Posted by: Diane | June 25, 2016

How We Are Surviving WITHOUT Air Conditioning

…so far!

You heard that right friends.  Our lovely new house does not have AC.  And everyone knows that it gets hot in Texas in the summer.

So what are we doing to beat the heat?  Read More…

Posted by: Diane | June 14, 2016

How I Created a Faux Flagstone Floor in My Kitchen

I wanted something pretty for my kitchen floor.  Something that would bring the feeling of natural colors and textures into my cooking space.  I would like to decorate my kitchen in shades of green, blue and brown that give it an earthy, woodsy, herb garden feel.   Read More…

Posted by: Diane | March 17, 2016

How I Stained Our Concrete Living Room Floor

I was very lovingly reminded by one of my daughters that I haven’t updated my blog in a while.  I must apologize.  While I have many things to write about, especially when it comes to the house we are building, I simply haven’t been writing.

So here is a post for you to enjoy.
(Picture heavy! )

I decided to stain the concrete floors in the kitchen and living room.

Read More…

Posted by: Diane | September 13, 2014

Progress on the house

Well, things are slowly moving forward!   We took delivery of some wood siding that will be used mostly inside the house, but decided that we would use it on one exterior wall that will be part of a garage one day.

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We are working on getting electricity to the house as well.  We dug a hole and set an electrical pole a couple of weeks ago and then ran conduit underground to the house.

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Hopefully I’ll have a usable dryer by the end of the month!   Here is a picture of the future laundry room:

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You can see the breaker box there with the conduit running up to it.   There are also a few wires run from there to rooms in the house for future lighting. 

Slow but steady.   I’ll be glad to have a dryer for laundry on the coming cool, drizzly days.

Posted by: Diane | June 22, 2014

Poison Ivy, how I hate thee…

…let me count the ways:(the itching,

the ugly, oozing blisters,

the itching,

the way the rash spreads for days which only prolongs the misery,

the burning,

the fact that I seem to get it not from actually touching the plant, but “secondhand”, which makes it impossible to avoid,

the itching,

and OMG the awful blisters that ooze and crust.

Do they sell calamine lotion in 55 gallon drums?  Actually, my favorite remedies are hot water (or a hair dryer) on the rash, and peppermint oil.

Does anyone else have any helpful remedies for easing this truly satanic malady?  (Straight from the pit of hell, I’m tellin’ ya.)

 

Posted by: Diane | October 15, 2013

Almost ready for concrete

The exterminator came today and treated the soil that will be under the slab.  The concrete workers also arrived early this morning to check the situation out.  They did a bit more digging around the perimeter and then laid down the plastic and rebar.  They’ll come finish that job either tomorrow or right before they pour the concrete.

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Posted by: Diane | October 13, 2013

Getting ready to pour

We’re planning to pour the cement floor this Friday if we don’t have any weather that delays the concrete man’s schedule.  Last week we had a few loads of sand spread inside the forms that we put up.  This weekend we are digging trenches for the edge of the floor and installing the PEX water pipe. 

Everyone is helping:

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Micah digs while discussing a video game with his friend, Hunter

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Laying down the PEX

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The trench inspector

Posted by: Diane | October 6, 2013

More interesting local history

I meant to write this post weeks ago, but life got in the way.  So that means I can’t remember what prompted me to start searching for information about the area that we live in and what evidence of past cultures might be found locally.

But I ran across a couple of interesting items.

The first is that there is an old Indian trace, or trail, that ran just south of where we live.  It is called the Caddo trace and my guess is that it was a feeder trail into the Cherokee Trace that I wrote about in an earlier post.  It is documented in a map of Upshur County dated 1897.  It was neat looking at the old map, but it can be difficult to figure out exactly where things are in relation to what you know now.

Enter a very cool resource, Historic Earth.  It enabled me to take the old map and overlay it with a current Google map, so that I could see the location of new roads and have a reference point for objects on the old map.  Here is a screenshot of what I’m talking about:

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You can see the Caddo Trace as a dotted line running from upper left to lower right on the map.  I think I know about where it crosses Rose Trail on the map but there really isn’t any obvious trail there anymore.  Which is to be expected, I know.  Trails disappear in the undergrowth fairly rapidly once they stop being used.  I suspect that the trail may have been used as a basis for part of Begonia Road in Upshur County.

However, the Caddo Indians also left larger evidence of their culture in this area.  They were one group of Indians who built mounds as part of their settlements.  I found a fairly recent article describing some large mounds located on the Sabine River south of Longview.  The location was not given as the mounds are protected and they don’t want them disturbed by souvenir seekers.  I also ran across this little tidbit about a place near the community we live in:

From THE MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS OF THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FORTY-SIXTH CONGRESS (Google eBook), c. 1880, pg. 443:

Glasco, J. M.—There are many ancient remains, such as mounds and earthworks, in Upshur and Camp Counties, Texas. One in southeast corner of Camp County, on property of Nathan Lee, three miles east from the town of Lafayette, and a road-bed 8 feet wide and from 1 to 2J feet high leads from this to another about one mile northeast. Still another road leads from the first named to a mound four miles off on the land of W. 11. D. Ware. This road passes through a square inclosed by a bank 18 inches high. There are twenty-five or thirty mounds on the Sarah Powel league in a group. Near a large one is a raised burnt clay floor. Another group is on the property of S. P. Monyhhon, with a burnt place. They are on Walnut and Gum Creeks, tributaries of Little Cypress. A few of the mounds examined indicate a wooden pen covered with soil. Mr. Glasco also mentions rock-carvings and other interesting remains which he has not visited.

