Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Music Festival

Last weekend we took a break from the property and went to a music festival in Vermont. The Frendly Festival (yes, that's spelled correctly - there is no "I" in Frendly). It's held at a defunct ski resort and I have to say it was the best run festival I have ever attended. And that includes the HOG rallies we used to go to. Well organized check in, parking, transportation from lot to festival, water provided, lots of port-o-johns, and a clear schedule. Totally unexpected given the free-flowing vibe you get once you walk in the gate. 

It's rough camping on a ski run. Hunt around until you find a spot that doesn't have too much slope.

The higher up the hill, the more slope
We picked a spot in the shade looking down at the big stage (way down).
A tough slope for folks carrying cases of beer. Oh, and camping gear.
The main band of the weekend was Twiddle. They played at least four times and various members often ended up on stage with other bands. It was great and gave everything a family vibe.
Twiddle at the pond stage
There was a different act every hour, at a different stage. That way no music competed with each other (the stages were pretty near each other) and the bands had time to set up.
Gorgeous weather; packed in tight to see a show
There were food vendors, hydration stations (water, not alcohol - it was BYOB), jam tents (with instruments provided for use), and merchandise vendors (tie-dye anyone?). There were also games:  lawn bowling, Jenga, flip & pound hammer-strike, corn hole.
We got to 34 levels before it fell
The festival ran all weekend and we had a great time. The bands were fun, the music was good, the crowd was energetic and friendly, and the whole thing was well organized.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Adding the work table to My Room

Way back in April 2015 I was trying out the new peninsula configuration in my project room. I liked it! And I was ready to make it permanent. Then a year went by. Yup, life happened and I lived with a work table that wasn't level, had rough edges that caught fabric, and wasn't fully supported so you couldn't lean against it. 

But it finally perculated up to the top of the project list and we got to work making it a fully functional space.

First we had to remove the back legs from the bed stands. They're pretty Queen Anne style legs that stick outside the wall dimensions of the stand. Not a big deal when left as a stand alone unit, but it kept the stands from fitting against each other fully when back-to-back. 

Hammer and chisel came in handy
In doing this small bit of demolition we learned something nifty about these inexpensive stands that we purchased from our local Habitat For Humanity Restore - they're not only solid wood, they're cherry. And extremely well constructed. Those legs were screwed, pegged, and glued. Took a bit of work to get the darn things off. They were also designed to flip and do exactly what we were doing - turn them around to reduce the profile. The peg holes were even already drilled. Nice!
Reattaching the legs
So now the cabinets fit together with only a small seam.
Flipped rear legs
 Since I didn't want them left stained we took them outside to sand and paint them.
Cooper is so helpful
I'm going for a light, creative vibe in the project room so I've opted for lots of color in there (see the armoire I've already finished). But since I don't want it to look too terribly young, I've avoided primary colors. Flat finishes also help with this which means sample pots of paint come in handy.

The legs/trim are grayish-purple (purplish-gray?).
We decided to do away with the split top and start anew. So Chris bought some cabinet grade poplar plywood and edged it with oak.
Plywood top waiting for its coat of paint
Then I got clever (darn that Pinterest again) and asked him to build another top that would actually go under this one. A sub-top if you will. With appropriate gapping I'd have a space to store flat stuff like my cutting mats and rulers.

While he was doing that I stained the remaining floor molding for the room. We finished the window trim last summer but never got around to the floor trim. Now was the time!

Black to match window trim
So once again the room was torn apart. *sigh*
Everything into the middle!
 And we quickly installed the trim.
Love those nail guns
Then we got back to working on the table.
With sub-top
With both tops
We cut up some wooden table legs that we had laying around and used them as the support posts. Painted grayish-purple to match the legs on the bed stands.
Detail of support
So now my flexible cutting mat slides away easily and can be quickly grabbed when I need it. Same with my various cutting rulers that don't fit into drawers.
So easy to store stuff now
I've got to finish the drawer hardware and figure out how I want to store things in the cabinets. I'm also planning to paint the sides of the cabinets with something fun. The unpainted dressers in the room need coats of paint too (I'm going to leave the china cabinet all grown up and unpainted as it's a nice antique). I'm also figuring out how I want to cover the freezer room doorway. I'm thinking a sliding screen door that I can use to pin up project ideas or fabric as I work on stuff.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Test recipes: porchetta and coffee cake

Made a couple test recipes over the last few weeks - Porchetta (an Italian street food according to the recipe notes) and a Coffee Cake.

The porchetta required a 6-pound pork butt roast (can someone explain the reasoning behind naming a roast a "butt" when it's from the shoulder of the pig?) and lots fresh seasonings. Basically you make a rub of garlic, thyme, and rosemary then smear it all over the roast. Let rest, roast low and slow, then enjoy the wonderful flavor and texture.

My local grocery did not have a trimmed butt roast with the required fat cap so I bought the full shoulder roast and cut it down myself. I started with over 9 pounds of meat, cut out the portion with the bone, then trimmed the rest into two 3-pound roasts. The the portion with the bone I froze with plans to cook it down into pulled pork sometime later.

Huge butt roast before trimming
 Fresh rosemary and thyme. The kitchen smelled amazing.
I love fresh herbs
Garlic, herbs, and spices processed into a rub.
The fennel gave it such a rich aroma
After resting for 24 hours, roasting for 3 hours, and resting again for 20 minutes.

So much flavor!
They came out incredible. And the aroma as they cooked? Holy cow (pig?) - it kept wafting out the open windows and stopping us in our tracks. They were right: perfect street food. No way you'd be able to walk past this food stall!

