Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Purple Martin Birdhouse

Well, better late than never.
What was the hold up? A bracket. A very specially designed bracket made just for this house.
Now, purists out there, I am aware that purple martin birdhouses are best out at the edge of a field, with no trees, bushes etc. I am also aware that the birds do not like people houses, so that the way we erected this particular house goes against the rules so to speak.
However, safety in a suburb was the main reason for this. 
We get some really strong winds and even if we had found the perfect site to sink the pole into the ground with cement, it was a danger to the sidewalk and those around. We all agreed that safety was primary and bird rules last.....
That  being said, our daughter's boyfriend, who can create things from metal and weld took it upon himself to create a very well designed bracket to hold the pole.
So, yesterday, after I had painted it the house color, he and our daughter came and he put it together.




The pole is 15 ft tall, especially created by the birdhouse company to go with the house....
So, maybe next year.
I noticed day before yesterday that the swallows in the area have already moved on....their babies have left the nest and summer will be over before you know it.
Purple martins are the largest of the swallow family.
They are fairly rare here, but I have seen them.
There used to be more of them....we used to have meadowlarks also...they are gone....
Purple martins are diminishing also....due to developers taking away their habitat.....
But, hey, if there is one.....there is more...
It is worth a try.
Why?
Swallows eat their weight in bugs everyday.
Even more when they have babies.
That is a good reason....right?
So along with helping monarch butterflies at our house, and bluebirds, and other birds...we are reaching out to the swallows....
Yeah, I'm the crazy lady in the neighborhood.....
Have a great day...
Nancy

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Smoker

Remember when I told you about the new smoker??
Yes, well, it arrived on Friday and that evening we had smoked chicken!
Not bad for a first time with this smoker either!
There were just a few "glitches", which when one has a new "toy" one has to expect, right?
Well, we brined our chicken using the recipe we had used before...so it was an even comparison.
And, we followed the directions in the manual.
It was fantastic!
We are able with this smoker to set a temperature and walk away!
All smoking in the past has required Hubby to hover and watch to keep the temp and to add wood chunks or what have you.
This pellet smoker (also can be used as a grill) is computerized....it adds the wood pellets for you and keeps the temp for you!
I know....as my daughter's boyfriend said..."that's cheating".....HA! It's simply wonderful!
Now, for the learning curve.
We had it assembled and delivered...but it still had some styrofoam in it so we cleaned it up, not paying a huge amount of attention to the way the underlying grills and baffles were arranged.....
So, the grease didn't travel correctly to the bucket outside the grill, but found a path to the patio....
Hubby had it set for 225 degrees, which it maintained, but it would have taken 6 hours as opposed to the 2-2 1/2 it should have taken....so, he played a bit and raised the temp after 3 hours to 300...that finished it off.
Hubby needs to learn where to stick the built in thermometer to get a good true reading....he ended up trusting his instant read thermometer....no biggie.
So, how did it turn out?
Fantastic!
It was truly life changing in smoking terms.
Now, he is ready to try other recipes and larger cuts...and fish and game.
Let me introduce our Green Mountain Grill....

This is the Daniel Boone Green Mountain Grill....small, but not the smallest...it actually can hold two turkeys!....(about 12lbs each)

Here it is just beginning to smoke.....
 Dear Hubby reading his manual...always a good thing to do. (The shop vac was out to get the styrofoam out that remained..)
 Here is the smoker working...notice that Hubby is not hovering....
 This is the picture of the two chickens...before we started...they were pretty big.....

And this is one of the chickens....isn't the color lovely? And the skin I might add was tasty! But even better was the chicken! Oh my! The best smoked he has done! Really!! It was amazing!
Moist, tender, juicy and just plain delicious!
So, now I picture everything done in this smoker/grill. According to the book, it can do everything!
Yum.....
Babysitting this entire week, talk later.
Nancy

This is not a commercial....not endorsed by Green Mountain or anything....just our experience that I wanted to share.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Just a Vent

Ok, so remember I told you about my machine? And how they tried to sell me a new one and I just said no?? And how it would take 2 weeks?
Yeah, so I called yesterday and apparently they "tried to call" and it was ready a week ago!
So, Hubby drove me up in traffic to go get it. We paid an absurd price for it and brought it home. I then went off to get my hair done. When I returned I was excited to get going on a project.
I almost always do a trial run before starting....good thing. It is WORSE than before!
Yeah, so so very, very angry!
So, today I babysit then run up to the shop and run back to babysit some more because my daughter has two appointments today. The thing is, I have to take the machine up to my daughter's, take into her house so it doesn't get too hot in our heat and then put it back in the car and then take it to the shop.
Inconvenient, yes. Frustrated? More than.
My machine weighs 55lbs.
Angry? oh yeah.
And, they are the only authorized dealer and repair shop for my machine.
Last night I lay awake wondering if I could do without my quilting.
I don't think so.
It is too much a part of me.












