Tea Light Centerpiece

Let me start by apologizing to anyone who might read this and then get one of these for the holidays.

I saw this project a few months ago, on the same site that I found the plans for the beer totes I made. I thought it would be a good way to get some experience with sanding, and I learned about forstner drill bits. We were lucky enough to end up with a hand-me-down drill press, so I learned how to use one of those as well. One note, is that I had to seek out a 1 5/8″ bit because the 1 1/2″ in the instructions just wasn’t quite big enough.

On top of all of that, a friend/co-worker asked if I’d ever tried wood burning, which I hadn’t. I’ve now started playing with that skill, at the most basic level, and I am combining it with the tea light centerpieces.

This has been a fun thing to mix in between the big bed project an the upcoming complementary bed projects. I’m trying different finishes, including the same Weatherwash Pined Aging Stain I used on the bed. I really love that stuff.

One coat of Weatherwash, still need to add the oil and varnish. This one is plain, no woodburning. I love how the Weatherwash accentuates the grain and knots.

With candles.

This one has Early American and Cherry stain on it.

I’m trying to figure out the best pairing of finish with the woodburning. I have a few more to try.

Garden Adventures 2018

I would say that our garden was mostly successful this year, despite the inches and inches of rain that fell on us.

We currently have five huge Gunma cabbages fermenting for sauerkraut. Fargo wasn’t sure what to think about that cabbage…or is it a ball…

Basil crop wasn’t happy this year, only one batch of pesto.

Our absolute biggest success this year was sweet potatoes. HOLY COW!!! This was the first plant we dug up. The color is amazing!

That is an actual laundry basket and two large bowls, full to bursting.

Tim made a valiant effort to battle the squash vine borer which found our Blue Hubbard squash. We knew they were susceptible to vine borers, and thought we had outsmarted them, but alas, we had not. No more Blue Hubbards in our future plantings. We still ended up with a few, but they are on the small side. Nice round of butternuts though.

We had some tomato issues, but we also opted for Heirlooms, which are not quite as immune to weather. These are from a variety packet of seeds. It’s kind of fun waiting to find out what you are growing.

We grew pickling cucumbers and dill and canned 26 pints of pickles.

 

Enough berries to enjoy in yogurt and ice cream and for some baked goods, but no jams this year.

Used the dehydrator to dry cilantro, dill and parsley (lots and lots of parsley).

Grasshoppers ate the baby beets. We only had a small crop, but they were delicious. Rattlesnake pole beans were great this year, til the bean beetles showed. Luckily they waited til closer to the end. We had enough banana peppers for 18 pints of pickled peppers and quite a few roasted cheesy peppers (YUM!). Overall, the hard work was worthwhile.

Building a Bed–Part II

Fair warning, this is a long post.

When Ana White stained her bed, she used Varathane Weathered Wood Accelerator. We really liked the look of her bed, so we started researching this product. According to reviews, it seemed that quite a few people were ending up with a purple/blue color that they didn’t like. Given that feedback, we opted to research other wood aging stain products. Weatherwash had positive reviews, colors looked solid and it sounded like a good one to try.

After reading about the products on their site, I ordered the Pined Aging Stain and the Clear Maintenance Oil. The Oil is supposed to mellow the grey tones and bring out more of the warmer tones. I later bought the varnish because I originally misunderstood about how all three products work together.

Here is the headboard before (I know you can see the unstained pictures in the previous post, but here it is anyway), and after, one coat of the stain. Loved it!! It does look different on different wood types so do test spots on each type of wood first. There are three different woods in this headboard. .

Footboard and side rails.

It was dark outside when I applied a coat of oil, so I only have one bad picture of the before/after oil. I opted for the clear oil, but there is also a white oil, that lightens the stain. It totally beautified the wood even more, and I loved it!

Post oil footboard and rails. Ignore the areas where I needed to sand a little more than I realized and just look at the tones and how beautifully the grains show.

A few mornings ago, at my ridiculous 5:00 am get things done time, I used the varnish. Here is a garage shot of the headboard and footboard with stain, oil and varnish. We chose the flat varnish for this project, we weren’t looking for a super shiny finish.

Big excitement night before last, because…WE ASSEMBLED! Some of these pictures are from assembly night with poor lighting, and a few are from the next day, with the fancy camera.

One of my biggest fears was that the frame wouldn’t fit together well. It did! Because it is mostly heavy 2x4s and 2x6s, we had to carry everything upstairs separately and do all the assembly in the bedroom.

Fargo inspected our work as we progressed. He felt we did a solid job adding the cleats, the center support and had a good start on the slats. I am very glad we somehow ended up buying an extra 2×4. I cut the center support at the same 80″ as the cleats, but that ended up being too short. I would have been bummed if we’d had to wait until we could get out to buy another 2×4 to finish.

