Monday, August 29, 2011

499 DAYS...

The view from where our cottage now sits.

Staking out the footprint in Jan 2010.
After 499 days our cottage is finally done! We began the journey when we pulled the building permit between Christmas and New Year's 2009.
The project was originally projected to take 2-3 months--and here we are nearly 17 months later and we finally have the final building inspection done.

I was talking to my son Chad earlier tonight and I said it was almost like having a really long and difficult pregnancy and finally giving birth. He said, "Yeah, and changing doctors along the way."

Pouring basement walls,..
At any rate, we have a few things to finish up ourselves, but when you own a house there is always just one more project, but as far as the officials are concerned, we are good to go. And that makes me very happy.


So, for your viewing enjoyment, some photos of our 17 month journey.

basement floor and some plumbing in.
During this time our lives did not stand still. In no particular order...

Our first two grandchildren, Elinor and Allison were born, Bob and I were vendors at 5 state homeschool conventions, we had several picnics at the farm, one 4th of July picnic, the Packers won the Superbowl, Kari has served all but 2 weeks of her 1  year Americorps service, Dusty graduated from University of KY with an Accounting degree, Bob got a job promotion, we took untold trips, I made thousands of bars of soap and we had a great Applesauce Day in October, making and canning the most applesauce we ever have.
Framing under way.

For those of you who have followed our saga and have given us encouragement, Bob and I thank you. We are blessed to have this cottage that we will eventually retire to, but in the meantime we will spend as much time there as we are able to.

Take care,

Bob checking out the framing.

Plywood and house wrap going on.

Loft framed in.

Mist rising over the KY river one morning while I was waiting for some workmen to come.

Wall in living room--I love the octagon window.

Adding the Bay Window with window seat, roof on.

Bay window done, windows in.

Wrap around deck going on.

Working on deck--this was July 2010

Work on deck progresses.

Wood stove in place-hearth built. [This was too small, so it had to be re-done later and duct work had to be moved after the new hearth was built. Two steps forward, one step back. ------Upper photo: Kari caulking windows on Thanksgiving break.

Oak and Poplar staircase completed.

Kitchen tile.
Heat Pump.

Slate and oak hearth for wood stove.

Exterior completed.

Upstairs bath completed.

Jason and Noel installing stove pipe on one of the coldest days of the year.  They had to build scaffolding first.

Living room about done.----Top photo:  Bob putting up Shaker pegs while balancing precariously on the ledge by the steps.

My closet doors.

My adorable kitchen is complete.

Living room with a nice fire, see deck when you look out the windows.

Me painting Shaker pegs and peg rails.
Bedroom doors go out to the deck.

Bob and I custom build the pantry under the steps.

Bob and I build in bookshelves in the basement.

Another pantry shot.

Me trying out the window seat.

Final grading done, Bob putting gutters underground.

The hardest working man I know.After nearly 36 years of marriage, I know more than ever that Bob is my best friend and soul mate. We have the same hopes and dreams. I love this shot--strong and romantic-- all at the same time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bluegrass Staycation...

Bob and I celebrated our 36th anniversary this past week. We decided to go out for dinner, stay overnight at our cottage and then spend the next day doing touristy things that we had never done before. Since we have lived in the Bluegrass for over 19 years, we had to be a bit creative.

With advice from our daughter in law Jen, we decided to sign up for the Hard Hat Buffalo Trace Distillery tour in Frankfort. It was really fun. Bob and I are not bourbon drinkers, although I do add vanilla beans to a bottle every couple of years and use it as vanilla extract, but it was still a great outing.

You can see the barrels aging. They have enough bourbon in storage  to fill orders at the current rate of consumption for the next 20 years!
The aged bourbon rests here for 20+ years.
The tour was great. I loved learning all the historical aspects of this Kentucky industry. Buffalo Trace has been making bourbon since 1787--and even continued during Prohibition under a special license to make "medicinal bourbon" which required a prescription.We also learned how they use just about everything, selling their left over mash as a high protein feed for cattle and farmed shrimp. Very interesting!

