Saturday, October 22, 2011

That went by fast...

And it's Saturday again, already!  It's been quite a week in our house, hallowe'en costumes needed to be made, knitting is underway for presents, R turned 14 yesterday, so we threw an ice-cream free-for-all at the RC where she goes to class and about 50 of her closest friends showed up to eat with her!  She had a blast! 

This morning I slept til past 11, felt much better for it and got up to find Bri getting ready to start work on the kitchen again.  He has, this week, built the plinth that the Aga will sit on, and it needed to be leveled off ready to go.  I needed to finish the Bella mittens that I was supposed to have given R for her birthday yesterday, so I sat down to knit for a bit.  After eating a sort of brunch-ish-lunch with the family, I was told to go and rest for a bit...and I just woke up, after a 3 hour nap.  I can hear my Nan, bless her heart, telling me that I must have needed it or I wouldn't have slept that long. 

I woke up to find this...

I have to go now - apparently he needs a 'strong helper' for the next part.  Really.  How he got that first part in WITHOUT a strong helper, I don't know! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This Is How We Do Dinner...

So hubby and daughter 2 went to the boat club this morning, to help with 'cleaning up'.  When they were leaving to come home, hubby texts me with 'have a bottle of red wine.  COV for dinner?'

Well, of course!

And here it is, the bottle, the coq au vin, and the obligatory glass of wine for the chef, of course!  ;-) 

The wine was a 'thanks for helping clean up' gift, someone had donated a box to the club and it's the end of the year, so there aren't going to be any more parties to drink it at. 


4 chicken breasts, I threw them in whole because they were still partly frozen (I did only have an hour notice, after all)
2 onions, chopped chunky
half a box of crimini mushrooms, stems separated from caps, but nothing chopped
a squirt of garlic (That stuff in the tube is so easy and smells wonderful, much better than a jar of chopped garlic, and less work than doing it yourself from scratch)
salt and pepper
a good teaspoon of mixed herbs
half a bottle of wine and the same volume of water

throw it all in the pan, and simmer it for as long as you've got, at least a couple of hours.  Once it was all warm I pulled out the chicken breasts and tore them apart with 2 forks to get rustic chunky pieces, and then threw them back in to get dyed that beautiful wine colour that makes coq au vin so distinctive a supper.  It will be served later with rice and some veggies, and another glass of wine for me, of course!  Yummy!

In other kitchen news,

the wall is sanded and primed, just a couple of places need a little more sanding, and then we can paint. 

Here's what it looks like from my side of the kitchen - lovely, isn't it?  It's quite impressive that there are still home-cooked meals every day, don't you think?  ;-) 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Decisions, decisions.

It's Friday, and it's painting day in the kitchen.  Yay!  Today we can finish the sanding, tear down the plastic sheeting, and put some paint on the walls.  Hurrah!  I've been busy looking over design ideas, thinking about tiles, planning layouts, it's all in my head at this point, but I keep standing in the kitchen, thinking, looking, imagining. 

Table?  No Table?  Island?  No island?  Island with small sink?  Pantry?  No pantry?  Baking counter?  Trash in a free-standing  can or in cabinet?  Go for what I really want?  Or stick to a tight budget?  Mixer on the counter or in a cabinet?  Easy access, or less cleaning? 

The biggest difficulty is that I've already had my dream kitchen, it's in a house in Maryland.  I worked so hard to get that room just how we wanted it, and it was perfect.  And I'm stuck, this time, because I can't rebuild that kitchen here, it won't fit, and anything else feels like a compromise. 

But it's time to make dinner - lasagne tonight, we have a combination microwave/convection oven that is serving us well right now.  And since the oven will be hot, maybe some brownies or a fruit cake?  Hmmm, these chilly fall days make me hungry for comforting goodies! 

Also, note to self, exclamation points look just like the letter 'l' in this font, which is annoying - must change font! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Knew?

It's been a strange summer.  Right around the time that school stopped for the holidays, the diggers arrived on the plot at the end of our road and started to rearrange the mud.  They've been at it for 16 weeks, so far, and they're still going, like little boys in a sand box, driving their Tonka Toys around and around, beeping and grinding gears and revving their engines for all they are worth.  The noise pollution alone should be against the law! 

The dirt, the dust, the mess, that's a whole other story, and it was this mess that I've been blaming, all summer long, for the fact that I wake up every 3 or 4 days feeling like I have a headcold.  Other days I may have a headache, or an earache, or a cough and, recently, my chest has been tight, the cough more wheezy, the ability to take a deep breath more challenging.  Some days I can run up the stairs, others I barely have the energy to get off the couch.  I was beginning to wonder (usually at 2am when it's dark and lonely and cold) whether maybe there's something serious going on here (there's not!). 

So I did the decent thing, and went to tell my doctor about the boys and their toys. 

The doc said 'it's a virus, you just have to wait for it to go away.  It's aggravating your lungs, here, have an inhaler so you can get a deep breath.'  And that was it.  Bye bye, go home, and enjoy your headache.  'Take it easy' she said, like I had a choice about that. 

