Fall is here!

Has it been two months yet? Not quite? Well, that’s okay. I suppose I can write a post any way. So Summer is over. Shocking no one I wasn’t able to blog 15 weeks in a row. August really took me out and September stomped me down, but here we are in October. Not to say bad things happened in August and September, quite the opposite! It just kept me busy and I didn’t take the time to write. Refocusing on that now.

The house keeps inching along and there is light at the end of the tunnel! Which is fortunate because I will have 6 house guests for a long weekend in just over 6 weeks. Wow, I really shouldn’t have written that. Puts things in perspective a little too much. However it’s also quite weird to think that that means Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it extended family time! I’ll hold photos of the progress for another time since I want to finish this post before my mom gets here. That’s right, we’re working tonight. (To those of you who know my father/my family this will not come as a shock, but I have a detailed list of every single thing (I think) I need to do everyday of the week in order to have everything just ‘so’ before winter/the holidays hit. It’s intense and I love it. Keeps me focused which, let’s face it, I need.)

Already I’ve had a reunion with one side of the family. Two weekends ago the Quarnstrom’s got together for a Northwest Missouri Bearcat game. Both my father and uncle went to school there. My dad only has one brother and they both managed to get all of their kids (and grandkids) wrangled together for a Saturday of fun (even me, who swore up and down I would NEVER go to a game in Maryville. Well played dad, well played). After 6 or 7 years, it was nice to be able to catch up and see what my cousins and uncle & aunt have been up to.

With what little free time I have left (that I don’t decide to just loaf around at home) I’ve managed to cut out some time with the friends. Just last night I went to a concert with one of my buddies.

Hear that weirdo laughing? Yup. That’s me. Good times. We even waited around after the show to meet Ingrid. Although she was quite pressed for time so we only got a few moments with her we got to talk to Billy (the dude singing on stage in the video) for a short while which was quite fun. I don’t go to many concerts so it was a nice break from the norm.

Okay, well time is tight and I have some wood shoes to measure and cut.

Until next time
~ Q

Basement Remodeling

The walls have pine boards on the bottom 3 feet and drywall above that. Why? If it floods again we wont have to redrywall, just replace a few boards. My parents are brilliant.

The walls have pine boards on the bottom 3 feet and drywall above that. Why? If it floods again we wont have to redrywall, just replace a few boards. My parents are brilliant.

The basement finishing project has been ‘on’ for months now. Team awesome (myself, my mother and father) have been working on it sporadically and things are coming along. There still is a lot of stuff to do, but when I look back on photos of where it was when I bought the house and moved in, well it reminds me just how lucky I am to have such selfless workers in the form of my family to help me with the gigantic project. (We’re effectively doubling the usable square feet of the house by finishing the basement).

When I bought my house in June the basement was completely unfinished. It had been victim of lack-of-electricity based flooding and had to be gutted by the previous owners. They never did quite get it refinished after that. We’ve had to stud out the basement, board and drywall everything (sans mudding at this point), and now we’re working on adding a suspended ceiling. We’ve done most of the work ourselves, but we did call in professionals for a handful of elements. BedroomAlthough we know wood working basics (we built a 1 1/2 story garage in our backyard with a work force of mom, dad, and kids aged 16, 13 and 10 – which is, of course, why we’re team awesome) we weren’t well versed in plumbing, electric or stair building specialties.

The latest project is getting the drop ceiling installed so the electrician can come back and finish the lighting. After months of little light in the basement, I'm sure it will seem like a lit-up stadium once it's finished.

The latest project is getting the drop ceiling installed so the electrician can come back and finish the lighting. After months of little light in the basement, I’m sure it will seem like a lit-up stadium once it’s finished.

There have been countless nights and weekends of diving in to an aspect of the project, running across some issue, and putting our heads together to find the solution. The motto for my mom and I (or something we say at least once a week, if not once a day) is “we’ll figure it out”. Between you-tube and online forums there isn’t much we haven’t been able to do. (I use ‘we’ generously. My mom is the one who figures out the more technical things and then just tells me what to do. I have learned many processes via this method. Anyone need help shortening a door? I can now help you with that.)

At first it was all so, technical, getting the structure in place. But now, now we’re getting to the fun part: decorating. However with decorating comes trips to crazytown.

For instance: here are a couple of poorly lit shots of the bathroom:Bathroom

Now on the left (the color with the ‘x’) is what I picked originally. I painted bits of the bathroom months ago to see what I thought of the color. This photo doesn’t show the actual color all that well, but it never felt quite right. So yesterday we got the color on the right. Such a huge difference right? It might be stuff like this that makes people say women are crazy. However, crazy or not, I now have all of the grays picked for the basement. Gray, in my opinion, is a tough color to get right, so I’m very happy to have that hurdle done with. Now all we need to do is mud and I can get the top half of all the rooms painted!

