Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Thursday, March 28, 2013

this week's adventures

Funny story. Last week I needed some potting soil, so I walked down to the hardware store, five blocks away, and bought a few needed items (trowel, gardening gloves, hammer, etc). On the way out I had the guy just put the 40 pound bag of potting soil on my shoulder and I walked home like that. This, I later learned, drew some attention, as everyone in the store stopped to watch me. The customer paying said "I want to marry that gal!"

That and my accent led the staff to think that I was probably Dan's wife, so when he went in a few days later, they gave him an application form if I'm still looking for work...

In other news, I turned 39 last Saturday. The ladies I was working with were talking about some of their former coworkers and one mentioned that so-and-so and so-and-so both had a birthday that day. I said, in my small voice, "It's my birthday too" to which they were so surprised, I was actually amazed at their strong reaction. I should have known... 

 See because a few hours later, one of the gals had disappeared entirely (and I was busy so I didn't really notice) and then all the warehouse guys came gathered around the office and all the salespeople came and next thing I know they are singing me a Happy Birthday.

 Yup, They totally had me.

Birthday presents from Dan:

 Tools to rip out staples, nails and molding!
 A picnic table for our kitchen!


A table saw! Oh wait. That's not for me. But let me tell you, it is way lighter than the picnic table. 

 We went to the tap room in the evening of my birthday, partly to offload some of the leftover cake that I was "forced" to take home with me. One of the locals who hangs out at the tap room, Cantu, had made a huge vat of chicken and dumpling stew, so he brought it by. It was great!

This photo was taken yesterday, my growing collection of seedlings and starts. I'm kind of obsessed about the whole thing and am looking forward to having raised beds soon because goodness, I am going to have a lot of plants. This is about 2/3 of my total collection now. 

 My sister and her family went to go visit her in-laws who were holidaying in Arizona. Each of the kids sent me a postcard, and my niece, 8, drew me a St. Patrick's Day card. On the back she writes "How come you move so much? Why don't you stay in one place? You should have stayed in Ucluelet. I hope where your living now is as cool as Ucluelet." Ah, kids.

 Bread! This is a Pain de Campagne from my favorite book. I brought one of these to my friends at the brewery and it went over very well, not to mention quickly.

 The first coat of the darkest color - I have since put on another coat. It's looking good! I think once this is done we'll focus on the living room, since we spend a lot of time there.

Finished product of the bread. It doesn't really look like how the book has it, so I must not have read the instructions right because mine is more of a zigzag than "sheaves of wheat". Oh well. It's meant to be a pull-apart bread and it works just fine for that!

So on Monday at my job I was told not to come in Tuesday or Thursday (because it wasn't busy enough to have me there) and to call on Friday to see if I was needed on Saturday. Well, I can't have a job where the hours are unreliable, so I'm considering other options right now. I have a couple of irons in the fire and I'll keep you posted as to what transpires.

Friday, March 22, 2013

so much has happened

Hi again. Remember me?

In the time since I last wrote, Dan and I walked into a furniture store and I noticed the "Office Help Wanted" sign. I inquired, thinking not much of it, but the lady was very interested and had me fill out a three-line application form and didn't need to see a resume. I came in a few days later for an interview and all of a sudden I am working four days a week processing payments for furniture. It happened so fast! It's not exactly what I was after but it will do for now. Everyone is nice and we did get some furniture.

The store is selling off all their used furniture and only going to sell new from now on, so there was a steep discount on these pieces. Out of the three yellow sofas on display, we took two of them. I was so delighted! The big octagonal coffee table will have its bamboo middle removed and Dan has ideas for something artistic in the future.

So I'm working mostly 10-6 shifts, and on my off days, it seems, I have to stay at home and wait around for tradespeople to come. We don't have internet at home yet (how much will it cost?) so I haven't had a chance to bring my laptop to the brewery to use the WiFi until today, and it means that I have also been out of touch. I've started receiving messages from people "Hey I haven't heard from you what's happening?" so I'm very sorry.

With two new-to-us sofas (for a total of three) and our two camping chairs, we had barely enough seating for the 12 guests we had over for St. Patrick's Day last weekend. Dan made two kinds of corned beef, boiled cabbage, and a vegan chili. I made the Kale and Brussels sprouts salad that my friend introduced me to last year, and a focaccia that, in the last few minutes, got burned.

 Dan bought dried ancho chiles, soaked them, peeled the skins, macerated them, and they became the base for the vegan chili.

Toasted almonds for the salad. 

 Two bunches of kale and a bag of Brussels sprouts all chopped up!

