Wednesday Work in Progress (WIP)

We’ve lived in our house for almost 22 years.  The large central foyer and stairs had wallpaper.  Ugly.  White on white striped VINYL wallpaper.  But it was a daunting task to consider taking it off so we lived with it.  And I would need tall ladders.  And I don’t like to paint.  (Read that again and hear the WHINE in my voice!)  So two years ago my son’s roommate came to stay the summer with us and he offered to strip the wallpaper and paint it for us.  I was thrilled.  After three months (only a day of work really) all most of the wallpaper was off…and no painting at all.  <sigh>

So I started calling painters.  One returned my call (he’s painted for us twice before).  Promised to stop by.  Never seen or heard from again.  The next guy made an appointment to come by and never showed up.  Two never returned calls.  Finally last year I had one guy show up and give me an estimate.  We were set to have it done when we came back from Europe in October.  Then I got hurt and the stay lasted until December.  And when we were ready, the painter was committed to several commercial projects and said he didn’t have time.  But he recommended someone else and this has worked out well.

Today I have painted walls instead of bare plaster walls with drawings and signatures all over it.

Charlie Chaplin drawing dated 1915.

Charlie Chaplin drawing dated 1915.

Our house was built in the late 1800’s and most of the walls have never been painted -just papered.  The earliest signature was from 1901.

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This family lived in our house for 44 years!

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Mr. Stamforth hung the wallpaper in 1945.

It was our very own little episode of If These Walls Could Talk!  These kinds of things were on every single wall.  In every single room of our house.

And there was a setback here and there like when the paper in the upstairs hall came down and the plaster underneath was falling off – same with a section of the ceiling.  Yes, there was wallpaper on the ceiling.



And there was a little mishap/miscommunication though.  I picked out one shade of gray (Elephant Skin Gray) for the foyer and a lighter shade (Fossil Gray) for the upstairs hall.

The lighter color is a Glidden color.  The darker is Behr.

The lighter color is a Glidden color. The darker is Behr.

They painted my ceilings the lighter gray and all the walls the darker before they figured it out.  OOPS!  But they did an terrific job of changing gears and doing it over.  It’s not done yet but I keep walking through there and it doesn’t even look like my house.   New switches and doorbell will be install tonight.  And maybe a new light fixture too if I can get kiddo to go to Lowes and pick it up.

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It’s one coat. And far from finished, but I’m so thrilled.

And it’s only taken 22 years!

An Experiment in Scones

Grain-free Cinnamon Pecan Scones

Grain-free Cinnamon Pecan Scones

So calling these a scone might actually be a stretch.  I think maybe I need to research recipes for gluten-free scones rather than grain-free (and also gluten free).  These came from the Wheat Belly 30 Minute (or less) Cookbook.  I guess they tasted okay.  My husband said he liked them – but he hardly ever says he doesn’t like something I make unless it’s cauliflower. I found the texture to be a bit too crumbly.  Not dry at all, but it just wasn’t what I think of when I think of scones.  I can make a traditional, awesome scone with wheat flour. (sigh).  The quick mug muffin from the same cookbook is amazing though.  So I will continue my quest for a gluten free scone that tastes and feels like a “real” scone.

Rain, Rain, and (more) Rain

We’ve had a very wet couple of weeks here in the Midwest.  Rivers are rising.  Some are above flood stages already.

It certainly puts a damper (pun intended) on our weekend riding.  But this weekend, we threw caution to the wind (well not completely – we packed rain gear) and headed out for a short ride.  We felt a few sprinkles here and there, but mostly it was sunny.  Enough that I came to regret my decision to forgo the  sunscreen. On the way home we did see some spectacular clouds that did produce a drenching . . . but not before we were home.

Storm clouds over central Illinois.

I’ve Gone Crackers!

I have another recipe to share.  I know that grains are not my friend, but since coming home from Germany, I’ve eaten far too many.  Remaining gluten free. . .but eating far too much rice and corn. A few were okay – as I actually needed to put a few pounds back on that I lost while in the hospital.   I bought some great blue cheese at Whole Foods in St. Louis last week and needed a cracker. Need?  Want?  meh.  A soft, cream cheese like this just screams for a cracker!

St. Agur blue cheese.  A new favorite!

St. Agur blue cheese. A new favorite!

So a quick search turned up The Nourishing Home and these little gems. (How did we cook before we had the internet??)

Simply Herb Grain-Free Crackers

Simply Herb Grain-Free Crackers

They were a hit with my husband as well. They were quick to make (I threw everything in the Kitchen-Aid mixer) and only require a few simple staples from the pantry. I didn’t modify the recipe at all and they turned out quite well.  I added dried rosemary and parsley this time.  Next time, who knows.  I do think Herbs de Provence would be terrific in these. Or maybe garlic and Parmesan?   My only issue is that the ones along the outside of my baking sheet got way too dark  compared to the ones on the inside.  But maybe I rolled them a little thin? She says to store them in the freezer but I don’t think they are going to last that long!

Nom! Nom!

