Friday, July 3, 2015

Tea At The Drake 2015

Last week my "Tea Ladies" and I went to The Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago for afternoon tea.  It was so lovely.  We had a marvelous time.  The Drake even accommodated my gluten-free request.  My ladies and I agreed that it was a most splendid time, better in summer than during the holidays.

But the highlight was the harpist.  Her name is Lisa Marie Kahn, and she was wonderful.  She really lit a fire in my desire to get back to practicing (my harp has been buried in the parlor amongst all of the kitchen cabinets and other kitchen and house detritus - how's that for a word?!) that has been claiming the space (more on the reclaiming of my parlor and harp area in the next blog post).  In particular, the fact that she just happened to play Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2 just as I walked in - this is one of my favorite pieces, and I had no idea that there was a harp arrangement.  I managed to catch her later, just before she began another set.  She very kindly showed me the arrangement, and told me where to order it from.  I went home and ordered it instantly after I walked in the door.

Here are some of our photos.  You'll note that every one of us wore a hat!

That's me on the left, Barbara on the right

Barbara and Sandra

Pam, Kathy, and Colleen 
(Note the beautiful flower arrangement, and a bit of the harp in the background.)

All of us, in the Palm Court of the Drake!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Making Stock

Today I tried something I have never done before: making a vegetable stock. I wanted to make one that I was reading about (found while searching for the benefits of alkalizing mineral broths for health).  It was actually fairly easy - all of the vegetables were chopped via my Bosch food processor, dumped into the stock pot, water added, boil, then simmer.  Once cooled the broth is strained off from the vegetables.  It made a large quantity which I then divided up.  I froze two bags of broth, drank a mug of it, and the rest is in the fridge to be used for soup I will be making tomorrow or Friday. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pots & Pans

We managed to get all of our pots & pans organized (with the exception of our large stock pot that will be stored in the blind corner cabinet), along with a space for our cookie sheets and cutting board.  It was a tight squeeze getting both of the organizers in, but Paul did it!  We will have to always keep the pans facing the way they are below when we put them away (some facing east, the others west), and the large frying pan's lid is laid flatter than the others in the back (you can sort of see it in the bottom picture, below), in order to fit everything in.  This is not a problem, just a learning curve so everyone remembers which way things go when putting pots and pans away.

All tucked in, ready for bed!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Restoring Order From Chaos

Our kitchen project goes on, but we have definitely turned the corner.  We have cabinets, countertops, a working stove, a small but fully-functional dishwasher, an awesome fridge, and now, running water.

It is so lovely to be able to function in the kitchen.  Paul hooked up the sink late last week.  This weekend we started putting things back, as much as we are able to pending certain organizational tweaks we are doing (pot & pan organizer, lazy susan shelf trays, etc. to be shipped in the coming days).  Today I continued putting things away and organizing.  The fridge, although new, has been with us for almost a month, and needed a wipe down inside.  I also moved some of the of the food that was housed in the basement fridge upstairs.  I stopped by Mariano's and got some nice produce.  It's time to eat healthy again since the kitchen is open for business!

Two really special things that have occurred now that we are moving back into the kitchen are: 
  1. Reclaiming the dining room table, where lots of kitchen stuff was sitting for months
  2. Having a cup of tea!  There was really nowhere to set up my tea kettle and brewing cup.  
We have had family dinner at the dining room table the past two nights.  Our dining room was so bad, it literally looked like a hoarder's house.  It was so nice to unclutter and clean it, and use it again for its proper purpose.  This afternoon I brewed a cup of tea in the mug Aunt Martha gave me long ago.  It's battered and bruised, but it feels like home to me.

I'm so glad to be getting back to normal, but a new, delightful normal with this wonderful kitchen Paul has created for me.  More photos to follow in the upcoming weeks.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Recent Outdoor Gathering

The temperatures in our area have been a *bit* miserable.  But we were able to eek out a nice cookout one recent weekend.
Robert mans the grill.

Kristin and Ty.

Ty eating corn.

Later, Paul set up Ty's telescope for a little stargazing. (Sorry about the beer placed front and center!)

Kitchen Moving Along

Paul has finished the cabinet install, and the countertop man came and measured for the countertops!  We're just waiting for that, could be one to three weeks he said.  We are going to install a contraption for the blind corner, a device that swings out so you can get at the things stored in aforementioned blind corner. Pots and pans storage, where one does not have to lift two to get to the third, clanking clanking, and kathunkadoodling to get the one you want! (Update: unfortunately, the device did not work with our particular blind corner; the opening of the cabinet needs to be larger than what we have or it cuts off too much of the doorway opening; we had to return it - sad!).

In the meantime, we are able to cook a bit.  The stove and oven are gorgeous, work very well; we can microwave.  Once the countertops are in, Paul can hook up the sink.  He has already done a lot of preliminary plumbing, so the hooking up should go smoothly (famous last words?!).

I must confess that I have been climbing the walls in this here home stretch.  I am irritable and sometimes depressed.  It's just getting to me.  It's very hard to keep one's composure when the chaos and lack of functionality is a daily trial.

Anyway, here are some updated photos:

Stove side, blind corner cabinet is to the left, doors/drawers will be attached later.

Southeast side, small spice unit next to fridge (needs its door/face).  Note: we still are keeping large cardboard sheets on the floor to protect the new floor while we are working).

Sink side, the dishwasher will be elevated two inches, so it is level with the counter.

Blind Corner Unit photo, how it looks inside with the door closed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Taming the Tea

Now that all of the kitchen cabinets are in (more on that later), I have started reorganizing everything. One problem area was my tea storage. It had expanded onto two shelves. Kristin called it a "tea explosion"! I used the KonMari method, gathering everything together, then going through, piece by piece. It was difficult. But I realized that some of the tea was very old. I sorted, gave some to Julie, packaged up some newer tea bags that I was unlikely to use into a bag for Paul to bring to the break area at his work, and tossed quite a bit. I got it down to a goodly number of favorites. One shelf!