New year, new house, new recipe

Hello! What happened to me? Well, last year we sold our Olympia house and moved to Key Peninsula. We bought a new house (new to us, it was built in 1998) and it was only December when we reached a point that we could take a small break from the endless upgrades we’ve been making to the place. I normally write about plant-based living in this blog, but bear with me on this one. I will veer back to food by the end of this. So read on.

It has been the most challenging move we’ve ever made, outside of leaving Kansas City for Washington state. We had to spend 2 weeks living in hotels between the sale of our old house and the purchase of the new one because the mortgage processors always find something to keep everyone waiting for weeks. Job security, I suppose. Our first week was at Ocean Shores.

Horses waiting to give rides along the beach at Ocean Shores, June 2015. We stayed at the Best Western.

Luckily, the loan documents cleared, and after hearing a sales pitch from a guy about his furniture made from driftwood on the beach, my phone vibrated with the email that said the loan documents were in and I needed to get a cashier’s check to close the deal in two days. And convenient to no one, our home closing was during the Fourth of July weekend, so a notary guy brought the documents to us at a grocery deli in Olympia and we signed there while others had late breakfasts/early lunches around us.

I’d like to say we got the keys and everything was great. But then this blog would be much shorter. It wasn’t terrible, but it was more waiting.

We had to spend almost another week at another Best Western. This time in Gig Harbor. The transaction had to be “fully funded” and recorded by the county before we could legally enter our new home. Welcome to America post-housing market collapse. Not near as much fun as before the collapse, when brokers couldn’t get the keys to you fast enough once documents were signed. Things change.

Anyway, the funds appeared, the transaction was recorded, and feeling like we’d finally come to the end of a romantic comedy, which was neither romantic nor funny, we were reunited with our true love: our new home.

If the yard looks dead, that’s because it was. Drought, August 2015.
Backyard with badly placed fence we inherited, along with the home’s original deck, August 2015. We later replaced the deck with a new one. Right now, I do miss the smooth, unbroken vista of dead grass, now that winter is here and we have mole mounds everywhere.

Upon arrival, it was a big “where do we begin?” moment. We didn’t even have any lawn maintenance equipment yet because we’d sold all of it before moving to Washington state a decade ago. Amazon was our new best friend, and we had everything from weed trimmers to a lawn mower delivered. The mower became a free mower for us when it arrived with the handle mangled. Our kind neighbor fixed it for me and voila! Good as new. That was August. Amazon also refunded our money. (Update: Black & Decker delivered us a new handle … this month. It also arrived damaged. We declined.)

So the lawn started taking shape with one implement arriving after another. (Pro tip: Buy a wheelbarrow already assembled at a store. We ordered one and … I’ve seen geocaching maps with more detail than the assembly instructions we received. It seemed more like an artist’s interpretation of how to build a wheelbarrow than what we had. But it finally came together without Jim killing me in the process of assembly.)

Next up: Structural changes and appliance delivery. We ordered a new washer and dryer soon after moving in (the buyer of our house in Olympia wanted our old set). There was only one set on the showroom floor at Home Depot that would fit widthwise into our space between the garage stairs and the hot water tank, unless we wanted stackables, which I didn’t. We soon learned the dryer vent runs under the entire length of the house, and it was completely compacted with lint, so we had to hire out having it cleaned by someone who basically fashioned a chimney sweep contraption with a Shop-Vac, I kid you not.

Then, while out watering, we realized we needed a retaining wall to shore up a berm between our house and the neighbor’s. We hired a contractor to help with that, then Jim had the brainstorm of moving our badly placed backyard fence to the side and our contractor suggested adding lattice across the top to make it a privacy fence. Success! That was November, with the last post set as weather started to freeze.

New retaining wall. Each stone weighs 60 pounds. That berm isn’t going anywhere now.


Jim tearing down the badly placed fence, which I think ranks as one of the happiest days of his life.


The moved fence. Yes, that’s a stump we left in front of it. We want to chainsaw design it into an Easter Island head. And yes, we have a chainsaw, another Amazon delivery miracle.

So our next foray is digging out and planting a garden, starting next month. Moles are digging up our backyard as I type this, so there is plenty of dirt to get started with. It’s all good, and I’ve probably been more snarky than I should be in updating this blog. We love the house and the backyard, moles and all.

Our first fire in our firepit this fall. We constructed the firepit out of random landscaping bricks we found in the back. Posing in the back is the famous, perfectly assembled wheelbarrow.

Now for the recipe. I usually don’t include something processed, BUT I’ve also been desperate for time-savers lately with all of our construction/deconstruction work here.

Quick meatless Szechuan stir fry

1 package of Gardein beefless strips:


A handful of thin spaghetti, broken in half and cooked

Frozen veggies of your choice

1 can of beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of diced tomatoes

Cook the Gardein product according to directions and add sauce. Add it to a saucepan with the cooked spaghetti, veggies, beans, diced tomatoes and some chili sauce to taste. Enjoy!




2 thoughts on “New year, new house, new recipe

  1. Good to hear your update. Dan was just asking today if I had heard from you lately. We just celebrated our 2nd anniversary being in our different home-and WE STILL do not have all our home improvement projects completed yet. Looks like you have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. I think I need to come visit. : )


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