August 31, 2012

Photo Friday: In the Woods, Again


A barely-there trail.

Bear claw marks, about 5 feet high on a red pine. 

And an old stump. 

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday. 

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August 29, 2012

A Canning Fool

There are a few things going on 'round these parts. Like a broken chimney liner that could potentially cost nearly $1,000 to fix, which ends up turning my husband into Red Green, trying to think of ways to fix it on the cheap. That in itself is enough to drive a person nuts, but throw in a wedding, family health issues, a dog with seasonal allergies (!) and now CAN I JUST CRAWL UNDER A ROCK PLEASE!? Oh yeah, and my car needs a transmission filter. Gah. 

So. Even though I'm stressing about things I can in no way, shape, or form fix, I'm also trying to focus on the stuff that I can accomplish. Like preserving all the lovely veg coming out of the garden right now. Put up enough pickles to feed 4 counties, and you'll feel better about the world in general. Trust me on this. 

This season's current total:

4 half-pints of strawberry rhubarb jam
21 pints of dill pickles
6 pints Bing cherries
7 pints bread and butter pickles
5 half-pints of sweet pickle relish
4 pints of sweet pickled beets

I'm planning on getting a pressure canner as well, now that I've been assured they are safer than they used to be and the chances of having my face melted off are slim. If that pans out, I'll be canning soups and stocks this fall.

And still coming up in the next few weeks (hopefully) - tomatoes!

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August 27, 2012

A Mushroom in the Driveway and a Snake in the Basement

It's like a natural history exhibit up in here.

First, this huge mushroom in the driveway, which we were letting grow just to see how big it would get. In the name of science. Then it was run over, sadly, so we'll never know.

I've been throwing firewood into the basement on a daily basis this past week, getting ready for the chilly weather on the way. I've encountered no less than 3 snakes. One of which was in the basement.


This guy, on the basement door.

And then later, after I managed to catch him. He appears very menacing, but he was about 8 inches long and as wide as a number 2 pencil.

I'm beginning to think that most people maybe don't stop to take pictures of the snakes they've caught in their basements. (I just dug through my photos a bit and found a few more snake pictures, including one of a 2 foot pine snake in the basement. Clearly I have issues.)

I'll be back in a few days with a snake-free post!

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August 24, 2012

Photo Friday: The Dog is Not Amused

Toy camera effect.

Miniature effect.

Color accent.

And she's still not amused with my skillz.

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August 22, 2012

The Glamorous Life

Coop cleaning time!

Right now the birds are still in a pen and coop that were meant to be a temporary fix after a raccoon attack last year. This month I'm hoping to have their new coop all fixed up and ready to go; their new coop being our old garden shed.*

While I clean the coop and chuck all the dirty wood shavings into the compost pile, the birds run around the yard.

And let's not forget dust-bathing, a most important aspect of chicken-hood. 

I keep the fresh wood shavings in a 55 gallon drum with a tight fitting lid. This way, I'm able to store the shavings outdoors and they stay nice and dry.

Once the new shavings are put in the coop, it's inspection time.

I believe I have passed inspection this time around. Sigh of relief.

* This project is currently at a standstill because I saw a spider the size of a goddamn Buick in the shed I'm supposed to be cleaning and painting. My husband finished cleaning it out and de-spidered it, but thinks the huge one I saw in there has a massive web on the back of the shed. So until he deals with that, homegirl won't go in the shed.

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August 20, 2012


We've (and by that I mean my husband) been unable to split any firewood this year because a horde (a HORDE, I say!) of yellow jackets had taken up residence in one of the logs near the front of the wood pile, right near the wood splitter. The nest went so deep inside the log that our usual method of wasp-and-hornet spray didn't work. There was no way to get the log away from the rest of the pile without risking getting stung.

Friday night, we lit the little bastards on fire.

We added a bit more gas...

We let the fire burn for about 10 minutes, then put it out and moved the piece of wood to the backyard fire pit. In the picture below, you can see smoke coming out of a hole in the log - the nest was deep inside the wood.

