Tuesday, June 22, 2010

0 weeks to closing! I'm a homeowner!

Thank goodness! And you will also be glad to know I have cooled off a bit since my last post, and realized that my world is not actually going to end. The photographer sent me a link to my pics Monday afternoon, and I was pleased with her work overall. Unfortunately I turned out looking like myself and not a supermodel... haha... so it wasn't everything I hoped :) I have to pick 20 for my little book and 10 additional ones that may make it in, plus one to get a big print of. The link is www.mkphotoblog.com/BethandRichard - if you feel like flipping through it, I'd love your input on which ones to choose.

I didn't really expect to be nervous about the closing, but I definitely was. Looking back, there was evidence of that in how anxious I was over not getting calls back and whenever they asked for something else. I really knew it when I almost cried getting a cashier's check at the bank this morning! It didn't help that the mortgage people called at 4pm yesterday saying they needed documentation on 2 deposits made in March - both legitimate checks from work, but I had no stub because... it was in March and the money had gone through to my account! Apparently, they want to know where every bit of your money is coming from when you are getting a loan! I had no idea how I was going to get documentation, but 2 different people in our business office saved the day! The closing was much less painful than expected - probably because I wasn't dealing with the mortgage company, just the title company.

As I sit on my couch in my apartment, like I have done every night for the past several years, it still does not feel real that I own a house! I'm guessing it will start to kick in when I actually move in on Saturday. I feel incredibly blessed. Richard and I drove from the title company to the new house and stayed long enough to get the keys and walk through the house again. We then drove back to Houston in the midst of the horrible rain that ultimately flooded the road my apartment and office are on and lightning struck a light pole at the Kroger between I-10 and the apartment. Took an hour to go 3 miles. What an end to the day!

On a side note: Bachelor, anyone? It's the show I love to hate and just can't stand to miss. I blame this blog - www.ihategreenbeans.com The author writes HILARIOUS recaps every week. I manage to watch the show despite being gone Monday nights and not having DVR... thank you abc.com! The book I need to finish and boxes I need to pack and apartment I need to clean do not thank you, however... sigh.

Still to come: The peanut butter debaucle (is that a word?) - really, one of these days...

Hope your week is going well! Thanks for being excited with me about my house and listening to me blab about it and willingly looking at the pictures on my camera I have shoved in your face :)
Love, B

Friday, June 18, 2010

Am I being unreasonable?

Ok peeps... I need to know if I'm unnecessarily upset. Let me set the background here by saying that I have had several incidences of frustration recently stemming from people (generally companies I am wanting to give my business to) not doing what they say they're going to do when they say they're going to do it. Example numero uno, my mortgage company - this woman refuses to return my calls. She has to "prioritize" her work, and my closing on Tuesday apparently is not priority. All I want is a $%^&* return phone call to say she received my fax!!! Oh, and to look at the documents I sent, but that's secondary. Just give me the freaking time of day! I have talked to my wonderful Perry saleswoman, Santosh, who has tried to intervene for me and assures me that everything will be ok. So I'm trying not to sweat that one too much.

Here's the one that is seriously irking me: Remember the engagement pictures Richard and I took 3 weeks and 2 days ago? The ones the photographer told us she would get the proofs to us for in 3 weeks? I thought 3 weeks seemed like MORE than enough time, but I'm not a photographer... whatever. Mind you, this is her full-time job and I don't think she's all THAT busy. So today, 2 days after her own deadline, I emailed asking what the status of the pictures was. She emailed back, saying oh, I was about to email you... my husband had an appendectomy on the 8th and I've been playing nurse and then my computer got a trojan, which made it really slow. Ok, this is a nice girl, and these are fairly legitimate excuses. She says she will try to have them to me next week. My main gripe here is that she didn't bother to let me know on or before when she said she'd have the pictures to me. Where's the line between being a demanding jerk and letting people walk all over you? People I'm paying thousands of dollars to? She did apologize, but it really seems like an afterthought. What would you do? I want to let her know I'm not happy with how she handled it... and also I wonder if this is just a really bad sign for the important event: the actual wedding.

I think I'm extra annoyed because I do work in a field where the customer is #1 and there are such high expectations for customer service. I'm also extra annoyed because between my realtor and salesperson I have had great customer service and the bar is set high. Honestly though, I don't think my expectations are that high except that I think you should follow through on your commitments... is that so much to ask?

