Friday, August 28, 2015

Wildlife Watch X!!

This little thing was sitting right next to the shop very near the fetching field of play. Delia noticed it first.*

We didn't know what type of bird this is, so I posted on the Cornell Lob of Ornithology Facebook page. But it was my own Facebook friends who answered: juvenile male American Kestrel!

I guess whatever it was that brought him to the ground next to our shop was his end. There is only one small window on the shop, but perhaps he hit it. This is the first kestrel we've seen, but I guess that doesn't mean there isn't a nesting site nearby. He was so pretty and I'm sad he didn't make it.

I started this post before I found that he had died and I hesitated about going ahead with posting it. Then I remembered how death is as much a part of observing wildlife as any other part and that living in the forest also means sometimes experiencing the deaths of the creatures of the forest.


*And all she did was sniff it, look to me, and then continue on with her fetching. Good girl, Delia!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Odds & Ends: Summer 2015

Seems like the bigger summer projects have only started coming to fruition as the summer is winding up. ACK!  

The woodshed project is finally getting going with the footings dug and poured in mid-August (dug by an awesome local renaissance handyman we met through a neighbor and poured by yours truly) and the framing package delivered last Thursday. With the help of a fore mentioned renaissance handyman and the loan of a compound miter saw (our NEW SAW is coming next Thursday), I got started last Friday. YAHOO!

The majestic Bitterroot Range is in that. Also our house.

We have now experienced our worst smoke days since living here. From what I can tell the whole world smells like a campfire. That's a whole lot less charming than the scent of sitting around an actual campfire, especially since we can't just scoot to the other side of the fire to get out of the smoke. The smoke is EVERYWHERE. We can feel it in our throats, noses, eyes and so forth. 

And we're just a couple-few weeks from receiving the cabinets for our long-awaited, much-anticipated, highly-coveted kitchen island! ACK II!  I have been experimenting with finishes and at this point am pretty committed to also refinishing all the existing kitchen cabinets. New hardware has been purchased and most of it received; our butcher block counter is waiting for a quick sanding and mineral oil treatment. Yahoo!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dogust Birthday: Betty Turns Five!

Betty turned five years old on Thursday, August 20! Her papa was out of town on beeswax, so she was treated to a solo performance by mama. What a lucky girl!

A friend from a Facebook group shared a recipe for "dog ice cream" so I decided to make pupcicles to celebrate! One of the pupcicles is the base for Betty's peanut-butter-supported carrot "candles."

Add the following to a blender:
3 ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter (make sure it does not contain xylitol, which can be deadly to dogs)
Blend until combined and at least mostly smooth. Pour into ice cube trays or moulds. Freeze.

I was lucky to have received this bone-shaped, silicone baking mould for Christmas and it worked great! I also had this silicone mould of sausage shapes because I couldn't resist it when I saw it.

Once the treats are completely frozen you can pop them out of the moulds, put them in a freezer-safe container and then back in the freezer.


Both of the Beastie Grrrlz love these cool treat on these hot Dogust days and I have to say that of all the dog treats I have made, there are the tastiest!

* Here are the changes I made:
I did a 2/3 batch because I had only 2 bananas in the freezer.
I mixed the ingredients in a bowl, using a fork to break up the banana as necessary. We use the blender for bulletproof coffee and I didn't feel like doing all the cleaning it would take to use it for the pupcicles.
Because of that my mix was thicker and I scooped it into the moulds with a spoon.
My 2/3 recipe made 15 bones, 8 sausages, and about a dozen regular ice cubes. I bet the original recipe would fill about 3 standard ice cube trays.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Another Wedge of Lime

The saga of dealing with the lime in the well water continues. This time it was the increasingly spattering upstairs bathroom sink faucet. I couldn't set my classes on the vanity to wash my face w/o them getting all spattered with water and it could get you, albeit lightly, right in the crotch if conditions were just right... or just wrong.

I had been taught that plumbing parts such as the aerator were to be hand-tightened only, but this one was on there so good I thought the skinflint* former owners had managed to buy a faucet where it wasn't removable. Then I noticed that there were flat sides on it indicating a place for a wrench to grab. Eureka!

