Back to the Master Bathroom

We are back to remodeling the master bathroom as some personal plans have changed and we are thinking of selling the house within 18 months.

First job is to take down the over the vanity mirror which is glued to the wall. We had waffled about doing this project because I called a local glass company and they wanted $300 to remove it – and I was afraid if we did it the mirror would break (which would only be a problem if it hurt someone when we did it).

However, we used this guy’s method and it worked like a charm! Off in one piece in less than 5 minutes.

Be sure to tape up your mirror – this provides stability to it and lessens the chance of it breaking.

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Using shims we were able to gently start pulling it off the wall (see the video). Be sure to wear a long sleeved shirt, jeans, shoes and gloves in case any breakage occurs.

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We found two framed mirrors at a local store where they sell off hotel furnishings ($25 each, so $50 for both). In order to get the right size we had to shorten the length and had the mirrors trimmed down at Lowes.

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On the list to get done in the next 60 days:

  • Install new lighting over the vanity.
  • Install LED wiring around the tub alcove.
  • Apply new texture to the walls of the bathroom.
  • New counter and tile backsplash for the vanity with new faucets.
  • New tiled backsplash around the tub.
  • Tub alcove will have new wall molding to make it a feature of the bathroom.
  • Paint the walls of the bathroom.
  • Finish the crown molding over the doors.
  • Paint the molding and doors.
  • And the biggest project is to rip out the shower and re-tile it.

Compost Tumbler finally made

I know I’ve gotten a lot of new subscribers (not sure why) but I have been busy with other projects and not so motivated to post here. Let me see if I can get my groove back to posting. 😉

Hubby finally made me this Compost Tumbler! There are plenty of plans on the internet for this and we personally followed the plans at this blog (if you need details).

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The key is to find barrels that haven’t had obnoxious chemicals in them – you will not want those chemicals in your soil! We did add a strip of weatherproofing on the inside to prevent compost from falling out where we cut for the hinged flap. We also put a clip on the latch so it wouldn’t fall open when we were tumbling.

Summer is a great time to start composting as you are probably like me eating lots of summer fruits and vegetables. In the raw state, this type of refuse can be added to compost (not if they have been cooked or coated in oils or butters).

Here I’m getting together cucumber shavings, a rotten cucumber and cantaloupe to go out. To speed up the composting, cut everything into smaller chunks so the microbes don’t have to work so hard or long.

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Since these barrels are clean and have never been used for composting, I decided to add some Compost Starter to get the microbes cooking. I layer the veg and fruit that is dumped inside with my horse manure and pine shavings mix that I bring home from the muck pile at my horse barn.

If you don’t have horses, just contact a large, horse training or show barn. They are always looking for ways to get rid of their manure and should have a large pile that you can scoop some material from. Just be polite on the phone and when you arrive on their property. Realize people riding don’t want their horses spooked by your antics – and not all people like you petting their horses.

 

 

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I will fill this barrel up about 70% full, tumble it daily or every other day, and wait for about 2 months to see how well it’s all doing! Right now it has a nice earthy smell to it that tells me everything inside is doing good.

Peach Cobbler filling for camping cookouts

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As I wrote a few days back we had grabbed some fresh, local peaches and have been making things with our little crop – this time a Peach Cobbler filling. We are freezing this back for future use so I’m only focused on the filling part of the recipe.

When I was being pro active about batch cooking and freezing items back we were having the best home meals. It makes it easier to make decisions about dinner when there is lots of food to pick from, easier to meal plan, and provides choices when you are feeling in the mood for something but don’t know what.

I also know we are going on a trip in early September, staying at a cabin, where I’ll want to have a few goodies for meals and this would be awesome with ice cream sitting out on the deck! I also like to have cobblers during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, when I can use my Dutch Oven on the back porch and keep my oven free for Turkey.

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I do prefer to blanch peaches to retain the color and to make it easy to peel them. It goes pretty quickly if you just prepare your ice bath while waiting for the water to boil but before you put any peaches into the water. After blanching, we did trim off the overly ripe areas 😉 and then cut them into chunks.

