Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kitchen Changes....

Since one of the cabinets was the wrong size for the kitchen and would have to be re-ordered and custom made, we were able to see the kitchen in a way that we never expected.

Here's a photo of the old cabinets. See the cabinet facing the chair? The new one that was to replace it was the wrong size. So the company would have had to order a new one and custom build it to fit.
This is how the installer left things on Thursday afternoon. Wow! This looks really open!
Hubby volunteered to take out the raised floor in this spot and replace the tile. Actually, he talked to Our Good Friend and he will be doing it this coming week.

I thought if the kitchen was this open then maybe I could find a small table to use as an island. I don't really need one, but I like the idea of one and I was looking for an old piece to contrast a little with the brand new cabinets.

This is what I found.

It's a reproduction, but in very nice shape and well built. No particle board! Hubby and I are thinking that we might seal the top with polyurethane because that would be more kitchen (water) friendly.

I found these cutting boards when I was waxing the piece. The guy I bought it from didn't know about them, either!

I love the rounded drawers! 
When I saw it, I had no idea how much it would cost. I was thinking that it was probably more than I would be able to afford.

But it was only $89 + tax! And the owner of the store helped me load it in the truck.

I bought it at Mona Lisa's in American Fork, UT.

All it needed was 30 minutes of love and Howard's Feed-N-Wax!

I LOVE it! It's a little shorter than the cabinets, which isn't great for all the tall guys that live here. But I'm not extremely tall, and one day I hope to see grandkids with flour and cookie cutters making cookies at the island.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Cabinets!

The cabinets are in... mostly.... sort of. Here's what happened in the last 2 days.
The counter tops finally come off Tuesday morning. Monday Vet2Be and Taco spent 3 hours working on taking cabinets apart and trying to get to the countertop from underneath.
Hubby came home from work early on Tuesday to help take out the counter top and the rest of the cabinets. He's been out of town for more than a week, and he gets to come home to this mess. Good thing he has a good attitude!

The original vinyl flooring under the cabinets. Really? Did anyone really ever like that flooring?
Yay! Cabinets are all out! A few of them had to come out in pieces. The kitchen had already been remodeled once with the existing cabinetry. Using them again, even in a garage, isn't an option.
This is what the wall looked like where I had to take off original wall paper. The builder (back in 1978 or so) decided it wasn't necessary to prime the walls before putting up textured wall paper.
Can I just say I LOVE vinyl wall patch!? That stuff is awesome! First I primed the wall twice to seal the cardboard. I used Zissner 1•2•3 Primer. Love that stuff, too. Then I patched the ripped drywall with Ace brand Vinyl Patch. It dried in about an hour (better than 24 hours for the regular drywall patch) so I could sand and fix any spots I missed. This corner had to be done before the upper cabinet was installed.

Here's a little paint tray trick. I put the paint tray inside a garbage bag. We don't have a sink to clean up well, so using a garbage bag let me paint the wall, then dump the paint back into the can and throw away the bag. Vet2Be kindly volunteered to clean up the paint :)
Yucky brown paint! This was another project that got done on Wednesday. All 3 suspended seating posts were painted black using Rustoleum oil based paint.
Posts painted, wall  by the stairs painted where the cabinets will go. We're almost ready for the cabinets.
The other part of the kitchen on Wednesday night. Hubby's job was to lay cement board in all the spots where there was no tile on the floor. We knew that would make it easier for the installer.
This wall behind the fridge had wall paper boarder near the ceiling (you can see some of it on the left side of the photo). Wednesday night found me scraping it off with a single edge razor blade. Then using wall paper stripper to take the wall paper backing off.
There is stuff from the kitchen piled everywhere!
Yay! Thursday morning and the boxes are here!
Thursday night after the installer was as close to finished as he could get.
One of the cabinets was the wrong size. The narrow cabinet that looks 'lonely' and not installed in the photo will actually be on the left side of the bar facing in towards the center of the kitchen, not where it is now. The 24" cabinet that is supposed to be in the spot where the narrow cabinet is sitting, didn't fit properly. The doors wouldn't open, so the installer didn't finish.
This is what it looks like tonight.

And I'm actually thinking that I'd like to get rid of the "U" shaped kitchen and go with an "L" shaped kitchen.

