Things we've been up to lately....

woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)January 26, 2010

I'm so far behind on posting that I thought I'd do a separate post with pictures... I've been reading along and there's so much going on that I should be commenting on but am too scatter-witted and internally-focussed at the moment to organize coherent thoughts!

We have taken to heart the EAT/Julie Job/de-clutter mantra and have made a fair bit of progress in that regard. We started before Christmas with painting the kitchen. GB can attest to the fact that there have been paint chips taped to the kitchen wall for at least two years! We finally made a choice and Randy painted the kitchen BM 'Soft Fern' just before Christmas. It now looks like this:

The walls used to be the same color as the cabinets. Notice the black conical thing on the stove... It's a tagine that Randy bought me for Christmas. We really like the Moroccan restaurant that opened nearby this summer so we've been trying out some tagine recipes ourselves. We really like them but I'm inclined to spice them up a bit more. We couldn't find a local source for the main spice mix and asked the owner/chef of the restaurant where to get it - he gave us some of his supply! Now I'm searching for preserved lemons and may end up making them ourselves.... The tagine is not 'authentic' because it doesn't have a clay base, buy it cooks meat fabulously tender and I think we'll end up experimenting with adapting a lot of recipes to cook in it.

We're in the midst of a thorough de-clutter of the house. The office/library has been the biggest target so far. Boxes and boxes of books went to the Salvation Army and we eliminated some bookcases to make a more comfortable seating area. We moved the seed-starting plant light shelves in the living room to the basement to make room to put the fig tree that used to be in the office in the living room instead. We are waiting for a new wooden bookcase to arrive to go in the living room to add back some bookcase space! The bookcases left in the office now are primarily for my garden books, movie DVDs, some of Randy's old LPs and good hardcover 'literature' books.

In mid-clean-up:

After, from left to right around the room:

(You might notice that I got my hair chopped off in between the 'during' and 'after' pictures - that's in anticipation of the upcoming 'punk-Frankenstein' look that will be happening in mid-Feb. Longer hair and not being able to shower for a week or so is not a happy combination as I learned before - better to cut it all off in advance. I'll need another trim before the 16th...) Today we replaced the lamp by the loveseat with one that matches the one by the chair. The fig tree had dripped sap on the loveseat lamp over the years and it was toroughly in need of replacing!

Blue stayed with us from Dec. 16-Jan. 9. He's always happy to be here but happy when 'daddy' comes back for him:

Just before Blue went home, it looked like Copper might need to be here too for a day. Since Blue can be very iffy with other dogs, Suzanne brought Copper by the week before and we went through the introduction walking-together routine. Surprisingly, Blue was quite good; it was Copper who was pushy/cranky! After an hour of walking and supervised time in the house, it was looking good that they'd get along. As it turned out, Blue's 'parents' came home a day earlier than expected so there was no overlap. GB - that probably bodes well for trying to introduce Phoebe to Blue so that we wouldn't have to worry about overlaps of those two. Since Phoebe and Liam got along great, if Phoebe and Blue turn out to be compatable too, that would add to flexibility in options for Phoebe-care if needed - once Phoebe is off the disabled list, as I'm sure she wouldn't be able to resist a certain degree of rowdiness with her little buddy and friend! :-)

Speaking of dogs, it appears we have some new neighbours across the back fence:

We've had very little snow so far this year but, when we do get a few flakes, the town has been salting the roads like mad! Misty does not like salty feet so we got some booties to try. She was not impressed!

Since he retired, Randy has got quite serious about exercise. He always liked going for long walks but has been doing a lot more of it - and running too. Since it's dark so early, safety in the dark was a concern as was cold on his face. He must be quite an intimidating person to run into on his night-time walks/runs:

At the end of last week Randy got his fancy new camera so we're all set to compare how we see the word in 'his'n' hers' photo sessions once nice weather returns!

We haven't been doing much in the way of day-trips lately, although we did go to see the King Tut exhibition at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) last week.

So that's a summary of what we've been up to over the past little while....

