Cabinet Reno, Bird Wars, and Prized Friends

When a friend tells you, “I’m coming back and we ARE going to paint those cabinets of yours”, you catalogue it under sounds fun … we’ll see what happens.

Then, when she and her granddaughter (one of our favorite small people on the planet) show up in frigid temps and a few steps ahead of a snow storm … you think, “How did I ever get friends like these?!” Another pair of friends showed up last fall and helped paint the hallway entrance and now this …

If I’d known that buying a hundred and ten year old farm-style house was such a magnet for people who love to do projects and who volunteer on their own, My Guy and I might have bought one a long time ago!

Here is a sneak peak of some of the process.

This is the “before stuff” and a rare sighting of H who, while fond of friendship, creating beautiful things, and knocking down walls with sledge hammers … which we stopped her from doing on this project … is NOT fond of being in front of the camera. I had to ignore her though because she is a beautiful person and because I caught a shot of her in the midst of her creative mojo.

I’m not any more fond of the camera but this is the best way to give a sneak peak at paint color. Also you can see H in the last photo, detailing those shaker doors. I’m so thankful for her steady hand … and her steady friendship. Painting while taking incessantly and dancing around each other and open cans of paint, we reminisced on the fact that we’re not far from 30 years of friendship. Of course this comes with the revelation that this year will find me celebrating a birthday and an age that starts with the number 6. Oh well …

Living a long drive (or short flight … whichever is most convenient at the time) from each other, we don’t get much time together any more, so her efforts to spearhead this project are more than meaningful. During our meet ups, we usually find a moment to marvel at how the unlikeliest of personalities have weathered three decades of friendship and lots of shenanigans. We met when our kids were small … kids and parents alike, have grown up together. So many stories … some tears … gut splitting laughter …stories that get repeated over and over … down on our knees prayer for our families … pushing each other into things we wouldn’t otherwise try … junk food … fancy dinners (if you don’t count the broken Christmas ornament that fell on the Cornish hens) … dead possums … all the stuff of a prized friendship.

Oops … some more contraband. I think H will approve of this picture though because it highlights her pure genius. After determining that the weird globby stuff on the side of the cabinet was glue and after endless sanding, she came up with the hair dryer trick. Worked beautifully. (Sadly, thinking of the girl who used Gorilla Glue on her hair … google it … I think the hair dryer has its limitations. ūüėČ)

Where’s My Guy in all of this? Well, he’s the reason … thank you, Honey … that the doors are off the cabinet. And he’ll be the reason that they’ll go back up.

I think I should have mentioned that there isn’t a true AFTER shot yet. I’m working on a goal to post every Tuesday before 8:00 PM so maybe you’ll get to see My Guy and his handy work of reattaching doors NEXT week.

One reason that we didn’t quite get to the final touches before my self imposed blogging deadline (which I’ve missed by an hour) was all the entertainment outside of our window. That snowstorm I mentioned did come and it awakened ravenous hunger in the critters at the bird feeder. I have more pics for another day … but here’s a glimpse of some of the battles that grabbed our attention.

Hurried home from work to throw together dinner and get this published. Happened to catch this picture just in time to add to the blog.

He was determined to get all the doors up before we ate, which he did. Now we’re all pooped. H and VR leave tomorrow (so sad to see them go) but we’re thrilled about how far we got. New knobs and a few touch ups will take place this weekend and in a mere seven days time we’ll have our refreshed kitchen.

While you wait for the pics of the final results you can speculate about what we chose for knobs. Lots of deliberation went into this simple addition … almost as much debate as the paint color. I’m excited about what we chose and what it will add to the final results.

Until next week …

Shelly

PS

A little more of the fun we have. Can’t let good snow go to the waste, no matter what project is waiting.

** The heading is a WordPress free image and is not my own photo. All the rest were taken by me and are the property of this blog and Sausmus Photography.

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Scalloped Potatoes … Leaving 2020 on a High Note

I sometimes felt a little guilty about chasing the kids (and anyone, for that matter) out of the kitchen, especially during holidays.

“Out … out of the kitchen … all of you!”

We heard this every holiday and most meal times. My mom did not like having people gathered around her in the kitchen when she cooked.

“I need to concentrate.”

Sad to say, I carried on with the chase-every-one-out-of-the-kitchen tradition when my kids were small. Coming from a lineage of farmers on both sides of the family (although my immediate family did not farm), the pressure was upon me to feed people and feed them well. There also might have been something of a hidden motive of wanting the praises that come with a perfect meal. Being raised around incredible farm cooks, it was the highest compliment of any kind to be asked for seconds or to be asked to share a recipe, so the personal stakes I’d set in my head were high.