The Mr split the log and we enjoyed a nice mosquito-free night by the fire.

It wasn't a horrible way to spend a Friday night, I have to say.

On a side note, I really need to stop listening to 80s music, because the moment I typed the title for this post I got this song stuck in my head. Heaven help me.

Keep Reading "Burning"

August 15, 2012

Just Another Day

Strawberry rhubarb jam and a loaf of wonky homemade bread.

A typical day in the black spruce household.

And yes...canning season has begun! I'll be trapped in my kitchen until further notice.

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August 13, 2012

Stuff I've Tried From Pinterest

I love me some Pinterest. I am one of those annoying people that pins way too much stuff, but if pinning is wrong, then I don't want to be right. 

The DIY category in particular attracts me, and I recently tried a whole crapload of stuff that I found via Pinterest. Most of it is of the Frugal McCheapyPants variety, because I cannot resist an opportunity to save a little money.

Clean Headlights with Toothpaste

I don't have a link for this one, but it's pretty straightforward - glob some toothpaste on a cloudy headlight lens and scrub with a scrub brush. Rinse well, and enjoy not only an uncloudy light, but also the minty freshness.

My husband was skeptical, but this actually worked.

Make a Plastic Storage Cart Prettier with Mod Podge and Fabric or Paper

Meh. This did work, but the fabric can be pulled off pretty easily. Not a big deal for me, as this sits in my closet and won't get jostled around too much. Maybe paper would stick better?

DIY Fabric Softener

Success! I had a bottle of conditioner laying around that I had no clue what to do with, so this is a great use-up for that. The conditioner I used came from a dollar store, so this recipe costs just pennies per load.

Make Your Own Dryer Sheets

Success! While most of the wash has been hung out on the lines outside lately, I have dried a few loads in the dryer. I haven't noticed any static, so I believe this one is a success as well. Again, this one costs just pennies.

Hurray for Pinterest! It soothes my frugal soul.

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August 10, 2012

Photo Friday: A Seagull Called Heinrich

Well, okay, I'm more than likely the only one that's ever called him (her?) Heinrich. Don't steal my thunder. This little guy was at the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore last month when we went there for a weekend getaway.

This last one is not Heinrich, but a different gull we spotted at the last beach we visited.

See you on Monday!

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August 8, 2012

The Constant Donation Box

One of these is always hanging around the house somewhere.

It's not nearly as much fun as a box of English muffins, but close.

In the quest for an uncluttered life (ha) there is always a box of some variety around the house, slowly getting filled with stuff to take to Goodwill. While the house is pretty uncluttered begin with, there are always things that we don't need and haven't used in awhile that can be donated. And just for clarification, my house is not uncluttered because I'm a Housekeeping Goddess with Shiny Pink Unicorn Henchmen, but simply because I hate clutter and can't focus in a cluttered room.

This one has some glassware, jeans I haven't worn in 6 months or more, and a few skirts that I've had since high school. And it goes without saying that the skirts are a wee bit more appropriate for an 18 year old, not moi.

Does anyone else keep a Constant Donation Box around?
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August 6, 2012

In Lieu of Birthday Cake

My husband's birthday fell on the the last weekend in July. Usually I bake him a lemon cake, but this year I would have rather ripped off a fingernail with pliers than turn the oven on. It's been a wee bit warm lately, I don't know if you guys have noticed that?

So. In lieu of birthday cake, we decided to have s'mores instead. I'm not a huge fan of regular s'mores, and decided to do them a little differently.

Oh yes. I went there. 

Chocolate graham crackers, regular graham crackers, and marshmallows.

Heath bars, peanut butter cups, milk chocolate bars, and dark chocolate. 

We invited family over and lit a fire in the fire pit. 

The consensus? 

I believe the the regular graham cracker, marshmallow, and peanut butter cup combo had the majority vote. My favorite was the chocolate graham cracker, marshmallow, and Heath bar combo. (The hot marshmallow melted the chocolate, but the toffee was still crunchy. So good, it'll make you jump up and slap ya mama.)

Give this a try, it is so good.

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