Lot 256

The Final Progress Pictures

Things are wrapping up at Lot 256.  It’s strange to think that in less than a month, we’ll be settled into our new home. 


This will be the last set of progress pictures.  I know, so sad.  The next set will be during our final walk thru when everything is shiny and clean!  Lots of dust in the house right now.

The garage is finished and almost cleared out. 


The carpet is down in the rec room.

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The hardwood has also been installed.  All that paper you see throughout the house is protecting our newly installed floors (eeek!)


Look at our kitchen!!  I seriously had heart palpitations (the good kind) when I saw how much had been completed!  The granite.  The cabinets.  The BACKSPLASH! 


The super ugly pendant lights.  I really, really don’t like these shades. At all.


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And I also don’t like the mirror in the powder room.  I know…I’m a brat.  But WHY would you design such a modern home and use all of these NOT-modern finishes???  (NOT-Modern is a technical term).  And why did they install a full towel rack in a powder room? And why is it called a powder room?  That is definitely not a modern description…I think it’s now called a half-bath


Carpet is in the office and guest room.  Yes, I tried to take the darkest pictures I could.

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Tile and finishes are completed in the guest bath.  Notice the same NOT-modern light fixture as in the half-bath (it’s also in the master bath). Anyone in the market for a crapton of fluted shades?  Anyone?? 

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Master bedroom is carpeted.


And the master bath is almost finished.  We just need a shower door.  

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And the closets are ready for all of our clothes. 

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So you can see, it’s almost ready to go!  They have some touch up work to do on the paint and probably a bunch of other details I didn’t notice…but we’re in the home stretch! 


I know some of you have been on pins and needles waiting to hear about the resolution of the deck issue.  Well, we went back and forth with Heartland…Jerry stormed out of a meeting with one of the managers and I fired off a very nasty stern email to the same manager and the VP of Sales.  Bottom line…they feel bad but still, there is still nothing they can do.  Legally, we are stuck because we signed off on the deck as is.  The large deck was approved by someone no longer with Heartland.  So at this point, we’ve just decided to let it go and move on.  But I still clench my teeth every time I see that dumb deck.  It’s all good though, because we’re going to build a bigger, more kick-ass deck than the other end unit.  So there.


Spicy Asian Noodles

Another recipe?!?!  Normally I would try to space out my culinary masterpieces….but this was SO. GOOD!  It was so easy too and came together in about 20 minutes.  This is from Cooking Light….spicy asian noodles with chicken.  Of course I had to mess around with it…my changes are in red.

  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used about a pound of shrimp)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) (leave out if you don’t want any heat in the dish…Chiquita, I’m talking to you!)
  • 1 (6.75-ounce) package thin rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) (I used brown rice noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts 


  1. 1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; cook 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Place in a large bowl. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and next 6 ingredients (through sambal).
  2. 2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.  Cook shrimp in large skillet about 2-3 minutes per side.  Add sauce and noodles and heat through.  Sprinkle with peanuts.
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  4.  I steamed some broccoli to serve with the noodles.  Please excuse this picture…I didn’t wipe down the plate. 


Update on the deck situation is coming up tomorrow.  Spoiler alert:  We agreed to disagree.

Lot 256

Lots of progress

They are making a ton of progress on Lot 256!  Unfortunately, Jerry and I aren’t making any progress regarding the dumbest deck in the history of the world.  I have a whole separate post on tap regarding this issue…but that’s for another day. 

I’m just gonna bomb you with a bunch of pictures.  They’re pretty self explanatory…

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The trim and doors are painted bright white and the walls have the first (or possibly second) coat of a warm, almond hue.  The stair treads and railings have been stained and this will also be the color of our hardwood.  It’s a dark brown with warm tones. 

Cabinets have been installed in the kitchen, guest and master bath and you can see what the bathroom granite will look like.  We used the same one for both bathrooms. 

The light fixtures are in…and are going to be at the top of my list to change once we start on the low priority adjustments.  We didn’t have a choice in the pendant shades and they are just not our style. Nor are the ones above the master vanity.  I don’t like these at all


But they are fine for now and we can just sell them on ebay/craigslist when we’re ready to switch things up.

The tile has been laid the the bathroom floors and showers.  And we have toilets!!

