Category Archives: wood

Other Work

The small wood pile at the bottom of the drive was moved today into the wood shelter. More misc. stuff was removed from the porch and more of its floor has been swept. Some of it was put into the basement, where it will be used.

I placed tongue depressors next to the spent daffs where the plants can stand to be divided. I need my weeding stool before I can do that or the leaning over will kill my back. The weeding stool was stored away, it’s being used as a stand right this minute. When it’s free, then I can divide the daffs, so there will be more flowers next year! First 2 divided, more to come!

I planted an heirloom crabapple. Whether we’ll get a tree or not, who knows?

The wood pile tarps which were scattered around the front yard have all been gathered up. The plywood for the wood pile has been put away,

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Getting Ready for Retirement: Food & Fuel

We have been, slowly, trying to change our eating habits and others, preparatory to DH’s retirement, at some unknown future date. We don’t want him to retire particularly, but it will happen, and because he works on contract 1 or contract 2, if the company loses the contracts, he’s likely to lose the job he has supporting them, then. It’s entirely out of our control.

To that end, I’ve been for years slowly but surely moving us along a pathway towards lower monthly expenses as much as possible, and of course the easiest, first way to do that is almost always food.

You can’t really control what the bank charges for a mortgage. You can’t control what the oil man wants for heating oil or propane. You can control the cost of the food you buy, so that’s almost always the first place people start to cut down, including us. The only problem with this is that for many people, food is only 10% of their total expenditures, so even cutting the cost in 1/2 isn’t a significant saving overall. Of course it counts, but don’t kid yourself you’ll suddenly be awash in available funds if you cut your food bill in 1/2.

For us, this is complicated by the fact that we’re food snobs, and like it that way. There are traditional cheap foods we could use.

  • MAC & CHEESE: I don’t like mac and cheese, even homemade. I’m fairly certain they gave it to me, with orange soda (which I also abhor) one time I had stomach flu. DH likes it. I like cheese on pasta, but not baked and BROWNED, and not cheese food.
  • BEETS: DH hates them on principle. They are an economical food to grow because you eat all of the plant: roots and leaves. I can take them or leave them. Yellow beets I can sneak into stews sometimes. The greens I can add to soups & stews, sometimes.
  • HAMBURGERS: Unfortunately, I grew up eating prime beef. I like beef that tastes like beef. Much of the “beef” out there doesn’t taste like anything! Form without substance. (Also see ground beef, below.)
  • STEAK: See above comment about prime beef. My reaction to the insane price of beef these days is to buy very small hunks of steak, when I can find them on sale at the co-op and freeze them. I only buy and keep one. Steaks this size aren’t very efficient foodstuffs, it’s an expensive piece o’ protein and usually only one meal. I try to use it as a condiment rather than as a plate filler when I serve it.
  • BREAD: We bake our own. When a decent loaf of bread is as much as about 2/3- 1 lb of beef? I’ll bake it. I also buy enough flour between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 to last until about April. Why? Staples are cheapest between the holiday sales, prethanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. Because of that, the prices go up the MOST they do all year after New Year’s and during February. They level off by the end of March. Staples, like flour, go on sale again for Easter.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/FISH: I stopped eating fish long ago, because I heard something which indicated to me that we were overfishing. As someone who grew up on the Pacific Coast and dearly loves fish, this wasn’t easy. And, yes, I admit, I slip about once or twice a year. DH isn’t fond of fish, which helps.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/CHICKEN: We use bulk pack chicken thighs from the co-op, approx. $2.50 a lb. I buy a 5 lb bag and divvy it up into 3 piece portions, approx. 1 lb each. That’s 2 meals worth, a dinner and lunch the next day. This works for us. I no longer buy whole chickens, chicken breast in any form, etc. Chicken thighs are mostly white meat, some bone and for our household each piece is about 1 portion. It works and it’s cheap.
  • OTHER PROTEIN/GROUND BEEF: I’ve been known to buy meat from a friend who raises cattle, but mostly I buy a pound or two at the local natural food market. The stuff tastes great (see hamburgers, above) but it’s expensive. I get 2 meals from a pound of meat. We have friends who add black beans to ground beef and although this was yummy, I never remember that when it might be useful!
  • OTHER PROTEIN/VEGETABLE: I’ve been known to make lentil burgers. They weren’t bad, but not the success I’d hoped for. Let’s say this is a work in progress. My long-term notion for these is to combine lentils, black beans and ground beef, but it is, as I said, not finished. . . .

Other ideas:

Switch to wood heat, almost entirely. Why? Because we live on just under an acre of land. I can grow some of our fuel. Not enough to keep us warm all winter, but some of it. I can’t grow propane, fuel oil or pellets.

Along this line, we have registers to install between rooms to distribute the wood heat more evenly. We also will maybe buy an ecofan or other fans to help distribute the heat. We have one big fan on our staircase that in summer is used to pull the hot air up to the ceiling and in the winter to push down the hot air.

