Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Knife and Steel

Take a look at these beauties.
(Never mind my old stained cutting board.)
A good year or so ago
Mr. LB found a good deal on J Russell Green River knife blades.
This one is the 'sheep skinner.'
He thought the angle might be interesting and useful.
With one, he used the two blocks of wood that come with the blade
 to make the handle.
It turned out fine, and he has used it several times.
The other, he took to my brother.
He enjoys knives and does a pretty nice job.
 So they worked something out.  You know how horse trading goes.
Hubby was thinking of having it done "nicely" as a possible gift
to maybe his brother or my dad, but my brother didn't know that part.
My brother thought he would do something nice for Mr. LB.
He used deer antlers instead of the blocks that came with it,
 and made a steel to match.
Hubby is right handed so the knife goes in his right hand,
and the steel in his left.
Look at the contour of the antlers used.
He cut the antler right where it would lend the proper angles
to fit each hand.
My baby brother said he used a new kind of shellack,
and he didn't seem to care for it as well.
Mr. LB is also disappointed - that's sarcasm incase you didn't catch on.
Needless to say, it has not yet been used.
It is at present sitting on the mantel center stage.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Loom is in the House!

Oh, the thrill.
I found this gem in a thrift shop a couple years ago.
She was marked reasonably and everything in the store 
happened to be 1/2 off that day.
So I thought for about a minute - really maybe a whole minute.
I was driving the pickup that day for whatever reason.
It was fate:)
She has sat in the shop for a couple years, and
every so often, I would take the shop-vac to her.
 She was dirty and tangled when I brought her in.
I took the vacuum to her as well as a lot of 'Old English.'
I cut strings that were binding.
What is on her now is a rag rug that was started at some point in her life.
I just left it on there so I can take mental notes as I remove it all.
I have met one or two nice folks who have offered to help me learn
how to get her set up for weaving.
I have been asked what kind of loom she is and other questions about her
that I have no idea how to answer.
After cleaning her thoroughly,
I can still find no makers name plate or stamp anywhere.
If someone can tell me what I have,
please leave me a comment.
As long as she works properly, it really doesn't matter to me,
but it would sure be nice to know.
There is now a whole slough of words and verbiage I need to learn.
petals, rutter, appendix etc. haha
I do know I will need different shuttles that what came with her so
again any suggestions as to which ones are preferred would be welcome.
Any words of advise will be greatly appreciated.
I am anxious to see what kind of tangled mess I can weave now.
Of course now, all kinds of projects come to mind that I can make 
in all that spare time I have.
I needed another hobby like I need a hole in my head.
But I suppose, when we quit learning, we quit living - right?

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, January 17, 2016

House Keeping made Simple - Thanks to Grandma

It's the oddest thing.
We plan our retirement (hopefully,) our travel, our special events,
our gardens, and so many other things, 
but honestly, when was the last time you heard or read
about a house keeping plan?
I realize I'm a minority, 
but I enjoy reading about house-keeping, cleaning, decluttering and the like.
There is a ton of information that suggests
how often to clean various items
and methods by which to clean them.
My issue has always been. . .when?
Finding the time to stay ahead of the spider webs and dust bunnies
can be challenging.
I've considered an 'Adams Family' style decor,
but it's just not me.
That being the case, like many others,
I have struggled at times continually just to keep up
until I found a plan that is finally working.
Is our house spotless?  Hahaha, I should be a comedian.
Is it livable and improving?  Yes.
Credit goes in part to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers.
Do you remember those dish towels with days-of-the-week
chores embroidered on them?
Monday - Laundry
Tuesday - Iron
Wednesday - Sew
Thursday - Market
Friday - Clean
Saturday - Bake
Sunday - Rest
These days and chores were pretty much set, and
few deviated from them.
I've seen them so many times, they have become simply nostalgic.
I still have an elderly friend who does his laundry on Mondays, 
because that's what his mom always did and taught him to do.
If you look into it more,
there were some entertaining reasons behind
why they did certain chores on set days.
But that in itself would make a very long post
so I won't add it here.
However, beyond the nostalgia is really brilliance.
This is what makes it simple.
I had to play around with it a bit until I came up with what works for me.

Monday - Iron (I still do, some folks don't)
Tuesday - Dust & do Floors (upstairs)
Wednesday - Porcelains (tubs, toilets, sinks ~porcelains just sounds nicer)
Thursday - Laundry
Friday - Dust & do Floors (downstairs)
Weekend - Free

To explain my reasoning and why this works for me,
let me start with laundry.
I can't seem to relax having full baskets of dirty laundry hanging around.
Since I am at work all day, I start it Thursday morning
and might not finish until Friday.
I am evidently okay with not having the ironing part of laundry done
until Monday - at least it's clean.
The weekend is when others are most likely to be at our house
so dusting and doing floors downstairs on Friday works well in that aspect.
Then I just filled in the blanks.
I don't have set chores for the weekends on purpose.
Part of what makes this so simple is that there are 6 days of the week
that I don't even think about laundry, or which ever one.
It's like knowing your paycheck is direct-deposited on the 1st of the month.
You don't have to worry about getting the check,
trying to make it to the bank before it closes,
or thinking about banking holidays & when/if you can get there on time.
It's a plan.
It just happens.
It creates that guidance we need so we are not just going at it helter-skelter. 
By the time you decide to look at the floors,
they are so sticky they pull your socks off.
Or the pile of laundry is so massive in order to move it,
it would take one of those strong men who can pull buses full of bricks.

