Thursday, September 22, 2011

packed week

So, I think Adam is trying to kill me this week. We were working on the kitchen but that's on hold until I leave. Now, we're working on the guest room. He's trying to get it finished by Saturday. What that entails (some steps already finished) is cleaning out all the tools, sheets of wood and drywall, finding new homes for all the boxes. We have been using it as a general storage room as well as construction storage for all the stuff that we've needed for various projects. That's what we have done (good thing Jon came so over half of that was already finished). What's left is to finish mudding/sanding the inside of the closet. Painting the room and closet. Getting up trim around the closet opening and get doors installed. Remounting the curtains. Moving in furniture (we're still tring to locate a free bed. Adam gave away the mattress Jon slept on last month).

Why are we doing all this you wonder? Adam has a coworker/friend from Utah that got a job with the company down here. He has 5 children and a wife but it will only be him coming down right now. He's looking for a house and when he finds a house, he'll be moving out. He is thinking 1-2 months. Houses are cheap right now so it may not even take that long. He is supposed to arrive the day I leave. Adam will have company and he's happy about that. He doesn't like to be alone a lot.

We allowed the tenants to paint the bedrooms. They chose a bright blue for the back bedroom. For this bedroom, they chose this bright sunshiney's subdued in the pictures for some reason. So, here's the intermediate mess...mostly already tamed.

Our personal things that haven't found homes outside of their boxes yet. Yes, I realize we've been here two years already...

Adam put in this clothes pole in the laundry room at my request. I used it all the time before we got the clothesline but this is the first time I've used the pole since then. It's just been such a rainy week I haven't been able to hang anything outside. See my washboard? Adam got me that from an antique store for my birthday last year. :o) The sad irons in front of it are from Barry. They were his grandma's.

Ok, enough fun, back to work. We are doing wood counters on the living room side of the peninsula. We tested four types of wood with 6 different stains (only 4 shown here) and those are my paint choices for the guest room...they are actually not grey like the pic is showing. They're more brown/gray. I can't believe how many colors of stain there are. Sometimes there really is such a thing as too many choices!

I settled on 5 different colors. Adam bought the samples and I painted blocks on the walls. I have to wait until they're dry to see the true color and also to see it in day light. But right now, I am leaning toward the lightest one. I really like that one.

Adam cleaned up between this project and the kitchen project. This is so much cleaner, you have no idea!! This is what life is like when you do your own house maintenance on this scale. There's always something .

So, one more night left to finish the reast of the guest room and then carry all the furniture up. I've hardly gotten 5 hours of sleep each night this week...I figure I'll sleep when I'm on vacation. That is what is keeping me going.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let the renovation begin (well...continue really)

Kitchen work is under way. Adam had to hoist the sink into the air while working on the counter top bases in preparation for putting in the marble tiles. He was going to mortar the wood for the tile backer but after taping up all the paper, he decided he would do that when I was gone so he could do it all at once so the paper had to come back down. The plan is for him to have the counters finished when I get back from vacation. He's hoping the back splash as well but that's a lot of work so we'll see about the back splash.

This is the "bar". It's just a raised wall in the middle of the peninsula. It is purely to keep the mess of normal dishes buildup from being completely on display from the doorway. I can still see over it wile doing dishes but it blocks just enough of the counter/sink that I don't have to feel self conscious every time there are dishes.

The sink raised in the air while Adam screws the bar into place.

Hard working man.

So, some more of what's gone on this week is, of course, some food. My favorites were raw brownies and guacamole.

I've posted a recipe for these brownies made of just walnuts, dates, coconut oil and cocoa before. I just love them and I can eat them because they're sugar free and white flour free. This time, for the first time, I added some of my drained yogurt cheese to the top as frosting. So good!!

And then for lunch today, I had guacamole made with avocado, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, sea salt and cilantro with zuchinni rounds to dip in it. I love simple meals like that.

I got the dogs outside for a group shot. I don't like this one as much as past ones I've gotten but I still like getting more shots of all of them...especially when they're listening to me.

We actually spent quite a bit of time outside before heading over to babysit Samuel, enjoying the wonderful fall weather. I feel so alive when fall comes around! While we were out, snapping pics, we got this one of me and Jack that I really like. There aren't very many pics of us with the dogs. I realize the composition is horrible and my head is chopped off...but I really like it anyway. That's my Jackie boy.

