Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas at Paddington Lane

We have done a little Christmas decorating, i'm big on after Christmas sales, so we are decorating with what we bought last year and a few things i've gathered over the years. Anyway, its been fun!

He stole my chair!!
(Thats my favorite spot)

ahhh, got my spot back

Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Dad had a huge furniture delivery in Canada, so he wasn't able to join us until Friday night. Because of this we decided to postpone the traditional turkey dinner until Saturday. We decided that Tom would try his hand at roasting a duck for Thanksgiving day. Tom started his duck prep in the morning. To those of you who don't know, Tom's cat is Ducky. She stalked around the kitchen for awhile, so i reassured her that we were most certainly roasting a fat chicken and of course we would never consider eating a duck! Also, if we said "duck" in her presence her ears would perk up and she would look at us :) Well it is her name! Anyway, back to the dinner. Tom prepped the duck and then roasted it for 4 hours, flipping it every hour and letting the fat drain into the bottom of the pan (he had it sitting up on a rack). Then he parboiled potatoes, browned them in duck fat and roasted them in the oven. Just before being served the duck recived a glaze (your gonna have to ask Tom about that, I'm not sure what went into that) Mom arrived just in time for our feast, which tuned out completely perfect. I really like duck as a meat, but i didn't grow up eating it. Aside from some very greasy fare years ago my mother had never really tried it. This duck was not greasy at all. It was tender and juicy and amazing.

Saturday was my day to test my skills in the kitchen. As usual, mine comes with a story to tell. Tom and I picked the Turkey several days before when we found them on sale. At that point I began to think about how I wanted to roast this years turkey (I've only done this once before and it was good, but I knew I could do better) I had heard of brining a Turkey, but had no idea how to do it. The day before Thanksgiving I was working in a nursing home doing some assessments. I met an 86 year old woman who had broken a hip just days before Thanksgiving. We were chatting about the holiday and I told her I was going to handle the turkey this year and I was a little nervous since I didn't have a plan (ask Tom, there always has to be a plan. Following the plan isn't required, I just need to know that I have a place to start:). She took pity on me and offered to share her favorite brine recipe that she promised would make the juciest turkey I had ever roasted (not hard since I had only made one, but still, it was a kind offer) So I used her basic recipe and made a brine that went a little something like this - equal parts vegtable broth and water, half a cup of my favorite herbs (more like a tablespoon each) 2/3 cup tender quick, minced garlic, a little bit of worchester and some real maple syrup (no fake stuff here!) Bring to boil, cover turkey with brine and leave to sit for 24 hours. Add some of moms party potatoes and my favorite pasta salad and steamed broccoli and you have Thanksgiving dinner. Except it wasn't on Thanksgiving day. Dad arrived the night before and Jen, Kevin and Nolan joined us for the meal. We were very excited to have a house full of guests for the meal. As promised, the Turkey was by far the best I had ever made. It was juicy, tender and flavorful. So good in fact that Tom has been waiting on turkeys to go on sale so we can roast one for lunch meat. Oh, and I almost forgot Mom's pumpkin pie. Also amazing.

Dad did lots of little helpful jobs around the house Saturday. At one point he decided that he needed to go to Lowes, however he neglected to take his loyal little dog with him.

Buddy sat there, looking out the window the entire time dad was gone

In the middle of all that Mom and I unpacked some 30 boxes and got our house feeling more like a home than a storage unit. We also went out shopping on Black Friday. We did find some great deals and after a year and a half of dreaming I finally own a Cricut (to those of you who do not scrapbook, its a machine that cuts all kinds of shapes and is perfect for my wedding planning)

Here we are, playing with the scrapbooking toys


P.S. As to the questions as to the last post about the day Tom proposed, it seems I did not provide enough detail :) He did get down on one knee. On the wet ground. In the rain. He said something profound and thoughtful about perfect days. I got a little distracted by the shiny ring and the emotion of the moment and  I sorta forget the details (sorry Tom).  And after that we walked back up the hill and it started pouring rain. Mr Prepaired had a giant umbrella, so it was fun. No one else was around, even though we were on a popular little wooden dock overlooking the koi pond (thats probably because it was raining!) Hope that fills in the details a little :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Favorite Weekend of the Summer

