Spam & Eggs: A Bloggy Headache

I totally stole this title from my friend, BE Sanderson. Monday, I was lamenting that I wasn’t getting any notifications that I’d had any comments from my ‘egg post‘.

It turns out, I had comments, just no notifications. Then, out of spite or dumb luck, after noon time, no one was able to make any comments at all, even if they had already commented that day! They were told their comments were spam! Spam!

Honestly, I would never be that rude. You know how much I love you guys.

It was a mystery, and me with no bloodhound and even less computer skills. I checked the settings on all my plugins nearly a dozen times. Everything was as I remembered it. Nothing had changed.

Caveat: My WordPress theme (the layout of the blog) hasn’t been updated to the latest version. I was waiting for hell to freeze over because I know the minute I update it, I’ll lose all of the modifications I made to the blog over the past year.

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but to me, it’s torture because WordPress (and all the plugins) I use are only user-friendly to people under the age of twenty. Finding where I added some tiny bit of text is like searching for buried treasure–while blindfolded.

The other possibility is that when I spoke to my web host geek, he mentioned something about a line of code might be corrupted.

My last possibility is that it could be JetPack, a major plugin that also flashed an error message about some code being wonky. Strangely enough, the error message disappeared when I clicked on it, so who knows.

The worst case scenario is that they might have to purge the core files and reboot them with the original files. Yes, this is as scary as it sounds. What happens to all my modifications on the blog? And what happens to all my content?

So I’m trying not to jump the gun. I’ll start with JetPack and see what they say. Then update the theme to see if that helps. And if all else fails I’ll let WordPress reset the files.

Life was easier when someone else did the background work for me like Blogger.com or WordPress.com, but I really like being in control of my content. I only wish I had a teenager nearby with mad coding skills.

So this is a head’s up. If you see this blog going blank, turning somersaults, or grinning at you like a demented psychopath, I can assure you, I will look worse.

In other news I have some really great stories to tell you about where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. If WordPress will play nice with me, I’ll catch you up on events next week.

Big plans ahead for the homestead. Big plans.

Comment Update: I contacted JetPack since it appears the problem is with their plugin. Still no word on the fix.  🙁

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How Do You Like Your Eggs

With Easter nearly here, eggs are on sale everywhere. If you don’t raise your own chickens, now is the time to stock up.

Eggs are a cheap source of protein–unless you insist on pastured eggs. I was shocked at the price. No wonder my friends go nuts when I send them home with fresh eggs.

That’s good news if you’re on a budget and need more protein in your diet. Tuna, beans, peanut butter, and oats are also cheap sources of protein.

According to Live Science, eggs are a complete protein. It has all of the B vitamins and amino acids, as well as vitamin D. All of this for very few calories.

Eggs are so versatile. Feast your eyes on the possibilities.

• Fried
• Scrambled
• Poached
• Hard boiled
• Soft boiled
• Omelette
• Deviled
• Quiche
• Frittata
• Egg salad
• Breakfast burrito

You can have them for dinner. My neighbor does this all the time. You can doctor them up with everything from spinach to ham, asparagus to sausage. Eggs marry well with so many other ingredients.

I didn’t know this, but a quiche is an egg custard made with cream while a frittata is like a thick baked omelette. I’ve never been overly fond of either though I do have a recipe for a very tasty spinach frittata.

I’m a little picky with how my eggs are cooked. I don’t like them baked only because I think most people over bake them. There’s a tiny window between cooked and overcooked in my book.

If they aren’t fluffy and light I have two very grateful dogs that will help me out. This might be why I have such an attentive audience during breakfast.

My favorite egg dish is the omelette. I whisk mine in a bowl until it’s light and frothy. Meanwhile I quickly stir fry vegetables ahead of time so they don’t have to wait for them to cook inside the omelette.

Did you know that IHOP pours pancake batter into their omelette mix to make it fluffy?

You can also use milk, cream, water, or seltzer water. 1 tablespoon per egg. Another trick is to whip the egg whites first and then add the yolks for its final beating. The important thing is to whip air into the mixture.

Make sure your burner is set to medium high heat. Roll the egg mixture evenly in the pan, adding your vegetables and cheese. As soon as the bottom layer sets (becomes firm), fold each side gently with a rubber spatula. Top with cheese.

