My posts have been relatively light on the life side of the life update to recipe ratio, but that’s not because we haven’t had lots going on! First of all, I should probably introduce you to our new addition…
That’s Gentleman Jim, Lila’s new boy friend. He’s actually a foster pup from the Washington Humane Society, and he’s looking for a home!
Speaking of looking for a home, we’ve been looking for a new home as well! We casually started our search in April and have been touring homes all over Capitol Hill. It’s a daunting process, especially for those of us to whom decisions don’t come easily. I thought I hid my anxiety relatively well until a couple weeks back, when the agent showing us homes recommended a self help book for people who are overwhelmed by choice. What can I say, it’s a big decision!
For the first couple of months the homes we saw fell into one of two camps a) Town homes that have been renovated into two or more condos. These generally had beautiful kitchens (!) and living areas ideal for hosting and are more likely to be recently remodeled with new appliances. However, they have HOA fees, no yards, and lack a sense of privacy b) Single family town homes have seen less renovation. They feel like actual homes in and of themselves and generally have more character. Many have yards or patios. However, the rooms are often small and awkwardly laid-out, the appliances old, and the floors and molding are in need of some TLC. Naturally, we liked things about both camps. We didn’t see anything we loved, but looking gave us an idea of our very top priorities (good, metro accessible location; an outdoor area of some sort Miss Lila; two bedrooms) and of things that would be nice (hard wood floors, a nice kitchen, exposed brick, a pretty exterior, nice closets).
In June we got a pre-approval from our bank and got a bit more serious about our search. At the same time, it seemed as if the market picked up speed. New houses are listed constantly, but they’re gone just as quickly as they came. A couple of weeks ago, after touring four houses one Saturday, we decided to make our first offer, ironically on the only house we’d looked at not on Capitol Hill (Logan Circle/”Shaw Art District,” as it’s apparently now known in the real estate world). I overanalyzed every component, went back a second time with my parents, and still wasn’t sure. Mostly I wasn’t sure if the fact that I wasn’t sure was a bad sign. See, I’m not the type to have an emotional “THIS IS THE ONE!” reaction to things. I didn’t cry when I found my wedding dress. No, I’m the type to wonder if there’s a better one out there. Ultimately we decided that we would be happy in that one, that it had a lot going for it, and we placed our bid. Turns out someone must have had a “THIS IS THE ONE!” reaction, because it got nine offers and went for $52k over listing price! What amazed me the most was that by Thursday, all four homes that we’ve looked at (even the one with the slanted floors, crooked windows and basement kitchen) had offers on them! This market is like nothing I’ve heard of.
The search resumed. We compiled another list and headed out last Sunday to four open houses. From the pictures alone, I’d fallen so in love with one of the homes that I was trying to make the math work to have a shot at something that was starting $40k above what we’d agreed to be our top number. Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the house that won my heart. Sure, the exposed brick dining room and open kitchen were inviting and as I shared with a few too many people at the open house before tripping and knocking over the fake bed display, “OMGthisclosetmakesmeorgasm.”
The home that won my heart is a lovely hybrid of the aforementioned “camps”. It’s a single family town home about four blocks from where we’re living now. It has two bedrooms and ample storage space, hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. The backyard is wonderful. It also has it’s quirks (like the “quaint office nook” that has taken the place of a closet in the master bedroom) and a need for some TLC. But it felt like a home that we could make our own. After coming back that afternoon after the other open houses, and again with my parents the following night (I may be 26, but I still can’t make decisions of this magnitude without first showing my Mama) we placed an offer, and this time it was accepted! We still have several hoops to jump through – the inspection on Monday, an assessment, and finalizing our financing. But if all goes well, we will be closing on our first home August 31st!
That’s a lot of life… how about some spring rolls?
Tempeh Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Serves 4 ~ (2 spring rolls per serving)
- 1 8oz. package tempeh, sliced into 8 long strips
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil, divided*
- 1/4 tsp. sriracha
- 2 oz. vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to package
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced into long thin strips
- 1 cup romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1 large carrot (or 4 baby carrots), sliced into long thin strips
- 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into long thin strips
- 1 tsp. rice vinegar
- 8 rice papers
*I would have sworn I had sesame oil, but when I went scrounging through my messy cupboards, I found none. I used Newman’s Own Sesame Ginger salad dressing instead, and it was great!
- In a bowl, combine minced garlic, one tablespoon of sesame oil/dressing and sriracha. Stir to combine. Coat the tempeh strips with the sauce and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime wash and slice the vegetables and drizzle with rice vinegar.
- When the tempeh is finished marinating, heat remaining tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tempeh strips and cook for 3 minutes without moving. Turn and cook the other side for another 3 minutes without disturbing. Remove from heat. I forgot to cook the tempeh. Whoops. Oh, well, I’m still kickin’.
- Fill a shallow bowl with lukewarm water. Place one rice paper in the bowl and soak for 5-10 seconds. Carefully transfer the rice paper to a cutting board or large plate.
- Top the rice paper with a few pieces of lettuce and basil, strips of cucumber, carrot and peppers, one piece of tempeh, and rice noodles.
- Carefully lift the sides of the rice paper and fold it over the ends. Rice paper is very delicate and may stick to your plate. Lift the top of the rice paper and roll it over the filling, tucking in the sides as you go. Repeat with each roll.
*Because I ate these for lunch all week, I only made two at a time and left the remaining prepared ingredients in the fridge. I don’t know how long these would last prepared.
Spicy Peanut Sauce
- 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter
- 2 tbsp. coconut milk
- 1 T Coconut oil (or sesame oil)
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
- 1T sriracha
In a small bowl all ingredients and .whisk until smooth and fully combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You will have to remove from the refrigerator a while before serving, as the sauce will solidify.