Hubby thinks that is a great idea. Even if it means a bunch of work for him to remove the step and fill in the floor with tile. He volunteered... I told him if he was willing to do the work, I'd love it. I didn't want to add more work to his already busy schedule.

He thinks with Vet2Be and Son1's help they can do it this weekend.

I'll be calling the cabinet company tomorrow and asking them about updating the plans. It will actually cost them less money (because they won't have to re-order the cabinet) and less work because the installer won't have as much to install.

I'll post photos of the pantry tomorrow.

My hands are soooo tired tonight!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Progress on the Kitchen

Taco came by today. He's Vet2Be's best friend--well, one of two best friends!

They worked for about 3 hours and got a bunch of the cabinets unstuck as well as the dishwasher pulled out. You might not think that's very much work for 3 hours. But really, with this kitchen, it was a huge amount of progress.

One of the reasons for the new cabinets is that the sink has leaked (okay--more like flooded) so many times that the particle board underneath is soft all the time. Even when it's dry.

They worked for more than an hour trying to get the sink and faucet out. Apparently Hubby is a good installer--because the sink didn't budge.

Taco said whoever put the sink in didn't want it to leak.... ever.

That would be Hubby.

Hopefully when we get the sink cabinet out tomorrow we'll see that the floor underneath it is okay. I'm worried that we might have to replace the subfloor under the sink after all the flooding we've had the last 15 years we've lived here.

The sink and clean up has been moved to the downstairs bathroom. I set up the camp kitchen in the shower. Hopefully I won't have to use it for more than a few days.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Celery and Tomatoes Are Up!

I'm pretty excited to see how fast my celery is growing in the sub-irrigation soda bottle planters. Here's the first post for this hobby farming experiment. Sub-irrigation Planters from Soda Bottles.

Planted on March 18, today it's March 23. Not too bad for 5 days growth with no roots to start with!
And I'm really happy to see how fast the tomatoes sprouted!

Brandywine tomatoes planted on March 16. 
The tomatoes that had an old deli container over the top sprouted faster than the ones that aren't covered, which isn't surprising at all. 

Unfortunately I threw away almost all of my 'poor man's tupperware' when we started remodeling the kitchen.

We also had 3 goat kids born this week. I'll be posting pictures tomorrow. I love barn babies!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sub-irrigation Planters From Soda Bottles

I ran across an interesting planter last week and decided to give it a try. They are called Soda Bottle Sub-irrigation planters. The pdf file I used is here.

There is a good photo tutorial here.

This link has SIPs with deli containers on top to make a little greenhouse.

I have 7 soda bottle sub-irrigation planters sitting in my south window. Most have tomato seeds planted in them.
I ran across this idea, too. Planting the base of the celery stalk in dirt and letting it grow new celery stalks. We'll see how that works! I'm going to plant some green onions in another.
You can see the water sitting in the bottom of the bottle. The 'wick' draws up the water into the dirt, but the dirt doesn't sit and soak in the water so the roots of the plants don't rot.
Here's a quick step-by-step to what I did. If you want drawings, download the file at the beginning of the post.

1. Take the label off a 2-liter soda bottle.
2. Make a cutting line 4" (approximately) from the base of the soda bottle
3. Cut along the line. I used a serrated knife. It worked better than scissors or an xacto knife for me.
4. Cut or drill holes in the neck (top) of the bottle so water can drain out
5. Put a piece of polyester batting or cotton rag in the neck of the bottle to keep the dirt in the bottle
6. Place the bottle with the neck pointing down into the base of the bottle (see the photos above)
7. Make sure the original opening of the bottle (where the soda came out) touches the bottom of the base. If it doesn't, then trim the bottom shorter than 4" until the top fits inside the bottom and the soda hole touches the bottom.
8. Fill with potting soil, not garden dirt. Potting soil wicks moisture better than garden dirt.

Water the planter before planting seeds so the seeds stay where you put them and don't get washed around by the water.

Sit the soda bottle sub-irrigation planter (SIP) in a south window and {hopefully} the seeds and plants will grow.

You can use 1, 2, or 3-liter soda bottles.  Global Buckets has directions (and videos!) to make an SIP from 5 gallon buckets.

