Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Annual Report

Well, that title brings back memories of the old insurance company days.  I spent 15 years in one of the best work environments. Not many people can say that. We're having a reunion next summer. 

On the 2014 balance sheet of life, there were debits, but the credits outweighed.  

My father passed away and my mother-in-law had a stroke.

But my lovely M-I-L is improving slowly. Her most recent milestone is being able to wear her glasses and read a real book!  

Seeing my dad's house with many unfinished projects spurred me to get a few more things finished around our own home. 

Handy and I crossed off a few things on our bucket lists: The ROAD TRIP, which I left hanging on the blog, so maybe I'll recap that in 2015. He got himself a guitar and I started taking piano lessons.  I am just about to order Rosetta Stone for Italian. 

Frank has a job.

Ernest has college. 

Homer has a second chance in life. 

Definitely a credit balance for the year. 

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

We're Going to Have to Get Out Some More Tools*

Handy has two weeks off but he hasn't been bored since he lucked (or perhaps unlucked is more accurate) into a major project.

Ernest told us he couldn't turn on the upstairs shower. Well, it hasn't been used since he left. In the process of fixing that, Handy decided to do something about the eternally slow drain. Unfortunately, it ended up even slower. Or actually completely plugged. They couldn't even get a snake through it. So the next step was to take off the trap. 

Hi, Ernest!

That giant hole in the wall/floor/ceiling was already there behind the dry wall. This house has scary construction. Anyone who's watched This Old House knows you shouldn't saw through beams like that. 

The pipe couldn't be unstuck or unscrewed so, no surprise, Handy sawed through it with the sawzall. Then out came a grinder and a shop vac. I may have missed a few more tools as they appeared from the garage. (*The post title is a direct quote from Handy.)

Since this was all happening on Christmas Day, the reassembly has to wait until today. 

Here's Ernest from the other side. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Tree

I asked Ernest to wrap some lights around a tomato cage for me, in preparation for one of my alternate trees.  He picked the longest strand of lights and wrapped in a pattern. I liked the minimalist look, so I left it that way.

This is what it looks like without my glasses.

A smallish traditional tree, although the ornaments are non-traditional.

And finally, Pink and Sparkly makes a repeat appearance. Ernest did not believe we could fit all the ornaments. This time I was the one with the engineering plan.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve

Gary said it, "You must be so happy to have the young genius back home for a bit :)". Yep, that's it in a nutshell. That's all I wanted.  I'm actually seeing more of him than I thought, as 2 out of 3 climbing trips seem to have fallen through. The first week he spent a lot of time at Hogwarts, as his friends were still there. This week he seems content to hang out with us, helping around the house and sharing the xBox with his brother. I think a trip is on between Christmas and New Year's. 

We're doing our celebrating tonight, since tomorrow we have a luncheon to attend. 

I'd better get cracking in the kitchen. There is pie to be made. 

(Yes, I know this looks like a Thanksgiving picture but we're having the same menu so it works for me.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

Ernest came home from the east coast craving salsa and good avocados.

Little by little we are discovering there were a few other things he missed. He made a special request for ricotta pancakes last weekend. They are my favorite, he enthused. I won't even eat ordinary pancakes any more. Ernest made an emergency trip to the store before breakfast to buy ricotta, since I didn't have any on hand, that's how much he likes them. I usually make them with ricotta left over from lasagne or calzones.

I don't know where I got the recipe, or I would give them credit. The original was a little skimpy for 4 voracious people so I increased the proportions.

Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes

1 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

If the ricotta is really watery, you can strain it, but I usually don't bother.

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Mix ricotta, milk, egg yolks and vanilla in a smaller bowl.

Beat egg whites until stiff.

Stir wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, then fold in egg whites.

OK, here's where I don't have instructions because I am not the pancake cooker in the house, only the mixer. Someone else usually does the griddle work. Cook them like you would any other pancakes, I guess!


Now I have ricotta leftover from the pancakes! What else can I make? This Baked Ricotta spread looks good!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Super Deluxe

After a long wait, Tino's Italian Grocery has reopened in a new location. So I made a reason to go to to the big town the other week. Supposedly it was to pay the deposit for new windows, but between us it really was all about the subs. 

Handy knows more of the Italian Grocery's history than I do. A family-run Italian deli in a small house, it was bought out by the county and moved into a housing development. There, a wall outside was testament to the deliciousness: oil and vinegar stains on the sidewalk where people sat to eat. 

I didn't get there often enough to recognize the rest of the family but Tino was always there. After he passed, there was a division. Someone got the location, but the children got the name, the Facebook page, and the original sandwich signs. 

Handy's lunch date fell through and he texted me, offering to meet me there. But I was already in line! So I delivered a Super Deluxe (with everything) to him.

I took mine home and you can see that Homer was very interested. But I was very hungry so I did not share. He had gobbled his meager kibble allotment right before I sat down to eat, so I wasn't too sorry for him. 

Homer thought he might have better luck when Frank was feasting. 

Nope. Only the oil and vinegar dressing left on the paper. 

We have another trip to town today, for Homer's vet appointment, so he's going to have to suffer in the crate a little longer so we can pick up another round of Super Deluxes. I guess I'll have to give him a nibble this time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

No Need for Concern

I'll admit, I was a bit worried about Tiny's reaction to Christmas trees. She is such a curious cat, always poking her tiny nose into strange new places.

But she seems to be ignoring the trees (I'm up to 3 now, photos coming soon.)

She did helpfully hold down the Christmas tablecloths.

You mae have seen Homer's photobomb on facebook.

 Sigh, she says.

(Photos by Frank.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Which I Test a Household Hint

Can putting a wooden spoon across a pot prevent it from boiling over? 

The foam clearly tries to creep over the spoon first. 

But wait!  The spoon is eventually overwhelmed and there it goes. 

End result: It slowed the process, but still boiled over in the end. If you're going to use the spoon for stirring anyway, and it won't get burnt up, go ahead. 

You're welcome. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tree and Cake

Without the Holiday Homes tour to prod me into decorating, I have nothing done.  I have removed the so-called easter decorations (Alice and Humpty Dumpty tchotchkes) but that's not much is it? I adore my Christmas decorations but it is a real pain to get them all out.

I don't have a wreath because the boy scout didn't come around this year. The boy scout's mother is selling succulent wreaths on Facebook and, while beautiful, they look too heavy to hang and are very expensive. I may cobble something together from vines in the yard. They are no longer dusty since we've had a couple decent rain storms.

Well, Ernest is back! So I roped him into helping get a tree.  It's amazing what you can fit into his little car. He is so happy to have the chance to drive a car again! 

This is where the tree is right now. 

Handy's birthday is tomorrow, so I need to hunt down a recipe. He decided on Boston Cream Pie, not because Ernest was coming from Boston, but because he remembered getting slices of it as a child. Since Frank (the baking one) is working and Ernest is gallivanting around in his car, it will probably be up to me to make the cake.

Tree and cake are my two goals for the next two days.

I am a little concerned about how Tiny will react to the tree. She is such a curious cat.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A New Cat Trick

Hmmm. This looks good.

I think I'll have some.