Monday, December 31, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back - Verse 2

Come on - sing it with me. You know the tune.

It seems like everything with this project has gone that way, so I didn't expect anything different.

The cabinets are here.

Not that impressive, huh?
Fortunately, they are more impressive out of the boxes. Unfortunately, there are several issues that we have to correct before we can install them. Besides the wrong stained glass that I mentioned earlier, there are a few cabinets with damage to the drawers and the drawers to the lower cabinets don't have the right closing system that we ordered. Also, the sink base and the appliance garage are completely wrong, so that will have to be corrected before installation can be done.

I guess it's lucky for us that we aren't ready to install them. Procrastination finally pays off.

I'm not sure what the rest of the week will bring since it's another holiday week, but we hope to have a decision made by Wednesday evening on our flooring and have it ordered by Thursday. We also hope to get a few more stud walls in place.

And because I have to occupy the other 20 minutes a day that aren't spent on the remodeling project, I cast on for my Hot Tamale socks. It's a pretty simple design ( and it's being done with (gasp) $1.00 sock yarn from so I don't expect them to be perfect. However, I'm on a stash busting mission for 2008, so it was time to move them from my yarn basket to my sock drawer.

Friday, December 28, 2007

WTF are you people looking for?

Seriously - I want to know.

Every once in a while I get a little report that shows me the search terms that people have used and then landed at my blog.

I can understand searching for "Moderne Log Cabin." After all, it's a very popular pattern from a very popular knitting book. I can also understand "remodeled laundry room" because I'm sure we did our share of searching when we were planning it.

But a few of the terms that have confused me lately? What in the world was someone looking for when they searched "knit doctor's hammer?" I would imagine a doctor's hammer made from knitting wouldn't be very useful.

And what about "buttermilk popcorn ceiling." Having just waged battle with our popcorn ceiling, I can only hope that one made from buttermilk is easier to deal with. You have my prayers.

I also want to be invited to the person's house who searched for "welcome sandwiches." I don't know what they are, but I bet they are yummy.

So if you are one of the people that landed at this blog because of a search on Google, drop me a line and let me know what you really were searching for.

Unless you are the person who searched for "mason-dixon knitting chicken beans crock-pot." I'm a little scared of you.

P.S. I know I promised an update on the cabinets. They are here. And they are still in their boxes until Sunday, except for the stained glass doors which I couldn't wait to see. It's just gorgeous. Too bad they made it in the wrong color. . . . And the wrong pattern.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Cabinets Are Coming! The Cabinets Are Coming!

Oh. Crap.

The cabinets are coming.

And we aren't even close to ready for them.

(As a side note, the holidays and vacations have played serious havoc on my blogging routine. Things return to normal tonight, so I'll be updating soon and back to a somewhat regular schedule.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's 5 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Parents Are?

Most people who know us know that the only way we are going to see 5 a.m. is to sneak up behind it rather than in front of it. Part of that is because of Vern's work schedule but also because we are both confirmed night owls.

It creates a dilemma because my very favorite meal to eat in a restaurant is breakfast. Not at lunchtime and not at dinnertime. I want my breakfast in the morning. But we almost never make it out in time for breakfast.

Today we found ourselves working early into the morning as we often do. Later than normal even.

So at 5 a.m. we packed it up and went to breakfast. And let me tell you, it was good.
I can also tell you that the people who are seeing 5 a.m. at the start of a fresh new day and the people who are seeing it at the end of their day are very different. We felt like zombies in a field of sunflowers.

He's Psychic

(Ten points extra if you can identify this photo. One hundred points if you have actually dressed up like this for an office party.)

Remember back to Thanksgiving when I mentioned that my dad frantically was trying to find the paperwork for his prepaid funeral plans? It was very unlike him to be tearing the house apart and to be worrying about something that was settled years ago. Fortunately, I made a couple of calls to the funeral home, discussed everything with the Funeral Director (who was extremely understanding by the way) and got all of the details nailed down and was able to reassure dad that things were, indeed, taken care of and fully paid for no matter how much the cost is at that time.

