Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monkey is DONE!

Here's to finishing projects! I started this one back while my friend's grandson was still on the belly side of things... and now he's almost 6 months old. What can I say, I don't like knitting when it's warm out!

It turned out pretty cute tho - my first attempt at a monkey, knitted all in the round on double pointed needles. I used to hate DPN, but I've now downgraded it to merely dislike. After that much practice it doesn't seem so bad anymore. Especially with sock weight yarn and size 3 needles. Ugh. SO worth it tho, just look at that face! I used the pattern in Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson for A New Sock Monkey.

Max had to help with the photo shoot... and run off with Monkey. I suppose that just means it's kid-approved.

what do you mean it's not mine?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall Re-Potting

There was a single somewhat warm day a little bit ago - just warm enough to do some re-potting outside before winter sets in. I started with two african violets to be split, a few pothos ivies that had rooted, and some miscellaneous plants... and ended up with a dozen "new" plants! I already gave a violet to my grandma, and I plan on giving another to a co-worker. The others might stay... if I have room!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Self-Watering Plant

I have a fainting plant at work. I water it on Fridays and when I come in on Monday it's all flattened. I knew that it wasn't going to make it through the Thanksgiving break so I went to the local farm and garden store to get a waterer - but to no avail. So, I made one!

Step one: Procure a plastic bottle (if it's from the floor of your car you get bonus points because that also counts as cleaning your car).

Step two: Drill/poke a hole in the cap that's about the size of a strand of yarn.

Step three: String a length of natural fiber yarn through the hole, knotting on both sides. Leave about 1" on the inside and 8"+ on the outside. (use natural fiber, like cotton, because it has better absorbancy)

Step four: Fill bottle with water and secure cap.

Step five: Tip the whole deal upside down in the plant and tuck the string around the base, touching the dirt.

Done! Now hopefully when I get back to work tomorrow the plant will be alive and upright.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peppers - They're Red, Green and Frozen

In the time honored tradition of the day after Thanksgiving being all about the Christmas holiday - I'm featuring red, green, and frozen. That's right - peppers.

I found a great deal on local peppers at the market - the last batch of the year before the frost. I chopped them up, froze them in a flat layer (that's key to making sure they don't freeze in a giant chunk) and then bagged them up. Yay for peppers all winter!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Revenge of the Counter: Part 2

Yesterday I covered the prelims to the counter change.

Today, you get to see the results!

Firstly: Clearing the counter of all my junk stuff essential cooking items.

Note the test tile - I still couldn't peel it up!
Next: Peeling up the old counter top. It's nice that it was relatively easy to get up, but a little scary at the same time...

my little helper
Remove all loose paint, goo, splinters, dust, grime (not that there would ever be grime in my kitchen) and clean the surfaces. Then prime and paint the edging. I chose to match the cabinet paint rather than try and match the tiles.

freshly painted edges
Lay the tile, cutting with a utility knife to fit (try not to slice open your finger, ahem). I decided to use quarter round painted white around the back under the back splash.

painting the quarter round
This is all very hard work. My little helper worked so hard that he fell asleep during his lunch break.

Finally - the painted parts are painted, the tile is installed, the quarter round is in, the cracks are caulked, edges are sealed with silicone...

look at that!
And the counter is done! DONE! I still have to do the back splash (and the counter by the sink...) but this part of the counter is DONE.

Isn't it pretty? <sigh> I'm so smitten!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Revenge of the Counter: Part 1

I had a busy weekend! Not only did I do a bunch of the regular stuff and have date-night with hubby - but I also replaced 2/3 of our counter top! Woo!

You may remember how the counter (well, the whole kitchen) originally looked:

that's forest green counters and a pine edge and back splash
I couldn't handle the counters, so after we painted the cabinets I primed and painted those counters too.

gray - just gray
I knew that painting the counters was a temporary solution, there was no way it wouldn't get scratched. And, of course, it did. In the meantime I had put a few peel-and-stick tiles on the counter to see how they hold up. The verdict: they worked really quite well! It makes sense, they are made to handle foot traffic, including wet and dirt and dogs, they should be able to handle relatively light wear and tear on a counter.

I picked out a light gray tile that I liked (actually, I let hubby choose between two light grays that I liked, he likes to feel included) and this weekend I finally had the time to go for it. Stay tuned for the results tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dishwasher Drama

yay new dishwasher!
Our house came with a dishwasher. A mechanical one, that is - not a person. Said mechanical dishwasher was pretty old and not great quality. So when it started leaking we weren't surprised. Rather, I wasn't surprised. Hubby was indignant that such a thing would happen, and took it as a sign that the house is falling on our heads and that we should get out while we still can. (he gets a little dramatic sometimes with the, "woe to us, the world is ending, everything is turning to crap," stuff)

The cost to repair the dishwasher would be as much as buying a new, inexpensive dishwasher - so I got a new one! Woo!

Dad installed it for me because he's awesome and handy like that. I "helped" kinda like Max "helps," but I at least handed him real tools instead of toy ones (or dinosaurs). I also took pictures, as you likely noticed. I don't know if you can see it well, but the back of the dishwasher compartment has clapboard siding from way back when the kitchen was added to the house - cool, huh?

