We're Building a House!

Actually, WE’RE not, but my in-laws are and I’m absolutely ready to live vicariously and pretend I have any input on their design choices. It’s already basically my Dream Home, think Napa Farmhouse Style on a 5 acre farmette and I’m already planning my future baby shower there.

They purchased the land and in-progress house from a builder and since the house was not too far along into construction, they will be choosing all the finishes and have already made a few custom upgrades (wow hello 36 foot beams). This past weekend my husband and I finally got to go out - and by go out I mean waaaay out - and see the property.

Front elevation.

Front elevation.

View from what will be the front porch. Planning on some grape vines in the front and a fish pond in the lower left section of the front yard (what’s a word for something much bigger than a yard?).

View from what will be the front porch. Planning on some grape vines in the front and a fish pond in the lower left section of the front yard (what’s a word for something much bigger than a yard?).

Rear elevation. I LOVE that the back of the home faces the setting sun. A pool will be here eventually.

Rear elevation. I LOVE that the back of the home faces the setting sun. A pool will be here eventually.

From left to right: front door, dining area, hallway to one side of the house, kitchen area and breakfast nook. That #NaturalLight

From left to right: front door, dining area, hallway to one side of the house, kitchen area and breakfast nook. That #NaturalLight

I found this lovely kitchen inspo (photo at right from Pinterest) based on their description of big wood beams, white counter, white cabinets with a giant wood center island. All white everything. Marble look quartz (great choice), with a to-be-decided backsplash. There’s also have an adorable walk in pantry with a window!! Kitchen sink under the window looking out over the backyard, which the The Dream, right?

Dining room facing the front of the house.

Dining room facing the front of the house.

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Things that may or may not happen on this property: goats, mini donkeys, mini cows, a gorgeous lil’ barn, fancy tractors n things, citrus orchard, homemade jams and jellies from said orchard, surprise Christmas morning ponies for my future children hiding in the gorgeous barn. Etcetera. I’m also told this is one area of California which actually stays green through the spring to summer! I’m crossing my fingers, because the grass is gorgeous.

View of the property from the back door. But views from every side of the house are pretty perfect.

View of the property from the back door. But views from every side of the house are pretty perfect.

 

I wish there was another word for envious that means I want that thing, but I’m also happy that someone I know and love has that thing. Admiration maybe? I’m so happy for my in-laws, they deserve a win and a place to settle down after moving many multiples of times since I’ve known them.

Cheers to buying and now creating your dream home and legacy property! Can’t wait to follow along in the build process.

Favorite Homemade Horse Treat Recipes

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of Paddock Cakes, but as my days at the barn ramped up, so did my treat usage and eventually ordering a $30 bucket of treats every 4 weeks became, as my husband would call it, “excessive”. So off on my treat making endeavor I went! After browsing many Google results, such as this, many ingredients commonly came up and I assessed my current inventory and came up with my own concoction. The only additional ingredient I had to purchase was molasses. Everything else I added I researched to make sure it was horse digestion safe.

The first version of the cookies (pictured right) included oats, molasses, finely chopped apple, water, a light sprinkle of chia seeds and plain flour.

First version of the cookies!

First version of the cookies!

The second version, prepared for Christmas, had little indents in the tops to push in peppermint candies. These were especially well loved by Leo, but in this case the apples were not finely chopped enough and retain so much water that by the time the second day rolled around the peppermints had melted into the cookie - so, sticky but still delicious!

Christmas version of the cookies, with soft and hard peppermint candies (which both promptly melted from the apple juices!). Horses did not seem to mind.

Christmas version of the cookies, with soft and hard peppermint candies (which both promptly melted from the apple juices!). Horses did not seem to mind.

 
Basic ingredients, adjust the recipe easily as needed.

Basic ingredients, adjust the recipe easily as needed.


Perfected HH Cookie Recipe (muffin style)

- 1 cup plain Oats (add more as needed for consistency desired) (plain Quaker oats - like for oat meal)
- 2 cups oat flour, or processed oats (see above)
- 1/4 cup ground flax
- 1/4 chia seeds
- 1-2 ripe bananas
- 5-6 ounces of molasses (I usually just eye half a jar of the Grandma’s brand molasses)

Then add whatever else your heart desires, chopped apples (finely chopped!), carrots, banana chips, etc.
I try to keep mine low on sugar, but felt the need to decorate with some light icing for Valentine’s Day. The recipe is fairly easy to alter and to transform the “batter” from muffin style to the “dough” cookie cutter style: I simply add more oat flour (or processed oats) and water and work it to the desired consistency. Though I will mention, if you’re doing all or mostly cut out cookies, use almost all oat flour/processed oats. The larger oatmeal chunks make it hard to make a straight cookie cutter cut. Be sure to bake thoroughly so they are longer lasting!

