Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Well, we finally have some reward for the long hard winter we endured! That's right, peeps, it's Asparagus Time. So important, it deserves capitals! We are lucky enough to have three well-established beds of beautiful asparagus that provide us with a seemingly endless bounty for several weeks in the spring. This year my mother even got ambitious and pickled some. I am giving this experiment some shelf-time before breaking down and cracking open a jar. For now, we still have fresh asparagus, so it does not make practical sense!

Every year I try a few new recipes to expand my repertoire. At times, the copious amounts of asparagus seems daunting, and we make a lot of people happy with a "bouquet" of stalks, so I am always looking for creative ways to serve it up. This recipe has received thumbs-up from everyone:

Dijon Caper Dressing for Asparagus

(I assume you already know how to steam or boil or barbecue or roast asparagus...)

1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
1 tablespoon milk

Mix all above ingredients together. I serve each guest with their own ramekin filled with this dressing. One of our favorite spring meals features barbequed steaks, steamed asparagus with Dijon caper dressing and baked potatoes on the menu.

It's our reward for shoveling snow and enduring deep-freeze temperatures for months on end.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21st

Like May 14th, May 21st came and went. Winds howling at upwards of 80 km/h threw off the air-tightness test results with such wild variations that the audit was rescheduled for the beginning of June. That means we just bought ourselves a few more days. It also means we can't take the pace we've been working at down a notch.

Eric managed to creatively fix the rotten beam. Here's the before:

Another more detailed photo of the damage prior to cleaning:

Here's the during:

And here's the after:

Pretty crafty, huh? Job well done, Eric. I never cease to be amazed.

Don't worry about the rot on the outside wall - when we get around to changing the siding of the house (not next year, please!), we'll replace the wood. There was no easy way to repair it from the inside of the house, and it won't get much worse. It's probably taken 80 years for it to get that bad anyhow. A year or two more won't make much difference.

I cannot believe how quickly this repair went - we really gave it a go and worked non-stop for 2 days. The audit on the 21st gave us the motivation we needed to get this job done as soon as we could.
Here Eric is using the circular saw to start the pocket that will accommodate the partly-rotten beam. I had removed the rot from the existing beam with a reciprocating saw, and Eric took precise measurements of the new beam (that weighed about 100 pounds and took 3 guys to manoeuvre upstairs, (thanks JL and Frank for letting us abuse you once again). Eric made a template on a 2x6 that he temporarily screwed onto the formerly rotten beam, and then transferred these measurements to the beam above. I think if something would have screwed up here, we both would have had to leave the house for a few days to help repair our mental states.

It's 9:00 at night - Eric has managed to chisel out the pocket. Now all we have to do is lift it in place...screw it on...and call it a night. The extra work of the template proved to be beneficial, because the beam went up without a hitch.

Today we put up the insulation and finally closed the wall. Here's the before:

And after:

Everything is insulated with 2 layers of Roxul rock wool as well, but I have spared you the sordid photos of yet more insulation. You're probably getting the jist of it by now anyhow.

Yet another before:

And another after:

Tomorrow we are going to finish the reflective vapour barrier here and seal everything well, and then tackle the last exterior section in the stair well. We will have to jury-rig a scaffolding of sorts so we can work safely, and then we'll be on the home stretch.

Eric was going to sub the drywall installation out, but the person who will be doing this work will also be doing structural work on our barn, and honestly, the structure of the barn takes priority over the drywall in the house. It'll give me more time to chose paint colours and figure out what we are going to put on the floor, all those lovely interior details that take hours of shopping trips and leg-work. One more trip to Home Depot and this girl might become unhinged!

Today was an unseasonably hot day - about 28C or 84F - but already we felt more comfortable upstairs. As long as the structural aspects are complete, the insulation and vapour barrier up and sealed, we should be a lot more comfortable during summer hot spells than in the last few years. So bring on the warm weather, we're waiting!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh...and I forgot to mention...

...that we went on another road trip, and you know what that means, don't you?

It means that Ann, AKA She-who-walks-with-horseshoe-firmly-planted-up-posterior, found another, YES, another circular sock machine, or CSM for those in the know.

Drum roll please!

Albert and Marie, meet your new friend Victoria:

A close up of the crud, and I truly mean CRUD:

This machine is going to need major elbow grease to bring back its original shine. It's already in pieces, liberally sprayed with WD-40, each piece beckoning me one-by-one.

I wish I knew more about this machine. I haven't found a serial number, but from what I can tell, I think it is a Legare 47, probably one of their earlier machines.

Do you think it's time I actually cranked out a pair of socks?

Yeah, me too!

Once our renovations are over, and we have finished the slate patio, completed rebuilding the fence, and done a multitude of other outdoor chores, I hope to have some spare time to crank to my heart's content!

May 14th

May 14th came and went. We had been looking forward to this day, you have no clue how much, so when the auditor called to cancel his appointment and reschedule a week later, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry...

You see, we are no where near finished. By the 21st, we should have the upstairs air-tight, even if the Gyproc is not finished by then. Frankly, the Gyproc will be but a minor detail compared to the rebuilding we have done up until now.

Here is a brief synopsis of where we're at and what we found:

This was the former guest room, the 2x4 on the ground is where the wall is going...

And a view in the other direction, showing the window that was added above the front door at the turn of the century, completely screwing up the structure of the house.

Slowly, the division is taking place. Studs are up, the wiring follows, and soon we have:

...a new division! Complete with wiring and insulation. The only thing missing is the vapour barrier and the Gyproc.

I completed my tear-down of the wall on the left side of the window above. Lovely surprise behind the pine paneling:

More rot and mildew...worst we have seen yet! Wait, wait...there's MORE!

How's that for discouraging?!? Once everything was cleaned up, we assessed the whole situation:

I went wild with the reciprocating saw, and let's just say we're not exactly looking forward to rebuilding this. Part of the outside wall will have to be replaced when we take down the siding on the house because the rot is just to big to attempt from this side. The rotten wood literally shatters into splinters between my fingers, so working here needed a new set of rules. I call it "finesse", whereupon Eric rolls his eyes and puts on his hearing protectors to cut down the din...of my incessant complaining.

But forge on is what we are doing:

And yet another wall is completed!

And yet another! Can you tell we're just storming along? We finished the vapour barrier in this room also, so now we have matching disco rooms!

(And yes, we are aware the ceiling above the window is a bit crooked...we could have shimmed the living daylights out of it, but we decided it adds "character").

At least that's what we like to call it!
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