Weathering the Storm

A hail storm blew through last week. My dad is from the the midwest, and he says we don’t have “real” hail around here–just sleet. Well, it was plenty noisy pounding on the windows and dancing around on the deck. It looked like hail to me. It was about that time that I noticed hail bouncing on our little wood side table. Perhaps that’s why it seemed so noisy.

Hail on TableApparently the hail was piling up around the exhaust fans in the ceiling and just pouring on through. With a steady forecast of rain for the weekend, I was worried that the MR wouldn’t have a chance to take a look at the problem, but he was able to fix it up with tar and flashing on Saturday morning.

Good thing he did; cause Saturday night it started to pour, the wind blew, the trees fell, and the power went it–for one day, no let’s make that two.

Kenji and his crew were due back early Monday to get rid of the waves in the flooring, but with no power, we told him to hold off. It was a beautiful day, so he probably could have worked here. But as the MR pointed out, we shouldn’t encourage contractors to drive over and under downed power and telephone lines to get to our house. He’s always so smart.

Monday was Baby Girl’s last regular season volleyball match, and when we left at five the power was still out. But when we arrived home that evening, I texted BG this welcome photo.

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So nice to have lights, heat, water, all the niceties we’re used to. We are lucky in that we have a generator and were able to keep the food cold and power the well, as needed. Even with our limited usage, the propane tank for the generator went from 80 percent down to 55, and winter hasn’t even started.

So what do you do when you’re trapped at home with limited power? Finish up a few projects of course.

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And get ready for the next round of renovation. As you may remember, we’ve been redoing the floors. We started back in the spring and loved how the Semco flooring remade the tile walkways. (Check it out here.) Then in September, we started on phase two redoing the upstairs and the carpeted area in the great room (here). Bringing the subfloor up to the formerly tiled floor level has been a bit of a challenge. We weren’t happy with the difference in texture between the two, so Kenji and his team are back to make things right.

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They put down the scratch coat yesterday, and cross your fingers, it’ll all be finished by Thursday. We’ll be able to move our furniture back Saturday, and the echo will go away. Living in flux gets to me, so I’m looking forward to the end of the crazy.

How was your weekend? Storms headed your way?

 

 

 

 

 

Color Me Happy

The designer we’ve been working with ventured out to our house early yesterday bringing with her samples and joy. OK, so mostly she brought samples, and I supplied the joy.

It’s exciting to be at the point where we’re actually making decisions on furniture. For the last 20 plus years, it’s always been buy one piece of furniture, wait four or five years, buy another piece of furniture. Of course that was after we replaced the old sectional from his parents with the old couch from my parents and added in a few chairs from his grandparents.

Then we moved here and we threw together the furniture from our old living room, family room, and a few chairs from the girls’ hangout room, and we can’t forget all the furniture the last owners left behind. Let’s just say, we’ve been living with a hodge-podge for the last three years.

And now we have a plan, direction, colors, fabrics, and even a vibrant carpet–at least on paper we have all those.

Samples

I placed the order with Room and Board for a couch, a chaise, two ottomans, and five easy chairs. Sadly, they won’t be here till almost January, but these are exciting times. Our designer did all the hard work with the store talking sizes, colors, fabrics, finishes, and I just called to pay.

Here’s a preview of one of the new chairs that I’m particularly crazy about.

I can see snuggling up in the Boden leather chair with a book and a blanket. We’re keeping the pieces fairly neutral and planning to add color with pillows and accessories. That being said, the carpet is going to add a strong punch of color with its orange and green stripes.

The MR and Little Buddy have both given the plan their stamp of approval.

Bogart on sample

How do you go about buying furniture? Have you ever redone a whole room at once?

 

 

The Motivating Power of a 2-Pound Beet or Call Me Chef Gadget

What do you do when your produce gets out of control? How do you wind up with a 2 pound beet?

Well, it’s pretty easy actually. You send your oldest child off to college, the only other beet-lover/eater in your family, disappear for a few weekends during harvest season, and let rain keep you inside when you should be out checking on your garden. Before you know it you could end up with some whopping big beets, too or maybe that should be 2.282 pounds that is.

Giant Beet

Now, I hate to see food go to waste, but I especially hate to see food I’ve grown myself go to waste. I planted seeds, watered, fertilized, weeded, and waited; I’ve got to do something with this monstrosity.  I like beets, I’ll eat them boiled, roasted, pickled, and pureed, but two pounds is a bit much even for me. Larger beets tend to be woody, I’m not sure traditional preparations would be the best choice. So I went to Pinterest for ideas.

