Monday, March 30, 2015

A Fig!

Last year I purchased a tiny Chicago Fig tree from the nursery.  
While I have had many dried figs, I have never seen a fresh one 
probably because you don't see too many fig trees near St Louis MO.
They would die from cold in some years if they are not protected.

This variety too will die to the ground when temperatures fall
below freezing as they do here a lot.  The Chicago fig; however,
bears on new growth so when it begins to sprout again, it will 
fruit the same year.  They get to be about 10-12 feet tall and
just as wide when planted outdoors.  I have read that they do well
in containers so I assume they stay under 10 x 10 indoors.

This one has lived in a large pot in front of my full glass back door
that gets full sun in the afternoon.  Our entire back wall is lined with 
windows and plants seem to thrive there.  I will have to plant it outside
because I can't block our hallway with this fig tree which- 
if you look closely has a 
right in the middle of this photo! I hope this little guy ripens!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Free No. 5 Treadle Update

My Free No. 5 treadle had been sitting in my grandmother's house 
tucked back in the attic dormer area for who knows how many
years.  We brought it home about 33 years ago when we were 
first married and furnishing our apartment.  It's probably around
100 years old and in very good shape.

While my husband is awaiting the next construction job to begin
I asked him if he would get it ready for sewing for me.  It's right
up his alley, if he can't tinker with the tractor, he may as well play around 
with the treadle. He downloaded the instruction manual and started to work.

He started vacuuming and dusting.

There were old needles in the belly of the machine 
that had to be cleaned out.

He oiled all the areas that need oil.

He has it running pretty smoothly so now I need
to read the manual and start to practice.  My 
blogger friend, Missy, uses treadles for her quilting
in addition to all sorts of other machines. I know
I'll be asking her a question or two from time to time.

We have all the original parts for this, except spare needles
which I will need to find.  So between studying for my
ham radio technician's license, work, gardening and this, I will 
have plenty to keep me busy!  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pork Steak Rebellion

We joined the Pork Steak Rebellion

The EPA is funding a study on emissions from grilling on an open flame, suggesting that your grill should have a special catalytic emissions system and special tray to catch drippings.  One St Louis Senator, Eric Schmitt, started a Twitter Campaign to call attention to this proposal and show the EPA that they should have no authority over our backyard bar-b-ques. 

 Under #porksteakrebellion, the campaign took off, making national news and
probably a nice profit for local groceries as they sold out of pork steaks and other
bbq favorites.  I am proud to say we did our part as did my brother-sister in law when we dined on their deck with perfect weekend weather.   

Pork Steaks
Sliced potatoes wrapped in foil, buttered and seasoned.
Grilled onions with rosemary and sage.
plus a few sides.

We even carried it further, attending a bar-b-que today at our neighbor's house
with pork and chicken legs and plus all the sides.   It was tough, but someone had to do it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Study Hard

Study Hard - Ham Test Online

I finally gave in and had my husband sign me up for 
the Ham Test Online interactive study course so I can practice 
for my ham radio Technician's license.  
This is an entry level license that they estimate will take 
about 10 hours of study; however,
this is more of a continuous practice test that follows
a brief discussion on a portion of the testing material.
You don't have to memorize over a hundred questions or
dig through a couple hundred page book.  You just
keep working the study guide daily until you are comfortable
with the material and it should begin to sink in.
It is a small charge ($24.95) for a 2 year subscription
that allows unlimited access during the subscription period.
Other license levels take longer and may be priced differently.

So far I am learning about 
Current (symbol I measured in Amperes or Amps by an ammeter)
Voltage (symbol E measured in volts by a voltmeter)
Resistance (symbol R measured in ohms by a ohmmeter)
Ohm's Law and how to calculate
Circuits and types of circuits
plus schematic symbols and what they mean.

The online study course will keep track of your correct answers
and recognizes where your weaknesses are.  You will find they will
repeat the questions where you provided incorrect answers
and will link you back to the tutorial so you can review the material.

