Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yard Art

Must not forget to take the rusted stars with us when we leave.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Old thang, new thang

Last night I attended the first of two beginner knitting classes at Great Yarns. My mom and I wandered into the store while she was in town and well, given my affinity for the timeworn techniques of days gone by, it seems only fitting that I should learn to knit. And by the way, I am not pregnant.

When I was a girl, Grandma Kate taught me how to cast on and do a basic knitting stitch, but was never able to explain how to end a project. I would knit long pieces until I ran out of yarn and then would just disassemble it and start the process over again. No wonder I gave it up.

I love the idea of making my own stuff and I happen to also love scarves and took hats. Both of these make great beginner knitting projects. Knitting seems like a meditative activity, which will be great for alleviating stress. I also think that joining a local stich 'n' bitch group will be a good way to meet new people, particularly once we move.

Monday, November 27, 2006

We've gone full circle.

Hear ye, hear ye...bathroom construction is complete. Only two minor details need to be completed, caulking and painting.

Remember the gaping hole that used to occupy the far corner of the house?

No longer are we forced to live with the hole, now we have a complete master bath!

I’m so happy this is finished, but now it’s time to get started on the gutters. Oh yea! I almost forgot to tell ya’ll, good news came to us today from the NC DENR about the UST. The previous owner is taking the steps needed to get the disaster mitigated. Our list of things to be completed prior to our departure for Idaho is growing shorter and shorter!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking Bread

I have never made yeasted bread, per se. I have made bagels*, focaccia, pie crust, and pizza dough. I am competent with phyllo dough, which is the bane of some cooks. Cheesecakes and custards are not a problem.

Last Christmas, I bought myself a KitchenAid mixer, pronouncing that it was because I wanted to foray into the bread arena. Eleven months later and we have my first attempt, ironically with a recipe that calls for mixing the dough by hand.

I have been following Farmgirl's blog and testing her recipes for months now. Savory Tomato Pesto Pie made regular summertime appearances in our household. I've turned at least one friend on to Beyond Easy Beer Bread, of which I made multiples and wrote about in this post. We recently finished up the frozen last of it. I feel certain that the recipe for Farmgirl's Crazy Cookies will be passed down to my future generations. "Where did this recipe come from? I don't know...some crazy Farmgirl that grandma knew."

So it is with not-the-utmost of confidence but definitely the highest-of-hopes that I decided to cut my teeth on Farmgirl's Oatmeal Toasting Bread. Literally and figuratively.

700 am: caffeine, check. optimistic exuberance, check. tired? yeah, that too.

Stirring the flour into the dough.
Hey Farmgrrrl, remind me and my shoulder why we are not using
the KitchenAid mixer? Oh yeah, mixers are for Citygirls.

The dough is rested.

Okay, so far so good, but after the first rise is where things got tricky and my confidence began to wane. There was this business about stretching the dough "to form a rectangle with a short side facing you" which I simply could not conceptualize. Short side facing me--what does that mean? And what size should it be, what thickness? About the time I was supposed to be making an envelope with the dough, I started to panic.

Nothing to do but keep your composure and press on. Here are the results of my envelope folding.

From L to R: too short, too long, and too ragged.

Not beautiful, but the oven forgives,
it tastes fantastic, and practice will make perfect!

*Bagels, in my opinion, are not worth the effort. Particularly when you can make a short trip to the local Bruegger's or Einstein's for a far better product in less time.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Construction area in use, “hardhats not required”

Kate and I were finally able to start using the bathroom! The completion of this room makes it official, our house has been 100% remodeled! Sunday while Kate was doing a massive house cleaning project for the impending holiday visitors I was trying to put a few finishing touches on the bathroom. I finished the window trim.

I hung both mirrors.

I finished the inside of the closet and also made some progress on the exterior of the closet. I still have to finish the closet floor and doors.

We also rearranged our bedrooms during the cleaning. It’s been nearly 2 years and we are just settling into our master suite….. just in time to move to Idaho.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I started on the "custom shelf" this morning. I had to shim a few things before I started because nothing in this house is square.

