Recommitment

I’ve been looking for something that’s been missing in my life/ Now 49 years old, I am struggling with an “unhealthy heart” looking to make external changes instead of looking inside to improve myself. May 15 at 4:15am I had the revelation I needed to recommit to change, in order to make myself better, from the inside out.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s a series of challenges we must face and overcome. I’ve done it in the past, making that commitment and the change was amazing! Kent Sparks has been quite an inspiration in the few weeks I’ve listened to him speak. His words and more importantly, his message has opened my eyes to many shortcomings in the time I’ve been alive. His most recent talk about Keystone Habits: Learning the why behind the what” has given me some excellent guidance but know I face an uphill battle that requires a lot of work.

Three years ago, this past April I ran my third 50-mile race, finishing in 13:40:39, knocking off over 15-minutes from the previous year. The feeling of accomplishment, determination, hard work, perseverance culminated in the last :35 seconds of the race, coming down the chute, people cheering and clapping, to hear your name and city called out as you cross the finish line. It’s a feel I will never forgot but want to recapture.

While there is much work to be done, I’ve started setting goals. In the last few years I’ve become lost and become unrecognizable in my personal life, work life and most important, home life. While much of the change will take from within, there are external goals I’ve set. Talking to co-worker and friend, Brian, we are setting a goal to run the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run in April 2020. This would be our third time participating, both races I’ve finished, but my running buddy has unfortunately dropped out both time. He wants to get the monkey off his back and we will cross that finish line together next year.

I’ve recommitted to physical change by heading back to the gym, getting back on the Stronglifts 5×5 program that put me in the best shape of my life and allowed me to push my limits and run 50 miles! While I’ve yet to resolve the foot issue, I’ve started running again, 30 minutes, which will increase over the next few weeks.

This journey wouldn’t be complete without the support and involved of Julie and Jerry and those who follow a Protective Diet, a lifestyle change I am followed since 2011, when the site was known as “Plant Purity,” when I made Julie’s, Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes! Still one of my favorites to this day! The success I had changing my eating habits was nothing short of amazing. You can read my testimonial on the PD site!

I am excited at the prospects, having set the race goal, as well as dropping some weight to get back into better physical shape. More important all the physical changes, the change that occurs from within. Having listened to Kent speak has really inspired me to fix my heart and make a commitment and have faith in the words he speaks as the truth. It’s an exciting time and hopefully I can share some of the journey as I move forward.

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DeNova Woes

First, apologies to my realtor, I know he wanted me to drop this nonsense against DeNova Homes, as much of what I have written about will need to be disclosed when we sell. However, I can’t sit on my hands and let them just run over us, our house and their issues. Sadly, Facebook reminded me it was three years, March 14 when we the keys were in my hands to a big money pit, located in the Emerson Ranch development of Oakley.

Based on appearance, this was a development I would drive by on the way to my in-laws and think, “sure would be nice to own a new home.” Unfortunately, luck came through and we purchased a new home from DeNova. While I won’t recant all the problems we’ve had since we’ve taken ownership, as they are all on my site, just type in ‘DeNova’ in the search bar.

Last week, it was discovered there was a leak in the upstairs bathroom. How long it had been leaking is unknown, venturing a guess I would say a few weeks, but it can’t really be determined, nor does it matter. It wasn’t caught, as it was leaking from the supply line, under the toilet and not on a regular basis. The only way I found it was cleaning the bathroom and I noticed the grout in the tile was a dark shade of brown. That and the comment from my wife and son about a wet area just inside his room. Having had water damage in the previous two houses in Oakley, you would think we would be experts in knowing if we had a leak.

In hindsight, that wet spot was the water leaking in the bathroom. I put a call into the emergency line for DeNova, as I figured this is their problem and not the first we’ve had. I also contacted my insurance company, opened a claim just to cover my ass. DeNova got a plumber there within a few hours and come to find out, the supply line wasn’t not even finger tight. Why after three years had it started leaking? Who knows? Honestly, who cares, but it goes to show the poor craftsmanship and effort put forth by DeNova Homes and their subcontractors.