I sometimes felt a little guilty about chasing the kids (and anyone, for that matter) out of the kitchen, especially during holidays. Part of farm-style cooking involved teaching the next generation to cook well. My grandmother had the most patience in this department, especially when it came to baking . I guess holidays, though, just weren’t the day for on the spot training.

It took a few years of fussing alone in the kitchen, followed by a meal gobbled down in 20 minutes to wake up to the fact that I was getting ripped off on holidays by standards I had imposed upon myself.

Revelations:

  • It’s not fun to spend most of the holiday alone in the kitchen.
  • I like eating far more than cooking.
  • I’m too lazy to become a gourmet cook, so why try.
  • The word “lazy” has shown up in just about every post having to do with cooking … which is why I am more of an “eating” blogger, than a “recipe or cooking” blogger.
  • We have favorite family foods, but not necessarily family recipes … so every year is a bit of an experiment with a new way to try an old favorite.
  • Food experimenting has its pluses and minuses … both with extreme reactions attached … i.e. “Uhhh …thanks for the efforts” OR “That is amazing … can I have seconds?!”

This year’s food experimentation fell to the scalloped potatoes. My mom always had scalloped potatoes with her ham but she made them from a box. She worried about getting the sauce right, but knew Betty Crocker had it down to a science, so why reinvent, right?

This is our first Christmas without Mom … it seemed right to honor her with the potatoes and with a little extra effort.

The food that got us through all the FaceTime and Zoom calls on our very extended gift opening morning.

My daughter convinced me that it wouldn’t be that hard to make them from scratch. “We must have REAL potatoes,” she insisted. “Plus, Grandma would be proud of us for figuring out the sauce.” I agreed with her that rehydrated spuds just don’t cut it, no matter how daunting it felt to make a sauce from scratch.

With no family recipe to lean on, we scrolled through Pinterest until we found something that suited the ingredients we had on hand, and we went to work late on Christmas afternoon … our meal preparations had been delayed by FaceTime and Zoom visits with the rest of the family. Also to note here … it was very lax of me to get to Christmas Day without a recipe in hand.

I wouldn’t have anticipated it, but it was a golden afternoon in my daughter’s kitchen. There was no fussing about the perfect meal … just mom and daughter laughing and experimenting together … very chill.

“This is looking really good, Mom,” she cheered me on as I whisked whole milk into flour and butter. (We heard that calories don’t count on Christmas.) She dropped in grated cheese (extreme sharp white cheddar) and we each held our breath slightly, but no strange or stringy globs appeared. The cheese quickly melted into a smooth and creamy texture.

We poured it over the carefully sliced and layered Yukons and yellow onions which my daughter had artfully arranged in a prepared casserole.

“I don’t think this is big enough.” Fearing that our beautiful sauce would bubble over and meet a horrid death on the bottom of the oven, I made her prepare and transfer the potatoes to a different dish giving at least a centimeter of more room.

It’s fine,” she cut me off before I could suggest an even bigger casserole, so we poured on the sauce and slid it all into the oven.

Four adults in the house became four little kids. It was like we were waiting to open stockings or catch a glimpse of Santa slipping through the chimney the way we sneaked into the kitchen and glanced through the window of the oven, the smell enticing us as the dish began to bubble.

They came out perfectly and interest in the other dishes was a bit waining, even though all seemed exceptional this year. The real telling point of our holiday meal success came the next day with the leftovers. A bit of family tension emerged as the four of us hovered over the re-heated potatoes and tried to act nonchalant as we each assured that the potatoes were divided absolutely equally.

I sighed when the very last bite of those potatoes were gone … but it wasn’t the potatoes I was already missing.

For the week afterwards and now into a new calendar year, I have continued to think about those potatoes.

The fact that I didn’t chase anyone out of the kitchen … the joys of shedding perfectionism and just being together … cooking together with my adult daughter … witnessing how well my daughter is “adulting” … the longing all year long for this day when we would all be together even if part of it was through Face Time and Zoom …

It all emphasizes how much togetherness is deeply important to me … thus the heart of what has been both excruciating and … dare I say … wonderful … about 2020.

The pandemic has brought to my family less taking togetherness for granted in … we are much more intentional. Even though we’d like to meet in person more often, I ‘d have to say that we find ourselves more together in the same “Zoom” than we are in the same room. No one is distracted by their device … a terrible temptation for all of us … we are the device in these online meetups.

I’m sure there are others like me out there, but I hate seeing the holidays come to an end. It really gets to me how fast some stores and even friends, pack everything up and move on. We spend weeks talking about Christmas miracles, anticipating the hope and the remembrances of God’s love by sending His Son as a light into the world … the memories to be made … the family connections …

Then as fast as the gifts can be ripped open and the scalloped potatoes gobbled down, it’s back to life as usual. I’m never quite ready for that.

