Saturday, September 21, 2013

Garden Art With A Touch Of Sparkle

It's True!!! 
 I am a DIY junkie.
  I love watching all the garden shows, how to renovate your kitchen, bathroom, etc.  Mostly I dream of some hunk of a man approaching me in the building store, and whispering in my ear, "Excuse me Miss, can I come home with you and renovate your yard?"
   Or our bathroom, I'd be good with that too!! 
 Who wouldn't want to drag a bunch of camera wielding strangers home to look at your toilet?

And I know Mr. FT wouldn't get his shell bent out of shape
 if I ushered a bunch of men like that through the door!  

We were watching a television show starring an artistic hunky landscaping dude,
you might have heard of him, Jamie Durie.
It was a show on HGTV called The Outdoor Room

  He featured a garden sculpture constructed from rebar.
  Unfortunately, he doesn't come home with you.
  I think you have to pay him, dearly!!

  I can't remember the species of leaves they fashioned their leaves from, but we decided to devise ours from one of the old Poplar trees on our property.

  We are hoping to do three around our fire pit and one already completed in another part of the yard, all with a climbing vine growing up the stems, I am hopeful in a few years that they will offer shade for our early evening campfires.   The first one, was for another area of the yard.   This practice leaf was created  by myself and the artist "Leaf" formally known as Mr. FT.
It kind of flows with the old snag (dead tree) to the right.
 Unfortunately  the snag  will soon fall down but we have
 enjoyed watching woodpeckers and other birds build their homes in it every year!
  Plus at Halloween, it's kinda creepy and scares off the little ones so
 I have more candy for myself.  That's why I buy the good stuff!

We planted two climbing rose bushes on either side.
Okay, why does Walmart sell rose bushes that are not for our growing zone?

 I found this out after we purchased and planted these damn bushes.

Oh, duh, I get it!  It's so us dumba$$es can keep going back year after year for more!

The leaves were created using 3\8" and 5/8" rebar, a bender,
 a welder, chop saw, grinder, cutting torch, 4' standard pipe, and some scrap 1\4" plate, and of course a guy who can weld...(Mr. FT) ahem "Leaf"
With gung ho and sweat, we cut, bent and welded the rebar into curves using the vein structure and outside perimeter of the real leaf for our inspiration.
A stem consisting of five pieces of rebar and 4" pipe slices were fabbed together and secured to the base of the leaf.  Extra rebar was welded from the stem to the bottom part of the leaf for structural purposes.

Rebar is pounded into the hole about ten feet deep for added strength.  Colored concrete was poured as this will stick out of the ground about eight inches, with the structure mounted directly to the top.

A 1/4' plate with rebar welded to threaded rod was created to sink into the concrete.  The 8" diameter base plate is removable, so that it can be welded to the  leaf once the concrete has cured.

The plate is removed from the concrete and each of the five pieces of rebar are welded to the top of the base plate.  It is then re-attached to concrete foundation using the threaded rod from the concrete through the holes on the base plate secured firmly with nuts.  Hope you got that cuz it was quite a mouthful!
Plus I confused myself now so I need a brain nap!

 Setting up the solar bling!

Solar lights were added to the leaf for nighttime parties around the campfire.  And now for some sparkle:

We enjoyed a big fire the first night these were installed.
So while the neighbors house was burning down,
 we drove up the road to see if it was visible from the
 distance....not the fire, the solar lights cuz really
 this post wasn't about a neighbor's house burning, it was all about Leaf!

I totally made up that last paragraph cuz I was drinking
while I wrote this post but this next part did happen.

  As we got out of our car, we walked towards the fire pit area and could see the lights twinkling behind the spruce trees.  It was truly magical.
  Gosh, I sound like a trashy romance novel. 

The second leaf is in the works for the firepit area.  The base has been poured but the leaf is still in fabrication mode.   I will post an update.

 Couldn't you just picture a lot more of these delights circling the campfire?
  Hint Hint Mr. FT...I mean Leaf, the artist formerly known as Mr. FT

Oh, and one last thing!  I put a few tack welds in so if it's windy,
don't stand near've been warned!

