Friday, November 23, 2007

A bit more work on the pantry shelves.

I added some hooks to the pantry shelves. This way we can hang items to dry. At our old place the dryer wasn't that great, so we had a lot of hooks to help things finish drying. The dryer works wonderfully here, but I would like to use it less. There's our carbon footprint to think about. We have an outdoor clothesline which we need to install and I have plans to put a retractable one indoors for the rainy months, but this was good first step.
The shirts were dry the next day.

Thanksgiving Goodness.

Before we started with the eating the MAunts and I took a walk. We took Atlas with us. That's my mom on the left, the Aunt Pat, then Aunt Carol looking very cool in sunglasses.
Then, there was food. Olives, both Kalamata and California
Bread Stuffing which my brother brought.
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. The potatoes were mine, the gravy my Aunt Pat's
The traditional rice dressing which I ate this year due to the gluten-free thing I'm trying. One of the Aunts made this. I'm not sure which one.
Broccoli that my mom made.
The Waldorf Salad Redux. See the recipe at the bottom of this post. I made this.
Turkey. My Aunt Pat roasted this. I love turkey.
Rolls. My favorite part of Thanksgiving. My Aunt Carol made these. She bought me gluten-free cornbread, which was quite tasty. Though not as tasty as the rolls, I'm sure.
There were also brussels sprouts that my Aunt Carol made. I love brussels sprouts!

Waldorf Salad Redux.
I got this from the Oregonian November 28, 2006.
6 servings [big servings]


1 1/2 t honey
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 T toasted walnut oil [or not. I happened to have some macadema nut oil, but I've used regular olive oil]
6 T sour cream (reg or light)
1 T mustard seeds lightly toasted [I didn't do this. But it probably tastes better if you do]

Juice of one lemon
2 cups water
4-5 small unpeeled apples (or 3 medium: see note)
1 cup celeriac (celery root) peeled and julienned into 2-inch lengths (about 1/2 pound) [I just used celery because I have a lot of it.]
1 cup walnut halves, toasted. [and I'm noticing I didn't do this either. It probably tastes better if you do]
1 cup dried cranberries.

To make dressing: [heat the honey first a little or it doesn't mix well] In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and vinegar. Add the mustard and walnut oil and whisk well. Add the sour cream, mustard seeds and salt and mix again.
To make salad: [you can do all this apples in water thing, or just work fast and combine the whole thing together and skip the apples in water part] In a large bowl, combine lemon juice and the 2 cups water. Quarter, core and thinly slice apples, placing the slices in the lemon water as you work. Drain apples thoroughly and pat dry. In another large bowl combine apples, celeriac, walnuts and cranberries. Toss with the salad dressing and refrigerate or serve immediately.
Note: Gala or Honeycrisp apples are good choices. For a little sour kick, trade out one for a Granny Smith apple.
Note: For dried cranberries that are less chewy, soak them in warm orange or cranberry juice to cover for a half-hour before draining and adding to salad [I find this step entirely unnecessary, but your cranberries might be drier than mine.]


Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Animals of Thanksgiving.

Let's face it, one of the reasons I was excited for Thanksgiving is that I got to hang out with the various animals of the family. We are an animal-free household here, which is great from the scooping, fur everywhere perspective, but it isn't much fun otherwise. Here are all the animals I got to hang out with.

Ez is my mother's cat, short for Ezmeralda. I call her "little kitty" (to distinguish her from "bratty kitty" which was my Aunt's cat, Boots. Boots died this May, which was sad. He also should have been named Bulldog, but that is another story altogether.) I spend most of my time at my Mom's house trying to get Ez to sit on my lap. I'm about 100% unsuccessful in these efforts, but that doesn't stop me. Ez is a grumpy old lady of a cat, and likes things her way. She jumped up on this chair and started meowing around, so I knew she wanted me to take my backpack off of the chair where I had left it and stretch the blanket across the chair so she could crawl under it and be warm. I pulled up the corner to take this picture which is dark because I know she would be very unhappy with a flash.
This is Atlas, my brother's Newfoundland dog. He's kind of big. He's also very stubborn and only somewhat listens to commands. He's a very fun dog and likes me because I scratch him a lot when I come over. He really loves to go over to my Aunt Pat's because she has an acre of property and there is much chasing of squirrels and checking out the other dogs that walk by with their owners. He sheds a lot, though and isn't allowed upstairs in the house. When we gather for a dinner of some sort, he sits outside the dining room. When my brother goes down in the basement Atlas hangs out with him there.

