Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pulled Pork and Thanksgiving Turkey

If you're going to cook, you may as well go all out!
We found the pork buts on sale and decided to smoke
and pull them while the weather was still on our side.
That meant smoking the butts while getting ready
 for Thanksgiving dinner at our house.  Fortunately,
my husband was off work and could tend to it, he
is the better cook anyway!

He smoked them for twelve hours outside, 
off the direct heat.  By bedtime he brought them
in and cooked another ten hours in the oven at
225 degrees.  I could smell them cooking all
night and even had a dream about being in
a restaurant!

By morning they were so tender that
they just fell apart.

We are going to package them in pound
portions in vacuum sealed bags so we have
plenty for the season.  It is so convenient
to be able to grab already cooked meat from
the freezer and make BBQ pork,
pork quesadillas or a pulled pork sandwich.

Additionally, he prepped many of the side
dishes for Thanksgiving:  Paula Seen sweet potato
recipe cooked in bourbon, heavily saged dressing, 
plus cream sauce for spinach.  I made
the green bean casserole and rolls before dinner.
We had pies for dessert and Volpi 
Sopressa salami with a cheese ball to snack
on while dinner was being prepared.
We have our meal in the evening but folks arrive 
around 2 PM or so leaving a lot of time
to visit around the breakfast bar while we
are putting things in the oven.

I used our own sage and rosemary
on the turkey which was about
25 pounds!  My daughter won it
from the church meat shoot!  We will
divide it up so everyone has some to take home.

My husband chose the wine, both reds,
which is not typically my choice but I 
loved the Fantini.  It may have been why
I neglected to open the jellied cranberry!!

Yes, the kind in the can.
The kind that has rings from the can molded into it,
which is what you used to use to measure slices.
It's our favorite!

I hope your holiday was wonderful.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Husband's New Addiction

My husband has developed a new addiction
but this one is pretty cool. He has 
been turning wood on his lathe and using his various
saws to create trinket boxes and now pens!

He has three pens with various shapes and using different woods.
 For more elaborate looking woods or acrylics, 
blanks can be ordered through Woodcraft.

This is his trinket box using various scraps of wood we had
around the house plus the bottom was created
with wood from our own cedar trees.

He is introducing our granddaughter to the band saw
so she can make some Christmas ornaments 
and going forward, painted wooden decorations. 
In the past I used fabric transfer sheets for the basic shape, 
cut them out and then paint the image using the colors you prefer.

We will be experimenting with other wooden items,
he's found some interesting and more unusual things on line.

 I'll might find I am quilting more as he spends time in the 
garage.  I am pretty far behind plan right now,
still working on my Halloween banner!  LOL.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Rusted Old Bones

Rusted Old Bones
As we passed by I felt drawn to this shop
where rusted old bones wait throughout time
for the body man who never appeared.
  You can still make out the words of the 
weathered awning: 


In my mind I drift through a rift in time
when this little town at the Missouri/Arkansas border
was bustling with industry.  The men would gather
at the diner, drinking coffee and reviewing football scores while 
the women tended to the home and kids danced at the soda shop.

We made this trip over Hwy 67, through Corning, Arkansas,
several times over the last three months and each time I
felt as if I needed to stop and capture these photos of what 
most would view as an eyesore.

Crazy though it is, I love them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm Home

I left Hot Springs, Arkansas on Saturday where it was Fall

and returned home where it was suddenly Winter.

Surprise, Surprise!
Our farm supply stores don't even have their salt out yet
as we normally do not receive snow until December or January.

I've been taking care of Mom who is recovering from a 
serious illness, spending three months in the hospital.
She is progressing well and is expected to make a full recovery
but needs live in help for a bit.  The Doctors say 
that it takes 2 days to recover 
for every one day you spend in the hospital.

She is making plans for dinner parties and Thanksgiving celebrations
so I think she is well on her way!

Me- I will be working my way through the (gulp) countless
e-mails at work that I have been receiving since Nov 6 when I left.

Coming up- Scenes of Corning, AR 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall in Hot Springs

The hydrangeas are beginning to fade leaving papery blooms ranging from bluish grey to purple here in Hot Springs where I am visiting my mother, who has just been released from the hospital after a three month stay ranging from intensive care to physical therapy rehab.    

Her holly bushes are thick with berries and squirrels are jumping from tree to tree collecting their winter stash.  The winds yesterday resulted in a firestorm of acorns falling like tiny rockets which have blanketed the drive and walks.