GAHHHHHH!!!!!! It’s done!!!!! I may have shed a tear of joy.

I wish the pictures could really portray how beautifully it turned out. If our room was a little larger, I might have been able to get better angles for entire bed shots, but the partials will have to do.

Following are some reflections on things I would probably do differently, besides sand a little more. I would make the frame an an inch or two higher, so the mattress sets up just a bit higher. For our bedroom, I’d probably take the top of the headboard down one panel, as our ceiling is fairly low. Our old mattress was about 4″ taller than the new one we bought (jury is still out on whether we like the new mattress), and if I had known this, I would have taken that panel from the top and put it on the bottom so no “pillow falling through” space existed. These are really just specific to our bedroom, and my learning curve.

Have I mentioned how proud I am of this bed?!?!? Honestly, one of my favorite parts was working with Tim. I’ve chronicled on this blog that empty nest has been hard for me. Tim has always had his outdoor hobbies, but I have been searching for something to feel passionate about. I have enjoyed baking and cooking and some of the other hobbies I’ve tried along the way, but I LOVED creating the workbench, the miter saw cart, the lumber storage cart and THIS BED. I love that Tim enjoyed working on all of these things with me. Although there is so much more to learn, I now have enough skill and knowledge base to do a lot on my own and keep me moving.  I greatly appreciate Tim’s participation and help when I want/need it, and I appreciate that he enjoys helping me. Can’t wait to get started on the next project!

 

 

 

Building A Bed

As I mentioned in the previous post, I have a HUGE list of what I want to build/make. I really have no idea, now that I think about it, how “bed frame” rose to the top of the list. The bed frame we have is probably close to 20 years old, and it was not top of the line when we bought it. I think that I was looking through all of the online plans from my favorite woodworking bloggers and I loved so many of the bed frames.

I brought Tim into the decision process and we narrowed it down. Then, when I was looking at the Modern Farmhouse Bed on Ana White’s website, I saw there was a video about making this bed that went along with the plans. We enjoyed the video, and the extra Alaskan scenery she includes in each one and that helped with our decision.

We still have 2x6s, 16′ 2x6s, on the floor in the garage, so we didn’t need to buy of those.  This is the original pile we took out of the garage to sort back in July.

Most of the 2x4s and some of the 2x6s went to the workbench, miter saw cart and lumber storage rack. But there are still plenty of 2x6s, and other assorted sizes and types in the garage, just waiting to be used in something awesome.

For the headboard, we opted to use tongue and groove vs plain 1x6s.  We went with 1x4s for the slats vs 2x4s. This bed was going to be super heavy duty to begin with and we felt like 2x4s for the slats would be overkill.

After talking through the plans with the Tim, I did all of the cutting and the pocket hole drilling and some of the assembly myself. I greatly appreciated that he found projects in and around the garage to work on so that he was available any time that I needed him. Some of the pieces were just too heavy for me to maneuver and fasten by myself. Some of the wood was too hard for me to get the 2 1/2″ wood screws into (though I’m improving).

Wearing my Rosies overalls, which I love, with the ear protectors hanging on the string and the safety glasses. I am totally looking the part! I’m also super proud of how the headboard behind me is coming along.

I introduced Tim to the Kreg Jig and to pocket holes after I learned about them on the Shanty-2-Chic site. They have a great instructional video . I love drilling them and I think it’s such a cool way to join wood together. On our lumber cart, we had one whoops where the pocket holes ended up on the outside, but overall, it’s gone well.

Footboard and side rails.

I used a palm sander and I recently read about tack cloths, so I used those too. Helpful hint, wear rubber gloves with the tack cloth because the tack stuff does not want to wash off hands. I actually enjoyed the sanding, but I had a learning curve with that too. Our bed frame is far from perfect in the sanding department, but since I wanted a weathered/beaten look, it is fine for this project. I love that I’m learning so much each time we make something.

I’ll stop here. The next post will cover the finishing process, and hopefully, an assembled picture. Assembly is on the docket for this week since the mattress we purchased, after spending way too many hours researching, arrived today.

Making Stuff With Wood

Hi all! Been a while…a LONG LONG while. No good excuse, just lots of busy and not enough focus. Once we hit May, which started off with the youngest’s graduation…

…then moved to the garden, the yard work, etc. etc., the days just seemed to whiz by. On top of all of that, I’ve been serious about one of the Hobby Adventures I started to tackle over the Winter: Making Stuff With Wood.

I have been having SO MUCH FUN, especially since the hubster has been helping and teaching me and showing how much patience he possesses. My learning curve has had some steep spots, but I am super proud of what I have to show you so far. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen all of these, but I’m going to get joy from sharing them here too.

We are turning our garage into work space and started by building a massive, and massively awesome, workbench!

