Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again



After three weeks of eating extra meal servings I managed to make at client's, and scary packaged things I probably shouldn't admit to, last night finally, I was able to cook an actual meal.

Sam's Club actually had some nice USA wild caught Ahi Tuna, and you didn't need to buy enough to feed the entire neighborhood; they had an iced fish case set-up with the Ahi and some nice looking shrimp. So I decided to get my mercury the old-fashioned way - through my amalgam dental fillings and some tuna vs. high fructose corn syrup.

I usually give tuna a crust of black & white sesame seeds and give it a quick sear with a little toasted sesame oil. To honor breaking in the stove I decided to use fennel seeds, black & white peppercorns, a pinch of lavender and a little lavender scented salt. The recipe is in John Ash's From Earth to Table, and I've wanted to try it for awhile. I wasn't able to make the dressing because despite searching for awhile, no mustard seeds turned up.

So I had it warm, rather than chilled over salad, as the recipe specifies, with some Harvest Grain Blend (Trader Joe's), and steamed green beans.

Thankfully the exhaust fan should be here next week because it would have been handy last night. There was a little fog, but the smoke detector stayed calm.


Seared Ahi Tuna with Lavender-Pepper Crust - John Ash

1 1/2 pounds center-cut Ahi tuna or 4 (4 to 6-ounce) 1-inch thick sushi quality tuna steaks
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender flowers
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups savory mixed fresh greens and herbs
Mustard Seed Dressing (recipe follows)

If using the center-cut Ahi tuna, trim and cut the tuna into a block approximately 2 inches across; then cut into 1-inch steaks.

Crush the salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and lavender with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. Lightly oil the tuna with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil; evenly coat the tuna with the lavender-pepper mixture, patting off any excess.

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan or a cast-iron pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minutes, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minutes until medium rare. Remove from heat and immediately refrigerate the tuna for at least 1 hour but no more than 3 hours.

To serve, arrange the greens on chilled individual serving plates. Drizzle with Mustard Seed Dressing. Thinly slice the tuna and arrange on top of the dressed greens.




Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now We're Cooking with Gas!



I started the day with #4 on the rounds of driveway shoveling. Tackling the crusty clogged end after the street plow finally visits is always particularly fun, and today was no exception.

Then in a relatively short amount of time I narrowed down the couple of dozen paint chip cards I picked up last weekend from Home Depot. I like Behr paint and have used it a lot. For the record, Bruce hates it and prefers Pratt & Lambert.

So I'm thinking Crispy Gingersnap on the walls and Wilderness on the soffit. And I am so available for naming paint colors after a few glasses of wine.



The most exciting part of today is getting the range nearly in place. It's not all the way there - a fitting needs changed, but it's hooked up and ready to cook.



The sink, dishwasher and garbage disposal are all back in working order. I really can't tell you how much I've missed them. Washing dishes in the laundry tub loses it's allure quickly. My fabulous Schott Zweisel wine glasses actually prefer the dishwasher to my lame attempts to hand wash them.

Canton Cut Stone came back today to put the new window sill in place. They did an absolutely fantastic job on the installation and did right by me on the more than expected dust created from the on-site sink cutout. Note - most people will opt for their complimentary undermount sink which gets cut and mounted at their place and shouldn't have any dust issues.



More good news: Apparently my range hood has been spotted and should be here next week. The custom backsplash and over the window pot rack are being made by Weaver Sheet Metal and should be ready in a week.

I'll be painting over the weekend before the Big Fridge gets put in place and Bruce will be working on the shelving.

I could just stand in there at all hours and look at the granite and all the different sparkly colors......

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My wish has been Granite(d)



Ahhh, another fine winter day in Akron. Winter storm predicted to drop 8-14", definitely delivered. There was about 4" in the driveway by the time I woke up and got my caffeine fix. By the time I got to the bottom to shovel, there was already another inch accumulated at the top. I was on my third pass by the time the granite guys arrived.

I'm sure my granite guys were having a great time on their 40 mile per hour trip here with my beautiful granite strapped to the outside of the van.



The view from the backyard. Probably not a good day for a fire in the firepit. Which is under there somewhere.



Looks strangely like a polygraph, but is actually the contraption that seals the seam in the granite pieces. It's hooked up to some kind of compressor in the toolbox which hummed along while the sealant did it's thing. Then they measured the opening for the sink and drilled it out. I wish I could say that the dust wasn't too bad, but I'd be lying.

