Sunday, January 31, 2010

The walls are down! And the House is still standing!

So as it turned out, Cody and myself have been sick over this week-end starting Friday.  So I had a choice, use this downtime to potter or to demolish the kitchen walls!  If you know me at all, you know that there really wasn't a choice as I really wanted the wall to come down!!!

Cody has asthma so demolishing would cause too much dust and caios which in turn would cause breathing problems, so it is really was a week-end of deconstruction.

Pierre worked from home on Friday.  No, really, he actually works - in the middle of our household happenings, he actually gets a lot done.  He successfully ignores us, and visa versa!  So here's how my Friday went ... I woke up to this - the kitchen wall inquestion ...

I first had to get all the screws out. I was definately in a quandry as to the best way to find them through the plaster and paint.  Without giving it a thought Cody pipes up and says - I know mum, that's easy!  Just use a magnet to find them ... out of the mouths of babes!  Sure enough ...

The magnet worked!  And I was able to clear the sheetrock of the screws that held it to the wall.  Next out with the tools .... hahahahhhaaaaa

There's me after clearing all the tiles off the wall, taking the screws out, and now cutting the sheetrock into manageable pieces.  Here's the wall looking from the other side.

After some time, alot of work, and a nice hot cup of tea ...

By this time my husband was finding it very difficult not to try to 'supervise' me and was getting slowly drawn in to the project.  I kept sending him away!  It was all me baby!!  I felt very invigarated doing this part of the project by myself - it really gave us a headstart into the week-end!

Next was dealing with the electrical and deconstructing the frame.  Seemed like I ended up using manual tools alot!!!  This time a haxesaw to cut through the nails at the top of the studs then I was able to pull them out with my hands ...

There's hubby hard at work - his work day drawing to a close!  To make a long, but very exciting day short ... here's what it looked like!

Then began the clean up.  PJ had finished work by now and was taking care of the electrical and was snooping in the ceiling which lead to another finding!  The smaller wall was NOT load bearing!  So do we keep the wall, or do we get rid of it????  I was 100% out of here ... but Pierre was aprehensive ... so we slept on it.   But in the mean time, I had cleaned all around it in preparation for deconstructing in the morning!!!!!!

There's the wall in question ... and here's a picture of Saturday's deconstruction!!!!

TA DA ...

So there you have it - you can see where the wall was by the outline of the hardwood floor to the right.  On the subfloor was additional plywood to lift the tile to the left.  I must say I just absolutely love it.  It's turned our level into one big humungus room with a fireplace in the middle ... It is wicked cool and I'm just loving it ... we have a long ways to go yet ...

The white columns are both load bearing and suit the architecture.

So today, Sunday we thought would be a piece of cake - that was our first mistake!!!  As we are going to hardwood the kitchen, we have to take the plywood off the floor ... what a day it has proved to be!!!!!!

Really not alot to show for it - but it involved a lot of work ... and I did end up with a nail in my hand ... tut, tut!

Boring stuff!  But it's the boring, teadious stuff that makes the job great!  And well worth the doing ... so here's where we left it tonight ...

There's scuba washing the floors, getting all the nasty fine dust off so that Cody can play tomorrow!

We freecycled the cabinets - they were in good shape and a family will be using them to replace their kitchen cabinets.  So next I need to pack the other cupbords, set up the other shelves, and then we're ready to take the remaining cabinets down ... so that's next weekend folks!

Tomorrow will be back to school, plant some vege seeds, and trying to get my to-do list caught up ... and hopefully to fit in a nice hot cup of tea!  Hopefully I'll get my voice back!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Vegetable Garden Mentor

One of my recent interests in life is Vegetable Gardening.  I still consider myself just a newbie - so I call myself the Virgin Vegetable Gardener.  And I have a 'mentor' whom I have been so fortunate to have found on this journey!  My mentor didn't ask for the job 'mentor', it just happened that way.  I don't even know if she realises that she is one!  I call her the Vegetable Guru!  I adore her!