Well dad must have had some sort of a premonition because just three short weeks later he got word that his sister had passed away. She lived in Florida and although they had spoken recently, he hadn't been aware that she had been suffering from a long term illness.

Anyway, back to the point of my story - - - it seems that her family had prearranged and purchased a funeral plan and somehow it wasn't sufficient to cover even half of the cost of her funeral.

Despite how irritated I was at the time to have to make those calls at Thanksgiving, I'm now very grateful that I was able to put dad's mind at rest about such a serious subject.

Oh, and if the name escapes you - it's Carnac the Magnificent. And yes, I did indeed dress up as Carnac for an office party several years ago. It was for a skit making fun of the lawyers in our office. I was Carlac the Magnificent. I was pretty damn funny too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Do I Hate Thee; Let Me Count the Ways

Since the very first day we moved into this house, we have found a 100 ways to curse the former owners, both under our breath and out loud. They left such a mess here that it has taken us literally four years to get through it. Every time we throw out something they left here or some mess that we have had to undo and deal with, we give them a little "f-you" as we put it in the trash.

We always knew that they fixed up this house just to sell it. And by "fixed up" I mean covered things up and got the hell out of here.

The latest find lies under the sparkly popcorn ceiling. I could have forgiven them their horrendously bad taste had the ceiling been done when the house was originally built or even into the 1970s. However, we determined pretty quickly as I scraped off mounds of wet "popcorn" (also known as Styrofoam balls) and found that it had most definitely been done only a few months before we purchased the house. Not only that, we also figured out the reason - to hide a bad patch job where they replaced part of the ceiling.

What we don't know is why that part of the ceiling was replaced. What we do know is that it was a very bad patch job and that they also didn't use any sort of primer or paint and applied the popcorn texture directly to the raw drywall.
It just made an already messy and labor intensive job that much harder and messier. And now we have to wonder if there is a deeper problem that we need to investigate before we go further into finishing this room.

Meanwhile, with Christmas fast approaching, I'm multi-tasking. Or at the very least, my sewing machine is helping me multi-task.

I'm working on a special project for my Scottish father. I should finish it tonight, so stay tuned for the final project.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Former Owners of Our House



The Unos

(details to follow soon)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ho, Ho, Snow

I can't remember the last time we had a White Christmas, but we will definitely have one this year. We got buried in 8" to 10" of snow on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and the forecast is for 2 or 3 more days of snow, possibly heavy, before Christmas.

At least it gave Vern a chance to use the new toy he bought last year. It sure beats shoveling by hand. Which I did. But I took a lesson from the woodpile and only cleared the sidewalks and a path on the deck.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Meet the Labs

Meet the labs - Jackson the chocolate lab and Lincoln the black lab. They are both a little over four years old.

Officially, they are Uno's Chocolate Kiss and Uno's Black Thunder, but our trainer thinks those names make them sound like porn stars.

We had them neutered, so we just call them Lincoln and Jackson.

It's Too Late to Turn Back Now

At every step of the demolition, Vern keeps saying "It's too late to turn back now."

Most of the cabinets are down (only the sink and dishwasher cabinets remain for now) and we can begin to see how the two rooms are going to tie together. The room where Vern is sweeping used to be a formal living room. It will now become the dining room, although there will be a small office in the general area where the closet door is located now.

As a comparison, this is the "before" kitchen.

We're really hoping to make a lot of progress next week. Vern is on vacation so we are going to really work hard to make some changes. The cabinets are scheduled to arrive on December 27. Merry Christmas to us!

I know that even if it wasn't too late to turn back, I wouldn't want to.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In My New Home

The kitchen has officially been moved into the garage. It's not as bad as it could be - we fortunately have heat in the garage and we already had a refrigerator out there as well as cabinets, so it was the logical choice for a temporary kitchen.

Vern ran some wiring for the range, and we moved one of the old cabinets out there for a work surface, so I at least have a little room to work.

I packed away some of the storage items we had in the cabinets and then I just put most of my kitchen equipment right into the cabinets. I really didn't have to pack much away, so things should remain pretty much normal until we are able to move into the new kitchen.

Except for the part where I don't have a dishwasher. That part sucks.

