Friday, September 30, 2011

Poly Plans Ditched But Progress Made

Once again I had to forego plans to get that last blasted coat of poly on the cabinet doors because when I was ready to set up outdoors this morning and go for it the temp was only 44 degrees. With a breeze blowing. Good thing I didn't try for it anyway because we've had sprinkles of rain on and off all day.

So did I skip happily into my quilt studio and spend the day there? Heck, no.

I stoked up the wood stove, put two ventilating fans in windows, opened the front door and painted kitchen cabinet frames.

It went really fast and I got the second coat on this afternoon. Really, really like the way they look and can hardly wait to see the pine doors mounted on them. Maybe by Christmas? Bite my tongue and don't even jest! It'd better happen a lot sooner than that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Sight You Don't Want To See In Your Yard

Or maybe you do want to see the well drillers arrive. At least they were here to investigate and repair the situation.

It was not an emergency (we still had water) but knew there was a potential problem or two with our well so called for help. Better now than mid-January, right?

Two really nice guys, brothers who took over the business from their dad. Papa Pea said they were a pleasure to work with.

At first we thought we were going to have to replace the submersible pump, but it turned out there was just some haywire wiring that needed to be replaced. Five hours of work in the rain (lots of strong, hot coffee in thermal mugs and assorted goodies to keep up energy) for three guys and all is now well. We're just hoping the bill comes in under a thousand. Gulp.

The terrific winds we had this morning brought in a rain storm which was good because we're still under dry conditions and the fire is still burning northwest of us. I didn't lay out my 14 cabinet doors this morning for their final coat of poly because the wind was so strong I was afraid they'd blow off the sawhorses. Then the rains started and I thought of painting inside but decided drying wouldn't go very fast (nor would the fumes disappear) because of the high moisture content in the air. So I got to work on arranging pantry shelves and new storage space in the kitchen. Papa Pea came inside a little after six p.m. cold, wet and very tired. Dinner at 7 for us and now we're winding down for an early bedtime, I think.

Just another laid back day on the homestead.

Will I Ever Stop Being Such A Clutzy Cook?

B said she was going to stop by yesterday to drop off the last of the cabinet doors she had made so I could get going on the polying of them.

A few weeks ago she had given me the harvest from her cherry tree that she knew she wouldn't have time to do anything with. (And the little dear knows Cherry Pie is just about my favoritest!) I made a pie shortly thereafter and although it was good, I found her cherries to be just a smidge more sour than I had expected so I made a note to myself to add a bit more sugar to the next pie.

Anywho, back to B stopping by . . .

I got up early to make and bake a pie with her cherries so she could take half of it home when she stopped.

You all may recall my talent for boiling fillings of pies over in the oven and the mess that makes. Not gonna happen yesterday! No, sir. I strategically placed a sheet of aluminum foil on the shelf under the pie which (hip-hip-hooray!) caught all the considerable amount of burbled over drippage.

So what did I do in the process of removing the laden foil sheet out of the oven?

Tilted it at a precarious angle and dumped a puddle of the ooey-gooey cherry goop on the oven door where it ran down into the broiler section of the stove. Then made more of a mess (if possible) trying to wipe it up before it hardened.

The good part of the whole operation was that the pie was pronounced perfect by both households, so 'twas not for naught when all was said and done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where Did Baby Pea Come From?

Yesterday when Chicken Mama hacked into my blog (cheeky little devil), she signed her name as "Baby Pea" which makes sense since I'm Mama Pea and her dad is referred to on my blog as Papa Pea.

But she was known as "Baby P" at a point in time many years ago . . . long before any of us could have dreamed about such a thing as blogging or the Internet, for that matter.

We purchased a restaurant shortly before Chicken Mama graduated from high school. She worked there on and off all through her college years. It was actually great training for a young, very attractive girl to learn how to interact with and handle all kinds of people. She waited tables most of the time, and we felt it was a good environment for her to hone her skills of communication and remain calm under sometimes stressful circumstances.

