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My Version of Borscht

October 19, 2014
by Erin B

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My mom always made beet soup when I was growing up.  Somehow I never actually got the recipe from her.  Here is my recipe:

1 1/2 cups diced potatoes

2 cups shredded beets – golden or traditional red (use the food processor and save yourself some heart ache)

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup shredded carrot

1 cup green beans

1 cup peas

1 Tbsp parsley (dried)

1 Tbsp (at least) dried dill

a couple of grinds of black pepper

1 onion chopped

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 Tbsp sugar.

1/4 cup butter

 

Put the potatoes and beets in a your largest stock pot and add enough water to cover, the salt and vinegar, bring to a boil.

Add the carrots, beans, peas, and more water to cover, bring to a boil.

After 15 minutes add herbs, onion celery and tomatoes, boil 30 minutes.

Totally optional, but if you are so inclined you can add a litre of no salt beef stock here if you like.  It doesn’t really need it.

Add sugar and butter to adjust the acid and add body.  Boil another 10 minutes.

Serve with a blob of sour cream to stir in.  Or don’t.  I like mine plain.  Freezes well.

 

 

Canadian Thanksgiving Countdown

October 12, 2014
by Erin B

Things to remember this year: Don’t peak at the turkey, just trust the recipe.  Open the windows and turn off the furnace because the house will get hot.

T(urkey) minus 24 h: Brine turkey according to my variation on the Alton Brown Recipe

T minus 18 hours: Spend two hours up with coughing Little Girl, send out sick person in the house warning to everyone who was invited.

T minus 15 hours: T’s turn to be up with sick Little Girl

T minus 9 hours: wonder who scheduled Thanksgiving to coincide with the start of cold and flu season. Try to schedule for food exchange with guest who don’t want to enter Little Girl’s blast radius.  Organize quiet activities for Little Girl to do in her room.

T minus 8 hours: Realize I don’t need to put the turkey in until 2pm, think about what still needs to be done to the bathroom.  Organize hanging baskets for washcloths.

T minus 7 hours 45 minutes: get distracted with blogging, go out to buy hardware for the bathroom

T minus 7 hours: make bacon and eggs for first round of holiday guests leaving before Turkey.

T minus 6 hours: finish bathroom reno.

T minus 5.5 hours: Send Little Girl for a nap in spite of her protests because she is just too crabby.

T minus 5 hours: Watch the latest Doctor Who episode

T minus 3.5 hours: turn oven on to 500F

T minus 3 hours: put bird in oven, start sautéing onions and celery for dressing. Cube bread.

T minus 2.5 hours, turn oven down to 350F.  Pour onion and celery over bread, season with salt, pepper, and sage, drizzle with broth.

T minus 2 hours: put casserole dish (with lid) full of stuffing into oven. Give up on having Little Girl nap and let her watch Day of the Doctor.

T minus 90 minutes: exchange text messages with guests to arrange food exchange.  I swapping a quarter roast turkey and dressing and cranberries and asparagus sautéd in bacon fat for a pie and some lovely cauliflower.  Start the heel on the pair of socks I’m knitting for C.

T minus 30 minutes: turn off the oven, start the potatoes, start the carrots, start the asparagus, realize Little Girl hasn’t coughed all day.  Re-invite the guests.

T minus 10 minutes: Panic, Mash the potatoes, drain the carrots, make the gravy.  Scream in despair. Get responding family to clear and set the table, find out C can make hollandaise sauce.  Tell her to make it so.

T minus 5 minutes: have Little Girl call guests and tell them we are ready.

Eat at 6:15 only 15 minutes later than planned.

 

 

Bring Home Pizza

September 18, 2014
by Erin B

This morning, when T was getting ready for work, he told me about the stressful meetings that were on his schedule for today and how he needed the kitchen table tonight because he had a meeting in Australia.

I said that wasn’t a problem because Little Girl and I will be at a thing at her school tonight.  Then I added that I had a fun-filled day of sealing grout and installing bathroom mirrors.

“Bring home pizza,”  I said as he was leaving.

He stopped and turned and looked at me.  “Is that like ‘Come Home With Your Shield Or On It?'” he asked.

We both laughed and I said no, but it would be helpful.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I think I lied.

 

Update: I was wrong, he is meeting the Australians via his office, not our kitchen.  I’m on my own.  Drat.  Today has not been a good day.

No Bathroom Yet

September 13, 2014
by Erin B

But we are getting closer!

The tile is in.

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All the tile.

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Even more tile.

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Miles of grout.IMG_0450The vanity went in.
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A little too close to the tile, but our installer was great and moved it for us.
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See? Too close.

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That’s better.

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Here is the the plan.  We are starting too look like it a bit.  The light fixture is here…. or at least in my car, waiting to be installed.  The medicine cabinet… isn’t like in the picture, but it is in the garage waiting to be painted white.  I also have to instal the latch.

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This week in my bathroom

September 6, 2014
by Erin B

Not much happened.

We primed the drywall and had an emergency ceiling repair.  That got it to the white box stage.

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Then we used Mapai Aqua Dessents to water proof the shower.  It goes on with a brush and roller.  Here it is as I cut in.

