Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vacation: Day Six: the Scenic Route

I would like to say that on the sixth day of our vacation we rested from the hard work of apple picking and apple making, but we didn't. We got up early and made fried apples and biscuits, on which we ate apple butter. Actually, Michele sliced the apples and Mum fried them and Mum made the biscuits - I just took pictures and tasted as necessary.

Slicing apples for frying
After breakfast - which was YUMMY!!! - we decided to go to an outlet mall in Buffalo to do some shopping. My bright idea was that we take the scenic route to Buffalo and take a look at the lovely fall colors on the way. About halfway there Mum and I became like 3-year-olds with our whiny "are we there yet?" It seemed to take forever to get there! My two lovely travelling companions only reminded me ten or fifteen times that it was all my idea that we take the scenic route! It was a fun trip, regardless. And made even more fun by the 100 truffles we bought at the Lindt store in the outlet mall - heck, that alone made the "scenic" route worth it!
Are we there yet???
While at the mall, we entertained ourselves by convincing Michele to try on bright yellow high-heeled patent leather boots. Her face says it all.

The boots are cute. The jeans and flannel are cute.
The boots, jeans, and flannel are not - the face makes that completely clear.
On the way home, I entertained myself and my companions by taking pictures in the dark. I think this one was our favorite.
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vacation: Day Five: Apples: Sauce, Butter, and Rings

That's right, you guessed it, this day of "vacation" was all about making stuff with all those apples we picked! It was not a very restful day - in fact we worked from dawn til beyond dusk - but it was great fun!

Stirring, stirring, stirring  . . . and smiling!
We made and canned smooth and chunky applesauce, apple butter (yum!!), and dried apple rings. Oh, my, I don't believe I've even tasted applesauce before in my life that was as good as the sauce Mum, Michele, and I made!

I seem to always can on sunny days because I always get to take a
gorgeous picture of something freshly canned glowing in the sunshine!
And the apple rings are like heaven! Now, I was a little skeptical about the apple butter - I've never liked it - but I really felt like we should make some. Total convert! I LOVE APPLE BUTTER - at least this apple butter! It's so amazing! We were exhausted after canning all day, so we ordered a pizza and each spread apple butter on the crust - that's how good it is!
The "fruit" of our labor!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vacation: Day Four: The Gift of Song

Mum and me about to leave for service. Isn't she PRETTY!!??
On this fourth day of vacation, a Sunday, Mum and I gave a special gift to the pastor of Michele's and my church. It was his birthday and Mum and I sang a song together for him after his sermon. We've sung together once before - well technically many times before since we sung in the church choir together when I was a kid, but this was only the second time in my grown-up years. Our pastor and every church member who has met Mum adore her and get so excited when they know she's coming into town, so there was a lot of anticipation for our song - Rev. Jim had requested a song and announced that we'd be singing one the week before! We concluded the song, Swing Down Chariot, to rousing applause - our church is SO loving - and then spent the rest of the day being lazy: napping, reading, and drinking tea! We'd earned a rest after the previous day's appling!

Short Addendum to Vacation Day Three: Rhode Island

As I mentioned yesterday, we were pretty obsessed with finding the Rhode Island Greenings during our apple picking venture. Well, since my dad's side of the family is from Rhode Island, I feel a particular connection to that apple - though last weekend was the first time I'd ever heard of it. Though we didn't find the apple, I did find out some interesting bits about it and about RI in general:

    The oh so sought after RI Greening 
  • The Rhode Island Greening was the first named apple in America and is the official state fruit of Rhode Island.
  • Greenings are the perfect apple to make apple slumps with - I have no idea what an apple slump is, but if we'd found some Greenings, I certainly would have made a slump or two.
  • Rhode Island's official state name is The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which is the longest official name of any US State - which is very funny because Rhode Island is the smallest state!
  • Rhode Island was the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britian and the last to ratify the US constitution.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vacation: Day Three: Brunching and Appling

Our vacation was so fun and so full that I didn't take the time I planned to blog about it. Now that it is over, I'm dedicating some time to share it with you.

