Sunday, January 29, 2012

Handmade Hair Toys

I made the decision a few years ago to grow my hair out, very long. Only recently have I discovered using hair forks and sticks and I love them, particularly forks! These are usually very expensive at stores and online, so I have been experimenting with making my own.

I have a DIY personality to the extreme! lol! I must try to make it myself before I give up and buy one and I can make so many more when I do it myself.

The picture above is a hair fork I recently made. (I wouldn't be caught dead wearing pink. This one is for a friend.) It's steel, shaped, sanded and painted by me with beads added. Here is another picture of the one above:

I have made several of these. Here is one I made for myself, in my hair. I like copper! It goes with just about everything I wear and I have other copper jewelry to go with it.

The copper wire is not as neatly done as I would like. I was just playing around with old wire I had on hand. I'm going to redo it with neater, tighter wrapping.

I also have them painted with a high gloss lacquer in dark violet, burgandy, rusty copper, burnt red. I hope to acquire other colours soon, maybe some blues and greens! I am going to experiment with twirling the paint colours or just dipping the pointed ends into another, coordinating colour!

Making things yourself is so much more rewarding and fun than buying everything, and cheaper too! I can make one to go with everything I wear and give some to friends!

The one at the top is the only one that I have finished so far. I love the way they look in the hair.

These are made with heavy, galvanized steel fencing wire. I sanded it then shaped it. After getting the shape I want, I file all the marks off until it is smooth and paint it with nail polish. Ta-da! Hair forks! Seriously, it is so easy! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

World Class Meatloaf!

This is a fantastic meatloaf! It's juicy and delicious with just a slight hint of cheddar flavour. It's Lloyd Gallant's recipe, developed in his kitchen.

World Class Meatloaf!

3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 large egg
2 tablespoon parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sage

Mix well, bake at 350F for 1/2 hour covered with foil. Remove foil and bake another 1/2 hour.

This makes a great meatloaf with well browned sides and bottom!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, winter is here, sadly. It's been winter here for about a month now. We probably won't see the ground again until spring. The only way a hardcore gardener like myself can survive this, is to plant in the winter too. I know it's not the same, but at least I am playing in the dirt and sorting through my seeds, dreaming of spring.

"Wintersowing" is a relatively new thing, as far as gardening goes. I first heard the term about 15 years ago, and that is new for gardening terms. It refers to someone planting seeds in containers and putting them outside so they get the freezing winter temps they need to germinate, but are up off the ground and enclosed. These wintersowed containers will warm up and thaw faster in the spring than the ground and the seeds will germinate much sooner.

You could plant these same seeds in the ground in the fall and get the same, eventual result, but wintersowing is faster. It also gives gardeners a chance to plant and garden in the middle of the winter.

Wintersowing is better done in deeper containers. The more shallow ones, as in the top picture from a few years ago, dry out too fast in the spring. Plastic pop and clear plastic juice bottles work well.

Here is one I did today. This is echinacea 'Double Decker'.

I drilled a few holes in the bottom center and cut more around the outer edge with a knife. Then I cut it almost in half, just enough that I could lift the lid to fill and plant but not enough to take the lid off completely. I want it as securely attached as possible outside.

I filled it with storebought potting soil, since our ground is frozen solid, and planted the seeds. Echinacea seeds need a winter to germinate and they also need a little sunlight, so they get covered very little, if at all.

I stuck in a label and put it on my south facing deck with a block of ice behind it to hold it in place during winter storms. I don't have many of these seeds and would be quite frustrated should it blow over and be destroyed. I planted about half of the echinacea 'Double Decker' seeds that I have, saving a few in case these don't germinate. (It's a foolish gardener who plants all of his seed!)
I have a few more seeds to wintersow this year. This is just the first one. I'm looking forward to these special echinacea seeds for the flowerbed. As far as the herb uses go, it doesn't matter which one I have since they all have the same properties. I have single purple ones and the 'White Swan'. These flowers look like this:
Almost anything that needs a winter to germinate can be wintersowed. I plan to do a lot more this month, if I have the time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Bulb Care

That is my favourite dahlia, growing in the chair in the picture above! It's a 'Keri Blue', called that because of the slight blue tint in the very center. It's beautiful and I take no chances with these during their winter rest in my cold cellar. Also wintered over in the cellar are other dahlias, cannas, glad, 4 O'clocks and geraniums (pelargoniums). Many winters, if left alone, the small dahlias will dry up. Some of the other ones do too. This has always been a great disapppointment to me in the spring!

This year I decided to take steps to make sure that didn't happen! I read that it helps to take them out of storage in early January and soak them for a day or so, then dry well again and pack in cold storage for another couple of months.

I did that this past week. I took out the small dahlia divisions and small new dahlia bulbs, as well as the 4 o'clock roots and soaked them in room temp water for a few hours. I then laid them out on the kitchen floor on newspapers to dry for a few days. Today I repacked them in wood chips in plastic bags in the basement.

I had planned to leave them for a few more days but our wonky male cat, Shadow, who has cabin fever in the snowy winter, spent his morning attacking them and shredding the papers. lol! Since they were dry again, I put them away. It won't help him. He just attacks the little rugs and the furniture, rolling around on the floor and killing them with all four feet and teeth! lol! Abby, the female cat, prefers to play with and carry off any little hard things she finds around. Anything is fair game. Hubby swears that she has stolen a couple of his tiny wrenches from the desk. I have seen her batting other things to the floor and knocking them around, as well as finding wood pellets scattered all over the house in the morning! (I won't be the only one glad when spring comes! lol! We love them both dearly!)

I only soaked the small and new dahlias that would, in past years, be dried up in the spring. In past years I have tossed them down there to be completely forgotten until spring. This year I have new ones that are important to me, so I am tending them carefully, checking on them whenever I am down there and making sure they are not getting shrivelled.

The geranium roots are hanging up, dry. This is the first year I have wintered them over in this fashion. Usually I pot them up and grow them as houseplants all winter, and I did do a few like that, also. Geraniums love spending their winter growing in a sunny window and bloom continuously, right up until they go outside in the spring. I didn't have room for all of them this year. I am considering soaking the bare geranium roots hanging in the basement, too. Has anyone done this and does it help or will they be fine hanging bare root in the cold cellar until spring without intervention?

I had calla lilies and some dwarf white cannas last year, but neither survived last winter in storage. I grew them all from seed and was very disappointed when they didn't make it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade Detergent Update

A while ago I wrote a couple of posts about making your own laundry detergent and making your own dishwasher detergent. The laundry detergent was a roaring success and I have been happy using it since with no problems! Not so the dishwasher detergent.

I have used that recipe for dishwasher detergent with citric acid for many months. At first it clumped so badly it was unusable. Then I added some dry rice to absorb the moisture and it helped, but didn't eliminate clumping altogether and I didn't like putting rice in my dishwasher. The clumping is the citric acid absorbing moisture which makes it work not so well in the dishwasher.

It did work VERY well when first mixed, however and all the dishes came out sparkling clean with no detergent residue whatsoever. It's the citric acid that does it. Now I use store bought dishwasher detergent or my own homemade without citric acid in it. I keep the citric acid in a small jar by itself and just sprinkle a little into each load - no more detergent residue! We are much happier doing it this way and with very little added trouble. I top up the rinse agent each time anyway.

For those of you who are on the journey to self sufficiency and are having difficulty with the dishwasher detergent recipe, try adding the citric acid separately.

Self sufficiency is a continuous journey, one that starts with the first step. That first step is not all that hard to take, either. I don't believe anyone actually gets there. I don't think it's possible to achieve true self sufficiency. You wouldn't be reading this on a computer if you had...