Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The New Fridge--Life's Good

When we last left our heroine, she'd bravely made a choice without moaning or groaning more than absolutely necessary.  Let's resume our story as she begins life anew.

I'm adjusting to our new LG refrigerator--now happily ensconced in her cubby.  It's wonderful to have a freezer that freezes!
It's the simple pleasures, ain't it?

We bid a fond farewell to our reliable Frigidaire workhorse.  Well, sort of farewell--it's attractively occupying our eating nook right now as we wait for the energy company to come recycle it (and rebate us $50).

Fridges that sit in the middle of the room--a decorating trend I'm starting right now.  Remember, you saw it first at Meadowsweet Cottage.  And yes, feel free to Pin It.  Maybe I should slap a watermark on the photo just so I get credit?  On second thought...no.

I'm getting used to the increased width and depth of our newbie quickly.  The height is another kettle of crawdads entirely--the cutting boards which tucked nicely atop the old fridge are still looking for a new home in the kitchen and are currently scattered in three places (the cereal cupboard, the appliance drawer and atop the new beast where I can't reach them).

I confess that the textured surface I was sure I was going to hate is smoother (in a good slippery sense) than I thought. 
I'll think positive and hope that cleaning the shallow grooves is easier than I anticipated.  I am VERY glad that we went with the smooth finish on the front though!  And white was definitely the right choice.

I love the French doors although we haven't entirely succeeded yet in figuring out where things should go.  The split shelves inside have allowed us to customize the heights to accommodate two liter bottles and leftover containers.  Plus my guys are enjoying the ease of the deli tray after having to bend way down to access the old cheese shelf.

And the narrow drawer between the veggie and fruit drawers has proven ideal for egg storage.  It's probably not designed for that, but it works.  Now that I think of it--what was that lil drawer created to hold?  I think it's funny that our freshly-laid butt fruit (don't you hate it when somebody creates a clever-but-fairly-rude phrase that you just can't purge from your brain) ended up in one of the fruit and vegetable drawers.  Bet the designer didn't see that one coming!

Not that I know where to find my Miracle Whip or his mayo, or if the salad dressing goes in the right or left door yet.  We'll eventually figure out a logical way of organizing things so that we all know where to look and where to put away without standing there with the doors open while we puzzle it out.  I just discovered the butter dish today--I couldn't see it way up high where my sweetie put it (in the butter nook of all places).

The bottom freezer rocks.  My sweetie has a convenient tray for his frozen juice cans which also holds ice packs for migraines, sore muscles and owies.
The two drawers make it as easy to organize as my two shelves did but it's definitely easier to find what you want on the bottom of a drawer compared to the back of a shelf!

You can laugh, but our ice cubes now come from an older-than-old double metal Frigidaire ice tray contributed by the Queen Mother. 
My family doesn't throw anything away--we just store it until someone else needs it.

It's been an smoother change than I anticipated.  Once I finally made what I thought was the best choice (click the link to enjoy my making a fool of myself just because I was forced to get a new fridge), I just mentally shifted gears and didn't look back.  Now if I could just grow another three inches so I could reach the top... 

LG doesn't know I exist.  Neither does Frigidaire.  But my offer to help them design the perfect refrigerator still stands.

Bring joy,

Monday, May 20, 2013

My Thirty-Four Year Old Fridgidaire...Farewell, Friend

I'm a little fond of our fridge--a Gemco purchase for our first home way back in 1979.  It's lived through two kitchen remodels.  It survived babies and toddlers and teen-aged boys with hollow legs, and two adults with an empty nest. It's outlived our washer (same vintage) and our dishwasher (a whippersnapper by comparison) and two station wagons.

Yep, it's been running flawlessly for a long, long time.  Although it now does tend to freeze stuff stuck too far back in the summer.  It might have a barely noticeable dent or two.  The door seal is a bit torn in one area. And a green glo-stick leaked and stained the freezer fluorescent yellow when the kids were small.  And, okay, the meat drawer is a distant memory.  But...basically it's still chugging along.

