Friday, May 22, 2009

if it's not one thing...oh and a recipe for potato salad?

how's that for a title? but it totally relates to this post. it is friday...the start of the memorial day holiday weekend....and i am frantically cancelling all of our plans. you see...we started a "three week, tops" landscaping remodel 4 weeks ago...stop!...those of you familiar with remodeling projects already know where this story is going...right? we have completed a lot of restoring/remodeling projects since we purchased our farmhouse 6 years ago...and we live by the mantra..."double the time/double the cost" of whatever we are quoted in a contractor's bid....but this time i really thought it was going to be different....and, since i thought i had a week to spare...planned a bunch of get-togethers for the three day weekend...when we purchased our home it came with a pool. surprisingly, because i am originally from southern california, i had never coveted a pool...i was always more of a beach girl...i mean, sure...a wonderful vacation at a posh resort lounging by the pool is one thing...but owning one? was never a goal. but, as i said..the pool was already here and after the first HOT napa summer i quickly appreciated the benefit of jumping in whenever i wanted...and swimming laps beats the gym any day! but the real pool lover in the family is mose, my golden retriever. he pretty much spends the summer sitting on the steps of the pool..and taking a few laps periodically throughout the day...the pool area design was not lovely...and it was always a goal to redo...but the priorities were the inside of the house...and the front and side yards...
mose and allie
fast forward to last summer...the white picket fencing surrounding the pool area was so old and rotted out that the fence started falling down...this is the fence that protects the pool area from the street...and is there for security and privacy. a couple of times when mose would jump on the fence sections actually fell down. we did some quick repairs but knew it would not last another year...so...this year became the "let's redo the pool fence and decking" project.

my husband peter and i collaborate really well regarding home and garden design...and our first set of ideas were presented to the contractor only to receive a bid that was higher than the net worth of some small countries!! o.k., so those plans were scrapped...not in the budget!! but my life keeps proving that problems really do lead to opportunities...because our revised plans ended up being simpler and more beautiful....eco-friendly...and better suited to our not-grand farmhouse.

so we started the project...and the first two weeks went amazingly well...so well that i continued with my plans for this weekend...pretty much a bunch of people coming over every day...swimming, drinking the limoncello, cooking, barbecuing, talking, laughing, dancing....you know, the perfect parties we always imagine hosting...but...delays, delays, delays....some unexpected like finding wood rot in some of the fencing that was staying....some, contractor's error in accurately project scoping...and some our fault because...like many projects...once you see the demo'd space you think of additional items to add. (contractors love this because it equals "materials and labor" costs above the estimate)...and then...once the pool was drained to do the decking, we realized it needed to be replastered....and on and on and on...my twitter friend the food geek (i am not being mean..that is his twitter name) sent me the following tweet when i was complaining about this yesterday "You've just run across Hofstadter's Law. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstadter" ...pretty funny...


now...our "three week project" looks like it will take about 2 months to complete...ha! but i decided to look at all the positives...

1. when it is finished it will be amazing!
2. i am incredibly fortunate to be able to complete a remodel in the first place
3. i am grateful to all the construction workers who are doing a beautiful job..and working really hard.
4. my friend david... the furniture designer for my company...and i are collaborating on a collection of home and garden items...furniture and accessories, crafted from the old white picket fencing...reuse, recycle, repurpose, reimagine!!!
5. because i need to replant a portion of my herb garden, i have the opportunity to experiment with many new herbs...and..since our our bath and body collection is inspired from our farmhouse garden...this gives me an opportunity to expand our product offering while staying authentic to the brand...
o.k...so to ensure this post is not the longest story in history... i have told you many times that being "pithy" is not one of my strengths...i will end the remodel story for now...and provide updates during the balance of construction....but at least now you have the background...and for those of you who have emailed me asking why i haven't been writing much...now you know...even now the sound of the compressor is ringing in my ears...the non-stop buzzing noise it makes drives me batty...but, again i digress...
i decided to experiment with a new potato salad recipe last week (when i was still naive enough to think the holiday parties would occur). i was creating in my mind a recipe that would incorporate the ingredients in a salade ni├žoise...minus the tuna...and instead become a potato salad. but, in another instance of the "best laid plans" saga, when i was at the farmer's market i pointed at string beans only to find...once i got home...that they bagged up pea pods...so the theme of this post seems to be how problems lead to creative solutions...because i adapted and made an easy breezy potato and peas salad in a honey mustard vinaigrette that we fell in love with...
currently, my entire yard looks like a disaster zone...the pool, deck and back porch...torn up. all the furniture, pots, accessories, construction equipment and supplies are spread out in the side yard and on the front and side porch...the sawdust, concrete and plaster dust seems to permeate the house...no matter how often i dust and sweep...and so the parties have been postponed....keep your fingers crossed that 4th of july can be the new dates....but, until then we have to eat....so potato salad for two?napa farmhouse potato salad
4 medium red skinned potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 lb fresh pea pods, washed
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 c diced red onion
18 kalamata olives, pitted
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

honey mustard vinaigrette
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp stone ground mustard
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper

cut potatoes into 2 inch pieces. place in a med saucepan add add water to cover by about 2 inches. add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer until fork tender...12-15 minutes....begin checking at 10 minutes and ensure you do not overcook. add pea pods to the potatoes after the first 10-12 minutes...fresh peas only need a minute or two in the simmering water to cook. i like them al dente...not mushy. when the potatoes are done, drain into a colander and set aside. remove the pea pods, shell and add to a large bowl. add the potatoes, green onions, red onions and olives.

make the vinaigrette by adding the vinegar, honey, mustard and olive oil to a mason jar. screw on lid and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. add salt and pepper to taste.

add a couple of tablespoons of the dressing to the potato salad mixture while the potatoes are still warm and stir gently to combine (you will have extra dressing...delicious on green salads and coleslaw). taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. you may need to add a bit more dressing because the potatoes will soak up some of the vinaigrette. add enough to ensure the salad is moist...but not so much that it becomes soggy....but , this part is totally your call...

serve warm, room temperature or cold...

hope your holiday weekend is restful, relaxing and a respite from the daily grind...and please take some time to honor those who gave their lives for our country....the true meaning of the holiday...
"...gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime....let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan." --General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868
and...if you have a moment...please share your remodeling horror stories...misery loves company...and just to keep the post theme going...your favorite potato salad recipe!
mose as a puppy


best,
diane
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™

8 comments:

Cindy said...

Hi Diane,
I understand your frustration. When we remodeled our house we were told it would take 6 months. Actual time was 2 years!!!
Hang in there. Love the quote. Love the Potato Salad recipe.

Hugs,
Cindy

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks cindy, for commiserating! let me know if you try the potato salad!!

casalba said...

I'm sitting here sympathising, Diane. You'll never know how much! Good for you for looking on the bright side.

shasta said...

I have been involved in a number of remodels and feel your pain!! and happiness!
Hang in there~
Yummy potato salad!
Ragna

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally...how have you been? sounds like i struck a nerve with the remodeling post...have you had to totally redo your italian villa?

dp

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi ragna..how are you? glad you like the potato salad...and, hopefully, your remodeling projects are finished? yes?

dp

casalba said...

Hi Diane,
Just to be clear - it isn't a villa, but an old farmhouse - and we haven't finished yet... lots of love, Sally

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi sally...we do live parallel lives don't we?...and, if your farmhouse is like mine...it will never be "finished"..right??

hugs back,
diane