Saturday, December 12, 2009
Here is a shot of us taking the old one out.
And the new all snug as a bug in a rug!
It matches our new refrigerator as well.
Out with the old off-white (beige? biscuit? sand?) and in with the new! Shiny!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The total project took over a month, many many hours of labor, and several thousand dollars (thanks tax rebate!). I even "got" to go under the house for the first time!
Next time... fencing. Not the kind with white suits and pointy metal. (or maybe it will be gardening, wiring, painting, or other projects)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
A big big branch from our tree fell. Luckily it didn't hit anything important except a rose bush that may or may not make it. The wind and rain had made a mess of a bunch of other things so instead of my getting cozy ideas we had to suit up and try to fix a few things in the middle of the storm. Removed leaves from drain and gutters, fixed fence, collected things that had flown about the yard, and take a damage report of the tree.
That night it was still too rainy to do much about the tree, although by the time we got home we already had numerous business cards from tree service people in our mailbox and people knocking on our door offering their services. Last night as soon as we got home Mr. House went right to business with his little bow saw (apparently we don't believe in chainsaws in this house - even when cutting apart huge branches from a 50 year old tree.)
So he is cut, cut, cutting away and eventually some neighbors come knock on our door saying how they just feel so bad to see Mr. House out there with his hand saw and could they please help us out with their handy chainsaw. Very nice.
Tonight hopefully we can finish the job. I am hoping to stack some wood up to dry for firewood someplace. Hey, we've got to make use of what we've got, right?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Before I go here is one question for you. What would you do with nearly 5 feet of leftover granite with a finished bullnose front?
Leading contenders are:
1. outdoor kitchen (my vote)
2. super deluxe garage laundry area counter (Mr. H's vote).
Monday, August 24, 2009
Unfortunately, wikipedia also indicates that it is edible! Not only edible, but nutritious, and a source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
So, I have inadvertently thrown out over 10 gallons of our most productive vegetable!
Well, something to keep in mind for next year.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Then we prepared the spot where we wanted to plant the garden by digging up all the overgrown stuff that was there, turning over the dirt and covering it with a garbage bag.
Our poor little seedlings waited so long to be planted, they got very big in their little cups.
We finally got them in the ground in early june.
Then we watched as many of them died. We planted more plants where the old ones died. The plants that survived where the tomatoes, tomatillos, cubanelle peppers, and basil. We started off with, well, much much more than that. Here is what it looks like now.
Overgrown and full of weeds. I don't think we did too bad of a job though.
We also had some volunteers sprout up. We have some melon/squash like plants that are doing well that came up from some seeds from the compost. We also had some chard like greens that came up that must have been planted there a long, long time ago.
What started out as a seed is now a thriving plant that provides food for us. Simply wonderful!
Well, technically right at this very moment they are in there working on putting the tub in which means plumbing and going under the house and all sorts of other things I am not at all comfortable with. Not much in there at this point to even give you a clue that it is or should be a bathroom.
But, I am really excited to have a nice new bathroom. We are going with lovely white subway tile which I have always loved. The accent tiles are this great mix of glass and onyx tiles that mimic the subway pattern. The floor is a nice warm neutral that looks great next to the hardwoods coming off the hallway.
Honestly, the thing I am most excited about is our new dual flush toilet! Is that sad? It is going to be such an improvement over our old toilet that just ran and ran all day and all night. We couldn't get in there to fix it because there was absolutely no room between the top of the toilet and the bottom on of the counter top. Not a very smart installation. But this new one will also use half the water of your normal toilet on your normal 'liquid' flush and get rid of everything better than your average if you need something a little stronger. What a brilliant idea!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
If that is not the cutest most fun thing I have ever seen today then I don't know what is! You can find the rest of the pictures at desiretoinspire
I still think the travel trailer route would be better for me since it seems like these wagons need to be built from scratch and I think I am more of a re-haber than a builder.
Okay, okay so you may be thinking to yourself "What is your problem? You have this whole house to decorate and fix up and you want to start a whole NEW project??" But I think my problem is that I am still completely overwhelmed with this whole house project. There is just so so so much to do! But I will keep trying to stay focused on the task at hand and not be distracted by colorful and cute things. Maybe some day...
