Thursday, August 9, 2007

My new kitchen and it's toys!

My kitchen is my haven, it is my safe place. I have 2 rooms in my house that I love to be in at any time. The kitchen and my bedroom. I love to lay down any time of day and have the big fluffy pillows and quilt to hide under. My kitchen for the obvious reasons. Ya'll know that I love to cook, bake, can, preserve. It is theraputic for me. But my kitchen holds my memories too, around the table homework, crafts, sewing, painting, drawing, crying, and life happens. I have places on the table where if I look close enough I can see where my dad wrote something down. I can see where Eric and PJ were learning to write. So you see why my kitchen is my haven.
For years we have tolerated a refrigerator that was a piece of junk. It leaked water for months, we don't know how long. All I know is that I looked one day and the floor under the stove was puddled up badly. We had someone come out and fix it. Put new shelves in it once, and then it was getting to the point that the door shelves were falling off every time that you opened the door. It originally came from the Maytag scratch and dent place in town. But it wasn't just a scratch or a dent. It was MANY. And on a white fridge, the black dings and dents show up more than what you want them to show up.

We decided that we were gonna buy an upright freezer,

so that way we can buy a 1/2 of a cow. Grain fed, no antibiotics, no hormones. All natural cow. And a pig too. That way I know what my family is eating. And I know that it will be good for them.
Ok, move the fridge, gently, carefully, don't scratch the floor Chuck! We get it moved and it starts hemorraging water. No just a little leak, the thing started flooding. I was scrubbing the wall and the floor where it sat to put the freezer there. I turned my head when Chuck was on the phone discussing how he wanted the cow to be cut, looked over and water was coming right towards me. Man, why today???? My freezer is to be delivered shortly and now I have this to deal with too. This little ditty was delivered about 12:30 yesterday afternoon. When they got it set up and they left, we started looking at it, there was a scratch that was on the top that the factory scratched and tried to cover up with touch up paint. I called Lowe's and talked to someone about it. We tried to get someone out there that can replace the door when someone would be home. Nope, couldn't get anyone to come out at a reasonable time to replace it. So, when Chuck talked to them, he got them to put $35 back on the card. Now, we paid $50 for the delivery, but that will be reimbursed. And then we got a $50 rebate on it too. So, in turn, we are getting $135 back on a $500 freezer.
We head out to Lowe's, now I have spent more time there in 3 days than I really thought I would. Talk to Nina about the refrigerator and look for something that we can afford. We find a bottom mount that we both liked for about $898. Yes, the French door would have been great, but considering this is our first purchase, we decided that the bottom mount with PJ still being little would be a good idea. Plus it brings back so many memories when my step-grandmom had one. I loved it then.
We decide we have some time and we were going to Mike's Maytag. And as soon as we walk in, we see the one at Lowe's, but it was $1299. What is the deal here???? Come to find out that it was the next year model and the one at Lowe's was last year's model. Ok, I get it. So we look around, talk to the owner and decide on the black bottom mount just like the white one. He tells us tax and delivery it would be $912. Chuck offers him $900, and it comes out to $895.59. Not too bad. Well, right when they were ready to deliver the refrigerator we get a phone call. There was a dent on the top left back corner. We go over and look at it, and decide that we were gonna go ahead and get it. He handed us a check for $55 for the damage on the fridge. This is gonna be a good day! So for $840 we got a nice 22 cubic foot fridge, do I need all that space, I don't know. I do know this I got a new fridge! And it is a beaut! One last thing to find. And it was the hardest of them all. Finding a decent pantry worth the money. Everything is chip board, pressed board or particle board. Whatever it is called it is just crap!
We went everywhere that we could think of, even the wholesale cabinet place on the other side of town, nothing. Even that was crap board. We all know that the pressed board will swell, and chip away eventually. We wanted something that when someone went into the cupboard, that the door wouldn't fall off in their hands.
We went to Stamper's once, and spotted something that I loved.

But the price was just outrageous! I couldn't see spending that much money on it. We looked and then left because we just couldn't get the deal that we thought we could get. Chuck low balled the owner and he didn't like it one bit. We went to another nice furniture store in town, told them about the Hooker Cupboard that we saw at Stampers and we wanted to know if he could beat that price. He told us that he would look into it, but because of the quality that Hooker is, don't count on it. He called us back and said it would be $450, but it would be 3 weeks before delivery and it was only $25 less than what Stampers wanted.
We go back and get the piece that I just didn't want to spend that much money on it. Come to find out, it was orginally priced at nearly $1000. So, who am I to complain. Plus if we went to the owner and told him that someone else in town can have it to us for cheaper he would tell us to go get it there and don't come here again. So, I didn't want to take any chances. That place is top of the line furniture and they don't need to have the riff raff of Cleveland coming in and touching their good stuff!
So delivery for this is coming this afternoon. If you look in the pictures above, you will see the Tuscan style flooring that I laid 2 years ago. This piece is perfect. That is NOT MY HOUSE ! Just a pic that I found on the website
Chuck will be home to set everything up before I get home. Get everything in order. I don't think I will be asking for that new sewing machine anytime soon. But I don't care. My haven has new and beautiful stuff in it for all of us. I am so excited!!!!
Yes, I know it is just appliances. But for the first time in our lives, we can afford something like this. New appliances, first new refrigerator. No one else had their food in my space! This is ours. And it may not mean that much to you, but you read all of this, and it means a lot to me that it is mine!!!

The freezer is full, the pantry is nearly full

Ok, another thing about my kitchen. So, I am warning you before you get to far into it.

