Monday, May 23, 2016

The Busy, Wonderful, All Good Weekend

Our weekend started with a Graduation, well, not for us....but a recognition for my hubby and friends in the Kiwanis group that works with OCC (Orange Coast College) kids and projects. They were "garbed" up and brought in as part of the Graduation Ceremony. Hubby told me about it but wasn't going to tell the "kids" (it's no big deal). Well, after much prodding, he allowed me to tell the kids...and of course they wanted to go! So, Friday was the day. It was very cool being apart of a ceremony....

It has been 39 years since he wore a cap and gown....I think the guys all did a great job! And I am so glad they were recognized for their work....
Then, after the ceremony we all went to dinner...at the Claim Jumper! Little Royce was grumpy at first,  but luckily the server brought yummy garlic and cheese bread....Royce was perfectly happy after....I have to say, Claim Jumper is great for taking kids to....they are quite prepared and they have a huge child's plate.....
Saturday was a day of gardening...doing some of the things we haven't like pruning, deep watering and so on.....I also picked some pickling cucumbers and turned them into bread and butter pickles! I used the Ball Bread and Butter mix and the hybrid canner I have to shorten the time doing this...I do prefer the longer method, but time wasn't in it...so this method took a little over an hour total....from setting up to cleaning up! Now I have 5 pints of pickles!

Later, as we walked the dogs, there was an Estate Sale...and of course I had to go in. Most of the furniture was too ornate for our house, but I found this little table that tugged on my heartstrings...so cute! It has lovely inlay and when I asked how much the man said it was an antique...well, a little chat back and forth...and Hubby and I hurried home with the dogs and got the car to get our new little table.

Yesterday, more gardening! We went to Roger's Gardens, I had been given a gift certificate for Mother's Day, so I used it. I bought a bunch of flowers some of which were for planting an old fountain that hasn't worked in years.


So, our day was busy...no, our weekend was busy.....but a good busy! This week looks to be busy too....and I might not post for a while....some weeks are like that.
Hope your week is a great one!
Nancy


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Furry Truth

I am not a good housekeeper. I am lazy....to tell the truth. I like to vacuum once a week, but lately, it has to be more often. You see this is the WORST shedding season we have ever had. I have used the Furminator, the shedding blade and brushes....shampoos, and everything....more than once a week. One shouldn't use the Furminator too much as it has a blade and can irritate and cut a dog....be careful with them.
Our dog Tucker, is almost 11 and has shed horribly most of his life and we live with it, but this year is by far the worst. I've heard all the theories as to why, but most importantly I like to share what can be done....
This is Tucker. He will be 11 years old on June 16. His shedding has always been constant. Not like other labs that shed heavily twice a year, he sheds all the time. This season is the worst yet.
Literally, with all the shedding that I have tackled I could have made another dog or two! The back lawn looks like snow!
Anyway, I have stumbled on a bit of help that I want to share.
I noticed about 4 days ago that both dogs' coats were dry. So, I started giving them about two teaspoons of coconut oil in their food. I worried about diarrhea. In actuality, it did no such thing but I see an improvement...thinking it is good for the intestines....
Anyway, that and of all things a horse brush we had.


Seriously!
It is one of the stiffer brushes, not super hard nor soft, kinda in between...with plastic bristles. the dogs love it! When I say, "let's go gloomy.." they run for the door!
After the shedding blade, this this is perfect! It helps stimulate the skin and oil glands....
The dogs coats are softer, the oil makes the skin feel cooler, moister and overall the shedding is subsiding.
Tucker's coat hasn't been this nice in a while, Belle's feels great too, but there is a difference I hadn't noticed ever before....It's hard to describe, but if you groom your dog, you will notice a difference too. The coconut oil is making a difference.....just a little scoop with their dog food everyday is going to show!
I have tried numerous additions to food in the past...nothing else comes close. Most of them upset their tummies in one way or other....and Belle, she has allergies to a lot of stuff....so far, not coconut oil. And as a side note...she isn't itching as much either!
So, just for the readers that are dog parents with shedding and itching issues...here is my testimony...I am pleased!
The coconut oil is from Costco at a great price (I am not endorsed by them to say so, just from my own experience).
Have a terrific fur free day!
Nancy

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stitch and Staple

I have a wing chair that we bought about 7 or so years ago that I bought at a garage sale for $10. At the time the foam wasn't bad, and I sent it out to get a slipcover for it, using linen I had lying around.
But time in the family room with lots of sun has turned the foam to granules. It is rotting. I am allergic to rotting foam. So, I started looking at replacement chairs, for under $300. There are chairs for that, but the reviews have not been promising.  Mail-order is questionable for what I need. So I looked at the chair and reconsidered. I looked at Pinterest and studied.
Realizing I cannot take it apart without problems, I came up with a good and longer than temporary solution. I will reupholster over the existing upholstery.