Bake

I think I usually bake around 350 and leave in from 15 - 20 minutes. Adjust according to your own oven, mine is a bit wonky and I tend to go a lot by “I feel like it should be this temp today” so… just monitor them!

The icing recipe is fairly easy: water, powdered sugar and gel food coloring. Just use a ratio that works for you! And decorating is obviously not my forte.

If you’re also a fan of perfectfit, and if you want to know how I’ve achieved it,
I used this tupperware and this silicone mini muffin tray. So satisfying.

Life Update

My husband graduated law school AND took the bar - thank God that’s over. We are now both working full time and we have only one month left to wait for bar results. #dinklife

I also accepted a promotion within my office, annnd my office moved buildings.

We took our first [weekend] vacation without the dogs since like 2016, attending a wedding and the Sac International Grand Prix.

We’re also pretty sure we’ve secured our next living arrangement, and just in time, too! More to come on that in a blog post later, but our basic plan is to settle into the condo for a while and put off buying for a few more years to fully pay down all debt - basically do it the Dave Ramsey way!

Napa Weekend

To say that my husband and I never get the chance to ‘get away’ would be the understatement of the year. We have had only one honest vacation, which had to include our dogs. This is mostly because of time and money constraints, but also because of our dogs. When my in-laws invited us on a law school graduation celebratory trip, I knew the dog situation was the only thing stopping us. Luckily, my mom offered to take them for a few days and the whole arrangement worked out perfectly, they were very good boys!


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I love living in what is pretty much the center of everything great in California (and far away from LA, thank God). Napa is only an hour away, which is nice considering people come from all over the world to experience its wineries.

We arrived without incident Friday night. Went to a fantastic little Italian restaurant for dinner, Ca’ Momi, whose menu stated, “Out of respect for history & our grandmas, we respectfully decline requests for substitutions & modifications” which I just love. The food was great, though I might have survived on just the antipasti and cannolis…

The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel (which had resident swans!) and was my only attempt of the weekend to eat healthily. Our first tasting started at 10:00 a.m. so we were on our way pretty early.

 
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The first winery we visited, Spring Mountain, is hard to put into words. It was just perfect? Their wine is on a whole different level than anything I’ve ever tasted at a winery. The whole experience is very VIP and educational while being unassuming and unpretentious. I found myself sitting there thinking every business should be run like this: all customers welcomed as important clients while removing high pressure sales tactics. The product speaks for itself. The grounds were gorgeous. We were invited to do our tasting in the house, which was basically a private, perfectly preserved Crocker Art Museum. We tasted four cabs, a regular 2010 and 2001 and then two of Elivette line, 2008 and 2005, which basically means Reserve to Spring Mountain. Their reasoning? Most wineries slap the Reserve label on anything just to charge more. Spring Mountain’s is actually superior. Or so we were told. I agreed, the Elivettes were delicious. We took home a 2008.

After the indoor tasting, we wandered the property with a glass of our choice of cab. They had donkeys and a sheep and a fig tree to feed them from. Barn (winery?) kittens galore. the majority of their vines are planted on a hill for soil science-y reasons, but the perspective would be a good enough reason for me.

Between the first and second wineries, we stopped at what must have been a local hotspot, the Oakville Grocer. Grabbed sandwiches, which were delicious, and hit the road again.

Between the first and second wineries, we stopped at what must have been a local hotspot, the Oakville Grocer. Grabbed sandwiches, which were delicious, and hit the road again.

 
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The next winery, Honig, did not deserve to come after Spring Mountain. It had a cute little patio and I really enjoyed the big bumblebee sign - Honig means honey in German. The wine was… not great. It was a table tasting, was cold out and the patio offered little protection from the wind. There was no heaters. It was misting. They did bring out an interesting white wine type port which tasted like straight honey mixed with vodka. Woof. The sales person told us that customers have told him they could drink half a bottle in a night. I wondered how their diabetes was, though he also mentioned it could be used as a syrup on fried chicken which could definitely be interesting. At least the buildings featured my coveted Napa farmhouse style. Regardless, I would not recommend a trip to Honig.


The last winery we visited was Frog’s Leap. They’re worth a visit if just to walk the grounds and the garden. Their wine was pretty good considering the price, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and set up of the tasting. There was a walk up bar where you get your ‘taste’ and from there you can basically adventure all over the property or hang out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs. A very no rush feeling to it all. I quite enjoyed it.

