I’ll settle for a pantry and a beautiful entryway

After hubby got over the shock of me responding to his assurance that “if you don’t like it, we can tear it out,” and after he did, indeed, tear out the powder room he had spent three weeks constructing with plumbing, electric, and walls, I started to shift my mind from an extra bathroom to the prospect of really designing an entryway, and as a bonus, getting a huge pantry.   img_0423

This was fast becoming a bonus instead of a sacrifice, and like so many of our reno mistakes, arguments, decisions and new ideas, it has become one of my favorite areas in the house.

I certainly have to credit my patient, thoughtful husband, not to mention his amazing talent, creativity and evolving expertise. But, don’t you just love to see a man on his knees. lol.

img_0421 He is not a contractor. He worked with two friends who were, and learned a lot. But, as an engineer, his intellect and ingenuity never ceases to amaze me, his co-workers, our friends and even his bosses. He is an out-of-the-box thinker. Mostly he knows that, but it is so natural to him, I doubt he fully realizes how rare he is.

In any case, we decided on a slate floor, under which he lined the spaces with the radiant heating pec tubing. That, plus his hard work under the house insulating where no insulation had gone before in this add-on room. He cleared out rat nests, snakes and other critters who had made their home under our front entrance, and probably entered our home without our permission, since the only lining under the floor of this area was a thin layer of house siding. Now it has concrete boards, insulation and with the inside radiant will probably save us hundreds in electricity, annually.  img_0436

img_0415   Two of the walls stayed, because we wanted a little alcove to paint sunny gold, brightening up the entry.

The lamps we had chosen for the powder room stayed, but with new golden globes which are much more entry than bath. And then there were other lighting decisions which became track lights for the pantry, and a very pretty shell lamp as the light into the kitchen.

our beautiful shell light
our beautiful shell light

And, then there is that pantry. Wow! So much space–and of course there is never enough–so now I can move half of the baker’s rack crowded items into the pantry, as in all of my small appliances. I can see what I own, for once–really for the first time since our move from Illinois in 2008. (See 100 days, 1000 boxes on my menu.)img_0476

Oh, and I did get my must-have broom closet also. img_0479
img_0463 Being the king and queen of bi-fold doors, which we buy for $7 at the Habitat Restore Store, we used yet another bi-fold to hide the pantry area so that the entryway stays uncluttered.

I am so thankful for this home, my husband, my life on the river, God’s goodness, and even our never-ending projects which give us so much joy as they are completed.


Never a powder room

Okay, this isn’t going to be a blame game. It isn’t about marital thcommunication problems. And, it isn’t about the difficulty in the matching up of word-brain and picture-brain. Yes, all of that is involved.

But, in the end, this is about a very talented and flexible man who wants above everything to please his woman (me).thidop

Originally, I claimed, “I just want a powder room and a broom closet. Those are the only have-to-have’s.”

So picture brain got busy mentally laying out the powder room, and then came to tell the dilemma to word-brain.

“The problem is, if you want this to be to code, there has to be a continuous sewer pipe, and because this entryway is an addition, not attached to the house, we have to put the toilet in the middle. That is where the pipe is.”    img_0099

Orginially, word-brain pictured the powder room against the wall, close to where plumbing had been for a washer and dryer. Word-brain didn’t know about code, sewer pipes being different for washers than for toilets, and other engineering dilemmas.

So by the time the plumbing had been installed, the toilet opening clearly in the middle of the floor, the electricity wired for a bathroom, and the framing for the dry-wall, it became much clearer to word-brain that this might have been a bad idea.

The CA critic-daughter had warned, “Mom, you don’t want to to this. This is a bad idea.” She inherited picture-brain’s DNA on that, and has the uncanny ability to translate to word-brain, much more clearly than her father can. And, she is not afraid to critique without the diplomacy her father, evidently,   believes he must maintain.