I have some strange rash on my neck that looks like poison ivy. Between the itching, the noise from the saw, and the furnace running at full blast in my office due to sealing off the room where the thermostat is, I was about to pass out. Bruce was kind enough to stop by the store and pick up some Benadryl for me at lunchtime. Which usually equals instant nap for me.



So here it is. It's really absolutely stunning.





The window sill wasn't quite right, so they'll be back.

Tomorrow the range, sink & dishwasher should go in. Primer should be done so I can pick out and paint over the weekend. I might even be cooking by Friday. Which should distract me from the itching.

Akron Cooking & Gardening Classes



I'm excited to roll-out my cooking and gardening classes. As we dig out from yet another blizzard (I'm on break from shoveling my driveway so the granite guys can get in), I thought you'd enjoy a photo of a summer's afternoon harvest from last season.

Whether you are a seasoned cook, or need a little culinary coaching, you'll find a class that suits your needs. Classes can be scheduled in your kitchen (I'll bring everything needed to prepare the class recipes), or in a few weeks I'll be able to start hosting them in my newly remodeled kitchen.

Ideally we'll need 6-12 participants per class to make it affordable for all since classes are priced based on time + cost of ingredients. (Private classes can be scheduled as well as custom topics). Food costs increase marginally for more participants. In other words, the more friends you gather, the lower the cost per person - $25 - $50 per person. Classes are hands-on, there’s lots of sampling, and include hand-outs with recipes & tips.

To sign up for class update newsletter or to suggest another class topic, e-mail me at Dineindiva@neo.rr.com and put "Classes" in the subject line.

Romantic Dinner for Two - Stay in for Valentine's Day this year, or pull this menu out on any evening for a special repast. Learn about surprising foods with aphrodisiac properties. We'll make a sexy salad, an entree of chicken or salmon with champagne cream sauce/ or seared beef/pork w/ port & dried cherry sauce, simple sides, Grand Marnier Honey Chocolate Fondue, and an Amorous Edible Massage Oil. Call the babysitter!

Make Your Own Mixes - Learn to make your own mixes minus the weird and unhealthy ingredients. We'll also make our own salad dressing. Home made is fresher, tastier, and better for you and your family, not to mention greener since you'll use reusable containers vs. throw away packaging.

Secrets of a Professional Grocery Shopper - Who isn't looking to get the biggest bang for the buck these days? I do more than the average amount of food shopping so I know where the best selections and prices are. Learn about organic, seasonal and sustainable foods and how they can fit in your budget.

Victory Garden - During WW I & II, folks grew Victory Gardens to ease the burden on the food supply during wartime. With the interest in local foods, there's no better way to reduce your carbon footprint than by growing your own. Learn what grows best here, when to plant, harvest, and how to cook and preserve your crops. It isn't too soon to start planning for spring! Also learn about how you can plant an extra row to feed the hungry and about local farmers that will do the work (or most of the work) for you for an upfront investment annually (CSA programs).

Cook From a Book - Group selects a cookbook and we'll cook a selection of recipes from the book. I have over 400 for you to select from. May I suggest Mark Bittman's 'Food Matters, A Guide to Conscious Eating with 75 Recipes' which in addition to recipes, provides information on how and why changing the way you eat will impact your health and the environment. See other book possibilities in my Amazon store.

Leftover Makeover - Family wrinkle their noses at leftovers? Learn the secrets of making meals taste as fresh as the first time around, plus strategies for turning the cooked ingredients into totally new meals. Stretch your food budget while saving time in the kitchen and reducing your food waste.

Natural Beauty from the Garden and Pantry - With a few ingredients from the pantry & garden create your own healthy beauty products.

Under Pressure - Not granny's pressure cooker. Learn how this kitchen appliance can help you make normally slow cooking dishes possible on any weeknight. Old fashioned Ham & Navy Bean Soup in 15 minutes. Tender Rosemary Beef Stew in 35 min. These are also great time savers for preparing whole grains on the weekend to have in the frig all week.

Flexitarian - Eating less meat is good for your health and your budget. Learn some recipes that are flexible enough to please the meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Spice Rack Redo - If you're still using the dried spices that came with your rack you're missing out on the flavor punch these ingredients provide. Bring your clean empty jars and fill them up with fresh spices and learn how to use them.

Go with the Grain - You know whole grains are good for you, but are you stumped on how to prepare them? Explore whole grains like wheatberries, quinoa and barley. Check out 'Whole Grains for Busy People' by Lorna Sass in my Amazon store.

