Tag Archive | personal: homesteading

Homeownership: The Plumbing Volume

Things I have learned that you never say, because you are simply tempting fate, Volume LIII:

Oh, I’m not worried about our pipes.  The one pipe in our house that COULD freeze was replaced when it froze years ago.

Saturday morning we woke up to a glubbing sound.

Glub-glub is not a sound you want to hear in your house, I assure you.  Continue reading

Autumn is Here, and a weekend of weekend-ness

Autumn is here, in fact as well as in name.

I can tell not only because my apples are coming ripe and the grapes in my hedgerow are sweet and full, not only because every store is selling pumpkins and my dash is full of Hallowe’en, but because between Thursday and Friday the temperatures dropped precipitously.

Both highs and lows are 10-20 degrees F lower than they were at the beginning of last week – from low 80s and low 50s (28°C/12°C or so) to low 70s-> mid 60’s down to mid-40s at night(18°C-4°C or so). It came on literally overnight, and here I am, hoping the chimney sweep and the furnace check-up guy get here soon. Brrr!

In the meantime, we’ve been chopping brush to burn, hauling firewood into the house, moving firewood around the garage… cleaning the garage so we have room for the firewood (that’s mostly T)…and pulling the gutters down on the short front of the house.

(Our house has two sections: a one-story section that houses the kitchen & utility room (and dreaded foyer) and a two-story section with the rest of the house.)

The gutter was… interesting. When we pulled down the rotted board BEHIND the gutter, we found about a jillion dead wasps nests, some dead wasps… and a skeleton mouse. Yay nature~

Autumn is here, ‘though the leaves haven’t started to change yet. Home repairs are going into overdrive in anticipation of the cold that’s coming, and the cats are growing an extra coat of fur for the winter. “Winter is coming,” Oli insists, as he devours an extra helping of food.

“Winter is coming,” I agree, and stack some more firewood.

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Weekend, Pinterest, Instant Pot, etc.

  • If you use Pinterest, have you ever found yourself in Pinboard Bloat? Like, you start a board, Pinterest suggests some similar boards, so you follow them, then Pinterest is like “try these suggested pins” so you pin those and the next thing you know, your little board of, say, Addergoole Changes is a giant behemoth of mermaids and satyr beefcake and winggy people?

    Or, ah, is that just me?

  • Have I mentioned I love our InstantPot? So far, we’ve only made two dishes in it, but love it!
  • If you haven’t checked in on the new Addergoole page, you can still earn fic with comments!
  • And if you know anyone who might be interested in supporting my Patreon, Nimbus is stuck in the man-eating plant, and only the patrons can get her out!

    (a couple patrons had to reduce or drop patronizing due to funding issues, and thus we are back down below the $40 net “serial episode a month” level. Poor Nimbus! Stuck! ~Woe~!)

  • And this weekend: We installed a toilet!
    Seriously, even if they tell you when you buy a toilet that there’s a wax ring in the package, buy two. Not one, two. You won’t regret it.

    That being said, our pretty new reasonable-height dual-flush toilet is in and goes, YAY!

    Our old one had been first stained by our rusty water.

    And then some previous tenant had used something so corrosive to clean the orange that it had stripped the enamel off the porcelain.

    And then the house was winterized, and the blue dye… stained the porcelain.

    Black veined toilet! Ick!

    (we’re looking into water softeners now…)

    That’s one more step towards a non-ugly bathroom!

  • I’m low on interesting links this week, so how about you? Share your cool links!

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Weekends, Links, and other fun things…


  • I got stung by a bee for the first time in my adult life the Sunday before this one.  The poor thing was probably just looking for something alive, considering the drought-ridden state of our yard.  Still, I’ve learned a) I’m still not allergic to bees (somewhat of a concern, as both my father & my maternal uncle had adult-onset of bee-sting allergies), b) there’s quite a range of non-allergy-based reactions to bee stings.  In this case, “where did my ankle bone go?”  It took about a week for the swelling to vanish — I have my foot back, finally! — and I am left with an itchy spot and a strong resolve to not get stung again.

  • I have gotten Thimbleful Thursday prompts scheduled out through the end of July 2018!  I wanted to make sure I had a year in the hopper after I, um, got distracted and forgot to post prompts from December through May.  I think I’m set, now.  I could ignore it for 2 years and it would still be there.