But, mother did not listen. The work had come along to such a level that pulling it all out seemed cruel. Word-brain doesn’t even like making navigational turns on road trips. She finds a way to keep going forward even when the route would have been better another way. No turning around, that is her motto,

So dry wall went up. It blocked 6 inches of the front door. It was the very  big box, light-blocking montrosity that was in this original house, which we all hated. And, along the way, a pantry had been added into the plan, which is nice, but he wasn’t sure there was a closet. Have-to-have a broom closet.   img_0396

Word-brained texted the picture to CA critic-daughter.

“Pull it out, Mom.”

“But Dad has worked so hard.”

“So you are going to make another bad decision to add to your other bad decisions in this entryway?”

Word-brain posed the possibilities to picture-brain, who said, “Hey it can all be pulled out. Just say the word.”

I told you he loves his woman. But he also knows I never turn around.

“Okay,” I said, looking at the ugly, ugly big box blocking the front door. “Tear it out.”

“What!!!” He didn’t think I would do it.

img_0415     It came out. No powder room. Yes to the pantry. Yes to the broom closet. And, suddenly the idea of a beautiful entryway became a really nice idea.

“People will just have to use the upstairs bathroom,” said I, because my main reason for a powder room is to avoid sharing my master bath.

So, now there will never be a powder room. We have dodged the problem of inspection since no new construction (other than shelving and two non-supporting walls) is happening.

And, this lent itself to a whole new concept of decor, which made CA critic-daughter very, very pleased.

It’s going to be pretty. And. kudos to picture-brain for his loving labor and flexibility.  I am blessed.

Pictures of finished space next time.

Bread, lies and videotapes

images  Listen folks. WHY is every woman I know who has gained 30 pounds and then lost it, gaining it right back as soon as she goes back to normal eating?  Something is horribly wrong. It can’t be the fault of every third woman in America. I really don’t believe in diets and their yo-yo’s. But, I know how hard these women (count me in) have worked on weight loss, and now they (me again) just believe they can never have bread, or pizza, or a croissant.

This is serious. I will start with the videotapes–which more accurately is a documentary on streaming Netflix. I feel like I need to thank people, many people, who made this documentary possible and literally have changed my life.

UnknownThe documentary is Cooked by Michael Pollan, based on his book.


The third episode on Air is life-changing and I will be forever grateful, forever changed by what he presented there. Here’s the Bread part: For me the whole discussion of wheat, gluten, wheat-belly (Dr. Davis), ancient grains, etc. is confusing. For awhile I completely stopped eating wheat–and bread, which, of course, means pizza, cakes, pasta, cookies–bread products. Then Dr. Davis was saying not to eat any grains at all.


That didn’t sit right. I am a Christian. Jesus called Himself The Bread of Life. So how could bread be bad? Even thinking I needed to go back to ancient wheat, didn’t please Davis. Nooooo, he said no grains. The Jesus thing really bothered me. How could Jesus say he was something that is bad, poison even?


Then came Pollan and AIR. He featured Richard Bourdon at the Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Massachusetts (yay! driving distance), who travelled to Holland to learn the ancient process of making natural sourdough bread the way the ancients made it. I believe he usually uses spelt flour (which is my favorite wheat), but the secret is fermenting the wheat through the natural yeast in the air. Wow!  Unknown

This may seem like a little thing to you, and, at first, I didn’t realize how life-changing it would be for me–and maybe for you. On the documentary, Bourdon challenges those who think they can’t eat wheat or gluten to try his bread.

I personally don’t think I am gluten-intolerant, but I do feel bloated when I eat bread (whole grain always), and I usually gain about two pounds. When I eat neighborhood pizza, I always gain weight with even two pieces. We travelled to Pittsfield to Bourdon’s bakery, and had lunch.

I ate two pieces of his pizza topped with pineapple, sausage and tomato, and his beet and arugula and goat cheese salad, and I LOST a half a pound. I bought five loaves of his bread–sesame, semolina, French peasant, raisin, multigrain, three spelt pizza crusts, and four croissants (for us two).  BMB-040308.186

Next day, I ate a croissant, had a sandwich with sesame bread, and meat and potatoes for dinner with salad. I LOST a pound. Now, two weeks later, after making pizza, having bread daily, usually a sandwich or breakfast toast, I have LOST four pounds.

