Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Bathroom Remodel - Part 1

So, although a lot of little things and changes have been happening around the house (new paint, rehabbing a pantry, making curtains, etc), this is the first big project. The upstairs bathroom. First you need to know that the majority of the house is carpeted. With the thin, yet practically indestructible carpeting left over from when the house was a group home. You know the type, institutional. When I say the majority of the house, I also mean one of the bathrooms. The upstairs one. Which was used by a 5-year-old-boy. Yup, I don't need to give you any more details. You can imagine what the floorboards looked like, right?

So, that's where we started. Removing all of the fixtures, pulling up the carpet, the lovely smelling carpet, and finding that the floorboards were also damaged and molding.

Bathroom Remodel 1 - Ripping Out

It looked like this for a while because of the smell. In between whatever smell was lingering and the toilet drain-pipe, it smelled really ripe for a while. In the bottom middle of the picture you can see an air freshener.

So, after the smell had left and the nasty floorboards were taken care of the floor was stripped wide open to the joists. Although they were serviceable, they needed much reinforcing. If they weren't reinforced, there was no way that 33 gallons of water and I were getting in a soaker tub and manage to NOT fall through the floor, ending up in the kitchen!

Bathroom Remodel 2 - New Subfloor

Luckily enough the 2x4's we used for the cross beam reinforcement were salvaged from a frame and glass display in another room. Now I'm sure you noticed that the window was not completely cased either. And the bottom pane has a crack in it. Score! (not so much)

After building the actual floor level, some plumbing assistance was needed. Once the pipes were rebuilt and straightened and the water lines were checked and soldered, you can lay a floor. All those internal bits had better be working now...

Bathroom Remodel 3 - Titanium Ply

Not much to do at this point other than throw another layer of wood down. This time a layer of Lauan (It is apparently pronounced Luon. Which makes no sense to me phonetically). Now, I'm not sure if this step was truly necessary as I just found out tonight that the tile goes on a layer of cement board to prevent cracking over the years (Apparently when you put tile on Lauan it cracks eventually.).

Bathroom Remodel 4 -Lauan

I think it looks lovely so far. The walls will not remain that color, it will be more of a frosty blue-green. Think beach. Or, at least, that's what I hope to be thinking and feeling while in the tub.

Check back for Part Two on August 20th!

Friday, July 15, 2011

CSA Year 2 - Week 4

On Wednesdays, Good Food Collective lets the members know what to expect for the week's share. I was so excited to see that blueberries were on the list! So excited that I couldn't resist doing this....


Aren't they lovely? They come from Hurd Orchards which I found surprising, given that there are a few pick your own blueberry places right around the corner here. Regardless, they are delicious. I can (and do) eat blueberries like they're candy. Which they are.

So, I'll cut the chatter and get to presenting the whole picture of this week's share...

CSA Year 2 - Week 4

1 head lettuce
another bunch scallions
a generous handful of basil
1 PT blueberries
1 massive bunch Swiss chard
1 small yellow summer squash
1 small zucchini

Lettuce: You know the drill by now. Salads, salads, salads.

Scallions: My scallions from last week are still sitting in the vase, and these got added. I may be sharing some of these before we get Week 5.

Basil: Already used up in pesto. This time I made a basil-walnut pesto.

Blueberries: Although I'd like to say that I'll make some yummy muffins, I may eat most of them before I get that far. We shall see.

Swiss chard: Since I have some left over from last week, I think it's time I break out the recipe that GFC posted on their website, which they originally got from Swiss Chard Lasagna with Ricotta and Mushroom.

Summer Squash: I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these yet. My Dad also brought me one of each from his garden, so it may be a pasta add-in, or the zucchini may be grilled. I will have to consider this one more.

In the meantime, I still have blueberries!

Keep Posted - on the 20th check back for WIP Wednesday - House Edition.