Water damage is not fun, thankfully it was caught earlier enough that major problems, like we experienced in our first house, didn’t occur. The following day, the remediation company, selected by DeNova Homes came over to start the drying and dehumidifying process. Never fun, they displaced my son, with the carpet pulled back and a blower going, nonstop for five days.

A DeNova customer service representative stopped by early last week, as my wife discussion varies problems still experienced, along with the water leak. It took approximately two weeks for DeNova to get the personnel to resolve the problem. This required drying out all the areas that were wet, which included carpet, tile and drywall, while removing baseboard and wood unable to be dried. In the end, the tile was not able to be dried to the satisfaction of the remediation company and a week later it was all removed to the sub flooring.

DeNova also cut into some custom closet shelving that still hasn’t been resolved. It’s my guess that if we don’t push the issue they will continue to get away with poor customer service, something they are becoming quite known for. There also seems to be a disconnect between the manager, who my wife and I have dealt with and the customer service representative. We were told to send an email of ALL unresolved issues, but surprise! The manager said all the problems were resolved and DeNova wouldn’t address them. Not that I am surprised, again POOR customer service on the part of this home builder.

In the end the bathroom was repaired, but the lack of care and quality craftsmanship remains. DO NOT be talked into buying a home from this company. They will show you one thing and sell you another. You are buying a very poorly constructed home that will have MANY problems. Just look at all the problems we cited that they decided not to address that are now bigger problems.

 

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PD – Week 3

Monday starts week 3 of reacquainting myself with the principles and living a Protective Diet. I’ve decided to change logging format to a weekly basis now, rather than daily. While I have many thoughts, it’s easier to post and hopefully have others in a similar situation follow along. Don’t want to feel I am boring readers with information they don’t need or want to read. Hopefully that isn’t the fact and if I can help one person with something I write, then excellent!

Week 3 started off well, but I find myself falling into some frustrating habits. In the motto of the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared!” is something I haven’t been. I’ve been attempting to follow a weekly menu I put forth each week, but after the first 14 days, I’ve started to run into problem. These could easily be resolved if I had time on my days off to follow SUS (Set Up Sunday) as Julie calls it, however, and I’ve said this before my days off are spent working, cleaning the house, doing house related projects. Rarely do I have time to cook for 2-3 hours in preparation for the week. Can I fit it in? Sure, I could make a few early morning adjustments and probably start my day working on SUS before starting my day off.

Going back to Julie and Class 200 – Stop the Snack Challenge, this was a key point that I had been failing on, which saw me start the downward slide. Outside of just a day or two, I have done well. Eating through out the day, has really helped to cut out those between meal snacks. I continue to struggle after dinner, grabbing a snack less than an hour after I eat. Not sure why, as I am satiated but left feeling hungry to some degree. I think there might be a connection, especially on the weekends, as I have been known to skip lunch on my days off, which makes me more hungry approaching dinner time.

Overall, things are still moving in the right direction. As I recall, from reading my words, it wasn’t easy to begin. While I don’t struggle in the kitchen, cooking was challenging, but the longer I followed McDougall and PD, it did get easier. While I have a plethora of recipes, it’s sometimes challenging with so much good food to eat, where to begin.

What I do know, the longer I follow PD, the stronger my conviction becomes. I know what I am doing is the right thing and while the start has tapered off just a bit as I start the 4th week, but continue to adhere to the program and most importantly, always learning.

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More DeNova Repairs!

It’s been far too long since I have taken a shot at DeNova Homes (#dontbuydenova) for their poor craftsmanship and lack of quality control. This has been seen repeatedly in our “new home,” lacking from before we even put down a deposit to confirm our home. If we knew all the red tape and bullshit we would run into with this purchase, we would never have gone through it and held onto our hard earned money. As a warning to future DeNova Homes owners, please rethink your purchase before it’s too late.