 Mixed together. I didn't have a salad bowl big enough so I used the top of my Tupperware cake taker!

 Rutabega, turnip, beets and carrots roasted for the chili

Roasting vegetables and the corned beef, which eventually became pastrami!

I made the focaccia recipe from the rebar cookbook for the first time. (Seriously - every foodie in Victoria who is or knows vegetarians or vegans has this in their kitchen - it is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!) and it was going well (I'm still getting used to baking in a gas range) until the last few minutes when, it looked almost done and Dan suggested we put it on broil for 30 seconds, I went upstairs and he forgot about it and...

We reseasoned the top and by the end of the night it was mostly gone, so I know I'll have to make it again!

I had made some decorations for our party but I didn't get them finished - I knitted up a bunch of shamrocks and was going to string them up but just ran out of time. We at least had green napkins and dishes. The invitees were basically brewery staff and a few significant others. It was lovely to have everyone over! I do love to entertain. Sam hid upstairs all night, of course, not being fond of more than say two people at a time. We are still eating the leftovers and I am looking forward to hosting our next event. Maybe next time we will have a dining table and chairs!

This is the built in bookshelf in the sun room in the southeast corner of the house. It is quite a lovely room and it will eventually be full of plants. Each day I have a day off, I do a bit of painting, it looks like each of the four colors will take three coats. Since it looks like I'll be working quite a lot in the next while, this will probably not be complete for another two weeks or so. I sure am happy with it!

I have also been planting seeds left and right. Every container I can find gets filled with potting soil and seeds. I bought a bunch of seeds from a local distributor when I first got here. Then two new friends gave me a bunch of their seeds. Today I found some more (cheap!) seeds at the hardware store.

These seeds are from The Skipper, who gave them to me just before I left Vancouver Island. I have hundreds more to plant and the space to do it! It's been really cold here, like below freezing at least every third night, so I'm glad that I haven't been able to plant anything outside yet. I need rather a lot of infrastructure before I can do anything with this massive yard, but it seems full of flowers that look like snowdrops just now so both Dan and I are reluctant do mess with it. We will definitely need at least a dozen yards of topsoil, spent grain, manure, and any other inputs I can manage. I'll be building a three-bin compost system much like the one I had in East Sooke - made of pallets and chicken wire - but more structurally sound. I even bought myself a hammer today! I lugged a 40-pound bag of potting soil home from the hardware store, six blocks from the house. I figured I had been lifting 55-pound bags of concrete all fall and winter, surely I could manage this.

The truck is still without a clutch. The place that will fix it was busy with an engine rebuild, and poor Dan just hasn't had time to go talk to the guys to book the truck in. Once it is again drivable, I can do things like go grocery shopping or drive to further locales for interviews. I also still need a NC driver's license, but that seems to be a complicated issue (a driver has to have insurance before they can get a DL) and all these things take time that we are having a hard time finding right now.

Oh this is important. We have been so far rather disappointed with the Asian food out here. Last week Dan had to drive to Hickory (four hours away) to drop off some beer for a festival next month, and because it was my day off, I went with him. On the way back we stopped in Raleigh to go to Whole Foods for ingredients for our party. Lo and behold! There was a yarn store next door! Of course we went in to Great Yarns, Dan bought some yarn so each of us could have a new pair of socks - the socks for me will match the burnt orange shirt Dan's mum gave me for Christmas! We admittedly went a little crazy in Whole Foods, it sure was fun. I sure do miss having a good bulk foods section!

While in Raleigh, we went to the Guitar Center so Dan could look at stringed instruments. While we were there we were approached by this creepy guy who was trying really hard to make conversation with us (OH YOU'RE FROM CANADA DON'T THEY HAVE CARIBOU IN CANADA) and eventually Dan said "I'm going to go look at banjos", to which the guy invited us to his church even though we told him we don't live in Raleigh. Dan played his "I'm Jewish" card even before I had a chance to think of a reply and away we went. Nobody around here knows how to respond to Jewish people it seems. I wanted so say "Dude, that's creepy!"

So that put us in a bit of a sour mood, and we needed dinner. Dan said "I don't know, how about Vietnamese?" I looked in my Google Maps on my phone and sure enough, there was Pho Cali across the street! We pulled into the parking lot and it was a Vietnamese food lover's paradise - right next to the restaurant there was a Vietnamese grocery. We were SO happy, we walked in and felt like we were at home! We went a little crazy there too. It was good. We have three kinds of sweet chili sauce now. :-) We put the groceries away and went to Pho Cali. It reeked of old cigarettes and urine, but the service was so quirky and friendly, it looked like it was going to be good. It was. In fact, we declared it better than Pho Vy in Victoria, and it was, for me, the best pho I had ever had. So that made us really happy.

