Archive for December, 2014

Time to sharpen the kitchen knives….

Posted December 30, 2014 By Ruth

Thats not actually a lead in to a rant.  Its my own stupidity.

I knew that the large majority of my kitchen knives were duller than ideal….but I hadn’t realized how bad they’d gotten.

My inlaws gave us a new Cutco knife for Christmas.  And its sharp.

I forgot.  And handled it like I would have my usual knives.

Thankfully the cut isn’t any worse than a bad papercut, so I’m fine…..hopefully its a lesson learned!  And time to get my knives sharpened…..

Home made peppermint marshmallows are evil

Posted December 23, 2014 By Ruth

and since I’ve already screwed with my chances of not gaining weight for the holidays I’m going to share the recipe 😉

Original basic marshmallow recipe here.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract at the same time you add the vanilla.

For a softer, almost melt in your mouth, marshmallow whip for the lesser amount of time (I barely did 10 minutes for this batch).

For a firmer “holds up better to toasting for s’mores” marshmallow whip for an extended period of time, 15minutes minimum, upwards of 20 reported by commenters on Facebook.

Its surprisingly easy to make these btw.  You’ll need a candy thermometer (or a solid understanding of how to tell the candy stages apart), and you really do want a stand mixer, but you could do it with a powered hand mixer if you wanted, though you’d have to be extra sure of your prep ahead of time and you might need an extra set of hands for the mixing of the sugar syrup and the gelatin.  The only strict part is the pulling them off the stove at the right temp part.  And the only pain in the butt part is the cutting them apart and keeping them from sticking to everything part.  Btw, I never have cornstarch on hand, I always just use extra powdered sugar.

I got 2lbs of marshmallows out of this batch…….

Apollo turned 4

Posted December 21, 2014 By Ruth

Well, he actually turned 4 on the 18th and I’m a little behind, but its so hard to believe that its been almost 4 years since we brought him home, looking like this:

puppy3a puppy9a

 

And now:

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And at the show in Mid Nov he even took Best Of Breed over his nephew!

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How to get your face bitten off by a strange dog

Posted December 16, 2014 By Ruth

aka: some moron who publishes for public consumption is trying to get people bitten

I’m NOT going to link to the actual article.  But if you really want to read it, it was published on The Toast, and its titled “Tips for Getting the Most Out Of Strangers’ Dogs”.  Note, The Toast isn’t exactly what I’d call high end reading, but unfortunately the article is making the rounds of Facebook…..

And its basically a set of instructions on how to get a strange dog to allow you to pet them without having to ask the dog owner for permission first…..

The FIRST thing the author tells you to do is lock eyes with the dog.

Locking eyes with a predator is an aggressive signal.  While its true that certain training commands involve having a dog do that on command, outside of that setup its STILL an aggressive move even for those dogs.  And while some dogs won’t care, others will be scared by the eye contact (oh yah, terrorizing the dog you want to pet is a good idea), and still others till respond in a very aggressive manner.

Never mind that there ARE dogs who’ll allow you to reach out a hand to pet them….only to snap at the hand because something triggered their fear at the last minute.

Never mind the SHEAR STUPIDITY that people insist on doing this sort of thing with working dogs (and no, just because you don’t see a vest on the dog doesn’t mean they’re not working).

So do yourself and every dog you meet a favor.  Ask the owners permission BEFORE even approaching the dog.  Do NOT lock eyes with the dog.  And if at any point the owner indicates that your attention isn’t welcome or needs to stop, then DON’T PUSH IT.

 

The Impromptu Bathroom Remodel

Posted December 12, 2014 By Ruth

This is the only  picture I have of the master bathroom before we pulled it apart:

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Taken shortly after we moved in if I recall right.

The bathroom is only 54″ wide.  Its very long, at least for whats in it, but 54″ wide is tiny.  At some point the previous owners had pulled out the original tub and surround and replaced it with a corner shower.  To be fair, any tub that would fit in that space would be tiny, so I’d not have put in a new tub either.  Under the shower base we could just see the corners of two boards, we assumed that they’d been put there to help angle the base correctly for draining.

Back at the end of Oct my husband came out of the bathroom to tell me that the bit of one board was soaking wet.  When I checked it I confirmed that not only was it soaking wet, it had been for a while, it was black with collected mold.

We’ve got a water leak somewhere.  Oh fun.  Although we could access the shower water shut offs without pulling down the shower we had no idea where the leak was, or how much water damage had been done, so we made the decision to just pull down the shower (which wasn’t exactly a high end unit), fix whatever needed to be fixed, and replace it.  Since we have a 2nd full bathroom, complete with the original tub/shower combo the lack of shower wasn’t going to be an issue and we could take our time getting it done once the leak and damage was fixed.

Pulling up and out the shower we discovered that there wasn’t a leaking pipe after all.  The shower base itself had cracked just a bit at that corner allowing water to dribble right onto that supporting board.  The drywall that the board had been right up against showed a little water damage, but after cutting that out I was able to confirm no real water damage due to the leak.  Yay!  Right?

Like all projects in a not new house it wasn’t that simple….

The shower walls had been supported by a series of 2×4’s screwed into the wall.  Counting every single screw (of which there were over 20), 3 actually hit studs.  The rest just went into drywall.  With no drywall anchers.  In two cases the only thing holding the boards on was the fact that they’d also used silicone.  I have no clue how the whole mess stayed on the wall.  We were able to literally just pull most of the boards straight out from the wall without removing the screws first.

