Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cats, Rats, meetings & math

This morning I was up early. I knew I had a 9 a.m. staff meeting with 3e and needed to complete some work before I left. I heard the back screen door banging and knew the cat wanted it. I glanced down through the glass and realized he had a "friend" he wanted to bring in the house. I already cleaned up feathers in the dining room on Wednesday. I guess while I was upstairs sewing he brought in a bird. He's broken a hole in the screen so he can come and go...so I have to keep the back door closed now. I don't like when he sneaks in with his "little friends."

He wasn't very happy that I wouldn't open the door. He finally went back out into the grass...and finished off his snack!
Once the 3e meeting was over I headed to Richardson to have lunch with my girlfriend. We haven't seen each other in awhile and we needed some "catch up" time. We also were interested in visiting a new shop that an acquaintance of ours opened recently.
Her shop was very nice - but seems there was a really neat shop next door, and a small tea room across the street. I think another outing will have to be scheduled to try out the tea room (The Chocolate Angel.)
Miss Carolyn found her a fine bag she liked - but she didn't buy it. Just looking. The store was a great mix of new things, antiques, and vintage looking items. Great mix of all!
I found a small corner show casing a baby bed. Thought Miss Janice needed a look for her outdoor baby bed on the deck.
I also found a pillow idea of Miss Janice's collection of pins.
I had the afternoon to catch up on emails and work then back to Miss Janice's when Peter arrived home to work on the "math" portion of the floors. (Because you know I wasn't doing that math. I kept telling them my drawing was not done to scale!)
Mike and I got the borders measured off (one mistake required pulling up one side). Once that was finished Peter measured off the remainder of the space to calculate the diamonds.
There will be two dark borders around the perimeter of the room and then the diamonds will be the center of the design. We put pieces of tape in the middle of the diamonds that will not be dark - don't want to get mixed up in the middle of the project!!!!
Miss Janice peeked in on our work - I think she's happy!
We had to erase some of the additional lines we chalked, but that didn't take long. I was pleased with how quickly the who process went. It took us about 3 hours to tape off the whole floor.
I can't wait until tomorrow when we put the stain down. Miss Janice is headed to a wedding in Houston this weekend - so I guess she'll have to watch for updates here on the blog!
Peter and Mike also got her new shelf hung...and I got busted for taking pictures...
but I aint' skeert! His bark is worse than his bite!!!

Until tomorrow....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last coat of paint

Once the last coat of paint was applied we began pulling back the "blue" tape. Each pull of the tape either showed a small amount of white along the edge or pulled off beautifully and the painting was perfect. For each exposed white spot I took a small brush and filled it in. I especially wanted the ceiling to look perfect since that show more than along the baseboards...although all was covered. Once that task was completed we took the paper up from the floor. That was a wrestling match! There was still some sanding to be done in the corners near the fireplace. (They had been bleached white with the peroxide to kill a smell).

After that small bit of sanding it was time to sweep once more and wipe down the room. First, the fan needed to be dusted and wiped down. Don't know how all that dust made it up there, but it rained dust for awhile! Next, the room was swept, then vacuumed, then swept again. When the sweeping was finished all wood surfaces were cleaned with Murphy's oil soap. Each baseboard, door jam, window frame and crown molding was cleaned. The mantle was also given a good cleaning. Once that was completed the windows were wiped down and cleaned from all dust. Finally...back to the floor. One more light sweep, dust mop, down on our hands and knees to wipe the floor down, then one last dust mopping with a light mist of Murphy's oil soap.

We even let the baby down on the floor to crawl around - no dust on his jeans - so we declared the room finished. One last look at the fresh paint, clean windows and gleaming woodwork! Tomorrow...buy the stain and create the design on the floor! (Still more crawling around on the floor!)
Till tomorrow, I'll be dreaming of floor designs and other "artistic" ideas!

Front Room Makeover...

I'll call this the front room makeover only because the name of the room is changing. Currently this room is used as a living room. The middle room - currently the dining room - will become the living room. So, I guess until the appropriate furniture is moved into the designated rooms - they will be the front room and middle room (both of which are being made over!)


The crew arrived to first move all the furniture in the front room into the middle room. The dining room furniture was moved into the corner and Miss Janice asked if we'd leave her one chair open so she could eat in the dining room during this process.
The rest of the furniture from the front room was moved into the middle room...

and everything was just placed where ever it would fit.
The guys pulled the carpet up right away exposing a layer of padding.
The problem with the padding - it was spray glued and stapled to the wood floor. (Who thought it was a good idea to use all those staples?) Craziness!

