Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building the nest

Do you remember the three things I listed about what generally is someone's happiest day?  A little review....
"the day I bought my first home"
"the day I married the love of my life"

"the day I saw my baby boy/girl for the first time"

It just so happens that The Knot (the website that perfected wedding planning) also has a sister website called The Nest.  I had so much fun pretending to be a bride, I thought I would step into the mind of a potential home owner.

As I did before, I'm only going to review my favorite features as each website has SO much to offer.

Summer Inspired Rooms

What's a house without a fabulously decorated room?!

"Cottage Modern Guest Bedroom: The greens and blues keep this guest bedroom fresh while also inviting in inspiration from the colors of the sea."

"Writer's Retreat on the Dunes - Breakfast Room: A Russian satellite spy photo of Chicago from the 1950’s hangs over a table and chairs from the same era, offering a slice of Americana with breakfast."

"Seaside Bathroom: A beautiful Malibu, California, weekend house gets a seaside makeover courtesy of interior designer Kerry Joyce, who lined the room with shallow shelving to display starfish and shells. The walls are painted a pale aqua by Donald Kaufman Color."

"Funky Sitting Room: Create your own charming corner chat room boasting with modern style. Paint wicker chairs a bright shade of aqua and add cushions in funky black and white polka dots and stripes."

Or go neutral. What's so great about a room like this is that you can turn it from a summer inspired room into more of a cold weather abode.  I love a room like this, and the green is such a great color!

Scrumptious Grilled Recipes

I have discovered the world of hosting.  Sometimes it can be hard work, but it's rewarding.  It's nice to surprise your guests with a new receipe.  I find receipes from many different places, so The Nest has sparked my interest.

Comme Ca Burger   
9 oz. of best ground beef you can find (Prime Angus recommended)
1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
a dash of cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 oz sliced iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 oz sliced onion
2 slices cheddar cheese
One bun
1000 island or a similar mayonnaise-based dressing of their choice.
1. Mix chili powder and cayenne into the burger. Season both sides of the patty with salt and pepper.
2. Sear the meat on the grill over high heat for about 1 ½ minutes until the meat has a nice dark brown color but not burnt.
3. Place on hot side of the grill to the side of the hot coals for about five minutes for medium rare and then let it rest for 3-4 minutes to the side of the heat. Just before serving, put two slices of cheese on the burger and place it in the oven or covered grill to melt.
4. Dress lettuce and onion with 1000 island.
5. Place on bun, add lettuce and onion and serve.

North Carolina Eastern-Style Chopped or Pulled ’Cue   
Makes: at least 10 servings
One small (1 1/2- to 2-pound) bag hickory wood chips
One 10-pound bag charcoal briquets
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
One 9- to 10-pound pork shoulder butt (all skin and fat left on)

1. In a pan of water, soak 6 handfuls of the chips for 45 minutes.
2. Open one bottom and one top vent on a kettle grill, place an aluminum drip pan in the bottom of the grill, stack charcoal briquets evenly around the pan (not in the center), and ignite the coals. When the coals are ashen (30 to 45 minutes), sprinkle 2 handfuls of the soaked chips evenly over the hot coals. Place the grate on the grill about 6 inches over the coals.
3. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the vinegars, sugar, red pepper, Tabasco, salt, and pepper and stir till the sugar is dissolved and the sauce well blended. When the coals are ready on the grill, position the butt fat side up on the grate over indirect heat, mop it with the sauce, close the lid, and cook for 3 hours, mopping the meat every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as they burn up. Turn the butt over, close the lid, and cook till the meat is very tender, 2 to 3 hours longer, mopping every hour and replenishing the coals and chips as needed.

Shrimp Sausage Kabobs
Makes: 4 servings
8 bamboo skewers
1 pound large shrimp (26–30 size), peeled and deveined
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 3/4-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into roughly 1-inch squares
Spray cooking oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One hour before grilling, soak the bamboo skewers in warm water.

