Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mid-Winter's Garden

The snowstorm that blew through last week left us with patches of snow for Christmas. The robins were thinking they clearly made a mistake hanging around this late and proceeded to gorge themselves on the remaining Bradford pears.

I have made a little bit more of a concerted effort to do some winter gardening. I tend to have terrible germination rates both outside and inside, so the hoop house is a bit sparse. I am using black-painted milk jugs as heat sinks. They are filled with salty water to lower the freezing point and a little bleach to keep them from growing. They seem to be doing something, the lettuce close to the jugs is significantly bigger than the other lettuce which hasn't put on much size at all. We have had a few nights into the single digits and the lettuce is still going. I will keep my fingers crossed for a new years salad.

The second planting of lettuce started in the garage December 1 is much smaller. 

This is my third year using this type of hoop house setup. It is just pvc tubing stuck into the ground covered with six mil poly. It is clamped down with cheap spring clamps from the hardware store. I end up leaving a couple of these up until at least May to speed up the tomato starts. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Preparations

Winston is already a month old and seems to really like staring at the Christmas tree.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happenings at the Ranch

We have been staying pretty close to home for the past few weeks so there aren't much in the way of updates. We had a house full for thanksgiving. The weather was great, 60s and sunny. The turkey was smoked with a bacon coat and turned out nice and juicy.
 Lots of naps the last few weeks.

Lots of naps. 
 The concrete countertop project for the next door renovation is coming to a close. That island is one piece of concrete 12 feet long.

Friday, November 16, 2012

He's Here!

On Thursday 11/8/12, Winston Thomas was born!  He was 7 lb 15.4 ounces and 20 in long.  He was also in a hurry.  At 7 pm, I still wasn't sure I was even in labor.  By 8pm, I knew I was definitely in labor, at 9:10pm we arrived at the hospital and at 9:45pm Winston was born. 

1 day old
We are obviously completely excited he's finally here.  We're all back at home and adjusting to our new life as a family.  He's already peed on John and I and pooped on the wall.  It's been a successful first week.

Naptime with Daddy

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Getting Ready

At this point we are in a holding pattern just waiting until the offspring shows up. The house is mostly clean and all the important stuff is in place.
One of the things that has always bothered me is the kitchen sink. Beside it being white, there is one little useless side and one way too big side. Why not change it out.

A couple Kohler fixtures later and more than a few leaks, new sink is in. The second part of this update involves replacing the white backsplash tile. Since our neighbor has a dumpster, it might be a good time to move on that. 

Recently we picked up a Thrive rocking chair for mom and the munchkin. The second bedroom converted easily into a baby's room without any painting or other prep work.

The cats think all this new stuff is great and have been working on making it smell like them. We might have to get a second bouncy seat and that poor monkey is going to have a hard life. 
I wonder if he will wear a diaper?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Harvest Monday 10/29/12

This edition of harvest monday is last for the tomatoes. Last Saturday morning we got our killing frost. A couple weeks ago the cherry tomatoes got frosted enough to drop everything, but the big tomatoes were still hanging in. No more.
The last Cherokee Purples, still so good.

We had great luck with the San Marzano paste tomatoes this year. I turned this bunch into some more sauce for freezing. The cherry tomatoes sweeten the sauce and they make a nice combination.

Still a few green tomatoes left. If I baby them we might have a few around for Thanksgiving. 

Other than tomatoes, the fall garden is pretty pathetic. For whatever reason my fall lettuce didn't germinate. We have some kale, broccolini, and carrots left to pull. The garlic I planted a few weeks ago is up and it looks like every one of the cloves is going strong. I have never had garlic above the ground in the fall and will have to see how it affects the bulb size next spring.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvest Monday - 10/8/12

The garden update for this harvest Monday is more of a revisit. I picked the garlic in early July and hung to cure. This weekend I processed and planted one bed's worth of garlic. I ended up planting 60 cloves which was way less than last year, but as you can see, we have more than enough. I probably spent $30 on garlic last year so it is nice to not have to buy any this year. The rest of the garden is still going strong. The tomatoes got a little cold over the weekend. I checked this morning and they should be OK except for a few tops. This week will be much warmer and I think we will still be getting tomatoes until mid-October.

I also harvested bee cocoons. Last winter I got some mason bees. They aren't hive forming and pretty docile. They lay eggs in cardboard tubes I put out near the garden. I put 8 cocoons out last spring and ended up with three filled tubes. They are packed with mud and look like this. 

You peel back the cardboard to find a bunch of cocoons. The bees lay eggs in cells and then pack it full of pollen. The larva grow all summer before spinning their sink case for the winter. 

