Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Kitchen

But, in the meantime, I am wishing I could make this.


We successfully moved last Sunday. I put the All Points Bulletin out about a week ahead of time, and didn't expect much response since it was a holiday weekend. I was bowled over when I saw who actually did end up coming at the last minute - a few friends from Crossfit (including our most inspirational competitive Oly-lifter), our friends Kris & Randy who were committed from the start, and one of the Microsoft-contingent of friends.

We managed in a big- and a small-trip in a 26 foot U-Haul trailer. I felt an odd sense of comfort being behind that wheel - it reminded me of my college days driving a bus. (Yes, I had a commercial B-class license in California).

Another tip I will suggest - we rented plastic boxes from a company called Karmaboxx. I highly recommend them - they are sturdy as can be, and on Sunday night when we had a small basement flood directly under our as-yet-to-be-assembled IKEA cabinets (OY!), we did not even bat an eyelash because the boxes are molded in one piece at the bottom (i.e. no leaks).

So, currently, we are dashing back and forth between cleaning up the old house for our final walk-through with our landlady on Wednesday, and coming back and unpacking more stuff at our new home.

And, yes, there is no kitchen. It is still down to the subfloor. We have 1/4" plywood to nail down, and after that we need to go buy some Hardiboard from Lowe's and then the actual tile (!!!) from Pius down in Sodo.  My goal is to have the tile and grout done and start assembling cabinets this weekend.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Stocking Up

Since we have been in the midst of a kitchen demolition, I have not had the luxury of time at home to cook healthy foods for us.  Meats and vegetables lay dormant in the fridge.

I hope to rectify that today.

I did manage to roast a pastured chicken last Friday while waiting for a friend from college to show up (we had a great time for the few hours she was able to spend with me!) and now I need to cook up the rest of the veggies so they are ready to go and we aren't dependent on pho, delicious as it is, or other restaurant fare every night.

My plan is to remove the chicken meat from the bones and use the bones in a chicken stock, but then actually use the stock with some stew beef cubes I have in the fridge. Plenty of veggies can get hidden in there.  We also have some broccoli from our CSA box so I think I might prepare it a little differently than usual (which is: chop, toss in olive oil or ghee, roast at 400 deg F till it's a little crispy).  I think I will blanch it and then stir fry with some garlic.

I am sure there are other greens that need to get used, but one more dish idea I have is to just roast some potatoes.  The CSA box has gifted us with a few pounds of potatoes. I am saving some for Thanksgiving, but will probably throw a Pyrex dish with sliced potatoes in the oven with some butter and aromatics (like onion and garlic). 

Meanwhile, the electricians got started today! And the floor refinishers are coming tomorrow! After today, I actually will have a few days where I can cook after work instead of demolishing kitchens or hauling garbage.  Yay!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kitchen Demolition

We are tearing into our new house like there is no tomorrow. We decided that the dirty, outdated kitchen had to go, and we have been putting in blood and sweat (no tears yet).

The continuing destruction in the new house has been an excellent excuse for me to indulge and wear baggy clothes. And shower together after we get home, but that's an entirely different story.

Here are some progress pictures.  First up was our first day of demolition:

L-Sit on the counters. Yep.

I harangued a coworker into helping us, and he was instrumental in providing additional force for tearing off the overhead cabinets (Thanks, Mark!).  The next day, I tore into the base cabinets while Daniel showed some prospective tenants around, and we finally got everything cleared. 

Day 3 had us tearing up most of the plywood sub-floor, and we started off using an electric scraper.  An electric scraper is a tool that has a blade on the front, angled towards the floor, and vibrates.  As it vibrates,you urge it forward and it peels off vinyl flooring.  That is the theory, at least.  You still have to put a good amount of tugging in. And, oh, let me tell you - apparently the insidious glue that vinyl people use is still wet after 10 years or however long ago they installed the final (third!) layer of vinyl in the kitchen.  Still wet.  My nice black gloves now have a gray cast over the palms and fingers, but luckily once a nice layer of debris lands on the glue, it becomes a non-issue, at least on gloves.

By the way, Kids - listen to your parents. My parents have done a few kitchen / house remodels in their time, and they were the ones to tip me off to the electric scraper tool.  Otherwise vinyl removal is REALLY difficult.

