Monday, August 24, 2009

Trudging along

We've been slowly working on the laundry room. I've managed to get the place primed, and mostly caulked last weekend; since it was sort of cobbled together with that paneling, I had a lot of seams to hit. This weekend, we wrapped up the caulking and painted it our fabulous five dollar mis-tint. The sample on the paint lid looked sort slate blue/grey...but once we got it up, it turns out it's more robin's egg blue. Adam looked up at one paint and said, "Someone's going to hate this color when we go to sell." But we actually like it. And it's a far cry from what was previously there. Now we just have to paint the trim.

So. Before:

As it stands now:

It's nothing to write home about, really, but for $5, I couldn't be happier. Granted, it looks a little pukey with the floor; at some point, we'll tear it out nad install the bargain slate we bought almost 2 years ago!

Meanwhile, our most recent set back has occurred in the yard. I received a notice last week from the city that I needed to clean up my yard in a week. This cleanup included mowing (granted, we'd gone a little longer this time, but it had rained a bunch and grass was exploding; I mowed it that night, and it needs to be mowed again badly); they noted the dead limbs at the side of our yard that we had trimmed a few days before and hadn't moved to the back of the house yet; the boxes in the carport and tucked to the side of things that we were preparing to take to the salvation army; weeds IN THE ALLEY; and a few branches that hung over the street, only in the way of MY car when I park curbside in front of MY OWN house.

Fine. We'll get it done.

The next day, I get a certified letter in the mail. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Oh, shit. Those things are never good. When I went to the post office to pick it up, it was, I kid you not, the top copy of the notice that was plastered to my door. Then I found out that basically the whole neighborhood had received these notices.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is hosting an historic walk through the neighborhood in a few weeks, and I think the city is trying to whip us into shape.

At any rate, while we were at it, Adam decimated some of the bamboo and trimmed everything. Our mosquito problem is out of hand, and I think it's because they are breeding in the bamboo. So at least some of it has to go.

And that's about the long and short of it for the moment. Hopefully we can get the trim finished, soon, and get working on the exterior.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More progress

I should probably preface this by saying that the laundry room is definitely an afterthought kind of room. It's clearly been converted from something else and was done extremely half-assedly by the previous owners. The wood paneling was installed around the trim and they didn't even BEGIN to cut it in straight lines or flush to the trim-- and then to top it off they didn't top it off. Nothing was caulked, and it's just a sad little space. We would love to do a little more back here, but we've got much more pressing matters, and we have all that beautiful slate to eventually redo the floors. Unfortunately, though, the floors have had water damage and there's several layers of linoleum, so we'll want to take all that up and start from scratch-- definitely more than I want to deal with right now.

That said, the holes in the wall needed to be filled, and there's nothing wrong with making it a bit more tolerable in the meantime!

When we installed the gas stove (POs had electric, we just had a line diverted from the gas wall heater in the laundry room to the other side of the wall. This left a big ass gaping hole:

Go ahead and click on that pic to get a close-up of the rocking wallpaper peeking out from under the paneling..Go ahead! It really is awesome; parts of the design even shimmer in the light!

Anyway, I got some of the paneling that we stripped from the kitchen, ahem, two years ago. Somehow it never made it to the dump. It's slightly different, but we were able to find enough of the repeating pattern to fit. A few cuts, some liquid nail, and two actual trim nails later:

A little caulk and paint, and it'll be good as new.

You might also have noticed in the right hand side of that shot, there's trim. We got the trim fitted around our ghost door, too.

I wanted to get some priming done, too, but that will have to wait for another day. I've got that awesome $5 mistint paint for the walls and the luan and regular ol' antique white for the trim. I'm planning to treat that weird piece of drop trim at the top of the wall and everything above it like crown molding paint it all white.

It'll be so nice when it's all painted and done and we can bring the big freezer in from the garage.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weekday Eats

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, but tonight I decided to keep track of what I was doing and post a twist on a recipe from Epicurious-- Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese.

I've made this before using slightly less butter and omitting the breading, and it is really fantastic. But when I got to the grocery store this evening, I discovered that they don't carry goat cheese. Sigh. So I took a few suggestions from the reviews, made a few of my own changes, and ended up with a lovely result.

The List:

4 boneless chicken breasts
Butter (about 1 1/2 T)
2-3 green onions
4 oz of cream cheese and
~2 oz queso fresco (both in place of the goat cheese)
6-10 basil leaves

for the sauce:

~2 T butter and olive oil if needed
8 oz mushrooms
1/4 c white wine
2/3 c chicken broth

for the starch:

couscous cooked in chicken broth
Step one: Chopping and mixing
Thinly slice 2 or 3 green onions and the basil leaves.

Add the cheese...

And mix. Salt a pepper just a little bit.

Step Two: Imagine stuffing

By this point, my fingers started getting all chicken-y, so no pictures for this step.

Here's where I stuff the breast. The recipe calls for pounding and rolling, but that sounded like too much work. So I slice a little hole in the side of the breast and slide teh knife around inside the breast to make a little pocket.

Then I stuff the cavity and put a toothpick in it to pinch the hole shut.

Step Three: Baking

Each of the stuffed breasts are placed in a 9X12 Pam'd glass pan and drizzled with a little melted butter. Put, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 350ยบ. It will need to bake for about 35 minutes.

Step Four: The sauce

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and sautee the mushrooms; add olive oil if needed. Once they're nice and smooshy, add the wine and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Then add the chicken broth and reduce.

Step Five: Starch it up

Make the couscous-- I use chicken broth instead of water, but then again, we buy broth by the case.

And that's it. I was too hungry to take a pic of the finished product. I can say that our final dish could have used that third green onion, more basil, and I think it would have been amazing served on spinach steamed with lemon or collard greens with the couscous on the side. One of these days I'll try it.

I'd say it's probably better with the goat cheese, but goodness knows this is cheaper ;-).


It has been so long since we worked on the house. We kept talking about it; then we were preparing for the new puppy dog; then we were settling the new puppy dog. At any rate, we finally did it. We did some work.

When we tore out the kitchen walls, we ended up with this:

Apparently there had been another door between the kitchen and laundry room. You could see the remnants of it on the laundry side, but it's covered up on the kitchen side. We had to tear out some pretty shoddy framing-in when we sheetrocked and we just hadn't filled this side in again. Before, it had more of that lovely wood-paneling you can see there on the rest of the walls.

We (meaning, "I") forgot to take pictures in the process, so I will simply explain what we did here. First, we decided to fill the space with some super thin luan-- the washer's drain and water lines are practically in the doorway, so there's not a lot of space to work with.

Then we put blocks around the perimeter to attach the luan to something-- we made these blocks no deeper than the existing 2X4s you see there; that way, everything stayed pretty even. then we nailed in the luan, trimmed out the doorway's "jamb" with 2x4s ripped to size, and finished it out with quarter round. We'll replace the trim once I've painted. I really like the idea of our little ghost door.

Here's where we are so far:

Now to get the trim re-affixed and we'll be in good shape. I'm so proud of us.