So far I have completed 10% of the study guide with 90% correct answers.
I was less than that yesterday and hopefully I'll be better tomorrow.
There are a limited number of questions on the technician's test
and these study guide questions come out of the pool, or at least
are similar to what will be asked on the test, which I can take 
in about a month.  If I don't pass, I'll just study more and take it again.

This material is so far from anything I've ever studied that
I'll feel no shame if I don't pass the first time.  Additionally,
it's been over 30 years since I was in school!  

My husband is absolutely giddy over this.
He is planning ham field days together, making antennas and
working on electronic projects together and attending
the local ham meetings and go to swap meets.
I can't say that I am super excited to do those activities;
however, they do work with the local authorities and
emergency management officials and that part interests me.

I know a few of you are also interested in getting your license
so check out the information to see if it is a program that
you might like to try.  I better get back to it so wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Practical Skills Thrift Store Find

Practical Skills

I love searching out thrift shops for books.  Unless it is truly a collector
item for me, I normally don't pay the cover price; therefore, when
I pass one of the many thrift stores on my hour drive home from work,
I occasionally stop in to check out the shelves.  I'll check for anything
that I am missing in a series, look for great mysteries and then give 
a little peek at the history and non-fiction section.

I came across Gene Logsdon's Practical Skills and thought it looked interesting.

There is a little bit of everything from how to make household items,
sewing and needle work,

building rock walls plus gardening and livestock tips.

I have several books, some dating back to the 1800's.
We find they are still useful today, in fact, we had to refer
to an old cookbook when processing our pork because the
modern recipes were dependent on the pork being already cured.

I would like to make a schedule of Learning To Do activities
from making hardtack to braiding (small) rugs or more primitive
gardening techniques.  One of the bloggers, Sunnybrook Farm,
always amazes me with the skills he has developed.  I love reading
about restoring the old buildings, oxen training, museum exhibits 
and his trips to Black Dog Salvage, somewhere I will make sure to visit 
if I ever get to his neck of the woods.

I saw The Folk School ad in Mary Jane's Farm magazine.  It's too far
from home and out of my reach but it would be so much fun to take a 
week or weekend class.  You can enroll for a weekend or a week long
class in a wide variety of subjects from blacksmithing to rug making, 
needlework, weaving, dance and many other subjects. 

I better get started on that list!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Time to get Busy

I owe a couple of people some packages so I need to get busy
before it's time to get out in the garden.
I've made some more microwaveable bowl hot pads and 
have to send a couple to my mom.  I find my machine struggles
with the thickness of two layers of batting when I have to sew 
the seams together where the darts are, even though I have trimmed 
them. I have to go very slow but I still think I'm not doing it
the best way even if I follow the tutorials.  Regardless,
they are functional.  I have two double thick here for the microwave
and one single batting layer for cold items like a bowl of ice cream.

Then I found an entire set of Betty Crocker recipe cards
that must have been collected a packet at a time.  There are dividers
for each category with the first card in each set listing all
the recipes in that category.  Then there is a main index.
A couple of the sets are not even out of their packaging
so they are in pristine condition.  Looking at the date on
the index, this must have been from the early 70's.

I paid a whopping $1.99- but that's not all-
I donated some clothes to the thrift store and got
20% off the $1.99!  What a bargain.

My husband's brother and his wife are living next door 
in my mother in law's house since she is up at the nursing home
and they have her box of similar recipe cards.  I said we'll have to each
make a 70's meal once a month and invite the other family.
So twice a month we'll be back in the 70's, which for me was
my high school years.  It sounds like fun but I'm a little concerned.
Does this mean we have to learn to play bridge? ???

Today is the St Pat's parade in town.  I'm not attending but my 
husband is there with the Knights of Columbus setting up the BBQ.
He'll be back soon and we're having a family gathering next door 
with corned beef and cabbage.  It is my least favorite meal
of almost all times  (except for liver) but an Usher family tradition.  
They are all excited, filling their bellies every year with a huge feast.  
I have the rye bread and potatoes.  

