My Commonplace Blog

Bits of info in bytes


February 2016

Plain Plywood Shelf – 23 Years in the Making!

Upper cabinet shelves

Look closely at the top of the cabinets. See the edge of the plywood? That, good people, has taken just shy of 23 years to accomplish! We had the great good fortune to be able to build our house – well, with a builder of course. But it’s our design, and we love it.

Of course there were compromises. One of those was leaving the top of the kitchen cabinets exposed. Not really noticeable and we could finish it later. By we I mean mostly the hubs (he’s a woodworker which is insanely fabulous) – and by later I mean – ta da! – now.

A strip of maple will be added to the front and whole business painted white. The biggest compromise is that the hubs is under the delusion this is his idea. If I point that out I suspect it will be another goodly amount of time before the project is finished. So don’t tell him – I’m won’t!

Countertop 2, People 0

broken tile

Sigh. The new kitchen floor isn’t hard, we made sure of that. Easier on the feet and forgiving when anything falls. I don’t know where our heads were, however, when we chose the countertop: Quartz, a lovely man-made material that’s a mix of stone and resin. Oh so pretty, but as the name clearly states, hard as a rock.

First a coffee mug slipped out of my hand. Not particularly devastating as I’ve got plenty of those, and, truth be told, it wasn’t a favorite.

Today the hubs bumped one of three decorative tiles that have graced the awkward gap over the window for 20+ years. And then there were two.

Time for a new look – Delft tiles, maybe? Or an economical look-alike in case. . . you know.

Tomato (Non)Express

Yes, the slow food, slow cooking thing isn’t new. And I was raised to cook mostly from scratch. Tomato sauce for pasta or pizza or whatever does taste better after simmering on the stove for a goodly while. At the same time, however, taking hours to make a meal just to zen out on the process doesn’t cut it for me. Keeping it real here!

So Ina Garten’s Pasta alla Vecchia Bettolana featured on Food52 has me intrigued. Again, nothing new to the world but new to my experience. So I’m all in for trying this. Only I’ll double the recipe because, well, that’s what I do. . .

Image from Food52

The 20 Year Car

In 1995 we bought the nicest, ‘best’ car we would likely ever own. All previous models required a certain amount of faith (and turning off the AC – for the cars that had AC) when going up a particularly long, relatively steep highway entrance ramp. My mantra: Grip the wheel and say, “Oh please, oh please, oh please.” That ramp never fazed this car, still doesn’t.

The trade-off: I insisted we keep the car for at least 20 years. We’re not tough on cars, so that hasn’t been difficult, more a problem of resisting of the Shiny New Thing Syndrome. It’s still lovely and well-designed, but the shine has definitively worn off.

As we roll into the car’s third decade, I did a mental recall of what we’ve replaced or significantly repaired just in the last two years: AC (now a must it seems), exhaust system, clutch (fortunately just a tweak), brakes, and just yesterday the battery. That last one previously replaced in 2005. The woman at the battery shop did a double-take.

Now we have an almost-10-year-old, 80-pound blind dog who can easily get in and out of that car. From the look on her face, she’s pretty sure she owns the thing. So the car remains in the family for a few more years. It’s still great fun to drive, surely our last 5-speed stick, but it’s a ‘sport’ model so a little low to the ground which gets a wee bit tougher to get in and out of every year. Perhaps that height suits the dog well.

The rust spots will be ignored, along with the squeaks and creaks that come with age. Hmm. I was talking about the car, wasn’t I?

Oh the Inhumanity

Yesterday was entertainment and, perhaps a smidge of education, involving stories of greedy men. Watched Red Oaks (an Amazon comedy) and Madoff, then read some of Bring Up the Bodies.

Today I’m surprised and little frightened that Thomas Cromwell seems the most sympathetic character in the telling. Must be Hilary Mantel’s writing.

Cooking for an Army – Sans an Army

kale(2) spinach

Why do I cook as though the infantry is coming for dinner?! Something in my upbringing gave me the impression it’s a waste of time and effort to not go big when cooking. There’s an efficiency expert hiding in some corner of my brain. This is rinsing kale and spinach by the boatload for Green Soup. Really – this soup is a fabulous thing even if the eponymous label doesn’t create a luscious mental (or actual) picture.

oatmeal cookies

Oh, and I’ve got the same cooking issue with dessert: double batches of Buttermilk Oatmeal Cookies and Chai Spice Sugar Cookies.

And apparently a thing for recipes with blazingly obvious names!

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