Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's Getting Hot in Here...

Because we're installing our radiant-heat under the tile in the bathroom!

I'm really excited to have these (warm tootsies 4eva) but I'm also a little nervous about this part of the process. Installation seems pretty easy - unroll the mats, stick them to the floor, mortar and tile over - but f you nick or damage the wires, you can knock out a whole mat. And they're not cheap. Even worse, if you don't realize what's happened until after you install the tile, the only way to fix it is to rip out the floor. So we're going to be veeeeeeery careful. 

We're using electric mats, and we went for a type that would be warm enough to actually be the main source of heat for the room. Right out of the box - it's amazing how small these mats are.

So much worry and expense for something so tiny.
The unrolling and positioning begins... can you tell we're excited?

We ran into a little trouble adhering the mats to the floor. The instructions suggested duct tape or double stick tape, which wouldn't stick to the floor. We ended up using hot glue, which worked like a charm. 

Too bad someone stole the instructions...
So pretty!

Now that it's down, we can attach an alarm that will let us know if we break the connection. So far, so good. Next we'll tack it down with a thin layer of mortar, do a final test, and then tile over it. I can't wait!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Optimus Primer

Our room is a transformer - going from a half-finished construction-blue project to a real room, with just a couple coats of paint.

We knew we wanted the master suite to be mostly white, but that opens the door to a million possibilities. There are endless shades and choices for white paint. I wanted a slightly warm white so the room would feel cozy and inviting, but not one so yellow it would clash with the gray tile.

Thankfully, we have a foolproof selection process. 

Okay, we also may have spent a lot of time comparing paint swatches to our other tile and finishes. But Hermie had a pretty good nose for the right choice.

We chose Sherwin-Williams Alabaster White (their 2016 Color of the Year), with Tricorn Black as an accent color. We like a matte look, but a higher gloss offers more resistance and easier cleaning in a bathroom; so we settled on satin finish.

It's going to look great!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Talkin' Turkey

Over the holidays, I made one of my favorite meals - a roasted turkey breast with mashed potatoes and gravy. YUM!

But this isn't a post about my mother's insanely easy and delicious recipe for roasted turkey. (Maybe later, if you're good.) It's about the wonderful thing you can do after you make any whole poultry recipe: make stock.

Homemade stock takes a little time, but it's mostly hands-off and not hard at all. Just throw carcass into a stockpot with aromatics and water, and simmer for half a day. The result is miles ahead of what you get out of the box or can. It's richer, smoother, and more flavorful.

I knew that because I only had a breast carcass, I was missing some of the most flavorful parts of the bird for stock. So to ramp up the flavor, I adapted a NYT recipe that called for roasting the carcass and veggies. This particular one also adds a splash of white wine, which in my book never hurts!

I roasted the carcass with onions, carrots, and celery, at 450 for about 20 minutes (or until the kitchen smelled like heaven!)

Then I tossed it all in a stockpot with white wine, and brought it up to a boil for 3 minutes to let the wine reduce.  When it was syrupy, I added few smashed garlic cloves, thyme, and bay leaves. I topped it off with 3 quarts of water, and brought the pot back up to a full boil. Then I reduced it to a simmer, and left it there for the afternoon.

When it's golden and flavorful, I pour it into ice cube trays and freeze.  Once it's frozen solid, I pop the cubes out of the tray and into a freezer bag. This makes it easy to grab a couple of cubes to add to a recipe whenever I need some. And since it keeps for a long time this way, your one pot of stock will last you.

Of course one ice cube tray wasn't enough, so we ended up using a novelty Dr. Who tray to freeze the rest. Dalek-shaped turkey stock, anyone?

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Year in Review

Happy 2017! This is the perfect moment to pause and reflect back on how far Hermione's House has come this year. It can seem like we're always behind and the work is never-ending, so I love to stop occasionally and remember how much we have accomplished.

Here's what the upstairs looked like at the beginning of 2016.

Demolition had just started. The old drywall was gone, but the insulation hadn't been replaced, and we hadn't yet torn out the original floor or started plumbing and electrical work. We had begun building the window wall, but not the bookcase.

In February, we opened up the floor for pipes and new insulation. Of course, in February we also said we'd be 100% done by mid-March. Let me just say: ha. Haha. AhahaHAHAHAHAHhaahahaaaaa. Sob.

The best part of this phase was remembering not to fall through the floor.

In spring, the plumbing, electrical, insulation, and vapor barrier were in place, the subfloor was down, and we were ready to start putting the walls back together. In retrospect, this was probably our most productive time of the year.

One down...

And one up!

In summer, we took a lot of time off to work (and play!) outside. And to be totally honest, I think it took us until the end of the year to really get back up to full steam. But we still made some progress, especially getting the shower pan installed.

A little of this...

A lot of that.

 In fall, we finished off the drywall with mudding and taping. If you read this blog in 100 years, it will say "and this year, we were still cleaning up drywall dust."

So. Much. Dust.
Finally, squeaking in just under the wire on the literal last day of 2016 (okay fine, and the first couple days of 2017, don't judge), we finished the drywall! Primed, painted, delivered. But you'll have to wait until the next post for details on that.

There are still miles to go before we sleep (upstairs, anyway), but this year we took care of the hard underlying work of adding an entirely new bathroom. Thus, I dub 2016 The Year We Ripped it All Up and Put it Back Together Again. Take that, Humpty Dumpty. It can be done.

And through it all, we had our mascot to cheer us up or console us, depending on how the day went. We love you, Hermie!

I generally keep this blog focused on what's going on inside our little house, not out in the wider world. But I feel that I have to respond everywhere in my life to the political and social events of 2016. So without straying too far from my purpose here, I will say this: you are always welcome in our home. Regardless of your race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, ability, or background of any kind, our door is open to you.

Here's to 2017, and to the many photos and adventures to come.