100+ year old siding and strapping!

This was a few months ago, but what makes me think of it now is that last week I noticed that the floor was getting a little damp around the dishwasher, though not like the flood that happened last time. I put on my Fix-It hat, pulled out the dishwasher and determined that the intake pipe was leaking at the joint and that it probably needed either a new gasket or a thicker/second one to seal the joint. Dad came over to fix it just in case that wasn't the problem and the dishwasher blew up (I fear dishwashers blowing up on my watch).

BUT - I'm awesome and that really was the problem. I was ready with the new gaskets (it took two), I handed him tools, did some of the heavy lifting, and my dishwasher is all fixed. The best part (besides having a non-leaky dishwasher) is the satisfaction of a correct diagnosis and knowing that if I had a better wrench I could have fixed it myself. I feel so empowered!

Next step: Fix something without dad helping...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cat Brain Pickles

Ok, so did you make a guess?

The eye of newt was mustard seed with reconstituted (uncooked) tapioca. The rat intestines were red onion relish. And the cat brains were really pickled cauliflower. The garlic oil really was garlic oil. And no, the apples weren't really poisoned.

I've been eating the onion relish since 11/1, and it's sooooo gooooood. Nom. I'm not an onion fan, but I love me this relish. I first saw the recipe in Cottage Living (rest it's magazine soul) but you can find it here. I gave my parents a jar of each, but my mom was skeptical of the whole intestines thing. Brains apparently were ok.

poisoned apples, rat intestine relish, cat brain pickles, garlic oil
Cat Brain Refrigerator Pickles

2 heads cauliflower (I used orange, it seemed to hold its color well)
10 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
2 Tbsp sweet pickling spice (or hot pickling spice if you dare)
1/8 tsp turmeric (for that creepy yellow glow)

Combine the vinegar, sugar and water in a big pot over med/high heat. While that warms up, make packets out of your pickling spice. I wrapped mine up in a couple of paper muffin liners. Add the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the flavors mingle for 15-20 minutes.

Cut up the cauliflower into chunks, making it look as much like brain cross sections as possible. Be creative. Pack the cauliflower tightly into sterilized jars. Add the liquid to cover. Process jars as desired.
After processing I added fun labels. Instant coffee does a great job of aging paper...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Halloween at Work

Since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I totally brought it to work. Yes, I wore fangs at the office. Because I'm cool.

Anyhow, to further emphasize my coolness, I put (purposefully) stained white sheets on the couches (like in old abandoned houses), put out some creepy decor (namely gross looking stuff in old jars), and offered treats. Now, the popcorn was much more popular than the cat brains, rat intestines, garlic oil, or eye of newt - but the poisoned apples went pretty well too.

Yes, you heard me right. Cat brains. Rat intestine. Eye of newt.

Can you guess what each one really was?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Halloween - Boo!

Yes, I know Halloween has passed for this year - but I was doing that 31 Days deal-e-o and didn't get to do a post about it. And it's not like you can really post about your whole Halloween on Halloween, or at least I can't. I'm too busy eating candy and trying to freak people out. Except for my kid, no freaking him out. He thought my wig was pretty spiffy tho.
the undead makeup was overshadowed by the rockin' wig, but that's ok
Is that a hint of fang in there? Why, yes, it is. I was a vampire, complete with fang caps for my canines. Heck to the yes.
And, no, not a Twilight type of vampire. Seriously. They effing sparkle. That's just wrong, man.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apple Picking

2011 - looking for the perfect apple
Fall just isn't fall without a visit to an apple orchard. We have a particular favorite that's about 15 minutes away - they have a great little storefront where they also sell other produce... and cider donuts. Homina homina. Ahem, excuse me, I had started drooling a little bit there.

We took Max last year and told him he came from a cabbage patch just like that one. I don't think he believed us.

This year he really got into the whole eating apples business - and running. Lots and lots of running.

2010 - telling Max where babies come from

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Final Harvest (mostly)

all from my garden!
It certainly wasn't the best gardening year, but 42 pounds of tomatoes is nothing to sniff at. Out of two gardens (one of which produced next to nothing), here's what I got:

42 lbs tomatoes
6 bunches of lettuce (approx. 2 salads worth per bunch)
3 GIANT zucchini and one small zuk
2 quarts strawberries
2.75 lbs currant tomatoes
7.5 oz basil
6 cukes
1 small bunch chard
7 ears of multi-colored popcorn
5ish lbs green/yellow/purple beans
2ish lbs potatoes
3 eggplants
a couple dozen or so sweet peppers
a couple dozen or so green tomatoes
3 carrots (so far, there's a bunch in the ground still)

Not bad - but next year will be better!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Taking a Break

Whew. After a month of posting daily, I need a little break.

Of course, Halloween and a sugar-rushed almost-one-and-a-half-year-old yesterday might have something to do with being pooped. He did make the cutest fire chief tho. :)

See you in a couple of days!