Impatiently in Suspense

I know this past month or two I haven’t kept up my normal posts including my homemade carb-loads: (breads of the month) or local events or festivals. It has been a few recipes or baked goods here and a whole lot on the house-buying there.

So here’s another life-update: We are impatiently in suspense not because we don’t know what’s ahead but because we don’t know how it will all work out. There are so many new elements in our lives come September: new job, new house, new commutes, new schedules and routines, new neighborhood; and all of it is very exciting. Still we have no control over the timing of it all.

We are ready to move (well we are motivated but not packed). We are doing everything we can on our end to push us ahead towards a closing date, which originally on the paperwork is September 12th. But the timeline of activities that need to be done are on a check list on our fridge; and we are barley half way there. We had planned on doing a slow-ish move. Make September our last-months rent and take a few weekends to move over the smaller items in our cars (yes we finally actually have two of them in the driveway) then take one day to rent a smaller truck for the bigger/heavier items. But now? We’re not sure when the real close-date will be.

We are looking forward to our new place. A place of our own to establish. As we struggle to shove pots and pans into cupboards and run out of space in the pantry to store dry-goods and constantly fight de-cluttering the books, shoes, coffee cups, and kitchen counters we look forward to having enough room for tables and desks. When you know something better is ahead it’s hard to maintain contentment with what you currently have.

The uncertain close date of course also means that I am (at least for two weeks) commuting from Corning to Rochester three days a week! Fortunately I’ve done the drive several times now for meetings and the ESL program orientations. And yes I am impatient about the new job. It’s almost fall and I finally have a school to go back-to-school to teaching every week! Of course with a new job comes all of the unknowns of a new facility, co-workers, expectations, and students. But I am hopeful that will all work out well. I’m quickly getting as much prepared as possible working on grading scales, courses calendars, and the lesson plans for the first month or so as I start class a week from yesterday! I know my stress-level will decrease some once I’ve gotten through the first week of teaching at the new location.

So we are in a very brief period of impatient suspense or waiting. There are amazing challenging and exciting things ahead some only in a week others hopefully only a few more but we are ready to get them started. Fall for me is the advent of a new season of productivity and beginnings ( I am and always will be on a teacher-schedule). I can’t wait to see how this fall will go and hopefully by October we will have a routine established and my unpredictable blogging habit will die with the leaves. 🙂

Are you ready to transition to fall? What are you looking forward to in this new season?

 

 

 

Summer Cookies: Jello

Again, earlier this summer we were invited to a BBQ with some friends and as always I chose to bring the dessert. Since there were going to be many little children I thought it would be the perfect chance to try out a new recipe: jello cookies. I seen recipes for jello cookies floating around pintrest for a while now and was curious if they tasted a colorful and bright as they looked: my discovery: they did!

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The best thing about Jello Cookies are that you can choose any flavor: ANY flavor of jello and make it into these cookies and there are so many flavors beyond the lime, cherry, or strawberry you may be used to eating.

In choosing flavors I wanted to make sure I have a variety in terms of colors and that the flavors would attract both the kids and adults. So we did watermelon (my favorite) in a bright pink, orange (which tasted just like creamsicles), lime in green, and mixed berry (a combo of raspberry and blackberry; my husbands favorite) in a bright purple.

We found the base recipe found on Iheartnaptime.net to be almost perfect as is as a sugar cookie (may want to try that out sometime)

 

Ingredients

 

  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 cups salted butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 (3 oz) pkg jello

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Note: I chose to split this dough into four flavors but you can split it up however you want. My batch made more than 4 dozen cookies but it all depends on the size you usually make your cookies.

Instructions

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1. Beat butter in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in egg and vanilla. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture

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2.Divide dough into 4 sections (or however many flavors you want). Sprinkle 2 Tb of jello onto each section. Knead together with dough.

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3.  You may want to add food coloring to make the dough stand out: I used neon food dye for mine to make them extra bright.

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4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in extra jello from the packets. (To do that I put the extra jello mixes in bowls then rolled the balls in the mixes). 5.Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of a glass cup.

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6. Bake 8 to 10 min at 350 on lined baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Note: you can taste the difference in brands. We bought Jello brand watermelon and berry but store brand orange and lime and it took more of the jello mix to get the same amount of kick/flavor from the store brands then the Jello brand. So if you have a choice: go for the name brand; here it really does make a different in bang for your buck.

