Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mini Quiches

I love these mini quiches for any meal. There are a number of recipes out there, but you really can just improvise with these and add any fillings you like. I butter a non stick muffin pan just to be sure they will be easy to remove. I spoon some fillings into each cup, in this case, sauteed turkey sausage, cooked broccoli, sauteed onion and grated cheddar cheese. Then, I ladle over the egg mixture. I find that 8 eggs beaten with 3/4 of a cup of skim milk works about right. They bake at 325 F for 35 minutes.

I enjoy mine with a few dots of Cholula hot sauce on top.

They keep well overnight in the fridge if you make them for dinner and want to reheat the leftovers for breakfast. Otherwise, you can freeze them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fun in the Nursery and Test Fitting a Door

I keep finding the dog in different positions when I look into the nursery!

He is quite a character!

Jeff is caught up with assembling baby things...for the moment. He recently put together the stroller and the bouncer.

Yay! Looks like the picture!

Here is the first look at the new closet door cut down to size and being test fit. It is just primed, so it needs paint. I guess we have to get a new set of hinges for it as the modern door is narrower than the original one. The door frame isn't quite square, of course!, so the door will have to be planed to fit.

I need to figure out what kind of knob and/or latch to get for it.

I'm still really happy with the look of the nursery as I see it throughout the day in different lighting. Here it is mid morning with natural light filtering through shades and curtains. It will be bright when needed, but also conducive to napping too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Follow up

Just thought I'd post a picture of the garden completely tilled to follow up yesterday's post.

I love the new hoop house. Even though the main garden is put to bed for the winter, there is a little bubble of summer.

It's doing well even though I don't have the core strength or flexibility to weed and really take care of it at the moment. The camera lens fogged over in the warmth and humidity in there, but you can see some parsley, kale and dill. I think it is time to make some minestrone soup with the kale!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are using the holiday weekend to work on things that need doing around here. Today, we did the remaining garden cleanup which consisted of cutting eggplant and pepper plants and carrying them to the burn pile, pulling up stakes, picking up bricks and removing plastic mulch. Then, Jeff tilled the entire garden. I love seeing it all neatened up for winter and waiting for the spring planting!

The light is getting very slanted and wintry looking.

There were lots of chickadees flitting about the trees near us and V's of geese honking overhead.

It was quite a beautiful day for being outside. I hope we get a couple more good days for outside work. There are some leaves to rake, though not like other years, and I need to neaten up the patio area. Then, the burn pile needs to be torched.

Tomorrow, Jeff will work on the nursery doors and maybe that bit of trim for over the cubbies. I'll work on house projects too.

I'm just eating little meals that are healthy and full of protein, so I didn't do the Big Feast this year. We ate pretty much normally and I made some mini quiches in a muffin tin for dinner filled with turkey sausage, broccoli, onion and cheese. They were delicious. If you ever want to not overeat during the holidays, just time a pregnancy so you are in your last trimester then! I've actually lost a few pounds lately and the doctor says that often happens as you have less and less room.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year! You can imagine I am especially thankful that the nursery is finally functional!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creating a Nursery

Home Improvement projects have a way of snowballing in a 1920's house..."painting a nursery" evolves into a multi-week, epic job! Everything gets so much worse before it gets better and in the middle, it seems like the chaos and mess will never end.

It feels like I have been living in an episode of the "This Old House" show. That due date countdown in the corner was starting to get nerve-wracking! Just a little pressure to get things done!

I'm so glad we waited until I was pregnant (not!) to undertake this. Doesn't every pregnant woman dream of assisting with some general contracting? I stayed clear of any dust or fumes, but helped with fetching and lugging, within reason. I also had to work on the planning, shopping for tools and supplies and troubleshooting. My favorite parts were carrying sheets of drywall upstairs at 26 weeks and helping hang ceiling drywall at 27 weeks! Good thing I've had an easy pregnancy and felt fit and able to do stuff.

First, it was a job in itself to empty out the room (not to mention the adjacent closet!) intended for the nursery. We had to take down a queen sized canopy bed and an antique, slightly larger than twin, bed and move 3 bureaus, an armoire, a desk, several other pieces of furniture, rugs and lots of decorative items. There were heaps of stuff to deal with all over the house. We were tired out before we'd even begun!

Only then, could the real work actually be started...

-Wallpaper Striping: There was one layer of dingy cream/yellow striped 1920's wallpaper to remove and expose the rough, gray, horsehair plaster walls underneath.

Here is a corner showing the old plaster and some chemical stripper working on the trim, though Jeff later decided to use the heat gun or just muscle on the rest. I just "love" the way all the hardware is painted over...

-Paint Striping: Paint on top of varnish with no proper primer had to be removed from all the trim and doors. Lots of the woodwork was removed for this. Also, we bought new quarter round to replace the old, rather than trying to scrape and reuse it. We opted to put new framing around the door inside the closet, so we could use the vintage trim on some window trim that needs repair in another room (at some point!). We also replaced the closet baseboard.