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Productivity at Chez Woody ! I do like the lovely soft green of the kitchen and am constantly trying to juggle the bookcases here. I could use about 3 more, and dream of outfitting the home office upstairs with a built in unit of some sort.
I will google tangine,and I have collected 3 recipes for Moroccan Chicken.

THat looks like a mighty nice camera there ! Look forward to Randys photos-

Thanks for checking in Woody, hugs to you both, and Misty too..

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:25PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

YEAH! The kitchen is now pale green! Looks great! As does your haircut!
(I'm off to bed...after Book Club)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:40PM
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Woody. I like the soft fern color of the kitchen. You have put me to shame with the organizing. I am supposed to be getting some of that done myself. I also like your haircut.
Randy must be thrilled with the new camera. He does look a little intimidating with the face mask, but I imagine the people in the area are familar with his routine.
Misty does look a bit disgusted about wearing the boots. LOL

Take care. Norma

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:46PM
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Woody - what satisfying accomplishments! In our house there are NEVER enough bookcases - I think our books must breed in the night. Your kitchen is a lovely shade of green that is offset nicely by the white. It looks so organized and inviting.

I have been thinking of making preserved lemons here (big fans of those Moroccan flavors too) and you might spur me on to do so. I love the combinations of meat with dried fruit and anything that has chickpeas in, my favorite pulse.

Misty looks rather grumppy to be wearing those cute red booties but Randy reather pleased with his new toy.

Thank you for sharing with us!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 7:27AM
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You certainly took Julie's EAT program to heart, Woody!

I believe Bennie Moore Soft Fern was chosen by Sarah for her bedroom at some point (she swings between soft greens and blues)...that's a very nice color.

The photo of the little dog neighbors portrays them as ruffians :)

...and Misty does look miserable. My MIL had better luck with a balm that she slathered on the feet (like a lip balm in a bigger container).

I am happy that you're not caught in limbo anymore and now have a date for surgery. Limbo is the hardest part for me.

Nice to get a peek :)


    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 7:46AM
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Woody, I am very interested in the tangine, and will now have something new to research. I am not familiar with Moroccan food, as there are no restaurants of that type around here. I do love Baba Ganoush, Falafel, etc, and have been putting together ingredients in anticipation of trying to make some at home. I plan to grow some eggplant this summer to use, too. I know I can't make some of it, like shwarma, but I figured I could try the other stuff. I discovered this food when I worked at the university. They have very diverse restaurants over there, of course.

Misty's face says it all. Cute!

I like the way you reorganized your library. That is a goal of mine for this year. Skip claimed that room as his when we moved in, and I am just not happy with the way it looks, plus he has moved a lot of his stuff into my areas, so I am going in there to EAT gently.

Thanks for sharing the pics!


    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:07AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Randy is the organized one so a large part of the de-cluttering etc. is being done by him. Once the office got sorted out, my interest level waned substantially! I'm a slob at heart... :-) The basement will be the worst space to clean up - and there's another large collection of books down there.

For those interested in the tangine, the link below is to a recipe we tried that is very good. I think the carmelized onions and tomatoes would make a great dipping sauce if the onions and tomatoes were diced finely before cooking. I'm going to try that sometime. One thing we particularly liked at the restaurant was the 'cigars'. They are sort of like samosas in a lot of ways. They are make with phyllo pastry so I got some of that and will try to make them soon. The ricipe I'm going to try is here:

It's interesting that the recipe is on a Jewish food site and, when we asked where to get the ras el hanout spice mix, the chef at the restaurant said he gets it from a Jewish food store in Montreal.

Here is a link that might be useful: yummy Moroccan recipe for the tangine

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 10:55AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

P.S. I can't spell! That link should be tagine (no 'n'...)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 2:22PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Woody, I love the Soft Fern! That is one of my choices, too. I am also looking at Urban something or other (another green) for the kitchen or one of the bedrooms or maybe the hall bath-obviously having issues with decision-making.

So impressed by your organizing. Chuck and I keep putting that off.

