Improvised Kitchen Island

With another lucky auction find from earlier this month, I was able to create a very low cost, usable kitchen island.  I bought 6 folding tables at a local school auction and they must have been cafeteria tables, with perfect laminated tops, just like kitchen counters!  I bpurchased 3 six foot tables and 3 eight foot tables (for less than $40) and they are the sturdiest folding tables I ever encountered.  I tried both sizes in my kitchen, but the six foot table definitely looked better.  I scrubbed it completely and then bought a set of “bed-risers”.  By putting 4″ bed-risers under table legs, the table becomes standard kitchen-counter height – a tick I learned  when I volunteered at the PA farm show food court.  To make the table look pretty – and hide all the food grade buckets with my flours and sugar storage –  I sewed 4 simple curtain panels.  Using 10 yards of 36″ wide muslin, I was able to take the fabric lenght-wise, so there are no seams in the long panels.  The 36″ width was just enough to make a 2 inch seam on the top, to thread a curtain rod through, with a small ruffle above.  To keep the curtain looking clean on the bottom, I also bought 2 yards of “homespun” fabric.  I chose a checkered pattern – that way cutting the fabric into 6″ wide strips went rather quickly…just had to follow the lines of the squares.  The folding table had a wood base under the top, and we were able to attach brackets for the simple cafe rods on the short sides, keeping the curtain a good 2 inches back from the table edge.  To make the curtain rods line up at the corner, we used wire and dry-wall screws, wrapping the wire tightly around the ends of the curtain rods and then twisting the wire around the screw.  We also made wire supports in the middle of the long sides, to keep the rod from sagging.  It took a few hours to sew the panels, but it was worth it!

Dressed-up for the holidays!

Estimated Cost:

Used folding table: $7.00
Bed risers:  $10.00
Curtain rods:  $10.00
Fabric (using coupons and sales): $30.00

Posted in DIY

Decorating with Evergreens

One of our cedar trees lost a large branch during hurricane “Sandy”, a sad sight, but at least this happened at just the right time of year for winter decorating with evergreens.

With the help of my trusted reciprocating saw, I cut 2 and 3 foot sections that had lots of greens on them and arranged those in my two largest outdoor flower pots.  Once I liked the look of the “arrangements” and they looked somewhat balanced, I secured the branches to each other – and to the container –  with zip ties.  All I need to do now is add fairy lights.

Though it is a bit early to start bringing branches inside, I could not see wasting any of the fragrant greenery,  so the smaller cuttings ended up in the dining room windows.  I used large glass urns, into which I placed a glass with water.  The branches will fit into the water glass, but I have space outside the glass to fill the urn with small Christmas balls (once I retrieve those from the attic).  This effectively hides the water, which will inevitably turn brownish. 

Posted in DIY

More Outdoor DYI

We had one of those late fall surprise warm days:  64 degree weather, with sunshine!  So we finished some outdoor projects:

  1. We finally finished the roof on the shed – which was only missing the trim pieces along the edges and the final cap to cover it all up.   Lars and Caleb did the roof work, while Jeff did all the cutting.
  2. Tina painted the windows on the barn with another coat of white paint.
  3.  Lars – with help from Caleb – managed to get a new chimney cap on the fireplace chimney.  He worked entirely off the ladder, which was extended close to capacity!
  4. Tina scraped and wire-brushed the garage doors and painted them with some of the left-over barn paint. 

One more warm day in the forecast, then back to colder temperatures again.

Posted in DIY

Making Apple Cider

There are just a few simple steps to making apple cider:

1.  Start with 50 bushels of mixed apples from a local orchard – second grade/juice grade (meaning they are smaller, not very uniform, but clean and worm free)

2.  Invite your entire family for a weekend of “fun”

3.  Clean and sterilize the cider press and connect it to the motor

4.  Clean all food grade buckets and barrels (our assortment ranges from 1 gallon jugs, to 5, 10 and 20 gallon buckets)

5.  Clean all saved plastic jugs – juice containers, soda bottles and even carboys…as long as they have lids, for keeping cider.

6.  Set up an “assembly-line” for efficient work flow, including the following stations:

  • Getting apples off wagon into 5 gallon buckets (removing leaves if necessary or sorting out the occasional rotten apple) – this involves eventual crawling into the large bin to reach the bottom apples
  • Carrying the 5 gallon buckets of apples over to the press
  • Dumping apples into the hopper for shredding (requires a tall person)
  • Supervisor to ensure that shredded apples don’t overflow the baskets and moving baskets toward the press mechanism
  • Running the (manual) press after apples have been shredded (can be same person who also dumps the apples)
  • Catching the pressed cider into suitable containers and then dumping those into larger storage containers
  • Water hose, pressure washer and final cleanup station is also a good idea.

Fresh cider only keeps about a week in the refrigerator, at least we never tried to keep it longer. What we can’t drink or give away, we can, using 2 quart jars.  The sediment will settle to the bottom, and when we drink it later in the winter, we just carefully pour out the clear juice.  This also works great for making mulled cider all winter long!  We also use some of the cider for making apple wine.

With everything set up, 50 bushels of apples can be pressed
 into cider – using a 100 year old cider press rigged with
an electric motor – in a day.

Shed Roof Progress

Start of project on Saturday

Despite the weather forecast, we did not get any rain until late on Sunday afternoon, so we were able to work more on our shed roof.  Over the last 2 weeks, we finished putting up the long roof pieces on both sides, so now we were ready for the finish trim and the roof cap.  This turned out to be more time consuming than the big pieces. We worked on Saturday for a few hours, and then again on Sunday (it got a lot colder and we had to take a break just to warm up again).

Attaching brackets for roof cap

Individual brackets had to be screwed onto the top of each of the 44 roof pieces – to attach the cap to.  Jeff had been cutting and trimming these throughout the week and he pre-drilled each pieces with 3 holes. 

Two pieces of specially formed metal had to be screwed along the angles edges, forming the front trim – the bottom piece had to screwed on, the top piece got pop-riveted.  We were able to finish the road side trim up along both edges, and attached the first section of the roof cap before it started raining. 

Holding piece of edge trim in place
Attaching trim at the peak

Finished half of the roof!
Posted in DIY