Saturday, August 15, 2015

Already Prepping for Winter

I know summer is not officially over but we have already begun preparing for winter. After our very disappointing summer, I really don't mind, ha. We kicked it off by purchasing a new wood stove for the hubbs "man land" room. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac it is going to be a blustery cold winter!

This is a US Stove 1261 Cast Iron small log stove. We bought it for $189.99 at Rural King (which was $202 and some change after taxes). What is so amazing is this stove was in a crate small enough to fit in the backseat of my Ford Focus! This smaller sized  stove is better suited for the hubb's room (about 120sf).  The added bonus of this stove is you can cook on it! So it has an extra function in the event we lose power and are unable to get fuel for the generator. We can  always hunker down in his man room. 

The biggest hurdle we have will be removing the hulking beast of the old stove. It is very old (we got it used, free from a friend of the hubbs) and HEAVY! The heat bricks have disintegrated. It has rusted holes and is no longer safe. We plan to remove the remaining fire brick, disassemble what we can, and hope to scrap the iron. 

The hubbs is replacing all the stove pipe over the next few weeks. We expect the upgrade will be not only more safe but more efficient, as well. We  have begun to source  firewood and hope to have a cord bought, split and stacked by October 1.

Since the hubbs is going to open up the window area where the stove pipe currently vents, we have decided to upgrade it a bit, as well. The entire window opening and plate glass will be removed. One third will be framed out for the vent. This portion will have cement board, tile the interior with leftover tile  from another project, and trimmed for finished look. The exterior is going to be faced with thin brick veneer or concrete block veneer--Yes there is such a thing!-- if we can find it local at a reasonable cost, which can then be painted the same color as the garage. The remaining 2/3 portion of the opening will have a functional window, big enough to install a small window unit A/C.

The hubbs is unsure if he wants to install the window before winter.  He said he may just board and cover it for the winter but he would finish the stove pipe vent side. He said he wanted to empty the room, paint, install his exhaust ventilation (because he is a smoker) and set up the wood stove. Personally I think it can all be done before the cold snap but he said he would like to focus on the back of our house and installing the kitchen door. I found that to be a logical reason. Shhhh don't tell him I actually like his idea!

This was not a project on our lists and may seem somewhat frivolous given all the other things we need to do. However, I felt we are always focused on the house and the poor hubbs is an afterthought. He works so hard and deserves a nice comfortable place to relax. Since he prefers hanging out in his man room after work, I think it's a fair trade off, as I have a nice updated kitchen.

Anyone else planning ahead for winter?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Lightening and Brightening My Dining Room (In Progress)

I posted a poll on MCLF facebook page

What is the worst thing about painting?
a) The cost of paint
b) Picking a color
c) The prep work
d) Waiting for the paint to dry
e) Clean up
f) Not wanting to hang things on freshly painted walls
g) All of the above

I should have added another choice--all the aches and pains from climbing up and down ladder or handling a 5 gallon bucket of paint.

I used the leftover paint from my kitchen. So the cost and color choice were non-issues. I have an intense dislike of the prep work--mostly because I am climbing up/ down the ladder and trying to tape a straight line when every surface  in this house is anything but straight. The waiting for the paint to dry is me being impatient to apply the 2nd coat. Clean up usually falls to the hubbs, ha! And I have to admit I will hesitate before hanging things on freshly painted walls.

After the kitchen renovation, all the other rooms look... kinda cruddy. So it was time to roll up our collective sleeves and get busy.

GOODBYE moody Smoked Oyster walls, HELLO Straw Basket (even though it looks off white in this picture it is a creamy pale yellow).

I hated the paneling when we moved it. I hate painting it with almost the same fervor. 
A little sneaky peaky. It looks so nice--light and bright. Better to showcase some of my decorative pieces. This is my Ray Eyerly print that I won from an online auction a few years ago. I wish it wee an original...cha-ching!  I gave it a little more prominence by  by adding the barn stars. I fell in love with this print at first sight and I still love it. Ignore the ugly old wall thermostat.That is on the list of projects to move and replace.

Ignore the cat bowl and food dispenser. I had to temporarily relocate it out of the dogs greedy little paws. No window treatment? No problem! Just use the biggest canvas in your possession to cover  the window, ha! Actually, I don't mind covering this window because it has a view of the carport and the dogs bark less now that they can't see out of it. I consider it a win! I know none of my decorative pieces match, but they make me happy. There is no chance a designer would ever come to my house and proclaim my house perfectly designed. HA! That is ok because I decorate for me.

New curtains to cover up the can-tastic closet. The old curtains were mutilated by a certain brown and black dog named Frazzle.  Don't be fooled by his innocent appearance!

The Guilty Party
95 inch Curtain panels-IKEA
 I had to stand on the top of the paint ladder when I hung these curtains. I hate heights! My arms and shoulders were burning by the time installed the hardware, fitted the curtain rods and wrangled the curtains onto the rods. But it looks nice and softens all the hard angles of the room.