We mostly followed the plans from Shanty-2-Chic.com for their large workbench. The main change is that we left extra overhang along the edges in order to be able to clamp things. Also, there has been a lumber pile in our garage for an embarrassingly long time, so most of the workbench was already in the garage, just waiting for us.

Next, we tackled a miter saw cart based on plans from the Ana White site.

Fargo The Terrible helped us with the wings out picture.

Again, we were able to use a lot of the garage lumber for this project. The main changes we made were using wood supports for the wings, and putting a back on the storage area, which also provides additional strength.

Speaking of the garage lumber, we built a lumber storage cart that we basically designed ourselves.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit all of the lumber and there is still more on the garage floor, but it definitely helps and I’m working on using the rest of it up in more projects.

EVERYTHING IS ON WHEELS!! I love that we can move it all around in order to use it, or to get it out of the way, or to roll it into the driveway when we have the rare non-rainy day (wettest summer on record here this year).

I honestly wish I had tried all of this four years ago, the first year of the Empty Nest, but I’m so glad I am doing it now. I have a huge sense of pride as I’m working on each project, and I feel like I am learning so much.

I’m giving my Rosies Workwear a workout. I love the Kreg Jig and pocket holes, I’m not afraid of the miter saw, I’ve used a circular saw, and I conquered 2.5″ wood screws. I want to build everything I see on the Shanty-2-Chic, Ana White, Rogue Engineer and House of Wood sites. I love that they all learned as they went and were able to turn their passions into a business. I now follow all different “makers” and woodcrafters on Instagram and I love seeing what they’re all working on. I literally have an “I want to make” wish list.

We’re still working on garden veggies…freezing, canning, curing, baking. I’m way behind on general yard work, like weeding (of course, the endless rain also has something to do with this). Sometimes the house cleaning gets bumped further down the list than it should so I can squeeze in a few more minutes in the garage. The rain currently falling again, for the third day in a row, is why I decided I could finally sit down and concentrate long enough to put this post together.

In my next post, I’ll show you the first non rough carpentry project we’ve been working on. The first one where looks matter. I’m so excited about it, I could burst.

Where Does The Time Go??

It appears that blogging is a lot like running/exercising, once you get out of the routine of doing it, it’s easy to continue to not do it. I actually have quite a bit to share, but now I’m feeling a little overwhelmed about getting to it all. In addition, there’s been a lot going on in life. Some good, some stressful, some neutral, but just a lot.

I had begun a post about food, but we just had a very amazing weekend in NYC and I decided that should come first. The hubster and I recently celebrated a milestone anniversary. My parents, who are incredibly wonderful people, got us tickets to see Come From Away on Broadway. It’s been years since we were in NYC, and we’re not city people, so it was a big deal.

We were grateful to have a good friend not only put us up for the night, but spend her entire day with us on Saturday. After I told her what we were hoping to do, besides the show, she planned out all of the logistics. It was such a bonus to be able to spend the day with her (and her brother and their friend) and to not worry about getting around.THANK YOU JENNIFER!!!

First stop was the Brooklyn Bridge. Hubby had read The Great Bridge by David McCullough and was excited to see the subject of the book. It didn’t sound as exciting a destination to me, but it really was fascinating. I loved all of the different shapes and structures and signs and views.

 

From the bridge, we walked to the 9/11 Memorial. We didn’t have time for the museum this visit, but we took a few minutes to pay our respects.

It was so very moving, and it felt important to visit before the show, as the show is also about that day. We really don’t have strong enough words to describe how amazing this show is. The music and choreography and writing and songs were so incredible that we’re still walking around singing, “I’m an islander, I am an islander, I’m an islander, I am an islander….”

GO. SEE. THIS. SHOW!!!!!!!!!

Almond Butter Cups

I follow a few food blogs on Instagram. I have to admit, I LOVE the little food videos they post and I have been motivated to try quite a few recipes after watching. One of the recent videos was for Almond Butter Cups, posted by Pinch of Yum. It looked fairly simple, and it definitely looked very yummy.

Yesterday was a gross, foggy, rainy, cold day….so, perfect to try this out. I made one adjustment in that I split the 1/2 cup cocoa between dark and regular.

 

Pinch of Yum suggests 2-4 Tablespoons of maple syrup, so I went with 3. The coconut oil thickened back up quickly once I added the other ingredients, so I put the mixture in the microwave for just a few seconds. It was much easier to work with in a thinner state.

 

There was enough for 14 cups. By the time I got to the last two, the coconut oil was thickening up again. The original 12 looked pretty darn great, but these two were definitely seconds.

 

Hubby and I ate these two bloopers without freezing them, and his comment was, “these are evil!” They were so darn amazingly good. I froze the rest as directed and was super proud of how pretty they turned out. I posted this pic on Instagram and got the most comments ever in my Instagram history.

