Saturday, February 9, 2013

Planned Obsolescence

A few weeks ago I spoke of how I was not having good luck with some of the things I use everyday.  The first thing was my camera.  I use it almost everyday and suddenly the LCD screen was not lighting up and it was draining the battery.  I contacted Canon and they told me that it needed service.  They told me where to send it and I must say, I was very impressed with their service.  Eight days from mailing the camera in, I received it back and was not charged anything.

The next major thing to break was our microwave. We were not so lucky with this.   The microwave was less than two years old.  We had remodeled our kitchen and put in all new appliances.  So we called in a repairman because it was the over the stove type with the fan and light and couldn't be easily removed.   He came in and told us that it was a defective magnetron and that he could fix it, but the cost would be more than a new unit.  We said we would get back to him.  A couple days after he left, I wanted to use the light and the timer so I plugged it in again.  The microwave worked.  I thought that the repair person was feeding us a line of baloney.  Five days later it stopped working again.  We checked and the warranty had expired.  So we went shopping and purchased a brand new microwave.  Now we have to put it in and dispose of the old one, which won't be an easy task.

The point of this blog is everything you buy these days has "planned obsolescence".  How many of us have old cell phones, cordless phones, answering machines, computers, microwaves and tons of other stuff?  What do you do with all of it?  You can't just throw it in the landfill.

I remember when I was young.  We had the same refrigerator for most of my young life.  It survived many moves on open trailers in the ice and snow.  It probably is still running somewhere.  Things were meant to last.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Easy Storage Container

Yesterday I wrote about how to make wool dryer balls to soften clothing in the dryer.  I mentioned that I have a big stash of yarn from leftover projects.  I usually buy too much yarn for a project and what is left I store for some small project that I may want to make.  When my granddaughter wants to make a scarf or some mittens, we just look through the stash for a suitable color and type of yarn.  I could just hear some of you say "but you need space to store all that yarn".  Here is my solution.  I bought a big plastic garbage can.  We cut a circle out of particle board or heavy cardboard would also work.  I imagine you could use a square also.

Next you store what ever you want in the garbage can.  It could be yarn, fabric, extra pillows or bedding, books or anything you want to hide when company comes.

The next thing is to find a tablecloth the proper size.  I couldn't find one, so I measured from the center of the board to the floor.  I took that measurement and cut a circle from an old bed sheet. 

Lay a proper sized sheet flat on the floor. Tie a fabric marker to a piece of string the length needed. Pin the other end of the string in the center of the sheet.   Hold the string taught while drawing a circle with the marker.  Cut out the circle.  Then finish the edges of the circle by zigzag stitching, serging or just a pinking shears. 

At this point I just cover the garbage can with the tablecloth.  It looked a little plain so I had an old antique tapestry that I put on top of that.  You could probably be more creative than I, but it holds (or hides) a lot of treasures.

And then finish it off with a lamp or some decoration. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wool Dryer Balls

As you know, I am always on the hunt for a way to accomplish household tasks and save money at the same time.  Previously I posted about a home made fabric softener that used inexpensive hair conditioner and white vinegar.  Then I just started using the white vinegar straight in the softener dispenser in the washer.  It worked great and I didn't need the conditioner which mostly added scent.  Now I am going one step further.  I made wool dryer balls.

They sell online for $20 or more for 6 balls.  Basically you throw them into the dryer with your wet clothes, they bounce around and soften the clothes.   Look up Woolzies and see what they are.

Here is my version with the process for making them.

The first thing I did was to check my yarn stash for some 100% wool yarn.  I found this.  Who knows how old it could be.  The label shows it's very old.  It was still in good shape though so I wound it into a ball about two inches in diameter.  I got two balls from this skein.  I found another and wound two more balls.  Then I found a tweed skein and wound two more.  I'm not sure about the color fastness of this yarn so I won't be using them with white clothes for now. 

Here are the six balls of wool yarn. 
 P.S.  I made the basket a few years ago.

Next I secured the yarn ends by pulling the end through the ball and put them one by one in the leg of a panty hose.  I tied the stocking between each ball.  Then I put them into the washing machine to felt.  Felting is the term to shrink the wool fibers with moisture and heat.  How many of us have put a wool sweater in the washing machine by mistake and shrunk it several sizes and matted the knitting.  You want to do that in this project.  After washing,  then put them into the dryer and completely dry.

When dry, untie the panty hose and take out the felted balls.  They should be matted balls and unable to unravel.  Don't use super wash wool because it won't felt.  As I said before, I probably won't test these out with white clothes because I'm not sure about fading.  That is probably why the purchased balls are white.  I will see how they work and let you know.  If you want a scent, put a few drops of essential oil on the dryer ball and the scent will be released in the dryer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Towel Bars made out of a Willow Tree

The bathrooms in our house were in need of complete remodels when we purchased our house.  The upstairs bath was one of the first projects.  Luckily we happened on a hickory vanity and linen cabinet at a local lumber yard.  It looked rustic enough for the cabin.  It didn't come with a mirror so my husband bought hickory lumber and made a frame to match the cabinet and we installed the framed mirror over the vanity.

The project was almost done, but we needed towel bars.  Nothing we saw looked right so we got the bright idea of going down in the marsh and collecting some willow branches.  We thought it would give us a couple years of use and time to decide what we wanted.  That was ten years ago and they are still functioning just fine.  You never know what you can find in your own backyard.  They were hard to photograph, but you get the idea.

With the scraps that were left, we also made a shelf.

