A Midsummer Night’s Red House Story

Since I posted my last article (end of June), quite a bit has actually transpired at the Red House. First and foremost, we have all of our kitchen cabinets in place (minus some drawers and a couple of doors).

IMG_8103And even though Lynn was really cursing the entire time he was putting everything together, in the end he said it was “easy.” Go figure.

I feel I have to share once again how the original kitchen looked in 2010 just to give this story some perspective.

IMG_0288We also have two amazing hardwood floors in Guest Bedroom #1 and Guest Bedroom #2.

IMG_8111Originally I was going to get a laminate floor to save some money but the guy installing the floor (who came to do the initial estimate, too) advised us against it. Also we have hardwood floors throughout our teeny, tiny Long Island house and even 12 years later the floors still look great and are really easy to clean.

So in case you don’t remember what the floors looked like, here’s a shot:

IMG_7999Unfortunately, our master bathroom and bedroom are nowhere near completion…

IMG_7436So right now we are bunking in Guest Bedroom #2 (the larger of the two).

We also finally got some of the electrical work done – so no more fixtures literally dangling over our heads.

IMG_7426Lynn and I always have a problem finding products that we like (ceiling lights and bathroom fixtures are our two biggest challenges) so we decided to try and salvage the existing light fixtures. A can of silver spray paint on one of the bedroom light fixtures and some rewiring on a decorative living room fixture therefore were a good compromise.

IMG_8109IMG_8101And yes, we cheated a bit, too and picked up a really inexpensive Ikea light that looks like a spaceship!

IMG_8102With my kitchen nearly done (I’m having an issue with ordering the countertop I want but more on that in a later blog post), and my parents coming up to visit, I also baked. I know I complain about baking over and over again but not only did I make zucchini bread but I made a cheesecake, too! Originally the plan had been to make zucchini bread using the zucchini that was growing in my garden. Obviously, that didn’t happen but I can say I did get two huge zucchini from the farmer’s market – one went into the cake, the other went into some homemade ratatouille.

IMG_8086 IMG_8093 IMG_8088Originally I thought when we came up to the Red House our garden would be brimming with vegetables. I had planted zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, tomatoes and tons of basil. Unfortunately, we now have a very large family of bunny rabbits living on the property.

IMG_8114 While they did leave me with some basil and a few tomatoes, they ate nearly all the peas and all the zucchini! (The carrots are still in the ground so I’m not sure of their status yet.)

IMG_8010I did start to harvest some of the garlic since this time last summer I had dug it up. I was particularly happy that I managed to grow a crop from some of the cloves I harvested last year. After digging up about 30 garlic heads though, I decided to let them be for another week since some of the heads were rather small.

IMG_8035One interesting side note to our time up at the Red House this summer has to do with a reunion we attended. Most people know I lived in Munich, Germany, for 10 years but some may not realize I graduated from high school there, too.

IMG_7779Since this was my 35th (gulp!) high school reunion and Lynn and I hadn’t been to  Munich since 2007, I decided it was definitely time to go back (especially since I had also somehow missed every single reunion prior to this one as well). Dare I mention that Lynn and I will be celebrating 35 years together, too, this October?

Consequently, while most summers are spent exclusively up at the Red House, this year we spent 10 days in Germany and 5 days in Italy. As usual we did a lot of driving and eating and gushing at all the beautiful architecture, vistas and of course food.  And while I love the Red House even in it’s unfinished state, I do want to share some pictures of the trip.

There were farmer’s markets brimming with fresh radishes, artichokes, beans, tomatoes and lettuce, as well as flowers in nearly every hue imaginable.

IMG_7708IMG_7546There were shots of castles on the Rhine as well as picturesque vineyards (even on a gray day), and too many pictures of Italian art and architecture to share but a handful.

IMG_7630IMG_7614IMG_7883IMG_7949And then there was the food. Bread and cheese, homemade pasta, beer and pretzels the size of basketballs, Apfelstrudel and pizza!

IMG_7976IMG_7706IMG_7975IMG_7838photo(134)photo(87)Of course after the Europe trip (particularly with nearly a week in Italy) and with a “real” kitchen, I had no excuse but to make my first Red House pizza in my new oven, too!

IMG_8042Truthfully, the oven could have been hotter since the crust came out soggy. (The leftover pizza that we warmed up and kind of burnt the next day actually tasted better.)

What I realized after this trip however, was how very similar the area around Munich (particularly Garmisch-Partenkirchen) was to upstate New York. Undoubtedly, it’s why I always liked being up here. Granted, the mountains are not as high, but we have very pretty lakes and streams, rolling hills, and gorgeous forests a mere hour’s drive from the Red House.

IMG_8074On a different and not so bucolic note, we came home from our journey to find bats in the Red House. Our contractor has been working diligently to replace all of the plumbing in the house primarily to put a bathroom in the master bedroom and in doing so has unfortunately created a few “holes” in the walls.

IMG_8001This has resulted in at least two bats trying to take up residence inside the house! We noticed this one night when we were watching a DVD. Suddenly one of us saw something fly by out of the corner of one eye with what looked like very dark wings. Lynn and I are not good with bats or any other type of scary monster-like animal for that matter. Consequently, we quickly exited the room, shut the door and ran upstairs.

The next morning, our contractor showed up and found the bat sleeping by the basement door. He put on a pair of gloves and simply picked up the bat and put him inside a plastic supermarket bag. Once in the bag, he took him outside and released him back into the wild! Since the bat slept through the entire experience, I can only conclude it was a “teenage” bat.

We thought the bat episode was over, until the next night we were watching another DVD and sure enough once again there was something dark flying around in the next room. So, we repeated our previous night’s performance by quickly exiting the room, closing the door and going upstairs. This night however, Lynn also decided he was going to “seal” us in the room – so underneath the doors he wadded up some placemats and a kitchen towel.

photo(175)This didn’t bring me any great amount of comfort and truthfully, I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking I heard and saw something flying around the bedroom. Plus, I was really really hot since the room was probably around 300 degrees since we had put in new windows, insulation and now a new floor! (Okay, it wasn’t really that warm but it felt like it.) Plus, now that I was hot and annoyed, I really had to pee but was afraid to go into the bathroom. Note to self: this is why you’ve never been camping – you hate bugs, creepy crawlies, bats and other things that are generally scary.

Finally it was morning. Our contractor showed up again (in itself always a good thing) and he found the hole in the wall that he thinks the bats were flying through. He grabbed some insulation and filled up the hole. We have not had any bat sightings for about 24 hours now so I’m hoping this method worked.

I was also hoping that similar to Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” our very own “Puck” would emerge from the forest behind the Red House and tell us that the bats were only just a dream! Unfortunately, he did not, they were in fact very, very real!