Here's Daniel standing on our subfloor:

King of the Subfloors.

So, I should also note that I only went to the gym once this week. This is the whole reason I do Crossfit - to have Functional Fitness. To be able to rip apart a kitchen and not really be sore (my knees hurt a little bit).  To help Daniel wrench up large pieces of plywood (deadlifts helped here). To go to the dump and toss 870  lb of garbage off the back of the truck into an abyss where a machine was moving the stuff into big piles (wall-ball and medicine ball throwing!- and the 870 lb was off our receipt).  To be able to carry 50 lb bags of thinset mortar and heave them into the truck, then up stairs into the kitchen (farmer's walk and deadlifts).  And (this is important), I recognized the value of rest, so while we've been busting our buns after work every day, I consider that making up for my missed attendance at the gym.  These are essentially 3+ hour slow steady workouts.

So, what's left? Today we're making at least one more dump run. Oh yeah, we borrowed our friend Tori's truck. Why? Because the God-Damn Ram (that is what I'm now calling it; GDR for short) was dead again when Daniel went to fire it up. He suspects something is draining the battery while it sits, using up parking space. I put out a call to my coworker, who's friend's husband is a mechanic, so hopefully Monday I will convince him to come down and take a look. Otherwise, Tori's mechanic sounds like a champ (Union Bay Garage, near the U-Village, if anyone needs a mechanic in Seattle).

Then we need to finish tearing the wall off, and removing some additional drywall from the kitchen. There's a little bit of residual wall stuck to the ceiling that Daniel didn't get yesterday with our new Sawz-All from the pawn shop (hey, it was half the price of a new one at Home Depot).  Then we can start Con-struction! We have a couple of replacement boards for the subfloor - seems like a couple might need some routing of one edge (sigh) or maybe we can palm-sand them flat. Then we are nailing down a layer of 1/4" plywood (or OSB, whatever is cheaper), then we are using thinset mortar to lay down 1/4" cement backerboard (aka Hardiboard).  After you use thinset to lay down the backerboard, you screw it into the plywood.  Then comes the exciting part - tile! I don't know if we'll actually get to that today, although it would be nice to install it and grout before the floor refinishing starts on Monday.

It's coming along!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Delicious Dinner

I threw this recipe together last night, after seeing a similar post on one of the many Paleo food blogs about combining Brussels sprouts, cranberries, and butternut squash.  Except I didn't want to open my bag of cranberries.  And I wanted to use some yellow beets from last Friday's CSA box.

Fast & Loose Roast Dinner Vegetables


- olive oil or your fat of choice (bacon fat would be nice!)
- dried or powdered ginger
- Garam Masala powder
- Brussels sprouts
- Delicata squash
- yellow beets
- salt & pepper


1) Turn on oven to 400 deg F.
2) Cut Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise, remove outer leaves if they are brown or otherwise sad.
3) Chop beets so they are roughly the same size as the sprouts. (I don't bother peeling them).  Save the green tops for another dish!
4) Place beets and sprouts in a baking dish and drizzle with fat.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, the dried or powdered (or fresh!) ginger, and Garam Masala powder.  Stick it in the oven.

5) Take your Delicata squash (whole), and poke holes through the skin with a fork. Stabby-stab!  Put the whole squash into a different baking dish (to prevent leakage) and stick it in the oven.

Wait for a while. I wait till I smell delicious roasted aromas wafting in from the kitchen. 

The squash should be soft enough that a fork pierces the skin and flesh easily. Let the squash cool a bit.

6) Take the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds & stringy bits in the middle.  I flip it and use a knife to peel the skin off, but you can scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

7)  Toss the squash in with the sprouts and beets.

Serve and enjoy! We ate it with a grass-fed ribeye steak last night. 

Of course, this could be adapted to whatever you have in the fridge.  Sweet potatoes would be nice, especially with the ginger.  I bought some dried ginger from Penzey's and minced it with a knife before adding it to the dish.

Mmm...not much left over.

On another note, it looks like we're going to be just-us for Thanksgiving next week. I am going to source a small turkey (heritage if I can find it) and a few sides for a special dinner... unless we go out to eat.

