Success: Pressure Cooker Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Pressure Cooker Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Back in late August we were tearing through butterhead buttercrunch lettuce from the garden. I pulled too much for a side salad, and the next day we ended up with these Pressure Cooker Chicken Lettuce Wraps. These are good, although a little on the bland side...and it really doesn't make very much food. I wonder if one could double it successfully?
Pressure Cooker Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Room Painting! the Downstairs Bathroom

Sunday, September 15, 2019

4 guests came to visit us, and the toilet handle broke and then sink got irrevocably clogged. And so we ended up with this upgrade.

Downstairs Bathroom Refresh Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
Downstairs Bathroom
I have decided to embrace the bold bathroom floors, and paint the walls a lighter shade of the same hue. This way I'm barely adding an additional color to the palette, and helps embrace the floor coloring. The 50s were a great time for bold colored linoleum and matching counter tops. It works alright in the upstairs bath, but I just couldn't deal with the dark, cheap linoleum counter-top in this downstairs bath. And so I fiddled around in Adobe Photoshop for a bit, and eventually settled on this look, which splurges a tiny bit on an engineered quartz counter top + undermount sink, new faucet, new cabinet hardware, and cabinet door trim but saves money by not having to replace most of the chrome fixtures or the floor.

Downstairs Bathroom Refresh Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
Downstairs Bathroom

The vanity cabinet is the same one, original to the house, just repainted and some 2 inch trim added to the edge of the cabinet doors (like so, but wider trim). The cabinet just looked so cheap and basic beforehand, with uneven doors, odd cabinet knobs, and just super simple. But it is all wood, which is hard to find affordably, and that means it's easy to rehab with some paint and elbow grease.

8/2/2019 Downstairs Bath - Before Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
The original cabinet is apparently not a standard size, as the counter top is just a little too thin for it, and we had to cut some wood out to fit the undermount sink. The sink ended up being offset a bit, but it all still looks much nicer than it did before. I really like how the engineered quartz has little mirror bits embedded, it gives it a cute, playful look which works well for a first floor bathroom. I went with engineered quartz for the counter, which should stain less than marble, but still be a "real" material.

Downstairs Bathroom Refresh

I followed the deep dive painting process exactly, although, as in the upstairs bath, I also taped off everything a little more fastidiously than typical. Small spaces can be tricky. Ceiling paint is Rustoleum PermaWhite in eggshell, which is mold and mildew proof, not just resistant! Trim & cabinets are Benjamin Moore Advance water-borne alkyd paint in the white straight from the can, semi-gloss. Such a pain, but so much smoother than typical latex paint. I even painted the windows completely! I typically greatly procrastinate on this part, but I did the uppers and lowers in one go, and it's done and I don't have to do it again.

8/2/2019 Wallpaper removal - mid process 8/3/2019 Wallpaper removed
8/3/2019 Cabinet close-ups

Walls are done in Benjamin Moore Aberdeen Green in Regal Select in a pearl finish (once again, more mold resistant than flatter finishes). It is not really a soft neutral as some would have you believe. It's really full-on, in-your-face mint. I love aberdeen green in this space with the white accents, but there's nothing subtle about it.

8/7/2019 Done Painting 8/16/2019 Downstairs Bath - Everything But the Cabinets

West Elm's Cloud Shower Curtain really brings home the black & white accents here. The blockprint on the wall is out of print from etsy/RiseandWander. Cement containers in blush and marble are from etsy/CedarandStoneGarden, and the soap dispenser + toothbrush holder are the Mallorca line from Target. I have a severe soft spot for Islamic tile.

Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
Downstairs Bathroom Refresh
Downstairs Bathroom Refresh

Room Painting! The Upstairs Bathroom

Sunday, September 8, 2019

I took one look at this bathroom from BlytheHome via schoolhouseliving and was immediately off to makeover the upstairs bath. A bit of bold wallpaper can really tie a space together. And while the example image doesn't include yellow floors & counters, I determined some distracting wallpaper could make those permanent fixtures look intentional.

Upstairs Bathroom Repaint
Everything in the upstairs bathroom was original to the house (much like everything else in the house...). Original, faded, peeling 70 year old wallpaper. Original vanity cabinet. Original vanity mirror. Original built-in shelves. The seller's realtor let us know that the commode was new, because the original broke an irreplaceable piece. C'est la vie. One fewer shade of grey in this room.

I was feeling lazy, and yet motivated to "fix" this room quickly. The thought of painting the built-ins and the vanity cabinet made me want to cry. So, I just didn't. Yes, the trim is beat to pieces and it's a shade of blue that clashes a pinch with the grey of the tub & sink, but I found a wallpaper to make it all play nicely together. Boråstapeter In Bloom Wallpaper - Green. First found on Wayfair, but with a little internet sleuthing, found it from a couple other [better] retailers.

Upstairs Bathroom
Upstairs Bathroom Repaint - New artwork!

The wall paint is Benjamin Moore Regal Select in Hawthorn Green (NOT Hawthorn Yellow) in a pearl finish, which is a lovely pale sesame color. A mix between yellow and beige. Not a cloying pastel here! Color-matched to some of the wallpaper flowers using a 'Color Muse' and app. Note the pearl finish, glossier is supposed to be better for high humidity areas, and the Regal Select Pearl is a tad bit shinier than the eggshell finish in the rest of the house, but not quite as shiny as all our semi-gloss trim. It works well. Wallpaper removal didn't reveal a great deal of mold/mildew, so I'm hopeful this won't be much of an issue anyways.