At this point. I turn off the heat and cover the pan for half a minute to let the residual heat melt the cheese.

How do you like your eggs? Do you have a recipe for deviled eggs you care to share?

UPDATE • UPDATE • UPDATE

Well something seems to be broken. I’m getting word that people can’t leave a comment. If this happens to you, could you email me and let me know? Also if you can send me a screen capture of the comment box, that would help too.

I’m going to have to talk to IT. May God have mercy on my soul.

NEW UPDATE: The techy folks at IT didn’t help me, but somehow I stumbled on the answer on my own. The comment box should be fixed now. I’m not sure if it changed how you subscribe to comments, but if you can let me know I’d appreciate it.

I am not a drinking woman, but tonight I might make an exception.

This Week’s Menu, February 19, 2017

Menu for the week of February 19, 2017

Sunday
Breakfast: Toast and juice
Lunch: Munchies
Dinner: Dinner out, probably Chinese

Monday
Breakfast: Corned beef hash and eggs
Lunch: Chinese leftovers
Dinner: Baked cod

Tuesday
Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy
Lunch: Corndogs
Dinner: Baked chicken

Wednesday
Breakfast: Toast and juice
Lunch: Tuna fish sandwiches in pita bread
Dinner: Steak

Thursday
Breakfast: Leftover steak with eggs
Lunch: Soup
Dinner: Shrimp fried rice

Friday
Breakfast: Quesadillas
Lunch: BLT sandwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti with homemade sauce, garlic bread

Saturday
Breakfast: Breakfast out, garage sales are starting again. 🙂
Lunch: Skipping lunch
Dinner: Pizza

It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any more cold weather. I won’t start my garden early–just in case. I’ve been snookered before. My potato bed is planted though. In Texas, the traditional time to plant potato seed is just before Valentine’s Day.

We are getting hammered with rain which is a little inconvenient because all of the neighbors want to get together to repave our private road. We’ll just have to wait until we can time dry weather with crushed rock delivery.

Ah, the glamour of country living.

Standby Meals: What to eat when there’s nothing to eat.

 

It drives me insane when Greg goes to the fridge and tells me there’s nothing to eat. What he really means is there’s nothing ready made (or fattening) to eat.

Ask anyone who’s been to my house, my pantry and freezers are full. I try to keep two of everything so I never run out of anything. Except for the holidays, I don’t keep candy or sweets in the house, but that’s not to say we couldn’t bake a cake or cookies.

Although I write a menu every week, sometimes life gets in the way. I try to be flexible. If we’re far from home, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat out. If we’re out later than I expect, Greg knows I’ll change that night’s fare to something I can make quickly.

For this reason, there’s always pasta, rice, and frozen quickies like eggrolls, sausages, and bacon. My ground beef is always prepacked into patties, so they defrost quickly. Shrimp is an old standby. I can make a shrimp pasta in under 30 minutes.

When I’m busy I rely on “fast” foods. Below is my list of quick meals.

• Shrimp pasta: Add some basil or spinach, minced garlic, and butter to the pasta and you have a delicious meal.

• Spaghetti with tomato-based sauce: I dress up my sauces with dehydrated tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and occasionally sausage.

• BLT: I buy bacon in the biggest packs I can find. (The unit pricing is cheaper.) I divide it up into packages of five pieces each. Three for Greg, two for me. Each package can be defrosted in the microwave in under sixty seconds, and then fried normally. BLTs in under 15 minutes.

• Peanut butter and jelly: I love peanuts but the texture of peanut butter makes me gag. Just jelly for me if we need a fast snack.

• Grilled Cheese sandwiches: It can’t get much easier than this. Nice thick bread and a good quality cheese. Add a little bowl of soup and you’re set.

• Quesadillas: I actually use this standby for breakfast. A quesadilla is grilled cheese on a tortilla. Sometimes I add thinly sliced beef if I have some leftover from a previous meal. Peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and spinach dress up drab quesadillas.

• Pita sandwiches: I love this when my garden is overflowing with veggies. I fry (or grill) eggplant, squash, spinach and onions. Load them into a split pita bread, and add a little cheese. For Greg I usually have to add some kind of meat or he grumbles.

