Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's not sewing or cooking, but it had to be done.

You may recall that my summer to-do-list included cleaning up the garage.  That also meant changing the door on the refrigerator so it opened the other way.


And this area by the door just seemed very underutilized.


I am embarrassed to even share this photo.  I had been using a small plastic drawer unit from Walmart to store my tools.  It had been great for socks and underwear in my transitional apartment when I needed extra storage, but in the garage it just wasn't strong enough.


So I picked up a shelving unit at Lowe's that would be strong (350 lbs per shelf) and large enough to store all our stuff.


My inhibitors loved playing with the box, chasing each other in and out while I put the unit together.



Now it is in place and I am happy.  Notice I moved the refrigerator and wine storage so now I don't need to switch the door, yahoo!


I now have a "Loosen/Tighten" plastic bin with a lid for my screwdrivers and wrenches, a "Yard Work" bin for garden gloves, safety goggles, and orange flag markers, a "Fastener" bin with hammer, nails, and various tapes,   There is also a large bin for all the "Paint" stuff like sandpaper, brushes, primers, and such.


Oh, it just makes me happy.



Now that I have so much more available space over here now, I need to get out and make the area more organized for the tractor, chipper, and the other yard tools.  Some hooks on the wall for the spreader, bush wacker, and blower would be perfect.


Another day, though.  Maybe a day that doesn't reach 100 degrees.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Seafood Dinner, 4 Minutes 'til Done.

I love to cook (surprise!).  I even love preparing food I don't personally care for.  It is not difficult to appreciate how flavors, textures, and colors will work together without ever taking a bite.  This weekend I made a seafood meal for friends who came to visit and enjoyed every moment of it.  I don't have a lot of photos because I was too busy enjoying the company.

Seafood cooks very quickly, so it is important to have everything prepped and measured and ready to go before you begin.  I needed to broil a lobster tail, saute shrimp, fry crab cakes, and steam mussels all at once, so I readied my pans and had the extra  lemon, garlic, flour, oil, and broth at the ready.


It was such a circus keeping everything going to be ready on time there are no process photos (should have given Ed my camera to shoot some).  All I have is the before and after of the lobster tail I made.  I used my shears to clip the shell, and my fingers to loosen the meat.  The meat is then laid on top for broiling.


In fact, there are not many after photos either, but here is what I do have.  You can see Breck had already settled in to his spot and was ready to eat so I didn't have a lot of extra time.


The broiled lobster turned out great (4 minutes, add more butter, 4 more minutes, done).  The steamed mussels (4 minutes steamed in a covered pot with butter, white wine, and garlic, done) all opened and were beautiful as well.


The crab cakes were so easy to make in advance, so all I had to do was fry them (4 minutes per side) and serve them up with a remoulade (I used mustard with horseradish in it for this.  Yum.).  I should have sprinkled with parsley and swirled some lemon peel on these, but honestly I was focused on getting it all on the table while it was hot and flavorful.

I coated the crab cakes with a mix of flour and blackening spice before frying for extra flavor
Then there was the sauteed shrimp.  Yes, 4 minutes, turn, 4 minutes more.  Are you seeing a pattern here?

Shrimp was coated in flour and cooked in butter, oil, and garlic and broth was added in the end for a sauce.
Of course we had some veggies as well.  Roasted Brussel sprouts and red potatoes.  Great combination.

45 minutes for potatoes seasoned with ancho chili powder and 35 for Brussel sprouts with oil and salt.
A meal like this begs for completion.  We had a creamy Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee  that was wonderful, though I am a bit biased since creme brulee is one of my two favorite desserts ever.  Sorry, no photo, but here is the screen shot from Foodtv.com and Emeril Lagasse where I got the recipe.


Now I mentioned at the beginning I enjoy cooking food I know others will enjoy even if I don't care for it.  Case in point, I don't eat lobster (Diane does!), mussels, or shrimp.  It has only been recently that I will eat crab, and only in a crab cake.  Funny.  Will you cook food you won't eat?

