Monday, November 21, 2011

DMM's cranberries

There is one cranberry relish/sauce/whatever you want to call it that I've ever liked and this is it.

But before I share the recipe, allow me a moment to share about the friend who gave it to me.

DMM is Dr. Mayer-Martin.  Her first name is Donna so her self-chosen acronym works either way.  She was my music history professor, mentor, and friend.  I studied with her in Paris where I was the TA for the class that I was also taking.  She would hand me a test or quiz to copy with the instructions "don't look at it."  And I didn't.  Really.  She taught me how to write and was really hard on me when I was dumb.  She was really hard on a lot of people.  In fact, the mention of her name was often met with the rolling of eyes, the slumping of shoulders and the changing of class schedules.  She was tough on her students and tough on herself.  But she was my friend.  She flew to OKC for my wedding and then flew out again that evening just to be there for me.  DMM taught me to not take people's crap and to not use my own crap as an excuse.  She had crazy, unkempt hair and wore a lot of flannel and sensible shoes.  Her mind worked very, VERY quickly and I once documented this quirky email exchange on a former blog.

(I promise the recipe is coming...don't give up yet!)

Email from B to DMM:
I've been in the library this afternoon and evening and we cannot find the Searle. It was on the shelf in the reference area when we looked at it before and now it is nowhere to be found and not behind the circulation desk. I even went floor to floor looking for possible users hiding it, but to no avail. I'm going to look again in the morning (perhaps it took the weekend off), but I thought I would let you know. Also in my studying I realized that I am not clear about holographs. I understood that a holograph was a manuscript entirely in the composer's hand (hence why I thought all of the Beethoven autographs were holographs) but ----- told me this evening that holographs are the completed piece written out in the composer's hand (versus a manscript that is a working-out of the piece, as in all of Beethoven's autographs). Is that correct? If so, then I know that I was incorrect in my assessment of the Beethoven autographs.
Thanks! See you in the morning.

Series of emails from DMM, all received within about 10 minutes:

email #1
searle. sigh....thanks for info. Sources on reserve, etc:--this was going entirely too smoothly
holograph: only in composer's hand
autograph: may have other people (student, editor, etc.) in addition to composer's hand
above 2: may or may not be entire work-though typically a holograph IS an entire work

email #2
a "working-out" of a piece is probably a sketch

email #3
and who the hell other than beethoven would be doing one of his sketches?
excuse my french

email #4
i don't worry overmuch about the delineations between auto and holo for all the confusing reasons we have covered

email #5
luckily all my troubs and trouvs are dead and certainly were not musically literate enough to write their own MSS--so who knows what auto/holo means?  As I've always said to my theory colleagues: I really prefer a truly dead composer

The content probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but it gives you a glimpse of how her mind worked.  DMM passed away about two and a half years ago.  She had been battling cancer and we were living in Atlanta and I had no idea she was even sick.  The day I found out that she had died, I was just about to email her looking for guidance on pursuing doctoral work in musicology.  I miss her a lot.  Her dream was to retire and move to Paris full time.  She kept a Paris real estate book on her desk at the school to look at when she was stressed.  She was just about two years away from retirement when she passed.  Whenever I'm tempted to put off a dream, I think about DMM and how short life can be.

It was fall when I studied in Paris and we had an American Thanksgiving at our school so that all us expats could celebrate together.  And not be obviously American in public, like at a restaurant.  This was 2003 and, in case you don't remember, the French were not exactly our biggest fans.  DMM brought this cranberry dish and, after years of hating cranberries, I loved this!  I asked for the recipe and this is what I received-

DMM's Cranberry Sauce (Relish?)

Bring 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of orange juice to a boil.  Add a sack of cranberries (Ocean Spray, etc).  Bring to a boil again.  Add a handful of chopped walnuts (my edit: I also sometimes use pecans) and the grated rind from a large orange.  Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stire occasionally.  The cranberries will be a-poppin' --most of them split.  Take it off the burner and cool completely before you put it in the fridge or it will get watery.

I just made a double batch to take with me to Thanksgiving dinner.  I tried to take a beautiful picture of it cooling in the pan right after I took it off the burner but I could not get a beautiful picture at all, so here are some ugly pictures.

Do you have a favorite cranberry dish?  I bought a 3-pound bag so I have another pound of cranberries to use up!  And, can we settle this, please?  Sauce?  Relish?  What exactly is this recipe?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I am the 99%

This morning I woke up with very few covers.  And it was cold!  Well, very chilly.  Pretty chilly.  I put on slippers. 

Anyway, I had very few covers!  S got up to go for a run and the following conversation commenced -

Me: 99% of these covers are being owned by 1% of the people!
Him: Are you going to occupy the bed then?
Me: Yes!  For the next couple of hours!

Thus began the OTB movement.  Occupy The Bed is sweeping the nation.  I hear millions are joining in tonight.

S later corrected me that he is technically 50% of the people but I assured him the 50% of the people owning 99% of the covers still qualifies as bedding inequality.  The movement lives on!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From the front lines

Today's house update: we have a real contract!

We also have lead-based paint...on every surface of the's chipping and peeling.  And maybe termites.  Probably not, but we still have to treat for them.  And those foundation issues are TBD.