So I came home, and puffed on my inhaler, which helped a little, but only with the breathing thing, not with the dizzy, or the earache, or the sinus pain.  On Sunday morning I cracked and took a Sudafed, felt better, but haven't really slept since - Sudafed does wonders at keeping a person awake!  I wish I'd known this when my children were younger, it would have helped me a lot some nights! 

Today Brian went to do some work with his friends at the research center - they're all doctors of one sort or another, mostly specialists who do research for part of their week and see patients for the rest.  He asked them about my weird ailment, and not only did they produce a diagnosis (without ever having met me) but they have a cure, too! 

The treadmill!

I know, I know, it would have been more fun if they'd said 'a week on the couch with movies and cupcakes', right?  But alas, it is their considered and most well-educated joint opinion that I do, indeed, have a virus, that it's living in the membranes of my lungs, and that the only way to shift it is to exercise it out!  Snore!

I hate the treadmill, it's really boring, but it's been raining for the last 24 hours, everything is wet and heavy and all the leaves on the ground are every so slightly rotted, maybe even a touch mouldy, and so outside is just going to add 'damp' to the list of things that are aggravating my lungs. 

I wonder how fast I could walk whilst knitting...  I'll let you know tomorrow! 

P.S.  Nothing much to tell in the kitchen department, more sanding, more mud on the walls, tomorrow there's probably going to be more sanding, and then more mud on the walls! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wait Five Minutes....

Everywhere we have lived in America, we have received the same advice - if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. 

This morning, it was grey, chilly, rainy, what you might call 'typical' for the Pacific Northwest in October, and I was wishing that the Aga was just a little closer to warming up the house.  Although, it has to be said - this

Insulation - a modern invention not used when this house was originally built in 1978! 

is really helping quite a bit already. 

It's lunchtime now, and the rain is gone, the sun is shining, and it's a really pretty day.  The leaves are starting to turn, the girls are settled into school, and it looks like it's my turn to get a project underway.  I have plans, but I can't write about them just yet - my family are still reading the blog.  Once the novelty wears off and they get busy with other things, I'll tell you all about it!  ;-) 

The kitchen is coming along really fast - Bri put in two long days out there over the weekend, and we now have insulation, drywall, and the first coat of mud up on the wall behind the Aga.  There'll be a lot of mudding and sanding this week, and hopefully paint by the weekend!  The kitchen is a mess, a good proportion of it is behind plastic sheeting, the remainder is housing all the dishes and cookware that used to be in the cabinets that we pulled out last weekend, it's a difficult place to make food right now...but I'm thinking that if I wait for a metaphorical 'five minutes' it'll all change, just like the weather. 

Here's what I'm working on today -

I wonder what's for dinner...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This Is What Saturday Looks Like.

Saturday is a day for getting done what we need to get done.  In our house, it looks like this....

Bri is busy in the kitchen,

Cabinets need to come out so that we can install fireproof drywall. 

Cabinets out, drywall out, new wiring completed.  Socket on the left will be over the baking counter, AGA will sit between the two sockets.  We'll pull the bottom cabinets later, when we have new cabinets to go in there.
the girls are both lost in books...

One is lost in the latest Hardy Boys adventure. 
The other is lost in 14th Century French history notes! 

and me?  Well, I'm not needed for wiring or plumbing right now, so I'm keeping the woodstove stocked, and working on this,
It's a scarf, but it's beautifully shaped so that it wraps well, and this makes the work rather more complicated than a rectangular scarf would be.  In summary - it's kicking my butt!  ;-)
So far, I'm loving Saturday! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Aga In The Kitchen?

What is an Aga, anyway?  Well, for those of you who don't already know, it's a cooker, a stove, a large kitchen appliance that takes care of all of your cooking needs.  You can roast a turkey, bake cookies, melt chocolate, boil potatoes, and keep the plates warm, all at the same time. 

You find them a lot in old English farm houses, and that is where I met my first Aga.  I was away for the weekend with a friend, at a house belonging to a family I'd never met, an old, chilly, bug-infested place with multiple staircases and pokey little corners.  I was supposed to sleep in a particularly spidery box room, with the daughter of the house, but the cold and the spiders were keeping me awake, so I crept down the stairs and found the kitchen.  There, in pride of place, was this wonderful 4-oven Aga, gently warming the massive stone-floored room, waiting to be needed. 

I fell in love with that Aga, it was beautiful, practical, warm, reliable, comforting, solid, charming. 

When we were first dating, I told my husband about this previous love affair, and he confessed that his grandmother's house had housed a similar solid-fuel stove, and that he loved them, too.  We declared that, one day, we'd have an Aga. 

That was 20 years ago, in the south of England, when we were young, and had big dreams.  Now, 20 years later, we still have big dreams, but we also have 2 daughters, and a mortgage, and we live in Washington, USA.  We've come a long way from those youthful dreams, but they never left us, and now we are beginning the demolition of our kitchen, in order to install the Aga of our dreams.
He's in pieces in the garage right now, rescued from someone else's garage where he had been resting for quite some years. Luckily, we get to give him a new lease of life!