If I was a fortune cookie, I would read "I see a lot of paper plates in your future."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Subs - Floors and Sandwiches

We've decided to take up the entire subfloor in both the dining room and the kitchen. There is still a lot of the original 30 year old linoleum that we weren't able to get up easily and quite a bit of the subfloor was damaged by water or simply in poor condition.

However, it's not going to come up easily. As if we had any illusion that it would go any other way.

We had our last official meal in our old kitchen/dining room/living room. I made meatball sub sandwiches. I can't believe I spent all those years buying crappy grocery store meatballs. They are so easy to make and so much better.


*2 slices white sandwich bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
*1/2 cup buttermilk
or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons sweet milk
*3/4 pound ground beef chuck ( or 1 pound if omitting ground pork below)
*1/4 pound ground pork (to be mixed with ground chuck)
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

*1 large egg yolk

*1 small clove garlic
, minced (1 teaspoon)
*3/4 teaspoon salt
*Ground black pepper
*vegetable oil for pan-frying (about 1 1/4 cups)

1. Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.

2. Mix all meatball ingredients, including bread mixture and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Lightly form 3 tablespoons of mixture into 1 1/2-inch round meatballs; repeat with remaining mixture to form approximately 14 meatballs.

3. Heat 1/4 -inch vegetable oil over medium-high heat in 10- or 11-inch sauté pan. When edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles, add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, regulating heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to paper towel--lined plate; set aside. Repeat, if necessary, with remaining meatballs.

To make the meatball sub sandwiches, I remove the meatballs from the pan, drain the oil, and add pasta sauce, scraping the "bits" of browned meatballs from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve on hoagie buns.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'm Giddy with Excitement

Yes, I admit it. I'm a huge dork.

I am giddy with excitement.

Because of the writer's strike, they will be having an "extra" season of Big Brother. Big Brother 9 will premier on February 12, 2008.

I. Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I Fell Off the Wagon

I've been very, very bad. I fell off my yarn diet. Pretty significantly.

Yes, that is a faux Christmas tree made out of 26 one-pound skeins of cotton. When I fall off the wagon, I not only fall off, but I get run over by it too.

I've been selling quite a few dishcloth sets (I love mindless knitting) on Etsy and while I won't be able to get all of this knit up before the holidays, I will be set for the next year. Or ten.

And while I'm admitting my sins, look at the pretty self striping sock yarn I got yesterday when we were coming home from Chicago.

We'll just call that dessert, okay?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moving Out

Really, I swear my kitchen isn't always this much of a mess.

The time has come to start moving everything out of the cabinets so that we can tear out the cabinets.

Because we are doing the work ourselves and the remodel is such a large project, it's just going to be too long to depend on a hot plate or eating out for the entire time. Fortunately, I'll be able to set up a temporary kitchen in the garage. There is already a refrigerator out there, and we will move the stove out there. We have a whole wall of cabinets that I can move most of my stuff into.

Just don't show up and expect any gourmet meals.

Head Games

The header is up and now the rest of the old support wall between the kitchen and dining room can come down!

This is the new open wall between the kitchen and where the dining room will be. There's so much more work to do, but the structure is starting to take shape.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Lots of Progress

Whew, I can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted, but things have been flying fast and furious around here.

Thanksgiving was good. Except for the part where my dad started to frantically search for the paperwork for his prepaid funeral plan. Nothing says “Happy Thanksgiving” like thoughts of funerals.

Now that the work is (mostly) done on the well and (mostly) done on the deck, we’re putting 100% full effort into the kitchen and dining room remodel because it will only be a matter of a week or so before our new cabinets are here and there is a lot of work to be done before we can install them.

“Install new cabinets” is waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy over to the right side of our timeline. So much timeline, so little time.

Like I said – 100% effort.

We finished tearing out all of the tile in the kitchen and all the way down the hall. I ran the jackhammer, and Vern tore out the cement board and two layers of linoleum underneath.

We realized afterwards that some of the flooring was probably asbestos. Oh well, I guess we all have to die of something.

