Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Saga of the Landlord & the Apartment

So, almost two months ago, our landlord died. We expressed our condolences to the family and figured that the estate getting settled would be the extent of the drama we'd have to deal with. We were sorely mistaken. Two days after the landlord died, the building inspector and the health department showed up to look over the downstairs apartments.

That was when things went sideways. The building inspector looked over conditions down there and condemned the apartments. Between black mold, rotted floors, and a burst sewage line, it was something of a no brainer, I suppose. The neighbors downstairs were given 48 hours to get out. Thus, they went through a marathon of packing and moving as the health department found them a place to stay for a week. I had heard something about the possiblity of the whole building being condemned and I became concerned.

A few phone calls later, I am assured that it was only the two apartments. At about this time, the rent check for August was due. So, I was talking with the handyman who has been doing work for the landlord (and is still doing so for the widow) and I asked if he had spoken to the widow. He answers that he had and explained that we were to write our rent check out to the real estate business that the landlord had run. Previously, we had been writing the check out to the landloard personally. So, we do so and continue on as though it is no big deal.

After some discussion between Beloved and I, we decided that we should start looking into a new place to move to if they weren't going to start work on repairing the downstairs apartments in the immediate future. As I did my bit of investigation as to what was going on with the apartments below, it became clear that while the claim is that they will be repairing it in the immediate future, there appears to be no intention to do so. Thus, I have begun searching for our next place to live.

And then last week a new layer of bullshit was piled on. The widow sent the handyman over with the check we had written for the rent in an envelope, uncancelled. Mind you, this check is made out to the real estate business, like the previous month's check, which was accepted and deposited no problem. The widow was looking for us to reissue the check in her name. Now, we currently have a lease that was signed by the landlord personally. We currently have no lease. I was concerned and suspicious when I was asked to reissue the check.

I asked why the check we had written wasn't good enough. I was then told that everything with this property and the business was tied up in the estate, which is currently being settled. I contacted Beloved once this was brought to my attention, entirely unsure what the correct thing to do would be. Beloved told me to hold on to the check and that he'd handle the matter. Then the handyman returned and asked if I was going to hand him a check or mail it.

I told him that we were going to handle matters by mail. This happened last Thursday. Then, Friday night, I smelled hot electrics coming up from the vent. After a quick bit of investigation, the possibility that it was originating in our apartment was ruled out. Thus, I called the widow (as I did not have the correct number for the handyman) and informed her of the situation after I spoke briefly with Beloved. She asked me to mail the check. I told her that Beloved was going to be contacting her regarding the matter by mail.

I then was most insistent that someone come and investigate what was the cause of the scent of hot electrics. The widow calls the handyman and then calls me back, telling me that he will arrive in a 1/2 hour. (The location he was driving from is 15 min away, when the weather is bad and road conditions are awful. Beloved was not pleased when informed of this. He had me turn off the main breakers for the apartments downstairs as we waited for the handyman to show up.) When the handyman arrives, he speaks with Beloved and the matter of the check is brought up again.

Then yesterday, the handyman is here doing something and he pokes his head in, asking about the check yet again. He tells me that the widow is willing to accept a check written out to her deceased husband and that she is willing to write up a new lease for us with her name on it (something which he said when he spoke to my husband that she couldn't do). I am doing my best not to get anxious over this matter. Beloved tells me that we needn't worry about them trying to boot us out. I am working very hard not to get upset over this but this repeated badgering is grating on me.

Meanwhile, I am discovering that it is quite challenging to find a two bedroom apartment in our price range in the school district. I have started going to view apartments and I am striving not to get to caught up in anxiety over that as well. Beloved and I have decided that if we can't find someplace to move into by the end of next month that we're going to wait until spring to move. My gut tells me that we need to find somewhere to move to by the end of October. I don't know how much of this is intuition and how much is anxiety.

But, that is the saga of the landlord and the apartment, as it stands now. I think this counts as venting. Or at least, I sincerely hope so.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey, look at that, I have a blog!