Ours is a tourist town and often we would get groups of people in the restaurant either heading out on or returning from camping and canoeing trips. It wasn't unusual to have large tables of people with ravenous appetites frequenting our place.

One night we were extremely busy with a waiting line out the door. Chicken Mama had a table of 10 or 12 guys who were fairly loud and happy, drinking beer and laughing while trying to decide what to order. They were having a rousing good time flirting with their attractive waitress (basically giving her a good-natured but hard time) while asking all kinds of questions about items on the menu. She had orders waiting to be delivered to other tables, tables to contact and menus to hand out, drinks to pour and a gazillion other things to do, but remained calm, friendly and courteous to this big table.

On the restaurant's menu were some house specialty pizzas. One of them was called the "Mama P Special." I, being the chief cook, was dubbed Mama P.

The guys asked about this pizza called "Mama P's" and wanted to know if Chicken Mama was Mama P. She replied with a deadpan face, "No, but I am Baby P," which, of course, they interpreted as "baby pee" and thought was quite hysterical.

So she became (affectionately) known as Baby P(ee) long before there was ever a Mama or Papa Pea in Blogland.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mama Pea's Daughter

Mama Pea's daughter here. You know how Mama & Papa Pea have been working themselves to the point of exhaustion lately, how things don't seem to be moving very swimmingly along? Well, I didn't help any of that this past Sunday evening. Click here to read the sad details.

:) Baby Pea, aka Chicken Mama

Monday, September 26, 2011

Can You Say "Too Busy?"

I know most of you reading can relate to having too much on your plate especially this time of year when we're all thinking about cold weather coming and trying to button up outside chores.

The last several days here have been difficult ones. No, no, no terrible, awful, very bad things happening at all. (Fear thee not.) Just those ornery old brick walls we all bump into now and then, crankiness without any real cause (must be something in the air) and trying to fit 10 hours of jobs into 5 hours of time. (No matter how hard we try, it just never works, does it?)

Methinks in situations such as this, if one can only get their mind (emotions?) in the correct place, everything would not only feel better but flow better.

So who knows, maybe right after my lobotomy scheduled for this morning, I'll be back to smooth sailing and be able to sit down and blog up a storm as I want to.

In the meantime, I'm sending out good wishes for a wonderful start to your week!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

One Thing I Forgot . . .

Something I forgot to add to my post of last night regarding tasks to be done to complete the kitchen remodeling . . .

- An outlet in/on the kitchen island. I initially thought (foolishly) that I wouldn't need an electrical outlet there. Well, pshaw! I sure do.

I can turn around and use a choice of two outlets on the counter on the wall behind the island but since the surface of the island is my main work space, it's inconvenient to transfer everything from there to the other counter.

There are likely one or two (or 6?) other things I've neglected listing. It's amazing how many little things, some major -- others not so much, are needed to wrap everything up and say, "Done!" Maybe we never reach that point . . . ?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kitchen To Do List

What's left to be done in the kitchen before we can say it's finished?

I need to purchase and install the knobs/pulls on all the new cabinet doors including the doors that are yet to be made, polyed and installed.

A backing/high self has to be built on to the back of the island. It's hard to explain how it will look. Guess you'll just have to stay tuned to see it as it progresses.

The French door to the living room needs to be framed and installed.

I need to paint the frames of the old white cabinets we're keeping. And polyurethane the new pine doors and drawer fronts that go on them.

An exhaust fan will be installed over the gas stove.

The upper and lower cabinets to the left of the gas stove are so small as to be nearly useless. We moved the refrig over about 4-1/2" so B will expand each of these cabinets to make them wider and move the cabinet over the refrig to the left.

These two shelves are ready to receive my cook books, but I didn't get to that today.

We worked on installing baseboards around the perimeter of the floor today but still have more to do as you can see in the above picture.

We got the book shelves over the windows back up (after this picture was taken) but then got a little side tracked washing windows inside and out. I'm going to iron the curtain valances tonight and get them up.

I still have to figure out my organization for inside the island unit and most of the bottom cabinets. Hope to get to that tomorrow.

