Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Turkey Stuffed Green Pepper Recipe

Peppers without marnina sauce I made these last night by altering and combining a few recipes. Dan and I really enjoyed it and I was pleased and proud by how well it came out - so I'm posting this here for others to try. Hope you enjoy.

It's quick and easy to make. I was going to include a picture but I didn't take one last night and Dan liked it so much he's already eaten the top off the last pepper!

Stuffed Peppers - 8 pepper halves - roughly 163 calories a pepper half.

4 large green peppers
1 lb ground turkey 93/7
1 medium red onion, chopped (any onion will do)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp vegetable flavor 'better than bullion'
1 tsp ground pepper
pinch red pepper flakes (the older your spices are, the less kick - add to taste)
1 cup cooked rice
1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes (plain will also work, I prefer a petite dice)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
1 green onion, sliced
1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Start by cutting the peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stems intact, and halving them also. Remove the seeds and ribs inside the peppers.

Using a hot skillet, saute the ground turkey, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the 'better than bullion', black pepper and red pepper flakes. Saute until onions become translucent. Add the rice, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, and green onion tops.

Mix well and stuff the mixture into the peppers.

In a small bowl, mix the hot water and the remaining 'better than bullion'. Pour this mixture into a shallow casserole large enough to hold all of the peppers. Place the stuffed peppers in the dish, cover with foil and bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

Remove the foil and spoon the juice from bottom of the casserole over the top of the peppers. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

and on the 50th day there was carpet!

Yesterday they put the carpet in. They were actually there fairly late, but everything was finished and it's so nice to have the smell and look of new carpet. I think even the cats feel better. Dexter was all lovey and playing instead of hiding. Tsu seemed more relaxed.

the newly redesigned officeI spent last night assembling the desk I bought at Ikea around the holidays. My sister assisted and it went together pretty quickly. We moved some furniture around up there and I started getting my computer up and running. I'm still having trouble with the sound card crackling and I wonder if that's dust. I need to get that cleaned.

Since there's all this nice carpet (and all the bad smells are gone and the bio hazard of an office...) I feel the need to sort and decorate. I look at the trash can in the office and think 'I need a nicer assembling the bookcasetrash can' and I want plants up there and everything. Right now the TV is in the corner, which is nice - but it does technically live in the bedroom so Dan and I can watch movies in there. So once I have my dresser back it will be returned to it's post.

There is a lot of stuff in the office that can be disposed of and a lot of things that need to be taken to goodwill. I have a bunch of computer bags that I should donate and I need to get back to the sorting of clothes I was doing before this flood occurred. I am thinking I will put small storage bins in the lower part of the cabinet behind the doors.

stacks in the dining roomCertainly I'm loaded with books although they are currently living in my sister's room. I also look in the office and think how I need some new art. So there will likely be some rearranging there. I also have drawer that fits into the bookcase portion of the desk and these little fabric pop up storage thingies. I need coasters upstairs now since there's actually a decent desk there!

The dining room is still full of stuff that belongs in the living room. I hope to get that taken care of tonight with Dan. Mostly books really - and some pottery. It shouldn't take too long to get that stuff moved.

Dan and I are going to see Pulp Fiction at the colony tonight and he said he would help me move the furniture in the living room after we get back to my place. I want to get the pictures re-hung and the mirror needs to go back on the mantle. The tree cat tree should go in the office I think.

The old desk was disassembled and removed from the office. It's downstairs in pieces and I think Augusta and Jason were going to take that to put in their garage as a table/storage. I need to get that over to them this weekend - in time for the flooring people to come and put down the new floor.

the old, huge deskI'm a little disappointed that the carpet doesn't match the existing carpet better, but at this point at least the only room with the older carpet (mind you we're talking all of 3 years) is the spare bedroom.

