The Kitchen Wall continues . . .

The old bar is sitting on the table with the cardboard template on top.  You can see what I meant about the stove sticking up above the counter.

So to continue . . .  Yesterday the oldest and her fiancé went with me to Ikea to get a new countertop and brackets.  Last night Hubby took the box from the countertop and used it as a template.  Today he will cut it out.  In the meantime I am using this time to clean out and reorganize the kitchen.  This is something I have been attempting to do since I left work, but never really got to it.  Goodwill is going to like this turn out.

Have I mentioned before – It’s my own fault?

Lately Hubby has been going outside his comfort zone.  Doing things he doesn’t usually do.  I’m not talking crazy things, or extreme.  Things like having me cut off his hair, wearing a bandana like the guys on “Duck Dynasty” (love that show).  But this has to have crossed the line.

What you are looking at to the left is the back wall of the kitchen.  Below you will see that it has been cut down.  Sorry I couldn’t find a better ‘before’ picture, as it was such a shock I didn’t take a ‘before’ one.  Ok, let me explain.  My husband is very methodical about planning things out before he begins any project.  It got to the point that I actually gave his Dad the sledgehammer to make the first hole in the wall we wanted to tear down just to get him started.  For a couple of years I have mentioned that I wished the counter wasn’t so high, but we just couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.  The biggest problem being the stove is too tall.  So the idea just sat on the back burner.

Now to add to this story is the fact that since we moved into this house 10 years ago we have always had multiple projects going.  The most recent, the walk-in closet I have written about here.  But what I haven’t mentioned is that currently we only have one working toilet.  The wild child and her Dad tore out the downstairs toilet and paneling on the walls.  The new toilet is going in as soon as we get the new wallboard (the one we want is out of stock).  So when Hubby started talking about putting in a new bathroom upstairs I put my foot down.  “No new big projects until every single one in progress is done!”  I would love to just enjoy our home for a while.  So he asked me, “Is cutting down the wall a ‘big’ project?  I told him not really, it is something he could probably do in a weekend.  The next thing I know is the Sawzall is going and here we are, no wall.

To be continued . . .

The Weekend After . . .

It is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was spent fixated in front of the TV watching random shows and movies interspersed with bursts of activity as we emptied the dishwasher, gathered and reloaded it to run again.  Bit-by-bit all the tables and chairs, warming trays, crockpots, gravy bowls and such are finding their way back to their year-round homes to wait for next year’s festivities.  Another successful family Thanksgiving dinner, and we begin to plan for next year.

Now I know it sounds silly to be planning for a year away (well we won’t even get into my son’s wedding plans that started 21 months before the wedding), but let me make my point.  Every year we scramble looking for something we forgot to get out.  This year it was the Turkey platter (which thankfully I remembered was in its box under the sideboard) and serving spoons.  Yes again this year we ran out of serving spoons.  Every year we do, and every year we forget to buy some new ones.  This year we also ran out of dishes.  If you look you will see we now have 3 different types of plates, no actually 4!  My son was scheduled to work, but was able to get off so on the corner of the table we squeezed in another plate.  With the younger children we were able to get away with using dessert plates for them.  They went and grew up on us.  So we got creative and used all the plates and there you go.  I need more, so I thought about trying to find another set to match our white with the silver band set.  But you know, I think I like having the variety.  So I think I will just look for a new set I like and throw it into the mix.

This year we only had 18 for dinner.  The two fresh 10+ pound turkeys were picked up on Tuesday, brined and ready to go, one in the oven and one in the smoker.  Hubby had worked out a complete schedule for the whole week so we could all stay organized. 

The smell of onions wafted through the house.  The wild child started peeling potatoes.  The table was set, and the new place cards printed.  All was in order, the schedule working well, until . . .