Then there was what we found under the shower base:

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I’m not sure what the hole on the left was, but I’m guessing old water damage that they “patched” when they replaced the tub.  See the plumbing on the right?  They had to redo the drain when they put in the shower.  The pipe itself sticks up above the floor level by almost half an inch.  The boards under the shower base weren’t to help tilt it for drainage.  They were to support it so that it didn’t crush the plumbing.  Cause that makes lots of sense……

See the kinda groady patch of vinyl between the two holes?  It flexed in a very nasty way when we started to step on it in the process of pulling down the whole mess.  When I pulled up the vinyl and very carefully put a foot on the spot it collapsed under a very small portion of my weight.  Old water damage that was never fixed.  Thankfully there didn’t appear to be any mold, just dry rot.

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See those little black specs?  Mouse turds.  The visible insulation was full of them.  SO MUCH FUN!!!  Arg.

So I pulled up the “patch” on the left hole, confirmed the presence of mouse turds in the insulation under it.  Pulled and threw away all the insulation in both holes, and then cut out the old water damaged spot and made the whole hole mostly square so it would be easier to patch:

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The spot under the old water damage had basically no insulation (and more signs of mice).  My cut opened up the next cavity that extends back under the floor of the rest of the bathroom.  You’ll notice there’s not much insulation there too.  At least there wasn’t any mouse turds in it.  But a flashlight and an awkward angle to peer into the cavity confirmed what we’d suspected about the whole house.  There was barely an inch of insulation under the rest of the floor.

We’d been pretty sure that the whole house needed to be re-insulated, but I wasn’t thrilled to get conformation of that fact.

I stuffed every nook and cranny I could reach full of insulation and made a quick patch till we could decide what we wanted to do.

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(actually I took the picture prior to insulation, but you get the idea)

We’d hoped to put off any bathroom renovations till a few years down the road when we’d planned to spend several grand doing it right.  We’re going to need to reinsulate obviously, the bathroom is the coldest room in the house.  We want to put in heated floors.  And a custom, 54″ wide, shower stall.  So we weren’t interested in spending a fortune getting this done.

In the end we picked an inexpensive corner shower, made out of better quality plastic than the old one.  Which of course meant we had to move the drain.  But my Father-In-Law was able to do that for us, and while he was at it he fixed the too high plumbing.

And we put up the shower walls.  And discovered that the corners of the room aren’t square.  Not sure why I expected them to be, but you know how that goes….

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There’s a piece of cement board under the shower now, to help with water control.  And we’re in the process of putting down 1/2″ thick rubber matting on the floor to help with the cold floor problem……but otherwise the bathroom is done.  Well.  For now……

Christmas Music

Posted December 11, 2014 By Ruth

I’m not a fan of most Christmas music.  Working retail for extended periods will do that to you.

When I do listen to Christmas music it tends to be fairly non-standard.  Like Twisted Sister’s Christmas Album.

I found another one to add to my list today though.

 

 

And then when you’re on Itunes buying the album go listen to the teaser for their Christmas Can Can too…..

 

H/T to Greg @ Dum Vivimus, Vivamus

Home projects

Posted December 6, 2014 By Ruth

I’ve been watching Bogie’s home improvement projects with interest, as alot of what she’s done is stuff that we’re going to eventually need to do.  Her latest acquisition is a spice cabinet for her craft supplies.  And it reminded me of a project I REALLY want to do here….

First, I have to explain the house.  The original structure is a 20+yr old double-wide (which is still skirted *sigh* another project….).  At some point someone added onto the living room, doubling the size of that space.  And someone ran an enclosed breezeway from the garage to the 3rd bedroom, turning said bedroom into a mud room.  The washer and dryer are in an alcove right inside the back door, which happens to be directly off the kitchen.

I SO want to move the washer and dryer into the closet space of the mudroom, they’ll fit with a little room to spare.  And then turn that alcove into a proper pantry space, with spice cabinet, and put a built in dishwasher into the washer hookups (we’re currently using a portable-roll-away dishwasher, and it works fine, but it takes up space in the already small kitchen).  Unfortunately there is zero plumbing and electrical already in the space I want to put the washer and dryer, so putting in the needed plumbing and wires is going to be a major job.  So its not happening any time soon……there are to many other projects that NEED to be done to spend the money on something we don’t NEED *sigh*.

Unusual coloring

Posted December 4, 2014 By Ruth

I’ve been delighted by the “gummy” vitamin phase since I first saw them.  I HATE taking big huge pills, I’m capable, but I hate it, and so the gummies were a wonderful invention as far as I’m concerned.  They cost more than regular vitamins, but I don’t dread taking them either.

I’d recently noticed that they were coming out with the “mens” and “women’s” formulas, and this last time I picked up the women’s formula, though there’s not much of a difference from the regular formula.  Last night I stopped to read the ingredients.  The gummies are, of course, colored, and I’d assumed they used the standard food dyes.  I was wrong.  The colorings are blueberry juice concentrate, carrot juice concentrate, and purple carrot juice concentrate!  A quick check of the other formulas showed the same.  Not what I’d expected to see.  But kinda cool!

Home made hot pepper powder

Posted December 4, 2014 By Ruth

5 1-gallon Ziplocks of hot peppers (jalapenos, habaneros, and Hungarian Hot Wax) from the garden (rough chopped and frozen) went into the dehydrator on Monday.  

Overnight between Wednesday and Thursday the eye-watering scent from the dehydrator (which is in the garage for a reason) abruptly cut itself down to less than 1/4 of what it had been.  A check of the peppers showed them to be nice and crisp.  

The dehydrated pepper pieces fit into a single gallon ziplock.

A run through the food processor and we have hot pepper powder for seasoning.  And my sinuses are clearer than they’ve been in weeks…..

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Its a fairly roughly chopped “powder”, but that was about all my sinuses would take…..