March 21, 2014

Stuff and Things 3/21/14

Life as I Know it
Soooooooooo... as I type this, I just got off the phone with my attorney because the sellers tried to pull some shady, backroom dealing on me and cheat me out of $1500.

You know how we finally agreed to the appraisal price if I moved the closing date back two weeks? Well, they'd been dragging their feet about sending the addendum to the contract, and I just found out why. I got a call from my attorney this morning, saying the bank wouldn't forgive the sellers the $3k. I was like, okay, sucks to be them, but not my problem. Then my attorney goes on to say that the sellers were "willing to meet me half way" by dropping the price $1500.

Now, she'd been out of the office the past week, so she was a little behind. I was working pretty exclusively with her assistant and my realtor, not wanting to bother her on her vacation unless I needed to. So I guess she hadn't yet been notified (especially since there was no addendum yet) about the deal, and she thought the sellers' attorney was offering this in good faith. I was like, hold up. We already agreed to the appraised price. I'm confused as to where this is coming from.

The sellers' attorney must have known my attorney was OOO, and was banking on her not knowing about this yet, and figuring how young and inexperienced I was (and my attorney's not exactly and old fart either, although this is not exactly her first rodeo), he could go back on the agreement since it was only verbal and change the price in their favor.

I don't know how much the sellers actually had a hand in this. By all accounts, their realtor was actually upset that this was going on, since it's written in the contract that I can back out if we can't get it down to the appraisal price-- and I would have if they went back on their word; it wouldn't have been worth it-- and they can't get another house until this is settled. So whether their attorney gave them bad advice, or did it on his own, or they goaded him into getting as much money as he could, I'll probably never know, but right now I want to slap all three of them in their faces.

It's cleared up now. Pretty much as soon as my attorney called and went, "my client just told me something interesting..." he faxed over the signed addendum at the agreed upon price. But the whole experience has exponentially decreased my faith in humanity

Good news is, I made my two first official purchases for my new house (provided the sellers don't pull any more dick moves):
The first is a sliding glass door buffet I got from Christmas Tree Shops. It was the last in stock-- actually the display piece-- so I got a good price on it. It's a little dinged up, but still a nice piece of furniture. It's doubtful I'll actually use it as a buffet, since my dining room will be a library, but I might use it as a media cabinet. I have no furniture, so it could go anywhere, lol. The second is a vintage-style tin sign that I found on amazon and fell in love with. They only had 4 left in stock, so I panicked and bought it. That's going in my vintage glam kitchen, obviously. It's also the first thing I bought off my "condo wishlist" so you can say things are getting real now.

I had a dream last night that the condo was secretly a three bedroom, and that made it too long and it took forever to go find the bathroom and I got lost and that's how I discovered the spare bedrooms, and somebody asked me why I put the library in the dining room instead of in one of the spare bedrooms, and I couldn't remember why, so I said that the spare bedrooms were too small. As you can see, this hasn't been on my mind at all. And you can also see just how restful my sleep has been as of late, which is to say, not very.

TV- Here there be spoilers

Castle- Ninjas and no ninja ropes reference? Nathan Fillion, I'm ashamed of you. Also, I kind of thought they were from the League of Assassins. I've been watching too much Arrow.

Supernatural- I was super excited when I saw Kavan Smith guest starring. He was in Stargate: Atlantis (WHAT. We've established I'm a nerd), originally as a background character without a first name. I used to call him Major Cute Guy (because he was Major Lorne, get it?). The fandom called him Scottie the Hottie. Then it turned out his name was Evan and we were all disappointed. And then he played Sheriff Andy on Eureka, so I'm kind of super attached to him.

WHICH IS WHY IT WAS DOUBLY CREEPY WHEN HE WAS ALL KIDNAPPY STOCKHOLM SYNDROME DUDE. I was not even sad when Dean beheaded him. But when are they gonna bring up The whole "directly descended from Cain and Abel" thing? They're ignoring cannon, and this makes me angry.

Arrow- I KNEW that was Harley Quinn in the promo! I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT. They couldn't get away with more than a cameo, but it's still very exciting. I liked that this episode was Diggle-centric. Ever since Black Canary came on the scene, Dig's been kind of background and that upsets me because I love Dig. But I am upset that Laurel got more screen time than Felicity because Felicity is awesome and Laurel is not. Also, one session of AA and Laurel's totally clean and sober and sunshine and rainbows and loves everybody and is giving sage advice? I don't buy it.

And next week-- Do they really expect me to believe Helena stands a chance against Sara? B*tch, please.

