You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2012.

Yep!  I said it!

Over at the Missouri Star Quilting Company Forum we are thinking about Christmas and are creating Secret Santa boxes for our assigned quilting buddy.

While I might aspire to have this type of gift box for her, the reality is that she will probably end up with one more like this.

This tree, while being a little less spectacular and a bit more wonky, is certainly loved. It is even now, living happily in our front yard. I hope that is what I can send to her, a box of holiday happiness and goodies. Perhaps even some that she can use often and enjoy for years to come!

Off to list out a few ideas and see what I can start to put together!  Our mail date is December 1!

I think her favorite colors were orange, aqua, and avocado green with double knit polyester as her favorite type of fabric. I’m sure there is something fabulous I can create using those! (OK, just kidding!)

I’ll get more of her “likes & dislikes” details tomorrow with the confirmation I received the e-mail with her name.

I can’t wait to really get started!

 

Our little green hairy “olives” have turned into this:

We are having to water the fruit trees this last month since we haven’t had much rain. We have had a pretty decent summer compared to most, so I am not complaining. We have held off watering anything but the veggie garden and the fruit trees. The lawn gets an occasional sprinkling when the Little Miss needs to cool off on the really hot days, but that is it.

I have a hard time believing that we actually grew peaches! I can’t wait to see how they taste! Fresh peach pie and some homemade ice cream sounds pretty yummy!

Our little garden is doing pretty good. We seem to be pretty hit & miss with our gardening. Grand plans, but not always the results we would like. We tried a few new things this year.

To begin with, we scrapped the wooden tee-pee as a bean trellis. We didn’t have much luck with the beans on it. There were four places to plant and they climbed all over each other. I saw a nifty “bean cage” in a garden catalog. We had a few of these panels left from something, we zip-tied them together and planted the beans down all three sides. Some of the beans are climbers and some are bush type.

They have done really well. The biggest problem has been the size of the openings. I can get my hand in, but just barely. They sell the wire “mesh” for concrete re-enforcement that has the 4 inch openings and we will probably use that next season. This method has given us more beans than we’ve ever had, and in less space. This is our most recent harvest. The purple beans turn bright green when blanched!

Which brings me to the other thing we tried. Pickling cucumbers. I’ve grown field & lemon cucumbers on tomato cages before and had good success. I saw this set-up in the same garden catalog as the bean cage, and thought we might as well give it a go.

The idea is for the vines to climb up the frame and the cukes will hang down. By hanging to grow there won’t be any flat places or white spots from the cukes resting on the ground, OR in our case, slug damage. Those slimy monsters eat just about anything!

Here are some of the results of the experiment. We have found that you need to make sure to check the cuke-lettes as they are developing. One or two were laying on the wire and made weird shapes. Not so worrisome if you are making sliced pickles like this.

My husband got bitten by the pickle bug. All of those cucumbers were just too much to resist. We had most of the ingredients on the list so after a quick trip to the market for horseradish and the main pickling spice he was set. I even found him my wavy chopping knife for more pickle fun!

He made two separate batches. The first, on the right, are zesty bread & butter refrigerator pickles. The second are the sandwich dills. He actually used the canner and hot-packed that batch. In either case, we have to wait a bit for the pickles to develop their full flavor. It will be interesting to see how they taste.

He already has big plans for the next batch of baby cukes on the vines!

I’ve been catching up on a few things around the farm.

Our goats are all tattooed, normally in the ears. I have the bigger set of tattoo digits for my pliers. If I don’t wait until the kids are a few months old, part of the tattoo ends up either in the hair at the tip of the ear or somewhere near their brain. It is a messy process, so I tend to put it off until I have to, then I can do them all at one time.

It was also time to trim up the milkers udders. It was getting a bit hairy under there. I could still find the teats, but I was catching hairs when I milked and that isn’t pleasant for any of us.

So now my hands are that lovely shade of green and I have goat hair in places I’d rather not. This also reminds me why I dread showing. I have to give the girls a fully body clip and that means A LOT more hair.

