Archive | February 2013

The Joys of Homeownership

As my hubby and I have long known, there is alwayBathtub Before some project (or 10) to do around the house and owning a home that is a bit advanced in age tends to mean more work. When we bought in 2009, the house was celebrating its 72nd birthday and we knew there was a nice long to-do list being handed over with the keys.

Thankfully the house was totally liveable at closing (after we had all the pipes replaced) and we have been chipping away at that lengthy list ever since. One of the smallest projects (and one that was way at the bottom of the list) was getting the bathtub refinished. It has always worked fine for showering, but the finish has been chipping off like crazy since we moved in, so I’ve never taken a bath because… well… ew.

But thanks to a special offered in one of the million of Bathtub Afterdeal emails I receive each morning, today I had the tub refinished. Considering the before picture makes it look like we have been living in a slum, I’m loving the new look and am looking forward to tomorrow night when the tub is operational. The only downside is that I had the job done in February. The upstairs reeks of paint, so I’ve opened up a few windows in hopes of not losing too many brain cells tonight. Thank goodness it is a toasty 53! While it airs out, I think I’ll head down to the basement to enjoy my dinner — a warm, tasty bowl of carrot ginger soup (courtesy of B, of course) — and continue my “Alias” marathon. Yep, life on the Hill is pretty darn exciting.


It’s Countdown Time … Again!

So this Tuesday definitely feels like a Monday. I thought I was free from the funk I was in last week, but this morning I finally went to the doctor to have my knee looked at (it’s been feeling a little weird for a few weeks) and was told I need an MRI to figure out what’s going on. Until we know what that is, I can’t resume exercising. Feeling overwhelmed, I left the appointment to find that it was no longer just cold and windy, but it was also raining. And I didn’t have an umbrella.

With my knee weighing on my mind, I was desperately trying to think of something positive to focus on and then I realized that in 30 days I will get to see my husband’s smiling face in person when we meet in Istanbul! Not only am I anxiously awaiting our chance to explore Turkey and Greece together, but I simply can’t wait to be with him. In the same time zone. In the same room.

I love a good countdown, so for the next 30 days (well 29 really, I mean today is almost over), I’ll power through work and hopefully get my knee issue figured out, so I can get back to working out and teaching. But tonight, I’m just going to focus on my newest countdown since thinking about it is pretty much the only thing about today that makes me smile.

Mini Monday: Free from the Funk

It’s been 53 days since B returned to work in Kabul and I have to admit that last week I was totally in a funk. I had a busy — but not crazy — workload (which is always a good mix) plus three dinner dates and a lunch date with wonderful friends and family to keep me distracted. Despite everyone’s best efforts, I was still feeling a bit glum.

Getting away to Tampa for a long weekend to visit my childhood best friend and her hubby was just what I needed to clear my head. I loved the sunshine, warm weather, wandering new cities with old friends, and the long talks we had accompanied by a nice glass of wine and delicious chocolates. Tomorrow it’s back to business as usual and I think I’m ready. It’s also back to wearing socks and shoes. I am definitely less excited about that part.

tampa summary

The Veggie Fairy

VeggieTrioEvery two weeks or so I get a delivery from The Green Grocer — or, as I like to say, The Veggie Fairy. Although I tend to get the majority of my vegetables from Eastern Market on the weekends, if the Green Grocer’s offering looks tempting I am happy to let someone bring them directly to my door.

Last week I was heavily motivated to order a single, organic box based on the sugar snap peas and made some swaps for items I can’t eat like cantaloupe (I’m super allergic) and those I don’t really want when someone else isn’t available to cook them for me (like beets), then waited for my box to arrive.

When it came I was quite surprised at how heavy the box was when I brought it into the house. When I opened it up I was even more surprised by the contents. The swaps I had made meant I was only expecting four items — sugar snap peas, lettuce, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes — but the box was stuffed! There were 3 large heads of lettuce, at least 11 heads of broccoli, 4 bags of sugar snap peas, and two boxes of cherry tomatoes. Either there was a serious over abundance of veggies on-hand last week or someone really wanted me to eat my greens!

Needless to say, a party of one isn’t going to consume all of that in a timely fashion. At least not this party of one. Particularly during a week where I had dinner plans almost every night. So I gave some of the lettuce and broccoli to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and got to work figuring out how I could make the most of the items I had kept.

