Friday, July 15, 2011

Ceramics...A Day Out

Ever looking for something to do where you can be an artist?  Try ceramics.   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.  They are supposed to purify the air.

 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 A one.  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 great stuff!! 

I am not sure of the price in U.S. for Lampe Berger fuel, but here in Canada, it is crazy,  $25.00 for a bottle and I can burn that in about 2 days.  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, light it up and enjoy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade Raspberry Wine

 For the past few months we have been in wine mode (and construction mode). But that's another blog story which you can read here.

 Hmmm that sounds like we were drinking and doing construction work. It sure would have made pounding my fingers with the hammer more bearable.

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.  

We froze raspberries for about two weeks.  About 2  buckets per day were harvested and then we would pop them into freezer bags and freeze.

  When we had enough for a five gallon batch, we got busy.
 In a large bucket we measured 20 lbs of raspberries.
 When defrosted. yep you guessed it, a potato masher was put to work.
We added the campden.  This mixture is left overnight before anything else is added.

The next day, the pectin enzyme and yeast energizer are added.

Now  the sugar.  12.5 lbs of sugar
is added to 8 litres of water and heated until sugar is completely dissolved.

We dump this over the raspberries and added 12 more litres of tap water.
Stir the sugar water and raspberries and cool to room temperature.  Once at room temperature, add the yeast and stir.  Cover with lid.  This is called your primary fermenter and is available at wine making stores and is food safe.  You do not want anything contaminating your batch or you will end up with vinegar.

SORRY NO PHOTOS..... After steeping for about 3 days on the fruit, the mixture is run through a sanitized coarse strainer to remove as much of the pulp as possible.  The mix is strained one more time through thick cheesecloth.  This is left overnight to ensure no juice is left behind!  The juice is poured back into the primary fermenter and left for 2 to 3 weeks to get the yeast working.

The juice is siphoned into a sanitized 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 for about a week.

Now to bottle the goods...  Sterilize thirty two  750 ml bottles and soak thirty two  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 sanitized  pail. We do this so as not to disturb sediment from the carboy when we haul the wine upstairs for bottling. You can skip this step and rack right into your wine bottles if you choose but you risk getting sediment into your finished product.  YES...LOTS OF SANITIZING!!!
Have to taste before you bottle.  It is 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 their sides for storage.  This keeps the corks from shrinking.  We use dark wine bottles as the color of red wine will degrade if exposed to light.


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


Sunday, July 10, 2011


   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 cuz I am officially addicted to concrete now.
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  in a wheelbarrow and added the dry ingredients.  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.  You want it to be 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 of the dry goods until you get the right consistency.   Just keep the mixture stiff. (Add Joke Here)... 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 mould and one small 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 mould, cover with plastic to keep it moist.  You can spray it with water, just enough to dampen.  You want it to cure slowly.  After about four days, you can remove it from the mould. 

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 green thumber, but the planters are showy all on their 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.    


I also built a shelf to match my headboard.  I used the same technique to build it, and was able to scrounge three glass door knobs 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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


. Recently I was able to acquire another trunk.  A few years back, my jack of all trades and I built an end table for our living room using an old trunk, perhaps used for instruments. It was pretty beat up but we made the most of it. I really love it and I had always hoped to make another for our living room.
Original End Table

I found this one at a thrift store, scooped her up,  and brought her home.

We pretty much built it the same way, using what we had on hand, except for purchasing the 4x4.  We measured for the determined height of the finished table and cut four  4x4s to length.

The legs were tapered on two sides to mimic our original design.

All legs were sanded with a belt sander and finished by hand.

The legs  needed to rabbeted at the top to fit behind the sides, but still be flush where the sides meet the legs..  This was done on the two front corners of the leg at the top.   Also note that the two rabbeted sides were without the taper.

Next step was ripping four lengths of plywood to the right width.  Each corner was mitred on the table saw to the determined length. 

Biscuit joints were used for fastening the sides together and then it was glued and clamped to setup overnight. 

The legs were glued and clamped and another night goes by, to let it all dry.

Meanwhile the trunk needed to be painted.  Masking off the sides so that the metal could be sprayed black was a chore, but necessary.

Paper and tape removed

Next day consisted of staining the legs and the body of the trunk.

After another night to let the stain dry, the body could be attached to the legs.  Don't mind the inside of the trunk.  It was lined in foam which had been firmly glued in.....blah....but I was able to scrape most of it out.  We drilled through the inside of the trunk into the legs with a pilot hole and used a lag bolt to anchor the two together.

Finished.  What do you think??
I am extremely happy with it.  I think I will store junk in my trunk.