Monday, March 26, 2012

Harvest Pork Chops

Sunday evening we stumbled across a great recipe that’s a triple threat: it’s cheap to make, you probably have most of the ingredients around, and it’s impressive looking and tasting. Pork loin is extremely inexpensive at Costco, and you can cut it to make your own deliciously-thick pork chops (I suggest around an inch thick). This would be delicious with dried apricots or cherries substituted for the cranberries. It’s a definite keeper at our house.

Harvest Pork Chops

(modified from Parenting magazine, September 2006)

4 1-inch-thick pork chops, cut from a pork loin

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery (2 stalks) (side note: we found a slug in our celery. EWWWW!!! Good thing we washed it first. That’s organic for you!)

1/4 cup chicken stock



2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup dried cranberries

With a sharp knife, make a horizontal slit in the side of each chop, creating a good-size pocket. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Press 1/2 cup stuffing into each pocket, mounding it at opening. Fit chops into a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake, covered, at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, then uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve with these delicious homemade rolls (this recipe makes a ton of rolls, so freeze leftovers to have on hand for the next meal!), a big salad, and finish it off with a thick slice of sweet potato pie. Yum!

First of many updates on the new house

The very first thing we did upon getting the keys to the house was rip out the existing carpet and pad. It was old, faded, matted, and reeked of cat pee. This job went much quicker than we had expected. Fortunately my mom was in town, so she took the kiddos while we went to work.

Here are some photos taken after the carpet removal:

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Actually, we’re not removing the carpet on the main floor until we do our kitchen reno and put in cork flooring. So that horrible carpet you see above stays there for now. But it’s getting a good cleaning. And I’ve got plans for the fireplace (at least as a temporary measure until we can rip out that awful stone).

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View from downstairs to the loft. Prepping for paint.

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Testing out paint colors. For most of the house we decided on Wheat Bread by Behr, but lightened a bit. The full-strength was too dark for me.

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Kitchen with lovely mauve tile backsplash and tiny orangey cabinets.

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Here you can see the wall with the stove that we’ll be knocking down. Aaron’s taught himself Google Sketch-Up, and we’ve got great plans for this space. Cross your fingers that we sell our house soon so I can get a decent kitchen with the proceeds! As you can see, we have no fridge at the moment, which makes making dinners at this house rather difficult. We have purchased a new fridge, but Lowes just called this weekend to tell us it won’t arrive until the end of April. Nice. Fortunately we still have a good kitchen at the old house, and I can do dinner in the crockpot when we’re at the new one (as evidenced by the crockpot on the counter).

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View into the loft before painting. Taken with my point-and-shoot, so the lighting isn’t great.

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Looking down the hallway to the loft and master bedroom. We did put some Wheat Bread up on the wall (that big gray patch), but it was too dark. It’s now been painted the lighter shade.

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View from the upstairs walkway to the main entrance. I’m trying to convince Aaron that we need to paint those doors a bright turquoise, at least on the outside. We’ll need new lighting, but unfortunately, that’s way down on the priority list.

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Upstairs stairs with the carpet gone. We need to replace the banister and railings. They’re so widely spaced that Averi can fit her entire body through. She nearly plummeted to her death when we came to see the house the first time. Until they’re fixed, no one but Mom and Dad is allowed upstairs.

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Walkway on the top floor that looks down into the entryway and the living room.

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Master bedroom without carpet. We’re in the middle of painting this Sherwin Williams Analytical Gray. Notice a theme here? Apparently I’m fond of grays and blues. Who would have guessed?

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Lovely tub surround, complete with spots to place our faux plants for our bathing enjoyment.

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Ultra-long sink area with huge mirrored wall.

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More of that great tile in the shower.

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The bathroom is not happening for a long time, but we did rip up the carpet in here. And, boy, did it STINK around that toilet! Why on earth did anyone think carpet around a toilet was a good idea?

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Master bedroom closet. It’s a very good size. You can’t see much of it because I didn’t have a wide-angled lens on this camera. All the trim in the house will be painted Benjamin Moore White Dove.

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Aaron working on repairing cracks and drywall seams. The drywall seams are showing all over the main floor. I’m sure that once you know how to repair them, it goes quickly, but it’s sure been a tedious process for us.

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The lovely sconces in the hallway. Those are getting replaced with the money I got from selling the koi (although we were strangely sad to see the fish go. We had only owned them for a week!).

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Removing the sliding doors (one of four sets in the house) to prepare for painting.

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Trying to figure out how to cover up the empty doorway. After the tarp blew down, we just gave up and left it as a gaping hole for a few days. Luckily the weather was amazing.