I need to hit Lowe's this weekend for a new floor vent for my living room and a new vent for the bathroom. Technically they should be replacing the one in the bathroom but I'm sick of waiting. All I know is there weren't rust spots on it before this happened.

empty boxes (aka 'cat fort') by the front doorRight now I'm giving Cary Reconstruction a call. Last night I noticed that the drywall in the hallway is forming lines and nails are popping - which makes sense since those are other walls that are connected to the bathroom. Luckily the last dry wall was done quickly and looks good.

The boxes from the furniture are downstairs in my foyer. I started putting them there last night and the cats were playing in them so I figured I would leave them for a bit. Today it's pouring. I'll probably still try to get them broken down tonight in time for trash on Thursday night. I plan to have a LOT of trash for the city on Friday.

the little succulent gardenThis is really unrelated to the floor project, but I got this great little succulent garden at Lowe's the other day. I added the little purple one in the front. They had a tacky little ceramic vase there to make it look all Southwest like. It's in the hall bath and I think it's quite cute, so I took a picture of it.

And speaking of cute, here's my sister's cat Fraggle curled up on the side of the couch this morning. I took a few pictures for her. Figured she might appreciate that. Fraggle needs to stop fragglescratching my carpet and furniture and stop getting on the counters. She used to be such a good little cat but I suspect she's acting out since none of them get to go outside anymore.

I have a 'To Do' list that I am putting together to help me remember:
1. Organize Office / trash (as in throw things away)
2. Hang pictures (living room)
3. Clean wall in office (Magic Eraser, LOVE EM)
4. Clean laundry room floor (cat pellets from the Genie and Cosmo)
5. Install drawer in office
6. Move bedroom furniture
7. Wash sofa cushions (they smell musty)
tightening screws with the Ikea allen wrench8. Desk to Augusta & Jason
9. Laundry
10. Art in office
11. Move books back into office
12. Compressed Air (to see if I can fix the sound card, might just be dirty)
13. New office trashcan (look at the pic, the old one is just ugly)
14. Floor vent / Ceiling vent (Lowe's, this weekend)
15. Vacuum (little bits of carpet still everywhere)
16. Mirror in Living Room (over the fireplace, Dan needs to help)
17. Switch out Duvet cover (Pamela might want the one that is there now)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

rumors of carpet

one side of the bookcase cleaned outSo after the call regarding carpet installation last night I basically went home and spent all night packing up things in my office so that everything could be moved easily from room to room for the re-carpeting. I was up all night, did some cleaning in the office so the cat funk doesn't end up under the new carpet and moved all the breakables. There is an amazing quanity of stuff in my sister's bedroom. I am afraid the house is 'front heavy'.

All the books on the bookcases are in her room and I boxed things and put them on the shelves in the office.

other side of the bookcase cleaned outI'm hoping they will have moved the huge desk downstairs as I would like to set up my new desk in the office this evening. I plotted everything out in Florida over the holidays before I purchased the desk. Unfortunately with the small disaster radiating out from the master bath the whole desk / office set up thing has been delayed. But I'm looking forward to the smell of new carpet. If I get home and the carpet hasnt' been done I may cry.

And then I will curse and call the Cary Reconstruction Project Manager and raise holy hell...

I mention this because several times lately he has told me that something was scheduled for a specific day - and no one shows. This is kind of an issue since the cats have to be sequestered in various locations when there will be people in the house. With the upstairs hall and two rooms being carpeted there are no doors that won't have to be opened for the recarpeting process. Therefore, cats are in the garage.

Giant Cat (aka Widget, my sister's cat)Funny thing about that too. Open the garage door on any regular day of the week and cats hustle to slip through your legs and into the relitive freedom of the garage.

....Try to put them out there in the morning before you leave for work and it's like, well, like herding cats.

Stuff from the living room made its way into the dining room. Last night Dexter and Giant Cat made it in there as well. Giant Cat does have a name, it's Widget. But, you can see from this picture that he's much larger than a widget.

