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As I sit under the warmth of the much appreciated kotatsu (heater table) with my daughter sleeping peacefully in my arms, I can't believe a half year has already passed since living in our home.  For nearly three weeks two months ago, we dealt with uncomfortably cold weather and met with the challenges of staying warm in an older (109 yrs old) home while making an effort to keep the PG&E expenses down.  With all my complaining and grouching, our last two bills came in under $100 dollars!  Even while living in our tiny condo, our electricity bill usually fluctuated around $150.

I've really come to love this house with it's beautifully painted rooms.  Naoki finished the Venetian plaster in the sun room and recently the star room.  He did a wonderful job and they look wonderful and bring a warmer feeling to the house.   

Life has been busy with family and business.  We've been blessed in both areas.  Naoki's mother and sister came for a brief nine day stay. They really enjoyed all the tasty fruit (navel oranges, pummelos, fuji apples, and oro blancos) that are in season from the farmers market in Campbell.  I made a garlicky spinach pasta with fresh Meyer lemons from our yard one night.  It came out very well, though I would have liked it to be spicier...recipe to follow.

In business, I feel very fortunate and again blessed to be working with so many incredible people.  My listing in San Bruno thankfully sold and the seller is buying a lovely place to call home in Sacramento.  Four deals have closed this year so far and with another in escrow, there is much to be appeciative for.  Although the news is always painting a bleak outlook, they are usually behind in reporting how things are looking up.

Back to talking about home...  We have nearly 50 fruit plants/trees in our yard now.  The potatoes are sprouting in the crop circle Naoki made.  The blossoms are radiant on Aislee's white peach / white nectarine tree and on the Georgia Peach tree we adopted from a home in Palo Alto.  I'm looking forward to making fruit pies if the fat squirrels don't get to them first.

The old avocado tree that came with this house bears California Diablo avocados.  They're smoother and creamier than Hass and have a thinner skin.  They take two weeks to ripen once picked from the tree.  Hopefully we'll have more growing as I love avocado sandwiches on toasted bread with Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie brand) and slices of cold cucumber! So good!!  I could go off on a tangent when it comes to avocados...  Actually it looks like I did.

Ok, on to the pasta recipe -

Boil your preferred pasta al dente (slightly undercooked) as you'll be adding it to another pan to mix in with the garlic lemon sauce.

1. In a large sauce pan drizzle a tablespoon of grapeseed oil (olive oil is fine too) and a pat of butter, heat on medium flame.
2. Add crushed garlic, approximately 5 - 7 cloves
3. Sprinkle a teaspoon (or more depending on your heat preference) of red pepper flakes
4. Add a few pinches of salt to meld flavors, more can be added later to adjust
5. Careful not to burn the garlic, give your mixture a few pushes around your pan.
6. Once garlic is crisp, add spinach and pasta.
7. Mix everything well til spinach is cooked, adding a touch more oil or butter as needed.
8. Finally add thinly sliced lemon wedges of one lemon or juice lemon and add it's zest.

After weeks of loading and unloading, we're finally finished (for the most part) with our move into this gorgeous old gingerbread/Craftsman/Victorian home on the Northside.  It's been challenging this far along in the pregnancy to deal with relocating even at this short distance.  I'm due in 11 days, which feels unreal.

The house is definitely far from organized, but Naoki did an excellent job of refinishing the old pinewood floors and is in the process of applying Venetian plaster to one of the rooms.  When we first viewed this property, I thought it was beautiful (still do), but not for us.  I pictured us moving to some place...newer and more modern, possibly even a townhouse.  Naoki fell in love with the yard and has since planted 19 fruit trees, or was it 20?  I've lost count.  All I know is that those damn squirrels that I thought were the cutest when we moved in, have eaten the white nectarines on my daughter's tree!  Her papa purchased her a grafted white peach with two different white nectarines tree.  I want to plant it as soon as she's born.

The gorgeous floral arrangement you see in this post is from our newlywed friends, Carla and Andre.  They made our dining room smell amazing!  This was our first of many flowers that have entered this home, but the only one that I managed to photograph. 

One of the biggest perks of living close to my mom is having access to her wonderful home cooking! During my first trimester, I experienced a loss in appetite and could barely eat anything that wouldn't make me nauseous. The only dishes I could truly indulge in were prepared by my mother. Garlic and onions would turn me green, which is strange since my mom used both of those ingredients to make her lasagna. My baby is probably made of 80% lasagna / 5% oatmeal cookies / 10% white peach cobbler / 5% pickles. Of course, I've made it a habit to take my vitamins, extra calcium (w/magnesium and D), folic acid, plus a consistent amount of omegas for her development. I falter a few times a week when it comes to eating low-glycemic, and really try to monitor my sugar intake. At nearly eight months, I've gained 18 pounds and will continue to watch the scale and what I eat to insure this little girl is getting proper nutrition and gaining weight in a healthy way. In other news...we finally closed escrow on our home last Friday. It was a challenging experience purchasing a bank owned fixer upper, but the lovely little gingerbread craftsman was well worth the wait and huge pile of paperwork! I've dealt with many REO (real estate owned) properties this past year and am always amazed at what they previously sold for and how much attention or lack of was spent on maintaining the home.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I did not write the following, but do share the same sentiment and thought it was brilliantly written... enjoy.

The holidays are upon us once again, and once again it is time to be grateful.  With all the negative media these days, I wanted to remind you that many wonderful things are happening despite what you may hear in the news.


A Silver Lining in the Housing Market


     The media always loves to focus on the negative, and it may get you doing so as well-well, don't.  The book and DVD called The Secret show pretty conclusively that whatever you focus on becomes your experience, i.e., whatever your worry about ends up happening. You know me, I always focus on the positive-well, here it goes:


POSITIVE #1:  Since the housing market has slowed down, more people are saving.  More savings provide more funds for banks to loan to homebuyers.


POSITIVE #2:  Since the increase in gas prices, people are driving less, buying more energy-efficient cars, and starting to install more solar features in their  homes-all good for the environment. People also are starting to move to the inner city, great for revitalizing downtown areas and giving families more time to spend at home with one another.


POSITIVE #3:  The fall in the dollar is helping our economy because foreign consumers are buying more of our products, taking more vacations here, and helping our trade imbalance.


POSITIVE #4:  The subprime lenders had sold homes to people who could not afford them anyway.  Now those less-expensive foreclosures are being bought by people who otherwise could not have afforded a home.


POSITIVE #5:   The slowdown in the housing market is confined to those areas that went up too fast, anyway-i.e., Florida; Washington, DC; New York; California; Las Vegas; and Arizona.  Now the locals there once again can afford to buy a home.  


     So savings are up, we are using less gas and moving back to the inner city, more people are concerned about conserving energy, our trade deficit is improving, and more deserving Americans are able to afford a home.  We also live in the best place in the world-what could be better? 


     Be grateful and enjoy your Thanksgiving.   God bless you all.


SOURCE:  "Housing Prices are Down, Oil is Up, and That's Not Really So Bad,"  New York Times, November 14, pp. A1 and A20.

Jeanette Lee Hada

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