Reviving the Ramp

Back in 2014 Charlie had built a ramp into the house so any friends with mobility problems could have a way into the house.

Here is son giving Charlie a hand with some heavy hauling.
Here is son giving Charlie a hand with some heavy hauling.

Then he and son removed it to give the front of the house a neater appearance.

The square platform under the ramp needs to go on the porch to level the threshold.
The square platform under the ramp needs to go on the porch to level the threshold.

Since we are having a Book Swap on Saturday and expecting many people we thought it was a good time to put the ramp back in place.  Our son came over to help carry the heavy, awkward ramp from its storage spot. Not finding Charlie, he dragged it to the right spot alone.  Strong fellow.

Charlie built the ramp from scraps.
Charlie built the ramp from scraps.

Then Charlie, using some old wood, added bracing to the center for added security.  Unfortunately this made it heavier yet.

The ramp itself was built in one piece.
The ramp itself was built in one piece.

Now it’s in place, ready for Saturday. I have walk-off mats to equalize the breaks between the ramp, the platform and the doorway.

Are you getting ready for something new?

Saturday Potpourri

Early in the morning I started a pot of potpourri on the back of the stove.

Oranges, rosemary, and vanilla bean.
Oranges, rosemary, and vanilla bean.

This time I substituted oranges for lemons.

We met a nice young sales representative at our local Lumber Liquidators.
We met a nice young sales representative at our local Lumber Liquidators.

Then Charlie and I rode out to Lumber Liquidators to look at the unfinished red oak flooring.

The middle sample matches our floors.
The middle sample matches our floors.

It was much like the flooring we had installed in the new sections of the house except the finish was a little rougher. We got a quote for the conservatory floor but intend to look at a few more places before we make a decision.

Party supplies in 3 shades of green.
Party supplies in 3 shades of green.

Just next door to Lumber Liquidators was a Party City where we stopped to buy plates, napkins, and cups for next week’s party.

My new denim blue chukkas.
My new denim blue chukkas.

Finally we went to the Timberland outlet to buy shoes for Charlie and me that we could hike and ride mules when we get to the Grand Canyon this fall.

Have you had experience with discount flooring stores?

Just in Time for Cinco de Mayo

One of my favorite chips, something I like better than crackers or corn chips, is flour tortilla chips.

Flour tortillas, olive oil, salt, pepper
Flour tortillas, olive oil, salt, pepper

I usually make them myself from flour tortillas, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spread triangles of tortilla on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread triangles of tortilla on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the tortillas in triangles and place on a baking tin. Drizzle with olive oil and shake on salt and pepper.

Keep an eye on the tray so they don't burn.
Keep an eye on the tray so they don’t burn.

Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy.

A plate of tortilla chips will be popular with family and guests.
A plate of tortilla chips will be popular with family and guests.

These are delicious served alone or with salsa, queso, nacho-style with melted cheese and salsa on top.

Chips on the buffet were served with salsa.
Chips on the buffet were served with salsa.

A sweet version of these chips can be made by substituting cinnamon sugar for the salt and pepper.

Do you have a simple recipe with less than 5 ingredients that you enjoy?

Book Swap Menu

The Book Swap is planned for a Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. I have invited quite a few people.

Tables and chairs set up in the back yard.
Tables and chairs set up in the back yard.

I know I’ve missed someone but I was hoping for at least 20 and maybe more like 40 people.

So many books.
So many books.

Each person is supposed to bring 10 books. Four hundred is better than 200 in terms of selection.  Also, the festival spirit rises with more people chatting and mingling.

We had an old Dutch oven in the Cottage attic that I'm planning to cook the pulled pork in.
We had an old Dutch oven in the Cottage attic that I’m planning to cook the pulled pork in.

Between 2 p.m. and 4 or 5 I don’t believe people will expect a meal.  I wanted an easy menu that would leave me free to mingle also.

Charlie will barbecue the chicken.
Charlie will barbecue the chicken.

Charlie, on the other hand, likes to have a task so I’ve incorporated that, too, into the menu.

