December 23, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here and getting colder by the day, brrrrr. By December 26th the high may be only 3 degrees above zero. Yuck! But it's nice and cozy inside, and filled with the scents and sights of Christmas and Yuletide!

Today I made a crock pot full of my easy-peasy Beef Burgundy, made with a soup can full of sweet red wine (to rinse out the soup can, of course), and four other ingredients: beef (this pot I used beef already sliced in the package for beef stroganoff, and then cut the long thin strips into bite sizes), a can of Golden Mushroom soup, an 8 ounce package of whole button mushrooms cut into halves and thirds (depending on cap size), and a packet plus a little extra of a second packet of dried onion soup/dip mix. I also added a generous helping of ground pepper, dried thyme and dried - and aged (a year and three months, yikes!) of whole basil leaves that I ground up in between my fingers. Then the pot cooked on the "low" heat setting for 4 hours, with only one stir half-way through. The scent permeated the house and even managed to waft out to the street - wowsers - guess I need to get some additional insulation in these 1956 walls! My mouth was watering by the time I made up my first dish (over on-purpose a bit dry mashed potatoes) and gobbled it down, then had half a second dish as well! Now I want a nap.

I have my dark chocolate covered Queen Anne brand cherries (a Christmas must!), Beringer White Zinfandel wine, plenty of new fuel for my gel fuel fireplace and a host of Christmas movies to watch. Best of all, Solstice is done and we had a bit of sunlight day, late this afternoon. Every day, although it is not noticeable right now, it will get lighter a few minutes earlier and the Sun will sink below the horizon a few minutes later each day until the Summer Solstice on June 21. The worst is over, except for the bitter cold of January and February. I think I will go visit my friend Isis in Las Vegas in March - that always perks me right up :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all, and may the Season's blessings shower you with good fortune for all of 2018.

Jan

Friday, December 2, 2016

Kitchen Reno: Putting Stuff Together and Dragging a Heavy Box - Ugh!

Hola darlings!

Progress!  I am nearly finished assembling the chairs.  My poor hands.  I am not as strong as I used to be, sadly, just a fact of getting older it seems, and my hands especially do not have the kind of strength they used to have, so turning an Allen key for what seems hours on end can be downright painful.  I have resorted to cheating by using a pair of pliers to get extra torque.  Three down - one to go!


Now, let me tell you about these chairs.  As you can see, or not, since I am not the world's best photographer and I'm not even going to tell you how old and how few pixels or whatever they're called my digital camera has.  It amazes me it still works actually, but it's a Nikon, it will probably outlive me.  Anyway, I unboxed the chairs last night and pulled one out.  I thought hmmmm, this is strange, as the chair just did not look like it was all that tall to me.  It's supposed to be nearly 41" tall.  The chair back and back legs are all attached in one long piece.  So I pulled out my trusty tape measure and sure enough -- lucky if this chair is 38" tall at it's highest point at the top center of the chair!  The measurements at Wayfair said 40.9" tall.  Now I don't know about you, but I think that's rather a large difference in height, especially if one has a taller table!  The table I'm using right now has a table-top height of nearly 34"!  These chairs look like midgets next to it.

Mightily ticked off, I measured the other chair pieces.  Seat measured 17.5" at its widest point, a full inch less than the 18.5" described at Wayfair for this model of chair.  And the seat height - DON'T GET ME STARTED.

I nearly blew a gasket, I'll tell you that much.  It is supposed to be 20".  It is NOT.  It is LESS. Fireworks erupted at Maison Newton last night, entertaining my neighbors for at least 15 minutes   I then fired off a blistering "review" at the Wayfair website about the outright lies on the size/dimensions and color of this chair.

The COLOR!  How on earth is light beige the equivalent of RICE PAPER?  Here's a clue - it isn't.  ARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

The chair upholstery is nicely done, well stitched and seamed, a good sturdy and nicely textured fabric.  But it isn't anywhere near the creamy to white-ish color I was expecting.  I looked at photos of this chair on three different computers and on all three computers the chairs looked pretty darn white-ish.  The chairs I received are not white-ish at all.  I dug through the boxes and found the packing slips.  They are described as "rice paper" in color.  Great, just great!

On the plus side, the chairs arrived in excellent condition and other than painful hands and taking longer than the little amount of time most people bragged about spending putting these together at Wayfair's website in the reviews, they are great chairs and I got a great bargain on them.  By the way, last night they were even less expensive (by $6 for four chairs) than the sale price I scored.  So, I will keep them, and pray to the domestic Goddess Hera that the chair seats are just the right height for my new 30" tall table.  It is just too much of a hassle to pack them all up and send them back.  If they don't work, one of my newly married nephews will probably inherit them from "rich" Auntie Jan and I will not buy any chairs online, only in person and with tape measure in hand!

Then, about 6:15 p.m. in the pitch black darkness and drizzle last night, my doorbell rings.  Lo and behold, it is Fedex and I'm thinking what the hell?  I had received an email the day before from Amazon (where I ordered my table from) saying that the table had been delayed in transit and not to expect it yesterday.  SURPRISE SURPRISE!

Fedex guy was nice enough to wheel the large box into my garage where it spent the night, in the cold and dark, poor baby.  Today, taking a break from chair assembly duty, I determined to wrestle that box into the house, come hook or come crook.

Garage:


Driveway loaded with nut shells from my squirrelly pets.  I've been busy and not sweeping daily, plus it was cold and damp today, not conducive to a good sweep outdoors.

Back stoop:


Three steps from driveway level into the back hall - that third step is a killer, let me tell you!

"Walking" the box from the garage to the stoop was easy enough.  Leveraging the box up the first step, and from the first step to the second step, also relatively easy.  The ancient Egyptians would be proud of me :)

Then, with some heavy lifting/heaving and tearing of the cardboard box (which would give way first, cardboard box or Jan's arms???), I got one end of the box up on the third step into the back hall!

Back hall and final step up into the kitchen:


Dummy moi, in my excitement in getting the humungous box almost into the house, I didn't use a piece of wood for leverage and I didn't move the rug out of the way.  UGH!  And the box kept getting stuck on the rubber seal that seals the outside drafts from coming into the house (that large yellowish looking strip just inside the threshold).  I tugged.  I pulled.  I heaved.  I tried lifting.  Could not get that fricking box up that final step into the kitchen.  I wasn't able to get a sufficiently good grip on the slippery outside of the cardboard box and I don't have enough arm strength to heave it.  I needed more leverage.

As I toyed with the idea of dashing down to my mini junk-woodpile in the basement "shop" room (a convenient area put together by Mr. Former Owner), it occurred to me to try something easier.  I grabbed a box cutter and made two slits, one on either side, lower on either side of the box, large enough to get my hands into.  I heaved with all my might and the lip of the box topped the step and landed with a thud on the kitchen floor as I gasped for air!  Okay, slight dramatic license there.  I did gasp for air, however.  Leverage, people.  Leverage.  Leverage is everything, in heaving heavy boxes as a single woman, and in the stock market too.  Ta da!

Box in the house!


Um, yep, it's upside down.  LOL!  But I did get the right side facing out from the wall, hooray!  Good grief.  I might have a hard time believing it if somebody my age and size told me they'd heaved this damn big box that weights 84 pounds many feet across concrete from the garage up 4 steps into the house, all by herself.  But there it is, folks, the damn box!

I am now having a couple well-deserved glasses of wine before finishing assembling the last of the chairs.  Then, since I am the conquering Domestic Goddess of All, I may wrestle the Christmas tree up from the basement and rearrange the living room so I can set it up in front of the big picture window!  I'm 2 weeks late getting it up as it is, eek!

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