December 23, 2017:


It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Kitchen Reno: And On the Umpteenth Day, She Rested...

Hola everyone and happy holidays to all!

I have finished doing the painting necessary to cover up the drywall patched and mudded/primed areas, hooray!  It took some doing but I'm more or less satisfied with the results.  Short of going out and buying more paint so I can redo the entire wall to get even coverage over old and new, it's about all I can do.  I used every trick I could find on the internet plus some savvy advice from the handsome young novice painter/drywaller/mudder who appeared on my doorstep some Fridays ago just as deer hunting season was opening up north (see prior posts for back-story), to get the "new" paint to "match" the texture and sheen or "hand" of the existing paint on the walls, which was evidently done some time in 2014 before I bought the house in July of that year.  I assume it was 2014 because that's the date on the leftover paint I was fortunate enough to find in the can left in the basement storage area, as most people do no run out and buy paint and then leave it sit around for 4-5 years unopened while they hem and haw about whether they (me) feel like painting.  After watering the paint down with 1/4 cup of water I eeked out enough to do the job and even got some touch-ups done, too.  And there is a teeny weeny bit of paint left over.

Fridge now sits where doorway used to be.

In honor of this occasion and to make you all think I'm the world's best housekeeper in the world,
I cleaned most of the stuff off the countertops that normally resides there.  My house has never \looked this great, LOL!

The hated corner windows, impossible to reach to clean - or open/close.

This is now the entry from living room into the kitchen/dining areas - no more window!
The sofa normally sits where the Christmas trees are.

Looking through the opening from the living room.  You can kinda sorta see all
the snow piled up in my backyard/patio through the patio doors.

The fridge is in its new home and fits like a glove next to the countertop.  Sometime later today the bookcase I ordered should be delivered, and since I finally finished shoveling myself out from under 16" of snow that fell over 9 days (it ended early Sunday morning) in two heavy snowy weekends and the 35 mph winds that created yet more drifts yesterday have moved east, I was able to get back outdoors without risking frostbite in 3 minutes,  I will now have time to unpack it and put it together.  Well, if I feel like it.  It may well until after Christmas.

My new dining table by Powell is also in use!  One of my sisters was happy to take the table and chairs and she dispatched her husband and one of my great-nephews to disassemble said table, move everything out, and unpack and assemble the new table.  I had been able to put the chairs together myself, and only one of them wobbles -- haven't been able to figure out why (yet).  Here it is!

There is an under-shelf on this table that adds stability and therefore the chairs are as far under the table as they can go; other than that I am very happy with the table, even though the chairs are far from the "rice paper white" promised by the manufacturer at Wayfair.  The chairs have dark brass tack trim around the bottom and the table has a similar decorative finish around its

You may have noticed the new square area rug too.  It is from the Amherst collection by Safavieh:

It is a much more formal, sedate look than the round chevron patterned rug that is usually there.  I will switch them out seasonally.  This rug will come out in fall and winter, when I do more entertaining inside.  You also get a look at the under-shelf on the table in this photo.

I wanted something to "cover" the side of the fridge to add a more "finished" look to the space.  Since I'm no good at building things myself I'm not going to attempt a D-I-Y enclosure to fit my slim and very tall Euro-style fridge.  I imagine it will be a young family who buys this house from me in the future when I sell up and they won't be interested in a Euro-style fridge.  They will most likely want a monster-size fridge, like the kind that was here when I first toured the house, then owned by a family with two small boys.  So why build in something that is so specific to my lifestyle and taste that will just have to be ripped out at some point in the future?  So, I looked at various options including movable pantries, but they cost more than I wanted to spend.  After hunting around for ideas on the internet, I found these great looks and knew I wanted to go for something like them, but it could not be built-in because I can't do that myself and I don't want to pay someone to do it for me:

Credit: Found at Pinterest; Nabors, Atlanta Wood Cabinet
Design, Inc.
Credit: Found at Pinterest; From Kelly, Talk of the House.
I just love the look!  Pretty - and practical, too.  The solution I came up with was a bookcase that would fit the area: tall (the fridge is 72" tall); narrow in depth  (there is about 12 inches from the fridge to where the bulkhead/divider between the kitchen space and the dining space starts), and not too wide (24 1/2" to maximum of 26"), and under $100.  And in white.  The cabinets will be painted white in due course, although I'm debating whether to do the woodwork (trim) in black -- wouldn't that be a dramatic and sophisticated look!  Or completely awful, LOL.  We'll see...  Anyway, it took some searching around, but I did find a good match for a price I wanted to pay.  I'll do a great "reveal" after I've got it together and in place.

The bookcase has two doors to cover the bottom two shelves so I will have covered storage.  I will be able to stash some gardening supplies there, freeing up room in the back hallway to stash the 25 pounds of nuts in a box I order for my squirrel tribes and also my birdseed.  I will be able to pull my cookbooks out of one of the kitchen cabinets and stash them on the bookcase, which has four (!) uncovered shelves.  Ruthless organization and neatness is about to sweep through the kitchen/dining area and kitchen cabinets of Maison Newton!

Another current decorating dilemma I am wrestling with is what to do with that large expanse of wall I now have:

The new bookcase will take up approximately 12 inches from the side of the fridge, ending just about where the edge of the divider/bulkhead starts.  That leaves a lot of wall area.

As always seems to be the case, everything I would love to do in terms of art would cost more than what I want to spend.  But with new countertops to be found, ordered and installed, and then the backsplash tiles removed and redone (I have the new tiles, but I'm not going to demo the existing tiles myself, I've got that work lined up for a good price but the new countertops need to go in first), and then the cabinets painted -- not to mention the lights.  Oh geez the lights, don't get me started!  Well, suffice to say I am NOT going to be spending much of anything decorating the large empty wall :)  Ach!  I see some "streaky" areas in the paint in this photo. Drat and damn - I wonder how much more I can water down the 1/4" of already watered down paint left in the can to squeeze out another coat...

Now, with most of the work yet to be seriously tackled in this kitchen redo, my mind has already turned toward that back hallway area.  UGH!

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