He's on the new rug that will hopefully match the new flooring that is hopefully being installed (correctly and professionally) on Monday.

If the carpet is in there are a lot of things I will feel compelled to do, including hanging up pictures that were taken down...and cleaning the silloettes of those pictures off the wall. I think of the living room as freshly painted, but it doesn't look like that right now. I want to get that stuff hung as soon as possible.

Dexter snoozing in the cup on top of the post...I discovered the other day that the glass in one of my smaller pictures was broken. I am hoping that is not the case in the larger as one of them was actually professionally framed and the others are all expensive frames which I assume is mostly the cost of the glass... All the sofa cushion covers need to be washed. There is a smell to them and they are all dusty and hairy and there's that musty it was really wet in this house for a while thing going on. Oh, so so much....

Lots of lifting, I have a mirror I want to get back on the mantle. I wish Dan was coming over tonight. He could help with the taller and heavier things. He'll be over on Wednesday after we see Pulp Fiction at the Colony but that will be late and I doubt either of us will feel like it.

Things are starting to feel daunting. My sister is heading home. I want to hear good news if she gets there before I do!

Monday, February 16, 2009

more floor

Well, the pictures below look pretty good from a distance, but ultimately there are chips and the gaps keep getting bigger.

The project manager came by early last week and met another installer there to review the project. Ultimately the result is that I am having my floor torn out and re-installed a third time. I hope that the third time is the charm. The new installer plans to be there on the same day at the same time as the old installer who will be removing the existing floor. I am told that I will have a complete floor when I get home next Monday...as that is the scheduled day.
huge bags of crapIn addition, the carpet came in early and they are scheduled to install that tomorrow. Unfortunately my office is full of 'crap' with it being the main storage room for all the stuff that had to be moved out of the rest of the house. I have chosen to have the office re carpeted with the stairs at my expense. This will at least mean that the only room that doesn't match is the second bedroom (my sisters room) that used to be the guest room so it has the least wear of any room in the house.

Once the carpet is installed I can get rid of that horrid desk. I have a new desk with nice cubbies and stuff that I purchased at Ikea before I knew of the terrible flood and the havoc it would reak.

So I guess the organization begins tomorrow night as I start to put things back in place. I need to find the form for the insurance company to get my table replaced. I also expect my other furniture to be returned next week after the laminate is installed correctly. (crossing fingers). And hey, while I'm at it I'm crossing my fingers that the furniture wasn't messed up when it was re-finished.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

overly adequate

After a fair amount of cleaning and organizing, this is what I see when I walk in my front door. view from the front door

That is, assuming I can get it open. I actually had to knock and get my sister to come and open the door because I couldn't get my key to turn in the lock.

Seems the new threshold they put on my front door means that the lock doesn't line up so well anymore and getting in and out of the house is kind of an issue.

I'll be mentioning that to the project manager.

The other unfortunate thing is that it seems the floor is higher than it was when the first floor was put down. So, when you open the front door or the garage door, the rugs get peeled up out of the way. I really feel that the rugs are necessary to protect the floor - and honestly I just feel like it would look weird without a rug. But my doors are both wooden with a metal 'shell' so I can't imagine how they might cut some off the door. I did notice the insulation strip on the bottom of the door seemed quite large. Maybe I can buy some space there.

dining roomOverall the floor looks nice. The door frames and openings are pretty good, no gaps around walls. I think it looks much better in this direction. Not only is it what I am used to, it's what the Bruce flooring instructions state - boards are installed parallel to the window light or the longest wall. Both of these things would result in my flooring being in the direction it is now. Maybe they were thinking the length of the house? I don't know.

But that's not why I call the job only 'adequate'. That's because I can see where the contractor was trying not to use new flooring and used pieces from before.