That's actually the problem.  It's now running 24/7 in an effort to keep the freezer compartment cold, and failing.  Our frozen fruit for smoothies is slightly squishy rather than frozen solid.  Giant sigh.  The day I've been dreading finally arrived.  We need a new refrigerator and I knew I wouldn't find anything I liked as well as our old one.  I was right.  Sometimes I hate being right.

We spent the weekend refrigerator shopping.  Which, let me tell you, is a whole different category than mere appliance shopping, for say, a microwave or range or dishwasher.  Those were relatively easy.  I'd rather spend a day in a room with garter snakes than go refrigerator shopping.  Garter snakes just make me scream and levitate three feet laterally.  Modern refrigerators make me moan, groan, gripe, wail, curse and drive my husband crazy.  Snakes do one thing and do it well.  Refrigerators do over a dozen things but none of them in a combination that suits me.  I'm picky simply practical and unimpressed by bells and whistles.

My Frigidaire is easy to clean.  It's large enough to hold plenty of food and still small enough that it doesn't dominate our kitchen but plays nicely.  I can store my extensive collection of wood cutting boards, my family-sized serving bowls, two recipe boxes and all my metal measuring cups on top and still reach them easily (I'm only five foot two).  Our galley kitchen is small and I use every inch of storage including the refrigerator top.

New fridges are so deep that they either stick out into the room or come at a premium price. They are mostly stainless steel and I'm sooo not a gray person.  New fridges have water dispensers and ice-makers and I need neither.  New. Fridges. Do. Not. Have. Egg. Storage.  Someone apparently circulated a memo regarding eggs being jostled as the door opens and closes.  Seriously, people?  Your store-bought eggs are already probably at least a month old, what possible harm could come from storing them in a nice egg bin in the door?  My eggs seemed to weather frequent door openings and shuttings for thirty-four years with no adverse effects.  I'm just sayin'.
Worst of all...the new refrigerators are textured.  Have appliance designers ever cleaned a refrigerator?  Do they all have maids? Do they enjoy scrubbing grease off a textured surface?  Sheesh.  The smooth top of my fridge still needs more than a bit of elbow grease to sparkle. It takes me thirty minutes to remove the stuff on top, climb up on a stool with a warm soapy washrag, scrub it my smooth surface, climb down again, rinse my cleaning cloth, climb up again, scrub, dry it all off and replace my goodies.  I can only imagine how long it would take to scrub the greasy residue off those textured surfaces!

(I know...what a tragic First World problem--choosing a new refrigerator.  I should be ashamed. I am ashamed.  Just a tad.)

Shopping day one involved a patient husband researching refrigerators and dragging a kicking and screaming wife into Home Depot.  Shopping day two involved a patient husband listening to my moaning and rants in Lowe's, Best Buy, Sears and a different Home Depot and ignoring some tears.  Shopping day three involved a patient husband taking me back to several stores to take a second look as I began to accept the fact that I was never going to find the perfect fridge and would have to compromise.  Late shopping day three involved a husband who'd pretty much had it up to here.  I suspect he then slyly played the I-think-this-stainless-steel-model-would-be-our-best-choice card which steered (or panicked) me into immidiately choosing a model available in a less obnoxious appliance color--white.


Our choice has been made--astonishingly, amazingly unlikely as it would have seemed when we started.  I'm not going to like it as much as our old one.  It probably won't last as long as our old one. I'm sure enough of that we bought an extended warranty and we NEVER buy the extra warranty.  But I can live with it.  And I'm busily figuring out how to reconfigure all the junk (see photo 1 above) that's currently living in, on and around Frigidaireland--a task I'm realizing was long overdue.


Throughout most of the process I wondered if I was being unreasonable.  I found out I wasn't the only picky customer out there.  One lady wanted an almond microwave with no negative reviews.  One gentleman wanted a shiny stainless steel front, not brushed.  I guess we all have an idea of what we want and sometimes it doesn't exist, at least in the here and now.

I have to say that every salesperson we encountered was patient, helpful without being pushy, informative and just plain nice.  Even with picky customers like moi.  They're probably the only reason we survived and are still talking.