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These cookies went over extremely well at our summer BBQ. The kids found it entertaining that the cookies tasted like their bright colors. And the adults didn’t shy from the cookies either.

Citrus Brownies

So normally I am much better about posting goodies about a week or so after I make them (and no I have not forgotten about my bread of the month posts) but as I have repeatedly stated; there has been a great lack of routine this summer and down time to write has been scarce.

I actually made these for my birthday; yes that was a few months ago. Last summer I attempted to make a similar recipe: a citrus flavored dessert with the texture of a brownie but it turned out to be too much like a lemon bar to satisfy the brownie-like texture I was hoping for. But this year I finally got it with the help of Averiecooks recipe. With a very strong citrus flavor and sweet finish; these squares have the texture of fudge when cold and brownies when at room texture.

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Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

 

Batter:

3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons (or 3/4 limes)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt, optional and to taste

Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
zest and juice of one lemon (or 2 limes) or as necessary for consistency

Instructions:

Batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with butter or spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2.  In a large, microwave-safe bowl add the white chocolate, butter, and heat to melt.White chocolate can easily burn so be careful to heat in 30 second increments, stopping to stir until mixture can be stirred smooth.
  3. Let this cool a little before adding the eggs , granulated sugar, lemon juice/zest, and whisk until combined.

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4. Add the flour and salt, an stir.

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5. Pour the batter into prepared pan

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6. Bake for about 27 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick put in the center comes out clean. Some moist crumbs are ok.

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Note: because I made both a lemon and a lime batches at the same time I added a few drops of neon green food coloring to the lime batch.

Glaze:

  1.  When the brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk together all three ingredients until creamy. If you want the glaze thick use more powdered sugar; and if thinner then more lemon juice and less sugar.
  2. Spread  glaze over the brownies with a rubber spatula.
  3. Allow bars to cool in pan uncovered for at least 2 to 3 Let the glaze set. I found it took awhile uncovered in the fridge for the whole thing to set. Best to let it set over night.

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Note: how much zest or lemon juice you want to include in your batter or glaze depends on how tart you want your treat to be. I prefer a pretty strong citrus taste if you do not then you can remove a quarter of the juice and zest I include.

Also, another trick you can try: when the brownies are still warm poke holes in the top; this will help them cool off faster as well as when you pour over the glaze it will seep and set well into the top of the brownies.

These lemon/lime brownies were very popular at Luke’s work and at our small group get-together. I was surprised by how popular the lime ones were; maybe because they are not as common.

So are you a bigger fan of lemons or limes? If your adventurous you could also try other citrus brownies: Grapefruit? Orange?

 

August update

I know you probably all feel neglected. I have been more than little absent this July and August; this whole lack of a normal routine-thing is really messing with my attempts to consistently write. But enough excuses.

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Here’a brief update: We are doing well with the house process. The mortgage application paperwork is in, the insurance taken care of; now we are waiting as all the parties involved in making this happen for us to do the necessary paperwork. We scan in pieces of paperwork asked for by the bank, or insurance company, or realtor and then we wait. We also have been procrastinating actually put our lives in boxes as we hope to hear a set close date for the house soon.

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As for the cars: well they are still being worked on. The new-to-us car (300M) has been in for an initial check up and we are glad we brought it in because it needed new struts and for a filter to be replaced; still waiting on the filter piece because it has to be special ordered. As for the CRV? Almost there but not quite done; sadly it’s still being brought back and forth to the transmission place throughout the last month.

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In the mean time I have been busy finishing up my summer course with Keuka’s ASAP program and preparing for classes in the fall. One interesting note: after having almost a full unit prepped for the high-advanced reading and writing course I was asked to switch courses. So as of last week I am now teaching low-advanced reading and writing which is a nine hour a week course (MWF) with two hours of class and one hour of lab. It is a large course to prepare for but I am excited to teach summarizing, reading comprehension and analyzing, and research writing.

Overall, it has been a full summer requiring patience and flexibility. I am definitely being stretched in taking things as they come and one thing at a time; my control-freak perfectionistic nature has really been tested. At the same time this season has helped us  be grateful for what has gone smoothly and taught us to handle what hasn’t with grace.

