Saturday, September 29, 2012

Progress in the Kitchen

Things have been slow going  ("no" going) in the kitchen so I decided to put up a list to help get us focused.

That took about three weeks to get done. To make sure I didn't miss anything, I looked for our last list. It was this one from November 2011. I was happy to see how much of the old list we have gotten done. Other items have been postponed for much later (like flooring).

Last weekend I got the grout sealed (finally). First thing I could cross off the list. Since I had pulled out the stove, I had Troy help me level it. Next thing off the list.

Just today Troy laid down the caulk at the base of the tile.

He does a good job! Makes it look "finished." And of course, one more thing off the list.

And you might notice a check mark on the list. I do that when I work on something, but it's not done yet. Today I started painting a pair of these light fixtures that will go above the island.
They sort of match the hanging fixture that will go above the table, and I found them at a yard sale. ($5 for the pair.) I want them yellow, but not this 70s yellow, so I am spraying them a very bright sunny yellow. I really worried and fretted about how I was going to get into all those curves, and finally decided to just start. Do what you can do and then see where you're at. So far, so good, I think. I'm working in the shop and there wasn't a lot of light by the time I did the last coat for today. I'll see tomorrow.

Another thing I did today was to cut up the leftover/broken marble tiles. They've been sitting around for far too long.
These are the ones that survived the cutting. I was going to just glue some felt on the bottom, but I think I have to sand the cut edges a little. They all are between 4 to 6 inches square. If you are interested in having one for a trivet (or anything else), let me know. I have more than I need, for sure.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dressing up the Kitchen

I am happy to report that we no longer have this curtain hanging in our kitchen window:
It served us well through construction, but has overstayed its welcome!

This week I finished up a replacement, a roller blind:

Up, down and all around:
I think it looks pretty good.

If you want all the details of how I got there, you can read about it here on my other blog.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

"What I Did on my Summer Vacation"

Did you ever write one of those essays when you got back to school in September? I don't think I ever did, but I read about them in books.

It's been a long summer, full of lots of stuff, so sit back and get ready for an update!

We started with some fun to celebrate (distract from?) my 40th birthday. We went to New York City for a long weekend with my cousin and her husband (who, I hope they won't mind me saying, also both turned 40 this year--lots of celebrating!)
Here we are about to see the Statue of Liberty up close. She looked great.
From the top of one of those bus tour buses. We were only a few days from "Manhattenhenge" when the sunsets line up with the streets. We had a fabulous time and jammed our days with touristy things.

At the end of the month, I sneaked home to Canada for a long weekend to visit with family and join in the celebrations for Canada Day, including visiting with my great-niece, Ella, who is completely decked out in her Canada gear:
(Check out how she is rocking that hair bow!!)

All of my sisters were there and here we are standing at the part of the beach where we camped out all during our childhood. (It used to be the deserted part, away from concessions etc, but now the whole beach is very busy. Toronto has found it and descends on the weekend.)
When I came home from Canada, I took Isaac with me. He worked for us full-time this summer on various projects.

First major one was helping Troy finish the fence around the garden. Troy had been working on the holes for the wooden corner posts, and Isaac got to do most of the digging to bury part of the chicken wire along the bottom:
They ended up running four lines for electricity, not that it's been hooked up yet. Even without the electricity, it is doing a fantastic job of keeping the raccoons, groundhogs and deer out. Phew!

They put in two gates, this one by the back door, and another one on the east side of the house.
The fence encompasses all of the garden on the west side of the house, and all of the front yard between the house and the road. It's a huge area.

The other major project that Isaac did a majority of the work on was building a garden shed. (I know, right--another building?? Anyway...) It's 10x12, on a concrete foundation, no insulation.
It will hold the garden machinery like the push mower, riding mower, log splitter, hopefully the snow blower, pressure washer, and who knows what else.
Isaac left it with the roof done (and shingled), rolling door installed, and plywood walls. He and Troy also put down a lot of dirt/compost for landscaping and a ramp to the doorway.