• Fried Rice: I actually don’t make this often enough. I love it with shrimp, but any meat will do. Throw in an eggroll on the side if you need more food.

• Taco salad: There’s always lettuce in the house. I coarsely chop the lettuce, and tomatoes. Two ground beef patties are then chopped up and fried with taco seasoning, diced onions and peppers. On top of this is a big wedge of avocado and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. The whole meal is ready in under 20 minutes.

• Tacos: Same idea as above but with corn tortillas. On a platter, I layer thinly sliced lettuce, diced onions, tomato, jalapeno peppers, and grated cheddar cheese. Everyone can make his own tacos. Easy dinner in under 20 minutes.

• Rice Bowl: This is similar to the taco salad except that rice is your base instead of lettuce.

• Sausage on a roll: We keep various types of sausages in the freezer and only take them out as we need them. A little defrosting in the microwave and then cook normally. A friend recently gifted us with deer sausage that was amazing. Whoever made that sausage knew what he was doing. This is a super quick meal. You can be sitting down and eating in under 15 minutes.

• Burgers: This is the one item I prefer to have thawed naturally. I eat my beef rare, so no microwaving for me. We can eat in under 20 minutes.

What do you think of the list? Is there anything you’d add?

Out of curiosity, how do you like your beef cooked? You know, in case you come over for barbecue. 🙂

Surviving a No-Spend January: How Did We Do?

 

I chose January for my No-Spend month because it seemed natural to hold back after a December full of purchases and entertaining. Little did I know how difficult it would be.

We actually did pretty good for the first three weeks. We ate at home (a biggie) and we were conscientious about saying no to petty purchases.  Once the floor refinishers arrived though, all bets were off.

Although we stayed true to our mission the first couple of days of the remodel when I had access to my kitchen, I didn’t take into consideration that we wouldn’t be able to walk on the floor (or move furniture) for a couple of days after the job was done.

We ate out for two days more than I anticipated.

Technically, we failed our No-Spend month experiment, but we were so very close to succeeding.

 

I had already planned on tacking on another week of no-spending in February to make up for our lapse in January, but after discussing it with Greg, we think we can do a week EVERY month.

That’s one week of no eating out, no buying frivolous stuff, no clothes, electronics, or luxuries. That includes no diamond stud collars for Nana or Iko. :cue sad dog faces:  Sorry, guys!

I think we can do it. After all a week should be easier than a month. Hopefully, it will make us more mindful the rest of the time.

 

Stuff I learned about No Spending for a month:

• Window shopping is enough to quell my need for big ticket items. We went window shopping for sofas after our floor remodel. I was annoyed at the prices so we decided to wait for the next major holiday to see if we could get better deals. I’m keeping a list of prices and quality so I have something to compare.

• We ate out more than I realized. And not necessarily for meals either. It was the little stuff like drinks, mints, or snacks. A ridiculous waste of money.

• I became more mindful of my personal demons. I deliberately walked past the clothing and dvd departments. I never buy clothes at full price, but mark downs are like candy to me.

• Everything is negotiable. We had dental cleanings scheduled and we opted out of the x-rays. They said that one x-ray every two years is sufficient. Greg’s hygienist did one better and told him he didn’t need to regularly get a dentist to look at his mouth. (Mine did not tell me this.)

For $50 my dentist spent all of 30 seconds examining the inside of my mouth. I thought his examination was was part of getting my teeth cleaned. Dentists had always checked after the hygienist. I didn’t realize it was an add-on.  By all means get checkups, but if you’re not prone to health problems, don’t feel as if you need somebody to look at the inside of your mouth every single time.

Could you do a No Spend week? After doing this ‘cleanse’ for a month, a week seems like a piece of cake.

PS  We still LOVE our floors. It totally transformed our home.

This Week’s Menu, February 12, 2017

Menu for the week of February 12, 2017

Sunday
Breakfast: Toast and juice
Lunch: Skipping lunch
Dinner: BBQ

Monday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Soup
Dinner: Leftover BBQ

Tuesday
Breakfast: Bagels with cream cheese
Lunch: Chicken salad
Dinner: Meatball sandwiches

Wednesday
Breakfast: Leftover pancakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwich
Dinner: Skillet lasagna

Thursday
Breakfast: Bacon and eggs
Lunch: Soup
Dinner: Pan fried trout

Friday
Breakfast: Orange Danish
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Fajitas with whatever is left over from Sunday’s BBQ

Saturday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Lunch: Skipping lunch
Dinner: Catfish

I switched Saturday’s BBQ with this Sunday so I could have friends over to share it. It worked out because one of my neighbors came down with the flu so I made her a pot roast with buttered noodles. It was a huge meal so I kept some for me and Greg too.