Sear, Roast, Sauce - One of the questions I'm often asked is how to make steak like restaurants. This class will teach you a basic technique that works with beef, pork, chicken and fish and has endless flexibility.

Kitchen Math for Kids - Perfect for homeschoolers. Learn math by working with kitchen measurements.

Catering Secrets - Learn how to set up a buffet, decorate and put on a party on a budget that looks like it was professionally catered.

On the Side - Tired of the same old boring rice and frozen vegetables? Spice up your plate with some exciting side dishes.

What's For Lunch? - Brown bagging to save money? Learn how to prepare healthy lunches and morph your dinners that will have your co-workers begging you to trade.

Ugly Vegetables - You've seen the celery root in the produce section but have no idea what to do with it. Some of the ugliest vegetables are the tastiest. We'll explore celery root, parsnips, fennel and others.

Rotisserie Chicken to the Rescue - They're quick and convenient, but kind of boring. Learn how to use them to jump start a more appealing meal.

Home Creamery - Learn how simple it is to make your own yogurt, ricotta, creme fraiche, butter, etc. at home. I have a few extra copies of The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley for sale, or you can buy through my Amazon Store. One of the leading mail-order companies in the country that supplies all kinds of make your own supplies is located right in our backyard and has a retail location. We'll use milk from local dairy, Snowville Creamery.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Floored. Almost.






The new Swiftlock Sargasso Slate fake tile flooring spent it's required weekend acclimating to it's new climate prior to installation. Although I was a bit sad that the old Pergo faux tile could not be saved, I have to say that I really like the new flooring.

It's a bit of a challenge to line up the faux grout lines and it took some tweaking and whacking, but the fact that it doesn't look perfect actually makes it look more like real tile. I actually reached down and touched the fake grout lines a few times. The upside is I know what it's like to keep real grout in real floor tile clean and the Swiffer just doesn't cut it despite the cutesy commercials. So not having to drag out the cleaning calvary for this floor is a bonus, because it gets dirty.

The bad news is that we are about 3 boards short to complete the floor. There were plenty of open boxes full of potential orphans at Lowes. Hopefully Bruce will be able to talk them into giving up a few rather than having to buy a whole new box.

Prior to installing the floor Bruce put the hose in for the exhaust fan. I am tired of whacking my forehead on fans, so we also measured so that my fan will be installed so even when I am leaning towards the back burner I will not be getting the showstopping thump that makes me see stars. I'm really surprised I haven't left a client with a black eye yet.

Which reminds me: I started the day by stepping on the step that is not attached to my garage wall which promptly flew out from under my feet and sent me in a pile to the floor. The last time I pulled a move like this I cracked a rib and spent 3 months pretty miserable. So I guess the 10 pounds I gained and was heading to gym to get rid of saved me for once. It would have been really ugly if I had been laying in the garage for an hour before Bruce showed up for work. So I guess I really was floored today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Food...Don't Waste It



The statistics on the amount of food wasted in this country are horrific. Take a look at the photo in this New York Times article that depicts an average family of four's monthly food waste. Holy smokes!

I'd love to have back half of the money I've wasted on food that never made it to the table. I am a descendant of grocery horders and I've got the gene. Part of my new kitchen design is to keep ingredients visible. Things that get pushed to the back of cupboards and refrigerators rarely make it back to the light of day in time to enjoy at their peak.

There is still a perception that personal chefs are for the rich and famous only, and that we have carte blanche with the grocery money. The reality is that my clients are mostly hardworking, middle class folks that don't have the time to create from scratch meals using fresh, whole foods.

They've usually tried the carryout, dining out, packaged foods with questionable ingredients, and fat laden and often tasteless ready to eat offerings available nearly everywhere, and they've found that they were gaining weight, developing diseases, and they weren't enjoying the meals to boot.

Some have even found that having a personal chef saves them money. I spend a lot of time grocery shopping and I treat client's budgets like my own. I don't sacrifice on quality ingredients, but I know more than a few tricks and places to get the most for the money. Trust me, if you are wasting the amount of food, and therefore money, that's shown in the NY Times photo, you could afford to hire me.

The poster shown above is not a new one. It's actually a World War I Food Conservation Campaign poster from 1918 by F.G. Cooper put out by the U.S. Food Administration. Guess what? Everything old is new again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Empty Bowl Project - Akron Art Museum


Akron's Zeber-Martell Clay Studio & the Akron Art Museum are teaming up to raise awareness about hunger in our community.

