Friday, March 23, 2012

Bacon 2012

We butchered in January but just now finished processing our bacon. 

This is just one side of side meat, now bacon.  We have another side to cure later.  But the winter has been so warm that we haven't cured hams yet.  It's just been to warm in the garage to not worry about the meat spoiling before it was completely cured. 

We cured the bacon in a small apartment fridge that Kev uses for beer.  It works well for small projects like bacon, but is not big enough to hold hams.  I think we need a full sized fridge to use just for curing meat, or better yet, a walk in cooler.  No idea where we'd put it, but I salivate over the thought of all that cool storage space!

When we packaged the bacon all up, we had 12 lbs. of bacon at a price far less than what you pay in the stores these days, and much better tasting. (We paid $150 for a 300 lb pig.  I don't have any idea how many pounds of meat we ended up with, but if we got 150 lbs of meat, we would have paid...well, you do the math...)

A few weeks ago, my Uncle Dale and Aunt Jo invited Kev and I along with my folks to dinner.  I, of course, quizzed Uncle Dale about things that Grandma and Grandad Woodruff did during the 20's and 30's, as they were raising their family.  Uncle Dale is now my Dad's oldest surviving sibling, so I didn't want to waste any time getting stories.  Besides, by the time Dad was born, my Grandparents were better off financially and were well established, so Uncle Dale's childhood memories are very different than Dad's.

We were talking about butchering, and Uncle Dale mentioned that Grandad would butcher 4 hogs every winter just for their family.  In the end, there were 7 children, but Dad wasn't born until 1943, so 4 hogs fed a family of 5-10 people.  (Just thinking, they never just fed their family.  They had school teachers board with them, they had Eileen, Grandma's niece living with them, and Grandad Cook lived with them for a while, and my Grandad Woodruff's dad for a time too.)  The number of pigs butchered didn't throw me for a loop as much as the pounds of potatoes they consumed.  Besides what Grandma grew in the garden, (my Dad swears her potato patch was an at least an acre) they always bought 700 lbs of potatoes. 

700 lbs of potatoes!  Holy cow!  That, on top of what they grew!  Obviously, they ate a lot of potatoes.

And here, I was thrilled with the 25 lbs we grew last year!

Uncle Dale shared that Grandad dry cured his bacon and hams in the basement.  He had a box and wooden shelf that he used.  He'd go down and rub the meat every day with cure and after "a while" they'd wrap it up and hang it up and there it would stay until needed.

Our conversation about butchering was just one of many we had that Sunday.  I learned so much listening to Uncle Dale and Dad remember.  It was a bittersweet day, because I love hearing the stories, but it did make me miss Grandma and Grandad that much more.  I'll share more stories because they are just too special to not share.

Anyway, bacon is finished--for now, and we're enjoying every bite!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Basement pictures

 Here's a shot of the basement looking south.  The white strip above the TV is where a coat rack hung.  I have always hated it there, and just took it down after we'd finished laying the floor.  Once Kev puts mop boards back up, I'll paint, but until makes a nice detail above the TV (ha!)  We used to also have a big cedar cabinet sitting where the TV now sits, but with the remodel, we had to change our furniture layout. 
 Here's the opposite view, looking to the North.  (Notice the ceiling is still tore up.)  Please ignore the vacuum and the ladder and the sack of cat food, and the junk on the couch.  The big cedar cabinet now sits in the NW corner, under the stairs.  I think it looks nice there with the furnace duct hanging down behind it...
 See the Window and the big wooden post?  Kev enclosed the metal support pole with pine boards to make the post.  I like the look, but he needs to smooth down the edges on all four corners.  They are sharp, and I can't drag my hand around the post without fear of splinters!  Maybe, if I offered to do a pole dance around the post, he'd smooth those edges out!

The bars in the window is our way of making the landing safer.  We wanted to do something to the window, just in case someone ever fell down the stairs (or tripped while performing a pole dance).  Kev rigged up this barred window just for that.  It's not finished yet, but this is what he has in mind.  He still has to close in the one side of the landing.  He's hoping to make it a hidden door and then we could use the space under the landing for storage.
The finished tile work with the pellet stove. Kev's not happy with the placement of the pellet stove.  Since we removed the platform, our pipe didn't quite line up.  So, we bought an additional elbow, but it was too long, so we had to put the pellet stove closer to the edge of the tile.  Instead of seeing if he can just buy a shorter piece of stove pipe, he's got this new scheme to build a new pedestal out of metal that would just sit under the stove base and raise the stove back up so our original pipe will work. 