Yep, seems like a lot yet to do but once I get a few more things back into the cabinets, I'll be able to function in there with no problem. Boy, will that feel good. And I sure am glad we're on this side of the kitchen remodeling!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tried To Get To It, But Didn't

Many of you have asked what is left to be done in the kitchen to have the remodeling completed. I wanted to take you on a pictorial tour with explanations (which would help me get it together also), but just couldn't get it done today.

I slept a little late because my OFF switch suddenly flipped to ON at 3:14 this morning, and I couldn't get back to sleep until almost 5. If I could have mustered up the energy, I should have gotten up then and gotten a running start on the day. Instead, I finally drifted back to sleep and didn't wake until 7:20. Arrrrgh, talk about feeling behind the whole day!

Spending most of the morning (what there was remaining of it) at my desk, and was (lo and behold!) able to find the bottom of the stacks of accumulated jetsam and flotsam . . . and the top of my desk which I hadn't seen for over two weeks.

Not great, but lots better than it was.

Then I did some financial work (situation wasn't as bad as I had thought . . . how did that happen?) and got ready to head out to town to run some long overdue errands.

Picked up Chicken Mama at her office in town at 4 and we went up to the farm together to get milk products which we both needed.

Back home to concoct pretend pizzas on tortillas (hey, we think they're good) for dinner. Did a gargantuan heap of dishes and now need to get ready for bed so I can get up at a decent time in the morning instead of being such a slug-a-bed.

I'm going to attack the start of the final (ha, wanna bet?) organization of the kitchen tomorrow. One of the first areas is the new shelf arrangement for my cookbooks. They've been living in our bedroom . . .

. . . for too long now and need to be subjected to a ruthless sorting out before going on their new shelves. Stand by for some possible give-a-ways of ones I decide I must part with. I have close to 200 of them (I know, I know) and it's been years since I've sat down and sorted them into ones I really can't live without and ones I rarely use anymore.

BUT, if it should maybe possibly be a breezy, sunny day (which is NOT forecast until next Monday --- yeesh!), I will throw open windows and paint kitchen cabinets and then go outside to polyurethane cabinet doors. One way or the other, it's gonna be a busy, productive day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Utter Disorganization


You don't think this is a good arrangement?

You think I could have planned it so it was a little more convenient?

You really don't like the new layout, huh?

Will I EVER have my kitchen organized again?

Maybe if I just find a place for the refrigerator rather than in the middle of the room it will all look better. Whatcha think?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Lot of Time with Tile Today

Our friend and carpenter extraordinaire B was able to give us a day of her time today so we jumped back into the remodeling by getting the floor tile laid in the kitchen.

The first order of the day was to move everything we could out of the kitchen (hey, you sure this is not going backwards?) and spread a sealer/leveler on our very uneven floor. Above Papa Pea is mixing up another small batch because it dried in the pail very quickly after being prepared.

B and Papa Pea getting the last of the leveler just right.

Papa Pea tip-toeing across the floor after applying the film of adhesive and having decided it had finally dried enough. We could have all taken a nap in the time it took to dry but instead stood around . . . well, watching the adhesive dry.

Me on the left and B on the right starting to lay the tile around the stove.

The work day ended with the floor covered except for the pieces we have to cut and fit around the perimeter.

The tile looks pretty "busy" to me in that last picture, but I'm pretty sure once everything is moved back in and the large expanse is broken up it will be fine. (Yes, that is our refrigerator peeking through the doorway of the to-be living room.)

I don't know how B feels tonight but I do know two people in this house who have a couple of aches and pains from so much time spent on the floor involving sore knees and creaky backs. But, heck, a few stiff drinks and a good night's rest and . . . we'll probably still have sore knees and creaky backs tomorrow!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Did It! Sort of.

I quilted today until I could quilt no more. My body isn't used to that much inactivity, I guess, because I stiffened up in so many muscles that long about an hour or so ago I had to give up and reluctantly crawl out of my quilt cave.

