27 January, 2010

the day to day...

In case you follow, wondering about the cat pee/ urine adventures...
My room smells like cat pee and vinegar now. But more the latter than the former. I think i'm going to try again on the whole thing, and maybe add some hydrogen peroxide to the mix. I just worry about bleaching the wood- as hydrogen peroxide is known to do...
So one more round of household items... then if that doesn't work, i am going to cover it. Yep. Masking the odor. HAHA if it was MY place, i would make it go away without covering it- but since it's not my place, and i didn't cause the stench- i've decided that covering it is a good work-around. Win.

We got the spare twin sized box spring out of the bedroom yesterday. The landlords decided they will either take it back or throw it away. Fine with us.. we don't use it. I recently cleaned all the mildew off the walls of the bedroom that i could see.. needless to say, when we pulled the bed away from the wall, we found more. Oh good.
The joys of dampness and stone. Fortunately, i am not allergic to said mildew (which is surprising), and neither is V. I shall be cleaning that off tonight.

Today i discovered it is warmer outside than it is inside. HA! Really?! I've been walking around wearing literally, 3 pairs of socks, two pairs of trousers, and three-four shirts plus a sweater over the top all day not knowing i could go outside and warm up a little? Hilarious. Really.
Actually, i find it endearing. It was nice to step out and smell the smells of country life. Dirt, rain, manure, and fresh wood being cut. They should make that into a perfume.
At least a house spray or a candle or something.

In other news... the shower decided to poop out again. Our landlords installed a Thermostatic Power Shower (which basically makes the water go from a drizzle to a spray- and actually gets you clean) a day or two before we arrived. We have been here almost 2 weeks and the plumber has come out 2 times to look at it. He fixes it in a jif- then leaves. It works for a few showers, two or three at most- then craps out again! Our hot water heater is not heating all the way, so we cant take much of a bath. Additionally, we still don't have heat in the house (because oil is expensive... we're getting it later this week) and taking a bath in shallow water with cold air around you in a drafty cottage is never fun. At least not for me. I dont mind 100 days in a row of rain. I dont mind 200 days on top of that of clouds and cold... I'll go through it all with not a word of complaint. But take away my hot shower in addition to it all and BLAH!
I'm not really meaning to complain. I'm thankful for the roof over my head and the food thats in my belly. I'm thankful that we have running water and enough hot water to clean ourselves, at least a little. I'm especially thankful for my husband who works hard all week and comes home to the shower not working and still smiles.

In the mean time, i suppose i'll go put on another pair of socks... ;-)

26 January, 2010

odor eliminator

When we moved into the Cottage here in Rathcormac, we thought it was perfect. It still is perfect for us except for one tiny little detail... The only bedroom in the house smells like nasty horrible cat pee. We have narrowed it down to one wooden beam right by the window that is the culprit.
It's awful!

We forget about it when we're downstairs, but whenever it's bedtime or if we need something from the room... inevitably, one of us says something about it.

Today i've spent most of the day upstairs in the bedroom researching where to find a decent washboard for our laundry, how to prepare wool fiber with hand cards, and how to effectively remove the smell of cat urine from wood. Fortunately i found a website with many a comment from many a user telling how wonderfully white vinegar works.
Coincidentally, downstairs is a bottle of white vinegar! I would have never known, had my husband not told me that "ocet" means "vinegar".

I set to work straight away, saturating this million year old beam with the vinegar in the affected area. Then i decided to conduct a little experiment... I put baking soda into a bowl and mixed it into a paste with water, and spread it over the recently saturated wood.
When the baking soda is dry, i plan to wipe it off the wood with some warm water and let the whole thing dry for a day, then see how effective this process has been.

I expressed interest a few months ago to V about learning how to spin my own wool... and if he knew of anywhere to find wool when we're in Ireland. He told me that his friend owns 3 Jacob sheep that he shears and just burns the wool from every year! GASP! just BURNS it?!
V saved me a bag, and i'm looking forward to shearing season coming up to acquire more. hehehe
We are currently looking for a set of hand carders and *possibly* a spinning wheel, although i will be attempting first with a drop spindle. I'm seriously looking forward to this project!

As for the washboard... *sigh*...
the wash machine we use is shared with our landlords. Although it works well enough for them, none of them are getting nearly as dirty in their day-to-day as my husband is... and his clothes just don't come out clean. There is still mud on the hems of his trousers and various spots in our clothes that i know for certain would be clean otherwise... ie- in and AMERICAN WASH MACHINE! hahaha

22 January, 2010

Meal Calendar

First, i'd like to say that the cake-baking was a success! Also, you can find the sugar i'm used to here, but... it is a tad more expensive. I haven't tasted it yet...

We have decided to make a Meal Calendar! Yay for the idea of saving a little money and not having food spoil because you forgot about it!

My first recipe starts tonight!

Baked Potato Soup

    * 3 bacon strips, diced

    * 1 small onion, chopped

    * 1 clove garlic, minced

    * 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    * 1 teaspoon salt

    * 1 teaspoon dried basil

    * 1/2 teaspoon pepper

    * 3 cups chicken broth

    * 2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed

    * 1 cup half-and-half cream

    * 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

    * Shredded Cheddar cheese

    * Minced fresh parsley


   1. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.

I'll let you know how it turns out!