It must’ve worked because she says she feels better today. Call me Dr. Maria. 😀

I never know quite what to make for a sick person, but pot roast is such comfort food. It’s soft too so it’s easy on a sore throat.

I had the flu right before Thanksgiving. Looks like it’s still making the rounds.

 

 

When Do You Start Spring Cleaning?

 

Spring is here, well not officially, but it’s been pretty warm. This puts me in a cleaning, throwing away, and donating mood.

When we had the floors refinished, we realized we didn’t want to move a lot of our furniture back. It’s not that it didn’t fit, it’s that we now prefer a cleaner and less cluttered look.

I suspect there might be another garage sale in our future. For once we both want a less cluttered life.

I tried selling some of this stuff on Craigslist, but I have had the worst luck. Nearly everyone who called us were miles away. I realize we’re in the middle of nowhere special, but all the calls were from the outskirts of the selling region for where I placed the ad. Too far a drive for most people.

We could donate this stuff, but there again is another bee in my bonnet. Not a single charity we called would come out to our place. Not. One. We had to lug all our stuff last year, but I’ve had enough. If a charity wants our donation they’ll have to come to us. This stuff is heavy! And I have a husband with bad knees. I refuse to let him hurt himself any longer.

We have some expenses coming up this year, so making a little extra cash would help. Greg definitely needs a new truck. Our old Dodge Durango is almost 20 years old with over 300,000 miles. It’s time to retire the old workhorse.

Our road has to be re-graveled too, along with two driveways. And then there’s the fence project continually hanging on the horizon. We really need to get that done this year. None of these projects are cheap, but they are necessary. On a fixed income, it becomes a test of strategy to figure out when to purchase what first.

There’s also Greg’s knees to consider, a yearlong project in itself. Insurance will cover most of it, but those deductibles add up.

I like to do a thorough cleaning and sorting at least three times a year, both in the house and out in the farm in general. Spring is the big one, followed by a mini clean and sort in Summer and another big push in Fall before the holidays settle in. I reserve Winter for unadulterated hibernation.

How about you? Do you Spring clean? Do you do it more than once a year?


New Blogging Strategy

 

Last year when I migrated to WordPress. org. I made it my mission to keep a list of ideas so I didn’t run out of topics for my blog. This works well in theory, but I discovered that when life got busy as it is apt to get, I would settle for an easier topic than one that needed research, pictures, or extra time to write.

This year, I decided to treat my blog a little more pro-actively. Now when I get an idea, I start writing about the topic immediately. It might not be publish-ready, but the gist of the idea is down and available for editing.

Some of my best ideas happen when I first wake up. When this happens I open a new WordPress post and start writing. Since there’s no immediate date for its release, I can keep writing or editing it for days or weeks before I click publish.

So far for 2017, I have twelve extra posts ready for publication. I’d like to be 30 posts ahead by April so I won’t feel so pressured when time is short and days are busier.

I don’t know if this will help you. I think it depends on what kind of blogger you are, but so far it’s been working for me. I thought I would pass it on.

Do you write your blog posts in advance? How many do you keep in reserve?

Blog Housekeeping:  New! I’ve added subheadings to a couple of the main headings in my navigation pane.

• Food is now subdivided into Menus 2016 and 2017.
• Homesteading has a subheading called Home & Life to cover the non-homesteadery things.
• I’ve also added Reviews & Op Ed to the main menu.

You can also look up past posts by category or tag with the widget at the top of the right sidebar.


Valentine’s Day: Frugal Gifts For Your Sweetie

Valentine’s Day is on the way. Do you celebrate with your significant other–or your kids? I love it when parents include the kids. Although we generally see Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday, I prefer to see it as a holiday that promotes love in general.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first.

Flowers: I love flowers. I really do! But flowers are such ethereal gifts. Although there are ways to extend the life of flowers, it hardly seems worth the money.