A pretty red leaf floats in the lake which has been lowered for winter.  You can see all the shells that have washed up to the sea wall and if you were in the mood to collect them, you could jump down and stroll along the wall.  This year they opened the dam and took the level down three feet which is not a problem; however some years it is lowered more than that and docks have to be moved, in areas where the water is not deep enough the boats have to come out or end up on dry land.

If you look closely you will see how many acorns fell into the water.  I like being able to see what lies beneath, unless I am swimming and there is a big fish!!

While the crepe myrtles have lost their blooms the bark is so pretty that you still have something to look at.

I will be visiting until I return home Saturday morning. My husband has been taking care of the house, cats and chicks plus keeping me up to date on what is happening at home.  I just love my Nexus7 tablet for this.  We use Google hangouts to talk to each other with video!!  Plus I kept up with email and all my Facebook buddies.    

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Making a Trinket Box

  Making Boxes- A Guest Post by
Tom Usher

I'm a carpenter and I love wood! There, I admitted it (the first step in curing a problem...). I make my living manipulating, shaping and cussing over it. I trim houses for a living, installing cabinets, doors, crown molding, baseboard and the rest of the things that turn a plain white box into a comfortable and attractive place to live. It's a persnickety way to make a living. All of my work is on display and everyone that looks at it is judging all the things I do. Every cut has to be right on the money. The material is expensive, usually hard to get quickly and generally supplied in quantities that are "just enough" to get the job done.

In other words, mistakes are very costly and something to be avoided. All that and we need to get it done NOW, too.

So, what do I like to do to relax? Play with wood in a way that is a thousand times more persnickety, more unforgiving and more cuss worthy.

At least the time constraints aren't an issue! Usually.

Years ago my brother and I bought a whole bunch of really high quality shop tools. Tablesaw, jointer, planer, bandsaw and all the other necessary implements needed to make furniture and other wooden niceties. We put together a cramped but effective little shop at our old house and built some really nice stuff. When Kathy and I moved to our current house fourteen years ago I packed up the shop, tore down the tools and put them in the basement. I intended to set it back up but never got around to it. Most of the tools that we have for the shop I also have in smaller jobsite versions so I limped along using those. They will generally suffice for my work as a trim carpenter.

I've decided to put the shop back together and in doing so I've had to reset, tune up and test out all of the tools. This little box is part of that process.

It's nothing special. Some maple, padauk (from Africa) and a mystery wood that I think comes from either Africa or South America. You see, I have a pile of old scraps that I've stored in the basement. There are a few things in there that I can't identify. The majority of the top is mystery wood, with the padauk in the middle bracketed by a thin strip of maple on each side. I sawed the mystery wood in half, ripped a couple strips of maple and a piece of padauk, glued it all up, made sure the grain was going in the right direction and clamped it together. After it dried I belt sanded it flat, squared it up and cut it to size.

The angles were cut into it using a Delta tenoning jig. The relieved section on the bottom was done with a router mounted in a router table. It creates a raised center that just fits in the box to keep the lid in place. I also used the router to make the small cut around the bottom of the box. The reason for that little cut is to create a shadow line. Details, details.

The body of the box is 1/2 inch maple, resawn from some larger scraps I found, and the little splines at the top are made from the padauk. The bottom is made from a piece of eastern red cedar from our property. I made the box using miter joints. Not my preferred method of joinery but this was just a box made to test equipment. The splines, while being a nice decorative addition, will also help to strengthen what is an otherwise inherently weak joint.

Even though this is a very simple little box it still requires accuracy levels at or better than 1/64 of an inch. See what I mean about persnickety? Building it let me see where I needed to tighten things up. It found the weak links in the system and now I'll have to address them. Blade vibration, the bandsaw needs a bit more tuning, the carpenter needs to bust out the instruction manuals and brush up - things like that. It also pointed out the very limited usefulness of my jobsite tablesaw. It's as dialed in as it can get, probably withing a couple thousandths, but is still isn't adequate, for a variety of reasons. I can't put my shop saw together yet. It's a BIG piece of equipment and I need to make room for it. The new carport is coming in a few weeks so the John Deere will move out of the garage and the saw will move in.

I'm sure that Kathy will have more about putting the shop back together in coming posts. After all, why bother going to all this trouble if it doesn't provide fodder for the blog? :) I'll try to show and explain the tools and techniques that carpenters use. And I hope to show Kathy doing some of the work, too! She always liked using the bandsaw. With the fine scrolling blade it can cut some intricate designs. And bandsaws are just about the safest saws in the shop, too. I'll explain why when we get around to seeing the quilter getting her woodworker on.

Now, I have a question for all of Kathy's readers. Any good ideas on how best to use the internet to market the things we make?