So, day three: oh what a fun day this was. We had sweet Deb over for a birthday brunch - Deb's birthday was the week before and Mum's would be the week after. Michele and I made the blueberry stuffed french toast recipe I'd made for my birthday brunch, but this time we used apple and golden raisin bread and plums instead of blueberries for a taste of fall - oh how wonderful it was!

Wonderful women enjoying a wonderful brunch - who could ask for more?
We then went appling - I think I made up that word! - or apple picking - at the prettiest orchard I've ever seen!

We couldn't have asked for a lovelier day or a lovelier orchard!
Doesn't Michele look great amongst those pumpkins!
We started the day with an applesauce tasting to see which apples we'd be sure to pick since we planned on making applesauce. All four of us fell in love with the Rhode Island Greenings, so we drove out to that orchard and started looking for them . . .and looking . . .and looking! We couldn't find them anywhere, so we decided to head farther into the orchard - driving as they'd directed us to do - and I got the car stuck in the mud! A crazy mess indeed!

Millions of apples on hundreds of trees and of course
the shortest of us wants the highest apple!
Well and truly stuck! We tried adding items from the car to provide traction:
paper, Wegman's bags, plywood, Deb even volunteered her coat - all with no success!
A lovely tractor driver pulled the car out of the orchard - and informed us that they'd been out of RI Greenings for quite some time! - and we went on our way to fill our baskets with other apples. We got massive amounts of apples and wore ourselves out on this lovely day! It was just a perfect day - getting stuck in the mud not withstanding!
Hey, is this what they mean by a "tractor-pull"??
After all the stuck-in-the-mud drama, we were tired, but we
still had a ball picking beautiful - and yummy - apples!
These three ladies were great sports - though they all became backseat drivers
everytime I came within feet of anything that even vaguely resembled mud!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vacation: Day Two: Shopping

Today we did nothing more strenuous than shopping for a lovely outfit for my mom to wear Stepping Out with her brother when she returns to Boston. We actually began the day with doctor's appointments, one each for Michele and I, and then dallied over breakfast. Mum and I then hung out in the craftroom while Michele napped. THEN we went shopping. It was a fun and laid back day and allowed us lots of rest in preparation for apple picking tomorrow. What fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation: Day One: Introductions

The first day of my vacation wasn't exactly relaxing. I did sleep in, though I shouldn't have because I still needed to clean the house. Earlier in the week I cleaned the bedroom and the workout room - which doubles as a guest room - and of course the new bathroom is spotless - every speck of dust or dirt gets cleaned up the second I see it! So the upstairs hall, stairs, and the entire downstairs desperately needed to be cleaned - and I of course decided to leave it until today. So I worked really hard and got the house looking its best before Michele got home - she hasn't been home in nearly a month so I wanted it to look especially nice. So, I spent the morning cleaning and then Michele arrived at the truck stop and we had lunch. It was nice to spend a few hours with just her before Mum arrived. I introduced Michele to the new bathroom - she's seen it in stages and I sent pictures after Lisa finished her final tasks, but she hadn't seen it all put together with the tiling and finishing touches. Then Mum arrived and we introduced her to the bathroom - we sat in there for about half an hour chatting. It's just that kind of room. So, day one was half work and half relax and wholly wonderful because I got to be with two of the most wonderful women I know. And below is one of them using the bathroom for the first time - she wouldn't let me take a picture of her trying out the toilet, I'm not sure why. :-)

It's such a lovely space that even washing your hands is a dream!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Exciting Week

This is indeed a very exciting week for me. My mom will be here on Thursday for her annual October birthday visit - her birthday, not mine. She also comes in May for her annual May/June birthday visit - Michele and my birthdays, not her own. So I have been aggressively cleaning the house in preparation for this wonderful visit. It's amazing how dirty EVERY room is not matter how far they are from the room where the construction happened. It's also amazing how much paint I accidently tracked throughout the house. I even got paint on the kitchen wall - the kitchen is through the upstairs hall down a flight of stairs, across a small landing, down another flight of stairs, across another landing, down a few more stairs, through a foyer, and across the side entry way - in other words, it's a LOOONG way from the new bathroom!