If your honey loves flowers, why not a plant s/he can have for years to come? Rosemary and lavender are fragrant and perennial. For the serious plant lover, how about a bonsai? Or maybe a potted miniature rose.

Chocolate: A traditional standby. If chocolate is on your list, buy the best you can. I strongly urge you to find a local chocolatier, but if that’s not available, you can settle for Godiva or Ghirardelli in a pinch. Good chocolate is not cheap, but you don’t have to buy a giant box to say I love you. A little box is fine if it’s the best.

Jewelry: I’m not a jewelry lover. Greg has given me some beautiful things over the years, but he knows now I don’t go gaga for the shiny stuff. If your honey loves jewelry, stick to simple unless you have a fat wallet. I hate to see people blow all their money on baubles.

If you’re going to spend that kind of money, take him/her on a trip. Experiences are going to be much more memorable than a trinket.

Other novel gift ideas

• Rent a romantic movie (or one your significant other really loves), and splurge on the good popcorn.

• Learn to make the perfect cocktail. Surprise your sweetie with a cocktail, or wine and chocolates.

• If you’re not the usual cook at your house, cook a meal.

• Do chores. Nothing is sweeter to me than when Greg says, ‘stay inside, I’ll feed the animals’.

• Go out for lunch instead of dinner.

• Have appetizers and drinks instead of a full dinner.

• Instead of chocolates, how about gourmet jelly beans? My favorites are the citrus flavored.

• Some people don’t like chocolate or can’t eat it. Weird, but true! Consider alternatives like nuts or fruit baskets.

• Do a photo on a mug. Tiny Prints has a whole range of items to personalize.

• Leave secret messages. I used to do this long ago. Leave little love notes for your honey in his lunch, on his bathroom mirror, or in his wallet.

For kids:

• Make Valentine themed cupcakes.

• Drop those little Sweetheart candies (the ones with the messages stamped on them) in your kid’s lunch bag or in a pocket.

• Share a movie with the kids. I recommend the oldies like I Remember Mama, Life With Father, or Little Women.

         

When all is said and done, the best part of Valentine’s Day is to be together. Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What do you like to do?

 


This Week’s Menu, February 5, 2017

Menu for the week of February 5, 2017

Sunday
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Nacho plate
Dinner: Halibut with Mediterranean salad

Monday
Breakfast: Bagels with cream cheese
Lunch: Tuna fish sandwiches
Dinner: Steak

Tuesday
Breakfast: Bacon and eggs
Lunch: Salad with steak strips
Dinner: Chicken

Wednesday
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Corndogs
Dinner: Burgers

Thursday
Breakfast: Corned beef hash with eggs
Lunch: Soup
Dinner: Salmon with spinach salad

Friday
Breakfast: Toast and juice
Lunch: Pita sandwiches with mixed grilled vegetables
Dinner: Taco salad

Saturday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Lunch: Quinoa salad
Dinner: BBQ

We had to cancel last week’s BBQ on account of cold weather. Winter in Texas is in constant flux. We might get two days of 50 degree days followed by three days in the mid 70s. This week it’s supposed to get up to 80 and then fall again to the 60s. Up and down constantly.

I’m doubling down my efforts to make smaller and less fatty meals. Greg’s blood pressure has me concerned. It seems to have stabilized, but I don’t like it jumping up and down like the Texas weather.

Iko had us worried for a while too. His appetite seemed a bit off, but he too seems to have recovered. If anyone asks me where I get my gray hair, I can honestly say it comes from both my boys. 🙂

 

 

 

The Crown: Series Review

The Crown PosterI’m in danger of becoming an Anglophile! We’ve been hooked on British dramas/documentaries that show how people lived in England through various points in history. The Crown is just another example of that obsession. This is a Netflix original series chronicling the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

I honestly didn’t expect the series to be this good. Any time I see the words, “original programming” by a streaming giant, I’m skeptical about production values. I find myself happily wrong.

It’s obvious they spent a great deal of money on this series. The acting is stellar, the eye for detail is meticulous.  The sense of character growth is palpable. It’s almost as if you’re watching them blossom into the people each of them would become in the 21st century.

Case in point: I’ve always admired Winston Churchill. He made some hard, horrifying, and brutal decisions, especially during the war, but he was a force of nature and I can’t help but admire his audacity. John Lithgow used all his acting chops to bring this bulldog of a man to life.

