Sunday, May 31, 2015

New Camera - Nikon D3200 DSLR

My husband said he had to have a serious discussion with me,
he had to make a decision and wanted to know if I wanted
to be surprised or have some say in it.
Oh, oh.  That sounds like a huge red flag to me!
Never fear, it was not a bad thing.

He reminded me that my birthday is coming up in June
and he'd been putting money aside to give me a great present.
I started thinking about some of his "great" choices from years past:
the matching set of trash cans, on wheels to make it easier for me
to get them to the curb probably leads the list.

It's something you have been wanting, he says.

I start thinking.
No, he couldn't have saved up $10k for a used long arm quilting machine.
What else did I want?
Oh, a camera?

(Click to enlarge, they will look better).

I have wanted a nice camera ever since I was a kid.
Not your normal point and click, but a SLR with multiple lenses.
My husband has had one since he was 16 or 17 and it was fantastic.
Now, you can hardly use them since everything went digital. The 
paper and chemicals needed for his dark room are extremely expensive now.
So he saved up and waited for great sales on a DSLR.

Apparently everyone else knew this was coming except me
and I had to get it early, before the great sale was over.
We purchased a Nikon D3200 DSLR that came with two 
lenses, a free class and a coupon for 100 free prints.
I came as a kit so it has a bag as well and we purchased some
extras like lens protectors and a polarized filter.

I have to reduce these for size because Blogger sets limits
so you really can't see how great these look full size.
Even the reduced files look better on my computer than
when I post on Blogger.

It has an auto setting which will do all the work for me
and manual (shooting RAW) that saves all the data recorded
by the sensor when you take the picture. You get better photos
and can adjust it to remove any flaws and control brightness
and contract better than when it's compressed into a JPEG automatically.

In this photo the jar is crystal clear but images are out of focus
in the background, softening it.    Some day I want to get a macro lens,
something that will show the hairs on a grasshopper's legs.
In the meantime, I'll be reading up and practicing with settings as I 
learn to shoot manual settings.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Saving Bacon Grease

If it were not for bacon I could almost be a vegetarian.
Not only do I love bacon but we also save the grease,
storing it in the refrigerator in a mason jar.  

I spread a little bit in a skillet to fry eggs in the morning before work.
I also use it to brown diced chicken breast for quesadillas, giving it
that extra something without actually adding bacon to the mix. My husband
may put a little into the green beans rather than using a slice of bacon. 
He'll use it when frying hamburgers and most anything else because
what could be better than bacon?

The price of bacon has skyrocketed if you have not noticed.  We have 
been purchasing it in bulk and then dividing it into vacuum seal bags
and freezing it.  It comes in a box and may not be perfect pieces
but it is about $2/pound.  If you look at the price at bacon in the 
store, you get less than a pound for $5-6 and it is still fatty.

Do you save your bacon grease?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Woods are Thick

The woods are thick this year.  This is the view from my
back deck looking to the side yard.  We have had such a 
long, cool, wet Spring that the trees and grasses have 
taken off.  Typically we might see the deer strolling by as
they munch on leaves or the opossum and raccoon creeping
by the brush piles but this year you can see only thick greenery,  

The chickens have plenty of shade.  The string you see in the photo
is part of the guy wires that hold up my husband's ham radio
antenna.  The birds enjoy sitting on them, in fact the 
hummingbirds rest there awaiting their turn at the feeder.

This is one of his antennas.  He has his Extra Ticket
now so he is authorized to use all the privileges afforded 
ham radio operators.  As a whole, there are only
about 130,000 + or- hams that have this, out of 750,000 
ham radio operators in the US.  It required a great deal 
of study with heavy math and electrical theory.

The hedge rose is covered in sweet smelling blooms
but I am forever picking worms off the bushes and plants.
They are having a great spring too, along with the weeds.

Wild catnip is popping up among the clover.
It's surprising that the cats don't seem attracted to 
it while it's growing. I have to tear off leaves and 
crush them before they notice.  And they REALLY notice!

