Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Little Handspun Yarn

One of the nicest things about fall and winter is that once the garden is done, then I have time to sit at the wheel and spin some yarn.

Like this stuff.   I spun it over Thanksgiving.   It's a 3 ply superwash wool yarn.  I started with three colors of my hand dyed roving [deep blues, vineyard, old brass].  It's mostly blues, but it's got some glorious golds, rust, eggplant and russet as well. 

I think there are more than 9 ounces of the finished yarn.  Enough for a nice warm handwoven shawl. 

I get all happy just looking at it. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mushroom Potato Soup

I was hungry for my Zuppa Toscana and then found out I didn't have any sausage.   You just can't have Zuppa Toscana without sausage.  You can maybe pull off some zuppa, but it just won't be Toscana. 

So I improvised.

And made some really terrific Mushroom Potato Soup instead.   I'm warning you ahead of time that this is not a fast soup.   It takes time.   Time and butter.  Don't skimp on either.   The trick here is to let the onion and mushroom actually brown in the pans. 

Yes, pans.    It'll be worth it. 

Robin's Mushroom Potato Soup

1 lb mushrooms, cut in half and then sliced up.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 more tablespoons butter
1 tsp salt
5 small potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups of broth [I used chicken]
2 chicken bouillon cubes or the equivalent
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cream [optional]

Brown the mushrooms with 4 T butter and 1/2 tsp of the salt on medium heat in a large skillet.   In a soup pot, brown the onions on medium heat in the rest of the butter and the salt.   When the onions are brown, add the broth and the potatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender.  When the mushrooms are brown, add the flour and 1 cup of the stock out of the potato pot. Stir around to make a gravy.  Add the mushrooms to the rest of the soup.   Stir well and simmer until it thickens a bit.   Optional:  If you want a creamy potato version, add 1/2 cup cream.  

This is some great soup!  

[Sorry about the photo quality.  It's December.  It's dark.] 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014


Rosehips are one of my favorite things about winter.   I love the shape, the color - even the thorns.  They make beautiful wreathes and one of these days  I'll make another one and post some pics.  In the meantime, I found this site with 25+ things to do with rosehips [including wreathes!]  Everything from face masks to soup to jam.   Check it out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fascia Board

The fascia board on your house is the board that covers the rafter ends and is the board to which your gutters are connected.  

It's important.

It protects your rafter ends from exposure to wet and therefore rot.

We hate rot.

As you can see from the top pic, installing the fascia happens way up high.  Our boards were 16 ft long and had to be installed at the top of a second story.   

By one guy on a ladder.   Eric. 

Soooo, the first thing he did was make a jig.   Two, actually.  It's a piece of plywood with a notch cut out to hold the board up while he nailed it in place.   He screwed the jigs about 9 feet apart...

 ...and put a pulley between them. 

Then we roped the board in the center and Eric climbed the ladder while I pulled up the board with him. 

It worked brilliantly!

One thing we learned was to make sure the jigs weren't too high.   If they were, then the boards wouldn't slip in easily and that was a pain teeter tottering the heavy board and trying to hang on to the ladder while getting it all steady and then lifting into place.

If you place the jigs a bit low, then the boards pop in fast and you can shove a few shims in the jig under the board to raise the board into place while you nail.

It does mean moving the ladder back and forth a few times and it's slow, but it allows one person on a ladder and one on the ground to do the work safely.    Safe is good.

And now our fascia boards are on.    They'll be covered with metal when the metal roofing goes on.  Then the gutters can go on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

After the Rain, the Roof


After the rain.  The roof.

Eric went with rafters instead of trusses because we didn't have any way to get prebuilt trusses up there, but rafters can be built in place.  

First Eric had to put in the ceiling beam for the second story and set in all the ceiling joists.  That makes the bottom of the roof triangle.

Then he had to build a ridge beam to make the top point of the roof triangle.   Then all the rafters had to be cut  and attached to the ridge beam and the joists/walls below [which is the ceiling of the new second story.]  

Did that even make any sense?

The pic is from late on the second day of roof building [the second weekend of the Big Building Phase].   

To make extra sure that the rafters would stay in place, he cut gussets [trapezoid shaped pieces] that he glued and  nailed in on each side of the roof [inside] where it joined the second story ceiling.   Sorry no pic.   The gussets support the bottom points of the triangle where the lower edge meets the edges of the triangle that go up. 

It took a lot of precise cutting and heavy lifting to make that roof.   It also took some nimble feet and careful walking so as not to slam one's head into the shorter attic area.  

See the red ladder on the left?   That's how we're getting up to the second floor right now. 

