Monday, March 21, 2011

We're Stumped

It's been looming over us. More accurately, it's been looming over our house. Since the day we moved in. Well, it's bothered us since the day we moved in but it's probably been there for at least 40 years. It is our approximately 70-foot locust tree. And Keith decided it was time for it to go.

All the wires to our house were in the midst of its branches. Keith was having nightmares about it falling on our roof and crushing us in our bed in the middle of the night. The neighbor was griping about all the pollen it drops in the spring and the dirty little leaves that come down in the fall. It had to go. But not without a hug first.

I officially join the ranks of tree huggers
Keith called a tree service that was recommended by both the neighbor and a friend and hired him to cut down the tree and grind the stump and roots. He was instructed to mark out the roots he wanted ground down in the yard with spray paint.

To save some cash and fill our fire pit, Keith asked that the wood be left so he could chop it up for firewood. I think he grossly underestimated the amount of wood left by a 70-foot tree.

That's the pile after about 2 hours of splitting the smaller pieces. The pile now reaches the windows of the garage, and there is a small stack in the garage. Still a long way to go but with the help of our friend's chain saw (thanks, Jamie!), Keith made a lot of progress yesterday. We'll be sharing some with Jamie and with the neighbor because we really can't use it all.

Keith's tip of the day: If you sit around all winter, your first outdoor project probably shouldn't be turning an entire tree into kindling. And if you have to do it, stretch first.

My tip of the day: Be pregnant. No one can hassle you about only moving one small piece of wood at a time to the pile or saying the wheelbarrow is too heavy.

As soon as all the wood is out of the way, the man from the tree service will be back to take care of the stump and roots.

And we will be sitting around our fire pit all summer long. Probably for the next decade if we actually want to get this all this wood used up.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Doughnut Make My Brown Eyes Blue

Yesterday morning was some errand running, all within town. Dollar store, our little soap boutique for more hand soap, the flower and gift shop for a lawn ornament, and the highlight of our weekend (drumroll please): the new doughnut shop in town! The Frying Dutchman just opened this week, much to our delight, and is fantastic. They sell freshly made cake doughnuts individually, by the half dozen, or by the dozen. They have a menu of sorts with suggested topping combinations, or you can make up your own, and they put the toppings on while you wait. Being fresh on the doughnut bar scene, we took home a six-pack of their suggestions. Oh, and it's mix and match so every one of our doughnuts was different.

We thought we would be getting an eye roll from the girl doing the toppings but she was actually really excited to have such a variety. We came home and made a pot of coffee and pretty much had doughnuts for lunch.

Just in case your mouth isn't watering yet, here's a few more shots of our doughnuts.

Sadly, the photos are all we have left now, but if you come to visit us, we will take you to The Frying Dutchman. If we come to see you, there is a strongly possibility The Frying Dutchman will come along too.

Side note: the owner told us they are considering starting a happy hour, with a doughnut or cookie and coffee special in the afternoons. Bert and I just may be regulars.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You May Cut or You May Twirl

We spent the weekend in the 'burg of B at my parents' house and were treated to some of my mom's homemade spaghetti. And I do mean homemade. The recipe is pretty simple but the cool part is watching her run the dough through her pasta machine, which once belonged to her grandfather, who came here from Italy as a little boy.

My heritage Italiano

Egg Pasta (Better Homes and Gardens, June 1989, adapted)
Makes about 1 pound uncooked pasta

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon dried dill weed, basil, or marjoram (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon olive or cooking oil

Make well with dry ingredients. Stir in eggs, water, and oil with fork. Knead until dough holds together, let rest, knead a bit more. Divide into thirds or fourths. Roll out dough on floured surface, let stand until surface dries slightly. Flour dough in between passes of machine so it doesn't get sticky. Pass through machine until smooth, gradually changing to thinner setting. Once smooth and to desired thickness, run through the cutting wheels. Lay out to dry a bit before cooking.

To cook: Bring 3 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil. Add the pasta, a little at a time, so the water does not stop boiling. Reduce the heat and continue boiling gently, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain well in colander, shaking to remove excess water.

As if that weren't enough, she also made breadsticks.

Yankee Bread (Lancaster Farming)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup milk, warmed

Mix together dry ingredients. Add honey and milk. Knead five times. Turn out on floured board and roll one-half inch thick. Cut into 1-inch wide strips.

Melt 1/3 cup butter in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Roll strips of butter to coat and lay in pan. Let rise one to four hours for best results. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake at 375 degrees for about 16 to 18 minutes.

All that was topped off with some homemade meatballs and pasta sauce (from a jar! gasp!). Dinner looked like this:


It really doesn't get any better than that. Except for my dad's funny spaghetti story. Spaghetti was not a staple in his house growing up (no Italians there) so one of the first times he had it was at a friend's house. He proceeded to scoop up some noodles on his fork and suck them in when he was scolded by his friend's mother: "You may cut or you may twirl, but we do not slurp in this house." He still cuts to this day. 

Do you cut, twirl, or slurp?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


If you've seen our bathroom, you know that we were unwilling contestants in the World's Most Garish Bathroom competition. We've recently been inspired by a lot of HGTV and Holmes on Homes, as well as younghouselove, and decided to do a mini-makeover of our one and only bathroom.

This is what we started with:

You could say it had some vintage charm. We just called it ugly.

Our plan started off as just paint the bathroom. So after removing the wallpaper, washing the walls, and receiving a warning that I might flip my lid while the bathroom was in shambles, Keith did that. We chose Cork in a satin finish. Vast improvement, no lids flipped. Except the one on the paint can. It took two coats of primer, two coats of paint, and a little help from Mocha.

That was going to be the finish line, but we decided to go just a little further. We didn't want to shell out the money on new towels bars and such, but really hated to put up the silver ones we had. So, we decided to spray paint them with a copper-finish spray paint. And then we thought, why not paint the vanity cabinet a dark brown? We knew it wouldn't quite look like wood, but it really couldn't get any worse than it was. Off to Lowe's for spray paint and a quart of paint for the cabinet (we went with Molasses). And while we were there, we decided we couldn't face putting the hideous over-the-toilet monstrosity back in but we wanted the storage space, so we bought a nice new one of those too. And a light fixture. Because the old one fit the old theme (which was "ugly") and I was in an open-wallet mood. Keith has learned to recognize and exploit these rare episodes.

He even remembered to paint the screws!

The last detail was buying a few new knobs for the over-the-toilet cabinet and the medicine cabinet so they tied in as well. Here's the finished product:

Mocha decided Frogger is the appropriate accessory
for the bathroom. He does match the tile!

We still have the crazy tile but it isn't nearly as offensive when everything else gets mellowed out. We're on the look-out for some kind of valance or curtain (maybe with a little pink and blue to tie the tile in), a wastebasket that didn't come from the dollar store, and a rug or mat to cover the area between the toilet and the sink (read as: cover as much tile as possible). No rush to find those though. We think we've come a long way for less than $200 (most of which was the new cabinet). Totally worth being dq'ed in the World's Most Garish Bathroom competition.

Last note: we did save a piece of each wallpaper, not just from the bathroom but also the dining room and kitchen when we tore that off, and are trying to come up with a fun and tasteful way to display a little bit of our house's previous "charm".
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