So things are moving right along.  We are @ 30 days out from settlement, which is very exciting!  I have no idea how they’re going to get the rest of this done…but I’m sure they know what they’re doing.


Embarrassingly Easy Fish Tacos

After 4 days of eating everything that wasn’t tied down (so. much. food), Jerry & I  a) didn’t want to go out to eat on Sunday & b) wanted something lite for dinner.

I had some cod in the freezer so I decided fish tacos would be a good idea.  We are both partial to the grilled version vs. the breaded, fried version.  It was kinda ugly out so I skipped the grill and just browned them in the skillet.


Here is the recipe I used:

1 lb of cod (or other white flaky fish)
taco seasoning.

The end.

For those of you who are sticklers for details, I defrosted the fish, sprayed it with non-stick spray and sprinkled taco seasoning on both sides.  Then I headed a drizzle of EVOO in a large skillet and cooked on medium high for 3-4 min per side.  Once it was cooked, I just chunked it up with the spatula and sautéed it around in the pan.  Throw it on a corn tortilla, top with slaw & a chunk of avocado and eat.  Done & done!

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I made a simple slaw out of packaged coleslaw mix (why would you ever buy a whole cabbage for slaw??  Convenience for the win!)

2 limes, juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup EVOO
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk dressing in a large bowl. Add coleslaw mix, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped, and 1/2 a bunch of scallions, diced. Toss to combine. It’s better if it sits overnight.


Simple and delicious!


4th of July Weekend Wrap Up

I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July than at the beach!  What a weekend!


Despite the threat of Arthur, we were blessed with 2.5 amazing beach days during our trip to Fenwick Island, DE.  Skies just don’t get any bluer than this…

We started out our mini vacation with a trip to visit Jerry’s sister near DC.  I’m happy to report we had zero point zero trips to the Emergency Room this time around!  Jerry’s ulcer meds are working well.

We made a pitstop en route to DC at a rest stop on the turnpike.  Heaven on the Highway!  Pizza Hut, Starbucks AND Auntie Anne’s all in one place.  We were starting this trip the right way!


I reluctantly bypassed PH and Starbucks and headed straight for Auntie Anne’s…only to be told they were out of cheese.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE OUT OF CHEESE?!?!  All the cheese too…nacho cheese, cream cheese and (my favorite), the cold, pasteurized cheese-product type cheese.  I had to settle for marinara. Whatever.  I made up for it by helping Jerry house a bag of Munchies (which, for the record, is pretzels, Sun-Chips, Cheetos and Doritos. All the good things).

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We made excellent time and arrived @ 4:00ish.  We had some guacamole, salsa and chips and then freshened up before hitting Uncle Julio’s for dinner.  I don’t know why I forgot to take pictures (probably b/c I feel like a creepy weirdo photographing my food in public) but I had some amazing chicken and cheese & onion enchiladas.  #cheeseismyfavoritefoodgroup

We were out the door by 6:30 am the following morning and crossed the bay bridge with little traffic….


I had my feet in the sand by 10:30.  Yes, I know my feet look huge and really, who wants to see pictures of my feet?  But here they are…with BLUE toenails!  I generally stick with old school toe colors…red, coral, pink…but I decided to get funky for the holiday.  Don’t worry, I’ll catch up to 2014 by 2026.  Always a few steps behind the times…it’s part of my charm.


This is AT.  You may remember her from our girls weekend in Hershey.  She and her mom were our gracious hosts for the weekend.  Mrs. T has an awesome house about a mile from the beach.  I’ve known them since I was 15.  They’re like my family.


So after spending 4 or 5 hours on the beach, we came home and relaxed for a bit.  Then we hit the Crabcake Factory for dinner.  We got a seat right by the bay.  The weather was perfect!

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This place is known to have amazing crabcakes and they ship them all over the country.  So much lump crab packed into a perfect little package.  Mac & cheese for life on the side.


Friday morning was a washout.  It rained all morning and early afternoon.  We Jerry and Amy watched some World Cup soccer and by mid afternoon, it had cleared up a bit.  AT took a nap and Jerry & I took a walk on the beach.  The waves were unreal!