Often times, we set ourselves up for failure.  
I would rather set myself up for success.
The days of the week are pretty reliable.
They haven't changed much in the last couple hundred years.
If I don't get the dusting done upstairs, not to worry.
I will have another Tuesday in just 6 more days.
Identify what needs to be done regularly and give it a day.
That's it.
Then allow yourself some grace.
It's okay to be human once in a while.
There will still be daily chores like dishes, and every so often chores
like cleaning out the fridge, but those are a lot less daunting if
they are not in addition to a long list of other chores.

So go ahead and embroider your dish towels.
You'll know it's laundry day when you are on your last towel.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Teaching Kids to Milk without a Critter

Once upon a time,
back when I taught preschool,
we were doing a 'farm unit.'
We live in a rural area so the children were aware
that milk came from cows (not all children know this.)
It somehow came up that I asked
how many of the children had ever seen a cow being milked
or even had the opportunity to try themselves.
Me being me of course,
I asked if they would like to learn how to milk a cow.
You should have seen their little eye widen.
The next class-time was a lesson in milking.
Kids from other classes would come in and ask if they could try.
They milked the cow during free time.
Even the after school kids had fun giving it a whirl.
Isn't it ironic that a once dreaded chore was being sought after for fun?

The supplies are simple and cheap.
You'll need a latex/vinyl glove, a bit of string and water.

You only need one glove.
I got these (a pack of 10) at the dollar store - for $1.
Fill the glove with water then tie off like a water balloon.

Tie one end of the string to the knot on the glove.
Then hang it over the sink - 
if you want to do this in summer, you could just tie it to a tree branch outside.
Now choose a finger and using a pin or needle,
poke a hole in the tip of the finger
being careful not to tear it.
(Their little fingers will fit much better than mine.)
You are now set to teach the children how to milk.
They will first do just like they always do and squeeze the finger all at once
which produces no "milk."
It saves your critter from 'churning butter in the utter' as we call it.
It also renders the child much more knowledgeable and useful
when it comes to tending the animals. 

Have fun.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What's So Special About This Pot Roast?

It's just a pot roast - right?
This is a bone-in chuck roast which in the store would be a lesser quality cut.
We happen to savor it.
In order to serve a dual purpose, I will share how I prepared it.
Here I added garlic, rosemary, thyme, and borage.
(Always add herbs in threes: did you folks know that?)
I added no water, sauce, or broth, just the roast.
It went directly from the freezer to the terra-cotta roaster so was still frozen.
These terra-cotta roasters are expensive if you go to a kitchen shop.
I often see them new and still in the box at thrift shops for a few dollars.
My guess is that people don't know how to use them.
But again - that's my guess.
They will season with use.
Cover and place in oven at about 235 degrees.
This is when I leave for work.
Now while it's cookin'
let's get back to what makes it so special.
We saved for this roast for a whole year.
Why did it take a year to save for a roast you ask.
Well, because it was attached to the rest of the beef we purchased.
Again not just any beef.
This steer was purchased as a weiner calf - so about a year-ish old.
It was then turned out on a grassy pasture all spring and summer.
Towards autumn when the apples began to ripen,
they were tossed over the fence providing sweetness to the feed 
for about the last month or so of its life.
While on this pasture, he kept old forage trimmed
so that the young tender sprouts could get sun and grow healthily.
He pressed new seeds into the earth allowing them to be germinated.
And he fertilized the pasture with his "left-overs"
which in turn aids soils in water retention, carbon sequestration and fertility. 
The money spent on this creature
stayed right here in our community helping a friend/neighbor.
And now he is helping to nourish our bodies.
He is generous indeed ~ and we are thankful.

Upon returning home from work roughly 10 hours later,
here's was I find:)
I don't trim any fat off.
Though I can't just eat it like some,
I try to get the health benefits of saturated fats when I can.
And do you see all that broth - it's about 1 1/2 inches deep.
That's good stuff.
I heated up some home canned corn & we ate.
So this one pot roast that is now a very simple meal
was part of helping the environment, the local economy, 
and future fodder for next year's calf.
Not too bad for a critter that says, "Moo."
That's what makes this pot roast so special.

Until next time,
Nimble Fingers and Even Stitches