My other excitement is that Michele is coming home on Wednesday or Thursday for her very first vacation since starting her trucking career. Oh, so thrilling! I'm off for a week and a half starting Thursday to enjoy my time with these two wonderful ladies! We are going to have SO much fun! When Mum visits we spend copious amounts of time hanging out on the sun porch drinking tea and reading, talking, and napping. We rarely make plans, but this time we have plans for a Saturday morning birthday breakfast to celebrate Mum's and Deb's (my lovely friend Deb) October birthdays and then we're going apple picking. I'd like to then make some apple sauce and apple butter and do some canning. All summer, with the exception of the first batch of barbecue sauce, I've been canning solo, so it will be so much fun to have some canning company!

Well, so far, I only have the upstairs bathroom, workout room, and bedroom clean, so I'd better get busy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Accidental Hiatus, Final Five

21 - 24. FINSHED THE BATHROOM!! I know, I know, but it's really worth four! I LOVE this bathroom and I love that it is finished! I've REALLY missed taking a bath! Sundays just aren't Sundays without a bath.

The final reveal!

Finished and accessorized

I tiled that mirror all by myself! Isn't that soap dispenser divine!

Sometimes I just stand in the doorway and gaze upon the pretty space!
25. And the most exciting thing I did over the past five weeks - oh the most thrilling - was take a bath in the very gorgeous, freshly finished bathroom. I swear I felt like I was in a luxury spa! I made a pot of my favorite tea - strawberry rooibos cream - and a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream - Haagen Dazs not Wescott - and dark chocolate dipped cheese cake bites. It was a special occasion - the completion of the massive project - so the cheese cake bites were my extra special treat. I also bought a new, very good book to read - I won't tell you what book since I'm a secret romance novel addict (oops, I wasn't supposed to say that!). I got new bubble bath and body butter, too, to tip the event over into true bliss. Oh what a wonderful Sunday afternoon!
Running my first bath! Oh how excited I was!
Thanks for bearing with me while I recounted what I did in the five weeks I was away! It was great fun, let me tell you! I learned so much from Lisa and really ended up with the bathroom of my dreams! Michele hasn't seen the finished product except in pictures, but she'll be home on Wednesday and I can't wait to show her!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Accidental Hiatus, 4 of 5

16. Tiled the tub wall - Beautiful tiles for the new wall Lisa built to make my tub faucet work for this tub arrangement. Originally, the faucet was mounted on the side of the tub wall - a wall-mounted faucet, but I could not find one that I liked for the life of me. So to make the deck-mount faucet I ended up buying work, Lisa rebuilt the tub wall, made it lower and more substantial to support such an impressive faucet and then together we tiled it. Then the next day, I grouted it - my first time ever gouting - and did a great job, if I do say so myself!
You can't imagine how much I love to look at this beautiful tilework - the real and the faux!

17. Spray painted ALOT of things "oil rubbed bronze." And when I say ALOT here, it's not like the claim that I painted a lot of things white. I really did spray paint practically everything to coordinate with the new metal. Originally everything was chrome or was painted white. So I stripped the white paint from the heat register and the hardware on the medicine cabinet and spray painted that. I also sprayed odd things like the toilet pipe and the door threshold. I must have gone though about 10 cans of spray paint - well, maybe 7.
These lovely candle stick - or candle stands - were a gift
from my mom to Michele and I years ago. They were originally
silver/steel, but now look lovely in oil rubbed bronze with copper highlights.

This register had about 6 layers of paint on it. Once removed it was a very
bright chrome, which, while lovely, didn't match at all, so shake, shake, and spray away!

