Monday, November 26, 2012

Sign Post for The Long Shot Farm

A pretty awesome birthday present from my family - made by a local blacksmith/welder/artist, based on a design by Sammy:

Jeff dug a hole and filled it with concrete to permanently anchor the sign.   I was so excited, I made a garland and decorated for the holidays right away:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Improvised Kitchen Island

With another lucky auction find from earlier this month, I was able to create a very low cost, usable kitchen island.  I bought 6 folding tables at a local school auction and they must have been cafeteria tables, with perfect laminated tops, just like kitchen counters!  I bpurchased 3 six foot tables and 3 eight foot tables (for less than $40) and they are the sturdiest folding tables I ever encountered.  I tried both sizes in my kitchen, but the six foot table definitely looked better.  I scrubbed it completely and then bought a set of "bed-risers".  By putting 4" bed-risers under table legs, the table becomes standard kitchen-counter height - a tick I learned  when I volunteered at the PA farm show food court.  To make the table look pretty - and hide all the food grade buckets with my flours and sugar storage -  I sewed 4 simple curtain panels.  Using 10 yards of 36" wide muslin, I was able to take the fabric lenght-wise, so there are no seams in the long panels.  The 36" width was just enough to make a 2 inch seam on the top, to thread a curtain rod through, with a small ruffle above.  To keep the curtain looking clean on the bottom, I also bought 2 yards of "homespun" fabric.  I chose a checkered pattern - that way cutting the fabric into 6" wide strips went rather quickly...just had to follow the lines of the squares.  The folding table had a wood base under the top, and we were able to attach brackets for the simple cafe rods on the short sides, keeping the curtain a good 2 inches back from the table edge.  To make the curtain rods line up at the corner, we used wire and dry-wall screws, wrapping the wire tightly around the ends of the curtain rods and then twisting the wire around the screw.  We also made wire supports in the middle of the long sides, to keep the rod from sagging.  It took a few hours to sew the panels, but it was worth it!

Dressed-up for the holidays!

Estimated Cost:

Used folding table: $7.00
Bed risers:  $10.00
Curtain rods:  $10.00
Fabric (using coupons and sales): $30.00

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Decorating with Evergreens

One of our cedar trees lost a large branch during hurricane "Sandy", a sad sight, but at least this happened at just the right time of year for winter decorating with evergreens.

With the help of my trusted reciprocating saw, I cut 2 and 3 foot sections that had lots of greens on them and arranged those in my two largest outdoor flower pots.  Once I liked the look of the "arrangements" and they looked somewhat balanced, I secured the branches to each other - and to the container -  with zip ties.  All I need to do now is add fairy lights.

Though it is a bit early to start bringing branches inside, I could not see wasting any of the fragrant greenery,  so the smaller cuttings ended up in the dining room windows.  I used large glass urns, into which I placed a glass with water.  The branches will fit into the water glass, but I have space outside the glass to fill the urn with small Christmas balls (once I retrieve those from the attic).  This effectively hides the water, which will inevitably turn brownish. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Outdoor DYI

We had one of those late fall surprise warm days:  64 degree weather, with sunshine!  So we finished some outdoor projects:
  1. We finally finished the roof on the shed - which was only missing the trim pieces along the edges and the final cap to cover it all up.   Lars and Caleb did the roof work, while Jeff did all the cutting.
  2. Tina painted the windows on the barn with another coat of white paint.
  3.  Lars - with help from Caleb - managed to get a new chimney cap on the fireplace chimney.  He worked entirely off the ladder, which was extended close to capacity!
  4. Tina scraped and wire-brushed the garage doors and painted them with some of the left-over barn paint. 
One more warm day in the forecast, then back to colder temperatures again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Comfort Food to Ease Election Jitters

Happy Election Day 2012!  Here is one of my favorite comfort foods: creamy, old fashioned  Rice Pudding.  Unfortunately, as with so many of my favorite foods, I am the only one with cravings for rice pudding in my entire household.  But I indulged today, to ease election jitters.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

  • 6 cups milk (the higher the fat content, the better - I used 2%, as that is what we had)
  • 1 cup short to medium grain white rice  (I usually use River Rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoons sugar (more or less to taste)

Using a double boiler, place water in the bottom pan, and pour the milk into the insert.  Add the rice and salt and bring water to a boil.  Turn down heat to maintain a light boil, and steam the rice this way for at least 1 hour - until all milk is absorbed and rice is very soft.  Stir rice frequently!   Sometimes it takes up to 1 hour and 15 minutes or so.  Also, make sure that the water in the bottom does not boil off.  When the rice is done, add the butter, vanilla and sugar and mix well.

Enjoy the pudding warm with some sugar and cinnamon, or cold with some fruit compote. The rice can be reheated in the microwave, by adding a little milk (or cream) before heating it for about 1 minute for one serving.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Visit to Hunters Valley Winery

This weekend we were very fortunate to meet up with Darlene and Bill, the owners of Hunters Valley Winery in Perry county....just over the mountain and a little to the east of us.  They were very gracious to spend a few hours explaining their winemaking, grapegrowing and history of their winery.  They have been doing this for 27 years! and recently expanded to a larger winery and tasting room facility and also added a pavilion for weddings in the vineyard.  We learned so much from them and really appreciated their hospitality and willingness to share their knowledge. 
We also tasted some of their wines and took home a bottle of their Berry Mountain Red blended wine, which is delicious!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Overwintering Geraniums

This year, I am digging up as many of the geraniums as I can fit onto two large tables in the barn and I will let them overwinter there.  So far, I dug out about 50 plants, carefully getting as many roots as possible.  Each plant is trimmed back so that only a few stems with leaves remain, and then placed in a flowerpot with potting soil.  Our barn will be rather cold, but I hope they will make it.  I have kept potted geraniums in my cellar before (which also gets rather cold), but it has very little light and I ended up with very spindly looking plants.  I also tried shaking off all the soil from the plant and placing them in brown paper bags to overwinter in the cellar - letting the plant go completely dormant.  Some of those actually do come back to life, if I remember to plant them early enough. I found that keeping potted geraniums in a cool spot with light seems to work best for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Sandy" Barn Damage

The massive hurricane, properly called "Sandy",  left our part of Pennsylvania relatively unscathed.  We were truly very, very lucky, especially when compared to the devastation the storm brought to the coastline, just a few hours east of us in New Jersey and New York.

We had some issues with our power, it was off most of the night on Monday.  We played Monopoly with oil lamps and candles and then we all slept in the living room, as we had the back-up gas heater running.  The electricity came back on around 7, just in time for everyone to take a shower, and then it was back off by midmorning. 

We had some trees uprooted (just small ones in the fence row), and a lot of small and mid-sized branches all over the place.  The only real damage was to the back of our barn, where about 20 boards got torn off, and the vent on the very top of the barn got knocked out as well.  Everything that was stored on that side got rather wet, but it was mostly our unused stainless steel tanks and stacks of lumber - so it could have been worse. 

The damage was toward the top of the barn, so we had to get some help to get this one fixed.  Our friend Mike, who happens to run a construction business, managed to squeeze us into his schedule today.  He brought scaffolding and ladders - and not only replaced all the boards, but re-nailed all the existing boards as well.  Lars climbed up on the scaffolding as well - Jeff stayed on the ground, cutting boards to length.