The room was vented and Jeff wore a respirator. Are you my mummy? A reference to a favorite Dr. Who episode ;)

-Drywalling: We had hoped to drywall over the plaster and lath ceiling, but for a number of reasons had to resort to demolition of the plaster and lathes, then put up dry wall on most of the existing furring strips. Did you think the first pictures showed the "gets worse before it gets better" part?'s that picture!

Yes, the entire floor looked like this! It took four hours to make this mess and about an hour to clean up.

Fortunately, things slowly got better...

And it was time to hang the drywall...

--Attic Access: Since the rafters were totally exposed, why not frame a better/larger access hole to the attic for drop down stairs. We'll need the extra storage even more with a baby...

-Closet Prep: There are some horrendous, but thankfully *not* lead, paints used in this house. In the closet, was some of the worst sort. It chips off on its own in big pieces, but then other parts adhere like they will never come off. But, try painting over it and suddenly it is crackling and coming off all over! Jeff finally used a long handled razor scraper from an auto parts store on this paint and removed it like pieces of eggshell. Very stubborn eggshell. Hooks and ugly old shelves needed to be removed as well. Eventually, we decided it needed a skim coat of plaster before painting.

-Varnish Striping: The trim needed to be washed with a solution to remove all the varnish to enable new paint to stick.
-Final treatments of the surfaces: Everything needed filling/spackling, sanding and washing and tackclothing.
-Priming: One kind of primer for the trim and plaster (oil) and another for the drywall (latex)!
-Painting: Finally, at long last!!!

--Still TO DO: We are not quite done yet...We have to trim down and hang a louvered bifold door for the closet. I'm replacing the original door because I think this one will be space saving and allow the closet to have some ventilation. The entry door is outside and needs final touches on the striping, then priming and painting. We need to cut and paint a piece of trim to go over the built in cubbies. We need a cover for some wires that are spilling out from under the changing table (phone and ethernet). The attic access still needs to be completed, but we might wait to do that when I'm able to help install the drop down ladder. The door will be framed and everything painted to match the rest of the ceiling.

Choosing paint colors was almost as hard as choosing a baby name! There are so many that I would like to try, making it hard to narrow down the choices. Also, the east facing room goes through so many light changes during a single day that constantly change the look of the paint. We wanted blue, but not too babyish a color blue. We also hoped for a somewhat Scandinavian feel to it. Hopefully, combined with changing the cloth furnishings, the color can be suitable for a long time. I was hoping to go with a card with names like 'sleepy blue', 'languid blue' and particularly 'meditative blue' for a calming influence, but the names on the shade card we finally picked from seem suggestive of northern sea voyages! We opted for a blue-gray shade called 'windy blue' for the walls in satin finish and a very, very pale blue shade called 'icicle' for the ceiling (matte) and closet (satin).
ceiling and closet


For the trim, we tied the room in with the downstairs of the house using our usual 'luminous white' in semi-gloss finish.

We built open cubbies under a slope of the ceiling quite a few years ago and they were painted 'crewel tan' with 'luminous white' trim, so we had to make sure our new color choices went well with it.

All paint colors are by Sherwin Williams.

We are using some of my grandmother's vintage, maple finished dressers and a nightstand. Eventually a matching twin sized bed will go with them. The set was made in Bennington, VT, by H. T. Cushman Manufacturing Co. They are marked as "Cushman Colonial Creations" which were launched in the spring of 1933. They are an earlier version of 'shabby chic' as the edges were distressed to look like worn antiques!

For the first few years we will have a crib and changing table. Since there is no way to match the old furniture shade with modern nursery furniture, we are going for contrast with bright white.

Jeff working to assemble the crib.

All together!

I took both flash and non flash pictures to try to give a sense of the room. The flash ones portray the colors more accurately.

The off white shades were some we already had in those windows from Country Curtains, but we changed the curtains to some navy sailcloth ones we found at Target. I just need to find or improvise some tie backs for them.

I am considering getting a glider and ottoman, but if we get that it will go in the living room. We got a cute little upholstered chair from Ikea with a washable cover for the nursery. Now, I just need to sort out an ottoman for it.

The new louvered closet door will hopefully be hung soon! I will need lots of quick access to the closet though, so it will probably be open a lot with the door folded into the corner.

I like the two, blue rolly bins I got at Ikea. You can just see one on the closet floor. I may have to get a couple more!

The nightstand will be used next to the armchair for now. I think it will be handy and the shelf can hold books to read to the baby!

The color of the cubbies is not accurate in this picture.

The changing table was pretty easy to assemble.

The color of the cubbies looks right here.

The built in cubbies are good for clothes I need quick access to as well as toys and books. Ignore the books on the floor. We were using them to press down the rolled up edge of the rug. The mirror now leaning on the end of the bureau will eventually be centered on the bureau.