My pantry came in last Thursday and when I got home, Chuck had it already connected to the wall. I love it. It is a beautiful piece and very different. It fits so well in my kitchen. I still have to get use to the fact that the freezer is in the place of the old fridge. So, the cream is not in the freezer!

So, slowly but surely, I started to fill up the pantry. It holds everything very nicely. The perfect size for the family. The perfect style for me.
Those are carrots that I did !!! And then the greenbeans that Eric did several weeks ago. So now that I have things "put up" for a while, we had to get the freezer full.
Chuck and the boys took off to Decatur to pick up the 1/2 cow that we ordered . It just so happened that when we called,they had one hanging and ready to be cut to our order. Yippee!
They got home before I did, and the freezer was full with nearly 300lbs of meat! Everything so neatly put in there, in a nice orderly fashion... nice! I know what is on each shelf and I am now weighing it to know how much is in each.

First nights dinner consisted of 1 Tbone and 2 ribeyes for the 4 of us. And well, no more Walmart, BiLo, Cooke's or even Fresh Market steaks. This is the life people!
Chuck asked why we didn't do this 17 years ago. Well, 1 we had an apartment and 2 there were times we couldn't afford it.
But now we have a freezer quite full of red meat. Soup bones, stew meats, roasts,steaks, ground beef. I think I am prepared for winter and a few months after too. My dad came over after they got home and Chuck gave him a packet of soup bones. He looked at me when I got in the door, and said "do you think you can spare a little bit bigger package of the soup bones?" Well, um, I think I can give you a bit more,but not too much more. My kids are spoiled, Chuck is particular, and I am just happy that I can now I can reach in the freezer and have dinner ready. I don't have to plan out at the store what to buy now. It is a luxury in my life, a small luxury. But still it is something nice to have. Plus, it eases my fears of not having any food in the house. Lived like that long enough, don't want to live like that again!

Recipe of the week

Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake
1 pkg butter recipe golden cake mix (I use Great Value from Wal-Mart)
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 large eggs
½ cup water
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 10 inch tube pan with spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside
Place the cake mix, cream cheese, eggs, water, sugar, oil, vanilla and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the side down again if needed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake, invert it onto a rack, and then invert it onto a serving platter so that it is right side up.
Slice the cake while it is still a little warm.
Store this cake, covered in plastic wrap or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to a week. Or freeze it, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.
This recipe calls for ½ cup sugar. By adding some extra sugar a (1/4 to ½ cup) to a cake mix, you'll arrive at a more tender cake. Adding cream cheese will give it richness and texture. And be sure to us the pure extracts that this cake calls for – both vanilla and almond – for clear, distinct, and true flavors.

First day of school

It doesn't seem possible that a little over 2 months has passed since the last day of school. And the last day of elementary school for Eric. But it has and today has brought new feelings, emotions, and excitement all at once.
The early mornings are back, the rush of getting out the door with everything, the homework, and projects are back too. They will be until they walk out of that door on the last day of high school. I thrive on this stuff.
I was so excited this morning. I was saddeded too, I didn't want to drop Eric off this morning, but I did. And I didn't let him see my emotions. Driving back home, I teared up a little bit. It is hard to image that it was 6 years ago that I walked him to his Kindergarten class. Of course, no more kisses in the car, it is more like "you can drop me way over there!" Nope, just push him out of the car, and let him explore this new phase in his life.

The middle school and high school have established dress codes. So now all the kids look the same. Oh well, whatever happened to expressing yourself? I understand why they do this. Gangs and girls that don't know how to dress appropriately. Or to that matter the parents that let their child walk out the door dressed in such a manner.
Solid color polo, cotton shorts for right now, belt, closed toe shoes. Things like that. Now we all know what happens when you wash cotton shorts.... wrinkle up! Yep, they do, and that is more ironing on me. The dress code informs us of no stitching on the shirt bigger than a 2" sq. They also tell us that all clothing must be free of tears, frays and wrinkles. What? wrinkles..... what in the world. I understand they don't want them coming to school looking a mess, but please! Anyway, if they come to school wrinkled, they will call the parents and we are to bring them a change of clothes. Ok, who isn't busy anymore in life? A stay at home mom is always on the go, I work, Chuck works, a housewife has the hardest job of them all. But I am full time on my job, full time mom, full time wife and full time housewife, that leaves very little time to run to school to give Eric a change of clothes. If I don't do that, in school suspension. I think they are a little overboard on that one. I will end up teaching Eric how to iron that stuff. Take some off of me, because I know that he is gonna need help with the homework and then there is PJ.
I asked Eric on the way in how he was feeling. He was nervous and excited at the same time. I think he is looking more forward to this then I thought he was. I am glad to see him go headstrong into this. I hope that it helps him get motivated.
PJ is now in the 3rd grade. Do you remember 3rd grade? Some of us choose to repress that memory. That is the hardest grade there is. Up until that point in life you are learning to read, now it is reading to learn. PJ noticed all the books in the boxes yesterday. He had to be nosey and look. At least she didn't have them on the desk like Eric's teacher did when he entered into 3rd grade. Eric looked at me and told me " I am going home and not coming back." He was serious and scared to death. This was the grade that tested him to no ends. This is the grade that will determine if you can make it or not.
PJ was excited yesterday. New classmates, new friends, new teacher.... everything new. He is such a smart kid, I don't think this will affect him like it did Eric. Different children, different outlook on life

We got PJ's TCAP (TN standardized test) scores yesterday. He scored above average in nearly everything. He rushed through the test. He was running behind so he started guessing. He guessed pretty good, he scored well into the 90's in most part. It amazes me how he does that.
Well, I will find out more from Eric this afternoon. He gets out of school at 2:25. I should hear from him shortly thereafter. I hope his day goes well. Most likely homework already!