Thursday, March 22, 2012

House Omaha

I apologize in advance if my blog seems repetitive...because, really--it kinda is!  Lately, it's been all about food and real estate.  Guess what--that's not changing anytime soon!  :-)

I love houses...and if you know me very well, you know that's not a surprise!  In fact, when we were considering a new career path for me, we thought about "what do I love???  And do I love anything that I could make money off of???"  Ummm, houses! 

Ever since I was first introduced to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) during our house-hunting days, I have been on the crazy thing non-stop.  And not just the MLS for our community...but for outlying communities AND other cities as well...a bit crazy, I know.

This past Fall, I stumbled upon the Omaha MLS.  I was SHOCKED!  I expected their market to be pretty comparable to our market--after all, the metro is home to several universities, an Air Force base, a regional airport and it has tons of things to do.

Much to my surprise, a person can get a lot more house in Omaha than you can in Manhattan...especially, if you're willing to move to the 'burbs! 

If you know much about me, I'm not a 'burbs type of girl...maybe someday...but not right now.  Old houses are my thing and boy, did I find the PERFECT old house in Omaha!

The crazy part--this house was listed for the same amount as a non-descript, former-rental ranch would go for here in Manhattan.  If this tudor were in our community, it would easily go for an additional $50,000...EASY.  Just more proof that we live in a highly inflated market :-/  Not good for buyers, but good for Realtors ;-)  Ha!  Anyhow, check out this beauty!!!

Looks like their grass got a lil' burnt, too, this summer!

I love the striped awning!

Yes, that is a tile inlay in the entry!!!

My jaw dropped when I saw the stone fireplace...and check out finish on the wood door.  Absolutely gorgeous!

I would give anything to have that stove and sink!!!  I love that they're still using those pieces!

Look at those cabinets...and drawers...and tile countertop!!!  Right away, Justin noticed the fridge was in the breakfast nook, but the house was built prior to electric refrigeration.  Oh, the character of old homes :-)

I've always wanted to install this very same tile on our bathroom floor but I'm too cheap to tear out our perfectly functional viny flooringl...

The attic has been converted to its very own Master Suite/guest suite

As soon as I saw this house, I told Justin to start packing his bags...we were headed to Omaha!  But then I later realized--I will see TONS of houses that I like here in our own market and I can't wait to explore them :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Super Easy--and yummy--Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich!

I have to admit it--I love Pinterest!

My pre-Pinterest existence kinda reminds me of what life was like before the advent of the World Wide Web--we lived life and were oblivious to all the potentially excellent resources that existed elsewhere in our world.  Because, frankly, we just didn't know any different.

Not only do we now have the Internet at our fingertips, we can connect with sites we have never heard of thanks to Pinterest!  And it always amazes me how one site's single posting can go viral and half the world is on a Cinnamon Roll Cake/Spray Painted Bottles/Fitness Routine kick...

For me, my favorite part of Pinterest is becoming introduced to new resources...and so far, it has been worth the time that quickly slips away when you're on Pinterest.

Case-in-point, I was reviewing a friend's pin because 1--I wanted to see if the pin actually linked to the information (it drives me nuts when I see something very useful but the link is dead, so I refuse to repin) and 2--it claimed the pin was from a site I had never heard of.  So, of course, I was naturally curious!

And boy, am I glad I clicked on that pin!  I can't even remember what the original pin was for, but in browsing the site, I found a super easy AND yummy recipe for Philly Cheese Steaks.

I love, love, love Philly Cheese Steaks.  As I child, I used to request them for my birthday dinner and I remember my mom tediously slicing up all the steak.  In my adult years, I have really come to appreciate my mother's willingness to do that!

If you're a Philly Cheese Steak person--or you just want a quick meal that everyone will like, you have to try this recipe.  The original creator calls them "sloppy-joe" style Cheese Steaks and I know it's because of the ground beef that she uses...but don't let that deter you!  If anything, you'll save a few extra bucks buying ground beef instead of steak :-)

Photo Courtesy of Chef In Training
Recipe adapted from Chef In Training, original source 'A Taste of Home Cooking'

1 lb. ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 T. A-1 steak sauce (we used a little more for extra kick)
1 C. beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
1 T. butter
1 T. flour
1 C. milk
1 C. provolone, shredded

In large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef (about 5-6 minutes). Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.

Split open rolls and remove most of the soft insides, leaving a bed to hold the meat mixture. Toast the rolls and set aside.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk, bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir the cheese.  We skipped this step--I just melted a bit of Velveeta with a splash of milk and not only did it save time, it complimented the meat mixture very well.

To serve, place a scoopful of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the rolls, then top with the cheese sauce and replace the top of the roll.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Journey To Becoming a Realtor

Nearly 6 weeks ago, I announced that I was leaving both my jobs with child-centered non-profit work to become a Realtor!  It was a huge decision for the husband and I to make, but I think it will be a good one--and to all of you who have supported me, THANK YOU!!!  I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to take back my Resignation Notices and say "Just Kidding!"  But, nothing in this life is free and hard work always pays off.  Or so I hope!

