Friday, July 15, 2011

Ceramics...A Day Out

Ever looking for something to do where you can be an artist?  Try ceramics.  Although somewhat pricey, I must say, it's alot of fun.  We have done it for birthday outings, Mothers Day or just to have a nice day out.  Two of my favorite projects have been our fancy shoe serving trays.....

and making our very own Lampe Bergers.  If you aren't familiar with what Lampe Bergers are, just google them and see what they are all about.   Usually soap dispensers work, as the diameter of the opening fits the Lampe Berger kits.  I have only been able to find this shape, (photo below) at the ceramics places but I recently found a new place and spied a square one.  On my next outing I think I will try my hand and post a picture, but for now, here is the only style that I have done.

I purchase my kits for the fragrance lamps from  Her name is Nancy and I must say I have never dealt with a nicer woman.  Her products are of great quality and her shipping is Number 1.  She packages up her product thoroughly, and you even get a sample of fragrance oil to make your own lamp oil.   She has numerous tops available, and no I am not benefiting from this plug....she just has really good products!! 

I am not sure of the price in U.S.A. for Lampe Berger fuel but here in Canada, it is crazy, $20.00 to $25.00 for a bottle.  YIKES.  Here is a recipe that I use although I never have distilled water on hand so I just use the rubbing alcohol and oil.

Lampe Berger Oil Recipe
1 - 500 ml. bottle of 99% rubbing alcohol
30 drops of essential or fragrance oil
1 tsp. distilled water
Shake thoroughly, fill your lamp up to 3/4 full and enjoy.
Well I hope you liked looking at the fun projects I have done and I hope you have a ceramics shop near you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade Raspberry Wine

Good day fellow bloggers.  For the past few months we have been in wine mode (and construction mode). But that's another blog story which you can see here.
 Hmmm that sounds like we were drinking and doing construction work....not so, but would have made pounding your fingers with the hammer more bearable.

 This is the recipe we follow when making raspberry wine
4 lbs. raspberries
2 1/2 lbs finely granulated sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
4 litres water
1 tsp nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
wine yeast (we use 1 package of wine yeast per 20 liters of water)
We times this recipe by five to make a 23 litres batch. (standard  carboy size)
This is how we do it.....

We are blessed with many raspberry bushes.
  Many jars of jam have been made here.  A few years ago we tried our hands at making wine.  It was pretty good.  Last year we made over five gallons and this year we are aiming for 12.5 gallons.  Some will become chocolate raspberry port but the rest will be raspberry wine.  We started picking buckets and buckets

and then even more buckets.

We froze raspberries for about two weeks.  We would pick about 2 to 3 buckets per day and then would pop them into freezer bags.

  When we had enough for a five gallon batch, we got busy.
 In a large bucket we measured out 20 lbs of raspberries.
 After they thawed,  we mashed them all up.
We added the campden.  This mixture is left overnight before anything else is added.

The next day, the rest of the nutrients are added.....not the campden.

Now  the sugar.  12.5 lbs of sugar

We fill our biggest pot with about 8 litres of water and add the sugar to it.  The water-sugar mixture is heated until the sugar is completely dissolved.

We dump this over the raspberries and add 12 more litres of tap water.
The yeast is added when the mix is at room temperature.  We steep this mixture for approximately 3 days.  It is covered with the lid that comes with the primary fermentor.  You do not want anything contaminating your batch or you will end up with vinegar.

SORRY NO PHOTOS..... After the steeping we take out as much pulp with a large holed strainer.  After we get most of the pulp out we strain it through some stainless steel fine mesh that we actually found in a scrap yard.  (should have bought more)  It is finer than cheese cloth.  This is left overnight to drain as much juice as we can get.  All of the juice is put back into the large barrel a.k.a. primary fermentation.   This is left for a few weeks to get the yeast working.

When it slows down we transfer the wine into a plastic carboy a.k.a..... secondary fermentation.  This step of transferring the wine is called racking.
It is racked again 6 weeks later and left to clear.  (Actually, this wine took longer to ferment and clear.   We were at week nine.)  We racked the wine again and  degassed it.  It was  left to clear for another week.

  The chocolate raspberry port will need to be sweetened and we may fortify it with some vodka.  Most people use brandy for fortifying, but we don't want to contaminate any of the flavour of the chocolate and raspberry.   
This is our chocolate raspberry port.

We are going to bottle the raspberry wine.  Sterilize thirty-one   750 ml bottles and soak thirty-one  corks.  The corks soak in a water/ metabisulphite mixture.  One tablet per 4 litres of water.  The next two photos show the wine being racked into a pail.  You can skip this step and rack right into your wine bottles if you choose.  It is easier for us to bottle upstairs and not worry about getting any sediment from the bottom  of the carboy into any of our bottles.
Have to taste before you bottle.  Its going to be a good batch!

The bucket is hauled upstairs to our counter. 

We use our siphoning hose to fill our bottles. 

While I am filling the bottles, Hubby is corking.  

This is the finished product.  The wine bottles are left upright for two days and then flipped on there sides for storage.  This keeps the corks from shrinking.  We use dark wine bottles for bottling.  The color of red wine will degrade if exposed to light.