Saturday, July 18, 2009
It's not just the exterior that we like, but the interior. For me, I long to have a room much like Slughorn's office with two tufted sofas facing each other with a cozy rug and a roaring fire in between. I could only find one screen shot from the scene, its not the best.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Creating Your Starter
The novel thing about sourdough baking is that it requires that you keep something alive in your fridge. I think of my starter as a pet, kept and fed so that Sandra and I will have all the bread we need. Sourdough "starter" is a batter of flour and water, filled with living yeast and bacteria. The yeast and bacteria form a stable symbiotic relationship, and (as long as you keep the starter fed) can live for centuries, a thriving colony of microorganisms. To make sourdough bread, you blend the starter with some flour and make dough. The yeast propogates, and leavens your bread. This is how you make your starter:
- Select a container that your "pet" will live in. A wide-mouthed glass jar is best. I use a glass jar with a rubber and wireframe seal; you can find these for $2-$4 in any antique or junk shop. A small crock with a loose lid is also great; these can be bought in cheap sets for serving soup. You can also use a rubbermaid or tupperware container. I've begun starters using the plastic containers that take-out Chinese soup comes in, and then transferred them to jars later! A wide-mouthed mayonnaise or pickle jar will also do just fine. Metallic containers are a bad idea; some of them are reactive and can ruin your starter (for the same reason, avoid using metal utensils to stir your starter).
- Blend a cup of warm water and a cup of flour, and pour it into the jar. That's the whole recipe! I use plain, unbleached bread flour most of the time, but I've had good results with all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, too. If you want, you can add a little commercial yeast to a starter to "boost" it. If you do this, sourdough snobs will look down their nose at you - but who cares about snobs? I personally find that (at least here where I live) no yeast "boost" is necessary, and I can make "real" sourdough with no trouble. But if you are having trouble, go ahead and cheat. I won't tell. Note that starter made with commercial yeast often produces a bread with less distinctive sour flavor than the real thing.
- Every 24 Hours, Feed the Starter. You should keep the starter in a warm place; 70-80 degrees Farenheit is perfect. This allows the yeast already present in the flour (and in the air) to grow rapidly. Temperatures hotter than 100 degrees or so will kill it. You can take comfort from the fact that almost nothing else will do so. The way you feed the starter is to(A) throw away half of it and then (B) add a half-cup of flour and a half-cup of water. Do this every 24 hours. Within three or four days (it can take longer, a week or more, and it can happen more quickly) you should start getting lots of bubbles throughought, and a pleasant sour or beery smell. The starter may start to puff up, too. This is good. Here's the gist: When your starter develops a bubbly froth, it is done. You have succeeded. If this sounds brain-dead simple, that's because it is. People who didn't believe the Earth was round did this for millenia.
- Refrigerate the Starter. Keep the starter in your fridge, with a lid on it. Allow a little breathing space in the lid. If you're using a mayo or pickle jar, punch a hole in the lid with a nail, that kind of thing. Once the starter is chilled, it needs to be fed only once a week. Realistically, you can get away with less; it's important to remember that your starter is a colony of life-forms that are almost impossible to kill (except with extreme heat). Even starving them is difficult.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
At first we had an odd room with ugly ugly carpet.
At the inspection it was noted that the floor was uneven, probably poured concrete patio slab. We were anxious to get down to take a look at what was underneath the carpet. What we didn't really expect to find was more carpet. RED industrial carpet. We then started calling it "The Red Room". Here we is what it looked like as painting got started.
Even with the ugly red carpet, it was useful for storing all of our stuff as we got the rest of the house ready.
And our stuff waited and waited . . .
Finally we were ready to work on the floors. We pulled back the red carpet to find that the pad had been glued down to the concrete and was still very stuck.
So we debated at that point whether to do a quick fix it job or a thorough job. We ended up going with a nice thorough job because we don't like to do anything half-assed! This next step required Mr. House and his dad to scrape alllll the black pad off.