Until next time
~ Q

Thirty Day Challenge: Day Seventeen

Day Seventeen: Something That You’re Proud Of

I’m proud of my independence, or rather my self-sufficient nature. Actually, neither of those feel like the right sentiment. I’m proud for taking a risk. This year I did something that that was unprecedented in my family. I bought a house. Now you may be thinking, “Big deal, people by houses all the time.” Keyword: people. Thinking it through, my mom was married before she could even toast her own marriage and my grandmother definitely wouldn’t have considered buying a house on her own. Not because she couldn’t manage it, she raised three kids under the age of three, she could manage/do anything. It was just very much beyond the social norm. So, I guess I’m proud of myself for taking the risk. Taking on such a huge responsibility, that is usually shared between two people at least, and accepting it as my own.

When I was making the decision did these things occur to me, ever? Of course not. However, as I do the day-to-day stuff, like this morning when I woke up at 5:30 so I could shovel the drive way without being late to work, it hits home a little bit more. I am crazy. Oh wait, no, not that, I am independent – a trail blazer. Not in anyway that will matter to anyone else, but that’s not the point. The point is that for once, I didn’t let social conventions or fear dictate my decisions. I took, and am taking, a giant risk and so far, so far it’s working out.

Now, lest you get the fool hardy notion, that this post is somewhat suggesting, I have not been alone on this crusade. My parents, who live about ten minutes away, and their support have been a major factor in why I have succeeded. They come over on average once a week to help me finish my basement, a project I could never have done on my own (we’re doing most of the work ourselves). Also, as I mentioned in another post, they came over Sunday to help me shovel that particular storm, making the usual hour-long endeavor only about 20 minutes. So, although I may be the only name on the deed, this isn’t really a solo mission. I have plenty of support in the wings and that is a major comfort.

Anything’s possible, if you’ve got enough nerve.J.K. Rowling

The Countdown Continues…

The day is just four days away and I realized last week just how much stuff I need to get done before I bring in my cavalry of carriers to schlep my stuff from the garage to the house. Things I need to accomplish before the weekend include rodding the closet, general cleaning (can’t imagine it hasn’t stayed pristine from the cleaning I did two months ago), and curtaining the living room/dining room. What did I do last night though? I brought the dishes into the kitchen and started getting that organized.


Forgotten Treasures

Hey, it has to happen too and this way I have food/utensils while I do all the other stuff. The best part about unpacking 2-3 months after packing is all the presents you suddenly get. I had somehow forgotten about some of my more awesome dishes, such as my TARDIS mug. Perhaps the Doctor removed the memory but it’s back now and I can’t wait to continue the unpacking process this weekend to see what other hidden treasures I have! Until next time ~ Q

Closing Day

New Home

Porch with a swing, new reading spot!

Well the day has arrived and I am quite nervous. I’ll be leaving shortly to officially sign all the papers (or perhaps be told that I’m insane and no, they wont let me buy a house. I’m not sure how these things work). Yesterday I had the final walk through of my house and I must say it’s starting to hit home that this will be my home. I didn’t want to believe it before in case something went wrong, but now that I’m on the threshold all that is left to do is to cross it. The ‘to-do’ list for this weekend is fairly basic. Photograph everything (to have proper ‘before’ photos) and then clean it all. Once we get that done we’re going to tape out the basement, marking where we plan to put walls etc. That way when the plumbers and electricians come to give us quotes they can confirm (or alter) that where we will be putting studs will work for the final vision. (Which as a surprise to me, the plumber will be stopping by on Saturday-can’t wait!) The final item on the agenda is to get test paint and do test areas for the upstairs rooms. Lucky it’s a small house since I seem determined to paint the entire thing (except the outside, it’s a brilliant red).

Although I wouldn’t recommend staying out late before the start of a warrior weekend it did help me stay distracted last night. I had my first sand volleyball game of the season (third set of games for the team, first time I could attend personally). To say I was overly excited and unable to appropriately channel that energy would be a understatement. I was just so excited to see my teammates again! I quickly fell back into my roll of team jester. I am lucky that they seem willing to put up with my antics since, wow, my playing was especially erratic last night. Hopefully I’ll have reined it in a pinch for next week’s match-ups. (We won our first official game and the second set was forfeited so we won by default. However we found some random people to play instead and also won that game. We were on fire!) After the games I then met up with some of my theater peeps and we ended up going to karaoke. Although I lacked the courage to go up and sing myself, it was still a fun evening and again, a great diversion from today.