We also ripped out the drywall in the hallway and the former living room. You just can’t have too many stud walls in a home. Especially during the holidays – it’s so festive. I think we may actually have more open stud walls than walls with drywall actually on them at this point.

And speaking of the hallway, this used to be a linen closet.

A very ineffective linen closet. I now use it to store craft and sewing supplies. It’s on the backside of my actual craft room closet, so we’re planning to drywall over the front of it and then enlarge the closet in the craft room.

In the meantime, we removed the bifold doors. Vern really hates bifold doors, so he was happy to take a crowbar to them.

Finally, and best of all, the first cabinet has been removed from the kitchen. We’re not ready to take all of them out but it was great progress to at least get one out and see what we are dealing with.

Apparently what we are dealing with is more of that lovely asbestos flooring. Goody.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Throwdown at Knit Night

About a year ago, I organized a bimonthly knit night at a local coffee shop. The response has been really good, and it's fun to get together and talk about all sorts of things while stabbing the yarn with our needles.

Last night, however, we almost had a fight break out.

Over what, you ask? The pros and cons of pure wool? Wood or metal needles? Sock knitting? Whether knitting or crocheting can living in harmony?

Nope, none of the above.

It was over whether Germany has a true socialized medicine system.

I didn't see that one coming. I thought I was going to have to take away their needles before they stabbed each other.

On a completely unrelated, and totally boring, subject, I'm getting my hair cut today. I've had the same hairstyle for a while now and have been letting it get pretty long, but I'm a little worried about this haircut. My stylist called me last night and excitedly asked how I was planning to get my hair cut, which was strange in itself because she has never asked that before my appointment. It seems she went to a Paul Mitchell class yesterday, and I am about to become a guinea pig.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Great Well Disaster - The Final Chapter

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll spare you the words and just give you the pictures. While there is still some more work to do to complete the job, it's all inside and under the house, so it can wait until some of the other more pressing projects are over.

Doctor, Doctor . . . I Think I Have Startitis

I have a confession. I'm a starter, not a finisher. I'm pretty sure that my family and friends have known this about me for a long time, but I'm officially telling the world. I love to plan and start projects. I hate finishing them. Not because of any emotional attachment to the said project or because I don't want to "let it go." No, I just get bored with it and move on to the next project, leaving a trail of forgotten projects behind me.

I've put myself on a yarn diet. No more yarn until January 2008.* This could be a problem since I am going on a yarn shop hop with my friend Gabriele on Saturday. However, I have a short list of non-yarn items that I'm going to concentrate on finding so hopefully it will distract me from the yarn itself.

I'm attempting to gather all my orphaned projects into one spot and have solemnly vowed that for every new project I start, I will finish two of my abandoned projects - or at the very least abandon them once and for all and put them to rest - preferably somewhere out of the house.

All that said, I recently started two NEW projects. One is a super secret project that may or may not be given to someone who may or may not read this blog at Christmas. (It's actually almost done and just needs some little finishing touches.)

The other project is this:

I know it doesn't look like much now, and I'm actually cheating by putting this photo up right now, because THIS project is also almost finished, so I'll keep it a secret until I can put the finished photo up in a day or two. I will tell you that it's pink and blue and made from cashmere. Yum.

What I really wanted to point out, however, are the beautiful stitch markers. The camera really can't capture how gorgeous they are, but let me assure you - they are.

They are from my favorite Etsy shop, Crimson Orchid

Check them out if you are in need of stitch markers, row counting bracelets or other little knitting do-dads. Or, you know, if you happen to know a knitter who would like it for Christmas or her birthday (coughcoughFebruary24coughcough).

*I am not bound by this if I happen to wander past a pile of yarn that is never going to be made again, on clearance, and calling my name.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All Decked Out

We've really had very little time since Jesse left to work on the deck because of our well disaster (I have now upgraded that whole episode to a disaster status). However, Vern did get a little more done on the railing around the grill.

We're hoping to finish it before winter and all we need is one or two days of decent weather without something else breaking around here. We need to finish the top rail around the grill, the stairs and handrail, and enclose the bottom of the deck. We had already decided to let it weather over the winter and then stain it in the spring. We also want to add some outdoor lighting, replace the window, and finish the brickwork repair.

