Monday, May 28, 2012

Lesson learned: prepare the night before

We had a little bit of a breakdown yesterday and paid for it this morning.  For whatever reason - probably just an accumulation of too much non-stop work and the anxiety of doing something new - we were both exhausted last night:  didn't go to Illumination Night, didn't even have dinner.  And, most important, did not do one thing to prepare for this morning's breakfast.

Plus we somehow failed to take into account the fact that, duh!, today is graduation and parents need to be up and at 'em to get decent seats.  So we were really scrambling to get everything ready and on the table without looking too sweaty and harried.  I think we pulled it off...but if we did, it was mainly because everyone was focused on something else - like graduation.

Despite everything, Dom made these adorable quiches in our new ramekins and they were quite possibly the best quiches he's ever made.  And the table did indeed look beautiful with all our new things.

Anyway, the take-away from all this was this:  no matter how late it is, no matter how tired we are, we simply must get the room ready the night before and start the preparations (or at least have a game plan) for breakfast.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Economizing by spending

It's Memorial Day weekend and that only means one thing:  sales.  We have realized that our placemats and napkins are pushing 10 years and showing their age, so we drove 45 miles to a Crate and Barrel - yes, that's the closest one - and bought two sets of placemats and jewel-toned napkins to go with, as well as some ramekins, wine glasses, and one or two other indispensables.  Then we found a Le Creuset store so we had to augment our little casserole set, adding purple and green to the red, orange, blue, and black that we already have.  Plus Dom bought an omelet pan and more ramekins.  Then we had lunch at an Irish pub.  We tried to come home via Lakeshore Dr. but something went terribly wrong and we just took freeways.  Our breakfast table is going to look bee-yoo-tiful tomorrow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Culinary disasters

Commencement weekend is generally going great, helped in large measure by some very nice guests.  But both Dom and I have had some big failures in the kitchen.

For whatever reason, Dom's quiche yesterday morning simply did not want to come out of the pan.  He's made how many quiches?  But even though it wasn't picture perfect, it was presentable and tasted great.

Mine, on the other hand, was a true disaster.  One of our guests didn't tolerate gluten, so I decided to try my hand at a quick bread made from brown rice flour and potato flour.  As usual, I forgot to read the directions all the way through, so although I mixed up the wet and dry ingredients separately the night before to save time, I didn't take into account the 10 minutes it had to sit before being taken out of the pan, much less the 30 minutes it needed to cool before cutting.  Plus it needed to bake 45 minutes or more.  The "or more" was the key.

The cooling part ending up not mattering very much, because in turning it out of the pan the bread fell completely apart.  Part of the problem was that it probably didn't bake long enough; part of it was that I didn't realize how fragile a bread without gluten actually is.  The upshot was that it stayed in the kitchen, and my attempt at being a super-host failed spectacularly.  Sigh.

To be fair, it tasted pretty good and I think I know how to do it better next time, starting with making it the night before.  We bought some strawberries at the farmer's market this morning and I think it will make a great shortcake.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Buckeye Room debut

We made it.  We went from here, in December 2011...
to here, in late April, 2012...
and finally to here, on May 24, just in time for our first guest.
Do I look a little smug? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One day before Commencement weekend explodes

So here's how the day went:

8:00 Janet ordering a quart of paint in order to finish the gray paint in the Buckeye room.  Approx. one ounce needed.  At 8:30, off to buy the paint and a new coffee maker - we still haven't found our old one.  Did we leave it in Atlanta?

Meanwhile, Dom is painting the staircase wood trim and the bathroom door.

10:30 Gray paint is complete.  Doing touch ups on ceiling and windows, taking up drop cloths, vacuuming paint chips.  Hung up a new set of sheets and pillow cases to dry.

Dom is painting windows while babysitting the dog and chickens.  Discovered the wood trim that Brian left for us.  When did he do that?  And why didn't he let us know he was here?  A call to him goes unanswered.

11:38 Janet is cleaning up paint spots on the floor.  With wall-to-wall drop cloths, how did paint get on the floor? 

12:20  Dom is finishing tinting the corner pieces for the floor and going on to sand the small patch on the second floor landing.  Janet is giving up on the paint spots for the time being; moving on to curtains, which need to be hemmed.  Oops, change of plans:  chicks out for fresh air and mental stimulation, sheets etc. brought in, hung up, thrown in washing machine.

12.35 Dom just finished first coat of taint on the corner never knows, Brian may come soon!

12:45 Good time for a lunch break.  Do we deserve a beer?  Can we afford one?  (Can we afford not to drink one?)

 1:35 Beer, yes.  Back to work:  curtains and patch priming.

1.45: Dom had to check some screen windows with Billy. Done
1.50: Dom start priming the base molding in the back stair case.  Oops, the door frame need priming, too.

3:00 Janet switches to bathroom cleaning.  Why?  Don't know, really.

5:15 Janet off to Lowe's to buy more curtain hooks.  And I was right next to a Home Depot this morning.  Arrrrrgh!