I will leave you with this thought and image. We started our trip this year in Frankfurt, Germany, a city Lynn and I had never visited. We walked through the old town and came upon a pedestrian bridge called the “Eiserner Steg.” There on the bridge, similar to many bridges we’ve seen in Paris and Florence, were locks that had been affixed not only to the structure but to other locks, too.  As romantic history buffs will know, the padlocks when locked with a key, symbolize a love that can’t be broken especially since the key to that lock is thrown away.

Since I, too, am a hopeless romantic, I spent a lot of time looking at the engravings thinking I would find a couple who had the same initials as we do. Perhaps, instead, I should have been looking for a lock with the initials “RH.” After all, I think our relationship is pretty darn good after 35 years (especially since this is our THIRD house renovation). The Red House still needs a lot of work and love put into it – somehow I know we can do it.

IMG_7535

Posted in Baking, cooking, Family, food, Garlic, kitchen, Mom and Dad, Munich, Pizza, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Start of Summer

It being the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation, I decided to splurge a bit on the provisions I would be bringing up to the house for the weekend. Now, I’ve been hauling food up to the Red House for nearly four years and while sometimes it has been a hassle, ultimately we’ve always enjoyed my purchases.

In the winter months whenever we’re driving up to the house after work, I usually leave all my electronics (camera, laptop) and booze in the car. In the summer however, I’m afraid things will “melt” and thus, drag everything into the office with me. This past Friday, therefore, I carried into my office and back out – a laptop, a camera, two bottles of wine, my briefcase and a purse. I piled everything into the car (or so I thought) and started the long drive. Five hours later as we’re unpacking the car, I realized somewhere along the way I lost the cooler! Which meant we had no dinner, which meant we had this:

IMG_7443Somehow I had left a pound of very expensive Florida shrimp (jumbo-size), hand-sliced smoked salmon, a variety of cheeses, and sausages sitting somewhere in my office. Oh and the pork cutlets Lynn had so lovingly made the night before were in the cooler, too.

Luckily I had packed the brioche rolls and some salads in a separate insulated bag so with the tuna we did have some salad and of course wine.

What annoyed me the most (besides the expense) is that knowing I have no food up at the Red House, the cooler should have been the first bag on my shoulder, but it wasn’t. As I was dwelling on this Friday night (and trying to slice a brioche roll with a very sharp steak knife at the same time), I also managed to cut a very deep gash in my thumb which then bled all over my new tile floor which resulted in this:

IMG_7441At this point there wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to forget that what should have been a pleasant start to summer was turning uglier by the minute. So, I just went to bed.

In the morning I remembered what Lynn had started last weekend. He decided after four years of not being able to find any tool he needed quickly, to simply organize everything on a shelving unit. So now all his stuff looks like this:

IMG_7425 I then opened the door to what will eventually be the master bedroom and remembered he had started taking off all the moulding so the room now looks like this:

IMG_7436While we had really wanted to expedite renovating the bedroom, what became a bigger project was assembling the kitchen cabinets and putting them in place. We ran into a problem with one of the corner cabinets however, in that while it should have technically just slid into place, the corner it was supposed to fit into still had one of the original beams of the house. So, after much planning on how to make this work, Lynn simple cut the cabinet so it would fit around the beam making the cabinet look like this:

IMG_7465I went outside. There I found the beginnings of my tomatoes growing as well as the asparagus I had tried to chop down last weekend.

IMG_7459IMG_7454There were also some really pretty flowers that looked like this:

IMG_7461And the first crop of snow peas when picked looked like this:

IMG_7470(PS I love this shot, it came out really neat!)

Anyway, we’re actually going to be away from the Red House for a couple of weeks but know what we have to deal with when we come back. Electrical issues that look like this:

IMG_7426Radiators that need to be painted since we’re having two new wood floors installed in both guest bedrooms.

IMG_7431And a real good cleaning and organization of all the stuff we’ve had to push from room to room to hallway back to room!

IMG_7432On a final note, we have finally brought up every single kitchen cabinet that we need to finish the kitchen. (Yeah!) So hopefully the car will never look like this again!

IMG_7448And eventually the kitchen will resemble something like this:

IMG_7472Just kidding! But it was the only picture I could find in this mess of a Red House.

Happy Summer!

Posted in cooking, Flowers, food, Gardening, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Upstate We Can’t Escape “Grades”

Last weekend was Memorial Day and we thought it might be a good opportunity to have our furnace looked at since “cleaning and tune ups” are part of our maintenance package. A service technician came, stared at the furnace, fiddled a bit, and said it was just fine. Since I’m not a fan of the scary-monster basement, I quickly walked back up to the first floor of the house. What I didn’t realize with my hasty departure is that I left Lynn stuck with the service technician who immediately upon pronouncing the furnace “fine,” whipped out a laptop so that Lynn could do an online survey and “grade” the visit. WHAT?

Meanwhile, our contractor had installed our very expensive kitchen faucet to then tell us that while it might have been given an “A” in “Design World,” in fact it was a piece of crap and he decided it warranted an “F.”  Apparently, it came with an integrated supply line that was too narrow. (Trust me, I didn’t know what that was either until about 2 weeks ago – it’s the hot and cold supply lines that are permanently attached to the faucet.) Since the lines weren’t the proper size, if we wanted a drink of water, let’s just say it took a really, really long time to fill up an 8 ounce glass. Want to fill a pot with water to make pasta? Forget it, that’s at least a 20 minute task.

So while it looked good…

IMG_7360It needed to be replaced. So we went out and bought a new faucet that was half the price with two separate supply lines that would hopefully give us something that resembled a steady flow of water and not the trickle we were dealing with.

IMG_7366We also managed (I say we but Lynn did all the work) to put up one wall of kitchen cabinets with doors!

IMG_7347And while I had written in my last article about having a dishwasher that was useless because it wasn’t bolted to anything (an “F” in my book), Lynn did manage to screw it into our temporary plywood countertop which meant it was instantly usable and thus quickly became an “A.”

Meanwhile, the bird that had been creeping me out in my last post (she gets a “D” for scary) was really just sitting around waiting for her little birdies to hatch. They now spend a lot of time poking their little heads out of their nest while they wait for another bird to come and give them a worm or two to eat! I desperately tried to get a photograph of this happening in action but the bigger bird start flipping out at me when my camera kept “clicking” (no dumb ass it’s not a gun). Plus, Lynn was yelling at me that the bird was going to attack me! Geez! So this is the only shot I got.

