Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope everybody had a fantastic Thanksgiving!! We are doing *awesome* over here!

It looks like it’s going to take longer than expected to get the updates and fixes done to the website, so I might as well keep on writing. Sorry about the things that don’t work — like the comments and the archives and the searches. Justin will get them fixed as soon as he can figure out why the heck they aren’t working in the first place…

Really. It makes no sense. It’s super frustrating.

Anyway! Today! We had a great day!

FIRST, we finished a project in the back closet. (If you want to skip this and hear about our dinner, feel free to jump ahead to the bolded SECOND. I’m about to babble a lot. Just so you’re warned.)

Some of you know that a couple weeks ago we lost power to the front bedroom of the house (was the master bedroom, is now the office). It was really strange because it was everything in that entire room — lights, outlets, everything. But nothing was wrong with the fuses and when we opened up the outlets, we couldn’t find anything that looked weird. We finally called our land lady who called in an electrician who came in and figured out that the fire alarms upstairs are all wired into the same circuit as the office. And one of the fire alarms had a wire that had come loose. Just, you know, randomly. For no good reason. And all the fire alarms have battery back-ups, so we wouldn’t have ever checked that. Anyway, he fixed it and we have power back in the office (HURRAY!).

But we had to take out half of the stuff from the back closet in order to really be able to access the fuse box. I mean, we could get to it before. Well, Justin could get to it with his long arms reaching through the shelving unit to the far wall. But it wasn’t super accessible and if the electrician had needed to, for example, remove the box to chase the wires, it wouldn’t have worked. So we took half of the shelving out. And then we decided, you know, let’s just explore another option here. Let’s make it so it’s really actually safer and accessible and all.

I’ve been trying to find a good “Before” picture to show you. We forgot to take one before we started, so the best I can give you is a shot over Justin’s shoulder from when we had to replace the lock on that door.

Justin replaced the lock, but look at that mess of a closet!!

Not a great photo, but you can see that shelving unit is stuffed. It went up to the ceiling and was filled with stuff. The lawn mower just *barely* fit in between it and the door.

This is it now:

This closet is now a thing of beauty!!

That mower fits in there with room to spare!! Oh, and this is the BEST PART: It only cost us $12. We had to go buy three 2x4s and a box of nails. Everything else we already had! Those beautiful boxes that are taking up the back wall in this photo? Had them since the apartment in Savannah and they’ve just be sitting in there on a shelf.

I know that this might not be terribly exciting (thus the option to just skip ahead at any point, really), but we are SO EXCITED about this project!

Reason 1: Super easy access to the circuit panel.

Just look at that circuit panel!

All we need to move to get to that panel is that grill. And because we can actually step inside of the door of this closet instead of reaching from the door, I can actually access it. This makes me feel so much better about being able to get to this in case of an emergency.

Reason 1 for Justin might actually be the ability to fit the mower in so easily, but we’re sticking this super important one instead. 🙂

Reason 2: Access to the water heater

That first picture of the closet is actually the best one for this — you can see how easy it is to get to all the panels on the front of the water heater. And the little box up on the wall near where the extension cord is hanging is the timer for the unit — which opens upward and yes, does have easy clearance to open under that shelf. This hasn’t been a problem for a while and hopefully won’t be a problem before we move out again, but if anything happened with that heater, we had to take absolutely everything out of the closet. It was annoying and problematic.

Reason 3: Easy access to absolutely everything. You can’t see it from the photos and none of them really show it well, but I can get to absolutely everything in this closet without too much trouble. Before, if I wanted the grill, I had to move the mower and shuffle it off a shelf in two parts. Now, it’s just sitting on top of a shelving unit. Second shelf of that unit? All my pots and gloves and things I use for potting. Ant-hill poison? Used to be on the bottom shelf behind the mower and the random bottle of antifreeze. Now those are both on the shelf at the top of the back wall, out of reach of small children and pets and all lined up so I can see exactly what I need. Okay, I need a step stool or Justin in order to reach it, but how often do I use that stuff? Rarely.

How about paint?  Our land lady left us a little bit of paint for most of the rooms in the house — if only we knew which can went with each room. Anyway, paint used to take up an entire shelf on that old unit. Now we have this:

Ladder o’ paint

It goes all the way down to the floor like this. It’s out of the way and yet easy to get to if we can ever figure out which one goes where.