That's my newsy longish post just for you on the eve of my birthday, and I have to work tomorrow. I had a shoutout from Louise on the Caithness Craft Collective podcast recently, thank you for your kind words Louise! I must admit that despite feeling like there are not enough hours in the day and feeling stressed out about all kinds of things, at the end of the day I am happy that I get to be in the same room as My Sweety. That was all I wanted for twenty months, what more could I ask for?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

bread, yarn, Twitter, and a job

Latest adventures include 

 I was sitting on the sofa one day minding my own business when HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT IS THAT I saw a spider. A big, thumb-sized fuzzy menacing looking spider. There are poisonous spiders here and I don't know how to identify them yet, but Dan assured me this is a harmless orb weaver. Okay. Glass and cardboard aided this little fella's return to the outdoors.

 Last Saturday, Dan and I went to Goldsboro and Selma to look at antique shops. Strangely, I didn't take many photos but I did take a picture of this "one of a kind" sheep. The sign said "lamb" but we all know better.

 This is all of my yarn stash and a few finished objects that are up for reconsideration (frog, reknit, mend, etc.). It's not as much as I thought it would be but still more than I would have if it wasn't for the generosity of Ursa and Natalie last year!

 This is our bedroom. It's been cold, so the electric blanket is on my side of the bed (Dan, the furnace himself, doesn't need it).

 This is the Pate Fermentee that I started yesterday for the French Bread I will bake this afternoon. Yes, I am resuming with my bread baking adventures. I still need to buy some rye flour to get my new sourdough starter going, but in the mean time I'll work with yeasted breads. On that note, my goodness, I am having a hard time finding unbleached all purpose flour. I'm having a hard time finding all-purpose flour, period. There are fifteen kinds of biscuit flour and lots of self-rising flour (?) and none of them seem to be in quantities bigger than 10 pounds. I may have to order from a wholesaler. On this bread-baking topic, we now have gas connected to our range and I baked brownies yesterday - my first time baking in a gas oven. I forgot about the brownies (Dan and I were discussing paint colors for the sun room) but turns out in a gas oven, they are less likely to burn. So that was nice. We didn't have any baking powder so they didn't rise and the texture was weird, but they still taste like brownies.

Other random things: I have locked my Twitter account, so I apologize to those of you who aren't on Twitter but follow my feed. I have done this because there seems to be a lot of spam, a lot of hacked accounts, and worst, a lot of stalking happening to my Internet friends, so I am just taking precautions. I realize this limits my exposure in many ways but that might be a good thing, I don't know. In other news, any minute now I will hear if I got the job at a local furniture store I applied to. Dan and I randomly walked in on Friday and noticed the "office help wanted" sign. I figured I would inquire, as it's a local job and a good place to start. They are all very nice people, I filled out their brief application and went back for "a chat" with the lady in charge today. I expect I will get it, four days a week. That will get me working, learning some new things as I'm getting my bearings in Kinston, and it's not that far from home. To be honest, even though the really good jobs are in the towns 30 miles or more from us, I am reluctant to take a job that has me commuting - both for the fossil fuel use as well as the safety issue.

That's it for now, I hope everyone is well!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

MIA because we moved into the house...

Hi guys,

Sorry you haven't heard from me. We moved into the house in town last week and have been very busy with cleaning and unpacking ever since. I have not been able to leave the house much because I have had tradespeople coming through too...

We moved in on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, I took a bath, then walked over to the brewery to find hot water to make coffee with. Dan came back with me an hour later to find this in the hallway, a puddle below. Not only that, Sam was missing.

Just before they came over to rip open the ceiling to find the leak, we saw cute kitty footprints near the site of the puddle on the floor, so I knew she had to be somewhere in the house. We found her in the cupboard in the dining room, but later when I put her in the upstairs bedroom to keep her safe from the tradespeople in the house, she headed straight for the chimney.
 OH great. That explains why she was so dirty! She was covered in soot, my little cinderkitty. This house has six coal fireplaces (not in use) that haven't been cleaned in forever and oh by the way also aren't sealed. Perfect.
A pool noodle comes in handy! 
  My black and white kitty, temporarily black and grey.

Meanwhile, the upstairs bathtub has been torn apart. The plumber has been by every day this week working on this, trying to figure out the problem, replaced all kinds of things. In the end, it was the taps themselves that were malfunctioning so when we redo this bathroom (more below), new taps will be put in. Until then, we will use the downstairs bathroom.