And lastly... I have been wearing a jelly type barcelet (you know those Live Strong bracelet type things) for behavior modification. If I complain or criticize, I have to change the wrist it's on, bringing attention to my conscience thought of what I've just done. The theory is that if you recognize you're doing it, you will be less likely to do it. My record so far was going 5 days without changing wrists. The goal is 21 days. But I didn't really like that jelly bracelet. I was putting laundry away. I took some towels to the bathroom and looked at my jewelry box. I rifled through it looking for something easy to latch/unlatch for the more constant than should be changing of the wrists. I found something that I really like. But while looking through the box, I came across my 3 pairs of earrings that I've saved even though my ears haven't been pierced in a decade (I got rid of all the rest). Suddenly, I was filled with the desire to put earrings in. So I grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol and my sharpest studs. After about 10 minutes, I had pierced ears again. I was wondering how long it would take for Adam to notice and one of the first things he said to me was, "Why are you all girlified?" He said he liked it. The funny thing was he actually seemed excited that he could buy me earrings. He's only seen me wearing earrings once, on our wedding day, that last time I pierced my ears. I don't know how long it will last (mood or infection will eventually end it, I'm sure since just 3 hours without wearing them closes them back up) but I am girlified for the moment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

40 miles

Ok, I interrupted myself with that last post. I still only have my camera phone for my rides so I decided to play around with some of the photos a bit on the computer after snagging them off my phone.

Last November, or possibly as late as December, I cant recall, I collected as many rose hips as I could find. The fall was short last year and froze the vast majority of rose hips before they could ripen. I milled them in a food mill and took the pulp and added an equal amount of honey and mixed. It came out to about 2 sandwiches worth. I read about this method of preserving fruit (rosehips specifically) and wanted to see if it would actually work. I just love learning about old ways of preserving, especially when no heat and sugar is involved...though I do regular canning too and enjoy tha food as well. I put it in a cabinet and left it to see how it would be in 6 months. I forgot about it until Saturday when I was thinking about what I could eat on my bike ride. No white or brown sugar so this was the only "jelly" I could think of to put on my pb&j sandwich. I dug it out of the back of the cabinet and gave it a sniff. Seemed alright. I gave it a taste. Tasted alright. I figured I'd know if it was bad if I got sick. I didn't get sick and it tasted fine so I was call that experiment a success. I hope to collect a lot more this year...maybe I can get a whole jar's worth this time. This may be the first thing that came out right on my first try.

So, after collecting enough food for a ride, I took off. I thought it would be a cooler day since it had been but summer has returned. I had no idea where I was was a day for exploring. I changed my mind about where to head to and wandered around until I ended up on these dirt roads I discovered last year. Not a single car passed me the whole time and I even got to see a deer dart off into the woods.

About an hour into my ride, I stopped at a small, wooded park to eat an apple and rest. The trees were bizarre with hollow trunks, bent in weird positions and leaning precariously.

I ended up getting kind of lost and when I saw a Subway, I stopped and sat inside, ate another apple and drank as much ice water as I could manage...then napped intermittenly for about 30 minutes. I found a way home and took off down that road.

About 30 minutes from home, I saw this old, abandoned house. I had seen it years before but forgotten about it. Each time we'd pass it, I always wanted to stop to explore the house but there's nowhere to pull over so I didn't. But on the bike, you can stop anywhere you want. :o)

The front door is in the middle of the house with a window on either side. On each side of the door was a cool painted pattern. I am thinking that it may have been used as a general store or a restaurant at some point and these are the remnants of their hanging signs.

I didn't dare go in since the porches were completely dissenegrating. But I found a couple of windows that weren't boarded up and I peeked in. Look at the floor in this kitchen. I just love the way they painted the wood.

This is one side of what was once a bedroom.

And here's the other side. That was all I got to see of the inside. If only I were 12 feet tall so I could see in the upstairs windows.

This is definitely the cleanest abandoned house I have ever come across. The floors are in such good shape, the paint isn't peeling off the walls either. It's in exceptional shape for something its age.

Once I was only about 10 minutes from home, I went to make my final turn and there was an accident on that road and it was completely blocked off to all traffic, including cyclists. I rode just past the cops and went through a grassy field past the accident and got on the road. Another plus for biking. It was a fun ride but I was so glad to get home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

cauliflower "rice"

I heard about this alternative to white rice. You take some cauliflower and chop it up into rice sized pieces in the food processor. You could heat it up but I just ate it raw.