It's been a wild week. Last Tuesday, the boys started school. Things have been going full bore ever since 7:30 am last Tuesday morning. There was the excitement of starting school (which the boys have decided is awesome); the fun of spending the weekend with their aunt and cousins (and the new kittens!), and the thrill of another week at school. I'm really hoping that we can keep at least a smidgen of this excitement when a few months have gone by. It'd really suck if the boys decided that once the novelty has worn off that school sucks.

In other news, I have finally heard the full song and I have decided that this is awesome.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Relish and pickles? Yes, please!

I have been enjoying the process of making lacto-fermented pickles. I really am getting a kick out of how easy it is. I'm still fidgeting with the recipe to get them just right. My last batch of dill cucumber pickles came out well but I realized the boys and Beloved won't eat them. Snuggle Bug's bus driver, however, LOVES pickles and has decided that my homemade ones are the best she's ever had. So I gave the jar to her with instructions to give it back to me when they're gone.

I am trying out making zucchini pickles. I put them in the brine with several cloves of garlic. I expect this to be very tasty because Beloved and I both really enjoy garlic. (I got a STEAL on garlic the other day. I bought a sandwich baggie FULL of peeled garlic cloves for just $1.30!) I am going to get a few more cucumbers, another small zucchini, and a few other things to make some relish.

I am really interested in this recipe. I also want to try my hand at making salsa. I have been looking up directions on how to do small batch canning and I am seriously looking at just what it is that we will eat around here. I think it would be really awesome if I possibly got a few batches of soup put up, some other items that we would use in the winter, and some tasty condiments that I could possibly give away at Yule. It is going to take a little bit of planning to make that happen, I suspect.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First day of school!

The boys were excited this morning. Snuggle Bug practically ran to his bus when it arrived. Cuddle Bear was impatient for his bus and we watched, watched, and watched for it. It was running almost an hour late. When it did show up, we ran for it but the bus stopped long enough to honk before driving off. Beloved's mother, the glorious woman she is, came over and loaned me her car. (A short conversation with transportation for the school got the bus situation figured out for tomorrow, thank goodness.)

Thus, we arrived at the school just in time for the other kindergarten kids and their parents to be making their way to their classrooms. It was a delightful surprise to find that Cuddle Bear's teacher is the same woman who happened to have taught Beloved and I in 4th grade. He was quite charmed with her and quite excited to be there. I must confess, it surprised me to no end to learn that Mrs. Smith was still teaching and at this different school district no less. (She confided in me when we were chatting on the side after Cuddle Bear's testing a little while back that she is beginning to think about retirement, but absolutely loves teaching so much she's reluctant to do it.)

The boys both had half days. They're napping right now. I think the excitement just wore them right out. Now I'm tempted to start doing cleaning, though another part of me says I should take this break while I have it.

Rocker Chick started school yesterday. She says that it went well and it was good to see her friends. I'm really hoping that things continue on a good note for her. I'm thinking that I may want to surprise her with something in a few weeks to help keep her spirits up. Who says that you have to wait until a kid's in college to send them care packages! She's expressed some interest in a few subjects that I happen to have books about kicking around here. So I'll be sending them to her soon. It may help make the more boring classes tolerable to have those books to look forward to later in the day.

It looks like my other nieces are starting school later this week. Again, I hope that they all get off to a good start. I think I am going to do something special for them in a few weeks too. I am thinking about crocheting them bookmarks or something else nifty. I am fast with a hook and I don't have EVERYTHING packed right now. I can't believe that it'll be time to start working on Yule stuff in earnest. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Chutney Chili

1 8 oz jar of Major Grey's Chutney (I like the Patak's brand.)
3 16 oz cans of red kidney beans
1 lb beef, browned and drained
1 rib of celery, diced
1 sm onion, diced (opt)
5 cloves of garlic, diced
1 sm bell pepper, diced
1/2 pt of stewed tomatoes, chopped

When you brown the beef, that's a good time to cook the onion if you want to make it less potent and it's also a good option to saute the garlic then too. It helps mellow the flavor.

In your crockpot, combine all of the above and mix. Cook on low for 24 hours, stirring at the 8 hr mark and adding water as necessary.

