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.

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.

Sauerkraut

It was about a year ago that a friend and I got to talking about sauerkraut, of all things. She had made some and then was nice enough to bring a jar in for me. It was awesome! Being the wild and crazy empty nester that I am, I decided right then that I wanted to add cabbage to our garden this year, specifically to make sauerkraut. Hubby was totally on board.

I opted for Gunma from Fedco Seeds after reading all of the descriptions. The resulting cabbages were HUGE!!! We had four of these suckers!

My friend loaned us her Ball Canning book when it was time to shred. Sounded pretty simple, but it was a LOT of shredding.

As I shredded each batch, hubby salted it. I guess I didn’t realize that sauerkraut is simply cabbage and salt left on its own to do its thing.

There are quite a few ways to ferment the cabbage into sauerkraut, we opted for jars. Thanks to my friend, Beth, who gave me many jars of grain to grind, there were a few large ones in the house. Hubby smashed the cabbage down into the jars while I still continued to shred.

Once we filled four jars, we used cheesecloth to cover the cabbage and sewing weights in sandwich bags to hold the cheesecloth down.

 

Time to stink up the house! Every few days we removed the scum that formed, but otherwise, it was low maintenance. Fast forward to five weeks later. We used the smaller three jars this morning for the first batch of canning. We need to get some more small jars in order to do the rest.

We tried the “raw” sauerkraut, but it definitely has a different taste, neither of us was super excited about it. We again followed the directions from the Ball Canning book and cooked the cabbage until simmering.

Ta-da! And I can tell you, as we dropped sauerkraut everywhere and ate the dropped blops trying to get it into the smaller jars, that it is crazy delicious.

As soon as we have time, we’ll do the rest. It will be interesting to see if a few days more of fermentation makes any difference in the taste. It’s definitely going to be an every year thing!

Special note: As an early anniversary/holiday gift, we picked out a fancy camera for beginners. Hopefully it will improve the pictures on the blog…once I actually learn to use it.

 

So Many Food Blogs, and some other stuff

Before I started this new baking (blogging) venture, I was apparently oblivious to the food blog industry. I knew that people posted recipes here and there from different sites. Of course I would look up recipes online and get google results for Martha Stewart or Allrecipes, etc, but I had NO idea there was a food blog world.

After my love affair with The Great British Bake Off began (thank you again, youngest), and we bought the pretty power tool mixer, I followed a link posted by a facebook friend to a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe. This led me to peruse Sally’s site and I realized it was not just about the recipe. It was about the story with the recipe, and the oh so pretty food pictures, and the layout of the site, and the comments/interactions with followers, and so on.

I found another food blog, JoCooks, with the Dutch Oven bread recipe I’ve made a dozen times so far. And then Pinch of Yum, and then another blog, and then another, and another, and holy cow, you can get lost in all of these blogs. Each one has a unique personality, and cooking/photography style and more recipes than someone could ever sort through. A few of them include tips and strategies for people who want to start their own food blogs, and even earn income through blogging.

Very few of the food blogs are on this platform, most have their own websites. Thanks to my tech savvy mom, I now have my own site too, though it’s not set up yet. My blog is not a food blog, but food is a focus, right? I have no idea if people will be interested, as I am not providing unique recipes that I developed. I am using the blog as a way to share the every day, and the new in life, with the girls away.

We worked very hard to help our girls be strong, independent women. To think and choose for themselves, to problem solve. People compliment us on doing such an amazing job with our girls, that they were/are confident enough to have chosen the path they did. We worked hard to Teach Them to Fly, but we never, ever thought they’d fly quite so far. We are insanely proud parents, with a quiet house.

And now, we are trying to move forward, filling our time with a crazy puppy, experimenting with new foods/baked goods, gardening/food saving, running/training and (for me) blogging. Hubby dedicates time to his outdoors pursuits, and thankfully, keeping the wood furnace going in the COLD temps.

Back to the food blogs – found a new recipe for the rotation – so very yummy. I did add kale, because I had some and wanted to use it up:

http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2013/01/butternut-squash-and-black-bean-enchilada-skillet/

black bean butternut enchilada bake

Also, our wonderful friends invited us to dinner the other night. They had used the Hubbard Squash puree in a lasagna recipe. The recipe was vegan, though our friends used dairy milk instead of milk substitute. They also used half the garlic and a little extra spinach. Also an incredibly delicious recipe which we will try to replicate:

http://holycowvegan.net/2013/11/lasagna-for-twoor-four.html

Yes, I took food pictures at our friends’ dinner table…

vegan lasagna