This year is different- we're bringing mostaccioli!
This is a St Louis favorite and my mother in laws meat sauce is fantastic.  
You start with a chuck roast, homemade spaghetti sauce ingredients
 and a crock pot. It cooks for hours and hours until 
the meat just falls apart and then you mix in the noodles 
and top your plate off with Parmesan cheese.

Crock Pot
2 lb. Chuck roast
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tb sugar
1 Tb salt
1 ½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp fennel seed
¼ tsp pepper
2 lb. 3 oz. canned tomatoes
2 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
1 lb. dried rigatoni noodles

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. 
Put everything, except the noodles, in the crock pot 
Cook until the meat falls apart. 
I start it off on High and then switch to low later on.

Boil the noodles, drain and add to the sauce.
Stir and serve, topped with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ebelskiver Find

As I was walking through the aisle of the St Vincent de Paul Thrift
shop looking for more strawberry plates to go with my vintage set, 
I saw an unusual pan sitting on the shelf and rushed over to grab it
before anyone else did.  Someone thought it was egg cookware,
others just didn't have any idea -- but I did.

It's an Ebelskiver pan!

I have been wanting one of these for years.
This one was priced at $3.50 and looks like it has been
on the shelf since just before Christmas.  

It is a Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum pan priced on line at $50.
You can see the Link here
And how to cook on it here 

They are little Danish pancake balls that can be filled with a wide variety
of fillings from fruit to cheese or other sweet fillings.  I can't wait to try them!

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Type of Seed Was That?

As the winter weather seems to be breaking it is once again 
time to begin garden planning.  I am not yet set up to start seeds 
indoors so I seed directly in the ground or purchase starts for
those plants that need a head start.  I find that seeds my heirloom
seeds will last several years but I have to be careful to keep them 
labeled properly so I plant them in the proper place.

You just never know what might pop up where you least expect it!

Seriously though, we have hopefully seen the last of our snow.  We
enjoyed sitting outside without coats this weekend although the ground
has become a sloppy mess.   I'm pretty excited to see how the
blackberries and elderberry plant did over the winter and need to 
find a Wyldwood elderberry to pair with my current plant.

Pretty soon I'll be able to work in the garden
and post about how I am fighting squash bugs while complaining 
that the weather is too hot! 

For now it's off to work.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How Do You Make Your Coffee?

I posed this question to my Facebook friends,
Do you reuse your coffee grounds?

I have a 4 cup Mr Coffee because for a long time
I was the only coffee drinker, not by choice but
due to some medical issues, my husband had to stay
away from caffeine for a long while.  I didn't need to
make 8-12 cups for myself and take up more counter space
so the 4 cup made sense.

Now that my husband can go back to drinking some coffee
those 4 cups don't quite make it.  After the initial brew
we add two scoops to the original grounds and another four cups of
water.  The fresh grounds mix in with the once used grounds
to make four cups of coffee.  I use sugar and creamer so I
don't notice any difference.  My husband drinks it black and
seems to think it's OK too. With coffee prices what they are,
why wouldn't we do this since we can't tell a difference in taste?

Most of the Facebook friends either do the same thing
or, if not, they save the grounds for compost.

So how do you make your coffee?
Do you use the spent grounds afterward?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Painting Party

A few of the girls gathered at our neighbor's house for a painting party yesterday.  It was the perfect day for it since we were recovering from five inches of snow.  

We had an inspiration painting to start from and then each of "The Masters" would create their own interpretation of the painting.  

There is no right or wrong, thankfully, just some good times!

We had big leaves, medium leaves, small leaves, a varying amount of trees and all sorts of suns.  We also has some great appetizers!!   It was a pretty nice afternoon, it sure beats plowing and shoveling!

My hard drive finally crashed so I am working with the tablet which takes a whole lot longer.  I also need to figure out how to reduce photo size or I will limit out on space.

I will try to catch up on the blogs but hope we can get a computer soon!!!!