Tuesday 31 July 2012

Here Comes The Sun!

I spent some fun time with my chickens yesterday.  They enjoy attention and, of course, any berry treats I hand out!  I've been planning on making a sign for Chicken Ville and trying to find a cute chickeny kind of name for their new home.

They looked so relaxed and happy, as they pecked around their yard, that I got to wondering if they had some kind of genetic sense that made them long for the fresh air and sun they had never seen in the mass production farm. ~

Photo courtesy of Vancouver SPCA

Sorry to show you something so gross, but that was their reality before they came to me.

Then, it struck me!  Bramasole!  I stole the name of the villa in Under A Tuscan Sun (one of my all time favourite movies).  Bramasole means "To Yearn For The Sun".

I  grabbed a piece of antique baseboard that I'd salvaged from the dumpster at my rental reno and started painting.  I'm no artist, but I wanted to splash on some greens, blues and yellows for a sunny day vibe. ~

I printed out the letters and traced them onto the board with carbon paper.  Using that outline, I started hand painting.  The rough surface did make it a little hard to get straight lines but that just makes it look handmade.   At least, that's what I told myself  and my chicken friends nodded agreement!

Do you like your sign, Gert? ~

How would I know?  I'm blind!  Now where are the stinking blueberries you promised me  for posing!
Decorating my mini farmyard is fun!  A pot of edible flowers, in a weathered planter, sits on a chippy, antique chair. ~

Gertrude and Maude will never again be #'s 107 and 172!  These are the pierced tags Farm Girl cut out of their wings. ~

They will never again yearn for the sun, because now they live in Bramasole! ~

Have a day filled with sunshine and dreams come true!

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Thursday 26 July 2012

How Easy Is Freezing Corn?

Why, there is absolutely nothing to it!  These corn niblets taste so much like corn on the cob that you'll wonder why you ever bought frozen from the grocery store. Corn is so cheap and plentiful right now that there's no reason not to get ready, set, go .... !

All you need is a big pot, a good knife, some sugar and a few cobs of 'picked that day' corn.  ~

I use a tablespoon of organic cane sugar to bring out the sweetness of the corn.  We're going for natural goodness here!

Bring the water to a full rolling boil and toss in as many cobs of husked corn as can bounce around freely in the pot.  Put the lid on and bring the water back to a boil.  As soon as it does, start timing.  For small cobs, boil for five minutes and for large cobs go seven.

While they are blanching, fill a basin or sink with ice water.

Lift the blanched cobs out of the boiling water (Do I really need to tell you to use tongs for this?) and plunge them into the ice water for as many minutes as you allowed them to boil.

This stops the cooking action and gives you nice, cool cobs to hold.

I hold the cobs by the top and slice, with a sharp knife, to the bottom.  You don't need any pressure to remove the kernels.  ~

That's all there is to it!  Put them in freezer bags and use a straw to suck the excess air out of the bag. Label them with the date and freeze.

The final step is to crow about your awesomeness as a healthy home maker! ~

This is one of my little ways of reducing my carbon footprint.  This corn was bought locally and didn't have to be trucked to a processing plant, trucked to a warehouse and trucked to a grocery store.  The cobs went to the chickens and Gert and Maude loved them!  The ice water and cooled blanching water were dumped on my gardens.

Have a day you can crow about!  

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Trying Something New In The Garden

The amazing thing about me, is my ability to work on renovating a rental property for months and still keep my own house and yard in perfect order!  This leaves you with the option of either saying, "I hate Little Miss Perfect and I'm never reading her blog again!" or snorting your coffee out your nose while doubling over in laughter.

The truth is, I intended to wow you all with my well managed, working garden.  I wanted to show you my system of successive plantings that gets me much more annual yield than the space allows for.

Instead, I am faced with an overgrown, weed infested mess and I've set in to try and salvage what I could. ~

Are there actual veggies in there?

The only area that was weed free was where Wendy from Herballistic Garden insisted I put down newspaper and straw.  She even helped me do it!  It had been a month; everything was thriving and there wasn't a weed in sight. ~

I'm now working my way across the garden with two layers of newspaper and 3-4 inches of straw for mulch. ~

The only real work involved in this is weeding the area beforehand. Once you have the mulch down, you give it a good soaking.  This method keeps the plant roots cool in the high temperatures we are experiencing and conserves water.  The straw and newspaper can be tilled into the soil in the fall or spring.  Did I mention there are NO weeds?

You can be sure I'll be using this method from the beginning next year!

Next summer, I may even wow you all as an absolutely perfect gardener!  Pshawwww!  Go ahead and snort some more coffee through your nose!

Sunday 22 July 2012

Decorating The Deck

Once the work was done on the deck, I started looking around for some seaside accents.  The budget for deck decor was zero.  That actually made the whole thing more fun!

