Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Goofy girl

The poor kidlet has to go in to have ear tubes placed early Friday morning. She's on her 5th ear infection in as many months. We can tell in how she pronounces some of her words that it is affecting her hearing.

The kiddo had ear tubes placed when he was about 15 months old, so we've BTDT, but no parent likes to see their kid hurting, or have any sort of surgical procedure, no matter how minor it may seem.

She'll have all weekend to rest and will be back at daycare on Monday, probably hearing all sorts of fun new things!

You'd never even know she was sick. I think the kiddos are having as much fun with the boxes the appliances came in as I am with the actual appliances!

Whirlwind Weekend Kitchen Update - Part 3: finished!

It took staying up until 2am on Sunday night, but we finished the Whirlwind Weekend Kitchen Update in one weekend!

The finished look:
Because of the size and layout of our kitchen, it's difficult to get good angles for photos.

It's amazing how different the room feels with just a few changes. The room is so much warmer now with the paint and new flooring. And the new stove and fridge are completely awesome. I made chicken tortilla soup for supper on Monday night, and it was awesome. I haven't had a chance to test out the oven yet, but hopefully will soon.

It's too bad that I'll probably only get to enjoy the kitchen for a few more months before we [hopefully] sell the house. And then I'll get to start all over with a new kitchen update project (but more likely one that's a lot more labor-intensive).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend Kitchen update: Part 2- during

I was extremely thankful my ILs came yesterday to help. That meant my MIL got to do some of the icky cleaning while I was still at my work. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate my ILs? I know many women who have horror stories of dealing with their ILs, but mine are just wonderful.

Anyway, I didn't have to clean out this:
The side of the stove. Gross. I'm almost ashamed to be putting this out for public viewing.

Or this:
behind the fridge. See all the dirt and dust and dog hair? And after the hub and FIL moved the fridge out, we realized the previous owner 1) did not run the three-prong outlet correctly and 2) did not have a plate cover over said outlet so it was full of dust and junk.

My MIL very graciously took charge of cleaning out those areas. Bless her.

Nice and clean and ready for painting!

The paint color we chose was Cottonwood by Ralph Lauren. Home Depot was clearancing out all their RL paints, though, so we ended up doing a colormatch to a Behr paint. It's a nice soft tan that really warmed up the room.

The flooring we chose is called Corfu by Trafficmaster, available at Home Depot. It's a "floating" plank vinyl flooring, which means it can be installed directly over the previous flooring without having to tear it up or install a new subfloor. It locks onto itself by means of a tacky strip.
The gray tacky strip on the left side of the plank.

Installation really is fairly easy, except for a few dumb user errors by us. You trim the tile by scoring and snapping, and the first plank the hub tried, he snapped off the wrong edge. Whoops!

The instructions call to "stagger" the pieces so they fit and lock together better.

The kitchen part is Finished!

We are mostly happy with the way the floor turned out. It looks absolutely gorgeous, but there are some spots where the planks didn't lock together as well as we'd like. It's probably a combination of installation error and the fact we have an old house with a slightly uneven floor, but anything is better than the hideous vinyl we had previous!

The vinyl ran from the half bath, through the kitchen and out the door to the back stairs. Right now the kitchen is the only part that's completely finished, so we could get the appliances installed.

Currently the hub and FIL are making a Home Depot run for more flooring and a few little things we need to finish installing the stove. MIL and I are just hanging out. I suppose I could be doing something productive like washing and folding laundry, but updating my blog is much more fun!

Whirlwind Weekend Kitchen update: Part 1- the Before

So yesterday began our whirlwind kitchen update. The ILs arrived at our house around noon, I got home from work about two hours later.

But first, a few Before pics:

Counter near the stove. Wow. You can see the outline of the cookie cutters I had hanging on the wall.

Opposite counter near the fridge. The Everything Gets Thrown Here counter.

Looking right from the doorway.

Looking left. Our kitchen really isn't that big - around 11x11 - and there are three doorways leading into and out of it, so space is kind of at a premium. The work triangle is efficient, it's just, oh, we'll say compact.

Finally, everything is cleaned off the counters and walls.

Ugliest vinyl tile ever. Blech.

Everything that was on the walls, counter, fridge, etc.. all got transferred to the dining room table, which looked like this for most of yesterday and this morning:

That meant the kids got to eat their breakfast yesterday while sitting on the couch. It's a treat that's usually reserved for Sundays, but I don't think they minded. ;)

The kiddo has such social grace, doesn't he? I'm half surprised his hand isn't down his pants a la Al Bundy.

Next up: work shots.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What did we get ourselves in to?

The hub and I (okay, well, mostly me) decided part of our tax return this year would be best spent doing minor upgrades to our kitchen in the hopes that when we get ready to sell our house in a few months, a fresh new kitchen would be appealing to potential buyers.