Everything else has been pretty normal in our eating patterns–which, I might add, is NOT the normal American diet.


I think this fermented wheat has good bacteria that is eating up my bad belly fat and the gut bacteria. I can’t prove it, but I have a “gut feeling.” Okay, I know. But–and here is the LIES part: Pollan explains that bread only has 3 ingredients–flour, salt and water.

That is all it ever had before Americans got to it and added 34 more ingredients. The food industry had to go to the FDA and get permission to call our 37 ingredient food-like product, bread. It is NOT bread. Unknown-2
I don’t care whether it’s whole grain, wheat, rice, oats, rye, or whatever. And, certainly that flimsy, highly refined Wonder bread is not really bread. I don’t care what the FDA says. It’s a WONDER they felt okay about lying to us all these years.

BREAD is three ingredients, and the healthful kind has a naturally fermented grain. And, another LIE: the commercial yeast we use–it’s not what Bourdon uses.

Unknown-3 Even our commercial yeast isn’t alive like natural yeast. It is “activated.” Not what I want! AIR HAS YEAST–naturally. And, it is GOOD for you. The natural bacteria occurring in air comes into your little bowl of three ingredients, and kills the bad bacteria, adds its goodness, and ferments the grain. I am now doing this for my own bread making. It is a little bit of work–but so worth losing about a pound a day eating this stuff, and so exciting that I can eat a croissant or two pieces of pizza, without constantly having to start over in my battle with extra poundage and belly fat.

But, this, this Bread is amazing. It is not poison. There is no bloating. And, unless you are in the 2% of the population that authentically can’t eat any gluten, I believe this bread will not make you react, and will give you life–maybe not quite the way Jesus can–but certainly in a way that cleans up your gut, keeps it healthy, and gives you license to eat something good.

Oh, and this bread! It is the yummiest, best bread I have ever eaten.   IMG_0094 (1)

Now, to make pasta. Oh my. And you wondered why Italian women aren’t fat.I suspect their pasta is fermented semolina. But, that’s another story. We have believed the government and food industry lies about food too long.

It’s time to take back our lives and have a meal that doesn’t line our bellies with bad stuff. I am so grateful to Richard Bourdon and to Michael Pollan, and to the country of Holland and the bakers who trained Bourdon, and to Netflix, and to God–for the air and the yeast and the good bacteria, and…well, I am sure there are many more I should thank. Bless you all.

Please watch this documentary. Order some of Bourdon’s bread mail order, and maybe try out your own bread making–real bread with three ingredients. Bread that gives life and not extra pounds.

There is a wealth of information available online if you want help. And, be sure to visit www.berkshiremountainbakery.com and to watch the Cooked excerpt on the site.

Or email me at stradingerm@gmail.com I will be happy to send you some links.

Almost a powder room – 2

And, the work goes on, thanks to talented hubby (TH), who has amazingly figured out how to stay in code with the plumbing.

Now obviously, the toilet will have a wall built around it. But we fin ally figured out positioning so the pipes are in the right place–there was a laundry, as I said, in this room before–and so we actually get a huge extra pantry in the space outside of the powder room–sorely needed for the overflow of pots, pans, yogurt maker, pancake griddle, gelato maker, and other odds and ends.

Unknown Did I meantion this room was an add-on, where previous owners failed to insulate and we have now discovered: why the area was freezing in winter (no insulation except some flimsy siding and fiberglass on the outer bottom of deck), and why we have MICE (nests and nests in the fiberglass, which are, with all respect to Disney’s Mickey and Ratatouille’s Remy), now GONE! Stay on the silver screen and in the woods, where God put you.

So not only is there now concrete board on the outside, but there is this deck board on the inside, which will include radiant heat tubing, and much better-rated fiber glass insulation for the cooooold weather of New England. Toasty.

Thank you TH for your ingenuity and loving work.

Almost a powder room

I’ll be you thought, since it’s been awhile, that we were finished with the first floor reno. Au contraire!