IMG_7349The other Herculean task we managed to accomplish last Memorial Day weekend was some of the planting. Problem was there were so many weeds, it took us nearly 5 hours to dig them up before we could even start to plant! Which means by the time we got ready to plant, I could barely move. (I know that’s an “F” for being out of shape!)

Still this year, I put in at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, acorn squash, basil, carrots, spinach, Romaine lettuce, plus seeds that promise to sprout pumpkins and sunflowers!

IMG_7385I also planted a fair amount of marigolds hoping like last year that they will in fact keep the animals away. It obviously wasn’t going to work instantly though since last weekend we saw an “abbondanza” (as the Italians say) of animals with glimpses of at least 2 bunnies, 3 deer, a chipmunk and a very large snake hiding in the garage.

One of the bunnies immediately went for the carrots and when I tried to “shoo” him out of the garden, he freaked out and started hurling himself against the fence! Really, it was quite a sight to see. Luckily, he did manage to find a big enough hole in the fence to squeeze himself through. We’re hoping he was so traumatized by this experience that perhaps he’ll think of the garden as an evil place? (I’m kidding.)

This weekend we found new connectors (elbows and such) sitting on the floor waiting to be somehow hooked together so we have new PVC that will directly feed into our sewer line. (Yes, it does in fact look like a installation piece at a museum!)

IMG_7395Right now we have an old cast iron pipe that our contractor revealed was actually leaking in several places. This means since we’ve discovered this that when we flush the upstairs toilet, it leaks into a small hallway. (That’s a definite “F.”) So we try to flush as little as possible (when it’s yellow, let it mellow, when it’s brown, flush it down), but sometimes we forget.

Meanwhile, back outside, the meadow and the wildflowers this time of year are simply stunning. (That’s an “A.”)

IMG_7419IMG_7407My only concerns are that while I seem to technically have plenty of strawberries, (green leaves and little white flowers), I have yet to see one berry or even the beginnings of one.

IMG_7424The garlic however, seems about less than half the size that it was last year but perhaps I’m rushing things? When I did, in fact, check my pictures of garlic scapes from summers past, they actually came to maturity in early August.

IMG_7387I’m not going to grade my gardening skills or give a letter grade to what may or may not grow this season. Summer break is nearly upon us and with enough weed pulling, watering and good old sunshine, hopefully everything will bear fruit.

Oh yeah, on the drive home, even the gas station wanted me to do a survey to give them a grade! I “opted out.”

 

Posted in Construction, Flowers, Furnace, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Red House Weekend (And Things That Make Me Crazy)

Spring has arrived at the Red House. The bamboo is coming back to life which I think is the neatest thing to see up here so far North.

IMG_7295I even managed to pick a few thin stalks of asparagus that were growing in the garden, although looking at them in the colander they look like a very paltry crop indeed! (There’s more coming up these were just the ones that were long enough to pick.)

IMG_7287Our first Red House dinner (if you can even call it that) on a Friday night at 11 p.m. was an all-American cheeseburger (sliders to be exact). Since it was late and I was battling a cold and couldn’t really taste anything anyway, it just seemed to be the perfect and quick thing to cook on our new stove.

IMG_7280What I failed to realize when frying was that without cabinets or an exhaust fan, our newly painted white walls were going to be very quickly grease-speckled! Which led Lynn to rig up this fancy contractor bag “back-splash”  temporarily. (We’re not winning any design awards for this one, trust me.)

IMG_7305The other thing I failed to realize when we ordered the dishwasher, that without a countertop to hold the dishwasher in place (along with the brackets you have to attach to the countertop as well), you actually can’t use the dishwasher because it tips forward!

IMG_7308Consequently, while my intentions were good (no more hand washing dishes!), in reality I should have spent the money to get the rest of the cabinets and had a countertop done as well. Which means I have a basically useless appliance sitting around doing nothing which makes me a bit crazy.

The other thing that made me more than a bit crazy this weekend is that the town finally has a 24 hour supermarket. When I lived in Syracuse, New York, in the 1980′s, Price Chopper was the lower-end supermarket where one could indeed buy things for less. Seemingly this is not the same supermarket it once was. Pulling into the newly paved parking lot at 7 p.m. last night eager to see what the store carried, I walked around in disbelief at how expensive everything was. Apples for $3.99 a pound? Fiddlehead ferns for $5.99 a pound? Fancy cheese and not even great-looking meat at upwards of $7 and $15 a pound? It made me wonder who did the market demographics for this supermarket since I can’t imagine the people who live here wanting to spend that much money on food!

This made me realize that while I may have thought my days of lugging a cooler filled with food up here for the weekend were finally over, unfortunately, unless I want to spend a lot of money to buy mediocre stuff, they were absolutely not.

But let’s get back to the kitchen. We bought four of the upper kitchen cabinets first. Since this will be our second Ikea kitchen, Lynn has mastered the art of putting the cabinets together in record time and only occasionally has to look at those stupid little drawings with the fake Swedish names for reference.

IMG_7318

IMG_7320Yes, we still have to figure out how to hang them up on the rails that were provided, put on the doors and buy the hardware, too. We figured if we did the upper cabinets first, we could then put the lower cabinets in (which we haven’t purchased yet.) So until the lower cabinets are in and countertop is on, we’re still going to be washing dishes by hand.

Like the food we’ve been lugging upstate, we also managed to find tile for the master bathroom. Little did I know tile could be so very heavy! Even with a mere six boxes of tile, they felt like 66 boxes of tile! We actually opened the boxes in the car and hand-carried them 3 pieces at a time and laid them out on the floor in the dining room.

IMG_7291Now that the weather has gotten warmer up here, we aren’t too keen on spending time inside the house when it’s just so beautiful outside so we’re torn with finishing the inside projects and working on the garden. While the daffodils have indeed come up, by next weekend I need to start planting my veggies and the garden desperately needs to be weeded, too.

IMG_7299On another note, we have a strange looking bird who has made a nest on one of the old columns that’s still attached to the house. Her nest is right by the kitchen door and I’m not sure what she’s sitting on but she’s been there for the entire weekend, sometimes with her mouth open sometimes with her mouth closed.

IMG_7323At first we thought she had died, frozen in that position because she just looked so strange. But then she started to turn around and at one point she even flew away and came back! I’d like to think that maybe she was like one of the San Juan Capistrano swallows who return mysteriously year after year, but this is the first time we’ve seen her. If, however, she returns next year at the same time, it will in fact be somewhat of a miracle. Kind of like how I’m hoping the Red House will somehow get done (without me going crazy in the process.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Construction, cooking, Flowers, Gardening, kitchen, Meat, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spring…Maybe, Stove…Definitely

I haven’t contributed an article to The Red House Project since September. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s mainly been an overloaded work schedule and not any time to sit down and write. Plus I have to admit since I sit in front of a computer for sometimes 12-14 hours a day, spending another hour or two writing about the Red House is difficult.