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Here is a popcorn-free ceiling shot

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First coat of the water proofing.  It officially takes two coats, but it took us three to get it to the thickness the package said we needed.

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Floor repairs where we had some damp:
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Wednesday we got our floor:

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Yesterday they started the tile.

IMG_0424After talking to the tilers, there have been some changes.  Instead of black grout we are going with dark grey and we are adding an extra band of accent tile.  Which I have to go pick up now.  More updates next week.

 

Drywall

August 30, 2014
by Erin B

The drywaller, T, turned up promptly, but it takes a while.  Mud, tape, wait, sand, mud, wait… repeat.  On and on, for a whole week.

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That is about where we are now.  I need to prime and roll on the water proofing membrane.  We are using Mapei Aqua Descents.

We got a little out of order.  We were planning on leaving the popcorn ceiling for later, but it ended up with mud from the new walls all over it.  So we scraped yesterday and our friend, P, is helping us re-mud the ceiling today.

The tiler comes on Tuesday, so the crunch is on now.

Since we last spoke

August 22, 2014
by Erin B

 

We left off about here:

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Now, this actually requires a bit of explanation.  Our house was a show home in 1963, so it had a lot of “upgrades.”  One of those upgrades was “noise dampening.”  In 1963, that meant closing four layers of drywall in between the studs.  Hells, yes, our house is quiet.  But it also meant four times as much drywall to haul away when we gutted the bathroom.  It worked out to a whole trailer full.

Once that was done, we had this:

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And more pressingly, this:

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Yup.  They ran electrical right through were we needed the taps to go.  We couldn’t put them back, because on the side where they were is the chimney:

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So, we brought in the professionals and got all of that moved.  Our plumbing is now on the hallway side instead of crammed against the chimney.

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The bathtub is in:

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Although, that was all kinds of fun.  The first one we brought home had been hit by a forklift, but we couldn’t tell until we opened the box and it was crushed on one end.  We had to take it back and the store opened three more tubs before they found an intact one for us.  It put the plumbing back a whole day.

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I got to help hook that up.

Here are the tap rough ins:

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OK, so I’m missing a picture there.

Once the plumber was done, we put sound damping material back in.  Since it is no longer 1963, we used Roxul, Safe n’ Sound.  I love that stuff.  It is not itchy.  Which is good, because I took a day and did the whole room.

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Then the dry waller came.  That took a week.

To be continued….

Going, going….. gone!

August 11, 2014
by Erin B

Some reno action shots:

 

tub surround removal

Starting to disassemble the tub surround

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Then, once we had the tap cover off, we began to see exactly what we were going to have to deal with

 

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So, drywall behind the surround…  Who knew?  As near as we can tell, this meant that there was a previous tub surround installed, a significantly shorter one, and when it was removed they just put drywall in and mounted the new surround to it.  Guess that’s how it was done in the 80s…

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The back piece of the surround was incredibly heavy, and once it was down we could see…

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where the taps had been leaking…

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Fortunately, since none of us could lift and maneuver that huge piece of faux marble, we found that it was also very brittle and easily smashable.
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Getting down to the studsIMG_0369

 

The old vanity, with its banjo top, GONE!IMG_0370

 

 

Who knows what evil lurks behind the drywall?!?  This was how the AC wiring for the light switch and fan was run, which of course meant that, unless we moved it, we couldn’t flip the tub around like we’d plannedIMG_0371

 

The new bathroom window!  We’re thinking of keeping this, since it makes it so much easier to pass things to people going down the stairs..

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How many houses today come with custom, monogrammed lumber?  Old growth forest, baby!

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Tub’s gone!  Hurray!
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But we sure have a lot of drywall left!

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Drywall’s all cleaned upIMG_0380

IMG_0381Just have to pull all the nails, tidy up a bit and we’re ready for the plumber!

Pre-reno Pictures

August 9, 2014
by Erin B

Our reno is…. still going ahead, but it will be more DIY than we hoped.  Our town is still in a housing boom.  In fact it is so bad that I am kind of waiting for the bubble to burst around here.  Houses are going up all over the place.  Trades men are at a premium.

Our $10,000 and August estimate turned into a $18,000 and maybe October quote and the project co-ordinator for the company we are working with is either genuinely upset by that or an Oscar worthy actress who has missed her calling.

So…. we can do our own demo.  We have our own drywaller, his name is T.  He is really great.  We really like our plumbers who have always gone above and beyond for us.  The company we were working will can do the vanity and flooring instal.  We need a tiler.

Yesterday, the plumber capped our lines and today the destruction phase begins.

Here are the before pictures:

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After the Fair

August 7, 2014
by Erin B

IMG_0349 This year the fair was a bit of a bust.  Little Girl is in that completely unfair size range where she is too tall for most of the little kids rids (42″ and under) and still too short for the big rides (48″ and taller).  It was really hot and there was lots of walking and the carmel apples are less of a treat now that we can get nicer ones at Rocky Mountain Fudge Co in the mall.  We barely lasted four hours and there was no talk this year of going back after supper.  We even missed the SuperDogs.

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You know it has been a tough day when there is a nap on the bus ride home.