A curve ball? A monkey wrench?

 

The above song really has nothing to do with what’s happening, except that it’s called “Monkey Wrench” and it’s a song that I really like. ūüėÄ

So, The Fianc√© and I have been talking a lot about the Atlanta house, and how to make it our home, etc. ¬†AS YOU KNOW. ¬†Well, what I didn’t tell you is that his parents have been house hunting, too. ¬†They are looking to move to a neighborhood closer to where we are. ¬† They are looking for a house priced around the same as the Atlanta house, and they are looking for a 3 bedroom ranch-style house. ¬†This is proving difficult. ¬†Guess who bought a 3-bedroom ranch in this area, for the right price? ¬† Good guess. ¬†That’s the house we’ve been mentally furnishing, turning into our home, etc. ¬†Hmmm..

Soooo.. we’re going to sell them the house that is currently occupying Crazytown, and look for a different one. ¬†The houses in this area are overwhelmingly 2-story, and we have slightly more wiggle room in our budget than they do. ¬†So, being 30 years younger and able to shell out just a bit more… it only makes sense that we’ll look for a different house, since the one we have fits all of the criteria that they are looking for, and they’ve been looking for quite some time.

What does this mean? ¬†It means that fabric swatches are shelved, paint samples are shelved. and furniture talk is completely out the window, because we have zero idea what kind of space we’ll be working with when it’s all said and done.

I am going home to Florida today, but in lieu of this recent development, I will only be staying a few days and I’ll be back up in Atlanta by weeks’ end, to hopefully meet with the realtor and get some preliminary looking done. ¬† Soon, my monkey will be back in school and my ability to shuttle off to Atlanta will be drastically diminished, so I want to see as much as humanly possible while I’m still able to do so. ¬†Once the school year begins, I will be stuck house-hunting via long distance while The Fianc√© runs out with the realtor, to be my “eyes.” ¬† ¬†I know it’ll be frustrating to go that route, so I am really hoping that we’ll see something we both like within the next 2 weeks. ¬†I’ve been all over redfin looking at the MLS listings, piecing together a list of properties to send to the realtor, as well as our criteria (number of bedrooms, preferred communities, price range, etc.)

The Fianc√© is headed to the bank in the morning, and I’ve got a working list of 27 properties I have favorited within a 10 mile radius of the Atlanta house. ¬† We’ve pre-screened them to be sure they appear to fit our criteria and that they are in desirable locations. ¬†27, that’s good, right? ¬†Certainly with that amount of legwork, there’s bound to be SOMETHING that works out next weekend. ¬†SURELY. ¬†(Cross your fingers, I’m praying we find something perfect soon-ish and can be closed on it by Thanksgiving.)

Lemme repeat myself for the sake of emphasis. ¬†CROSS YOUR FINGERS OR I’LL BE HOMELESS. ūüėČ

Operation: Meet The In-laws

So, this vacation to Atlanta was part working-vacation and part utilitarian. ¬†One of the items on the agenda: Meet The Fianc√©’s parents. ¬† I can’t think of anything more nerve-wracking, to be honest. ¬† At least on my first date with the Fianc√©, I could always fall back on the batting of the eyelashes, or the well-timed innuendo to fill any void created by nerves. ¬† Somehow, I didn’t imagine that would work with his parents. ¬†I sweated it out and tried on 453 outfits, re-did my make up 3 times, and agonized over my hair. ¬† I had “the talk” with my daughter about being on her best behavior, and we stopped to pick up flowers for my future Mother-in-law.

The plan was to visit them at their home, and then we would all go out to dinner. ¬†Knowing this his mother was British, I wasn’t sure whether to expect Mary Poppins or Mrs. Doubtfire, but I stood anxiously behind him when he rang the doorbell, channeling all of my energy into any inner zen-like quality that would keep my palms from sweating profusely. ¬†His father answered, with a warm-hearted smile and an Egyptian amusement twinkling behind his eyes, and immediately hugged my Monkey, inviting us in. ¬†I hugged him and kissed his cheek, and while doing so, his mother came from around the corner with a very boisterous “hello!”

…. ¬†This Woman. ¬†She is breathtakingly beautiful. ¬†She embodies, physically, all that a lady should be, I imagine. ¬†Her hair and make up were immaculate, and she was positively charming. ¬†I think she meant to shake my hand, but I was still worried about that palm sweating, so.. what the hell! ¬†I hugged her, too. Hehehe.

