Moving, Southside

Living in a Box

This is the current state of our house.  I feel like all I’ve done over the past week is pack boxes…and yet, it looks like I haven’t made a dent!  Ugh.



The move will be a 3 day process:

Friday:  Bruce the Moving Guy and his crew come and move all of our big stuff (aka the mammoth Red Rojo cabinet that weighs 4000 lbs)

Saturday:  The Cavalry (Jerry’s big strong friends) will come and help load all of the boxes into the Uhaul and take them to Cranberry.

Sunday:  Jerry & I clean Shelly Street and move whatever leftovers there are to the new place in Berkley Manor.

The walk thru will take place on Monday or Tuesday and the closing is scheduled for the 4th.  Wow…talk about a whirlwind!


An evening with Billy Joel

The first concert I ever attended was Billy Joel when I was 14.  Actually, that’s a lie.  The first concert was Jack Wagner, but I’m not sure that really counts as I only knew one song.  But Billy will always be one of my all time favorites.  So when I heard he was coming to the ‘burgh…I suggested tickets would be an awesome Xmas present!  And that is the gift we bought for each other.

Before the show we met up with Bobbi Lynn and Eric at La Palapa, a new Mexican place in the Southside.  The food was good (I had the Steeler burrito) but it didn’t blow me away.  It was still nice to sit down and catch up with my BFF.


Waiting for the show.


Billy played for over 2 hours and definitely didn’t disappoint.  He’s aged a bit from the first time I saw him perform, but if you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t even know the difference.


image by Jenny Pittsburgh

Here is the Set List from the show.  He played all of my favorites (And So It Goes…the best!) & it was the best show I’ve seen in a long time.


It’s shake n bake…and I helped

How’s that for a Throw Back Thursday?!?!

I probably shouldn’t be offended that Jerry loves Shake n Bake pork chops.  Because despite the fact that I’m a pretty decent cook, my pork chops are pretty lousy.  I’ve brined, marinated, baked, grilled, slow cooked, breaded & fried…and they seriously never turn out as good as old school Shake n Bake chops.  So if he wants pork chops, he’s getting SnB from now on!

My fragile culinary ego was determined to make a homemade side dish to go with those out-of-a-box chops.  And what is my all time favorite side dish…mac & cheese!  We’re in clean out the kitchen mode and I had about a cup of elbow noodles that needed used up so it was fate.  Mac & cheese it is!

Basic Roux (melt 1T butter, add 1 T flour…whisk, whisk, whisk), dump in some 2% milk (maybe a cup), 2 T light cream cheese (keep whisking),  1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar.  S&P to taste.  There is your sauce.  Add the cooked elbows, stir well, cover and turn off the heat for 5 minutes.  Boom!  Easy, peasy stovetop mac & cheese in about 15 minutes…which is almost exactly how long it takes to make Shake n Bake pork chops.



Valentine’s Dinner


The week before Valentine’s Day, I came down with a wicked cold.  Horrible headache, coughing, chest congestion, aches, etc.  My office is the worst for passing germs around!!

Jerry is so good to me when I’m sick, letting me go to bed at 7:30 and taking care of Jacob so I can rest.  It took me 4-5 days to knock it out but by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, I was definitely feeling better.  So I made him one of his favorite dinners…flank steak, roasted veggies and fettuccini alfredo.

It’s no secret that we tend to get fat & happy during the winter months.  Comfort food tastes amazing when it’s freezing and we love to snuggle up on the couch and binge watch lots of good TV.  This winter it’s been House of Cards (so good!), Orange is the New Black (so good!) and Mad Men (so good!).

Now, I’m pretty famous for my fettuccini alfredo because its so freakin’ delicious…but it’s also so freakin’ bad for you.  Butter, parmesan, butter, milk and more butter.  Comfort food at it’s finest.  But as we have to squeeze ourselves into bathing suits in less than 3 weeks (Florida or bust!), I decided to try a lightened up version.  And was quite pleased with the results.

I used this recipe from the food network:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I would not add this again)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Neufchtel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use it)
12 ounces fresh fettuccine (I used 9 oz)
Freshly ground pepper

Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon,1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the Neufchatel and Parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan and pepper.

Per serving: Calories 490; Fat 15 g (Saturated 8 g); Cholesterol 48 mg; Sodium 734 mg; Carbohydrate 66 g; Fiber 3 g; Protein 20 g

Berkley Manor

Berkley Manor

So we sold our house and they haven’t even broken ground on Lot 256.  Now what?!  We needed a short term rental (month to month preferred) that allowed giant dogs.  We found a couple of places through my company that would rent us a furnished place for $2,900/month.  Thanks but no thanks.