Buy a limited edition bowl by Zeber-Martell filled with delicious soup from some of Akron's favorite restaurants on Sunday, March 8th from 12-3 pm at the Akron Art Museum. Purchase a bowl for $20, sample any two soups, and keep the bowl.

Your $20 donation will go to Good Samaritan Hunger Center.

Participating restaurants: Barley House, Bricco, Diamond Deli, Moe's, Ohio Brewing Co, and Vegiterranean.

Only 200 bowls available, and a little bird told me that over 100 are already sold. Reserve online now at www.akronartmuseum.org/bowl or call 330-376-9185.

I'll be there. Will you?

Take Me for Granite


Canton Cut Stone came to measure and template for the granite yesterday. Meet my gorgeous new piece of the rock, Exotic Paradise. The slab has what's known in the trade as a lot of "movement". Movement translates to $$$$. This is a once in a lifetime purchase for me, and I cut back in other places to get the one I truly love, and after looking at a warehouse full of pretty slabs, this one just blew me away.


I hadn't seen it for about a month and wasn't smart enough to take my good camera, and my cell phone takes beyond horrible pictures. I was hoping it was as gorgeous as I remembered. It is.


The pockets of pattern have different colors, but I am particularly fond of the lime-ish green streaks. The cluster of darker, black pattern has diamond like sparkly spots.











It's kind of like a jigsaw puzzle fitting the templates onto the slab. It would have much more expensive to have to purchase an additional slab, which would have been necessary if I had opted for an undermount sink. I am reusing my old drop-in sink. I was hoping for a little leftover to make a shelf for my pass-through and for a new window sill, and it looks like we'll just squeak through with about enough left for a couple of coasters.
The picture above is the piece that will be to the right of the range and is my favorite part of the slab's pattern.













It's a good thing I liked how it worked out, because it was probably the only way it would have. Installation is scheduled for next Wednesday.
Lighting is almost done as is the water line to pot-filler faucet.
Weaver Sheet Metal is custom making a stainless backsplash for behind the range; a bargain at about $125. The one that is sold as option to the range was over $1,000.
The range hood is still enjoying it's cruise from Italy and has yet to be precisely located.
I need to make a final decision on flooring. I'd like to see the one I preliminarily picked after the granite is installed next week.
Picked up a cool sample book of recycled glass mini tiles for the backsplash behind the sink.
Decisions, decisions.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Week 2


Bruce worked awhile Saturday, and Sunday I gave the house a good cleaning. He's pretty tidy and there is plastic over the critical doorways, but everything kind of felt a little grimy to me, kind of like you feel after camping for the weekend and are in dire need of a shower.

I rounded up most of my traveling equipment over the weekend to prepare for Monday's new personal chef client. A bit of challenge since I'd moved things into practically every room.

Canton Cut Stone is coming this morning to measure and prepare the template for the granite countertops, so the cabinets had to be completely in place yesterday. The behemoth refrigerator, a French-door Kitchenaid was delivered a couple of weeks ago, and it took the delivery guys a bit of effort to wrestle it through my interior garage door.



Due to the size of the Big Frig and the layout, there really wasn't room to put stock cabinets, so my designer Robin Rimmer, of Cabinetcraft in Copley, ordered extra material for Bruce to build some custom fillers on either side of the fridge. Originally we were thinking equal on either side, but I really wanted storage for my half sheet pans and cutting boards, plus two shelves that I can put baskets on that pull out to store potatoes and onions. Bruce suggested making the right side larger and the left side was sized to hold wine bottles.


Preparation for the installation of the water line for the pot-filler faucet. The outlet at the bottom is going to be moved and since this wall opposes the one going down the basement stairwell, Bruce is able to pull the outlet to the stairwell side. No more finding a long extension cord to vacuum those stairs.



Pull out trash can with bag storage to the left of the range.


Sink base and corner lazy susan unit



Drawers next to the dishwasher.



Inside of lazy susan unit.

I had a minor anxiety attack thinking that the wrong refrigerator had been delivered. My only requirements were French door, counter depth with the largest capacity available with those requirements. I didn't realize that counter depth means the main part; the doors still stick out a bit so you can actually open them (duh!). We could always bump some of the back wall out, but that's more time and money than I want to invest.
Remind me of that when I bump into monster frig later.