Your chili will be thick enough to stand a spoon up in it. This is what you want. :)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Preserving foods the 'old' way?

I am starting to get tomatoes off my plants. I am looking at a decent sized batch. As such, I have started planning what I will be doing with them. I don't have what I need to do much in the way of canning, though I must confess, I am more then a little bit in love with the process of making lacto-fermented foods. It is incredibly easy!

My beet kvass isn't quite perfect but it has had a noticeable effect my my gut. I am far less prone to terrible bouts of gas and I am finding that my cravings for sugar have dropped markedly. I am trying to include more healthful foods into my diet (and possibly sneak it into the kids diet as well). As I eat (and drink) more probiotic foods, I am finding that my appetite is not as unpredictable.

It is actually working to make it more regular. I figure if I keep this up and continue to do more 'real' foods, I may actually be able to get a good start on losing this extra weight. I'm finding that I have more energy, even on my depressed days, since I made this small diet change. So, I have been busy reading and researching more recipes and ways to preserve what I am harvesting (and splurging on at the store).

I finally found a recipe that makes a small batch of lacto-fermented salsa. I am going to run out to the store tomorrow some time and in the course of picking up more pull ups (which I completely forgot about), I am going to get the missing ingredients for this salsa. I may even pick up more small pickling cucumbers and make up another batch of them. Pretty much everyone who has tried the cucumbers has liked them (with the exception of Cuddle Bear and Snuggle Bug, who are suspicious of anything not PB&J).

If I manage to get some more peaches, I'll probably be making this to keep by as well. Because I love to use a little bit of chutney in my chili recipe. I am considering promising to make my Mother in Law some of this chutney and a batch of pickles in exchange for helping me get the produce to use. The funny thing is, I feel like I'm finally doing what I should have been doing for years, putting up food for use later.

I'm still perfecting my technique but I'm really happy how things are coming out so far. The idea that I could use heritage recipes and heritage varieties of produce to make the same kind of condiments that my great-grandmothers did... it thrills me.

Grocery shopping day!

So, I took my WIC checks and I got my groceries for the next two weeks. I have two dozen eggs (+4 from the last dozen) that I have no idea what to do with them. I also have a dozen hard boiled eggs that I really need to do something with. I can only make so much egg salad and deviled eggs.

One thing I am going to do next week is bake a cake. I found this recipe that looks very promising. I'm thinking it could make for some wonderful cupcakes to send in to school with Cuddle Bear in his lunch box and to send in to work with Beloved's lunch. I know that some people argue that sending in regular sweets with lunch may not be a great idea. Cuddle Bear is such a picky eater at times, I think that sending sweets is going to be the only way I can get him to eat at times.

I have another bag of whole wheat flour, so the cake won't look like your box 'perfect' white cake. But I don't think that will be a problem. Wheat flour has a nice texture to it and I am sure that it will give the cake a nice bit of depth to the flavor. I am debating if I should throw some raisins into the cake when I make it. A part of me says this would be great for using up the raisins. Another part of me says I should make raisin cinnamon bread.

Yet another idea that is rattling around in my mind is that I should make some custard. I have never made custard before, so I feel a little bit nervous about trying this out. My friend Bean told me about how I can do a lot of things with eggs. He even explained to me how to safely make my own mayo. To say the least, this has given me a bit more encouragement to be braver in how I approach cooking with them. I think that the next time I head out to Buffalo and I see Bean, I'll be bringing him something wonderful that I made as a thank you for being so awesome.

Speaking of something wonderful, I have been making freezer jam! I sent a jar of strawberry jam off with my anam cara when he headed back down to school last week. He said it probably wasn't even going to last long enough to get to the airport. As I have been reading about different ways to make freezer jam, I learned that it is possible to do so with frozen fruit. As a result, I made two 8oz containers of bumble berry jam (black berry, raspberry, and blueberry together).

I have what I need to make peach jam. I am *really* looking forward to doing this. It's probably going to be another small batch, but that's ok. I don't have a lot of space in my freezer right now. And I think that one jar of each kind of jam is more then enough to get us through the next several months. If they're not, I can always buy a package of Sure-Jell and frozen fruit to make some more. :)