Halloween Boos - a Tutorial

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Little M and I saw some small, simple ghosts hanging from a tree the other day when we were out walking Feeney. He pointed and laughed. I told him they're called "ghosts" and asked if he'd like to make some. He laughed. He doesn't say "yes" yet, he just laughs his assent.

So yesterday after getting our flu shots bright and early at his pediatrician's office, we went to JoAnn's for our special project supplies. While talking about what we were going to make he was repeating "ghos," but by the time we were hanging them on the tree in our front yard he was calling them "boos."

... Just before making our boos, we were running around the addition and I hid behind a wall and jumped out shouting "boo!"As I jumped out, my mind was simultaneously thinking, "this could be a really bad idea." But Little M screeched with delight and started hiding behind walls and shouting "boo" at me. Then my wild child and I went inside to make ghosts, which I told him "say boo." So these are now boos and that's why.

makes 6 ghosts

2 yards of inexpensive dress lining or similarly gauzy fabric
6 - 3" styrofoam
fishing line cut into 6  ~12" lengths
black sharpie
fabric scissors

To make the ghosts
1.  Trim selvedge edges off of fabric
2. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and cut into two (2) long strips
3. Cut each strip into three (3) equal pieces, resulting in 6 approximate squares
4. Place a styrofoam ball in the center of each square
5. Cinch fabric around the base of the ball and tie tight with one end of the fishing line to make the ghost's neck
6. Knot the other end of the fishing line into a hanging loop
7. Draw eyes and a mouth on the ghost's face, opposite the knot - we did a mix of smiles and "O" boo faces
8. Hang from trees in your yard

Happy Halloween!

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Our master bathroom floor was tiled yesterday. I love it!

It's a hexagon marble tile that we found at the Home Depot. I say "the Home Depot" but I really mean six Home Depots. S woke up early on Saturday morning, as he usually does, and went to Home Depot about 45 minutes away on the other side of DC. Their website said they had enough square feet of tile to do our master floor... after several hours searching the store with several managers he discovered that they did not. By a long shot. So he went to every Home Depot around the beltway, calling in in advance, getting several square feet at each store until seven hours later we had more than enough. We needed 80 square feet, he came home with 140.

When Little M woke up from his nap we went through all the boxes together choosing the sheets of tile that had the least yellows and the most grays. I'm so glad we bought so much extra; there was a lot of yellow! I'm also glad we didn't decide to order it online and wait until next week for shipping since yesterday's install was a total surprise.

Now we just need to choose a grout color. I'd like a light gray, but so far I haven't found one and I think were delaying progress. Uh-oh.

Last night we ordered our vanity online. I can't believe things are finally coming together! Maybe will actually be done by Thanksgiving. I hope I didn't just jinx us!

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Fresh Garden Tomato Soup

I planted three tomato plants this year thinking we'd have just enough tomato for the one person in our house who actually likes fresh tomatoes (me.) One plant died for some unknown reason just as fruits were starting to ripen. The second, a cherry tomato plant, didn't start to give us ripe tomatoes until mid-August, which is when I discovered that Little M LOVES cherry tomatoes. Up until this week, I hadn't eaten more than a half dozen cherry tomatoes total, whereas Little M has had a dozen at day at least!

My one remaining brandywine plant was giving me just enough fruit to have plenty of BLTs and an occasional grilled cheese with tomato sandwich or two - one for me and one for Little M. When S's parents gave us a bag full of tomatoes last weekend from their super prolific plants, I definitely didn't have enough bacon to eat them all BLT style. So I decided to give tomato soup a shot.

Which is nuts since I loathe cooked tomatoes.

But not anymore. This soup was really good! I think it's the sugar, it cut the acidity in the tomatoes and the whole thing was just creamy goodness. Which I served with grilled cheese. Of course.

Fresh Garden Tomato Soup

64oz fresh tomatoes, chopped
1T olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
10 whole cloves
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4T butter
1/4c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk or fat-free half and half
2t. cornstarch 
2t. salt, to taste
1-2 T sugar, to taste

 1. Combine milk and cornstarch in a bowl, mix well and set aside
2. In a large soup pot sautee onions and garlic in the olive oil
3. Add tomatoes and cloves, cook for 10 minutes
4. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
5. Ladle tomato mixture into a food mill and process to remove skins. Discard skins and set aside tomato mixture
6. In the soup pot melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring continuously until it's a golden roux
7. Slowly ladle tomato mixture back into the pot, stirring after each addition to keep lumps from forming
8. Add milk/cornstarch mixture slowly while stirring continuously
9. Season with salt to taste
10. Add sugar to taste - it should cut the "acidic" taste of the tomatoes
11. Serve hot, freeze leftovers


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Dreaming of the Hallway Bathroom

Literally, I wake up at night in need of the hallway bathroom only to realize I've got to go all the way down to the basement to use the bathroom. Hiking back up two flights of stairs really wakes you up in the middle of the night. I'm tired.

Thankfully things in the hallway bathroom remodel are coming along. We decided to splurge and replace all the plumbing. "Remodel" does not mean "replace plumbing" even though remodel does mean rip up all the floors and expose all the plumbing. I honestly didn't know that. To save on the overall cost, S jackhammered up the concrete floor himself.

Changing out the 75 year old plumbing cost an extra $850, which only included the plumbing in the floor since all the drain lines and stacks in the old wall needed to be removed as part of the overall plan for the house since the bathroom wall was moved 6" into the addition. We're definitely glad we decided to update the plumbing. Over the years the drain lines settled so that the shower drain wasn't sloped properly anymore and the 2" drains were down to about 1/2" of effective size, which explains why the shower drained sooooo slowly. I can't imagine how small the old drain lines from the house to the street are now, and I do not want to find out.

We decided on getting a new tub and ended up donating the old one, which should get us a little tax deduction (thanks for the suggestion!) The tub is in place and the subfloor is down, which gives a good idea of how much six inches really means in such a small bath room. Six inches more is huge! It really does feel larger when you walk in the door. Granted there's only a tub in there, but I can tell.

We had the framers put in two spots to make nooks for bath toys and shampoo. I wanted them side by side, but the plumbing stack that you can see above foiled that plan. The tiles will basically wrap in and around the two nooks just like the one we have in the basement bathroom.

S insulated between the first and second floors for sound (also not something in the plans) and put extra insulation in all those open bathroom walls you see above so that someone showering or flushing in this bathroom won't wake someone sleeping in the master.  Insulating is a an itchy, miserable job.

Now that the tub is in place, the walls are framed and the insulation is in, we're ready for the fun stuff that we'll actually see!
center image, tub & faucet, tile & vanity & toilet, rug

We have the tile, toilet and faucet ready to go. The old toilet, which was brand new when we bought the house will go down to the powder room. The Wellworth toilet is a little shorter, so we figured it would go best in the room that will essentially be Little M's. We're reusing the old vanity, lighting, medicine cabinet and fan since they're all nearly-new.

Tiling is supposed to start tomorrow and all we have left to decide is grout color. I'm leaning heavily away from white. I cannot wait to have an upstairs bathroom again!

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