I chose this rope trim to trim out the glass tiles on the wall and spray painted
it bronze. It looked nice, but was missing something, so I got a copper leaf pen
and "painted" copper leaf in all the indentations. In real life, it looks very much like
metal and adds just the right touch around the tub.
18. Met a new neighbor across the street whose name is also Michelle. Such a sweet family! And went to a Scentsy party in her home - Scentsy is scented wax that you put in holders on pretty ceramic lamps. I of course got just the perfect night light for the new bathroom. The scents are a bit strong for me, but I really love the lamps!
I love how the little bee hive shoots light out across the ceiling and wall.
19. Bought and obscenely ridiculous number of oil rubbed bronze accessories. My two favorites are the toilet paper holder with extra roll caddy and the pretty little container to house toothpaste and brushes. How I love picking out the little finishing touches!
I'd planned to make a toilet paper caddy with roll holder myself, but I saw
this one and really loved it. I decided instead to use the supplies I'd
bought for the caddy to make a little cabinet to sit beside the tub
and hold my Sunday bath pot of tea and bowl of ice cream. I haven't
designed or made it yet, but I bet it will be awesome!

We've always laid the toothpaste on a shelf in the medicine cabinet
and held the toothbrushes in an old mug on the same shelf. This container is
completely unnecessary, but it makes me feel very fancy, so I got it - plus it
was on clearance (clearly everyone agrees that it is pretty frivolous.)
20. Took one evening off and didn't work on the bathroom. I ordered a pizza and watched Star Trek, the Original Series. I'm half enjoying it - I love the history and their over the top acting is quite humorous. The other half of me rolls my eyes constantly at the over the top acting! Wow! It's really bad sometimes - yet oddly appealing!

OK, the final five and the finished bathroom reveal will come tomorrow. Plus, you'll find out the MOST exciting thing I did over the last five weeks! Oh boy was it thrilling!

Accidental Hiatus, 3 of 5

These next five have a common theme - of course these last five weeks have had a common theme.

11. Scoured the internet to find and purchase the perfect lights for the bathroom, upstairs hall, and foyer. . .and then had an awesome electrician install them. The upstairs hall and foyer required rewiring and we also had him install a light in the newly renovated bathroom closet, so he nicely switched out the bathroom light, too!

Bathroom light - how I fell in love with this one

Upstairs hallway light. I actually bought this one for the bathroom closet,
but NY law only allows flourescent lights in closets, so into the hallway it went.

We now excitedly have have a light in our foyer - we've always had table lamps
and now have an actual light that runs on the same switch as the upstairs hall light.
I can't tell you how excited that makes us!

12. Scoured the internet and read every review I could find to choose the perfect toilet. How I love this toilet! It's a dual flush toilet that stands at chair height - eco-loving and comfortable to boot!

Is it okay to have a love affair with a toilet?
13. Painted ALOT of things white. Not really, but it sure felt like that. Conversation with Michele: Me: I need to paint the shelves for the closet. I am SO tired of painting things white! Michele: But you've only painted the trim and the ceiling white - everything else is color, color, color.
I guess it just feels like a lot because it's white - why paint white when I could paint yellow, right?
Our newly renovated bathroom closet with six lovely white shelves that I haven't even half filled.
I was so tempted to paint each one a different color from the selection of
colors I'd used on the bricks, but by this point I was SO tired of cleaning paint brushes
that I just stuck with white. Plus, it makes the closet look crisp and clean!
14. Scoured the internet to find the perfect vanity. Actually, I chose the perfect vanity and designed the rest of the bathroom around it.
This is without a doubt the most gorgeous vanity we've ever owned.
It's actually our very first brand new, didn't come with the house, never used by another
person vanity. Very exciting for us!
15. Scoured, and I mean SCOURED, the internet for the perfect sink and tub faucets. My whole design really hinged on finding the right faucet for the tub. Not because the tub is the focal point of the room - though it is - but because I needed to find a faucet that would fit on this tub that did not have an attached shower. . .that I liked. And I couldn't do it. So, I found one that I loved and worked with my wonderful handy lady to make it work for my tub. I'll show you the faucet today, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it works. You can see the perfect - and matching - sink faucet on the image of the vanity above.