Since my accident I have not been so inspired in the kitchen.  It’s more a matter of getting a meal fixed.  Necessity – but nothing much inspired about it.  But today was different.  This recipe came across in my email recently and sounded so good that I decided today was the day.

Slow-cooker Moroccan chicken with almonds, apricots, and cauliflower “couscous”

I can’t take credit for the recipe.  It came from the Against All Grain website. (Check it out. Lots of good stuff there.)  It was delicious and even my cauliflower-hating husband agreed.  The “couscous” was wonderful and I will be adapting it for future use with other recipes.  The chicken was spicy and fragrant; my house smelled amazing all afternoon.  Definitely a keeper!

OMG – The Agony

That would be the agony of grocery shopping.  I detest just about everything about it.   A few random thoughts – well maybe they might be better classified as pet peeves.

1.  When you’re spanking beating your kid’s ass in the aisle of ALDI and he’s laughing like a maniac – well it’s obviously not effective.  Seriously, this mom was thumping on her kid.  She stopped traffic in the store – literally.   He was maybe 5 years old and he continued to laugh, not one yelp or tear.  I get that the laughter might really send a certain kind of parent into a frenzy, but it was completely inappropriate.  Not to mention awkward for everyone else who witnessed it.  And then she pulled out all the stops and said, “I have my phone in my hand.  I’m calling your dad.”  I don’t even know what to say – except it does make me happy that I’ve retired from teaching.

2. People who just stand in front of a refrigerated case and stare like they’ve never seen cottage cheese before?  There are exactly TWO kinds at ALDI – so there’s really no big choice to make.  You can see me waiting for you to move so I can get MY cottage cheese and yet you don’t move.  You looked at me no less than three times while I waited patiently.   And waited.  And waited.  (And their whole entourage actually took up most of the entire area while one person picked through all the yogurt for the right flavors.) Maybe I need to be more assertive and ask them to move?

3.  I actually like to bag my own groceries, but I’d pay extra for someone to come home and put the damn things away.

4.  Is it ever really okay to sample the produce??  I don’t think so.  How do you tell them to charge you for two more grapes?  Not to mention that the stuff hasn’t been washed yet.  Ewwwwwwww.

5.  Yes, I bring my own bags.  Deal with it.  (This isn’t a problem at ALDI, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods where it’s expected and normal – only at other places where they just want you out of there as soon as possible.)

6.  The cart with the gimpy wheel.  You know the one!!  The wheel that refuses to turn and actually works like a brake on the cart.

7.  The way the store might have nine checkout lanes with one two open and people lined up for miles.

8.  Leaving the store to find a shopping cart resting against your car.

9.  Oh, and I forgot the damn list.  Again.

Alright.  Enough whining.  I’ve got to go put the groceries away. . .

Love and Mothers

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~Aristotle

This quote has always made me chuckle a bit – I think mostly because it’s attributed to Aristotle and to think that there were doubts about paternity even three centuries before Christ.   And I see tons of memes on Facebook that deal with a mother’s love for her child.  Or a child’s love for his (or her) mother.  All very nice.  Many make me say “awwwwww” even.   But then I came across this blog post and found it truly fascinating. I think science has finally validated what all mothers have known instinctively.  When I was pregnant with my son 23 years ago, What to Expect When You’re Expecting was a relatively new book.  I must have read the entire thing multiple times over.  I really wish this book was out there then.  The science geek in me would have relished the details on the “evolutionary why” things happen the way they do.  In the end, it confirms what I have always known in my heart. . . that my son (and the two children that I miscarried as well) and I linked on more than just an emotional level. Bottom line. . . our children are not just little versions of ourselves that we protect, raise, and set free – they are really a physical part of us –forever.

Vintage 1996

Vintage 1996

Knitting – off the needles!

I’ve had a great deal of knitting time over the past several months as I’ve been recuperating.  Mostly I’ve knit gifts for others.  This little “one-skein” asymmetrical shawl just came off the needles this weekend.  I love it.  Love the color.  Love Like the yarn a lot.  And it’s destined to belong to someone else too!



The pattern is called Ardent by designer Janina Kallio.  It uses one skein, is knit on the bias, and is all knit – NO PURLS at all.   It’s the first pattern of hers that I have knit and it turned out quite well except I did find the side without all the increases to be a bit messy in the eyelet section for my liking. (The irregularities did block out pretty well though.)  I think next time I might slip the first stitch at the end and see how that goes.  I used Alpaca Sox fingering yarn – another first for me.  It’s a blend of alpaca, merino, and nylon in a colorway (1885) called Orange Blush.  It reminds of a pink grapefruit.  I’m glad I bought extra because I do love the color a lot – even though orange typically isn’t a color I would turn to.   I think I used a size 5 needle and I had a tiny bit of the ball left over.  My only hesitation is that the alpaca in this yarn seems to be a little “hairy”.  You hand-spinnners out there know what I mean; there were these longer fibers that stuck out a lot.

DSC_2370Now, I’m off to finish the pair of socks I have on the needles.