We had Hawaiian haystacks for dinner so I could try the new rice out. I really couldn't tell a difference. Cauliflower is pretty bland so it really isn't too different. A winner.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My week

There are times when I don't feel like I've accomplished anything and yet, still feel busy. This past week was one of those weeks.

I made some banana blueberry bread for my friend's birthday and for someone else with some more blueberries I foraged.

I created this really yummy dish for breakfast. I have this slicer that looks like a vegetable peeler but has sharp blades sticking down into the slit (if that makes any sense). As you pull down the veggie, it actually turns it into angel hair size strips. I did that to a cucumber, added some quartered cherry tomatoes and added 2 eggs fried over medium and mixed it all up so it could be coated by the slightly liquidy egg yolks. Yum!! The only down side was that it was cold.

Adam began working on th counter. He plans on having the countertops completely finished and backsplash put up by the time I get home from Utah in October. He's getting ready to work on the sink counter area. The sink is cast iron and weighs almost more than two men can lift. He already has the faucet and garbage disposal hooked up to it and doesn't want to ruin anything so the easiest thing to do is to hoist the sink up into the air and let it hang there while he works. He's got a winch chained to the scaffolding. So, for a little while, I have to deal with that in my kitchen. Not until I leave, I hope! I've really let the kitchen get messy since that thing went up. It's just hard to work around and even getting a load of dishes done is very inconvienent.

Tucker is always doing something to make us laugh. He loves to cuddle while he sleeps and he will actually pick up a toy and put it where he wants to lay so he can sleep with/on it.

Saturday is laundry day for me so on Friday, I spray all of Adam's nasty clothes with shout and hang them on the deck to dry. I know the label says to not let it dry but it seems to work better if I let it dry before washing. And when I go to actually hang a load on the line on Saturday, the dogs all peek their heads out of the deck slats to watch me. Bear was down below watching me. It's really cute when they all get close together and do that.

And finally, some of my most favorite recent bargains. Last weekend, I went on a futile pants search. I spent over 5 hours the weekend before looking for a pair of pants and didn't find any. Then last weekend, I spent over 3 hours. Still nothing. I was ready to cry and so frustrated!! So when I came across this queen sized quilt (the colorful one) for only $10, brand new, in the package, I had to buy it. It's made with older looking fabrics and seems to be pretty good quality. The smaller quilt I got from a thrift store for only $6. It's homemade, looks completely handsewn, a little worn on the edges and stained lightly here and there. It's a twin sized quilt. I really love both of them.

I also got to go for a couple bike of them was to get the last of the veggies that I posted in the last pic and the other was a 40 mile ride on Saturday. I'll post about that next.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My poor garden did not do so well. We just planted too late and all the plants have shriveled. The carrots still seem to be doing fine. I picked the smallest one to see how it was doing. It was a pathetic little thing but still growing. I think they still have a couple months to grow. See the little orange stick below, connected to the green, lacey leaves? Yeah, that's my carrot. It tasted really good! Also, the greeb nean plants are mostly still hanging in there. All the squash cines have shriveled and disappeared so I took the two butternut squash and 1 acorn squash that hadn't yet rotted. There are 4 tiny watermelon. I took them because their vines had compltely dried out as well. I'm going to give them a try. I have nothing to lose. We got three little sugar snap peas...YUM! We'll definitely have to plant those next year. And the pile of greens is actually a weed called lamb's quarter's. I let them grow in the garden once I identified them. They're edible and a good replacement for spinach. We never even got a single tomato. Aside from the carrots and some of the green beans, everything else is done...shriveled. A sad end to my first garden but I will prevail and plant again. I am planning what/when to plant my fall garden now. I hope to have it in the ground before I go out to visit.

The black thing is a camra lens cover for size reference.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

sugar, broth and grains

I haven't updated much lately. I've felt busier. Last week was really busy but also, I am actually trying to get to bed on time so I hadn't been on my home computer all last week. Adam is starting to build some support bases for the kitchen counter that he'll be putting in soon. We're using our marble tile that has been placed on it. Adam isn't sold on the idea, but it's what we have (free). I don't mind the look at all. I think it matches the cabinets nicely.

