Sunday, February 28, 2010

keeping cool

It may come as a surprise to you that neither H nor I had ever bought a large appliance, despite the multiple houses and being *mumblefortysomethingmumble* years old.  This new house has brought us to that rite of passage, however, being sans refrigerator, washer and dryer.  The laundry equipment wasn't such a big deal when we moved in 2+ weeks ago since we've got some overlap on the apartment lease and have been using it as a laundromat.  The refrigerator was a different story, not least because we were getting tired of walking ALL the way to the garage to get beer.  (Now, neveryoumind that the grand plan is to get a beater fridge just for beer ... and keep it in the garage.  That's not the point here.)
So last Saturday, tired of grocery shopping daily for dinner, we surveyed four stores - two big boxes, Sears and a local furniture/appliance retailer, RC Willey - and learned that while the pricing was about the same, the salesguy at Sears was by far the least annoying.  Also, Sears had a price match program in place, which saved us a couple hundred dollars on the washer/dryer, and the salesguy told us that if we'd come back on Sunday, they had an additional 10% sale that day. 

I had wanted one of those newfangled freezer-on-the-bottom fridges, but we were limited in the space available: we measured, twice, and from the wall to the counter was 33"; the bottom-mount fridge I really wanted was 32 7/8s" - just too close (plus I wasn't about to pay a 15% restocking fee if the fridge we bought was too big and they had to take it back).  We ended up with our third choice (because the second choice, despite there being a floor model, is apparently not available anywhere in the country) which also saved us several hundred dollars and, since I've never had a bottom-mount fridge, I really don't know what I'm missing.

The warehouse delivery guys were very excellent.  They called H on Tuesday night, saying they'd come Wednesday between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m..  They actually showed up Wednesday right at 11 (!!), brought the refrigerator in, unpacked and installed it, and then took the packaging away. 

Needless to say, we wasted no time stocking it:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the only thing

As I mentioned previously, all our boxes are unpacked and all our belonging are here (and we're in that dangerous zone where enough stuff is put away that we're able to live with the remaining odds and ends being scattered out and about ... must not stop! must put things away!).  What's amazing to me is: after packing 150 boxes (which doesn't include the 27 framed pictures), and schlepping them 2,600 miles across the country, then dumping them in storage, and then dragging them out of storage and into the new house, the ONLY thing that broke is one wineglass:

Kudos to the movers!  And to me, for being such a darn good packer.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Update soon, I promise.  Moving and Olympics and friends from back east and house stuff have gotten in the way of late, but soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

making progress

We went to the Cotton Bottom for dinner Friday night (partly because although we've been in the house since 2/8, we still don't have a fridge; and partly because Friday = Date Night), to discuss Important Things: should we ski this weekend or should we make a big push on the house.  And despite not having been skiing in, like, forever, we decided to work on the house.
The book room (am dreading sorting into bookcases)

Saturday was again dry and sunny, so we did our last run to our storage units that morning, with a side trip for breakfast at The Other Place.  We also had a slight detour because when we came out after breakfast, one of the truck's rear tires was completely flat.  We changed it with with the unsolicited help of a passing-by Good Samaritan who had a better jack than we did, and then continued on our way.
The Olympics are a terrible distraction

We also met our next door neighbor who was wasit-deep in his yard replacing a leaky sprinkler head.  Like our across the street neighbors, he and his wife have been in the neighborhood for 20+ years.  He offered to help move stuff in but didn't press when we politely declined.
Not sure what to put on that giant yellow wall

B was sort of a nervous wreck since both H and I keep walking from room to room, not staying put like we usually do when we're home.  For a while she was lying at the top of the stairs so she could keep an eye on H (in the t.v. room) and keep track of me (down in the basement).  By the time we stop for the evening, she pretty much crashes, exhausted.

More in the cupboards, less on the island

The weekend sure flew by what with the moving and unpacking and putting away.  All our stuff is now here and by Sunday afternoon all the boxes were unpacked and broken down.  I'm not saying that everything is put away yet, but we have made monster progress.  We even took the time to price fridges and washers & dryers, finally purchasing some this afternoon.  For as big as the kitchen is, the space for the refrigerator is not generous; we weren't able to get the fridge I really wanted, but heck - anything's better than what we've got now, which is the steps into the garage.
Now that's a stack of boxes

It was absolutely the right decision, working on the house, although it was a bit of a struggle seeing the snow falling steadily up in the canyons.  But since we've gotten so much done already, that really frees us up to play a bit in the weekends to come.