She's been vege gardening about 3 years longer than me, but oh my, if only I had her greenthumb!  Really it's more than a greenthumb, it's her amazing ability to 'work' the year with her knowledge and preserving of food and her passion for creating something out of nothing.  She amazes me.  I want to make her proud of her 'protege'.  She does everything herself while all the time continuing to read, learn, try and upskill herself - a true pioneer woman whom I deeply admire and respect!  The Vege Guru is a true inspiration.

She's been there for me for 2 1/2 years now - translated means, I've hounded her with questions for 2 1/2 years now - and she has graciously taken the time to help me as I have needed it.   So by default, she's my mentor!  And it's not just me, she's on a quest for self sufficiency and sharing her skill base so that others can do the same. 

I don't know if I'll ever achieve what she has accomplished (I doubt many would).  But in spite of her busy schedule, she continues to encourage and support me to better myself.  They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery ...

This year I'm aspiring to grow my own seedlings into vege plants and if I can get my head around it, start canning and preserving - but for some reason, I have a major block!  I'm very unsure about myself and abilities when it comes to the vege garden, seed saving, canning, preserving, growing and harvesting, but push ahead because my mentor and friend continues to encourage and believe in me.  I've even expanded the garden ...

So, I just wanted to say that I am very blessed to have my mentor and appreciate her.  I hope that as I stuggle forward that I also can become a champion for self sufficiency and be a mentor, encourager, and believer in someone else who needs it!

Thank you Vegetable Guru for being you!  I am very fortunate to have you in my life! 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Kitchen Reno!

It's been 2 week-ends now and we've started renovating the kitchen.  And by renovating, I really mean renovating!  So far as to take down a wall between the dinning room and the kitchen.

Who?  Meet the team:  little old me, my husband and my 7 year old son.  You may think that a 7 year old might not be a help, but Cody has been involved in our home improvement projects since he was able to talk and hold a tool.  In the past, his presence has slowed the job down, but our perserverence and time spent showing and allowing him to participate is starting to paid off - and we are really seeing his skills improving.  That being said, we monitor him very closely!!!!  But, he works and really enjoys it!  His favourite part of the job is the demolition!!!  He has a full set of safety wear (important!!!!), and is well versed with most tools.

We are replacing all the cabinets, moving the refridgerator, kitchen sink, stove and range hood/microwave with ventilation, diswasher and demolishing an entire wall, re doing some plumbing, hardwood flooring and installation.

Not too shabby for do-it-yourselfers!  Last week-end we lifted up the tiles.  We plan on recycling these tiles to another floor, so each tile was lovingly lifted slowly and painfully!  Each tile was 'scraped' using a chysal and hammer to remove the mortar.  Each tile took approximately 1 hour to lift ... but we are left with tiles to redo another floor alongside our sore aching backs!  We never finished the floor!

This week-end we completed the floor and started packing.  Sorting through the 'necessities' was no fun, nor was the packing!  We put up a temporary shelving unit so that is now holding the important stuff.  Interesting to see what I call important! 

Once the upper and lower cabinets were emptied - just the cabinets on the side of the kitchen attached to the wall that is coming down - we spent the rest of the day undo electrical outlets, strip lighting, removing both upper and lower cabinets as well as the bench.  Hubby kindly cut me 12 inches off the large bench so that I have a little ledge to put some dirty dishes.

We're ahead of schedule.  I can't often say that - typically we underestimate the job!  So I will say it while I have the opportunity!!!

So presently I have half a kitchen, a sore body, but a great enthusiasm to get the wall down!  Hubby took the time to ensure that this is not a load bearing wall, but even that being said, we've agreed to dissect the wall in pieces rather than take a sledge hammer and crowbar to it.  We don't know all the electrical layout, so we plan on taking it slow and safe!

Once the wall is down, the easy part is over.  Then we put our plumbing hats on.  So that's where we're at!  Hopefully my next blog will read 'the wall is gone'!!!!  And the house is still standing!  Take care ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baby Seed Hatcher! AKA Growing Shelves!

I'm so excited!  I know it's crazy, but I have Spring in my heart!  I think this is in part because my seeds are ordered and I'm reading a wonderful gardening book that a friend gave me for my Birthday!!! 