Thankfully we aren’t showing this year so I have a reprieve for one more year!

The Little Miss and her daddy went for a hike at Crystal Mountain while I was judging the goat show at the King County Fair.

They caught the gondola and rode up the mountain and started the hike from there. This is a shot with Mount Rainier in the background.

I think the constant hounding by the shutter-bug dad to turn around and smile was starting wear on her by this point!

They had a fun time and she was sure she saw an elk. Daddy says it was a tree with some dead branches, but what does he know?

They did remember to stop by Enumclaw on the way home and pick me up.

(Well, this got hung up in the Draft stage too. It has been done for about two weeks.)

I have learned a bit about grout. Epoxy grout in particular. I learned that the directions in the box aren’t really very helpful. Their first suggestion that the ambient air temperature should be between 70 and 85 degrees is very wrong. Unless, of course, you can apply, float, and clean grout at the speed of Superman. I cannot.

They do say you could put the bucket in the freezer to extend the working time. They did not say that was the only way you are going to get the grout down before it turns into a rock in the bucket.

I opted for a less messy method of grout application than dumping a glop of it over the seam and squooshing it in with a rubber float tool, smearing it over most of the tile in the process. I put the goo into a disposable frosting piping bag, and cut the tip with a pair of scissors so I had about a quarter inch opening. Hubby has a really nice big canvas cone bag for piping the standard grout, but I was worried that the epoxy might be trickier to clean up. Thank goodness I went with the plastic!  I piped the grout in between the tiles and then came back and floated it into shallow grooves and wiped up the excess. While I was piping and floating, the epoxy was have a thermo-reactive party in the bucket. When I went back for another bagful, the bucket had super heated and begun to “kick” or cure. I was able to dig some out of the edges of the bucket where it was cooler, but I lost nearly two-thirds of the bucket of grout.

At some point I must have swiped at a stray lock of hair that had fallen across my forehead. I apparently had a glob of grout on my gloves and transferred it to my head and hair. Let’s just say that I have a thinner patch of hair at my temple that is about the size of a quarter. I have also found out that Dove bar soap will indeed wash out epoxy residue from your hair and scalp if applied several times.

I gave up the effort at this point. I did not want to ruin any more grout, as that stuff isn’t cheap, and I was hot and tired.

Once I had a second pair of hands that were much more familiar with the properties of epoxy compounds, the project went much faster. The second attempt found that we still mixed it by hand, and after the initial filling of the disposable bag we stuck the bucket in the freezer. This seemed to slow the thermodynamic process well enough that we could use the entire bucket of grout before the product began to kick over. I piped the grout between the tiles and then Eric followed along and smoothed the joints and did the initial wipe up. This kept the grout usage down and the residue across the tiles to a minimum. I highly recommend this method, especially if you have textured tiles!

We probably would have finished the floor that evening. When the last bucket of grout was opened we found that someone had swapped out the grey colored reacting agent for an earth brown color. It actually looked like someone had completely plundered the container since there were no mixing instructions or gloves that came in the other buckets. Lesson learned there. If there is no safety seal, check the contents before you buy it and drag it home!

This is the finished product! Yea!

The kitchen is on the way back to normal. The safety cleat has been re-installed and the stove is back! The grill and the microwave are nice enough, but I really missed having a stove top and oven!

The cabinet above the fridge needed some serious adjustment. Eric measured it while it was resting on the carpet, and missed the extra bit of the feet or rollers that it sits on. He took off the initial amount of cabinet hoping that this would be enough to make it fit.

Sadly, it didn’t.  He had to tear out the supports, take them to work and run them through the table saw to shave off another 3/8″ before the fridge would snug in under the cabinet. Now he has to take the router to the cabinet doors and take off about a half of an inch to make them fit. Nothing is ever as easy as it should be. All we have left are those doors and the base trim.

We even sorted the fridge magnets and have it back to looking normal!