Tag Archive | dishes

Home Improvement Surprise


My husband had not been inside our house since January 3 when he arrived home on June 21. That was 169 days for me to ruin everything, burn the house to the ground, create a massive mountain of dirty dishes… basically it was a lot of time for any number of things to go wrong.

Thankfully I — and the house — survived the long separation without any major damage. In fact, I wanted to surprise my husband by improving some of our space while he was away.

First a friend helped me clean and organize the closet in my office and at the same time we completely cleared out the small extra room. But that wasn’t much of a surprise to my hubby since I had blogged about it, allowing him to see the pictures of the improved space.

What he didn’t know was the next weekend the same fabulous friend came back and helped me repaint our bathroom, changing it from the very vibrant blue it has been since 2009 to a lovely new shade called Bavarian Cream. We also hung a piece of my mom’s art, adding a splash of color. These two projects combined with the bathtub refinishing that happened in February and it seems like we have a new space! (Ignoring the 80-year-old tile and terrible Home Depot vanity…)

Needless to say he was surprised (and pleased) with the new look when he walked into our bathroom for the first time in 6.5 months.



Bean the Queen

Last night our fourth foster dog — Christy (who names a dog Christy?) aka Bean aka The Queen — was adopted. We were sad to see her go because she was such a sweetie pie, but once again it was nice to see a dog go to a loving forever family. As they left, the new foster dad said “Thanks for taking care of our dog while we were gone.”

When we got Christy last Thursday evening, it was from her first adoptive family. Unfortunately, they already had a dog when they brought Christy home and despite some previous thought that she would be best in a house with another dog, Christy was not interested in sharing her humans. This made the original dog of the house not too happy and her adoptive parents weren’t able to keep Christy despite already bonding with her during their few days together. They’d even decided that Christy wasn’t an appropriate name (we’d certainly agree) and were trying to rename her “Bean.”

Bean arrived in the arms of her adoptive dad. She wasn’t too keen on leashes or going where you wanted her to go. When they brought her in, they put her on the couch (much to my chagrin) and said that was her favorite place. She was shivering in fear and I couldn’t bring myself to kick her off (at least she was on her own dog blanket). Bean spent the first 36 hours laying on her doggie bed in a tight little ball of black fur, too scared to move. We had to bring her food bowl to her, where she ate lying down from her fluffy dog bed. My husband also had to carry her outside to go to the bathroom (thankfully she is the smallest lab we’ve ever seen—around 40 pounds).

Throughout her stay with us it was clear that Bean had been terribly abused or traumatized because the poor girl was scared of everything. And when I say everything I mean everything. If I moved the wrong way or clanked some dishes or dropped my cell phone or made the floor squeak or I picked up a box or wore a heavy coat she’d skittishly run away and “hide” in a corner. Even trying to give her a treat was an ordeal and half the time she wouldn’t eat it.

However it wasn’t long before Miss Bean was coming out of her shell. She started running toward us, clambering up and down the stairs without (too much) coercing, showing a bit of interest in her toys, and best of all, wagging her tail (if only a little bit). Although she occasionally still wouldn’t eat and expected us to bring her food to her (ahem, she was The Queen after all), in the week we had her she got much better about eating her food in the kitchen where the dish belonged. She also got accustomed to not being on the couch or bed, despite attempting to do so. We acquiesced a bit and let her up on our futon in the basement if we were watching TV (it was black anyway and she loved to cuddle up so much). Interestingly, Bean seemed to like the Crunchy Treats with Apple (that look like a stale Cheerio, but do smell like apple) more than the Beggin Strips (which look and smell so much like bacon that I kind of wanted to eat them—don’t judge me).

It doesn’t seem to get easier to give up the dogs, but we know that fostering is an important step in the adoption process and hopefully will lead to the perfect pairing of dog and family. And it also helps us figure out what kind of dog we should eventually adopt, too.

Hurri-Quake Week

Last week we got our fill of natural disasters. First the earthquake, then a hurricane.

Thankfully we didn’t get hit too hard by our first hurricane, but it was a bit of an adventure for a pair of Californians.

Friday: Throughout the day I washed clothes and dishes as well as worked to prep food so we could quickly pull ready-made options from the fridge if we lost power.