If you want a photo tutorial, please leave a comment. I'll be happy to put one together.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More About Pioneer Yeast and Cinnamon Roll Recipe

I've gained about 4lbs this week because I've been experimenting with bread. Since I haven't eaten wheat in about 10 years, it has been a wonderful treat for me!

Sheepy's been experimenting, too. Her first loaves were a huge success. Light and fluffy and wonderful! The next four batches were bricks. Even the goats wouldn't eat them.

I had a big 'breakthrough' last Sunday when I promised Vet2Be I would make him rolls.... and I found out I had no store-bought yeast. All I had was the pioneer yeast sitting on the counter.

Since I had already mixed the liquids (eggs, buttermilk, water, sugar, and butter) I dumped in the pioneer yeast and then added the four.

Surprise! About 2 hours later it had risen enough to look like bread!

Yesterday I started some Cinnamon Rolls to bring to choir rehearsal on Sunday. I told Sheepy I would 'document the process' and post about it so she could see exactly what I do. (Being married to a scientist means I've learned to keep a lab notebook, complete with photos! It's now called a 'blog'.)

Not everyone uses a potato to proof the yeast, but we love potato bread, so that's what I do. This post includes the recipe, but realize that I don't use it 'by the book'. I often add a little more or a little less of liquid or flour to get the right consistency.

One potato diced in about 3/4 cup of water. Cook until potatoes are soft.
I added enough water to make about 1 cup, and then blended the potatoes.

Pioneer yeast ready to use in cinnamon rolls.
Here's where I did something 'wrong', but the cinnamon rolls turned out great anyway. I should have added just the yeast start, honey, and potatoes, then let it sit for a few hours. But I got distracted and added the egg and buttermilk, too.

I added about 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 duck egg, 2 Tbls of butter, 2 Tbls of honey, and the potato puree. My breadmaker is then turned OFF, it doesn't go through a cycle at this point. I only let it stir the yeast into the rest of the liquids. You can do this in a mixer, too. I like my breadmaker, so that's what I use.
This photo was taken at 11:30 AM.

Let it sit and proof for about 2-4 hours. Whenever you get back to it is fine. This is what it looked like after two hours. I knew I wasn't ready to make bread yet, so I let this sit in the breadmaker until about 9:30 pm.
In this batch I used 4 cups of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour. Turn on the breadmaker (or use a mixer) and knead for a minimum of 10 minutes. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic.

At this point I turn the breadmaker off. I really only use the breadmaker to mix and knead the dough. It does a good job, it's easy to clean, and if I forget about the dough it doesn't matter.

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the dough when it was done kneading.... sometimes I get on auto-pilot and just move onto the next step!

At this point I rolled my dough into a rectangle to make cinnamon rolls, but you could put it in a greased loaf pan, spread shortening on the top of the loaf, then set it to rise all night.
Spread the dough with softened butter, sprinkle on 3/4 cup brown sugar mixed with about 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon.
Roll the long edge up.

Slice and place on a jelly roll pan that has parchment paper on the bottom. You can grease the pan if you prefer.

Put it in the oven overnight. I didn't turn the oven light on.

I completely forgot to take a photo of the cinnamon rolls in the morning before I put them in the oven. They were all raised and looked beautiful!

And then I forgot to take a photo of what they looked like coming out of the oven.

When I did remember to take a photo, the rolls were half gone!
This link has some good information about natural leavening. Cooking E-Z. However, I received a start from someone else instead of starting it from the yeast floating around in the air as discussed in the link.

This site is helpful, too, The Bread Geek blog. Since she one of the authors on the upcoming book called, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, it isn't overly helpful. 

I'm anxiously awaiting the book The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson. Caleb is the person I got my start from. I've pre-ordered the book because the author sites his sources of studies that have been done by the CDC and different universities that show that rapid-rise (instant) yeast processes the gluten differently than traditional (pioneer or natural) yeasts.

In the meantime I wanted more information on working with this old-style yeast. I thought that since this is a 200 year old strain of yeast, it would be a great idea to read an old cookbook from the 1800's.

My copy of Housekeeping in Old Virginia, originally published in 1979. Mine is a 1965 copy of the original.
You can find Housekeeping in Old Virginia free online at Internet Archives here.