The wharf theme was started with the blocks of wood that became pier posts. ~

That was as simple as staining them a light shade of grey to cover the Wolmanized green and twisting a few strands of hay bale twine to look like rope.  Now, I need to find a Pelican to sit on a one of them!

A little fountain, bought for $2 at the Salvation Army, leaked like a sieve and was turned into a planter.  It sits on a $2 plant stand.  I had both kicking around so we're still within the zero budget. ~

My sister bought the patio table years ago for $3 and had left it with me.  Years of being out in the weather left it in sorry shape! ~

A coat of deck stain, in Great Lakes Blue, made it a little more presentable.  I was tossing around ideas of hand painting a compass on the top when my sister showed up with this print. ~

The spaces between the boards presented a problem but she figured I could just cut strips of the print to fit.  I glued it to the top with exterior Modpodge and gave it another coat on top.  I think I'll spray it with exterior Varathane to give it a little more durability. ~

Here she is done and everyone who has seen it in person, loves it! ~

This deck area is private except for one line of sight through to a neighbour's fire pit.  I was looking around for something to use as a screen and remembered an old wooden door I had pulled out of the dumpster at my rental reno.  See, it pays to dive in your own dumpster! This door has seen better days, to be sure, but it reminded me of the the old doors on bait shacks at fishing camps.

It got screwed onto the side of the upper deck. ~

Some donated dragonfly hooks are added. ~

Man, I love the patina on that door!  In the antique trade, it's called alligatoring. Actually, after a week of staining outbuildings at my rental and using Var sol for hand cream, that's what my hands look like.  They have nice patina!

It's now a great place to hang beach towels and bags! ~

This project, start to finish, took three days and under $200!  It was done just in time for my nephew to arrive with his kids for a day of fun in the river. ~

Now I can sit back and relax!

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Saturday 21 July 2012

Reviving A Deck On The Cheap!

After I finished working on the rental property redo, I planned on taking it easy.  I wanted to sit by the river and let the world flow by.  I did that for exactly two hours! As much as I like to have the river front look natural,  my deck was an unsightly mess!

It was a hodgepodge of the original deck and one I had the patio installer guys move back here with their Bobcat.  They cut it, moved it and plunked the two pieces down. ~

The old deck was stained brown and the other pieces were light blue.  Sorry, I started to stain before I remembered to take a pic.

The light blue deck was in some serious trouble!  It had been through a tornado and came out on the short end of that!  Here's how she looked before they moved her. ~

I think I only had about six readers when I wrote about the yard devastation, so you might want to catch up on that tale here.  You should save all your good stories until you have at least a dozen readers!

Now, I think I've mentioned a few hundred times that I'm a little skint for cash right now, so this spruce up has to be done on the cheap!

I paid two neighbouring teenage boys $70 to move all the pieces of deck together and level them out.  I should have paid them danger pay for the nest of bees they uncovered!

It took two gallons of stain, at $25.99 each, in a colour called Great Lakes Blue to unify the pieces. ~

I had to buy a few 2X4's to replace twisted boards. ~

The existing furniture were some of the most disreputable pieces you've ever seen! ~

Well, we all know you can fix that! I roped my sister into painting the chaise lounges and the chairs with some latex paint in BM mayonnaise.  I already had the paint, so no cost there.  Hey, I'm putting in boards and staining decks! ~

The cedar table got a coat of stain and an interesting decoration.  I'll tell about adding the picture in the next post. So far, we are free on the furniture! ~

My sister and I like to sit back here and read magazines.  Because we were interior designers, we called that part of our job. Somebody has to do it!  Since she's allergic to bees and I'm not wild about mosquitoes eating me alive, we needed a screened in area.  Gazebos don't survive the wind that comes off the river in stormy weather but kitchen tents will.  The cheapest I could find was $45.00 at Canadian Tire.  It just happened to be a good match for the Great Lakes Blue! ~

And, those hunks of wood I told you to keep your eye on?  They are the tops of guard rail posts that get cut off after the rails are installed.  My brother in law brought them to me years ago. ~  

A coat of light grey stain, some twine from hay bails twisted to look like rope and they become wharf pilings! ~

This is what was accomplished in two days.  I need to close in the area between the two decks to cover the supporting posts and the stairs to the dock need a coat of Tremclad but I now feel like I can honestly say ... ~

Oh, and the total cost with labour, materials and tent was under $200.00!!!

Next comes the fun part - the decorating!!!

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Sunday 15 July 2012

Inside The Rental Reno

Roughly forty gallons of paint and stain, 2 1/2 tons in the dumpster (it will take a lot for me to erase this carbon footprint!), hardwood and tile, drywall and plaster, taps, sinks, toilets and showers, light fixtures, three months of manual labour, blood (literally), sweat (again literally) and tears (even more literally!) and we are done!!!  If you missed the beginning of the story click here.