Friday, February 19, 2010

bits and pieces

That's what you're going to get here today, because the house is full of boxes and bags and stacks and piles and furniture all higgledy-piggledy, and it's making me far too crazed to anything else but walk in circles, trying to figure out where everything goes.
  • We ran the dishwasher for the first time last night and while it seems to be adequate to the task, the best part is that it's very quiet.  The one in the apartment was some wicked noisy.
  • We still haven't gotten a refrigerator and we need to do something about that.  Perhaps this weekend, although we really want to go skiing (if there's new snow at all) ...
  • I went to lunch at a new place yesterday with some co-workers: the Copper Onion, which is apparently not only new to me but also new to SLC.  It was busy, noisy and a little expensive, but the food was quite good.  Our table had: a pulled pork sandwich (tender, moist and flavorful without trying to be real barbeque), a chicken cordon bleu sandwich, a burger with gorgeous hand-cut potato wedges (reported to be a fantastic burger) and pasta alla carbonara served traditional style with a raw egg yolk on top, which was stirred into the hot pasta and cooked that way (reported to be "the best carbonara [she'd] ever had").
  • My hands have really been suffering of late - between the dry cold and the constant opening and breaking down of moving boxes, my fingertips and cuticles have been nearly shredded.  The cure: Bag Balm, of course.  I'm such a doofus.  I can't believe I didn't use it sooner. 
Okay - no more internet!  Off to unpack some more!  We'll post more pictures when there's some progress to show.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

movin' on in

So we looked at a bunch of houses, and we found this one we liked that's about 20 minutes from Alta and Snowbird, and 25 minutes from Solitude and Brighton, and it pretty much had nothing in common with our last house, so we bought it. 

We got the keys a week ago and immediately started sleeping here, despite the For Sale sign still being in the front lawn (actually, H pulled it out of the yard on Wednesday, not able to stand it any longer) and the lockboxes on the doors (actually, H had a locksmith come and change the locks so the lockboxes were soon moot; as of yesterday, the front door lockbox had mysteriously disappeared but they forgot the one on the back door).  As we did in our first night at the apartment, we had our sleeping bags, the aerobed and a cheap bottle of champagne which we swigged straight from the bottle.  Because all our stuff was either at the apartment or still in storage.

Bedroom, day 1

We had initially planned to do some painting in a couple of rooms before we moved stuff in, but then we got so excited about moving in that all painting plans seem to have fallen by the wayside.  That's okay: this house is the antithesis of so many others we saw in that it is NOT straight out of the 70s and was in move-in condition.  Sure, we still need to buy a refrigerator and a washer and dryer, but cosmetically, it needed nothing.

We started moving stuff in earnest last Friday, with a trip to the storage units, and then trips on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as well as transporting stuff out of the apartment.  At this point we've got all the boxes out of storage, and most of them unpacked (if not actually put away); 95% of the apartment stuff is here; and most of the furniture from storage, with only the biggest pieces - like sofas, armoire, pie safe, etc. - still languishing, waiting for us.  The moving has been surprisingly easy, no doubt mostly because the memory of packing is so distant, but also because H is Wicked Strong and can lift heavy things.  Our hands are a little raw from opening/breaking down boxes, and feet and backs and elbows are sore, but it seems to be going quickly and if the weather cooperates, we could bring the rest of our stuff here this weekend.

We have lots of wineglasses - and note the fabulous light fixtures!

The house is bigger than our last one: both vehicles fit in the garage, with room to spare; there is more than one full bathroom which will be lovely for when we have houseguests; there is more than one guest room so our home office gets to have its own space; the kitchen is huge, and sort of a great room concept, which is fantastic since that's where everyone hangs out, isn't it, the kitchen.  It's really starting to feel like its OURS now, as we bring in our things and figure out where they go.  It's fun.

The basement rumpus room or rug merchant's hall

B is handling this move pretty well.  We made a point of bringing her crate, her bed, her toys and (of course) her food over right away, so she'd feel more comfortable; and as we bring our furniture in, I think she's realizing that this is home.  The yard is not completely fenced in (a project), but it should be easy to do which will mean that we can sit out on the deck and she won't have to be tied - which will be more fun for everyone.

