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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Refocusing, Foundations

I swear, I’m trying not to let this blog become all Housebuilding ALL THE TIME. I do other things, really, I do. I work, I go for bike rides, I… pick out cabinets…

Can we also, just for a moment, acknowledge the following statement: What kind of nutjob agrees to build a house and plan a wedding in the same year? Oh….>>>>>this one<<<<<
We’ve agreed that as of right now, wedding planning takes a back seat to house decisions. Siding, finish work, etc. all take priority as they are so much more immediate. And, have I mentioned that I’m still more excited about the house than the wedding? Don’t get me wrong, I love DJ and the life we’ll build together… but I’m impatient and the house will be done so much more quickly! And yes, I’m thinking about asking my mom for my Legos when I’m in Clarkston next week in hopes I can build a scaled model of our house in Legos. What, that’d be weird, wouldn’t it?

Regarding wedding stuff though, we’ve narrowed it to two places, both about 400 miles apart. My parent’s lake place in Idaho in July of 2010 and the Livingston, MT Depot in September 2010. Both have their pros and cons. Harrison doesn’t have many hotel rooms, like 15 TOTAL, but anywhere in Montana in the fall is emotionally painful for my family. The Catbobs do have a bye the weekend of September 18, 2010 we could try to work around, and there IS a campground in Harrison, as well as 15 hotel rooms, one Bed and Breakfast and a handful of weekly vacation rentals… How many of my dear friends are willing to camp?

Regardless of the location, the wedding will be very low key and easy. My sister Gretchen is the only bridesmaid. DJ’s brother the only groomsmen. Keep it simple, small, and SHORT. We’re going to do what my friends Mark and Joslyn did in 2007; the 8 minute ceremony, and if you’re 10 minutes late you missed it!

But back to the immediate future (now where did I misplace my delorean?), they poured our foundation today! And it looks like they’ll start framing on Monday. Orange shirt guy in the photos said they had the house next door framed in 18 days… so when we get back from Oregon we’ll probably come home to a framed out house. Now who wants to come over and take a progress photo every day for me? I’ll be without 10 days of Housebuilding photos!
First the set the forms on top of the footers they poured yesterday.

Then a giant squid leg delivers the "mud" into the forms.
The pump truck is fed by the mixing truck.
And they've got all of these forms to fill...
The concrete is poured into the squid-armed pump truck.

Then the squid arm drops concrete! Or is it cement? I always get confused; is concrete an ingredient in cement or is the other way around?

The guy in the black shirt is holding a long vibrating hose that helps the material settle out and get rid of air pockets.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More foundations and kitchen inspiration

Construction Update:

Stopping by our lot on the way home is becoming a ritual for both DJ and I. We also loop past it anytime we are going for a walk or a run. Yes, that’s right, I’ve become a jogger. I won’t call myself a runner because I’m pretty certain that the snail’s pace I move at doesn’t qualify, BUT, still, I swing by the house as a mouth breathe my way around the neighborhood.

On Wednesday they finished digging the hole for the foundation and put down the liner and gravel! And I’m told that they poured footings for the foundation walls today! Sadly, I’ll have to run… ha… over there tomorrow morning to get a picture in the AM. It is currently 9:51pm and I’m still at the office.
DJ asked me if I wanted to camp in our lot on Wednesday night. If the gear hadn't been over at the apartment, I might have!

Now let’s talk kitchens. DJ and I are both foodies. We love simple fare like meat and potatoes and asparagus and corn on the cob, but we want it to be GOOD simple food. We both love to bake, and I’m not ashamed to say that DJ is a better cookie baker than I am. And believe me; I have some experience eating chocolate chip cookie dough… I mean, baking chocolate chip cookies.

While his condo had a great layout, the kitchen was problematic. The work triangles overlapped to the point that we really couldn’t cook without tripping over each other. So When I had the chance to redesign the layout of the kitchen, I jumped at it!

PS: Work triangle knowledge comes from my Grandma Jan, whose kitchen is so well laid out for a one woman cook for a family of nine that I actually thought about replicating it at our house. Then I remembered that we don’t want to have seven children. But! Work triangles! Grandma Jan!

The only tripping over someone will likely come when DJ is going out the doors to the BBQ...

Once I got the layout done and got DJ’s approval, it was time to look for kitchen inspiration. Usually, this search leads me to delicious bruschetta recipes or yummy sangria concoctions, but in this Google image search, it was all the look of kitchens.

I should add that we’ve already decided on a couple of finish materials for the house (in our heads, we still have yet to actually chose the materials. But they’re there, in the warm fuzzy spot of our imaginations). The floors in the kitchen, dining and living room will be some version of a darker circle sawn. The trim will be white, and the windows will be white. We’re trying to find a color somewhere between grey and a sand color for the walls. I’m ready for a dark grey, but too much color is hard for DJ’s palette to handle.

I love how light and airy this kitchen looks! Hmm... a prep sink in the island...

With that in mind, I Googled the you know what out of kitchens. I clicked and “save as-ed” everything that I like (I also failed to save sources, so I’m being a bad blogger and throwing photos that aren’t mine up without naming the source or asking for permission. Sorry. Hopefully the owners see it as free advertising?). And when I looked back through them I realized that I liked white kitchens!