While editing this blog, I was thinking back to building our dormers.  I am in amazement of how we managed to pick berries after working 12 to 13 hour days.  Luckily we have last years wine to celebrate.

makes 10 British gallons

Peaches  30 lbs
White Sugar 22 lbs
Citric Acid  3 ounces
Grape Tannin  1 1/2 tsp
Water   45 litres
5 tsp nutrient
3 crushed Campden tablet
2 packages wine yeast

Strawberries   4 lbs.
Citric Acid   1 TBSP
Grape Tannin  1/2 tsp
Water   1 Gallon
1 tsp. nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
1 package wine yeast


Chocolate Bar Gift Card

My brother In-law celebrated a milestone birthday recently.  In honor of this momentous occasion, I wanted to make him something special.  My sister has made chocolate bar gift cards in  different that gave me some inspiration.  I searched the dollar store for specific chocolate bars and candy to use.  I had a plan for the chocolate bar story on the card, which changed as not being able to find certain bars or candy....but I conformed to stock on hand and got to eat the ones I didn't use.
I first found a large piece of cardboard.  I measured a two inch spine in the center of the card.  I then took my olfa knife and cut into the first layer of the cardboard one inch on each side of the center line to form my spine.  I folded the cardboard at the scored lines to make like a book. 

Next step is to measure out how many lines you need for your card.  I used chalk which was maybe a mistake, or maybe I pressed to hard...not sure....but I probably would use a light leaded pencil next time.

I originally used glue dots which I purchased from the dollar store, but that too was a mistake.  I resorted to my trusty glue gun. 

I started to write and glue the candy on.   I think next time I do this I will try to come up with another alternative to felt pen and my hand writing.  I will probably print the words out with my printer and glue them on.  I feel it would have been much neater.

After glue dotting the candy on and then redoing it all with my glue gun, I could see and end to this task.

I am not a scrapbooker and make no claim to being one.  I apologize in advance but this is what I came up with.
I went on the Internet and googled all the important events of the year he was born.  I printed them off and glued them on to a piece of scrapbooking paper.  I placed them at random on his card.  I kinda thought this was a good idea

Well I hope this inspires someone.  I am sure you could make yours a whole lot better.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


 I love concrete.  I love the feel of it, the coolness of it, and the strength of it.  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited by my sisters garden club to take a course in making a HYPERTUFA  planter.  It was a lot of fun.  Not like the dentist fun, nothing can compare to that, but like getting dirty fun!  Hypertufa planters are much lighter than a concrete planter of the same size, which makes them much easier to move.   Since the course, I have made numerous projects with my daughter and my sister. 
The plant pots were easy to make.  My mix was 
1 part vermiculite or perlite
1 part peat moss
1 part cement *( must use Portland cement) not ready mix
I started with 1 part water and started mixing it in a wheel barrow.  Please ensure you have rubber gloves,  a mask and eye protection.  Cement powder can be nasty in your eyes and lungs and is especially hard on your hands. 

You don't want a sloppy mix; it actually is kind of on the dry, stiff side so that it will hold its shape while packing it against the sides of your plastic plant pot mould.  If you need more water, add it gradually.  If you have added too much water,  just add a handful of each until you get the right consistency.   Just keep the mixture stiff.  I used a shovel to start with, then used my gloved hands to finish mixing.  A large planter will use about 1 1/2 ice cream buckets of each ingredient.  The mix should hold its shape if you form it into a ball.

  For this planter I actually used one large and one smaller mould, but this isn't necessary as you can mould the inside with your hands, although having a smaller one makes it neater.  I filled the large mould up half way, and placed the smaller one inside forcing it down.  You want to keep at least a 2 to 3 inch thick bottom and about two inches on the sides.  Pack the sides of the mould firmly forcing the mixture down the sides to ensure it is well packed. 

   After it is packed in the mold, cover with plastic to keep it moist.  You can spray it with water to dampen your project.  You want it to dry slowly.  After about four days, you can remove it from the mold. 

Back to the first set of pots I made, as the one that I blogged about wasn't ready to un-mold yet.
As you can see, I am not much of a container gardener, but the planters are showy all on there own.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Welcome To Our Guest Bedroom Before The Dormers

This used to be the master bedroom, but every time I tried to
 jump on the bed, I would bump my head on the ceiling.

Plus our big mattress wouldn't make it up the stairs!
But the deal breaker was location to the bathroom.  So there you have it,
the whole story!

This was a headboard  created from an old door, some crown molding and a fancy smancy painting technique.    


I also built a shelf to match my headboard.  I used the same technique to build it, and was able to scrounge three glass doorknobs for the hangers.  The paint finish was the same as the headboard.
A flat dark brown base with a crackle finish in a pale yellow for the top coat.

An old trunk from my wonderful sister created an awesome side table for the bed and holds one of my cool lamps I found for four bucks.

The was one of two  hideous rainbow colored  shades I scrounged from a liquidation place.  I added some trim and painted them  with a gold base and a brown crackle finish topcoat.

An old antique frame hangs for the ghosts picture!  You probably can't see him in there cuz he's a ghost.

So that's my guest room for now.  It will be different in the future, (maybe a year or so). I guess these will become the before pictures.  Stay tuned for the dormers.