Yeah we're the cover story for White Trash Homes and Gardens.  I keep telling myself it could be worse.  We are, after all, living in a construction site.

You can sort of see the general shape of the new part.  The windows are not cut out yet up top.   The back shorter addition will be ripped off and replaced with something with an actual foundation under it, taller ceilings and a roof that doesn't sag. 

Also, we'll have a real stairway inside the house.   We are not planning on using the ladder forever and entering through the girls closet.   

In case you wondered.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vacuuming the Rain

So, for some days after we started cutting out the old roof and starting putting up the second story, our house was not under roof.   It was sort of under tarps, then it was under the subfloor of the new floor for the second story, then it was sort of protected by the new walls, then the joists for the ceiling of the new second story, then the new rafters for the roof, then the new decking on the roof, and then the new tar paper on the new decking on the new rafters over the new second story at which point the lower story was protected from the weather, though the roof was not quite finished with the new metal on it yet. 

In between all those thens, it rained.  Several times.

On one particularly rainy day, we had the second story walls up and many of the new ceiling joists up to.   But not enough to cover with the tarps to keep the wet out.

So, we pulled out our wet vacs and vacuumed the rain for about 8 1/2 hours.   Luckily it wasn't raining super hard the whole time - just continually.

We used a couple of vacs like this one:


and I'm happy to report that they were very effective.   Most of the time Eric's vac lives in his truck and mine lives in my studio.   They live quiet, uneventful lives, saving their energy for emergencies.
Like basement floods or plumbing accidents or tidal waves of purple dye [Don't ask.]

Or rain in house.  These are the moments that wet vacs live for.  It took the four of us constant effort for 8 1/2 hours to keep the rain mostly off the new floor [which was over the old house], but we managed to avert total catastrophe in the structure below. 

That said, at the end of the night, after the rain had stopped, we went downstairs to discover that the ceiling in our bedroom was bulging.   After evacuating our mattresses, Eric poked 9 holes in the ceiling to release the rain water that had come in through the most open area in the new construction and let the water run out into buckets - lots of buckets.    By the next morning, the drips had stopped and Eric sealed up the holes.   Crisis averted.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar

This weekend is our last show of the year and it's one of our favorites.   The show is packed full of local artists working in pottery, weaving, woodworking, glass, jewelry, etc.   There's a fabulous cookie walk and bake sale, a book sale, a white elephant sale...  It's one of the most fun weekends of the season!

Unitarian Church 2014 Holiday Art Fair and Bazaar
Friday, December 5,  10am -7pm
Saturday, December 6,  9am - 5pm
Bloomington, Indiana
Corner of Fee Lane and the Bypass

I'll be there with my hand dyed silks, soap sets, and handwoven scarves and shawls. Stop in and say hello.  

[This is not a yarn show, but I'm happy to bring some for you to pick up if you know what you want.   Check out the etsy shop for my current inventory:  Free shipping if you pick up at the show.]

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Standing the Walls

I told you on Thanksgiving that it was only with the help of our friends and neighbors that we were able to stand the walls and roof.  Over the course of three weekends, ten of them came to help us.   Mark even brought his saw down for us [He's a cabinet maker] to make things go faster [It did!]. 

This is what it looked like the morning this phase began. They broke into teams and laid out the walls, nailed them together, put the decking on [plywood on the outside] and the supports and then they all stood them together. 

It was totally nerve wracking to watch.  

Each wall had to be scooted to the edge, but not allowed to fall over before it was nailed in place. 

Think about it.  It took at least 6 people to support every wall section while it was nailed in.  Except that one that Mark built which was twice as long as the others and which took every last person to help move, stand and get into place.  [He decided smaller was better after that.]

Mind.  Blown.

And they did it laughing the whole time.

You can see the exterior walls in the top pic and this one.  On the left you can see the diagonal supports that we held on to while the wall was scooted to the edge.  Once the wall was nailed in place, the supports were nailed in place too, to keep the walls from falling over before the ceiling and roof were put on.  

This is the pit where the stairway will eventually go.  You can see the old roof covered with tar paper inside the pit.  Eric cut the peak of the roof off, but left the rest to be taken out when we redo the downstairs.  

Right now we're using a ladder to get on top of the back addition roof and then walking up that roof into the new addition via the girls closet.

By the end of the second day, we had all of the exterior walls up and a lot of the interior walls up.   That's the closet area between the girls new bedrooms. 

After we got the walls in, the ceiling beams had to be set so the ceiling joists could be put in and the roof put up.

In the meantime it rained.   A lot. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Canning Turkey Stock

If you're like we are, you have a turkey carcass left over from yesterday's feast.   Yum!   We've got ours boiling in a big pot and later today I'll can the stock for later use in our favorite soups.