We came up to the Red House for spring break week to hopefully speed the renovation process up a bit.  Lynn has finished painting the main guest bedroom and is currently working on the second, smaller one. It was a fairly big job since he had to take off all the moulding in the room, then put it back on when he finished painting. In the process, he also made all new baseboards which I think look very good.

IMG_7227We also managed to get our kitchen (finally!) painted and even have two of the four appliances we need (that would be the dishwasher and the gas stove) delivered this weekend. We still need a new fridge and a microwave, but I’ll have to hold off buying those other two things for now. I’m extremely pleased with the way the kitchen turned out (a lovely bright white) and now just have to think about cabinets and possibly a kitchen “island.”

IMG_7219We’ve also started work on the master bathroom. In the beginning, there was a small room (probably a nursery at one point) next to the master bedroom that I had used as my office. Once we realized that we’d have to walk through a guest bedroom if we needed to use the facilities, we decided the room should really be converted into a master bath if we could find someone who could do that without breaking the bank.  We’ve found that someone and the contractor we’ve hired managed to tear out the walls and floor boards and start all the plumbing necessary to put in a toilet, a shower and a vanity.

IMG_7225I’ve been with Lynn for 35 years and little did I know that he was very, very particular about toilets. We have lived in four different homes together (this being our fifth home), which means four different bathrooms over the course of our many years together! I, however, didn’t realize that he had a thing about cleaning the bottom of the toilet – you know that part where all the dirt and dust collects when it sits on the floor! Which led us to buy the only model available that didn’t have all the plumbing visible on the outside but was tucked nicely inside for a very clean look.

IMG_7235All I can say to this is, it just better work, especially since we had to haul it from the store into the car and from the car into the house including up 3 deck stairs! Who knew a toilet would be so heavy (the box said 90 pounds, to me it felt like 190!)

While the snow has melted on the property and it looks like our landscaper even mowed the back meadow at some point last week, there’s a lot of pruning and clean-up work that has to be done.

IMG_7228The fact is that besides planting the garlic, I don’t remember what else I planted or what survived this brutal winter. I know I have to take the hay off the garlic (put there in the fall to protect the crop) and at least rake up all the rest of the debris (including some old pumpkin vines!) I also looked for some signs of asparagus peeking up through the ground but I saw nothing. Also, even though I thought I planted as many garlic cloves as last year (over 70!), right now it appears that maybe half that number are coming up. What did seem to “spread” were my wild strawberry plants so if we can get to enjoy them before the bunnies and the deer that roam the property, I think they will be a very sweet treat.

Chives that I grow in a big wooden barrel are always abundant, so I snipped a few and threw them into a batch of scrambled eggs with goat cheese one morning.

IMG_7204I did spend most of an afternoon raking and even pulling up weeds when I realized half way through that weed pulling was an enormous waste of time before anything is planted. I did, however, make repeated trips with the wheelbarrow dumping dead “things” to our compost pile and since I haven’t been doing this kind of manual labor since last fall, it reminds me of what a great workout it is! (Meaning I was sweating like a dog.)

IMG_7260Also walking the property I came across tires that had been tossed into the bamboo as well as ramps that were in the forest on a path up to the waterfall.  First, I pulled the tires out from the tangle of bamboo.

IMG_7243Then I picked the ramps (digging them out with a pruner actually). I did have a thought that they might be poison-ramp look-alikes but figured what the hell. So I brought them in the house, washed them off, and plan to eat them for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs.

IMG_7239Besides the ramps, there are other little signs of spring, daffodils that I don’t remember planting in a certain part of the garden have come up and when they do bloom (hope we’re up here to see it), they will be very pretty.

IMG_7249As I was walking the property though and seeing the signs of spring ever-so-slowly emerging, my heart kind of sank at the house itself. While we’ve made every effort this past year to keep the renovation moving (inside at least), the outside looks awful, and the only thing I can say is I feel really bad for my neighbors. We need a new roof, new siding and a new front walkway as well as entrance. I guess I need to apologize that this is what they have to look at day in and day out!

IMG_7261

IMG_7266On a different note, I went into town the other day and low and behold the supermarket is scheduled to open next week! When I inquired at the drugstore as to what day this will actually happen, the cashier told me they would be opening the store on April 21 to anyone who donated $5 to charity (what charity she didn’t know) giving people the option to “walk around” but not shop until the following day. For some reason I thought this was particularly funny; it’s almost as if the supermarket were being granted some sort of museum-like status. What were they thinking? Letting the townsfolk walk around and “oh and ah” at all the shelves stocked with different brands of soup, cereal and bottled water?

Speaking of museums, our handy Proctor Silex burner, the one thing that’s managed to cook our food these last four years, we think is worthy of being its very own installation piece. I’m thinking of taking off the legs and mounting it on one of the walls at the Red House, not only as an objet d’art, but also as a reminder of how very far we’ve come.

IMG_7210In case anyone is curious, this is what the new stove looks like. Yes, it’s gas, and yes, the oven is slightly smaller than the one we have on Long Island. I’m already thinking of what the first meal should be…

IMG_7274

 

Posted in Construction, cooking, Flowers, food, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of Summer…And Finally the Start of a Kitchen!

Unlike last summer where I had over 100 heads of garlic, this crop, because of all the rain (and the flooding in particular), yielded less than 50.  Of those 50, the cloves were very small.  I might have picked them too soon, but I was afraid if I kept them in the ground any longer they would rot and then I’d have nothing. And while most of the literature I’ve read about harvesting garlic insists you can do it with a fork, Lynn actually has to take a crowbar out to the garden to pull them up. Yes, the roots are that deep!

Once unearthed however, the German “reds” were tinged the exact shade of purple they were supposed to be. I’ve saved some cloves to plant in October but I think I’ll also have to pick up some more hearty varietals from a roadside farm market, too.

IMG_6813What’s left in the garden are tons of zucchini blossoms but only a few very large zucchini.

IMG_6984I picked the zucchini but also in error picked what I thought might be acorn squash which my newest contractor told me was pumpkin.

IMG_6959I contemplated putting the pumpkin back in the garden for the bunny to chew on but decided instead to take it back to Long Island to see if even after it’s picked it turns orange or simply rots. (My guess it will be the latter.)

The more exciting news to the end of the summer is that finally, my kitchen is underway. The walls have been stripped down to the studs, new framing has been put in, with insulation and new sheetrock to follow.

IMG_6927I also suddenly have electrical outlets.

IMG_6951And an indication where the fridge and dishwasher will go.

