Nothing Much Archive

Well that was fun…..

Posted March 23, 2015 By Ruth

Two days ago I attempted my first try at making home-made velveeta cheese.  Turned out pretty decent though I’ll be rethinking my cheese choices for next time.  Had a couple slices with supper.  Yum.

Yesterday for (a very late) breakfast I had an egg & cheese sandwich.  The cheese was my home-made velveeta.  The egg was a duck egg from a farm down the road.  I’ve used duck eggs in baking before, but this was my first time just eating one.  In case anyone asks I really didn’t notice much flavor difference between it and chicken eggs.  Though I added salt, pepper, and garlic to it so that might have hidden any flavor differences.

About half an hour later I started to experience stomach upset.  A large quantity of gas mostly, though there was some bowel upset too.  I thought it was my acid reflex acting up, as I get gas and not acid burning when I get it.  Except that taking an acid reflux pill only helped a little.

About an hour later I’m still moving carefully to avoid upsetting my stomach further (hoping to avoid puking) and my husband suggested I take a Lactaid pill, on the theory that somehow the modifications made to the cheese were affecting me.  I figured even if that was the case it was probably too late, but hell, it won’t hurt.  Almost puked just getting it down, but once it was down it did seem to help a bit.  Not as much as I’d have liked, but I no longer felt like I was going to spew if I moved wrong at least.  About 3pm or so I took another Lactaid pill, on the theory that it can’t hurt.  And again, it helped some.  I was finally able to sip water without my stomach threatening to return it immediately.

By about 10pm I was actually starting to feel a little hungry, I grabbed a handfull of walnuts on the theory that they were fairly bland but reasonably healthy, and they stayed down with little fuss.  And this morning I’m back to normal, though I took a lactaid pill before eating or drinking anything.

I’ve had flair ups of what appear to be lactose intolerance before, but nothing like this.  This was excessively bad, even considering that I didn’t take a lactaid pill till way after the fact.  I’ve never had a reaction last more than a couple hours.  So was I reacting to the duck egg?  It was the first time I’ve ever just eaten one and not had it as part of a baked good.  Both maybe??  

I figure I’ll give my system a couple more days to recover and then eat some more of the cheese and see how that goes, and then maybe repeat the process with another duck egg…..

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Posted March 14, 2015 By Ruth



The tracks are my snowshoe tracks from where I went back to (finally!) change out the batteries and card in the trail cam.  Not that it would have caught much this last month or so.  I saw one set of coyote tracks (probly from the previous day based on how they’d set in the crust), and that was pretty much it.  No deer tracks.  No sign the deer have been at the fruit trees, nothing.  Here’s to hoping SOME of them survived the winter!

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Posted March 4, 2015 By Ruth

Today’s predicted high was 40(F) as of a couple days ago.  Today’s forecast says we’re not actually going to see that, but might see 35 a bit later today.  Since it was above the freezing mark when I got up this morning I’m just thrilled.  The snow is melting!!  I can see where the garden containers are!  Ok, barely, but still…..

Course, the downside to that is that all the ice and snow thats been collecting on the roof is ALSO melting.  Unfortunately our attic space isn’t well sealed, insulated or vented (its on our list of things to fix).  Especially the space where the woodstove chimney goes up through.  We roof-rake, but apparently not as much as we should.  And we have ice dams close to a foot tall.  Or we did as of the weekend.  When temps finally hit above 20 for the first time in forever.  The leak over the vent in the 2nd bathroom was an easy fix.  But the ice caps over the water in the valleys where the living room addition attaches to the main structure were more difficult to deal with.  Monday we (me, my husband and my father-in-law) spent several hours on ladders hacking at ice, clearing the collected water, and creating channels for the melt water from the rest of the roof to go through.  But I think we’re going to have to pull down at least part of the ceiling in the living room and replace at least some of the insulation and drywall…..

Course, Thursday night-Friday morning temps are going to dip below 0 again…..

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Posted February 24, 2015 By Ruth

This is the first time since I moved to NY that my parents in MA have more snow on the ground than we do.  But that doesn’t mean we’re slacking here.  We’re just over average snowfall, and since we’ve not had a single (normal) thaw since the snowfall started its almost all still on the ground too.


Looks so pretty and peaceful doesn’t it…..Well, here’s a photo, taken of the same spot, back on 2-2-15:


Those orange things are the tops of 5gallon Home Depot buckets that mark out my garden patch there (so we can keep the dogs off it in the winter).  Now go back and look at the first picture again.