We decided to make the spend the rest of the afternoon poolside.  I finally finished Gone Girl.  Not a fan of the ending…

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Dinner Friday night was steamed seafood heaven from Rippons.


Peel and eat shrimp, little neck clams and some crabby cheese fries (which are as amazing at they sound) from Smitty Magee’s.  Plus some local white corn…sweet as sugar.

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It was pretty cool in the evening and I was very glad I packed some fleece for the trip.  All fleece…all the time…


Saturday morning was picture perfect at the beach.


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Saturday was also the day I made my way to Ocean Side Pizzeria for the world’s greatest cheesesteak!  I make a point to stop at Ocean Side every time I’m in Fenwick…I’ve been eating these sandwiches since 1989.  It’s nostalgia on a bun.

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On the way to Ocean Side, I walked past the Stone’s Throw condo we stayed at 26 years ago.  They’ve done some updating but it looks the same.  Just with a fresh coat of paint.  AT & I met in Fenwick when we were 15 and my family stayed in this condo.  We also stayed here for the next 7-8 summers…I spent many hours lounging on those decks.


The town of Fenwick hosts a bonfire for the 4th and they do it up right.  There is a DJ, lots of activities for the kids and fireworks. It was a lovely end to our holiday weekend.

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Jerry and I were up and at em at 5:45 on Sunday morning.  We wanted to make sure we were home in plenty of time to pick up Jacob at the Dog Stop (he stayed at the new Sewickley location…he had a ball!).  Home by 1:00 with plenty of time to get ready for the week.

Thanks for AT & Mrs. T for a lovely, relaxing weekend!

Lot 256

Let’s talk about decks, baby

Yes, you should be singing the title to the tune of this song….

Ahhhhh, the deck.  Sick of hearing about our dumb deck?  Yeah, me too.  But it’s my blog so I get to ramble on and complain about it all I want.
In case you haven’t heard…we get a 4×18 deck included with our townhouse.  WHATISTHEPOINTOFTHISSTUPIDDECK?!?!?! Sure, it’s a cute little deck, but it serves zero purpose.  We can’t put our grill on it.  We can’t put our chairs on it.  We can put some herb and flower pots on it.  It’s a garden deck.  And we can’t extend it until after the closing.  We absolutely have to wait until after closing…no way around it. Per Heartland.
You can imagine our surprise when we saw this big, beautiful deck on the other end unit in our building.  
Here, take a closer look…
That is definitely NOT a 4×18 deck!
You have got to be kidding me.
So I sent an email to our sales rep and project manager…(I did not say Jerry, I used his real name)
Jerry and I stopped at Venango Trails on Saturday to see how things were progressing.  We were shocked to see a crew building a very large deck on the other end unit.  On our previous stops, we noticed they didn’t have a deck on the back of their unit and figured they had made arrangements to have one built after closing.  We were kicking ourselves for not requesting the same option b/c we have made it very clear during this process that we planned on building a larger deck onto our unit immediately after closing. 
I’m not really sure why that end unit has received preferential treatment but honestly, we’re starting to take it personally.  All of the units should all be receiving the same options…and it’s really unacceptable that we’re not.  First the situation with the windows, which you have offered compensation with the side windows (and that was very generous of you)…now this issue with the deck.  We weren’t given the option of having the deck excluded from the unit so we could build our own.  And we were very firmly told we were unable to extend the existing deck until after closing.  That is understandable.  Jerry and I are not unreasonable.  We realize this is the first JJA building in Venango Trails and there are bound to be some hiccups.  But we feel we’re being treated unfairly in relation to the other end unit.  And that is really souring what has been an otherwise favorable experience with Heartland.  
Not too mean, right?  I wanted to insert my favorite video clip from the Legend of Billie Jean…FAIR IS FAIR!  I didn’t.
I mean, look at that nice functional deck.  You can put a table on it. You can grill on it.  You can hang out on it.  AND you can have a garden on it, too. 


So now we’re waiting to hear back from them.  They’re supposed to call Jerry today…I’m much better via email :).  I know there isn’t much that can be done now, but they I would like to see them credit the cost of the deck and the cost of the deck removal from our contract.  After all, fair is fair. 

Chiquita, I’m guessing that you haven’t seen that movie…I’m coming over soon and we’re going to watch it.  It’s a classic!