IMG_6948Unfortunately, while Lynn and I have been putting off thinking what type of floor to put in the kitchen, we suddenly had to make a very quick decision this weekend and pick out some tile.  Now, we had picked up tile samples of things we liked over the course of the summer and decided on a simple brown, but when we went back to the store to buy it, they had discontinued the exact shade of brown we had agreed upon. Which is how we ended up with this:

IMG_6957Ironically Lynn is the “fussy” one with things related to the way the Red House should look but when push came to shove (as in you need to make a decision now), he was actually kind of cool about the choice.

There’s still much plumbing to be done not to mention the painting we ourselves have to do, but at least it’s a start in the right direction.

I’m already thinking of next summer…when hopefully all the painting will be done and the appliances bought and installed.

Meanwhile, because of the crazy weather this summer, my bamboo, flowering madly on the property, seems to be confused. Normally this time of year it’s actually turning brown not lush like this.

IMG_6993Wouldn’t it be lovely if summer could start all over again? On second thought, no. I must admit though, we learned a lot of “skills” this summer. #1 being how to make sandbags, fill up gaping holes in a basement wall and not panic when you’re standing in 6 inches of water.

When I woke up this morning, our last day of summer at the Red House before we head back to Long Island, we found a sparrow in the house. Apparently we have many holes in the recently demo’d kitchen that need to be plugged since it appears that’s how the bird got inside. We opened all the windows in the living room and it managed to fly outside.

For those readers who remember my garlic story that I wrote this time last year in relationship to our daughter Rachel, you might be pleased to know that she is going to school in Florida next week. She had completed a trimester last spring and is now heading back to hopefully a productive and successful year. Like the sparrow, she’s managed to escape and for that Lynn and I are very very happy.

We didn’t work on the Red House all summer. We managed to take some time off to do a few things we really wanted to do: a short trip to Montreal, a couple of trips to our favorite lake, and lunch at a new winery. It’s the little stuff that makes me happy, really. Oh yeah, and the thought of next summer and a finished kitchen.

IMG_6877

Posted in Construction, cooking, food, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning How To Make Sandbags

I didn’t plan on spending this past week up at the Red House learning how to make sandbags, but I did. My TOP TEN list of things I could have done this week included:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Making ice cream with my new ice cream maker.
  3. Sleeping some more.
  4. Having a pitcher of Mojitos.
  5. Grilling outside rather than trying to “cook” inside.
  6. Sleeping.
  7. Going to a lake (any lake).
  8. Going to a winery (any winery).
  9. Sleeping some more.
  10. Weeding the garden.

This, however is what I did instead.  I spent a lot of time in a cold smelly basement trying to figure out with Lynn where exactly all the water was seeping in from.

IMG_6638

See the weekend after we got our hot water back, we had a serious rain storm.  So severe in fact, that the water started pouring in from the walls like one of those crazy fountains you sometimes see in Italy (but minus the cute little angels or quirky gargoyles). The water simply shot forth from every nook and cranny, small fracture in the cement or hole in the foundation that wasn’t visible to even corrected eyesight.

Then there was the floor.  We saw water leaking not only from the walls but pouring in from the floor, too. We knew we were in big big trouble. As it kept raining, the water kept pouring in; I put on a pair of boots and grabbed a couple of buckets. Lynn grabbed a broom, and we tried to capture the water – first with the buckets, then with the broom pushing the water into the sump pump.  This took us nearly 2.5 hours when finally it stopped raining and the water stopped coming in.

The next morning we got up early (the day we were supposed to tackle #7 on my list (that would be going to a lake, any lake) and instead went to the big box hardware store to try and buy cement or something that we could use to shore up not only the walls but the foundation, too.  Problem was that the big box store RAN OUT OF ANYTHING that you could use to do such a task because apparently everyone else in the county I’m currently residing in had the same exact problem.

We got in the car and kept driving until we found a mom and pop store that had the last two buckets of “leak stopper” cement and a couple of brushes.  Oh yeah, we bought extra brushes, masks and a really big container of stuff you wipe on the walls after you’ve patched all the visible holes.

We also wanted to buy some work lights since we had none (which the big box store had) and sand bags (which they didn’t have.)  So, I ended up ordering the sandbags online and had them sent Fedex, then picked up some play sand that the big box store had in stock.

IMG_6669

Meanwhile, it hadn’t rained in nearly 24 hours so we decided to try and do some patching. Let’s just say it was an experience, and when we were finished nearly 12 hours later, I SIMPLY TOOK OFF MY CLOTHES IN THE LIVING ROOM AND THREW THEM AWAY. This is what the basement (patched and supposedly waterproofed) then looked like.

IMG_6651

Problem was the floor was still wet and actually with the mess we made trying to stop up all the holes and waterproof the walls, there was more paint on the floor than on the walls. This proved to be a good thing.  Why? Because suddenly we had a little river of paint that was running where it always collected (under the staircase) and hence, we were able to detect a few leaks in the corners that we had missed.

IMG_6652

Even though the smell of all this surely cancer-causing stuff was making me sick, I was actually thinking about food.  What I had wanted to make (peas from the garden with gnocchi) was not to be because this little guy ate all my peas!

IMG_6648

I still, however, had all the scapes I had cut from the garlic a few days prior, and decided to make a scape pesto.

IMG_6555

Now, while the scape pesto looked gorgeous, when I tasted it, it was vile.  I mean, really garlicky and bitter.  I did something I never ever do.  I actually threw the entire batch out.  Yet, now that I’m looking at the consistency, kind of like the cement we had been using to patch the basement, I wondered if perhaps it could have been used for that instead!

I did, however, leave just a tiny smidgen of scape pesto on the food processor blade (to give it a slight garlic flavor), went out to the garden to pick some fresh basil, and made “real” pesto that I then tossed with some linguine instead.

IMG_6565

And then I went to sleep! (At least I’m doing some of the things I wanted to do on my list!)

The next morning it was around 120 degrees, okay it was really 86 degrees, but the humidity was right up there and I was thinking if I had to do a still-life of what my summer should look like it would resemble this:

IMG_6590

I wanted a pitcher of Mojitos, buffalo chicken wings, and crunchy celery sticks with blue cheese. And geez, yes, I was able to make all of these good things although I did substitute blue cheese for Roquefort since that’s what was on sale at the supermarket.

I also wanted ice cream.  Meaning I wanted to make my own.  See, we have a really great Goodwill store in the town next to ours (that’s the town with the only supermarket, too!) and the last time I was there I picked up not just an “ice cream maker” but a La Glaciere for a mere $4.50!