After some scrapping, we discovered that the unevenness we felt was from the wood forms that we left in, long after the concrete dried. So the good news was that there were no huge cracks in the floor. the bad news was that now we had to do more work to remove the old, rotten wood and fill it in with concrete.
When it came time for removing the wood we were in for an additional surprise. We pulled out the wood to find TERMITES!!!
This was a surprise to us because the previous owner had the house sprayed for us before we bought it. I called the termite guy who they had used and he agreed to come out at the end of the week. Well the end of the week was raining pretty hard, so the end of the week turned in to the beginning of the next week. Meanwhile we are living with an ugly concrete floor with huge gaps that extend down to the dirt. I was full of irrational (?) fears of bugs, spiders and/or snakes crawling up in to the house so much so that those fears entered my dreams. It was an unpleasant week.
Finally the very nice termite man came and sprayed - assuring me all the while that he was "using the good stuff this time". The whole spraying thing freaked me the hell out and I was quick to vacate the house while they were here (even though they didn't really mention anything). Finally we were ready to fill in the old frame with concrete.
In an effort to not do anything half-assed, once the concrete was dry Mr. House rented a concrete grinder and went to town smoothing out all the different levels. What a beast that grinder was!
Then, furthering out efforts to do as much work as possible, we washed the floor to get it ready to be sealed.
To seal we went with Dry-lock. It was supposed to seal from water, etc. We bought it in blue because it was a few bucks cheaper than white - yay cheapskates! Now we have used some awful nasty smelling chemicals in this house remodel, but this was by far the WORST. It smelled horrible. I quickly put on my respirator to help block the odor and toxins. Bleh, really really glad this part is over.
Here is what the floor looked like when we had it all prepped and ready for carpet. Initially I wanted to paint the whole floor, but I hated that stuff so much we only ended up covering up the new concrete and feathering out from there.
I went and picked out a nice carpet from wood brothers and we planned to use our same installer because we had pretty good luck. Well to make a long story short (too late) the carpet guy flaked on us not once but twice which put our finished floor even farther back. Something about losing his phone at a bachelor party, a story which he told to myself and my mother and my grandmother. You can see I am trying to forget the details. So now after reading this whole long story you can see why this is what I did when I saw the carpet for the first time.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The other benefit to planting redwoods is that we have a seemingly endless (and free) supply from my family who lives in the Santa Cruz mountains. This past weekend we decided would be a good time to obtain our first redwood tree. I don't have any pictures of the process because we were running late for a wedding, but needless to say we had our pick of the trees.
We shopped around their property for the right height tree, with the right number of branches and the right thickness of trunk. We found it a little ways out in the back or front of their house (depending on who you ask). We dug it out and put it with some more dirt and water in a garbage bag then loaded it in the back of the empty van. It fit perfectly! Then we got ready and drove to the wedding where our new tree waited patiently for us to return.
After some delicious cake and a little dancing we returned to the car and drove home. We arrived home just before 8:00 and began digging our hole right away. The ground seemed really hard and we soon realized that there was a layer of gravel on the top. Once we got under that layer we thought we were home free, only to find another layer of gravel, this time about a foot deep. Poor Mr. House kept on digging and eventually he dug through all the gravel and quite a few random roots. We plopped our new tree and some new dirt in the ground next to the cactus for now because we didn't have the time to transplant the cactus it into a pot, nor a pot to transplant it in to. Soon we hope to dig up the cactus and get two more redwood friends.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Then Mrs. House and Mr. House tore out the carpet, and discovered a hideous black mess underneath, which we were able to clean. And that was good.
Removal of the carpet begat removal of the carpet tack strips (and staples), which was significantly less good.
And then the floor was cleaned by Mrs. House's father, which was wonderful and tedious.
Then our fathers sanded the floor, Mrs. House's father with the huge suction sander (not shown) and Mr. House's father with various hand sanders.
And then it was bare wood. Which needed to be sealed.
Prior to sealing there is the cleaning with nasty smelling chemicals.
Then the sealing of the floor with even nastier chemicals. Followed by more sanding, more cleaning, and more sealing.
And finally, we have a finished room, with a lovely floor, and a lovely Mrs. House watching some Seinfeld.