If you have an interest in history, English royals, or English culture of the 1950s I can happily recommend this series. There’s only one season so far with at least five more seasons expected. The first season seems centered on the 1950s. I thought at first it would be a dull period of time, but quite a lot happened right after the war.

Things were changing in Britain and the empire. There seems to be a tug of war between tradition and modernity with Elizabeth walking an ever narrowing rope. The series was engrossing from the very beginning.

We’ve been watching Victoria on PBS every Sunday night, but The Crown by far is the better series.

Have you seen it? What did you think of it? Do you think the Queen was characterized accurately? I found myself sympathizing with her (and her father) more than I expected.

14 Sure-Fire Ways to Stay Warm

Texas in the winter is like playing blackjack with a card sharp. Just when you think you’re done with cold weather, Mother Nature plunges us into frigid temps.

We can manage for a few hours of bitter cold, but after that all bets are off. Pipes freeze, goats complain, and chickens lay egg-cicles.

Since we have farm animals, it’s a military operation to blow out all the water lines so that there is no water in any of the exposed pipes or watering troughs. Depending on how long it stays below freezing, we haul warm water to the animals at least twice a day. We also drape blankets and plastic sheeting as wind breaks, then we all hunker down and wait for normal temperatures to return.

I don’t like cold weather, which is why I use these tips to stay toasty.

 

  1. Wear long johns
  2. Drink something hot: coffee, tea, cocoa, soup
  3. Cover your head. It’s amazing how warm you’ll feel if your head is covered.
  4. Dress in layers, especially in Texas where the temperatures fluctuate constantly.
  5. Seal all drafts. Under the door and around the windows. Before we replaced our threshold sweeps, the cold air used to stream in. In a pinch I blocked the doors with old towels.
  6. Insulate your windows with bubble wrap. You can buy a big roll of bubble wrap for under $20.
  7. Wear socks. In the winter, I wear socks in the house all day long.
  8. Wear flannel to bed. Most of the time I want the lightest cloth on my body, but in the winter, it’s flannel, baby.
  9. Cook stick-to-your-ribs meals like chili, stew, pot roast, and casseroles.
  10. Exercise. I know. That’s a dirty word in most places, but moving around will bring your core temperature up. 15 minutes hauling water to animals and by the time I come in, I’m warm for the next four hours.
  11. Light a fire. We rarely get a chance to light up our fireplace, but it’s so nice when we do. It takes the chill off the room right away.
  12. Bake. The house is going to warm up fast, and smell amazing.
  13. Take a bath or shower. I like to warm up the bathroom first with a mini electric heater. It keeps the room the same temperature as the shower so there’s no cold shock. Once I’m dry I slip into my jammies and I’m good to go…
  14. Go to bed that is…pull the covers up and wait for Mother Nature to be reasonable.

It’s supposed to be quite mild all week. But next week? It’s anyone’s guess. In north Texas it’s not unusual to run the air conditioner and heater in the same day. We generally have several mini freezes in January and February. They don’t last long but they sure are inconvenient.

Does it get cold by you? What’s your favorite way to warm up?

 


This Week’s Menu, January 29, 2017

Menu for the week of January 29, 2017

Sunday
Breakfast: Omelette
Lunch: Chili
Dinner: Pan fried trout

Monday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Crackers and brie
Dinner: Fajitas

Tuesday
Breakfast: Homemade egg McMuffin
Lunch: Leftover chili
Dinner: Fajita salad (using leftover fajita meat)

Wednesday
Breakfast: Leftover pancakes
Lunch: Gyros
Dinner: Shrimp stir fry

Thursday
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Macaroni and cheese
Dinner: Steak

Friday
Breakfast: Leftover steak with eggs
Lunch: Skipping lunch/Early dinner
Dinner: BBQ ribs and smoked chicken

Saturday
Breakfast: Fruit kolaches
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover BBQ

We’re catching up on putting the house back together. It was a lot harder bringing everything back in than when we took them out, mostly because we didn’t want the slightest scuff mark on the new floor.

The hardest one was the leather sofa. The floor refinishers moved that out for us, but we had to bring it in. A little ingenuity and two old people brought in what it took three men to take out.  When you don’t have brawn, it pays to have creativity.

