EPISODE #111 - SATURDAY MAY 19, 2012

Getting all the projects done around the house can be daunting!  I recently found myself in the hammock in the backyard (OK, so it isn’t ‘all work’ around here) and I noticed all the residual pollen on my deck and lawn furniture.  I also thought about the gutters… when was the last time I cleaned them?  Soon I was off the hammock and back to work again.  At least I did get a few minutes of bliss!  Enjoy your spring projects!

Vesper Drink Recipe

Recently we visited the Bull Run Distillery (503-224-3483) and with the warm weather they shared a cocktail that would work well during these hot days of spring and summer.  Patrick the owner of Bull Run was joined by Ryan Csanky from the Oregon Distillers Guild to make a Vesper.  This drink uses ‘Made in Oregon’ vodka and gin.  We started with a couple ounces of Medoyeff Vodka and then added about an ounce of New Deal Distillery Gin and topped it off with about an ounce of Lillet blanc.  This was stirred with ice and strained into a glass.  A twist of lemon gave it a nice hint of citrus.   We watched them make this in the Bull Run Tasting room which is just a block off 23rd in Northwest Portland.  The room was designed to give the feeling of an old time bar, maybe something your grandfather would hang out at.  It was loaded with memorabilia of old Oregon and even some ties to prohibition!   If you would like to stop by for a taste they are open Thursday through Saturday, but will be adding days during the summer.  Check out their website for current times and directions.  


Recently everyone has been talking about eating healthier.  For some that means adding more natural grains to their diets.  Adding them can be as easy as 1-2-3 and to learn what that means we paid a visit to our ‘stylishly frugal living expert’, Sara Tetreault, from GoGingham.com.  She uses a wide variety of grains in her cooking and she had broken down the prep into some simple instructions.    The first grain was an easy one.  Couscous is delicious and can be ready in 5 minutes.  You simply mix one cup of couscous to one cup of water or broth.  Quinoa is another easy grain to prepare.  You need 15 minutes and you simply add 1 cup of grain with 2 cups of water or broth.  Quinoa is a favorite of many because it is gluten free and loaded with protein.  Finally we moved to brown rice.  This one takes a little longer to cook, up to 50 minutes if you do it on the stove top.  Sara uses a pressure cooker and has it done in about 18 minutes.  With brown rice you will want to mix one cup of rice with 3 cups of water or broth. 

For storing your grains you can use a mason jar with a tight lid.  This will keep the grain from getting flavoring from other foods in your house or kitchen and it will stay fresher longer.  It also allows you to buy your grains in bulk at the store and that will save you money!

Finally, Sara shared a recipe with us.  She made a quinoa salad.  She simply mixed in baby shrimp, cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and garlic, and mixed it with lime juice and olive oil.  It was fantastic!  For more frugal tips you can check out the GoGingham website!

Aging in Place

As the holiday season approaches we start to think about getting together with family.  It also creates concerns as we have to think about our older relatives and making sure they are comfortable and safe in our houses.  As we age we don’t think about how we need to change our surroundings to accommodate our limited mobility or other physical needs.  Neil Kelly (866-691-2719) has a program for remodeling homes called ‘Aging in Place’, which was developed with the Home Builders Association and the AARP.  We met with designer Barbara Murphy who works with people to help make these important modifications to their homes for themselves or for other family members.  We toured one of the kitchens and looked at some of the modifications that they can install.  The first one was a dishwasher that wasn’t as deep as a normal one.  This allows you to load and unload the dishwasher without bending.  Another modification was a cutting board that pulls out to become a table so you can actually sit down when using it, plus it was built to hold the weight of a person in case they need to lean on it.  Finally we looked at a spice rack that was located near the stove so you don’t have to reach up or move around the kitchen to find your common spices.  We even saw how they can place dishes and glasses in specially designed drawers to make them more accessible.

We then move to a demonstration bathroom to see what you can do there to make things safe.  The first thing to think about is the shower.  Neil Kelly can install a shower with no threshold so there is nothing to trip over when you step in.  She also mentioned the adjustable shower heads that can be moved up and down in case you are seated in the shower.  There are also push button temperature controls so the water will not get too hot or too cold for the person using it.   You will also need to consider the installation of grab bars and other tools for assisting with balance.  The good thing is that most of these improvements will help increase the resale value of your home.