It in interesting to note that in order to be called "bourbon" it does NOT need to be made in Kentucky, which is what I had always been told. It does have to be aged in new white oak barrels [charred on the inside] for anywhere from 7-over 20 years and has to have, I think, 50% or so corn content.

We were in the tour mood, so we toured the "Kentucky Ale" brewery in Lexington before heading out to our favorite restaurant "Darlin' Jean's" in Midway. They have the best food, but-- no matter how many times we go Bob and I always get the same thing--Hot Browns and then we split a cobbler for dessert. Their food is homemade and wonderful. They have limited hours, so if you would like to go sometime, be sure to call them to find out when they are open.

It was back to work on Thursday, but Friday we stayed at the farm again. I got up early and took a few photos that really don't show how breathtakingly beautiful sunrises are on the farm. The sun rising over the mist rising from the Kentucky River is an amazing sight.

And, down in the shadows, with the sunrise just filtering through the trees, a lone deer enjoys the mineral block we put out. Scrappy and I sat on the deck watching the sun and the deer in the quiet serenity of the moment.

It was a great anniversary!

Take care,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Bluegrass Husband...

I had a friend comment on how she loved the photos of Bob at Sunset, so I decided to put them here in case anyone else would like them. He was digging a trench and then putting in underground gutter extensions to get the gutter water away from the house.

What a guy! And in one week we celebrate 36 years of marriage. I don't like to pat myself on the back in public, but I will make an exception this one time. I was 18 when we got engaged and 19 when we got married. I have to say I was one smart girl to say "Yes" to Bob. God is just so good.

Take care,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pizza on the Grill...

Our good family friend Bethel came to visit yesterday so I decided to get out of the kitchen and do individual pizzas on the grill.I made the crust early in the day, put it in a Tupperware container and let it rise for several hours and that worked well.

Later, I sliced up the toppings and lightly sauteed some green bell pepper and red onion while put some sliced mushrooms in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Everyone loved the pizza and if you are watching your weight, it is perfect too. You can't put too much cheese on them so the toppings and grilled flavor carry taste--it is not smothered in cheese.

This is an amazing way to make and eat pizza. The crust is thin and crispy and the toppings fresh and delicious. The pizzas cook fast, so have  your ingredients ready and perhaps have an assistant. [Adapted from]

Grilled Pizza This makes about 3 small pizzas. We can do two at a time on  our 4-burner grill.

In a bowl:  dissolve yeast in warm water, and mix in honey. Let set for ten minutes until frothy. Mix in the salt, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil and flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, about 8 minutes.

    1  package active dry yeast or 1 scant Tablespoons
    1 cup warm water
    1 tsp honey
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

You can place dough in a well oiled bowl, and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Set aside to rise for 1 more hour, or until doubled again. Another option, is to knead well, put in a covered container, like Tupperware, crack the lid a bit and let rise for a few hours. You don't need to punch down and let rise twice if you don't have time. Just make the crust early in the day, let sit for 3-6 hours, punch down and use.
Heat together in microwave for 30 seconds and set aside.

     1/4 C olive oil
    1 teaspoon minced garlic

Pinch of 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough off. Put flour on the counter and roll the dough out thin--like a pie crust. Make sure the dough is well floured. We found if we put each dough on a square of non-stick foil it was very easy to work with. I rolled out each crust, put it on a sheet of foil and then stacked them to carry out to the grill.

Prepare toppings. You will need:

    1/4 cup tomato sauce with added garlic and fresh basil, or use prepared pizza sauce
    2 cups shredded mozzarella  or pizza cheese-We used a 6 cheese Italian mix and it was great. Be sure it is shredded fine.
    pepperoni, fresh veggies sliced thin--may want to saute a bit.
    garlic olive oil [that you made earlier]
    Two spatulas or a spatula and some tongs
    An assistant is helpful :)--Thanks Kari

Turn on grill or get charcoal grill hot. I like it at around 400 degrees to start with. Brush the grate with some of the garlic olive oil.Turn crust on foil upside down so it drops on the grill. Close lid and let bake for 2 -3 minutes. You want to take it off the grill when the top is puffy and set and the bottom is crispy but not burnt. You may want to turn the grill down to medium low at this point.

