Thursday, August 30, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

I know, I know. You're sick of fresh tomatoes by this time of year, right?  (I'm not, but this is the first year I've had a great tomato in a very long time)

So we've got a new technique for dealing with the August bounty.

Roasted 'maters!  I know, so original and innovative!  Really, though, it's worth trying.

It's easy and delicious.  First, choose tomatoes.

The ones above aren't really appropriate because they're not fully ripened (we take 'em off the vine a little early because the critters'll get to them otherwise).  

Side note: Anybody know which variety that hot pink one is?  It's not the same color as the Brandywine at its ripest but it's unlike any other tomato I've picked.  Guess it could just be color variation.

But these? They look awesome. If you're a purist, pick paste tomatoes like Amish Paste or Roma. They're fleshier.  However, we follow no such rules at The Kiefer Cottage.  Nope, we're equal opportunity tomato roasters, so even the big mamba jambas are included in this recipe.

Slice the tomatoes.  Don't make 'em too thin or else they shall burn (you'll evidence a couple photos down).  Ryan made this batch, and that explains a lot about the outcome (Love you husband!  You're a good apprentice!!).

Put them on a baking sheet (with sides, not a cookie sheet) you've put plenty of olive oil on.  When you get the ends, put them skin side down, not the other way 'round like in this photo.  Brush olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the tomatoes.

Bake 45-60 minutes at 400 degrees F.  Turn the pan halfway through. Check for burning.  The thin slices may not survive.

At this point, I should have a beautifully staged photo taken on the lime green freezer.  However, my husband proceeded to eat both pans of tomatoes in a matter of minutes.  All of them. I got one bite.  So you'll just have to use your imagination.

Personally, I was planning on putting them on sandwiches or making salads with them. Instead, I shall cry that he didn't leave any for me.

Don't forget our post on making tomato sauce the lazy man's way!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No fall garden, no Tiramisu, but there will be light fixtures!

We came to a tough decision a few weeks ago.  There will be no fall garden planting.  The drought has gotten worse, and I don't have the patience nor the money to water.  So the bare spots shall remain bare.

I've also come to the toughest realization of my life.  I cannot eat Tiramisu.

I know.  I can't believe it either.

For years,  I've been unable to tolerate coffee--my stomach starts seizing within an hour of drinking a cup--but coffee-laced desserts seemed to be okay since the amount is so miniscule.  But no longer.  Goodbye, my Tiramisu.

Perhaps that's unfair. I haven't figured out if it's the caffeine or something else that causes all the distress, so I guess I could try decaf. But that seems to be akin to eating tomato-free pizza. It's okay, but it ain't pizza.

Therefore, I shall comfort myself with photos of things that make me smile (other than the fam and the animal life around here).

Hate the candle thingies, but love the structure.

A little metal twin bed. Perhaps for Drew?

Beautiful!  Maybe for the dining room, but I'll have to find $58, which will take an entire year to raise if I rely solely on "profits" for the blog.

Anywho, have a great weekend!  I hope you never have to abstain from your favorite dessert!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gift from Jen @ Four Marrs and One Venus

I won a blog sweepstakes over a month ago. It was a huge giveaway, and I got a few months worth of advertising on different blogs as well as some lovely presents, too.

I've been in la-la land this August and have failed to thank everyone for their generosity.  But now I can at least tackle one thank-you (the Devil told me he'd be comin' for me otherwise).

Jen at Four Marrs and One Venus offered to make beautiful up to five letters.  I must admit I usually don't go for that type of decoration--my children never knew their names because I failed to hang cutesy'd up letters above their cribs, and no one, I'm afraid, knows that they should eat in the kitchen since there is no sign telling them to.  However, since I could pick anything, I decided to go with some irony.

I think they actually look great on the piano!  I chose the color scheme that would be affixed to the wooden forms.

I only chose one pattern that was an obvious nod to the instrument. Otherwise, I chose from a lovely selection of purty paper that Jen had on hand.

What's the joke?  Well, this is the quietest room in the house.  Not only is it a calming blue, but *Piano*, in musical terminology, means "Shut the heck up and stop being so loud.  Use your inside voice, kid."

I'm planning on putting something in the family room, the noisiest room at the Kiefer Cottage (and perhaps the loudest in the entire world), using the word Forte, which means "Kick it up a notch, please."  That's on a long list of things I'll get to eventually.

In the meantime, thanks to Jen for such a lovely piece of decor!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Gratuitous Katie picture.
I haf a geeft for yous!

By yous, I mean peeps like me.

I've compiled a list for bored moms. You know, for times when you feel like all you do is wipe bottoms, make PB&J, and clean up mystery stains on the wall.  I'm sure there are plenty of gals who never ever feel like this, but I'm not one to pretend everything's sunshine and unicorns all the time at The Kiefer Cottage.