Wow!  How cool is that?  I would love to go hunting for these places and see if any trace of them remains, but not enough to do the sleuthing and finding of property owners that it would require.  So it simply remains a curious piece of local information.

Posted by: Diane | October 4, 2013

Homemade Sauerkraut

By request, I am going to discuss my homemade sauerkraut today.  Oh good!  I knew you would all be excited to learn about this sour, salty, crunchy, mouthwatering  gourmet treat!

Gourmet?  This stuff that used to be in every German grandmother’s cellar?  Yep.  $6 for a (smaller than quart) jar at the health food store.  Yes, I know that you can buy it in cans at the local grocery store, but that stuff is only a dim shadow of the goodness you can ferment in your own kitchen.  I haven’t tried the sauerkraut that they sell in refrigerated bags in the deli meat section of the grocery store, but it has “extra” ingredients besides just cabbage and salt.

And sauerkraut really is that simple:  cabbage and salt.  How much cabbage and how much salt?  Well how big of a jar or crock do you have to fill?  Or in my case, how many sauerkraut loving children do I have to feed?

The best fermentation results come by using about 3 tablespoons of salt for every five pounds of sliced cabbage.  Less salt gives you faster fermentation , softer kraut and more scum that has to be skimmed.  More salt slows or prevents fermentation.  So the amount given above is a happy medium which gives about a 4 week fermentation process, crisp kraut and little scum to deal with.

But HOW?  How do you make sauerkraut? 

Have your jar with a lid or crock ready.  That means it should be scrupulously clean.  Have a large clean bowl and clean hands, too.  If you don’t have a handy dandy mandoline cabbage slicer, you will need a cutting board and a large, sharp knife.

Cut the whole cabbage into manageable size pieces and cut out the core.  Slice the cabbage VERY thinly.  As in, the thickness of a dime.  Yes, that thin.  This is hard to do with a knife, but don’t sweat it too much.  Slice, slice, slice.

When you’re all done slicing, see how much the cabbage weighs (or just guess like I did) and measure out the correct amount of salt.  Remember:  3 Tbsp. for every 5 lbs. of cabbage.  That’s about 2 tsp. per pound.

Put the cabbage shreds in the large bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Mix thoroughly with your hands.  Keep mixing and start squeezing and squishing the cabbage so that it releases juice.  Keep mashing and mixing until the shreds get a little wilty.
It may take a while, just keep at it.  Squish, squish, squish.

Now you can start packing the cabbage in to the jar or crock.  Pack it in layers and use your fist to pack it down really tight.  You don’t want lots of air pockets and you want the juice to start coming up to cover the cabbage shreds.  Pack, pack, pack.

Once the jar is about full, make sure that the briny juice covers the cabbage.  If it doesn’t, mix 1 tsp. salt with 1 cup of water to make a little “instant brine” that you can use to cover the cabbage.

I like to put a water filled ziploc bag inside the top of the jar to keep the shreds submerged.  Put the lid on loosely and set the jar in a cool (about 72° F) place to ferment for several weeks.  Check the top of the jar occasionally for scum or mold.  Skim it off if it’s there. (I never saw any on mine.)  After about three or four weeks, uncover the kraut and use a clean fork to take a taste.  Not quite sour enough?  Cover it back up and wait another week or two.  When it tastes the way you want it to, take out the bag of water, tighten the lid and put it in the fridge.  The flavor will continue to improve but it will stop fermenting.

Whenever you want some sauerkraut to go with your sausages, just dish some out and eat it!   Eat, eat, eat!

I like to eat mine cold from the fridge to take advantage of the wonderful enzymes and natural probiotics that real sauerkraut contains.  But if you want to heat it up that’s fine, too.

Enjoy!

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Posted by: Diane | September 2, 2013

New old blog entries

Today I spent some time (quite a bit of time) cleaning up some old pieces of me on the internet.  I would really like to consolidate my internet presence down to just a few things, so that it takes less time and less mental effort.  As part of that process, I have imported some of the posts from an older blog that I had prior to this one.  

Up until today, these posts have been simply sitting out there in cyberspace, drawing a few views, but not being followed up on or added to.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of my posts, knitting instructions for a pair of baby booties, has 2500 views!  Wow!  Of course, I think I did share that one on Ravelry.

Anyway, two of my all time favorite blog posts are in this imported batch, and as a service to you, I’ll share the direct links so you can enjoy them too.

Little Boys

(Still) The best Mother’s Day present ever

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