Friday at 7 pm: We removed all of the pots and other gardening materials from our from porch and back yard to minimize projectiles. We also closed up our front and back porch windows in case rain started during the night.

Saturday at 10:30 am: My husband ventured up on the roof just as rain began falling to wrap our bathroom skylight in garbage bags (classy, I know) to attempt to keep water from coming into the house the way snow did during snowmageddon.

Saturday at 1:30 pm: Although rain was still coming down and the wind was picking up, we walked a few blocks to a last minute Hurricane/birthday party. We stayed for a few hours, but with the storm continuing to gain intensity, we headed home around 4.

Saturday at 9 pm: The storm was becoming more powerful and we watched the rain fall and the trees whip around in the wind from our bedroom. At this point we could tell that the most intense part of the hurricane had to be getting close.

Sunday at 12:30 am: My husband woke me up to help him with a few issues that the storm was causing. He had gotten up around midnight to check on things and saw that water was coming into our upper and lower back porches. To alleviate the influx, he pushed dish towels into all the cracks where the windows met the ledge on the upper windows and placed containers to catch water dripping from the towels beneath them. Taking care of the upper windows also solved the water problem in our lower porch (thank goodness). Also on the upper porch, some aluminum flashing which had been installed at the bottom of the side windows had come unattached all the way to the farthest (and of course unreachable) end of the window. This was causing it to flap in the breeze and make a racket, basically it was like sound effect thunder. He wasn’t able to tackle this project alone, so he woke me up and I held his lower half while he hung out of our second floor craft room window to catch the flashing and duck tape it to the side of the house. With heavy rain and wind pounding down on us this was really something…

Sunday at 4:30 am: My husband got up again to check on the attempts he had made earlier to minimize water flow into the house and fix the flashing. Thankfully both still seemed to be doing the trick. Also we were shocked that the garbage bags had stayed in place on our skylight all night and no water had come into the bathroom.

Sunday at 8 am: We awoke to find that the rain was still coming down, but the storm was clearly calming down. Nothing seemed damaged in either our front or back yard. Our street was relatively clear except for a few small branches and lots of leaves. Thankfully we never lost power.

Sunday at 1 pm: We ate lunch outside, enjoying the beautiful post-storm day.

Woe is my Internet

For the past five days, I have spent the majority of my time sans internet. Because of this, I have also spent what feels like half of my life on the phone with Verizon telling them for the 837th time what my call back number is and the model of my modem. I mean, don’t they keep this information in your file? After four days and 8 phone calls — one which lasted for 43 minutes (seriously, I am not being an exagaraptor about the calls), I was finally able to schedule an appointment for today.

I was shocked when the technician (who was here about 2 months ago and replaced the line from the house to the phone box) arrived only 20 minutes into my 4 hour block of possible appointment time. When he departed, all seemed well. He had had the speed of my internet service increased (because for some reason the last moron reduced the speed) and thought that would solve the problem. And it totally did. For an hour.

When I called Verizon again, the company was able to locate the same technician (who may become my new BFF) and sent him back over. An hour later and the internet is back up and running. This time he said that the rain actually highlighted what he thinks was the larger issue all along — the cable connecting our phone box to the pole in the alley was incredibly damaged. When he climbed up to take a closer look he found that it was so corroded the cable crumbled when he touched it. This week has been incredibly windy and he thought the outages (and occasional returns) of my online capabilities had been caused by which way the wind was blowing.

Working from home without the internet has been a struggle. During the past four days, I have worked at my in-law’s kitchen counter, a friend’s couch and another friend’s dining room table. While I am grateful that so many people are willing to loan me their homes as a temporary office, I would be overjoyed if the technician’s work this afternoon meant my internet problem was actually solved. Not only could I actually get some work done in a timely fashion, but I would no longer need to spend half of my life on hold with Verizon which, not surprisingly, I have have grown quite tired of.

I’m trying to be optimistic, but after the past year of really rough service, we’ll see. The one upside of spending a good part of today stuck at home without internet meant I cleaned the bathroom, washed dishes, did a load of laundry and worked through some of the clutter in the office and downstairs. But now that I am back online it’s time to get to work. Sorry housework, you’re back on hold.

Finding the Time

Because I work from home, I feel like it is part of my day to take care of things around here. I mean, just like anyone else I typically don’t work for 8 hours straight, so I may as well put that “wasted” time to use by cleaning the kitchen floor or blanching green beans, right?

