Monday, January 28, 2013

Confessions of a Non-Cooker

I would love to be one of those women. You know, the women who think baking is therapeutic, who can stray away from exact measurements and a recipe, who were taught by their grandmother and mother to cook from scratch. Yes, that was not me. Sometimes I feel like I missed something. Like I missed the "cooking" gene that is ingrained in many women and wives. I wondered if it would just magically sprout when I got married, but alas I still dread that question "so what's for dinner?".

Ryan and I will both admit that even before we got married, we ate out a lot. And unfortunately, if we're being honest here, that habit has carried on over into our marriage. So here we are 6 months into marriage, with a significant portion of our budget going towards food...more specifically restaurants and we're about to buy a house that has some serious money-saving implications. Something's gotta give.

Several factors have prevented me from being able to whip up meals like it's nothing:

  • It seriously stresses me out. Typically, after I get back from work the last thing I want to do is spend an hour slaving over a stove for a meal we won't be able to finish. 
  • I had very little go-to recipes. I haven't been cooking long enough to have a good number of tried and true recipes.
  • My husband is the pickiest eater I know. Which makes narrowing down recipes even harder. So I may love mushrooms but choosing a meal that's got mushrooms even in the sauce isn't worth it because he won't eat it. 
  • I never have everything I need on-hand. I usually go to the grocery store once a week but if I haven't thought ahead of time what I'm making, I likely won't have everything on-hand and I end up going back to the grocery store for 2-3 items.
So all that to say, I got desperate. I asked around to a couple of friends who have used meal planning services to get their recommendations and settled on one that I thought met our needs. So yes, I'm paying for a service to send me an email every week telling me what to cook. Granted, I change out almost every suggested meal due to my picky eater, it's still been a great motivator (so far) to actually plan a week's worth of meals. Six O'Clock Scramble explains recipes in beginner language and also gives you different ways to cook the recipes. We love slow cooking so for some of the recipes, we opt for the slow cooking option. It also tells you the things you can chop/cook/portion ahead of time. Now, I haven't been using this for that long at all, so I can't say that I've found my love for cooking. But for those who need the kick in the pants, meal planning is a great option. There's a Groupon for the Scramble too, which I definitely used! 

So here's to a week of NO eating out! This is a big deal to us! And to honing in on my inner cook...I'm still not convinced it exists. Tonight, I'm slowcooking beef and broccoli teriyaki! 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saying Hello to Homeownership

So we've (kind of) kept our house hunting on the downlow. Mostly because we weren't sure if we would come out with anything when we first started. It even took me a few weeks into the process to realize we were getting serious. We've been actively searching for a home for about 2 months now. It alllll started with a casual unintended peak at Trulia and finding what I thought was our dream home in our price range. We quickly found a realtor, applied and qualified for a loan and went to look at the house that weekend. We quickly came down from our cloud and realized through our realtor what a terrible decision it would've been to have bought that "flipped" house. There were visible cut corners and even externally we could tell they were hiding some major issues.

Nonetheless, we had opened the pandora's box that was house hunting. We quickly realized how un-fun the house hunting process was when you're limited to a lower budget for the area, increasing demand/competition and a shrinking inventory. The housing market in NOVA has quickly become a seller's market rather than a buyer's market. Houses get scooped up in days, we saw it time and time again. And we were having no luck finding a place that met all of our major needs.

