Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to (NOT) cane a chair

Jeremy inherited this lovely rocking chair from his grandparents.

Actually, it's kind of a sad rocking chair. As you can see, the caning is coming out.

The arms are a bit high. And I'm not sure what happened to the rockers. It kind of looks like someone attached slightly warped boards to the bottom of a regular chair to make it a rocker - meaning, it doesn't really rock much. But hey, it's got loads of character!

We've talked about re-caning it someday, but frankly I'm not interested in spending the time/money/energy to learn that skill. (Does that make me a bad homesteader?) Besides, I've got some crazy sewing skills and I'm starting to think just about any problem can be solved with a needle and thread (or duct tape).

So I grabbed a steak knife from the kitchen and cut out the rest of the caning. (I'm sure that's how the professionals do it.)

Then I made up a canvas seat that wraps over the top on all four sides and ties together under the seat.


It seems to work just fine. I might make a nicer one someday, but at least we don't have to worry about falling through the seat anymore!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Root cellar: day two (and three...)

Way back in May when we started work on the root cellar again I never guessed it would bog down and stop after only a couple days. Sometime in the last several months Jeremy (and an intern?) put up the studs in the wall and the door. And that's where it sat all summer.

I had begun to think that the root cellar wouldn't happen again this year because there are too many other projects. But then I remembered something: Jeremy doesn't really like to work in a messy area. Its true that when doing construction things get messy. But it's different if you created the mess this morning or yesterday, versus 4 or 5 months ago. In those months, the basement got messier and messier and piled higher and higher with stuff. And the truth is, Jeremy doesn't like cleaning that much and I do.

So how do I get him interested in working on a project again? I clean things up. I spent a few hours reorganizing boxes and piles and sweeping up junk, and the very next day Jeremy started working on the root cellar again! It's like a miracle. =) (But one which I completely understand. In college, I was unable to start doing my homework until my room was clean. I know, I'm weird.)

Anyway, Jeremy put in some electrical in case we need that and put plastic on the exterior of the cellar - walls and ceiling.

This is looking into the cellar through the door. I think Jeremy is going to paint over the glass block window because it lets in a lot of light.

The ceiling:

With help from the intern, Jeremy got the sheathing up on the walls. Then comes the fun part. He's leaving a gap at the top through which he'll pour in the bags and bags of blown-in insulation we saved from upstairs. We love recycling!

These two are filled (nearly) and just need sheathing on the outside.

It's coming together quite nicely and I'm looking forward to getting some root veggies, onions and garlic, and apples to store for the winter. We're going to build a wall of shelves on the outside of the cellar for storing all our canning things, empty jars, and canned goods.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A month or so ago some of our chicken-keeping neighbors down the block had to go out of town. They left the chickens in the care of their housemates. The housemates, not being used to chickens, were not prepared to deal with a case of sour crop that hit one of the chickens.

What is sour crop? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I can try to explain it. The crop is where chickens sort of chop up and begin digesting the food they eat. Sometimes they eat too much or too fast or something bad for them and that affects the crop. In this case, the crop (which is in the chest) feels like a big squishy water balloon. With many crop issues you have to massage the crop to help food go down. With sour crop, you also have to help the chicken barf. Yes, chicken vomit.

So we went over a couple times a day over that weekend to tip the chicken upside down and see if she'd vomit, then massage her crop. We also gave her a bowl with water and apple cider vinegar to help, and no food. Don't want to add more to that mess!

Oh, I should say 'we' as in Jeremy. I watched, but he's the one that got chicken vomit on his pants, and he's the one that did the massaging. I did the...moral support. Yes, moral support.

It seems to have done the trick and the the chicken is just fine these days.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago these friends came by with an incredible gift basket! A fresh loaf of bread they'd just made, some things they had canned, and a beautiful basket. Such a great thank you gift! It's great to have so many chicken-keeping, canning/preserving, homestead-y friends in this neighborhood.

Isn't that a sweet gift!? =)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bike bag

I've been biking to work - 6 blocks, not a bad commute - but the transportation of things to and from work was a problem. I don't have a rack or basket or panniers or even so much as a milk crate for my bike, so everything had to go in the backpack strapped to my back. That gets to be a pain after awhile (at least I thought so).

So what's homesteader to do? Fall back on my sewing skills of course!

I took my beloved backpack, which I've probably had over 10 years, and made some modifications. It was an ideal candidate since both the zippers were broken and half the seams were falling out. (Hey! It was my beloved backpack!)

My beloved backpack - the front pocket has been removed. I took off all the patches and sewed them back on the smaller, new bag.

I cut the seams apart at the front and back, on either side of the zipper, half-way down the bag. I also sewed on these little velcro straps.

I sewed the zipper part closed all the way around the bag - don't need that broken zipper any more!

Now you can start to see it... the top half of the back of the bag became the flap and the zipper part was sewn together to be a carrying strap.

I think this was a sheet. I used it to make the lining for the bag.

Voila! When I'm riding I stick the strap inside the bag, then I can take the bag off and carry it by the strap. I think I want a better way to attach the bag to the handlebars, but the velcro is fine for now.

This has worked out pretty well ... though there are still times I wish I had a nice big milk crate on the back of my bike instead. =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Making Salsa - a working girl's perspective

When you have a 30-hour a week job, food preservation looks a little different.

Step 1: husband buys tomatoes, peppers, and other things at Farmers Market.

Step 2: husband cuts up tomatoes and peppers (and other ingredients I guess) and roasts them in the oven.

Step 3: Voila! Salsa!

Obviously there are many steps I missed, but I wasn't home to watch or help! This is Jeremy's favorite salsa which he made last year. It's in the Ball Canning book. Another blogger tried out a few recipes in there and recommended this one. Jeremy loves it. I think we'll (or he'll) definitely be making this one every year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goodbye, crappy old bedroom...

... and hello brand new bedroom and office! (And hello readers - I'm back!)

We actually finished the bedroom side of the upstairs a couple weeks ago and we finished the office side just last Saturday. There has been a lot of moving around of furniture, boxes, and dust! It has been an amazing space to be in. The first day, as we were moving in and getting things set up, Jeremy said he felt like we were staying at a B&B! I'm not sure that the feeling has worn off yet.

I'm too embarrassed to show a picture of the whole room downstairs - it was so full of stuff. But you can tell we were in tight quarters.

Dismantling and moving - lots of stuff under the bed!

New bedroom, ready to receive us!

Oh you glorious closet!!

Sigh, sigh, sigh. =)

All that glorious, reachable closet space.

I've shown pictures of the nasty living room before, with a pathway down the center between piles of wood and boxes and furniture. Well that has cleared out now! All the office-type things came upstairs. Coming out of the bedroom, here is the window seat.

And the office itself (which needs a little more unpacking - and another filing cabinet!)

We put our twin mattress in there to use as a daybed. Jeremy built the desktop over the filing cabinet area and the little cd shelves. It is a cozy little spot. And the view!

And what happened downstairs? I finally got my dedicated sewing room!

Now, it's not that I've already gotten it messy - it's more that I haven't had time to get it cleaned up and organized since all this moving took place. Too much moving and too much sewing (but more about that later).

I'll get it cleaned up today though, because we're having an open house tonight! So, off the computer for me, and onto more cleaning and putting things away!
(And I promise a whole lot of updates are on the way...)