Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thrifting Thursday (1957 pressure cooker)

Despite the "Thrifting Thursday" title of this post, my "new" pressure cooker didn't actually come from a thrift store... it was seriously on it's way to the trash. An old friend of mine has been cleaning out an elderly relative's house, helping him downsize, and I've been helping. We've probably gone through 30 boxes from the relative's basement, including two large boxes full of windsocks (many of them brand new), several sets of holiday dishes... still in boxes... countless silk flower arrangements, and anything else you can imagine... sorting them into keep, trash, and give away piles.

By the time my friend opened the large box containing multiple Tupperware carrot stick holders (new) and this old beauty...

... she was ready to be done with the sorting and just throw everything away.

So she pulled the pot out of the box, and put it directly into the trash bag...

.... and I just as quickly pulled it out of the trash bag and told her I'd take it.

When I checked the numbers on the bottom of the pot, I knew it was meant to be... This pot and I are almost exactly the same age!

So I cleaned it up well (it was in surprisingly good shape, it had been wrapped in plastic before going into the box) and ordered a new gasket, safety fuse and vent tube for it and it will be my new bean pot.

I even found an owners manual online for the 1958 Mirro-Matic Pressure Cooker, which is only one year newer, so should work for this pot.

I'll test it as soon as the new parts come, but I'm hoping it will be good as new and ready to make a new batch of beans.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

copy catting (rolling log holder)

After putting in the new wood stove a couple of weeks ago, I knew that I was going to have to make space for enough wood to keep it going without constant trips outside to the woodpile. The woodpile isn't far, just down the front steps along the trail to the barn... but when it's COLD (compared to just cold) it can feel pretty far away.

I'd remembered seeing this log holder, that I love, on a blog I read from time to time:

It was a DIY knockoff of this log rack sold by Wisteria (which seems to have been discontinued):

This kind of log rack seemed to be just what I needed... big enough to hold a lot of wood but not too big, and not an eyesore.

So I decided to make one... but I didn't want to spend any much money doing it... which means I copied the design but tweaked it a little to use, as much as possible, what I already had laying around.

I started with a bunch of smaller scraps of 2x4's that had been left over from the pumpkin patch fence. They'd been sitting on top of the kindling box all summer, and were just in the way... so I cut and pieced them together to make the platform for my log holder. (No pictures of this step, as I had my doubts as to whether this project would ever turn into more than a mess of cut 2x4's.)

This is what I had when I was finished... (after sanding, staining, and a coat of polyurethane)... please ignore the pipes coming up from the corners, this was taken after the project was finished. (Yes, I had almost zero confidence in it turning out to be something that wouldn't embarrass me... so I have no "in progress" photos.)

A nice sold block of wood... so far my only expense was one 8' 2x4 to build the "frame" around my box, and some wheels for the bottom.

Once the base was finished I headed to Home Depot to buy the black plumbing pipe that would hold the logs... and finish up my project.

Except the black plumbing pipe was expensive... as in over $125. for what I needed.

Ummm, no thanks... there was no way I could spend that much on black pipe.

I headed back home without buying anything, sure I could find a way to finish my project without spending a ton of money. I told Joe what I was making, and he headed down to Home Depot next.... and ended up finding a way to complete to log holder for only $20.! We ended up using electrical conduit pipe for the long sides, galvanized plumbing pipe for the connections on top, and we drilled into the wood base to set the pipe, rather than use the floor flanges they used on the one I was copying. (The floor flanges alone were $16. each!)

Here's what we ended up with:

Since all the pipe was galvanized, I had to paint it. (Ugh...) But after a coat of primer and 2-3 coats of paint (painting black over brown to try and make it look like old pipe) I'm happy with how it looks.

I set it by the fireplace and we went to work filling it with wood...

... just in time for yesterday's cold and little bursts of snow...

I'm still a little surprised that it turned out, and was so inexpensive (about $30. for everything...). It was totally a win/win kind of project... I got a spot to hold firewood... and... the top of the kindling box is now cleaned off so I can actually get to the kindling again!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Beautiful fall leaves...

(These from our smoke tree out back....)

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

a favorite quote....

"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

-L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Thursday, October 23, 2014

cross that one off the list...

Well, M had his back injection and we can cross that off the list of procedures that might help everyone understand why his fractured back isn't healing, and how to help it along.