Personal Chef Makes Accountant's Day & Vice Versa

It's always nice to get feedback from clients, believe or not even if it isn't positive, because it really helps to fine tune the service.

But feedback like this, from today's client that I cooked 3 entrees for her (mostly vegetarian/fish, lactose intolerant) and 3 for husband (hot & spicy loving carnivore), really makes my day:

"OK. We can't stop smiling. Our dinner was excellent and took no effort to pull together. 'E' had the stroganoff and I had the mushroom (I actually had two mushrooms). He liked it so much that he is planning to eat tomorrow's portion of the stroganoff tonight and is going for round 2. We don't want to make a habit of eating double portions in one evening, but tonight we are letting loose! Thank you!

We actually had dinner together as a family today. Despite the fact that the kids had sports practices too. A rare occurence for us except for Fri-Sun."

Friday, January 16, 2009

TGIF - It's Starting to look like a kitchen



It's only been 4 days since the kitchen remodel started, and it's already starting to look like a kitchen. Short work day today. My guy (hereafter referred to as Bruce), had a short day starting at about 10:15 when I left to meet with a new client. A woman spun-out in front of him on the highway going home the other night on the black ice and he wasn't able to stop in time. $500 in damage to his van according to the brave insurance soul who came out to examine the damage in my driveway today. His son Andy helped on Tues - Thurs, but has another job Fri - Monday, so Bruce was solo today.



The cabinets came out of the cardboard and started finding their permanent homes. I opted for primarily drawers because it is so much easier to store and remove things than in traditional door cupboards. This set of drawers is to the left of the dishwasher and will hold flatware, the ugly coffee cups I use everyday but wouldn't put in open shelving, and glass baking dishes. Open shelving of some sort that I haven't totally designed will hold plates, bowls, wine glasses, etc. This corner will also house the coffee pot.




The opposite corner on the same wall has a corner cabinet with two lazy susans in the corner, and a small filler cabinet/small drawer in between it and the sink cabinet. The TV will go on a corner shelf (marked above here), and at the end of the day we talked about filling out that shelf with flanking cubby hole shelves on either side. There is going to be a pot rack over the window and possibly a shelf of some type across the window as well.



Caddy corner wall cabinet is two nice deep drawers to the right of range. Microwave on corner shelf will be above.





The remaining corner near the pass through has a matching lazy susan shelf cabinet. Next to it is a 3 drawer unit, and to the left of the range a small drawer and the trash can pull-out with a small space behind to hold bags.




There is some space filling to do on either side of the fridge. Originally I was going to do wine racks to fill in the space, but decided on open spaces to house sheet trays and cutting boards with possibly a space above each for wine or rolled towels.


There will be more work tomorrow. The granite template will be done on Tuesday.


I have a new client on Monday, and a regular on Thursday or Friday, so I will at least get to cook a few days in an actual kitchen. The leftovers of the last meals I cooked have been consumed, and cobbling things together from the fridge has been ok so far, but is starting to wear thin. As is washing the dishes in the basement laundry tub.
My sister's birthday is tomorrow and we have reservations for a much anticipated wine pairing dinner at Loretta Paginini's Sapore Restaurant in Chesterland. And I don't care how many Weight Watcher points I consume.













Baby It's Cold Outside. And Inside


Another day of wiring, plus the doorway/pass-through was dry walled. It's very, very, very, very cold; below zero temps. The thermostat is right outside of the kitchen, and with the garage door being opened and closed all day bringing things in and out, my furnace is in overdrive.



At the end of the day the base cabinets were brought in. The two corner lazy susan units wouldn't fit through the door, so the window was removed (did I mention it's sub zero?), and the came in that way. Since they are actually made of WOOD, they are very heavy. The doors were removed to make them easier to carry and lift over the window. I helped a little.



Holes and grids for the recessed lighting which should be going into today.



The pass-through. I will still be able to see the garden from the kitchen. When the curtains unfreeze from the windows....
The exhaust vent is apparently still enjoying it's cruise from Italy and has not yet been located. Fortunately they were able to e-mail me the installation instructions so planning could be done accordingly.
I've also got a wacky, as far as I know, never been done before idea, for the storage wall next to the range. I'm working on the logistics.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Got Goat? Favorite Local Product - Mackenzie Creamery Goat Cheese

I was fortunate enough to sample Mackenzie Creamery's fresh goat cheese at the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservacy Farmers Markets last summer.