How has your summer been going?

Finger Lakes Cheese Festival

So I know that recently it has looked like all we have been doing is house (and car) hunting/shopping but July did hold a few other treats for us- I’m just behind in posting about them.

July 26th we were more than ready for a real date-break from the stress of all of the transitions we are in the middle of. So we went to the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival in Odessa NY. We wanted to attend the year before but were in the Washington for my brother’s wedding. We drove out to this little town right outside of Walkins Glen on a sunny and humid Saturday getting there around one.

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We parked in the field of Sunset View Creamery and paid our $2 each to get into the festival. For only it’s 3rd Annual year it was obvious word had gotten out of about this farmer’s festival and the place was busy. The festival started around 10 with several children’s activities including a dunking booth, petting zoo, guided farm tours, hay rides, and chances to milk a goat.

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But we chose to come later in the afternoon for the grown-up activities; cheese tastings. We just barely missed out on the free wine and cheese paring; the tent was overflowing and they only had 50 samples to go around; but we did snag a brochure. Every pairing was local cheese being sold at the festival by the smaller artisan creameries with wines from Seneca lake wineries.

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We listened in for a while then decided to explore the booths. In order to check out the more then twelve creameries at this festival we had to get in line after line to sample their cheeses and get brochures on where/how to buy their products. There was everything; soft fresh, hard aged, stinky, mild, jack, cheddar, mozzarella, feta, spicy, blue , herb, sharp and more. There was also goat cheese and every place offered slices, wheels, or curds of their most famous flavors. But the cheese booths were also partnered with other local goods such as honey, maple products, soaps, and veggies and fruit.

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As we traveled around the booths sampling cheeses we enjoyed listening to one of three bands playing in the entertainment tent throughout the day. In the entertainment tent also was plenty of shaded seating for people to sit and enjoy their food and the music as well as two local wineries and breweries offering tasting for the adults.

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Other than sample,s there were plenty of non-snacking food options including roasted corn, bbq, popcorn, ice cream, hand pies, and more. As it got to the warmest part of the day we decided to get ourselves a treat: a scoop of local ice cream-and it was good; creamy and flavorful and not too sweet: Luke had mint chip and I had a raspberry chocolate chip cheesecake and it was very good.

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After wandering the farm grounds and festival booths we picked up some iced coffee and staked out our seats under the event tent for the beer and cheese pairing at 3:30pm. We enjoyed watching the people as we waited for this free pairing using local beers and cheeses. Once again this pairing was of only cheeses available to buy at the festival from the local creameries paired with beers from local microbreweries. The cheese were good the beer was decent also. Although the beer trail along the finger lakes area is still relatively new they are definitely growing with more than 60 microbreweries now in the area (or getting started).

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After the pairing presentations and discussion we went up to talk to the presenters and ask about their suggestions for local porters and stouts as well as picked up filers for additional food/cheese pairings with different types of beers.

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Believe it or not we didn’t pick up any cheese; we got out of the beer and cheese pairing around 4:30 and the festial ended around 5pm. Because the festival was so popular this year many of the local creameries had actually run out of supplies and left early. So we have learned our lesson;  next year we come earlier and buy the cheeses we discovered we like.

When we got home we looked up also where we can get the cheeses at local stores for future reference. All in all it was a perfect foodie day-date.

For more on the finger lakes wine trail check out at: http://flcheesetrail.com

or visit them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FLXCheeseTrail

Do you like cheese? What is your favorite kind?

House Hunting: The Grand Finale

For more on this topic see other posts entitled house hunting

I know I left you all wondering whether we had given up on this house-hunting thing after all considering our time crunch and frustrations. But as this post indicates the hunt is over!

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After our hiatus from looking two weeks ago we decided to give it one more try: fifth times the charm right? Luke ended up having this past Monday off from work so we once again looked up what was available online, created a list of 11 homes, and sent it to our realtor (who rightly was becoming a little impatient). He picked us up at 2pm and we took the now familiar drive up to the Dansville area.

Of the 11 homes we wanted to see at only 7 were still available; of course this disappointed us. We hit six not so great options through the Dansville/Wayland area with major issues such as low ceilings, horrible updates, uneven floors, half done updates, unfinished (no drywall) rooms, and bad locations.