In a few spots it shows itself as a joint that's not as tight as it could be. The parts that bother me more are the chips. Just little tiny nicks and chips on the edge of the laminate that completely remove the laminate surface and expose the core. I'm not sure what that will mean long term. Most of the places are pretty small. There's one piece that has what will soon be a chip I expect as it is raised slightly and is just begging to be knocked off. Some of the chips are corners, one place it seems like a whole end piece, a few on the side.

looking from the dining room in to the kitchenThey weren't really places I noticed until I started cleaning the floor when I got home. (The floor had been swept I think but was still covered with a thin layer of blackish dust that seemed to resemble the core of the flooring). I swept and mopped which initially made me feel better, until the places with the chips got dark when I mopped over them and I started realising there were little chips in every room. And then started to notice some of the gaps - and the hole they made in the moulding around the garage door, the hole in the wall behind the garage door..(nice job putting the door stop back in, guys) and then pulled out the fridge to clean and found the baseboards behind the fridge missing.

Mind you I realize you may be thinking "who needs baseboards behind the fridge" - and that's not a question I can answer. What I do know is that they WERE there (otherwise the color I painted the kitchen and now loathe would be all the way to the floor) and the holes I was looking at that go clean through the wall weren't there either. The holes are definitely big enough for rodents, not that rodents are a major concern in a house with 6 resident cats...

looking down the hall past the laundry room in to the garageThere are also a few tiny holes in the freshly painted and mended wall across from my stairs. The kind of holes that happen when someone whacks the wall with a tool or say...a piece of flooring...and punches out a little hole. This also led me to notice that my picture hooks from this wall (and the holes that would tell me where my pictures had been) are gone. dammit.

The hole from the door knob is there beyond the trash can. I have personally fixed it several times, and then got a door stop that screws into the wall. They removed it to put the flooring in and then proceeded to open the garage door into my wall and the lock on the knob punched through the wall. Nice work guys.

I moved some of the furniture back and hung a few pictures on the wall. I also cleaned and put the rugs down. It just makes me feel a little better.

I'm irritated by the chips but I just can't deal with them ripping the floor up again. No one should ever hire this guy for a job. I need to find out what the name of his company is.

looking into the mess of a living roomThe plan is to get a large rug for the dining room. It's kind of a hopeful plan to protect the floor. I think it will also look nice. I have found one I like quite a bit at Overstock. The question is whether it will go with the existing rugs or if I should just buy new rugs for downstairs? I've decided to go with something a little more 'mission' style since my furniture is for the most part, simple and my light fixtures are mission style stained glass. The natural wood adds to the feeling. Too bad the outside of the house is Colonial. But hey, at the time I could afford it.

It will still be 3 weeks before I see any carpet. The color that matches is not going into production until the 20th now. I could get a 12ft roll sooner, but a 15ft roll will enable all of my rooms to be carpeted without seams. When you have pets this can be a very important decision making factor. Cats and dogs both can track a seam like nobodies business..and then proceed to rip it apart. I would like to do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen. Even if it means waiting a few more weeks for carpet.

the front door and the new threshold that will make sure it can never be easily opened ever againI am told that my dining room furniture can be delivered next week. When that returns I can unpack the boxes of glassware and other china as well as return a lot of the art and the linens to the dining room. Here's hoping the refinishing went better than the flooring installation.

The picture here is my front door that no longer opens easily. I think if there was a fire we might all die.

The small table next to the door is another sad casualty of the process, as is the corn plant that used to reside on top of it. The table is a very inexpensive table that came from a 'model home' decor sale.

The table hails from World Market and has a Japanese pagoda look going and these odd little wooden pieces that come off either side at the legs. Well, one of them is missing. I noticed this first about a month ago but told the project manager not to worry about it. And I still won't worry too much about it - but I find it odd and perhaps disturbing that whoever was assigned to remove the floors just threw any wood they found out, willy nilly. I mean, it looks NOTHING like a baseboard....