Psych- The zombies were fun, and that part was really well done, but this was a little light on actual story. The mystery was obvious. I expected more from the SECOND TO LAST EPISODE EVER.

Posts from this week

March 17, 2014

Grasshopper Pie

So, I've had this pie pinned forever to my "No Bake" board on Pinterest. I actually think it might have been one of the first things I pinned. Except that it wasn't actually this pie. The pie I had pinned used Cool Whip and instant pudding mix, and as you know, I don't have Cool Whip or instant pudding mix. I have whipping cream and unflavored gelatin. But I liked the idea of the pie, so I pinned it anyway, thinking I could come up with a from-scratch version.

And this is totally from scratch. I even baked the chocolate cookies for the cookie crumb crust. That's totally not necessary; I was, per usual, just too lazy to go to the store. I used the wafer cookie recipe from my Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies (I skipped the milk, used brown sugar instead of white, added a little chocolate extract for fun, and rolled them out)(Don't you know by now, I never make a recipe the same way twice?), but obviously if you're not a crazy person like me, a box of chocolate wafer cookies is a whole lot easier.
The pie filling is creamy, minty goodness, and then you've got the chocolate crumb crust, sprinkled with dark chocolate chips, and you really can't go wrong.

Full disclosure though-- for the mint chips, I had a mixed bag of mint and chocolate chips and I sat there picking out all the green mint ones, because this is how crazy people operate. You can buy just mint chips if you're not a crazy person, or if you can't find them, just use white chocolate and add some mint or peppermint extract (I prefer peppermint, because I find mint extract makes things taste like toothpaste).
Have a happy St. Paddy's Day! This year I won't get pinched because I remembered to post something green. :D

Grasshopper Pie
Yield: 8 servings

2 cups finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs
4 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup milk
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Green food coloring
1 cup mint baking chips
1½ cups chilled whipping cream
½ tsp. chocolate extract*
Dark chocolate chips, for decorating

In a bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well coated. Press evenly into a 9-inch pie plate, allowing it to come up the sides. Refrigerate until needed.

Add the cold water to a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Allow to bloom.

In a small saucepan, mix the milk, 1 cup of sugar, cornstarch, and a few drops of green food coloring together. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming, and cook until it starts to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the mint chips until melted.

Add the hot milk mixture to the softened gelatin, and mix together. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, or until you can mold it with a spoon.

Add the remaining tbsp. of sugar and the chocolate extract to the whipping cream, and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the mint mixture. Mound the filling into the prepared pie crust, and chill another 2 hours, or until firm. Sprinkle the top with dark chocolate chips and serve chilled.

*If you can't find chocolate extract, use vanilla

Recipe by Kim

March 14, 2014

Stuff and Things 3/14/14

Happy Pi Day! Here are 9 pie recipes to help you celebrate (the collage is clickable)
Peanut Butter Banana Cookie Pie Image Map

Life as I Know it
You know, I watch a lot of HGTV, and most of it has to do with buying houses. Property Virgins, House Hunters, Love it or List it. The Property Brothers is my favorite, because a) they're cute and b) while I understand all the benefits of buying a fixer upper and renovating, I wouldn't have a clue how to go about doing it, so I like watching them do it.

Anyway, my point is that I figured my watching lots of HGTV would prepare me for buying a house, it did not.

Like, appraisals. I didn't even know they were a thing. I figured that's why you have a real estate agent, to tell you what the house is worth. But no, after you're already under contract, you have someone come in and appraise the house and tell you the price that you already agreed on after 48 hours of negotiations is more than you should be paying and if you go with the price you agreed upon, that's going to affect the mortgage that you already did all the paperwork for and locked your rate in for the next 90 days except not because that extra $3k is going to raise your rate which doesn't make any sense to me because nothing's actually changed. This was the price I was approved for, this is the price I'm paying, but now it's somehow all wrong.

Raise your hand if you think this should come before you actually agree on a price with the seller. *raises hand* Doesn't this all seem a bit counter-intuitive?

So the house underappraised by $3k. Which, in terms of real estate, is not a big number. And since it's not going to appraise for a different price for anyone else, it would seem a given that the sellers would give me the house less that amount. So now's the time that the attorneys get involved, and I get a call from mine saying the sellers can't afford it. They're actually bringing money to the table in order to close. But! she says to me, their attorney is going to try something she's never actually heard of anyone doing before, and it might not work, but it's worth a shot. He's going to go to the bank and see if they can forgive the $3k, making it a short sale that's not actually technically a short sale. If he can show that the sellers can't afford to stay, and afford to lower the price, and since it's not like the appraisal is going to change anytime soon, and the fact that they already have a buyer on the line, he thought it was worth a shot to try. But, my attorney says, it's never been done, and she doesn't even know if he'll get in the door.