Just because I haven’t pushed the #dontbuydenova movement doesn’t mean all is well and good. It hasn’t been and we know it’s not going to get better. In fact it’s getting worse. It’s been a few months, but pulling up to our home in Emerson Ranch, Oakley I saw pick and green spray paint on the sidewalks. Not knowing what it represented I contacted a friend who was a Comcast installer and he gave me his best guess. Following that I Googled it. As the markings fell by the wayside, I didn’t put much thought into over the holiday period.

All the concrete in front of our home was marked, as seen to the left, as was much of our street. To my surprise, I came home last Thursday to see construction and many pieces of sidewalk suddenly missing, as a contractor has started to remove the marked areas. many of these marked with pink were due to cracking and I can only guess the green arrows confirm the portion of concrete to be removed.

A day later, we receive a letter on our door from DeNova Homes dated 1-12-18:

Their estimate of “2-4 days” hasn’t been realistic. Received the letter day after it was dated. While there has been some foggy, rainy weather over the weekend, as of this morning nothing had been addressed nor had all the concrete been removed. The same areas that were pulled out that week had been framed for pouring concrete.

Out of curiosity, I contacted the City of Oakley for clarification of the removal and replacement of the concrete sidewalks. Their response, “We haven’t accepted the concrete improvements yet and our inspector has marked some that we know needs to come out. DeNova jumped ahead to fix those – without notifying the residents or us. It doesn’t look like drainage is related.” The last comment from the city was related to a question my wife asked of the contractors doing the work. Since we owned the house there has been a major drainage issue. While DeNova Homes will claim the lot was “graded for drainage” NOTHING drains. This can be seen very clearly in the front yard right on the property line, as we had a swamp growing in size before a contractor attempted to come out, on the request of our neighbor. No drainage pipe was replace, which tells me there was no real fix to the problem. All the swamp grass was removed and they covered the area with new bark. Guess that qualifies as “fixed.”

My point of contention is, if the concrete poured isn’t acceptable as seen by the City of Oakley, then why the hell doesn’t DeNova Homes address the poor concrete that forms our driveway and patio? I cited on 6/21/2016, in another email to DeNova Homes, “059. Concrete on front porch, in front of door cracking.” The response from their warranty manager, “The crack is not wide enough to repair. No action will be taken at this time.” At this time, so when it does become wide enough, does it suddenly get repaired with DeNova footing the bill? Of course not, by that time the house will be our of warranty and the homeowner will be required to pay the price to repair the poor concrete that was poured.

These cracks are just part of the problem. Along with color footprints in the concrete there are chucks of the top surfaces that have start to break off, compromising the concrete. I guess this is also not the responsibility of DeNova Homes. The concrete being replaced on the sidewalks speaks. Sadly, we are coming up nearly 2 years of ownership and the problems DeNova Homes has claimed to repaired still exist. We still have blue and green tape in our walls signifying a problem area that was never addressed by their sub-contractors.

There has been no worse buying experience than that we have continued to face with DeNova Homes. After this email I will be sending them another email regarding these sidewalk repairs and to question why our concrete problems were not considered for repair. Hopefully discussion reopens with DeNova and they are willing to accept more criticize regarding our home. My wife and I have received numerous contacts from other, new DeNova Home owners and sadly they all have similar stories of poor quality and craftsmanship in their new homes. It’s not just our house. It’s not just us, as we were told it was. It’s a MAJOR problem with DeNova Homes. Not sure why homeowners have not united together and put forth a class action lawsuit against this company and this poor quality homes. Maybe that’s something I need to explore, I am sure there is an attorney willing to go after a developer like DeNova Homes.

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PD – Day 8

Growing up in Southern California, it wasn’t difficult to find good Mexican food, nearly every corner had a taco shop. Being minutes away from the San Ysidro border crossing, authentic was a car ride away. Growing up my mom was an amazing cook! Maybe it’s where I gained some of my culinary talents in the kitchen. While Mexican was a popular cuisine, Indian cooking was a virtual unknown in our household. It wasn’t until I moved out, grew up that I first experienced Japanese curry, but quickly moved for the Indian variety. In fact, I experience some of the best tasting Indian curry, down under in Australia, when I visited some years back.

