Posted by: thewoobdog | December 8, 2017

Delayed Gratification

We fiiinaaallly closed on our new house! But… we can’t move in yet. The current tenant needs a few more weeks to vacate. Everyone keeps asking if we’re excited and TBear’s come up with the perfect response: “It feels like we bought a $100,000 Porsche and can’t drive it.”

We are meeting with our contractor next week about doing some renovations to the master bath and kitchen, though, so that’s exciting. He has to get all the measurements so he can run detailed estimates, so by the time we make the necessary decisions and the materials are ordered and arrive, the house will be empty and ready for work to start. I do wish I could get in there a bit sooner with a paintbrush, though!

Truly, if we were trying to move in and renovate right now while honoring all of our holiday obligations, we would be making ourselves crazy, so this is a good thing. Yes.
A good thing. Yes. I will keep telling myself that.

Posted by: thewoobdog | November 22, 2017

More Time for Gratitude

Thanksgiving has the same pitfalls as most holidays – it’s all too easy to lose yourself in the doing and forget the being. This year we’re trying to simplify – a challenging task when feeding an increasingly large crowd – while at the same time balancing tradition and convenience and making allowance for our growing number of vegan guests. Advanced planning and being open to change really makes a big difference in the low-stress success of any big event – thankfully our family and friends are flexible and understanding, as long as we don’t mess with tradition too much (and if we neglect to mention certain ingredient substitutions to our meat-eating guests, no one needs to know).

Part of simplification for me – although it probably seems the exact opposite – is that I get a bit obsessive about planning. I keep a document with (1) the menu, (2) all the recipes we’ll need, (3) a comprehensive grocery list for every recipe ingredient and other items we’ll need, (4) what serving dish we’ll need for each dish, and (5) the general order of events (what can be done the day ahead, what has to be done the day of, etc). I update it every year with changes and it really does help prevent the holiday panic of missing ingredients or not enough oven space or a missing recipe or the last-minute scramble to find a dish to hold the rolls. Knowing I have everything I need in one place frees my mind up to remember to be thankful for family and friends, a place to gather and a feast to eat, and the little joys of everyday life.

The plan we started out with and the plan we now have share similarities but are pretty different in terms of what we’re taking on. As our guest list grew, we nixed some ideas (roasting vegetables for a big crowd is just too much work) and added others (a green salad tossed with roasted root vegetables fills a similar niche and doesn’t monopolize oven space the day of). We also made some strategic substitutions of store-bought items – Bob Evans mashed potatoes are pretty tasty and much easier than peeling, cooking, and mashing five pounds of potatoes; TBear and my dad have been trying to convince us to get a deep-fried turkey for years so took the initiative to make this the year, haha.

Here’s a look at our Thanksgiving plans – hopefully some of the little shortcuts we’ve instituted this year (like store-bought mashed potatoes and our first ever Kentucky Fried Chicken deep-fried turkey – and our first-ever non-homemade turkey gravy, yikes!) will give us breathing space during the day to remember to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives. I’ve linked recipes or products below in case any of these make you curious!

Thanksgiving 2017

Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Deep-Fried Turkey (KFC)
Bone-in Ham
Turkey Gravy (from Williams-Sonoma gravy base)
Vegan Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes (Bob Evans, storebought)
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan & Coconut Streusel Topping (we make it vegan by subbing unsweetened coconut milk and coconut cream for the half-and-half and butter)
Slow-Simmered Mixed Beans (vegan, from one of my favorite cookbooks)
Sweet & Savory Kale Salad (vegan)
Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce (storebought, but vegan)

Pumpkin Pie
Double-Layer Pumpkin Mousse Pie
Cranberry Fluff (they call it a salad, I call it a dessert)

Cranberry Ginger Ale
Cranberry Sprite (regular or diet)


Posted by: thewoobdog | November 9, 2017

Tis the Season

Is there a season that just really pulls at your heart and brings with it a visceral feeling of contentment? For me it’s autumn and winter – I don’t know why, but the sight of the leaves changing and the smell of autumn in the air (which essence yet remains uncaptured despite seemingly endless attempts by Bath & Body Works) awaken a sense both of longing and of belonging in me. I can’t think of any particularly stirring family rituals centered around this season or any reason it would have this effect, but there you have it. I guess as a child I knew autumn was always the precursor to winter, and winter has always been my favorite season – quite possibly for as simple a reason as the fact that as a child, winter meant snow days!

