Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Good News and the Bad News

The Bad News is that we still don't have water. And we still don't know the exact nature of the problem. While the lack of showers and the lack of bathroom facilities has been pretty much the problem I expected, the inability to do laundry or dishes is more of an issue than I expected. Because we were having water issues, I let the laundry go, thinking I could catch up after Jesse left and Vern went back to work. As a result, we may be making a trip to the laundromat.
Also, as much as I'm trying to use disposable plates, I still had two dishdrawers loaded with dishes ready to wash, and it's virtually impossible to cook without creating dishes. If we don't get water soon, I'm going to have to start boiling water and washing the dishes by hand with as little water as possible.
Unfortunately, Vern had to return to work tonight. On the positive side, however, he was able to take a couple more days of vacation and get someone to cover his other shifts for him, so he'll be home in the morning and have another week to work on this issue. God I hope it doesn't take that long.

The Jeep is also still not fixed since water seemed to be more urgent than secondary transportation.

The Good News is that I have a heck of a lot of Halloween candy left over.
Thank God because I feel a huge rush of PMS coming on.

Happy Halloween from the Labs

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Words you don't want to hear your husband say

"We are now officially out of water."

It just doesn't really give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. Warm, no. Fuzzy, possibly in a day or two.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have to take a shower before I do anything in the morning. Even before I clean toilets. But I guess cleaning toilets isn't really going to be necessary since no water also means no toilets.

It just doesn't get better than this.

Monday, October 29, 2007

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye

Today we took the Crapmobile (see the previous post) and drove Jesse to the airport to return home. Thanks for all your help. You are a great friend even though you annoy the crap out of me we don’t see you often enough. See you at Christmas. We’ll keep the hot tub warm and the beer cold for your return.

P.S. The dogs already miss you.

Sounds like a good idea to me

Want to hear about my fantastically crappy day? Too bad, you’re going to anyway.

First of all, we get up this morning with a bunch of calls to make, not the least of which is to someone to get out here and to fix our well (more on that particular gem later). No phone service. Instead, I’m routed to Verizon’s financial office where I’m informed I have a $200 past due balance. Odd, since just last week I received a bill that said I had a $150 credit. Even more odd because as I checked our bank account, regular payments have been made for the past, oh five years or so.

I’m connected with a man named Ken. Except that I later learn that Man named Ken is really a woman named Kenisha or something of the like. (Note to Ken/Kenisha - you have a masculine voice. Very masculine. I'd suggest at least giving your full name and not shortening it to "Ken") He/she kept insisting that there was a balance due for the past three months. He/she didn’t really care that I’ve only had the phones for one month and that it's virtually impossible to owe three months worth of charges on phones that you have only had for a month. He/she did not care that I’ve paid Verizon every single month for the past five years. He/she did not care that I held a credit statement in my hand. Instead Man/woman named Ken apparently did not like my tone the least little bit because he/she kept putting me on hold to “calm down,” which only served to make me madder.

Long story short, they are trying to find the money my bank has been sending them and they have apparently been misdirecting into another account. And I now have phone service.

But I still haven’t figured out if he/she is really a woman or a man.

Problem number two wouldn’t actually BE a problem if my husband was 6’5” tall. But he’s not. Not even close. Nor am I. However, the seat of his Jeep apparently prefers a tall driver because it moved itself back all the way and now won’t move forward. It is, of course, electronic, so there’s no fooling it. There’s also no driving it since neither of us can reach the pedals. So for now, we are driving MY Jeep, which I was informed was a crapmobile. But at least we can reach the pedals.

Oh, and finally the well. You didn’t think I’d forget the well did you? How could I when I took a dirt shower this morning. We’ve moved from water/air to air/dirt. It’s fan-frigging-tastic to wake up to that in the morning. Ironically, our neighbors just came over to borrow some water (ha – the joke was on them as I handed them our mud mix we now call water!) because their well and/or pump isn’t working. Sounds like a dry well situation to me. It also sounds like money wooshing out of our bank account.

The only thing that can make me feel better at this point is to spend money we don’t have. On something fun. So tomorrow, we order the cabinets. Screw Verizon, the car, and the well. I'm getting new kitchen cabinets and you can't take that away from me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Brought to you by the letter F

I'll let you fill in the blanks with your own favorite word, but basically mine are all four lettered.

It appears that we need to have a new well drilled. Unless we can live on air alone.