Hubby and I split this one, right from the freezer, and I have a suggestion. If you make these, although the recommendation is to store them in the refrigerator or freezer, let them come closer to room temp before eating them. When frozen, hubby and I agreed that the overwhelming flavor is the coconut oil, the chocolate and almond flavors just couldn’t compete.

 

For a first go at making a candy type dessert, I label this a success. And given that there is only 3T of maple syrup, and no sugar, I think it’s an even bigger success. There is, however, PLENTY of coconut oil, so I’m not sure how it really ranks on the healthy scale.

 

Picture Post

There hasn’t been much baking, or new recipe experimenting, or new creating lately. Pretty much just creating the same things I was before, beer totes and cross stitch. I did see a chocolate almond butter cup recipe on Pinch of Yum that I intend to work on in the near future.

I’m still having a lot of fun with the fancy camera, so I thought I’d share some recent pictures. Still mostly automatic settings, but I’m watching video tutorials and maybe some of it is starting to sink in. Maybe.

Apologies to those of you on Instagram, as some of these are repeats.

 

 

 

 

 

Fargo humors me and doesn’t complain…too much.

Blooper.

 

 

Sometimes it’s nice to have boring, even though I’d rather have full nest boring than empty nest boring. Boring doesn’t lend itself to interesting blogging. I’ve got some things in mind over the next few weeks that should be more fun.

Molly’s Mac N Cheese Adventures

We decided to have a cooking day on Sunday. I wrote about the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart, in the previous post. This time I’m talking about our mac n cheese adventures as we followed the Molly on the Range flowchart. We followed the right side, doubled the recipe and ended up with one baked dish and a batch of deep fried cubes.

Making the sauce took longer than expected, though Molly doesn’t really indicate how long it should take. We ended up using less milk because it never seemed to want to thicken up. It finally did though.

This was Fargo, the whole time we were grating/adding cheese.He can sure concentrate when he wants to.

In order to go for the deep fried mac, you need to do all of the steps but the baking. We made the two batches of mac in the morning and stuck it in the fridge for a few hours. I didn’t get a finished picture of the baked version, but it looked like this, with bread crumbs on top. YUM!

 

When it was time to fry, we dug out the VERY rarely used deep fryer and set up the flour, egg and bread crumb bowls.

It was quite a messy process, cutting the mac up into cubes, then rolling each one in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.

We could only put four into the fryer at a time, so four batches of four. It took about $4 worth of oil to fill the fryer. So, it was a lot of work, and a little on the spendy side when all of the butter and cheese is added. They sure turned out pretty! They were really good, needed some salt/pepper, but good.

Both versions were excellent. Our conclusion was that we’ll stick with the baked, since it was as good as the fried, and a whole lot less work. Chalk up another round of kitchen adventures to the empty nesters.

Pictures (except for the flowchart) taken with the fancy camera!

Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart

Hey there, been a while. It’s been two weeks of not doing much that is note or blog worthy. The weather has been all over the place, I’ve walked a few times each week, but not as much as I should have. I bought and cut the wood to make more beer totes and I’m looking forward to getting those assembled. I think we’re going to try and make a kitchen island on wheels, which I’m super excited about.

In addition, we are still working on the house. We moved some furniture out and did some rearranging in the dining room, which I like. The dining room and the garage are still housing more stuff that we are in the process of selling/sorting. Hubby did some work in the garage, and now, if needed, we could actually fit a car in there. We are doing a lot of research on a new range to be prepared since ours is twenty years old. We bought a new sink, pics of that later when the replacement process begins.

We also bought a new toaster oven, which is very exciting.

Because the old one (at least 15 years old) was creeping towards full failure (note the burned edges).

This past weekend, we finally spent some time in the kitchen testing out new recipes. I’ll post about the mac n cheese next, but first, the Chocolate Coconut Almond Tart. I don’t have a tart pan, so I opted for a beautiful pie dish our friends brought us from Poland.

The crust is three ingredients, which includes almonds (in both meal and chopped), coconut oil and maple syrup. It took longer to bake than noted, however everything takes longer in our oven. It didn’t get as brown, but I think it was a pretty thick layer. I tried to press it down, but I didn’t get much up the sides like it shows in Sally’s picture.

I mostly used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, which I chopped, with a few semi sweet chocolate chunks thrown in. Yum! Besides the chocolate, there was coconut milk and maple syrup…that’s it.

It all turned out so pretty in the dish. Especially with the toasted chocolate and coconut on top.

I’d definitely make this one again, especially for any gluten free guests. It had a neat texture, and was delicious. Can anyone tell that I used the fancy camera for all of the tart pictures (not the toaster oven pictures). I’m still struggling with learning the non auto settings, but I do think that camera takes some beautiful pictures.

Here are two bonus sunset pictures from Sunday night. The first one was taken outside, the second (probably obvious from the window frame) was taken inside. I think the fancy camera did an amazing job, but it was still more amazing in person.