Linking up with These Lovelies!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

The Magic Cake without the Magic :(

I'll I can say is that I have had enough birthdays to last me a lifetime, and I speak with great authority being in my late twenties, maybe early thirties...hehe.
 But my kids haven't, so I had to pull up my big girl apron and get my egg peeler out. 
 That's a real cooking tool, right?
  Yes I cooked and I think it turned out not too bad as everybody took leftovers home.   Maybe they were trying to save Mr. FT from enduring that meal two nights in a row....hmmmm.  
 Keeping my fantastic cooking skills a secret, I will just post on the baking part of the meal.
 I wanted to enlighten you with a cake I found at
She whipped up a fantastic Magic Cake that she found at 

I think the thumbs up meant it looked good, although I guess in hindsight I should have had it on a fancy plate with dressy blueberries around the perimeter, so I ask you to use your imagination!

Danni's cake looked so good that I decided this would be the birthday celebration cake for my wonderful daughters' birthday that I gave birth to when I was 6......or so.  That's right, we are more like sisters..... if you are far far away and have your reading glasses on.

I changed up the recipe slightly using lemon extract to replace the vanilla, and lemon juice to replace the water.  I doubled the amount of lemon extract as we are big lemon fans.

 You could triple the lemon flavoring as the kids and Mr. FT found it to be quite mild.  I also added a box of instant lemon jello pudding for the icing, instead of the powdered sugar and strawberries used in the original recipe.

It was well received but I will stick with the classic angel food cake for next years celebration! 
A cake that looks like an elegant high heal!  Right? 

 I had made a trial cake which I felt turned out better.  The cake part was very light and spongy.  This one didn't have the texture the first had.

  It was kinda like a funky shoe, which I totally planned as she loves shoes.
Not a bad cake but I think I will stick with good ole Betty Crocker next year.  That will be our little secret, oh and the fact that I gave birth to my daughter when I was around six-ish.


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Monday, September 9, 2013

Harvard Beets with a Kick and a Secret Protein Rich Diet

Look what I saw on my way out to the garden

And these :)

And when I got to the garden, this is what I found :(

Damn mice have been snacking on my produce.  They tore through my patch like a kid in a candy store.   This photo was taken after I dug them up...the mice couldn't reach my shovel thank Waldo, or they probably would have eaten all my corn too.

The good new is, if I hadn't so few beets to preserve, I wouldn't have thought up this crazy idea of kicking Harvard in the pants with a little bit of Cayenne pepper!  

I found my old recipe for Harvard Beets and stepped it up by adding a few more spices

Approx. 3 lbs of beets cooked skinned and cubed
1 cup of white vinegar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp ginger powder
1 TBSP cayenne pepper (or to taste pending on your wimp level)
1 Tbsp butter

In a large saucepan, add vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, spices and butter  Boil until it starts to thicken.

 Throw in prepared beets and mix thoroughly.

 Makes about 10 cups. 
 I  put two cups into each freezer bag to pull out for a quick addition to any meal.

  This is a very strong tasting beet recipe.   If you would like to tone down the sourness, you could use half vinegar, half water.  I like the boldness of sweet to sour.

Also, I just wanted to share with you, a secret protein rich diet I have discovered.
You just walk out of the house with your mouth wide opened, and by the time you have reached the garden entrance, you have consumed your daily intake of protein.  These wonderful little aphids are a culinary delight, sought after by many, but only devoured by  a few of us mouth breathers.

  By the time you get back to the house with your garden bounty, you aren't hungry!  Shhhhh, don't tell anyone, or there will be fewer aphids.


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

KFC Chicken Spa-Hotel

The weekend brings us part two of the KFC coop!
If you are wondering why I would be crazy enough to build a Daycare or Hotel for chickens,
 you can read all about it  HERE!!
It was formerly known as miss Karen's Finishing Coop, but I don't think it's appropriate as I am not fattening them up for the nearest KFC restaurant.

 A new name will be introduced, but still staying with KFC of course!
Karen's Feathered Care 
Karen's Feathered Caravansary 
Karen's Feathered Conservatory
Karen's Foul Corner
Or maybe someone has a better idea????