We're down to three cats now plus one that wants to 
live here but is too aggressive for my girls.  I feel 
sorry for it because it is obviously abandoned, probably
a house cat that someone dumped or couldn't find when
they moved.  I try to leave some food for it but the
raccoons beat him to it most of the time. If he can
get along with our girls he is welcome to stay.  We 
don't have a male to protect them now that Spot is gone,

We will have more rain this weekend.  Our tomato leaves are 
turning yellow due to the moisture and I have not gotten the 
big garden in at all.  My knee has improved so I'm up for
more activity although I can't kneel or stress it too much.
It is nice to not use the walker at work but it was sure 
convenient for hauling around my laptop and notebooks!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Whizbang Chicken Plucker

 Have you seen the Whizbang Chicken Plucker on line
and wondered if it is all they say it is?  I can assure you
that it is and we will be processing our own meat birds
as we move forward with increasing the flock. 

My husband's boss built from the plans in
Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker
by Herrick Kimball.  Tom welded the plate on the bottom which 
spins while the rubber fingers do their job.  All the specialty parts can
be ordered on line.  I have a link to the website below.

We don't have the motor attached while it sits outside; however,
it bolts to the side of the frame and uses a power cord connected
to a switch which is attached to one of the side posts.

After scalding, but not yet cleaning the chicken, you
turn on the plucker and drop 2-4 chickens inside while 
spraying water into the tub.  As the chickens spin around
inside the tub, the fingers will pull out the feathers which 
will be washed out the gap at the bottom, all in a few seconds,
about 15-20 seconds.
When the chickens are plucked you turn off the power.

This contains the complete instructions for making the plucker 
and instructions on how to process the chickens. There are also
tips on scalding and cleaning as well. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Runaway Rose

We have a runaway rose!
It grew up among viburnum bushes, one solitary branch
that wound its way across the mulch, cascading over the
garden wall, to bloom in the base of our turkey fryer.

The long, cool, wet Spring has made the woods thick
and flowers are springing up all over the garden wall.
Once I get over this knee problem I need to trim away
the wild bushes and vines that have also taken advantage
of the almost perfect weather. It won't be long before
the rest of the iris bloom and the stella d'oro daylilies are 
bursting with flowers.

 My granddaughter was going to plant flowers for me but
 we had about 3 inches of rain over the last couple of days.  Our main gauge 
is the low water bridge at the end of the county road. 
 Everyone takes a quick look to the left (or right) as they pass 
to see if it's near the top, under, or in more severe situations,
 if whole trees are stuck on top!

One thing is certain, the pollen is incredible.
It sits on the vehicles and floats in the fountain.
The bees are loaded down, their legs a thick yellow orange
as they fly from flower to flower.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Who is Eating My Plum?

This was The Spring, the best we have had in years.
Cool temperatures and frequent showers allowed the woods
to fill with an array of flowers.  Beautiful Sweet Williams,
Dutchman's Breeches, trillium, may apples, phlox and blossoms 
galore on the peach and plum trees.  It was a hopeful site.  Our
plum has had only one year of fruit due to late frosts.
Now I am fighting worms and fruit damage.
I suppose that comes with not using spray.

I found this huge beetle yesterday.  I don't know if he is a culprit
or he is hunting the things that are damaging the tree.

You can see the leaf and fruit damage.
There are green worms that have rolled themselves
inside of the leaves.  Most of the plums have a hole in them.

I didn't want to use anything during the bloom.
I don't know what is good to use now, if it can be saved.

I can't get to my peach tree right now, not until my knee is better,
but I can tell it is loaded with small peaches.  Usually the ants
and deer or raccoon get them. They would have been magnificent
last year.  A bounty of fruit one day, leftover pits the next!

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the plum.
With our sketch internet I've been lucky to upload photos this 
morning.  I don't know if this will save.