You'll find silly ideas, fun ideas, seriously boredom-consuming ideas.  What's great is that I'm giving it to you for FREE, so if yous don't like it, you can either delete the download or even better, you can print it out and burn it in the sink (in Kansas, no burning outside unless you want to start the Great Fire of 2012).  If you choose the latter, film it and send me the link.

Of course, anyone can download the file--it's not like there's a screening process. If you're a childless yogi living in Fairbanks, AK, you can still read my teeny tiny mini publication (FYI, this is not the book I wrote, which is taking me forever to finish up, and for my devoted fans, I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart).

Yes, it's FREE!  It's on my sidebar way up at the top.  Click on the icon "Mommy's Bored" and you'll have three options for download. We formatted it in three ways--it looks great on the iPad as well as the Kindle (you can email it to your Kindle, FYI), but let me know if there is a problem with the files.

And if you have any ideas to add, send them to me at  I'll give you credit if you like.

Download my tiny (and free) ebook!
Download here!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The cheapest bookshelves on Earth

It's been about a year since we dealt with the upstairs landing.

We painted the walls, the trim, and the built-in cabinet.

But we did not deal with the books.

Instead, we left the wall of awesome and kept the reading material on the floor.

I had dreams of finding a few squat bookcases with glass front doors.  What I found instead? A bunch of Not-For-Sale signs on all the bookcases at the vintage furniture markets. Or they were about $400 a piece.  About $350 more than I wanted to spend.  Yes, I was in la-la land about scoring a solid wood bookcase or two, but really, what was the harm in having unrealistic expectations for awhile?

After 12 months, though, I was ready to move along on this project and finish it.

Thanks to Target and their limitless supply of el-cheapo furniture, I finally did. Recently the Tarjay put its small Room Essentials bookcases on sale for $15.  Usually, I despise pressed board furniture. It's often not any less expensive than solid, used pieces, but since I hadn't found anything I liked, I decided to bite the bullet and buy three. If we ever sell the house, we'll leave the shelving since it's doubtful it would survive any move.  

My wall of awesome has been significantly reduced.  Only left with a collage from Girl Scouts circa 1987.  But it feels good having the books off the floor.

You'll see my books are every which way but neat.  I like books for reading, not for decorating, so I rarely work too hard at placement.  And when I don't read something, it leaves the house.  Imagine at least three times this amount in a 600 sqft apartment in the A-T-L. Picture me moving dozens of boxes of books.  And then imagine me selling the majority of them on Ebay in a fit of rage over the prospect of ever moving them again.  I still keep some sentimental favorites, though, including my Hieroglyphs textbook from college.

Anywho, I think I made the right choice.  

Thanks to Ryan for taking the great After photos with no overhead lighting and twilight outside.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kiefer Cottage goes rogue...

And buys a second vehicle. Who knew that's what people have these days!!  

What is it?

A 1980 VW Rabbit convertible.

Right now, it's not a convertible. It's merely topless.  You could say it's only wearing a G-string.  I know, this is a family-friendly website (sort of), so shield the little ones' eyes.

The cost?  Let's just say it's well under $1000.

This cute little thing has had a lot of work done to it, but Ryan said it was a miracle he made it back to the house. It reeks of oil and is now a bit damp since it was pouring down rain for some of the drive home (who knew it'd rain after weeks of almost nothing?).

This car isn't a daily driver, though.  At least not yet. It's for a top-secret project that shall be revealed soon, I promise.

In the meantime, revel in its adorable-ness.  Seriously, isn't it so cute???

FTR, I chose this car.  It's my main contribution to the project. So any dudes rolling their eyes, scoffing at this chick-mobile, well, you can kiss my patootey.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Conundrum in the Bathroom

Katie the crazy summer bunny says...

"We need a new bathroom faucet!"

This lovely contraption leaks.  It's pretty awful, right?

The problem is that the faucet is on a 22 inch deep vanity, which is at least 6 inches too big.

Why would I put a new faucet on a vanity I'd like to trash?

But you see this floor? It's getting in the way of progress.  I'd love to buy an inexpensive pedestal sink and plop it in--anything expensive is too big anyway). The floor, though, does not run under that vanity.  And you see that crack in the floor?  It's reminding me of the fact the floor sags around the enormous beam in the basement.  Leveling will have to happen.  Plus whenever we replace the tub, we'll need more flooring most likely because the existing apparatus is way too big.  So a simple vanity replacement would mean new floors, a new toilet while we're at it, and really, a new tub.  Yeah, that ain't happening anytime soon unless we win the lottery (buy me a ticket, will ya?).

So for now, we may or may not replace the vanity.  We have, however, purchased a new faucet. It's shiny, therefore I love it.  Well, it's not too shiny.  It won't leak, though.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

All the ladies in the house

This evening, we headed outside for some portrait shots.  I wanted to show off my new hair-do.  But the girls needed photos, too.

