Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Project Begins!

We started our basement bedroom this weekend! We're planning on adding a bedroom with a closet, and a storage closet for the downstairs living room so Blaine and Angela will be more comfortable with a study for now, and maybe some day a future bedroom for a kid or two. We started by cutting holes in the carpet so we could secure the framing to the floor rather than to the carpet. It was a pain, but didn't take too long.

After that we pieced together 4 different walls (one in two pieces). The biggest challenge we came across was that the ceilings and walls not exactly being level... We found when building the walls it was best to measure both sides and the middle and they would be a inch to two off from the rest. But we made it work! It took about 10 hours to put it all together, and we both walked away with sore muscles and war wounds to show for it, but it was worth it.

This week we'll start on the drywall and move one of the lights from what was the center of the room (now the center of the closet), to the new center of the living room. We're hoping to get this project done before Dave goes back to school (or at least all but the painting). We'll see if we can get it all done in time!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Attack of the APE in Strawberry Fields FOREVER!

 Yes, these beauties are our jars of jam! They make me so happy

A few years ago my brother Michael and my sister Sheila decided ape was an appropriate nickname for apricots. I don't know where it came from, but we had a grand time labeling all the bags of apricots in the freezer "APE". A few weeks ago we noticed our 40 foot tree in the back yard had started to grow some kind of fruit on it. We had no idea it was a fruit tree, it didn't have anything on it last year when we purchased it in the end of July! But this has been a really weird weather year for Utah, so I can see why the timing of everything is a little off this year.

Dave and I headed out for a walk Tuesday night, only to have the largest apricot known to man fall out of the tree in front of us! It was the size of a small peach/nectarine, but it was definitely the smell and taste of an apricot. Looking up at this 40 foot wonder, we realized there was no way in this world we would be able to pick the ripe, top fruits! So we headed off to Home Depot and purchased a fruit picker. It telescopes to about 20 feet, which covers a decent amount of our tree. So we got to work picking.

We probably have picked 30 apricots a day since! That's a lot of fruit for two people, so we made a plan... I decided I wanted to try my hand at apricot jelly, and Dave decided Apricot fruit leather was the way to go. So I found a recipe for each online and started blending and freezing the ripest of our fruit. Dave's mom graciously agreed to teach us how to can jelly on Saturday, and happens to also own a fruit drier, so I did the shopping for the supplies, and off we went!

I remember doing jelly when I was really small, but my mom has since converted to freezer jams. Since Dave and I don't have the freezer space to even add a bag of veggies, I decided the old fashioned canning way would probably be the best choice for us. I found a coupon for $3 off jars, so I used that to purchase a few packs of jelly jars. I debated trying the larger size jars, but there is no way just Dave and I could consume an entire huge jar before it goes bad! So even though the jars cost the same as the big one, we opted for the smaller size.

My dad ended up coming over to pick the top apricots at the same time as we were heading out to can the jelly, so I headed over to Dave's house, and Dave stayed behind to make sure my dad didn't too carried away climbing the tree and fall out (or just to help him)! The canning went well, and the apricot jelly set up nicely!

So I headed home exhausted and laid down for a nap. About an hour later we got a call from my dad asking if we wanted to come pick some strawberries from his patch. They had been out of town all week, and had TONS of berries that were just going to go bad if someone didn't pick them. So we picked about 2 buckets full, and decided to whip up some strawberry jam too!

The strawberries were about the size of grapes for the most part, so it took forever to hull them all... but it was worth it! We made 12 12oz jars, and 10 pint jars worth of strawberry jelly, and still had three cookie sheets of berries left over to freeze for future ice cream and smoothies! And we made the best strawberry waffles with home made whipped cream on top... it was fabulous!

When we got done with the Strawberry jelly Dave asked me to promise we would NEVER do this again... If only he knew this is only the beginning!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4th of July weekend!

Wall paper removal... do those three words just make you shudder? They were pretty intimidating to me until Monday when we took this first step in adding a bedroom to the basement. We got up at 7 and headed to Home Depot to rent a wall paper steamer. It  made the process so easy! I would recommend the $30 for a full day worth of rental to anyone removing wallpaper. Dave's brother Blaine and his wife Angela helped, and we really figured out a system to remove the top coat, steam the under layer/glue, and wipe down the walls.

For some reason only two of the 4 walls in the basement living room had wallpaper, one has wood paneling (curses!!!), and one is painted a neutral color (not exactly sure what to call it, but it's not white). So we spend Monday morning tearing off the wall paper, removing the nails from the walls, and the random trim box from the ceiling... We're still not sure why there was a random trim box, but we will paint over the affected area when we get into the painting.

Now we're trying to finalize our plans for the bedroom in the basement so we can start putting up the wall and building out the closets. One closet will be for the bedroom, and the other will be a storage closet for the basement living room. Can you ever have too many storage closets? I think not!

Besides our wallpaper removal we had a BBQ, went to the drive in and toured Mt. Timp caves. Since I'd never gone, and Dave hadn't been to the caves since he was about 7, we thought it would be great to see. It was very beautiful,  interesting and informative. I would say well worth our $7 a person. Going to the drive in really isn't my thing (especially because you pay for two movies and are up until 2:00 am to see the last one because you just have to get your money worth)... but the movies were pretty good (Toy Story 2/Prince of Persia).