IMG_6595

Yes, I did read the article that was floating around recently about how much the CEO of Goodwill makes (millions) versus how much he pays his disabled workers (22 cents an hour) but the fact is if I didn’t buy the La Glaciere someone else would have beaten me to it. So I did and I brought it home and washed it out and realized I had nothing to make ice cream with (ingredient-wise) but I did have store-bought vanilla ice cream, walnuts and a jar of hot fudge (hidden between the rum and the hot wing sauce in the picture.)

But first we had to make the sandbags. Now, if you’ll remember I paid extra to have them sent Fedex, so they would arrive in two days.  And while they did arrive in two days, in our town you have to go down to the post office to pick up any Fedex packages!  I didn’t ask why this was, I was just glad the post office was actually open, and that I was able to get my box of sandbags and take them home.  Once home we attempted to cut the bags of play sand open and dump them into the white bags.  Now play sand is for kids, right?  What would possess any manufacturer to put that much sand in a bag (50 lbs) so that mom or dad could easily break their backs trying to transform an old plastic tub or baby swimming pool into a sandlot for junior?  Really, I never knew these bags would be so frigging heavy!

Anyway, we managed to not spill half as much sand on the driveway as I thought we would, but poor Lynn, he’s a really strong guy but was just struggling with the weight of this sand.  We eventually filled all the bags and then had to carry them down into the basement.

IMG_6679

Lynn managed to carry two at a time, I was struggling carrying one. We laid them flat, like sausages, trying to make a barrier in front of the furnace, hoping that if we get 3-4 inches or more of water in the basement again, at least the furnace will be protected.  I don’t know if this will work out not, but at this point I was running out of ideas and it was the only thing I could think of.

IMG_6684

So back to the list.

#1,3,6,9 – We did sleep a lot. (Fitfully however, because of the day and night noise of all the county trucks going past our house carrying large loads of rocks that they were dumping in the creek north of us to try and stop the flow of water onto people’s properties.)

#4 – We did have a pitcher of Mojitos (and a couple of pitchers of vodka martinis (no vermouth!) too.

#5 – We did grill (mostly steak and the occasional hamburger).

# 7 – We did get to a lake (twice).

#10 – We did attempt to weed the garden but said screw it, there are too many weeds and it’s just too damn hot.

So, while I didn’t get to try out my new ice cream maker, I did learn how to make sandbags. And yes, gussied up store-bought ice cream with fresh strawberries, hot fudge sauce and walnuts was the perfect sweet ending to yet another Red House “adventure.”

IMG_6663

Posted in Basement, Dessert, Flooding, Furnace, Garlic, Meat, Renovation, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Definitely Not A Pioneer Woman

This past 4th of July tested me. First, with all the flooding that hit Central New York State in the past week, we weren’t sure what we would find when we got up to the Red House.  Thing is the Red House basement floods when it rains. With an avalanche of water pouring down from West Canada Creek then meeting up with both the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River we couldn’t even imagine what the damage might be.

So when we arrived late on July 3rd, everything appeared to be okay (granted it was dark). We had power so I was able to warm up a roast chicken with some potatoes I brought with me and then made a simple salad with cubes of  feta cheese. After dinner however I realized there was no hot water to wash the dishes. We went down to the basement and there was a puddle of water where it always is. The furnace appeared to be on but when I tried to turn up the thermostat to make sure the heat was working the radiators did not heat up.  Which meant we had no heat or hot water and if I wanted to wash some dishes I would have to boil water.  Taking a frigid shower wasn’t my idea of the perfect way to start off a holiday week but I managed.

In the morning I got on the phone with National Grid who didn’t want to tell me that they themselves might have cut the gas until the flooding in the area subsided. They weren’t going to turn it back on they informed me unless we hired a plumber who certified the inspection in writing that our equipment (furnace and hot water heater) was A-OK.

Problem was it was the 4th of July and we knew no plumber was coming to the Red House to do us that kind of favor.  So we got in the car and just went to the lake instead.  First however, we drove through the county and looked at the havoc this storm left.

IMG_6414

IMG_6425

The debris lying on the street, from 1st floors and flooded basements I presumed, reminded me of the last storm we endured, Sandy.  Except while Sandy left sand, this storm left mud.

IMG_6423

Our community field was pretty much ruined also, although the pool seemed to be okay.

IMG_6467

We were also not prepared for the turbulence of the Erie Canal.  Here are a couple of shots of what is normally a very calm body of water.

IMG_6448

IMG_6437

That said, all this water wrecked havoc on my garden.  There were weeds everywhere and the ground was saturated.  What made matters even worse was the fact that we had the sprinkler on a timer the last two weeks we hadn’t been at the house so besides the abundant rain fall, the garden was getting soaked by the sprinkler, too!  So while the lettuce seemed to thrive under these conditions, the tomatoes definitely did not.

IMG_6491

IMG_6508

The peas that had been so prolific last year appeared to be chewed off exactly where the pod should have been.  Since I saw at least two if not three rabbits hopping away from the fence (guess the fence didn’t work), I can only assume they had themselves quite a feast.

IMG_6504

I did, however, learn my lesson from last year and cut off the scapes from the garlic.  I think I might have been about 2 weeks too late, but I cut them anyway and plan to make a garlic scape pesto from them.

IMG_6485

IMG_6514

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about how much of my day up at the Red House goes into preparing food.  Now with no hot water to bathe or wash the dishes, I’ve resorted to boiling the water in pots, actually, a pot (singular) is more accurate since I still only have the one electric burner and a small pot to make pasta in.  I found myself the day after the fourth of July spending an enormous amount of time prepping (I wanted  to make cole slaw), and cooking (followed by pulled pork sandwiches).

This summer I decided I couldn’t live without a food processor. Now, during the late 1850′s,  I realized the women living in the house before me had neither running water (hot or cold) and if they wanted something resembling cole slaw, they were chopping all the ingredients by hand.  Truthfully, if I had to choose between a hot shower and a food processor, my food processor would win hands down.

IMG_6528

But of course even the set-up wasn’t that simple. I had to put the food processor on a coffee table in the living room in order to plug it in, then walk through three other rooms to get to the kitchen sink to wash it out with cold water from the tap with a bit of hot water I had boiled in a pan.  I will admit I was already exhausted from the amount of time and steps it took to make and clean up this simple side dish! The only thing that didn’t make me totally lose my mind was that since it was roughly 87 degrees both inside and outside the house at least I wasn’t in a long skirt and a petticoat!

Meanwhile, back upstairs, Lynn was relying on the help of a 20th century tool, (a drywall lift) to help him get the sheetrock in place for one of the bedroom ceilings.