In the meantime I will pull out my bug book with the color plates
and see if the beetle is a good guy or bad.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Internet Problems

Our internet provider has equipment problems so our access has been sporadic, up and down several times within minutes.  Since we stream TV, which we can't do now, we've been enjoying ME TV and our local shows which we get through our antenna. That is also affecting my access to Blogger.  

Hopefully they will have it up and running well soon, especially if I have to work from home and need that access.  In the meantime I'll be reading when I can.

Other than that our office is preparing for the big split with one division becoming independent of the other.  I will be making the move up the street to our new offices in the next few weeks. For those of us that are moving, it will be a big change.  We've been very pampered with garage parking, a tunnel into the building to stay out of the weather, a cafe plus roomy cubicles and offices plus.  I've been there 15 years.  We know there will be a big change and we (including me) will be full of complaints until things normalize (when we should really be very grateful that we still have good jobs).  Regardless, it is a stressful time revamping and leaving office friends that will be with the other division.  There is an office tour today but I'm passing since I am still using the walker at work.  I think I may miss that thing since it has a compartment that holds my laptop and paperwork while I walk from meeting to meeting.  We dock and undock all day, sort of taking our desk with us.

On the home front, we're getting some vegetables and flowers planted.  My knee is preventing me from planting at ground level so the hubby is doing that while I plant in pots and on the raised garden wall.  My granddaughter can plant the flower seeds this weekend when she is here if we are not rained out.  My husband has to till the big garden area too.  The peach tree and the plumb are full of fruit. This is the first time in years that the plum has produced since we've had late frosts the past few years.  Now we have to keep the bugs off of them.  I am not a fruit tree expert so advice is welcome.

I see the Dr on Friday about my knee.  I'm driving to work myself this week and, being my right knee, it is more sore from that.  I have been able to walk up a few steps normally but not down. It's still one step at a time,  Up is always easier for me so walking down must put more stress on the dwindling cartilage behind my knee.  He will probably want to talk replacement down the road but I'm on the fence on that since I live in a two story without a main floor bed and full bath plus how will I get to work if my husband also needs to work?  Nothing immediate but some considerations.

Hopefully the internet will be back to normal soon but if you don't hear from me you'll know why.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Anniversary 33 Years

We are celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary this weekend.
The actual date was May 1, yesterday, but since it was a work 
day we settled for an ice cream at the malt shop accompanied
by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who live next door.
We were headed up the drive and saw them walking along
the gravel road so we picked them up and headed out.

I was saying that it's a strange sort of town.  The population is 
around 7,000 and has only about 6 sq miles.  You can drive from end
to end and cover only 2-3 miles. That being said, we have
two (2) malt shops which are next to each other with adjoining parking lots.
We also have two (2) Dollar Generals and two (2) Subways.
Go figure.
I think it deserves a blog post later on, maybe the town was 
founded by the Doublemint Twins.

Tonight we'll go out to dinner, compliments of Mom.
She also sent a check for whatever we might want or need
plus this very pretty wasp catcher since we seem to have
a wasp invasion INSIDE our house.  My husband caulked by the 
fireplace where we know they were crawling in but now we
think there may also be a spot in the basement.  Someday
we'll get to the bottom of it but until then, there's this.

It's hard to believe 33 years have passed by but they have
and with them we've added a couple of kids, a granddaughter,
countless animals (both house, coop and stray) in additions to 
lots of aches and pains.  

I said to my husband, "Now don't go posting a photo
of our wedding on Facebook followed up by me
hobbling with my walker!"  
LOL, wouldn't that that a pretty picture?

Seriously though, the bad knee is doing better
but they will make me use this for another week.
After that I think I shall turn it into a beverage and snack
cart, selling from cubicle to cubicle at work once we
move to a location that does not have a cafe.
That'll make a few bucks to pay off the walker.

I hope your weekend will be as pretty as this one is supposed 
to be here and Happy Derby Day.