However, I guess I can only distract myself for so long. Now the day has arrived and it’s time to get started. Let the work begin on the new home! A new chapter of my life begins today, I suppose. Scary, but true.

Until next time ~ Q

Big doings in my online abscense

If you follow my blog you will realize that in the last couple of months there hasn’t been anything to follow. This is because I’ve been busy in the doings of the world around me.

See that person to the far left in front (shorts and stripes)? That's me, being a little joiner.

See that person to the far left in front (shorts and stripes)? That’s me, being a little joiner.

In March I auditioned for a community theater production and that has eaten much of my free time. On top of that I decided it’d be a brilliant idea to buy a house. A week later I gave my landlord notice, two weeks later I’m out of my apartment (and back with my parents who very kindly agreed to give me refuge) and two days later I’ve bought a house. Apparently once I’ve truly put my mind to something there isn’t much that will hold me back. This can be seen as both positive and negative, I am sure.

So here I am on June 4, 2013. Tomorrow is the opening day of the musical Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat (I play Dan’s wife) and in ten days I take possession of a house. I am both exhilarated and terrified. I mean this is a house. I will own something of real value and if I mess it up it will be a HUGE deal. It’s not like my apartment where if something went wrong I could call the landlord. If something goes wrong I might be able to call my parents, otherwise I really will just have to figure it out myself.

My future house!!

The realtor’s photo of my future home.

Bear with me over the next month (or two or three) because there will be many posts about the house; that is if I can maintain any sort of regular posting schedule. The basement is completely unfinished and my parents have agreed to help me finish it off pretty much as soon as I get the keys and can go in the house. So it will be lots of DIY and decorating, which falls under the purview of projects and such that I post about. I’m lucky I’ve been swamped with rehearsals over the last month or I might have gone completely mad with waiting. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve driven by, pulled up the drive way and even sat on the porch. This sounds creepier than it is because it’s actually vacant. So it’s not like anyone is living there to see me stalk my future residence….except my future neighbors.

Also, the town’s festival (Scandinavian Days) is this weekend (which is what the musical is for). Again I will be participating in the parade; in two floats if I can finagle it. Further updates about the festival, musical, and of course life in general to come.

41 days of Celebration Surprises

Wow, twenty days…where does the time go? Not only that, but now it’s 36 days until the new year and already 4 days of my ’41 days of Celebration and Surprises’ have passed. I feel like 25 just aren’t enough (the 25 days of Christmas made popular by ABC Family…and Advent and just so many things in general.) Also, by having 41, instead of just 25, there isn’t the…what’s the word? Let down isn’t right, but if you do that 25 it’s like excitement excitement excitement, Christmas hits and then BAM nothing…so instead I’m gonna keep going right through to the new year, and greet 2013 in a way I haven’t greeted the others.

Day 1: Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving
Although we are thankful to be together, my immediate family doesn’t really do Thanksgiving in a traditional sense anyway, on the day of

As my dad calls us, The Brain Trust had lots to discuss about the various trees. We’re even starting my nephew off early, he’s not even two yet.

. No, instead our family usually goes Christmas Tree hunting. In the past the hunt has been…heated. All three of us siblings can be headstrong with our opinions on which tree is ‘perfect’. The first year it took us over two hours to agree on a tree. However since then it’s been easier and easier to agree. Either we’re growing up, learning to pick our battles, or know/understand the traits we each look for most. After our tree expedition out to the tree farm we returned home to have dinner. Rather than having turkey or ham we had Nachos (why I love my family). Then we did prep and cooking for the big weekend.

Day 2: Friday, November 23: Atkins Thanksgiving
Every year my mom’s family comes to town for Thanksgiving weekend. Two days of nearly 20 adults in my parents house. It’s awesome and usually crazy. Friday is the big traditional meal day. The family starts arriving around noon and spends the time before the meal either helping with the cooking or out shopping (trying to score a couple Black Friday deals). This year two (of the three that would travel to our house) siblings were able to make it. It was weird, for whatever reason with four less people than usual (still leaving us with 17) it seemed like a much smaller crowd. Seriously, that line of thinking seems rather ridiculous. Anyway, Friday is the day we have our typical Thanksgiving meal. After we washed up and ate too many desserts my cousins and I went to my apartment to finish watching the Creighton- Wisconsin game. It was favorable that we left. One of the families are huge Creighton fans while my brother-in-law is a Wisconsin man. My cousins were able to rejoice in the win without punishing him too much.