We are so super excited about how well this turned out! Things are easy to get to, tidy, organized, and it took us about 4 hours of work and $12 in supplies. We had to purge a few things out — some beach chairs went to Jessi (she’ll actually use them), we’re going to Craigslist a handful of glass bowls and a tennis racket, the falling apart boogie boards got trashed, the life vest and an old lantern went to Julie. The old shelving unit got dragged up and stacked in the attic. The whole thing looks SO MUCH better and it’s so much easier to get to things! Yea!

Justin is excited about the mower and weed whack accessibility.

SECOND, we made dinner! We invited our usual bunch of friends to come over, but no one took us up on it except for Jessi and a couple of her friends. All our other friends either have families that they traveled to see or are starting their own traditions. Our friend Julie drove up to spend the day with her aunt in Charleston because Julie’s uncle got called to active duty, leaving her aunt all alone. So we did our dinner, but it was just me and Justin with Jessi and her two friends.

We still made all the same food as always:

  • turkey
  • mashed potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • stuffing and gravy
  • green bean casserole
  • cranberry dressing
  • dinner rolls
  • ambrosia fruit salad

This year I also did a pitcher of sangria, just for fun.

We actually did a handful of things differently. I made the potatoes and the cranberry dressing on Wednesday. I pulled out the potatoes today when the turkey went into the oven so they’d warm up to room temperature before I put them into the oven for 30 minutes with butter dotted over them, which then got stirred in after they came out of the oven to make them super moist. And I cut up the celery and onions for the stuffing (we do stuffing from a bag) on Wednesday because we’re always doing the stuffing right at the end when everything is going crazy and it was just so easy to do it while I was cutting up potatoes the day ahead. Julie was actually over and helping me on Wednesday, so she peeled the sweet potatoes, too, while she was peeling the other potatoes, so I just cut them up and put them in a bowl to sit until I was ready for them today — completely taking away any need for me to peel or cut any vegetables today.

So, really, the most time-involved things to deal with today was the turkey and the dinner rolls, and the dinner rolls are only on that because they take time to rise.

We did our turkey a little differently this year, too. I was reading about different ideas on baking a turkey and ran into the idea of spatchcocking it. Sounds weird, right? It is. Basically, you cut out the backbone of the turkey and flatten it out so the whole thing is laying mostly flat.

Spatchcocked turkey looks silly

Mine is not quite as flat as it should have been, but for a first try, I think that’s pretty good. The idea is that you get all the skin on the top of the turkey, let the breast sit low enough so the legs and the breast cook at the same rate, letting the dark meat warm up to the temperature that it should get to without letting the breast get overdone and dry. It also cooks a whole lot faster because it’s not just a ball of meat. We cooked a 10 pound turkey in about 2 hours. Normally that would have taken 3 1/2 to 4 hours. And it maybe could have come out a little earlier if we hadn’t gotten distracted putting up the valance in the bedroom (since we already had all the tools out and accessible).

Cooked turkey is delicious!

I forgot to take a picture before starting to carve it, but you can see that it looks like it turned out really well! The skin is nice and golden. Sadly, it got a little soggy because we put it under tinfoil for about an hour and a half finishing up the rest of the dishes and waiting for Jessi to arrive. Before that, though? That turkey was crispy! And the white meat was deliciously moist instead of being dried out. It tastes AMAZING!!

And, as ever, we’ll be eating leftovers for several days. But that’s part of what we love about cooking on Thanksgiving!

So it was a great day! We got the closet looking beautiful (plus hung the valance in the bedroom and put a knob on a closet door that we’d replaced but never bothered drilling another hole into for the knob) and made delicious food! We spend a delightful dinner with Jessi and her two friends. They brought pumpkin cupcakes to share for dessert. And then they left and we cleaned up and sat and relaxed. And I wrote this CRAZY long post!

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I love and am thankful for all of you! I hope anybody shopping tomorrow has lots of luck on sales! I’ll be staying home with my aching feet up and resting. Doing laundry, really, because my life is so exciting! 🙂

Lots of love to you all!