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Chef Maven Gets Ready to Move to a New Kitchen

November 9, 2010

I have been busy with activity since April but most importantly, I have not forgotten my readers – you, my faithful readers who enjoy catching the latest news and recipes in my kitchen. I am gearing up once again to write as often as I had in the recent past including adding new recipes – so hang in there! All new stuff is a coming!

So what have I been doing these past few 6 months? I have been house searching for a new place to live, a house to call my very own. I had been renting for over 7 years and felt it was time to really put down roots, quite literally. I so have been missing having a garden full of fresh herbs, just plucked tomatoes and peppers to use in making chili, and being able to bring freshly cut flowers inside to decorate my table, etc., but I had a few more requirements for this home.

new home back yard

My New Back Yard

I wanted a place that had a sunny yard where I could have that garden once again and a place for where my dog Theo could go out to play safely. I wanted to be in a neighborhood that was community driven versus being stuck deep out in the woods (though a weekend getaway in a place like this is always awesome), but close enough to a decent grocery store that served up fresh organic goods and was still close enough for me to commute to the city (New York) when I have to travel downtown for my clients and to my publisher. Of course there were other factors, like the price of the home, amount of taxes, and the general feeling of the house.

I knew it had to have that, “I’m home at last” factor.
Of course searching for a house can be a fun experience, I learned so much during this time and am now but a couple of weeks from closing on my very first home but it can also be daunting. Though it may be a buyers market, that doesn’t mean that each house is a great deal. Some houses had phenomenal kitchens and living space, but had other issues like no bathroom on the first floor which is common in old victorian homes (I just love those type of houses!) or neighbors who didn’t seem like the neighbors you’d want to live next to due to their piled up garbage by the side of their house you would lovingly see out your kitchen window. Nope – I saw so many houses, I was getting annoyed and felt like simply giving up.

The first thing I learned was to ‘hang in there’ when you are searching and trying to find that right house. I seemed to ‘lose’ several houses I thought were to become my new home due to various reasons like being out-bid, a previous accepted offer upon seeing the house or upon really seeing the house inside something told me no (like smells you couldn’t even identify or obvious mold) … I would not mind a little work, and even a little construction, but with my humble price range, many houses were in need of a total gutting – which was something I just wasn’t up to. Talk about being frustrated – I was about to really pull out my hair with all the other things that were happening in my life simultaneously that I will simply not bore you with here.

Check out the neighborhood at different times. I ended up with a house that I thought I would not go for – and that surprised me. I was looking at homes that were in the victorian style or at the very least around 80-130 years old since these homes tend to have high ceilings and larger rooms. But I ended up with a cute 2 bedroom cape in a well developed neighborhood where the residents looked like they were stable and actually lived in their homes.

You can see neighbors working on their lawns and homes, kids walking home from school and still others walking their dogs or taking their children out for a stroll in and around the tree lined streets. I feel confident about my choice, I know I made the right one. And though there are things to be done to the home, most are easily done via DIY projects that I will undoubtedly share in this blog. Revisiting the city and town during different days and at different times will surely give you a better sense of how people live in the area you are looking for.

I would even take the dog with me, and walk him on the sidewalks by the house I was interested in to see his reaction – it was a sort of psychic and academic last check to see if the dog also liked the neighborhood and house that I was hoping to purchase. Oddly, quite funny and totally true, he and I were in the car in front of one house one time recently. Theo the dog looked out one window towards the prospective house, he then turned his head to me, looked me in the eyes, then made a sound that was so funny – it was a sort of “naaaaaaaaaeeeh” ” as if to say, I don’t like this house, I’m not impressed, keep on driving please. I laughed so hard, but knew I had to listen to him as well. Animals can have their own impressions of their new homes – so be sensitive to that as well when you are looking for your new home. And of course, he lays upon the couch at the moment, on his back, legs sprawled doing his best Al Bundy impression that only he can do – all he is missing is a half empty beer can of miller on the coffee table.

The house inspection went well and I am so grateful for that!

Tips on finding that perfect house for you.
When my realtor and I first saw this place, it was not listed on her website – an important point I make, since if you are feeling a bit disgruntled (like I was) in terms of the actual stock of houses out there in your budget range, I felt that I had seen every single one of them that was in my price range. But when I went to other websites, I found additional homes that were on the MLS yet that were not on her website. Was I ever glad for finding some new ‘stock’ of homes to peruse. So definitely look on various websites, do drive by’s at different times by the homes you are interested in seeing before you grab your Realtor to show them to you. It will save both you and your Realtor time so that you weed out places that are just not right for you.

So Back to the Kitchen I Go…
And so I have started to use up the canned goods (one less can to pack for each can I use) for the move and to think and be most organized about my new living space. I have also started to find tips on how to move your home and how to set up my art and office studios best with my new and now smaller space effectively.Last night I even thought about splurging on all new spices, since some of mine could be over the three years of age… I may not use them very often, and will surely visit the McCormick Spice Age Test – http://cftest.mccormick.com/mc3stage/content.cfm?ID=12098.

Also just last night I realized I should hold a tag sale of sorts for those items I am not taking to the new home. And I should have an art sale of my art work so I don’t have to take those over either. And talk about decluttering – yikes – I got lots to unload. So first of all I have been making more lists that I can even keep up with, and have been wanting to make sense of it all – I know being organized will surely help the entire process be a smooth as it can be in terms of moving in one month of time and having the few things done to the house prior to me moving in.

Back in another lifetime of careers, I was an interior designer both for commercial buildings and for residential properties. It’s been a long time since I worked on residential space (almost 20 years), but I have started to organize my projects, scoping out the best prices for a gas stove (the current stove at my new home is electric –eew!) and a dishwasher (there isn’t any – omg!). I will be sure to share via this blog my experiences with updating the kitchen for my readers who are also thinking about how to update the kitchen on a limited budget.

If you have any creative ideas of where to create an alternative pantry – do share with me! It’s going to be an interesting next six months getting used to this smaller kitchen, but most certainly know that the wonderful kitchen window that there already with it’s southern exposure can easily keep my winter basil going will be super fantastic! Heck, it might even get my violets to bloom once again.

So as always…stay tuned… You will see the changes I make to this home of mine while trying out new recipes I have created these past few months that I can’t wait to share with you like my creamy roasted squash and red bell pepper soup and my new whole grain bread recipes just to name a few.

Chow Ciao for Now,

Faithfully yours,

The Chef Maven

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Debby Matassa permalink
    December 28, 2010 5:59 pm

    I hope your new kitchen in your new house kept you warm with all that snow you got this week! I’m making left over roast beef hash with eggs with your delicious recipe! Happy new house and Happy New Year!

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