Freezing seemed to be the best option, so I started by cleaning the snap peas and removing their strings. Then I blanched them in boiling water for 2 minutes before plunging them into an ice bath for 2 additional minutes. After allowing them to dry on towels, I packaged them up and into the freezer they went. I followed suit with the broccoli (although the blanching/ice bath process was increased to 3 minutes) and filled three more bags. I did leave myself one bag of sugar snap peas to eat fresh as well a serving of broccoli.

Now we are ready to make stirfry or another veggie dish at a moments notice with our cleaned and partially prepared snap peas and broccoli. And after all the things I’ve been taking out of the freezer recently, it felt nice to add something for later!

Mini Monday: Muffin Edition

ImageWaking up on this super chilly February morning, I’ll admit the only thing that got me out of bed was the thought of a warm blueberry muffin. I’ve stumbled upon a fabulous new (to me) baking trick — make the muffin dough ahead of time in a container that seals well and keep it in the fridge overnight. In the morning I simply mix in blueberries and scoop the dough into the muffin tin while the oven is warming up, then in they go! Not only does it make the process quicker for morning muffin enjoyment, but it also makes the muffins — the same recipe I’ve been making forever — even more fluffy and delicious.

So cheers to Monday — it’s a holiday, the sun is shining despite the frigid temps, and I have this tasty blueberry treat and an iced mocha (I know, I know, it’s cold outside… don’t judge me) to get me moving.

A few small changes

I’ve embraced a few blogging changes this year — first the appearance and now the name. When I started sharing stories in 2009, I had just embarked on my freelance career and had quite a lot of “housewife” time on my hands while I was growing my client base. But over the past three years I’ve definitely gotten away from being a traditional housewife in any sense of the word. I’m just a wife who happens to be in our house quite a lot.

In order to better represent my posts which range from tales about work, cooking, gardening, my husband, and various other home projects, I am transitioning to “At Home on the Hill.”

Same crazy stories, just a different title and a new web address: Enjoy!

“Platonic” Flowers

ValentinesLooking back through all of my posts the past three years, I can’t believe I’ve never shared the “platonic” flower story. It’s what brought my hubby and I together in 2004 and we (or at least I) continue to get a kick out of it to this day.

I was inspired to share the tale when a bouquet of 30 pink, white and red tulips showed up on my doorstep yesterday with love from Afghanistan and the note that is pictured. I sent him a thank you email last night that included “you know this is going on the blog.”


So let’s go back to summer 2004:
I was working at a daily newspaper in a small town in Northern California and my would-be hubby, B, was interning at a non-profit in DC. We had been friends for many years (yes, we met when I was 9 and he was 10), but had never dated. I sent out a mass email one day about eliminating an address I’d been using and he responded. We started to catch up via frequent email exchanges about what we had done during our college years and life since graduation.

When my birthday arrived, I was shocked (and, in the moment, appalled) to receive flowers at the office. I had been sent flowers only once (from my parents the previous Valentine’s Day because I had recently broken up with a boyfriend of many years) and this delivery came with a cryptic unsigned note about how I deserved better.

How had my ex found me? I wondered in email after email to B all day long. I hadn’t talked to him in months, he shouldn’t know where I worked, and yet, he had sent me birthday flowers. What an @ss! Although I agreed wholeheartedly that I did deserve better.

My lovely spouse-to-be kept telling me that surely the flowers had come from someone else, someone who just wanted to be nice. No, I assured him, I had asked my parents, my friends, pretty much anyone I had ever met. None of them had sent me flowers, and if they ever did, they promised they would want to take credit for it.

The next morning when I got to the office, I had an email from B letting me know he had sent the flowers. But still, I wasn’t sure — perhaps he just wanted me to shut up about them. So he sent me the e-receipt. That evening I went home and told my parents the mystery had been solved. My dad said, “Well, does B like you? Why else would he send you flowers?”

Good question, dad. Initially I was just so glad to know who they didn’t come from that it took me some time to think about who had given them to me and what that meant.

B claimed for many years that these were “platonic” flowers, but everyone agrees there is simply no such thing. And to this day I’m exceedingly glad he sent them. No matter what his intended meaning at the time, it sparked our love story and I am grateful to have had such an amazing Valentine for the past 9 years.