Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pre-Camp Prep

I pulled things together for opening camp.  There's extra junk food because Jimmy Jam will be helping.  TBG is going up tomorrow with Teddy to open things up (blow out the water lines, etc.).  Jimmy will be up Friday to help install a new sink and lay the pad for our fire pit.  If I'm feeding two big men, I need a lot of food.  It meant a lot of running around tonight.  It's ironic that I was so busy buying food for camp so that we wouldn't eat out, that I didn't have time to swim and prep so we did take-out Chinese.  It has been a super busy but productive work week so I will enjoy the weekend if more if I can relax with this stuff done in advance.

I pulled together trays of meal components for most meals. We will be eating a lot of chicken as I started with a bag of frozen thighs and frozen drumsticks.  One has chicken with curry marinade, another has fajita stuff.  The trays have ziti, cheese and sauce with more chicken. I've got potatoes, beans, salad stuff, etc.  We'll have eggs and hash browns a few morning and I'll do pancakes.  The picture at top has the double burner griddle I bought. I hope I can make pancakes over the gas grill with that.  If not, I will use it on the stove.

Now, I am pooped and going to bed.  Good night and good day all!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sneaky Things

I try to live well but do so as cheaply as possible.  If you know how to hide your miserly way, you don't end up looking like Mrs. Scrooge.  A lot of the cosmetics I use come from Dollar Tree.  I do buy on sale or with coupons or at the clearance end of drug or HBA stores.  But it's kinda strange how you can get some good deals at the dollar store.  I've had a few duds -- like totally dried out mascara.  The lesson I learned is to stay away from the truly cheap brands.  Today I picked up one Milani eye shadow and two packages of lip gloss.  For three bucks, I probably got about $15 worth of cosmetics.  I've been using a Milani mineral bronzer for eye shadow and it has lasted for ever and doesn't crease during the day.  Now I can add a hint of deeper color to it. I also think any woman can wear pink lipstick/gloss.  Granted I went into the store to buy foil pans, but when I see something like this, I just have to sneak it in to the bag.

And speaking of sneaking things in.  The batch of baked ziti I made tonight has 2/3 of a brick of tofu in it!  I know carbs are "evil" but we've got to eat dinner.  By adding in the tofu, this dish has more protein and fiber.  The sausage was delicious.  It's chicken, feta and spinach which was marked down last week and kept in the freezer.  TBG will have ziti for lunch tomorrow and enough to fill one small foil container. He's headed to camp on Thursday to de-winterize and I'll meet him on Friday night.  With the extra portion of ziti on hand, I can be sure he'll have a good dinner Thursday night.  btw... he doesn't know about the tofu.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Steam

A blessed Easter to those who celebrate it.  Our guests are out at Easter mass and we've had them at the house since yesterday.  I don't practice religion, but I like to accommodate those who do, so I started preparing for their return visit yesterday.  My first plan was to pull out all of the decaffeinated coffee and in doing so realized that cabinet was in need of assistance.  I pulled out all of the cans and put the use-by date on them with a thick Sharpie.  This will make it much easier for me to identify and use the older cans.  I had planned to make baked Ziti but our guests wanted to dine out. It was a tall order to find a Farm-to-Table oriented restaurant on short notice, but I pulled it off.  We ate at Betty's on Virginia Street on the lower west side.  What a place.  If you are in Buffalo, go there!

I pulled out the steam cleaner once again to hit the grout.  This will not get out those dark stains but one of these days, I'll blast them and then scrub with a bleach solution to get the spots out.  The steamer does lift dirt out of the lines which means mold and bacteria won't feed on it.  I finish this by wiping it down with a sponge and it cleans up great.  Last week I spent much more time on this and really got a lot out. From here on it, it will be a quick job.  I do this in the shower too because we have the same tile and grout.
This is what the inside of the microwave looked like.  Shameful!  I can't remember the last time I cleaned in there so I hit it with a few cycles of steam using the power burst and the regular end as shown above.  The steam loosened the dirt and I could then wipe it away.  I didn't need to use any sort of chemical.
This is what I ended up with. Had I used a scrub brush it might have looked a bit cleaner but I am satisfied with this.
The sink is so old and stained that it's going to be replaced.  I use the steamer to blast grime out from around the fixtures and around that metal band at the edge of the sink.  Once I steam the brushed nickel of the faucet really well to loosen up the soap scum, it's easy to wipe it off.  I also steam around the drains and give the bottom and sides a couple of cycles of a steam blast. At that point, I do use some soft scrub on it.  It cuts through a lot more grime and build up because the steam has softened it up.

All that cleaning sure was a pain but it looked really good. Of course since there's been six people heavily using the area, it's a mess right now.  It should quickly sponge up and we'll still be in pretty good shape for the week.