It's hard to tell just how large it is, but we already have our oval patio table, four chairs, a glider, and the grill on it. And there's still room for a square dance in the middle.

We even had coffee on the deck this week and enjoyed what is surely some of the last warm weather we are going to have this year.

I Am Woman, Hear Me . . .

moan, bitch, and complain.

Not really, but I clearly wasn't cut out for manual labor. I was raised with a pretty old-fashioned view of male/female roles. My mom's role was pretty much everything inside the house and my dad's role was to take care of pretty much everything outside the house.

However, in an effort to help get things winterized around here and to give Vern a hand while he was working on finishing the well repairs, I pitched in outdoors today.

Last week we had wood delivered.

And by delivered, I mean "dumped in a pile in front of the shop."

Which coincidentally is no where near where we planned to stack wood this winter.

After a few hours of loading up the trailer, hauling it across the yard, and stacking it up, I managed to pretty neatly wrangle all of our wood supply into a convenient location right off the back of the deck. We'll probably need another cord before the winter is over, but for now, it's all in one place and within an easy reach if the snow gets too deep.

While working outside today, I had time to reflect. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't so much that my upbringing was traditional and old-fashioned, but rather that my mother was smarter than I am.

She would have never ended up stacking wood for the winter.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Way Ahead of the Game

It may be unseasonably warm today, and we may be having thunderstorms, but I was in the Christmas spirit. Or something like that. Maybe I was more in the spirit of hiding from the work around here that really needs to be done, like busting up ceramic tile, packing up the kitchen into temporary boxes, or scraping glittery popcorn texture off of the ceiling.

Either way, I buried myself in the task of getting the Christmas cards ready to go.

Check that task off my list.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Beans or Rice?

You'll have to pick one or the other because we got the price for our soapstone today and we sure as hell can't afford beans AND rice. Something's got to give and it's not going to be the soapstone, that much I'm sure of.

Other than that, I got nuthin'. I'm so darn borning today that I've driven myself over the edge. The most exciting part of my day was when I cleaned out the ashes from the fireplace and hauled them to the firepit outside. I looked like Cinderella when I was finished. And not the pretty version with the ballgown and the glass slipper.

(P.S. Just a tip - don't Google "Dirty Cinderella.")

Vern went back to work on Thursday after almost three weeks off. Fortunately, he was home during "The Great Well Disaster of 2007." Unfortunately, we have a half-finished deck and a temporary solution to our well. He's apparently just going to have to quit his job completely.

But then there would be no soapstone.

Monday, November 5, 2007

We Ordered our Kitchen!

I forgot to mention last week in all the misery of the "Great Well Disaster of 2007" that we placed our final order for our kitchen cabinets! That alone was enough to almost make up for the lack of water.

I don't have a great drawing of the final layout, but this is pretty close. The island will be brought forward a little bit and there will be seating for 3 along the side and in front of the range top.

The cabinets are going to be this style with a different style glass.

This is actually the exact cabinet and style of glass that we are going to go with (sorry for the crappy cell phone photo).

We will have a corner cabinet with glass and then a light box over the kitchen sink made out of this same glass - very similar to what is shown in this photo.

We met with the craftsman today who is going to do our soapstone counters. He just recently completed the Frank Lloyd Wright house that is in our area, so we're excited to see what he has done there. We also decided on a farmhouse style sink made out of soapstone also, although we opted for a slightly larger double sink.

Now the hard work begins on our part. The cabinets should be finished before Christmas and we have a lot of work to do.

Including the most pressing issue of permanently repairing our well.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

At Last

I'm happy to report that we have water. It's only a temporary solution to a much larger problem, but all that matters is that we have water. The shower is wet and the toilet flushes. I don't care that there is a big ugly hole in our yard, that our basement looks like we have buried bodies recently, or even that we have spent what seems like a year's salary on resolving this.

We freaking have water.

Vern worked long and hard, and still has a lot to do to make it all final, but he didn't work alone. The labs supervised.

Well, Jackson supervised.
Lincoln tried his best to fall into the hole. Repeatedly.

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