Lets first start with the seeds.  Well thanks to the Vege Guru, we decided to split costs, seeds and got together to have a vege garden discussion.  I think I learned a TON from that chin wag!!!!  Thank you Vege Guru!  You are a true inspiration!!!  So now I am in the process of building an indoor Seed grower in order to be a good and wise steward of those baby seeds - planning on getting a head start again this year!!!!

So I read up on 'how to' do it yourself as the pre-made growing shelves are jolly expensive!!!!  $70 for one small light strip!!!!  And that's NOT a grow light!!!  So for a nonimal cost, I have planned my own and gone ahead and am presently building it.

Ace Hardware have a Gorilla Rack on sale $29 in their flyer this week, so that is my rack to hold the seedlings.  The dimentions are:  72"H x 34"W x 14"D.  There are 5 shelves, which translates into 4 seed growing areas.  Each shelf is topped with wood, so I have yet to attach my grow lights - from Wal-Mart.  24" strips at $10 per strip = $40 of lights.  A bargin if I say so myself!  I'm pretty chuffed with my economical buy!  You can use florescent lighting if you wanted to make it cheaper.  $2 cheaper per light at Wal-Mart.

I have yet to 'cover' the wood with some sort of laminated protection from water should it spill, and I still have a concern ... is the lighting sufficient to grow the seeds?  Or would 2 strips be better per shelf?

That being said, it's coming along nicely!  I guess time will tell!  My plan is to start planting the seeds early February.  When I get some photos up and running, I'll post them so you have a look too.

Spring isn't sprung,
The garden isn't riz,
All the vege gardeners,
Spring fever iz!

Happy baby seed hatching!  Love,  the Vegetable Garden Virgin!

Kiwi's Southwestern Dish

I posted the picture on facebood of a dish I was cooking a few weeks ago and got a surprising lot of requests for the receipe!  Well, as promised, here it is.

Before I type it out, I have to tell you that I really don't follow rules in cooking, so this dish actually can be used in multiple dishes.  If you prepare the base the way that suits you best, you can serve it with rice, pasta, on top of hotdogs, etc.  This actually can be cooked with meat or made as a vegetarian dish, without meat - which tastes really yummy too!

As I made it on facebook, it was in this form of receipe:

1 1lb minced beef (ground beef as some of my friends call it) OPTIONAL
1 Tbsp Grapeseed oil (my choice, but you can use what you like)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic chopped, or 2 garlic cubes presized and in the freezer, or one tsp crushed garlic in a jar in the fridge
2 tablespoons chilie powder (less if this seems to 'flavourful' for your tastebuds)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 (28 oz) canned diced tomatoes with their juice
1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas
1 package of frozen veges (I used corn in the receipe in the facebook picture) - best to thaw if you have the time - no worries if you don't
Salt to taste
A little immagination

- Cook pasta (12 oz package) - which you can add in the dish as serve as a Southwestern Pasta dish
- Cook rice so you can place the dish directly on the side of the rice or on top (my family loves this option best)
- or over hot dogs like a chillie dog, but with a flavourful twist

Cooking Instructions:
First, use your immagination.  This is a very versitile receipe and I'm sure you have some great ideas to make it your own!

If using meat, brown and keep to the side until ready to add to the dish.
Heat oil in a large skillet .
Saute onion until slightly translucent on medium/high.
Add the green pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin.  Stir until mixed nicely.  Don't let burn.
If you are using meat, now is the time to add back to the dish and stir well.
Add salt to taste - I use about a tbsp
Add tomatoes, chickpeas and thawed package of frozen veges.
Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 - 20 minutes.

Just don't forget to make either the rice or pasta while the dish is simmering!!!

I usually double the ingredients and freeze - then I have a couple of extra meals handy on the side for when I need to whip up something fast!

It takes about 10 mins to prepare, 20 minutes to cook so 30 mins isn't too bad for a yummy meal!

Enjoy and let me know what other ideas you come up with!

P.S.  Spellcheck seems to have disappeared from the blog site ... pardon my errors!