Since that time, I have been fond of flavors out of India; cumin, tumeric, garam masala, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed and cloves just to name a few. Now that I have my own kitchen, curry seems to be a regular dish in my repertoire, as I am always looking out for new and different recipes to try.

It’s quite easy to find vegan Indian cuisine, unfortunately many of these dishes are loaded with oil when cooked. There’s a local establishment that has some great food, while all  vegan I know I should have made a wiser decision and cooked my own. It’s one of those meals you bring home and the containers are laced with oil, but the favors are incredible.

Looking deeper for vegan recipes from India, the oil can be omitted in nearly every case. Last night I made the Protective Diet Tikka Masala. Oil free, plant based, this was one of the best dishes I have made! It was coupled with Indian Style Basmati Rice I found off All Recipes. I failed to use the PD Indian Spice Rice recipe, as I missed it when I was reading the instructions. Then again, failing to read Julie’s recipes ALL THE WAY THROUGH, seems to be a common theme with me. Funny because it’s usually the FIRST instruction she has when you start the recipe.

Last October I had two weekend long outings with the Boy Scouts of America. It was leadership training for adults, where were broken into groups of 5-6. Along with camping, we were told to cook our own meals during the second weekend. In our group we had a leader named, Praveen. As luck would have it, he was from southern India, vegan and asked if he could do all the cooking. While we pooled our thoughts for meals we could cook, he came up with some excellent Indian food.

While I had heard of Chana Masala (Indian chick pea dish), I had never cooked it but Prvaeen sold us the mean by another name, Chole. This was our main course for dinner the second night. This dish is created several ways depending on the time and richness you desire. He pointed me to this video by Vahchef as a guide.

 

While canned chickpeas and premixed garam masala can be used, the flavors are enhanced when can soak dried chickpeas and use individual spices to create your personal garam masala. Soaking the chickpeas you are able to control of hardness of the garbonzo, but usually overnight is adequate. Garam masala is a mixture of cardamom, cumin, clove, bay leaves and mace. This spice can be found in any Indian grocery, but also at nearly any market you shop in the spice section.

Accompanying our meal was a dish called upma. “Originally from South India, is a hot favorite breakfast food! Made with semolina and slightly spiced to make a tasty dish that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch or as a snack,” as described by Sanjay Thumma. The word translated;  “up” means “soft” and “ma” means “flat.”

 

The basic upma recipe as cooked by Vahchef:

Ingredients
1 tbsp channa dal
1 slice chopped ginger
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp cumin
8 leaf curry leaves
2 piece gr chillies
1 pinch hing
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil or butter
2 tbsp peanuts
1 pinch salt
1 cup sooji/semolina/rava
1 tsp urad wash

Directions
Add oil in a heavy pan ,add mustard seeds,cumin and add channadal ,peanutsand saute till they are cooked add urad wash, add chopped ginger,chillies curry leaves hing add salt and water bring it to boil add semolina/sooji slowly stirring continously so to avoid lumps mix well when all moisture is absorbed cover for 5 min and serve hot with chutney ,pickle ,sambhar and kids love to eat with some sugar (text from the You Tube video).

This recipe can easily be modified for a Protective Diet by removing the oil and the peanuts. In fact, when Praveen made it, there was no peanuts used, but he did use oil to heat the spices before the actual cooking started. However, it was the whole spices that really brought out a full, deep flavor in the upma.

One ingredient I had never cooked with, curry leaves. As I continued to search for more Indian recipes, I realized I had never seen curry leaves for sale at any market I go to, including the Middle Eastern markets I frequent. As luck would have it, a co-worker, who is Indian has a few curry trees growing in his yard and cut some branches for me. Fresh curry leaves are easily stored in a Ziplock bad, folded between newspaper in order to keep moisture off the leaves. Done properly, curry leaves could last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

 

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