Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There Be Latkes

On Sunday, Robert and I made latkes from the Hello Fresh ingredient boxes.  They were yummy.  I am loving the Hello Fresh boxes, because they, and my new kitchen, make cooking fun and easy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Adjusting the Dining Table (With Nods to a Bible Study and Downton Abbey)

Our dining table is an antique that my mother gave to us.  It is oak, and it is lovely.  The one problem with it was that it had wheel casters under the four legs, which were not original to the design.  Now, this was very convenient, because it is a heavy table and the casters helped it move.  But it also lifted the table at least 2" higher than it should be.  I had been aware of this, and sometimes it bothered me.  But it really started bothering me once Tyler came along, because the extra height made it even harder for a child to be comfortable at.

The kicker was that I am having a fancy dinner party (Downton Abbey themed!) in November, and with the sprucing up of the dining room, I wanted the table to be just right.  Additionally, I have started attending a group bible study (more on that in an upcoming post), and I like to work at the table for this - more room to spread out with the bible and the workbook.  Oh, and a cup of tea of course!  But at the higher table I always felt a little bit like Edith Ann (for the younger folks, Google Edith Ann and Lily Tomlin from Laugh In in the 1960's).

So, Paul endeavored to remove the wheel casters and replace them with glides (a product unavailable when the casters were put on, otherwise I think they might have used them).

Paul, hard at work.

One of the legs with the new glide on it (not visible once the table is upright). 

All done.  Beauty!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Little Corner - With Kitchen Step-Stool (And Little Boy)

My kitchen is coming together more and more.  I wanted to some sort of bar stool or chair so that someone could sit in the kitchen.  For example, when I have a friend over and I am still cooking, the person could sit and talk to me.  This often happens on Movie Night, when I pick up my friend Lisa before Movie Night starts and I still have food to finish up before the rest of the guests arrive.  Or, when Tyler needs a snack or breakfast, he could sit there. When not in use it would sit against the wall to be out of the way - an important consideration, since Kristin walks past this area from her room to the main floor of the house.  When I first suggested this idea, she was concerned about the space, thinking I planned to put a couch or something there!

I was thinking of a chair step-stool that my mom used to have in her kitchen.  I wanted that, because I also need a step stool to reach the higher cabinets.  There are vintage ones out there, and new ones in the same design.  However, the new ones are black or red.  As much as I love the vintage design, I did not like those colors for my kitchen.  But the same company that makes the vintage-y ones (Cosco), also makes a more modern design in white. So, I got that.  It works perfectly.  Here is Ty waiting for his snack (egg, over-easy) to be finished cooking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hello Fresh Trial

I have started up with the Hello Fresh meal service.  How this works is that the company assembles all ingredients and recipes for your weekly order, then delivers them in a box with cold packs.  I really liked what I saw with this first box.  We ordered the vegetarian box.  It gives you three meals to make.  Some are gluten-free, others can be adapted by making a gluten-free grain on the side to replace the pasta, etc., then using the sauce or other ingredients included in the recipe.  You can choose two servings or four.  We chose the four servings.  What's interesting is that if you order the four serving option, they are sent in two individual two-packs, rather than the four all together.  That way, if you are not particularly hungry or family members are away for the evening, you can just make a two-serving meal, and save the other for a night later in the week.  That's what we did tonight.  Kristin was at a dance rehearsal, and Julie was over, but not super hungry.

I made the Chinese Black Bean Sauté:

All of the ingredients, nicely packaged.

The meal was good, with the exception of the Chinese spices; there was star anise and fennel in it, which I do not particular like (along with cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and cloves, which I do like).  When I make the second one I will use my own spices.  But the meal all in all was good.  I also had to make some special adjustments.  Paul hates mushrooms, and that is one of the prime ingredients.  So I sautéed those separately.  Then I made some Morningstar farms veggie fake meat crumbles for Paul.  So we just assembled our individual dishes according to the "innards" we liked.   