Katie gave herself bangs a few weeks ago.  I think they work surprisingly well.

Winslow is very good at the angelic look.   That hair.  Oh, that hair.

 I, on the other hand, am genetically predisposed to goofy photos.

Amidst the tomato vines.  You know, all artsy-fartsy like.
I have three looks.  This one is "Talking".

Zoolander, eat your heart out.
I call this look "Hooching".

(Like my fun stripe?  And thanks to Katie Bel for letting me borrow her favorite sunglasses)

I've decided to wear sunglasses all the time. Makes me look awesomer.
And finally, "I shmell shomething."

I'm looking for representation so I can enter the modeling world. These looks will sell makeup and clothes, I tell you!!

**Many thanks to Chelsea over at Chop Tops in Westport for taking my hair to the next level. **

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kansas Sunflowers

We grew sunflowers this year.  Seemed wrong to live in Kansas and not try.  I planted two varieties. One tall, one short. The tall ones are taller than I could imagine.

Katie is about 40 inches, to give you some perspective.

And of course, the whole gang had to pose for a photo.  It's 100 degrees out , hence, no pants.

Too cute for his own good.

And too pretty for words.

We had some damaged stalks a couple of weeks ago.  The flower buds had been chewed half-way off. I finished the job, and it looks like life found a way to make a new flower (did it involve spontaneous sex changes like Jurassic Park??).

Critters love the sunflowers.  Ants, shiny blue bugs, flying thingies, bees, and this guy.

This poor corn is feeling outshone by the sunflowers, so it tried to produce another cob.  That's pretty darn teenitsy (speaking of teenitsy, look at these itty bitty grasshoppers. They are freakishly small!).

A bright spot in the garden as everything else dies.  I plan on growing at least double this amount next year.  Very satisfying!

Edited to add: Ryan and I did no bed prep for the sunflowers.  We planted the seeds in existing soil. I fertilized once with fish emulsion once the plants had come up, although I don't think it was necessary (I had extra from feeding the corn).  My only issues have been critters eating the seeds (hence the weird rows) and a few invasive vines left over from the previous owners.  Plant where you get tons of sun. This spot gets 12+ hours in summer!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Master Bedroom

I've been writing this post for a year.  It's true, I have one sitting in draft that's about our cavernous master bedroom.  The delay was motivated mainly by lack of motivation.  How, you say?  Well, the room has been more of a staging ground than anything else.  Guests never see the room since it's the only space upstairs, so why bother?

The motivation came this week, though.  We're having an energy audit performed tomorrow morning, and I couldn't let anyone see the wreck up there.  Anyway, I was tired of boxes everywhere and crashing into things in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom (About time, lazy!  You've only lived in the house for 14 months.  Hush, you meanie.  Your hair is still permed and you wear a fanny pack without irony! Ouch. You know how to hit a guy where it really hurts).

So here it is:

You can see that is is merely clean. Not well curated, not ready for a magazine shoot. Just ready for a visit from a stranger who will probably tell us that our house is the least efficient home in history.

You can see the room is huge.  The ceiling is only six and a half feet tall, so we can't have a ceiling fan in here (although we need one).  And I know you're crushing on my window treatments, circa 1970.  We keep 'em because they (barely) function, and new ones that I like would cost more money than I have. In fact, all our money is going toward our utility bill, hence the audit.

Aaaanyway, here's more.

A chest of drawers refinished by my loving in-laws.  And no, I don't usually decorate with stuffed animals.  But the master destroyers (named Winslow and Drew) are dying to rip these dolls to shreds, and this place, they can't reach.  You see a photo of me and my brother on his wedding day--he's now back in the U.S. after a few years in Italy.  I couldn't be happier because now I can drop my kids off at his house whenever I'm willing to drive 1000 miles to Augusta, GA.  I'm sure it'll happen all the time.

Our closet.  Yeah, it's the biggest closet in the house. And Ryan and I share it. Thank goodness I have no clothes, and Ryan's wardrobe consists solely of khaki shorts and polo shirts. He could wear the same outfit five days in a row, and no one would notice (well, maybe the smell, they would).

Our bed, resting on an IKEA frame, looks kind of pathetic.  Our denim sheets don't really coordinate well with the wall color (which I love, and will love more when we paint all this gross trim white). But the jersey sheets were on clearance (only $10!) and king-sized (we require a big sheet because one of us is a major sheet-thief.  Guilty as charged).  Upside to the low bed? Makes the ceilings feel higher. At least seven feet tall, right?

You like the calendar hanging at the window?  We found it in a cabinet after we moved in. It's from 1978.  I leave it up in tribute to Ella and Carroll.

There's still work to be done. And I've begun to sound like a broken record saying that about every room in the house.  But if the house were complete, what the hell would I do all day?

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