I think he's nuts, but that's nothing unusual and usually, he manages to make it work and look nice.  But I still think it would be easier to just look for new stove pipe.

Now, paint.  Since I found almost a gallon of the same color of paint as is already on the walls, I wasn't going to change the color of the walls.  BUT...I'm wondering if we have too much brown in the basement.  So, if anyone has suggestions on a new wall color, let me know.  My first thought was a nice yellow, but we have yellow upstairs.  Then I thought about a nice blue color, but I want the basement to look and feel warm.  So, I'm at a loss on what to do about the wall color.

Next aspect will be Kev finishing the window do-hickey, putting down transition strips between the tile and laminate, dusting again, and decide what we are going to do with the ceiling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


No pictures yet, but we've finished the floors!  We grouted the tile (which killed my back).  We laid the laminate floor (which killed my back, knees, and hands).  And, we put the furniture "back". 

Still need mop boards put back up and we need transition strips between the tile and the laminate and we need a ceiling.

Upstairs, we need a door removed, new carpet, walls textured and painted etc.  I found a gallon of the paint I used initially in the basement, so think I'll just touch up what needs to be repainted down there until I can figure out a color I really like.

Kev took a little time off to go fishing and we got some early veggies planted in the garden.

I've spent some time with my folks.  My Dad had a cornea transplant, so I've done some spousal murder intervention and saved Dad's life and Mom's sanity.

I've visited with Uncle Dale and Aunt Jo, picking up some family stories.

I've ordered my Mother a much needed new computer.

It's been a good month!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Still standing

The house didn't fall down.

But taking down the stairs wasn't necessarily something that anyone living in our house wants to repeat anytime soon.  Kev jerry-rigged a rope and pulley system and had Andy hold the stairs up while he and I slid the bottom stairs out.  Then he and Andy lowered the thing down to the floor.  It was quite an engineering feat.

Kev was a wee bit annoyed to discover that the stairs had been placed against the wall before the walls were textured.  So, he'll have to try to match the texture on the wall before we repaint.

Carting the darn things outside was a feat in itself.  They were heavy, heavy, heavy.  We got a small dolly to put Andy's end on so he could navigate the corner to get them outside.  They're still sitting outside...right in front of the door.  Okay...slightly off set from the door, but they are right outside waiting for Kev to decide what to do with them. 

He took yesterday off from work (Wednesday, March 7) to work on the house.  (Actually, he's maxed out on his vacation and HAD to take some days off.)  When I got home last night, he'd laid new tile where the pellet stove sits.  We had originally put it up on a platform, but decided at this point to go ahead and put it on the floor.  The tile we picked out perfectly matches the stone on the wall.  I was so pleased to see how nice it looks!  I also think we'll like the stove without the platform.  It will make sweeping and cleaning much easier.

 Here's a close up.  We weren't going to do the border initially, but finally decided that we needed some color and something a little fancier, so we picked up the 6" tiles last weekend in Wichita.

 I know this is an awkward photo, but we also wanted to tile in front of the front door (the brown door) and decided to extend the tile clear past the garage door (the white door). The size of this area was really what convinced us to use the border tiles. 

 Kev really out-did himself on the corners of the pellet stove area and this area of the front entryway.  I love how he cut the tile with the angles.  It's just so totally professional looking!  Now all we have to do is grout.  That's on tonight's agenda.  As the official family grout-er, I hope my grouting job doesn't ruin Kev's hard work.

 While we were in Wichita, we looked at lights.  The light above the original stairs was just a hall light.  It was on the living room ceiling, but only lit up the stairs.  Upon the removal of the stairs, we knew we needed better light in the Living Room.  We just happened to stumble on this track light that we both liked.  It's contemporary, but not too modern looking and the sconces are tinted off white and brown, so they really tie in with our furnishings.  Kev put them up last Sunday afternoon.  It's bright enough now that I can probably stitch while sitting on the couch.  (I want to replace the ceiling fan, but Kev informed me that the ceiling fan wasn't part of the bet.)

We're moving along quickly now, but don't worry...Turkey season is right around the corner to be followed by fishing weather to be followed by garden weather and outside work.  Inside work will slow down and I will still be able to win the bet.