Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Handy Sandy and the Fireplace Reno (part 2)

Hello again... the fireplace reno is just moving right along! We now have some stone going up...

Not too shabby, eh?

 Even Spooky thinks this is a definite improvement!

And this is what it looks like now!!

Clearly every stuffie in the neighbourhood came for the grand opening of the fireplace...

It's pretty nice... and so much more convenient than wood (although the ambience is a shade less ambience-y)...

Now it's time to decorate the tree!

It was a hard job supervising this reno... and with all the stuffie pals, I think I need some treats... but... my humans are hopeless when it comes to treats... so I will just share some photos of Ben's Famous Christmas Cookies!

This is a tiny house cookie...

And a beautiful Christmas tree cookie... mmmmmm

Friday, November 30, 2018

Bearthday Mail!

I got mail last week!! This one's from Jerry & Ben... it got mailed on November 5 and arrived two weeks later on November 20... Did you know that the geese at Canada Post are on strike? Apparently parcels are backlogged in over 600 semi-trailer trucks at various postal depots around the country. Yes... and Canada Post has told foreign mail services to STOP sending parcels to Canada!!! Quel scandal!!! Anyhow... this letter made it through... wonder if Jerry and Ben had some pull with the border officials?

Let's see... nice card... and a Starbucks card! Those are always good. [Editor's note... apparently the sekrebeary got confused and thought the Sbux card came with the bearthday card but it actually came with the Halloween prize card... sigh... good help is hard to find.]

It's a bearthday card for me! Thanks guys!!

 Oh... you noticed!!! Yes... I found a nice pair of black pants to go with my new outfit. Honestly... I am not cut out to be a bare bear bum bear! Thanks to Jerry & Ben's aunt for making these a couple of years ago! They have nice back pockets for carrying snacks... and Starbucks gift cards!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Handy Sandy and the Fireplace Reno

Hello - Handy Sandy here. Today we are renovating the ugliest fireplace ever... Do you need a reminder of what it looks like?

There you go... It looks like stone but... it's just concrete pieces made to look like stone! And it's a pain in the bear bum to always haul firewood into the house and haul ashes out. That's right... it's not a "real" fireplace made out of brick with an ash pit. No, it's a zero-clearance fireplace - essentially a tin can. Ugh... they were popular back in the 80s...

 Anyhow... back to our reno... Today we are taking the faux stone down...

It's a bit dusty and messy... but I am here to supervise.

There we go... faux stone all down and now it's just a matter of pulling up the hearth...

And voila... bare fireplace...

What are we going to do? Well... it would be nice to have a gas fireplace but... I know this might be hard to believe... we don't have natural gas on our stretch of road. They'd have to run the gas main down about 100 metres (300 ft for my non-metric friends) and that would cost $$$$... there is always the option of propane but then we'd need a big honkin' tank out the side of the house and get that refilled and... bah...  so we are going electric...

First... the frame...

Then some concrete board - it's already looking better!

What do you think? Meh in the daylight but...

 It looks much better in the evening!

See... better... it has LED lights up top and a blower with heat as well... the flame effect is actually fairly good - not as bad as they were in the dark ages... hah! Get it... dark ages??

Anyhow...

We had saved some of the laminate floor from the foyer when that got redone last year, so we are just going to slap some of that down perpendicular to the living room floor, add transition strips and call it a day.

As for the surround... we're going stacked stone - the top one... stay tuned!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Prize Mail!

Hullo... I got some mail a few days ago. The stamp looks like a Christmas stamp but I'm sure it's too early for Christmas mail! I wonder who it's from?

Ah.... a fleur de lis... and... do you see at the bottom....

It's Jerry and Ben mail! I'm going to open it!

Cute Halloween card... and...

A Starbucks gift card! My prize for their Halloween contest!

Thanks guys! I am going to treat myself to a hot chocolate (or two... maybe three)...



Sunday, November 18, 2018

Quince Jelly

A friend of Mama's has a quince tree... It is a beary strange fruit - kind of like a cross between an apple and a bitter but BEARY astringent and not really edible as-is... but... apparently it makes AWESOME jelly....

They sure look weird though... and cover in greyish fluff... kind of like me!

We need 3.5 lbs of cored and quartered quince, so I better get started supervising...

Step one - wash the quince... so the fur is all gone.

Step 2 - quarter and core the quince...

Unlike our pears... there is very little waste with the quince. I guess even the worms don't like to burrow into them!

Then you put them in a pot with 7 cups of water...

Bring them to a boil... and then simmer for 45 minutes... after that, you mash them with a potato master and put them through a strainer with cheese cloth.

We hung up our mashed quince above the pot... the recipe says 3 to 4 hours of draining but... we got impatient... so once we had 6 cups of juice... I moved the whole process along.

Right then... next up... measure 7/8 cup of sugar for every cup of juice.

Put juice in a pot and bring to a boil...

Add this huge amount of sugar...

And then you bring it back to a low boil, stirring... and waiting for the gel point.... Huh? Well... you could use a candy thermometer but... we didn't have one... so we used the old fashioned method. Every once in a while, we'd take a bit of the stuff and put it on a chilled plate from the freezer...

The first dab is at 6:00... the second one is at 8:00... the third one is at 11:00... and then you see the last two at 1:00 and 3:00... see how the colour changed? Well... so did the consistency.

The last one is starting to hold together and wrinkle when you touch it. This was our first time trying a jelly without adding certo (quince have enough natural pectin) and then trying to figure out the gel point. In hindsight... we probably should have taken it all out a bit earlier!

 The stuff got put into jam jars and then into a water bath for 10 minutes... I'm not sure we needed the water bath but... follow the recipe...

We ended up with 5 jars of jelly... and the weirdest thing was the colour at the end! Look at what a pretty pink that is... and from a fruit that doesn't have an iota of pink in it! So cool!

 It was a lot of work though... and we'll have to see if the taste justifies the work!