This season I feel more excitement and anticipation than I have in years. I’m tempted to say it’s because we close on our new house in just a few weeks, but for various reasons we won’t actually be able to move in until late winter/early spring, so that doesn’t account for the inner tingling expectancy that kindles every time I think about the holidays this year. Actually, as I was just sitting here writing this* – and pondering what possible reason I could have for feeling this way – I had an epiphany. I think it may have to do with goals.

Patience is not my strongest virtue (friends and family are laughing at the sheer enormity of this understatement right now). The past year has been one of drifting, in a way. The currents of life have swept me along but I’ve had little control over actually realizing the immediate goal of finding a new home. There’s been a lot of waiting – a LOT of waiting. The goal has been in sight, and we’ve been taking the right steps to get there, but in between each period of activity has been an incredibly long and drawn-out period of waiting. We’ve had no control over so many factors and no choice but patience, and that is wearing on the soul – ‘hope deferred’ and all that. The holidays, though – the holidays are just around the corner, and with them comes a host of small, short-term goals I can slap a mental #nailedit hashtag on. Where in previous years the thought of all there is to do added stress that took away from the enjoyment of the holiday, this year all those “to-do” items have me grinning and steepling my fingers like the Grinch getting ready to denude Whoville.

Let’s see how long it lasts, haha…


*No really, just now. Who knew blogging was such a cheap alternative to therapy?

Posted by: thewoobdog | November 6, 2017

Adventures in Home-Buying, Picture Version


Posted by: thewoobdog | October 10, 2017

Adventures in Home-Buying

Nope. Can’t even write this post. This amount of irritation does not lend itself to G-rated public posting.

Summary: Owner knew we had a contractor coming by this morning to do estimates. Owner notified the property management company repeatedly of this so someone would be there to let the contractor in. No one was there to let the contractor in. I am ticked. Owner is ticked. Contractor is ticked. Management company is unavailable for comment.

Posted by: thewoobdog | October 2, 2017

Precious Girl

This is still so hard… but two months ago, we said goodbye to this precious little piece of our hearts. She graced our lives for sixteen wonderful years and not a day goes by that we don’t miss her. Rest well, my beautiful Woobie-doo.


Posted by: thewoobdog | September 28, 2017

Meet Leroy

I came across this on a local sale page on FaceBook and had to share. Meet Leroy:IMG_0120

Posted by: thewoobdog | September 27, 2017

And Now We Wait

This is the boring part. We have a contract, we have a home inspection, and we have a loooong wait til closing… I have all this anticipatory energy I’d like to put into picking out paint colors and rugs and tile and countertops and fixtures, but there’s so much we need to renovate and so many dimensions we don’t have that it’s an exercise in futility. We have picked out a new front door, though!

The way the curved insert on the current door is noticeably not centered under the linear chevron-ish design above it just drives me wild:

Existing Door

Existing Door

The new door is still slightly asymmetrical, since it, too, will only have one sidelight, but it’s just more balanced looking, you know? The sidelight mimics the door so it almost looks like it’s all door:

Now TBear and I just have to agree on exterior paint colors – the current “Baby Poop Yellow with Pine Green Trim” just isn’t doing it for either of us, but he wants dark and cabin-y looking and I want bright and cottage-y looking. Watch this space for developments!

Posted by: thewoobdog | September 12, 2017

Hiatus Much?

Anybody there? Yeah, well, me, neither (obviously). But maybe I’m back! I’d love to chronicle our upcoming house-buying and -renovating adventures, even if I’m the only one who ever reads them. I’m generally terrible about taking “before” pictures and usually only notice their lack as I’m looking proudly at the “after,” so maybe this will be just the thing to keep me focused.

