Black Spruce Hound

A Wisconsin Girl in the Woods, Knitting, Crafting, and Cooking. Also: Ugly Dresses.

September 28, 2011

Last Week Vol. 4









If you have any photos you'd like to share, link to them in the comments!



September 26, 2011

How to Wash Laundry with a Plunger

Yes, you read that right. Read it again if you don't believe me. See? Still there.

On September 14th, I tweeted this:


I did laundry earlier that day, and the damn washing machine leaked water all over the floor. Part of me was wishing it would be a quick, cheap fix; and another part of me was thinking, "High efficiency frontloader, here I come!"

Alas, it was not meant to be. As soon as the Mr. touched it, it would no longer leak water. And it hasn't leaked since. 

But while the machine was torn apart, I did get to put a little-known skill to work again. Washing your laundry with a bucket and a plunger. 

So if your washing machine looks like this, (and pardon the quality of these photos, they were taken at night) read on!


The plunger technique is not new. It's just about as vintage as it gets, actually. People have been beating/trampling/whacking laundry with sticks since the Middle Ages. This is just a version of the 'whacking with sticks' method. It's mostly based on the Rapid Washer. The Rapid Washer was first made in the 1800s and looks like a metal plunger with baffles. You can still buy them today.

So. While my washer was torn apart, I still needed to do laundry. And laundromats (or doing laundry at someone else's house) involve me doing heavy lifting and driving, which interferes with my ability to wear pajamas. Enter the plunger method.

First, get your dirty clothes. Exhibit A: My husband's nasty dirty work clothes. And yes, my bathroom is painted green. Don't judge.


Pre-treat as usual. 


Fill a 5 gallon bucket about 2/3 full with water. Add detergent and the dirty clothes.  


Zee plunger. Please, please note that this is not a used plunger, but a brand-spanky new one, purchased specifically for this purpose. 


We (and by 'we' I mean my husband) drilled a couple holes all the way through the plunger. This way, when you agitate the clothes, the water goes through the holes in the plunger. There's less resistance, and that combined with the up-and-down movement means that the soapy water gets shoved through the fabric. If the holes weren't there, you'd just be swishing the clothes around in the water. And in that case, you may as well be using a stick. 


Slap a lid on your bucket. There's a hole drilled through the lid on ours, so the plunger fits right in. And now... get agitatin'. I usually spend several minutes plunging the clothes. 


When you've agitated until your arm falls off, grab another bucket. Wring your clothes out, and put them in the new bucket for round 2. 


Drain your first bucket. That water....was disgusting. 

Repeat the process (but don't use any more detergent) until the water runs clear. I usually have to do 1 wash and 2 rinses. 

And that's that, folks. Of course I forgot to take a picture of how clean the clothes were when I finished. But they were clean. In some cases, the plunger method works better than a washing machine. There's more direct contact between the agitator and the clothes, and the soap really gets worked into the fabric. 

While I generally just use the washing machine to clean our laundry, I tend to use the plunger method in the early summer if we haven't gotten much rain. I'll do the laundry outside, and use the rinse water to water my garden.

I also clean my husband's cutting pants this way. The wash machine barely cuts through the grime on them, while the plunger gets them completely clean. If you're wondering what in the crispy crap 'cutting pants' are, check this out. They're worn for logging, with safety pads inserted into the legs. When one wears them all winter long cutting balsam...well let's just say they're a mite unpleasant come spring. 

I can hear the crickets chirping. But trust me, it's quick, fairly simple, and a heck of a lot cheaper than lugging all your clothes to a laundromat.




September 23, 2011

It Started With a Chair

I mentioned this chair a while back. It's inspired by Alabama Chanin, and I got the idea from SouleMama.

That's a whole lot of inspiration goin' 'round.

It started with a chair. If you're a complete dork like me, you'll forget to take a picture of what the chair originally looked like before you started painting it. So just picture a chair, with no bottom. No seat. Very sad. Instead of throwing the chair out, I kept it for years, not knowing what to do with it. When I saw SouleMama's post, I knew I had found the answer to the chair problem.

Want one?



All you need is an old chair, some t-shirts, and testicular fortitude! Well, okay, you don't need the testicular fortitude, but it may come in handy. 

First, paint your chair. Unless you don't want to. Then don't. I only painted the bottom of the chair, and left the back unpainted. Not because I was trying to start a trend, but because the chair back was damaged beyond my ability to repair.

I painted the chair this loverly blue color, then globbed on a coat of thin white paint overtop. I did some scuffing with fine grit sandpaper to make it look worn and shabby. 






For the actual seat itself, grab those tee shirts (or sweatpants, I won't judge) I mentioned earlier. Cut the seams and hems off. 

Before cutting the material into strips, stretch out your fabric. It should stretch quite a bit in one direction, and not so much in the other. You want to cut the strips in the direction that the fabric stretches. So, if your fabric stretches from here to Arkansas lengthwise, cut your strips lengthwise. Got it? Cut the strips about ½ inch to 1 inch wide.


When you have a somewhat massive pile of strips that's threatening to take over your house, you're ready. I cut up 5 or 6 adult shirts and a pair of sweatpants. That was overkill, you only need about half that much. 

And then...weave! I'm not going to tell you exactly how to tie on your strips and then weave them, because it's really self explanatory. Tie your strips of cloth to your chair in one direction, then weave them over-and-under in the other direction. That be it, folks. 



You can see in this photo where I screwed up and wove two blue strips exactly the same - but that's all right. Nobody gets it right the first time, and imperfections only add to the chair's charm. 




The last step was to have the Mr. cut the back off the chair, and touch up the paint. The entire project took about 6 hours total - 4 hours to paint, including drying times; and 2 hours to weave. The chair does indeed support an adult's weight, in case you're wondering. 