The mudroom: great for gear (and H's favorite room)!

Oh! And we met our across-the-street neighbors, who stopped by after church on Sunday to introduce themselves.  They were super-friendly, and nice, and asked if we needed any help.  The wife did say, "I'm just going to go ahead and get this out: [we're] LDS" but that was the end of it. And as we were clearly not LDS (working on a Sunday morning, and H wearing a Sunday River Brewpub t-shirt), it's entirely possible that she'll report back to the other neighbors about us ... and we'll never see any of them ever again.  I'll keep you posted.

Sorry this is so long and rambling and disjointed.  As you might imagine, I'm fairly distracted at present. I promise more concise cohesiveness in the near future.  And more photos, as the house pulls itself together.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


So, part of the reason that the posting has been so, um, nonexistent lately is that we bought a house on Monday, got the keys on Tuesday - had our now-traditional cheap champagne and slept on the aerobed in our sleeping bags - and have been moving in in earnest this weekend.

Our new home!

We were torn about skiing this morning, because there was a little more snow overnight, and then the day turned out to be gorgeous and warm (50s!) but we've been in a groove, accomplishing a LOT - it's actually easy to move when everything's already stacked up in boxes.  And having a full-size pickup truck is a plus, and old furniture that hardly weighs anything.

No, this is our new home! (hahahahah - can you imagine?)

As you might imagine, there hasn't been much time for posting, but we're taking pictures for you and getting the cable (hopefully) hooked up tomorrow, so I'll get an update here as soon as possible.  Yay for a new home - and with some furniture finally in it, it feels like it's ours!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

where to get stuff

In Maine, when you need stuff, you have a couple of options. Craigslist exists there but it’s not the go-to market for when you need stuff: Uncle Henry’s, the paperback proto-Craigslist, is what most people use when they need a used cap for their pickup truck, or a pile of lumber scraps, or a dining room set, or puppies, or a weed-whacker. My issue with Uncle Henry’s is that it’s difficult to find just what you’re looking for – there are broad categories of stuff, but you have to wade through a lot of coal to find your diamonds, so to speak. On Maine’s Craigslist, the pickings are better organized, but they’re sparse; Mainers love their Uncle Henry’s and have been slow to embrace the newfangled Craigslist technology, so if you do find that weed-wacker you’re looking for it may well be all the way up in Meddybemps, which isn’t much help if you’re in York.

Once we moved to SLC, I was sure that because of the higher population density Craigslist would be overflowing with fabulous stuff that I absolutely need (like a beater road bike, gently-used mountain bikes, gently-used rock skis, a coffee table people can put beers on with no fear of leaving rings, a beater fridge just for beer). I was surprised to find out that although SLC’s Craigslist is certainly more abundant than Maine’s, it wasn’t overflowing with good stuff. To get the good stuff, you have to go to KSL’s excellent online classifieds*. KSL is one of the television stations out here and their online site is just like Craigslist ... but a little slicker and there’s tons of stuff just ripe for the picking.  I can't wait to start picking!

* Thanks to Susan and Jody at work for clueing me in.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

in the dell

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we had intended to ski this past Sunday - I even picked up the Alta tickets and everything.  But when the alarm went off Sunday morning, the valley was socked in with clouds, and the weather report was promising cloudy or mostly cloudy all day, and Alta reported only 1 new inch of snow.  And so, being the newly-minted snow snobs that we are, we got up and went to breakfast at the Cottonwood Cafe.

After breakfast, we found our way to Dimple Dell Regional Nature Park, an urban wilderness area of 640+ acres smack dab in the middle of Sandy, Utah.  What a great place!  Someone with great forethought preserved all this land surrounding a creek bed that flows out of Little Cottonwood Canyon and set it aside for walkers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders.  There are innumerable trails, some woodchipped and wide, others narrow and winding and possibly for animals.  The creek at the bottom of the ravine is dry now but I suspect it cranks in the springtime.  The banks of the creek are lined with tall trees while scrub oak and sagebrush cover the dell walls.

We walked for over an hour - long enough for the clouds to clear off over the valley, although they seemed to be staying put in the canyons - and only saw a few of people, including a couple of horseback riders from a distance.  There was a fair amount of bird action since the weather was mild: a red-tailed hawk, lots of bluejays and big fat robins, and we surprised some sort of partridge.  We managed to do a loop, walking out along the creek and back along the rim, peeking into the backyards of the folks lucky enough (and rich enough) to have homes backing up to the dell.  It's a lovely place, and a real oasis in the middle of all the valley's development.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

holy mole!

