November 21, 2017

The Turkey with a Boob Job

Turkey Day came early for us this year. We celebrated with the family on Sunday because Frank and I will be traveling to Kentucky over the holiday. We will spend Thanksgiving with Frank's family. Bob and Hugh are hosting us. I sent my Sunbasket order to Bob's to assist with the meal. We arrive mid afternoon on Thursday so shopping was out of the question. I'm hopeful the meal kit will work out as beautifully as intended. The family is all in Kentucky this year, because Frank's cousin is getting married at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Initially, I wasn't going to attend because airfare was more than $700 on Southwest. I was able to reserve Frank a more affordable fare because we was able to stay until Tuesday. I, on the other hand, must be back to work Monday morning. Last minute, though, I was able to find fairly cheap fares on Allegiant. They recently started flying to Louisville, and their schedule doesn't allow flights every day, but for this trip, it was just what we needed. I cancelled Frank's flight on Southwest and rebooked him sharing my dates. It ought to be a nice time.

A little over a week ago, I took requests for our Thanksgiving feast. Nick wanted glazed carrots, Jeff wanted asparagus and Frank requested a turkey with implants. What can I say, I like to make things happen. Jeff's request was the only one not honored, not for lack of trying, the asparagus at Albertson's was so thin it would instantly turn to mush. Our turkey was more obscene than I had intended, but it was all in good fun. When life gives you lemons, give your turkey... tatas.

This year, I also coated it in a herb butter mask. I also tented only the breast after the first half hour at high heat for about 2.5 hours. Then, removed the foil for the final half hour to achieve even browning. The extras didn't make for a more flavorful bird. Nor did the lemon boobs. It was very moist, but some pieces from the breast were tough. I don't know if that was a result of my doing or not. I stand by loading the area between the skin and the meat with butter, it really does make a difference. I've had great success with juicy turkeys by doing it that way.

These Bourbon Maple Glazed Carrots were pretty tasty. I omitted the dill. I probably could have dressed it with parsley, thyme or rosemary since I had all on hand, but it never occurred to me. I have a run of bad luck when it comes to mashed potatoes. One, I'm not particularly fond of them unless they are those by Joel Robuchon, but let's be real those are more butter with an essence of potato. And who does not like butter?! Mashed taters are such a staple I keep trying to find a recipe that works for me. I've tried ricers, whipping them and even the crock pot. Meh. I was going to scrap them this year, but I decided to make one last ditch effort by trying Pioneer Woman's Creamy Mashed Potatoes. They could be made in advance and with all that butter, cream cheese and cream how could they be anything but creamy? They were my greatest success to date, but they're miles from anything Robuchon like.

I only cooked dinner for nine, which is far less than I prepared for last year. So, the day was much easier. Plus, Amy brought green bean casserole - um. yum, and Lauren prepared salad with mixed greens, cranberries, apples, walnuts, bacon, and feta. It was the perfect blend of sweet and salty. I rounded our feast out with sausage stuffing (technically, dressing), steamed broccoli and cheese (another of Amy's specialties), cranberries and yeasty dinner rolls. We finished with pumpkin pie for dessert.

The biggest tip for your holiday spread is to invest in a electric knife. I received one as a gift last year for Christmas. It was thought to be blasphemous my kitchen was lacking one at Thanksgiving a year ago. And truly it was. Because this baby sliced like a dream, even right through the bones. Frank had the turkey carved in record time.

Wherever you are or wherever you go, may you have the best Thanksgiving yet. Hug your family, just a little longer - for me.

November 17, 2017

November Rain

The proceeds of my dad's condo were sent to me second day after closing. I was anxious to get the funds in the bank. I had received the EIN for the estate days before so I believed everything I needed to open his estate account was in order. I confirmed this with a phone call to my bank of choice and I was told to "come in", but when I showed up on a Saturday, I learned that the representatives that open estate accounts are only available Monday-Friday. It would've been nice if that was mentioned on the phone. Oh well. The agent set an appointment for the next Monday, and took copies of the documents to expedite the process. I arrived at my scheduled appointment and the rep sent off the documents to legal. This was after I received a call stating that I needed to bring in the originals because the copies would not suffice. Fortunately, I had them together already assuming that would be the case. All good - right?! Nope. The first snag was that one of the probate docs did not have a raised seal. Apparently, only a copy was issued by the courts. They were willing to waive it given the circumstances - court in another state and all, but then, they saw the other state was Illinois. This was a big problem. Illinois is one of the few, if not the only states, that require estate monies to remain in IL until probate has concluded.

I was at a national bank with branches in Nevada, Illinois and in all likelihood the rest of the 48 states. But the appointment came to a screeching halt. The account would have to be opened in Illinois. Period.

Um. Wow.

I had numerous conversations with the probate attorney prior to this and she failed to mention this detail. Even when I asked multiple times that there was nothing that would require my presence in IL. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I've now made two trips to the bank that were a complete waste of my time. I've spent a great sum to date that cannot be reimbursed until the estate account is open and I'm able to draw from it. Worst of all, I was looking at the added expense of a trip to Chicago or attorney fees to find a work around.

The universe took pity on me, I managed to find a flight to Chicago on Southwest the first week of November for $76 round trip. The fare was so inexpensive I easily had enough Rapid Rewards to cover it. Though, I was completely out of time off, my boss approved my two day absence given the circumstances. My only real expense was the rental car I picked up at Midway. This was considerably cheaper than the legal fees so the choice was easy, even if it meant - Chicago in November. Brrr. I faced a real chance of snow and blustery cold.