So last weekend we had our wonderful neighbor over to watch the kids and we went appliance shopping! We bought a new fridge, range and microwave, decided on new flooring and will go back to the home store tomorrow to pick out paint.

Thankfully, our kitchen isn't that large, so it won't take long to paint or put the new flooring in. Unfortunately, our kitchen isn't that large, so there's not much room in which to remove old appliances and items from the counters and get them out of the house so we can put in the new ones.

And did I mention that we hope to get this all done this weekend with the help of my extremely generous in-laws?

The current appliances are old and rather grimy. They were old when we bought the house seven years ago and seven years of constant use and sticky toddler hands haven't done them any favors. The icky vinyl flooring has ugly gouges and cigarette burns on it from the previous owners. It was cheap when it was installed way back when and it definitely shows.

So right now I'm supposed to be helping clean off the kitchen counters in order to get things ready for painting. The plan in my head is we'll get everything cleaned and removed tomorrow and part of Friday, start painting what we can tomorrow, do flooring on Friday, have FIL and the hub go pick up the appliances later on Friday, put them in place on Saturday, do some touch up painting and get everything put back in place by the time the ILs leave Saturday night.

That sounds reasonable, right? Right? However, that is rarely how things go in this house. I should just expect that only about half of that will get accomplished this weekend. We also have high hopes of listing the old stove and microwave on Craigslist and have our utility company come by and pick up the refrigerator for recycling. Only the utility company has a 3-4 week wait on appliance pickup.

That also probably means my meal plan of meatloaf on Friday won't be happening. Nor will Saturday Night Cookie. :(

I just have to keep reminding myself that I'll have a lovely new kitchen, even if I will only be using it for a few months. But hopefully after then I'll have another, even larger, lovely new kitchen. If we ever decide what we're going to do for housing when we move back to the farm.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Bowl Cookies

I started these babies on Saturday night, but the process of frosting them took half the day Sunday as well. Whew!

They turned out great, though.

On the suggestion of an LJ friend, I used a different sugar cookie recipe than my good, old Christmas Cookie standby.

I used this one from Recipezaar

Kittencal's Buttery Cut-Out Sugar Cookies W/ Icing That Hardens
- 1 cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (the sugar must be sifted)
- 1 tablespoon milk (adding in more if needed for proper spreading consistency)
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (can use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in place of the almond)
- food coloring (use your choice of colours)

For cookies; in a large bowl combine butter with sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl combine the flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Set oven to 400°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (do not grease cookie sheets use parchment paper only). On a very lightly floured surface roll out the dough into about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Place cookies 2-inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 4-6 minutes. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely before icing.

For the frosting; in a small bowl mix the confectioners sugar with milk (start with 1-2 tablespoons, you will likely need more milk for the perfect spreading consistency). Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until the icing is smooth and glossy (if the icing is too thick add in a small amount more of corn syrup). Divide into as many separate bowls as you wish for different colours. Add in food colouring until desired intensity is achieved. Paint the icing over the cookies using a brush, or dip edges of cookies into icing. Allow to set on waxed paper.

I'd never done the spoon or dip method of frosting, so I decided to use the outline/flood method instead. It worked, and looked okay, but it was definitely time-consuming. I think next time I'll dip or spoon.

I also bumped up the amount of vanilla and almond extract in both the batter and the frosting. I like my flavor!

I could get roughly two (maybe three) cookies from each section of dough I rolled.

They baked up to a lovely almond color, and kept their shape very well.

Who Dat?

Trying out the outline/flood method of frosting. They looked nice, but my hands were sore!

I didn't have any royal blue food coloring, so I had to make do with sky blue.

I thought it was funny how I had them lined up like they were actually on the field. The colts have 12 players, though! Whoops!

After reading Bakerella's post on her Oscar cookies, I wanted to try out some luster dust to give them a nice shine. I don't think I did it quite right - I put some almond flavoring in a little ramekin, poured a little luster dust in that and then brushed it on the cookies. I think I needed less flavoring. You can kind of see the shimmer here.

The blue luster dust made the horseshoes a little more blue,which was nice. I realized later I added too many "nails" but oh well!

The finished cookies! I got about 2 dozen cookies out of this recipe (and they were good-sized cookies, about 5" apiece). It did take two batches of frosting, though. Everyone liked them and the hub only had a few left to take into work on Monday.

I did like the recipe, but I missed the nutmeg flavor that's in my Christmas Cookie recipe. I'll definitely keep this one on hand.

Monday, February 8, 2010

iheartfaces - We heart kisses!

The theme this week on iheartfaces is "We Heart Kisses."

This is from the kiddo's second  birthday party. I was able to capture this sweet moment between the kiddo and his grandpa.