A little backstory – we put our house on the market last summer and last fall moved into my parents’ basement (keeping the house show-ready and living in it was taking a toll). We finally sold our house this spring but hadn’t found the one we were looking for – so yes, we’ve been living the dream, two grown adults living in a basement like something off Property Brothers. I used to inwardly mock the couples on that show who sold their homes and months (or years) later were still living in their parents’ basement, looking for their next place. I get it now. I live it now. I have been sufficiently punished for my hubris, learned my lesson, and promise I’ll never do it again. I’ll write it on a chalkboard 100 times if that will make this life lesson end sooner.

It’s not that we haven’t been looking – dear Lord, have we been looking. We even had a contract on a place last fall but it fell through. We’re now approaching the one-year mark of living in my parents’ basement. So much of our stuff  (including my winter clothes and winter boots – yes, this did make last winter challenging, thanks for asking) is packed up because we took everything non-essential out of our house before staging it to sell – we never dreamed this process would be this drawn-out. I never dreamed our storage unit would end up full of TBear’s mom’s stuff and our stuff would be basically inaccessible for a year (a totally different story I probably won’t be getting into)!

Today, however, marks the official under-contract date of what will hopefully be our next house. If the deal goes through to closing (please, please let it go through to closing) we will be doing a lot of work to transform this house (we are absolutely not DIY people so this could go in a lot of directions, haha). Watch this space for details!

[edited to add pics and recipe addition]

I came up with this last night as a way to use up some of the abundance of winter produce in my fridge and pantry and it might just be the best random recipe I’ve ever thrown together. My husband (the infamous TBear) and I were both absolutely shocked at how tasty and satisfying it was – it’s so veggie-intensive that it’s very light on the digestion even though it’s filling, and the flavors are a delicious mix of sweet (from the squash) and savory (from the filling). TBear’s schedule on Mondays is such that he isn’t home until almost 8:00 pm, so we end up eating dinner very late on those days and I’m always trying to make Monday dinners satisfying but not too heavy, since we go to bed by 10:00 pm and don’t want to be trying to sleep on a full stomach. This hit the absolute perfect balance and I can’t wait to have it again tonight. Sorry for the lousy pics – grabbed my cellphone at the last minute to snap a shot.


Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed with Turkey Sausage, Chard, and Brown Rice

4 delicata squash

2 tsp olive oil

4 large whole leaves of swiss chard

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

3/4 c. diced fresh mushrooms (use the stems and caps of the mushrooms, or just use the stems and save your caps for another recipe)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

4 large leaves fresh sage, cut chiffonade-style

pinch red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup cooked crumbled (breakfast-style) turkey sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage Crumbles but you could sub meatless sausage-style crumbles or whatever you prefer)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar

To prepare squash:

Preheat oven to 425. Wash squash (the peels are edible so you want them clean), cut in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds, creating “squash boats.” Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray, spray the squash with non-stick spray on all sides, and place cut-side-down on the baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes.

To prepare filling:

Remove ribs from chard and chop finely; set aside. Cut chard leaves into small strips (chiffonade-style). Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and chopped chard stalks; saute until onion is limp and just beginning to brown. Add chard leaves, bell pepper, and mushrooms; saute until chard is limp. Add sage, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and turkey sausage, saute 2 minutes. Add rice and pine nuts, saute until heated through.

To finish:

Flip the roasted squash halves so the cut sides are up and spoon the filling into the centers. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately – each serving is 2 stuffed halves.

Notes: If you want to serve two (like we did), I recommend making up the filling as written but only roasting two delicata squash. Refrigerate half the filling and use the next night, roasting two additional squash and warming the filling before stuffing into the squash halves in the final step. You can make this dairy-free by omitting the cheddar, although if you omit the cheddar I’d recommend drizzling insides of cut squash halves with a bit of soy sauce before roasting, to add that extra bit of umami-flavor. You can also use a meat-substitute to make this dish vegetarian or vegan (be sure to either use a sausage-style meat substitute or add appropriate spices, otherwise the dish will be bland).

This recipe is 21 Day Fix friendly and equates to 1 1/2 green, 1/2 red, 1/2 yellow, 3/4 blue (add 1/4 cup additional cheese or pine nuts to the recipe as written if you want to pull it up to a whole blue), and 1/2 teaspoon per serving.

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