This is Squeak, the newest addition. Squeak found my Aunt Carol and adopted her about two weeks ago. He was hiding in her front yard and used his good looks and very cute kitten allure to charm his way indoors. Boots did a similar thing with my Aunt Pat, though it took longer. He is the best cat. He has short hair, is all black with very big eyes and he squeaks instead of meows. He'll also let you pick him up and hold him for awhile and when he sleeps, he stretches out next to you on the couch. He was much fun during Thanksgiving, though a bit overwhelmed at the space and the number of people who wanted to play with him.
Aunt Carol said he slept the next day, we so overtired him. How can you not, though?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving plans.

I was in Goodwill today and Christmas music was playing. There have already been several letters in the paper annoyed with the term "Holiday Tree." But before we begin the slalom to Christmas, let's celebrate Thanksgiving.

I took Matt to the airport this morning using my Flexcar (a Yaris this time, which really jumps off the line at lights.) He will be visiting his Dad's family in North Carolina and his brother is coming up too. Games (both video and board) were brought to play.

I will be spending the day with the BroMAunts having the usual dinner. I've made mashed pototes and "Waldorf Salad Redux" for the table. Mostly I'm excited to see the kitten that found my Aunt Carol. Expect pictures.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Feel free to report in the comments section. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Competely car free.

We've been car-free since the summer, but Matt's car, a silver Ford Taurus has been sitting in front of our house since that time, waiting for something to happen to it. That thing happened last night. After calling several auto repair shops for advice, Matt decided not to pursue repairing the...shoot. I forgot what. Something that costs a lot. I'll update this part later. Last night, the tow truck came and hauled the Taurus away. Matt will get a tax write off, some charity will do something with the car and we will continue on our car-free way for the time being.

It was a bit sad. The Taurus was a college graduation gift from Matt's grandparents. We drove a lot of places in that car together and sometimes took car-free couples we know to parties, etc. I used to borrow it to drive to Fred Meyer for supply shopping every once in awhile. It was our escape-to-the-Beach safety valve. I used to like to tell the story of an early period in our relationship when I was listing the reasons why I liked Matt:

"You are cute. You are nice. You have a car."

"Having a car is third?" Matt screeched. I told him that he didn't have a car, so he didn't know how convenient it was to have a boyfriend with a car.

Now Flexcar is my "boyfriend" and we are truly car free. It saves a lot of money, but isn't quite the same.

Mail and Key Center

I've recovered a bit of my energy and getting the great room painted was a huge boost in the project arena. So I've been finishing this and that, as the last few posts can attest.

We needed a place to put our mail as well as our keys. I bought this mail organizer at Storables a few months ago. When my brother and I were making our shelves I painted a square of scrap to use as a key holder. It has been painted for months, I just needed to add some hooks and put the whole thing on the wall. I did it!

"That looks nice" Matt said as I finished drilling. He liked the color scheme. So did I. I can't wait to show you the orange wall. A couple of days later I found more hooks and added them to the board.
Our front area. Everyone should have a stake by their door in case of vampire/zombie invasions.

2 down 10 to go.

Our Kitchen also has a small window like the one in the bathroom. I saw a great idea in a "window treatment" book that would get the blind off of there with a minimum of fuss. So I went for it. It turned out to be a work in progress.

The idea is that you just get a tension rod to fit the window then loop a "pretty dish towel" over the rod and voila! No-sew curtains. I set off for Fred Meyer for a tension rod and a pretty dish towel. Preferably orange.