Because air is basically what we are getting when we turn on the faucets or flush the toilet.

Fabulous. Which is not the first f-word that comes to mind.

Heading for the Home Plate

It’s not actually done, but it’s at least identifiable as a deck. Jesse leaves tomorrow, so there is a last, late night effort to finish a few things. However, there’s still a lot of detail work left. Crap. I guess that means that now I’ll have to help. I was doing so well just cooking, cleaning, and doing their laundry.

You can’t see the detail from this picture, but let me assure you that there are million dollar mansions that don’t have the detail put into them that this deck does. If there is a flaw in it when it is finished, I defy anyone to find it.

When it is finished being the operative phrase. That should give you all plenty of time.

More than the Memories

Two of my favorite hobbies are scrapbooking and knitting, although lately the love for one has caused me to ignore the other.

However, a recent “scandal” in the world of scrapbooking has caused me to rethink what it’s all about. Almost every scrapper will tell you that it’s about the memories. Memories for their children. Memories for future generations.

Somehow, though, that seems to have gotten skewed with who is bigger, better, and badder in the industry.

When it’s more about the furniture in your scraproom, it’s about more than the memories.

When it’s more about acquiring every latest and greatest product out there, it’s about more than the memories.

When it’s about the price of your camera and the professional quality of your pictures, it’s about more than the memories.

When it becomes more about who you are or who you know, it’s about more than the memories.

When you spend more time and money on recreating memories than in making new ones, it’s about more than the memories.

When it’s so closely tied to your identity that you are willing to cheat in a contest just to win it, it’s about more than the memories.

You may be able to tell yourself that it’s about the memories, but if any of the above makes you feel a little uncomfortable or need to defend yourself, then it’s about more than the memories.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I'm so sorry to do this to you

But if I have to live with it, I might as well dilute it a little by sharing. And to think - - - he's single. I just don't know how that could be.

Knitty Gritty

The Knitty

The Mason Dixon Moderne Log Cabin afghan is still plodding along. I’m about halfway through block 7. Still a few more to go plus a border. I’m considering putting a fleece backing on it for some added warmth and durability.

The Gritty

It was time to mop again this week, so I opted for the jackhammer once again. At least we have a dumpster now to put the debris in. Did I mention that this house has miles of this tile? And yes, real women do know how to use a jackhammer.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Two very different men + two very different approaches = a do over.

Jesse is a rock em, sock em, bang it in and worry about the details later kind of guy. Vern, on the other hand, needs a plan written in stone by God himself before he starts a project.

Now both types of personalities have their benefits and drawbacks, but when you put the two of them together, sometimes it calls for a do over.

Jesse set some of the foundation posts in cement earlier in the week. Last night, however, Vern apparently received his stone tablets with the Plan written on them, and the foundation posts that are already there just don’t fit into the Plan.

So now they are taking the time to undo some of the work and start that section over again. According to the Plan.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hit the Deck

Finally, most of the undercarriage of the deck is done, and they have finally reached the point where they can start on the decking. There are still a few things to figure out for the base of the deck like the grill bump out and the wrap around steps, but I think the guys needed to see a little visual progress today.

They’ve been working late into the night – long after it turns dark. Thank goodness we don’t have many neighbors because they would surely think we have gone mad.

Jesse will be here only four more days (wow, that has gone fast!) so I think the next few days (weather permitting) are going to be busy trying to complete the deck before he leaves.

Here’s a super simple crock pot recipe that we are having tonight and it’s just perfect for busy days and cool evenings. It’s always a hit at my house.

Italian Beef
Mix in crock pot:
1 (1 ¼ oz) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 t. oregano
1 t. red paper flakes
1 t. basil
1 t. dried parsley
1 large clove garlic, smashed
¾ cup water

Place on mixture:
3 lbs. Roast –(I usually use a rolled beef roast or a chuck roast – whatever is on sale!)

Cook on high all day, or until meat is tender. Turn it over every now and then if you can. If not, that’s okay too! Shred the meat, let it simmer in its own juice for a while, and serve on buns or hard Italian rolls.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making the Grade

The door is finished and installed. We still need to trim it out and finish the brickwork outside, but that will all come when the kitchen is finished. Right now, it leads nowhere because the deck isn’t complete, but soon, very soon, it will lead right onto our new deck.

