clogging up like crazy. I have nowhere to put my new blender, so it sits on the counter, which of course uses up precious cooking space. Not only are we outgrowing this apartment, but it’s like the place is now rejecting us. It’s almost like it knows, we’re over it already.
My friend Jen has a thoughtful moment by the water.
That said, we still have our eyes firmly set on our moldy little dream home. But there have been no developments. We’re in this position right now where we’re just waiting to hear back on an adjusted price, so right now we’re just twiddling our thumbs while all the behind-the-scenes stuff gets figured out.
I had these fried alligator bites for the first time at a place called Bayou in Staten Island. Damn tasty. File under: Tastes Like Chicken.
TV stuff (spoiler-free!): I’m so impressed with Walking Dead this season. The first episode was explosive—literally and figuratively—and the second was full of a crazy amount of tension. Can’t even handle what’s about to happen. Sons of Anarchy, also very tension-filled. Any second, I’m like he’s going to find out the truth, he’s going to find out the truth. But then…no. I bet they’re saving up that doozy for finale. I’ve been marathoning Gilmore Girls on Netflix and I’ve been LOVING it. Now that I’m older, I get a lot more of the pop-culture references and I find my opinions on some characters have changed slightly. I actually understand Emily now (not when she’s trying to break up Luke and Lorelai though). And there’s all these before-they-were-celebrity cameos, like Jon Hamm and Nick Offerman that I’m spotting every now and again. Random!
It may be cold here, but the flowers are still a cheery shade of summer.
I am absolutely determined to not get sick this year. I’ve already ordered a pack of Vitamin D3 tablets and am looking into the benefits of elderberry syrup and fire cider. I felt a bit scratchy in the throat yesterday (this is how it always starts), so I had soup for lunch and dinner, drank copious amounts of water and washed my hands a record number of times. Today the scratchiness is gone, thank goodness. I am not getting sick this year, I am not getting sick this year, I am not getting sick this year… If I say it enough times, then it won’t happen, right?
I’m not into Hallowen this year, though I’ll be attending my nephew’s birthday/costume party this weekend. Bob told me there was some girl on Jimmy Fallon the other night that said she wore a shirt that said “Life” on it and then handed out lemons, as her lazy Halloween costume. So clever! I love it. I want a cool/lazy/cheap idea like that. Got any suggestions? I do have a backup costume planned, but I can still be convinced to do something else
South Beach, Staten Island (and the Verrazano in the distance)
Bob and I had rented a car to deal with house-related stuff in Jersey, but that appointment fell through so we were left with a car for the entire day and nowhere to go. Initially, I thought we could use it for an easy trip to the grocery store (lame), but thankfully, I thought of something way better: a day trip to Sleepy Hollow. And what could be better and more appropriate than Sleepy Hollow in October?
Our first stop (or second, if you count lunch at Sweet Grass Grill – recommended, by the way!) was Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown. His home was beautiful and romantic with its wisteria vines, European influences and its gorgeous view of the Hudson. The inside was cozy and cute, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
We learned a whole lot about the author of Sleepy Hollow too. Interesting tidbit: Washinton Irving was the first known American writer to support himself on solely on writing. Impressive! I enjoy educational tours, but there should be a rule about hiring a guide who’s sooo dry and monotone. We were standing in front of the house and the guide was going on about something or other (in his best Ben Stein impression, might I add) when Bob nudged me and said, “I’ll need to call this guy when I have trouble sleeping”. Or something like that. I’m paraphrasing, but it was funny and made me laugh. I like to think we were the bad kids in class.
We did our own self-guided tour of the Sleepy Hollow cemetery, which was Bob’s favorite part of the day. He loves looking at old tombstones and grand monuments.
Me? I was more fascinated by the nature aspect of it. We came across the headless horseman bridge overlooking Pocantico river, which looked straight out of a fairy tale. I loved it.
And last but not least, a Sleepy Hollow post would not be complete without…
I am automatically suspicious of any recipe that has quote marks in its title. Because once you see the quotes, particularly around something delicious like “cheese” or “chocolate”, in my head it translates “cheese” into “not real cheese and not as good” and “chocolate” into “carob powder that supposed to taste like chocolate but actually tastes like dirt”. I can tell you “caramel”, while not real caramel shouldn’t warrant the eye roll because it’s sweet and caramel-ly, sans the stickiness, but every bit as smooth. Oh. I also forgot to add, it’s completely guilt-free. As in, no refined sugar and no butter, but plenty of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars to keep you going. There are just three basic ingredients that are going to make this caramel dip, but you’re welcome and encouraged to add in a few other ingredients that could take the flavor up a notch.
I’ve experimented with a few raw caramel recipes and found a version of my own to be the simplest and most delicious. All it takes is a few good-quality ingredients.
1 cup of pitted Medjool dates* 1/4 – 1/2 cup of homemade nut milk** 1/2 teaspoon of good vanilla extract Optional: a pinch of cinnamon, pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of real maple syrup***
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until completely smooth.
Serve as dip for apples, bananas or any other food you desire.
Will keep in an air-tight jar in the fridge for about a week (perhaps a little more).
*Must be Medjool dates because these are sticky and have a sweet caramelized flavor. If these aren’t an option, then you’ll want to soak your other variety of pitted dates for 1/2 hour to 1 hour before blending to soften. You can then use the soaked date water as your liquid base. **Water is a fine substitution here too. Also, you might want to err on the side of more, depending on how thin you want the consistency of the dip to be. ***The dip will be sweet without the syrup, so you’ll want to taste-test first before adding in.
