Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pretzels and Backsmithing

A couple weekend's ago our friends Nate and Stacey came over for the day. We spent the morning in the garden. Stacey was helping me weed and plant things as I'm having a hard time bending and squatting for long periods of time being over 5 months pregnant. I told myself that this pregnancy wasn't going to slow me down. That I was strong and I'd keep bustling like I always do. And I was WRONG! 

But that's ok. We are just thankful for our new little blessing to come. Everything else can wait. 

After gardening, Stacey and I headed to the kitchen to make homemade soft pretzels while the boys made their way to the shop to spend the afternoon blacksmithing. 

Stacey received a delicious gourmet pretzel mustard dip as a gift from a co-worker and she wanted to make soft pretzels to dip in the sauce. 

The recipe we used is from Alton Brown Alton Brown Soft Pretzels.

Traditionally pretzels are dipped in a diluted lye solution, which is extremely alkaline and give pretzels their pretzel-y flavor. However, lye can be a bit intimidating to cook with so we appriciated that this recipe used baking soda as a substitute. 

 The most fun was rolling and shaping the dough!

 They turned out DELICIOUS! And Stacey's mustard dip was a perfect accompaniment!

 The guys spent the day making large hooks. Nate will use his for his boat and Zach will use his to connect chain to the tractor to haul things.

 I finally remembered to give Stacey her birthday present. A silly little crochet potholder that I made to match her chicken-themed kitchen. The pattern can be found over at Bag-O-Day Crochet and More. 

We finished the day with cool drinks and pretzels at the picnic table.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Spare Bedroom Remodel

I've been meaning to share these photos with you for over two years now. I keep waiting because there always seems like there's something else I'd like to add/finish before the room is complete and I could unveil the final look.

But seeing that we're expecting our first little girl this October, and this will be her room, I thought I should share what the room looks like now before we end up changing it again for her arrival.

First I'll share the before photos:

Here's a shot from each of the four corners. My mom moved in with us for a while after my dad passed away, so for the longest time, the room served as a spill over storage room for a lot of her stuff that we didn't want ruined in our musty basement.

When we bought the house, the upstairs, including this room was carpeted in a light teal carpeting. When we tore it out, we found old wide plank floors that were too cool to carpet over. However there was a lot of damage and what looked like spilled burgundy paint. Our room also had these floors, but they were too damaged and we decided to re-carpet.

The ceiling was covered in a ceiling tile network, which we tore out, revealing a very damaged ceiling. We cut out large areas of the plaster and repaired much of the ceiling.

We also unveiled a second attic access.
The room was also covered in paneling, which we wanted to remove because the plan was to put bead-board in this room to give it a farmhouse/cottage feel. But bead-board paneling on top of regular paneling would have looked odd so we decided to take out the paneling.

Once we started removing the paneling, we discovered that it was hiding a multitude of plaster and drywall problems. We then had a decision to make, the best thing would have gutted everything down to the studs and start over, but the way our small upstairs is configured, this would have extended the project out to the hall, down the stairs and into our bedroom.

This would have tripled the cost and work involved with the "small bedroom remodel". So we improvised and mudded all the indent lines in the plaster. We sanded and mudded, sanded and mudded until the paneling looked like drywall. It turned out great and you honestly can't tell.
Once the room was prepped we began painting, putting up beadboard, wainscotting, crown molding, and new molding around the windows and door.

We also had to drop the split closets down now that the ceiling was higher without the tiles, and to leave space for molding. The windows also needed to be re-framed.

To give the ciling uniformity we used a textured paper that reminds me of the metal apothecary tiles. I think we may also do this in our kitchen. I LOVE the way it turned out.

 And we painted the floor white.

These old brown dressers goat a face lift via some white and grey paint, and some stenciling.

I also found some antique switchblade covers and an old turn-of-the century light fixture that we painted white to match.

And here's the final room!

I found a pack of stencils which prompted a subtle bluebird theme throughout the room.

Some drawings I did for the room.

I also made a rag rug.
To learn how to make this rug or the white pillow on the bed visit the links below.

Rag Rug
Eyelet Pillow

For now, I use the room as a sort of dressing room, but it will soon be transformed into our little girl's room. We're lucky that we're having a girl, as the room has an ultra feminine feel to it. Not much will change, of course the twin bed will be traded for a crib and we'll paint to match the crib bedding. But as she gets older, the twin bed can be moved back in. This bed is actually my bed as a child. It can turn into a canopy which I really enjoyed and think any little girl will think is cool. I plan on turning the long dresser into a changing table, as the small room doesn't have a lot of space for extra furniture. I also have a wicker rocking chair from my bedroom as a girl that will be added.

I'll update as we turn the room into a nursery

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Insect Eggs on Okra?

We started some okra plants this spring. They germinated under the grow light system we have in the backroom. After the plants were about 3 weeks old, I noticed tiny clear balls collecting on the stems and leaf veins of the okra.

They were jelly-like in texture so I assumed some sort of insect had made its way into the house and laied eggs on the okra plants. It was only the okra that was effected. None of the nearby artichokes or pumpkin starts had any eggs.

Never-the=less, I separated the plants and moved them to the covered porch so if something did hatch it wouldn't be loose in our house or effect other seedlings. 

I assumed it had to be an okra-specific insect, the same way vine borers target pumpkin plants or asparagus beetle only congregate on asparagus plants.

After a Google search I was having a hard time identifying any insect that specifically targeted okra. Then someone in a gardening forum mentioned that she had something similar going on with her okra plants and that it turned out to be dried sap balls that the plant naturally excretes.

I changed my search to "okra sap" and found many examples and photographs of the same thing I was experiencing.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Springtime at Iron Oak Farm

Everything is starting to blossom in the warmer weather.
Purple Phlox

Dandelion gone to seed

The whole yard smells of sweet honeysuckle. This is the pink variety.

And here is the white variety of Honey Suckle.


The turkeys, chickens, geese, guineas and ducks enjoying the new run. We still have the other half to build.

We had a successful hatch of Buff Orpington chicks. 5 out of 7 eggs.

I can't believe how big these guys have grown! Khaki Campbell ducks

Little Man-Abrahm is also getting big. He's enjoying cuddles on the porch after his bottle while Oliver licks his face clean of milk.