Thursday, August 29, 2013

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...

He loves me.

I know for sure because he spent his entire Sunday sanding down the wainscoting in the laundry room in preparation for painting it.

And he got this filthy.

Not that I ever doubted it.

He says to be absolutely sure about the paint color I pick, because he is never doing this again. And maybe I waffle on paint colors, but I know I picked right with him.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Nuke It

Keith and I are a couple of snackers, especially in the evening after a certain little mooch goes to bed and we take up residence on the couch. I'm often looking for something sweet, and Keith usually tends towards salty and crunchy.

Though I've been eating a lot of ice cream this summer (it is on the doctor's list for good sources of calcium, so doctor's orders!), one of the cool evenings recently I was in the mood for something more along the lines of cake. But since we generally don't have cake sitting around waiting for my cravings, I thought I was out of luck. I got to thinking about how a couple years ago, I noticed those microwavable single-serving cakes in the grocery store, probably a Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines product. Somebody had to have figured out how to make them at home, right? After a little searching online, I found a simple recipe for microwave cake in a mug. Five minutes later, I was satisfying that cake craving.

Microwave Chocolate Cake in a Mug

4 Tbsp. white flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. chocolate chips (optional)
Small splash of vanilla

Put dry ingredients in a large mug and mix well.

Add egg and mix.

Add milk and oil and mix well. Then add chocolate chips and vanilla, mixing for a final time.

Microwave for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. It looks like it is going to overflow the mug, but it just kind of rises straight out and sinks back down when done.

And there you have it, cake in a mug. The chocolate chips sink to the bottom and stay very warm so be careful! Also, the mug is pretty hot, so grab a pot holder or something to hold onto it. It's big enough to share, especially if you are topping it with ice cream. I shared mine with the baby.

As for Keith and his snacking, he has been into popcorn lately. I had been buying the store brand of light microwavable popcorn, at a little under $2 for three bags. Not expensive per se, but since he was eating a bag almost every night, it was adding up. Then someone (was it you, Mom-mom?) told us about microwaving popcorn in a brown paper lunch bag. So simple, and much cheaper. For about the same price as three bags of popcorn, we bought a bag of loose popcorn kernels that makes about 24 servings. Here's the run down:

Place approximately 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag.

Add a bit of salt.

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Fold the top of the bag over and staple shut. (Isn't that tiny stapler handy? Found it among some stuff in my office and now it lives in the pantry next to the popcorn just for this purpose.)

Shake to mix. Your bag will get oily so when you put it in the microwave, it doesn't hurt to put a paper towel or paper plate underneath.

Pop for about 2 1/2 minutes, listening for the popping to slow just like you would with a regular bag of popcorn.

Enjoy! Keith likes to sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on his for some added flavor, and you could certainly get creative, trying things like Old Bay seasoning or some herbs or something.

And now you know how exciting life gets here on the quarter-acre on a typical night.

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Step at a Time

After more than a year (maybe even more than two, I'm losing all track of time) of dithering, waffling, and run-of-the-mill indecision, we finally took care of this minor disaster:

Our back steps were cracked and deteriorating, and Bert had a great love of pulling chunks out and putting them back in, like a puzzle.

There were rust problems around the railing.

And they had been held together by a few boards for quite awhile now.

We went back and forth on what to do, from steps constructed out of large rocks, to a small wooden deck and steps, to pre-formed concrete steps, to having concrete poured on site, to pouring concrete ourselves. You see, some champion dithering going on.

The ultimate plan is to cover the patio in flagstone (we were hoping to do it this fall but with Baby 2 arriving in T - 6 weeks, I'm guessing not). So we decided to rule out the deck idea. The large rock plan was the next to go, because we figured it was just a bit too rustic for our Cape Cod-ish house. So that left us with some sort of concrete steps, which we decided we would cover with flagstone to match the patio.

First we called a local pre-form company. The price of the steps alone was about $1100, plus we would have to have demo the existing steps and have footers placed before they would deliver the steps. Next option please.

In the midst of all this, a sidewalk around the corner from us was being replaced. After spending a good part of a morning sitting on the curb across the street with Bert, watching the concrete truck pour the sidewalk and the crew scurry around smoothing and shaping, I suggested to Keith that we get a quote from that company. So we did. And we liked their price for not only pouring new steps, but demoing the old ones, removing the debris, and expanding the small set of steps that go from the patio to the lower part of the sidewalk that runs through our yard.

We got a price on a Friday, and by the following Wednesday the site looked like this:

It took a crew of four men about 3 hours to demo the steps, dig out the area for expanding the lower steps, and place all the forms.

My big job was putting this sign on the back door so I didn't throw my pregnant, forgetful self down into the pit.

On Friday morning at 7:30, much to Bert's delight, the "mixer truck" pulled up. He even had to take his little mixer truck out while he watched.

Within about 40 minutes, they were off to pour at another site, returning a few hours later to put some finishing touches on the steps.