He did great through the procedure and his spine doc was very nice about letting me stay with him the whole time... something he says he almost never does.

M was awake through the procedure and was able to watch as his doc used a "real time" x-ray to guide the tiny needle to just the right spot.

M's doctor showed him the "scottie dog" in his back x-ray... (this isn't M's x-ray, but shows the dog well)

Can you see it?

We could see it right away, and it was so interesting to actually be able to visualize where the problem is.

M's break is across the pars... the neck of the scottie dog.

It looked to the doc as though the fracture that he's seen in past x-rays might have finally broken all the way through. Normally that would not be what we were hoping to see, but in this situation the doc is hoping that maybe by finally breaking through, it will be able to start to heal.

They injected a contrast solution, and then some lidocaine, and we kept a pain journal for the rest of the day. I've emailed the doc with the M's pain ratings and we'll see what he says. He seems to be leaning more and more towards surgery... either a pars repair or spinal fusion... but I think both M and I are going to need some serious convincing before agreeing to another major surgery. One step at a time though, we don't have to make that decision now... thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

go ahead... bring it on!

I'm ready for you Winter.

Yes, you got me good last year... my nose ran, and I goosebumped and shivered through the Arctic cold you threw at us at the same time my boiler decided to quit working.

You couldn't have waited with the sub-zero temps just a few days?! It's not like the boiler was broken for a month... you couldn't have given us just a few days to get that boiler fixed before you dumped Antarctica's weather on us?

I laugh in your face this year though Winter. I'm one step ahead of you... and I have a secret weapon.

It's this...

.... a newly installed, 87% efficient, toasty warm, wood stove.

No, the 1970's pre-fab fireplace that Annie and Carl put in so long ago couldn't keep up with your Arctic cold spells, and neither could our ancient boiler.

But we've got you now...

Go ahead, Winter my friend, bring it on... give it your best shot.. you won't catch us napping this year! (Or maybe you will...but just a quick one in the warmth of the woodstove.)

Monday, October 20, 2014




October 20, 2014

Outside my window... it's dark, the sun has set and the moon is just a tiny crescent, so it's very dark. I can hear the wind chimes being tossed about by the wind...

I am thinking... how it's nice to feel so peaceful and relaxed after a busy day, and unsettled (M) evening.

I am thankful... for a quiet house.

In the kitchen... I cooked up a big pot of beans today and made a batch of bean and cheese burritos to freeze for easy lunches. Mmmm....

I am creating... I've got a little project I'm playing around with, mostly just using up scraps of 2x4's left over from the garden fence. If it turns out to be anything, I'll tell you about it... (but for now it's just a bunch of carefully measured and cut pieces of 2x4 sitting in a wheelbarrow!)

I am wondering... if M is going to sleep tonight. He's been up off and on sick at night for the past week or so. (Gastroparesis flare...) I do hope he sleeps tonight....

I am reading... The Home Place by Carrie La Seur. It's probably a very good book, but I've only had time (and wakefulness) to read a page or two each day so it's taking me a while to get into it....

I am hoping... everything goes well at M's appointment at the spine clinic tomorrow. He's having an injection into his back to try and ease the pain of his (still!) fractured vertebra.

In the garden.... the kitchen garden is cleaned out and ready for winter. I picked the last of the pumpkins just today, and will leave the pumpkin patch gate open for the deer to clean up the last of the vines. The raspberries are still producing like crazy... ;)

Around the house... we've got exciting stuff going on... (there is a hint below, and I'll post all the details soon)

One of my favorite things... the tail end of the day, children asleep, dinner finished and cleaned up, nothing on the agenda but a nice cup of tea and a little read before bed.

A few plans for the rest of the week...M's appointment at the spine clinic tomorrow is the BIGGEST thing on the calendar, but we've also got a regular RCC meeting, RCC book club, and an RCC service project this week. Whew! R has a uke lesson on Wednesday, and Thursday we're working at the thrift store... busy week!

A peek into my day...

This is my living room last week, torn apart for a little upgrade... stay tuned for a "finished" shot of the same space!


Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, October 17, 2014

beautiful fall day

Today was a beautiful, absolutely perfect, fall day.

I should have been inside working on redoing the rush seats on my daughter's ladder back chairs...

