Sunday, May 14, 2017
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Because my house is ancient and still uses an honest-to-god fuse box, the normal outlets in the living room can't handle too many appliances plugged in at once. Which means there are extension cords running from the kitchen up and down the stairwell, connected to big box fans to blow as much cold air as possible up the stairs.
That helps a little, but the front bedrooms still bake in the heat all day long. It would really help if I could get some kind of exhaust fan in there to blow out the hot air and pull in the cold air from downstairs, but the original windows don't have any screens, which means it would be completely open to the outside and all kinds of bugs would get in.
Solution? Build yourself a screen! Or rather, two screen sections, one that's just a normal screen and another that holds the small window fan I bought yesterday. I'm not particularly proud of any of these creations this weekend, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Also, bonus picture: these are the garage roses. I didn't trim them at all this spring, and then I was away for a week that brought them a ton of rain and sun. The result were these 10 ft monsters that you see before you. By necessity alone, this will probably need to be the next project.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
The first clue came Thursday. I was away from Richmond most of last week, and I knew it was going to be warm, so I set the AC to 75. When I got back from the airport on Thursday morning, the downstairs was comfortable, but the upstairs was not. Troubleshooting that difference was how I discovered I actually have a dual-zone AC. (Yes, I have lived here for almost 4 months. No, I did not know it was dual-zone until just this week. Yes, you may go ahead and judge.) "Ok, no worries", I thought. I'll just turn on the upstairs AC and everything will be fine. The rest of Thursday was a bit of a haze (it was not a pleasant or restful red-eye flight back), so I didn't think about it much more.
I woke up Friday morning and it was noticeably warm upstairs. The AC was running, but the air coming out of the vent wasn't cold; so I turned both ACs down a few notches to 70 and then got ready for work.
Then I got home late Friday night, and the downstairs was FREEZING. The thermostat said 67, so I bumped that zone up a bit. Then I walked upstairs ... straight into an oven. Seriously, the heat difference across just a few feet was ridiculous. The upstairs thermostat was clocking in at 84, which is a 17 degree heat difference between my 1st and 2nd floor. It's also quite an achievement when the outside is only 75, which means my upstairs must trap heat like nobody's business. UGH.
So, that is going to be this weekend's main set of tasks. First, check to see if there's anything obviously wrong with the duct work or insulation that I can fix myself. Second, go by a few fans and position them to blow the cooler air upstairs, because this weekend is going to be absolutely miserable. Third, call an AC repair guy and pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that this will be measured in hundreds, not thousands.
Yay home ownership.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Well, not MY bathroom, but Mom's bathroom in at the gallery. I'm up visiting Lancaster for a wedding and spending the day in town with mom before the event tonight. Close to lunchtime a twenty-something girl walked in and asked Mom if she could use the gallery's bathroom. She explained that she was from out-of-town and auditioning for some role at the Fulton, and that it was just an absolute madhouse over at the theatre. (aside: I completely believe her, parking in town today is a nightmare).
Mom says "of course", I keep working on my laptop, a minute goes by ... and then a very deep and soulful "weeeeee-ahhhh-OO-UH-OO-UH-OOO" from the bathroom breaks the silence. That was it. No other sounds. Just a single lovely wail that would probably attract herds of fertile manatees if we let them in the gallery. Mom and I just looked at each other, shrugged, and then 5 minutes later the girl walks back out the door wearing a completely different outfit.
UPDATE: Between then and now, my buddy C called me and asked if I had a hideaway key so he could use my place to shower. So that's a second random bathroom-related thing to happen today. Will we get a third?!?
Sunday, April 02, 2017
Saturday, April 01, 2017
Sunday, February 12, 2017
But the warm weather also meant I could open up the sun room off the side of the house, which right now is unused except to store all my used moving boxes and a couch that doesn't fit in the living room. After looking out into the back yard for a bit, Lucy cat decided she likes the combination of fresh air and a comfy, familiar-smelling couch, and therefore this is the perfect place for her mid-day nap. Rock on cat.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Extra-pressed-extra-firm tofu, sliced into 8 towers instead of 6, extra-TLC on tower formation, and a well-oiled non-stick pan all worked together to produce some very pretty and quite tasty tofu towers. I'm rather pleased with myself.
On the other hand, I'm probably not going to make these again unless it's a really special occasion that really calls for them. They're not the easiest or most convenient thing to make, they take a long time for not that much output, and you end up with leftover ingredients that are annoying to find uses for. But the bigger reason is that pan-frying them on all six sides well enough to cook the chicken all the way through is a MESS. The oil spits everywhere. See that liquid sheen dripping down the front of the range? That's OIL, and it's gonna be a P-I-T-A to clean up. I suppose I could fix that by using a taller casserole or something, but then that just gets more annoying to work with. No reason to put that much effort into something unless you need to, and there are many other tasty things to make in the kitchen.