Have you heard of beets’ cleansing properties? Well, apparently beet juice is some kind of miracle drug.  It will purify your blood, cleanse your liver, clear your skin, boost your libido, improve your mood, and tie your shoes if you’re lucky. OK, maybe not the last one, but you get the gist.

Raw beets are supposed to have the most health benefits, so I decided it was finally time to break out the juicer. That would be the juicer I bought at the beginning of the year when Baby Girl was on her raw food diet. It was one of those impulse buys when Sweet Miss and I were at Costco, and it’s never made it out of the box. But if it saves me from having to cook up and eat six pounds of beets (you see that big fella has friends), it may be worth it.

I really don’t know what my problem is. I have this aversion to gadgets, and a rather irrational fear that I’m going lose a finger, an eye, a hand, who knows? The directions were simple, a little cleaning, a little reading, a plunger to keep me away from moving parts, and all was good.

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I mixed up a little of the giant beet, an apple, a couple carrots and wound up with this vibrant concoction. Isn’t the color gorgeous?

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Baby Girl arrived home from practice in time to take a sip–only a sip. Apparently, the beet taste was too much for her; the color makes it impossible to disguise. I made her some tasty apple/carrot juice instead. If I’d known it was this easy, I’d have been making juice for months. To be honest, I was a little worried about beet juice myself, but I really liked it.

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The rest of my giant beet made it into the fridge, cut into chunks, all ready for another round of drinks tomorrow.

The juicer wasn’t the only gadget I pulled out to tackle the beets. My handy-dandy slicer that I picked up off of freecycle made short work of thinly slicing a few more red gems.

slicer

Again, it took months for me to get over the fear of using this simple kitchen tool. I’m afraid of mechanical blades, or it could be that I’ve been known to get distracted and do something stupid.  I had Sweet Miss’ fellow try out the slicer for the first time when we were making jerky. I figured if a kid could use it safely, I could, too. Now I cut up ham for deli sandwiches, a weeks supply of cheese, meat for jerky, and let’s go ahead and add beet chips to the list.

beet chips

I used this easy recipe for Baked Rosemary Beet Chips from the Minimalist Baker. With a little rosemary, olive oil, and sea salt, I could eat a bowl of these tasty treats. But with the purported “cleansing” properties of beets, I’m going hold myself back.

Along with beets, I’ve been dealing with apples. Now, this is a problem I totally brought on myself. Baby Girl’s FFA chapter sells apples as a fundraiser, and I’ve been supporting them for the last few years. 40 pounds for $40 is a great deal, and these are sweet, juicy, locally-grown apples. So why did I think I needed 80 pounds? Oh, just for fun…

Baby Girl has been eating the box of honeycrisp apples for lunch, and I’ve been making applesauce out of the Jonamac. When I heard a lady at Bible study mention the food mill attachment she uses on her Kitchenaid mixer for making applesauce, I was intrigued. When I arrived home last week, I immediately looked it up on Amazon. Well, they had a ton of options, and I was confused. Next thing I know, after an email and a phone call, my friend let me test drive her gadget.

I’m not sure if this is considered high tech or low tech, but it is slick.

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I lightly steamed six pounds of apples.

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Sent them through the food mill/vegetable strainer attachment and wound up with simple apple goodness.

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The worms enjoyed the peels, and I boiled the sauce for five minutes before putting it up in jars. I turned 13 pounds of apples into 10 pints of sauce before lunch–not a bad way to spend the morning.

applesauceI still have tons of apples, and I still have lots of beets. No need to worry; Pinterest has a million recipes. Just be careful when I offer you some brownies or chocolate cupcakes. They just might have a mystery ingredient, but hey, your skin is going to glow, and you’ll be regular.

Are you a beet lover? What’s your go-to gadget?

 

 

Adding Comfort

Overnight guests aren’t a problem around here. We have a guest room with its own bathroom. We’re set right?

Well, adding a few cozy pillows doesn’t necessarily make a bed comfortable.

Guest Bed Collage

When we moved here, we didn’t realize that the built-in bed in the master suite was a king-size bed; so for a few months, we did the hop, skip, and jump to get out of bed while we waited to buy a new mattress. It seemed perfect just to set up our old bed in the guest room.

The key word being old. You see it’s the mattress we’ve had ever since we got married–23 years could be pushing it on the lifetime of a mattress. The MR’s folks are annual summer guests, and they started talking about the wonders of egg-crate pillow toppers for mattresses. Maybe it was time to do something.