While not on the grill--flip crust upside down on the foil it was on before--so that the grill marks are on top. Brush lightly with garlic olive oil and some sauce. Go lightly on the sauce. Top with toppings and cheese. Use a light hand with the cheese. If you are making 3 pizzas only use 2/3 cup on each one. If you put on too much it won't melt. Return to the grill to finish baking. You don't need to hurry this step. Once it is off the grill take your time putting on the toppings. We used spinach, green pepper, red onion. chopped tomatoes, mushrooms. pepperoni and green olives--with everyone choosing their favorites.

Close the lid and bake until the cheese melts and the bottom crust is baked and not burnt. If the crust is done but the cheese not melted move it to a cooler part of the grill and/or put it back on the foil for a minute or two. This takes only about 3 minutes for this part of the pizza to be done.

We did two at a time and while the two were cooking we prepared the others, working in a bit of an assembly line. Each pizza takes only about 2-4 minutes on a side.

Here is a video from AllRecipes that shows how they do it. My crust is thinner. and toppings smaller and we remove it from the grill to put the toppings on. Theirs does not look as good as ours and seems more burnt, but at least you get the idea.

Happy Grilling,

[Next time we do them I will take photos.]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marriage Advice from the Pros...

And by pros, I mean, my friends and I.

Last night I had the privilege to attend a "Bride and Old Gals [or Broads!]" outing. In honor of my friend's daughter who is getting married this weekend,  the bride, her mother and six of her mother's friends went out for appetizers and to chat, laugh and to give advice to the bride.

After ordering and catching up on news, we added up the years of marriage we had between us. I lost count, but I know it was over 165 years! Then, the bride asked us for marriage advice. I wish I had taken notes because the amount of wisdom among the 7 Old Gals was amazing. I am going to try to summarize, but I am sure I missed some gems.

  • Don't ever nag.
  • Don't act like your husband's mother
  • If you have a tendency to relate to your spouse in a way that you don't like [such as acting like his mother] ask him to give you a little signal when you are doing it, so you can can break the habit.
  • See your husband as the person he can be [not necessarily what he is now]. Share your dream, instill confidence in him and he will want to aspire to the person you know he can be.
  • Support your husband as much as possible, but also give advice and talk through situations. Many times you can see pitfalls in a plan before he can.
  • Overlook a lot and pray that he overlooks a lot in you.
  • People come first--not the house, or food or whatever. Make every guest feel welcome.
  • Be yourself and don't be afraid of his mother or father or feel unsure about  yourself.  You are the woman your fiance chose--you will be joined and be one. If his parents and friends love him, they will have to love you because you are part of him now. Be yourself and be confident.
  • Don't talk bad about your spouse to others. You and he will make up, but they might hold it against him for a long time. [We did put disclaimers here, if you just need a bit of advice about a situation or are in counseling, then use your good judgement, but we mean that you shouldn't criticize your spouse to others on a regular basis.]
  • Make time for each other.
  • You two are a unit now, don't let either family [or friends] drive a wedge. 
  • Accept advice willingly from others, but only use what makes sense to the two of you.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Really listen.
  • If he can't pay attention when he is hungry, always keep a sandwich in the fridge and a granola bar in your purse. :) 
  • If a situation bugs you--for instance if you would like your spouse to help in some way--bring it up to him when you aren't mad about it [and maybe chat over a snack, see above!]
  • Don't go to bed mad.
  • Don't assume your spouse is a mind reader.
I am sure there was a lot more. I sure wish I had taken notes or had a digital recorder with me. There was lots of laughter, fun and sharing of food. A good time was had by all and I came home to my husband who was watching an old British Comedy in my absence and realized what a blessed woman I am.

Here's to Laura and John--may your marriage be the start of a life of happiness, friendship and love.