Tuesday, July 22, 2014

After day 1

The wallpaper guy did his thing yesterday. Having removed all the rest of the wallpaper in this house over the years myself, I was a little jealous over how easy the last of it came off for him. But then I heard him grunting as he was washing the paste off the walls, a chore I remember well. Once again, I am very happy to let someone else do all the work this time around.

Diningroom before stripping

Diningroom after stripping

Bedroom with border

Bedroom sans border

Today the ceiling guy is here, working on the two bedrooms. In fact, he just did the smelly part. Gotta go turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom at that end of the house. Gak!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready, set...


I spent the whole weekend moving many of my earthly possessions out of the closets, cupboards, bedrooms, and other living spaces, mostly into the West Wing, in anticipation of the start of phases 2 and 3 of the remodeling.

Originally, phase 2 included the main bathroom and two bedrooms, while phase 3 covered the livingroom, diningroom, and hallway. I wanted them done separately, because I could not imagine where all my crap would go while they worked. When the delivery time for the new tub stretched out to four weeks, though, I suggested we go ahead and start on phase 3. Between vacations and other scheduling issues, nothing really got going, so now both phases are happening at the same time.

Today the wallpaper remover arrived, after first going to the wrong house. Once he found my place, the cops showed up. Apparently, the lady at the other house was spooked by his unexpected appearance on her property (she never answered the door). A couple of weeks ago, a personable but pushy lawn service guy was canvassing the neighborhood, and since then, people have been questioning anyone who appears to be loitering. Last week, my neighbor across the street confronted the wallpaper remover's boss who was sitting in his car in front of my house. Glad to know the neighbor (who is the best neighbor in the world because he blows my driveway in winter) is looking out for me.

NERD ALERT: Buried in that mess is over 20 years worth of computer equipment, including two Gateways, a Dell, and a Canon notebook. One of the Gateways was my "utility" computer: four serial ports (necessary for debugging serial communications between devices), two parallel ports, a 5.25 drive, 3.5 drive, and a Bernoulli drive. I had to talk the guy selling me the Canon into putting 8 megs of memory into it instead of the standard 4 because my Turbo C compiler would need it (I was right). Since there was not enough storage on the Canon, I used a Zip drive to store the software I developed. That was back in the day, when programming was fun.

A few items have been winnowed out, destined for Goodwill or Habitat's ReStore. I am eyeing the remaining and weighing what stays. Like the London Fog winter coat that I have not worn in years (decades?) But it's a LONDON FOG and they don't make them like that anymore. Maybe I will start wearing it this winter. If it still fits. And what about my wedding gown that I sewed myself, tiers of polyester with flowery lace trim? I should be allowed to keep a few things for sentimental reasons, right?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kitchen orgy

I thought when I retired, I would have more time for blogging. That has not happened because now I have more time for *everything*. I knit more, I garden more, I sleep more. Yesterday, I decided to cook more.

Cooking from scratch is not all that uncommon these days, but I sometimes take it to extremes. Thus baking pizza can turn into making mozzarella (recipe from Home Cheese Making), pizza sauce (recipe from Preserving by the Pint), and dough (recipe from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook). The dressing for our salad was a raspberry version of this strawberry balsamic basil one. There was already homemade vanilla ice cream (from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home) in the freezer, and it was served over this galette.

Even though most of the cooking was done by noon for our evening supper, things did not go all that smoothly. The mozzarella turned out nice and shiny, with that characteristic squeak when bitten, but I didn't get all the whey out. After cooling in the fridge, the cheese looked kind of funky. Still perfectly edible, just not so pretty. Milk from my herd share.

My Italian herb mix is rather ancient, so I used almost twice what the pizza sauce recipe called for. Also, my old eyes sometimes mistake a 1 for a 3 when the 1 has a serif, thus I used 3/4 of a teaspoon fresh ground pepper instead of 1/4. Very tasty just the same. Instead of tomatoes, I used tomato sauce from last year's garden.

The yeast for the dough was also ancient. Saturday night, I tried proofing it, twice, just to make sure it worked, with two failures. Maybe the water was too hot or third time's the charm, because I tried one more time Sunday morning (anything to avoid a trip to the grocery store) and it worked well enough to add the flour. The dough went into the fridge until mid afternoon, when I popped it into the oven with the oven light on; two hours later, it had doubled and was ready to become pizza.