I also had a rag to protect the fixture from the wrench.

I grabbed the channel lock wrench, a Pyrex dish, good old white vinegar, a toothbrush used for household cleaning. Later I added the probe; you'll see why.

Oopsie! Apologies for the blurry shot, it's too late to take another. You can see the chunks of lime that fell out just from removing the aerator.
I added enough vinegar to the Pyrex bowl to cover the parts, then soaked them for a few minutes, then brushed off the thinner layer. Soaked again, then went after this guy with the probe. Soak, probe, soak, probe, until free of lime scale.

How did water get through there at all?

And finally they were clean!

I noticed those small bits on the edges of the gray piece as I was photographing, so picked them out with the probe real quick before reassembling.

Finally, I put it all back together and gave it a test run.

Works like new!

*I know that wasn't a nice thing to write, but I'm getting more and more frustrated with having to live with, clean up, and/or fix their cheap shortcuts, some of them dangerous and/or illegal. Sigh.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wildlife Watch X!

If I didn't have dogs, then I would never have noticed that there were cattle (!) wandering through the National Forest behind the house on Friday morning.

I am informed by a neighbor that there is a free-range herd down on the valley floor at the bottom of our road and that members of that herd sometimes wander up here when pickin's get slim down there.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Fifth Season

And then suddenly smoke season came to the Bitterroot.

Despite the man-made structures in the foreground, the view from the supermarket parking lot in Stevensville is pretty spectacular even with the smoke.

From what we hear, a few small, contained fires caused this. It makes for some beautiful sunrises and sunsets, though. So far, it doesn't really smell all that smokey outside, but I guess clothesline season is over for now.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bigfoot's Cryptid Cocktail Napkins, A Journey to Miterdom

I'm a sucker for cloth napkins. We use them every day and I am inordinately satisfied when I can use them for entertaining instead of throw away paper napkins. So, when Fizzy Party and TheMistressT (that's me) collaborated on styling the Bigfoot's Cryptid Cocktail Hour, I knew I wanted to make cloth napkins. Because of the woodsy theme, I feel that we'll get lots of opportunities to use these and I was able to find just over half of my materials in my stash which was even more satisfying.

Both faux bois patterns came from my stash as well as all the thread. The green is most of a fat quarter I picked up for this project. Total out-of-pocket, under $3.

A quick look at how to make mitered cornered cloth napkins (or any other rectangle*). Apologies on the lighting, it was getting dark as I was making these.

1. Cut your squares**.
I looked up the standard size of a cocktail napkin and found 6". Well, my scraps weren't quite big enough for that, so my finished size is about 5.5" square. The seam allowance is about 1" on all sides, so I cut my squares at about 7.5" x 7.5".

2. Mark your hem on all sides using a disappearing or wash-away marker or pencil; I did 1".

3. Press a 1/4" hem all around and then press along your 1" mark all around. I took extra time and steam on the corners where the layers of fabric were building up. Then open the 1"hem leaving the 1/4" hem pressed down.

4. Fold and press all corners in to form a 45 degree angle where the 1" hem creases meet, then open them.

5. Fold the napkin diagonally, right sides together, matching up the 45 degree crease you just pressed. Pin all 4 corners. Then sew along those 45 degree creases.

6. Cut the corner hems at about 1/4" and finger press open. Cut ends to points to reduce bulk.

7. Turn all the hems so wrong sides are together, pin and sew close to the inside edge.

8. Admire all those lovely miters!

9. Pour yourself a cocktail (or mocktail); you deserve it!

Mostly I added this photo as an excuse to show off another of my woodsy-themed vintage trays that we didn't end up using in the party shoot and as an opportunity to link to the prior post about the etched rocks glasses

*Putting basic geometry class to use in everyday life: a square is a rectangle; it's an equilateral rectangle. Or at least that's how I remember it.

**Obviously, you can adjust all the measurements to suit your size of napkin or other rectangle. I think that a nice wide hem on a large dinner napkin would look very luxurious and add a nice heft, but that means using quite a bit more fabric.