We were able to walk on the steps the next day and couldn't be happier with them. We opted to have holes left to add a railing of our own, though they could have provided one. Note to self: ask Daddy to build railing. In the meantime, those patio chairs are meant to keep Bert from taking a tumble off the side.

Now the lower steps are the same width as the back steps, and we plan to run flagstone across the tops of them as well to make them look a bit more seamless. In an ideal world, we would cover the whole sidewalk with flagstone but that is probably a bit beyond the budget at the present time. Right now, it is just nice to have wide steps to go down, especially when carrying wash to the clothes line or bringing in groceries. It felt like we were walking a tight rope before.

And Bert has a big dirt pile to play in, which he has been dragging his Tonka dump truck and digger to daily. Such a dirt ball.

Seriously, the added benefit of entertainment for Bert made having a professional do this job seem like an even better decision. Bert hung out on his stool at the back window pretty much the whole time they tore out the steps, even while they used the jackhammer. He was enthralled the whole time the truck was here and watching the crew run back and forth with wheelbarrows full of wet concrete and pour them in the forms.  He asked Saturday morning if the men would be back to do their work. Lucky for him, after our neighbor saw what a good job the crew did, he had them replace a section of his sidewalk on Wednesday so Bert had a second round of entertainment.

We are kicking ourselves that we didn't have this done sooner, and are happy with our decision to let a pro do it versus trying to do it ourselves. I can't even imagine the logistics of us doing it, with how long the steps would be torn apart and what we would have done with all the debris and what we would have spent on materials to build a form. Yep, making our only part of the job signing the check was the right call on this one!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

King of the Castle

When we unexpectedly had to replace our garage door opener (more on that later, when Keith writes the post), we discovered the cardboard packaging inside the box made an excellent castle. With a little bit of coloring to add some royal details, some manic scribbling by Bert, and careful cutting of a drawbridge, we were ready to play.

All hail free* toys!

*Free with the purchase of a $120 garage door opener. Ugh.

Monday, August 19, 2013

When Bert is Really Bored

Keith and I were occupied making and canning tomato sauce yesterday morning, and Bert was entertaining himself. This is what he came up with.

Is that what the Bumbo seat recall the other year was all about? Do not shop while wearing Bumbo as a hat?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Getting Ready for Round Two

In some ways, the impending arrival of Baby 2 seems quite distant and abstract. Other moments, I feel something bordering anxiety when I think about bringing a newborn home. Honestly, some days it feels like we have just found our rhythm with the resident two-year-old: what could we possibly be thinking having another one?

All in all though, I am very excited to meet the newest little man, and finding great pleasure in getting a few things ready for him. Let's face it, most of his possessions throughout his childhood will be hand-me-downs, so it feels especially important to do a few things just for him.

Not much needed to change in the nursery, just a few things needed to be switched out on the walls. First was a photo collage with Bert as the main attraction. Scouring the house for ideas, I came across an old Curious George calendar from college. (Seriously, the things I save astound me.) Trimmed out, backed with a wallpaper swatch from a collection of wallpaper sample books I've been saving, and placed in a frame that used to hold a Bob Dylan album, it became a fun addition to the room. Bert was very excited to see "George! And the cows!" on the wall.

Bert still likes to come in here and read books, hence the perpetual mess on the floor.

Next, over the changing table we had a wooden "C" for Bert's real name. Since we aren't 100% settled on a name for Baby 2, it didn't make sense to buy a letter for him yet. We might still do that, but in the meantime, I found this Picasso print I had bought years ago. It was already in a frame, so all I had to do was hang it on the wall. And it is level on the wall; I apparently just do not stand straight.

One addition we made to the room while Bert was still in it and I'm glad to have for the new baby is a little bookshelf next to the changing table. It is actually a spice rack from Ikea, but it works perfectly for holding a handful of board books, or even little toys, to amuse antsy babies during diaper changes.

I've sorted through the newborn and 0-3 month clothes we have from Bert and put them in the dresser. We received some hand-me-downs from one friend and a bunch of clothes on loan from another that should fill the gap for tiny outfits for a baby born in a completely different season than his big brother (because Bert pretty much just lived in onesies for the first couple months).

I took on one knitting project for Baby 2, and I'm really excited about how it turned out. It is a little vest, and I can't wait to put him in it!

I love, love, love the little owl buttons I found for it.

You can find the instructions here if you are interested. One note I will make is that when I purchased my yarn at a shop in Maine, the owner explained that if you aren't using a homespun yarn, you should use size 6 or 7 needles, not the size 4 the pattern recommends.

Another quick little project I made was a taggie blanket. I hadn't heard of these while Bert was still little enough to enjoy one, but have since made several as gifts. I thought Baby 2 certainly should have one, and it really didn't take long to put together. And now that it's made, if Bert can get his hands on it he says it belongs to him. Go figure.

So mostly, I think we are ready for Baby 2. There are peach, green bean, and carrot baby foods in the freezer, there are clothes in his dresser, there are newborn diapers under the changing table, and there are lots of arms anxious to hold him.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...