So, I pray they fix the machine right this time and on the double!
Nancy

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Farewell to an age....

About four years ago, for his birthday, I gave Hubby a smoker.
We'd been watching too many DDDs (diner, drive-ins, and dives), the TV show that often shows off BBQ joints and smokers.....
Hubby has always been interested in smoking meats.....
So, for that birthday, I gave him a little smoker. I knew nothing about smokers, neither did he.
Well, he used it about three times, but grew frustrated.
Frustrated by having to stand guard and monitor all the time.
Frustrated that he was the regulator....
So, this last time, with the chicken he smoked which did turn out fantastically, he started thinking about a bigger and better smoker.
Now, our yard is just that, a yard. Not big enough for a huge smoker, so we went looking.
It is always better to see them in person and talk to several people.
We went to the Ace Hardware, we went to an BBQ outlet, we went to a local BBQ shop.
We of course looked online at options.
There are so so so many options.
Here is our little smoker....
Which, by the way, is now for sale.
Complete with the bag of hickory chunks....
Here is how Hubby always used it, well, after the first time.....
It was little and hard on his back to bend over, so he used the old Weber kettle BBQ to hold it up. Which I might add was just genius. Extra fire protection, up and away from dogs and children, and more at his height to work with.
So, yesterday, went to a couple of other places and then went back to the shop that is local.
He liked the guy who helped him, Dan at OC Barbecues Plus, which is on Harbor in Costa Mesa.
Anyway, Hubby bought a Green Mountain pellet smoker.
Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to transport a 155lb smoker to home....so we paid for them to deliver it and that won't be until Friday.
Why that one?
Well, it is digital and it keeps it's own temperature with the pellets with an auger that pulls in the pellets as needed. So, you can set it for 225 and it will stay at 225. It is supposed to be so efficient that you can ALMOST set it and forget it.
There are models that have WiFi, but we opted not to get that as the patio is just outside and he can go out and look at the read out.
Oh, and it has a built in thermometer for the meat as well....so, it tells you what temp it is.
Yeah, pretty spiffy.
It's a long way from the beginning little smoker.
So, that little smoker is for sale....
Anyone, who is interested, locally anyway....let me know.
In the meantime, we need to get the patio ready to accept it.
We need a new extension cord for the smoker.
We need to move the BBQ over  and the kettle, well he has decided it can stay for a while....he still loves it (even though he hasn't used it in years). It was a birthday present years ago.
So, I am sure there will be posts later about the new smoker.
If you are interested go to www.greenmountaingrills.com
And by the way, they are running a special right now so they are on sale! (it saved us about $50)
Happy Sunday!!
Nancy

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Have I Done This Week??

This last weekend, Hubby and I had wanted to get away. But, since we couldn't get our dog sitter to watch "the kids"....we decided to make it our get away at home.
Which means spending time together doing fun things, that we might not normally do.
That meant Hubby had to put down his phone more and get "creative".
So, we gardened together....going to our favorite garden shop, Roger's, to buy some plants using my special discount that I had.
We ran into dear friends we haven't seen in ages....we also ran into neighbors!
Afterwards we planted and dug and mulched....together.
I know that doesn't sound so terrific....but really it was....
Then we decided the next day we would smoke a chicken so we went to the market together and brought the ingredients and he picked out his chicken. The recipe said to smoke two...but his smoker is quite small and only one fits.....
The next day early on, I pulled up the beets that I had and pickled them! Pickled beets are Hubby's favorite way to eat beets....except of course if they are Choiggia beets that we discovered in Hawaii and he likes those roasted in a fire oven....
As you can see they didn't pack tightly, so there is more liquid than beets...but hey, it was the first time for this recipe and they will still be good....
Hubby did his smoking.....3 hours and 30 min after in the oven at 400 to finish it. But Man oh Man, was it good!! Amazing! Yes, if you have room in a smoker for two chickens, do it....it made the best sandwiches the next day!!