To peel peaches for cooking or freezing:

  • cut a cross in the bottom of each
  • dunk in boiling water for 30 secs, then put in ice bath.
  • remove skin & pit, chop or slice.
  • toss with lemon juice (1 tsp per peck) to keep color.

Next, we used this peach filling recipe.

Peach Cobbler Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 medium-size fresh peaches, sliced into thin wedges or bite size chunks – about 9-10 cups (we ended up using 10 large peaches)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a large glass bowl, combine peaches and coat with lemon juice. Then stir in all the other ingredients and thoroughly coat.

This made one large family batch but we divided it into 3 smaller batches in air tight baggies and popped these into the freezer. BTW we don’t use Ziplock type baggies; we prefer to use the FoodSaver food packaging system which gives a far tighter, airless, spill proof baggie.

If you live alone, you could freeze one cup portions in baggies to use as mini-cobblers as you wish.

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The plan is to use this on our camping trips in our Dutch Oven so I’ll try to make the crust topping beforehand and put in a plastic baggie for use on the trip. Or if you are not keen on making dough, you can use premade pie dough found at the grocery store (it’s just not the same though as homemade 😉

If using a Dutch Oven for cooking bread or something that needs a bit of browning on the top, make sure you put coals on the lid.

I also use a foil liner in the bottom of my Dutch Oven before putting in the filling to keep it easier to serve and to clean the Dutch Oven.

NOTE TO SELF: I would double or even triple this batch to make 4-6 peach cobblers to be used throughout the year.

Making Peach Jam

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This marks our second year for making jam. It takes time. It takes equipment. It sometimes doesn’t work out the way you expected. Pricewise, it’s probably about the same as buying a jar of jam at the grocery store.

So why do it?

Part of it is nostalgia. Our grandmothers always had jams and jellies which they made from scratch in their cupboard. It’s reliving a part of our childhood.

Another reason is the Farm to Table concept. By buying from the farmer, we are putting money into their pocket – no middleman. As a small business person myself, I like to turn my money around and give it back to others who are small businesses. This is my personal preference when I can (and often I can’t because of the thing I want has to be manufactured or produced elsewhere).

Most times the produce prices are no cheaper then the grocery store, but the product is usually 100% better because it is fresher. No traveling in a truck for months; no sitting in a warehouse until it “ripens” enough to be shipped to a store; no moldy strawberries because they kept watering the produce trying to keep it hydrated during it’s road trip and in the store.

For example, the fresh corn we bought last weekend at the Farmer’s produce stand was melt in your mouth delicious with huge kernels versus corn at the grocery store which was puny in flavor.

Price isn’t always the reason for doing things – quality and where you spend your money is also equally important to me and our family.

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We grabbed some fresh peaches from Porter and with one of the overripe 1/2 pecks ($6) we made Peach Jam. These were over ripe, which I wouldn’t choose if you want to freeze peaches for eating but for making this jam, which we prepped the same day, it went great.

First, we blanched the peaches which goes pretty quickly. Blanching keeps the color of your peaches so personally, I would go the extra step. Just prepare your ice bath while waiting for the water to boil but before you put peaches into the water. After blanching, we did trim off the overly ripe areas 😉

We adapted our Peach Jam from this recipe. I used 20 small/medium overripe peaches (1/2 peck) which made about 14 cups peeled and diced. How much produced is going to be determined by the sizes of your peaches.

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

The “Jell point” for this recipe was  220 degrees but like many of the other reviews on that recipe, our jam did not set. We boiled for 1-1/2 hours and it never got over 115 so we added 1/2 cup pectin + 1/4 cup sugar and boiled for 1 min more, then jarred it and processed in a hot water bath for 5 mins.

We ended up making 7 cups (7 jars); two of which are set back for Christmas gifts.

We always do a hot water bath for our canning jars. It’s not difficult once you get the right equipment. If you have an Atwoods near you, that is where we bought our Canning equipment – they also sell individual lids to replace your old ones (lids cannot be reused as the seal is never the same). You can also buy this equipment from Amazon or sometimes Target or Wal-mart if you catch them at the right time in the summer.

Once you get the system down it really isn’t as difficult as you might think. It does though take time as this was a half day project. If you still feel uncertain about how to can, check out Youtube for videos or attend a local canning class (see your Home Extension Office for details).