Unfortunately,  I have found myself remarkably busy with work for, well, the last few months. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, because a freelancer can’t complain about having too much work. And it’s like more the right amount of work as opposed to too much, but it is certainly hampering my homemaker style. Considering that I honestly never had any, I am not sure why I am feeling guilty about it.

Today is the first day in as long as I can remember that my calendar is somewhat clear and it is basically by accident. Yesterday I managed to finalize some projects that I intended to devote today to, leaving myself the time to do the laundry, wash dishes and freeze turkey meat. I know, excitement abounds.

Working from home presents an interesting situation. I mean, you are still working, but it is harder for people (and sometimes myself included) to see it that way. I hear tales about how late I sleep in (typically I am at my desk by 7:30), wearing pajamas all day (okay, I often wear athletic attire all day, but I do get dressed!) and all the spare time I have (which tends to amount to the 20 minutes I spend writing a blog post every few days).

I am grateful that I have a schedule with flexibility, but as I sat at my desk feeling totally unmotivated one day last week, I had to force myself to get moving. That’s the thing about freelancing, if I didn’t finish a project it simply wouldn’t get done, which probably wouldn’t work in the long run as a business model.

Although I do my best to integrate household chores into my daily routine, sometimes they get done and sometimes they don’t because I have to put actual work first. But for once, today is a catch up day for the house instead. Kitchen, get ready because here I come!

Dinner for Two

I think it is time to be honest with the readers of this blog. Often I think that my husband should do the writing because he is a better housewife than I am. Unfortunately he doesn’t have time to write about his household exploits so you are stuck with me for the time being. But here’s an insight as to why I think he takes first place.

Last night we had our first dinner at the dining room table in about two weeks. Thanks to the extreme heat, we had taken to eating all our meals in the basement. After days of scorching temperatures the weather finally cooled off, so my husband suggested we actually sit and eat together instead of side by side watching episodes of The West Wing.

Although it was cooler, neither of us wanted to do much cooking. Combine that with our overflowing pile of tomatoes and we quickly settled on making a caprese salad — tomatoes and basil (both from our garden) along with mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. My husband had also found a relatively quick recipe for whole wheat pita bread that sounded like it could be a good compliment to the salad.

Once we had decided what to have, into the kitchen we went. I started washing the dishes from breakfast and lunch, while he made the pita dough and then went to work slicing tomatoes and chopping basil. When he started moving things to plates, it became clear by the presentation that this meal was photo (and blog) worthy.

Our dinner was light, fresh and (mostly) fabulous. It was also beautiful. If I would have plated these salads there would be hunks of tomato, cheese and basil thrown haphazardly together. You may be starting to better understand why I do very little of the cooking! Despite the tastiness of the salad we weren’t huge fans of the pita. Next time we’ll (oh, who am I kidding, he’ll) try making fresh baked naan and see if we have better luck.

Right now, I am getting hungry for whatever he whips up for dinner tonight!

Ready for a Getaway

It’s been another hectic week at our house. The number of family members in attendance at meals each evening has shifted between four, six, seven or eight depending on the day. Because of this we have been cooking and eating a lot of wonderful food as well as consuming a serious amount of wine. Also, I am happy to report that a good number of house projects around the house have been completed thanks to my in-laws.

In the midst of this family time, I have been a busy bee with freelance work, new project meetings and trying to include the things that need to happen at the house in the mix. It has been a long week and I don’t think I won any housewife awards, but it is Friday and I am happy about that!

Now we get our highly anticipated reward. Thanks to a dear friend getting married, my husband and I have the pleasure of spending the next week in Hawaii.

Although I am beyond mentally ready, I am definitely not prepared. The house is in disarray from having so many people in and out every day for the last few weeks, so much laundry needs to be done, dishes have to be washed and most importantly I need a nap! And we need to pack, a task I despise. And while I am not feeling terribly motivated to do any of those things at the moment, I know it will all get taken care (except the nap part, that never seems to happen) and we’ll be on a beach somewhere before I know it.

The only problem I foresee is that while I love the idea of a drink with a tiny umbrella in it, the standard Hawaiian cocktails aren’t my cup of tea. I wonder if I can get a tiny umbrella in a glass of red wine?