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!

 

 

 

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.

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!

Window Photography

No, I’m not taking pictures of windows. I actually think I would enjoy that though, especially old windows on old houses. But alas, I am being a weather weenie and taking pictures through my windows. It’s actually been a good way to make ridiculously cold weather, and snowy weather, more entertaining.This time of year we have bird feeders up, the snow pretties up the landscape, and there’s always Fargo to use as a subject. Some pictures have even turned out reasonably well…others, not so much.

Not exactly the graceful running shot I had envisioned.

This one I took outside and it was worth being briefly out in the painfully cold temps. I may post a few more from this sunset at a later point. This one is definitely my favorite!

I’m still on all auto. I really need to figure out how to understand all of the manual settings better. When there are pretty pictures happening without my interference, it makes it harder to get moving on that front.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I bought myself a little present a few weeks ago. Of course I researched, because I do that even for a small purchase. Prior to this year, I used a bundt cake pan once. The pan we have was handed down to us. It gets the job done, as you’ve seen if you follow along, but the ring is wide and the cook space is narrow. It doesn’t result in super pretty cakes.

Ta da!! New bundt cake pan (oiled for impending cake mix in this picture). It’s a much heavier duty piece of kitchen equipment.

While the youngest was still home on break, we did some baking together, WHICH I LOVED!! We decided to take the bundt pan for a spin with a modified Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction. We subbed applesauce in for half the oil, reduced the granulated sugar by 1/2 cup and added some honey, and split the flour 1 cup wheat and the rest, white.

Looked pretty in the pan when we took it out of the oven.

The youngest wanted to sub in cream cheese icing. We again based it on a recipe from Sally and modified. We used half the butter, then taste tested after each half cup of confectioners sugar. After 1 1/2 cups of sugar, it was perfect!

I’m sure I should have evened up the bottom before turning the cake out, or somehow smooth the batter better. I had no idea how to spread the icing on the cake so it would be pretty. We all ended up spreading more icing on our pieces, so I also should have just put more on to begin with, but it really did turn out fine.

Very, very yummy!!

Here’s a bonus pic of Fargo and the youngest, which you may have seen on Instagram, and is one of my all time favorites.I’m learning about color adjustments, as you can probably tell.

Can you tell which of the pictures in this post were taken with the fancy camera? I’m having a lot of fun with it. I love the bigger lens that came with the deal. I’ve taken tons of bird, Fargo and landscape pictures.

 

Winter Camera Fun

Most of the pictures I’m taking are through the windows in this arctic chill that is seeming to go on forever. I am still on auto because, for whatever reason, the manual information just will not stick in my brain. I plan to continue to work on it. Fargo and our pupguest and birds using our feeder made good subjects to play with.

Some Fancy Camera Photos (and some ponderings)

Sorting through all of the stuff from my in-laws’ house, and my house, has included piles of pictures. A few things struck me along the way. One, before digital cameras, a lot of money was spent to develop many pictures, in order to get a few really good ones. Obviously, there were pros and cons to that process. On the “pro” side is all of the memories that sifting through piles of pictures brings back. On the “con” is the piles and piles of pictures to sort through to decide keep vs pitch.

Second, since digital cameras, the freedom to keep snapping picture after picture in the search for good ones, is tremendous. Knowing there won’t be money spent on developing rolls of film, means that newbies such as myself, can just go crazy.

Third, it takes a conscious effort to print out pictures and have hard copies. I think it’s an important thing to do. If you aren’t great about backing up the contents of your computer (me!), then it is especially important. After the eldest’s graduation, I made a photo book from an online site, something I haven’t done in a long time, and ordered some prints as well. I need to do this again.

In the meantime, I will share a few (of the many, many, many I have taken) with you here. Fargo may be getting tired of being my main model, though he hasn’t said so yet. The kiddos are in here too, while they’re home, and I love snapping the sunrises and sunsets.

Capturing good news for the eldest.

Keeping Busy

I’ve been keeping busy the past few weeks. Still cleaning out the house, trying some new hobbies, continuing with some old ones, prepping for the kids to come home (they’re here…YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!). I’m going to savor the days with the family and then I’ll be ready to kick 2017 out the door.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen…

I’ve been busy with a secret new hobby project (I used a mitre saw and a drill!)…

Fargo helped me make beds for the kids….

And I’ve been playing with the fancy camera some more (post of pictures forthcoming)…

Now that it seems both kids will be staying on the West Coast for a while, I’ve been doing some deeper empty nest reflecting. I may try to share some of those thoughts, though I haven’t decided yet. This has mostly been a more lighthearted blog and I need to decide where to go with this in the new year.

Thank you to those who have continued to follow along with me on this journey!