There’s a reason all that snow is unbroken and smooth.  Its pushing 3ft deep.  Might even be over the 3ft mark at this point actually.  Its hard to be sure since the wind scours the surface constantly.  The drifts are insane.

And COLD.  Did I mention COLD??  Syracuse, the closest major city to me, has broken several cold temp records this winter.  Last Saturday morning the temperature between midnight and 1am dropped to -16(F) before windchill.  And oh yes, there was windchill.  Most days the windchill is dropping the “feels like” temperature at least 20 degrees, and we’ve had drops of up to 40 thanks to the “breeze”.  Its so bad that EVERYONE has ice dams and icicles on their houses this winter.  No matter how well its constructed or what its made of.  Even the steepest of metal roofs can’t shed their loads properly when its this cold.  The local stores can’t keep roof rakes and the Roof Melt tablets in stock, and folks are out on ladders with hammers and chisels trying to keep the ice on their roofs down.

Even Apollo thinks thats cold.  He still wants to go out in it mind, but instead of wanting to stay out he doesn’t argue when we tell him its time to come in either.

Which doesn’t stop him from lounging in the snow when we let him:



Poor Arty disappears completely when he tries to hop into the snow, and I’m pretty sure he frostbit one of his feet last weekend (we’re keeping an eye on it).  I have booties for him, but they don’t fit well and he really doesn’t care for them, kicks them off almost as soon as he’s out the door.

The wildlife is suffering for it too.  Mind, I’m not complaining, to much, since it means that the insect and rodent populations shouldn’t be as bad come spring.  But the local birds are clearing my feeders (2 of which hold about 5lbs of seed apiece) in less than 2 days at this point.  We had an American Tree Sparrow strike a window and not pick up and recover like normal (considering it was barely above zero I’m surprised ANY of them pick up and recover honestly), so I took it down to the local wildlife rehabber, who said that she’s got lots like him that she’s waiting for a warm spell to release.  This winter has been hard on us all.

In slightly more cheerful news my tomatoes and jalapenos have all sprouted though!


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I was not expecting…..

Posted February 2, 2015 By Ruth

… have to shovel out the INSIDE of the garage…..



Something tells me I’ll be replacing those door seals this summer…..

Wasp Spray

Posted January 29, 2015 By Ruth

Brigid has a post up about self defense in the home (go read, its got some great thought points).  And points out that the common advice to carry wasp spray instead of pepper spray might not be such a good idea.

Reminded me of an online conversation I had recently with the wife of a gentleman who taught at my high-school.  She got quite mad at me for pointing out the possible legal ramifications of such use.  But when I insisted that its also not nearly as debilitating as everyone insists she did the online equivalent of storm off in a huff.

No, I’ve never gotten a full face spray directly from the can of wasp spray.  But we use it quite a bit here at our property.  And I have, on more than one occasion, been spraying down a nest only to have the wind gust back at me and result in me catching a full face of spray.  And sure, I drop everything and run inside to wash it off…..but I don’t do it because its painful or the like.  I do it because its potentially long term dangerous.  Infact, its not painful at all.  No worse than catching a faceful of water spray infact.  Turning a can of wasp spray on an attacker might slow him down, just from the surprise of catching a faceful of liquid.  But you might as well just carry a water gun and avoid the possible legal problems that go with wasp spray use.

I also have to note that the supposed length of spray is utter BS on those cans.  Sure, somewhere out at 20-30feet there’s a fine mist of wasp spray…..but if you actually want a concentrated stream to hit something you’ve got to be a HECK of alot closer to your target.  Like, in the 10-15ft range…..

My new spice cabinet!

Posted January 11, 2015 By Ruth

So, back at the end of Dec I ran across THIS link.  And although my spice cabinet isn’t THAT  bad, its not good, and after looking at my kitchen I realized I had a perfect spot to put it.


This is the cabinet end that is at my back when I’m standing facing the stove.  Perfect!

Course, then the “how to make it work for me” started…..

That cabinet you see is CHEAP.  Those sides aren’t solid, what you’re looking at is a very thin (not more than 1/8″) piece of laminate attached to the solid piece corners and a 1/2″ or so gap between it and the INSIDE decorative piece of laminate.  So mounting anything to it is an issue.  My spice cabinet had to be wide enough to mount to the solid corners.  About 11 1 /2″.