IMG_6521

Luckily, he managed to do this project without my help which gave me time to keep boiling pots of water to do all the pans and dishes. (I did at one point consider paper plates but I just hate the way food tastes on paper….)

We have been eating much of the lettuce that’s been growing in the garden — one salad comprised of Greek feta, cucumbers and grape tomatoes, the other simple lettuce leaves with big chunks of Roquefort cheese.

IMG_6477

Since we still have NO SUPERMARKET IN TOWN, I’m happy to bring up the cheese and even happier that I have lettuce growing in my garden.  Looking at how little they’ve accomplished on the site of where the supermarket should be, it’s difficult to even guess when a supermarket will be built and open for business.

IMG_6456

So right now I’m waiting for the plumber who hopefully will tell us the hot water heater and furnace is OK and then I can place a phone call to National Grid to get them to turn the gas back on.

The reality is that every time it rains up at the Red House, we have water seeping into the basement. Luckily we do have a sump pump but it doesn’t seem to handle the amount of water pouring in.  There could be a leak in the foundation or there could be water seeping in from someplace we can’t see or get to.

Lynn and I never minded the rain in our many years together and often would find ourselves forging ahead (especially when we were traveling) to see everything we wanted to see — bad weather or not.  Let’s hope our storm-related problems at the Red House end on a happy note, too.

IMG_6540

P.S. The rainbow after yesterday’s storm is faint but visible in the upper right hand corner of the shot.  A fitting tribute since the plumber just left. He simply lit the pilot lights in both the furnace and the hot water heater. He figured there had been about 4 inches or more of water in the basement but both very expensive pieces of equipment were just fine.  No call to National Grid would be required….

Posted in Cheese, cooking, food, Furnace, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Weekend: Weeds, BBQ, Fiddlehead Ferns And A Single Director’s Chair Left

As I’m writing this entry, it seems that not only was May dreary and wet but June is shaping up to be too. The weather was so bad when we drove up to the Red House for a long Memorial Day weekend that it took us nearly 1.5 hours longer than usual because the Saw Mill Parkway flooded and they closed the road.  Now, I don’t particularly mind detours provided there is adequate signage telling you how to get back on the road.  In Westchester though they apparently have their own rules since we drove around in circles near Ardsley for nearly an hour until we finally found our way back towards Tarrytown and over the bridge.

When we arrived at the Red House, the rain stopped long enough for us to bring everything inside without getting soaking wet.  Our other activity that evening, unfortunately, before we could have a cocktail or even think about eating was to haul all the trash we had collected two weeks ago plus all of the recyclables (mostly beer and wine bottles!) we had collected from LAST summer to the curb.  Thing is at the Red House we have trash pick-up once a week — on Friday’s.  Since we usually arrive Friday night, we always miss trash pick-up and have to always take the garbage home.

Since most of the trash we had bagged consisted of debris from the house, many of the bags were simply too heavy to lift (for me at least), let alone carry down the very, very long driveway to the curb. That’s when Lynn and I decided we would put a big blue tarp in the back of the car, hoist the bags onto the tarp, and DRIVE down the driveway. It worked. However, spying on the garbage guys the next morning, they seemed a little perplexed by both the appearance of trash in front of a house that looked abandoned, coupled with the sheer weight of what we were ditching.

It rained all day Friday and Saturday, and part of  Sunday.  While this was supposed to be our planting weekend in addition to our finally sheet-rocking the upstairs bedrooms, the most I could do via planting was to layout all the little packets I wanted to put in the ground.

IMG_6303

Now the only reason I even contemplated planting all these goodies from “scratch” or seed actually (which I had never done on Long Island) is because everything I planted last year from these same little packets grew!  I may have gone a bit overboard by the number of packets I purchased, but I figured what the hell, let me at least try.  But I’m not an idiot, I did have a back-up plan in case nothing grew and bought lettuce, two different kinds of tomato plants, basil, and marigolds (to keep the deer away), too.

IMG_6319

The other good news about the property is we finally found someone to mow all four acres.  Our landscaper actually showed up to mow on Memorial Day and with two really big ride-own mowers and a helper, he did THE ENTIRE PROPERTY IN TWELVE MINUTES.  I felt so bad that Lynn used to spend hours, entire weekends actually, trying to mow the meadow on the Troy-Bilt.

IMG_6328

One good thing about a rainy weekend (even a long holiday-one) is that you are forced to tackle projects you’ve been putting off.  This enabled us to start sheet-rocking one of the upstairs bedrooms.

IMG_6347

We, however, got off to a bad start.  It seems we had forgotten how difficult it is to rock a ceiling. So even with me standing on a chair and Lynn standing on another chair, holding up a piece of rock by myself with Lynn trying to secure it to the ceiling with a power tool wasn’t working. Apparently, I was a lot stronger three years ago than I am now… But then we remembered the last time we rocked the living room ceiling, we had rented one of those sheet-rock “helpers.”

Product Details

It’s basically a drywall lift that puts the piece exactly where you need it to be without killing yourself trying to do so. So we bagged the ceiling idea until we could rent one and Lynn focused on doing the walls instead.

Meanwhile the amount of weeds that were growing in the garden and around the house needed to be dealt with.  So despite the pouring rain, I went outside and pulled as many weeds as I could thinking at least once the rain stopped we would be able to till the soil and plant anew.

IMG_6340

IMG_6344

I hadn’t forgotten, however, in doing this project that Lynn, always the perfectionist, wanted to do the ENTIRE garden over again.  That meant before I could plant (provided of course, I got all the weeding done and it stopped raining), he wanted to put down new sheets of weed-blocker, plywood dividers, and bags and bags of small marble chips.

IMG_6369

While he was doing this part, I decided I wanted to try and make pulled pork sandwiches that we could eat if we ever got back later that night to Long Island. I found a pork shoulder that was small enough to fit in the toaster oven, cooked it for about 5 hours at 275 degrees, and voila, it did turn out to be quite tasty!

IMG_6401

I also picked some more asparagus from the garden that I discovered hiding underneath all the weeds! I can’t tell you how tickled I am to snip asparagus from my own garden. Lynn is tickled that they look like the “real” thing; I’m assuming he means the supermarket variety.

IMG_6402

I also decided to take some photographs of the property.  I still love the color and look of the “barn” aka garage door, and hope even if we have to rebuild it someday that we can at least duplicate its rustic look.

IMG_6384

My other culinary find this weekend was to see huge bags of fiddlehead ferns at the local farmer’s market.  I have to admit the first time I ate fiddlehead ferns was in Cape May, New Jersey, of all places. Since their season is so short and they have such a unique texture and earthiness, to me they’ve become that much more exotic (and thus a must for my table!)