Now here I must go back a bit to the planning stages.  This family is split when it comes to whether the stuffing should be in the bird or not.  We have the traditionalists who want nothing but “in the bird”.  Then we have the more cautious ones who think about the bacteria etc.  So this year we ran across a compromise.  You cook the turkey part way at a lower heat, pull it out and stuff it, then finish it off at a higher heat (thank you Pioneer Woman for that hint).  So at 11:15am Hubby pulled out the partially cooked bird to stuff it.  When he opened the oven door the wonderful smell of turkey filled the house.  Wait a minute . . . it shouldn’t smell that good yet?  Should it?  He stuck the thermometer in – it’s ready!  We don’t eat until 4!  The smoker one is nowhere near ready!

Stuffed and baked in the oven

Turkey cooked in the smoker

In Hubby’s defense he has never had to cook this small a bird before.  We have always had big ones; 25lbs or so.  This was also the first time we did fresh birds, although I don’t know if that makes a difference or not.  I would say it has to have, because it was just too weird.  But in our Funny Farm fashion, we hit the internet, and worked it out.

There are numerous posts with ideas, one most common was to wrap it in foil, a big towel, and put in an ice-chest.  We couldn’t do that as the ice-chest went yucky this summer and was tossed.  The second idea was to wrap in foil, make sure there is liquid in the pan, and turn the heat way down.  So we opted for the second, and it worked great!  Didn’t get that crispy skin, but it was juicy and the stuffing was wonderful.  The second bird in the smoker was really yummy too.So added to the list for next year – buy more serving spoons and plates.  Practice cooking smaller birds during the year.  And the last one we didn’t address, figure out a better way to place the tables.  After moving our living room wall 3’ to make a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, we have to adjust to the loss of 3’ in the living room.  You wouldn’t think 3’ would make that much difference . . .

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving is a very special time around our house.  Everyone knows it is my favorite holiday.  I love that it is all about family and friends being together.  None of that commercial crap, having to buy presents and cards etc.  Just spending time with the ones you love.  That being said . . . I’m pooped!

With Hubby having to work so much overtime lately, I have just lost my internal clock.  I used to get the house all ready the weekend before. Scrubbing the bathrooms, mopping floors, dusting, deep vacuuming, and sometimes even going so far as to wash windows if the weather was nice enough.  But we lost the weekend, and then Monday somehow disappeared too.  So yesterday I found myself realizing it was only 2 days away.  But what really sucked was that Hubby was actually on vacation, so who cares about scrubbing the toilet!!  So we didn’t.  We just had a fun day with just a little prepping here and there.  So today thankfully both girls were off school, and we managed to get pretty much everything done.

This year we are only having 17 for dinner.  It hasn’t been that low since 2004.  We have 2 turkeys totaling almost 20lbs.  One for the smoker, and one for the over.  We have a tradition, every Thanksgiving eve we sit around the table tearing up bread for the stuffing. This year it was Hubby, wild child, the youngest, and me.  I love those simple traditions as we spent the whole time laughing and just enjoying being together.  Tomorrow is going to be the usual wonderful, love-filled, yummy day.

“Guts and Glory”

Sunday night Hubby and I had a date night.  He got us tickets to see “An Evening with Anthony Bourdain; Guts and Glory.”  What a wonderful evening!  We have always enjoyed his shows on the Travel Channel, and Hubby has read a number of his books.  He is controversial at times, and has gotten into trouble for speaking his mind.  But he is entertaining, and we laughed a lot.

My observations of the evening were very interesting.  First there was this sign . . . yes alcohol allowed in the theater.  Now of course our first reaction was that it is Anthony Bourdain, what do you expect.  But before he was introduced we were told that they were trying this out as a new thing.  I do wonder if it was tried out now because it was Anthony Bourdain 🙂

We are people watchers, and enjoy trying to build a story of the people we see.  There were of course a number of people we assumed to be cooks and chefs.  There were a lot of men, but also couples.  Often the women together seemed to be a young and older, like mother and daughter.  The couples averaged late 40’s and up, but there were the occasional younger ones.  One of these younger couples really intrigued us.  In the row in front of us there was a single seat empty until we saw a couple show up at the end of the row.  At first you think, oh no!  Someone has messed up and the seats are off.  But he gave her a kiss and she worked her way to the single seat.  Then we saw words mouthed and hands gesturing and realized he had a seat, but it was a few floors up!  I could see her pull up her Facebook account and writing to him.  Then I noticed there were a lot of people on Facebook posting.