That was back when he would listen to us and do what we asked. ;)

Check out all the other sweet kisses at iheartfaces.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blast from the Past

This last week the kiddo's daycare was teaching the kids about "Community Helpers." You know, Doctors, Bakers, Firemen, Policemen, Dentists, Ninjas... (just kidding about the ninjas part. The kids were asked what kind of community helper they might want to be when they grow up and one of the kiddo's classmates answered ninja. I got a chuckle out of that.)

Anyway, the discussion last week brought to mind a song my sisters and I had on one of our "kids" records while growing up.

Our parents taught us a love and appreciation of music from an early age. As long as I can remember, there was some sort of music being played in our house - on the radio, on records (and later CDs), and sometimes even on the piano. We weren't catered to as kids, we had to listen to whatever our parents listened to, which was fine with us, we didn't know any different. And my sisters and I have cultivated an extremely eccentric taste in music that ranges from John Denver and Neil Diamond to ABBA and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

We did have a few kids records, though, that we could play as often as we wanted. One was a Sesame Street record that had the "Who are the People in your Neighborhood" song that was running in my head earlier this week.

Another was this gem:
Mickey Mouse Disco.

So cheesy. So chintzy. So very late-70s. But so much fun! I don't know how many times we listened to that record and danced around our living room, but it was a lot.

And you know the best part? iTunes has it in their store. You can buy this gem of a record for a mere $8.91. So I did. And the kids love it! The kiddo asks to hear "Watch out for Goofy" and "Macho Duck" (two of my favorite songs) and the kidlet just shakes her little booty when I turn it on.

The songs are still incredibly cheesy, but it's something we can all (well, me and the kiddos at least, I'm not sure how the hub would enjoy a two-hour car ride of non-stop Disney Disco) enjoy. I haven't found the Sesame Street equivalent of the record we had, but I did buy a fun Imagination Movers CD that the kids and I can all enjoy as well.

Monday, February 1, 2010

iheartfaces - Places I love

This is a week off for the ladies at iheartfaces as they prepare to have fun and hang out with lots of awesome people at blissdom.

In anticipation for Valentine's Day, it's a Photo Story week. And this week it's of all the places you love (or are romantic. Or both!)

The hub and I have had some great opportunities to travel in our 6.5 years of marriage, starting with our honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest. It was an area of the country neither of us had been to, and it was beautiful in the late summer.

It was perfect weather the week we were in Seattle and Portland, and the sights were absolutely gorgeous. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

A year later, a college fraternity brother of the hub's set up a weekend in NYC. Traditionally, the guys had just gone and done some deep sea fishing, but now that most of the guys were married, the women wanted in on the fun, too!

It was my first time in NYC and I fell in love with the hustle and bustle. It's quite a difference from our own little city in the Heartland. I also fell in love with the bridges, and took quite a few photos of them from this trip!

In May 2005, after two heartbreaking miscarriages, we booked a trip to London for the upcoming New Year's celebration as a way to take our minds off everything and have one last vacation together before we [hopefully] took the plunge into parenthood. But Surprise! Two months after we booked the trip, we found out I was pregnant again, and this time it stuck.

I was nearing 30 weeks pregnant when we we traveled across the pond, and it did dampen our plans some - I had grand ideas of hitting pubs and having loads of pints of cider and just enjoying our time there. Plus, waddling around hugely pregnant in 40-degree and drizzling weather wasn't ideal for a hormonal woman, but it was a lovely time and we got to see some sights that I hadn't gotten around to when I lived there for a summer in college.

I loved this shot of the Tower Bridge at sunset.

And the NYE fireworks over the Thames were beautiful (though I could have done without the 2-hour walk back to our hotel due to the tube workers' strike).

In 2007 the same friend from NY arranged another weekend in the city for couples. This time he included a day of winery tours on Long Island and a stop at one of his favorite beaches growing up.

It was breathtaking. The winery tours were fun, too, but that's another story! ;)
Aside from our recent trip to Phoenix for the bowl game, we haven't done much traveling lately. Time, kids and finances don't exactly allow it right now, but we enjoy our time together as a family and love being at home.

Which brings me to another place I love: the farm.
Despite being nervous, scared, excited and unsure about our impending move back to my hometown, I am looking forward to having these views again. The gentle rolling hills, the wide-open blue skies, and, yes, even the cows! It may not be the most romantic place, but it is somewhere I love.

And I'm including this photo from our wedding, even though I didn't take it (I think my sister did).
It's the Campanile at my Alma Mater. Tradition states that you don't become an official student until you kiss under the Campanile at midnight. So it wasn't midnight when this photo was taken, and the hub didn't graduate from my Alma Mater, but I love this photo nonetheless.

Stop on by iheartfaces to learn about the places other people love.