What did I do in there?

I had lots of fun playing around making some Halloween potholders. As you can see, I didn't get even one completed. Got the binding started on only one of them, but the binding is all that has to be done to finish them all.

I did take a little time off from quilting this afternoon to brown and start a pot roast simmering for tomorrow. And I also baked a batch of cookies for Papa Pea. Well, see, he has been a pretty good boy lately and after he pathetically asked, "So, we really don't have any more cookies stashed in the freezer anywhere?", what could I do? I mean I didn't even cook one single decent meal today, and the poor guy obviously needed a cookie fix.

The good news for the forest fires still burning in our area is that it has rained almost all day today. A light mist/drizzle this morning that turned to a steady rain all afternoon. I don't know of anyone that won't be happy about this wet day. It should help the fire fighters significantly and last week when I worked on weeding the strawberry patch trying to get a head start for putting it to bed for the winter, the dirt resembled concrete. Now I should be able to finish up that task a lot easier and quicker.

I wouldn't mind watching a Netflix movie to end this lovely day, but I know darn good and well that I'd fall asleep if I tried it. Gotta work up my stamina a little more for all of this relaxing.

Can She Do It?

I'm taking the whole day today to spend in my quilt studio. (Although just getting into my quilt studio with all the "stuff" stored in there because of our remodeling is a challenge in itself.)

Needing to spend some time in a creative manner with my mind and hands (no paint brushes allowed) has been gnawing (GNAWING, I say) on me for some time now.

Something woke me at 4:30 this morning so I got out of bed, wrapped myself in my warm robe, made myself a latte (which woke up Papa Pea in the process -- oops), and headed for a head-first dive into fabric, thread and batting.

Now a little before 10 a.m. I need a short stretch and break. I see I've gotta take my time working back into this quilting thing; seems I have a little tension in my neck, back and shoulder muscles.

Can I forget everything else I could/should be doing on this gray, drippy Sunday and allow myself to quilt, quilt, quilt?

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pics from the Past Week or So

Our California family is currently winging their way back home and it's time for Mama and Papa Pea to put their work clothes back on and dive into chores needing to be done!

But first, a quick (although lengthy in pictures) recap of what's been going on the last week and a half.

We did manage to take M & D on a hike or two before the smoke from the forest fires in our area got too thick.

A little rest at the top at the spectacular overlook. Papa Pea's brother M and his wife D in the foreground, Papa Pea in background.

Papa Pea in a contemplative pose.

M & D on the return trail ahead of us after going down one area of steep steps. Much easier going down than coming up!

We did coerce them into helping with a bit of work while they were here. Above we're applying new caulking to the top inlet of the stovepipe for our main wood burning stove. I'm manning (womaning?) the caulk gun, D is smoothing the caulk with a highly technical tool (a popsicle stick) and M is lending support . . . and paper toweling.

D donned my Mrs. Darth Vader mask after volunteering to do the spray painting on the stove. (I'm sure she's thrilled this picture leaves her so unrecognizable because she looks about as fetching in the get-up as I do.)

The next day after the paint had thoroughly dried, Papa Pea took advantage of M's help to move the stove back into the house.

In place and nearly ready to be fired up.

A couple of days later, Papa Pea dragged M out as slave labor to do some wood working.

We had a couple of big poplar trees fall this summer right on our pile of eight-foot long logs waiting to be processed. More work for Papa Pea to clear them off before he could start the "real" chainsawing.

We are so, so blessed to have the good neighbor we do. Mr. Heavy Machinery Neighbor was clearing a client's land for a house site. The people didn't want the maple trees he took down and asked him to remove them. We were the lucky recipients of this big pile of excellent firewood delivered right to our wood working area.

Last night was the last time for the five of us to get together. Above from left to right is SIL D, Chicken Mama, me and M.

Same line-up but Papa Pea in my place next to his "little" brother. What we really needed was someone here to take a picture of the five of us as a group!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For Anyone Who May Be Concerned . . .