IMG_0063  Now, it’s time to get ready for guests–meaning a powder room where there was already plumbing for a washer and dryer in, I can’t believe it’s true, the entryway.  So now, instead of laundry there, we will, and by “we” I mean Jay, my hero, very talented hubby, will create a small powder room and a broom closet. Did I mention Jay used to be a water and waste engineer? He knows what he is doing. And, now he knows all about installing radiant heat.

Pecs are what carry the hot water to heat our floors.

That means tearing up the floor, putting in  radiant heat pecs there to make a “warm board,” and putting in the proper plumbing where a washer used to be.

You know what this is.

We have ordered the toilet (which Jay euphamistically calls a commode–he thinks it sounds better) and another pedestal-type sink, but it’s really a wall-mount sink.

Our wall mount sink to be.

I am so tired of ceramic and the groaty area around the caulking. With our pedastol and wall-mount glass bowl sinks, there is none of that, and it is so nice. I do have a slight discussion going on with my friend who cleans for me about how to make the glass sparkle. I care more about non-toxic, green, and she will tend to go for chemicals if they give a bit more sparkle.

I know, the space looks ugly now. That’s what a construction zone is–UGLY! But, the whole first floor used to look like this, and you should see it now. In fact, you SHOULD see it. Come on over.

In any case, I hope to have a powder room for our guests by August.

Now we just need an upstairs bathroom remodel and some futons. 🙂


The thrill of Instagram

Unknown    It’s always heartwarming to read through all of the people who LIKE something you post on Facebook, realizing that many people are noticing your postings who you may not realize are aware of you. People from your life–classmates, church friends, relatives of relatives, and, of course, your own immediate circle of family and friends.

But, I have to tell you, since I have started posting pictures on Instagram,   Unknown-1  there is a thrill unlike that of people you already know.

As my daughter instructed, “Mom, you don’t have to beg your friends to like your pictures. You are not looking to build Instagram for your friends and family. You are looking for new friends who are interested in your pictures.”   Unknown-2

Really, Instagram is a powerful business tool, that before the last few weeks, I was almost totally unaware of. I had posted a couple of personal pictures, one of my grandson     IMG_0036   George surfing, and one of our winter view of the river, and even without trying, I had a few LIKES.   IMG_1698

But, when I decided to listen to my daughter, I began to realize that focus was necessary.

I am a travel blogger (see www.citycites.readmstradinger.com) and I really am interested in establishing that, for a number of reasons.

So as I have been chronicling our trip to Costa del Sol which we took for our 34th anniversary last year, I also decided that my Readmstradinger on Instagram should focus on travel and its related pictures.

At first I was timid, posting one photo in a month, then several, and now almost daily, I didn’t realize that consistency and frequency are both important.

And, then there are the famous HASHTAGS. That, in itself, is an art to be learned and mastered. I am getting there.

My daughter told me, “You want some hashtags that are unique and that when searched, are yours, and other hashtags that are trending, so you are found in the trends. That takes some tome, but I am learning, and have gone from a dozen or more LIKES in a day or two, to the same number in an hour, simply by knowing what HASHTAGS are about.   Unknown

The thrill of a global presence in amazing. After a picture is posted on Instagram, and the appreciation begins to pour in, it is like being on stage for a few moments.

I remember a Broadway play called, The Roar of Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd, and though I never saw it, the name implies that there is something heady about being on stage. I am pretty sure that is not what the musical, which gave us hits like “Who can I turn to,” and The Joker,” is about.

But, I can hear the greasepaint, and smell the crowd from around the world, just posting a picture and tagging it for those who appreciate things like doors, beaches, food, bullrings, and gardens. Amazing. Thrilling.

If you haven’t tried it, follow someone–me, for instance–and see what you think. It is quite an experience.   READMSTRADINGER

Each of the social media platforms has its own claim to fame. Facebook, you know; Twitter starts a conversation and allows you to comment briefly and to see what is trending in conversations; Pinterest, which has now surpassed Twitter in usage, so I read, is a plethora of resources for almost anything you want–recipes, home decor, remodeling ideas, motorcycles, gardening (why we chose purple as our main shrubery color),   jardim lilas

travel. and on and on. we decided our bathroom door ideas after perusing Pinterest, and we also looked at many shower tile patterns from this site; and Instagram, which is used the world over by “influencers” who are gathering a market for themselves, others, and established and new brands. If you don’t understand this new “world of mouth” type of marketing, and you are in business, you need to consider it. It’s trending.