Oh … and before anyone asks me about the recipe for the potatoes … I forgot to bookmark them on my phone and couldn’t seem to find the same one when we went back to look. Guess, we’ll be carrying on the tradition of “same foods, new recipes” next year!

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

Oh! The Cookies I Have Eaten

Slightly out of step with Christmas festivities, this is not a post about making cookies … it is about eating them.

Slightly out of step with Christmas festivities, this is not a post about making cookies … it is about eating them.

I’ve had an epiphany lately … If we are what we eat, then I am an Oatmeal Cookie with a large percentage of Russian Tea Cake.

Writing recently about my Grandmother, (Grandma Changed the World by Baking Cookies) it occurs to me that my family accented almost every moment of my childhood with cookies. It’s also how we solved most of our ailments.

Photo by Tina Nord on Pexels.com
  • Friday night sleepover at Grandma’s … oatmeal/chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies. “Just two,” she always instructed but then played deaf when we sneaked back to the cookie jar … multiple time! We were experts at trying to arrange the remaining cookies so that it didn’t appear that any were missing.
  • Family stopping by after church … Aunt Mary’s famous raisin cookies recipe … the one that only tasted right when Aunt Mary made it herself … we suspected that she left an ingredient or two out when she reluctantly agreed to share it after years of being begged.)
  • Fourth of July … orange gumdrop cookies … red gumdrops instead of orange (same recipe at Christmas with red and green gumdrops).
  • Snicker Doodles for lunch boxes
  • Brownies (with ice cream) for birthdays.
  • Gingersnaps for colds and sniffles or just having a bad day.
  • More bad days, especially a rough day at school … Ice Box Cookies to the rescue. It was somewhat of a cardinal sin in the family to not have a roll of vanilla or chocolate cookie formed into a log and wrapped in wax paper, waiting in the fridge for need-cookies-now-emergencies. If you don’t know what an Ice Box Cookie is, you’ll find knock off versions in the cold food section of the grocery store, next to cinnamon rolls in a can, and instant crescent rolls … all of which are handy but none of which taste anything like Grandma’s.
Photo by ready made on Pexels.com

Grandma watched TV shows about the end of the world and atomic explosions. The result was a flurry of baking in the kitchen … usually her go-to peanut butter bars. “No matter how poor we are, we always have enough ingredients for a batch of these … and they’re fast,” she said. I always suspected that if the world were about to end, she wanted to make sure we had one more sweet treat before the devastation set in. Guess that trait passed down to me … I have friends posting about the end of the world as we know it … warning us to stock up on survival gear … and I’m thinking about cookies.

I always suspected that if the world were about to end, she wanted to make sure we had one more sweet treat before the devastation set in.

Christmas Time brought out a whole new slew of recipe books and delicacies:

  • Sugar cookies with slathers of butter and a touch of cream of tartar
  • Rice Crispy¬ģ treats (made by my mom … these were too modern for Grandma)
  • Peanut butter balls rolled in chocolate (I was horrified to learn that a small amount of paraffin wax was used in these! But didn’t stop me from eating them.)
  • Spritz cookies … as long as we hadn’t lost any pieces to the cookie press
  • Thumb print cookies … filled with our own homemade strawberry freezer jam
  • German Springerle … these cookies – a work of art and true German artistry – demanded baker’s ammonia (sounds nasty, but I’m pretty sure that’s what was in the bottle deep in Grandma’s cupboard). They also required a special rolling pin … sad to say, I’m not sure what happened to the two that Grandma kept … I’ve never attempted these on my own.
  • Joe Froggers … a very laborious molasses cookie … chewy to perfection … and loaded with a lethal amount of molasses
  • Russian Tea Cakes … probably my favorite, especially with finely chopped walnuts and lots of powdered sugar

I had vowed not to do a lot of baking this year because it’s not in line with anyone’s health needs in our family … but … this list!

Maybe just ONE of these … but …. which?

Springerle (source of photo unknown) … these licorice flavored, coffee dunking cookies were part of our German Heritage.

Last minute confession: After writing the first draft, I had to run to the store for some dinner items, but couldn’t stop myself from peaking into the fridge where the instant cookie dough is kept. There was just one lonely roll of sugar cookie dough left. Even though my Grandma (and our youngest daughter, who has become Christmas Cookie Baker Extraordinaire) wouldn’t approve … I couldn’t leave the poor thing there by itself. After all … the evening news was petty bleak about the state of our world.

Wishing you Happy Cookie Eating … whatever the occasion!

Thank you for reading “Small Stuff”.  This is the second of two blogs sites that I keep.  You can find more on my thought&faith blog at rashellbud.wordpress.com. Wishing you a beautiful day full of the Small Stuff that transforms life into BIG STUFF.

