Relocation Complication

I knew relocating would be complicated, but there are so many aspects that have just started popping up. Telling co-workers, making announcements, deciding on start dates, house hunting, temporary housing, car shipping… the list goes on and on.

Mr.S&P has been in touch with our “relocation counselor” (sounds like he’ll be part logistical help, part mental help!) and we’ve got the process started. Thankfully the package the company is giving us is pretty thorough. Part of it will be a lump sum payment of calculated costs we will probably incur, part will be reimbursements on costs. The best part of the lump sum is that if we don’t need it all, it’s ours to keep (or spend on any other costs… like maybe a new bedroom set?) I have already mapped out a plan to be as frugal as possible to make the money go as far as possible. The logistics about a start date are more complicated. Mr.S&P’s company is flexible, but he needs to really be on-site soon. We’re trying to minimize the amount of time we’re living apart.

Tonight, though, we’re taking in a Red Sox game! It may be one of the last times we get to go to a game at Fenway for a while. Just four years ago we lived literally around the corner from the park and could hear the games out our window in the summertime. We figured we’d get Boloco at NU for old times sake and walk over to the game. We have to get as much “Boston” in as we can while we’re still here. I guess we’ll have to start going to the Diamondbacks games, where the tickets start – more reasonably- at $8.

It’s official. We’re moving.

Mr.S&P passed in his signed offer letter last night. We will be Arizona residents by year’s end.

This weekend’s trip went very well. Got into Phoenix around 9pm Friday night, headed to the hotel and then back out for a drink and some nachos. BJ’s Restaurant and Brewery at the Chandler Fashion Center was delicious and at 10:30 at night we got to sit outside in the warm 70 degree air. (It had snowed when we left Boston. This was a real treat). They next morning we were at it early. A quick stop at Starbucks and we were fueled for the ride. We checked out Val Vista Lakes and some of the northern communities. Then headed down to Power Ranch and Seville. We loved the lushness of Val Vista Lakes, but also loved the peace and quiet of Power Ranch and Seville, which are further out-of-town.

The need for a car charger for my iPhone brought us to San Tan Village, an outdoor shopping area with all the typical stores. It’s so different from malls in Mass because everything is outside. No more being locked inside an ugly mall. Shopping in Arizona is so much more glamorous! We also hit up Paradise Cafe & Bakery, which apparently they have in Boston. It’s really like the Panera of the West. My sister recommended it and it was delicious.

After a quick trip back to the hotel to regroup, we were back at it and off to Scottsdale for dinner. We checked out Old Town Scottsdale and the arts district then settled for dinner at RnR, a rowdy, but fun bar with more outside seating (everything is outside!) A couple of delicious Spicy Mango Margaritas later, we headed back to the hotel. A long but fulfilling day where we covered as much ground as possible.

Sunday was another early day and we headed into Phoenix. Like Boston on a Sunday morning, it was very quiet. Seems like downtown Phoenix is mostly a business district. After circling the city, we headed up the highway to check out north Phoenix and Paradise Valley, which is gorgeous. We sat outside in a park for a while and chatted about this impending move. There is so much to do, and we’re trying to not be overwhelmed. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.

After driving around a bit more, Mr.S&P dropped me off at Sky Harbor and I was off back to Boston. The ride was quick and I was happy to see my family at the airport. So much is in the works now. Time to sell our place and really start looking at houses in Arizona!

While Arizona doesn’t have the ocean or the lovely charm of historic homes, it does have great weather, palm and orange trees, and cheaper homes. I feel like we’ll be able to make a quality life for ourselves there. Can’t wait to get started.

Off to Phoenix tonight

Tonight we’re heading to Phoenix to, as Mr.S&P says, decide how we want to proceed with our lives. There is so much to think about and consider in a day and a half. We’re planning on heading to the Gilbert Farmer’s market on Saturday, Scottsdale at night and spinning through Phoenix on Sunday. There is a lot of ground to cover to make this decision. I have been following a lot of news organizations and local businesses on Facebook and Twitter to get a feel for the area, but there is nothing like being on the ground.

Mr.S&P will spend next week in AZ and I will head home on Sunday. We dropped the dog of with mother in law last night so she could watch him over the weekend. Have to say, I was so sad without him! When we travel he stays with someone, but we’re of doing fun things. I hate being at our house without him. I kept waiting for him to pop his head around a corner or come up for a pat. Can’t wait to see him on Sunday, but in the mean time, it’s off to Arizona!

Hunting for houses and House Hunters

I’ve been on the web non-stop for the last two and a half weeks searching for houses. There is quite the selection in Gilbert, unlike in Massachusetts. The prices are to die for and so is the square footage. I figured since this is such a unique opportunity, why not make it crazier and apply for House Hunters, a show on HGTV that I watch religiously.