We sat on their floral print couches in the pink-wallpapered sitting room, and Monkey pulled out her very best manners, complimenting their home and trying her best to be as sweet and polite as she’d ever been. ¬†I was very, very proud of her. ¬†We went for seafood at a restaurant near their home, and .. the conversation was a tad disjointed and awkward, nerves filling all of us I think. ¬†When all else failed, we talked about the food. ¬† When the evening came to an end, I wasn’t sure at all if they liked me, and I couldn’t get a read on them at all. ¬†When we parted, it was decided that they would drive out to the Fianc√©’s home on Thursday and spend the afternoon and evening with us. ¬†I would make dinner, and we would pick up a board game. ¬† The Fianc√©’s father offered to bring children’s DVDs for the Monkey.

One of the dishes we had at the restaurant was a shrimp appetizer that was delicious. ¬†I wanted to try to duplicate the recipe, so I figured I would do my best to replicate it for their visit and then I would have 4 palettes to sample my efforts, with the original fresh in our minds. ¬†I would also make a traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage, because it’s low-fuss and would provide me with ample time to participate in the board games.

Thursday morning, we got up and ran out to the store to buy all of the things for the meal, trying to decide on that last-minute dessert.  The shrimp ended up fantastic (recipe next Friday!  I forgot to take pictures of the process, which I wanted to share with you, so The Fiancé and I are going to make it again this week just so we can document it for you guys), the Corned Beef was good, and I ultimately decided to make individual raspberry trifles for dessert, which got rave reviews.

We picked up Yahtzee to play with them, which they’d never played before (What?! ¬†They do not play Yahtzee in England?? ¬†This is a travesty!), and that went well. ¬† There was plenty of time for lots of conversation and the mood was much, much less nervous and far more casual. ¬†By the end of the evening, My future Mother-in-Law and I had made plans to go shoe shopping at some future unnamed date for shoes for our wedding, we’d talked about going swimming together and I’d fallen in love with her proper, English charm. ¬†I’d offered generously to beat my future Father-in-Law at a game of backgammon sometime in the future and allowed my heart to open to his native Egyptian mischievous sense of humor, and Monkey had gotten herself so wound up and excited by her new Nana and Pops (there was much discussion as to what she would call them, and the three of them settled this themselves) that she had trouble falling asleep, wanting to instead chatter away about all of the new and exciting things that we would all do together.

They left around 7:45 p.m. to drive home, and after getting Monkey in the bath and ready for bed, I laid on the bed while The Fianc√© took a quick shower. ¬†I was asleep before he got out — after a very long, yet very good day.

Side Note: ¬†Monkey did eventually burst out with her “Ello, Gov-nah!” … ¬†and his mother laughed very much and responded with “Ello, Luv!” ¬†ūüėÄ

Foodie Friday: Seared Tuna with Wasabi Butter Emulsion

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 10 fluid ounces white wine
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup unsalted¬†butter, cubed
  • salt¬†and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive¬†oil, or as needed
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 6 (6 ounce) fresh tuna steaks, 1 inch thick

Directions

  1. Combine the white wine vinegar, white wine and shallots in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Strain out shallot and discard, return liquid to the pan.
  2. Stir the wasabi and soy sauce into the reduction in the pan. Over low heat, gradually whisk in butter one cube at a time allowing the mixture to emulsify. Be careful not to let the mixture boil. When all of the butter has been incorporated, stir in cilantro, and remove from heat. Pour into a small bowl, and set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush tuna steaks with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the hot skillet, and sear for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook, this fish should be served still a little pink in the center. Serve with sauce.

Vacation Time is restful time..

Here I am, Day 3 of Atlanta and I am not in Crazytown nearly as often as I thought. ¬† The Fianc√© and I have had discussions here and there, about what we’ll do when all of our things are here, and what we’ll paint, etc. ¬† But the largest topic of conversation has really been about whether or not we will use his bed, my bed, or buy a new bed. ¬†Nothing’s been decided there, so there’s little to report.

However, the room that¬†has been on my mind is the guest bathroom. ¬†It seems like a safe enough choice, and it doesn’t require all of our things being here to get started on. ¬†The guest bathroom in this house also holds the washer and dryer. ¬†It’s not quite as optimal as having a dedicated laundry room, but I’ve decided I don’t mind it at all. ¬†It certainly has its benefits. ¬†Namely:

  1. I cannot put off laundry and just stuff it in the laundry room before guests come over. (I mean.. other people DO this, right? ¬†I can’t be the only one!)
  2. I will be making a daily trip into that room, ensuring that my Monkeyface is not leaving her clothes laying about or toothpaste dripped into the sink. (When she and I have separate bathrooms, I don’t use hers much and so every Saturday when I go in to clean it, I’ve come across some unpleasant surprises.)