The living room is done! ~

The kitchen is done! ~ 

The bathrooms are done! ~

The bedrooms are done! ~

The upper hallway is done and the beams are restored! ~

Mint green becomes aged wood.

Look at the view the purchaser will have from the master bedroom! ~

Hey isn't that Wendy from Herballistic Garden's front yard?  Sure it is.  I'd recognize that secret door anywhere!

Walk a couple of doors to the left, just past the little white church, and you are at my house.  Maybe the buyer will be a blogger and we'll have the most bloggers per capita of anywhere!  This teeny village NEEDS  another blogger, don't you think?

They can join us for tea or wine, campfires and river gazing.

Just don't ask me to help you paint, repair, carry or build anything.  Well, at least not for a week or so!

Saturday 14 July 2012

The Rental Property Is Finished!

From April until now, the all consuming thing in my life has been renovating a rental property that I own with my brother and sister.  Like all century buildings, one job leads to a dozen more and the project snowballed to a complete gut on some rooms.  My siblings, their spouses and myself are pretty worn out and so very happy to pack up the paint brushes, cleaning rags, saws and hammers!

I'll take final photos of the inside this weekend to show you that I haven't been slacking off, when my posts became sporadic, these last couple of months.

I will give you a peak at what we did for the outside.  We didn't want to spend a lot of money on the old garage and shed but they definitely needed to look a little more presentable.  Getting rid of the garbage the tenant left behind was a good start.

Here's the scary before pic of the shed! ~

The broken window was replaced with glass from an old window.  A few missing boards were replaced and a couple of gallons of stain were applied.  We switched out the old door with one we had replaced a year ago in the main building.  Then, we three ladies in the work crew set out to pretty it up.

Here's what a little ingenuity and some elbow grease can do! ~

The gates from the broken arbour became shutters.  A pile of bricks were arranged to form a planter.  Some white washed, clay pots brighten the window and some little pots of flowers set on the old rail road ties add a bit of rustic charm.

The garage soaked up another five gallons of stain.  It's the original barn from the 1800's and that wood is mighty porous!

There's a half acre of grounds that hadn't been kept up when the tenant was here, but it's coming back nicely with some love and attention.

When we bought the property from Mom's estate two years ago, we had all the windows and doors replaced and painted the exterior ourselves.  I give all the credit for painting the second story to my brother and sister in law.  It's a really tall building and there was no way I was going up on that extension ladder!

The retail space is at the front of the building and all it needed was some colour added with pretty planters full of flowers.  All the planters came from our own stashes so the only costs were in the flowers.  ~

So, that's the easy part of what we did.  The tough stuff was inside!

Thanks, readers, for hanging in there with me!  

Thursday 12 July 2012

A Little Help From The Grandkids

I had all the grandchildren here on the weekend.  They range in age from one to eighteen and it's wonderful to see how well they all get along.  The older kids are very kind to the little tykes.  The little ones worship look up to the older ones.

 Baby is still fascinated with serving tea from the vintage, blue willow tea set that came from my neighbour.  The knee in the picture belongs to her eighteen year old cousin and she fed the poor boy at least a gallon of none too clean water tea! ~

This grandson, we call The Chicken Whisperer.  He helps his mom care for the chickens that are brought to their animal sanctuary. ~

He checked the feathered girls over and pronounced them in the best of health!  He also gave me some really good pointers on daily care.  To keep the water in the trough clean and free of bits of straw, he set the trough up on a couple of bricks.  Why didn't that occur to me?

The favourite toy of the day for the little ones was this $5 wagon I bought at auction. ~

The favourite for all ages was a tether ball.  It says right on the box that it's not recommended for children under 36 mths. of age, as they may get their necks caught in the string.  I think they may what to mention that a missile, travelling at a high rate of speed, toward the toddlers head, is a bad idea, too.

Apparently, baby is a risk taker, because she loved that thing! ~

When she shot it at Chicken Whisperer he fell down.  He fell down over and over again and every time it broke Baby up! ~

The kids wanted to know why I had a rusty bucket hanging on the chicken pen.  I explained that I found the pen unattractive and was beginning to decorate it.  Since the girls are not allowed to have roosters come calling, I added a couple of pin up boys to decorate their walls.  ~

To find out how to age galvanized metal click here.  The images are from The Graphics Fairy and I used outdoor ModPodge to attach them to the bucket.

Baby and Amish Girl wanted to help and this is what we found them doing. ~

Hmmm - not exactly the look I was going for!  I'm pretty sure this won't be a Pinterest sensation.

Still, it's always nice to have a little help from grandkids!

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