I did and I got a call back. We need to be further in the process, but the thought that we could have this journey documented on reality TV is really cool. It takes three to five full days to film, so I’m not sure how that will work with Mr.Sweaters&Pies’s schedule, but we’ll see what happens as we continue down this path.

I’m really looking forward to our first trip together to Phoenix this weekend to check out the areas and look at houses in person. We’ll definitely hit up the Gilbert Farmer’s Market and probably go out Saturday night in Scottsdale. It’s also suppose to be 94 degrees; a little different from the 45 degrees that is forecasted for the Boston area this weekend.

More to come as the weekend approaches.

Waiting on the world to change

Due to the lovely airline schedules, we can’t visit our next potential hometown until the first weekend in April. Over the past week, we’ve told various family members and friends that this relocation is possible. Everyone has been super encouraging and excited, so that has been a huge blessing. The realization has also set in that we will be far better off if we move. Not only professionally for Mr.S&P, but also for us personally and financially. The houses in Arizona are unlike anything here that we could afford. Instead of our current one bedroom/one bath condo, we could actually buy a 5 bedroom house. What would be do with all those rooms? I have no idea, but knowing that it’s a possibility is so freeing.

For the past couple years we have struggled with the idea of “making it”. What would long term success look like for us and our (potential) future family. We’re planners and have had it all planned out down to the day and penny. We’ve kept lists on our bulletin board, budgets on our computers; always trying to figure out how to move forward in the best and fastest way.

This past year, I changed jobs, and changed jobs back. All the while I struggled with my feeling of failure, but mostly the idea that I felt we could never get ahead and live where we wanted to, afford the kind of house we wanted, have the type of family dynamic that I dreamed of. It was all out of reach and despite my best efforts to get there I felt like it just wasn’t going to happen. I could clearly see it, but there was no path for me to follow.

This is the ultimate message of the “Secret”. You don’t need to know the path, just know that it will happen. The utter blind faith that if you ask for it, it’s yours.

We had always said we’d love to move somewhere if Mr.S&P’s company moved him. We wanted to move and buy a house this summer anyway. We wanted more options and a way to get ahead. I wanted the opportunity to try something new or maybe not try anything at all for a while, but having the freedom to make that choice. We knew it all, we saw what we wanted, we wrote it all down on lists that we’ve systematically checked off year after year.

We didn’t know how any of it would happen. But we believed it would… and it has.

…and sometimes life hands you Arizona

Mr. Sweaters&Pies has received a promotion in his company, IF we move to Arizona. I never considered myself an Arizona person. I was hoping they’d move us, but to places like England, Northern California, or the Carolinas. I knew 2011 was going to be a big year, I just had no idea how big.

We were already planning trips to Costa Rica to visit my brother and law, and to Italy with my parents. I was considering these my version of Eat, Pray, Love. I had the Eat (Italy), the Pray (Costa Rica…more in a meditative way), but where was my Love… I love New England and have lived here all my life. Now I think my Love has come along, as in “I’m going to have to Love some place else.”

I am definitely up for an adventure. I am just not sure what I’m getting myself into. We will be traveling there this coming weekend to check it out. Should be interesting.

Below Freezing

It’s below ZERO degress today in New England. My car had a tough time starting this morning, too. Oh, Monday! Trying to stay warm is tough on days like this and if you’re fortunate not to have to go outside today, make a nice meal and curl up on the couch. One of my favorite winter dishes is Ina Garten’s Roasted Potato and Leek Soup. The carmelized shallots are really the kicker.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned of all sand (4 leeks)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, plus extra for serving
  • 6 to 7 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Crispy Shallots, recipe follows, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the potatoes and leeks on a sheet pan in a single layer. Add the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning them with a spatula a few times during cooking, until very tender. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Roast for 4 to 5 more minutes, until the arugula is wilted. Remove the pan from the oven and place over 2 burners. Stir in the wine and 1 cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, scraping up any crispy roasted bits sticking to the pan.

In batches, transfer the roasted vegetables to a food processor fitted with the steel blade, adding the pan liquid and about 5 cups of the chicken stock to make a puree. Pour the puree into a large pot or Dutch oven. Continue to puree the vegetables in batches until they’re all done and combined in the large pot. Add enough of the remaining 1 to 2 cups of stock to make a thick soup. Add the cream, creme fraiche, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and check the seasonings.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently and whisk in 2 tablespoons white wine and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Serve hot with an extra grating of Parmesan and crispy shallots, if using.

Crispy Shallots:

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it reaches 220 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. The temperature should stay below 260 degrees F. Stir the shallots occasionally to make sure they brown evenly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, drain well, and spread out to cool on paper towels. Once they have dried and crisped, they can be stored at room temperature, covered, for several days.

Yield: about 1/2 cup