There are over seven hundred fifty refrigerator models available at one of the big box stores but not one shallow, short, smooth, white one with adjustable shelves.  So, our deep, tall, smooth (sort of), white LG arrives Friday.   I'm good with what we're getting, but if I were to design refrigerators some would be smooth on all surfaces including the top and sides.  Some might be deep and wide for large families but would be available as a traditional, shallow counter-depth model too.  I'd design some wide and some narrower, some tall and some petite.  I'd offer them in every color and finish.  (Okay, not every color although it would be fun to have turquoise or cherry red or sunshine yellow or apple green to choose from.) All my fridges would have infinitely adjustable shelves.  I might even design some without honkin' big pulls. And, oh yes, they'd all have thirty-four year warranties.

I'm available for hire should any appliance makers want some real world input!

Bring joy,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Never Give Up On Plants

I've had a rhododendron for over ten years and it's bloomed exactly once in all that time. And that was only because it had flowers when I bought it!

I apparently planted it in the wrong place.  The deep shade under our cherry tree was way too much shade.  Who knew?  I watered and fertilized and hoped, but nary a blossom.

When we remodeled the back patio I was able to move my sad little rhodie over seven feet.  She began to put on new growth and looked a lot happier in the partial shade.  I made a real effort last summer to fertilize regularly and keep her well watered, and crossed my fingers.

She finally bloomed this week and was totally completely worth the wait.  Her mouth-watering color reminds me of a delicious raspberry smoothie and was the reason I didn't give up on her.  It's as glorious as I remembered.

And she has sweet freckles.

There are only three blossoms this year but they just highjack your gaze whenever you are in the backyard. 
I'm determined to have an outstanding display next year so I'm already in fertilizer mode with Miracle Gro for acid-loving plants plus I've mulched with our homemade compost.  I love rhodies but they are a challenge to grow in the hot, dry, alkaline gardens of the high desert.  I appreciate them all the more when I do have a success story.

Of course that doesn't prevent me from rejoicing when my more-reliably flamboyant perennials bloom each spring. The bearded iris outdid themselves this year in the front yard.
I'm not sure how that sunshine yellow one snuck in.  Naughty iris. I'll be marking it for relocation when it finishes blooming.

The Nelly Moser clematis blooming by the front door is probably my springtime favorite.  The combination of low maintenance, huge flowers, deep color and abundant bloom is hard to beat.

Best of all, I get to share her with the neighborhood!
Bring joy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Japanese Maple Project

As a fearless optimist, I frequently have seemingly-simple ideas that somehow morph into a "project."

This year's idea/project?  A Japanese maple that's been growing in the narrow strip between our entry walk and our garage wall for more than a few years.
I've been hoping to get the go-ahead to cut it down from my sweetie for the past few springs. I'd drop casual comments like "Gee, the branches are starting to grow under the roof tiles" or "Wow, I pruned it and now it looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book" and hope that he'd suggest removing it.
This year I came right out and asked him if he cared whether I cut it down.  In retrospect, he probably knew that removing it involved more than a simple cut with the bow saw and was hoping to save himself some trouble.  Smart boy.

Of course, I'm an impulsive optimist and I was determined to reclaim some sunlight and plant a lilac--or a peony or an English rose, I haven't decided which--and since he didn't actually object...

It didn't take long to hack off the remaining branches and cut through the trunk. I left a tall stump which I knew would provide some leverage when it came time to remove the roots. I just forgot how long it can take to expose the roots!  So my current project is to dig around the roots with my favorite trusty root-grubbing tool--a big old screwdriver--in any and all spare moments of daylight.

It's a mindless job that allows me to dig along the big roots, clip the small roots, remove the soil, dig, clip, remove, dig, clip, remove, dig, clip, remove--while listening to the flirtatious chirps taking place behind my back as the linnets undertake family life in their newly-woven nest hidden in our Nelly Moser clematis. I suspect that I'm going to become such a fixture as I dig that they'll eventually accept me as part of the landscape instead of viewing me as a threat.