One of the nice things about moving is that you find some of the things you lost. I've been looking for my camera for months. Cameras are not fun to replace, but they are replaceable. The pictures on that camera were not replaceable. All the pictures from this summer were on that camera. On moving day I was a very happy girl when Erin found it buried deep in my couch! Hopefully i will be able to share a lot of those pictures and memories with you soon. I decided to start with my favorite weekend of the year ;)

It all started with Tom picking my up at my apartment one rainy Saturday morning in July. We were headed off to Bloomington, IN, a town i had never visited but that Tom had told me about several times. On the agenda was breakfast at the Uptown Cafe, shopping for books at the used/rare book stores and unique gift shops and wine tasting at the Oliver Winery. Now, at this point Tom and I had been dating for just over a year and I was quite sure that he had in his possession a ring that was soon to be mine. I was hoping he would present it at some point during this trip. Now this said, i was not completely sure that he had talked to my parents yet. Now before we could head out Tom seemed to think it was very important to stop by his apartment. And i began to wonder "whats he gots in his pockets?" (sorry if you haven't read the Hobbit, that probably didn't make much sense :) 
Breakfast was wonderful, i had creme brulee french toast, which was amazing! We also had yummy salmon and cream cheese bagels. Then off to the book corner!

This was a large used book store and i loved all the postings on the door, it was a fun little mom and pop place.

oliver winery

When we arrived i wanted to go feed the koi but it was raining. After out wine tour and tasting it was still raining, but we decided to go look at the koi fish in the rain.

See, its raining and my hair is damp, but it was fun! And then it got more fun, because Tom proposed, in the rain, on one of the nicest days i had ever enjoyed.

Afterwords we went back to town and wondered around a little more, visited a kitchen shop where we got busted for flirting and then congratulated on our engagement by the store owner and some other random strangers. It was funny! And then there was this cupcake at the local cake shop, with the best and lights frosting i have ever had. 

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fifty thousand things to do

So the house is mostly painted, and stuff partially unpacked, and I've had some time to strike a few more things off the honey-do list, like work in replacing the light bulbs in the house, then mow the lawn, rake the yard (that took two days).  At last estimate we had 11 trees, but after some thought I think those large trees at the back of the property might be ours too.  Fortunately those two sit back enough back there that the leaves they shed just drops back into the foliage at the edge of the property line.

We finally have proper TV and internet around here.  No more frustrating moments of sniffing out free wifi!  We ended up getting a 6mbps pipe and 200-some channels including BBC and a whole slew of documentary channels, and a 4-channel DVR.  We've already programmed to DVR to record a bunch of documentaries, because we're nerds.  Unfortunately the service provider screwed up royally on the delivery - we were supposed to have it installed between 1-3pm but nobody showed up until close to 7, and the dispatcher didn't tell him it was a new install so he ended up doing the install til 9pm.  He was pretty apologetic and quite professional, taking the time to do things right, but customer support will have plenty to hear from me on the pre-installation service.

Back to the house.  This house is remarkably energy-efficient.  The original owners had just about done everything right, from adding the insulation pads to the outlets on the "outside walls" to the nice insulated windows.  The heater would kick in, heat the place up to its preprogrammed temperature, shut off and it'd stay that way for quite a while from there.  I'm very interested to see how this house does during the winter, but I'm quite optimistic.  I also replaced almost all of the light bulbs downstairs and in the basement with CFT bulbs, so that lowers our wattage from 60w to an average of 20w.  Now if I could just get my hands on some solar panels we could really be making a dent in our power bill.