Friday, July 8, 2011

CSA Year 2 - Week 3

Last week a pretty productive start to using the CSA share. I still have beets left over, they're fine. But, weeks don't stop for anyone, so here's Week 3 - or what I shall call it - Lettuce Explosion Week!

CSA Year 2 - Week 3

1 head Napa cabbage
2 heads lettuce: One is buttercrunch (I think), and I'm not sure about the other, flat-leafed kind.
1 QT cherries
1 bag garlic scapes
1 QT snap peas
1 small bunch Swiss chard
1 bunch scallions
1 handful cut basil

Napa Cabbage: My plan for this is varied. I know that one of the things I will be doing is chopping some of it up to use on tacos. I am also toying with using some of it in a tofu-Napa cabbage-snap pea-bean-edamame stir-fry. If I have any left at the end of this, possibly some miso soup. We'll see on that last one.

Lettuce: Can you believe I still have the full head from Week 1? Well I do, and it has kept perfectly in the fridge. So, given that we got 2 more heads this week, one (the buttercrunch) was given to one of the women from the book club I belong to. The other one, and the one from Week One will be used in salads. This is a salad week!

Cherries: Pie! I made turn-overs last week, which were really good, but I want to make a whole pie this time. I should have enough now too! If there are any leftover from pie I am thinking Cherry Lemonade.

Garlic Scapes: This week I am going to split the batch. Half will go to some more Garlic Scape Pesto and half will be steamed. I have a friend who is also a member of GFC and she was telling how she steamed the scapes and served them with salt. Having a steamer, I am willing to give it a go!

Snap Peas: Half of them will be used in stir-fry. Half of them will be cooked as shelled peas, possibly mixed in pasta or served as a side. If they survive the shelling without getting eaten!

Swiss Chard: I'm not sure on this one honestly. I sauteed the last bunch and it came out a little tough. I'm still thinking about this one.

Scallions: Let me start off by saying that these are probably the tallest scallions I have ever seen. I am serious when I say that these are probably 18-24" tall! They will be used as additional ingredients in many recipes over the next few weeks, I am sure.

Cut Basil: Easy. This will go in the above mentioned Garlic Scape Pesto. So it will be Garlic-Basil Pesto. Still yummy either way!

So I've barely met the Friday deadline for Food Friday - but I hosted book club {which I made a very lovely honey cake and a delicious raspberry iced tea (which I will post the recipe for soon) for} tonight, so I have a very valid excuse!

See you Wednesday for WIP Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WIP Wednesday - Hand Quilting

Despite coming from a quilting family that skipped a generation and a half (read: my mother quilted and then my paternal great-grandmother), I am a newer quilter. I started when I was 10 or so with a puff patch quilt (that is probably in some trash bag at The Homestead somewhere in a closet), but thanks to LiveJournal and a couple of the quilting communities there, I've been more involved these past three years or so.

My great-grandmother mainly machine pieced, made the sandwich and then hand-tied her quilts. I've inherited 8 or so of her tops, one of which I've finished, in the way that she would have.

Finished Pinwheel

For that quilt, I mainly finished it by tying, but did do some hand-quilting as cornerstones since the sashing did not use any.

Where I'm Hand-Quilting

I really enjoyed the hand quilting on that project and learned so much in just doing that alone! (Most notably that you are only supposed to use one ply of thread when hand-quilting) I knew that one of my projects in the wings needed to be hand-quilted.

Which leads us to the current "quilt-in-frame":

Modern Squares - Top

I fell in love with the tan fabric at JoAnn's - it already screamed to me something about squares and either "wonky" or modern squares. I already had the brown and white dots in stash. The lighter blue and green were also picked up at JoAnn's and the darker blue and white backing from my LFS, Patricia's Fabric House.

After machine piecing the blocks, the top and the back, I put it in the frame. What began as stitching in the ditch with a coordinating thread, turned into inside edge quilting about 1/8-1/4" inside each block of color.