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After our nap (of course), we had reservations at R+D Kitchen. I had meatloaf. It was amazing. No drinks, thankfully. We left early the next morning, stopped at Solano Baking Company for some famous pecan fritters and made great time getting home to our pups.

Thanks again to my husband’s wonderful parents and to my mom for puppy-sitting.

Re-cap of No-Buy July

What I thought was going to be a true test of my self-control, ended up being pretty simple. The idea behind No-Buy July, at least for me, is to basically explore how impulsively I buy things. If there's an item that I absolutely need, I obviously still have the money to go out and purchase it (this didn't happen), but otherwise anything I want ends up on a wishlist for the following month.
This exercise also helps to emphasize that while I did and might still slightly want that item, I probably feel that desire way less after a week or even a day has gone by, emonstrating that I can actually survive just fine with whatever I was already relying to meet that "need".
Sure, having X item would be nice, but I've been getting by perfectly fine with Y already. Does the value added to my life by X offset the purchase price? Usually the answer is no. This is not to say that I don't love buying all sorts of crippy-crap, as my husband likes to call it, and it's not that I don't like having nice things (I really do) but that waiting period always helps to emphasize what I really want as opposed to shopping, especially online, out of boredom!

How Did I Do?

Fine. There were things I ended up "needing" like an omelet from the cafeteria in the morning if I forgot my lunch or an afternoon coffee. I also broke down and bought some more Paddock Cakes and vanilla cookies because I was dangerously low on those. I would definitely consider it a win that I bought pretty much only food with my "fun" money for the whole month. However, I did pick out quite a few items for my August Wishlist, which I may share reviews of later!

 
Leo really prefers hand-fed treats as opposed to his Very Expensive treat ball that he would have to work for. At least buying him more treats was the main reason I "broke" No-Buy July!

Leo really prefers hand-fed treats as opposed to his Very Expensive treat ball that he would have to work for. At least buying him more treats was the main reason I "broke" No-Buy July!

 

Annual Family Beach Vacation!

 
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Unfortunately, the sand involved in this vacation was not contained in a riding arena, BUT I survived! My family has been making the same trip to Northern California's coast for 30 years. This was my first time attending again after a four-year break from school/work/life getting in the way. One thing is for sure, I will not be attending again without my husband! I came home two days early because I missed him so much. Luckily, next year he won't be studying for the bar and we can make this a family tradition for our little family unit!

My extended family is mostly female (9/12... girls rule!) so we went to brunch and wine tasting while the men plus one fiance and one boyfriend (okay they're pretty much family!) all went golfing.

Family photo complete with our 30 year anniversary shirts. Spanky [front Yorkie] obviously stole the show!

Family photo complete with our 30 year anniversary shirts. Spanky [front Yorkie] obviously stole the show!

Slightly More Serious Window [House] Shopping!

My husband has been in the trenches of bar prep for weeks now. And I guess I have been, too. It's been a struggle between 1) not bothering him but 2) also knowing that I'm usually the only person he interacts with in person on a usual day and needing to make sure he gets out of the house and doesn't go hermit-crazy.

We've also recently been talking more seriously about when we'll be able to afford a home (hello post-bar employment!!) and have been slightly more serious when going to look at model homes. The developments we've visited will also still be building next year when we'll be ready to buy and it's so exciting to think that the homes we've visited might be ours next year!

We had two favorites this time out, one two-story which we really did not think we would want and then a one story which was also super dreamy. They would both be fabulous for us and our future family, but we'll see what's available when the time comes!


The Two Story

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What did I love about this model? Ummm, giant countertop! Th dining room and living room were so cohesive, I can only imagine dinner parties with tons of people not feeling cramped. The loft would be a great kids area, and the kids rooms were close enough to the master. Not so great: only a 2-car garage and was two stories.


The One Story

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This model was the reason we went out to visit the homesite. It's one story and still has a [huge] mudroom, a walk-in pantry, huge master closet and dining in the main living space. And the three car garage I've convinced myself is necessary! Does not have: an additional living space outside the great room-dining combination, ie. no kids-play area.

 

We went to visit this homesite because they were one of the few who builds the one-story homes on larger lots, which is kind of the whole point we're looking to buy so soon! Our dogs deserve their own backyard before they're too old to enjoy one! One downside of this specific homesite is that, compared to others we've seen, they don't offer quartz countertops, only granite, and only have white shaker cabinetry and do not offer the wood shaker style door. I want shaker style cabinet doors, and husband does not want white. I don't care about color.

AND THIS DOESN'T EVEN REALLY MATTER, but it's like... little things. We're still open to buying a "used" home, but it's fun to look nonetheless! Plus, time flies and before we know it, I'll be posting a blog about buying our first home!