It's getting late now and I should get to bed since I've spent the last two days doing crazy house stuff, and didn't really get to do any "me" stuff.  Come to think of it, I haven't really had a relaxing weekend since we got the house, but to be honest I really don't mind.  Sure I spent the weekend raking the yard when I could be watching some TV, or working on a model, or reading that book Dori got me; but it's quite nice to be to be working on it.  The alternative would be not having any home improvement to do at an apartment, which doesn't sound very attractive any more.

Moving Day and Other Fun Stuff

Officially I moved into the house one week ago today. To date we have managed to unpack the kitchen, get the den furniture moved in and install internet and television. The master bedroom has my random collection of bedroom furniture, but we're done purchasing furniture for now (we're saving our pennies for a flat screen television, merry christmas to us). Both furchildren now live in the house. Crash (my baby) has decided to live upstairs and sometimes graces us with his presence on the first floor. Ducky (tom's baby) lives in the basement. Crash hid for a few hours but adjusted rather fairly quickly. Ducky is a little more high strung and we expected her to hide for days. Instead, she startled us by waltzing out of her travel carrier and promptly investigating her new home. She seems to approve since there has been no cat drama. I don't think either cat realizes he has a new sibling in the house :)

This weekend Tom spent a lot of time dealing with AT&T and dealing with fall in indiana - we have 11 trees, most of which have shed a pile of leaves onto our yard! I had a more leisurely weekend, shopping with jen and nolan followed by girls night. Fun times were had by all!

moving day

nolan isn't so sure about shopping, but he did so good!!

bad pic from my phone, but this is girls night at Erin's home
It was lots of girl bonding fun (we got pedicures!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Its Starting to Look Like a Home

Saturday I picked up some hours in a nearby facility so that i could add to my furniture/decorating fund. There is also a honeymoon fund, wedding fund, hardwood floor fund, glass display case fund, scrapbook fund, model airplane fund and on and on and on and on :) Anyway, I put in several hours and hurried home to work on the house. I knew the library needed at least one more coat of paint and then it would be on to the dreaded kitchen with all its tiny spaces and corners. I arrived home to find Tom and Matt painting our kitchen. I was so excited, what an excellent surprise! The paint covered really well (finally! a room that wasn't a two or three coater) and with three people went on very quickly. The main downstairs rooms are all painted. There is a short hallway and a bathroom that still needs some color, but i am totally stuck on ideas for those spaces, so they will have to remain as is for awhile.

The colors are giving the house more personality and i think once we get some furniture moved in it might start to sink in that i really get to keep this house! Tom and I spend a good portion of Sunday furniture shopping and did decide on a couch and loveseat set that we liked for the den. There is also an ottoman/coffee table and a small chair that i can't wait to sit and read a book in. I picked up a new book to read the other week and now i am saving it just for that chair. My little reward for getting my apartment packed up. Hopefully they will deliver the furniture before the end of the week! We would love a flat screen TV for above the fireplace, but that will have to wait until we have things to sit on, things to eat on and things to sleep on. Oh and something to dry our cloths in. Mom is gifting me her old washer, but the dryer is dead. That or its the one that made the horrid screeching noise all the way through the cycle.

My moving day is Sunday, awkward, but that’s the way it worked out with the elevator schedule. I don't think my apartment will be completely packed by then, but we will be able to move out all the furniture and large items. I can't wait to actually live in this house!


these are good men, i love them

thank you matt!!

library, the flash gives it a pink hue, its actually a deeper color, more of a plum or dark wine shade

my fantastic kitchen color, I am so pleased with how it turned out
someday i would love matching appliances, but these work and are in excellent condition, so no new matching stuff for me yet!

the dinning area and den
 Please excuse the mess, its more of a work space than a home right now!

