Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Old House...Part VI - The Kitchen

At long last! The next house installment.

I left you hanging, telling you that the masked man showed up here when I was alone.

I just finished telling him I'd burnt all of his belongings.

So this is where we pick up:

"You burnt everything?", he replied.

"Yes, I'm sorry, we didn't know what else to do", I said.

"Well, I had to move out so fast, I just grabbed my clothes and left in the van".

I'm thinking, 'um, ya, well ya grabbed the mask too, thank GOD'.

"I'm living in the van, I have no where to go."

I just kept repeating how sorry I was.

He muttered around, kicking the dirt and left without incident.

I went in the house and collapsed into a bowl of warm jelly.

I was afraid of a lot of things back in 1988.

I was afraid of the dark.

I was afraid of bugs.

I was afraid of barking dogs in the night.

I was afraid of the quiet.

One thing that I wasn't afraid of apparently was hard work.

Here's the kitchen upon possession of the house.

One thing I want to tell you is that I never made a bed until I was married.

I never pulled a weed until I was 23.

I never painted anything...ever.

Do my nails count?

This is definitely a case of 'ignorance is bliss', because I had no fricken' clue how much work this was going to be.

My tastes have changed a lot since we've moved in. I can't tell you how many colors the kitchen has been, or how many times I've painted and refinished the cabinets. It's madness!

Here's a glimpse of what I liked in the 1990's.

I don't have a good picture of the vintage stove and fridge I had. I really do miss those now, but they were impossible to keep clean. I'm realizing now that in times where you are just overwhelmed and tired, you really have no business making decisions.

Is this a Christmas shop? No, it's my kitchen! Can you say 'over decorated'?

Here's what I did in the last six years or so. I got rid of the primitives, sold them all on Ebay. Wish I'd kept a few things now. I'm so impulsive!

See that incredible sink there? Another bad decision. Sold it on Ebay. I kid you not! A guy from New Hampshire bought it for $300. My reasons for getting rid of it? It needed refinishing, and it took up 3/4 of my counter space. Counter space in my kitchen was at such a premium.

I weep over this sink now sometimes. I miss it.

Yep, Aaron was a character even at a young age.

Late one night after watching 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy', I lay in bed dreaming of what to do to the kitchen next.

"Glenco", I whispered, "you asleep?"

I heard a groan.

"I totally know what to do now. We have to rip out the kitchen cabinets" I said, confidently.

He bolted straight up in bed, just like Pa from "Twas the Night Before Christmas", except this was "Twas the Night Before More Kitchen Renovations".

"It never ends, does it Jayme?" he queried.

"No, honey, no it doesn't" I said as I patted him back down in the bed.

He wasn't keen on the idea at ALL. He even seemed a little miffed. I sketched things out, showing him how awesome it would be.

Two days later he showed up in the kitchen with a crowbar, looked me square in the eye and said, "If I take these cabinets off, you'll never get new ones"

"Deal", I replied.

That was a few years ago, and so far all I've done since is paint, tweak, buy new throw rugs and constantly move things around to the point of Aaron asking me 'Where are the plates today Marmie?"


I'm working on it. I know I know...there IS medication for this!

Here is my kitchen today (well, actually this was this past Wednesday, when I'd planned on having this post done on Friday!)

I didn't clean or straighten for these photos. I really wanted you to see it 'just like it was', dishes and all. See, I told you I'm trying to get better about these things!

As you can see, we left the very top cabinets in. A couple of reasons. We would have had to completely redo the ceiling if we'd taken them out, and I really thought I should save a little storage for crock pots, etc.

I like the open shelving concept. I don't find that dust is too big of an issue. I use the things constantly. Once a month or so, I remove everything and wipe it down, it takes less than ten minutes. It really opened the kitchen up.

This is the view of the kitchen when you walk in the back door. My cousin made the island for me, and Glenco tiled it. I can't imagine life without that thing now.

Here is the kitchen when you walk in from the living room. A little brown bag of onions was sitting on the table. I wanted to re-take the picture, but I forced myself to leave it. Again, I remind you of the great healing taking place before your very eyes!

As you see I went for the stainless steel look. I really do love it, but miss my vintage stuff. Depends on the mood I'm in. Sometimes I don't miss it at all and I'm glad I have this.
I'm complicated.