IMG_6358

Of course the weather finally cleared up just as we were about to leave the Red House. We had hoped to set up the deck furniture and have a meal or at least a glass of wine outside during our time there but it wasn’t to be. I thought about other Memorial days we had spent together, one in particular when we were living in a $375 a month rent-stabilized apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Since combined we made little more than that each month and thus had no extra cash for anything, we would often find ourselves many hot summer evenings on “tar beach,” aka the roof on the top of the apartment building. If we were “tanning,” we’d lie on a towel, if we were trying to be civilized, we actually sat on a couple of director chairs that we had bought at Conran’s back in the 80′s.

Originally the chairs had black canvas seats and backs but somewhere along the line I must have replaced them with what looks to be now like a light blue. There was one chair left and our son Nicholas wanted it for his up-and-coming photography and video studio. I took a picture of it before I sent it off to him. Who knows, maybe one day he’ll do a photo shoot at the Red House and bring it back…It’s got a lot of history you know.

IMG_6392

Posted in Flowers, food, Furniture, Gardening, Meat, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Church Pew Vision and Curry Colored Scrambled Eggs

Spring at the Red House means we are are dealing with a very large tree that toppled over during the winter and we’re not quite sure how to get rid of it since we have two (yes, two!) chainsaws that don’t work. I guess eventually we’ll find someone to remove it or buy a chainsaw that does work. (Hint: I won’t volunteer to be the first one to use the chainsaw, I like ALL my fingers thank you very much.)

Our bamboo though is growing back slowly and everything we planted in the fall seems to be making a very cautious beginning.

IMG_6225

We have a few pieces of asparagus sticking up through the soil in the garden and I managed to snip off four stalks to eat.

IMG_6235 Our strawberry patch will be awesome if everyone of those little white flowers I saw turns into a berry. The garlic, too, is slowly shooting up but even though I thought I planted enough garlic (75 cloves!), I don’t think I did and I may actually need to plant another batch. Oh yeah, we have a few daffodils and tulips, too.

IMG_6228

We were going to concentrate on the garden this weekend, planting everything we want to grow over the summer. The garden desperately needed to be weeded plus we wanted to buy more rocks and lumber to better define the space. Since the weather was absolutely perfect (high 70′s who would have thought) there should have been no excuse not to do it. However, I got side tracked when I saw an ad on craigslist for church pews. Real ones. In the exact color I wanted.  For $50 each.

The plan is to eventually have a “Stube” in one corner of the kitchen. Basically for those unfamiliar with the German word, a “Stube” is simply a room, in this case one where I would like to have breakfast and maybe even lunch. I’m thinking in one corner of the kitchen is where I would like the “Stube” to be.

IMG_3414

We still have to figure out what kind of table we want in the room but church pews as benches were exactly what we had in mind.  Problem was, even from the Red House, the pews were in a church over 3 hours away.

But first we had breakfast. The day before we found the first farmer’s market of the season setting up in town where we bought farm fresh eggs and ramps  Now if you’re not familiar with ramps they look like a scallion with a leaf on top.  Really! For 3 bucks this is what we got.

IMG_6209

They have a slight garlic taste and if you saute the leaves, the possibilities of whipping up a really good stir fry are endless. I ended up throwing them into a batch of scrambled eggs (along with some pancetta, too) which resulted in eggs that were so yellow Lynn actually thought I had put curry in them!

IMG_6220

After breakfast, we got in the car and headed north. It was a gorgeous, sunny blue sky kind of day but unfortunately there was no place to stop for lunch and I hadn’t thought to pack anything except a couple of bottles of water. We ended up having to make a pit-stop at a Mickey D’s, and about 3.5 hours after we left the Red House, (and only about 20 miles from the Canadian border), we arrived at the church.

IMG_6272

Now even though we had been given the EXACT specifications of the width, length and height of the “short” pews over the phone and had even measured the trunk of our station wagon, we decided that one pew would definitely fit, but two might not.

Inside the church we met Pastor Rusty and his lovely daughter Olivia. They not only helped us carry out the pews to our car, but they also lent us tools to remove the racks that were attached to each pew back. (Did I not remind Lynn to at least put a screwdriver in the car because I figured we would need something? Yes, I did, but he didn’t remember.) Luckily, Rusty and Olivia were there to help us position the pews in the back of our car just right so that both pews did in fact fit!

And then we simply drove back! On the same road that took us there.  Round trip we drove over 300 miles that day to get them and yes, it was still that warm even at 7 o’clock at night.

IMG_6281

When we got back to the Red House, we lifted the pews out of the car and stored them (temporarily) in the tv room next to our dining room table (still in the box) and the real Charles Eames chairs we’ve had for at least 20 years but have never used. (Because you have to wear padded underwear to sit on them, yeah, they are that uncomfortable.)

IMG_6295

Even though it was time to think about dinner, I couldn’t help but wonder who would grab the rest of the pews we had seen in the church that day.  Whose houses or restaurants or perhaps even other places of worship would they end up in?

IMG_6265

But let’s get back to dinner. We were out of propane so grilling wasn’t an option, I did have a couple of filet mignons in the fridge and since it was Cinco de Mayo, I thought why not slice up the steaks and stuff them in a flour tortilla!  Of course as I was trying to broil the steaks in the toaster oven (which didn’t work they just turned an icky grey color), I kept staring at the gas line we had installed three weeks ago wishing that 1) the kitchen was finished and 2) the kitchen had at least a stove that could have sizzled up these babies in no time.

IMG_6194

I finished the steaks in a frying pan on the burner; we sliced them up, they were edible. I also made a salad I’ve been making frequently these days (courtesy of Jamie Oliver) by combining roasted carrots, lots of fresh parsley and slices of avocado and red onion topped with a zesty lemon dressing and cubes of Havarti cheese. Ok, so it’s not particularly low cal but it’s really really awesome!

IMG_6163

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot done that weekend because of our little church pew excursion. Lynn did however manage to paint the door going down to the basement. I loved the way he covered the “port hole” windows in the door by putting paper plates on them! Really, I think this is such a funny look, I might actually insist the door stays that way.

IMG_6172

And while we did manage to BUY ALL THE DOOR KNOBS WE NEED FOR EVERY SINGLE DOOR IN THE HOUSE, they, alas, are still sitting in a big pile as you walk into the house.

IMG_6170

For those of you who don’t know what farm fresh eggs look like- they look like this – some are brown, some are beige and some are even tinged a bit green! Oh, yeah, they come in all different sizes, too – just like people. And that’s as philosophical as I’m going to get…today…

IMG_6204

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, cooking, Eggs, Flowers, Furniture, Gardening, Garlic, Grilling, kitchen, Meat, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment