Sunday, October 31, 2010

Laura's winter pictures

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Elephants and Mice

Little mice. You wouldn't think they'd be scary would you? But this little wheat bag is very scared of them.

See how his eyes are rolling? He's totally freaked out.

Oh, don't turn your back, little elephant! Those little mice might sneak up from behind, take a bite out of your felted wool behind and feast on your wheat!

This little wheat bag was a quickly made gift for another friend and has left the house in happy anticipation of living in a house with cats. No mice for this little guy.

But me? I have to go to bed early if left alone because the mice scamper once the lights are turned down. I haven't seen signs of them in our food yet, but we've definitely seen one in the living room and heard one squeaking behind the fridge. Is it alone? I'd love to think so, but I'm thinking not.

Anyone got a hypo-allergenic hairless cat I can borrow?

Friday, October 29, 2010

By special request

Approximately 50% of my readers have asked for my biscuit recipe, and I didn't want to let her down.

Baking Powder Biscuits (from Pillsbury: The Complete Book of
Baking, my baking bible)

2 cups flour (any mix of white or whole wheat)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening (or a mix of
butter and lard)
3/4 - 1 cup milk

Heat oven to 450F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork (I grate frozen butter usually), cut in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stirring with a fork, add enough milk until mixture leaves the sides of bowl, but not totally mixed. **
**That is the secret I learned. It shouldn't be forming a ball yet.

Dump onto a floured counter and squish together with your hands until it holds
together, kneading it just a little if you have to.

Roll or press out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into squares or circles. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 - 12 minutes. Serve warm, of course.

Always learning

A long time ago I told myself that I wanted to be constantly learning as an adult. I've always admired people who learn to paint or go to university again at the age of 50 (or whatever I considered a "great old age" while I was 20). People who are never afraid to try their hand or mind at something new.

I was going to take a university or college course every year. Not necessarily towards any goal, but just to keep learning.

That never happened. I've taken the odd Excel course or "How to Write a Mission Statement" and some adult Sunday School classes. But that's it.

It doesn't mean I never learn anything new though. I went to Calgary a few weeks ago and stayed in a house that always smells of good food (you know who you are!). And I learned one simple thing that I should have known long ago.

"Don't mix the biscuit dough too much or it'll get tough". Why didn't I know that? I know that about muffins.

This is what I know how to make now.

Fluffy, almost puff-pastry biscuits. And it's easier than making the tough biscuits I used to make.

Now you may have learned something new in your adult life too. Unless you are my Calgary friend with the lovely smelling house. She already knew this.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One month later

I have no pictures to share today, but I was reminded that I haven't been posting lately.

That's because I'm busy. One month ago we ripped out the drywall in our main bathroom and today we still have no drywall. That's not technically true. The drywall is leaning again the wall in our hallway, weighing a ton and blocking off the wardrobe where I keep my boots and any changes of shoes. I'm kind of wanting my boots right now.

We still have no bathtub, but that's not true either. It's in the backyard filling with snow, although I have started sanding down the sides and scraped all of the paint and silicone and drywall plaster from the enamelled parts. I'm excited about it, but it really has to be carried indoors now so that I can continue.

The toilet and sink are still operational, although that has to change soon. We need to replace a few of the floorboards and make sure we have subfloor everywhere (there wasn't subfloor under the original tub). Then I'll be excited to see some new hardwood and tiles go down.

The new sink and toilet are in the living room. I hope to find someone to alter slightly the stainless steel base for the sink and we carried a piece of heavy countertop into the house today.

I'm totally uninspired by wall tiles at the moment, but I think I found some circular mosaic tile today and some rectangular tile for the walls.

A neighbour is looking into getting some sheets of steel for the back of my storage shelves. For some reason I have my heart set on that detail, but it's hard to find. Otherwise I'll paint the wallboard and put a shiny piece of glass in. I want shiny.

My brother-in-law promises to visit soon to update some of our old plumbing and make sure that the plumbing is where it is supposed to be for the new fixtures. We can't close in one wall or do subflooring until he does his stuff.

So, there's nothing to show, but some framing has been going on and lots and lots of shopping. It's frustratingly slow, but life continues to go on around us. Meals, music lessons, more meals, church events, visiting friends in Calgary, trying to keep the house running and functional and the tiniest bit tidy. It all takes so much energy that there isn't much left for renovations.

My mind whirls with the project planning though, so everyday I try to progress just the tiniest bit. And at the end I can be proud of what we've managed to do. I'll show some pictures when I've got something to show.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ev shares her custom labels with her loyal readers

I keep seeing these lovely, custom label designs that some bloggers are happy to share with their readers. I know that some of you do your own canning. I thought you might like to use my labels.

I don't claim to have pretty jars, but my labels are infinitely more practical than arranging a bunch of jpgs on a page, printing them, cutting them out and still needing to write on them. And they come off easily when you've eaten the contents and want to use the jar again, unlike many of the labels that come with the jars when you buy them.

Incidentally, I bought about 6 dozen pint jars this year and they don't even include labels this year. Huh.

Here are the tools you'll need.

  • clear tape
  • cash register paper roll
  • scissors
  • pen

Lovely, no?, but it's simple and practical and I've had to do hundreds of them this year. I've still got three bags of apples in the basement and the tomatoes were not a total loss and are ripening all the time, but if they don't get done, I'm not going to stress. Life is too short and the pantry pretty darn full.
How do you label your jars? With labels worthy of gift-giving?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More bathroom progress

It may be slow, but it is moving and I'm fine with that. We do have a fully functioning bathroom in the basement and still a half-bath upstairs (although I would like to rip out the vanity and toilet really soon now).

So, while I was on a little holiday through the vineyards of BC, Yvon got a quote for installation of a new window. This is our old window. It's the only upstairs window original to the house, it doesn't really open and definitely doesn't open in the winter when it freezes up.

(This is two-week old picture)

The quote: $450 if we provide a custom-sized window to fit the existing hole, or $750 if they had to do any framing.

One of Yvon's colleagues said I was crazy to try it, but everything I read showed that it wasn't that hard to install a window. And generally nothing I do earns $450-$750 in a day so it was worth a try.

So it was a really profitable day, I guess.

Of course there was extra framing to do because you can't buy the same sizes as you could in 1969. We still have exterior trimming to do, but not today. It's currently sealed and under a 2 foot overhang, so it'll be alright until next week.

For the first time in 10 years, we have a window that opens in the bathroom. Nice!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busy weekend

It began with our anniversary. And I forgot it! Yvon didn't.

I've been getting headaches and a runny nose from the beautiful lilies in the bouquet, but I love them so I'm dealing with it.

We celebrated by taking the kids (plus an extra one) to Movies in the Square, an outdoor movie theatre downtown. It's right within view of this cool building, the art gallery. That would have been too grown-up for this group.
We watched Marmaduke. I don't know in what world that is a suitable way to spend your anniversary, but it was fun.
The view was nice though.
We ripped out the bathtub on Saturday, but that's the only progress we've made there, but that was harder than we thought. Whatever. It's out and now we can see what goes on in the girl's bedroom from upstairs through the floorboards. Any progress is a good thing. And I may have lined up a plumber in Yvon's brother. Yay for free help!
I've been seriously missing taking baths, so we went to the swimming pool (one with a hot tub) afterwards to be sparkly clean for Sunday.
It was a gorgeous day on Sunday, so in the afternoon I dragged two girls out to the ravine for a nice walk. They loved it once they were there.
They climbed the creek banks many times. Sometimes I did too, until I gained too much weight on the soles of my shoes.

I chose to cross the creek on the bridge. "C'mon, Mom. Where's your sense of adventure?" Where's my sense of balance? I went with the dry foot option.
On Monday we ate turkey. Lots of turkey. And saw lots of family, but only because it's a big family. It was a busy weekend but I love it when we fit a lot of stuff in.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good news for cortisone users

I've been out of cortisone cream for my excema for a while now. And suffering as a result. I've cut down on a lot of chemicals in the house, using healthier shampoo options (although I've quit the baking soda thing), laundry and dish detergent. Baking soda and vinegar are used for a lot, and since most of you know me personally, you also know that I "choose" not to clean often. :-)

That's all supposed to help. I could also start an elimination diet, but I can't bring myself to quit eating wheat, corn, milk, eggs, or sugar. There's too more that were suggested but I don't think I have the willpower to even try. And stopping the gardening would definitely help. Excema is a contact thing for me for sure.

Whatever. I finally went to the doctor to renew my prescription. She's a relatively new doctor for me and has never prescribed cortisone for me before. She very happily related the following news to me.

Dr.: It is now safe to use cortisone creams twice a week indefinitely without harm. This is a new finding. That's great news.

Me: Is it safe to use it twice a day for 40 years?

Dr.: No. There are lasting effects for that kind of use, but twice a week has no side effects.

Me: That's great news. But for about 40 years, I've been putting cortisone on my hands and parts of my feet and legs twice a day. So that's helpful for Sunday, but the other six days of the week I will continue to take the risk and hope to stop scratching.

I hope she still shares her good news with other patients, but I wasn't so impressed with it really.