It's not a major project that will take weeks of hard work. It's more of a project that should be finished after a few days of exposing roots.  (Ha! I've since found that, while there's no taproot, some of the roots decided to visit China.  I might have to retract that remark about not taking weeks of hard work.)  I want to do a good job so I can provide the new plant tenant a lovely, deep, root-free hole to flourish in.  Fortunately the western roots are covered by easily-transplanted candytuft and mums so I've been working diligently and hope to have half the roots cut soon.  The moondust (as we dubbed our soil long ago) is moist and easy to dislodge and remove. But it's going to require patience to finish because I don't want to dig up the eastern roots until the bluebells finish blooming and can be lifted to a safe haven.  I like them too much to rush them along.

Meanwhile I'm perusing lilac varieties although I know the space is too narrow for a lilac as it was for the maple.  I do just happen to have a bareroot peony growing happily in the shade of the cherry tree. 
Bowl of Beauty currently resides in a nursery pot and needs time to develop a bit more before I'll need to plant it in a permanent location but it might look like this in that sunny area with luck and a few years.

And my brain is repeating "Brother Cadfael, Brother Cadfael" like a mantra,

even though the chance of finding that particular pink English rose in our local nurseries is nihil.

Depending on the root system, which doesn't seem to be extensive, I might have room for both a peony and a new rose! If I'm lucky I might be finished by the time I finally decide what to plant there.  Meanwhile I (and my plants) are enjoying an area without heavy shade.  I know it'll all be worth it in the end.

Bring joy,

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Aura Lee Meets Magnolia Pearl

Goldie (aka Aura Lee) knows something's up.
She's wondering who that new chick coming her way is.

Why it's Magnolia Pearl, the newest member of the flock. She's fully fledged and ready to enjoy outdoor living.

And her friends, more Barred Plymouth Rocks collectively referred to as the Rockettes. I mean, what else are you gonna call'em?
They came outside to enjoy the warm afternoon and check out the pullet run.  Goldie is a big softie and will probably be the bottom of the pecking order even though she's older and a lot bigger.  And a lot prettier.

Shhh!  That's our secret and I won't be mentioning that around any little grey ears.  You know how sensitive girls can be.  But it's true anyway--her golden Buff Orpington color is scrumptious!

I wouldn't dare put any of the the new flock, including Goldie, near the aging Bombshells--they are a bit assertive when it comes to other chickens, our dogs and my sandal-clad feet (ouch!).  The only animal that can intimidate them is the kestrel (sparrow hawk) that occasionally brings a snack into our backyard.  And even then they are more curious than wise.

Goldie did have a lovely Buff Orpington sister who didn't make it through the first two months for reasons unknown, so it was a long lonely winter in a makeshift coop in the garage for her.  (I won't be acquiring fall chicks in the future.)  She's in the process of learning to be an outside chicken.  She's discovered that she can go in and out of her coop freely, the wonders of warm sunlight and dark nights, and fresh air.

Her only complaint is the lawn mower.  She's scolds me loudly when I mow the lawn close to her run.  She doesn't know it's electric and pretty quiet, almost silent compared to gas mowers.  Or that our lawn is small and quickly mown so that noise is at a minimum. 

Hey, Goldie, start laying eggs and you'll be moving into new, spacious, quiet quarters!  And the Bombshells shall find a new home via Craigslist.  Nothing else could make me happier. Meanwhile, have fun getting acquainted with the Rockettes.

Bring joy,

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Happy May Day!

Once Spring finally decided to unpack her bags, she sprang quickly. Every day is a new delight. (If your Spring is slow to arrive, keep heart and know she'll get there eventually.  She's definitely worth waiting for after a cold, dark winter.)

I spent five minutes just gazing at a pink dogwood blossom, marveling at the stripes and color and structure. Does anyone else lose themselves that way?

It's putting me in artist mode again--getting myself a sketchbook is on my to-do list for this weekend.  As well as making myself a mini-watercolor travel kit from a very Pinteresting article I found.  I'm eager to move on from the very entertaining (to me, anyway) cartoon animal sketches I've been doing and begin working in plein air

Happy May!  I hope it brings you sunshine and warmth and vernal flowers and greengreengreen!

Bring joy,