Well, Fred Meyer does have its limits. I got the tension rod okay, but their selection of dish towels leaned toward utilitarian rather than pretty. And there was no orange. Imagine that! So I got black.
The result is a bit heavy, but I'm going with the MAunts wandering this weekend and maybe something will jump out at me. In the meantime, we have low cost curtains that can revert back to hand towels when I find what I'm looking for.
p.s. People who notice these things might note that in the bathroom window entry I counted that there were "13 to go" in the shade department. I'm not sure how I came to that number as we only have 12 windows in the house. 10-to-go is the correct number of windows in our house currently covered by blinds.

Hanging Tools

We have these great sheds that are off of our back porch. They are wonderful for storage and were a huge "yay" when we bought the house. They need shelves though, desperately. I am hoping that "Shelf Building Extravaganza" works out over Christmas Break, but in the meantime, on Veteran's Day I installed some hangers for all the tools.

Before shot, straight on. It could go in a magazine as an example of what happens when you don't have shelves and shove everything into your closet and can't take advantage of your 9-foot ceilings.
Right side view.
Left side view.
I bought the only hanging organizer Lowe's had. If I had saved the box, I would be able to warn you to not buy that brand. I bought it because I was at Lowe's, had a gift card and they had no other options. Which is one of my pet peeves of home improvement centers. 40 million square feet and they can only stock one brand of hanging organizer. My small hardware store had three to choose from. But I wasn't at my hardware store, I was at Lowe's so their $9.99 brand I bought.

They were pretty easy to install. You put in the anchor, put the screw in the hole, level everything and attach the second anchor. Then you decided if you wanted to make the rail longer and either attach the next rail, or put on on an end cap using the anchor/screw idea.

After your rail is up (plastic, as I'm sure you can guess from the $9.99 price) then you attach the U-shaped holders and put in the plastic pegs. This is the part I'm not really impressed with. They gave you a lot of holders and pegs, but the holders are kind of small and don't really grip the handles of the tool they are supposed to be holding. The pegs are the worst and fall out at the slightest provocation. Still, the whole thing somewhat works and you go to war with the shelving system you have, not the one you should have bought. At least things are off the floor. It's still messy in there, though. I can't wait for "Shelf Building Extravaganza." Stay tuned.

After I took these "after" pictures, I put all the stuff back in I had hauled out to work. So it looks as messy as usual in there now just climbing up the walls. I decided not to immortalize the true finished product for posterity.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Painting the wall orange.

When we had our painting party in October, I purposely left this wall blank. It is the dining room wall and it needed to be orange. I didn't want to complicate the painting by adding in another color. So on Monday, I painted it orange. I'm pretty excited at how it turned out.

Getting started.
Finished. It was great paint, and I only had to put one coat on.
When I get a chance, I'll put up the zip code map of Portland on the orange wall. It should look great there. In the meantime, I'm really happy how the brightness of the orange offsets the soft yellow of the rest of the room.
Just for fun, here is a picture of the house five hours after we moved into it. Some things have changed since then.
I'm busy planning for Shelf Building Extravaganza! Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Back in August, we had a work day.

This was a very productive workday. First we moved the lettuce beds from the side of the house to the side of the back yard.

Before. Notice the squash plants on the left which will produce the lovely squash highlighted in this entry. Anyway. The lettuce beds on the side of the house didn't really work because they get too little sun. So we moved them over on the right side of the yard....
As you can see here. You can't really see in this photo, but the apple trees got relocated to the ends of the raised beds. I think they will get more sun there and be happier. I've been having problems with cats and squirrels digging in the beds, so I put yogurt container lids all over trying to discourage them from digging. It didn't really work. I'm going to get floating row covers before I plant next year to see if that solves the problem.
Back in May we started seed for Spearmint, Peppermint and Pennyroyal. At the time we were inundated with ants and read that planting mint around you house will repel the ants. Of the 60 seeds we started (20 of each) we ended up with 4 peppermint plants and about 16 pennyroyal plants. We planted them around the house. They should make a nice ground cover between the grass and the house. Already they are winning by surviving in our cement soil.
And yes, I know mint spreads. It is not near the garden so have no fear.
We also worked on Matt's bike. We changed the knobby tires out for road ones and put on the bike rack. We also put in some tubes filled with slime to help him avoid flats. His bike is all set to go!

