January 30, 2008

Lazy days of winter.

Well, so much for a house update - Vancouver has been hit by several snow storms over the past few days and progress on the house has ground to a halt. They were apparently unable to shovel the snow fast enough to see what they were doing.

The roads have also been too trecherous for us to get anywhere (being a city that receives very little snowfall, we are woefully unprepared for the times when it actually does happen), so the kids and I have been enjoying a few days bundled up at home, venturing out occasionally for a walk in the snow and hot chocolate at a nearby cafe.
I've been enjoying watching my mom's maple tree change throughout the seasons. I hope to get one just like it for our place. Just look at the colour in this photo that I took of it back in October:

Stuck at home, I've been spending a lot of time watching the birds as they come to our yard, with its well stocked feeder, in search of food. Talk about an armchair naturalist - sitting by the window with my feet on the heater and a cup of tea at my side.

I'm not the only one who's been keeping an eye on the birds. Shadow has hardly moved from her perch on the kitchen window ledge...

...and Princess has also been ensconced in her usual lookout at the window on the stair landing, watching the wintry world go by. This activity is occasionally interrupted so she can have a brief fritz around the yard, excitedly running laps and kicking up snow.

I love these days. Spring can take its time.

January 28, 2008

A lot can happen in two hours.

I'm afraid you're going to have to bear with me for the next few weeks (months) while I'm unable to think of anything but "house". I hope to be back to regular gardening and cooking posts before too long.

The main floor of our house went up on Friday, and we happily froze our butts off so we could take in the show!

When we got there, the basement walls were all done, and the subfloor for the next level was in place.

The truck carrying our house arrived not long after we did. Look at that excited grin!

The crane started lifting the panels over onto the structure...

...and within about 3 minutes they had two sections up (here you see the very first one, the corner of our master bedroom - what you can't hear is my husband giggling like a schoolgirl).

There was an entire wall within 20 minutes.

Here, the living room window is being dropped into position... well as the dining room window. I was a little freaked out by how large and looming it looked, because I was wanting it to be nestled into the hill a little more. Our contractor has promised me that once the backfilling is done it will look less obtrusive.

From the back side it doesn't look too bad, so I'm hopeful.

All of this happened in the space of about two hours. This week, they're working on the floor joists and subfloor for the next level, and the roof should go on in a couple of days. You gotta love pre-fab!

To get an idea of what the finished house will look like, click here.

January 22, 2008

We have walls!

Just a quick update on our building progress.

Concrete went into the forms last Monday...

...and they started framing the basement walls late last week.

The foundation has been waterproofed and drainage is in.

At this point, the basement walls are fully framed in (this photo was taken last weekend) and the subfloor for the main level is going on. We went to the pre-fab company's warehouse yesterday and saw actual sections of our house, and they told us that the main floor walls are being lifted into place on Thursday! We're really hoping that we can be there to watch it happen (our contractor thinks we are a serious couple of geeks).

I couldn't resist taking a photo of our electrical meter. If only the reading could always be this low!

January 16, 2008

Things I Love - Hollyhock's Yeast Dressing

I've been talking about doing a post on my all time favorite salad dressing for a long time now - so long, in fact, that I took this photo in June of 2006 in preparation for it.
I've been making a version of this salad for about 8 years. In the beginning, I used a locally made bottled dressing, but I was lucky enough to discover a "taste alike" recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks several years ago. Since that discovery, there's always a bottle of this delicious concoction mixed and ready in the fridge.

Yeast Dressing (from Hollyhock Cooks):
Into the jar of a blender add:
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (not brewer's yeast, which is bitter and awful - look for yeast flakes such as "Red Star" brand)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup tamari (try to find tamari as regular soy sauce or Bragg's doesn't taste quite the same)
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic (I often just throw a few large whole cloves in and let the blender do the work)
Blend for a minute or so until everything comes together. With the blender running, remove the lid and slowly add (in a thin, steady stream):
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil or other light vegetable oil (don't use extra virgin olive oil as the flavor is too strong)
This will taste better if allowed to sit in the fridge for a while, but I always end up using it right away when I make a new batch. Shake well before each use. Keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time, but usually doesn't last that long.
The dressing itself isn't something I would want to eat a lot of on its own, but when mixed with the right salad ingredients, it becomes something entirely different. I've rarely had a salad that is so completely satisfying and "meaty" - I think it must be all the B vitamins in the yeast (which is another bonus of this dressing, it's extremely good for you!).
It would be stretching it to call the following combination a recipe, but this is how I almost always use this dressing:
Fill a bowl with washed and dried lettuce (mixed greens are my favorite), crumble some feta cheese on top, add a handful of sprouted mixed beans (garbanzos, lentils, adzuki, and mung beans preferably), and pour on some dressing. Toss to mix, and enjoy.

I sometimes substitute grated cheddar for the feta, canned chick peas for the beans, and if I have it, a few slices of creamy avocado (not locally grown, I know, but I'm weak when it comes to these things!). It's so hearty and satisfying that I regularly have a big bowl of this on its own for lunch - and I'm not a woman who would typically consider a salad a meal. ;D

Is there a salad (or salad dressing) that you just can't live without?

January 09, 2008

Long time no see!

I don't know if there's anyone coming around here after I've taken such a long and unexpected hiatus, but if you're reading this, thanks for stopping by! No, I haven't been busy working on our house, things are only just getting underway now. As I was saying to someone earlier today, the construction industry in BC is going crazy these days, in part due to our booming economy, and partly due to the pending 2010 Olympic games. We ended up having to wait until December for the contractor who will be assembling our house to finally fit us in (about two months later than projected), and all we've been able to do is smile and not rock the boat, even though we're chomping at the bit (there's not another contractor to be had, anywhere)!
Anyway, I think the ongoing stress threw me into a bit of a funk and I seem to have lost all interest in blogging. I've been wondering whether or not to keep it up at all, even though I still have lots to talk about. I have to admit, I've been enjoying the extra free time in the evenings, but I've been missing my blogging friends and desperately need to do some catching up - I hope you're all doing well.
Here are a few photos (taken with my new camera!) from Monday's trip to our property:

Snowy mountains as seen from another house that our contractor is working on (isn't that a killer view?!).

This is the view down the trail that runs past our property. We seem to get a lot more snow here than we ever do in the city (it was warm and rainy in Vancouver on the day this was taken). We're excited about the prospect of having four distinct seasons!

Here's my grandfather inspecting our foundation forms. He worked as an engineer for the Canadian military and has built structures of all kinds in places from the Arctic circle to the Middle East, so he's proving to be a valuable resource throughout this process.

Electricity is getting hooked up on Friday, concrete will be poured on Monday, and then the walls should start going up. We might actually have an outer shell within a month or so (but I'm not holding my breath)... ;D


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