As you can see the original upholstery is shot. And, I do not have the umph to get all that off...so, I covered the arms and back with remnant batting from quilts...in hopes that it will hold the foam for a few years....
Then I took the slipcover and cut it up to use as a pattern....
With my pattern, I cut with generous seams the pieces as I needed....
The first piece I cut was the back...No real cutting needed was the grain sack I had. It is just big enough to cover the back....
Then, I cut a piece of slipcover fabric for the base that the cushion sits on.....


Then I paused and painted the legs on the chair...almost forgot!! I had decided that the legs would be painted and that there wouldn't be a skirt on the chair this time.....

I found going over old upholstery is a difficult choice...staples don't go over everything...so that put a change of plan on the upholstery...so, I ended up stitching most of the chair together......
In the end it is a blend of upholstery and slipcover and very French country....

As you can see it is not too bad! I kept the cushion as it was, with its slipcover and just wrapped the grain sack material around and stitched it. So, it becomes three tone, but because the old fabric is the color of the grain sack (mostly) it works. The chair is half stapled and half stitched. Lots of staples....lots of stitching.....
What do you think??
I think it will last three to five years...well we'll see.....
Hope you had a great day!
Nancy

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Birdhouse

Now in my neighborhood I am a bit eccentric...a bit odd. I have taught the neighbors for the last 26 years about the birds that live here....and over the years the house has become dotted with birdhouses and feeders.
This year, for Mother's Day, Hubby gave me a big birdhouse, one I have wanted for years. (Course whether we have these birds or not is the real issue....but I will get back to that later.....) I have wanted one of those fancy Purple Martin houses (they are the largest of the swallows)...you know the wood ones?? Well, turns out that those are kinda really expensive....so, he got me a Purple Martin house from Hayneedle! It is a metal one, that goes together "like an erector set". It was still expensive....but when you add the pole that we had to order as well....well, I just hope there are still Purple Martins around. I know I have seen them in the past, but birds are disappearing around here, so it may end up being a very big "decoration" that everyone can really see......

Make no mistake, this wasn't that easy to put together. Our daughter's boyfriend, who is in construction...and does welding etc, got frustrated with the directions and there were a couple of times he had to take it apart to redo a part, then put it back together.
They don't really tell you how big it is.....but it is BIG.
The Pole, it is 15 feet. Doesn't sound like much, but after 15" is in the ground, it is still BIG.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love it....mostly the thought and time that has gone into the whole process...but I now have my doubts about putting it up....
The only place that is even remotely possible for it to go up is out front. Now, remember, I live in Suburbia....and my neighbors are or have been quite tolerant. I do not have an HOA. But, there is so much to consider when you have a Purple Martin house.
You see, placement is apparently a make it or break it situation for the birds.....
And we chose a nice place but honestly our yard isn't really big enough....these birds are apparently very picky. They prefer the open fields....
Directions say it needs to be 25 feet from the house, 25 feet from the trees....so on and so forth. Which I read....AFTER they gave it to me. Yes, I could have returned it, BEFORE my daughter's boyfriend labored for two hours putting it together. And now the plan, which goes against the general placement rules is to attach it to the house for safety in suburbia.....
We get very high winds, and even if we cemented it into a hole it is a dangerous thing to have fall onto a sidewalk....
So, since her boyfriend can weld and work magic with metal, he is going to create a special strap that will attach to the facia of the house without being screwed to it, so the facia is not hurt.
Now, how can I send it back now?? Right?
Truth is, it may never be used by the right birds.
And according to what I've read, if other birds use it, well, forget ever having martins....
So, last night, I couldn't sleep...worrying about what the neighbors would think and so on.
Oh, you ask why not put it in the backyard??
Oh, because that is now the territory of the bluebirds and mockingbirds. And because there is at present a huge jacaranda tree that is roughly 53 years old. (The former owners weren't sure when they planted it, so that 's the best guess). So, if you consider that...the martins will definitely not come....
So, I am still thinking. Attaching to the house is really the best of all, though "against the odds"....
However, it is still quite impressive....and the love and thought behind it is sweeter than candy.