The first chapter was titled, "Bread". It had the most helpful information I found on working with this type of yeast and recipes for bread, pancakes, waffles, rolls.... you name it.

After reading the first chapter I realized that starting my yeast with potatoes and proofing it is very similar to what cooks did 130+ years ago. No wonder my accident last Sunday ended up being a success!

The author also taught, "knead the dough for 30 minutes by the clock." This dough needs more kneading than the bread made from rapid-rise (or instant) yeast.

Knowing those two things have made my pioneer yeast bread turn out nicely every day this past week.

Please leave me a message if you've used natural leavening or pioneer yeast! I would love to learn from your successes!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stars in the Night Sky Quilt: Done!

This is the year I am trying to finish projects and not start too many.

It's working, sort of.

Son1's quilt is done, but we started remodeling the kitchen, which isn't done. Neither is Prion's bedroom.

But if feels great to finish something, so I'm motivated to keep going on the other quilts and remodeling projects that are already underway.

Quilt top (of course Stinky claimed it first!)

Quilt back.
Now if only the contractor would show up to start some of the electrical work that he said he would do on Tuesday.......

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cleaning Decorative Marbles

Hubby got me flowers for Valentine's Day. I love Carnations!

They last forever and they smell so clean and fresh, just like spring.

And in the torn apart kitchen, they were a welcome sight.

I use those decorative glass pebbles to hold the flowers in place after I've arranged them in the vase. I always like to clean them after the flowers have died. I'm pretty sure it kills any bacteria growing, which means the next time I use them they will be clean.

To clean them, I put them in a mesh strainer and put them in the dishwasher. This only works well if you don't have any food left on the plates. Food on the plates gets caught in the strainer.

Nice and clean! After they dry I'll store them inside a vase or a ziplock bag, depending on what I can find first in our torn apart kitchen.
Yes, those are light globes. I washed them in the dishwasher, too. I'm not sure what I will end up using them for, but they aren't going back in the kitchen as lights.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Winter in March

Winter came last night.

A bit late, but we need the water so I'm not complaining.

It doesn't look like much snow because the wind was blowing so hard. Not much snow stayed on the roof or fences.
Ooops. Hubby forgot to close the grill last night. Yes, he grills even in winter. We had grilled chicken last night. But the storm didn't start until about 9:00 PM so it wasn't a problem.
High winds last night meant that it snowed in the barn, too.
This year Hubby put a heater on the water pipe. Although it doesn't really freeze, it gets stiff enough that the handle is hard to work. One year that resulted in a part moving and we couldn't shut the water off. The heater keeps the pipe above freezing and we haven't had any trouble with the pump this year.
I love the snow! It's cold, but it's so beautiful as it covers the brown winter ground. Everything looks lovely and clean.

And even when the wind blows and rattles the windows, winter feels quiet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fixed-up Cabinet

I got one project done! Horray!

I got this cabinet from Freecycle:

One door had broken off the hinges.
There was water damage to the back.
There was a scratch on the front of one of the doors, and one handle was missing.

After about 4 hours of work, which is probably too much for a particle board cabinet with water damage...
This is what I get to pass on to my daughter! She needs a small cabinet in her kitchen to put a few extras in, as well as having a 'pile place' for her husband to set his keys and other things when he gets home from work.
It's even got blue fabric on the inside back of the cabinet.
Blue, especially this blue, is Blondie's favorite color.

I learned alot, which was the point of taking the project on. I learned how to use old paneling to replace the cardboard backing, which made the whole cabinet very sturdy.

I learned how to put on hinges, and that I probably should have trimmed 1/4" off the door before I put the hinges on. The doors close pretty well, but if there was a little more room between the doors they would have closed better.

I learned that Elmer's Spray Adhesive was a better choice to adhere the fabric to the doors than Mod Podge was. I'm glad I did something right!

I learned how to use a miter box and saw to cut the trim.

And I learned that fixing up an old piece of particle board furniture was worth the learning experience, but probably not worth the $10 it cost to fix it up.

I have another 'thing' from Freecycle to make over, an old dresser without drawers. It will end up in Blondie's classroom since she needs more shelves in there. I'm glad it doesn't have hinges and doors on it, it should be an easier project.