Long overdue harvest photos.

Tomatoes liked my garden this year. Here is the pile of Roma tomatoes I harvested from my garden plot. There are beefsteaks on the bottom of the pile just peeking out. Peppers also liked my garden. There are two yellow peppers sitting on the counter.

The beefsteaks took forever to ripen, but they were huge when they did. Almost all of them cracked on the bottom which I am blaming on myself. I got bored of watering them and just let them be and I think that didn't help. The one I am holding was particularly huge and did not crack. I gave it to my brother for his birthday which is September 26th if that gives you any idea how long it took for them to ripen. There is also a tiny red pepper sitting on the counter.
My squash took over a lot of the garden as well as some of the yard. It produced these five specimens.
For awhile when people asked what kind of squash this was I would tell them "Winter" having forgot the kind of squash it was. I have to work on that record keeping aspect of gardening. However, I walked through the farmers market yesterday and found that it was "Long Island Cheese" which is a great keeper squash. When I get to making some stuff with my squash I'll let you know how it turns out.

We like games.

We like a lot of kind of games, but the so-called European Board Games are particularly popular at The Orange Door lately. That's our newest one, BattleLore made by the same company that makes Shadows over Camelot, which is my current favorite. We also have RoboRally and Matt bought Ticket to Ride for his dad a few years ago.

Matt was home sick last week and kept begging me to play with him after I got home from work. I finally had time on Thursday and played my first game of BattleLore. I went down to defeat, which was to be expected because you have to play this a few times before you get the strategy down.

Our upstairs neighbor told Matt about the number of Meet Up events where you can play board games. He's at one now, playing. I may never see him on a Sunday ever again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

8 Random Things

Back in October, Shawn and Sara posted 8 Random Things on their blog and encouraged other people to list 8 Random Things of their own. We made a list of our random things which I put on my desk to put on the blog. It was then covered by other important papers and just unearthed today. Better late than never.

1. We are a car-free household.

2. We are big Veronica Mars fans, but have only seen the show on DVD.

3. We are both in the helping professions.

4. We are big readers, though we rarely read the same types of books

5. We have been known to bike long distances with friends, but not each other.

6. We like Shadows Over Camelot, a fabulous board game. Patricia thinks the name is cheesy and replaces the word "Shadows" with other ominous sounding words: "Dark Skies," "Hurricanes," "Dick Cheney," "Flat Tax"

7. We each have a vice that the other can't stand. His vice: Video games. Mine: People Magazine.

8. We each agree that the other is funny but say that "I am the funny one in the relationship" (Though Patricia said this phrase first, so clearly she is the funny one in the relationship.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A long time ago, we used to be friends....

People in the know will recognize the title above as the theme song to Veronica Mars. We have completed watching the series. I got home on Friday after work and we put in episode 13 and kept going until we watched the last one. Then we watched the DVD commentaries until Matt cried "Uncle" at, ahem, four a.m.

There was no official finale, as the show was not renewed at the end of the season, so it was sad to watch Veronica walk off into the rain, but having watched the pitch for Season 4 --which jumps several years into the future as Veronica starts working for the F.B.I.--Matt and I agreed that we wouldn't probably have liked a Season 4 in that form. One of the things we both love about the show are the interactions with all the other cast members.

We'll be buying Season 1 so we have a complete set. You should too. It's a great show.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

We've been homeowners six months and 5 days!

October 27, aside from being the day after my birthday and our wonderful painting party, was also our six month anniversary in our house. (Pause here while Patricia thinks, walks over to the calendar and consults her own blog) Oh wait, we moved on the 20th. I guess we are a bit further past our six month anniversary than I thought. Anyway, the point of this post is to summarize what we have finished in the last six months. Here we go. (And yes, I'm am loving the "bullet point" button in Blogger recently.)
That is 18 projects which averages out to three per month. Which is much more than I feel like we have done. There are "only" 25 things left on the list. Good job us!