Finally, finally, finally - we went to the legendary Red Iguana.  Was it good?  Oh, it was good.  But first:

Since it was a grey sort of day on Saturday, and we were planning to ski on Sunday (not that that materialized either because it was a grey sort of morning Sunday morning and, what with no great snowfalls of late, we decided to be snow-snobs ... but I digress),  I came up with the plan: I'd get the grocery shopping done, then we'd take a walk in Liberty Park, then we'd head to the Red Iguana for a late lunch/early dinner, hoping to avoid the epic crowds.  A recent local newspaper review mentioned having to wait half an hour for lunch and close to an hour for dinner, and so I was keen on missing the high traffic times.

Liberty Park is a lovely city park that I drive by every day on my commute as one side of it borders 7th East.  It's pretty big (80 acres) with large grassy areas, beautiful big hardwood and evergreen trees, many picnic areas and stone fireplaces, swimming pool, playground, horseshoe pits, bocce courts, an island, the Tracy Aviary, a tennis center, folk art museum and a dedicated running/walking path around its perimeter.  B was well-behaved as we strolled all the way around, doing lots of sniffing and marking of territory, but largely ignoring the many other dogs who were also perambulating at the time.  We didn't go into the Aviary but could see peacocks, parrots and a huge sort of raptor through the fence.  We also saw a bunch of Renaissance Fair-types wearing Friar Tuck robes and whacking each other with padded swords.  We steered wide of that group.

We ended up at the Red Iguana a little after 4:00 p.m., H muttering something about how we're not quite old enough to be eating that early.  We weren't the only people with that idea, however, as the parking lot was practically full and we got the last open table; not fifteen minutes after we'd sat down, there was a line of at least ten people waiting to be seated.

The restaurant is a trip, its outside painted a bold red and orange stripe with the interior even more colorful.  There are autographed pictures of rock-n-roll stars adorning the walls, fighting for space with plastic and metal iguanas; the tables are all covered with brightly flowered oil cloth tableclothes, real flowers in little green glass vases.  The service was fantastic with waiters buzzing around like bees, filling water glasses, refilling chips and salsa dishes, offering more homemade tortillas.  Even with all that attention, and even with the growing crowd waiting for a vacant seat, we were never rushed.

The food.  Well, we're clearly going to have to go back again and again because the menu is just enormous.  H had chile verde: tender and flavorful cubed pork cooked in green chile and tomatillo sauce and served with rice, refried beans and tortillas.  I had a taste and it crushed the other two or three versions I've had of chile verde recently.  But what the Red Iguana is renowned for are their moles, sauces made of "dried and fresh chiles, nuts, spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables," and a mole* was what I had.  There are seven on the menu and while I was terribly tempted by the red pipian (pumpkin seeds, dried chile guajillo, peanuts, etc.), I went with their self-proclaimed King of Moles, mole negro.  I got a big plate with four or five large chunks of chicken covered in the glorious sauce, which consists of dried chile mulatto, negro pasilla, Mexican chocolate, raisins, peanuts, walnuts and bananas.  My plate was covered in the stuff and they had to serve my rice, beans and tortillas on a separate plate (I gave all my rice and beans to H).

Quite without hyperbole, that mole negro is absolutely the best sauce I have ever eaten.  It was thick and rich without being cloying or overpowering, so complexly flavored that I couldn't describe it to you if I tried.  It was incredible and I think I would have licked the plate clean if we hadn't been in a restaurant.  As it was, I swabbed up every last bit I could with the warm, soft tortillas and was actually sad when there wasn't any more.

It's not particularly cheap - all the moles are around $15.00 (although tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tostadas are considerably less) and the bottled beers are $3-$4.50 - but omigosh is it worth it.  And people know it's worth it: when we left around 5:00 p.m., the line was out the door and there were easily twenty people hanging out on the sidewalk, waiting for their chance at the Mexican ambrosia within.  I can't wait to go back and try it again - I'll just be sure to go early.