Cute huh?? Well we will see, I'll let you know. In the end, it may get donated to the Audubon park in Irvine if no one ever uses it or if the neighbors mind....there are swallows galore there....
I guess I just need to move where it can be put....ha! There's a thought!
Have a great rest of your weekend.
Nancy

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Craft Table

If you follow my blog, you know about the "Craft" table in my craft room...which is my quilting studio....
You know I ordered it from Amazon...that it is a Better Homes & Gardens table that was on sale and all....that it took the place of a twin bed etc. Right??
Well, though it is perfect in most every way, it was a little too new. A little too shiny. And a little too black.
If you know me at all...you know I'd prefer gray or old or toned down a bit.
Well, I told Hubby when I bought it that it might get painted.....
So, he wasn't at all surprised when this happened....the drop cloth came out.....

And while mustard was becoming mustard, and jams were being canned in the canner....


It slowly got toned down. I also kinda attacked the top a bit, but apparently my sandpaper supplies are down...so I mostly just scratched it up....I will deal with it later....
But, now the table apron and legs look like this....

See? It goes with everything in the room....it makes the room feel a tad bigger as the grey doesn't jump out so much....
Anyway...yesterday was a very busy day....I made more peach jam and mustard while waiting for paint to dry....not a bad day at all....
Hope your day is a great one.
Nancy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Making English Mustard

Yes, mustard. That condiment that everyone wants with their hot dog...and hamburgers and mixing with other condiments to make yummy sauces.
I have an old recipe that I collected, from Martha Stewart, it is an easy, no-fail recipe.
Basically, you gather 2 1/2 cups of brown and yellow mustard seed.
Put that in a bowl (glass is best) with 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar and a cup of dark beer. I used Modelo beer....
Then let it sit for 48 hours. Keep the seed in moisture...it starts to dry out, add more beer.
I covered mine with a linen towel during its "quiet" time as I didn't want bugs, or dog fur to find it.
After the 48 hours you put the mixture into a strong blender with a 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt and some 1 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp ground mace. And blend.
Warning...I have a Vitamin blender....strongest in creation....it found the mixture difficult...so keep that in mind...perhaps separate it so it won't hurt the blender. Mine actually shut down like it is supposed to do when overtaxed!
Gratefully, it was all done mixing...

Now, the recipe I had didn't have a canning method....so I wouldn't recommend "canning" unless you have a pressure canner with a recipe for that. However, this mustard is good in the fridge the recipe said up to six weeks....
So, share with friends...it makes a great deal of mustard. So, use it creatively in sauces and glazes.....
Enjoy!
Nancy

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Making Peach Jam

We have a very small peach tree that lives in a pot out on the parkway. Every year, in January it starts to bloom. Yup. January.
This year its blooms were quite spectacular and it seems that every blossom became a peach. Thank you bees!
However, I did not thin them as I should have. If you have an over abundance, you must thin them so you can have nutrients go to the fruit. Because I didn't thin them, they ripened but remained quite small. How small you ask? Well they remained the size of a walnut in most cases. Some got a bit bigger, not by much.
Well, this is a picture of the second batch we harvested, basically stripping the tree. Hubby left a few on to see if any get bigger. But honestly, not likely.
Anyway, the first batch that we harvested I decided needed to at least be made into jam. They taste wonderful! Small....but mighty.....
So, I washed them. I cut a small slit and put them into boiling water to get the skins off, then cut the meat from the pit. After an hour and a half of non-stop work.....I gathered 4 1/2 cups of peach. For my small batch jam machine I only needed 3 1/4 cups....perfect! The rest of the peach went into a smoothie.
So, 55 mins after going into the jammer and then the canner, we got.......4 1/2pints of peach jam. A lot of work for such a small harvest....
May have been a lot of work....but well worth it. I used the low sugar recipe....it was quite delicious....Hubby had two pieces of toast this morning to eat the tiny amount that didn't get canned. He said it was the best.
Now, the second batch we harvested is sitting and ripening over a few days.
Today, I am going to make relish.
Our cucumber plant has given us a couple of cukes....and not wanting to waste those, we went to the Farmers Market to buy a few more to make relish. Into it will go some peppers we grew and some we did not. It should make a good amount of relish....Hubby likes that too.
Hope your Sunday goes well.....
Nancy