I didn't want the spectacular roost being the first picture everyone sees.
 (You might not continue on to see what all the cluckings about!
 Instead I'll usher the pictures in with a gorgeous door made from recycled barn board....snort chuckle choke....

 Just waiting for the girls to come so I can debut their visit.  That's right, you will be first to see the only chicken daycare/hotel/spa ever,
 here at the Feral Turtle

A roost was constructed

A trip to the fire pit proved to be worthwhile.
 Sorry for the blurry picture, but it's hard to stand still when you're glancing over your shoulder, in terrified fear of those furry little critters we call "Mickey"
I know Mr. Feral Turtle doesn't believe that those darn little buggers
 are out to get me
 That's because he's never had a
 "chase down"
through the corn patch.
  All he heard was my hysterical screaming, and by hysterical, I don't mean hysterically funny,
 I mean hysterically horrified.
My dirty little secret is out now.  I am terrified of mice!!

I got a wee bit fancy and put an angled roost in too.  It will hold two birds.
 I just cut each end at a 45 degree angle and nailed them in place.

  After scouring decorating magazines,
 I discovered  white is the "IN COLOR"  this year.
 Wanting to keep things high end, cuz that's how we "fly,"
  I mixed the rest of my cheap paint from the oops section at our local hardware store with some slaked lime and water.   Here is  the real whitewash recipe right from
Mother earth News
This paint definitely sticks to everything.  Kinda like an olden days version of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
  Hmmmm  maybe that's where the chalk paint idea was born.

I didn't feel the need to paint the outside as my guests won't see it from this view, and really, isn't it all about your guests?  Plus I ran out of paint :(

I heard, the girls are peeping and chirping about their upcoming trip to KFC.  
 Because this is their first holiday from home, I am hoping to treat them to something special.   I may pickle  beets this weekend and lavish
 the chickies with beet tops!
I also needed a quick door for the center of the nest boxes.  I scrounged an old piece of barn board, cut it in half lengthwise, and  cut the board to the precise measurements as you will see when it's hung (hehe)

Two 4"x4" pieces of 1/4 inch plywood were cut into triangles.  These are for the corners of the door.

A bit of wood glue was applied to the rails and stiles in the corners  and the pieces were held together with clamps and brad nails

Corners plywood pieces get a generous application of wood glue....

and placed at each corner and brad nailed.  I wouldn't recommend this method to build a kitchen cupboard door, but for a quick cover to a nest box, I figured it would suffice!

I added a bit of chicken wire to the back with staples.

And with the precise measurements of the opening, a door is born.
 Unfortunately the barn board was a little shy of what I needed, but because it's a chicken hotel, I just "winged" it.

A "stunning" knob is added to the door of the cupboard.........

and for a little continuity, and that designer look, the exterior door gets a stunner  too!
The moment we have all been waiting for,
 our guests arrive!

Check out their homemade feeder.
A bucket with a lid, a plastic plant pot used for the bottom, and some chain!

Holes are cut along the bottom edge for feed to seep out as needed!

A fancy water server.  Nothing but the best here at KFC!

She's looking pretty satisfied!

And one more payment for staying at the KFC....
I must apologize for the explicit picture but this is like gold!

And check out my BOGS!  They are finally being used to slosh through .....see the unmentionable pic above my Bog shot!
  Thanks again to Karen from The Art Of Doing Stuff for the opportunity to wear these beauties!

If you are in need of some quality chicken care, this coop's for you!  KFC is a step above the others, (are there any others?)
In  fact,  our guests are our first priority (and I don't mean in the deep fryer)

Oh Oh, I better go.  HGTV is at my coop door looking for a feature on
 "Lifestyles of the Rich and Feathered"

One more episode of Chicken Hotel/Daycare/Spa left.
  The name of the coop.
 The final reveal will happen as soon as I get my butt in gear and come up with a name!

Guess what!
Pursuit of Functional Home

 I was featured on my good friend JUDY"S blog.  She has a fantastic blog with amazing parties.  One of her co-hosts TAMMY, featured my Cobblestone Path and made mention of my Mom, which just made my day!


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