We’ve been concentrating on things we can do to stay warm and fed. That base layer of Maslow’s, right?

anna-popovic-187219-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Anna Popović on Unsplash

Herbal Zero Waste

I grow herbs and spices here: parsley, sage, mint, oregano, chives, etc. I dry some every year. I do this because if you look at the price per lb. of spices at your local market, you’ll discover that they are among the most expensive, if not THE most expensive foods by weight.

The way I dry them is mostly in lunch bags, plain old brown paper lunch bags. I write on the bottom: the herb, date, and source. (The CSA grows herbs/spices too!) and hang them with rubber bands around the bag’s neck and a peg rack.

After about 2 months, I have dried leaves of whatever: parsley, sage, oregano, basil, etc.

I took down all but the last two of these today.

The spices/herb leaves were added to the appropriate containers, the stems were added to the kindling box, and the rubber bands were returned to the appropriate container as well. The bags? The bags got filled with the “trash” that sits in the bottom of the wood or kindling box (leaves, small twigs, dirt from the logs, pieces of bark, etc.). The bag’s neck was retwisted and

Shazaam! 

You get instant, free, zero waste all-natural fire starters and a clean wood or kindling box!

It makes the messy business of cleaning the wood box kind of fun.

I felt the same years ago: we put corn out for squirrels and I used the dried cobs as fire starters. I thought that idea was original! My MIL told me that one of her jobs on the farm, when she was growing up, was to get the cookstove’s fire going, with dried corn cobs saved for that. [I didn’t grow up on a farm in the midwest, but in L.A.; it was new to me!]

This idea, of stuffing the kindling “trash” into lunch bags will probably also be old to many, but it was a new idea for me again. I’m glad I thought of it, whether it’s a new, or not.

To Do List, Revised 9/19

to do list 1

 

Get at least one piece of one item off of the long-term list!

SHORT TERM:

  • Replace the north/south doors. (They’ve been ordered, will be delivered tomorrow.)
  • Work on the websites. In process
  • Prime & paint the removed clapboards from the laundry wall where the new door is installed.Backs have been primed. Fronts along with new, preprimed clapboards will be painted all at once
  • Paint the rest of the exterior of the house next to the porch.
  • Get the clapboards reinstalled. Started Sunday will probably be finished Friday.
  • Finish filling in the holes caused by the construction. Wednesday
  • Finish edging the “rain garden”.
  • Fill the bagster There’d an unexpected problem. . . .
  • Order gravel.
  • Order wood.
  • Get sanding sealer on inside of new slider.
  • Finish verathane on porch posts. Finished 10/1
  • Primer other unprotected wood on porch which needs it. In process 10/1
  • Get the triangles sealed up. In process 10/1

MEDIUM TERM: (in the next 2-3 weeks)

  • Empty the old coffee table full o’ stuff in the hallway.
  • Resolve the “too many” coffee tables dilemma.
  • Remove the “island” of boxes of stuff from the attic. Sell, donate, or trash enough that the floor can stay cleared.
  • Put food away for winter. In process
  • The fridge freezer needs to be organized and purged. Started Monday
  • Clean the fridge’s shelves.
  • Paint the laundry room, inside and out.
  • Paint the bathroom.
  • Get the new shower curtain liner painted and installed.
  • Get through more of the accounting backlog.
  • Get last year’s unfinished clean up done in the entry/living room/hall.
  • Get the marble table out of the kitchen and to the antique booth. [Called the person who had indicated he’d help me get it to the shop.] It has been cleaned off, needs its base cleaned and for DH to take a pic.
  • Get wood stacked and ready for winter. First 1/2 of the wood has been ordered. Delivered 9/30/17
  • Get kindling boxes made up for winter. 2/4 are made up.

LONG TERM & ONGOING:

  • Get a job.
  • Pay off the equity line.
  • Continue to use up the stored foods: grains, beans, pasta, etc. (The canned goods purge the end of last year beginning of this year worked.) In process
  • Rebuild the winter pantry. In process
  • Writing Projects: Memoir, 1st 3rd of retype complete 8/30
  • Writing Projects: Article In process
  • Writing Projects: Kitchen Book
  • Writing Projects: Novel
  • Get the small dressers cleaned up so that they can replace the big one, so it can be cleaned up and sent to an antique store or to auction. In process

Busy Day

Today is a dump day. Tomorrow is farm day. I have to do or finish the following:

  • Salsa
  • Deal with the remaining hot peppers
  • Finish moving the compost heaps
  • Finish raking the lawn (it was mowed yesterday)* in process
  • Work on the porch*
  • Work on the south side of the house*
  • Finish the shed cull
  • Finish filling the kindling boxes
  • Fill (as much as possible) the wood shelter
  • Finish grading around the patio
  • Clean my car Done! Or as much of it as I’d planned to do!
  • Blueberry/Peach cobbler peaches have been cleaned and peeled
  • Make jam (see cobbler, which will happen first. If I’ve got enough peaches, I’ll make jam, but not otherwise)
  • Clean out the fridge Done!
  • Haul the large load of construction debris to the dump 1st load has been set up although not taken to the dump, yet. Two loads taken, one small load remains to be taken later this week.
  • Catch up the laundry 2nd load in the dryer, 
  • Work on the cleaning plan
  • Call the auto glass, gravel, firewood, and pest control people.