Looking at that sad and naked table, I think I'm going to buy a plant this weekend.

the pantry floorThe closet in this picture is my pantry. No more shabby cuts. Still, all I can fairly give is adequate. Last night I noticed a few places that would have gaps if they used quarter round. I was hoping they would have the brains to use something a bit larger and thankfully they did. That's a 'patch' I can live with. Ultimately though I feel like they did the bare minimum of what they would need to do to get by.
That saddens me. I guess I like to think that everyone has a better work ethic than that. Unfortunately I have been disappointed a lot on this job.

Tomorrow more contractors show up to fix the sagging wall in my living room. I hope that at least goes well. And I need to call the project manager and make sure he knows that there are other holes to fix while they are there...and perhaps get the paint off of the floor vent by the sliding glass door. sigh.

I really don't think I'm that picky. I'm just asking that they do the same job I would do, and I would do that well and HAVE done that well.
an area to the side of the stairs
Here's a picture that shows the side of the stairs fairly well.

Overall, it looks pretty nice and I'm glad I went with the lighter floor. Certainly without close inspection you wouldn't notice the gaps or chips. It's just my hope that nothing gets any bigger than it already is.

This last picture is my kitchen. Sometimes I debate putting a rug in here, but I'm just not sure it would fit that well and chairs would always end up being half on and half off. This is the table that was damaged. I have found another dutch leaf extension table in teak, but no sense in worrying about that until this floor is done.

I also have to find those forms that State Farm sent so I can fill out the item damage report.

There are really only two things that couldn't be repaired, the table and the whatever it was of my sisters. Actually her library books couldn't be repaired either but the library was very nice about that. Although I'm not sure it's fair for the damaged books to be paid for by taxes when the insurance company would have covered it too.

looking at the kitchen, does it need a rug too?This weekend I should really try to touch up the baseboards and make the whole house look nice. At least on the surface, right?

And this is kind of an aside, but was a fantastically exciting event tonight - Cosmo used the CatGenie instead of peeing on the sheet in front of the washing machine. I told him what a good boy he was as much as I could. Positive feedback, right? I fear it's my only hope.

There is also a moral to this story: Cut off your water when you leave town. Actually I hear terrible things can happen just during the work day. But even if someone else is still there, cut the water off at the wall. I should have cut off the water in my master bathroom and all this misery wouldn't exist at all. Hindsight and all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the 4 legged inventory

With my sister here sometimes my house seems a little overly full of pets. I have 3 cats and a dog (had two dogs until recently, another casualty of the house stress and turmoil) My sister also has 3 cats and a dog. It's a lot for a house this size, that's for sure.

These are mine:

Tsu - At 14+ Tsu is my oldest, She came from the Forsyth Humane Society about 13 years ago. Poor girl has had it rough for a while. She's diabetic (almost died from a bad insulin dosage given by a misguided pet sitter), she has only 3 teeth left (none of them frontsizes either) after being attacked by a dog (sadly one that grew up with her and was just super stressed by the house situation) and is starting to find herself covered with moles. eww. Her eyesight is going and she can't jump as well as she used to...

But she's sweet and smart. And overall a very well behaved tuxedo kitty.

Cosmo - Is about 13 years old. He's a rather pretty classic tabby of the brown and black variety. He's a bit co-dependant and has trouble NOT touching me. He has some bad potty habits related to his anxiety and co-dependency and a voice that makes one think there's some Siamese in there not so many generations back. I can feel him getting older these last few months and suspect there is a thyroid thing going on even though his tests keep coming back 'sort of' normal.

Tucker - Just over 5 at this point Tucker should be acting more restrained than she is. Tucker is a tri-color Pembroke Welsh Corgi. She barks too much, harasses cats too much and eats poop every chance she gets. EWWW. Those moles are looking pretty good aren't they?

Dexter(ous) - The shiny new kitten. Dexter moved in last September. It's nice to have young silliness around the house. He's also a super snuggler and really quite laid back. He went to Florida for the holidays and met 4 strange cats that weren't strangers to him.

Here he's pretending to be a super hero.