Oh, and if you're in Seattle, want to help us move on Thanksgiving-Sunday (Nov 27)?  It's a great chance to practice your deadlifting and farmer-walks!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Snapdragon Mitts

I finally managed to get a picture of my Snapdragon mitts. I'm up to the point for knitting onto waste yarn for the thumb.  The flip-top will be knit onto a row of stitches.

These are a great knit, especially in Brooklyntweed's Shelter yarn. The yarn isn't the softest in the world, so if you are only used to cashmere or Angora rabbit hair gracing your skin, this might be a little scuffly, but I happen to love yarns with character, like Noro Kureyon and Shetland yarns, and this actually feels fairly soft to me. An interesting note is that I have found the occasional bit of grass in the yarn.  This just reinforces, to me, that the yarn was minimally processed and actually came from sheep (gasp).

Come at me, bro.


Brief house news: I met with the electrician today, and it looks like they have scheduled our whole-duplex rewiring to begin next Monday. And our floor refinishers come next Tuesday. And, oh, did I mention Thursday is Thanksgiving? Oh, and that we might not have a kitchen floor unless we have some plywood ready to screw into the joists? But at least the kitchen walls will be open to the studs, so the electricians can easily run wire to those areas. Daniel and I made a list of every wiring-related wish we had, and I gave a copy to the electrician, and he said that most items would be included. Hopefully, whoever our new tenants end up being, they will appreciate the money and work we've put forth into making their half a decent place to live!


Today's WOD?

150 wall-ball for time.

Time: 7:57.  I'm slow and my arms and legs are very happy to be sitting down for now. The girl next to me was basically going non-stop and finished in about 4 or 5 minutes! Way to go Kim!

That is all....

A Quasi-Dream Kitchen

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Daniel and I meant to begin demolition in our "before" kitchen, but ended up fixing the truck as well as finalizing design plans. We solicited a bid for remodeling work from a good friend of ours with a construction company (his head carpenter does great work, and if you are interested, contact me!)  Anyway, they bid at $10,000 for doing the work that we are perfectly capable of doing ourselves, it's just they can do it faster and correctly the first time. We decided to forgo speed and efficiency in favor of saving $10k.

Want to see our design choices? Here goes:

Here is a rendition of our kitchen via the IKEA kitchen planner (a wonderful tool for planning out your kitchen, if you're going with IKEA cabinets).  Through the end of November, they are offering a discount of 15% if you spend $3500 or more, and 20% if you spend $4500 or more on cabinetry.

The view below is looking in from the living room.  The tall white spot is the fridge, and ignore the white stove on the far right.  It actually fits in the space behind the breakfast bar (which are the tall floor cabinets in front) but the site isn't smart enough to let me place it there.

Beautiful... plus a breakfast bar. I can finally eat off a surface other than a sofa pillow.

Here's another view looking in from the side.  The sink is on the left and we chose a dishwasher with a matching wood panel in front to blend in.

Next up is our floor tile choice. I have fallen in love with these rectangular 12 x 24 inch tiles that have a grassy pattern on them.  This is a tile in a cool grey color, which actually has a few shots of colors through it but remains neutral.  We think it is a nice contrast to the cherry finish we're selecting for the cabinets.
We even went to a free tile installation class in Sodo on Saturday morning to learn how to become little Bob Vilas.

And finally, here is our selection for countertops.  We figured we could use higher quality finishes because we have such a small kitchen (roughly 8 x 12 - ish).  This is "Blue Pearl" granite. If you look closely, you can see opalescent shots of blue throughout the dark grey - we both agreed it was quite lovely, and provided a good contrast to the expanse of cherry cabinetry.

I'm excited to have much more storage space in the new cabinets, as well as a rockin' Jenn-Air gas stove I bought on Craigslist.  We're next headed to a refurbished appliance center on Aurora to scope out the stainless steel refrigerators.  But first, we buttoned up the truck (and cried uncle) because Daniel just couldn't wrench out the heater core. The massive V10 engine heads block any easy access to the heater core tubes on the engine bay side of the firewall. Sigh.  Luckily, we were able to return most of the supplies we bought for the repair (Daniel wanted to keep the heater core & give it to the mechanics to install). 


A quick knitting update: I'm done with the cabling pattern on the Snapdragon mitts. Pictures soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

House Renos

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone! Please go find someone who has served our country and thank them.  My Sailing-Unit is currently sleeping in before we dig into our mountain of work for this weekend.

