Sunday, January 30, 2011

How (big) does my garden grow?

Normal people measure their gardens in feet or yards (which i am sure Nick has because I am about to show you to-scale graphs) but I prefer to measure the garden in fence lengths.  Of course the fence lengths are uneven (usually between 4 and 8 ft), but it's a better visual for me.  Our first summer here, our garden was 2 fence lengths by 4 fence lengths.  Last summer, it was 3x5.  This coming summer, it is going to be 4x6 and that is the maximum size for that location.  Any deeper, and it'll be into the fire pit, any wider and it will envelop our fruit and nut trees (saplings, though they may be).  If I were a betting woman, I'd wager that next year Nick will be begging me for a garden annex elsewhere in the yard because I refuse to let it grow any larger in it's current position.


Every January I sit around and watch people make their New Year's Resolutions.  I consider making one for myself, and the first thing that comes to mind is "Loose Weight.  Lots of it."  Then I remember that, in order for it to truly be maintainable, a goal has to be measurable.  Ok , "loose 100 lbs."  I'm a tubby little greenie (woah, did anyone else just think of oompa loompas?) and could really use it.  But you see, a. that seems insurmountable and b. I love food and hate excercise.  Bad combo for loosing weight.  How did you think I got this way in the first place?

Needless to say, I have a bad relationship with resolutions but here I am (almost into February) laying some out anyways.  Hopefully this'll help get me out of my snowed-in blues.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why I Can't Wait For Spring

You know, on the whole I'm a Fall/Winter kinda gal.  I love the leaves and smells of autumn and the light of winter.  I know, it's odd to associate light with the darkest time of year, but there is something so cheerful about light bouncing off of the snow.  Also, as much as I like to be outside, I really HATE warm weather.

Given that, you can imagine my surprise when, staring out at the beautiful falling snow this afternoon, I found myself wishing for spring.

I want to be out in my yard.  I want to plant a garden and reap it's fruit.  I want to fix my fence.  I want to watch Nick cut the grass.  I want my chicks to get here so they can start laying eggs for me.  I want to finish painting the trim on the house green.  I want to stop struggling to find things to put on my blog.

Yup, It seems like winter is construction time here at living from scratch and summer is greenie time.  We have started to map out next year's garden so hopefully I can share that soon, but other than that I'm at a loss.  Does anyone out there in cyberland have any snowed-in greenie tips? I love feedback!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It Snowed Today. A Lot.

And I dunno why, but snowy days are always productive ones around here.

 Last night Nick & I cut down a sheet of plywood so that today, while he was at work, I could tackle a bit of moulding and such on the bookcases.  I started with one of the pieces of plywood, using a pen and string as an enormous compass.  Unlike the kitchen shelving however, the center of my circle fell outside of my lumber.

As such, I had a more difficult time drawing my circle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Quiche Aux Fruits de Mer

aka: Shellfish Quiche (Lobster, in this instance)
pgs: 149-150

2 cups of flour worth of Julia Child's Pie Crust Recipe
2 tbsp Minced Shallots or Green Onions
3 tbsp Butter
1/4 lb cooked fresh or canned crab, shrimp or lobster
1/4 tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper
2 tbsp Madeira or Dry White Vermouth
3 Eggs
1 c. Whipping Cream
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1/4 tsp Salt
Pinch of Pepper

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Somewhere to Sit

Believe it or not, I have had this grand plan of mine for the living room in mind since shortly after we bought our house.  These plans have always included a bookshelf and window seat exactly in the ridiculous place we are putting them.  Why ridiculous?  Because I am putting a window seat directly across from the television in the only sitting room in the house and window seats are notorious for never being sat on.  Last year, I started to doubt myself and tried a dozen other configurations and none of them made sense.  It was then that I realized my best option was to somehow avoid that fate for my window seat.

My goals are to make it wide enough and cushy enough that it'll be a nice place to sit.

We started by making a basic box that, along with the ply wood sides, would fit very snugly in the gap between bookcases.



KEEN-wah? Keen-o-uh? (Apparently both are correct, though the first is more correct)

I've been reading a lot about this new "super grain" on blogs and such.  I don't have regular television, is it on tv too?

In case you hadn't heard, it is high-protien, gluten-free and cooks quickly(10 minutes).  It can just as easily be used to replace grits in your breakfast or rice in your dinner.  It is naturally coated in bitter-tasting saponins, which can be easily rinsed off though that is not typically necessary as most available products come pre-rinsed.

Did you know that it i also a flower?
Pretty, isn't it?

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Which I Chicken Out on an Upholstery Chore

Last Winter, I bought a small and beat-up settee for $20 on craigslist.  It's previous owners had attempted a poor re-upholstery job, but they were even worse at it than I am (and that's saying something).
Some people might wonder what good such a short piece of furniture is, that only seats 2 people if they really like each other.  It's small stature will make it fit perfectly between the bookshelves we are just now installing and the archway to the dining room.  Last winter, when we got 3 ft of snow in one weekend and I didn't have to go to work for a week, I transformed that beat up little settee with some fabric samples I had once hoped would become the living room curtains.  Unfortunately, they didn't carry enough fabric for curtains.  
I knew last year that the webbing was dry-rotted and the nail holes looked like termites had been at them, not because they had but because so many people had tried to re-nail and staple the webbing back on.  Last week, The dry-rot gave in and one of the springs popped out.  