There were frost warnings the week before my trip. I whined about it every chance I got, it was 80's in Vegas. I wanted no part of the cold. But it was there to greet me on arrival. It was an incredibly wet weekend too, but I was fortunate that the temps never dipped below freezing so I didn't encounter snow. Small victories.

When I got into town I took the shuttle to the rental car facility. It was extremely busy for it being one o'clock in the morning. All sorts of high school kids and their families were in town for some sort of hockey tournament. You couldn't walk without tripping over a hockey stick. I happened to be (proudly) wearing my Vegas Golden Knights hoodie, but no one acknowledged it (boo). After sorting out the paperwork, I was given the choice of two vehicles in the lot. My first pick was a Mitsubishi which I quickly learned that it had bad brakes and a check engine light illuminated. So, that was a no go. The other vehicle was a Hyundai with a missing a back license plate. I was paranoid the whole trip that I was going to be pulled over. It was a relief when I returned the vehicle without incident. I know it was a busy weekend, but I really would expect better from Alamo. In fairness, I've only had good experiences in other cities.

I had a bad case of butterflies prior to the appointment I had scheduled with the bank. I was nervous there'd be some sort of hiccup that would prevent me from opening the estate account. I stopped at the attorney's office to pick up the original documents that they had been received from court the week before per my request. I could breath a little easier with those in hand. The representative that assisted me at the bank had the title of Vice President, but he had no experience opening an estate account. This did not put me at ease. Fortunately, I did have experience, I was able to walk him through what he would need to send to legal so we could get started. Legal provided the support to get things done on their end. It took forever... and a day. But it was done. Hallelujah. I was able to deposit a whole stack of checks. Plus cash from the sale of my dad's car. My mother-in-law sold it the week before, I was so thankful. If it hadn't been sold, I planned to donate it while I was in town.

With my mission accomplished I was free to visit friends and family. I also worked in my mother-in-law's shed organizing belongings from my dad's condo, and I worked to clear items I left cluttering her garage. As I sorted, I picked out as much as I could safely pack in suitcases to bring back to Vegas. I couldn't let two free checked bags on Southwest go to waste. However, I was nervous the bags would be lost in transit. I packed the items of actual value in my carry on and I checked the sentimental items. I was relieved when I was reunited with all my luggage back at McCarran. I don't think I've ever traveled so heavy in my life. I don't know people do it regularly.

It was nice to catch up with old friends and spend time with family that I haven't seen in way too long. Satisfying cravings always hits the spot too. I consumed many bowls of creamed soups. Whatever the variation - I miss them so. It was also a nice treat to see the fall foliage. We don't get much of a show living in the desert so the colors were quite beautiful. One afternoon I took a ride to Lake Katherine which is a large park with prairies and wetlands that are situated a 10 acre lake. I hadn't been there in nearly 20 years. It was pretty muddy and many leaves had already fallen and the colors weren't as spectacular as I hoped, but it was a scenic stroll along the lake.

As far as I know, this was my last major hurdle. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The past three months were extremely demanding and they've left me weary. Despite it all, I was able to catch several breaks. For that, I am thankful.

November 15, 2017

November 3, 2017

21 Days: List to Close

I left Chicago and returned home. It was only a day before we left for San Diego, but it was nice to have one night's rest in the comforts of my own bed. I had been away for 17 days, the longest ever from home and the most days I've missed from work. Two weeks had been the prior record when traveling to Italy and Ecuador. This Chicago trip was anything, but vacation. To say I slept very little while I was gone would be a major understatement. It's surprising I was able to function. I swear, I ran purely on adrenaline. Once I hit the ground running there was barely a break to take a breath. No joke.

"Winter is coming!" I was in real life, Game of Thrones. This condo had to sell before winter. I was concerned about the carrying costs, the risks of the unit being vacant, pipes freezing, the hot water heater leaking, the shower flooding and that just scratched the surface of my worries. After taking 10 days to flip my dad's condo, the listing agreement was executed on August 29. I wanted it on the market for Labor Day weekend, just in case eager buyers or looky-loos stayed home for the holiday. When it went live the next day, it was hard to sit back and wait. My home selling experiences have been far from the norm, and I have zero knowledge regarding IL real estate so I didn't know what to expect. It was completely out of my control, which made me anxious.

Fortunately, the first showing came the next day. When people started coming to see it, I was eager for feedback. Very few left comments, the biggest concerns were the hot water heater and the windows. We were offering a home warranty and the asking price reflected the need for window replacement and bathroom repairs. I was hopeful the right buyer would understand this. Eight days after list, I received a call from our agent; she had multiple offers. Two were serious, one would be financed and the other cash. The cash offer was enticing. It would allow a lower commission, sell as-is, and it'd be quick to close. After discussing with Mike and Amy, we countered, and I was hopeful the cash offer would go to contract. Per my lucky stars, it did the very next day. Closing was anticipated 10 days later. Wow. I was speechless.

Nothing is ever this easy. I just waited for the other shoe to drop, but no issues ever came. Illinois real estate transactions require attorneys; their coordination with the title company took longer than the suggested 10 days to close. I did everything in my power to make it happen timely, but it was scheduled for two days later. I signed power of attorney to the probate attorney's office so I didn't have to be present. That afternoon, I clung to my phone and email anticipating some sort of hiccup, but the transaction was flawless. The proceeds were overnighted the very next day.

35 days to pack, move, flip, list, sell and close. I could finally breathe.

Probate is a very public process so I've been fielding calls and mailers from all sorts of investors hungry to ease my burden. Some may be well intended; many are clearly not. I get it, it's business, but it feels so dirty to prey on the vulnerable. I take great pride when I inform them that the property has been listed and sold, the fizzle in their tone when I ask to remove me from their list thrills me. It's the little things...

November 1, 2017