~ Dori ~

PS someday i promise to write about something that has nothing to do with our house!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mowing the Lawn

For those of you who don't know, I grew up in tiny Arthur, Illinois, population 2100 (hey, that’s what the sign said as you drove into town). I am an only child and I lived in a small two-bedroom house. It had one little bathroom and it was heated by... well, I have no idea what kind of heating system it was. I just know that it blew hot air strait out the heater and I loved to sit in front of it, especially when my hair was wet or I was cold. OK, I’m getting distracted. This post is supposed to be about mowing the lawn! Anyway, small town life can get a little slow, especially in the summer when most of your friends live out of walking distance. My main chores growing up were 1. Fold laundry 2. Put laundry away 3. Wash the dishes 4. Clean the bathroom 5. MOW THE LAWN. I emphasis this because one summer, with my friends out of town, I developed a phrase my mother hated. "I'm bored." So my mother said, "Every time you say that you are going to either mow the lawn or wash the dishes" Now seriously people, there are only so many dirty dishes, and really how often can you mow a lawn? But let me just say, for the record: It is a BAD idea to test your mother. The dishes were always clean that summer. And believe me when I say, you can mow a lawn about every 3 days. No really, its possible! So I am good at mowing lawns. I haven't had to do this in a very long time, but believe me, it’s a skill you don't really loose over time. So, when we bought our new house, it became clear that Tom intends to be the man of the yard. Excellent, this works for me. I'm all for some good old-fashioned "man of the house" behavior.

Now, lets take a very brief look at Tom's background. He did not grow up in a small town, he did not grow up an only child and he did not have a yard (at least not one that took like two hours to mow with a self propelled push mower 3 times a week that one summer that I tried to test my mother). Now I know this about Tom and yet, it’s just not sinking in. He calls like 4 times when he’s trying to buy a mower to discuss what kind we should get. He debates the pros and cons. He researches different kinds, debates if he really needs self propelled or just a push mower. Now I'm not poking fun at Tom, I'm poking fun at myself. Because I am impulsive and I have what Tom calls a “devil may care” attitude. I prefer to reframe that like any good social worker. My reframe is this; I worry less than he does:) Tom thinks things through, researches, makes sure hes getting what he really wants and needs. (meanwhile I am still trying to figure out why this is so difficult, its just a mower) We finally get the mower and I’ve got to pack an apartment full of stuff so I want to go back to my place. And Tom is looking for the choke, and I’m half annoyed because I know you only need to prime the motor in an old lawn mower. And he seems to want me to stick around at least for part of this seemingly significant event. And then it finally hits me, what should have been crystal clear all along. He's never mowed a lawn before, at least not a big lawn that requires a self-propelled mower. Duh, he’s told me this, but it doesn't quite sink in until that moment. This is why what lawn mower to buy was something that required serious consideration. This is why he wants me to hang around for a bit. This is why a girl should really listen to her fiancé! So Tom got a lesson on how to mow a lawn and I got a reminder that, as a social worker, I really shouldn't need: Not everyone grew up in Arthur, IL and mowed the lawn at least twice a week growing up. So here are some pictures of my man and his mower!

Tom's bright shiny red mower

My handsome man working in his yard!

had to put this in here - please note the U of I hoodie!!
haha, busted sportin' the orange!

Finished product! Nicely done honey!!

Oh, and just one final note - I found out years later that because of that summer of constant yard mowing, the neighbor boys used to refer to me as "lawn mower lady" Thanks mom.
~ Dori ~

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Fun

We are loving being homeowners, but with all the painting and packing going on we were missing out on fall in indiana. So we took a little break for some time with friends and pumpkin carving...
Originally we were looking for a pumpkin farm, but that was a little harder to find then we first thought, so we stopped at this roadside stand

Pumpkins selected! (notice the tiny one in Kevin's right hand; that's for baby Nolan)

Here's our loot! Pumpkins for Tom, Dori, Crash and Ducky. Spagettie and Butternut squash for eating, as well as some fresh green beans
I LOVE cooking in my kitchen, this is way better than apartment appliances!

Dinner; chicken and fresh green beans in front of our fireplace

It was a perfect evening!

may the pumpkin festivities begin!

Digging the junk out


Happy Pumpkin, with a great little tooth
(Tom drew my idea for me, i am not so artistic!)

Tom's Puking Pumpkin (ewe), but i have to admit, i laughed!
he had way to much fun with this

our porch pumpkins!