During the past 6 weeks, I have been busy studying--and shopping.

Notice there was no exclamation mark after the "shopping."  But I'll come back to that in a minute.

When my husband and I discussed leaving non-profit, grant-funded work there was the possibility of applying to Graduate School.  After all, we live in a college town AND the University is my Alma Mater.  It would be a very easy step to take but ehhhhh, I would have to study.  Forget about that!

Well, the joke's on me!  Who knew that becoming a Realtor involved so much studying?  In order to take my licensing test, I have to take a test...Yes, a test to take a test.  After two months of non-stop studying, I submitted my first exam yesterday and received an 87% on it.  Not too shabby, eh?  Guess what, though--in order to "pass" it, I had to get a 90%. 





I missed one question too many to pass the stupid thing. 

Soooooo, back to the books I went and I resubmitted the exam this morning.  And I passed with a 97%!!!  Woo-whoooo!  Now, I have permission to take the BIG licensing exam.  Did I mention that each test costs some serious money???  Just knowing that I will have no income for Gawd-knows-how-long and that money will obviously be tight, the pressure is ON to rock the licensing exam!  And knowing that I had to re-take the first test due to one stupid little question, I'm kinda freaked out about the big kahuna.  If you can't find me for another 3 weeks, you know where I am ;-)

*Heavy sigh*  It's safe to say that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  But that's what makes for a great adventure, huh?!

And now comes the shopping part...

Usually, I love shopping.  Especially, when the seasons change!  This Spring, it's all about color--hallelujiah!  And as I like to tease my husband, obviously I don't mind having a little color in my life ;-)  Bwhahahaha!!!  Okay, I'll stop with the potentially offensive wise cracks...

Anyhow, shopping for professional clothing sucks!  Overall, the selection tends to be pretty "safe" but just when I find something cute, it's not made in a Tall size.  Grrrrrr!   And I don't mean "long"--because tons of store offer "long" clothing.  I mean TALL--like, 37" inseam pants!  Unfortunately, when I do find something available in Tall, the smaller sizes run out almost immediately so I'm left paying full-price AND shipping (b/c the stores refuse to carry them) for button-downs, jeans, slacks, you name it.  Another big Grrrrr!

All complaints aside, I have managed to find some pretty safe pieces that I can live with.  If anything, I will just have to stock up on super fun shoes, accessories and hair!  Oh, and did I mention that I've dyed my hair back to brunette?!  Long gone are the blonde locks!  That is, until I get my headshots done and then I'm back to my *somewhat* funky tresses :-)

For example, here are my recent finds...
Dark-wash skinny jeans from the GAP...they'll be perfect for weekend outtings and errands!
I love the cigarette pant-feel of these slacks from the GAP...of course, they're a few inches shorter on me, but they're still adorable with flats and pumps!
Oddly enough, I didn't have a white button-down blouse in my closet...but now I do!

And I didn't own a pair of khaki pants, either!  I found a pair that are long enough to wear with flats but I'm still on a mission for a pair that I can wear with a heel!
I also threw a good ol' black pencil skirt into the mix.  Much to my surprise, I found a PURPLE pencil skirt and had to  buy it.  After all, it will be perfect for the life in Wildcat land!

Not the most exciting, but this sweater was available in tall AND it would look cute layered over a button-down on the more casual days...

I found this sweater in Tall and it fits beautifully!  It also looks super sharp with my navy pinstripe dress pants :-)

Hey, this looks slightly familiar!  Seriously--if there's ever a pink option available, I WILL buy it...even if I have it in another color :-)

And that's pretty much it!  It's a start...the passing of my first test AND finding some professional clothes that are actually long enough!  I just can't wait until a few weeks from now when I can celebrate passing the licensing exam and I can officially identify myself as a REALTOR :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Super "Corny" Recipe

The other night as we folded laundry, I turned the channel to Jersey Shore...I had never seen it before and I was a little curious as to why my 6th and 8th grade students LOVED the show.  I figured it was time to be a good teacher and check it out ;-)

After about 10 minutes, I had had enough!  It reminded me of a new-age version of The Real World...but 10x more inappropriate! 

But there was one thing about the show that honestly made me laugh--the acronym "GTL."

Once upon a time, when I was still single and living in the heart of our nightlife district, that acronym fit me to a T!!!  I did nothing but "Gym, Tan and Laundry"...

I was just out of college, living in a super sweet, newly-constructed apartment complex.  Two doors down from my building was a gym.  The only thing that stood between myself and that gym was a liquor store and bar...

When the work day ended at 5pm, I headed straight to the hour or so later, I would go home to make some chicken strips or meet my friends for a quick drink at the bar.  The classy part?  I was not above going out for a drink in my gym clothes ;-)  Looking back, that was so totally gross....