Coming soon: The low-down on peanut butter :)

Love, B

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blueberry Oat Buttermilk Pancakes (Cuisinart)

These are my favorite pancakes... I make them for dinner probably more often than I make them for breakfast :) Then I refrigerate the leftovers (or you could freeze) and put them in the toaster (2 cycles, I turn them over so they are completely reheated) in the morning. The recipe actually came in the manual for my Cuisinart Griddler. These are low-fat and full of whole grains and fruit so you don't have to feel too guilty about eating them!

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (actually calls for 1 cup but I switched up the proportions)
1 1/3 cup rolled oats (regular, not quick oats)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (this is where I switched it up - the recipe calls for 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk (I use 1%)
1/2 cup egg beaters (actually calls for 2 eggs)
3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (calls for 3 Tbsp vegetable oil)

Place the blueberries in a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of the flour and toss to coat; reserve. Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees F.

Place the remaining flour, oats, wheat flour, brown sugar (break up lumps), baking soda, and salt in a medium-large bowl; stir with a whisk. Place the buttermilk, egg beaters (or eggs), and applesauce (or oil) in a medium-small bowl; stir.
Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk until blended.
Gently fold in the blueberries. (Spray the griddle with Pam or lightly oil it)
When your griddle is preheated, drop the batter onto the grill plates, using a scant quarter cup measure. Bake the pancakes for 2-3 minutes. When pancakes are bubbling on the top, turn and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.
One of the few sugar free products I'm a fan of: pancake syrup. Also on the list: diet soda (not to say that it is good for you, I just like it and don't think its particularly bad in moderation, plus no empty calories)and sugar free gum. There is a significant calorie difference in the light vs. sugar-free versions of syrup. I'm pulling this from my memory, but if I recall, the serving size for syrup is 1/4 c. and the regular version has 220 calories. The light version has about 50% of the calories, or 110, and the sugar free version that I use has 30. The light and SF versions do contain sugar alcohols, that can cause "gastric distress" in large quantities, but I have never experienced any side effects from SF syrup. The margarine shown here - Brummel & Brown is a favorite of mine as well. It is yummy, has about half the fat and calories of regular tub margarine and ZERO TRANS FAT! Stick margarine has trans fat and stick butter is high in saturated fat. This is a pretty good compromise nutrition-wise (and I honestly like it more).
Ta-da! Blueberry Oat Buttermilk Pancakes!

They really don't take long to prep. The only problem I have is I want to eat the first batch, but am usually still baking the rest of the batter and forget to turn them :(
Hope you enjoy!
Love, B

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

1 Week to Go!

On Friday, I am going to do the walk through on my house and one week from today, I will be a proud homeowner! It seems like it happened fast and took forever all at once :) Oh, I should say that I will be a homeowner provided my mortgage company gets their act together. Few things upset me more than when someone says they are going to do something and don't do it. I would switch mortgage companies but I get a significant discount in my closing costs for using the company associated with Perry. Ugh. But I like to save money.
Paint is complete! The "model home coming soon" sign has been in my garage, then front yard and now driveway for some reason. (The new model home is across the street and a couple doors down.)
I don't think I've posted a pic of the finished back porch yet... can't wait to get some patio furniture!
There are pluses and minuses to the "open concept" living/kitchen area... the plus being that I can do dishes and watch t.v.!
The finalized kitchen - appliances are in. My fridge comes the Saturday after closing and will match!

Hope you're having a great week so far!
Love, B

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Please excuse me while I get on my nutrition soapbox...

I don't often do this, but the title of this blog is "Diary of a Dietitian" so you are about to be introduced to my neurotic side. Sweet R stopped at the store to buy a few things, including bread, a few days ago. I usually get Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat and that's what he typically buys because he knows I like it. I went to make him a sandwich and realized he had accidentally bought the "sugar free" Nature's Own 100% Whole Grain bread (the package is almost identical except for the darn "sugar free" label. Which led to me leaping on my soap box and educating him on what I think about sugar free bread (and most sugar free products). **Please note, I was not upset with him, and was not fussing at him - just ranting in general about the erroneous ways of the food industry :)** I know you are dying to hear my thoughts on this - not to worry, I will not leave you in suspense for long!