Day 3: Saturday, November 24: Atkins Thanksgiving continued & Brunch with the Girls
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with a couple of my besties since they were in town for the holidays. (This is a major bonus to me staying close to home. I’m always here when they come home to visit their families, so if they have spare time for a cup of coffee or something we can usually meet up. We decided to head to The Cafe for brunch, us and maybe a fourth of the population, but I can taste why. It was sooooo good. Pumpkin pancakes, cranberry-lime scones, parfaits. Perfection. It was fun seeing the two of them and hearing about their shenanigans (one of them just closed on a house, the other is a teacher. There are always shenanigans to discuss). After returning home the day was full of soup, games (like Ticket to Ride which, with many of us being rather cut-throat, means it’s usually a five-way battle of wits. My only goal this year was to get longest route. A goal which I did achieve even though I didn’t win overall) , and a couple episodes of Top Gear. (My uncle is really into car, a passion he has somewhat passed onto his son. He had talked about this show and despite myself I may be hooked on it).

Day 4: Sunday, November 25: Cooking and a Classic
My darling sister likes to do some of her Thanksgiving baking weeks ahead and then freeze it (like the amazing rolls/breads we usually have just laying about on Saturday). This has lead me to try an experiment this year. I’m going to start cooking holiday goodies now for our Christmas festivities. That was the plan anyway. Yesterday I tried 4 recipes: Honey-Almond Fudge, Honey Cakes, Pumpkin ‘Fluff’, and Pumpkin Poppers. I had a 75 percent success rating. Care to guess which one didn’t work out?
The Honey Cakes, although more biscuit like, turned out just fine. They are these dense tough cookie-like baked goods that taste really good with some jam. (Sadly I didn’t bring my camera from my parent’s house after the other weekend activities so I don’t have any photos. I even told my mother I wouldn’t be needing it, once again, mother knows best. However since I’ll have the goods for a while, I’ll post a follow up post with both the pictures and the successful recipes when I get it back). I don’t usually bake from scratch, and part of the reason is obvious: I don’t have the proper materials. I had to use a cup to roll out my dough since I didn’t have a proper roller, nor did I have a round cookie cutter. Then I realized I had mason jars and the lids were the perfect size, so that worked out rather well.
Pumpkin Poppers are delicious. They are meant to be more doughnut hole-esque though and I didn’t have the right materials for them either. You’re suppose to cook them in mini-cupcake tins. I only have normal sized ones. Once I had filled them up I decided to just make a shallow loaf/cake with the rest of that batter. It worked shockingly well…except for when I dumped it out and broke it. Even then I just cut it up into various shapes (based on how it had fractured) and it worked out just fine. The ones that I had cooked in pumpkin tins I finished the way the recipe intended (brushing/rolling them in butter then in cinnamon-sugar). The loaf I combined with the Pumpkin Fluff.
Pumpkin Fluff is cool-whip with instant pudding and pumpkin added and is a bit addicting. It made a lovely ‘frosting’ for the Pumpkin loaf-cake and will taste amazing with graham crackers. (This last bit is an extrapolation, but it tasted good with the pumpkin loaf and on it’s own.)
This leaves the fudge being a fail. I don’t have a candy thermometer, so perhaps that was my downfall, but I’ve made fudge without it before. The directions were just poor. I was trying a new recipe and after heating the mixture to soft-ball stage I was instructed to cool it until it reached 100 something degrees (which was suppose to take 50-60 minutes). After 40 I checked it and had a hard mess stuck to the bottom of the pot. The poor pot will never be the same…it still has hardened sugar stuck to it. I’m going to have loads of fun trying to fix that situation. Rather than trying the fudge again I decided to pass on it. I’ll be making more fudge in the next couple of weeks. We don’t need this batch of fudge.
To finish up the day I watched a classic movie. Oh perhaps I should take this time to explain the ‘surprise’ part of the next month. Earlier this month I put a handful of movies in two separate opaque bags. On Friday/Sunday I will close my eyes (for good measure) and pull one out to watch. The ones on Sunday are suppose to be older movies (I honestly can’t recall what I set aside for either night). Yesterday it was The Court Jester starring Danny Kaye. (Also Basil Rathbone who, of course, voiced Sherlock Holmes for so many years)

I love old movies, particularly this one. The writing, although decades old, is still funny and witty. The large ensembles are amusing and add a sense of grandeur that just isn’t the same nowadays.  Which makes it highly re-watchable. If you’ve never seen the movie and are looking for a comedy set in the days of lords and vassals pick this sucker up, you wont be disappointed.

Must dash – plenty of fun to come though, let the holiday festivities begin!
Until next time ~ Q