  • We are building a bed!  We bought a new mattress during July, going from a Queen (second-hand, 1000 years old) to a new foam California King (and when I put it “cali king,” I giggle every time) mattress.  Thus, need a new bedframe.  
    Because our bedroom is narrow and longish (7-½’ by 14-½’), we’re building a storage bed with drawer/carts coming out the long way — from the foot.  This is leading to a frame that looks something like an elongated E.  We’ve got the lumber; next stage… cutting!

  • You can make a Suicide Squad-style icon of yourself! Or, in my case, sort of a wishful-thinking self.

  • If you’re interested in paranormal romance, check out Selena Page.  I’ve beta-read both extant novellas, and there’s another one coming in August!

  • Cutthroat Kitchen fan?  Did you see this post from Jet Tila?

  • There’s still slots open — comment on Addergoole’s new site and get a ficlet in return.  Make the pretty new page look less lonely!

  • …I really gotta get around to renewing my DW subscription…

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The Sink Is In – Homeownership at its finest

(I shall try to get a photo, I promise)

We have a sink and faucet!

(New ones, that is, and finally installed.)

This project, like all home improvement projects, expanded and expanded and expanded – but it’s done. Well, at least for the moment.

So, problem one: Our walls are nearly-solid wood, not studs. They’re 2″x~15″, 16″-on-center.

That means the sink plumbing does down, not into the wall and then down.

That means our solid-bottom pedestal doesn’t fit, ’cause the solid bottom would go right over the encased-in-cement drain!

So, fix one: we bought two ~4″x4x”x24″ pieces of very pretty maple, sanded, stained, and polyurethaned them. Instant (ha) stand-out.

Then we got food poisoning.

Then the P-trap didn’t have a down, because plumbing goes into the wall.

Then the hot water didn’t work.


It took – well, don’t ask, but it took 2 weeks of working on it regularly, but now we have a beautiful functioning sink.

Next step: toilet. Wish us luck!

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Grandpa-to-Me Cooking

There’s a rage, it seems, for Farm-to-Table dining; there’s a few restaurants open in Ithaca right now that tout it and it gets play in some blogs. In short, it’s local food delivered to local consumers – in restaurants, it’s high end stuff made with low-food-miles food. I find it an interesting movement, but I live in the Frozen North, and I like my oranges, and my fresh produce in December, and so on.

There’s also – as we found out when we were taken out to a fancy place for dinner for our birthdays in Troy a few weeks back – a trend for buttermilk-fried ramps right now. And let me tell you, they are delicious. Ommity nommity tasty, with just enough onion flavor. We bought some ramps from our local farmer’s market and tried it out – so good

But to bring this around full circle, trendy things are pricey, and ramps have a very short growing season and are in fashion right now, so much so that people fear overharvesting.

Enter my grandparents’ farm, and the small forest there that my parents harvest for wood. And a visit to meet with my other (surviving) grandmother at my parents’ place 2 weekends past.

And my mother just happens to say “oh, would you like some ramps? We can go dig them.”

Let me tell you, grandpa’s-woods-to-table tastes even better than farm-to-table.

ramps picture source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_houle/4579462538

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Time for Yardwork!

~~It’s Spring! It’s time for all the chores~~

We’ve come to the time of year when I can almost rely on the weather not being frosty overnight – it reached the 70’s yesterday! (Low 20s C) – so now is the time for all the yardwork, and planning all of the house stuff.

I’ve started keeping a notebook, writing down everything that I need/want to do on the house. I think a couple basic things in the bathroom & the foyer are first there – especially the things we already have everything for.

But that’s this weekend. I started on the garden way back in March – the peas I planted are coming up; the carrots & beets aren’t. But that means it’s time for another round of seeds of both of those.

We won’t put starts in the ground until Memorial Day, but my Egyptian Walking Onions, Horseradish, mint, chives, and oregano are already up from last year.

And I’ve been making fire!

We have a Giant Brush Pile I’ve been working on knocking down, with the help of an electric chipper-shredder (mostly last year) and a small fire pit. Now that’s fun – sitting out there feeding wood into the pit, the table ton my lap, writing in between chopping up wood for the fire.

