Monthly Archives: June 2012

Useful items that are likely hiding at your local antiques store

So today I bring you a post about things in your antiques store that may actually be useful.

So yes, I deal in antiques, but I also buy them, and use them. Here is a short list of useful items that can do more than just look nice and sit around.

Old rolling pins, seriously, you want some weight to your pin to properly roll out baked goods, and modern pins, with the exception of fancy-dancy specialty ones, can be lacking, choose a good rolling pin that will last for years to come.

Ice cream scoops..ever tried to use a regular cheap spoon only to have it bend? How bout a cheaply made scoop that busts off where the handle meets the scoop?..Look for a good quality scoop from days gone by.

Mixing bowls..made of glass and not cheap plastic, vintage Pyrex, Fireking and Glas-Bake are all collectable, but often the plain white version of these dishes can be had for stupid-cheap and hold up to cooking and baking better than that cheap plastic crap (just use caution and check if microwave safe..some, especially if vintage ,won’t be, microwaving them can cause glass sickness..which usually won’t hurt you, but will make your dishes sad)

Butter churns, just make sure they aren’t cracked,chipped or some moron hasn’t made a hole in the bottom.

Tools..vintage tools can often be more durable and better quality than today’s cheaply made tools..especially if they are well cared for, take care of your tools and they will take care of you..

Gardening/harvesting tools..often a small garden can be better tended with vintage hand tools instead of modern gas powered or cheaply made tools

Any other suggestions? Lets have e’m below.

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There be silver in them there coins..

U.S. silver colored coins, particularly quarters, silver dollars, etc..prior to 1965 contain trace amounts of actual silver, which is great if you are looking to horde coins like a dragon. It’s not much, but a large amount of them could add up over time. Ever see a crazy person sorting their coins? Maybe you should try it..or not..you know, whatever..

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Churning up butter-tips and tricks

There are tons of sites on the basics of making butter, so I won’t bore you by repeating them here, unless I get requests, in which case I shall, however, this post isn’t so much the ‘how to’ as it is the “What they didn’t mention”..

Most butter blogs that tell you how to hand churn the butter seem to leave out some stuff

If you are in a pinch and don’t own a churn, you can put your milk /cream into a mason jar, seal it up and shake the hell out of it, as hard as you can..if you have kids let them take turns shaking it like crazy

All butter is made of is particles of milk fat which are squashed together during the churning process, so basically you are giving the milk liposuction..only not really..but seriously, you are taking fresh milk or cream and squishing/centrifuging the fat particles together. Most butter will have a yellowish tinge naturally, it may taste kind of bland to those used to pre-fab butter, that is because it lacks the salt usually added to butter for flavor..to fix this, just salt to taste once you’ve washed the butter, using a spoon to mix the salt in evenly. A little salt goes a long way.

If you are using a churn and the handle starts to get gross, don’t panic, take a clean towel and wrap around your churn handle near the hole, basically as you pull the stick up it is bringing butter goo up with it, the towel wipes the butter goo off and also helps stop and splashing up if you are using alot of liquid.

If your churn has a crack/chip..don’t use it..those areas can be a breeding ground for bacteria and yucky crap..nobody wants food poisoning, seriously. If you must use the churn, make sure you disinfect that area and wash it like you are a crazy neat-freak with severe butter churn cleanliness issues..before and after use, but remember, just like bamboo chopsticks, the open porous surface of a crack or chip will harbor even the tiniest bit of goop and turn it into a food poisoning nightmare..which is why unless you are cleaning your churn/used bamboo chopsticks with some kind of amazing bacteria cleaning crap I’ve never even heard of, it’s prolly not a good idea to use it. Make sure the surface f your masher and lid are plenty clean too, especially if they are wood, scrub the hell out of them. Remember that wood swells when wet, so plan ahead and give your wooden parts a good bath well before use, otherwise you may find your lid won’t fit right or your masher doesn’t slide as well as it ought to.

You can make butter in the blender, and if you just want butter, that is great, but churning butter in an actual churn is an experience you should try at least once so that you appreciate what it used to take to put butter on the table pre- electricity.

If you are buying a churn make sure the sides around the mouth on the inside of the jar are sloped, make sure there are no ledges or pieces on the inside of your churn jar that will harbor the butter once it’s done. You want to be able to scoop it straight out, no big deal, not fight with a ledge on the inside of the jar trying to get your butter/buttermilk/wash water out of it..it’s a pain in the butt, trust me.

Are you a butter churning whiz? Got some tips?..Please post e’m below

 

 

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Gardening Tips (or “How not to starve to death”)

Okay, this is just a quick post with a few tips on gardening/growing things.

If you can try to buy heirloom varieties, I know they aren’t conventionally pretty or perfect, but if you get into the habit of drying the seed they can bring you wonderful, unique and tasty plants , year after year.

Don’t dump fresh poop on your garden, I know you just went out and got a load of manure for your garden, and that is great, but fresh manure can often be too nitrogen rich and can burn your plants, let it sit at least a few days until it starts to get dried out/flaky looking..you can make a big pile and turn it every day if you are just dying to play in the poop. Horse, cow, bunny, and chicken poop can all improve your soil quality, just make sure to blend well with your regular garden dirt, and please, wash your produce before you eat it..nobody likes eating poo..and if you do..check your vitamin levels..otherwise, that is just unhealthy and gross..

In the southern states this seems to work, I look forward to feedback from other areas: For tomatoes and like plants , run a piece of pipe ,or old garden hose, cut in about 1 ft to 1 1/2 foot lengths about 6 inches away from but parallel to and at the same depth as your roots , this allows better water delivery to your roots and helps saturate more than just the surface around your plants during rain.

