1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: November, 2013

Why I Only Buy Real Maple Syrup

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When it comes to posting anything about cooking or recipes, there is one primary thing that I try to keep in mind. It has to contribute to a feeling of “home” (not to just have something to post or something that looks trendy but hardly no one else will make).

Perhaps this is because I really enjoy eating, but also because the smell of our favorite dishes can hold powerful memories of days gone by. You can be blindfolded and yet know instantly when you are “home” with only your nose. Food smells can permanently infuse a house. I’m glad.

Several months after I moved into my house, I was projecting early one weekend morning, and I smelled hot buttered pancakes and maple syrup. At the time, I had barely used the old electric range to do much more than heat up a can of something and call it “dinner.”

So I checked outside just to make sure I wasn’t imagining anything. The smell was only in my house, only in my kitchen. I think that was the house’s way of letting me know, “You’re okay. I trust you to take care of me. You can call me ‘home’ now.”

There are secondary considerations as well when posting anything about cooking or recipes like being something that a guy can follow and make for his someone special or his whole family, sort of the way my brother-in-law makes French toast every Sunday morning before church for his family.

Maybe most guys would like to show how they feel with a home-cooked meal or even just one part of a meal if an entire meal seems overwhelming. They just need some know-how. So that’s the “why” for only using real maple syrup and for sharing these recipes.

Right now I have a taste for some of the best “Maple Pecan Sugar Cookies” of my life! This was the first “from scratch” baking that I did in my house, and I used my own pecans from my own pecan tree in my own backyard. Recipe to follow soon!

This photograph was taken November 2013. These are a few of the different maple syrups that have been given to me over the years. The bottle shaped like a maple leaf is my favorite. Maple syrup will last indefinitely if left unopened. Although some people like it on a French toast, I prefer just putting it on pancakes.

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Built-In Linen Closet Cabinet…Woodworking Storyboard

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For me, it was important to do a dry run of the linen closet’s built-in cabinet before securing everything permanently. I knew basically how I wanted the cabinet to look with a bead-board back to match other bead-board that I had used in the bathroom and elsewhere.

I also knew that I wanted to use a face frame with the same tapered leg style used for the kitchen cabinets. My hope is that visual similarities will make for a unified design throughout the house, even though my work is being done almost a century after the house was constructed.

Knowing these things and drawing them are wonderful, but it has been my experience that masses and spaces sometimes work differently in real life than as they are designed on paper. Everything can look great in a scale drawing, but feel awkwardly uncomfortable when actually built and used.

Are the proportions pleasing? What about the number of shelves? How many towels will actually fit on a shelf? What is at eye-level? Is everything easily accessible? How does it look from different angles and viewpoints? These are just some of the questions that a dry run can answer.

This photograph also shows one of the most essential home renovation tools that you can make yourself. This one simple tool will save you more time than you can imagine. Not only that, if used properly, it can make most old house idiosyncrasies disappear. That tool is a storyboard.

When you change rulers or repeat measurements, you risk having your measurements slightly off. This is then compounded each time a new measurement is added to a previous one. A storyboard prevents repeating the same measurements again and again. You just position the storyboard and transfer the pre-measured marks.

This storyboard helped me to compensate for a floor that had settled over time. By marking level horizontal lines on the wall for the top back and top sides of the built-in cabinet and then measuring down with the storyboard (rather than up from the floor), the shelves remained level.

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These photographs were taken November 2013. There is still plenty of work still to be done. The second photograph shows a close up of one of the shelves. The blue painter’s tape marks the position of the shelf supports. You’ll see that there is a gap between the bottom edge of the shelf and the top edge of the blue tape. This is caused by settling of the house which gives a slight slope to the floor. The shelf is level even though the floor is not quite level.