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Preparing the four french doors upstairs for glass etching. There was no way we were going to be living in this house with an unobstructed view into our bedroom. The glass etching definitely worked, but it was such a time consuming process that we decided to put it off until we a) could buy more glass etching cream, and b) had more pressing matters taken care of. A sheet over the door may have to do for now.

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Patching drywall seams and the numerous cracks.

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After the gray paint and white trim went up. It’s MUCH lighter in person. I’m in love. The trim was a pain in the rear to paint (one coat of primer and three coats of paint), but it looks SOOOOO much better.

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Trying to compare the clean look of the upstairs with the dinginess of the main floor.

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Shadowy shot of the loft. It’s our concept room that we can be inspired by, since we can see it from much of the house. It just needs baseboards installed now, which we’ll be doing on Tuesday.

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Aaron doing some touchup.

We got a lot done this week, thanks to my mom and her generosity. The week before we closed on the house Aaron and I took a trip to Seattle, the calm before the storm, you might say. She was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning, and at 10:30 at night she offered to take the three oldest kids back to Utah with her so that we could get some real work done. After checking to make sure that she really did mean it, we made a last minute decision to send them with her. We told them when we woke up Sunday morning, and the kids were thrilled beyond belief. We rushed to get them packed, and we even made it to 9:00 church in time for me to play the organ. There’s no way we could have gotten everything done with kids around, and we are so incredibly grateful our parents for taking care of our children for us while we work like crazy to get this done. And in case you’re wondering, they don’t miss me a bit. It seems I’m the only one who’s lonely. Such is the life of Mom.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

We bought a house

Our lives have been rather busy lately, and this is mostly due to the fact that we now own two houses. At the beginning of February we put our house on the market, which means we’ve had to keep it show-ready with four small children. Remember too that we’re homeschooling, which means that we can’t just leave the house for the day. It’s been crazy!

We signed on our new house on March 16. It’s on the other side of Albuquerque in the foothills. Here’s a little list of pros and cons with regards to the new house:


*Much, much closer to work for Aaron. This will give him almost an hour a day in non-driving time.

*Three-car garage.

*It has it’s own laundry room! This is a big deal for me, since I spend nearly every day doing laundry (four kids plus cloth diapering!).

*The most amazing views of the city.

*A balcony, a deck, and covered patio.

*Much bigger backyard with nice hardscaping.

*Older neighborhood, which means that there is established landscaping. Lots more trees than the west side!

*We’re much closer to everything.

*Lots of windows and skylights.

*We got into a good part of town for a great price.


*It’s ugly. We definitely got a do-it-yourself special.

*It’s old. Roof needs replacing, furnace needs replacing, water heater needs replacing, windows need replacing…

*The kitchen is terrible. It’s really impossible to work in.

*Cat(s) lived here.

*We now own two houses. It’s definitely not the fastest market, and we happened to buy our first home at the peak of the market, so we’re limited in how low we can drop our price.

*We have to leave our house, which I love, and our friends, whom I love.

Here’s the house as it looked when we put in an offer (these are the Realtor photos):


Adjacent to a cul-de-sac


Lovely gates to the entrance of the home. So welcoming and inviting, don’t you think? (insert sarcasm here)


Everything is original to the mid 80s. Nice. This photo doesn’t show the wall right next to the island that closes off the entire space. That’s getting knocked down.


Dining room. The wall with the TV trays is the one getting demolished.


Downstairs living room. That stone fireplace is something. Believe it or not, it looks much, much worse in person.


View of the loft and entry to the master bedroom. Like the glass doors to the bedroom?


Loft. This is where the computers and my sewing desk will go.


Other view from loft. Look at all those windows!


Picture of the master bedroom. This is a very large room.


The tile work in this bathroom is awesome.


Fish pond on the top level on the yard. Since we’re right at the base of the mountains, we’re built on a slope, but they terraced it very nicely. The pond will have to go, since I can see Paul taking a swim the first week we’re in the house. We’ll be replacing the poorly-installed flagstone with grass for the kids. The koi in the pond have already been sold, thanks to some fortuitous circumstances.


Part of the bottom level on the yard. There’s so much of the yard that you can’t see. There’s another pond down at this level (which we’ll try to keep) and tons of beds for planting. I’ll be in gardening heaven!

For some reason the Realtor didn’t take any photos of the basement. It’s got a playroom for the kids and four bedrooms.

We’re so excited for this new adventure, although it’s overwhelming thinking of everything that needs to be done!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vocabulary lesson

Homey and homely are not interchangeable.

Homey=pleasant and comfortable.

Homely=unattractive in appearance

Generally speaking, you do not want a homely kitchen. Or a homely baby.

Lesson ended.