For the salad dressing, I had tried substituting raspberries for the strawberries before but the result was too seedy. This time I ran the berries through my saucemaker, using the berry screen, thus turning a very simple recipe into a lot more work. The dressing turned out less creamy but just as tasty. Raspberries and basil from my garden.

The dough for the galette was also started Saturday night, with better success. The recipe warns about oozing and ooze it did, but not very much. Raspberries from the garden.

Salad fixings purchased at a farmers market and mild Italian sausage from a local farm rounded out our supper, plus beer. A very satisfying meal, plus I think I have got the cooking bug out of my system. For a while.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Prepping for phase 4

Phases 2 and 3 of the remodeling might actually get started in a week or two. Meanwhile, I have started the process of garnering quotes for a deck. I have an idea of what I want - something simple! low or no maintenance! - but I'm open to suggestions, as long as they don't cost a lot of money.

Deck guy #1 came yesterday. Unfortunately, he is the front man, not the designer. He tried pushing for railings and benches (more expense but they would reduce the likelihood of falling off the deck), then he fretted over the potential pergola (how to fit it under the eaves, whether it would need its own footings, etc.) And for a while, he detoured into the topics of inflation and how the government just prints money when we should go back to the gold standard.

It is going to be about four weeks before this outfit can even get a quote back to me. I'll call some other places; maybe I will discover this lag time is the norm. I hope the topics of conversation are not.

Monday, June 23, 2014

More hurry up and wait

In my original dreams, I thought the remodeling would be 100% complete by now. (Don't laugh.) Phase 1 is 100% complete, the bill is paid, onto phase 2... someday. The shower enclosure may take four (4!!!) weeks to get in. So I suggested, if that were the case, we move onto phase 3 while we wait. Unfortunately, that phase needs to be requoted because they forgot to include the flooring by the front door and I decided the wallpaper in the dining room has to go, and the person who handles that process is on vacation this week. So no forward progress in the near future. Grrr.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To DIE for

I get two gallons of milk every two weeks from my herdshare. Half of it usually ends up as yogurt, some is transformed into ice cream, and, not as often as I would like, I make cheese. Sometimes there is more milk than I can use, so I am always looking for unique ways to ingest this wonderful white stuff. And here is one: dulce de leche. It takes FOREVER to cook down, but it is one of the most wonderful flavors on earth.

I made it just plain this first time around, but am sure to try flavoring it with vanilla and/or cinnamon and/or ??? We have been eating it on Jeni's Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World (homemade). Tonight we are having it on (homemade) butter pecan. But frequently I sample a spoonful right from the jar. It truly is wonderful stuff.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Phase 1 is unofficially done

Almost two months have passed since I declared phase 1 of the remodeling to be complete (more or less). As of today (Friday), it really is done. What took so long?

The major delay was caused by the side piece to the vanity top which no one noticed was missing until almost everything was done, and then it took quite a while to get one in. Also, I had to resolve the issue of the sticky-out medicine cabinet blocking the light from the new light fixture. Many solutions were suggested - box out the light fixture so it stuck out further from the wall, pick out a new light fixture with arms (like the old one), recess the medicine cabinet. The first solution would have looked dumb, the second was not possible because for some reason they don't make bathroom light fixtures with arms anymore, the last troubling because if it were easy to recess the medicine cabinet, wouldn't the builders of the house done that? Then I came up with the bright idea of taking the door off the medicine cabinet and hanging that on the wall; I don't use the items in the cabinet on a daily basis, so they can go under the sink. My daughter suggested I just get a new mirror altogether. So *that* is what we finally did. The mirror and side piece to the vanity top were installed.

To make it all official, there is to be a final walk-through and then I have to pay the balance owed. Next up: phase 2.

(I will admit to being a bit peeved that it has taken this long to wrap up, as I was hoping to have all three phases done by now. But the remaining items were minor, worker bees were not occupying my abode for the duration, and I've been plenty busy with the garden and other sundry activities. I did try to goose them along about phase 2, but they don't seem to be goosable.)