Mike had a tough time getting it up, but once he had it all out of the house, I pulled all the staples out of the wood floor. Not a fun job, but someone had to do it! Once that was completed we hung plastic over the open doorway between the two rooms to contain all the saw dust about to be created!
Sanding is always the biggest job and after one night on our hands and knees sanding, I convinced Peter he needed to rent a big sander from Home Depot so we could complete the job much quicker. That being said - it did go quicker, but the edges still had to be sanded with the hand sander.
Here is a close up of the old floor....
And here is the freshly sanded floor...what a difference. Great old heart pine floors. There are some gouges and marks that will still be visible with stain- but you can't get these kind of floors any more.
Next big job...tape all the wood work (especially the floors) to paint the room. You may have noticed in the earlier pictures the light color on the walls. Miss Janice has decided on much more color for this room! (You can see where she tested some color on the walls by the fire place.)Ashley got all the floor and woodwork covered on Monday so we could begin painting Tuesday morning.My little helper was unhappy and wanted to be set free from his play pen and swing, but he made a bee line for my coffee cup I sat down...and suddenly we had our first accident of the day. Spilled coffee on our newly sanded floor. Oh well...it will dry...

and Mr. Helper will have to be contained again. But, that didn't last long and pretty soonMama had to take a break and give him personal swing time on the front porch.By the end of today we had two coats of paint on all the walls. We'll have to decide in the morning if we need another coat on the darker areas.



Once the walls are finished - I'll begin masking off the floor for the chosen design - then staining will begin.

Check back - there is more of this project to be completed - then off to the middle room for a new makeover!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Projects and faceless ghouls!

It's been suggested that I "must" have permission to put "bad" pictures on my blog! I pose the question..."Who decides if it's a bad picture?" If I let others choose, it will ALWAYS be a bad picture. All of us don't want to think anyone can see the real "me" in a picture. We are trying to present only our "best side" to the world, and we see only snippets of our self when we look in the mirror or via that snapshot someone took of us "unaware". Yet, each day...there we are for all to see...our eyes open too wide, or our our eyes too squinty. Our mouth wide open in surprise, or our mouth open wide with laughter. Our double chins, muffin tops and imperfections...all these things are there...everyday! We just don't like it when we feel we have been singled out and our imperfections magnified in an unguarded moment!


SO, today...in honor of Halloween...I will blog about the headless, faceless people in my life! Are they happy now without their identity? Hmm...I think they won't like this any better. Oh well, I can't please everyone (or any of these!)

The last few weekends have been full of activity as we have worked together on various projects at Miss Janice's 1917 historic home. She made a list of all the "TO DO" items she wished to have completed before "winter" sets in (as if we really have a winter here) and we have begun working down her list! (Now THIS makes her happy!)

This weekend the projects were to rebuild the front steps and stain the back deck and potting shed. The old front steps were steep and very narrow and this usually meant having to turn sideways to walk down the steps (or pitch forward on your face!) If you had on heels...this was a huge issue.

First stop, of course, is Home Depot! Measurements were taken and calculated (without my help) so we'd know how much lumber to purchase and all the extras we needed to finish the projects for Saturday.
Bin after bin of wood. Lengths, grade...Is it warped? Is this one good enough? Right length? Hmmm...which one do you want me to load? But wait, here's the size we need...Follow me!
I'll just follow behind them and make sure they get the right stuff. I know how to supervise these two (and I don't even need a calculator!)
The wood has been chosen and now we need paint, brushes, rollers and buckets. We also need stain for the back deck...and don't forget the paint sticks...we'll have to be able to stir up all that paint and stain! (If they leave them laying around I'll paint them into something else!)
I think we're finally ready to check out! (Who brought their suitcase? Miss Janice - we don't need to travel out of town to get the goods!) Just dump that wood near the curb. It's close by and we can easily get to it once we're ready for it. The crews have arrived and are ready to begin work.
Crew number one starts on the front steps. First thing...spread out all the tools on the porch! Who knows what we'll need to complete the project. Next on the list - tear out the old steps. Once they're gone - start to build the new risers.
Watch out for that mound of ants living under the porch.
Meanwhile - crew #2 is in the back yard covering the deck and potting shed with a fresh coat of stain. Everything looks brand new!
And the extra helpers for Crew #2 are always appreciated (as long as they aren't crying.)
Meanwhile...when the steps were completed they were sanded, primed and painted red (same color as the front door.) Once the color went on the steps we felt it made sense to also trim out the two side caps (which also had to be rebuilt) and paint the fronts of the boxes red.New steps and a new red mailbox with house numbers - the front is coming together.
Now it's time to begin work on the front room. It was a living room, but Miss Janice wants it to become a dining room and her dining room to become her living room. We'll first have to pull up the old carpet and under pad, refinish the wood floor, and paint new color on the walls. The biggest task will be the design I want to stain onto the newly sanded floor. I've been working on some ideas and drawing proto-types for Miss Janice to approve, but best of all...she has given me "artistic license". I think that means FREE REIGN to paint what I like! She's out of town...maybe I can finish before she returns?
Stay tuned - more projects to follow! We'll have Miss Janice completely out of her box when all is said and done!