After I was done with my chicken strips or my drink, I would walk 1/2 a block in the opposite direction and jump in the tanning bed for 20-minutes...and if I needed an extra boost of color, I would slather on the self-tanner before the weekend's festivities.  As my brother said to Justin the first time they met, "You thought she was a Mexican, didn't you?!  Look at the rest of us--we're all white! Bwhahahaha!"  Gotta love my baby brother for saying what everyone else is thinking :-)

When I look back at pictures from 5 or 6 years ago, I'm amazed at how thin I was...and how tan I was...but then a husband happened and it all went down the tube!

Nowadays, I'm freaked out by tanning beds--not only have I caught as many skin infections as humanly possible from tanning beds, but the CANCER risk.  But I'm also too cheap and busy to keep up a decent spray-tan...the other side of things is Justin refuses to eat "single girl food."  Apparently, 3 chicken strips does not constitute a meal for him!  Sooo, hearty meals, fleshy hips and jiggly thighs it is!

Here is a prime example:  I had a recipe for Roasted Corn Enchiladas that I had bookmarked several months ago.  When I went to pull it up yesterday, the link had expired!  I was kinda freaked was Friday, and a Friday during Lent at that.  The other meals left on our weekly meal plan all had meat in them.  I HAD to figure something out!

I did a few Google searches and found a basic corn enchilada recipe and a recipe for a corn sauce.  We had all the ingredients on hand and with a little bit of improvising, I was sure we could make it work.

Omigod.  The enchiladas turned out uh-mazing.  My meat-loving husband didn't even care that they were basically "vegetarian."  In fact, he said he would be willing to eat them even when Lent is over!  And please--I don't know how to say this without sounding like I'm bragging, but they were good enough to be served at a restaurant!  I promise you--you have to try these enchiladas and you will NOT be disappointed!  Well, that is, if you like corn because these are super corny!  If you want to save some time and have some fun while you're at it, grab someone to help you in the kitchen and the recipe will be ready in no-time :-)  And hopefully you'll have enough time left over to do a few minutes of cardio to burn off all the cream and fat you will consume!!!  lol...

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Enchiladas

8-9 corn tortillas
Bunch green onions
1 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Bag of frozen corn/black beans blend (defrosted) + 1.5 C frozen corn (defrosted)
1/4 C. chopped Poblano Pepper
1.5 C heavy cream
1 T. butter
1/2 C. dry white wine
2 C. shredded Pepperjack Cheese
Appx. 1/4 C Red Enchilada Sauce
Blackening Seasoning
Cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Warm 1 Tbsp. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add corn/black bean blend + 1/2 C. of the frozen corn; stir until warmed through.  Add 2-3 chopped green onions and the garlic, saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add 1/2 C. heavy cream and approximately 1 T. of blackening seasoning to the mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 7 to 10 minutes (if you like cilantro, add some to the mixture before it gets too thick).  Season with salt and remove from heat.  This is about what you want it to look like:

While you make the corn and black bean mixture, have your partner make the sauce. In a frying pan, melt the 1 T. butter and add the remaining green onions (make sure they're chopped) and the diced poblano pepper. When tender, add the remaining 1 C. of corn. Cook a minute or two and add the white wine. Boil to reduce the liquid by one-third. When this happens, stir in the remaining 1 C. of cream and bring to a boil again (watch the cream VERY closely!). Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a blender, puree 2/3 of the sauce. Make sure to hold the lid down because the steam will create enough pressure that it could pop-off and explode sauce everywhere. Stir the pureed sauce back into the 1/3 remainder.  This is what the sauce will look like:

Once the filling and sauce is made, is time to start preparing the tortillas. Add about 1 t. of olive oil to a skillet warmed over medium-high heat and stir the oil around. Add a tortilla to the skillet and let cook for about 30 seconds. It doesn't take very long for tortillas to cook so keep a close eye on them. You don't want your tortilla to get crispy; just warm it in the oil and watch for a few brown spots to appear. When that happens, flip it to the other side and do the same thing. Once it's ready, drain the tortilla on paper towels.  Repeat this process (adding new oil to skillet each time) with each tortilla.  It's best to fry them up as your partner is filling them.
Now, add a bit of the corn and black bean mixture to the tortilla; top with a bit of the Pepperjack Cheese.  Trust me--it's worth the time it takes to shred it yourself.  Not only is it cheaper by the brick, but it melts 10x better! 

Roll the enchilada up and prepare your baking dish.  You will need a 9x13 pan; add approximately 1/4 C. red enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan.  You don't want very much--just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.  NOW, you can add your enchilada to the baking dish--make sure you place it seam-side down to prevent the enchilada from opening up.
Once all the enchiladas are made and placed in the baking dish, pour your corn sauce on top.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  We had enough filling to make 9 enchiladas.

Bake in the preheated oven until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  After eating, make sure you hit the G in GTL for at least another 20 minutes and repeat again, if necessary ;-)