Here's the top of the island right now.
I always have the cookbook that I'm working out of on display.
I love that saying. It's a wallword from Uppercase Living.

This area is still under construction so to speak. I bought that picture for $3 from GoodWill and I've no wallspace to hang it. I don't want to give up my chalkboard. I'm thinking of hanging it right there. What do you think?

This area always seems to be a mess.
I wanted to do something 'camping themed' on top of the shelf there.
It's not going so well.

Here's what you see when you walk out of the bathroom.
I'm torn about the chicken border. I have a love/hate relationship with it.
How long before it's back in style!?

You can see a peek of the awesome cabinet my cousin made for me on the very left of this picture. If you scroll back up you can see it as well.

My mother and father had this hutch built when I was about 12 years old. She kept towels in the bottom and dishes on the top. I'm so glad to have it. It brings back such wonderful memories. I've taken the glass doors off for now, just cause I like everything open right now. I wouldn't doubt if they go back up next year!

The top of my fridge. That is a picture of my beloved aunt's canning green beans. I feel like they are my guardian kitchen angels.

The view on the top of the black cabinet. I have a chicken problem, and it's got to stop. I've never liked 'themed' kitchens, and I hope that I haven't themed mine up to much. I guess you really shouldn't worry, and just do what you makes you happy, don't ya think?

Chickens make me happy.

Coffee makes me VERY happy.

Well, there you have it. My kitchen.
I hope you enjoyed your visit.
Please come back.
I'll put on some coffee.
I'll bake some muffins.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Unexpected Visitors...

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I know I did.

My cousin and his two boys drove up from Missouri yesterday for a three-day visit.

I didn't know they were coming until Wednesday!

Sorry I don't have the house post ready yet, and now it will be Sunday before I do.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Watch those shopping crowds.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm.....

This is pretty much me today.

Holed up in the house with yarn.

Didn't dress m'self.

Ate bacon for lunch.

I'm recharging my batteries.

Tomorrow the flour will be flying.

Friday 'it' begins. Ya'll know what I'm talking about.

So it's just a nice quiet day here at the Coop Keeper's.

The girls are quietly laying their eggs, in my garden shed no less.

I overheard them talking today. I couldn't make all of the conversation out, but I did hear 'thankful we aren't turkeys'

A lazy day like this calls for a lazy, soul satisfying recipe.
This is what is in the oven right's so incredibly fabulous that if you make it, your children will thank you, and your childrens' children. Yes, it's that good!

Country Stew
Serves 8 (8 normal people, or 4 if you're like me)

2# beef stew meat 1 T brown sugar
3-4 potatoes 1 t salt
3-4 carrots 1/2 t black pepper
2 ribs celery 1/2 t ground allspice
3 small onions 1/4 t dried marjoram
28 oz can of tomatoes 1/4 t dried thyme
1/4 cup water 1 bay leaf
5 T minute tapioca 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 T Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut meat into bite-size pieces. Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces a bit larger than the meat. Clean the carrots, celery, and onions, and cut all into 1" pieces. In a large, heavy pan, combine all the ingredients, except the parsley. Bake, covered, for five hours without stirring. Add parsley just before serving.

This does NOT freeze well.

I'm working on a post about the house for tomorrow. I know I left ya'll hanging with the masked man stopping by after we burnt all of his belongings....tomorrow I answer the questions left from that, and show you the kitchen before and afters. Hope you'll stop back by for that.

An interesting side note.....whilst working on this post, I began to receive comments that The Pioneer Woman has Aaron's picture up on her website, from her Chicago booksigning!

Oh dear...first Stubs, now Aaron. How will I live with these egos!

Here is what she had to say, hope it's ok that I cut and pasted....

"Okay, will you please look past my 2-hour-old BRUNETTE dye job and focus in on this dude for a minute? First of all, I thought he was 23 or something. He sad down with all the confidence of a reporter in the field and let me know that he and his colleague were getting ready to start chronicling all the recipes from my book online, one-by-one, and will give each recipe either a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Turns out, he's fourteen years old, and his "colleague" is his aunt, who homeschools him. I've got to sort through and find his URL and will share it with you as soon as possible. He completely charmed my socks off"

You should see Aaron now, he's beaming. Thanks Ree!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Results Are In.....

Most Popular Poultry - 2009

It was a landslide. Stubs is your favorite chicken!