So this was Friday. On Tuesday, my realtor calls and says, the sellers found a place but need to push back the closing date 2 weeks. They'll drop the price if I agree. After checking that it's well within my 90 day rate lock, I was more than happy to agree.
Good news, the Pier 1 by me is having a clearance sale because they're closing for renovations. I'm going to go and buy things because a) I have nothing one would need in a new house, and b) I really need some retail therapy right now

Movies- Here there be spoilers
Silver Linings Playbook
Okay, I had high hopes for this movie since I love Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, but I didn't really like it.

Of course going into it, I didn't realize that it was about the "mentally ill." And like most similar movies, the whole time it was like, "ooh, look how deep this movie is because we're talking about the taboo and we're making the mentally ill people the ones you root for, but secretly we're still ostracizing them because we're showing them as wrong and strange and the only people who can love them are other mentally ill people." As someone who's been there, I tend find these movies insulting.

Because look at it this way, if you take away the mental illness-- if Bradley Cooper's character had been in jail or rehab, or similarly isolated from society, and if Jennifer Lawrence's character had just been having trouble adjusting after her husband passed away-- it would be a really bad movie about a highly toxic couple. Tiffany actually extorts Pat into being her dance partner, and then it turns out she was lying the entire time (but it's okay, even romantic, because he's mentally ill? Not understanding that logic). Pat shows zero interest in anything other than getting back the ex-wife that cheated on him with his coworker to their wedding song. When he's with Tiffany, he does nothing but talk about Nikki, his ex, or bring up the fact that Tiffany's husband is dead.

And not for nothing, even thought Pat is supposedly bipolar, they show him nothing but hypomanic. Not once does he have a depressive episode, and I don't even think that he showed a true manic episode, since they all seemed to be over in minutes. But I guess depressive episodes just aren't interesting enough (and even though he's supposedly in recovery, he's not taking his meds for the first half of the movie, so don't give me that). But I guess depressive episodes just aren't crazy enough. I mean, the urge to beat someone after you find him having sex with your wife to your wedding song, and he tells you you should "get out of here" when it's your own house, doesn't strike me as particularly crazy.

I thought the more interesting story, the one they spent the least amount of time on, was Pat's parents. Taking in their grown son after he'd been hospitalized, trying to deal with his episodes and their own guilt over not seeing it sooner. That would have been a good movie, but I guess they're just not young and pretty enough.

And what was up with the people in town? The therapist plays Pat's trigger in the waiting room of his office-- Pat, who'd just gotten out of state-mandated hospitalization for beating a guy half to death. Pat could have hurt the receptionist or the other patients in the waiting area (not on purpose, but that's why we keep triggers in controlled environments, dude) and he wasn't even there to see the result. And that cop, "Hey, aren't you Tommy's widow? Yeah, so sad, you wanna have sex?" And Tiffany's sister is all, "Hey, Pat's back, and he's crazy, and Tiffany's crazy, let's invite them both over for dinner so they can meet, but then I'll get upset when that's the only thing they can find to talk about." The f*** is wrong with these people?

Posts From this Week

March 9, 2014

Funky Monkey Oatmeal Muffins

I've been experimenting a lot lately with some of the more common gluten free flour substitutes. I'm still not one of those bakers with all sorts of weirdy flours laying around the house, but I usually have one or two gluten free varieties on hand, whether it be almond meal, coconut flour, or a big jar of oats.

Gluten free flours do tend to be on the pricier side, and since I'm a wheat lovin' girl without any intolerances or allergies, (except for a blue food coloring intolerance. It makes my tummy unhappy. Which makes it very difficult when I want to make something Tardis blue. But I digress...) it's not really worth it for me to stock a whole mess of flours that I'd rarely use and wouldn't even begin to know how to start.

However, that big jar o' oats is inexpensive, gluten free, (just make sure to use certified gluten free if you have an intolerance or are baking for someone who does) happens to be a healthy whole grain, and when ground up, usually works pretty well as a flour substitute.
Now, my food processor is small and inexpensive, and I'm not all that chuffed about getting a fine grind anyway, so my muffins had a distinct oatmeal-y texture. I actually liked them better after they sat for a while. They set up a little bit more, the oatmeal texture kind of mellowed a bit, and the different flavors were more noticeable. And you can't go wrong with the combination of bananas and chocolate hazelnut spread. I mean, come on now. That's some good stuff.