So when Baby Girl’s school volleyball team announced a mattress fundraiser, we thought they were crazy, but we jumped on board. A few weeks ago, the school gym was set up like a mattress store with beds everywhere. We went, we tried them out, and we bought one.

Our brand-new mattress arrived yesterday.

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Now the guest bed will be as comfy as it is cozy. Sweet Dreams friends.

If you’re curious, the mattress was a brand-name, made-to-order mattress that we bought at 30-60 percent off the retail price. We had it delivered all the way to the guest room for a fee. The team sold 35 mattresses and raised over $5,000 for the volleyball program.

The only down side is that we still have the old mattress to get rid of.

What’s the craziest fundraiser you’ve been a part of? 

 

 

 

End of Season Surprises

Earlier this week between rainstorms, I used a sunny afternoon to start putting the garden to bed.
It sounds like I shouldn’t cut back the asparagus until the “ferns” start dying. The tomatoes have already succumbed to late blight, so I pulled their vines and tossed them in the blackberry bushes.

If I’d been more diligent about staking them out, I’d have doubled my harvest. Next year, the chain link fence is going to come in handy with the tomatoes.

After pulling out the vines, I was amazed at how many onions were hidden beneath them. We’re set for quite awhile–Good thing Baby Girl has developed a taste for cooked onions.

Earlier this summer, when I was working really hard trying to keep cucumber plants alive, I was excited to see vines developing. A few weeks later, I decided these were the strangest looking cucumbers I’d ever seen.

Cantaloupe

Maybe they were supposed to be round like the eight-ball zucchini? As time went on, I realized my mistake. Those weren’t cucumbers; they were cantaloupe. But I didn’t plant any cantaloupe–these were volunteers from last year. Maybe worms don’t eat cantaloupe seeds?

Cantaloupe Multiply

So along with onions, I picked beans, carrots, cantaloupe, lettuce, a lone zucchini, and six pounds of giant beets.

End of season

Sadly, my fall broccoli never took off. If I’m lucky, it’ll overwinter and produce early in the spring. I haven’t dug up the potatoes; I hope all the rain hasn’t turned them into mush.

Remember that plum tree we planted to help with our pollination problems? Yeah, that little stick?

Weeping Santa Rosa Sprigs

Well, now it’s taken on the shape of an actual tree even if it’s still quite short.

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Cross your fingers for a bunch of tasty plums next summer.

We’re not the only ones enjoying the harvest. Baby Girl’s FFA chapter was able to share some local produce with her elementary school a few weeks ago.

Taste of WA

Kale chips, colorful beans, and local cheese were all a hit with lunch kids.

What local fruits and vegetables are you enjoying?

 

Fall Favorites

Last week when we were shopping, Baby Girl told me, “I love fall; I can wear sweaters every day.”

Fall is a wonderful time of year, and here are a few of my favorite fall things.

I love misty mornings when the fog hovers over the valley.

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I love the sunshine glistening on spiderwebs.

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I love the fancy hairstyles and pretty party dresses for the big homecoming dance.

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And I love a good old-fashioned trip to the pumpkin patch. It’s been a few years since we’ve gone, but here’s a flashback to when the girls were younger.

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I also love to snuggle up with a cup of tea, a cozy blanket, and a good book especially on those stormy Northwest evenings when the rain is pounding and the wind is blowing.

What do you love about fall?

 

September–Taking It All In

October is swiftly passing by, and I haven’t even taken a look at September. I could say it’s just been so busy, and Baby Girl’s volleyball takes up so much time, and I just haven’t gotten back into the rhythm of the school year. But to be honest I’ve been pouting.

Redoing your floors is a major pain. Having everything out of place drives me crazy.

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I want my computer back on the desk not shoved into the corner of the kitchen. Let’s just say it’s tight quarters, and I’m not always a good sport.

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Add to that volleyball, homecoming, two weekends away, three birthdays, Sweet Miss moving back to school, 50 pounds of tomatoes and 80 pounds of apples, a head on collision, dealing with insurance and the auto body shop, a couple back-to-back major remodels, a golf-ball size lump appearing on the dog’s face, friends and family going through hard times, and I’ve just put the blog on hold for a bit.

I’d love to say I’ll be back three times a week, like usual, but for now I’m taking it day by day. Thanks for understanding.

So on that note, let’s take a look at September.

The first weekend of the month, me and the MR along with my dad, my little brother and my fabulous sister-in-law all flew back to Kansas to surprise my older brother on his 50th birthday. He thought he was just going out to dinner with his family when he stumbled across the five of us. His daughter is having a baby soon, so we also got to celebrate this new life at a shower for her, had the chance to meet my oldest nephews girl friend, and hung out with my brother’s passel of boys. It’s always good to catch up with family.