I’m so pleased with the house now. There are a couple of minor improvements I’d still like to do, but for now it’s fine. I want to commence with getting back to normal again.

Refinishing Solid Wood Flooring

 

It’s been nearly a week of disorder and inconvenience, but we finally have our house back. Well, mostly back.

For the first 24 hours all we did was marvel at the new floor. It was too pretty to cover up. I’m not sure the pictures will do it justice because the texture and color is subtle.

We wanted a smooth finish even though that hand-scraped look is all the rage. We resisted because the hand-scraped floors we’d seen were deeply grooved with that worn, rustic look. Even the floor company owner tried to talk us into hand-scraped floors, saying that dog nails and rough pads won’t show up as quickly.

When the actual refinishers showed up, David, the crew foreman, took the time to create three large squares on my floor then sanded, hand scraped, and showed me three different stains so I could see how it would look in real life and not on a color swatch. I told him we didn’t like that deep grooved scraping, so he only lightly scraped it, giving it a subtle texture.

With the different color samples too, I changed my mind from mahogany (which has always been my favorite stain color) to a honeyed chestnut color. I thought the mahogany had too much purple in it.

I was trying to look into the future to see how the stain would wear five, ten years down the road. That purple undertone could come back to haunt me. I wanted a color that would mellow with age.

The refinishers were amazing. They worked all day, 8-10 hours a day with only a short break for lunch. We’d fix them coffee and sweet rolls in the morning and then left them to their work.

It was noisy! Between the sanding machine and the loud music, I don’t see how they weren’t all deaf. The polyurethane smell was as awful as predicted. But we were lucky. They timed it so that they’d varnish early in the morning. By bedtime, the odor was acceptable, especially since we could block off our bedroom and keep the window open. We didn’t have to go to a hotel!

Of course, now that we have a new floor, the old sofas look ratty by comparison. We’re keeping one because we’re lacking one in the formal living room, but my comfy cloth sofa has to go. It’s starting to show its age.

I don’t care for the color, but it was extremely comfortable.

We’d been window shopping for a new sofa, but I’m kind of disappointed in what’s available. I want leather again, something with narrow arm rests. I’m tired of the overstuffed look. Greg wants it to recline. That kind of takes away from the leaner silhouette I wanted, but I’m willing to let him have his recliner in lieu of style.

 

This is the one I’d rather have, but it’s got no reclining feature for Greg.

 

 

 

We found one we both seemed to like, but I wish it came in better color options. It’s exceptionally comfortable. Of all the sofas we tried, this one had the best feel. It has a power reclining feature too. Although it’s more ‘stuffed’ than I’d like, at least it has narrow arm rests.

Rugs are another thing we’ll have to buy. We have terrible luck with rugs, mostly because we have terrible dogs who like to scratch, lick, and paw at every rug in the house.

We learned our lesson long ago and will no longer pay a hefty price for nice rugs. But one thing at a time. For now I’m happy with my new floor. I’m only sorry we didn’t do it right the first time instead of going with that company that only ‘refreshes’ a floor. That was a waste of money.

Who gets to decide what kind of furniture goes in your house? Do you ever find you want to update the other things in your house once you’ve remodeled?

 

Breville Smart Toaster Oven Review

 

So help me, I fought against buying this machine. There was no way I was going to spend that much for a toaster oven. I’d already been burned once buying what I thought was a top of the line KitchenAid that I hated from Day One.

The KitchenAid was about $100 eight years ago. It was substantial, not the lightweight cheapies you see everywhere, but holy moley, was it hard to program. Push that button, twist that dial, sacrifice a unicorn, and hope for the best. Greg never got the hang of it. I only managed if I studied all the dials first so I knew what to touch first.

I was so glad when that thing bit the dust.

But I wasn’t prepared for sticker shock. The Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven was twice the price of the KitchenAid. In its defense, it’s also a convection oven, but still.

In a moment of weakness, Greg guilted me into buying the Breville. From the very first slice of toast, I was hooked.

• The controls are easy to understand and intuitive.
• The cooking area is ample. I can cook six slices of bread, a 12 inch pizza, and a whole chicken.
• The trays can be moved to three different positions.
• The convection oven part cooks in 2/3 the time of regular baking.
• It is EASY to clean. I cannot stress this enough. My old machine tore my hands apart every time I wanted to get into every nook and cranny.