Book Swap Menu

  • Grilled chicken thighs (Charlie’s chore)
  • Pulled pork sliders
  • Tortellini salad
  • Fruit
  • Bread and butter pickles
  • Ice Cream sandwiches
  • Iced tea

One departure from my usual presentation will be paper plates and napkins and plastic utensils and cups.  That is not my usual M.O. but with the main focus being “the books,” disposable products should simplify our serving and cleaning up process.

We have a fairly new trash can that can be used outside.
We have a fairly new trash can that can be used outside.

I don’t want to forget easily accessible trash bins.

What have I missed?

A Clearing in the Attic

As we’ve been bringing books down from the attic for the Book Swap we saw other things that could also be removed.

Top of the attic steps -- Before.
Top of the attic steps — Before.

Usually looking left at the top of the attic steps the view was totally packed with boxes and baskets.

The same view after a little clearing.
The same view after a little clearing.

After removing a couple of boxes of books, a bookshelf, and 2 leaves for the dining room table I can actually see attic floor.

I have a pair of these old Ikea bookshelves.
I have a pair of these old Ikea bookshelves.

The bookshelf is going out on the porch.

Usually the dining room table is 72 inches long.
Usually the dining room table is 72 inches long.
The table now takes up the entire dining room and has lots of rooms for books.
The table now takes up the entire dining room and has lots of rooms for books.

Charlie and I turned the dining room table 90 degrees and added 2 leaves which  creates a 120-inch long table.

I'll have to sort my books.
I’ll have to sort my books.

Next item is to make labels for the various categories of books:

  • Fiction: Adventure, Romance, Mystery
  • Self help and Health
  • Children
  • Religion, Spirituality, Prayer
  • Science, Math, Computers
  • Anthologies, Poetry
  • Cookbooks
  • Biographies, Autobiographies
  • DIY, Décor, Art
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy

Have I omitted your favorite genre?

Clearing the Decks

I’m not exactly clearing the decks, i.e. floors, because they’re fairly clear.

The top of the piano is fair game for books.
The top of the piano is fair game for books.

I’m clearing other horizontal surfaces in the mud room, living room, and dining room in preparation for the book swap.

I've started piling my books on the dining room table. I'm not limited to 10 like everyone else.
I’ve started piling my books on the dining room table. I’m not limited to 10 like everyone else.

In addition to collecting my own swappable books from around house I’m making places for what I hope will be at least 200 books brought in by guests.

The coffee table and the mantel both will display available books.
The coffee table and the mantel both will display available books.

Décor books and art books will go on display in the living room.

The narrow counter between the kitchen and dining room can hold books.
The narrow counter between the kitchen and dining room can hold books.

Cookbooks on the shelf near the kitchen.

A small ledge in the mudroom will greet swappers with paper backs.
A small ledge in the mudroom will greet swappers with paper backs.

Every horizontal surface is fair game.

Even the small silverware chest is cleared for books.
Even the small silverware chest is cleared for books.

The real trick is going to be keeping the surfaces clear until May 7.

What book have you especially enjoyed reading?

We Skewered

Getting ready for Game Night I was inspired by skewered food.

First items, cut everything into similar bite-sized pieces.
First items, cut everything into similar bite-sized pieces.

With a friend’s help I skewered 3 different menu items.

Tomato, tortellini, mozzarella, tortellini, tomato
Tomato, tortellini, mozzarella, tortellini, tomato

First: pesto tortellini, mozzarella, and grape tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinaigrette.

Marinating skewers are refrigerated.
Marinating skewers are refrigerated.

The ingredients for the vinaigrette:

  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • water
  • sugar
  • pesto
  • Dijon mustard.

I’ll have to work out the proportions for the marinade another time because I just mixed everything together until it tasted good.

Charlie was out taste tester. He anted to size out a mouthful of combined ingredients.
Charlie was out taste tester. He wanted to size out a mouthful of combined ingredients.

Second: mozzarella, chicken sausage, sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil. Just skewered each item. The winner.

A variety of 4 fruits on a skewer mixed-up so you could choose your favorite.
A variety of 4 fruits on a skewer mixed-up so you could choose your favorite.

Finally:  Fruit skewers with Galia melon, purple grapes, pineapple, strawberries.

Plain fruit.
Plain fruit.

The additional food was:

I’ll update later which of the skewered foods was a hit, if any. The favorite of the above skewers is mozzarella cheese, chicken sausage, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Favorite party food?