Unfortunately, I left my camera at home and only have my phone to take pictures with while I’m here (dammit!), but I did snap a few pictures for you guys. ¬†Here’s what we’re working with:

It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill, somewhat small bathroom. ¬†But I like the mirror and vanity a lot. ¬†The layout is pretty basic, and I don’t mind that at all. ¬†The bi-fold doors were removed years ago which in my opinion, was a good choice. ¬† Of course, now the washer-dryer are exposed to the room, but it also makes it feel quite a bit larger.

My thoughts are that I will hang curtains in front of the washer/dryer, but instead of hanging them outside of the doorway trim, I will hang them on the inside, so that they can be pulled back, completely out of sight when I choose to.  I think that this will help preserve the open feeling that nook gives the room.  It also will give a sense of reason between the curtains on that wall and the curtains on the shower not being the same height.

Speaking of shower curtains.. ¬†I saw something on Pinterest last week that has some promise. ¬†I am not 100% sold on the shape of the valance, but I really like that these curtains go all the way to the¬†ceiling, and open in the middle, giving some drama and height to the room. ¬†I imagine that the liner is tucked away behind one of them and just pulls closed when you are taking a shower. ¬†Seeing that treatment in what looks the to be a bathroom approximately the size of the of the one¬†I will be working with has also helped me to envision it working in this bathroom. ¬†I have zero idea what type of material and paint colors I will be using in this room. ¬†My bathroom in Florida is currently a black-and-white toile sort of theme, which I intend to put into the Master bathroom here. ¬†The other bathroom set that I have is fishies, and that just won’t work.

So, I’m open to suggestions! ¬† Given that I really love the idea of this curtain treatment, and there will be additional curtains hung on the interior of the washer/dryer nook… ¬†And keeping in mind that I will be keeping the mirror and vanity set up, what would you do? ¬†What do you envision for this space?

Meeting the In-laws

So, today I am headed to Atlanta. ¬† I am going to spend a few days there, probably in ultra-crazypants mode, measuring and thinking about the house. ¬† We’ve also got some other great things planned. ¬†A visit to the IKEA store (ooooh, tingles!), a couple of great restaurants, and… dun dun DUN! ¬†Meeting the future in-laws.

The monkey is going to be meeting them for the first time, and I had to sit her down and explain to her that while Mama laughed very hard when she announced it, it is probably NOT a good idea to greet the Fianc√©’s British mother with ” ‘Ello, Govnah!” ¬†Teeheehee. ¬†Le sigh. ¬†I’m still iffy on whether or not she will abide… pretty sure she thinks it’s hysterical, and I can only sort of¬† predict what will come out of her mouth on a minute-to-minute basis.

I have been stressing an incredible amount about this meeting, and I’m ready to just get there, do my best, and see what happens! ¬† Funny, for job interviews, I’m rarely nervous, but meeting this lady has my stomach pretty much in KNOTS. ¬† In fact, I was pretty sick last week, and I’m fairly certain this stress is a direct contributing factor. ¬†Funny, how stress does that to us!

But I think I have my ducks in a row. ¬† I’m packed. (mostly! – I got up early this morning and did some work for my amazing client, Sirena… and then I’m posting to you, and then I’m going to finish packing. ¬†Mr. Lazypants is still laying in bed listening to the alarm go off, so I think I’m ahead of the curve.) ¬†I’ve got a lot of summer dresses packed, because Atlanta has been hot, hot, HOT… and I have a little black shrug packed to wear to dinner with his parents to cover my back tattoo.

I ordered myself 4 pairs of kick ass heels as a birthday present to myself last week, and they haven’t shown up yet, so I’m wicked sad about that. ¬†I really wanted to wear them in Atlanta, but oh wells. ¬†Time to break out some previously purchased kick ass heels and look forward to the package when I get back into town. ¬†Until then, let’s drool over them together:

(My birthday isn’t for a week, so I guess even Fed Ex doesn’t want me opening my presents early. ¬†UGH!)

Crazytown: Atlanta Living Room Colors

Crazytown is what my fianc√© calls the place I go when I start ultra-planning mode. ¬† You see, I’m a thinker. ¬†And a planner. ¬†And a pinner. ¬†I pin like crazy to Pinterest ¬†(Wanna follow me?) in random fits of pinning frenzy, and usually it’s organization projects, ¬†crafts, recipes or house inspiration. ¬†Sometimes a crass picture that makes me laugh. hehe.

I also search the web, look obsessively at pictures of the house we will be living in, and try to fit together pictures in my mind of how the space will look as our home. ¬†Right now, I’m fixated on the living room.