Oh, and the coffee cake? No pictures, but it came out very good.  Not sure if they'll ultimately tweak that one a bit more as it wasn't quite as moist as I suspect they wanted. Since I actually think coffee cake should be dry when compared to dessert cake, I thought it was perfect, but I might be in the minority there. I'm always curious what the other recipe testers think and I wish there was a way to find out. Hmmm, have to look into that. 

Not sure when either recipe will appear in the magazines, but they're real winners. I'll let you know when I see them.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Random stuff we're doing

And now for an update on all the small stuff that we do that doesn't seem to deserve a post of its own...

The berry bushes are fantastic this year. Full of blooms and the beginnings of berries. I'm hoping there will be enough to do some fun stuff like ice cream and maybe a jar or two of jam. Usually we only get enough berries to eat out of hand. 

Just one of many berry bushes this year
A friend gave us an odd shaped stump cutoff he found when cutting firewood. After some judicious sanding, shaping, and staining, we have art! Or the world's heaviest Rorschach test. After much discussion, we decided he looks like a dragon and is now positioned appropriately over the hutch. Don't see it (the dragon, not the hutch obviously)? Tilt your head left. See it now? See the eye? The snub nose? There you go!
Our dragon art
We installed the baseboard trim in my project room and used the leftovers to frame the chalkboard. Finally! No one but us will probably notice but we think it looks much better.

We've had some strange behavior from the hummingbirds this year. This little guy likes to sit on the porch rocker and, well, rock. For long periods of time.

Our rockingbird
We installed a huge mailbox so that our poor postman wouldn't have to drive all the way back to the house when we got packages. It's huge!
It fits so much stuff!
We planted a line of oak trees on the property line between our 4-acre and 25-acre lots.  Not sure how  many will survive as they are all wee little seedlings that came up naturally in the lawn and we moved them, but we figured it was worth a shot.
Invisible oaks
With an invisible fence
Oh! There they are!
The kayak made it into the water (and my shoulder did just fine, whew!) and I saw this little bird in a nest built in a downed tree over the water. No idea what kind of bird she is but we ended up seeing several other nests built similarly along the river's edge. The whole time I was taking the photo I was scared to death I was going to drop my phone in the water. So the shot wasn't the best but I did get it and the phone survived. Win!
Bird in nest on river
While trimming the future garden site (old cabin site) Chris came across some wild (?) roses. We assume wild as they were buried in bittersweet, weeds, and small trees but it's just as likely they were cultivated long ago and forgotten. We've been here 3 years and never saw them before. Unfortunately, he didn't see them this time until after he'd chopped them down (argh). Hopefully they'll recover but in the meantime I'm enjoying them in a vase.

And finally, we fixed a water leak in the kitchen wall. The outside spigot for the east end of the house sprang a leak and I noticed the water coming in under the drywall. Fortunately it was a small leak and I caught it quick. Chris cut out the drywall, removed the insulation, fixed the leak, and then we let everything dry out for a week or so before patching it back up.  Now I wonder how long it's going to be before I stop looking over there every time I'm watering the garden...

Patching drywall

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The kitty

T'bd likes the new border of river rock that we put next to the porch. It gets great southern sunlight and apparently stays warm even once it's in shade. 

Aren't those rocks hard?
She's not overly fond of photographs.
No. You're bothering me.
She really loves the big rocks we're using for patio stones (a project we started last year and that resulted in me seriously damaging my neck/shoulder. Haven't gotten back to it yet). She carefully tests the rocks until she finds exactly the right one, then stretches out and sleeps on its radiant warmth.
Sun on the belly. Ahhhh. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Garden post - June 3

And here is the garden on June 3 (I know, not many days past the original planting, but this covers all the gardens and all the plantings).

My gladiolas have never bloomed. I decided they weren't getting enough sun down by the Nest so  last fall I moved some of them up to the front yard near the water downspout. They look nice and green but we'll have to wait to see if any flowers show up. The lavender is new this year and is doing well here.
Glads and lavender
Three jalapeño plants at the front edge of the kitchen garden, then some Nice Girl tomatoes, the perennial herbs, some basil, marigolds, and then the Better Boy tomatoes. I painted my tomato cages red and I love how they look out there. So bright and happy.
The chicken just peeks through
The back of the garden gets more shade so I plant my lettuces and stuff back here with the highest sun toward the bottom right corner of the picture:  basil (lots and lots of basil), dill, cilantro, parsley, lettuce (salad mix, oak leaf, freckled), arugula, and one lonely kale plant that survived the winter and is self seeding. The butterflies love those flowers so I've just let it go.
Seeds just starting to come up
 One of my tomato plants got cut off at the base. Cutworm? Unfortunate dog/cat accident? Not sure. All the other plants are fine.
And it was so healthy too.
 In the flower beds:
Lupines thick and flowering
Healthy pansies and some decorative onions
Miracle pansy and new pansies that will also hopefully be miraculous
Lots of pansies, hosta, foxglove, black-eyed susan, chives, iris
Hosta and pansy
I had wanted to keep the driveway flower bed but the trees simply suck up too much water. I'm not even mulching this year - will move the plants in the fall and let the area go back to either grass or gravel. I'll be moving: hosta, black-eyed susan, daisies, oregano, chives, and iris.
Very sad garden
The chicken garden - peas, squash, and watermelon coming in
New squash bed: zucchini, delicata, butternut
Chris has been busily leveling the future garden site. This area used to have a small camp on it (long, long ago) that burned down well before we bought the property. It is heavily overgrown with all manner of things (we just found roses!) and he's been clearing it. Hopefully we'll be ready to plant a cover crop this fall and will put in a real garden next year.
Slowly getting flat
That's where we are so far.