Great weekend.  We always enjoy having the company, and we had not seen Ed and Diane in awhile.  Can't wait until they come back again.  Maybe in the fall?  I better start planning the menu.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Veterans Park and Grandoggie Sitting

I unexpectedly am taking care of my grandoggie Pockets for the day.  What to do to take care of all his energy? I opted for the park and a nice walk before it got too hot.  He wasn't too sure what was going on when we got in the car.


But the drive was a short one so he didn't need to wait long.


I admit I was a bit unprepared for walking a large dog.  All I could find was this tiny little leash left from when I had a Pomeranian many years ago.  I hoped Pockets would not try and test its strength.


Funny, once we got on the trail he had a hard time.  He seemed timid.


Look at him.  He dug in his heals and was determined not to take another step.


Silly puppy.  He was spooked by the Civil War Veteran's Memorial.


Even after I got him close enough to sniff, he still watched it with a wary eye.


The rest of the statues in the park did not bother him.  Strange.

Statues in tribute to the various wars fought by our countrymen and women.
The walk was a pretty one.  Lots of shady spots to keep cool.



Two things of interest I want to share with you.  One is from the memorial for fallen heroes.



This memorial was surrounded by flags that really touched me with the sound they made in the strong breeze. I have heard flags in the wind before, but so many flags in such a quiet somber setting was somehow different.


It struck me with sadness that so many walls in this memorial were left bare, leaving room for future names that would need to be recorded.


The second thing I wanted to share was that we have a memorial here to the War on Terror.


At its center is a remnant of twisted steel from one of the two towers that collapsed in the attack of 9/11.





For the second time in a month, I was in awe, able to touch a piece of history (Best Photo Experience Ever).  Meanwhile, Pockets smelled everything he could lay his nose on.


I guess the park was a good idea for getting him some exercise.  Just look at him now.


Passed out and snoring.

, Put it on your College Station, Texas bucket list.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Just Cleaning

No real post today. (Stop reading now if you would like.)  I feel my summer winding down and want to get some good cleaning done.  Nothing really exciting about that.

I also am spending some quality time with my computer working on a menu for the weekend.  Our good friends are coming up and that means cooking.  I am especially looking forward to planning brunch for Saturday and Sunday.  I of course will let you know what I come up with.  Here are a couple of the options I am looking at so you won't have a pictureless post.

Blueberry Strata from The Governor's House Inn
and
Blueberry Crumb Cake from The Pioneer Woman
Sorry.  That's it.  Boring really.  But tomorrow is another day, right?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Doors as Art and JPEG Lesson Learned

When Breck and I were in Gonzales this past weekend (Antiques and Pie), we picked up a couple old Mexican doors we could not resist.  We knew they would look great in our breakfast room.  Here is where I want to hang them.


It felt good to be right.  First they needed a little work to get them ready to hang; like getting rid of the dimension marking the shop made.


600 grit sandpaper is so fine that it removed the markings without leaving any scratches in the wood.  The wax would be the perfect finish after the wood was taken care of.


I sanded the wood lightly and used a tack cloth to remove the residue left behind.  I wore gloves not to protect my skin, but to keep any oils on my fingers from soaking into the wood.


Once the surface was ready I got into the wax and began applying it in small circles.


Here you can see the way the wax really mades the wood come alive.  I did just this bottom corner so you can see the difference.


One door down (the one on top) and one to go.

Once I had them waxed front and back, I attached hanging brackets.  I struggled with this decision since it meant putting holes in the wood, but decided they would never be used as doors again so it was okay.


While marking the wall for my drill holes, I spied this guy in the backyard.  After looking in my bird book, I think he must have been a road runner.  Strange to me to see him in a wooded area and not the deserts of west Texas.  Excuse the quality, it was taken with a short lens, through my window, and to the far side of the yard.


I forgot to tell you about the hardware I also picked up for the doors from the antique store.  Love these guys.


Now the doors are hung and I could not be happier.  What do you think?



I love the new texture and color they add to the space.

Now for a quick tip. I discovered unexpectedly that I should be ordering my pictures using not the JPEG format, but PNG instead.  PNG gives you many more pixels and a better quality.

Top PNG and bottom JPEG
 You can really tell a difference.

Top PNG and bottom JPEG
I am really glad that I reordered these prints that I used in a photo gallery in the hall.  They look so much better now.