Random aside - somehow I've ended up with a ton of food in my fridge. Besides these towers (which with broccoli will be 2 meals), I have 4 meals of pot roast, another 4 meals of random ramen-like soup (more on that later), enough leftover veggies for 2 stir-fry's, 4 avocados and chips that were supposed to be guacamole before plans changed, a pound of kielbasa that was an impulse buy, probably 3 meals worth of bacon and eggs and toast (I treated myself to a nice big breakfast in my new house last weekend), to say nothing of all the frozen meals I stocked up on for the move. And I already know 2 nights next week where I'll be dining out for dinner. This will be an interesting week to see if I can get through them all without wasting food.
Some house pics later today!
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
I ended up using only 1/3 of the lb of ground chicken, so I resolved to try it again and next time pay more attention to forming the towers before cooking them. Tonight I kept that promise, and switched a few things up. First, I switched from firm to extra firm tofu, which may help the tofu hold together better. Second, I pulsed the vegetables in the food processor to get a much finer mince, which should give the tofu something much easier to mold onto. Finally, extra time and attention to forming the towers, pressing them together, smoothing over any bulges, and giving a good pat of corn starch on all sides. All of that helped, I think. Unfortunately, I didn't think about the pan, and THAT made things worse. While last time I used a nonstick pan, this time I used just a plain old iron pan. And even though those towers were sitting in 1/4 inch of oil, they stuck fast to the pan. The little buggers would just NOT come up. In the end, a metal spatula had to be employed several times, and it ripped a lot of the nice crispy crust off. Harumph. But this time I only deglazed with sake, and then mixed that with the leftover soy-heavy sauce from earlier. And THAT tastes much better.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
|The red is for hell.|
Also, there was an idiot on the DC beltway who was driving around, like an idiot, on just a spare rim. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up being the cause of some major delays. I took this picture, which actually isn't so bad, as I was just getting past Baltimore (you can see the blue dot at the very top edge of the Baltimore 695 Beltway).
But now that it's all over, none of that matters, because tomorrow I get to spend the day with this lovely girl that I haven't seen in over 6 months, and I'm super jazzed about it :)
Friday, September 04, 2015
First - I'm just generally tired of traveling. It screws with my fitness routine, I don't like sleeping in not-my-bed, and I miss Lucy & hate leaving her alone so much. She doesn't spray or anything, and she likes my neighbors M&C who are super generous to drop in and watch her, but even so it's clear she misses me (VERY affectionate when I get back) and I hate doing it. I've been traveling a lot lately it just grates on me.
Second - I was rushed this morning (the result of just getting back from Nashville last night, see #1), and caught the train out of Richmond with 1 minute to spare. I parked the car and could see the train preparing to leave as I was running to the station. That kind of thing stresses me out and it takes me a while to cool back down again.
Third - Track work = train delays. It frustrates me to no end that we don't have a decent rail infrastructure in this country. That an Amtrak train full of people has to pull over and subject its passengers to 30 minutes of stale, stagnant heat, just to give a much slower freight train the right-of-way because Amtrak has been stripped to the bone and can't afford transit fees, BLARGH.
Fourth - As a result of #3, we were 30 minutes late getting into Baltimore, which meant that I had to HUFF it to get to the light rail station. (Which frustratingly isn't really connected to Baltimore's Penn Station, see #3 also.) Huffing it in the Baltimore summer sun, with a duffle bag on one shoulder and laptop bag on another, in freakin flip flops (ugh, did NOT think that one through this AM), translated into being drenched in sweat when I got to the station, which happened to be right as the light rail train was pulling in. Those things do not wait, so I hurried to the ticket kiosk and tried to buy a ticket. First time - card reader error. Reset, try second time. Card reader error. Reset, try third time, with different card. Card reader error. Meanwhile, the seconds are ticking away and the train's about to pull out. I desperately pull a $5 bill out of my wallet and shove that in the kiosk to pay for the $1.70 ticket. It prints my ticket - FINALLY - and then starts plunking out quarters one at a time for my $3.30 in change. EFF IT, my internal monologue shouts, and I, $3.30 poorer than I should be, jump across the tracks to get on the train. Hit the button to open the doors again as they were closing, climb on, and then the train starts moving. So like, 30 seconds to spare, if that.
Fifth - After all the drama and stress of #4, they didn't even have a warden on the train to check the tickets. So it was a complete waste of time and money and mental stress.
Sixth - To make the train on time (see #1) I parked the car and deliberately ran right past the self-serve kiosk where you're supposed to put in your license plate and pay for X days of parking. Given how close I was to missing the train, that was a wise decision. But leaving it there, unpaid for several days, over Labor Day weekend, well ... I'd kinda like the car to actually be there when I get back. So I got online and tried to find the company who manages their parking, which I figured would be easy since they're modern enough to send you text notifications and what not. Incorrect. The station page on amtrak.com just lists it as a self-serve kiosk. Ditto for their Wikipedia entry, and a cursory google search just brings back results from 2 years ago when they expanded the lot. FINALLY, after 15 minutes of google-fu, I found, of all things, a Yelp review (?!?) that lists the company as parkmobile. To pay online, you have to give it a specific "zone number", which of course isn't easy to find either, but when I finally got the transaction to go through, it shows up in my Wallet app as AMTRAK PK, so I'm gonna go ahead and declare that a success.