After again, coming out of my cloud, we realized we had to move our house search further outside of Fairfax. We had a few criteria must-haves while we were looking:
  • It had to be close to our church: We want our house to be used for ministry purposes and to be an option for hosting church functions, small groups, Christmas parties, etc at our house. Currently, our church has few options where more than 10 people can show up and not have parking issues. We want our home to be open and used for Kingdom work.
  • It had to be close to move-in ready. Obviously, this eliminated a lot of the properties we saw that were closer in--like almost all of them. The comparison to what our money could buy closer in was simply not worth it once we saw what we could get 15 minutes (without traffic) out. Granted we'll have a slightly longer commute, but that was really the only con. 
  • It had to be detached. I personally was on the fence with this one...I would've moved into a townhouse if it meant we could be closer in and it didn't look like 1970s had thrown up all over it. But Ryan on the otherhand, would not settle for a townhouse or condo. He wanted a yard. I could've cared less about a yard. I think it's because deep down he sees a dog in our future. I eventually came around and besides, who really wants to share walls with people and have to constantly worry about your sound system having too much bass? Right, Ryan?? ;)
I was also picky about a lot of random things that I originally didn't think were a big deal. For example, I hated any house with those old rectangular 70s small windows, I automatically loved any room that had recessed lighting, I actually wanted a fireplace, and if the bathrooms were horrendous it was a no go. All of that to say that last Sunday, we randomly decided to attend an open house advertised on Zillow out in Centreville. We went and fell in love with it. It met every single one of our needs. So we went home, signed all the necessary documents and put in our offer on a house that had been on the market for 3 days. Ryan made me wait until we went through inspection before I could announce anything, but I can now say that on our 6 month anniversary our offer was accepted and we are officially BUYING A HOUSE and will be homeowners! We are thrilled and excited and we are praising the Lord for his sweet provision!

So without further ado, say hello to the new Shaughnessy household:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Recap

Is it just me or did the past few weeks FLY by! It's always when you're off work, does the week just seem to go so much faster. We had a busy first married Christmas! It was the perfect balance of rest, family, adventure and busyness for us. I felt well rested and almost ready to go back to work (I mean who ever feels fully ready to go back to work?)

We started off our week by heading to Charleston, SC for a mini weekend getaway at a place we've always wanted to explore. We left Saturday morning in the thick of Christmas traffic and after about 8.5 hours we finally made it! Now, I planned this trip as a Christmas present for Ryan. I booked the hotel. I figured out what we would do. I researched where we could eat. I booked the Inn at Middleton Place which was a sprawling southern plantation and not to mention totally out of my normal scope of hotels. I always say that I'm not an inn or B&B type person, but after reading some mixed reviews and looking at pictures I just decided to go for it. We got there late at night, got lost because the place was so big, checked in and set our bags down. As soon as Ryan opened the door I thought to myself, "Oh dear, what have I done." It was nothing like the pictures, but I decided to stick it out because Ryan loved it. Let's just say that after that one night and even into the morning there were so many things that I didn't like about this place that I couldn't imagine staying another night. So I did what I hate doing...I pulled my high maintenance card. The Inn was literally sucking my joy out of the trip. And this is how great Ryan is. He didn't care that he loved the place, or that this was as close to camping as I'll ever get, he just wanted to do whatever it took to make me happy. And that included checking into a tried-and-true Marriott.

We loved Charleston! It was everything we expected it to be--southern, classy yet still had a hometown feel. We just explored the city, ate at some amazing places, did a little shopping at some stores and the Old City Market and ended our day with a carriage tour of the old city. One day, we would still love to find ourselves there. We even made the mistake of pulling up our Zillow app and seeing how "cheap" the houses were. I'm in love with the double porch and ceiling fans! We drove by a couple that we'd scoop up in a heartbeat...if we were down there. Someday!

We headed by to good 'ole Virginia and kicked off Christmas at my parent's house. We spent Christmas morning there, drove up to Northern VA and had Christmas at Ryan's parent's house, headed into DC for Christmas dinner at Carmines, went to see Ryan's brother and sister-in-law for Christmas dessert and THEN went home. It was the longest day ever, but we were so glad to see all our family all in one day. We didn't have a chance to do Christmas just the two of us until about 11:00 p.m. that night. Next year, that will be different! We put lots of miles on our poor CRV traveling all over the East Coast, but we loved it and it was memorable.

We ended our break by watching Melissa and Joe get hitched. I had to give my first (and hopefully last) ever MOH speech, but I'm thankful I had to do it with Rachel. Now, I didn't really cry at my own wedding. I think so much was going on and I was so worried about the clouds opening up. We got to watch their first look and I bawled my eyes out. Didn't even see it coming. And when she was coming down the aisle? There went the tears again! It was such a joy to watch one of my best friends finally find the guy, her soulmate, her husband. It was a whirlwind of a day for sure, but I'm so glad they're finally married!!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...