In any case, I am loving it, and it is so much easier than writing blogs and hoping they get read. It is, well, INSTANT. 🙂

Check out my Readmstradinger pictures on Instagram if you wish. And, try it yourself. It is fun.

Shut your cabbage hole

I confess. I play video games on my iPad, my iPhone, and almost anywhere else I can get them. I like them.

screen640x640   My newest fav is Fairway Solitare, which I have to warn you is so addicting it has the potential to breakup marriages if played late at night.

So what does this have to do with cabbage?   Unknown

Well, as I was listening to the running golf commentary of the Scottish sportscaster, I heard him say: “Shut your cabbage hole” to the other sports guy.

That got me to thinking: We in the U.S. of A. don’t say that. We say, “Shut your pie-hole!”

And, so my random mind–which I have to tell you is on high alert during video game play, got to musing about how typical that is between our food intake and Europe’s–or at least Scotland’s.

They use cabbage as the image that is always in view, and we use calorie-laden, double-crusted pie as our typical fare of mouth.

That is so wrong!  Unknown     Unknown-1

I won’t give my usual rant (see Figs vs. Food assassins) about this, but I just want to reiterate one point: we (because of our powerful  food industry–see, for instance, Ellen Moyer’s blog post The Power of Our Food Choices on Huffington Post–and our government’s ever-growing support of lobbyists who care more about profit than health, (see www.eatdrinkpolitics.com post on Lobbying and Interference) we are poisoning our children, creating epidemic obesity, and lacking the basic nutrition our bodies need and crave, while the Europeans ban GMO’s, lean on vegetables, think of dessert as a treat not a triple-times-a-day or more indulgence, and don’t use the partially-hydrogenated oils and high-fructose additives that are most assuredly adding up to FAT, FAT, FAT.


The blogs, sites and research is overwhelming, and I am citing just two of many. Do your own research too, and:

Please stop buying this junk.

They can’t sell it if you don’t buy it. Save your loved ones from heart disease (See Dr. Mitchell Gaynor’s The Gene Therapy Plan), and change your genetic destiny, by eating whole foods and avoiding the packaged, processed junk and “food-like products” that we are passing off as actual food.   41p+vFDTJUL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

By the way, Dr. Gaynor was the 11th Natural Foods advocate to mysteriously die recently. Hmm. I’m just sayin’. Hmm.

In any case, you can buy whole foods on a budget–try farmer’s markets from May to October. You can buy imported foods that do not contain our “bad stuff.” And, you can just decide that it is worth the extra bucks to live a life of health.

And, no, I will NOT shut my cabbage hole about this. I really, really care about your health–and mine.

Almost a bedroom – 2

We are making great progress on our master bedroom, thanks to hubby’s talents, and somewhat thanks to unemployment, which gives him way more time for the project. The molding us up, and the contrast with our taupe color scheme is quite lovely.  IMG_0014

We have a bed being delivered soon, and then our new mattress-the old one is 20 years old and the caverns and depressions are, well, depressing!



So by the end of the month, we hope to have a bed set up, a floor deprived of paint cans, compressor, tools and lumber, and an actual beginning of life on the first floor.  IMG_0010

The bathroom, however, though functional, is not complete with lights, shelving, paint retouch and finishing touches, so I am hesitant to say it is finished. The problem is gauging how much of our resources we should apply to finishing touches when the paycheck has stopped and unemployment hasn’t started.

IMG_0015        IMG_0018IMG_0019

We will see. But, don’t forget, only a short time ago, the bedroom looked like this:

Getting ready for dry wall
Getting ready for dry wall

In the meantime. isn’t it always the case that when you have money, you have no time, and when you have time, you have no money. Life’s challenges are ever presenting, and our response has to be faith, hope and love. That’s the way we are.