What seems like will work out in a most excellent manner is that since the meals are packaged up and labelled, they simply can go in the basement fridge, and all I have to do is go grab a pack or two to make.  It doesn't take up room in our more compact upstairs fridge. With me avoiding gluten, I will have to adapt parts of some of the recipes; some I may need to not eat at all.  But tonight's meal was gluten-free.  The Barley and Avocado salad will require me to make a side of rice or quinoa to replace the barley in my own portion.  The others can have it with the barley as written.  The Cauliflower Mac and Cheese for this week will be something I won't have (although, perhaps I could make a side of gluten-free macaroni, and reserve some of the cheese sauce!), but I'm sure the others will enjoy it.  Next week's meals I can also make substitutions (gluten-free pasta for me to replace the orecchiette pasta the others will have with the sauce, and using gluten-free bread or a portobello mushroom for the Fig and Brie Grilled Cheese - interesting combo!).  

So, I'll see how this goes.  I'm hoping that this will help me with meal planning.  I like the idea of someone just telling me what to do, and having the ingredients all there for me.  I like to cook, but don't like the planning and figuring out ingredients.  Not sure why that is!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Peculiar Sort Of Echo

The dining room is moving along with the wall replacement.  We also scrubbed and repainted the other walls to refresh them.  Finally we moved the tools out and the furniture back in.  We have not put our shades back up (waiting for the window washers to come and clean all of our windows - so overdue!).  But I noticed that the room was very echo-ey. Surely this cannot only be because of missing shades?  We had moved my sewing machine and drawers upstairs to stay in the new location.   So there was less furniture there.  I couldn't figure out why that would make such a difference.  And it seemed so roomy.  Paul then pointed out that we had also moved our microwave into the kitchen and gotten rid of the wooden storage cart it rested on.  How could I have forgotten that?!  (The trauma of having the microwave in such an awkward location for so many years?)

Well, I do have plans for a narrow telephone/floral arrangement table to go against one wall. Maybe that will help?  Oh, and a plant stand to disguise the transition between the new wall and the old faux wainscoting that a former owner had put up and that I hate.  Perhaps that will do the trick.  Anyway, here are some progress photos:


Monday, September 7, 2015

My Baby Is Back! (Harp and Harpmobile Stories)

On Friday I drove down to Lyon & Healy to pick up my harp.  Newly repaired is she, restrung with new strings, dusted, and clean and sparkly.  The surgery was a complete success, and the buzz is gone! She sounds lovely.  I am always nervous driving home on the expressway from Chicago with a harp in the back of the van.  I deliberately stayed behind a slow-moving truck, so anyone else behind me would tire of going slow and change lanes, thus decreasing the chance of someone rear-ending me and the harp.

Her re-entry into our home, however, was a little punch-drunk.  Perhaps she was still under the effects of the anesthesia from her recent surgery?  The men at Lyon & Healy had loaded her into my van (the "Harpmobile"), but I rely on Paul to get her into the house.  Paul was a little distracted with a work call, and we had to get the harp unloaded quickly so I could move the van from the driveway. (We hired landscapers to come; our garden has been entirely neglected this summer.  They came to tidy it up and needed to access the driveway.) So Paul was not exactly on his harp-moving game.  At one point, the harp shifted on her dolly and half tipped over, the dolly strap a thin line staving off disaster.  In the house, she tumbled forward while still on the dolly, rolling off-balance, but saved from a second disaster from stacked cardboard storage boxes that happened to be right there and caught her fall (she was encased in her squishy harp gear which prevented any scratches and also cushioned her tippage).  My screams during both of these almost-disasters were probably heard in Peru.

I unwrapped her from her cushion-covers.  Thankfully she suffered no injury from her tipping overs. I played for a long time, enjoying her refreshed sound.  I'm so glad to have her home!

Beauty - her repaired mechanism

A view from the Harpmobile.  
Our van works very well: the way back seats fold down into the floor, 
and Paul removes one mid-back seat, allowing the top of the harp to extend forward.

View from the back, showing how the whole instrument fits.  
This was an important consideration when we purchased the van.