Kansas Collage

I did get one bit of clutter picked up in September. The print I ordered arrived and sat for ages in the entry. Sometimes when things don’t go we’ll, I freeze and do nothing. We have all this empty wall space in the bedroom, and I thought a large print would help obscure the fact that we have a giant TV hanging on the wall.

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You just have to imagine the home entertainment cabinet isn’t parked in the corner of the bedroom to make room for the floor remodel. However you look at it, a 4×4-foot print might have been a bit much. Instead of one big thing on the wall, I’d just multiplied it by two.

A Little Color over the bath tub was just the thing.

Flower Print over Tub

By the by, the MR was talking to the Fed Ex guy who has delivered out here for more than 20 years, and he was glad we put up blinds in the master suite. With the previous owners, he never knew what he’d see when he rounded the corner. I guess you could watch for people coming while soaking in the tub. I’m just not that free and easy.

Upstairs, we did a little Problem Solving and revamped the layout of the room by using one floor covering throughout. My plan was to show lovely afters with all the furniture and artwork back in place looking amazing. Well, as you’ve noticed, I’ve been falling behind. So here’s the finished floors with the room reloaded–just not perfect.

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We have no break between carpet and tile; the whole floor is seamless. And yes, I do think a laundry basket can be used as a table decoration.

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The dogs seem to approve. Since I spent so much time upstairs with them during the floor work downstairs, Bogart has started wandering off on his own, so he can sleep on the furniture. You gotta watch these dogs.

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Do you remember those three tomato plants out in the garden? Well, two of them were paste tomatoes and they produced over 50 pounds. Crazy, huh? In Harvest Time I’d just begun putting up tomatoes and apples. I canned pasta sauce, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato jam–what I like to call grown up ketchup, and applesauce from our very own tree. Next year, I plan on growing the tomato plants next to the chain link around the tennis court, so I don’t have to worry about a strong enough cage or trellis. I can’t imagine that they will be like the beans and climb 10 feet high, but we’ll wait and see.

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I’ve been using recipes from my old and new canning books, but the tomato jam recipe I found at Putting Up with Erin. If you have gobs of tomatoes, it is definitely worth a try.

Finally Orange is the New Green showcased our glowing orange floors. It’s hard to believe anything can be worse than the emerald fading to teal floors we’ve been living with.

Carpet East

Oh, but we found it.

Orange floor at sunset

Baby Girl said the whole house glowed when she came home from school. You can see the ceiling is reflecting orange everywhere. The project manager thought I had all the lights in the house on… If you want more light in your house, the answer is simple. Paint the floors orange. I do believe you’ll go insane in short order, but you’ll do it in a well lit space.

Thankfully, I was out our women’s retreat that weekend and only had to live with it for a few days. The first layer of scratch coat was a vast improvement.

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We lived with dust, noise and crazy for a week. Unfortunately the Semco flooring over the Schluter-Ditra is quite wavy while the flooring over the former tile walkways is smooth. We are not happy, and Kenji will be back at the end of the month to make things right. Until then, we’re still in flux.

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You can see how at the edge of the photo, the floor is flat, while in the middle it’s wavy. Here’s a closer look.

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That brings us up-to-date. If you’re worried about the car crash, it was on the blind corner of our driveway at very low speed. My car and the workers SUV did get stuck together; maybe that’s why there was so much damage. I’m hoping to get my car back at the end of the week. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Bogart looked pretty awful for a while, but two pills twice a day for three weeks has him back to normal. I was totally impressed when the new vet took the time to make friends with him.

We were also able to celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday with old friends and family. The biggest laugh of the night was when my dad told the story of the time his buddy couldn’t disengage the emergency brake, so he drove his family to church backwards. The MR didn’t believe it, but I’ve known that guy my whole life. This was gospel truth; they only lived a mile from church.

Dealing with tomatoes and keeping dogs away from workers has kept me from putting the garden to bed and harvesting the last of the vegetables. That’s on the agenda for this week. We also have two volleyball matches, a corn maze with FFA, a trip to the dentist, Bible study, student store, maybe some golf, and I hope a little time for the Big White House on the Hill.

Thank you to those who have messaged and emailed to say they were missing the blog. And thanks also to those who’ve gone out of their way to say how much they’ve enjoyed our journey and the stories I share. You keep me going.

How has fall been treating you?