The deck itself is starting to progress. The guys had to spend a lot of time leveling the grade so that it would drain away from the house and towards the creek. The plants and shrubs had to come out, lots of digging and measuring, and finally, the footings were poured in concrete. The house may blow down, but the deck is going nowhere. The next time there is a tornado, I’m heading for the deck.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What a Dump

Work is continuing on the deck, slowly but surely. A hangover bad weather caused a bit of a slowdown, but assuming everyone stays sober the weather stays nice it should all start moving along a lot faster.

We decided to rent a dumpster so that we could finish knocking out all of the ceramic tile in the entire house and get rid of other general construction debris without totally pissing off our regular trash haulers. We put it in front of the shop so that it doesn’t make our house look too trashy more trashy than usual.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moderne Log Cabin - Block 4

Just so you don't think that the guys are the only ones getting things done around here!

Block 4 is complete! Now the blocks start to get big. These are all of the colors that I'm working with - cream, taupe, dark brown, and russet. I haven't decided what color of border I'm going to use - maybe black since we have so much black in our family room and haven't decided on brown or black leather for the sofa yet.

Have a Heart Attack. . . On a Plate

We’re going to a fall party tonight. That might not seem like a thing to mention to most people, but it’s a big event for us. Because Vern has worked midnights and weekends the whole time we have been married, we rarely almost never never get to go to parties. It just so happens that a coworker is having a party and Vern is on vacation. Yippee.

Here’s what I’m taking to the party. It’s my favorite dip and one I affectionately call Heart Attack on a Plate. It may clog your arteries, but it is oh so worth it.


1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
1 lb. bacon fried crisp and crumbled
1 medium tomato, chopped


Mix all ingredients, chill, and serve on pieces of toast or crackers.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hole in the Wall

Hole-in-the-wall: n., a) a small and insignificant place;
b) Small, insignificant, difficult to find.

I don’t care how Webster defines it, I define it as progress.
Beautiful, blissful progress.

The Cavalry arrived on Thursday in the form of Vern’s best friend Jesse, who is here to help us out for a couple of weeks. I can only hope that my cooking is good enough to keep him around and/or to lure him back again.

Today was a day of progress. The window and wall in the kitchen was removed and a hole just the right size for our new door was cut through the brick. Soon there will not only be a door here, but also a deck. This is just one of the very first steps of our kitchen remodel. (If you look to the right of the hole, you can even get a sneak peek of the wall colors we are thinking of for our new kitchen.)

Work continues on the Moderne Log Cabin blanket, and I have completed three blocks so far. Not much to say about it other than straight, mindless knitting is sometimes good for the soul.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You are in a Time Out

I’m mad at my 3TimesChic sweater so it is in a time out.

It’s not really the sweater’s fault, but in the end, it is the one to suffer. I made a pattern reading mistake and now I need to frog the front back to the armhole decreases. It could be worse. But I was “this” close to finishing it. I only had a tiny bit of the last sleeve left to finish. Now I’m disillusioned with it. It doesn’t look nearly as pretty, and it doesn’t feel nearly as soft, and I really have serious doubts as to whether I will even be able to assemble it and whether it will fit. So it’s in a temporary time out until I cool off a little. Or buy more wine so that it all doesn’t seem so bad.

Ever the optimist, I cast on a new project. Right now, it just looks like a rectangle. Actually, now that I think about it, even when it’s finished, it will still be a rectangle, just a much larger and more colorful rectangle.

I cast on the first square of the Mason Dixon Moderne Log Cabin afghan. I’m using some of the Patons Highland Chunky (acrylic/wool blend) that I picked up at Michaels for $1 per skein, so it’s also going to be a cheap rectangle. I wanted something very washable and very soft for snuggling on the sofa next to the fire, and this is just the ticket.

I also wanted an easy knit that I can do when my brain is fried, I want to engage in conversation, or I want to multi-task while knitting. Said multi-tasking may or may not involving drinking of the aforementioned wine.

It doesn’t look like much now, but give me a week. Or a month.

Let’s just hope I don’t need a bigger time out corner because the sweater is already looking lonely.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Come On Baby, Light My Fire

The first fire of the year. Unbelievable considering that it was over 90 degrees just four days ago.

Speaking of the fireplace, now is a good time to showcase the changes that we made to the fireplace last year.

We have a massive 19 foot wide limestone fireplace. Beautiful, but a bit of a decorating challenge. The big problem, however, was that you might as well have thrown $20 bills in to burn because it was so inefficient. It had such a wide flue that it brought in more cold air than it could put out warm air. And there was no blower to circulate the heat in the room. All that 1970 style doors.