Cubby for media and charging station

Long ago we had extended this wall to shrink the opening from kitchen to family room. When this wall was built we had carved out a niche that we used as a telephone station. But now who uses landlines? So it’s become a television for the chef to watch and a charging station for phones and other media.

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When we built the wall we had run electricity up to the area to power the answering machine. So in the rebuild we had the power but just needed to reconfigure how it would work to charge phones, tablets and television.

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The drywall was cut back to enlarge the area to fit a wall mounted television. Since this wasn’t a weight bearing wall we could do whatever we pleased on the hole and the framing. The electric box was turned so it could provide power on the right and the left side. It sits in the middle of the charging shelves.

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Next angled shelves were installed. These allow the phone or table to sit on a slant so when the door is open, the face of the device can be seen easily. When planning your own, just make sure that the size allows your hand to go into the cubby to pull out the phone; as these shelves were originally planned they were too tight for easy in and out, so we adjusted their size.

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The front was then framed out (as above) and doors were installed on hinges to fold down and up. These were recycled drawer fronts from the island drawers which I pulled out when we redid the island.

When building the unit, we matched the top height lintel and crown molding to the pantry door that was on the same wall as well as the breakfast bay window lintels. The entire thing is painted the same white as all the molding in the house.

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It really turned out looking good and its been great to have our phones and tablets so handy as this is the hub of the house!

Lemon and Vinegar garbage disposal cleanser

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I thought I had referenced this before in this blog, but I’m not seeing a post so here we go again.

We were going to need lemon juice for our peach recipes, so after draining out the juice, I cut the lemon rinds up, and stuck them into an empty ice cube tray. In the original recipe, you use lemons with the liquid and pulp intact but I find this is a good way to use up the lemon rinds from other projects. Pour in enough white vinegar to cover and freeze.

After they freeze, you can throw a few into the garbage disposal, sprinkle with baking soda, turn on the hot water and then start the disposal. Leaves a lovely lemon smell throughout the kitchen!

DIY Kitchen Island, updated

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We had big plans on building a completely new island but as time passed we asked ourselves why we were going to go to all the trouble and expense since we are looking at this renovation just to sell the house?

When we discovered that the table legs we had our eye on vanished from the online store and we would have to go with a different size we decided to change plans altogether and make life easier. However, we had also trashed the doors so what to do!?

Here is the finish and countertop with dimensions of the original island:

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We ended up using the same 3 drawer format and built new drawers that were flat against the surface to provide some interesting counterpoint to the other drawers in the kitchen. In any future kitchen I’m putting in lots and lots of drawers! We use these island drawers for spices as they are located across from the stove.

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The three sections below were originally hinged doors which I found really inconvenient as they opened into the aisle across from the stove and you couldn’t access anything in them easily as they were too deep. In this new version they are now pull out, appliance storage drawers (i.e. bread machine, crockpot, waffle machine etc…) with a pierced pattern on the front similar to a Farmhouse pie-cabinet look. LOVE THEM!

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Here is a diagram plan with measurements that we were working from:

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The exterior paint is a latex I found in the Lowe’s bargain bin and we added a black glaze on top to tone down the green. Two additional coats of Velvet Finishes, Protect poly were put on top of that. The stain on the doors and drawers is by General Finishes and is Antique Oak. The hardware is from a local store, Garbes, and the black granite countertop is by Hoffman, a local installer.

We still need to put in supporting brackets under the overhang (something I decided to add when the counter people came out to measure) and some touch ups on paint.

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We ended up loving this color so much that we’ve decided to go with it and repaint the entire base cabinetry to match.

The cream-white chalk paint we’ve lived with for 3 years is far too much trouble on base cabinetry – as this is where the spills mostly happen. Keeping it clean is almost impossible and any stain shows up on the cream -white. The cream-white base cabinetry against the white floor also doesn’t show up as well as I would like either as there isn’t enough contrast between colors.

The repaint is going to be a big pain in the neck, repaint job but it needs to happen. It was a mistake to go this direction but sometimes you don’t learn until you try something out.

Next up though is getting a new backsplash to show off our new granite counters.