Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slabs, Christmas shopping and units of measurement

Because most of our household goods are still in storage, I am without most of my kitchen appliances and cookware.  I will never take my toaster for granted again.  I've gotten pretty good at using the broiler to make toast but the time and attention it takes makes me marvel at just how wonderful toasters are.  I also miss the Kitchen Aid mixer, blender, food processor and crockpots.  (I miss just about all of my kitchen implements.)  The other day I found a recipe that I wanted to try that involved some butternut squash and a pork loin.  It was designed for a crockpot, but I figured I could just roast it at a low heat in a covered pot in the oven to the same effect.  I followed all the instructions and after about two hours at about 250 degrees I grabbed the instant-read thermometer and stuck the 2.5 lb loin, just to get a sense of where it was at.  I glanced at the reading: 48.  "Huh," I thought to myself, "the oven must run really cold."  (We haven't used the oven much since we moved in.)  I turned the temperature dial up another 25 degrees, replaced the lid, and tossed it back into the oven.  

[In my, albeit weak, defense I was working this afternoon and was more focused on getting my project done than spending time in the kitchen.]

About an hour and a half later I checked the meat again.  As I turned the thermometer I just happened to notice the "C" to the far right of the display.  Oh crap.  The thermometer was set to Celsius, not Fahrenheit.  I toggled over to Fahrenheit and stuck the meat again.  I pulled out the thermometer in disgust as it soared past 160.  Apparently 48 Celsius is about 118 Fahrenheit.  My meat was actually pretty close to done when I had checked it the first time.  (Were you aware that the USDA revised it's cooking temperatures back in May and now solid cuts of pork only have to be cooked to an internal temp of 145?)  Luckily for me the pork was halfway submerged in a broth of onion soup and it was still surprisingly tender when I sliced it up.  I guess the moisture and the low heat kept if from drying out too much.  Why does the thermometer even HAVE a Celsius setting?  I am not a scientist.  I don't like units of measurement based on 100.  Get out of my kitchen, Celsius!

I've done very little Christmas shopping yet this season.  I chalk this up to three major reasons:

  1. After three Decembers in Hawaii, I am once again in a warm(ish) climate and it's hard to remember that it's winter.
  2. My Christmas decorations are all in storage so there is no festivity around the house.
  3. We've been house hunting every weekend for hours at a time.
I finally ordered my Christmas cards the other day, only to realize afterwards that my Christmas card address book is in storage.  (This is a recurring theme in my daily life.)  I think I remembered everyone we wanted to send a card to, but I'm sure I'm missing people.  One of these nights I'm going to have to sit down and do some serious online shopping so gifts can arrive to our families on time.  I'm terrible at giving gifts.  I have one friend in particular who is amazing at giving gifts.  She remembers off-hand things you said six months ago and gets you that item for your birthday, or she gives you something saying, "I thought you might like this" and she's totally right - you absolutely love it, even if you never knew you did.  I don't have that ability.  I need lists.  I'm not a creative or skilled gift-giver, but if you want those Isotoner slippers from Kohl's, I will get you those Isotoner slippers from Kohl's.

Like I mentioned above, we've been house hunting like crazy.  We found THE house on Sunday, complete with a glowing aura and a chorus of angels singing in the background.  (Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration.)  Zac and I looked at each other and we just knew.  This house was it.  The house was awesome, the yard was fantastic, it had recently been renovated and required no upgrading on our part - it was perfect.  It had been on the market for about four days and our real estate agent told us that she had heard from the seller that they already had a couple of offers in on it.  We weren't surprised - we're finding that houses are either on the market for a week or two out here, or they've been on the market for months.  There isn't much in between.  If you see a house you want, you had better get your offer in quick.  Zac and I filled out the paperwork to put in an offer that afternoon.

The next day we got a call from our real estate agent.  She said that when she was going over some of the information about the renovations to the house, she noticed that there had been a crack in the slab that had been repaired.  Houses out here don't have basements, and many of them are built on concrete slabs.  Apparently prior to 1970 slabs were not reinforced with rebar making them more vulnerable to cracking when the soil is disrupted below it.  In this case, a broken underground water pipe caused the slab to crack in a couple of places and the cracks were pretty substantial.  The seller had hired a engineer and contractor to repair the cracks.  The engineer devised the repair plan and oversaw the contractor's work.  At the end of the work, the engineer issued a report that the contractor had indeed performed the work correctly.  (The repaired parts of the slab are now reinforced with rebar.)  

Zac talked to his cousin (an engineer) and some of the Seabees that he works with (the construction guys in the Navy) and all of them gave a thumbs up to the work, but a thumbs down to the idea of buying it.  That reinforced what Zac and I were already thinking: If Zac and I were going to be living in this house for the next 10-30 years, we'd have no qualms about buying it.  But we will be selling our house in San Diego in (possibly) as little as three years.  Cracked slabs are not attractive to buyers, and we might end up taking a loss on the house.  It's just too much of a financial risk for us to take right now.

Our realtor called us to let us know that the seller counter-offered all of the offers on the house.  That sealed the deal as far as we were concerned.  Zac and I have decided to pull out of the race.  Our realtor has a suspicion that more of the prospective buyers will also back out once they find out about the slab issue.  If it ends up that the house has no interested buyers, and the seller is willing to drop the price enough, we might consider re-submitting an offer but for now we're moving on to looking at more houses tomorrow.  

*sigh*  Oh well.  At least now Zac and I are optimistic that there are, indeed, houses that we both like and that we'll find something that makes both of us happy.  I just hope that it happens sooner rather than later.  I miss my crockpot.

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