I hunted down 3 3/4" Jute Webbing at our crappy little JoAnn's and started ripping off the old webbing and nails and staples.  

That was the easy part.  Next was supposed to be weaving and sewing tedium and stretching without the correct tools.  I had done my research, but I wasn't looking forward to it.  The more I looked at the chewed out holes where the webbing should be attached, the more nervous I got about it.  Then I thought about the leftover paneling we used on the bookcases.  Would it really matter if the springs shifted a little, so long as they didn't tip? It's unlikely that they would tip on a hard surface, considering how wide the bottoms are.  What could it hurt? The worse that could happen is we have to take the paneling off and re-web it anyways.  I've already got the materials so that won't be the end of the world.  
I grabbed finishing nails 'cuz i'm lazy so I bent the heads down so they wouldn't pull through.  I'll probably put a few more regular nails in tomorrow.  
Is it just me or does it look a little puffier?  I sat on it and it held up well, but the wood did bow a little.  I'll put more nails in it in the morning and we'll see how long the wood lasts.  Worse come to worst, I'll just web it later.  

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Are you tired of hearing about bookcases yet?

Cuz I sure am tired of the sawdust in my livingroom.

Remember those furring strips we put up? We put them up so that we could anchor them to the studs and the bookcases to them.  We also realized that it would be less expensive to cover furring strips with paneling than to screw plywood to the walls, so thats what we did:

The one on the left was much harder to put up than it looks thanks to that darn finicky outlet.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Soupe a l'Oignon Gratinee

aka: French Onion Soup with Croutons and Cheese
pgs 43-45 Mastering the Art of French Cooking (ed. 1)

5 c. Thinly Sliced Yellow Onions (I used 3 c. cuz Nick's gma had written  that 2.5 were sufficient)
3 Tb  Butter
1 Tb  Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Sugar  (I used organic raw sugar)
3 Tb Flour  (I used whole wheat and you'd never have known)
2 Qt Boiling Beef stock  (I used organic "Better than Bullion" to make my stock)
1/2 c. dry white wine or dry vermouth
Toasted Rounds of French Bread (I used whole wheat croutons I made from leftover bread) 
Sliced Swiss Cheese or Gruyere

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Toothpaste is on my still-not-out-cuz-i-bought-it-at-sams list, and I have to admit I kinda was planning on just buying it from Tom's of Maine.  I guess making toothpase (and deodorant too) kinda intimidated me.  You'd think it'd be the other way around, when you consider the stuff they put in them, but they're both such an integral part of hygiene in this society.  It'd really stink to mess it up... literally.

But, one of my readers asked me about it and I had not only already found a recipe, but I already had all the supplies I needed, so I gave it a shot!

Chick Update

I just ordered 8 chicks!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bookcase Update: I am a Router Superhero

Earlier this week, we glued and tacked boards to the open ends of the cabinets we cut in half.  They'll act both as spacers and as reinforcement, since we did cut them in half.  

This weekend, we sanded the edges and cut 1x12s for the countertop.  Then we tackled routering the edges. Once we figured out which way you run the boards through, we learned 2 very important things:

Sea Salt

It's been a while since I really replaced something in my pantry from completely unnatural or "buy whatever is cheapest" to something I actually thought about a little.  Mostly, that's because I had kinda hit that wall where the big things that needed to be replaced either got used slowly or had been purchased at Sams.

Ironically, we've been out of regular salt at my house for almost a month, but because I needed salt, I just filled the shakers with pickling salt.  Pickling salt is non-iodized, because the iodine can cause discoloration when canning.  There were still a few sea salt grinders in the house, but I don't really get the point.  Pepper grinders make sense.  Pepper loses flavor the longer it sits after grinding.  If you want a robust pepper flavor, you have to grind it.  Salt, on the other hand, is a mineral.  It never goes bad or looses its flavor.  Sure, it can clump if you let it get too damp but there's nothing wrong with just breaking it up again.  I don't see the point of buying it in big chunks, just to drive your wrist nuts grinding it yourself.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Potage Parmentier

aka: Leek & Potato Soup
pgs. 37-38

2qt Water
3-4 c. Peeled & Diced Potatoes
3 c. Thinly Sliced Leeks
1 Tbsp. Salt (I thought this was WAY too much and won't be putting nearly as much in next time)
4 to 6 Tbsp. Whipping Cream

Open Shelving

Before we get on to this post's main attraction, I want to show you what my livingroom looked like yesterday... before I started cutting and covered it in sawdust (which btw, makes wood floors quite slippy).
Typical construction zone

Christmas tree still in construction zone.  I guess I should take care of that sometime soon...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Projects

Ok, so we couldn't wait for the new year to start on the kitchen and livingroom right after Christmas, but here is what we did after a considerable lie-in today:

Installed the pot lid racks we purchased at IKEA yesterday.
The panini press lid for my iron grill pan gave me fits trying to get it to stay on the rack,  Eventually, the s-hooks I bought that go with the rack kept it looking a little more like a regular lid, though still crooked.