I also added chocolate chips because, duh, chocolate, but they're actually not necessary. And they're actually pretty good for you. Not totally good for you, but no butter, low in sugar, only whole grains, includes fruit. When I plugged them into my handy dandy calorie calculator, I got about 136 calories per muffin without the chocolate chips. (Again, I wouldn't take that as gospel, but it's a good point of reference.) (If you're wondering, the calorie calculator I like to use is here.)
Healthy, gluten free muffins, using an inexpensive wheat flour substitute, chock full of bananas and chocolate hazelnutty goodness? I'm sold.

Funky Monkey Oatmeal Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

2 eggs
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 small ripe bananas, mashed
⅓ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella, or I used Rigoni di Asiago's Nocciolata spread)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups oat flour*
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and salt until light and foamy. Mix in the brown sugar until well dissolved. Add the bananas, chocolate hazelnut spread, and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated. Fold in the oat flour, baking powder, and chocolate chips, if using.

Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners and divide the batter equally between each. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool completely on wire racks before serving.

*To make oat flour, just pulse uncooked oats in a food processor until it looks like flour. The finer the grind, the less of an oaty texture for the muffin. Make sure to use certified gluten free oats if that's an issue.

Recipe by Kim

March 7, 2014

Stuff and Things 3/7/14

Life as I Know it
Well, life has been pretty much eaten up by the house. I had the home inspection on Wednesday, and everything looked good except for some minor issues (the floors in the kitchen and bathroom need to be redone, but they're laminate tile and it's not difficult to do. The ceiling in the bathroom needs a little TLC, but not major, and there were some mold spots, but he checked and they're not in the walls or the insulation, so he said it's probably just from the current owner's humidifier, and just needs to be cleaned). The only major issue he found was that the wiring was aluminum, but so long as it was grounded correctly-- and he's fairly confident it would have been-- it's a non-issue. My realtor checked on the permits today (Thursday), and it looks like the complex had had an electrician through to do just that. So yay!

It also underappraised. Not by much, and my realtor doubts I'll have any trouble getting the mortgage, but she's trying to renegotiate. Best case scenario, I get it for 3k cheaper than we originally agreed upon (or they cover 3k in closing or that amount is made up somewhere). Worst case, I have the option to eat that money or walk away. My attorney made sure that I had that option in the contract. I don't want to walk away, but I have to be prepared to. First rule of negotiations.

Buying a house is hard you guys.

As for the job, more of the same. There's a pissing match going on upstairs to decide how cold I should be while doing my job. They move me to the conference center, then they move me back to the lobby, then to the conference center, then back to the lobby, and now I'm back in the conference center. And not a single person talks to me about it. I've just decided I'm not moving again unless I'm given 24 hours notice. Last time the phone was off for half an hour while I was moving my things back to the lobby, so I don't feel that's unreasonable.

Books- Beyond this point, there be spoilers
Dying to Get Published- Judy Fitzwater
Okay, I'm not usually a mystery genre person. I find them overly dramatic, formulaic, often way too obvious, and just not enough to keep my interest (the classics are the exception. Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle). But I found Dying to Get Published for free on the kindle store, and the premise sounded fun. And let me tell you, the book was a lot of fun.

The book centers around Jennifer Marsh, a wannabe mystery writer, frustrated with all the rejections from many agents and publishers. She hears a story on Oprah about a man who was acquitted of murder and got a multi-million dollar book deal from it. So Jennifer decides that if she can commit murder and get away with it, her publishing troubles would be over with. So she meticulously plans the murder of Penney Richmond, a nasty agent with a poor reputation. She follows through with the plan right up to Penney's front door, and chickens out at the last minute. But when Penney ends up dead, all evidence leads to Jennifer-- exactly as she'd planned.

The humor in this book was what really hooked me. It was dark, almost black, and I giggled the whole way through. The characters were quirky (I especially loved the little old ladies that were actually rather excellent spies), and Jennifer was refreshingly flawed. I didn't care for the love interest though. He was over confident, overly perfect, and came off kind of douchey.

The plot needed a little help (despite Jennifer's well established poor spying skills, she still managed to sneak her way into all the places she needed to, often with a little help from deus ex machina), and the story wasn't perfect, but it was definitely a light, fun read that I really enjoyed.

Castle- Poor Beckett. *Sad face* Although is it weird that I'm happy the uber-baddy is back in play?

Psych- These episodes are making me sad. Everyone's moving on. And Lassie has a baby!

Arrow- OMG, Slade, you are kind of completely terrifying. And it was so surreal to see him just making small talk with Ollie and Moira and Thea. And all the cameras-- creeeepy.

But Felicity-lite episodes make me unhappy. Moar Felicity!