Not only does this raw caramel have a brown-sugar-like sweetness and lovely, creamy texture, but t’s easy to to make, easy to eat, doesn’t require any cooking and won’t get stuck in your teeth. Sticky caramel apples be damned!
Is what I thought after the house inspector called us and told us that our prospective home was not “inspection-ready”. He said he didn’t feel safe inspecting the house in its condition and told us that he didn’t know another inspector that would disagree.
Free kayaking in Riverside park! Bob would say it was fun. I’d say it was scary-fun.
See, when I told you this house was a fixer-upper, I forgot to mention how much fixing it needed (hint: a lot). This place has been neglected for over a year. The basement is covered in mold. It’s really quite gross, not to mention toxic. Despite that, we saw the potential in this home. We knew that the seller didn’t want to spend any more money on the house, which is to say he was selling it “as is” (which is the case with most short sales, I’ve learned). So we called a mold removal company to do a free estimate for us and it turned out that the price for removal was reasonable. We factored this into our low-ball offer and was SHOCKED when the seller accepted the offer. Immediately after, our lawyer was on the job of negotiating the logistics with the seller’s lawyer. We went back and forth, until we finally settled on a contract that worked out for all of us. Things were falling into place. Bob and I excitedly started picking up paint swatches at Home Depot and talking about how our dark brown couch would look great against a teal accent wall.
And then came the inspection. Or rather the almost-inspection.
Our pants were soaked! Hudson River-soaked. Blech. Oh yeah. These pictures have nothing to do with this post.
On Friday, I took off from work and rented a Zipcar to head out to Jersey and meet with the inspector. We were on the highway when Bob got a call. He turned the radio off, so I knew it was something important. All I heard on Bob’s end was “can’t inspect?”, “unsafe?”, “the utilities aren’t turned on?” and “so we should reschedule”. My heart started racing and I motioned for Bob to put the call on speaker. I heard the inspector say that in addition to some of the utilities not being turned on (which is crucial for a complete inspection), he didn’t feel safe being in a basement with the amount of mold present. He told us, “I highly doubt anyone would want to inspect this place without having the mold remediated first. It just isn’t safe to be in there for more than a few minutes. Even with a mask on.” I was so distracted by what he was telling me that I ended up driving off the wrong exit. I was angry and lost, but mostly disappointed.
My lovely and beautiful friend Val is leaving me to go to Spain again. Sad face. But she’s doing awesome things over there, so I can’t hate.
This presented a problem for us. We had agreed to take care of the mold only IF we bought the house (obviously). Seeing as how we aren’t going to buy it without having a complete inspection first, it becomes a stalemate. The seller made it clear that he didn’t want to spend a dime in this transaction. But if the inspector is right and the house is in no condition to be inspected, then it can’t be sold. Our realtor then explained to us that we could perhaps use this reasoning as bargaining chip, although it isn’t likely the seller will budge. Not that I blame him. The mold is just a product of neglect over the past year and has nothing to do with him.
So I’m fully expecting his lawyer to come back and say, “No dice.”
Val and Tanya. Behind me (taking the picture) was the creepy guy who was following us all around the park for a good twenty minutes. No joke. He was a creeper, but we lost him eventually.
Things are a bit up in the air right now.
Here’s the other thing. Our rental lease is due on Wednesday. We need to decide if we’re going to renew the lease or not. Neither of us want to spend the amount of rent they’re now asking for. But we love Astoria and getting to spend more time here is something we’d both love to do. But Bob also suggested moving back in to his old apartment, which is in his grandmother’s multi-family home in Maspeth, Queens. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper, so we could actually save some money. But the area isn’t as convenient and the apartment is a bit smaller, so we’d have trouble fitting all of our belongings and furniture. Also, the idea of moving into a place for the short-term seems so exhausting. What if we end up buying this place or even another one within the next few months? Moving twice in one year? I’d rather eat glass.
We call this one Stoop Kids. Because quarter waters and dollar ices and Tropical Fantasy and greasy, buttered bagels, that’s why.
Update: I wrote this post a few days ago, though it was published today . We’ve since decided that we are going to renew the lease on our apartment and wait out the process with this house. If need be, we will break our lease and give them 60 days notice so we don’t risk losing our deposit or breaching our contract. Per our realtor’s and lawyer’s advice, we are going to hire a new inspector to take on the job, since it turns out that the original inspector recently had a health scare that made him a bit more nervous to the mold situation. Perhaps the damage isn’t as detrimental and the new inspector can do his/her job without health risks. Our realtor informed us that the utilities will, in fact, be turned on this time.
I knew there’d be bumps in the road and I was fully prepared to feel this way after getting too attached to a home. It doesn’t make it any less disappointing though. But! We’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still some hope and I’m clinging to it!
I am not ashamed to admit that every so often, I will type in “funny shih tzu”, “sleepy kitten” or “tiny pig” into the Youtube search bar. I’m just a sucker for cute/heart-warming/hilarious/uplifting animal videos. But my favorites are dogs. Anyone who knows me personally (or anyone who has been reading this blog for a while) will know that I LOVE DOGS. I’ve recently bookmarked a few cute dog vids that I wanted to share in my Click On These posts, but there were too many so it gets a post of its own. As it should.
Prepare for your day to get that much brighter.
And the ol’ classic heart-melting combo: dogs and babies. If these don’t make you go “aaaw”, then consider yourself a lost cause.