Smooth, creamy, and delicious either plain, or in the nice variety of flavored versions, including my favorite, 'You Say Tomato' which is packaged in a small cup with a to-die-for ribbon of Jean Mackenzie's handmade tomato chutney threaded through the center of the cheese. I've served this at several parties and events (and eaten as dinner with a whole grain baguette), and everyone absolutely swoons.

If you haven't had artisanal goat cheese, or wrinkle your nosy that goat cheese is too tangy or "goaty", you really should give this cheese a chance to change your mind.

Here's a link to a lovely photo of their marinated chevre sold in small jars with bits of sun-dried, tomatoes and olives. Makes a great appetizer (or dinner!).

It's worth seeking out at the vendors listed in the first link. If you see it at the farmer's markets you're likely to meet the lovely Jean in person.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When a door closes, a pass through opens




Today there was wiring and we marked the placement of the shelves for the microwave and TV. Microwave is going in this corner with a box like shelf enclosure. It will have a shelf above for storage and a pull-out shelf for parking items going in or out. I was originally thinking of the TV above the mic, but there's not enough space to keep the whole thing far enough above the countertop.



Soffit exposed to faciliate wiring. The plumbing to the second floor bathroom is there and visible.

On the day I moved in, I had a couple of nice, paid by the hour guys bringing in things from our apartment. The light fixture in the center of the kitchen started dripping water. Huh? So hubby went up to investigate. He grabbed the shut-off valve under the sink and promptly broke it right off. Luckily someone (me) paid attention during the inspection and knew that the main shut off valve was in a cupboard in the basement. I told the moving guys to just bring stuff in and put it anywhere while we rounded up a plumber. Ah, memories.



The frig is going here. There was some rewiring activity here today. And drilling that set off the smoke alarm. Which prompted a "What is making that noise?". It really didn't sound like a smoke alarm at first.


TV is going in this corner to the right of the window on a shelf.


The soon to be former door to the old dining room. The framed 'window' section to the left is the pass through. The old dining room which is/was just part of one long room with the living room, is now/will be a library housing cookbooks with a table and chairs that overlooks the patio. Which is on the summer makeover docket.
It's noisy and distracting to try and work in my office, but so far, it's all good.

Sorry Ma'am, She Just Couldn't Be Saved





About five minutes after I stopped patting myself on the back for saving those spare Pergo tiles, and after a valiant effort to detach the partial tiles at the right lower edge above, in order to use those saved tiles, it became apparent that this was one giant glued together tile. This was a special order back in the dawn of the day for Pergo, the new fake flooring that's really a picture of a floor! Back in the old days (2001) you had to glue those suckers together, then attach them at the tongue and grooves, then attach straps across the room to hold 'em tight while the glue dried. The good news? The guy that put it in did a great job. The bad news? For once I wish he'd been a bit of a glue slacker.



I knew this was a possibility, but was really hoping to not have to spend more money on a new floor (I thought wistfully as I headed on the snowy, slippery roads to Lowes and Home Depot). Laminate flooring has come a long way since my beloved Pergo was installed. But I must have been the only one in love with Terra Rosa, because you can't even special order anything in the same color family.



I did find a Swiftlock version (Sargasso Slate)at Lowes for $50 a box (I need six) that is pretty close. It comes with the cork backing already attached and in long strips of 4-5 "tiles" that install with the tongue and groove snap and no glue. Home Depot had a plethora of bargain and clearance materials for as little as 99 cents a square foot, but alas nothing that really tripped my trigger.



While I was out mourning the loss of my Pergo, I went to Sam's Club and picked up a new mini microwave and a small TV. I'd like to put these in the corner to the right of the range on angled shelves with a pull out shelf under the microwave.







I haven't gone into to complete cooking withdrawal yet. I set an old microwave and the coffee pot up in the first floor bathroom. The toaster and breakfast station is on a filing cabinet in my office. The old frig is still stocked and parked in the dining room. Which is plugged into a wall switch that if turned off will result in a nice warm frig. I am hoping the big note I stuck to it (LEAVE LIGHT ON) will remind me not to flip the switch.


Bought a $2 dish tub and stuck iton the washing machine to handle that task. If I really get the jones to cook I have portable butane burners, a mini oven I use for catering, and more crockpots than a church social.
I am also counting Weight Watcher points starting this week in an attempt to divorce myself from the personal floation device that attached itself to me in the last two months. Like I don't have enough going on. Off to the gym....