Pine walls and pine shelves form the interior of the closet. There will be poplar on the outside of the case, finished with two 40"x17" doors. We've increased our storage capacity by 4 shelves! If i'm lucky I'll be finished with this project tomorrow.

To my surprise I've been subcontracted to Dot (our neighbor) by Kate for a portion of Sunday. I didn't find out about tomorrow's project until last night. I just have to secure the windows on her shed.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Birthday 2006

Birthday Tally
The results are in. Following in the footsteps of my goal-oriented friend Betsy*, here are the numbers.

birthday phone calls: 11
birthday phone calls in which someone sang "Happy Birthday to You": 2
birthday phone calls in which someone hummed "Happy Birthday to You" because they were at work: 1
birthday phone calls at exactly 5:04pm: 1
birthday cards: 4
birthday emails: 3
birthday blogs: 1
birthday comments: 1
birthday monk-mail with talking monkey: 1
birthday music compilation CDs: 1
new favorite band as a result of birthday music compilation CD: Guster

* Betsy is notorious for making (and following through with) resolutions. Just this past New Year's Day, she resolved to be less achievment and goal-oriented. On January 2nd, she went in to work only to find out that January 1st wasn't a company holiday.

Birthday Recap
I'm just starting back into running and for my birthday, I told Jon I wanted to go for a run in my favorite running spot, Umstead State Park. I got to work at 6:30am so I could get my work done and leave at 3:30pm. We started on the trail at 4:00pm. After about ten minutes, I was winded and tried to slow to a walk.

"I'm gonna walk for a few minutes."
"No, come on, you can keep going."
"Really, I need a break."
"It's all in your head. Run through it."
"I'm about to die."
"You aren't even close to death."
"I can barely breathe!"
"But you can still talk. Come on."
"Jon, it's my birthday and I want to walk for a few minutes!"
Jon, cheerfully: "If you keep running, you can have cake. You would be really surprised at how far you can push your body before it will fail. Just run through the pain."

Resistance and reasoning are futile.

Afterwards, we stopped for burritos and went home to clean up. The plan was to go out for dessert. I took a bath in the fabulous new tub and when I got out, realized that I wanted relaxation more than I wanted cake. I begged off going out and curled up with my two new books:

Preserves: The Complete Book of Jams, Jellies, Pickles and Preserves
Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber

Next year I will be taking strawberry-mulberry jam to new heights.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's a GIRL at 5:04 pm

That's right, it's true, it really is! November 14th, 197* KimKate was born! Happy Birthday baby, I love you!

How cute is this?


Sunday, November 12, 2006


Crime sucks! Last night we had some friends stay the night and while we were all tucked away in bed someone took the liberty of breaking a window to see what was in their car. Nothing was taken because there wasn't anything of value in the vehicle. I wish Tucker would have heard them breaking the window.
With this "game face" the criminals certainly would have looked elsewhere for treats.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Great Quote

If you're happy, could you please tell your face?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We have struggled with vermin this year. In the spring, it was the squirrels in the attic. They had chewed a hole in an exterior corner of the roof which also happened to be right above my side of the bed. Each night they leapt from our neighbors elm tree to our roof and into the attic and for some reason, I bolted awake.

Me: "Jon!"
Jon: "Harumph."
Me: "I heard it!"
Jon: "Harumph."
Me: "I think there is something in the attic!"
Jon: "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

It took me literally
months to convince Jon that something was living in the attic. It wasn't until we trapped a squirrel that he believed me. Once we trapped the squirrel, Jon searched for and found where they were getting into the attic (right above my side of the bed--duh). He replaced the chewed wood and sealed the opening. I was concerned--what if there was a squirrel already in the attic? I started putting bowls of water and food up there, lest we kill a critter by starvation and dehydration.

Summer brought camel crickets.

Fast forward to this fall. Tucker became obsessed with the nether region beneath the shed. He sniffed and snorted at every opportunity. He barked to go outside, only to perch himself on the back patio and stand watch. As the temperatures continued to fall, we noticed that something was dragging compost under the shed. If you have ever plunged your hand into a compost pile, you will know that it is HOT. These critters were no fools. Winter was a' coming and they had found a heat source.