I'll start by giving you a picture of the nutrition profiles of the two products so you can make some observations for yourself:

Original Sugar-free

Serving size 1 slice (26gm) 1 slice (25gm)

# servings/pkg 22 slices 18 slices

Calories 50 50

Carbohydrates 10gm 11gm

Dietary Fiber 2gm 2gm

Sugars 1gm 0gm

Sugar alcohol (maltitol) 0gm 1gm

Protein 4gm 3gm

Fat 1gm 1gm

Whole grains 14gm 12gm

First of all, who do you think the target market for "sugar free" bread is? #1 - Diabetics. #2 - people watching their weight/trying to be healthy. These 2 categories encompass a large percentage of the population so you can understand the company's strategy.

I just got off on a biochemistry tangent but deleted... you're welcome... The long and short of it is diabetics are supposed to monitor their carbohydrate intake. (Hear me here: Diabetics need carbohydrates, just like people without diabetes need carbohydrates. We all should eat balanced diets, which is basically all the diabetic diet is.) The "sugar free" bread has 1 more gram of carb (which are all ultimately broken down into "sugar" or glucose) than the regular kind, but is lacking that 1gm of sugar that the regular kind does have. Instead of 1 gm of a normal simple sugar, it substitutes a sugar alcohol (maltitol) - a chemically altered sugar molecule that has 2 calories/gram versus 4 calories/gram of regular sugar. It also can cause gastric distress (really only if in large quantities). Is it significant that there is 1 more gram of carb in the bread that people likely regard as more "diabetic friendly"? Not really, other than the fact that it is misleading people to think that it better. PLUS!! The sugar free kind is 16 oz. versus the regular kind that is 20 oz... and they are either the same price or the SF kind is slightly more expensive - so you're paying more (or the same) for less bread and MORE carbs. And a large percentage of the population with diabetes are minorities who often have lower incomes or are elderly on fixed/low incomes! The injustice and irresponsibility just hurts!!!!!!

On a side note, I really try to keep my nutrition-related opinions to myself unless asked. I have to hold myself back at times from giving strangers advice at the grocery store. I know they could benefit from my vast wealth of knowledge... right?

Phew! So glad I got that off my chest :) Now maybe my feathers will un-ruffle.

Love, B

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2 weeks to closing!

As of last week, I had air conditioning! I got news of the updates below on Monday from my new neighbor and also my dad, who makes regular trips by the house. It's nice to have an engineer in the family to check in on things! I wasn't able to go by until this morning... and I already got news that my appliances are in and the garage door has been painted!
My beautiful new front door!

My stainless steel appliances - stove, microwave, and dishwasher - yay!
Hello carpet! This means the end is in sight. My dad referred to it as "shag" but it's not what I'd call shag... its like the carpet I have in my current apartment... kind of twisted. I like it :) The design person also talked me into getting an upgraded "stain master" carpet pad... hope its worth it!
Yup... carpet in the dining room. Seeing why that stainmaster carpet pad could likely be a good investment. Maybe after we strike it rich, we'll upgrade to wood floors throughout the house!

My apartment is still very much not packed, regardless of the multitude of boxes donated to the worthy cause by my recent new homeowner friend Amanda. I am a major procrastinator when it comes to tasks that are a pain in the boo-tay. Aye!
Love, B

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

3 weeks to closing!

Well... as of Saturday, my lawn and landscaping were done, I have water to go along with the electricity, and the shower stall is done in the master bathroom :) We are getting down to the wire and I just can't wait for it to all be done! After checking out the progress on the casa, we ran in to our soon to be neighbors, the Goodmans. They are a really nice couple - the wife is almost exactly the same age as me and the husband is an Aggie, also close to my age and not too far off from ol' R. Their house will be done on Friday, so they are about two weeks ahead of us.
In other exciting news, we took advantage of the Memorial Day sales and purchased a refrigerator! It was 15% off plus we didn't have to pay sales tax, which saved us almost $500. Yay! Still a huge chunk of change. We are also big spenders because we went and picked out our wedding bands on Saturday... they won't be in for a while, but man oh man, am I shelling out money every time I turn around!

My lovely undermount kitchen sink now has running water!
View of the backyard WITH a lawn from the living room.
Yay! Shower stall!
All that's left on the outside is to paint the garage doors and little box on the 2nd eave to match the paint trim on the rest of the house. Oh, and to put in the real front door! Don't worry, I will keep you posted on the progress!

Love, B