It was a whole lot of ugly.

We purchased an enclosed fireplace insert and installed it last year. Now we can heat several rooms just with the heat from the fireplace.

Jackson, our chocolate lab, gives his approval.

Hammer Time

Jackhammer that is. (I am trying to keep it clean around here, but I do thank my sister-in-law for her many suggestions for the title of this thread!)

We have miles of ceramic tile in this house. All through the kitchen, the bathroom and down the hallway. Ugly, white ceramic tile.

I figure I don’t have to mop it if I jackhammer it out of here, right?

Don’t tell my husband, but I’m kind of having fun with this!

P.S. Thank you for the kind thoughts, comments, and emails about my dad. His surgery went relatively well with only a few minor complications and as of yesterday, he was feeling pretty well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Road Trip

Okay, not really much of a road trip, but my dad is having surgery tomorrow, so there will be 5 hours in the car and then a few hours waiting around at the hospital and such. The break away from the house will be nice even though we wish it could be for better reasons. Maybe at the very least, I can get some progress made on the sweater I'm knitting. The weather has finally cooled, so now I can envision actually wearing it.

A very good friend is coming next week to spend a couple of weeks with us and to help out with some of the projects around here. It will be nice to have him here and have a couple of extra hands and a lot of extra man muscle around here to help out. Hopefully, the new kitchen door and sidelights will get installed and the deck will get built. That would be a big step forward in the right direction.

The last couple of days have been spent trying to do some finish work on the family room and sunroom. We got the base trim, crown moulding, and french doors all painted and partially installed. What a difference that makes! It's actually starting to look like a room in a model home.

I'm trying to do my part and am purging my massive collection of cookbooks. I went through them a year ago and probably let about 50 of them go at that time, but I still have way too many. Other than my few favorites, I never look at them. There are just so many good recipes and techniques available on the internet that there is almost no reason to reach for a cookbook anymore. I've decided to limit myself to church cookbooks, Pampered Chef cookbooks, Taste of Home annual cookbooks, and a very small handful of well used favorites.

Sorry Betty Crocker - you have been evicted.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


'nuff said.

I’m Going to Let You in on a Little Secret

A “secret recipe” that is.

Just trust me on this, okay? If you want an easy, low fat, filling, recipe that will win friends and influence people, you do not want to miss this one. I know it looks like a lot of stuff, but really, it’s not and I bet you have everything on hand right now.

You cannot screw this up . . . unless you add something funky like leftover lunchmeat. So don’t do that. But pretty much everything else goes.

A Whole Lot of Salsa Going On Chicken Soup

Skin, bone, and cut in 1” chunks (or buy it already done for you!)
3 whole chicken breasts

Heat in heavy pot/dutch oven
1 T. canola oil

Add chicken to pot, along with:
2 C. chopped onion
1 C. green pepper, chopped
2 large clove garlic, minced
¾ cup water

Sprinkle with a little salt; Saute, stirring occasionally, until chicken turns white:


2 cans (14 oz) Mexican or Chili-style tomatoes (I like to use Rotel, even though they are smaller cans – I just use 3 cans or add more salsa.)
2 cans (15 oz) pinto beans, undrained
¾ cup chunky style salsa (I usually add more salsa – and we prefer HOT salsa, but any kind is okay!)
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. chili powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
2 cans (15 oz) Chicken Broth (or fresh stock if you have it or equal amount of Chicken bullion)

Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes (or more if time permits – or you can wait!)

Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese, sour cream, etc.
(Can thicken with 2 T cold water and 1 T cornstarch while cooking if you like thicker soup)

You can add as much, or as little chicken, salsa, beans, onions, peppers, etc. as you want. Make it thick or thin. It's all good.

But don't add old, leftover lunchmeat. You would think this goes without saying, but sadly, it doesn't in some cases.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Let’s Get a Little Dirty Now

Because I have to admit, doing laundry in my new laundry room is almost orgasmic.

The washer and dryer used to be in a closet in the kitchen.

This area was just wasted space in the Family Room – complete with pink carpet and dark, fake wood paneling. I won't even make you look at a larger photo. It was tragic.

The room isn’t quite finished, but we’ll take a sneak peek anyway.

Wanna get dirty with me?