Upstairs Bathroom
Upstairs Bathroom Repaint Upstairs Bathroom Repaint

This Boråstapeter In Bloom Wallpaper - Green works like magic in this room, bringing together all the yellows and greys and making them look like considerate design decisions. Waaaaaaaay better than the faded, nearly invisible texture wallpaper with houses on it. Modern and fresh.

Upstairs Bathroom Repaint

As always, we bring J in to swap out all the outlets and switchplates. We've got legitimate GFCIs in here now! AND, the bathroom fan has a snazzy new timer switch, so you can set it to only be on for a limited amount of time. Super fance.

Upstairs Bathroom Repaint
My general approach to this room is fairly similar to that described in the post on the deep dive painting process:
  • Prep: Removed wallpaper, built-in tissue dispenser, switchplates, towel bars, and toilet paper holder.
  • Cleaning: Scrubbed walls with TSP. Rinsed. Let dry overnight.
  • Protected: Painters taped off the trim. Painting in a small space and awkward corners showed me that I really need to use more tape when doing the bathroom. Plastic drop cloth loosely (if not doing ceilings, it's not quite as critical)
  • Primed: Just the walls with Zinsser 123 (did not prime/paint the trim, built-ins, windows, or ceiling).
  • Paint: 3 walls with Benjamin Moore Regal Select 'Hawthorn Green' in pearl finish.
  • Wallpapered accent wall with Boråstapeter In Bloom Wallpaper - Green (although background is a close match to Benjamin Moore Grey Owl).
  • A layer of clear acrylic on the wallpaper to protect the paper from the bathroom humidity.
  • Reset: Replace outlets with GFCI, return tissue dispenser, towel bars, and toiler paper holder to original locations. Clean up tape & drop cloths.
  • Finishing touches: New shower curtain, bathmat, hand towels, etc. etc. from HomeGoods. Artwork is Giant Robot Painting by etsy/DavePollot and stained glass bee from etsy/jacquiesummer.

Upstairs Bath in Process - Wallpaper Removed!
Upstairs Bath in Process - Wallpaper Removed!
Upstairs Bath in Process - Applying Wallpaper

Success: Another Cherry Preserves Season

Sunday, September 1, 2019

15lbs of Cherry Preserves
In July, cherries went on sale for $1.50/lb, which around here means CANNING. Time to stock-up on cherry preserves for the year. They make the best housewarming/thanks/birthday gift. And they're just delicious. This year I avoided the red wine and brandy because I just don't like them that much...and went for a cheap bottle of bourbon. That works so much nicer (for me, anyways). So I have 'manhattan cherries', some non-alcoholic maraschino cherries, and cherry preserves in rosemary honey syrup.

15lbs of cherries into ~19 pints of preserves.

Vanilla Bourbon Cherries

4.75pts Vanilla Bourbon Soaked Cherries: sheeats.ca. I used some organic tart cherry juice in the place of the water, to amp up the cherry-ness.
Vanilla Bourbon Cherries

Chai-spiced Bourbon Cherries

6pts from sheeats.ca, but with a teaball full of mulling spices + cardamom steeped in the syrup instead of the vanilla. Some of the water was replaced with tart cherry juice. I always run out of syrup and end up scrambling to make more. Reminder to make more than enough syrup. The worst that happens is you have leftover for your sparkling water!
Chai Bourbon Cherries

Cocktail Cherries

5.5pts Cocktail/Maraschino Cherries: Living Homegrown. Maraschino cherries, but without the liqueur, so really just cherries preserved in sugar syrup. I also used tart cherry juice instead of water for these jars. I have some bottles of black cherry juice for the future, and am interested in its impact on flavor.

I had a pint of these explode when I put them into the hot water bath. I suspect this was due to a temperature difference (i.e., letting the jars cool too much while filling them). Something to remember for next time!
Cocktail Cherries

Cherry Preserves in Rosemary Honey Syrup

2.5pts Cherries in Honey Rosemary Syrup: FoodInJars. I've made these before. They are fantastic. This time I remembered to keep the rosemary in a teaball, so no one has to consume rosemary leaves!
Cherry Preserves in Rosemary Honey Syrup

House Construction - the Driveway

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Driveway - After Construction

Once the breezeway patios + garage ramp were all newly concrete-ed, the driveway guys got to work. And we went from this (affectionately called lake H__B__):

Driveway - Lake HB
...to this:
Driveway - After Construction

Note that it is not a lake! That it is graded so water doesn't go funneling toward the house, nor stays in a driveway lake that birds use to bathe in!

With a bit of watering, we even managed to get the grass along the edges to return!
Driveway - After Construction
Driveway - After Construction

The Jersey Shore

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Jersey Shore - the beach
The Jersey Shore, an easy/cheap vacation. Book a duwop hotel near the boardwalk. Set-up camp on the beach. Boardwalk pizza or hot dogs for lunch. Or Wawa hoagies if you planned ahead. Swim/nap until the sun sets. Shower, mini golf, seafood, tiki drinks, boardwalk stroll, sleep. Repeat.

The Jersey Shore - the beach
I get such procrastination-anxiety from planning trips, but the Jersey Shore is an easy one to do. You just need a hotel room, and then there's not much else to plan unless you really want to.

I also like the shore because nearly anyone can vacation there. A day-trip is fairly easy for most people within an hour, and doesn't have to cost anything besides gas if you bring your own food & beverages. There's no caste system of who can afford fancy lounge chairs or not. Everyone's the same, and if you can lug it over 50yds of sand, you can have it at the beach (even if you can't haul it, there's beach taxis).

The Jersey Shore - Wildwood boardwalk
The Jersey Shore - Stone Harbor Wetlands Institute
The Jersey Shore - mini golf
The Jersey Shore - tired dog

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