Project List
  • Floor repair- should we level or or build a platform? 
  • Finish flooring  
  • Install trim work
  • Install molding 
  • Install new window--personally I would like to eliminate the window since it opens to the carport. That would require re-doing the whole wall-frame, insulate, sheet rock or paneling, repaint and not to mention the exterior work.
  • Purchase and install a new exterior door--unless I could have my porch conversion!
  • Update the outlets
  • Move the thermostat and replace with programmable thermostat,
  • Install new light fixture, 
  • Build and install closet doors  
  • Clean, organize and reconfigure the storage closet--In progress  
  • Dresser project
  • paint EVERYTHING--In progress 
Until we can determine the scope of our project, refreshing the room with paint was a quick and easy fix. I hope to enjoy it for a while, before it too becomes a construction zone. Given our list of priorities, this project won't happen until Spring 2016. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

From Crap-tastic to Can-tastic! (Closet Makeover #2)

Y'all...I have too much stuff. Too much stuff to do and far too many things in my house.

 The closet in my dining room was pretty full before we had begun the kitchen remodel. When we did begin the remodel even more stuff was shoved into this closet. I am surprised it didn't implode, tearing a hole in the time space continuum...oh wait--wrong story... Regardless it was a terrible-no-good-horrible secret. Out of sight out of mind. Until the day the dog chased my cat, who jumped in the closet to get away from said dog, and there was an avalanche of stuff. It was bad. REALLY bad. I could no longer ignore the totes, bags, boxes and piles of random stuff. It was time to clean and organize.

There was stuff shoved in canvas shopping bags and plastic totes filled with an assortment of things, from xmas decor, school supplies,pictures, craft supplies, missing tools, and china settings.

There was a pile of just random stuff--house decor, 1 bag of papers and junk mail (from 2012), an assortment of hardware, and dog grooming stuff.

Canning jars

An entire basket of spray paint, a bag of winter scarves/gloves, xmas wrapping paper, the tub of linoleum adhesive, and a basket with the portable heater. Jeez.

I also found (not pictured) an unopened food dehydrator, an extra iced tea maker, an extra blender and my never used set of xmas dishes. What can I say?  It is a good sized closet and I was REALLY good at Tetris, heh.

I am rather embarrassed by this but at least it clean and organized now. I spent 7 hours--HOURS--cleaning, sorting and purging stuff.  There were several sort piles--garbage, recycle, donate and keep. All the xmas items were combined in tote, labelled and the hubbs moved it to the basement/cellar/dungeon. I repacked all of the china, using more plastic to cushion all the pieces, labelled the tote and it too was taken downstairs. I tried to combine like items and returns things to the proper storage. Like, all the tools. Especially the ones I swore to the hubbs I didn't have in my possession. Moving on...

I now have a canning and kitchen overflow storage closet.  Items which only get used a few times a year--like the xmas dishes, my replacement dishes and glasses-- are stored on the top shelf. The bottom 3 shelves are for items used more frequently, such as kitchen overflow (stockpots) and canning supplies.

I am pleased with the results.  My stuff is in close proximity to the kitchen. The semi-opaque totes make it easy to see the contents of each tote, and the totes have wheels! Maybe someday when I am feeling ambitious, I will paint and cover the shelves. However for now it serves its intended purpose.

What do y'all think?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Two-fer Meals_ Veggie grill packets and Taco Squash Boats

I was in the middle of prepping food for lunch when I decided I had an opportunity to prep a two-fer meal. I was making veggie packets and chicken for the grill. I had 1 good sized yellow squash but didn't want to use all of it for the veggie packets.

Grilled Chicken and Veggie Foil packs

Veggie Packs
3 small potatoes-peeled, cubed & rinsed, 1/2 small green pepper slivered, 1 inch thick slice ripe tomato, 1/2 of yellow squash neck as half inch slices, oil, himalayan salt, onion powder and black pepper. Wrap veggies in 2 oiled foil sheets, cook on 350°F grill until tender. 
(Sorry no after picture --we ate it before I remembered I needed a picture)

Taco Squash Boats
Slice the clean squash in half lengthwise. Remove a small slice from bottom of squash and remove the neck portion of squash.. Scoop the seed and pith. Place into an oiled dish.
Add diced tomato (equivalent to 1&1/2 small tomatoes)
 1/2 of a small diced green pepper
  dash of cumin,salt, pepper, and approximately 1 1/2 cups leftover taco meat (from the night before)
and 1/2 slice of hot hungarian pepper divided among the 2 halves of scooped squash.
 I placed 2 teaspoons of water in the bottom of the pan and covered it with foil. It was cooked on the grill (350°F) for 20 minutes (top rack).
 After removing the foil, I sprinkled a little cheese and placed it back on the grill (heat off) and let stand for about 10 minutes until the cheese melted. 
 You can see all the layers. It is so light and flavorful. There are no heavy carbs which is good if your are dieting or looking for filling meal on a hot summer day. Not to mention we can can always use another recipe for summer squash.
We couldn't resist, so we split 1 for dinner. It was so good!  Now the other has been split and packed for tomorrow's lunch.

Any squash recipes y'all want to share?