Here's the page from the National Center for Home Preservation:

This is how it works:  Make your stock with the bones [bone broth is very good for you - hence the tradition of feeding chicken soup to the ill.]  Boil it all well, with seasonings or without.   Skim the fat if you like, then put it into jars and can with a pressure canner.  20 minutes at 10 lbs for pints, 25 minutes for quarts at 0-1000 ft altitude.   Go to the link for info on other altitudes.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Over the course of our insane decon-reconstruction house project, we have been the recipients of all kinds of help and on this day of thanks, I wanted to acknowledge some of the people who have contributed.

My dad, Joe Edmundson, showed us that it was possible to build a house.   We learned a lot watching and helping mom and dad build their house. 

Our parents, step-parents and sibs have been great supports, cheerleading from near and far.  Thanks, guys!   We'll finally have a guestroom in a couple of months and you can come and see it all for yourselves.   [Bring your work clothes.]

Thanks to Rich, whose engineering skills and advice have helped us ensure that the foundation is good, the walls right and that the roof will stay up.    It's important that the roof stay up. 

Thanks to our neighbors, ten of whom showed up to help us stand the walls and roof.  Thanks to the entire Hewins family:  Michelle, Mark, Colt and Cheyenne.  Thanks to Dave and Jeannette.  Thanks to Mary and Ben.  Thanks to Kate and Michael.  Thanks to Robert and Alexia. Thanks to Mike and Danielle.  Without them,  we'd never have beat the early winter.   I thank heaven every day that we moved out here and landed among the best people on earth.  Thanks to all of you who wave as you drive by and stop and chat when I'm out for a walk.   You're the best. 

Thanks to my girls, who lift, haul, dig, dump, haul more, push, pull, hammer, mow, cook, clean, haul more, dig more, build, climb, plan, paint, and haul more with smiles on your faces.    This house is for you and we hope you're thrilled with it when we're done.  [You better still live here.]

And the biggest thanks goes to Eric, who planned and built so carefully that when we measured the new second floor for square, the house was only 1/8 inch off [which is crazy good building].   Thanks for lifting and hauling more than anyone.  Thanks for thinking everything through so that the walls are plumb and the roof stays up.   Thanks for believing it's all possible [it is!] and for helping make it real.    You deserve a vacation.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old Roof Out, New Floor In

At last we got all of the new 2nd floor floor joists in and the old roof cut out.

Next we did the decking, which is the subfloor for the new second floor.

Here's a pic of the floor of the new second story.  It's kind of open to the wind and weather.

Which makes it kind of tricky to work up there if you have vertigo.

I have vertigo.    I did not enjoy my time up there, except that one last very warm evening when we were scrambling to get the last of the decking on and the whole thing under tarps before the rain.  [We did that A Lot during this project.]   That last night was glorious.   Beautiful warm late October breeze, beautiful sunset, great company [Eric].  

Then the weather turned cold.   The next step was to raise the exterior walls and enclose the space.  Then the interior load bearing walls.  Then the roof. 

And for all of that, we decided we needed some serious help.   And not just the therapy kind.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Putting on a New Second Floor

As you know, we've been doing some renovating.   We started by digging and pouring a whole new foundation.

Then we built some new walls around the old house.

Then it was time to put the second floor on top of the new walls.

Just how did we do that with the old roof in the way?, you ask.

That's a good question.   It took a lot of planning.   Very careful planning.   And very careful placement of support columns in strategic places inside the existing house.  Because the first thing we had to do was put in a beam in the new ceiling that goes the entire length of the house [north to south].   Then lay the joists east to west. 

Eric did that through the existing roof.  There was a lot of old roof in the way.  It had to be stripped and sawzalled out.   I love the sawzall.   In the pic above, you can see the rafters of the old roof sticking out of the floor of our new second story. 
Here's a view from the ground, up into the floor of the new second story.  

Yes, all of this meant that for weeks we had an open roof. 

No.  The weather did not cooperate.   More on that later.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Dumpster

At the end of October, we decided that we needed a dumpster to hold all the trash that was going to come off the roof.  

We got the big one and promptly started filling it.   Eric peeled the old roofing off and dropped it down and at the end of the day, the girls and I bagged it and hauled it to the dumpster.  

Roofing is freaking heavy.   In case you wondered.  It's also full of nails.   It's also really ugly.

There were three layers.  Gray, Pink [yes.] and tar paper.  Here's a pile of the bottom layer of tar paper.   

Then there was the old decking - cedar or poplar planks with the occasional oak one thrown in.  

Then came the rafters.   I'll tell you about that in the next post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...