So that was one thing. On Sunday night the toilets were backing up and when the draining of the bathtub made the toilets burble, well, let's just say there were some expletives projected. This was not acceptable. What is going on? First thing Monday morning the guy with the augur came and cleared out the sewer pipe - turns out there were tree roots growing through this old iron pipe. So that was fixed.

We also were still without appliances. Since we have been eating out for a month, we are anxious to get a proper kitchen together so we can prepare healthy meals.

 I can't remember which day the appliances came. Monday? Tuesday? The delivery guys from Lowe's were fantastic. Friendly, quick competent. They set up the fridge right away, but they aren't licensed to install the gas range, so we'd need the plumber to do that. Since the plumber was coming and going anyway, we had him hook it up but then we discovered the spigot that the hose attached to in the kitchen was not actually connected to where the gas comes from. Frustration. That was two days ago. We're still waiting for the gas guys to come and connect that so we can use the range.

 We also still don't have a washer or dryer. I'm not sure what's happening there, if one will be provided to us or if we are to get our own. Last night we took four loads of laundry to a laundromat. So romantic!

  On the weekend we drove to Charlotte, which is 230 miles away from here. We stopped at a glass store in Durham along the way (we'll be replacing some of the windows that are currently broken or plexiglass with stained glass) to buy a sheet of red glass. Dan downloaded two books about how to do stained glass on his Kindle, read them, and now knows how to do it. No really, I'm sure he'll have it figured out in no time. (He did go to glass school, after all). In Charlotte, we went to the biggest and busiest IKEA I have ever seen. There must have been a full square mile of cars in the parking lot. We were on a mission: to buy a bed! We've been sleeping on a 4" foamie for far too long, and it was a longtime promise to ourselves to get a bed when we were reunited. I've been sleeping much better ever since!

   In other random news, it has actually been too cold and I have been too busy to go outside and get busy gardening, but we have at least plotted out where we're going to put our first keyhole bed. Dan is going to build an octagonal frame with a south-facing entrance. I have already planted seeds indoors and can't wait to get this bed going!

On Monday night I hosted my first Stitch Night. My first night here I met two new friends who were interested in getting together, and met a third friend via Twitter who had just moved back to the area. Hopefully in the subsequent weeks the knitting/crocheting space will get noticeably more comfortable!

  Today I decided to tackle this room. It's a sun room on the southeast side of the house. It has 6x2x6 panels of windows, a handful of which are plexiglass, and I washed whatever interior window I could. This house was build in 1901 but I think this room was later closed in from what used to be an outdoor porch. The windows are old but the latches have been painted over, rendering them immovable.
 Somewhere along the way someone also painted the rope that rests on the pulley that lifts these windows, also producing immobility. Thanks, guys.

 There was a lot of dust. I took all the door hardware and put it in a box (I guess we'll attach them to the doors later?), brushed the shelves, then wiped them with a dry cloth and then a wet cloth.

 When these windows were last painted they didn't tape off the trim so I took a razor blade scraper to get the paint off the windows.

I am happy with the state of this room now. Well, happy for now. I'll have to be careful with what I put in these shelves, since yarn and book spines are likely to fade in this sunny location. I'll need lots of plants.

 Ok this is a view of the house from the back, across the street. Because we are on a street corner and there are no trees in front of the windows, it feels very exposed. Eventually we'll plant tall things and hang window coverings, but it's not like we have any furniture at the moment...

I haven't taken any photos but the drywall guys came today and closed up the hall ceiling. So that's good. What I forgot to tell you above is that, since the upstairs bathroom is ripped up now, we've decided that that will be the first room we renovate completely.

One more thing:

My tiny seedling collection! In February I ordered seeds from Sow True Seeds and have used every available container to plant in. I cut up the carton from the milk and soy milk, a tofu container, used the mini-cinnamon bun tray from the grocery store, used fast food cups and plastic salad containers. When the plumber saw that I had seedlings going, he offered to bring me some planting trays, so they got used right away! I have planted tomatoes, peppers, herbs, flowers, lettuces and sunflowers. I NEED MORE SPACE. As I mentioned above, it's been cold here, so it's almost good that I haven't been able to go outside to play in the garden (I've been busy organizing the house) because I don't have compost, manure, topsoil or even really a place to plant seeds out there just yet.

Sorry for the slapdash formatting of this post. I'm trying to get it up in a hurry so you all know what I've been up to! Now that I can actually leave the house I'm hoping to post more, and we should be getting the Internet hooked up at home soon too. I haven't had much luck looking for jobs just yet - I simply haven't had time.