Now, then, on to the good stuff, which is, of course, House Stuff!

I am going to show off some of the ridiculous "before" pictures.  It has become inevitable that when I first tear into a property (ok, so I only have two experiences to go on, but run with me here)... as I was saying, when I first tear into a property, the past owners have always left all kinds of weird stuff along.

 Our previous owners of the duplex were a retired Asian couple.  I suspect the woman had a large say in how the house was decorated, because we walked in to heavy pink curtains on the living room windows, frilly lace in the kitchen as well as hung up over a boarded-up doorway in the hall, and this beautiful master bedroom shot:

 Isn't it romantic?

 You know those came down first-thing.

The first day of us starting in on the house was about four hours of whirlwind activity.  We started outside since the weather wasn't bad.  We raked leaves in the backyard - which were promptly replaced by the wind.  I mowed the lawn with a blessedly functioning push mower the old folks had left.  Daniel climbed onto the roof and used some sort of copper-sulfate (?) powder to kill the moss up there.  I walked around the backyard with a bucket, picking up strange detritus in the backyard (bunny shaped plant pot, anyone?)

After Daniel got off the roof, we made piles of trash to get rid of later - a pile of metal things, such as small plant fences that I think are silly, a pile of musty wood scraps, and a pile of things like chunks of concrete and/or ugly rocks from the soil.  I kept a large plastic pot for the express purpose of accumulating rocks.

 After our outdoor work, we came inside and tackled the carpets.  They weren't in bad shape, but I really have a thing against carpets in houses.  They tend to harbor dust and totally screw with my allergies.

So we ripped up the carpet in the hallway and two bedrooms, and were pleased to find the oak flooring that was in the living room had been continued through the rest of the house.  In general, the floors that had been covered by carpet are in slightly better shape than the living room, too, although there were some spots where Daniel thinks the poor finish on the floor let the carpet padding stick on it.

After tearing up the carpets and padding, we went back around and I got into a good rhythm removing the tackstrips while Daniel pinched staples off the floor with pliers.

Last night, we changed the locks on the front and back doors of both sides, and I discovered our back door was munched up pretty well and could use replacing.  My first clue should have been that, instead of an outer pane of glass, it had a sheet of plastic nailed into the wood. Sigh.


 Here is a "before" of our kitchen cabinets.  We're doing a complete remodeling of the kitchen.  We have contacted some friends of ours to come help, because there's no way the two of us could finish on time.

Say it with me: Ew.

Today will involve Daniel prepping for painting the basement floors, while I focus upstairs.  I am going to start in on cleaning the rental unit, and cleaning up the old refrigerator and stove in our kitchen so I can post them on Craigslist and maybe we can get $100 back towards our kitchen remodel.  Heck, someone already bought a corner desk off us for $50 that was in the garage (and was a huge pain to disassemble.  The poor guy had to go buy a cheap set of screwdrivers to make it happen).

Luckily, the rental unit is almost ready to go. We still need some electrical work to happen, as well as a guy to come refinish the wood floors, but it doesn't need to be painted, and we'll do things like replace windows come springtime (most likely).


Knitting, you ask? Well, I cast on for the Snapdragon Mitts by Ysolda Teague a couple of days ago.  I am about 3/4 done with the fingerless part on the first mitt (after the fingerless part, you knit a mitten cap that can be put over your fingers or buttoned back over the top of your hand for more dexterity).  I'm using BrooklynTweed's Shelter yarn for it, in the Button Jar colorway.  It is amazingly squishy.  Quite honestly, this is my first time knitting with a woolen-spun yarn.  Lovely! If you care about things made in the USA, you might want to check out Jared Flood's backstory on why he was moved to create a line of yarns. I'm quite impressed with his initiative, and he has created a great product.