Laughed aloud at the photo of Misty! She looks a tad put out by those booties. Does she get along with the new neighbors? They look pretty cute, too.

SO nice to see all you and Randy have been up to lately. I have always wanted to see the Tut exhibit, but have never been able to be in the right city at the right time. DH saw it years ago and said it is spectacular.

Time to get ready for bed, so I can watch the State of the Union speech.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 7:44PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

You are most impressive in EAT mode, Woody -- tremendous lovely changes.

My mother loved Moroccan food and made it often - she made her own preserved lemons among other things; went to a number of specialty markets in the area to gather her spices over the years (I've got the remnants of some as I love the cuisine too). She had several wonderful cookbooks; the names escape me (there was one author in particular she really liked - now it's gonna tease me). Yum!! Luckily there are some Moroccan restaurants in this area where I can endulge my fancy at times.

Misty's expression is identical to Chloe's re the booties - she hates them and just sits and pulls them off - she refuses to walk outside in them at all.. Those are some great looking new neighbors!

It sounds like you're making lots of creative changes in anticipation of your recuperation -- just like any successful business plan.

Love the green too.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:23PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Cyn - so far Misty has only met those puppies through the fence. We haven't seen them out and about - we're never met those neighbours at all! I think they are renters and don't seem to be interested in meeting the neighbours.

The Tut exhibit was pretty interesting - the sculptures are amazing. I was a bit disappointed that only the gold head-dress thing was on display - I was hoping the gold coffin would be there too... :-)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:25PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Cindy - we were posting at the same time...

If you remember the name/author of that cookbook, let me know. I think we need one.

Misty actually will walk in the booties, once you drag her the first 20' or so :-) It's the front ones that seem to bother her the most. She's got significant dew claws on her front legs and I think the straps cuts across them and makes the claws dig in...

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:30PM
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Looking good, Woody! I've been looking at the books sideways and every which way on the shelves in my garage office -- some on the floor too! -- and getting close to doing something about it. Darn close...

That is some stank eye from Misty about her snow booties. And I'm so impressed with Randy's will to exercise in all climates, in all get-ups. Good for him.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 8:51PM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Woody, re the cookbooks - most are still in PA as we have never sorted the hundreds of cookbooks out that she possessed(among many many other books) [it's still a shrine, the kitchen and books and recipes]- I will definitely try to look for them when Im there in a few weeks as my memory seems to be fading for recall any more but now it's nagging me, LOL.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 9:02AM
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I had to laugh at the two fools at the fence. I'd be scared... NOT. And that shot of Misty with her "treads" on is just too funny. I showed the helpmeet who laughed aloud, too. That one deserves a frame!

I'm with Randy with respect to getting outdoors; sometimes it's hard to get primed for it but once you're out there and in motion it's usually OK. I don't ever recall being "cold" when I had horses. I just dressed appropriately and did what needed doing. Rode bareback a lot, though (warmer than a saddle). :)

That kitchen is as neat as a pin. Our's is looking pretty bad these days, but I haven't had the oomph to sit down and do a "scale" drawing and the helpmeet is perfectly satisfied with it the way it is. Nothing has changed on that front, lol.

Love the haircut, too! (being controlled by your hair is not a good thing).

I'm working on a new trick for Wrecks. He has to "sit" or "down" and I place a treat on his nose. And he is to "wait" until I say, "OK!". He flips it into the air and then snaps it out of the air. It's only been a few days since we began doing it and he still gets really excited and tries to raise his nose, but he's "waited" a few times and is getting closer to mastering it. The important thing is for him to "wait" and trust me. And he ALWAYS gets the treat.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 4:33PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Misty is definitely not keen on her 'treads'! That picture was the funniest and may eventually end up in a frame. When we first put the booties on, we put them on her first and then put our winter coats on. I went to close the closet door and it didn't close properly. When I looked down to see what the problem was, this is what I saw:

The kitchen is usually NOT neat :-) In the original house, where the kitchen table is now was the dining portion of an L shaped living room/dining room. There was a window where you can see the doorway on the right side behind the chair and the main kitchen window looking into the backyard started above where you can see the dishwasher by the stove. The addition we put on runs behind that side, so the window to the right of the table became the doorway to the pantry and the window above the dishwasher and sink is an opening looking into the living room. The original living room became the dining room after we put up the wall - and doorway to the dining room - on the left side of the table. That left a long, narrow kitchen that would have had no windows! So the window you see there now had to be knocked through the outer wall as part of the renovation. That gave it a nice wide windowsill that is perfect for plants! There are counters and cabinets on both sides of the kitchen, with the counters on the left side being short - 30" tall - and the ones on the right 36" tall. The shorter counter makes it easy for me to sit to work at the counter if need be. There are sinks on both sides too - as well as one in the pantry. And there is a fridge in both the kitchen and the pantry. The pantry has a long counter on one side with no base cabinets to make it really easy to use that surface as a work space - that's where I did all the drawing work for the course I took last winter. When I planned the kitchen, my intent was to make it as efficient and usable as possible for as long as possible given the many unknowns about where my health issues will go. So far it's worked quite well. We did think, when we moved in, 'At last, lots of storage space in the kitchen' but we could still use more space....:-) One of the odd things in the kitchen is that the floor is uneven just about where the picture starts. The old stairs to the basement went down under the cabinets at the entrance to the kitchen. The new stairs go down outside the kitchen and, when the old stairway was filled in with new joists, it became very obvious that the original house had sunk on one side because the joists would not meet on the level! So there's a funny dip in the kitchen floor...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 5:22PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Woody, I certainly do admire you, and wish I had as much spunk as you do !
I like your new hair cut also.
Mysty and her boots are a hoot !

I would have a very hard time deciding on what to eliminate in my book shelves. My clothing is a hard enough job to dispose of all that I do not, or cannot, wear.

Outside our house is looking a lot more like your area. It has been snowing all day, after a brief bout of freezing rain and sleet last evening. It appears we have about 4-5 inches of snow now, and more predicted for tonight. Thank God we have no flickering lights. I brought in an extra amount of wood yesterday, and stacked it in the utility room, so I haven't had to go out today.

Thank goodness you have a definite date for your surgery. I pray that all will go well.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 5:48PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Hi Marian!

I will grow my hair out again after all this is over... I usually cut it off in the summer and grow it out for the winter. I've come to like it not quite shoulder length so will grow it back to that eventually.

If you've got 4-5" of snow, you've got way more than we do! There's still green grass here... We get about an inch of snow at a time; the Town salts the roads like mad; the weather warms up and all the snow melts off. It was cold and sunny here today and the same in the forecast for tomorrow. The 5-day forecast isn't calling for anything worse than a 60% chance of flurries! Murphy's Law says we will get our usual mid-Feb. big storm the day of my surgery! If it looks like a nasty storm will happen on that day, we'll probably stay overnight in a hotel in Toronto on the 15th since we have to be at the hospital by 6:00 a.m.

You be careful in the snow! Smart move re bringing wood in... When I was growing up at my grandparents' place, all the winter wood supply was stored in attached woodsheds - one on Grandma and Grampa's wing of the house and one on our wing. Every fall the major chore was spliting the winter's wood supply and carrying it into the sheds. I'm a wimp now - that kind of work doesn't appeal any more :-)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 8:33PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Woody, I love the Soft Fern paint in the kitchen. And Misty certainly looks quite disdainful of the new booties. That photo is very funny.

I've done a bit of bookshelf clearing here lately. It's nice to de-clutter, and also nice to find some things that had been misplaced due to lack of space.

Thanks for the update thread!


    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 8:53AM
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jak1(4 Ontario Can)

Hi Woody! I too am another fan of the Soft Fern - what a beautiful and resful colour! I think your kitchen looks great, and I love the description of what was there and how you changed it. The dip in the floor is the kind of thing that makes a house a home! Great job on the office too. Ours is not quite as neat and tidy, and our store room just needs a stick of dynamite!

Good luck on the upcoming surgery - we will all be praying for you and waiting for news!



    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 3:23PM
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