Should Stubs be unable to fulfill her duties as the Most Popular Poultry, (you know how scandals have a way of finding you), Helen will step in.

(I can just hear you talking now.....'is that chicken in her kitchen....oh my...that's unsanitary'..., well...that is why they make bleach girls)

I'm coming to realize that you just can't put a hat on a chicken. I fashioned a lovely crown for Stubs this morning, but it just wouldn't work. I mustn't give up.

I can't thank you enough for all of your comments! It was so nice to 'meet' some new faces here, and as always to hear from my old friends. I do plan on visiting each and everyone of you...give me a day or two.

I'm starting to think all this attention is going to Stubs' head. This morning she asked me if she could attend the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. I tried explaining that with homeschooling and all I've just not the time to be taking her to the train station, and that it was a long walk from the train station to Michigan Avenue and all...

"I'll do my best" I replied.

Good old Stubs. Can't keep a good woman down. want to know who won the book too, huh?

I'm happy to say that Jennifer...Captain's Wife won the book! Jennifer has been a long time reader and commenter on the blog, and I'm so happy for her.

Send me an email with your address ok Jennifer?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go break the news to Stubs that chickens don't go to school, the 'real' world anyway. Maybe I can find her an Art tutor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

All That, and a Pair of Chaps.....Pioneer Woman Book Giveaway is Here!

I'm here, posting the giveaway! I'm so sorry if you kept checking back.
I really need to have a talk with the person responsible for making my daily schedule.
She's absolutely wearing me out!

Meeting all the bloggers and people at the book signing was just as much fun as meeting Ree.

We got to Barnes and Nobles at approximately 1pm. I needed to insure that I got a copy of Ree's book for the giveaway.

There was a man handing out numbers. We were #'s 75, 76 & 77.

The great thing about this was...we could now go shopping and have a place in line!

We were told that at 5pm chairs would be set up for a Question and Answer period with Ree at 7:30, and then the book signing would commence.

The first thing we did was to go to Maggiano's. I got a Chicken Caesar Salad. Big mistake.

More on that later.

We met the CUTEST girls. Everyone was so friendly, funny and creative.

Mother and Daughter sitting in front of me.

Susan, from Susan's Snippets. She really inspired me that night.

This little girl was enamored with Aaron. She couldn't take her eyes off of him.

See what I mean about funny people. That lady was a crack up!

This is my lovely neighbor Gina (on the left) and a gal we met there. I'm sorry I don't remember your name! You were so sweet...and very pregnant.

The crowd thickens.

We scored second row seats in the chairs that were set up!

At approximately 7:30pm I saw this:

It was rather surreal seeing Ree. I really hate admitting how star struck I am over this girl.
Big girl crush.
Lots of admiration.

She seemed genuinely nervous. It made her all the cuter.

After a short Q & A, we got in line according to number and waited. And waited. And waited. When we weren't busy waiting, we waited. I cannot tell you the physical discomfort I was in during this wait. I was hot, and had one of the worst headaches of my life.

And I was burping.
A lot.
And it tasted like hot fish.
I don't eat fish.

It took approximately 2 hours to get the signature.

This picture cracks me up. The woman next to MM looks so bored....

Here's Aaron right before his turn. He was so excited his hands were sweating.

She was so sweet to him, and mentioned how mature he was. She seemed excited that he was a homeschooler.

That is just how she was. So pleasant, so engaging. She took her time with everyone like they were the only one there.

She is a doll.

Here is my lovely neighbor Gina again. Aren't they just the cutest girls?

After we got her 'autograph', we met MM. Oh my. That voice.
He was incredibly sweet and again, seemed like he was just hanging out, and would talk as long as you'd like to.

Of course I asked to photograph his foot. I didn't even try to explain myself.

By this time I was in serious physical discomfort. The room was so hot, I was over stimulated. My head was pounding. All I could taste was fish.

Traumatized in the early 1970's by the masses of dead alewives washed ashore on Lake Michigan, I've never eaten fish.

I love Caesar Salad though. But not REAL Caesar Salad dressing.

This was all I could see in my mind. This is what my mouth tasted like. I could hear seagulls. I could feel the sand in my crotch.


So that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Now! On to the giveaway!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Ree's wonderful cookbook, you'll need to do the following:

Go to Cottage Instincts, and read the interview with my chickens.

Comment here and tell me which chicken is your favorite and why.

Winner will be announced on Monday morning!