Prepare enough coals for a hot charcoal fire, or preheat your gas grill on high for 10 minutes with the lid closed.
While the coals are heating up, thread the shrimp, smoked sausage, and red pepper squares onto the skewers, making sure not to crowd them too closely.
When the coals are ready or the gas grill is hot, spray the kabobs liberally with cooking oil and place them on the grill.
Cook for 3 minutes. Spray the kabobs again with oil, turn, and grill for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the shrimp are just cooked through.
Transfer the skewers to a platter. Drizzle with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Grilled Sicilian Caponata
2 large eggplants
1 large zucchini
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium sweet onions, like Vidalia or Maui, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
10 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, or 3 cups canned Italian chopped tomatoes,undrained
1 tablespoon capers, drained
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup small green olives such as Picholine, drained and pitted
Kosher salt to taste
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped just before using.

Preheat a gas grill or build a charcoal fire for direct grilling.
Cut the eggplants and zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut the halves lengthwise into slices 1⁄2 inch thick. Brush with the some of the oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place the slices on the cooking grate over direct medium heat and grill until tender and well marked, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large, deep, heavy pot like a Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat, then add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, capers, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, the red pepper, sea salt, and olives and simmer for 15 minutes. While the tomato mixture is cooking, dice the grilled eggplant and zucchini, then add to the tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, another 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix the remaining 1⁄4 cup oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar together and stir into the vegetable mixture.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more vinegar and salt if necessary. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm or cold. This will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Grilled Steak With Cracked Peppercorns   
Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes

4 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 Porterhouse steaks (or other cut of choice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lemon wedges (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to broil (the oven should be good and hot before you put the steak in the oven). For easy clean-up, line the toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil. (Check your manufacturer's instructions, however, for any cautions against the use of aluminum foil in your toaster oven.)
Crush the peppercorns and salt in a mortar using a pestle. Rub both sides of the steak with the olive oil and press the peppercorn mixture into the steaks. Place the steak on the prepared tray. Place the steak under the broiler and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until the steak reaches medium doneness. (The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the steak you have chosen and the degree of doneness you prefer.) Remove from the oven, transfer to plates, and serve immediately with lemon. 

Renting your first home?  Renters problems and solutions.

Unwanted guests.  The Nest says to take a good look at your lease.  It may mention infestations...rodents or bugs.  That's something you'll want to pay attention to.  If your lease doesn't mention them, check your state's rental laws.  It may help in preparing you for any problems.

 Broken Appliances. The first thing you should do if appliances start doing crazy things, is speak to your landlord.  Early and often!!  It's a good lesson to learn.  The Nest says that most landlords have a "duty to repair", which requires them to keep things running.  Be sure to document which appliances start knocking and what exactly is happening with them.  Note the date you notify your landlord.  If your landlord doesn't respond within an appropriate amount of time, speak to someone at your local housing officials.  Be sure to read your lease beforehand, you need to know if your responsible, as the renter, to do repairs. 

Damage.  Okay, so sometimes accidents happen.  You gave the landlord a security deposit for a reason.  Fix it if it's small but if it's a bigger problem you should notify your landlord.  The landlord will probably decide on wether you should repair the damages or wether they will deduct the cost from your security deposit.  Or you'll just get kicked out.  Hey...The Nest said it was a possibility.

Foreclosure.  There isn't much of a solution with this.  But a silverlining... your entitled to a certain amount of time to move out... on average, 90 days (3 months). 

Needing to move back before your lease is up.  This is one of those things that calls for landlord permission.  It may be mentioned in the rental contract...check to be sure! 

Unliviable and neglient landlord.  You have the choice to move out as you please.  Breaking a lease is not uncommon, but each state has different laws.  Check these before you start packing!!

Okay, so owning your own home is a lot more work than planning a wedding.  A lot of the responsibility falls on you, unless your renting.  The best part about having a house though, is creating your own utopia.  Choosing the color paint and style of each room can make it all worth it.  Host a party and cook up something on the grill and your bound to forget about a broken appliance that needs fixing.

Whether your getting married or buying a home, life is going to give you things to worry about.  Your job is to work around that and to make the most of it.  That's how we do happiness!!

What part of your home do you love the most?

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