Feng Shui and Ch’i

Feng-Shui-Remedis-e1360538276283Let me start right out apologizing to all of the people who will read into the following some “tone” or disdain for the practice of Feng Shui that are not intended.

But, let me also say that I do not practice these philosophies in the manner in which I am sure I would need to do to be approved. I am not sure if Christians will allow me to embrace an ancient Chinese practice with Eastern spiritual implications. (This is the part where I expect to offend almost everyone.)

That said, I have to tell you that in reading a news article about Feng Shui-ing bathrooms, I was intrigued. Not intrigued enough to buy into this with any kind of ritualistic or spiritual commitment, but intrigued enough to take a look at our space in a new way.  I thought it fascinating that bathroom color shouldn’t exaggerate water (blue and black), so that energy there is more controlled.Unknown

I may not know which things are tall or circular or even life endangering about my bathroom, or my kitchen, living space, bedroom or any other rooms in our home, and I may not be paying enough attention to the positive or negative (Ch’i) forces or yings and yangs of my decor, but I am now convinced that some changes are in order. And, really, how could this balancing, as those practicing this philosophy believe, be bad?

images I know what makes me feel good: green things (plants), soft and vibrant colors, order and cleanliness. I know what things make me feel bad: dust, clutter, drab colors, and decor that never changes.

So, I have begun my own version of Feng Shui-ing my rooms.  I started with the kitchen. I cleaned the countertops, put away 30 per cent of the clutter (things sitting there to make readiness and convenience, but not beauty).  designing_your_kitchen_feng_shui_kitchenrk_3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.581.436

I lit candles. I like good aromas. I put a pretty glass bowl of fresh fruit in place of a line of empty bowls, empty candle jars (pretty sure this is bad Ch’i, and empty cups. Then I threw away the pads under my teapots, got some fresh, clean ones, and put away many of the dishes, again sitting out for convenience.

In the bathroom, I disinfected the shower curtain, and I threw away products that were older than a year, emptied out the drawers containing old medications, almost finished tubes of creams and gels, and lit another candle. I placed the flowers on the bathroom table in a more attractive place. I closed the lid cover to the toilet (okay, I yielded to one actual Feng Shui suggestion just to see if the negative forces I have been living with in my many bathrooms, will turn more positive).

Unknown-1    In the entry-way, I discarded the pots of dirt that no longer contain plants, and bought new, living plants, which will remain on the table until I kill them. I will eventually kill them. I always do. Unless the Feng Shui works, that is. My Ch’i is awaiting the verdict.

That is all I have done for now. And, yes, Feng Shui or no, I should have been doing these things all along. So I feel better, happier, cleaner, prettier already–well, my home does.  Unknown

Winter. It’s almost over. Really we totaled about three weeks of actual winter weather this year. And, rather than yielding to the doldrums the last of winter usually brings, I am trying to change some of the external cues, as well as my internal ones (my spirit, my heart, my thinking), to let in the light, of which we have an abundance on the river, and to celebrate the emerging season, refresh the environment, and become more aware of the impact my space has on me, my husband, and my guests.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, let me know about your own Feng Shui efforts. I want to know.

Almost a bathroom

Oh the progress is exhilarating! I l keep telling kitty we all want to get into that bedroom, but because the shower tiles and flooring are being installed, we have to wait.  IMG_2949

Waiting is hard. As I have said before, when the waiting is for a year, it is easier than when we are down to weeks, because we can see the possibility.

Hubby has lovingly, painfully, laboriously laid one tile at a time, all by himself.

He is saying things like–“A smart person would have done this an hour at a time on weekdays, instead of ten hours on a Saturday.”

IMG_2920     I’m pretty sure “smart” is not in question. But, I know he will be thankful when the bathroom shower and flooring are finished, and the sinks and toilet can be installed.

Then the bedroom flooring can be finished, the moulding can be installed, and, WOW, THE NEXT STEP is a bed!

It’s only weeks now, Lord willing, until we have a first floor bedroom, complete with a master bath and master closet.   IMG_2929

We can’t wait. And, kitty will be so happy when that cardboard barrier is removed.