Got bugs? Try diatomaceous earth, it’s a great way to get rid of pests without killing your family too, just be sure to use enough of it in the affected areas. It seems to help with most common garden insects.

If your water is city water and you notice plants looking brownish around the edges, your water may have too much chlorine, consider a rain barrel, or if that isn’t an option, try filling a suitable size container up 24 hours before you water and letting it sit exposed, sometimes the chlorine will evaporate /mellow out after the water sits in open air for a while. If you do either of these, consider putting old screen or tulle, or whatever is open and meshy that you have handy over the opening to keep the skeeters and water-boatmen out of your garden water.

If you plan on planting beans,corn, and squash in the same garden area, consider planting them together, the squash leaves are usually wide and keep water in low to the roots of the corn/beans, the beans can use the corn as a runner, this method seems effective as long as corn is monitored to make sure the beans don’t choke it.

I look forward to adding random tips as I get them from local farmers/gardeners..I wish to give special thanks to my friend Darlene for her help.

If you have other useful gardening tips for small hand hoed gardens or medium size tractor hoed gardens, leave them below.

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Laundry…or …Why your washing machine doesn’t get paid enough..

How many of you folks have done without a washing machine?  I know some folks have, and for those of you who have not, you are lucky devils.

Our washing machine’s life cycle ended tragically, despite efforts to give it a pump transplant and belt infusion. After fourteen faithful years of laundry, it left the laundry room to go to the great scrap-pile in the sky. It leaves behind a man who still expects clean clothes and a woman who is freaked out by the people in the laundry mat.

So after realizing that if we replace it, we have to lug it to the new house (if/when we get the new house, that is another blog for another time) We (and by ‘we’ I mean my husband) decided that we would put off buying a new one until after the move and just do the smaller wash by hand, with the larger, dirtier items slated for trips to the local laundry-mat..ohh, thrills galore for me..

 

So after resigning myself to doing the wash either by hand or in the land of annoying people who wish to share their distorted music with everyone in the laundry mat, like it or not, I got down to business.

For those of you who are not aware how to do the wash the very old fashioned way, here is a quick rundown:

Heat water over a fire in large kettle/basin, meanwhile take your dirt caked wash and slap it around a bit, using either a specially designed stand and paddle, a handy fence and a stick, a good stiff brush, or a family member who happens to be annoying you..your choice. Get most of the dirt off and pre-treat any stains with soap, or whatever is handy for removing those particular stains-(with certain stains,like blood, you will want to try using cold water before putting it in your regular pot-boiled wash, the heat will just set that bloodstain right in, and then what’ll the neighbors think?) For your non axe murderer/stained¬† laundry you’ll want to toss it in your washpot, careful not to dump your clothes directly in the fire, those singe-marks will never come out! Stir it around a bit with your laundry paddle/stick/severed (but no longer bleeding) human limb..adding your soap after a few good stirs, you get to stir some more!..Stir and lift clothing items for a reasonable amount of time, trying to gauge if the dirt is coming clean or not, if not, keep agitating..but if you’ve been at it for longer than 10 mins or so, you may want to smother your fire, after all you are doing wash, not cooking rice. If your wash seems to be coming clean, put out the fire and when safe to do so dump your hot water. You can also just remove the kettle and leave the fire going, the point is just to get the wash and the soapy wash water out of your pot, wring out your wash, and add nice clean water to rinse your laundry. If you happen to have a wash board and a stubborn stain, now is the time to try to get the stain out, otherwise, start your rinse into the pot and do alot more stirring, you are welcome to do this either cold or hot, just depends on what you are washing, agitate the snot out of it..or at least the soap..if it still feels soapy, dump, wring, and add more clean water..remove, wring, and hang to dry..please note that boiling your wash can be hard on colors and may cause fading and color bleeding, I am not responsible for anything you may or may-not do you yourself,your wash, or your sanity when trying this method.

Luckily most of us are blessed with indoor plumbing, which means you can do your wash in the tub, using hot and cold tap water and a washboard (if you have one, if not, the washer woman method of pulling a bit of wash up and down quickly in and out of the wash-water helps remove some dirt by gravity. ) You can also press your wash against the side of the tub instead of hand wringing, for those of you who have a hand wringing machine,a rolling pin, or a mangler, don’t gloat, just use it..

I have found that for smaller items, such as shirts,pillow cases, etc. this method works well. If you are trying to wash blankets, towels, jeans or other items which get heavy when wet you will need to drain the tub and press wring against the tub to remove water before you can carry/remove the item, unless you are he-man or the hulk, in which case, proceed normally.

Do you appreciate the job your washing machine does , yet?

For those who may be wondering about soaps, most of our ancestors used the same lye-based soap which they used for washing themselves to do their laundry with..some of the wiser ones would save and liquify the small slivers left over from bar soaps, or made a slurry with soap flakes. Lye soap made the old fashioned way may leave a residue unless rinsed well and can be caustic to laundry and hands, so please be advised.

 

If you have a different way that you do your hand wash, or know of a proven other method, feel free to input (in a polite and reasonable manner, those caught fighting over how to do the wash will be banished to laundry prison and forced to wash dirty socks and clown underpants for all eternity)..((Yes, I am kidding..mostly))

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So here we are…

Oh, my, a visitor ! Hello there, please , come on in and have a look around.

I started this blog as a way to express all those random little thoughts I have during the day, the ones that the cats don’t care enough to listen to, and my real-world friends are sick of hearing about.

It’s a place to talk about my forays into the past, rehash some interesting history, add recipes, gardening tips, and other sundries.

Truth be told, you never know what you are going to find here, mostly because I never know what I’m going to put here, so I guess we’ll both be mighty surprised, huh?

Well, feel free to have a look around and say hello, but be nice!..

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