Seventh - It's just hot. And humid. And Mom's AC is broken. So I'm miserable at night.
BUT - got to meet and hold a sweet baby girl that I have the honor to call niece and god daughter. Makes it all worth it :)
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Anyway, I saw a recipe for carrot salad with sesame & cilantro on food network, and thought "Hey, that sounds good!" So I decided to try it this afternoon and started reading down the list of ingredients to see what I had and what I needed: "carrots, cilantro, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt & red pepper, 1/2 a cup of toasted sesame seeds ..." Wait, what? A full half-cup of sesame seeds? FIRSTLY, I don't know about you, but unless you get your seeds at Costco, you are not going to have a half-cup of sesame seeds sitting around. And SECONDLY, have you ever tried to toast a half-cup of sesame seeds? I have a 13 inch skillet, and it wasn't big enough to do it properly in one layer. Harumph.
So anyway, I toasted the seeds, slivered the carrots, chopped the parsley, mixed up the dressing, and then tossed it all together. Which resulted in perhaps the most sesame-intense explosion of sesame-shock-waves this side of sesame-Armageddon. Which is to say, a lot. Great jeebus it was a lot.
So ... definitely a recipe that can be modified the next time around, because it would be kinda nice to taste a carrot in there too. But it makes for a nice orange & green compliment to salmon! Enjoy!
Thursday, January 01, 2015
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
- Waste less food (obviously some stuff has been there too long ... like the completely rotten onions I found 2 months ago when I cleaned it out to find out what the smell was)
- Spend less money (by using stuff I already have vs buying more, duh)
- Become more creative as a cook and expand my palette (by forcing myself to use specific ingredients that I don't normally use and designing my meals around those ingredients)
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Saturday, July 26, 2014
So, in a Herculean feat of willpower, this morning I dragged myself out of bed early (well, early for a weekend), put on my workout clothes, and then drove out to Short Pump thinking "this is NOT going to be fun, but by 10:30 it'll be DONE and then I can be proud of myself for the rest of the day :)". So I get to the gym in time to start class at 9:30am sharp ... only to discover that I had the freakin times wrong and Body Pump starts at 9:15am. And Body Pump isn't the kind of class you can just sneak into 15-20 minutes late: there's a good bit of setup, the warm-up sections are actually kind of key, and people naturally spread themselves out in a way that takes up the whole floor and makes it difficult to fit yourself in after its started.
So after forcing myself out of bed and into the car and to the gym ... I missed the damn thing. GRAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!! For a moment I seriously considered just leaving and going grocery shopping instead (which was on my list for this morning anyway), but then my "make some REAL lifestyle changes" motto kicked in, and so I stayed for about 45 minutes, did mostly cardio plus a few basic weight exercises. It wasn't Body Pump, but at least I left feeling like I accomplished something.
Speaking of making real lifestyle changes and accomplishing something, I'm really very proud of what I've done so far this year. Numbers don't lie:
Sunday, May 04, 2014
This year there are 3 main containers:
Box #1 is the flower container in the dining room. This one is purely for decoration. Last year I started with an eclectic mix of indoor plants that looked spectacular, but was kind of high maintenance and didn't survive the month that I was away in Pennsylvania helping to take care of my dad during his final months. I replanted with begonias, which worked well enough, but I didn't really like the red flowers on the red covering, so this year I knew I wanted more contrast and lower maintenance. I settled on something called "Supertunia Priscilla", which is some kind of Petunia hybrid with a royal violet flower (you can see the first one blooming in the pic) and some Creeping Jenny with very vibrant light green leaves. Both are great container plants and so far I really like the way the colors match against the container and the red radiator covering.
Box #2 is the basil box in the kitchen nook, which as you might expect, is for eating, not looking. In the past I've tried a couple different herbs in the same container, but could never keep anything (especially parsley or cilantro) alive except for the basil. Basil is fresh herb that I use most during the summer anyway, so I took the hint and switched to a dedicated box. There's a natural foods grocery store just a block from my place that sells really great local tomatoes during the summer, and tomatoes with mozzarella, basil and a balsamic reduction became a pretty regular meal last summer. These basil plants were just seedlings a few days ago, but with the full afternoon sun and lots of water they're already perking up quite nicely.
Box #3 is the mint box on the back porch, which is also for eating ... or rather for drinking if you want to be precise. I am absolutely OBSESSED with sweet minty drinks during the summer. There's just something about them that suits the hot humid Virginia summers (I guess those old southern gentlemen with their mint juleps were onto something) and this will be the 3rd summer I've had a dedicated box for mint. Super yummy.