I¬†had him snap these with his cell phone so that I could take accurate trips to crazytown. ¬†( ‚ô•¬†that he indulges me! :D) ¬†However, tomorrow I am heading to Atlanta to see the house in person, so expect an influx of dimensions and photographs from all angles, plus a whole new level of crazypants. ūüėÄ

So, looking at the second picture in that series, you can see into the dining area, and around the right corner is the kitchen. ¬†That is his couch, and in the negotiations we had about stuff-merging, it stays. ¬†As does the TV. ¬† The curtains, TV stand and ottoman, however, didn’t make the cut. ūüėČ ¬†(The ottoman will just go elsewhere in the house.)

Let’s talk about things I like:

  • Architecture. ¬†I love the vaulted ceilings.
  • Flooring. ¬†Wood floors, mmmm. ūüôā
  • The fact that it HAS a fireplace (we’ll talk more about that specifically on the list of things I don’t like.)
  • The angles. ¬†More specifically, the fireplace being on its own “wall” and the closet being at an angle.
  • The openness to the dining area.
  • That the trim is white. ¬†I know some people like natural wood trim, I am just not one of those people.
Now, for things I am not a fan of:
  • That fireplace. ¬†Really? ¬†Yikes on the stone and YOWZA on that mantle. ¬†It’s SO heavy and dark, I feel like it drags the room down.
  • The door opening directly into the room without a place for a mudroom-type area.
  • The window (that you cannot see.) ¬†Beyond those curtains is an octagonal window. ¬†AN OCTAGONAL WINDOW. ¬†Dear Lord.
  • The narrow shape of the room, in general.
But, all things considered, I like this space. ¬† It’ll just take a little attention to detail to make it feel like home. ūüôā

To start, I began thinking about a paint color. ¬† When the house was painted, it was all painted a pretty deplorable shade of white/blue that feels hospital-esque to me and makes me feel like someone could barge in with a blood pressure cuff at any moment. ¬†I would much prefer something warmer. ¬† Given that the room opens into another space, and there isn’t any place to really cut off the color to change to another, we’ll have to go with something that will be suitable for all three spaces. (Living room, dining room, kitchen.)

I am drawn to darker, slightly dramatic colors, because I really love how they pop with the white trim. ¬† So, my initial thought is something like this Filbert color, that I just picked online from Valspar. ¬† I also, however, like the Macadamia 2 shades up. ¬†But I¬†don’t like the Singe in between. ¬† So, this could be a bit of a process. ¬† I foresee some swatches painted on the wall and days spent staring at them in my future. ūüėČ

That mantle will also be getting a coat of fresh, white paint, and I think I can probably add some molding detail to it to give it a sense of delicacy that it otherwise is completely lacking. ¬† I’m just not 100% sure where to go with that just yet.

What do you think? ¬†What color would you paint this room? ¬†How would you address the mantle? ¬†(Replace the fireplace entirely, which would be my first choice, isn’t in the cards for the time being.)

Foodie Friday: Eggplant Rollatini

Recently my Monkey requested Eggplant Rollatini. ¬†I make mine a little differently than the traditional rollatini… It’s kind of a hybrid of tradition, plus this amazing appetizer I had once upon a time that I thought would be a nice fusion of ideas. Here’s what I did:

Slice an eggplant¬†length-wise into 1/4 thick slices. For these, I also sliced them lengthwise, in half. So, you have basically 2-3″ x 1/4″ x however long the eggplant is… slices.

Dip those eggplant strips into an eggwash, and then into panko bread crumbs. To the bread crumbs, I added some dried rosemary, oregano and thyme. Then I plunked them onto a cookie sheet and stuck them into a 375 degree oven.

After 5-7 minutes, I turned them over and baked them for another 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, I sliced some mozzarella into 1/8-inch thick strips and set them aside.

I made some pasta (I used thin spaghetti because it’s what I had on hand, but I usually use angel hair) and let it cool while I was doing the eggplant business. I tossed it lightly in olive oil to keep it from clumping together.

One the eggplant came out of the oven, I laid the strips on my cutting board and laid a piece of the mozzarella on them, then made little pasta nests at one end of the eggplant strips and rolled the strips around the pasta. I slid them into a cold skillet once they were all rolled up.

Then I added some homemade marinara that I had in the fridge to the tops. I also made a quick bechamel sauce, and drizzled just a bit of it over the tops. I finely grated a little extra of the cheese on top and popped it into the oven, just to heat through and melt the cheese.

And I sprinkled it with parsley, and voila!