Willow branches are very flexible.  We bought two chairs from a local craftsman.  He used the same type of willow material as we used.  The best part is that Willows  grow very quickly so in a short time you would never know that we cut some branches for our towel bars.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chicken Lasagna

Well, it's Tuesday and that means I post what I am having for dinner.  My husband likes lasagna and I often make the traditional fare, but he also likes the Chicken Lasagna that I make.  The recipe calls for ground chicken or turkey, but sometimes I just cook a couple chicken breasts and dice them.  It just depends what I have on hand.

These are the ingredients that you will need.

Chicken Lasagna

2 T. Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Chicken (or Turkey)
1 Onion, finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1/8 to 1 t. Cayenne pepper
2 (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes (Use the one with herbs if you like that taste)
1 small can of Tomato Sauce
¼ t. Salt
1 (15 oz) container Ricotta Cheese
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Egg
½ lb. Lasagna Noodles
There is no need to boil the noodles for this lasagna. The noodles absorb moisture from the sauce as this dish bakes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray shallow pan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat oil in large skillet until hot. Add chicken and cook until browned with onion,  garlic and cayenne pepper. Stir well and add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, stir together ricotta cheese, 2 cups of mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and the egg.

Spread 1 cup of tomato mixture in the bottom of the pan, then place 3 uncooked lasagna noodles side by side over the sauce. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture over the noodles, sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon one-half of the remaining tomato mixture over cheese. Repeat layering placing the lasagna noodles in the opposite directions with each layer, ending with mozzarella cheese.

Cover and bake 30-35 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Adventure Bound

We are almost finished with the bedroom remodel that I spoke of in a previous blog (Getting Through the Winter).  I will post finished photos of that later.  While deciding what items should be returned to the room and which items should be discarded, I came across my favorite school book.  In seventh grade we had an English book called Adventure Bound.  Way back then, when I was in school, we had to memorize poems and stand up in front of the class to recite them.  I still remember so many of them to this day.  I don't remember the teachers name, but I remember the poems.  Many years ago I found a copy somewhere and felt the need to buy it.  I think I will keep it.   The Fly Lady probably wouldn't approve (

There was The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Under the spreading chestnut tree, The village smithy stands.
The smith a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hand.
And the muscles of his brawny arms, Are strong as iron bands.

Or The Barefoot Boy by John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little man
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan.
With thy turned up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes.

I memorized Hiawatha's Childhood and Nancy Hanks.  Who would have thought that all these years later, I still remember most of them.

There were stories too.  Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling as well as science stories, interesting people like Henry Ford, sports and animals.  I realize that much of my trivia knowledge came out of this book.  I wonder what twelve year old kids of today will remember when they are sixty five.  I bet they will never take a trip to the past in a school book.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Great Horned Owl

This is Autumn a Great Horned Owl living at the
Feather Wildlife Rehabilitation Center  in New London, Wisconsin is the website for the rehabilitation center in New London.

Everyone is fascinated with owls.  Some think they are wise, some think they are spooky and I think they are beautiful.  This year we plan to put up an owl house to attract them, and perhaps they will raise a family in one of our trees.  We have plans and have one nearly done, however putting it up will have to wait until the snow melts a little.  The houses are supposed to be installed by February 1, but that is impossible this year with trees full of snow and the ice.  We will get it up when we can and hopefully at some point have a family of owls move in.

 The tall trees are still full of snow.

I will have to watch the webcam to keep track of the progress of Ms Harvey, a Great Horned Owl.
She laid her first egg of 2013 on January 30th.

Here is Ms Harvey's story from the website.

"Ms Harvey, the great horned owl, came to the Feather Wildlife Rehabilitation center in May 1997 as a bird taken in illegal activity.   She was raised by humans and we did not think she would make a release when she was able to fly.  But she proved us wrong and flew and killed and was released in fall of 1997. She wears a US Fish and Wildlife band on her right leg, #599-10043.
She continued to stay in the area of where she was released and showed up on occasion.  We  put food out for her so she would stay here to get a good start.   That was the start of our “perk” with a great horned female owl.
  Starting in 2003 she started to lay eggs on top on another owl cage and they rolled off.  So we put up a bushel basket and she took it for her nest in 2004 and brought off one baby owl.
  Now the male she chose does not incubate the eggs when she gets off the nest to eat, etc.  So there are many years when the eggs freeze.   But each year we get young great horned owls that we can not put back in the nest, so until they can fly we put them in with our surrogate great horned. When the time is right we put them in the air by the nest and Ms Harvey takes over from there. 
  In 2009 she raised two young to about 2 weeks and both of them were predated, possibly by raccoons.  In 2010 she had a late hatch and brought off two young.  Each year has a story to tell about the nest and the activity. In 2011 she again lost the first clutch and re nested two weeks later and brought off one chick.   We gave her two more young  owls to raise. One of them is still here food begging.
We have been blessed to have this bird in our lives and now wish to share it with all of you on the internet.  So many good things are happening all around us if we just pay attention. "

This webcam is from New London Wisconsin with live video of the mama Ms Harvey sitting on the egg.

We attended a presentation from the people of the rehab center.  Here are a few more breeds of owls that they brought along to show.  If anyone has the opportunity to see this, it is wonderful.

 Marsh or Burrowing Owl
We had this type of Owl in one of our trees this winter.
I saw him catch a mouse and eat it so I hope he stays around.
I didn't get a good photo.  This is the best I could do.

 Saw-whet Owl

  Screech Owl

Barred Owl