*Either waiting on something from DH or could use his help, or is something which needs to work with his schedule of work on the house.

If you’re thinking that there’s no way I can get this done in ONE day? You’re absolutely correct!

These are the short-time projects:

  • Finish filling the two kindling boxes
  • Blueberry/Peach cobbler
  • Clean my car

These can be worked on or completed as other things are being worked on:

  • Salsa
  • Blueberry/Peach cobbler
  • jam
  • Catch up the laundry

So, it is likely I will deal with the peaches (cobbler and jam), finish the salsa, work on catching up the laundry, fill the kindling boxes while I’m doing other things, probably going to the dump multiple times!

Yesterday I took our old breadbox, a Perfection table top stove, to the antique store. The Victrola horn sold — hurrah! The stove looks sort of like this:

stove

and I took a wrought iron lamp we’ve had forever too. The sewing machine table is the next item slated to be removed, but I have to clear off a coffee table, move it and then get a lot of junk out of the way, first. There are other, more pressing things to do, obviously. With luck the sewing machine table base will be removed by the end of the week.

I’m assuming the Hoosier cabinet sold last Thursday at auction. I have not let myself call the auction house to find what it sold for. I’ll get a check and that’s all I need to know.

Onward!

J

 

Paint, Paint, Paint. . .

Yesterday I finished the first coat of primer on the living room’s log walls. Still to primer are the wallboard walls. These also need to be prepped, that is, cleaned and caulked.

Also, I figured out, with some help from pinterest and the paint manufacturer, exactly which paint we’ll use. At $100+ a gallon, this isn’t a trivial decision! The pic isn’t our house of course, but the walls are the color we’ll use.

One of our long-term fix up projects is to redo the stair trim on the room side. When I mentioned to DH that painting the wall meant that this might be a great time to do this, he responded that we’re doing the window move and that needs to happen and be finished first — and we may be running out of spring/summer/fall time to do projects. True enough. So, the revised plan is that we keep what we’ve got and it gets sanded primered and painted. It’s wood, so it will need knot sealer — so one more piece of wood to knot seal!

fb wevet sample

What’s New?

We bought wood for the winter.

I’ve painted all but the last pantry shelf on the small side. The last shelf was both slanted and warped, so last night after a lot of debating what to do, it got removed. The remainder of these shelves will be painted. (And probably the wall too, although I make no promises regarding that.) The original idea was to use up the Potter & Ball primer and samples we’ve got. I’m still working on the primer, but I used up one or two of the samples (I had 8?).  Taking out the bottom shelf solved more than one problem. I needed a place to store 1/2 gallon bottles of stuff and didn’t have any. Right now they’ve been shoved onto the bookcase in the dining room. I forget the food is there and this creates a lot of waste. Not good.

So, the idea is that the dry stores in 1/2 gallon mason jars are stored on the “new” bottom shelf (actually the floor). I have a small crate I’ll use to take up some of the unused space. All good! The crate will be used and the out of place storage will be moved, etc.

I and the neighbor’s son have been working on the yard clean up. Yesterday he removed the racks from where they’d been last year. One of them fell over. I picked it up and restocked it in a slightly different location. It fell over again and knocked over the 2nd rack! At that point, fortunately, it was spring. And, disgusted, I just left it. He’d move the wood last week. My job today, well one of them, is to finish the clean up in that area.

There were 4 pieces of furniture and the table saw dolly in the way in the wood rack. Right now, 2 of the pieces of furniture have been moved. The other two should also probably be moved today. Then we get to figure out where we’ll store the table saw dolly. At that point, the oak logs which need the mawl to be split apart several times before they become actual firewood can be moved into the wood shed. If I’m lucky and there’s room, the wood splitter etc. can also move there too!

If all this happens, the yard will be much cleaner and we’ll be a lot more prepared for winter around here!

Re house organization? I’m working on it in dribs and drabs. I haven’t tackled a new area in a while, but in the past few I’ve tackled the cabinet under the sink, the bath closet and the pantry. I got the laundry caught up, but there’s a pile down there which needs to be put away, again.

And one of these days, I should write the piece I was thinking about yesterday, when your partner hands you “caulk” and . . . it will probably be good for a laugh (or I hope so!) but I haven’t time to write it now.

Have a great Thursday!