Craigslist to the rescue!  After a week or so of searching through a boatload of pretty crappy options, I saw a posting for a sublease starting March 1st.  It was a couple of miles from the new place and close to my office.  They allowed dogs (no breed restrictions even!) and the lease ran through mid July.  The place is on the ground floor (perfect for potty breaks with Jacob) and we could rent storage space for 75% less than the cheapest place I found online.

And there is also this:



Yep, it has a pool.  And a 24 hour fitness center.

I can’t believe our luck with this one. And I can’t WAIT for summer!

Lot 256

The John Jacob Astor

As I mentioned, the townhouse we purchased is the John Jacob Astor (JJA) model.  The  townhouse is spread over 3 floors…lower level, living level and bedroom level.

As part of our incentive package, we were able to purchase a townhouse with either a 6′ or 10′ extension at a drastically reduced price.  When we took our trip to DC, we were able to tour models built with a 6’ extension and a 10’ extension.  Both models were spectacular, but the 10’ ultimately won out.  You know how it goes…Bigger = Better.  Or in this case, better resale value.

All photos courtesy of Heartland Homes

The only real upside of the 6’ extension was the amazing kitchen.  Ah-mazing!  My heart was fluttering out of my chest.


It has a huge island, and tons and tons and tons of counter space.  As you may have noticed from our house on Shelly, the kitchen was functional, but the layout left a little to be desired.  This kitchen…well, it’s pretty much my dream come true.

But the rest of the 6’ townhouse had a smaller rec room (lower level), less storage, a smaller master bedroom, less closet space and less space on the living level.

Now, the kitchen in the 10’ townhouse is nothing to shake a stick at…it’s still amazing.



It also has a huge island but less counter space.  And it’s more of a galley style kitchen, which isn’t my favorite.  I know….WHAAAAAAA!  The first world problems of a galley kitchen.  Beats the heck out of the Shelly kitchen.  And the rest of the layout is amazing.

Main Entrance

We have a large rec room on the lower level.  The one in the model was set up as more of an entertaining space.  We hope to use it as a media room and put a big TV where the wet bar is located.

Family Room

Living Room


The Living Level offers a Family Room, Dining Room, Kitchen and Living Room.  What the heck are we going to do with all of this space?!?!  The 6’ does not have the Family Room or the large double french doors, which lead to the deck.  The 10’ definitely gives you more space but we’re going to have some empty rooms for quite a while!

Master Bedroom

The Master Bedroom in the 10’ is significantly bigger and has 2 large walk in closets.  And we opted for a large roman shower in the Master Bath, rather than a big tub and separate shower.  We did not get the tray ceiling seen in the picture above.

Those people at Heartland sure know how to stage a house!  I want to steal every single design idea from the model.  It should be interesting to see how Jerry & I put our spin on things.

Moving, Southside

The House on Shelly Street

We put our Southside Townhouse on the market at the beginning of January.  After meeting with a real estate agent, Jerry decided we could get more bang for our buck if we sold it ourselves.  The plan was to list it on Housepad for a few months and if we didn’t get much traffic, we could always list it with an agent in the spring.

So we decluttered and scrubbed and touched up and made that little townhouse shine.  It was listed online on January 4th.


View from the outside

dining room


Living Room/Dining Room








deckview oakland

Annnnnnd…the big selling point of the house on Shelly.  The deck.


Oh, and the view from the living room.  That picture above was taken on Thanksgiving morning at sunrise.

The house was on the market for 10 days before we scheduled our first viewing.  He made an offer the next day.  And after some slick negotiating from Jerry (and his very business savvy father), the little house on Shelly was sold. We move out on 2/28.

Lot 256

Welcome to Lot 256


Sometime in October 2013, Jerry and I made the (rather scary) decision to sell our townhouse in the Southside and move North to Cranberry (which Jerry lovingly refers to as Canada).  Technically it’s Marshall Township, which is in Allegheny County, but it’s at the Northern most point of the county (I think…sounds about right) and is a stones throw from Butler Co.

Here’s a brief summary of how that came to be…

One day I was taking a shortcut from my office to Rt. 19 and noticed they were building a new plan of homes called Venango Trails.  I mentioned it to Jerry at some point that week and he said we should stop at the sales office check it out.  After our visit with the sales team, we decide we like the townhouses. The model they will be building is the John Jacob Astor (JJA), but they don’t have any models available in PA as it’s pretty new.  They offer us some pretty nice incentives to purchase the JJA sight unseen and we jump at the opportunity.  We take a road trip to DC to tour the JJA as we are fortunate enough to find JJA models about 15 minutes from Stephanie’s (Jerry’s sister).  We like what we see and come back to Pittsburgh to sign the paperwork.

Welcome to Lot 256!  Our (future) home sweet home.