Posts tagged ‘Century Home Restoration’

Bye-bye Summer

What a summer it was. I’m not sure how I feel about it really; happy it’s over, but sad at the same time, and feeling a bit guilty because I really do love summer, but I’m happier it’s over more than sad. A lot has transpired in our home and our house. The house has undergone so much transformation that I can’t even begin to describe it. My yard has been an eyesore for too long now, but I’m certain it won’t take long to get back together and it has to be done before the snow flies. The piles of stuff have killed the grass on the sunny side of the house, which has now presented itself as an opportunity to create a large vegetable garden… or at least that is what we are thinking. I’m worried about too large a garden even though I dream of growing enough organic roma tomatoes to make a slew of pasta sauce because this summer I learned that I have a fracture on my spine that will be with me for the rest of my days. I’m working to strengthen my back so that I can continue to garden, but my back needs time to heal and grow stronger. I’ll probably put the garden in anyway and cut back on other things, but not the bees.

We are getting ready to harvest our second batch of honey and then we will be helping the hive prepare for winter. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they make it through the winter. Keeping bees has been a unique learning experience… our hive was healthy – too healthy, it swarmed, the remaining bees that were left behind created a brand new, healthy queen. Despite the swarm which meant a three week lull in honey production while the new queen hatched, mated and started laying brood (essentially starting over), we managed to extract about 40 pounds of honey so far. I suspect there is another 20 pounds still available for us… with enough left for the bees.

 

I planted a few more wild flowers in my flower beds this summer for the local bees (mine live too far away to forage at my house) and butterflies. 

I made a giant batch of dill pickles with my mom and sister. We had quite the system going and were done in record time. Unfortunately, I we made the pickles at the peak of my back issues and was in agony for two days after, but I have a lot of pickles to show for it. Maybe this is something I can cut back on next year… but I still want to make sauce… dilemma.

We took a short trip to NYC. My husband had to go for work so we tagged along and I saw NCY through the eyes of a 4 year old. I highly recommend this.

 

We grew some veggies. We did some crafting. We started Jr. Kindergarten. We started university. We baked. We installed central air.

 

Now that summer is almost over, I’m happy autumn is almost here. I have a lot of fun projects and outings planned provided my back lets me. We may even finish the hallway… 

September 9, 2011 at 7:58 pm Leave a comment

Been busy!

I have been busy! So much to do and so little time. I wish weekends were an extra day and I could sleep less and still feel rested by morning. Alas, that is not going to happen so I will have to scale back on something… but what? Here’s a little recap of some of what I have been up to:

  • waiting for a few finishing touches on the primed hallway walls before I paint them
  • finished the bathroom… as soon as I take some pictures, I will share… need to buy some new towels too
  • made this and this and this (all very good)
  • been learning a lot about bees with my colleagues… our very own bee hive is teaching us so much about bees
  • went to NYC with the hubby and my little one for a few days… saw Mary Poppins on Broadway while we were there – loved it!
  • put in another small veggie garden and cleaned up and planted all the other gardens (when did I start like gardening?)
  • made birthday party invitations for my little one’s upcoming birthday party
  • read a book
  • made my mom dark chocolate covered marshmallows dipped in toasted coconut because she said she never gets any treats (this is really easy – melt really good chocolate – dip marshmallow in melted chocolate – roll in toasted coconut)
  • planning to make these for the birthday party
What have you been up to?

June 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Fresh: Plain and Simple

The theme of this post is all about “fresh”; my desire to be out of the dust and into fresh air, a new wine that goes by Fresh, and a couple fresh new recipes created today by me.

The hallway walls are getting a good sanding this weekend. Yikes – that is a lot of dust. I find plaster dust very hard on the skin. Even if I don’t actually partake in sanding myself, I find my skin gets dry just being in the presence of it. Here I go complaining again… I’m trying not to, really I am, but it has been a long winter with a lot of dust and the storm windows have prevented me from opening the windows for even a hint of fresh air.

A while back, I promised that I would share the hidden staircase that we were planning on using when we refinish the hallway floors. This was a picture from upstairs. Looks totally usable, right? I’m afraid not… the former owners removed far too much of the staircase and it is about a 3 foot drop to the floor. Most of the staircase opening is also blocked by pipes. Sounds terrible, I know, but this gives me a very good reason to head south while the floors get refinished, don’t you think? See, I can be optimistic during this crazy renovation! A good wine helps too.

Real wine connoisseurs out there would likely scold me for pairing red wine with fish, but in our house we drink what we like. Today, we like Fresh Cabernet Gamay. This wine is described as having a clear deep ruby colour; cherry, licorice and pepper aromas; dry, medium body; and ripe black fruit flavours with soft tannins. I describe it as light and tasty. Try it and let me know what you think.

And a couple fresh new recipes from my kitchen:

Sweet Potato and Mushroom Hash with a Side of Simple Haddock

I had full intentions of buying salmon at the market today. I’m not a big fan of seafood, but I don’t mind salmon and rainbow trout. However, before I knew what I was saying, I asked for two haddock fillets. I don’t know how or why this happened. Since I don’t normally eat haddock, I didn’t want to dress it up too much. I wanted to see what it actually tastes like. So this entire meal was kept very simple, which is nice on Friday after a long week.