All It Needs is a Disco Ball

Welcome to the 1970s. Right here in the “Used to be a Living Room Soon to be a Dining Room.”

Sparkly popcorn ceiling.

Photos just don’t even do it justice so I didn’t bother.

Just trust me on this one. If your home improvement store sells glitter next to the ceiling texture - - - just say no.

The Object of My Affection

Who knew that pointy wood could give me so much pleasure???

These little beauties are the latest and greatest from Knit Picks and are called Harmony. They fit the same interchangeable cords as the original nickel Options, but they are oh so much different. They are appropriately named Harmony because let me tell you – they will make your yarn sing.

I’ll quit before I embarrass myself even more. Besides, I hear my Harmonies calling me from the other room.

There’s a Stud in my Kitchen

Come on, you know you are jealous. Everyone dreams of a stud in the kitchen. Mine just happens to be a stud wall. Dreamy.

In all seriousness (I know, what’s the fun in that?) it’s better than the wall that was there before. The wall that housed the washer and dryer and the refrigerator. Everyone loves to do laundry in the kitchen.

That same wall kept every bit of light out of our house. And it kept us isolated from the entire world . . . or at least our street. Now with the wall gone, we can watch our neighbors get more sunlight.

In fact, most of this wall is going to completely disappear. We just have to do a little reinforcement because it’s a support wall. And then it comes down completely and the new island will be front and center in that space.

Hello sun. Welcome to my kitchen!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Every House Needs a Porch

One of the quicker projects that we have completed is our front porch. It may have been quick, but it made a pretty large impact.

Doesn't that look much more welcoming?

Now I actually feel like we have a real porch. I even got three white rocking chairs for Mother’s Day so now I can sit out there and watch the neighbors relax and knit.

We still plan on updating the lighting, adding some shutters, and changing around some of the landscaping, but that's going to have to wait for a year or two. We don't want the neighbors to think we are spending ALL of the Uno fortune at once.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

It's our House-A-Versary

We’ve lived here four years today. You would think one would be settled by that time, but not us.

We moved from here:

To here
(my apologies for the really crappy photo merge. I clearly do not have the skillz.)

When you look at the reasons on paper, the new house fits:

Sunroom with spa – check

Extra building for Vern’s shop - check

Closer to work for Vern - check

Lots of open, flat acreage – check

Creek running through the property – check

Smaller ranch style house that is easier to maintain – check. SCREECH. Wait. Easier to maintain? If it’s easier to maintain, why are we still working on it?

Like I said, on paper, it fits. In reality, not so much.

But still – four years. That’s 1,460 days. 35,040 hours. You would think that we would have accomplished a little more.

Sure, we’ve finished some projects, although most aren’t obvious to the naked eye.

We did have that nasty car accident that took several months out of our lives for doctors’ appointments and rehab. (My husband is a very good scrapbooker's husband because he remembered that we had a disposable camera in the car and continued to take pictures while they were extricating me from the car and onto a stretcher.)

And then there were those two transplants I had. Never ending doctors’ visits to Chicago for those. It has been three years for one eye and two years for the other, and I don’t even have the stitches out yet.

Life also got in the way – family stuff, kid stuff (I think we helped our daughter move three times in those four years), vacations (not nearly enough of those), cash flow issues (not nearly enough of that either), and just life in general.

But, we’re now on the fast track to finish this house. Or at least put a wrap on the biggest part of it. Nine months. If I could grow a human being in nine months, surely we can get some closure on some of these outstanding projects.

Here’s what we have finished already:

  • The front porch
  • The master bedroom
  • The drainage/sump pump issue that flooded our basement

Oh. My. God. That’s it? That’s all we’ve actually FINISHED? This isn’t looking good.

On the other hand, we’ve started a lot. More than a lot. Pretty much everything else is in some state of undoneness (pretend it’s a word because it fits, okay?)

Here’s what we have to start and/or finish:

  • Sunroom
  • Family room
  • Pantry
  • Laundry room
  • Second bathroom
  • Deck
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room (formerly known as the living room)
  • Main bathroom
  • Guest room
  • Craft/sewing room
  • Shop

Okay then. That should take a while.

Did I mention that we are doing all of the work ourselves? Just the two of us? Although if you go by the pictures, it’s really just one of us, because Vern can’t seem to get a photo of me working on any projects that actually identifies that it’s truly me. He seems incapable of actually capturing me both looking at the camera and working at the same time.