Troy and I have been working on the siding over the last couple weeks.
After discussing the options of red, white or blue siding, Troy came home with grey. He said that's all they had. Moving on... So now I have been learning how to do vinyl siding. The first day I wondered why it felt like we were going so fast. I mean the pieces are only 8" big, and the metal siding on the shop is 4 feet across. Then it dawned on me...the shop walls were 70 feet long. Not 10 feet. Big difference. Today we finished the fourth wall, and now we have to do soffits and the peak ends.

At the beginning of August, we went up to the UP (=Upper Peninsula, Michigan) to stay in some cottages right on Lake Superior with my family. We had a great time hanging out and enjoying some big waves in the lake.
Here we are:
About 15 of the family made it (you can count if you really need to know). We had a very nice time visiting local lighthouses, the Soo locks, and just hanging out.

Troy and I then went home so he could face the back to school rush and I could face trying to get a haunted house open. (He's done with the rush; I'm still working on the haunted house.) Isaac went home to Ontario with my mom and last week started his college career.

All through the summer, we've also tried to keep up with the garden. Troy tried a little different planting design this year, laying out rows of compost to plant in:
End of May
The garden looked so "neat" and organized and was kept fairly weed free this year for a long time. (Not really true at the present.)
End of July
Because the fence wasn't up for a long time, we lost a lot of produce to deer and groundhogs. But a lot of things did well. Troy grew three types of corn this year. Popcorn and meal corn in the garden and then he planted sweet corn in the field. He didn't think the sweet corn was going to make it because he couldn't irrigate down there, but we ended up eating a lot of great sweet corn. The corn in the garden looks great; got hugely tall and made me feel a little guilty as I looked at the short anemic corn in all the fields around us. I can't wait to have fresh popcorn again; we ran out in early summer.

The turnips and rutabagas are huge. This one was an early one, and they've grown a lot since then.
We're trying to figure out what we can all use them in, even as Isaac and I were having trouble even knowing which was which.

We got a huge crop of cucumbers. It seemed impossible to pick them before they were a huge size. When we got back from the UP, I picked everything out there:
Three days later I thought I'd check if there were any small ones and all I could find were more huge cucumbers. The taste is still fine (although I remove the seeds because I find them too distracting), but I was looking for little ones to pickle. I ended up pickling slices instead of whole ones. I've done a number of batches and it's a good thing Troy tasted them because I used the wrong recipe. (It's been two years since I've done any canning.) When I looked into it further, I realized I had used the recipe from the book instead of my sister's recipe. Big mistake. That was 14 quarts of pickles wasted. Ugh!

The tomatoes also did well:
Most of them were the odd shaped, greenish ones you see in the background. Very big, very meaty, very tasty. Then there was one bush at the end of the row that produced much smaller, perfectly round tomatoes. Strange since Troy planted only one variety (he thought). I've canned some tomato juice and Troy did a batch of delicious smelling salsa.

I think we only picked beans for one batch of canning:
There's nothing so green as jars of beans being canned. Beautiful.

The new stove still isn't really wide enough to comfortably accommodate both canners going at once (you can do it with some careful arranging), but it is such a vast improvement over the old underpowered stove we had. My water heats quickly and it really helps a lot to have the two "power burners." Plus lots and lots of counter space on both sides. It's wonderful.

We have a bunch of huge, round, bowling ball sized cabbages coming in. I think they'll be up next.
Troy's already done a delicious coleslaw, but how much of that can you eat? We usually also try to pickle shredded cabbage to use as sauerkraut.

Let's see...we've also got all the potatoes out of the ground. We got about 15 gallons and will be storing them a couple different ways to see what works. And we have half the beets up. I canned a bunch and pickled some and Troy is going to try to store them as well.

I really did nothing with flowers this year. Troy started some morning glories and we put them in the east lawn where they could climb the wire cages around the fruit trees.
By now they are completely overwhelming the cages and look like a jungle masses. Only one is really blooming. (One other one has tiny red flowers, but you can hardly see them.)
This one has been putting on an incredible show for weeks. It's right by the driveway and is a cheerful sight both when I'm leaving in the morning and coming home.

I think that is the summer update. Hope you feel caught up!

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