In my mind’s eye I could see the grey walls, white trim, white kitchen with big north facing window and a lighter speckled granite countertop. When I ran the countertop by DJ, he wasn’t so sure. He liked darker countertops. Thinking he was smoking crack, I tried to keep an open mind. Then I realized, in all my inspiration photos, the white kitchens have dark countertops too! Well damn, I knew there’s a reason I like this guy.
I love the look of the base of these cabinets. They have legs rather than a toe kick area! But that's expensive...

Love love love love the door hardware in this kitchen. And the concrete countertops and accents of blue!

More blue!

So the plan for the kitchen is: dark circle sawn floors, white cabinets and trim, stainless steel appliances and drawer pulls, dark granite countertops on the wall and high bar at the island, subway tile backsplash with some sort of glass tile color accent band in it and a butcher-block working table on the island. Thankfully, it’s not a big space.. so hopefully we can afford it????

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We have a hole!

Ha ha that title made you laugh, didn't it? Especially if you know DJ's sense of humor (and yes, apparently it has rubbed off on me!).

The builder called this morning to say that his crew was going to start digging for a foundation on our lot today. When DJ was home for lunch they were weed-wacking the property; they probably weed wacked down the weed my ring was under (how's that for alliteration?).

After that, they found the property pins and used a laser to establish where on the lot the foundation would sit with regards to setbacks and height. The little tripod thingy in the center right of the top picture has a laser on it for this purpose.

I stopped by tonight on my way home to check out the progress. I considered asking Caterpillar Driver if I could ride in the cab while he dug for the foundation, but my better judgment took hold, so I just snapped photos like a crazy lady. I'm sure Caterpillar Driver enjoyed being the center of attention...

Is it just me, or do these machines remind anyone else of a dinosaur?

The asess the scene...

They streeeeettttchhhh out to get their prey (dirt).

They haul their prey towards them...

And when they've got their prey where they want it, they toss it over their shoulder!

Since the site of our engagement was being desecrated to make way for some McMansion... or, er, 1,500 square foot house, I had to take a photo of all of the eventful things that have happened at this house so far. Ohhhh shiney!!

Excuse the hairy knuckles.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another one bites the dust...

So, there is no really comfortable way to come out and say this, so I’ll just go straight to it: DJ asked me to marry him Friday afternoon :::smiles and blushes:::

We started ring hunting in March and wrapped it up in April. I started my initial ring search with the internet, because, hello Google images! I also became much more cognizant of my friends rings and rings I saw on other women. I wanted something more antique, yet sturdy enough to withstand my klutzy-ness. A friend of mine’s asscher cut diamond sparked my interest, but I wanted to try on all sorts of stuff before selecting a ring.

Oh, yes, by the way, I was involved in the ring selection. DJ wanted it to be a ring we both liked, and didn’t know where to begin so he asked me to participate.

I spent a few months perusing websites like www.antiqueengagementrings.com (still a favorite!) and Google imaging rings. When we went to try on rings, I insisted on purchasing a ring from a shop on Main Street instead of a mall chain. Call me a local-yokel, but I like to give the little shops business when I can (or DJ) can! Main Street shops keep our historic main streets alive :::ok, I’ll get off the soapbox now:::

We stumbled into, I’m not kidding you, “The Jewelry Studio”, (no, really, that is its name. Innovative, huh?) on Main Street on St. Patrick’s Day and were instantly drawn to some of the simpler pieces. The salesman we spoke to happened to also be the designer of those pieces and the owner of the store, and expressed enthusiasm for working with us. We left the first store with a good feeling, but I wanted to see what anyone else up and down the street had to offer.
Over the next two weekends we checked out the other stores, but kept coming back to the Jewelry Studio to look at the first ring again. By early April we were sold, and it was up to DJ to work with the jeweler to decide stone size and quality.

Then I looked at our summer calendar and realized that there wasn’t a free weekend between mid-May and Labor Day weekend and had a bit of a meltdown. When would DJ have time to propose!?

I’d like to think I kept my shit together getting through the summer lineup of events, which were very fun by the way! But every Sunday night I’d get a little bummed out about the lack of left hand shiny.

Once DJ’s condo sold two weeks ago, house stuff started falling together hot and heavy. We decided to build a house, which means (as you know) that as of August 31, when we close on the sale of the condo, we are homeless for three months. Ahh, the apartment living reprise. Hopefully they’ll start digging foundation for our house on September 1.

So last Friday DJ came into my office and mentioned that we needed to meet the builder on our lot to discuss grading. As a budding gardener, I’m concerned about long term landscaping, so was eager to meet the builder there. I left work a bit early, and met DJ out there at about 4:15pm. I should add that it was hot hot HOT. Like 92, which at this altitude and despite the lack of humidity is HOT. It feels like the sun is searing your skin instantly.

