Friday, August 26, 2011

Pantry Progress - Or Not

Getting this pantry finished in a timely manner has been more of a challenge this week than I expected. I feel like I'm back in college again, dreading a group project because I'm the only one who cares enough to not wait until the last minute. Which means I just end up doing all the work to make sure everything looks perfect when turned in. 

Am I the only group-project-hater out there?

I haven't had to do all the work on the pantry, but I have had to wait for other people to fulfill their obligations. And I've been a baby about them not meeting said obligations. 

Boo frickin' hoo.

The Ideal Schedule

Saturday: Shelving Guy comes to cut out the old pantry and prep it for Drywall Guy. I call Drywall Guy to schedule him to come early Monday morning.

Sunday: Enjoy a day of rest by attending church. Dream of my pantry during the Sunday School lesson.

Monday: Drywall Guy shows up early and completes drywall and mud in just a few hours. He laughs at all of my jokes but works hard and does a great job.

Tuesday: Thanks to fans on the mud all night, the drywall is ready for the texture layer by Drywall Guy. He shows up at 6:00 AM and is finished an hour later.

Wednesday: Shelving Guy shows up bright and early to install shelves on three walls in our laundry room. This exposed shelving will now make up a huge pantry that makes my heart go pitter-pat.

Thursday: After the shelves are up and caulking around the edges is dry, it's time for Hubby and I to paint like the wind. It takes just an hour with both of us working hard. 

Friday: Because the paint dried overnight, this day is spent carefully putting together the new pantry! We get to decide what-goes-where in this new huge storage space. This may very well be my favorite part, thanks to being borderline-OCD.

Saturday: Just one week after the project begins, we are finished, in a clean house, with a huge pantry. Dinner guests arrive for a full-house tour but get some stinkin' awesome Pantry Envy as a result.

Being the optimist that I am, I should have known my ideal schedule wouldn't have gone as planned. Here's what really happened, so far.

The Real Schedule

Saturday: Shelving Guy comes to cut down the walls of the old pantry. We're off to a great start! I call the Drywall Guy to schedule his visit early Monday morning. He says he'll be there.

Sunday: No change...enjoy church and get excited about this new pantry addition to our home!

Monday: No show. I wait allllllllllllllll day at home for the Drywall Guy. He doesn't show up, and I am too chicken to call him until the next morning.

Tuesday: I wait until a hospitable hour of 8:00 AM to call the Drywall Guy. He says he can be to the house in just an hour to check things out. After finding out that he needs additional parts, he leaves and says he will be back that afternoon. I wait alllllllllllllllllll day at home for the Drywall Guy to return. He doesn't. I seriously consider skipping Drywall Guy and just have Shelving Guy install a panel to cover the open holes. I baulk because I really want it to look nice, and drywalling is the best solution to that. I am reminded of patience by my ever-patient Hubby, and I fall asleep wondering if we will ever hear from Drywall Guy again.

Wednesday: At 6:30 AM, the doorbell rings. Surprise...Drywall Guy is here! He works on installing wood to attach the drywall, then adds the pieces of drywall to cover the holes. To avoid being in his way, I don't get many "during" pictures. He muds the wall and then leaves, with the promise to return early tomorrow morning for a second coat of mud. If the first coat it dry enough. I feel like an idiot because of my ignorance in drywalling techniques...what second coat? I admire the stinky-because-of-mud walls for the rest of the day. He did a great job, and it looks amazing!

Thursday: Per his request, I call the Drywall Guy at 6:00 AM to let him know that my fingernail test passed, and that the wall is dry enough to do a second coat. He says he is on his way. I wait for three hours before leaving for a day with my sisters. I have a little Cabin Fever going on since I've been trapped at home all week. I love being home, but it changes my outlook when I have to stay home! Thankfully, Hubby is working from home and can answer the door. Around 11:00 AM, Drywall Guy shows up. He spends five minutes applying a second coat of mud to the walls, then leaves. Fans remain on to dry the mud for the next day.

Friday: Drywall Guy arrives around 8:00 AM to apply the first coat of texture. I am bummed yet again that more than one coat is necessary. Luckily, this stuff dries more quickly, and Drywall Guy arrives two hours later to apply the second coat. He then cleans up his week-long mess and leaves me with beautiful, sticky walls ready for shelving.

And that's where I am right now. 

If a miracle happens, we will be able to have Shelving Guy arrive on Monday morning to install all the shelving. If all goes well with that, Hubby and I can paint on Monday evening. Then I can begin putting the pantry back together on Tuesday. And that's all if I don't get called to leave for work, which is a constant threat possibility.

I shouldn't hold my breath for this...since everything else has taken so much longer than I had hoped.

Though it's been frustrating waiting for others, I am glad it's been done right. I know it will all be worth it in the end. I am so excited to get over this group assignment and return to my solo projects instead!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Best Banana Bread Ever

No doubt my Mom hates getting that phone call from me. "Um, yeah...I can't find that recipe anywhere. Will you please tell it to me again so I can lose it for next time I want to make Banana Bread?"