Monday, October 27, 2008

No Secret Recipes

I am a follow of the blog "How to Cook like Your Grandmother". There are always great recipes shared via this blog. Check out today's blog regarding secret recipes!

Sometimes while reading a recipe I might remember I have that same recipe, or think I have a better version of the recipe I've made in the past. However, there are times the recipe will bring to my mind something I have not made in a long time. It might be some item that's fallen off my radar because I've gotten in a rut or not taken the time to make it for my family and friends. There are also times, while reading the posted recipe, that it takes me back to a time I enjoyed that food prepared by someone. I may only have a vague memory of the food served (I can specifically remember being served that meal), but more importantly I remember the time spent with a special friend or a special occasion surrounding that food. The long conversation over the dinner, the sharing of our souls over dessert, or a good cry with cup of coffee and homemade pflaummen kuchen.

Today's blog hit a nerve with me! I do a lot of cooking, and have been told often enough that I'm a great cook. For several years I cooked every Friday night for a group of volunteers that showed up to maintained our local "historic village." There could be as few as 10 or as many as 30 people who would show up to work for a couple of hours on the houses and grounds, then stay for appetizers, dinner and dessert. It was the great camaraderie that brought us back each Friday night, but there was also a sense of community as we sat around the table with others who came each week because of their love of history and their sense of duty to each other and our city.

I have always been willing to share my recipes with anyone that asked. Whatever I made for that evening - they could have the recipes. I tried to have a variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts each week and sometimes we would have a potluck. So many great recipes were shared by all on those nights. I have many fond memories of those times!

Currently I belong to a dinner group. There are 9 of us that meet monthly. The host home provides the meat, and the others bring whatever will round out the meal (salad, vegetables, appetizers, dessert). We all love sharing our recipes with each other and have a great time revealing that "secret" taste or the "special" way we've changed the recipe or added an ingredient.

I guess I have met those in my past who have "held out" and refused to reveal their secret recipe. I usually write them off as "childish" and/or insecure. With millions of recipes now posted on the Internet...it would be impossible for someone not to find similar or better. I love the thrill of the hunt for the specific item they have refused to share. One specific woman I know gives very vague measurements - and even if you figure it out - it's NEVER as good as hers! Vatever!

Recently I heard someone announce they would NOT tell anyone the "secret" recipe for their very own special chocolate truffles. There were two of us standing within ear shot of this declaration that felt compelled to take up that challenge. We went home very determined to find the "secret". The recipe has since been found! Others have also announced that the "found" version is even better than the "secret" recipe. There is immense satisfaction in the hunt of finding his recipe, and in the affirmation of others stating that the new recipe tastes better.

Competition makes the world go round...and unless I'm entering a cooking contests - you are welcome to my recipes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Round Up on the Range

Saturday morning...the day began early with set up at 7:30 am. Outside our barn the barbecue was already cooking and the smell filled the barn all day. We set up our tables Friday afternoon, but still had much to do in getting ready and setting up the tables with merchandise.
Miss Vicki came by while we were still setting up. She and her husband, Mr. Buck, own the stage coach.
We had a 10x20 booth, so plenty of room to spread out.


By 8:30 we were ready and still had time to enjoy our morning coffee.
Lots of explaining as to how the purse shells worked.
Pretty soon my favorite cowgirl and cowboy rode in... Meanwhile, outside - the chuck wagons were already set up to set to begin their day of cooking. The Round Up is a chuck wagon cook off, so much friendly competition, and great food...chicken friend steak, mashed potatoes, beans, fresh biscuits - all made over an open camp fire!

The McKinney mounted police showed their presence...
Mr. Buck and his stagecoach gave many rides during the day.

Lauren entered the Stick Horse Barrel Races...I think she won?


Petting zoo.
Horse ridin'
Gotta' look good in your hat!
Especially...if it's a pink hat!
Some chose to arrive without their horses (just for RT)! There was a wonderful sense of "free spirits" in our barn as each showed off their own unique style. I saw her several times just rolling around on the dirt floor, and enjoying every moment. She spent most of the day just twirling in her tutu and cowgirl boots! As for me...I ain't skeert to get on that horse!