That cabinet is 32″ tall, but thats out of my reach, I’d not be able to reach the top shelf most likely.  So, I made mine 30″.

Also, that cabinet isn’t square to the wall, or else the doorway right there is wonky.  There’s just over 3″ of protruding wall at the bottom of the cabinet, and a solid 4″ at the top.  Since I don’t want to be banging my shoulder on the bottom corner the spice cabinet can’t be more than 3″ deep.

Color….I really don’t care for that fake medium oak color that my cabinets are.  Dammed if I’m going to stain this spice cabinet to match.  But staining it to match the wood in the living room (a medium cherry-ish color) would look odd in the kitchen.  I’d about decided I’d just paint it black like in the link when my Husband suggested a dark stain instead.  It looks very nice despite not matching.

Which way to swing the door….I really wanted it with the hinges on my right (facing the cabinet), but if I did that, and made the door the same width as the base cabinet, the door would bang into the wall before opening all the way.  Thats not going to work….After some discussion with an acquaintance who does woodworking professionally (and has built kitchen cabinets) I considered an inset door, that sits inside the cabinet frame, but that takes a degree of accuracy that I wasn’t sure my woodworking skills were up to.  After playing around with the idea I came up with a solution I’ll detail in a bit.

I had a few issues getting going, basically I was having a bad day and shouldn’t have been allowed to touch power tools since I couldn’t even manage basic subtraction correctly.  But we got that straightened out.

Here it is while I figure out the shelf spacing.  No, the picture’s not upside down, the spice jars are.  


No comment on my wonky shelves…I have a level around here somewhere….

And the door after its first, fresh, coat of stain.



Yup, we went with a solid door.  Mostly because I couldn’t find a metal grating that I liked that wouldn’t double or even triple the cost of the whole thing.  But also, because even though it would have looked cool to have a glass or grated door, spices aren’t supposed to be exposed to light all the time.  So, solid door it was.


Here’s how I mounted the door:



Basically the body of the cabinet is 2.5″ deep, but the one side is 3″ deep, and the door is 1/2″ to match.

And finished and hung:

2015-01-10_20-04-52_314 2015-01-10_20-11-13_378

 And I discovered that I don’t need to buy cinnamon any time soon….ooops lol




Birch 2’x4′ plywood for door $17.95 (but I used less than half of it, so really, less than $9 for this and I still have most of it to do other things with)

Poplar 1×3 (actually 3/4″ x 2 1/2″) $13.10 ( I didn’t use it all, but I did use most of it, close enough)

Poplar 1×6 (actually 3/4″ x 5.5″) $7.14 (again, I didn’t use it all, but most of it)

Hinges: $2.58

Handle: $1.28

Magnetic Catch: $0.98

1qt of stain: $7.77 (but I barely used any of it, I’d have bought a smaller can of it if they’d had it)

Birch edgeband for the door: $6.35 (but I used less than half of it for this so really $3.15)

1lb nails: $3.29 (but there’s most of them left….)

So, less than $40 if you don’t count the stain and nails (and considering how much is left I don’t).  I can live with that!

Time to sharpen the kitchen knives….

Posted December 30, 2014 By Ruth

Thats not actually a lead in to a rant.  Its my own stupidity.

I knew that the large majority of my kitchen knives were duller than ideal….but I hadn’t realized how bad they’d gotten.

My inlaws gave us a new Cutco knife for Christmas.  And its sharp.

I forgot.  And handled it like I would have my usual knives.

Thankfully the cut isn’t any worse than a bad papercut, so I’m fine…..hopefully its a lesson learned!  And time to get my knives sharpened…..

The Impromptu Bathroom Remodel

Posted December 12, 2014 By Ruth

This is the only  picture I have of the master bathroom before we pulled it apart:


Taken shortly after we moved in if I recall right.

The bathroom is only 54″ wide.  Its very long, at least for whats in it, but 54″ wide is tiny.  At some point the previous owners had pulled out the original tub and surround and replaced it with a corner shower.  To be fair, any tub that would fit in that space would be tiny, so I’d not have put in a new tub either.  Under the shower base we could just see the corners of two boards, we assumed that they’d been put there to help angle the base correctly for draining.

Back at the end of Oct my husband came out of the bathroom to tell me that the bit of one board was soaking wet.  When I checked it I confirmed that not only was it soaking wet, it had been for a while, it was black with collected mold.