Rather than bothering her with my request, I took it upon myself to find a recipe online. And then I tweaked it to add some things that I love. Some of my requirements were 1) Lots of butter. That's how you know it will taste good and stay moist. 2) excessive amount of butter was my only requirement.

I found a delicious starter and went to work. It doesn't take long for the butter to soften, since we keep the house at a decent 80 degrees. (The electricity bill is still ridiculous, so I can't imagine having it any cooler). I mashed my bananas together with the milk and (yummy!) cinnamon to make a delicious paste. After adding the eggs to the wet mixture, I also added a tablespoon of vanilla. Because every baked good tastes better with some vanilla in the mix. Some chopped walnuts were added just before pouring into the buttered-and-floured loaf pan.

And then, after baking for just over an hour, I waited patiently for three whole hours for Hubby to get home from work. I had to avoid walking in the kitchen for that time, of course, because Banana Bread is one of my most favorite things ever, and the smell made me want to devour the whole thing and deny its existence when Hubby came home. But I didn't. I shared. And he loved it just as much as me!

After storing it in an airtight bag all night, it was even more delicious the next day. Usually bread dries out, but this stuff stayed soft and banana-y. You must make this today. Tell me if it isn't the greatest Banana Bread you've ever tasted!

Perfect Banana Bread
Makes one loaf
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
    • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
    • Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    • In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. 
    • In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    • Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until the flour disappears.Add the walnuts.
    • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing. 

    This one will make you cry. It's the best bread my oven has ever produced!

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    A New Home for Our Food

    It's been a tough summer for my blog and I. Because the heat outside has put so many house projects on hold, I don't have much to say! It's been nice to go to work so I can take pictures of flying and post them. So I'm tickled to inform you that we are currently right in the middle of a project in the house that is going to make me so very happy indeed.

    Our laundry room is massive, and I love the open feel. After you walk into the room, the washer and dryer are on the right, next to a door that leads outside to the pool. Just to the left of the laundry room entrance was our old pantry. I say "was" because on Saturday, it was torn down!

    We had a dinky little pantry with awful, used-before closet shelving. It was hard to get to things tucked away in a corner, and the shelves didn't even reach the back of the wall. Having a huge gap back there gave the opportunity for all sorts of things to fall behind. Perhaps the worst part is that the pantry doesn't live up to its purpose of adequate food storage, and I've been dreaming of a better option for months. 

    Because I knew drywall would need to be fixed after the old walls were cut out, I immediately knew this was a job larger than Hubby and I. Luckily, it's still only been the second job we've had hired out. The first was installing the medicine cabinet in the master bathroom. I didn't know how to move an electrical outlet and decided letting a professional play with fire was probably the best option. However, I watched him very closely so I can do it next time! This pantry project was also a perfect time to bring in a professional, and our neighbor just happens to be a general contractor who can have it done this week! Who knows how long it would take us if we attempted to do it on our own. 

    On Saturday, Alan showed up with a big electrical saw to cut out the wall and ceiling that formed the tiny pantry. Our goal is to shelve this wall, floor-to-ceiling, more efficiently and with shelves that actually reach the wall. We are also shelving the adjoining wall up to the light switch. Behind the pantry, just to the right of the washer and dryer, we will also be removing the cabinet currently housing things like paint and frequently-used tools. We will be tearing this out to make room for an entire wall of shelving from floor-to-ceiling once again. It will be partitioned off to avoid being seen from the laundry room entrance, and it will also be partitioned off in the middle to provide a barrier between tools and food storage. I can't wait!

    We will more than quadruple our food storage space, which will give me plenty of room to acquire the food I want. You never know when food will come in handy! Supposedly it's necessary to sustain life, so I think this is a justifiable desire to have a bigger pantry to store everything.

    Today, the drywall professional is coming to patch the walls and ceiling. He will lightly texture it to match the rest of the wall. It might be a two-day process to allow the mud to dry before the texture is applied. Hopefully he will be finished tomorrow, which will allow Alan to return on Wednesday to shelf the entire room. That will allow Hubby and I to paint it all on Thursday, with drying time overnight so I can put everything back in the pantry on Friday. Just in time to host a dinner with neighbors on Saturday! Of course, this is the schedule going on in my brain, and I can only hope it happens. Hubby tried to assure me that it would be fine if people saw a project-in-progress, but I think it's much more fun to show a finished product! Since the timing is out of my hands, I will just relax and enjoy what's done this week. I can hardly wait for the end results!

    Knowing what we were about to do, I've spent the past few weeks gathering storage containers, metal baskets (that will be spray-painted, of course), and air-tight canisters to help me pull this pantry together. All of the shelving will be open, but I know that my Type-A skills can make the pantry look neat and organized despite a bunch of cans being exposed to everyday view. All pantry items are currently living in the guest bedroom while construction is in progress. You know that doesn't bother me one bit! (Nervous laugh). It will be amazing when everything has a proper home with room to add even more!

    To finish this room, we will eventually stack the dryer on top of the washer to make room for an upright freezer. We are building the shelves to accommodate the freezer down the road.

    A new pantry is being born this week, and I'm giddy. Not many homeowners show a pantry on a house tour, but ours will certainly be a highlight after this week!

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