...but it was just too pretty outside to stay in the house so I gave my little garden shed a much needed coat of wood preservative instead.

I hadn't realized how much the cedar had already dried out and faded until I started brushing the preservative on and saw how the wood woke up again...

An hour later and the whole shed just glowed...

(I don't know why I can't hold a camera level!)

Anyway... once the shed was done... and I laid a few paving stones I'd been thinking we needed up the hill in the backyard..

I was finally ready to head back inside... to get back to work on the chairs again.

It really needs to snow so I can stop playing working outside!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

step on a crack...

I haven't posted about M's broken vertebra for awhile because there really hasn't been much of anything going on.... but I thought maybe it was time for an update anyway. (And since a blog post isn't complete without a few photos, I've included some I took this morning while out doing the barn work.)

M's back is still broken, not healing, and extremely painful. It hurts when he breathes now (at times, not all the time thank goodness!) and enough people have made comments connecting a broken back with being paralyzed that, when the pain is bad, M starts to believe he's becoming paralyzed and his anxiety shoots through the roof. :(

Needless to say the whole experience has not been good for his schizophrenia... his psychiatric symptoms have increased as the back pain has gone on... and on... and on.

What's next?

A band-aid.

After his spine doctor admitted to being stumped in terms of what to do next, and took M's case to the weekly spine clinic conference of the medical school spine docs to gather opinions, we decided to start with the least invasive, safest recommendation; inject pain killer into the back to just make sure the pain is coming from the joint itself and not surrounding muscles. Depending on what kind of pain relief M gets, and for how long, the next step will probably be a steroid injection into his vertebra.

Neither of these will fix the break, they are mostly just a band-aid, but might settle things down enough in there for the bone to heal naturally.

If the injections don't help enough, the bone isn't healing and M's in a lot of pain, the next recommendation is surgery... possibly spinal fusion. I'm definitely not sold on that plan, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

So... my boy's still hurting and if I seem distracted at times, it's because he's unstable and hurting which makes for some long days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

chicken coop... all buttoned up for winter

I finally finished winterizing the chicken coop. It feels good to have it done...

Last week I built a little wall for the north/west side of the coop to close it off. The wind and snow comes mostly from those directions during the winter, so I knew I wanted something substantial on that side. I just used scraps of wood from other projects to build this little wall...

(Yes, I should have staggered by little cedar "shingles" I'll fix it in the spring when I take it off again.)

Then I used long deck screws to attach it to the coop.

Here's a "before" picture showing the bottom of the coop enclosed with just chicken wire, which is perfect in summer but... brrrrr, in the winter!

Then I added thick plexiglass that we already had it to the south side.

And some thin plexiglass, that I picked up at Home Depot, to the east side.

I like the thick plexiglass much better (despite it's fogginess from being old) but I just couldn't justify spending the extra money to buy the thick kind for the fourth side... It was three times as expensive! So I bought the thinner sheet... I don't think the chickens care. ;)

I did want to definitely use plexiglass on the east and south sides (it would have been much cheaper to use wood), because I wanted to take advantage of the sun... hoping it would help warm the coop on those cold days.

Here's the finished coop, nestled behind the raspberries...

Which have been producing for weeks...

Joe wonders why I'm outside working on the chicken coop so much.

It's because I work a little, eat some raspberries, work a little more, eat more raspberries....

Mmmmm... it's a great way to get things done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's official!

I no longer have any children living in my home... After 34 years of parenting, my youngest child turns 18 today.

She's been looking forward to this birthday for months... to finally being 18.

I can't help but look back at how quickly my baby girl grew up...

(R and her beloved horse Grant)

...and I miss (just a little) the days when all it took to make her happy was a praying mantis and a Disney themed t-shirt.

So... before heading off to make her a nice mud cake for her birthday, I thought I'd share a few more photos of my baby...

Little girl... big horse... best buds. R and Chance...

She thought it was so cool that we accidentally dressed as twins that day... We just had to take a picture!

Not angry... this is her funny/surprised face. :)

And the dances... this girl LOVES to dance!

I should frame this one... it makes me happy because she's so happy.

My all time favorite photo of her and "S".... such a long and special friendship between them.

R and S at Homecoming a few weeks ago... (he was Homecoming King)... my baby girl, all grown up.