Modern Squares - Quilting Detail

Through this practice, my stitching (at least as it appears on the top) has become much straighter and more uniform. I'm pretty impressed with myself and my progress.

My back is a modification of the modern squares on the front.

Modern Squares - Back

What I did was start with the same center and make a much larger square for the back (approximate) center of the quilt. I used my zig-zag to attach it to the back, realizing that much of the stitching that I was going to be doing would also help to adhere it to the back.

As I have to occasionally climb under the frame to look for threads/untie knots, etc., I love how it looks like stained glass where I've already quilted when the sun shines through.

Modern Squares - Stained Glass Effect

Although I've learned so much already working on the two quilts that I've hand-quilted on, I obviously still have a lot to learn -- just look at this stitching on the back!

Modern Squares - Back Quilting Detail

At least I'm learning, right? I think it's time for a hand-quilting class, don't you?


Thanks for tuning in, come back in 2 days for Food Friday & stop by next Wednesday for another installment of WIP Wednesday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

CSA Year 2 - Week 2

After a somewhat successful week last week keeping up with our CSA share, it's already week two! Here's this week's share.

CSA Year 2 - Week 2

1 bunch beets
1 small head broccoli
1 garlic plant - bulb & all!
1 pint cherries
1 sizable bunch kale
2 heads baby lettuce
1 potted plant of lemon basil

While picking up, they told us that the cherries were just a tease; we're expecting more (probably 1 QT) next week. :) In the car on the way home, I was already plotting things to do with this week's share items.

Garlic: I picked off a little of the garlic plants leaves with my fingernail and smelled it. Definitely garlic! Could you use the rest of the plant? I'd seen the scape part last week, but these were full grown leaves, so I figured....

Infusing Oil
Garlic Infused Olive Oil, right? I'm not actually sure if this will work, but I don't see why not. If the leaves smell like garlic, taste like garlic, then they should infuse the oil with garlic. And yes, I'm aware of the botulism risk and that, I did not cook my leaves, but did add some lemon juice and am keeping it in the fridge.

Kale: I haven't encountered kale much as a raw food. But, I had heard of kale chips, so....

Baked Kale Chips
lovely kale chips! I ended up making two varieties, garlic-Parmesan kale chips and cumin-garlic kale chips.

How to Keep Kale Chips

I wasn't sure how to store them, so, Google let me know that glass jars are common and pretty!

Broccoli: Already used! As soon as I saw that, and realized that there was leftover marinated beef from kabobs, I thought, Beef & Broccoli! As a bonus, I got to use the leftover grilled vegetables in this and served it over Buckwheat Soba noodles. Yum!

Cherries: I had snuck a peek at the
Good Food Collective
website earlier this week and saw that we were to expect some cherries. With friends coming tomorrow for lunch, and with the 1.5 c. of cherries I got off the cherry tree in the front yard that I've been keeping in some maraschino brandy in the fridge, I am going to make cherry turnovers! Pockets of slightly alcoholic pie-like goodness!

Beet Roots: I wasn't terribly impressed with last week's salad, so I'm going to try another one this time, like this Beet and Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad.

Beet Greens: Last week they were so good, steamed. I didn't blanch them like I thought I would, but I steamed them and served them with a fine drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a spoonful of feta cheese and a sliced hard-boiled egg. So, I just may do that again!

Lettuce: This will be used in salad as well. I love the tiny head of red-leaf lettuce, it will make a good mixed up hand torn salad.

Basil: Let it grow! I've heard of lemon basil before (I already grow lemon mint) and was still amazed by how citrusy it smells. I can see this being used on watermelon or a fruit salad as an edible garnish. Or in chicken French. I am going to grow it up a little first and go from there!

So, that's it. I picked up the share 6 hours ago and have already used a fair share of the items already. Can't wait 'til next week!

And neither should you - make sure to follow me and check in next Friday for Food Fridays here!