Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Part deux

Hip, hip, hooray! All turned out lovely for our big feast. I did (quite accidentally, might I add) discover a potentially new way to cook turkey that yielded the moistest, most delicious bird we've ever had.

  • brine the turkey for only an hour (because the only bowl that will hold enough brine is too large for your fridge)
  • heat the oven to normal roasting temp
  • prepare the turkey as usual (I use a recipe from that has never failed....roasted turkey with carmelized onion and balsamic vinegar gravy. Yum!)
  • put turkey into oven
  • approximately one-half hour before turkey is supposed to be done, check on turkey and discover in a panic that the oven has gone out
  • note that the roasting pan is actually cool enough to touch with your bare hands....the turkey, however, is still nice and hot (hopefully staving off botulism)
  • relight the oven and crank 'er up to about 500 degrees, then put bird in even as the oven is warming up, which takes a very very long time
  • pull the turkey out about a half-hour later, let it rest for 20 minutes or so, then carve
  • marvel at the fact that 1) the turkey is just fabulous, and 2) several hours later, no one is sick

I can't believe it worked out so well. That could have been quite the Thanksgiving disaster. Of course, we had enough food that I don't think anyone would have even noticed if there'd been no turkey on the table. Still, I'm awfully pleased with the whole shebang!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving! Well, it's close, anyway!

V and I are preparing for our annual Thanksgiving feast. Several years ago we took a look at our proposed travel plans for yet another frenetic, hurried holiday season and said "ENOUGH!". We called our families and asked how they'd feel about us skipping the 'ol runaround and, instead, trying to structure longer visits throughout the year. Thankfully, they didn't seem to have any problem with that. Thus, our splendoriferous holiday traditions began. For Thanksgiving, we have a nice big turkey with homemade Caesar salad, yummy fresh bread, and of course stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Seeing as how we have an older stove, I'm not quite sure how all this is going to work out, so I plan to start early.

A couple of friends are coming over to share in the festivities with us, and we're really looking forward to that. Not so long ago we had one of our best Thanksgivings ever when friends who also did not have Thanksgiving plans joined us. The more the merrier, right? Right!

So, we're making a grocery list and checking it twice. Bird, check. Potatoes, check. Garlic, check. Bread, check. That ought to about do it. I'll let you know how it goes after we've eaten, hopefully without having to spend any hospital time because of my giving us and our guests food poisoning!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Holes in the walls, holes in our heads?

Now, I think, is the time where V and I are beginning to look around and think "uh oh...." There are still holes in the walls from the electricians. Small holes, thankfully, but holes nonetheless. We discovered a leak in the roof. One leak, and a small one, but a leak nonetheless. The plaster ceilings are definitely quite cracked. Salvageable? Who knows?

One problem that has come up more than once is our love for the setting of the place. How could this be a problem, you ask? Well, I'll tell you how--we're loathe to make any changes whatsoever for fear of spoiling it. That means parking a hundred yards from the house and endlessly discussing where we should/should not put a driveway, barn, garage, insert outbuilding or landscape item here. I knew that reconciling beautiful history with modern convenience was going to be tricky.....but I just didn't realize how tricky it would be on the outside of the house! Sheesh!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Claustrophobia!!! Aaaaaaaagh!

You might ask yourself how it's possible that we could be claustrophobic in a house that is double the size of the one we used to live in. I'll tell you how: we brought our own stuff and mixed it with someone else's stuff, and now we just have TOO MUCH STUFF. It's crazy. There are rooms where I'm not even sure you could turn around. You have to walk in, survey your fiefdom, and then carefully (carefully) back out, stepping back into the same footsteps you used coming in. Well, maybe it's not quite that bad, but it's close.

So V and I have decided that, come spring, we're going to make some decisions as to what stays and what goes. To that end, we'll need to inventory what's there in an attempt to get a grasp on it all. We still haven't tapped what all is in the house, I don't think. Nutty!

Some things will be easier than others. Certain pieces just aren't our style, and never will be, and don't seem to have any deep connection to the house, so those will be easier to send on their way. Other things will be much more difficult to box up and ship off. Guess we'll see where it all goes.

Short posts lately. I just don't have the energy to do much else. It's been one of those falls.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What we've found, or, "how many incredibly cool old things can a family leave behind?"

As I've mentioned, we bought this house as-is, including all the contents, for better or for worse. I'm very happy to note that it has MUCH been for the better! Not only are we lucky enough to be in a house we just love, but we are also lucky enough to, almost every single day, find something notable. From ephemera to linens and furniture, we've stumbled across some amazing stuff. Here's a rundown of the highlights:
  • a wedding invitation dated 1891
  • a commencement week program dated 1892
  • four whole years of The Etude music magazine, 1909-1912
  • a book of postcard views from the 1893 Colombian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair)
  • a lovely silk taffeta parasol
  • several late-1800s textbooks
  • Valentine's day cards from the late 1800s
  • the original shutters to the house
  • several replacement slates for the roof--those will come in handy someday!
  • several "liniment" bottles
  • numerous old picture frames, some with pictures in, some empty
  • a lovely cast-iron (read: HEAVY) fireplace screen

But wait, there's more! Also of note: the original outhouse still stands to the northwest of the house (it's a two-seater). And the wooden clapboard siding is reputed to be hiding out underneath the steel siding that's currently there.

We love this house. We seriously do.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming

I'm sure you've all bitten your nails to the quick waiting and waiting and waiting for the next post. Well, wait no longer, massage some Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream into those poor fingers, and let's head upstairs!

In general, the trim is much simpler upstairs, where no one but the family would really have been expected to see it. The upstairs floor plan mirrors the downstairs for the most part. instead of the kitchen and porch-turned-bathroom, there is a single large bedroom. The other three bedrooms all correspond in size to their level-one counterparts. Thus far, two of the rooms are habitable. We needed someplace where we could extend an arm halfway and not hit a box(!!), so we set up our bedroom and a guest bedroom fairly quickly after moving. I will not fib, sure does feel gooooood to walk into those rooms! They feel inviting, and even with what is most assuredly far too much furniture, they still feel roomy! For the first time ever, I get my master bedroom with a sitting area! I'm practically beside myself.

The room that will take the most significant redecorating is the one we're planning to use as our office. The other three bedrooms have heart-pine hardwoods, nice subtle wallpaper (not exactly to our style, but it's still quite nice). The office, however, has seen some redecorating that we will be undoing as we go along.

Here are a couple of pictures (I'm tired of typing for today):

The soon-to-be office

One of the bedrooms