Just hung up from a phone call from my dear brother in Illinois-land who called to make sure we were alright considering the news he's been hearing about the wild fires around us.

My blog posts have been scanty because of our time spent with Papa Pea's brother and SIL from California who have been visiting. Our usual day-to-day schedule and my blogging schedule have been topsy-turvy with our company here so worry was added to Brother J's thinking when my regular posts haven't been turning up.

There are several fires burning in the area . . . but keep in mind that our "area" is vast, heavily forested and sparsely populated. The worst fire has now burned 100,000 acres. The closest area that has been evacuated is about 30 miles from us as the crow flies. Our immediate area is experiencing heavy smoke and falling ash but we don't currently feel any danger from the fires.

In the 38 years we've lived up here, we've had a burning fire much closer to us (one within a mile and a half) but this is the heaviest smoke for the longest period of time we've know. My visiting SIL suffers from asthma which is aggravated by the smoke so this has been an unfortunate happenstance during their visit.

The fires that are nearest to dwellings or moving toward dwellings are being fought aggressively but some are in spots in the heavy wilderness with no road access and can be fought only from the air with droppings of water and/or flame retardants. These fires are being watched carefully but for the most part are left to burn themselves out which can take literally months.

The smell of smoke is very evident even inside our house and we'll all probably smell like smoked fish for a while after all is said and done. Forest fires are a natural part of the area we live in but they can also be terrifyingly scary and they are nothing that those of us living here don't take seriously. For us personally here at our little homestead, at this time, we're not in any kind of danger. And we're very, very thankful for it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Quick Post . . .

There's evidence in our back yard that fall is moving in.

We've seen more pronounced fall colors out and about and after our temperature of 94 degrees (!) day before yesterday, I'm ready for autumn to arrive!

Look what else I stumbled upon this morning. Some of my volunteer cherry tomatoes are actually getting ripe! I really didn't think I would see it happen this year. Maybe that 94 degree day had something to do with it?

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Californians Have Arrived

After what seems like several aborted attempts in the last couple of years to travel east and north, Papa Pea's little brother and wife have finally made it to Minnesota!

Along with a lot of chatter to catch up in the last day or so, we got out for a beautiful hike yesterday. Our colors are just starting to turn and this un-retouched shot was taken from a foot bridge looking down into a beautiful river gorge.

More breath-taking scenery around each bend of the trail.

Even though younger brother is a wee bit (!) afraid of heights, he was game and went along with some of our mountain goatish trips out to some overhanging outlooks to peer down, down, down at the river. That is to say he volunteered to stay firmly planted on the designated trail (safely back from most overhangs) to be sure we could find our way back to it! Whadda guy.

We had a great hike and nobody tripped and went boom on the uneven and slightly challenging trail. The first half of the hike is up into the gorge (puff, puff) but coming down was accomplished in half the time with SIL leading and the rest of us hustling to stay up with her. That girl can move!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Wolf Encounter, Up Close and Personal

This morning, Jane, over at Hard Work Homestead, wrote of two stray dogs on her property that looked very much like wolves. Since wolves don't live in her area, she quickly realized they were indeed dogs and not wolves, but none the less, having stray dogs harassing your livestock is not a pleasant happening. Jane's post reminded me of a post I originally made in October of 2009 and decided to reprint below.

Here is "Meeting Mr. Wolf."

The tale I'm going to tell (and it is a true one) took place thirty-some years ago when we were homesteading on the first piece of property we bought here in Minnesota.

It was about this time of year, in the fall, and we had our milk goats housed in an old log barn that had originally been built on the land when it was first homesteaded in the early 1900s.

That particular late afternoon, my husband was about a mile down the road at a friend's house who was our closest neighbor and owned and operated a saw mill. Our daughter was three or four years old. As I got ready to do outside chores, I gave her the choice of coming with me or staying inside. She knew that when neither her dad nor I was in the house with her and she chose to stay inside, she had to gather together some books and stay in a designated comfy chair to "read" while we were outside. Fortunately, that day she chose to stay inside.