I started organizing some of my cabinets. I put all my various grains in jars and made labels for the lids. I have to find a shelf for this cabinet so I can safely stack them two high. I still have all my beans to load back in there, once I put them in jars as well. Well, some types of beans, I will have to store in the pantry in some other, bigger conatiners because we use more of them, we keep a lot of them around.

Another thing I've been up to, is making chicken stock. I've been making my own for a few years now. It's super simple and I know what's in it. I collect bones in a baggie in the freezer until I have enough for a batch. Once I do, I thaw them out. Once they're thawed, I throw them into my crockpot. My crockpot is fairly large and will hold about 2 birds worth of bones. I cut up a binch of celery and carrots and throw them in. Add a bay leaf and some parsley usually. I didn't add those this time because I forgot. Also, about 2 tbsp of vinegar to help leech all the calcium from the bones into the broth. This past week, I've made three batches, which comes out to about 2.5 gallons? of broth. I seperate them into approximate meal sized portions and freeze them.

Broth is really healthy and nutirious for you. The gelatin from the bones and ligaments is super good for you so I try to use broth regularly. I'll make gravy with it, instead of that bullion stuff. I add some to spaghetti sauce (on the rare occassion we have some), I add it to dishes that call to be thinned down with milk, in place of the milk. I cook grains and beans in it. Off the top of my head, that's all I can think of.

I added something new this time though. I found these chicken feet at the Asian market. Chicken feet have an overabundance of gelatin in them. I cut the ends of the toes off so their claws wouldn't fall off into the broth. These actually came skinned so I didnt have to deal with that part. Seems rather time consuming so I was glad for that. Adam saw these feet in the freezer and asked "What are those doing in the freezer?!" I had to laugh. Then, when he saw me plunk them onto the cutting board, he told me, "I wish I worked for NCR so I didn't have to be home in the evenings to watch you do some of these things." I had to laugh again. They were a little fun to play with. I fed the feet to the dogs once they were done in the broth...after I extracted all the little bones out, that is. They LOVED them! Really good for their joints too.

So, onto the sugar front. I gave up sugar and white flour 9 days ago. I was quite cranky there for a few days. I am still not quite over the sugar cravings but it's not eating at me the way it was. We had friends over on Monday for a bbq and they brought sides. There were two kinds of cookies and cheesecake. I made fried apples for everyone else but then made a dish of apples and onions for me (and to share) since there is no sugar in apples and onions but plenty in fried apples. My apples and onions disappeared so quickly! I was lucky to get any. I had plenty to eat but while we were playing games, everyone was snacking on the cookies and I resisted. Adam kept some for himself and Ann took the rest home with her when she left. There are still some in his drawer which I am no longer allowed to open for anything (my own rule) because that's where he's keeping the desserts. But, even with the occassional craving, I feel pretty good. My energy is finally coming back. Most of my energy (since I only got about 5 hours of sleep a night) was coming from the sugar I was shoveling into myself and now that I can't rely on that, I am having to make better sleeping habits so I can feel rested and get my energy back. I was really revved up for a bike ride yesterday for the first time since I gave up sugar but it was raining so I didn't get a chance. I won't get a chance today either, or tomorrow since I have too much going on but just knowing that that energy is there, makes me really happy.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I get to go home!

While I only lived in Utah for a little over 1/3 of my life, I consider it home. The scenery is beautiful, the weather is much more enjoyable then here...but I do love snow so people who don't wouldn't agree with me on that point. In Sept/Oct, I get to go home to visit family and see my mountains. In anticipation of getting to go, I went through some of the pictures I took when I was living out there a few years ago and uploaded some up here. They are mostly from the area around where I lived, but also from the areas between my house and my parents'. Why anyone would ever want to move away, I will never know! I know I didn't want to leave.


Utah Lake from Vineyard

On the road to Wolf Creek Pass.

Midway...taken less than an hour before my bad bike crash.

Out past Oakley...though I can't quite remember what this place was called.

Small waterfall in Provo Canyon. Upper Provo Falls, I think is the name.

This is just a small sampling of why I think Utah is so beautiful. There's so much to see there!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Laugh untiul I cry

There are a couple of videos on youtube that make me laugh so hard, I literally cry. They just kill me every time. So if you want to laugh today, click on a link below. The first one is 8 minutes long, the second is only a couple minutes long. It sure brightened my day yesterday in my sour, sugar deprived mood. And has even continued on into today!
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