And on one final note, I will say this: I would be lying if I said the entire project was not fueled by large amounts of coffee. And Stone Temple Pilots. 

Have fun!



September 21, 2011

Boris

I miss Boris. 


You can see her in this photo on the day they arrived, back in 2008. She's one of the little black and yellow puffballs that look like they're wearing ninja eye masks. These were my first ducks.


After a few weeks, she looked like this. All feet. Boris was small enough at this point to dive underwater in the duck pool and zoom around. She looked like a little ducky torpedo.

When I ordered ducklings in April of 2008, the order included two Mallards. They both turned out to be females. One of them flew away that fall, never to return, because we were a wee bit lax on the wing clipping front. Boris also flew away. Boris flew away many times.

Boris always came back. She would fly off, zoom around the house, and then fly back to the pen. Her sense of direction was always a tiny bit off, as she could never fly directly back into the pen, but close enough.

When an owl attacked the ducks in 2009, she flew off to safety, and came back when the danger was over. The only time she never came back was when she landed in front of the town cemetery, nestled under a cedar tree, and decided to stay awhile. The Mr. went and got her, and walked back home with her tucked under his arm.

In the winter, she would fall asleep on snowbanks with her head tucked under her wing. Snow would fall on her for hours before she woke up. You only knew she was there because there would be a little duck-shaped lump in the snow.



She was loud, cranky, and cantankerous. She learned she could bite your pant leg when she was supremely pissed about something, and get your attention in a big hurry. For some reason, I called her Boris one morning, and the name just stuck. 

We lost Boris to a raccoon at the end of June this year. 

I miss the cranky little thing, especially this time of year, when the geese are flying south. I hear them all day long, honking away up there, and am reminded that this would be the time of year when Boris would get a wild hair (or feather, rather) up her butt and decide to take off. 

When I go outside to feed the birds in the morning (just the chicken, named Thumper, and one Welsh Harlequin duck survived the raccoon, and are henceforth known as The Chuck) it still feels a little bit off. I still expect to hear Boris quacking at me, wondering where in the damn hell her food is. Obviously, she never said damn hell, but if she could have, I think she would have. 


The raccoon attacked around 4 am. I was awake to see the sunrise later that morning, and this is what it looked like.




It was enough. 

September 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola

Is granola still associated with hippies? Just curious. If it is, well, those hippies were onto something.

This is a perfect recipe for those lazy days. There's no baking. No futzing. No dirty cookie sheets. And it has peanut butter in it, which automatically makes it a good thing. I think.








Not bad, eh?

It's just old fashioned oats (You could use quick oats. I have a thing against quick oats, apparently, and don't buy them.) mixed with your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and it all comes together with a peanut butter sauce that's naturally sweetened.

What you add is up to you - whatever your favorites are. For me it was chopped dates, walnuts, and unsalted sunflower seeds. Mix it all together with the oats and some cinnamon.

You can use whatever natural sweeteners you have. You can use all honey and leave out the molasses, use maple syrup, whatever.

Mix it all together, and you're done. No baking. None whatsoever. I actually prefer this granola to cooked granolas, but that's just me. If the no-baking thing weirds you out, you can bake it. Quitter.

I like to eat it for breakfast, cold, with a little milk. If it's a chilly morning I'll zap it in the microwave for a minute to warm it up.


Peanut Butter Granola


4 cups old fashioned oats
½ cup walnuts or any other nut
½ cup sunflower or flax seeds
½ cup chopped dates or any other dried fruit
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey or maple syrup
¼ cup molasses

Add oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dates, and cinnamon to a large bowl, mix well.

Place peanut butter, honey, and molasses in a small saucepan, turn heat to medium. Stir until melted and smooth. Pour over oat mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats are covered in the peanut butter mixture. Transfer granola to an airtight container. Will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.

September 16, 2011

Pin Curlage

About three months ago I wanted to do something different with my hair. It had been long for so many years (and I've never dyed it) that I wanted something different. I thought about dyeing it, but decided against it. I embrace my grays, people.

So I cut my hair. In a moment of temporary insanity, I lopped a good 6 inches off. Why I thought this was a good idea, I will never know. I love having long hair. And I mean long hair. It was about 4 inches from my waist when I cut it.

My hair is still, by most standards, pretty darn long. It's not like I gave myself a pixie cut. But I know long  hair. I am comfortable with long hair. This just-below-shoulder-length stuff is for the birds.

For quite some time, I didn't do anything with my hair. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. Case in point:



Yeah. I am one with the hair clips.

But I am starting to get back into the swing of things. This past week I have been a pincurlin' fool. Normally I rag curl, but my hair tangles horribly. I thought I'd give pin curls another go. In these photos I used pin curls simply to curl my hair - I didn't brush them out. The results were fan-freaking-tastic.


It was a slightly strange thing for me to have photos taken of my hair, as I generally hate having my picture taken at all. But then I realized in almost every shot I was looking back over my shoulder. Like a slasher was hot on my trail in a bad B movie.

So for your enjoyment, a hair-whipping shot:


Oh noes! He's right behind me!

And the moment the chick running through the forest realizes she's a goner:


Totally done for.

A few days after these photos were taken I pin curled my hair again, but brushed the curls out this time. Brushing them out gives you that soft, wavy look. Your hair, I mean, not you personally.


At some point I'll throw up (oh my goodness. Not throw up as in 'vomit', but 'throw up' as in 'post'. Learn English, woman!) a tutorial post on rag and pin curls, if anybody's interested. If not, well then, I'll do one anyway. It's my blog and I'll pin curl if I want to.

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