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The Attic Project – Phase 2

After clearing enough space to get the insulation portion of the project started I decided to do a “clean as you go” routine.  My goal was to get this attic re-insulated during the winter.  Who wants to be working in an attic in July?  I stocked up on the supplies needed to get this going and plans to just purchase as I go.  My supplies include a respirator, safety goggles, rafter vents and insulation.  The rafter vents will allow air to flow from the soffit to the peak keeping the boards of the roof dry.  These have no “R” value which is the heat retention value by which all insulation is graded.  The new insulation will be applied over this.  I started with an R38 but it was too thick so I continued with R30.  Also, it depends on the age of your home for sizing.  Most box stores offer 16″ and 24″.  Word to the wise, measure before you buy!

The main supplies needed: rafter vents, insulation, respirator, safety goggles, staple gun and staples!

So, starting on the North side of the roof which suffered the most damage from moisture build-up I cleared out the eaves under 4 rafters and pulled down the old insulation along with lots of dust, nails, pieces of shingles, etc.

Rafters with old insulation. When it was pulled down it was damp and even had ice crystals – not good!

The rafter vents are stapled to the boards and then the insulation is slid into place to retain some of the heat.  The rafter vent product holds the insulation layer away from the boards allowing air to circulate from the soffit to the peak.

Rafter vent installed in one rafter and the next rafter is empty. All those floaty bits are dust and fiberglass making the respirator the best investment!

Normally, an attic would simply be an insulation of the floor and be done with it.  This attic has an open staircase leading to it making the rafter insulation necessary.   In addition to the respirator and safety goggles it is also advisable to have long pants and long sleeves to keep the fiberglass away from your skin.

This is 4 rafters down and 2 drying out. I am only insulating up to this point for now so I can figure out how I will deal with the peak.

Progress was slowed a bit while waiting for the boards to completely dry before putting up the new insulation.  But this gives me more time to merge and purge!  So far, I got rid of one trunk that was completely rotted out along with countless bags of junk, books, and items that no longer have a purpose.  As I indicated on my last post pertaining to this attic project, I have donated what I could to charity.  There have been some neat discoveries… old toys, a cast iron skillet that is doll sized… and even an antique bed pan!  Obviously some discoveries were more interesting than others.

Attic Cleanout Process

The beauty of my home is that it has always been inhabited by members of my family.  The downside is that the attic of my home is filled with items from every generation who ever lived here.  There are seven steamer trunks (filled), boxes and boxes of decorations, books, and furniture.  Most of the recent “crap” is mine… starting with childhood and right up to present day.

The problem is… the insulation installed by my father is inappropriate due to holding moisture against the roof boards causing rot.  It simply has to be replaced with newer insulation which allows for air flow.  This is an easy project which can be done by any homeowner or contractor.  However, in order to get to the insulation I first have to clean out the junk blocking it.  The clean out has to allow for access as well as room to store, cut and work with the new insulation.

Over the last year I have been slowly digging and purging items… and feel that I am starting to make some discernible headway… say 10% complete.  Now, you might ask, “Is the attic really that big?”  No, it is just that full of “stuff”.  However, as best I am able, I always judge each item before simply tossing it.  I use a 4 pile system; Charity, Trash, Keepers, and Family.  If an item could serve another then I put it in the Charity pile and be sure it is donated.  When purging on this scale keep in mind if you haven’t had a use for it in 3+ years… you probably don’t need to keep storing it.

As for the Charity pile, each month I get cards from several different organizations that reach out and are willing to schedule pickups for clothing, household goods and books.  Please consider this during your fall and spring cleaning projects!  The clothing and household items should be clean and serviceable and books should not be musty.

One week’s donation… this was an exceptional haul!

There is nothing more “American” than apple pie… but when the leaves begin to turn and the air grows crisp every New Englander knows it is time for apple picking!  What is sad is the fact that this New England girl has never actually gone apple picking.  However, before I get evicted from the best place on earth, I do visit my local farm stands and orchards for all those wonderful varieties.  And for the donuts… oh, the apple cider donuts!

