Friday, February 24, 2012

Making candles out of old wax

So, here's a little typical project on the homestead: making new candles.  I found a recipe for the flame retardant for wicks that's easily made at home (4 tbls borax, 2 tbls salt in 1.5c water, soak overnight) and we used some old string.  On the day of melting, we tied some small weights to the string (old nails. now where did I ever purchase those?)
 and Melissa and I worked to tie the weighted string also onto a small stick to hold it up in the container:
 and then, after melting the wax over a fire outside, we filled up these old little glass containers (that used to have small candles in them. Our friend Christine used to get them from weddings and she gave us 50 or so)
 Here's me dipping the last of the wax out of the melting pot while some squash and potatoes get onto the coals in the dutch oven:
 and the finished candles looked pretty good - for just a random mixture of wax of all colors.
 and sure enough, they work!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Guests and Food and more Food

We had guests up the whole long weekend, and much food was made and consumed. Some of the pretty stuff was the bbq pork steam buns:
 Luckily had a bunch of firewood to move afterward to work up another appetite.
 for even more eating! Pot stickers this time. Great stuff!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Indoor Drying Rack

Finally put together a concept I had back before the house was done: the indoor drying rack by the fireplace. Check out the towel hanging near the ceiling.

It's a long redwood bar on a simple rope and loop structure that keeps it up out of the way and yet easy to get at. Below is the rope drawstring which stores behind the pillar:
 Looking up at it when standing underneath, you can see the bar only if you're looking for it. (and there's nothing hanging on it)
 and it drops down really easily for hanging stuff... which can be draped over it or hung on a hanger, and then hauled back up to the ceiling, where it's warmer, and out of the way!


Melissa made a window seat cushion for the loft window. It not only cushions the butt, but also keeps out cold drafts from the bottom of the window.  it's made from a nice cloth that her mom brought her from a trip to Africa:

This is just a mid morning photo of the kitchen. I love how the winter sun comes into our place.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Building Things around the Place

I built a small greenhouse for seed-starting. It sits on the patio in the southwest corner:
 and the north side flips up for easy access.  I also put some milk jugs filled with water for thermal mass, to balance the temps at night.

And I finished building my first beehive!  Based on Abbot Warre' designs, it's a simple, small homesteader version.  Here it is with all four boxes put on it... normally you start with just two, and add boxes as the bees fill it up.
 the legs and 'landing pad' doorway for the bees:
 the top insulation box, and a peak into one of the chambers with the bars in place:
 and a deeper look into the box, showing how the bars come out:
 Melissa had a relaxed afternoon sitting inside. Notice she's sitting by the window to enjoy the sun, watching a movie on the laptop and reading a library book.  A good use of time!

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...