The barn was a ways away from the mobile home we were then living in, and I always had my hands full when I took the hike down to the barn to do the milking. That day I had the wash bucket, the milk pail, and another bucket of apple peelings to give the goats. The door to the barn was on one of the short ends. It was a dutch door, and I had closed the bottom part of it earlier in the afternoon because it was windy out and all the goats were snuggled down inside the barn. I had to walk along one long side of the barn and then take a left hand turn to get to the end the door was on.

As I turned that corner, I stopped in mid-step when I came within three feet of one very large, beautiful white and gray wolf sitting on his haunches in front of the closed bottom part of the barn door.

Silly me. My first inclination was that he was someone's AWOL sled dog. There was a family living about two miles away as the crow flies that had a small team for mushing, and I immediately thought of them as occasionally one of their dogs would get off his chain and the whole neighborhood would be alerted to be on the lookout for the escapee.

I said out loud, "Well, whose sled dog are you?" Other than to tilt his head and look at me inquisitively, the wolf didn't move a muscle. We looked at each other for a few seconds before it slowly dawned on me that this was no runaway domesticated dog. This was one honking, huge, healthy timber wolf.

Starting to talk to him in a very calm voice, I slowly backed up the way I had just come. "You shouldn't be here so close to the barn. We have big goats and little goats in there and you would really scare them if you were to jump over that door into the barn. You need to go back into the woods now and stay away from our buildings."

I walked backwards about halfway up to the house before I had the nerve to turn around and scurry the rest of the way up to our porch. When I reached the house, I saw the wolf trot up along the same path I had just taken. Gulp. He was a big one. About a third of the way up the path, there was a road going off to the right we had made by driving across one of our hay fields. This road eventually led to the thick woods where it became one of our ski trails.

Mr. Wolf ambled down the road until he disappeared from view. I got on the phone and called the house where Papa Pea was. The nine year old daughter answered the phone and I told her to go outside to find Papa Pea and tell him it was no emergency, but I'd like him to come home as soon as possible which he did.

I related my story to him. He took a gun (not to harm the wolf but rather to scare him away if need be) and went down the road to see if he could spot any evidence of the wolf. He was gone about ten minutes when we heard one shot fired.

Papa Pea had followed the road to where it crossed a small creek before going up into the woods. Near the creek bed he heard some rustling behind a huge boulder and then saw two big, fuzzy, pointed ears slowly showing over the top of the boulder, and then a forehead, and then a pair of healthy, sparkling eyes. (All the better to see you with, my dear. Hee-hee.)

He fired his gun into the ground, and shouted at the wolf that we'd appreciate it if he'd stay away from our animals. The wolf turned tail and loped off into the woods.

Papa Pea returned and told us what had happened and remarked, "That was one big, beautiful specimen of a wolf!"

When my heart rate finally returned to normal, I realized what a truly unique experience I had just had. The wolf didn't feel threatened by my presence nor was he in the least aggressive toward me. Because he was so calm, and inquisitive, and beautiful, I didn't think to panic when I came upon him.

That was the last time we ever had any problem with wolves being so close to our buildings or animals. Well, except for the time our ninety pound, bear-like Bouvier dog, Max, was lured out into the field by a female wolf in heat and her husband/boyfriend/significant other came charging out of the woods intent on having Max for lunch. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Da Sink

I've used the sink all day today and am happy to report . . . I love it!

This is my first goose neck "high" faucet and it's working out great. The mixer handle is on the left of the faucet, then comes the spray first on the right. The thingie in the far right hole is a hand soap dispenser but that will be replaced with the faucet for our reverse osmosis water filter system when Papa Pea gets a chance to get that hooked back up.

The lower view . . . not so nice yet. The red bucket is for one small drip we had from one of the drains last night but it seems to have sealed itself. We need to lay a piece of vinyl on the floor which will be good if any water ever does drip or otherwise get under there. I need to paint the cabinet framing yellow (which you can see is still the old white) and get the new pine doors made, polyed and installed and that area will start to look much better.