Daily Archives: September 3, 2007

A Mostly Painted House

Painted House 2

Day 3: Just me and Tito, cleaning up the previous days’ messes.

Painting trim is a task I feel very conflicted about: part of me loves the instant gratification of transforming something from messy to acceptable, but a few hours in, I start wondering how much a good straight line really matters. We suggest you take your glasses off.

Even with your glasses on, though. Seriously. Our house needed a makeover.

It used to be the fugly girl with no makeup (note how it failed to stand out against a gray sky):

Unpainted back

And now it’s about as supermodel as it will ever be, if you ask me:

Painted Back

(The color seems a little bright here; we took the photos at sunset, with the sun beaming straight onto the fresh paint.)

Our friends Amy and David are building a house in Massachusetts. They’ve been working on it for something like five years, and still, they’re after the holy grail of homebuilding; perfect is good enough, they say. Weekend after weekend, detail after detail. I thought I agreed. Perfect. On Friday, my husband was trying to cut me off at the pass. “We’re going for the 95th percentile, Jess.” I am so bad at 95%.

Today, I agreed with him instead. Perfect is not important. In fact, perfect would make me downright insane.

So we did an almost perfect job.

Well, okay, that’s a total lie. Tito and I did a good job (with an A for effort), and we happened to team up with a few determined souls who happen to be basically pro painters, which pulled our average up nicely.

I’m just not sure what to say about our neighborhood. When friends offered to help us paint, I knew they’d stop by. You know, pick up a brush, drink a few beers. But I was surprised when they came to paint for something like 15 hours, with a mom in tow, even. Would I ever be that generous with my time? I’d love to say yes, but I know the answer is no. I guard my time so jealously.

But they weren’t the only ones. Sarah came over to help. Sheldon made us brunch. Gail weeded along our joint fence, so we’d have an easier time painting the Back Nine (square feet). Susan brought us a giant box of cookies. And on . . .it’s been almost a year, and it touches me so deeply that we’ve moved to a place where the word neighborhood means something.

Tonight, I’ll absently pick the paint out of my hair as I enjoy the rest of my wine. I’ll collapse into bed, weak with fatigue but brimming with happiness and pride and satisfaction of a job pretty well done, of a house made a home. (Cheesy and true.)

Eventually, we’ll paint the back doors, the trim on the garage, and whatever else we forgot about.

But tomorrow, the plumbing project begins. Wheeeee cooking without water, should be fun.

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Stop. You’re kaling me.

Lacinato kale

When kale is young and tender, you can sauté it up like spinach; just a few minutes in a hot pan relaxes it, like me with this big glass of wine. Flavored with garlic, crushed red pepper, and a sharp vinegar bite, you might consider this a summery version of collard greens, minus the ham hock and the long simmering time. If you liked those hot tangy beans, you’ll love this one.

(It might also be a good introduction to a vegetable you’ve never cooked before.)

Organic lacinato kale is available from Full Circle Farm (among others, I’m sure) at Seattle markets; it has relatively small, narrow leaves that are super crinkly. Don’t be put off by the leathery feel of the leaves. They do soften.

Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Sherry Vinegar

Sauteed Kale with Garlic and Sherry Vinegar (PDF)
Recipe 246 of 365

TIME: 15 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 bunch lacinato kale (a scant 3/4 pound), chopped into 1” strips, rinsed, and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup sherry vinegar

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil, then add the garlic and red pepper, and sauté, stirring constantly, for about 20 seconds. Add the kale, stir to coat in the oil, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the vinegar, and cook for a few more minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Serve immediately.

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