Then the collected cocoons go into the refrigerator. This way I can control when they get placed outside in the spring in case it gets warm too early. I ended up getting 20 or so viable cocoons. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Roe Circle Country Club Concert Series Night 2

Last Friday night the Wingtips played the back patio. As usual, Brett and Neil put on a great show.

We were treated to some guitar, base, fiddle, standing base, and banjo.

There was plenty of Oktoberfest to go around and everyone had a good time. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harvest Monday

The garden is hanging in for at least one more harvest monday. The weather has cooled off and the garden has bounced back for the most part. The tomatoes aren't pretty and suffering the effect of the heat and drought, but are still producing. The pill bugs are eating any of the big tomatoes. It is funny because they leave the San Marzanos and cherry tomatoes alone.

A volunteer Mexican sour gherkin decided to show up a couple months ago. It is now holding up a number of the tomato plants. I might just plant these around the tomatoes next year for support. 

The garlic has been curing in the garage for a few months and is absolutely perfect for cooking. The flavor is nice and mild and we have plenty.

The basil has started to go to seed so I picked a few bowls full before it goes away. I made a couple batches of pesto. I received a tip from a neighbor that pistachio substitutes well for pine nuts. Pine nuts are really expensive and Trader Joe's has hulled pistachios for $4.99 a bag. I made some with the swap and can't tell a difference.

The tomatoes and a bunch of the basil spent a good portion of the day getting reduced on the stove. It ended up making 4 pizzas worth of very good sauce. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mid-Century Bassinet Finished

I am starting to think the list of projects that need to be completed before November isn't going to get finished. One of them that is pretty important is the bassinet. I randomly painted some of the pieces orange to liven it up.

We have this stencil in the second bedroom and I thought it would be appropriate if the munchkin has to look at a Frank Lloyd Wright design. 

Don't ask me why but I decided to skip any screws, nails, or other hardware on this. Everything fits together with just tabs. The starburst design is inspired by the Nelson ball clock. 

The trailer is progressing along at its allotted four hours per month. If it seems dark, it is. I got a few more ceiling panels installed and started framing out the closet. Once the closet is installed we can start thinking about seating and finish the interior paneling. The plan is to be wiring by the winter.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Google Really Loves the Shasta

I was looking for a location on Google maps today and ended up going over our house. The last fly over was about a year ago when we had the trailer sitting in the driveway.

And they even took a look from streetview.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Shastoration Saturday

Hurricane Issac brought us some much needed rain, which let me get some more trailer work finished. I installed a few more body supports and interior skin and managed to get some painting completed in preparation for the kitchen cabinets. The lower kitchen cabinet is installed. Laminate showed up this week so we can get the top finished and get the sink in. After some looking and debating we ended up sticking with the original sink. It is in really good shape and will be one of the few original pieces.
For laminate we went with Arborite textured light blue.
The drawer pulls are reproductions of the original style from rejuvenation.
This is probably one of the last views from outside. After the closet is installed I can button it up.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mid-Century Happenings

Hey, how about a post that doesn't involve the garden? It is hard to believe that summer is over, school has started, and we are two months away from having six thumbs in the house. A couple people mentioned that a bassinet worked well for them at least for the first few months. I looked on-line and anything cool is at least $1000. I am not spending $1000 for a couple months use and then have something I have to store for the foreseeable future. So I decided to build a mid-century inspired bassinet that folds flat. It isn't finished but you get the general idea.

The pieces are 1/2 inch Baltic birch and go together like a cereal box toy with tabs into slots. There is no hardware, screws, or fasteners. The base is designed to accept a standard changing pad.

It took a little head scratching to get everything in the correct location. I definitely got a workout on the jigsaw cutting all those slots.
 I will end up painting a couple sides and clear coating the rest. I even put a couple mid-century details on it, because clearly the baby will care. Should be finished this weekend with plenty of time for the cats to lay claim. Boy are they in for a surprise.
 I would call this mid-century progress, but since the entire trailer is new I guess it is also mid-century inspired. We have a front window opening.
The low VOC, sustainable, environmentally friendly save the planet marmoleum came. I'm sure the company loved me, I ordered the minimum amount possible which turns out is just the perfect size for a trailer. Here it is all laid out for trimming.
 The color is a textured gray. The one big sheet should make for easy cleanup.

I bought a low VOC, LEED compliant adhesive to glue it down. You spread this stuff out and then wait for it to dry and get tacky. What they don't tell you is that the VOCs make the original stuff get dry fast. I spent a good portion of Saturday watching glue dry.
 The finished floor. Since the plywood underlayment was painted about the same color grey, there isn't much of a difference in the pictures. The paint cans are holding down a problem spot.
 The kitchen cabinet is almost ready to install. Here it is with the doors just sitting in place for effect. The water tank is on the bottom and will get covered with a set of dummy doors. It's about time to order the frig and get this installed.