bright side

You know what stinks? Being awakened by the plumbers removing the toilet a day early.

You know what really stinks? Having to wake up your houseguest to break the news that there’s no toilet.

You know what’s great? Seeing how your houseguest takes it all in stride and and heads out to the local coffeehouse with you, just so the two of you can pee.

You know what stinks? Having to miss a trip to visit The Fella’s family because the unscheduled plumbers* need someone to lock up after ’em.

You know what makes up for it? Spending that unexpected free evening with your own vacationing family for one last dinner before they go home.

You know what literally stinks? The rotted subflooring the plumbers tore up.

You know what’s adorable? How carefully they tidied up after themselves, leaving just a few smears of mold.

You know what figuratively stinks? Splashing bleachy water on the floor, then tracking it all over.

You know what’s kinda fun? Putting paper towels under each foot and shuffling around the apartment like a Muppet to clean it up.

* Adding Unscheduled Plumbers to list of potential band names.

A little color

Kitchen
I bought this string of lights at Pier 1 last week to perk up the kitchen. We can only remodel so much at once, so this adds some color to the unfinished ambiance. I’m now thinking of painting all the cabinet doors and drawers in these bright colors.

Too crazy?

gray area

Courtesy of friends JE & AC, who moved out of town over the weekend, we now have a new-to-us ginormous TV in our place. The two best things about this TV, other than the mammoth screen:

1. The Fella will no longer need to complain about “the blacks,” i.e., the fuzzy, indistinct gray-to-black range that hampered dark scenes showing on our previous flatscreen TV;

2. I will stop cringing for a split second every so often because my partner has muttered the unexpected phrase “Wow, the blacks are terrible.”

ginger beer: sweet and spicy!

Following up on my summer goals, I recently made another batch of home-brewed ginger beer. Sweet, spicy, with a wicked kick, ginger beer makes a refreshing drink on its own or mixed half-and-half with lemonade. For an evening highball, try a Dark & Stormy: ginger beer with a splash of black rum and a squeeze of lime. Mmm, you can feel that summer breeze drifting your way, can’t you?

This is an ersatz ginger beer; real ginger beer requires a ginger beer plant, a symbiotic colony of yeasts that carbonate the drink through fermentation. I decided not to buy or culture my own ginger beer plant. Instead, I followed Dr. Fankhauser’s instructions for fermented yeast carbonation, which gives a nice fizzy lift to a syrup-and-water base.

For my long-ago first batch of homemade ginger ale, I followed Dr. Fankhauser’s directions carefully. The resulting drink was tasty and fizzy and exactly what he promised, but not spicy and dark as ginger beer should be. For my recent batch, I brazenly modified the ingredients and the prep technique to produce a richer spicier drink, but the brewing directions remain the same.

A few improvements I made: cooking the ginger and spices with the sugar extracts more flavor and also eliminates the need to dissolve the sugar after it goes into the bottle. Adding the lemon zest, cinnamon, and clove results in a more complex flavor profile, and the peppers and peppercorns add bite and snap. Straining the syrup makes a cleaner, less cloudy ginger beer that’s far more pleasant on the tongue — no shreds or ginger to tickle your throat! I also added a bottle-sterilizing step for extra safety. Continue reading

For sale

This is the second weekend selling our wares for the people of Perth, and the people, they just aren’t showing. Granted, we haven’t advertised it well so it’s our own damned fault. Let me back up a bit by telling you that we’re taking to the road again, which is no big surprise, hey? If you know JM and me, you’re aware that we’re never in one place for long. We’ve been married for 11 years and the longest we stayed put in one place was a brief experiment in homeownership in Baden, Switzerland. We’ve been in Australia for over three years which is 21+ dog years of accumulating stuff. Please, please come buy it so we can take off again.

abhor

This will tell you all you need to know about our housekeeping:

I heard a ghastly rumbling whoosh from the upstairs apartment and cast my eyes upward, wondering what the hell was going on up there. The Great Dane scrabbling on the floor? Radiator pipes clattering and flushing? Some new Wii game?

Oh. They’re vacuuming.

the end of any messy tale

We buy a roll of paper towels every few months, whichever roll is cheapest and, though I know it pains the manufacturers and designers, with no attention to the prints — oh, I’m sorry: the “eclectic little ‘story-based’ vignettes that spell the end of any messy tale.”

But while wiping up spilled butter, I just noticed the motto adorning the paper towel in my hand: “You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.”

I cannot be the only person who immediately reads this as advice on disposing of the body.