We got a cute Ikea ceiling light with clouds on it. It's actually white, the camera just had trouble capturing it.

We were going to use an off white rug we had in the attic, but then we found this navy one at Ikea and bought it on a whim. It may be harder to keep clean, but I think it looks a lot cuter! I would like to get a colorful playmat for the floor by the cubbies such as this one.

I would like to get a rocking's one of those things that's more for me than the baby!! Having a baby let's one indulge in buying toys you sometimes still wish you could have.

Of course, there are all the necessary helpers to fit in. We've gotten the Diaper Pail, a wastebasket, a Wipe Container/Warmer, organizational far.

It has been fun to start arranging clothes, swaddling cloths, burp cloths, etc, as well as the little toiletries.

We need to figure out what to put on the walls for some decoration. I've been thinking about navy blue letters that spell out his name and maybe some ABC or number cards or posters.

There is still some to be done, but I'm so happy with how far it's come!!!

We are really enjoying the space and I hope our boy will love it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2 Months to Go!

I am excited to be heading into the last weeks of pregnancy. So far, everything has been going smoothly. The baby is getting very strong and pokes my stomach out in funny ways and we try to guess what body part it is. One can see the kicks rather than having to feel for them. He kicks throughout the day and night! I guess those nighttime kicking sessions are preparing me for even more interrupted sleep in my future. Today, I took a nap and actually dreamed about beds and sleeping!

My only difficulty is some hip and pelvis pain as the ligaments loosen up. I am not able to go for a proper dog walk and stairs can really make me hurt too. It's not bad every day, but I really notice it is worse if I do too much on a busy day and then I have to rest. I so miss sleeping on my stomach or resting on my stomach to read a book or just to flex my back the other way! I know my hips will be grateful when I can vary my positions to include stomach or back sleeping again.

I'm still keeping busy and mowed the lawn recently and cut back the butterfly bushes too. The upper body workout was good for me and I didn't have to walk much. I have plenty more cutting to keep me busy for awhile and I doubt I will get to all of it this year, but I don't want to fall too behind.

I've gained about 15 pounds. I am still wearing my pre-pregnancy tee shirts and yoga pants. I did recently get some of the yoga pants in one size up so they would stretch better around the bump, hopefully right to my due date. I have not been able to wear maternity jeans yet as they fall rapidly (and alarmingly!) down as soon as I try to walk, but perhaps they will work in the last weeks. I don't think I should have bought 5 pairs!! I don't know if I'll have to get any maternity shirts in the last weeks or not. I am not too worried about being stylish, so as long as the tees cover me, I'll try to wear them to avoid having a lot of barely worn maternity clothes in the closet. Besides, I can cover the tees with sweaters and scarves, so no one really sees them anyway!

I am eating lots of little meals/snacks at this point. It is funny how often the baby starts to kick as soon as I start to eat, like he doesn't like losing any space! I've been making Nigella's Breakfast Bars each week for Jeff and I. They are a good snack for me with lots of protein, yet also sweet enough to satisfy cravings. I am also really loving smoothies. I make them with partially thawed strawberries and blueberries and non fat Greek yogurt. I was recently shown that Greek yogurt has a lot of protein compared with the plain kind I was using...more flavor and better for me?! Yay!!

My mother has been sending a lot of new clothing for the baby and has sent a few oldies too. This is a hat my grandmother made for me! I think it will be cute to put on my son. The ribbed part can be folded up and looks cute that way too.

Jeff is still working on the nursery, but is finishing the painting phase. There is still a little more carpentry to do and small bits of painting after that, but it is getting there. I can't wait for it to be done! Then, we have furniture to move, baby furniture to assemble and accessories, clothes and toys to arrange. I am looking forward to that last part most of all!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Yummy Eating

We really enjoyed the recent batch of molasses and buttermilk bread and ate it all up. I plan to make more sometime. It was especially good for egg salad or chicken salad sandwiches.

Today, I made an improvised bread with mostly rye and whole wheat and a little bit of white bread flour. I used up 2 cups of buttermilk I had in the fridge, then used water for the remaining liquid. I also added in a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of melted butter. It came out really well! We had it sliced with soup for dinner, but it will make good sandwiches too.

As the storm blew in last Saturday, I made a big pot of chili using the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution recipe. I used cilantro, peppers, tomato puree and peeled whole tomatoes from the garden.

The hoop house did a great job of protecting our plants during the storm, so we can continue picking things like the cilantro. I'm so excited the hoop house survived the first test of winter, both keeping the plants protected and withstanding the wind without any bracing. It didn't appear to budge a bit, even in the big gusts!

I also topped the chili with mixed cheddar cheeses and sour cream. It's perfect food for the cold weather. The first batch lasted for 3 dinners and I'm going to make another later this week or weekend.