The good news is, if everything moves forward, we'll get the lead-based paint taken care of so our future children won't have brain damage or other issues caused by the neurotoxin.  That's a definite good thing.  And we definitely won't have the termites that we probably don't have anyway since the inspector saw no termites but maybe thinks they could possibly be there somewhere perhaps. 

Suddenly, I'm slightly frightened by the house that I loved.  Now I'm really glad we're not moving in until AFTER all the repairs are done.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

203 what?

When S started talking me into buying a house and planting the seed that maybe rehabbing houses could become a main source of income, I thought, like my friend Carrie did this weekend, that he was asking me to buy a house for $203,000.  203k on our first house!?  We can't afford that!  Other than our real estate agent and our lender, no one I've talked to has heard of a 203k so I thought I would share.

This is a fantastic FHA loan program, at least I think it is right now.  Since we haven't actually gone through the whole process, I can't say for sure but so far, so good.  Some things to be prepared for with a 203k:

- it is a long process because of the hoops you have to jump through and the kinds of properties you're working with
- major renovations are an inherent part of this program so if you hate that idea, then steer clear
- there are only a few lenders who offer 203k mortgages
- not all houses are 203k eligible and some sellers aren't willing to wait for the longer closing process

Here's where it would be a great option:  Say you find an awesome deal in a great neighborhood.  Maybe it's a foreclosure or a short sale or a HUD home or just a house someone is trying to get off their hands quickly.  An awesome deal would be a house that is priced SIGNIFICANTLY less than the comparables, like 40-50% less.  Why is it so cheap?  Well it probably needs a hella lotta work which would scare away anyone other than investors.  It might need a complete remodel, new floors, foundation work, a whole new kitchen; it might smell bad or be missing a wall; it's generally a rather scary place on the inside.  But it's a great location and a great size and if we only had $30,000 lying around to put into it, then we could get it, make the improvements, and build a TON of equity.  But we do not have $30,000 so, bummer man.

BUT WAIT!  Have I got a deal for you!  If you and the property qualify for a 203k loan, then you are in luck!  You can finance the house, just like you would with any other property, AND finance the renovations and repairs, all within the same mortgage.  So if you got a house for $50,000 and put in $25,000, you would have a mortgage for about $75,000.  Ideally, you've made smart improvements and your home is really worth between $100,000 and $120,000.  You've basically done a flip but you are going to live in it for a while before you sell it and collect your equity.  The 203k is an owner/occupant loan so you have to live in the house for one year before you can sell.

You also have to have all of the work done by a general contractor and since we are getting a HUD home, all the work we do must be approved by a HUD consultant so that mean two groups of people have to approve the works that's done.  Some people might be turned off by all the oversight, but I love that so many people are going to make sure that the project is done right since it's our first major reno.  The downside is that it means no DIY projects until after all the major work gets approved.  So, I would love to take down all the wallpaper myself to save some money but we know that the walls will need some repair work after the foundation is fixed which means the wallpaper needs to be removed BEFORE the end of the reno work so, thank you contractor for removing the wallpaper.  On the upside, I don't have to remove wallpaper! :-)

We are still waiting to be officially under contract on the house.  Veteran's day slowed that process down a bit.  Hopefully this week we'll get our structural inspection, the make or break inspection.  The amount of the foundation repair will determine whether or not we move forward or walk away.  Keep your fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I shared "the good" of our hopeful home with the hardwood and built-ins, now here's some ugly.  Shabby chic perhaps?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back with GOOD news!

This has been a hard year.  I'm totally over 2011.  I'm going to re-categorize the days that remain in this exhausting year as "pre-2012."  We wrapped up 2011 (see, I've already transitioned) with a bit more disappointment.  My mom and I missed the 3-Day to be able to be with family after my Grandma Boone passed away.  It was so good to be with family to remember my grandma and learn some little known facts about her life (jitterbug champ!?).  But is was a bummer to miss out on the walk.  However!  We are already registered for next year.  The sweet 3-Day folks let us transfer our registrations and, while I hope that I can raise the full $2300 for 2012, we'll be able to count our 2011 fundraising toward the 2012 walk.

Now, on to the good news.  S and I have been house hunting for a couple of months.  I was not sold on staying in OKC.  Originally I agreed to live here for ONE year and ONE year only.  But I don't exactly have a plan for the end of the one year so we decided it would be okay to plan for 2-3 years and then make a change.  S also got it in his head that rehabbing old houses would be a fun "hobby" so why not start with our own?  We are one phone call away from having a contract on a cute 1919 craftsman house in a historic neighborhood and I am finally doing my happy dance!

I'll share a bit more as we move forward with the process - our HUD home, 203k financed, renovation-tastic project.  Hopefully everything will move forward without a hitch but there's always a possibility that the deal will fall through.  In fact, we thought we had missed out on this property because it was already under contract when we found it.  That deal fell through and we swooped in.  We're learning with these great deals that swooping is really important because lots of investors are waiting in the wings.  We missed out on several other gems because of our failure to swoop.  With this one we are cautiously optimistic.

In the meantime, how about this shot of the dining room, taken from the living room?  Fireplace, built-ins, hardwood floors, vintage wallpaper...I'm in love.