A note to my “silent” readers … thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to read my work. I’ve learned that many of you are shy about commenting or hitting the like button, but I want you to know that I appreciate your visits and invite you into the conversations whenever you are ready.

Wishing you peace in all things … Shelly

No Small Tomatoes

It’s supposed to snow next week.

There’s nothing overly crazy about snow on the Palouse the last week of November, but our little town is still traumatized from the endless blizzard called February and March … a mere eight-ish months ago. ¬†We made regional headlines because the state highway leading out of town got buried by drifts for several weeks. ¬†Workers couldn’t even find the road but had to walk in front of plows with their shovels poking through the drifts to locate the pavement.

That was wild.

We’d thought we were getting away with a mild winter last year … but no. ¬†BLAHM! After weeks of sunny, frosty days, the wind screeched out of nowhere and snow swirled …

and swirled …

and swirled …

and turned into ginormous drifts.

Most of  us are thinking that if we can just please make it to Christmas this year, we might be okay with endlessly shoveling the walks, wobbling like penguins so as not to fall on our butts on the ice, and piling on fifty layers of clothing before sticking our noses outside.

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This is what last winter looked and felt like. ¬†My lazy person’s snowman re-appeared after the thaw took place in March. ¬†Before that, he disappeared altogether under about two feet more of snow.

But the weather man is messing with us, so what am I doing? (And mind you, I like snow … in the “correct” season anyway).

I’m scrolling through my photos looking at all the summer and fall adventures we had, wishing I had started blogging Small Stuff then. ¬†So I’m going to back up a bit … right into our garden.

As soon as that FebruaryMarch blizzard stopped, one thing was on the mind of every farmer and every gardener around here …. PLANT SOMETHING!

Gardens and crops went in late … evidenced by the latest harvest known to ‘most every farmer around. ¬†Combines were in the field in October trying to snatch a few more garbanzo beans, many having lost some of their wheat crops altogether. ¬†And this with snow on the hills from the first freak snow storm of the fall. And as recent as last week (mid-November) we drove by several farmers still doing their fall plowing. ¬†Completely unheard of in “normal” years.

heirloom tomatoes

After the spring that was really a winter, we were just like everyone else and couldn’t wait to dig our hands deep into the soil. At our house, a rental for the last few years, it meant breaking up long ignored garden beds so that we could bring in bountiful harvests. ¬†Our dreams were a little ahead of our energy and actual garden space, but one thing that caught hold of the spirit was the heirloom tomato seeds I started on my own.

Here’s the results in late September.

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This was about a third of our harvest, all from about 8 plants. ¬†This doesn’t include an equal number destroyed by the freak, early snow I mentioned above. ¬†We were gifting tomatoes to everyone we knew. (People turned and fled when they saw us coming at them with a bag in our hand.)

And we ate tomato sauce-included recipes for weeks. ¬†Here’s one such dinner:

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Crazy as my harvest looks, many of the longtime gardeners around here raked in 3 and 4 times the bounty. ¬†They’re hard core gardeners and canners. ¬†I’m not up so much for canning tomatoes as My Guy isn’t so big on tomatoes in everything, but I did manage to learn a few new techniques for perfecting homemade sauce.

I’m still divided on whether or not to peel tomatoes first. ¬†The experts around here don’t fiddle with peeling … they just cook the sauce for a very long time, getting the skins to dissolve. ¬†That worked in the sauce I made above, but not all the varieties I grew were so cooperative.

What do you do?

And do you have any secret ingredients you’re willing to share for the perfect homemade sauce?

I threw in a little brown sugar, other garden veggies, lots of garlic and store bought tomato paste to achieve the consistency and taste I like best.

My garden bed is flattened now, but if the weather man is right, I’m going to be longing for garden beds and spring blooms as soon at the holidays are over. ¬†Here’s what’s shaping up for what looks to be a White Thanksgiving. The weather channel shows the cold front and snow continuing for several days into December, past what I’ve captured in the screen shot of my weather app, taken on Nov. 20.

Show weather in my current location

Here we go again!

What’s winter like where you are? ¬†Are you dreading it or excited … and what are your favorite winter past-times?

Cheers!

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My Guy binge-watched past seasons of Master Chef¬†while I pretended to know what I was doing in the kitchen. ¬†Guess I was feeling a little inspired from the shows. You can see that the other thing that grew well in my garden was Spaghetti Squash. ¬†They were the only plants left when I went to buy squash plants … good choice it seems!

Thank you for reading ‚ÄúSmall Stuff‚ÄĚ. ¬†This is my second blog. ¬†You can read more about my life experiences and the faithfulness of God towards a simple country gal who took a long hiatus in the city on rashellbud.

Please note that all photos, unless noted, are mine and permission must be sought to use them.

Wishing you a beautiful day full of the small stuff that makes life wonderful and amazing.