slow and steady...

Somebody had a birthday on Monday!! We now have an 8yo in the house. She is very happy with her new Creeper softie made and given to her by Daniel (of course he made it a bit smaller than his handmade Creeper softie.)

Creepers are a Minecraft thing. I'm just assuming that those of you out there who are parents of children age 7 through adolescence at least know about Minecraft. If you have somehow dodged the Minecraft obsession in your household, I applaud you.

We have a fairly recent tradition around here of the birthday gal or guy choosing menus for every meal of the day. They haven't yet figured out that they could ask for something totally crazy like pizza for breakfast and ice cream for lunch...still, cooking a day's worth of meals in the basement kitchen was challenging enough. Anya wanted doughnuts for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch - easy enough once I told her we couldn't possibly make doughnuts from scratch in the basement and she'd have to make do with ones I brought home from a local bakery - and then Banh Mi (Vietnamese-style pork meatball sandwiches) for supper with homemade bread because store bought baguettes are too chewy

I obliged. I spent the whole day shopping for food, making food, cleaning up after making food. I didn't mind so much, really, but I did think a lot about how this will all be so much easier on her next birthday when I have an actual kitchen to work in.

I did everything by hand because my trusty gadgets were unavailable. I mixed the cake by hand because when I started, that seemed easier than pulling down the stand mixer from the bathroom windowsill where it currently resides and washing all the dust off before mixing up a cake in it and washing it all again. I might have been wrong about that. If you've ever made a cake by hand with a wooden spoon, you'll appreciate the workout I got beating the milk and butter into the dry ingredients. Holy cats is that a lot of work. She wanted whipped cream on the cake instead of frosting (that's my girl!) so I did that by hand with a whisk, too, because I couldn't find the mechanical mixer. It's buried somewhere in the stacks of boxes lining the walls of the basement.

I mixed the dough for rolls by hand, and even sliced and grated all the vegetables for the BanhMi pickle by hand because there was no way I was going to unearth the food processor and clean it twice.

The meal was a success, the cake was delicious, and after all that mixing and kneading, my arms are a little stronger than they were last week. It almost makes me wonder if those gadgets are even worth having? Aren't we all supposed to be trying to live more simply these days and appreciate the effort that goes into making something by hand, even a birthday cake?

Food for thought, certainly.

Because I'm sure some of you are wondering how the renovation is going, here's an update. Progress is slow, but steady. 

We went two weeks without laundry, and finally got the washing machine re-installed last Friday and discovered that the plumber got the hot and cold mixed up when the first load of "cold wash" came out steaming hot. 

I spent a couple days staining up the bay window and putting coat after coat of polyurethane on the seat. I love this window so much. I'll love it even more when it's got trim and drywall and a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

Here's what the front porch looked like yesterday. Even as I write this, one of the carpenters is finishing up the detail work and adding rail posts.

Painting and finishing still seem like a long way off, but I've been looking at paint colors. Everything upstairs but the bathroom and two bedrooms are getting repainted! (I redid Daniel's room two years ago, the bathroom one year ago, and now what's left is our bedroom, which desperately needs work, but that will have to wait for another time. And funds.) It's really not easy to find the perfect neutral, but I've at least got my options narrowed down to two or three, and I'm counting on the painter to help me make the final decision. It means a lot to have a painter you can trust.

Slow and steady, that's how progress is going.  You better believe, though, that I'd rather be behind schedule than have an expensive catastrophe, or work done shoddily, or sketchy people in and out of my house all day! At least, that's what I tell myself. When I'm moving furniture around for the third  or fourth time since the project started (this afternoon it was to make room for the drywall work tomorrow) and choking on dust and scrounging for dinner in what Daniel has dubbed "the concrete chamber," I think about the big picture.


Anonymous said…
Jacques Pepin says some people job or play tennis for exercise; he uses a whisk on egg whites and a food mill. But, after making a brioche dough using a food processor, he admits that they are wonderful machines, as the "old days" the work was very hard.

A few times I have considered using a food processor to grate or slice, but there has been so little that I will just use a knife on the potatoes. Too little for all the cleaning of the processor. Not as nice or as even, but since I am the one doing the dishes, it doesn't bother me.

I think you are doing a really good job in very difficult circumstances. Hang in there.


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