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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What About That Back Hall Mess???

Hola everyone!  First and most important, this will be my last post before Christmas, so HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE.

It's gorgeous here today.  After warmer (in the 20s) but dreary and damp weather yesterday, it's a bright and sunny 38 whopping warm degrees today and the snow is melting, hooray!  Not a cloud in the sky, this is shorts weather around here, folks.  It will be warm through the weekend, with rain expected on Christmas Day.  There will still be plenty of snow, though, as temperatures will

Of course leave it up to me be racing ten steps ahead when I haven't even gotten half-way through the kitchen redo.  But that back hall!  It's driving me nuts.

All of the homes in this area with my house's footprint were built between 1955-1956 and all of them have the angled sink facing two corner windows, rounded "knick-knack" shelves on the ends of the cabinets framing those windows, a peninsula which, in original form, also holds three half round shelves, and a small back hall from the side driveway that tops the steps to the basement and a step up into the dining area of the kitchen/dinette.  None of the photos of such homes I've seen, including my own home, has any indication that there was ever a door from the back hall into the dinette.

As a practical matter, a regular swing in or swing out door wouldn't work, there just simply isn't enough room.  There isn't enough room for a pocket door either, or a barn door on a runner, unless light switches are relocated.  So, that back hallway is open to view from the kitchen/dinette area.  And mine isn't very pretty.  It holds my trash container, my recycling container, a four-tiered wire shelf unit holding myriad gardening tools and supplies; there are five coat hooks that hold my purse, jackets during the summer and a host of winter regalia this time of year (gloves, hats, scarves, coats/jackets), a broom, a snow shovel this time of year, and a dust pan.  And then there is the shelf above!  That holds yet more stuff, but it's difficult for me to reach; I usually have to pull out the mini ladder to access some of the items.

So - a picture is worth a thousand words.  More pictures are worth more words, right?  You can get a glimpse of the stuff in that back hall in this photo:



Okay, two are enough.  I think you see the problems.  LOL!  Not exactly the kind of thing one wants to look at when sitting in what I hope to be a sort of "lux" dining area experience.

So, I started thinking about what to do back there to try and streamline storage and make the space presentable, since I cannot cover it up.  Well, I could hang a swagged curtain, but that is so 1970s and would also get in the way.  I am constantly in and out of that back hall area and I can quite easily picture myself getting tangled up in any kind of draped curtain.

The shelf has to go.  So do all of those coat hooks.  I'll be shopping for some kind of cabinet that will hold nearly everything, which will go a long way to improving the "view" from the kitchen/dining area and making me much happier.
I'll let you know when I come up with something.  Failure is NOT an option :)

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