6:15 Janet back on the curtains.  Dom is still painting.  And Brian has shown up to do the corner pieces in the bedroom - yay!

7:00 Dom has to make a trip to Home Depot.  Incredible.

10:00 Philip Phillips is the 11th American Idol, and Janet just finished hemming the curtains.  Dom has been taking life easy :) 

12:00 Set the alarm for 6:00.  Doesn't seem like we're that close yet.  Will we make it???

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Floor finishing

Harry came today to finish our new oak floors - clear finish, no fill.  We took  a peek and didn't see much (read: any) difference, but I guess with a clear finish that's a good thing.  Unfortunately the room will be off-limits until he completes process, whatever that entails, tomorrow afternoon.  Good day to work on curtains.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting so big!

The baby robins are growing so fast they barely fit in the nest anymore!

The girls

Mimique and Chipmunk checking out the drawer where the new chicks will live for the first month.  They have no idea what's coming...Hopefully they'll treat the babies better than they themselves were treated by Chiquita, nearly 2 years ago.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our new babies

I picked up these 3 Buckeye chicks yesterday from Meyer Hatchery, just down the road in Polk.  They will be dark brown (supposedly) when they're grown.  They're up on our third floor with an infrared lamp where they'll stay until time to introduce them to Mimique and Chipmunk, with supervised forays to the great outdoors in a couple of weeks.

Sadly, one of them (the one in the upper left) died overnight.  The other 2 seem lively and fine, so I guess she just wasn't viable.  Still, it's sad.  Here we go again:  the heartbreak of raising chickens.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Paint and prep dilemma

I'm feeling frustrated today because I can't tell how much prep in the small bedroom is too much or too little.  The current paint on the wood trim is in terrible shape - in some places it's peeling off, in others it's layers deep, with embedded drips and ridges - and my instinct is to strip it all down to the wood and start over.  On the other hand, I don't think there's anything special about this wood, so am I trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear?  But if all I do is slap another coat of paint on it, I'm just adding to the problem.

To complicate matters, I only have a week to get it all done before our first "Buckeye" guests arrive.

If only paint stripper worked as promised, i.e., it actually stripped the paint off.  It doesn't.  It loosens it, but it's still a lot of work to scrape it off and then there's still a ton of sanding to do.  So far I've been using it without the plastic scraper that's recommended, so I'm going to buy one of those and see if it helps.

But for right now, I think I'll go for a fast walk and take Sunny with me.  We both need and deserve a good walk.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

You know it's spring when...

These adorable baby robins are in the evergreen tree just outside our dining room. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

First guest!

We did it!  We were ready in time for our first guest.  I'm not gonna lie, I was hemming curtains and Dom was cleaning off furniture to move in that morning.  But by 2:00 we were relaxing in the dining room, congratulating ourselves on a job that we consider well done.

We couldn't have picked a better first guest.  He was friendly and nice and easy.  He checked in around 5, came down for breakfast at 8, left by 9.  He loved my nutmeg muffins so that endeared him to me.  (But he didn't eat his buckeye candy!)  He left a very nice note in our guest book.

What a relief to have that pressure gone.

Now to get the second bedroom whipped into shape.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

D-day minus 1

Tomorrow's the big day.  And I think - with one major exception - that we're going to be ready.  The bedroom has had the wainscoting added, the floors refinished, and the curtains hung; the furniture is in; the bathroom is decorated.  Couple of details to add:  soap and shampoo, the second curtain, the pillows.  Minor.

The landing is transformed, with wallpaper and wainscoting and refinished floors.  Unfortunately, this is the site of our one disappointment.  We have torn out the old carpeting and had scheduled new carpeting for the stairs from the ground floor to the third floor, plus a rug on the landing.  However, our carpeting person has apparently forgotten all about us and gone to Florida instead.  This is very, very disappointing.  Ok, infuriating.  We want to support local businesses but not at a cost to our own!

Deep breaths.  Back to the good stuff.

A green-thumb angel came by today and took over our front and side lawns, planting and pulling and mulching and I don't know what.  A messy, overgrown mass of weeds, a few daffodils, and an old ivy-covered tree trunk has been turned into a showcase of a garden.  It's beautiful!
Before I
Before II
Stay tuned for the "after" pictures - I don't have them yet!

It's nearly 11:30, it's been a long day, and tomorrow is going to be stressful, mentally if not physically.  Time for bed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Trades

I'm in awe of all the tradesmen (and yes, they're all men) who have helped us transform our house over the past several months:  electricians, plumbers, dry wall hangers, wallpaper hangers, tilemen, plasterers, painters, floor refinishers, roofers, carpenters, cabinet makers, floor layers, carpet installers, gardeners.  Without this crew of skilled craftsmen, we would be lost and helpless before the mass of renovation projects we call home.

And so one question comes to mind:  How in hell did our local vocational school not get the funding it requested?????  We're missing a very big boat here.