We’ve got a water leak somewhere.  Oh fun.  Although we could access the shower water shut offs without pulling down the shower we had no idea where the leak was, or how much water damage had been done, so we made the decision to just pull down the shower (which wasn’t exactly a high end unit), fix whatever needed to be fixed, and replace it.  Since we have a 2nd full bathroom, complete with the original tub/shower combo the lack of shower wasn’t going to be an issue and we could take our time getting it done once the leak and damage was fixed.

Pulling up and out the shower we discovered that there wasn’t a leaking pipe after all.  The shower base itself had cracked just a bit at that corner allowing water to dribble right onto that supporting board.  The drywall that the board had been right up against showed a little water damage, but after cutting that out I was able to confirm no real water damage due to the leak.  Yay!  Right?

Like all projects in a not new house it wasn’t that simple….

The shower walls had been supported by a series of 2×4’s screwed into the wall.  Counting every single screw (of which there were over 20), 3 actually hit studs.  The rest just went into drywall.  With no drywall anchers.  In two cases the only thing holding the boards on was the fact that they’d also used silicone.  I have no clue how the whole mess stayed on the wall.  We were able to literally just pull most of the boards straight out from the wall without removing the screws first.

Then there was what we found under the shower base:



I’m not sure what the hole on the left was, but I’m guessing old water damage that they “patched” when they replaced the tub.  See the plumbing on the right?  They had to redo the drain when they put in the shower.  The pipe itself sticks up above the floor level by almost half an inch.  The boards under the shower base weren’t to help tilt it for drainage.  They were to support it so that it didn’t crush the plumbing.  Cause that makes lots of sense……

See the kinda groady patch of vinyl between the two holes?  It flexed in a very nasty way when we started to step on it in the process of pulling down the whole mess.  When I pulled up the vinyl and very carefully put a foot on the spot it collapsed under a very small portion of my weight.  Old water damage that was never fixed.  Thankfully there didn’t appear to be any mold, just dry rot.


See those little black specs?  Mouse turds.  The visible insulation was full of them.  SO MUCH FUN!!!  Arg.

So I pulled up the “patch” on the left hole, confirmed the presence of mouse turds in the insulation under it.  Pulled and threw away all the insulation in both holes, and then cut out the old water damaged spot and made the whole hole mostly square so it would be easier to patch:


The spot under the old water damage had basically no insulation (and more signs of mice).  My cut opened up the next cavity that extends back under the floor of the rest of the bathroom.  You’ll notice there’s not much insulation there too.  At least there wasn’t any mouse turds in it.  But a flashlight and an awkward angle to peer into the cavity confirmed what we’d suspected about the whole house.  There was barely an inch of insulation under the rest of the floor.

We’d been pretty sure that the whole house needed to be re-insulated, but I wasn’t thrilled to get conformation of that fact.

I stuffed every nook and cranny I could reach full of insulation and made a quick patch till we could decide what we wanted to do.


(actually I took the picture prior to insulation, but you get the idea)

We’d hoped to put off any bathroom renovations till a few years down the road when we’d planned to spend several grand doing it right.  We’re going to need to reinsulate obviously, the bathroom is the coldest room in the house.  We want to put in heated floors.  And a custom, 54″ wide, shower stall.  So we weren’t interested in spending a fortune getting this done.

In the end we picked an inexpensive corner shower, made out of better quality plastic than the old one.  Which of course meant we had to move the drain.  But my Father-In-Law was able to do that for us, and while he was at it he fixed the too high plumbing.

And we put up the shower walls.  And discovered that the corners of the room aren’t square.  Not sure why I expected them to be, but you know how that goes….


There’s a piece of cement board under the shower now, to help with water control.  And we’re in the process of putting down 1/2″ thick rubber matting on the floor to help with the cold floor problem……but otherwise the bathroom is done.  Well.  For now……

Christmas Music

Posted December 11, 2014 By Ruth

I’m not a fan of most Christmas music.  Working retail for extended periods will do that to you.

When I do listen to Christmas music it tends to be fairly non-standard.  Like Twisted Sister’s Christmas Album.

I found another one to add to my list today though.



And then when you’re on Itunes buying the album go listen to the teaser for their Christmas Can Can too…..


H/T to Greg @ Dum Vivimus, Vivamus