My Grandmother was the queen of apple pies.  Actually, she was queen of any pie really.  She was said to make two strawberry rhubarb pies… one for the dessert and one for her brother who would take his and hide it… eating it in secretive bliss without sharing a single crumb.  While she had some of the best fillings it was really her crust that was so wonderful.  Sadly, her recipe was never documented and was lost when she passed.  My guess is she used lard which would have been a standard in her era.

Now that I am living on the family land in the house where she was born… I felt it my mission to find a good crust recipe and perfect it.  There have been many recipes tried and many recipes rejected as just not “up to snuff”.  After all… I have some huge expectations to fill… or I might get haunted!  Finally, I have found a great recipe which I may eventually start to tinker with to make it my own but for now I wanted to share my find and my excitement.

Thanks to Ina Garten who published her Perfect Pie Crust recipe which yields two 10″ crusts.  I am also posting it below should the link ever fail…

Deep Dish Apple Pie! Crust from Ina Garten’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Directions:

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

I made and gifted several of these sweaters but I wanted to make one more for a dear friend, Alicia, as a sincere “thank you” for helping me adopt my new pup, Fozzie.  Fozzie has brought happiness into my home again after losing my beloved 14-year-old Edgar.

Alicia helps foster rescued German Shepherds and Miniature Pinschers as that is what her pack consists of.  She was a wealth of tips and ideas to help me get through the tough adjustment period for both dogs (Fozzie and Gonzo).  You see, all of her kids and fosters are rigorously trained.  But one special girl of hers is also an actress and has performed as “Bruiser” in a stage production of Legally Blonde.  She is aptly named “Diva” and she is the sweetest little thing who during her last visit to my home did nothing but snuggle with me.  She actually convinced me I could adopt a small dog… and in her own way helped me to adopt my Gonzo.

This special girl deserved a pink sweater… to get over her gender bending role.  Her Mom picked out the center panel of the Bon Bon cable, provided measurements and kept telling me how much Diva loved her sweaters and coats.  It took some time to complete as it was over the summer months but she finally received it in the mail… and had a fashion shoot!  Here she is in her hand knit sweater!

Miss Diva in her new pink sweater… center panel Bon Bon cable.

Side view showing side cable and moss stitch. This sweater was super easy and adaptable.

She makes it look good, don’t you think?!  Wear it in good health, Diva!

Pup-Cakes and Pup-Cookies

When hosting an adoption day party for a dog… it is important to have treats and cake for the four-legged guests .  I looked around at the local specialty stores for pets and found overpriced disasters with mystery ingredients.  Some were cute but I opted to make the treats so that it would be a healthier option.  A quick search on the internet yielded a couple of recipes that turned out to be the hit of the party so I figured I would share!

First, I purchased several cookie cutters from Sur le Table.  Most of these cutters were going to be party favors as I already had a dog bone shaped cutter but I added the little dog and the fire hydrant… to make things fun.  Then I found an easy recipe using things I have on hand.  I only had to purchase the whole wheat flour.  The pup-cookies recipe can be found here.  These were super easy to make and can be made ahead of time.  Just be sure they are completely cool before offering them to the fur-kids.  They were a huge hit at the party!

I use a pie sheet which makes the dough easy to roll out and cut.

Fun shapes!

What is really great… you can use up every last bit of this dough to make the most of it.  It doesn’t care how many times you roll it out!  No waste!!

The pup-cakes recipe can be found here.  This recipe can be used to make a traditional cake or cupcakes.  I chose the cupcakes and renamed them pup-cakes!  I wish I had more time to find better liners but the recipe was perfect.  I only had one banana so I added another 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce.  Worked like a champ.  I will tell you that the fur-kids will consider this a meal.  Just be sure to not let them over indulge.  They also freeze beautifully.  The frosting recipe is imbedded in the link above.  It whipped up quickly and easily with room temp cream cheese.