Sweet Potato and Mushroom Hash

  • 2 small or 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped

Simple Haddock

  • 2 haddock fillets
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash of cayenne

To make the sweet potato and mushroom hash, warm up the oil and butter in a medium-sized skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and most of the water from the mushrooms has been absorbed (about 7 minutes). Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and keep warm. If needed, add a bit more oil to the skillet. Add the sweet potatoes and sauté until browned on all sides and soft in the centre (about 10 minutes). Be sure to flip the potatoes around the pan as they cook so that all sides brown. Add the mushrooms back to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and garnish with green onions.

Preheat your barbeque* or oven to 375F degrees. To make the haddock you will need to make an aluminum foil packet lined with wax or parchment paper big enough to fit both haddock fillets. Place the fillets side-by-side in the centre of the packet. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with chives, salt and cayenne. Close up the packet, and if cooking in the oven place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or on the barbeque for 10 to 15 minutes (length of cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets). Serve alongside sweet potato and mushroom hash.

* I don’t like fish smells in the house so I always cook fish outside on the barbeque.

April 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

Going Bananas

I have been very tired lately and not feeling particularly inspired. Work has been busy and the dust in my house from the hallway reno is driving me bananas. But life is not all bad. My friend Heather put a pink hyacinth on my desk at work this morning. I’m looking forward to seeing it bloom. My mom tells me they smell nice too.

Here is something to chew on while I’m going bananas from all of the dust.

Banana Carob Chip Muffins

I’m not sure if carob chips have dairy in them, but if not, then this recipe somehow ended up being egg and dairy free. I started with a basic banana muffin recipe and kept changing the recipe until I was certain that they had more goodness in them than bad.

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ cup brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, well mashed
  • ¾ cup rice milk plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sucanat
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup carob chips

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Line a standard muffin tray (12 muffins) with muffin papers and set aside.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas really well and set aside. In a separate bowl or in a one cup measure add the vinegar to the rice milk and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar, apple sauce, milk, bananas, vanilla and chocolate chips to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

These muffins are very moist and best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

April 12, 2011 at 7:43 pm 1 comment

Restoring the Hallways

The "hidden" staircase

I sort of alluded to the hallway renovation… here’s a post a wrote about it but forgot to post.

It is a new year and that means it is time to start a new project. The entrance way and the hallways are under construction. What does this mean for our Century home? Closets where there were never closets before, restoring the plaster, stripping trim, varnishing wood, peeling some wallpaper, painting and sanding and varnishing the floors. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, I like to think that hallways are the arteries. This means that while they are under construction it is going to be difficult to get from room to room. I painstakingly refinished the staircase several years ago so we don’t have to worry about that, but once the plaster work starts we are not going to want to walk through all that dust. Lucky for us there is a hidden staircase in our house! Century homes are always full of surprises (hidden septic systems for only one bathroom in the house, a giant hornets nest in the attic walls, bats, etc.) but the hidden staircase was like finding a hidden treasure. We are going to open it up again and use it during the hallway restoration. I’ll be sure to share some photos with you when we take down the wall. Until then, here is a photo of the upstairs hallway in progress.

Upstairs hallway

March 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Make it Monday: My Heart Beets for You

I have spent weeks, (notice the plural) cleaning. All of the trim in our upstairs hallway was painted white and then faux-finished to look like wood. I am certain the paint had lead in it and the primer they used held onto the wood with all of its might. It was determined to stay put. Our fearless helper Mark managed to wrangle it off with loads of paint stripper, a scrapper and some steel wool. This also created a lot of dust, and dust that likely contained lead, which meant thorough clean-ups. But, look at this wood in all its natural beauty:

The cleaned-up wood is on the right.

This is a sample of the faux-finish wood.

All this hard work (even though my husband has mostly gotten out of this one) called for something fancy-pants, and I delivered. Valentine’s day has come and gone, but this salad is a keeper.

My Heart Beets for You

This recipe will make two side salads. However, I suggest you buy enough ingredients to make a salad for the next day to use up the leftover beet bits. You will need a heart-shaped cookie cutter for this recipe; that is if you want to make hearts. Make sure your beet is large enough to accommodate your cookie cutter. You’ll also need to prepare the beets the day before.

Salad

  • 1 medium to large sized red beet, sliced into ½ to ¼ inch slices and boiled or streamed until tender
  • 2 tablespoons walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chèvre (soft goat cheese)
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • a few small mint leaves for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing. Place the cooked beet slices in a bowl and add half of the dressing. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To prepare the salad, cut the beet slices with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Place half the salad greens on a plate and add two beet hearts along with half the walnuts, a dollop of chèvre and sprinkling of mint leaves. Season with salt and pepper and add a bit more dressing. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and share with someone you love… or just eat both salads and call it a supper (I liked this salad so much I didn’t want to share).

And for those little ones who don’t like beets. How about some heart-shaped raspberry jam sandwiches:

March 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm Leave a comment

More…

Here’s another clue!

Things are going well – only one small project left!

July 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

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