Thursday, September 10, 2009

As If We Needed ANOTHER Project!

My sister did a post on her blog on Sept. 3rd that coincidentally went right along with something the ESM and I have been discussing in earnest. Preserving food.

I have a lot of the same memories of my grandmother that my sister talks about. She was a pretty fair cook, but she cooked for a farm family. I would think you would become good either in self-defense or just by sheer volume/repetition. But along with her cooking, she could preserve and can most anything you could come up with, and dehydrating was also no mystery to this woman. Most of my memories of the farm are intertwined with the wonderful smells that came from that kitchen most every day.

I remember our family always had a freezer and pantry full of the canned goods that came from the farm. Strawberry jam and raspberry jelly, green beans and such. The one that stands out for me was her wonderful tomato juice! That was such a messy process, but yielded such scrumptious results! Chili made with my grandmother's home-canned tomato

Fast-forward about thirty years and I'm about to embark on an endeavor that would make my grandmother proud. In self-defense, we're going to make homemade grape jelly. Why, you ask? Because I have a whole Nipsey Russell* of grapes growing on the arbor in my new backyard!

They are table grapes we were told by the original owner, and there are both red and green seedless varieties. There is no way we can eat them all before they get overripe, as there is probably a good twenty to thirty pounds of them! So we decided jelly or juice would be the best thing to do. After a little game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock to decide, jelly won (Spock vaporizes rock, BTW). But that means we need a canning outfit to help us put up our jelly.

I have been looking at several kits online, and I think I've narrowed it to this one. It has all the stuff (as I remember), seems reasonably priced and will work with our flat-top stove. I think we may look a couple of other places locally before ordering, but this gives me a good idea what we should pay for a similar kit, or for the individual pieces. It's been a long time since I've even seen this done, but between ESM and myself, I am confident we will prevail. *grin* We'll keep y'all posted on how well we do.

So wish us luck in our journey, and if you have advice, I would welcome it.

--Sundown, Out

* - So, you didn't know Nipsey Russell was a measure of volume, huh? Neither did I, until a good friend of mine used that phrase in my presence many years ago. I liked it so much I immediately added it to my lexicon and continue to use it to this day. It is roughly equivalent to a "metric buttload."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kitchen Before and After

As promised, here is a Picasa album with before and after shots of the kitchen.

The first two are before, and the second two are after. There are several things you can't really see from the photos that we've been working on.

The water line going to the fridge needed to be redone, as it was too short to allow the fridge to roll out far enough to clean behind it. So, I redid all the copper tubing all the way into the basement to the shut-off valve. And, I replaced the water filter in the fridge. I don't think it had ever been changed since the fridge was new! Yuck!

Since we had all the outlet and switch covers off to paint, I decided to go ahead and replace all the old, funky light switches and outlets with new Decora-style units. I also changed out one standard outlet next to the sink with a GFCI one. I got lucky and the outlet on the other side of the sink was inline with the GFCI, so with one unit I am protecting both outlets. Very nice.

As my Everlasting SoulMate and I were working on the electrical paraphenalia swaps, I did pull a bonehead move. And, I'm big enough to admit it! I was careful and shut off all the power to the outlets and lights, but forgot the one for the disposal. And, unfortunately, ESM got into that switch and found out the hard way. It was totally an accident! And yes, I did take her out for ice cream afterwards to say I'm sorry! Sorry honey!

Anyway, other than some light decorating (pictures, knick-knacks, etc.) the kitchen is done for now. And, we're pretty happy with it! Now, on to other projects! *grin*

--Sundown, Out

Moved in? Yes. Finished? No.

Wow, a week has gone by. I'm not sure where it went. Let's see...

I went back to work after two months off. Ok, to be fair, it only FELT like two months. It was, in reality, only five days. In going back to work, I had to start getting used to my new commute. The rental house was only seven minutes from where I worked, now I'm about thirty minutes away. I can hear you asking all the way from here...why did you move farther away?!? Well, where we were living was "too expensive." We could not afford any of the houses there, and still continue to get by on my salary. So, we had to move to a part of town that we could afford, and that meant a longer commute. But, as you know from things I have said, we got a bigger house out of the deal, and my wife has a somewhat shorter drive to school as well. So, I'll deal with the longer commute. In a weird way, the more time spent on the road gives me more time to decompress and "shift gears" from working-mode to husband-mode.

Speaking of school, my Everlasting SoulMate started back to school in earnest this week. She goes three days a week now, and is taking evening classes. I don't see her until after 9pm on school-nights. So, she's been spending her days working on unpacking and organizing the kitchen. She's about got it together, and we just finished painting the walls this weekend. It looks pretty good. When we get it mostly back together after our painting-party, I'll post some before and after shots.

I've been working on getting the technological side of the move taken care of. We got our satellite TV installed the day after we moved in, but I just got our Internet connection back on Wednesday. So, I have been busy getting the network, servers and our workstations back up and running. As you can see, I was successful, but not without a few interesting moments. I'll do a geek post in the near future about the network legerdemain I had to do.

The kittehs are pretty much settled in. Treelo generally hangs out close by when we're home, but I never know where I will find her when I come home. She has several spots she likes to sleep in. Hubbard is enjoying the upstairs. ESM posted a letter from Hubbard on her blog the other day, detailing his experiences in the new house. Definitely check it out here.

We have a new nickname for the house. You've all heard of "Happy Acres" I'm sure. Well, this is "Half-Vast Acres". Say it fast and without a pause on the hyphen, and you'll get the full meaning.

As we've been living here, we are slowly discovering all the crap that was done in a rather half-hearted fashion. Now, I'm certainly not the end-all and be-all of home renovation and maintenance, but I am pretty sure you should shim up and level kitchen cabinets as you put them in, and not try to fix anything that doesn't fit by filling the gaps with caulk, and certainly not use an interior door in an exterior door location. That's just a small sample of things we have found.

To be fair, this is not a huge slam on the gentleman who lived here before us. He was a pretty nice guy, but he had lived here a long time and was used to things being the way they were. A new set of eyes will generally see those things that have been ignored, and I'm going to try my best to fix most of them. They won't all get done tomorrow, certainly, but most will be fixed in time.

I just realized I had not posted any shots of the new house, so here's one of the front. And, now that all things tech are working again, I hope to post more often.

Later Days,
--Sundown , Out.