Can’t really go wrong with banana and peanut butter!

Happy baking (for every member of your family)!

Happy Adoption Day – Gonzo!

It has been one year since I adopted this little ball of energy and while we have had our ups and our downs over that year I think we are both in a better place.

First day in his “forever” home and 3 months post rescue. His foster had to shaved him down due to the matting.

Gonzo was an abuse rescue and private adoption.   He was crated for such long periods of time he was trained to soil his crate (something we still battle today)   Due to the conditions he was kept in, he was matted and caked with feces and soaked in urine.   The matting forced his foster to shave him down and the urine caused skin burns which persisted for months.  A vet visit found him sound except for two baby canines still in his mouth along with the adult canines, very underweight and suffering from a severe lack of socialization.  He was so fearful of people and restraining holds of any type it made me fear he would never fully recover.

Making friends! Fozzie was the deciding factor on adopting Gonzo. He has been a patient and protecting “big” brother ever since.

Well, a year and a lot of patience has earned him confidence, a good weight, a proper coat, loss of those baby teeth (without surgery – way to go G!) and the nickname “Terrorist” since he attempts to run the entire household.  Due to his size his efforts in world dominance are quite comical.  A wonderful groomer took him on and after 2 visits she had him on the table and after 5 she had him used to trimming with scissors.  After changing groomers (back injury) and giving new groomer the run-down… it was July of this year he had his first buzz cut (electric clippers) and was deemed not as bad as I made him out to be.  Now that is some improvement!

His coat wasn’t growing in fast enough so I had to knit him sweaters to help with the winter cold. Dashing, isn’t he?

Now with my “pack” complete… I thought it was high time for a party.  It was time to celebrate many things; my purchase of the house, the settlement of the estate, the adoption of Fozzie and then Gonzo, and many other small victories.  So we celebrated!  After an easy feast of burgers, dogs, turkey burgers, pasta salad and watermelon… we ALL had cake.  Each guest got a gift bag complete with two dog-themed cookie cutters, a small baggie of freshly baked pup-cookies, and recipes for the pup-cakes and pup-cookies.  Most also left with extra pup-cakes sans the frosting.

These are homemade pupcakes! Recipe to follow in another post. The candle says “King for a Day!” which is a bit covered in the frosting! The party goers LOVED them!

This is the people cake! It was a big hit with the human party-goers! Costco really has the best bakery!

I have to say I was very nervous adopting such a small dog in such a sad state but I am very glad I did.  He is so loving and fun that he makes me smile even when the world seem against me.  Who can argue with that?!

Gonzo with his favorite gift… Octavia the Octopus! He is cute…

I had a garden that I just couldn’t maintain after my Mom’s passing… so it fell into disrepair (overtaken by weeds).  I had several pieces of statuary in the garden that were just hidden from view.   With all of the work done in the pool yard this season I decided, on the hottest day of the year, to liberate the statues and put them in the pool yard.

Although I have never been a fan of garden ornaments… I have found that there is a subtle balance needed when placing them and what style you decide on.  I tend to like subtle objects that are a surprise when discovered but don’t distract from my flowers.  After all, the flowers are the show and the statuary should be the backdrop or anchors.

Here are the existing pieces in the pool yard:

This meditating monk and turtle are right next to my seating area by the pool. Just so relaxing.

Now for one of the repurposed pieces:

I’ve always been a fan of obelisks!

And the other piece:

My meditation statue!

I now have 3 items in the yard in three distinct areas all separate from each other.  You will see that they are all monochromatic and very soothing; just my style.  I have seen very active and very abundant ornaments in gardens that work, too… and some that overwhelm because there is no theme, level of consistency or one focal point.  It all depends on the energy you want to bring out in yourself and your visitors.  The active gardens have lots of energy.  My gardens are my sanctuary and I want to relax and unwind.  Make sense?

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