And last year’s firewood is mostly cured, so it moves into the garage now – it’s stacked along the garage door wall for the first year, to get the sun – to make room for the wood we’ll be ordering in a week or two. It’s hard, satisfying work with direct, tangible results. I like it.

Of course, today it’s raining. Maybe I’ll work on a skirt this evening.

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Homesteading: Loaves and Lessons

I have been learning things about bread!

If you are an experienced bread baker, most of these things will probably not be news to you. Some of them are not /recent/ news to me but I still find them interesting.

What I have been learning recently is about tenderness, crispness, and longevity.

My normal go-to loaf is Oatmeal Toasting and Sandwich Bread. It’s got milk and honey in it, it’s got whole wheat flour in it, it’s tender, it’s got a small, fine crust, and it’s great for toasting.

But I was making baked brie, and that needs a bread that can hold up to dipping.

(this, which I ended up using, is not really quite french bread. But it works).

Take away most of the sugar and all of the fat, and you end up with a crisper loaf. Increase hydration and reduce kneading in the proofing stage, and you end up with bubbles in the bread. These things I knew, but it was neat to see them in process.

What I didn’t know but learned fast was that if you take away all that fat, the bread goes stale much, much faster. That was a learning experience!

And it did, by the way, work great dipped in a drippy baked brie with fig spread. And just as great with fancy butter, toasted on top the wood stove.

Next up? Brioche!

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Gifts in a Jar: Food

Christmas Food

I mentioned last week that we were going to make Kale & Apple Soup for my mom. It turned out delicious!

We made the following changes:

We started with butter and browned it, then sauteed some mushrooms (baby bellas) in that.

We toasted some cumin, fennel, allspice, and cloves (4 berries, 2 cloves, 1 teas fennel, 1 teas cumin) whole, then ground that up and added it to the butter.

After blending the soup and dividing it between 2 quart mason jars, we sliced a sunchoke and 2 carrots on the bias and sauteed them until they were tender and had some color, then used those as a topping.

Delicious and, well not vegan, def. vegetarian! And using up kale and apples from our garden!

That was Mom; for Capriox & Mr. Cap and a whole passel of co-workers we made Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa Mix. Like most of these things, good ingredients are key, so we used a nice dark cocoa powder. Following suggestions from other people, we ran everything through the food processor for a bit to get the milk powder down to a much finer consistency, and, because we prefer our cocoa to taste like chocolate and not sugar, we halved the sugar (& skipped the cayenne). We put that in a mason jar, too, quart for Cap and pints/half pints for co-workers, topped or sided with mini-marshmallows and wrapped up with a ribbon so I could tie on an instructions tag.

Mason jars make everything awesome. 🙂 And, strangely, I have a lot of canning supplies in my house…

Next up: seeing if I can turn the tiny mug cakes into a kit/jar mix.

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First, Catch the Rabbit… Making things from your own yard

I’m making my mother Kale & Apple soup for Christmas.

I try to make her a soup most years. This isn’t just feeding her – she can cook plenty well by herself – it’s also test-driving a recipe that almost always has some meat product in it and making it tasty and vegetarian for her.

This year’s recipe, for instance, has bacon in it. I think we’re going to start with mushrooms and perhaps a little bit of gelatin (I know, horse hooves, but she’s only mostly vegetarian…) to get the proper umami and texture going on.

It’s also going to be made – aside from the mushrooms, which I’ve not gotten around to trying growing at home yet, and the gelatin, which, uh, no – entirely from homegrown stuff.

Apples, of course. My house is still full of apples. You can’t turn around without running into a box of apples.

Apple cider for some of the liquid. When we make it, it has stock in it; I’ll probably make some leek stock as a start. The leeks are still sitting in the garden, wondering when I’ll do something with them. And the cider we pressed ourselves, from the apples our trees produced.

And then there’s the kale. Kale is a marvelous thing. It just keeps growing. Last year, it lasted until February. This year, I imagine I might have to pull it out to plant new come June – since there’s no snow to speak of yet.

There’s something satisfying about giving homemade gifts; there’s something even more pleasing about doing it from ingredients your yard grew.

I wonder if she’d want duck egg something next year…

But first we have to get the ducks.

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