Jon finally saw our squatters and announced that we had rats. I scoffed--unthinkable! We do not have
rats. Rats are dirty and pest-ridden and are only found in urban areas like New York and Nimh. These must be mice, which are small and cute and harmless.

I was content to let the mice use our compost for a winter heat source until one night...


Me: "Jon!"
Jon: "Harumph."
Me: "Something is in the attic!"
Jon: "Rats."
Me: "We do not have rats!"
Jon: "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

So there you have it.

Us: 3
Rats: -3

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Something is fishy around here

It's Tucker!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Two Gs

Trying to fight a cold with fresh garlic and ginger. In case the cold isn't deterrent enought, garlic makes one very undesirable to companions.

Rock Solid

And solid rock! Our countertops were installed this morning and we are extremely pleased with them. They are just gorgeous. Apart from the finish details we only have a few major tasks left; the remainder of the wall tile, floor tile, plumbing. It's shocking that we've come this far as fast as we have.

Check out the slab

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ten Percent

So this weekend we started tiling the bathtub surround. This is our first tile job, so please be gentle. I wish we had helped our friends tile their floors so we could have had some experience and been able to estimate our tile requirements correctly. We calculated the square footage and added 10% (not quite enough for us) for mistakes. We didn't account for the waste involved in making aesthetically pleasing cuts. We've got a very symmetrical surround, but we also wasted quite a bit of tile.
I've read some tiling advice on the internet, all the pros say to "start small". I don't think they meant you should start tiling walls, perhaps small floors would have been a better beginner job. We ran out of bullnose today. We'll have to get more and finish setting tile Monday or Tuesday. The bullnose debacle means we won't be able to start grouting until Tuesday or Wednesday. On the bright side, we get our countertops installed tomorrow!

So close to finishing! We just need a few more pieces of bullnose.

What do ya think?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


How do you take a really cool picture of your dog? Get him excited, make him chase you around the yard and surprise him with the flash! Isn't Tucker cute?

3rd quarter update

It is that time of year when most companies have to file their 3rd quarter financial reports so I thought I'd file my 3rd Quarter productivity reports today :-)~ The past 3 months have flown by for us. Everyone that reads the blog knows of our UST situation, sadly there has been little progress. North Carolina has sent threats via mail to the previous homeowner to try and motivate him to clean it up. He has about 20 days left to get it taken care of and file the papers with the Dept. of Natural Resources. Since quitting my job we've taken several trips and done a massive amount of work on the house, particularly in the master bathroom. I am taking 13 credit hours of coursework at school, remodeling, and trying to finish the necessary repairs for our impending move to Boise, ID. Kate has been helping with everything around the house and yard while enduring some horrible luck at work. Today I slept in until 8am, sounds great right? Wrong, I was dreaming about the things that need to be done around the yard prior to having our UST situation mitigated. The dreams (or nightmares) of my morning prompted me to get working outside since the weather is so nice and also we cannot go any further on the bathroom until the granite, sinks, and tile arrive. Most things have to wait until the day of, or the day prior to, the backhoe and dumptruck arrival but some of the chores need to be done ahead of time. A couple of weekends ago Kate and I moved some flowerbeds, today it was compost time. The compost used to reside next to the shed but it needed to be moved to the back of the yard. About halfway through my chore I was interrupted by a representative from United Van Lines. I made an appointment with her yesterday to come in and check out the contents of our home so we can get an accurate estimate of the cost of a full service move. I’m guessing it will be twice what a Uhaul will cost us, but really hope the price is comparable. In a few weeks we'll have the shed sitting right next to the compost bin again.

Candy or Pizza?

Last night was a success for many a child. It was a great night, we had about 30 kids stop by the house for our loot. We also learned an important lesson last night about how kids think, as Kate said "Candy or pizza, your choice!" to a couple of approaching boys. The kids stopped dead in their tracks to ponder the options. Kate quickly retracted the offer of pizza, but it was a close one. I think those boys would have taken our dinner!

The rundown is this, we gave away about 7 lbs of candy and I am left with these scraps.

(Just to set the record straight, there was no ulterior motive. Indeed, I was trying to buy enough candy so I would have a Halloween stash of my very own.)