Scrapes. I promised to share my most current one.Two and a half weeks ago, I was making dinner, much like I do every night. It was the end of the work week, and I was feeling a little irritable and tired. When scraping out the last bits of the pasta sauce, the spatula got stuck in the jar. Then the handle pulled out of the rubber scraper. The stress building on top of the normal end of the week stuff added to the picture in my mind, well, let's just say my enthusiasm to get-that-spatula-out overrode my sense of caution. One broken jar and a deep, jagged cut on my thumb later, I was emergency-bound for a long wait and six stitches.Suddenly, it felt like I couldn't do anything I wanted to. I couldn't put on a bra. I couldn't type. I couldn't write. Everything I tried involved heaping amounts of pain. Plus, I had planned on beginning a new series of black and white paintings. Argh!My plans for the black and white pieces required a fully-functional dominant hand, but that didn't mean that I was going to sit idly by and internally mock myself for my ridiculous action (I did that too) while not getting anything done. Nay! I was going to channel the constant, throbbing pain and the challenge of learning how to do things with my left hand. It took two weeks of clumsy painting and writing descriptions (sometimes repeated) on my experiences, but I managed to finish a piece using only my left hand. It may be a bit trippy, but I feel quite accomplished. .
Happy holidays. You guys are awesome! I hope you have a splendid weekend with tons of goodies and giggles..
There's a bit too much Anne Shirley in me. I have a habit of getting into scrapes (more on my most recent one next week) and of not being able to follow recipes properly. Case in point, my Thanksgiving turkey this year. I got a recipe from Food Network in my inbox and thought, "This sounds mighty tasty." I'm a big fan of brining turkey, and the list of ingredients intrigued me. What's more, I was teaching a former vegetarian friend how to cook a turkey this year, and I thought the instructions sounded quite easy to follow.Thank goodness for my friend, Aimee! I picked up the ingredients in advance and began to prep the veggies that would be put in the brine. She noticed that instead of purchasing apple cider, I had gotten apple cider vinegar. Classic Mellisa cooking in action. We used the vinegar instead -- I thought the tang would be interesting, and the extra acidity would help with tenderizing the bird.The next morning, I was regretting that decision. What if we pickled our birds? This was Aimee's first Thanksgiving turkey -- what if my inattentiveness had ruined it? I racked my brain for options. I knew it needed to be in the same flavor profile as the vinegar. It needed to be sweet to balance the tanginess. What to use? Ah, apple butter would be perfect! The sweet and spicy and apple-y-ness would work wonders (I hoped). I picked up a couple of jars, dropped one off at Aimee's house, and took one home to my turkey.After patting the bird dry, I separated the skin from the rest of the carcass then liberally coated the between part with the apple butter and one stick of butter. I coated the cavity as well to make sure that everything would be graced with the apple numminess and followed the rest of the directions from the recipe PROPERLY.Thankfully, it turned out wonderfully. I may use the altered recipe again next year. It would make a splendid Christmas turkey, too. Of course, I could always try to follow the recipe correctly, but that might just be an impossible feat.
My favorite lasagna recipe involves seasonal acorn squash and oodles of ricotta. It's a Martha recipe, but of course, I can't follow her directions to the letter, so my creation is a little easier to make -- I layer squash AND cheese on the same layers. Scandalous, I know! Of course, I also use whole wheat noodles I have to cook as well as real acorn squash I have to treat the same way, so in that sense, I've made it a more difficult recipe than the original. Be that as it may, I've made this dish a few times this fall, and it's always a hit.To prepare the squash, cut it in half and scrape out the seeds. Rub butter on the cut halves and place in a 350 degree, preheated oven. Cook about 45 minutes or until a fork easily slides into the squash. Let cool and scoop out of the shell. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and mash with a fork until nicely combined. Then follow The Martha's directions to create some tasty, tasty lasagna..
The year is almost at an end, so it's time to review my to-do list for 2011. Some things got done. Many things didn't. Some projects, like the Concord House, had to get done so that we could sell it. Some things I hadn't planned on, like the gutter for the deck side of the house, got installed. Originally, I hadn't expected to have our concrete stairs poured this year, but the old steps became so hazardous, we just had to have it done, and we're really happy we did. The new stairs are awesome.
More on the gutter -- we replaced the sliding glass door after finding that the original one was still leaking. I didn't get my French doors that I wanted, but taking the space into consideration, another slider was really the best choice, as well as being almost half the price of French doors. However, we discovered after a heavy rainstorm that the new door was also having a leak problem. Ugh! I decided that the only way to avoid leaks was to prevent splash-back from water pouring off of the roof and landing on the deck. We went with Byers' Leaf Guard gutters because they have really wide downspouts, and best of all, a zero maintenance guarantee. If anything ever breaks or the gutter needs to be cleaned, they come out to deal with it free of charge. We've had one rainstorm and so far, the gutter seems to be working. Thank goodness! The new slider has a great Energy Star rating, so even though it didn't fix the rest of the leak problem, it was a good purchase.
All completed projects are in green. There's not much of it. I'm going to go hang my head in shame now.
1. replace dry-rotten siding
The most important project of the year.
2. paint outside of house
I think I've finally decided to do gray with blue trim.
3. build a clothesline
I have the plans. I just need to do it.
4. build a firewood holder
We got more than we needed for this winter, so we'll
need to create something to store it for next winter.
5. purchase a storage shed
We don't have a garage or basement, so this is very
6. purchase a carport
Our cars take a beating in this weather.
7. build a fence around 1/4 of our property
Bodie needs more runnin' room.
8. install baseboards in my office
Can you believe I haven't done this yet?
9. build the built-in shelves in my office
How I'll finally finish my office space.
10. paint bathroom
The previous owners painted it matte without any mildew
11. repaint trim throughout the house
Again, the previous owners painted it matte.
12. repaint living space
We haven't actually changed any of the paint in the
house since we bought it.
13. purchase a new, Energy Star refrigerator
This is a must -- both for efficiency and for storage space.
14. replace the deck
This may not happen this year, but it needs to happen
15. build a pergola over the front door for shade
I just couldn't get into the sunshade look, and a pergola
will fit the style of the house as well as giving some
architectural interest to our box of a home.
16. purchase a new water heater
It's original to our '77 home.
and for my Charles' dad's house:
17. finish removing the rest of 35+ years of accumulation
18. gut & replace both bathrooms
Since we live 3+ hours away, we'll hire out for this.
19. replace carpet throughout house
Same as #18.
20. paint inside of house, including kitchen cupboards