I have yet to steam clean the floor -- and have no plans to do so today. I might  not celebrate the religious aspect of the day, but it's still a holiday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Work Week Wind-Down

We ate at home every night this week.  Sunday was a bit of a cheat since we did take-out Chinese once we discovered we were out of propane.  We didn't want to broil the steak and that's the rationalization we used for ordering out. Well, it poured the next night so we had to resort to the oven anyway.  With nothing thawed today, I had thought to just buy a frozen tray of lasagna and then I thought about all the sodium and cholesterol.  For the same amount of money, I got a bag of scallops (the small bay kind, cheap, I know, but they work in a pinch), a bag of orchiette pasta, frozen Birdseye Peas and Pearl onions, which I mixed with EVOO, feta, etc.  We had a big pot of pasta and it's healthier than a frozen meal.

I put the drawer handles on and put away most of the clothes. The heavy sweaters are going into storage.  Even if it snows one more time, it is still time for them to go away.  I like the way this turned out.  It doesn't look like a big difference, but it really is so much neater than the way it was scratched and banged up before.

I should be able to pull things together for weekend guests on Saturday.  Most of the grocery shopping is done and all we really have to do is dust and vacuum. We're meeting TBG's little senorita out tomorrow night for drinks and dinner and finally getting to meet her mother who is up from South America and going through the process to get her visa.  We have nice plans for the weekend too.  I sure am ready for Friday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dresser Update, Day Three

 It is day three of the dresser saga.  Today I pulled the quilt out from under it and noticed that it left a black mark in this room too!  And that was after I moved it out of the hall! Anyway, I'm resolved to the floors being dealt with this year, so the carpet will come up.

My effort on the project today consisted of carrying two of the three drawers up from the basement. TBG handled one for me.  They are back in place and tomorrow I'll screw the handles back on.

Here's what was in them.  There are some sweaters that will go into storage and I also have to put some laundry away.  With the contents of the drawers dumped on the futon, I haven't been able to get everything in order.

We have guests back this weekend and I'll have the room back in shape by then. I'll have to open the window so that the room doesn't totally smell of varnish.  This is something I should have thought of before hand.  But I just wanted to fit this in when I could.

There is still a mirror that goes with this that I will have to get to. I'm thinking I might do that later in the day on Sunday.  Then again, I might wait until the following weekend.  Maybe I'll just stuff myself with candy on Sunday and forget about being productive.  Sounds like a plan!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Carrying On

While I am not giving up on the carpet stains, I am resolved to finish with the dresser.  Our weekend guests will be back on Friday and I want that room put together by then!

The drawers were less traumatic. I emptied them and brought them down to the basement. It would appear we can get away with one coat.  The color turned out nice and dark.  I purposely left the old stain on because I wanted to go darker.  I think this will make the piece look a lot nicer and they've been banged up.  The set was in my grandparent's house, was moved to our first apartment, then on to four more homes.  It has taken a beating!  I would much rather salvage this than buy something new because it is solid wood.

I hope to write about the steamer this week at some point. Or maybe I'll get pictures when I clean again on Saturday.  It won't get rid of old/set in stains, but it cleans the grime and schmutz out of grout, crevices and does a great job on soap scum -- using just steamed water.  No cleaning solutions required.  It probably won't be as much fun to use in the summer when it's hot (well, cleaning is never fun), but it did a great job of de-gooking our kitchen counter, the cabinet doors, all of the tile in the bathroom and the gunk around all of our plumbing fixtures.  I'm glad I ordered it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Smart and Not So Smart

We went out to get solar lights for the back yard yesterday. On the way home, we stopped into the Burlington Coat Factory so I could pick up panty hose for work. Now that we are headed into spring, I'll have to retire my tights.  I'll also be putting many of my sweaters away.  In an effort to obey the dress code that prohibits the showing of shoulders, I picked up a lace cover-up that I plan to wear on warm days.  It is very lightweight and it has sleeves.  I hope it flies!  If I get away with this one, I'll pick up a few others.
When we were at Loew's, I picked up an ebony polyurethane stain for the dresser in the second bedroom.  The piece was getting a bit beat up and I wanted to test the stain before using it on the main set in our master bedroom.  What I realized is that I am a moron.  Not wanting to schlep this piece downstairs, I set it on a heavy quilt that I paint things on.  Not thinking that stain is a lot thinner, I did not realize it would soak through the quilt so now there are some very ugly dark spots on the carpet.  And since it is stain, it's probably not hard to imagine how permanent these marks probably are.  I had wanted to pull up the rug -- but not any time soon.  I'll try to work through the spots some more but I'm not hopeful.

One thing I was smart about, was buying a couple of marked down steaks last month.  We had another one for dinner tonight.  It was pan seared with mushrooms and onion, then I added some wine and cognac.  It baked for a bit and then it was ready for us to enjoy.  While we had wanted to grill, it's raining cats and dogs here.  Rumor has it that will turn to snow tonight. I really hope not.  We don't need the ice that is likely to form under it.

The bright side is that I am behind on grocery shopping so having a cold day means I could shop at lunch.  Maybe that's smart -- or maybe it's not.  Given my recent track record, I'm not going to claim any great intelligence!