DJ beat me to the lot, and got out of his truck to walk around on it with me. We hiked around and I got annoyed with the contractor for being late (did I mention it was HOT!). DJ points to this brown box under a flowering weed and asks what it is, and I’m like “babe, its construction debris from when the built the house next door… now what would you say to a smaller deck and a larger lower patio; maybe in pavers?”

He’s like, “uhh… ok.” And we keep hiking around the lot. Finally we come back to about the same spot and he picks up what I think is a filter or some piece of rubbish and hands it to me, saying “I really think you should look at this”…

Dun dun dun, ENGAGEMENT! And fater about 5 minutes of hugging and kissing we went back to discussing lot grading. Yep. Because we are romantic. And practical.

The ring is an asscher cut. I have no idea what size it is, but it is perfect. It looks great on my little-smokey sausage fingers. I love the mirror within a mirror effect of an asscher and its symmetry. The band is platinum, and a more square shape, which is (for me) more comfortable than a round band. As DJ said in April when we finalized that this was the ring for me, “it’s basically sweatpants for your hand.”

I’m happy to say that it is comfortable enough for this no-jewelry-to-bed girl to have slept in since I received it. Now DJ just needs to insure it and we’re good to go!

I took the photos using the bouquet I caught at Katie’s wedding a week before DJ asked me to marry him. Nice aim Kate!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate dipped strawberries

You might have noticed yesterday’s photos included chocolate dipped strawberries. Yes, they were home made. Yes, they were delicious. No, the strawberries were not home-grown. The strawberry pot likely won’t explode until next year…

I started with a recipe. I mean, it seems pretty obvious, I know. Melt chocolate and dip strawberries. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Just a wee bit. The recipe I found called for 2 tablespoons of shortening to be melted with the chocolate. Yes, tricky, I know.
Anyway, I started by washing the strawberries, because my mommy always told me to wash fruit before consuming it. Then I put it back into the plastic, environment killing, thingy it came in.

I decided to try both a semi-sweet chocolate chip and a dark chocolate. Truthfully, you really couldn’t tell the difference when I was done… They were both yummy!
First I melted the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of shortening in a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water. In case you didn’t take Home EC, this is called a double boiler (shout out to Miss Chamberlain at Cheney Middle School! I can sew and cook thanks to you).
Next I stuck toothpicks in all of the strawberries. And then I put on an apron. I have a habit of getting quite messy when I cook, and DJ’s Valentine ’s Day gift to me was an apron. For those of you thinking he’s terribly unromantic; I asked for the apron. We were leaving for Hawaii the next day and flowers would have died before we got back. I gave him beach towels.

Anyway, once the toothpicks were in the strawberries, I started dipping them into the chocolate. I stirred the molten chocolate after a couple of berries were dipped to prevent it from getting chunky.

Somewhere on the internet I read someone who recommended picking up some of the Styrofoam blocks from a craft store to stick the strawberries into to dry. You know, the kind we used to make wreaths out of. You didn’t do that? Take some cloth, cut it into squares and make decorative wreaths? Oh, well… you know what I mean.

The Styrofoam worked perfectly. I could stick the toothpicks into it and let the berries dry upside down. Yes, I had a lot of chocolate on me when I was done. But oh so fun and yummy! I’m already thinking of incorporating these into Christmas packages.

(By Christmas I’ll be baking in our new kitchen. SQUEEEEEE!).
Once I got through the semi-sweet chocolate I washed the glass bowl and started again with the dark chocolate. I had more chocolate than strawberries, so I improvised and used marshmallows that sadly didn’t get used in s’mores this summer. But, I have to say that the chocolate-dipped marshmallows were a hit too! YUM.

The only thing I would do differently is to space out the strawberries on the Styrofoam a little more so that they don’t touch. This will prevent getting two yummy treats stuck to each other…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Katie's Bachelorette Party- FOOD

Last Wednesday it was my (and DJ’s!) pleasure to host the dinner for the bachelorette party of my dear friend Katie. We’ve known each other since high school, when she was the first person I sat down next to when I moved to Bozeman High. She’s awesome. We also shared an adventurous summer as camp counselors in New York.

DJ and I love to have people over. We love good food and drink. One of the problematic issues with out condo was that we couldn’t really both be in there doing something at the same time. The work triangles overlapped, and we’d trip over each other and get annoyed. In the redesign of the kitchen for our house I’ve really tried to set up work triangles which do not overlap and are functional for two people.

Anyway, DJ helped me make some delicious food for the party! God forbid I actually have photos of the party itself, or the wedding. I’m waiting for them to appear on facebook…

Ham wrapped asparagus in the bottom right corner, goat cheese and crackers, DJ's home made salsa with chips, and a veggie tray.

Why yes, yes those are chocolate dipped strawberries! And chocolate dipped marshmellows. I had a lot more chocolate than strawberries and couldn't let it go to waste!

DJ made sangria. It was delicious. Don't mind the penis straws in the foreground... it was a bachelorette party!

Bruschetta. DELICIOUS. If you are a frequent guest in my house you will totally see this recipie again!

Katie's sister Kelly brought the decor. Ballons in their wedding colors- which are now in D at work's office as a celebration of him completing the Ridge Run (CRAZY FOOL!).