Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dishwasher! (and I don't meen my wife)

One of the few things that we missed from our old apartment was the dishwasher.  The house didn't have one in fact it did not even have a spot for one, but I didn't let that stop me.  The following photos show the sequence of taking out a cabinet and installing the dishwasher.  We have used it just two times now and are very pleased.  The first load of dishes included a muffin tin, which is perhaps our least favorite thing to wash.  We were impressed that it came out completely clean.  We went with a dishwasher that is quiet (50 dB) so it won't be annoying when we sitting in the living room after dinner.

My favorite tool saves the day again (the sawsall)
Now just add plumbing and insert dishwasher!

First load of dishes

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Spider Year

The spider and web in front of our kitchen window

A spider outside our bedroom window, about to get the broom.
When I came back from Alaska in September I found spiders all over the outside of our house. There were four of them every morning between the two bushes right in front of our kitchen window, they were on the bushes next to our front door, they were outside all our windows, and they were on the car. One morning I opened the front door to leave and there were two hanging right in the middle of our walkway. I just closed the door and went out the garage, it was too early in the morning to deal with spiders! We don't have screens on our windows (the house didn't come with any and we just haven't gotten around to buying them yet) so I was reluctant to open the windows on warm days and let the spiders crawl right in. I even had a dream one night that the spiders were waiting right outside the front door waiting to come in. Amazingly we've only had one IN the house so far - perhaps evidence that our house is well-sealed? I grew up with A LOT of spiders because our house in Chiniak had rough-cut wood on the inside, no sheetrock. It is a relief not to be squishing or capturing spiders all the time. A bunch of other people have told us they have lots of spiders this year too. I guess it's just a good year to be a spider in the Northwest.

Ryan finally went on a rampage with the broom and I haven't seen as many of them since. I know my mom is going to cringe when she sees these photos, but the webs really were beautiful in the morning with the sun shining on them, especially after it had rained. I thought they were worthy of a few photos. That said, I hope we don't have another bad spider year for a long time!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Sunshine State

The Renaissance Vinoy Resort

Fort De Soto Beach: "America's #1 beach"
Downtown St Pete

Ryan and I are in St Petersburg, FL and I am finally getting to see 80 degrees this year! Ryan has a conference here and this is also where his grandmother lives, so I came along to visit. I am very happy to have some summer weather, even if it is October. I managed to miss the hot weather almost everywhere I went this year. I was in Seattle until June 20, but this was the coldest June ever recorded in Seattle. It was the first time on record that it didn't hit 80 degrees in June. I proceeded to spend a month on the Alaska Peninsula in what was an unusually cold July. On Kodiak I did luck out with 6 days of sunny weather for our dig, but the warmest it got was 64 degrees - not exactly hot. After I left Kodiak I spent 3 weeks in Fairbanks where it was unseasonably chilly. Amazingly it was 91 in Fairbanks just a week before I got there. My hopes were high for warm summer weather, but it didn't happen. As I was preparing to leave Fairbanks for Seattle, I kept checking the weather in Seattle. There were several 80 degree days just before I got home, but once I got there it cooled off to the 60's and now it's in the 50's. So, I am happy to at least be able to wear my shorts and sandals once this year!

Ryan's conference is in downtown St Pete at the Vinoy Resort - a totally swank hotel resort with a golf course. We've heard from a few different people that the hotel was run down and abandoned for a long time before it was bought and turned into the Vinoy Resort. It is amazing that a place that fancy used to have homeless people living in it. St Pete has a very nice downtown area with lots of green space. It's hard to imagine what it was like with an abandoned building right on the waterfront.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


Spicy pickled carrots and zuccini

Pickled chili peppers and bread and butter pickles

After being inspired by making spicy pickled carrots with my friend Ginny in Fairbanks this summer, I started canning at home. It's a fun, edible hobby and it's a great way to procrastinate about grad school. So far I've made my own spicy pickled carrots and zuccinis, pickled chili peppers, bread and butter pickles, dilly beans, and blueberry/crowberry jam. We opened the first of the carrots, chilis, and bread and butter pickles last night. They all turned out delicious! Ryan isn't normally a big pickle fan, but he does like spicy pickled things. We chopped the chili peppers up really small and used them on our pizza last night. They were perfect when chopped up. I ate one straight out of the jar just to see how they turned out and I think my mouth was burning for an hour!

I've been very happy that canning has turned out to not be nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. I got some great advice from my friend Ginny as well as a recommendation for the book "Put 'em up!" by Sherri Brooks Vinton. All the pickling recipes I've tried so far have come from that book. My mom is a master jam/jelly maker, as many of you know. I had to call her three times in one afternoon when I made my first batch of jam!

I wish I was making jam from berries I picked myself, but unfortunately this year I didn't have much of a chance. It was a poor salmonberry year in Kodiak and I left before the blueberries or cranberries were ripe. When Ryan and I were in Palmer briefly we did go up to Hatcher's Pass with his mom and we picked a few quarts of blueberries and crowberries from which I made jam last weekend. I was counting on picking huckleberries in Seattle, but that was almost a complete bust. It's a good thing I stocked up on store-bought strawberries and raspberries when they were on sale a few weeks ago, at least I will have something to make into jam!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our Apple Tree

Small apples from our tree

10 lbs of apples!

When we bought our house last April we suspected that one of the trees in our backyard was an apple tree. Unfortunately it didn't have any fruit on it last summer, so we stopped paying much attention to it. This spring I was surprised to see white blossoms all over it. I just assumed that the year before we must have moved in after it bloomed. Right before I left for Alaska in June I happened to notice while I was mowing the lawn that there were tiny green apples all over the tree! Since I was gone all summer, I was very happy to see the nearly-ripe apples when I got home in September. You can't really grow fruit trees in Alaska, so it is very exciting for us to have our own apple tree. We also have an italian plum tree which was covered in plums last year. This year it didn't have any. The hot and dry weather last year must be good for the plums and the cool wet weather good for the apple tree.

Tonight we picked all the apples. Some of them were really small, but most of them were good. Ryan cut up about 3 lbs of them and we boiled them down with some honeycrisp apple cider from our local farmer's market to make applesauce. We are VERY happy with how it turned out and can't wait to eat some for desert tonight. I found some good tips for making applesauce from this blog: and of course from my mom!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Boating and House Projects

Chris and I on the north end of Lake Washington

The Sammamish River

Loading the boat at Magnusson Park

Once Around the Lake

We didn’t actually make it all the way around Lake Washington but we did have a nice trip up the north end of the lake and up the Sammamish River all the way to Bothell.  I had intended to borrow a skiff from work for some time now and figured I had better do it this weekend while the weather was still nice and Molly and I were both home.  While it was mostly cloudy it was reasonably warm and not threatening to rain.  We launched the 16ft skiff at Magnusson Park just a few miles from our house and toured along the shores gawking at the many nice lake-front houses.  Our friend Chris (and my co-worker) joined us and enjoyed driving the skiff as much as I did.  The 40 Hp motor was more than enough to send us skimming across the lake a good clip.  Not much for wildlife on a trip in Lake Washington but we did see a few harons and some jumping fish.  Hoping next time to head south and check out that end of the lake.  The rumor is Bill Gates lives somewhere on the lake down there.

Kitchen Color

Our most recent house project was to liven up the kitchen a little by adding chair molding and some blue paint to the lower section of two of the walls in the Kitchen.  As our dinning area is in the Kitchen this really helped break up the area and brighten it up. We are very happy with the color and the trim. The next kitchen project will be a dishwasher.

Dining area BEFORE (please ignore the banana place settings)