Supernatural- Okay, Dean was totally breaking my heart when he told the story about him and Sam jumping off the roof and how he had to drive Sam to the ER on his bicycle handles. That punched me right in the feels. Seriously Sammy, would you forgive him already? Because which of you slept with a demon, got addicted to demon's blood, and cracked open Lucifer's cage? I'll give you a hint: not Dean.

I'm also kind of really sad that the Ghostfacers broke up. I've just got a lot of emotions, okay?

(Although, you know what makes me giggle? Those "TV now" commercials the CW has with all the actors from their shows kind of wandering in this creepy, psychedelic manner. All the actors from the shows I watch have weapons, and I just have this image in my head that Dean, Ollie, and Diggle are there to murder all the main characters of all the other shows. Like Hunger Games, CW style, and they're the Careers) (My mom said, "what about the vampires? They don't need weapons." Um, Dean Winchester has a machete. Vampires best run for their lives.) (I have nothing against the characters from the other shows. The commercial just makes it look like Dean, Ollie, and Diggle are about to go serial killer on them, and that makes me giggle)

Posts from this week

March 2, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

For those of you that read the last Stuff and Things post, you know that there are some BIG things happening in my life right now. Namely, the fact that I bought a house.

And remember when I said I didn't have any pictures to share? Well, that's changed. Because I built it in the Sims. WHAT.

It might not be completely accurate, since I took the dimensions off the listing (which does not guarantee accuracy) and the layout from my memory, and I doubt the Sims is a one-to-one scale, but it gives you an idea.

Aerial view. Sorry for the wonky angle
Living room area... that's not a random fence. The condo is a second floor unit, and the stairs are a part of the unit. I just didn't feel like building 2 stories in the Sims. And that's Needy McSnuggles learning the hunting skill. He's much more proactive as a sim.
Dining room, that I've already decided will be my library, because I own a lot of books that need a home
Kitchen. You can see how nice and long it is. Plenty of room for me, even if there is limited counterspace (and there are upper cabinets, but they're nothing more than a pain in the butt in the game, so I didn't bother)
Bathroom and closet that doesn't yet have a washer and dryer, but that I will hopefully be converting
Bedroom. My sim's sleeping. Shhhhhh
Balcony. That I made way too long. It should end before the window
And this is the alien that stopped by at 2 in the morning to judge the fact that I haven't cleaned up my newspapers.
And just for fun, here's where the Grim Reaper pauses his important task of reaping souls to clean the litter box and play peek-a-boo with the pet snake. You gotta love the Sims.

As you can tell, I'm not excited at all about this. XD

Even though our closing date is officially at the end of April, there's still tons I need to do in the mean time. I've even started packing. Okay, one box. Of books. It still counts. So baking has kind of been pushed to the back burner.

Luckily, I had the photos of this cake just sitting in a folder, waiting.
This is the cake I made for my birthday (baker's lot-- you're expected to bake your own birthday cake). It was snowing (again. It always snows on my birthday) so the light was poor, and it didn't fit in my light tent, and I'm still not totally comfortable with my cake decorating skills, so I wasn't sure if I was even going to share this. But I didn't want to go another week without sharing something.
This cake is originally from Chocolate Moosey and is a chocolate chip cookie cake with toasted marshmallow filling and cookie dough frosting. Oh yes. Using toasted marshmallows as the filling to a cookie cake was a stroke of genius on Carla's part.

Now, the cake is really good, but I think the cookie dough frosting took it a little over the top. I'm usually pretty wary of frosting recipes that call for 4 or more cups of sugar because I don't like my frosting too sweet, but I trusted Carla's judgement. The frosting really does taste like cookie dough, and I sure as sugar ate it, but this is definitely a special-occasions-only cake, and meant for people with major sweet tooths. It was also super thick, about the consistency of cookie dough, so it wasn't the easiest to work with. But it's really good for making cookie dough sandwiches. :3
I, of course, made some modifications to the recipe. The bulk of them I think were unnecessary (I replaced half a cup of brown sugar with white and added some vegetable oil, but it ended up that the middle took too long to cook, and the edges got a little overdone. I don't think you'd have that problem following the original recipe). But the major modification I did was adding a scant teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

I know, that doesn't sound major. But one of the things my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe taught me was how good a little cinnamon is in a chocolate chip cookie. Not enough to make it a cinnamon cookie, but a little bit of cinnamon adds a depth and richness to the flavor that complements the cookie well. I also only added about half the chocolate chips because I'm the weird person who doesn't like too many chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie. But then I decorated the cake with chocolate chips, so it evens out.
Get the recipe here.