The reasons for hiring a designer are many.  The Neil Kelly design staff is up to date with some of the newest innovations and has constant training in the newest ideas for ‘Aging in Place’.  They also work with many vendors so you can often see significant savings in products.  Plus they do this everyday and so they know all of the common mistakes that the do-it-yourselfer would make and help you avoid them!  It also doesn’t have to be expensive and they can walk you through the budget process so you are comfortable with the overall cost.  And since this is a safety issue you want to make sure it is done right, and Neil Kelly can make sure that happens. 

Estate Sale Tips

If you are going to an estate sale it can be tiring and confusing.  To get some tips for shopping these sales we stopped by Gary Germer and Associates (503-235-0946) to ask Gary for some help.  To start he mentioned that he has 5 things you need to bring with you.  One, bring some cash and a checkbook.  Most sales do not take credit cards and if they do they require a large purchase for you to use one.  It also helps you stay to your budget.  Next bring a magnifying glass.  This will help you look at items up close and see if they are real or fake.  With a glass you can see if a painting is a real painting or just a print.  Experts also use their looking glass to check out jewelry.  If it is real gold or silver it will be marked.  You can make a lot of money by getting something cheap and having it melted.  The third thing is hand sanitizer.  You are touching a lot of stuff that belongs to other people and it may have been in the attic or the basement.  You will want to clean your hands!  Fourth, bring just one friend.  With one friend you can act as a team and make sure you stay on track.  They can also act as a navigator when you are driving.  You don’t want to be herding a large group of people!  Finally, bring water and snacks.  If you are a shopper you know that time can slip by and soon you are hungry and grumpy.  A little food and water goes a long way!

Next Gary gave us some shopping tips for success.  Gary had 5 tips here too.  First, don’t be a jerk.  Treat people at the sale with respect.  Even if you are bartering, be polite.  They will be more willing to barter if you respect them and the place you are visiting.    Tip number two, Do you homework.  If in doubt, don’t buy.  What Gary means is that if you are shopping for stuff; know what the market is for that item.  If you are going to buy a guitar, make sure you know what guitars are selling for.  Third tip, plan a route.  This will save you time, money and energy.  Look at sales in the paper and on-line (craigslist is a good source), and then make a route.   Number four; make a shopping list of wants.  If you are looking for ordinary household items you can find them at these sales.  You can also find gifts.  Look for new or slightly used items for friends and family.  Just don’t brag over how much you saved.  Finally, tip five, come back early on the last day.  If you have been to a sale and something seemed too expensive on the first day, come back on the last day and the dealer may be willing to take an offer.  Sometimes dealers will even have ‘half-off’ sales on the last day. 

If you do find a treasure and you need some help with appraising you can contact Gary, or stop by his new store for a treasure he found!

Staining Tips

Doing home projects can either come out looking like a pro did them or they could end up looking kind of yucky.  Staining wood is one area where you don’t want to botch the job.  To learn how to do it correctly we stopped by Parr Lumber (866-214-7277) and talked to Amber, one of the store managers.  Amber told us that the best way to make your staining job look good is to follow certain steps and not to skip them.  First she started with a piece of wood.  The key is to make sure you sand it down.  Even if it looks like it is smooth, it may have small marks from the machining and cutting it went though.  If you are looking for sandpaper, the number gets higher as the grit gets finer.  You will be using a medium grit of 220 for this type of sanding.  You start sanding, going with the grain of the wood.  Make sure your work is even across the whole board.  When you are finished you should not feel any rough spots on the wood.  Next, take a tack cloth and wipe off all the dust.  A tack cloth will feel sticky and it will not leave a residue on the wood.   Once the wood is free from dust you can apply a Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.  The conditioner closes the pores in the wood and gets it ready for the stain.  It actually helps the stain work better.  Once again you work in the direction of the grain.  This will also prevent your wood from looking blotchy once the stain is applied.  Finally, after the Pre-Stain is dry you can apply the stain.  Make sure you are in a well ventilated area when you start.  You start by applying a nice light, thin layer.  If the color is too light you can always apply a second coat.  Remember to read the directions before you start so you know how long you should wait between coats.   Amber showed us 3 examples of what it looks like if you don’t follow the right steps.  The board that was just stained without the sanding and Pre-Stain looked terrible!  Of course, you don’t have to worry about doing a terrible job!  With help from the experts at Parr Lumber you can get it right the first time!


Website design and content ©2009-2012 Gustin Creative Group.  Please send website inquiries to gustingroup@comcast.net
This page last modified
May 26, 2012.