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House number one:

Fortunately we had two great options. One of the realtors in the Dansville area decided to show us a house that had just come on the market:  four hours before we saw it. House number one is an old 1900’s victorian in downtown Wayland that had been totally updated. The owners had had a fire and used the insurance money to invest in some major changes to the home: brand new roof, updated master bedroom with skylights, upstairs laundry in the bathroom, etc.

With four bedrooms and two full baths the house is larger then we need.  The kitchen is open and although there is not a lot of cabinet/cupboard space there is plenty of room to put in more. The yard is well kept although only .22 of an acre and has a new fence around the property (which is not standard out here for you west coast people).

Our concerns were mainly about the location: because of all of the updates this is the nicest house on the block. Plus many homes in the area are currently for sale; there is no way to tell the location’s value over time -a bit of a gamble. The other issue is  the house next door is a rental with four tenants and they share the double-wide driveway with this home.

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House number two

House number two was the first house we saw. It is an older 1800’s home with a more simple victorian style right about 5 minutes from the freeway  and 10 minutes from downtown Wayland. The home has three bedrooms and two full baths on an acre of property half wooded.

The previous owners had invested time to update the roof, vinyl siding, restore the floors or put in pergo, paint and update the water heater etc.. The current owners have been using the property as a winter/holiday house and so are not living in it.  The floors and ceilings do buckle/tilt a little in certain places because of the age of the home but the house itself is stable. The kitchen is large and open with plenty of cabinet and counter space and although there is currently no garage there is room to build one.

Our concerns with the place were mainly seasonal; about .25 of a mile up to the house is dirt/gravel road. We were not sure if in the winter we would run into problems being able to get to the main road. But after talking to Luke’s co-workers who live on such roads we felt confident that with a few adjustments (snow tires etc.) we would function just fine.

So which one did we choose? After all of our searching and options what do you think?

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We went with house number 2. We decided although house number 1 was wonderfully updated we were unsure about the location and what we would do with that large of an old home. Whereas with number 2 although it has less fancy updates we knew we could make it our own besides the fact that is has a better  location and more land.

We placed our first bid on Tuesday afternoon did one counter offer and re-bid and by Wednesday we had an accepted bid! By Saturday we were back up at the house with the inspector who said the place was great and  he was jealous. The current owners have already moved everything out of the second floor so we are well on our way towards a closing date and more than a little relieved that we have a hopeful house and the hunt if over.

 

Two Careers; Two Cars

If you have been following my blog for more than a year then you know Luke and I have been sharing my red CRV for the past two years living out here in Corning NY. So far it has worked out pretty well (see post living with one car).

I take the car one or two days a week to run errands dropping and picking Luke up from work. I have been teaching classes at night and doing editing work during the day so there’s never been a time conflict in our jobs to need two cars at once. We had always planned on picking up another car once we got more established here and I began working more.

So when I got the job teaching up in Rochester this fall we realized it was time to get a new (to us) car but we had put off the car hunting until we were done house-hunting. In the mean time my poor little CRV has run into several issues. If you have been following A.Greene adventures from the beginning you would know I had tire problems which led to other car issues including needing some work done on the transmission in April of 2013.

It’s been over a year without issues but this a week ago the transmission was slipping. So we were forced to put the house-hunting aside and take time to find a new (used) car now so we could leave my CRV at the transmission place and still get to our jobs. On Wednesday July 23rd we went to a recommended used car dealership and drove a few options around. Fortunately we found a great option and Luke was able to barter for a decent price which included the cost of taxes and title.

We told the dealership owner about our need to get the new-to-us car ASAP. We drove my CRV to the transmission place and they gave us a ride back home. At home we got the insurance all set up for the newish car and that night the dealer dropped it off  in our driveway with the inspection done and new plates on!! So the Greene’s are officially owners of two cars! Here’s a picture of our new-to-us buy! We know it is as Luke says “old person’s car”. . . but it is in good condition, has traction control, and it will be great for commuting. IMG_3467 As we talked about this last night Luke mentioned the cars need names so we can tell which one we are referring to. We don’t have them chosen yet. All of Luke’s suggestions have centered around the fact the our new gold Chrysler 300M is an “old person’s car”. Any thoughts on what we should name them? IMG_3466IMG_3468