It is expensive. There’s no getting around that, but I can honestly say it was worth it. Except for some Christmas baking, I have not used my regular oven since getting the Breville.

Greg was right. I was wrong. There! I admitted it on a public venue.

If you’re looking for a toaster oven, invest in this one.  I’ve used mine nearly every day since I got it in November and I’ve not had even the teensiest problem. Big ovens are fine for roasting turkeys or baking wedding cakes, but for everyday meals, the Breville is all I need.

If it lasts as long as the old one, it’ll be money well spent.

****

Speaking of money well spent, I am happy to report our floors are finished. It looks beautiful. If we can get some of the furniture back in, I’ll post pictures later this week.


This Week’s Menu, January 22, 2017

Menu for the week of January 22, 2017

Sunday
Breakfast: Bacon and eggs
Lunch: Red beans and rice
Dinner: Salmon with sauteed spinach

Monday
Breakfast: Cheese quesadillas
Lunch: Brisket sandwiches (from frozen sliced brisket stash)
Dinner: Steak and salad

Tuesday
Breakfast: Sausage biscuit sandwiches
Lunch: Leftover brisket sandwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti with garlic bread

Wednesday
Breakfast: Breakfast burritos
Lunch: Corndogs
Dinner: Baked chicken

Thursday
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Leftover chicken in sandwiches
Dinner: Shrimp-fried rice and egg rolls

Friday
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover shrimp-fried rice
Dinner: Taco night

Saturday
Breakfast: Leftover pancakes
Lunch: Tabouli and hummus
Dinner: Cheeseburgers

 

What a week it’s been. For those of you who caught last Monday’s post, 75% of my house was stripped bare of furniture and then workmen sanded, scraped, and refinished all my wood floors. It took them three and a half days and they did a magnificent job.

I’ll have to post pictures later this week. As I write this I’m cooped up in a tiny room with only my laptop. We probably won’t be able to move furniture back until Monday.

For now I’m glad it’s over.  It’s hard on man and beast alike when our routines are so disrupted. Probably the only ones who didn’t notice a difference were the farm animals.

We still have furniture to move, but at least the house is ours again. No more smell, no more noise. Home, sweet home.

 

Prepping For Another Major Renovation

 

I’m getting my floors refinished! That’s the good news.

Better news: I don’t have to get on my hands and knees and sand the floors myself.

The bad news? We have to move four rooms of furniture and appliances somewhere else. I honestly don’t know where we’re going to put everything.

This is how I hope it will look!

If we put the car outside, I guess we could put the bulk of the furniture in the garage, but I have a few delicate and HEAVY pieces that I’d like to move in as short a distance as possible. I also have to box up a ton of delicate figurines and decor that have to be stored separately and carefully.

For the last few days, we’ve been slowly boxing or dismantling things to move. I’m hoping the refinishers will help us move the really heavy pieces.

The refinishing will take at least three days, maybe four depending on when we can move the furniture back. We’ll have to leave the house entirely for the last two days because the fumes from the varnish will make it unlivable. I’m hoping I can find a pet friendly hotel nearby.

The first day won’t be so bad. I plan to make coffee and coffeecake for us and the refinishers. We can do cold sandwiches later in the day. But once the first coat of varnish goes down, we’ll have no access to the kitchen, or any other part of the house except for Greg’s study.

This puts a small kink in my No Spend January because we’ll be without a kitchen for three days, so we’ll have to eat out. I think the best fix I can do for that is to tack on one more week of no spending in February to make up for January.

Update on No Spend January: We’re actually doing quite well on our goal. Greg hasn’t complained at all. Once this is all over I’ll give a better account of where the pros and cons came in.

Have you ever had any remodeling where you had to leave your home? Did you book a hotel, or did you stay with friends/family?

Greg is not happy about leaving the house unattended, but we have no choice. There’s no way we can stay in a house with fumes. I’m particularly sensitive to chemical odors so there’s a chance even 24 hours won’t be enough for me.

I have posts planned for later this week, but I’m not sure if I’ll publish them because I probably won’t have access to a computer while the house is in disarray. So if you don’t hear from me, that’s why.