I reflected back to the first concert I ever went to (well besides my Dad’s operas).  It was in Tucson Arizona in about 1976, to see ELO (Electric Light Orchestra).  It was mind-blowing to me, something so new and different.  But now that I look back, the fact that there were so many people smoking pot in the audience just might have had something to do with that . . .

Capture the Memories

On July 26 and 27, 1968 my father starred as Nanki-Poo in “The Mikado” at the Redlands Bowl in California.  I remember sitting in the bathroom on the edge of the tub watching him apply the stage makeup.  I can still remember the smell today.  I have emailed someone at the Bowl, but haven’t heard back.  I would love to have some photos of the event, and my Daddy in full makeup. I don’t have video of my Dad singing, and there are very few audio recordings either.  That is so wrong.

I am in the process of making a shadow box for Hubby.  It started with a knife and steel that had belonged to his grandfather.  He used to own a grocery store, and used them to butcher meat.  Hubby also worked for a short time as a butcher after high school.  So my thought had been to see if we could find a picture of his grandfather as the butcher to add to the shadow box.  Hubby’s Mom hunted for me, but wasn’t able to find one.

Today I finally did something I keep saying I will, but don’t.  There are so often things I see while out and about that I wish I could capture.  The camera in my phone just doesn’t do justice, so I have started carrying my little Fuji camera in my purse.  I was sitting at a stoplight waiting to turn left.  I pulled up just as it turned red so I knew I would be there for a bit.  Many times I have been at that light and marveled at the view down the street.  Unfortunately even the picture didn’t do it justice.  But now I have the memory captured.

This wasn’t anything like having that picture or recording of my Dad, or even Hubby’s Grandpa, but it is a start.  There needs to be records of the special times, we shouldn’t lose them.

A Tea Party

On December 21, 2011 my mother had to move in with us.  She had a terrible wound on her foot that she was in a rehab center for.  But her Medicare ran out, and the only other options were to pay the $265 a day, or go on Medicaid.  She was able to move back into her own home on July 30th, and on November 9th we had her final visit with the wound doctor. 

Today her nurse had her final home visit.  We have had Nurse ST since last December.  We had to really fight the system to keep her the whole time.  They wanted to just send who was on rotation, but when you are dealing with this kind of wound you need that familiarity.  Nurse ST was a wound nurse, and she knew her stuff.  She could tell when there was the slightest change and call the doctor to alert them immediately. But not only that, she was just a terrific person.  So we wanted to do something to thank her.  My mother had a plant bought for her, and I made scones so we could have an English Tea.

Being English we used to do ‘tea’ a lot more often.  But the stress of life got in the way and we just haven’t been able to make the time.  So today was the perfect day for the wild child and my oldest to join Mama and I to thank Nurse ST.  It was nice to sit, drink tea, eat scones with raspberry jam and whipped cream, and chat.  No stress, no issues, just a nice visit.  Yes, the English way.

My own fault

Ok, so in all the teasing and fuss about computers mine is being taken over.  Yes, the big old Papa Bear is going to use me as a guinea pig.  I am getting a new hard drive, and we are upgrading systems.  To be honest I don’t mind being the ‘tester’ as when things go wrong I can just yell and he gets the fun of figuring it out.  That is his joy, the challenges technology brings.  It makes me feel very secure in what we have, but also a bit nervous when he isn’t around.  Now he does remotely take care of all the family, even those that live across the country.  But a few weeks ago when my cousin in California couldn’t get their computer to boot up; well that you can’t fix remotely.  He doesn’t travel often, but it does happen.  I just don’t understand how, with all these children, not one is into computers.  Very odd . . .

