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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Recipe for Disaster


A little over a week ago I decided to get inventive in the kitchen. I've had experiences in this manner where creativity turned out to be a discovery of a good thing and a couple times the turn out even became a new favorite dish. However, this go 'round wasn't so prosperous as with previous adventures.

My line of thinking was that many people put lemon juice on fish to give it a slight zesty flavor. Commonly this is on fried fish but I wasn't in the mood to break out the Fry Daddy so I decided to see what would happen to skillet grilled fish. I took this thinking even further away from the safety of the norm when I spotted our bag of grapefruits. I thought, "Hey, I like grapefruit." So, I substituted the ruby red citrus goodness for the little bottle of lemon juice and thought that I was on to something big. This may have turned out pretty good if maybe I had squirted a little grapefruit juice on the fish while it was in the pan. But, I was on a creative roll. How could I possibly do what was expected of me. No, I would impress everyone with my culinary skills and do something abstract!

I sliced the grapefruit and placed it atop the fish while it was cooking, thinking that, like chicken, most of the flavor of the grapefruit wouldn't permeate the surface of the meat. Here's your chance to show off, readers. Raise your hand if you know that fish is more porous of a meat than chicken. Well, I wasn't so aware of it.

The wife came home and dinner was served. I was excited to find out what kind of life I had managed to inject into such a boring dinner otherwise but all my hopes of starting my own pay-per-view cooking show were crushed when the first bite hit my tongue. The back corners of my mouth twisted with a speed reminiscent to my first ever dual squirt of liquid Warheads. And, that is saying something because I like grapefruit a lot.

The wife tried to salvage the moment and quickly compliment my cooking, but the boy couldn't lie and neither could his twisted face. His reaction to the fish's taste was only outperformed by the horror of the realization that he was going to be forced to choke it all down in order to gain the ability to leave the table. We, instead, gave him the option to have a couple corn dogs, an offer he just couldn't refuse.

So, let my misfortune be a lesson to all those that read this: Grapefruit was not meant to be a marinade. This has been "Cooking With Levi". Until next time ... (in unison with the live audience) HAPPY COOKING!!

'Ceiling' is a Funny Word


One of the more recent improvements to our home was giving the kitchen a new ceiling. As you can see from the attached photos we had some very prominent problems with our kitchen ceiling and some not so noticeable. Among the obvious problems were the two patched holes in the ceiling.

The first hole, closer to the center of the room, was created by my foot. Rewind close to two years and you would find a bathroom that had been completely gutted down to open framing and floor joists. The original bathroom was gross and had busted pipes in the floor from the home being unattended during the ice storm of '07, so we had no choice but to do a full renovation of the room before we would move into the house. I managed to get the entire room properly demolished, cleaned out, re-plumbed, and re-wired all while balancing on floor joists. Ironically, it was when I was installing the last section of floor that I accidentally missed a joist and stepped down on the lathe and plaster that made up the ceiling of the kitchen below me. It broke and buckled underneath me but didn't give completely thankfully as I would've ended up creating an unnecessary elevator shaft in a hurry while testing it out without the elevator.

The other hole along the wall came from stupidity and not from an unavoidable accident like its predecessor. This hole was cut by me and on purpose. One day, not long after getting the bathroom completed (or completed enough to move in) my plumbing sprung a leak. Jodi yelled at me from the kitchen when it began to rain in there without a single warning from any one of our many local meteorologists. I quickly ran down to the basement and shut the main water valve off so that it would stop no matter where it was coming from. I thought for sure that it was a pipe that I put in the bathroom and now it was covered up with a 3/4" plywood sub-floor, a 1/2" Hardibacker cement board underlay, roughly 1/16" hardened thin-set mortar, a 1/4" of ceramic tile, and finally 36" of bathroom cabinets. There was no way that I could get back in there to fix it from the top. I would have to come in from underneath. So, away I went with a hammer, crowbar, and jigsaw. I opened up a pretty long section so that I could see almost all of the plumbing that I did along the wall where the leak seemed to be coming from. But, I didn't see anything obvious causing the leak. Upon turning the water back on to spot the exact source of the problem, I realized that the water was not coming from inside the floor but from above in the bathroom itself. I went upstairs and almost immediately saw the problem upon opening up the cabinet to the left sink. One of my thin plastic water lines that feed the sink had popped off the connection point due to not having the nut tight enough. Oops. I tightened it up and the problem was solved. Except for the second big hole in the kitchen ceiling.

Well, my dad helped me lay drywall over the top of the plaster some weeks ago which gave us a flat ceiling again. I finally got the mudding, sanding, and primering done. And then Daniel Sybouts came by and he showed me how to wallpaper a ceiling. It looks really great and I can't wait to see the finished product after it's all painted. We're going to give it a faux-finish to make it appear to be a tin ceiling. It's hard to tell from the photos, but the wallpaper is textured with a classy design similar to what tin ceilings would have. And pay no attention to the color of the photo. The paper as well as the globes of the light are white but there was no way to get them to look white and still show the definition of the pattern at the same time.

The light came to us for free. It was donated to our church for the "Pass It On" program that gives Christmas gifts away to area residents who might otherwise not have anything to give to their loved ones. All the pieces to the light fixture were there in a box, but the thing was so mangled from having been loose that the church didn't even set it out among the gifts to choose from. Rather, they were going to donate it to Habitat for Humanity or somewhere that might repair it. Jodi volunteered for the "Pass It On" event and when she asked about it they gave it to her. With some tightening up and leveling out and bending back the inner rod to a straight position it looks beautiful.

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