Onward! We still need to fix the truck (... I didn't mention we bought a truck, did I.  Well, Daniel bought us a 1998 Dodge Ram V10 Laramie.  With a busted heater core that he decided we could fix ourselves instead of letting a mechanic deal with the fiddly work and not pay the mechanic the $500.  Well, it has been a week since we tore the truck apart and I stupidly cut an A/C line because we were convinced it led to the heater core, even though everyone's heater core on the internet clearly showed rubber hoses... Well, we didn't *see* the rubber hoses because of our big engine that was clearly blocking the path to it.  I should start a blog called "Our Truck Is Being A Royal Pain In The Ass"), and hit IKEA and compare floor stains to the cabinets we want, if not purchase cabinets at that time.  They are running a 15% off special through Thanksgiving, thank goodness.  You'd be surprised how well IKEA kitchen cabinets hold up.  We have several friends with them in their kitchens, and some friends have kids, others have raucous dogs- all the cabinets look great.  I also need to look at paint chips in the house & decide on some finalists for Daniel to look at - painting definitely needs to happen before floors are refinished and furniture is in. Argh.


Thank god I'm organized.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weekend, Keys, Yarn

This past weekend, Daniel and I spent the weekend up in Bellingham, WA with a bunch of friends. And two toddlers. I really enjoy being around my friends, but it is exhausting being around kiddos! I woke up both nights when they would wake up, crying, and I blame that on either being a light sleeper, or being a female and somehow wired to startle awake when a baby is crying.  Don't get me wrong, they're good kids, but one was coming down with something, so he was cranky, and Dad Would Not Do. Only Mom. As soon as Mom would take hold of him, he'd stop crying and (I swear) a sh*t-eating grin would spread across his face. The little faker...

I spent a large percentage of my time in the cabin helping to clean up after everyone. With 11 adults and two kids under 2, it got filthy fast. In fact, I chose to wear shoes the entire weekend because I didn't relish the idea of my socks becoming encrusted with bits of food.

The food was tasty, though - the highlights were two deep fried turkeys on Saturday night, along with somewhat traditional Thanksgiving sides, and Sunday morning one of the guys made 4 different quiches.


We left the cabin Sunday morning, and Daniel humored me and I got to go into a store in Bellingham called Northwest Handspun Yarns. I met the nice owner, and she let me try out the Schacht Sidekick spinning wheel.

Let me say, I am glad I tried it.  I love that the wheel is so portable, and Barry Schacht showed some pretty ingenious design ideas by using bicycle quick-release levers for some of the parts.  I love that the wheel folds up so well, and that the whorls and other accessories pack flat and screw onto the body of the wheel.  The wheel is very compact, and very light.  The lightness proves to be the problem, though.  You see, the drive wheel is ostensibly light to promote the portability of the wheel, but the lack of mass on the wheel translates to a lack of inertia, which means it's not very easy to keep the wheel humming along. I really "felt" each time I pressed down on a treadle.  It was almost like pedaling on a cheap stationary bike.  I don't get that feeling on my Majacraft Susie, which has a massive drive wheel that just almost turns on it's own. The store owner pointed this out to me, and suggested I not ever sell my Susie, as Majacraft was about to increase their prices soon, and it was difficult to find a store in the US that sold Majacrafts for a pre-purchase spin (apparently the shipping costs eat into any profits; she said if she sold Majacrafts, she'd make about $15 per wheel!)

Like I said, I was glad I got the chance to try out the Sidekick.  One other advantage is that the flyer is interchangeable with the Schacht Matchless flyers and bobbins.  However, I don't own a Matchless, so this isn't a huge concern for me, but it's nice that Schacht considered that aspect of design interchangeability.  In the end, the Sidekick is not worh it's $785 retail price to me.  I think it is a fine product and could work very well for someone who insists upon travelling with a wheel.  For now, I am content to travel with drop spindles - they are far more portable than any wheel, and far cheaper (even the really special-coveted-ones!)


In other news, we got the keys to our duplex today!  I made a slew of calls today to set up water, electricity, garbage, etc. I also set up our cable internet, which should be installed Sunday afternoon. The reason this is of prime importance is that I can now have the ability to telecommute from the duplex while I wait for contractors to show up and either provide estimates or start work on the place.  Daniel and I are looking at some electrical repair, chimney repair on one unit, refinishing the wood floors in both places, replacing the vinyl in the rental kitchen (today he sprung on me that he wants to put in ceramic tile, not a new sheet of vinyl), and remodeling our own kitchen.  I have already purchased an awesome stove, and our other purchases will be IKEA cabinets, other appliances, and granite countertops.