I think a new smoker is in order, maybe for his birthday?? We will see....He is thinking a two door, multi-level one. Anyone have a smoker?? Any suggestions??
Then, last night we had an appetizer dinner with friends at their house to see their new floor in their bedroom. Since she watches her very elderly Mom on Wednesdays, I made most of the dinner....so I kinda cooked most of the day....I even made lemon curd to put into puff pastries and then whipped cream....see??
They were pretty yummy...I have to admit....
All in all, I ate things that I ought never eat....but hey, it was kinda party......
So, things were pretty sweet at our "away" time.....
Sometimes, we just need to put down the phones....stop being on the internet....and be together....
Don't wait until you are retired....
Do spend valued time together.....
Well, I am off to babysit....
Nancy

Thursday, July 7, 2016

What To Do When Your Machine Has Gone On Strike

You know how it is...you sew and sew....
You change your needles, you clean the parts you can between jobs, and talk to and cajole your machine...and all works well...for a while.
Then, one day, needles break, threads shred, and it makes terrible noises...more like grinding gears really, though it sews it isn't good. Your mood shrinks. Your quilt looks sad. It's time to stop.
Most modern machines are computerized. And those, bless them, are like computers. They don't rely on the internet (thank God), but are equally easy to unbalance.
They are all sealed and we cannot (on pain of death) oil them ourselves.....
So....they must go in for a good cleaning and all.
Deary really.
Horrible.
So, I pulled out the second machine to work on the quilt.
It too made those noises....How horrible.....
Now, virtually no machine....
I took in the big machine...named "Big Bertha"....and after they told me it was an old machine and so on and so forth (trying to sell me a newer machine)....off she went to the repair shop....
I love that machine.
How dare they tell me it is too old and parts are hard to get....
Anyway, what does one do, when the mainstay of activity is stopped....mid-stream....quilts part started and some waiting for quilting and one mid-stream....
Well, one does something else...
Paint!
I found a paint by number kit at the thrift store!
Wonderful

So, here it is set up on a large plate rack and the rest from a larger easel...in my craft room....

 Perfect picture.....
 Oh my, so many little numbers and letters...humm.....
and here it is, a few hours later....this is not a one afternoon paint job....but I did remember when I was much younger painting larger paint by numbers....mostly of horses....
I do hope you find one too...so much fun....
Nancy

Seeing Red

No, I'm not angry....I am elated!
You see, my peppers are the best I have ever had! So many and so large and when they turn red, oh my!!


See? I'm seeing red! And chocolate and one that's turning yellow on the bush!
That big one is 7" long!
Yes, I'm so happy with the harvest.....
Today will be another batch of Pepper Jelly (probably 2).....
I hope you have a great day....
Nancy

Monday, July 4, 2016

Rust & Black

You know how sometimes you just get a "bug in your ear" and you have to change things up a bit??
Well, that was me, the day before yesterday....faster than Hubby could say anything....out came the drop cloth and up went the old chairs from the patio for a bit of paint. I got tired of the old wood look....and well they used to be black about 7 years ago......
 This bench, a "by the road" find was also painted...it was white, but places are starting to rot....we use it more as a coffee table outside, so a bit a paint...well it was gonna happen.....

 Here is one chair, doesn't it look fresher?

Perfection was not the goal, just a nice coat or two of black...
Of course, when you do one thing, it leads to another......so, I moved things around...
The shepherds hook got moved and I hung this fun chandelier here....
 This corner has been quite forgotten, it needed a little something....
 Here is the area the two chairs and bench all painted and then I realized, I needed more seating for guests on the 4th (today!!) so I moved these two arm chairs over from the table, why didn't I think of that before?? I mean, we don't always have 6 or more people at the dining table, why not ??? Right??

 Then I went shopping in the house for pillows....the eclectic collection is great fun. (I have a rug that was ordered and due to arrive, but it got waylaid, which is sad, it would so make this perfect)....
 My grandson says he likes the chairs! Approved by our "Little Man"...



 Aren't these sunflowers wonderful?? The heads are about 10 or 11" across!

And these will be our napkins for the 4th.....all washed and ironed...these are the "torchons" that I bought at the Found shop in Fullerton when we got the books signed by Sharon Santoni.....
Aren't these lovely??
I do hope your 4th is perfect! Safe and Sane....
Nancy