* Mole is pronounced MOH-lay.  Says so right on the menu.  This picture is on our way in - note all the benches that have thoughtfully been provided for the hordes who would soon be waiting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

not everyone likes the desert

I'm not much of a gardener per se, but I've got a pretty good track record with houseplants.  H and I had a LOT of houseplants back east; he was the only guy I'd ever dated who actually had [live and thriving] houseplants when I met him, plus I brought quite a few to the relationship as well.  When we made the decision to move to Salt Lake City, we realized that we wouldn't be able to bring most of them, seeing how they wouldn't survive in the moving van and we only had limited space in our own vehicles.  After giving most of them away, we made the move with four: a teensy cactus, an unkillable shamrock-y thing, a variety of palm (I guess) and a Norfolk Island pine.

All four weathered the cross-country drive just fine and we gave them all (except the cactus) a big drink of water when we finally landed.  It didn't take long, however, before the N.I. pine started looking, well, bad.  The tips of its branches started drying up, first crisping then actually yellowing - something it had never done before in its 10+ year life.  I thought maybe it had gotten too much water, so I let it dry a bit.  That made it worse.  So, back to watering.

Finally, just this week, after watching the poor thing struggle for four months, I looked up "Norfolk Island pine care" on the interweb.  And what did I find?
What is most challenging for the typical home gardener is giving this plant the high relative humidity it needs. Norfolk Island pine thrives at 50 percent relative humidity, yet it is not unusual for the average house to drop to 15 percent during the winter heating season, unless steps are taken to increase moisture in the air. Running a humidifier will increase both people and plant comfort and is the most effective way to adequately raise the humidity.
"50 percent relative humidity!" No wonder it's dying - I brought a tree that thrives in the Pacific Northwest to the desert!  So now we've been bringing the little pine into the bathroom when we take showers, hoping the moisture in the air there will help it, and I bought a spray bottle for misting purposes, but I just don't know whether it will survive out here.  Bright sun we can do, but humid it ain't.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the real king of burgers

Although I usually brownbag my lunch to work (despite the recently listed outings), I had not planned ahead well and ended up needing to buy lunch last Friday. Luckily, there is a Crown Burgers very near to my office and since I’ve been in Utah for nearly four months without yet trying a Crown burger, the course was clear.

Crown Burgers is a local SLC burger joint, founded in 1978 by a pair of Greek brothers, Nick and Manuel Katsanevas.  They have a number of restaurants in SLC and a couple in Denver, CO. 

Despite the fairly substantial menu, I was going for just one thing: the eponymous Crown burger, which is a decently sized flat patty cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun, garnished with shredded lettuce, chopped onion, a slice of tomato … and an entire sandwich’s worth of pastrami. Wow. The pastrami was scarcely spiced, but it was pretty lean and flavorful and I just about wolfed it down before the juices could run down my wrists (a Crown burger is perhaps food not best eaten at your desk). It was really, really good and I spent the entire afternoon (and into the evening) full.

Monday, February 1, 2010

over the counter

We did not have skiing on the schedule for Sunday and it turned out to be a less than ideal day for outdoor activities (gray, spitting wet snow), so we decided to go out for breakfast to a new place: the Over the Counter Cafe, at 2343 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City.  I'd read a bunch of good reviews, including in our awesome SLC guidebook, so we were psyched to try something new.

The recent review in the paper said that it gets busy on the weekends, so we got there before 9:00 a.m.  Whether it was because it was snowing or because it was Sunday, and thus a church day, it was not, in fact, busy and we took seats at the counter.  There's actually a lot of seating but if you sit at the U-shaped counter, you can watch the cooks work the griddles right out there in the middle of the cafe - excellent entertainment.

H got a breakfast burrito - sausage and peppers and egg in tortillas, served with fresh salsa and homefries; I got my go-to diner breakfast of two eggs over medium with bacon and homefries.  The bacon was marvelous - five big, thick, crispy/chewy slices, by far the most superior bacon of the SLC diners we've tried.  The rest of the food was okay: H's burritos were on the small side for the price, my eggs were not so much medium as easy, and the homefries - while hand-sliced and fresh - could have been crispier.

If we were to rank the SLC diners we've patronized thus far, the list would go like this: Ruth's first, then a toss-up between the Other Place and Cottonwood Cafe (with a slight edge to TOP because I like their Greek scramble), and Over the Counter coming in last.  Still, I feel it is important to try new places and if we hadn't tried this one, I would have missed out on that glorious bacon.