So the point of today’s post is to say that I may/may not be posting over the next few days.  We’ll just have to see how it goes 🙂

Being High-Tech

Is this so wrong?  Yes, I have 3 monitors.  Hubby was giving me a hard time this morning about this.  Keeping in mind that he is the epitome of super-geek, he has the whole house networked!  I think, and this is just what I know about, we have about a dozen computers in this house.  Honest! 

Ok, let’s start with my office.  There is of course mine, Hubby’s desk up here, and the one connected to the TV.  Each daughter still at home has both a PC and laptop.  The oldest even managed to get her Dad to give her our netbook for school.  I don’t begrudge her that as her laptop is older, and very heavy to be lugging around campus.  So this brings the total to 8. 

Now, in Hubby’s office we have his work computer and laptop.  But then we have the server, and I believe there is another box set up down there as well.  So that would be 12.  I have forgotten the little tablet we have.  It is a struggling wanna-be.  Poor thing tries, but it just can’t keep up.  Oh, but I forget the pièce de résistance.  If you look closely at the picture to your right you will see that presently there is a keyboard on the convection oven, and yes a monitor above.  This is in the kitchen, number 14.

I have to say, I love being married to a super-geek.  The fact that currently I have more monitors hooked up to one computer than he does, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it won’t last.  He teases about mounting a 60” TV on the wall to use the computer hooked up to the TV with.  I know it is all a case of usage and availability.  When you work in this field, you have to stay current.  When you upgrade, everyone does.  You will notice the monitor in the kitchen is a very old model; at least in monitor years.  When new it was top of the line for graphics, and I got many good years use out of it.  We were talking about my scanner the other day, it too is old.  But it still works, and really well.

So some may say we are tech whores.  I like to think it more as good recycling 🙂

On a serious note . . .

Over the last few days Hubby has been working on a big migration project for work.  It has not been going smoothly.  This has meant he has not gotten much sleep.  It is fortunate that he works from home, as it means he can grab an hour here and there.  But it also means the rest of the house has to respect that, which they do. 

I decided to keep myself busy by watching a marathon on Netflix of the series “Brothers and Sisters”.  The rest of the house will wander in for an episode or three, and I have to give them a catch-up.  But this show pulls you in, and with the way Netflix rolls from one episode to another, it is hard to pull yourself away.  We are 36 episodes into a total of 111.  Wow, it takes a long time to watch all those episodes.  But you do find yourself reflecting on your own life.

The main character is the mom, Nora, played by Sally Fields.  She has 5 kids, so did I.  At this point in the storyline, she also has the illegitimate daughter of her diseased husband (which I know will turn out to not be true).  But she welcomed Rebecca into her home and heart because she knew it was not the child’s fault.  Yes, this is fiction.  But there are people all around the world dealing with family dramas.  For so many years I tried to make my step-daughters feel a part of this family.  I have spoken to my children about it, and we don’t understand where we failed.  Maybe we tried too hard.  Maybe in our desire to make them feel a part of us, we were making them feel we were trying to take them away from the other half of their lives.

On the show the oldest sister’s marriage falls apart.  In his desire to do the right thing, her estranged husband (who had been a stay-at-home dad) felt the children were better off with him.  It didn’t work, but he realized that and fixed it.  Again, yes this is fiction.  But I wonder if anyone saw this and changed their mind about the decisions they were making in their own lives.  People are so self-absorbed in today’s world.  There is so much ‘me, me’ and not enough about the innocent ones involved.

Children today are not given much chance to be children.  Even if they have parents who love and respect each other, they have friends who don’t.  They are exposed to it anyway.  So I am honest with my kids so they are armed with an understanding.  But I wish they didn’t have to be.  It makes you want to hide in the hills.  Go back to a less complicated life.

I don’t mean to be maudlin, but one difference I see in the way relationships move in this show and real life, is communication.  The storylines need to have interactions to keep them going.  But in real life avoidance is too easy.  So my advice for what it is worth, if you are having a problem with someone you care about, don’t let the time get away from you.  Put your hand out, reconnect somehow.  Life is too short.