In other news- When i was younger, my mom and i would drive from our home in Washington state or Utah over to northern Idaho and spend weeks of the summer with my brother and his family. We would almost ALWAYS hang the laundry out to dry on a line outside. I remember going out there with my discman and hanging clothes in the sunshine, then finding the shade of a towel to lay under and watch the clouds. 
Since then, i have only hung my clothes once or twice- and only because i A.) ran out of money for the dryer in the laundromat or B.) my dryer was not operational.
As of right now, i have a line in my kitchen with our various garments hanging on it, socks and underwear lining the table and tossed over the backs of chairs, more socks along the back of the couch, and a towel hanging on the grate in front of the fire. Last night, i was worried V wouldn't have any clean clothes to wear to work so i hung them on the grate, which is where i discovered the amazingness of drying things in front of the fire! haha
It was pretty cool to watch his clothes steam as they dried. 

19 January, 2010

the European Baking Experience: attempt 1

Well... the chaos in our little cottage is slowly but surely becoming more orderly. It's nice to look around and see less and less boxes.

The kitchen is nearly complete and put together. It's so nice to see everything up on shelves and in their places under the counters. I spent much time in the kitchen today, and there is still work to do!
Here in Ireland, apparently you cant get white small grain sugar the way you get it in America. *facepalm*
All the sugar that is in the house is large grain brown sugar. I have no idea how to cook with this sugar. I imagine it happens though- these Irish people have to stay fed somehow ;-)
I improvised today.
V and i are going over to his friends' home tonight- and i offered to bake a cake for the occasion. It's a recipe that i've had and never really used... and for some reason have memorized...
Anyhow- The large grains kinda freak me out. I wont lie. I'm afraid if i use the sugar the same way, it will come out incorrectly. I dunno... i guess i'm afraid that the sugar wont distribute into my recipes just right... or you'll come across a handful of large grains in a dessert and *GASP* have to chew.
There's something about a light crunch that will ruin the experience of something that isn't supposed to make noise... ;-)
I decided to grind it into a smaller state- Yay for mortar and pestle!
it took some doing, but after a while, i finally got a cup of sugar ground down to where i was satisfied.

  • 1/2  cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  tablespoon  vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup  milk
I used 1tsp of baking soda instead... that's all i had. We'll see how it tastes. Actually, i had to break out a translator to make sure i had the right stuff...

    Dont worry. "Soda Oczyszczona" means "baking soda" in Polish. ;-)

    preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
    Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
    In a separate bowl, blend butter, vanilla. sugar and eggs together until it's nice and fluffy. Slowly add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately until just blended.
    Bake until cake is brown and springs back when you touch it gently--- between 45-55 minutes.

    it came out pretty! we'll see how it tastes. We will be bringing it to his friends tonight along with some home-canned pears that my husband prepared a couple months ago :D

    with love,

    18 January, 2010


    It is official. I now reside in the country of Ireland.
    Although it is a dream come true- it does take some adjusting. Light switches, plug sockets, and driving on the other side of the road (and the car), are only the beginning!

    V and i went shopping the other day for some essentials. I have been spoiled by the bigness and availability of everything in America. Things are small here, the selection is not as broad. For instance, i couldn't find CELERY in TWO stores that i went to! Can you believe it?! CELERY!!! I really thought that was a normal every day vegetable. I'm sure i can find it somewhere- but i'm guessing that somewhere is probably half an hour away by car. If i want a rutabaga though... and they're not rutabagas here. They're Turnips. Get it right. ;-)

    Speaking of cars... and driving... wow. It is really taking some getting used to- being the passenger on the side of the car where i usually drive from. Roads are completely super-narrow and extremely curvy, and they drive FAST. All these little cars and no big trucks (not that the trucks would fit on the road anyway!), and for the first time ever, in a parking lot i was able to stand and see above all the cars with no camper shells or tall cabs blocking my view. Very strange!

    Our cottage is amazing and rustic. My sweet husband did a fantastic job finding the place. I am so ecstatic about our living arrangement! It is gorgeous. Parts of the estate we live on (ie. the wall coming into the property and the TOWER... yes. i said tower) are thought to be about 500 years old. The cottage we live in is thought to be at least two to three hundred years old itself. AMAZING!
    That beam i knocked my head on just now has seen at least two hundred years and they probably did it back then too. That beam is SO used to it already. 

    Electricity is kinda a big deal here. I dont mean that it's new and exciting or anything- just that it's expensive. My dad was always conscious about turning off lights in rooms where we weren't, but it's on a whole new level here. We won't use the clothes dryer, but instead we'll hang things around the cottage to dry on lines. In the summer, we'll put things outside. Yay! My landlords get to see my underwear... lol
    The hot water boiler doesn't stay on all the time. If you want hot water- you go upstairs and flip the switch and wait for a little while (not long. 10 minutes if you're wanting to do dishes, 30 if you want a bath/ shower) then make sure to turn it off when you're done. V has placed energy-efficient bulbs where he can, and vowed to find some for the lights that dont have them yet. haha!
    We have a switch to turn the stove/oven on and off when we're using it... which is fun to remember sometimes. I put something on the stove and switched on the element- then wondered why the water wasn't even warm 10 minutes later only to realize i had forgotten to turn the whole thing ON. 
    All in all, it's a lot to remember, but honestly- I really like it!

    We are so happy too... i am crazy about the man i married and he is crazy about me. He makes me laugh and smile every day. He is tolerant of my silly moods and... wow. I just love him so much. I am a lucky duck!

    Can't wait to post photos! We'll have "real internet" soon. I'm working from a... um... usb data wireless magical thing... that is slow. 

    i'm not complaining.

    slow is better than NONE!


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