I do so love this faucet!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Accidental Hiatus, Part 2 of 5

Thank you so much for the warm welcome back comments on yesterday's post. And now for five more things I've been doing over the past five weeks.

6. Observed recycling in action. Michele hauls for a company that makes paper products. A lot of the time she hauls the finished products, but she often hauls the materials that they recycle into the finished products. I'd like to think that some of the items I put in my recycling bin end up in one of Michele's trailers.
Bales of paper "hay" in the trailer of Michele's truck
7. Ate potatoes and beets from the garden. Michele and I have enjoyed copious amounts of potatoes and beets from the garden. Oh yum!
Freshly dug beets and potatoes from our square foot garden
8. Took my car for an oil change and watched the car next to it explode. Thankfully no one was hurt. It started with a little smoke and then a little fire - at which point they moved my car - and then a big kaboom as the front of the car exploded. The lady driving got out of the car while it was only smoking, so really the only damage was to her car. My car got a free car wash to remove the foam from the extinguishers the oil change folks used while waiting for the fire department.
A very grainy picture of the fire

A very grainy picture of the fireman and car post "kaboom"
9. Made second batch of barbecue sauce. I don't know how I neglected to capture this on film (or on storage card), but I made a second batch of barbecue sauce. Not because we gave it all away, but because we ATE AN ENTIRE BATCH (about a 15 half-pints) in about a month! My handy lady and friend, Lisa, wondered what two vegetarians could put that much barbecue sauce on and I explained that nightly when Michele is home we'll use a half-pint of bbq sauce to marinate Gardein meatless chick'n and then roast it with freshly dug potatoes - oh yum! So I made a batch of about 20 half-pints and 10 pints to tide us over for the next month or two! Ha!

10. Finished painting the bathroom walls. This picture shows all nine of the colors, though the variation between the dark green and the next lighter green is so subtle, it looks like the same color in the pic - so I numbered it for you! I used Martha Stewart's line of paints. They had such cool names like persimmon, custard (really exactly the color of custard), fortune cookie, and tahini.
Not for a million dollars will I attempt this kind of paint job again, but I do so love how it turned out!
Check in tomorrow for 11-15!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Accidental Hiatus

Well, I've accidentally taken a five-week hiatus from my blog. Life has been so good, but so busy! Well, to make it up to you, over the next five days, I'll share five things I've been doing over the last five weeks.

1. Picking peaches - OH SO FUN! I picked two baskets of peaches and had a ball doing it!
A tisket, a tasket, lovely peaches in a basket . . .or two

The trees were full of beautiful fruit
2. Canning peaches and making peach butter. I brought home a lot of peaches and was very excited to try my hand at canning them. Well, peeling that many peaches took FOREVER - I tried dipping them in boiling water and then slipping off the peels, but that didn't work for me. But I canned bunches the day I picked them and the next day I made the rest into peach butter. YUM!

freshly washed peaches

Pretty cans of peaches lined up like soldiers
3. Auctioned off two quilted wallhangings at my church fundraiser - fun and a great cause!

I really loved making these and watching the ladies go ga-ga over them at the auction!
4. Took some "before" pictures of my bathroom. You may recall that when Michele went out on the road I ripped up the floor. . . and then never touched it again. Well, I've been working with my beloved handy lady Lisa Golden to renovate the room.
The bathtub doubled as a landing pad for the paint and supplies

Bathroom sans vanity and toilet - can you really call it a bathroom?
5. Began the weeks-long effort of painting the "bricks" on the embossed wallboard on the lower half of the bathroom walls. I think by color #2 I was cursing myself for thinking of doing this. By color #9, I was no longer on speaking terms with whoever's bright idea THIS was.
First pass with colors 1-6
More on the past five weeks tomorrow! Thanks and it's great to be back!


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