Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pizza Hash Brown Casserole

Kenny was having a bit of a tough few moments this afternoon, thinking about a stressful (to him) event coming up later this week.

As a fellow sufferer of panic attacks and extreme anxiety, I wanted to help him out using one of the go-to tools in my arsenal - distraction.

I asked him to come downstairs, cuddled with him and reassured him for a few moments, then hopped up and decided to continue doing dishes, while getting him to put together our supper for tonight.

First up I had him grease the slow cooker pot with some grapeseed oil, although I gave him the option to use peanut if he'd prefer, but he didn't think it made a difference.

Then he dumped in the hash browns.

Frozen hash browns as the base.
Next, some salsa.

Mama's favourite condiment - SALSA!
Followed by nacho cheese dip.  About half of the smaller jar.  The rest gets set aside for real dipping of nachos.

Nacho cheese.  A guilty pleasure for our whole household.
I suggested lots of mozarella cheese, as well as the last of some plain yogurt we had.  Then pepperoni and some spices (including nacho cheese popcorn spice).

Now we're getting somewhere!
Kenny mixed it all together and was ready to smile for the camera by this point.

Feeling better now that he's on a mission.  :)
Then he took the camera to take a picture of me checking the computer, as well as a picture of my butt.

At first I wondered about the physics of this position, then realized I had my other leg extended out behind me.
I asked him to cover up the casserole with more mozarella - I told him to pretend the dish was poo in the toilet, and the cheese was sawdust - I wanted a good blanket!

A good amount of cheese.  Has anyone EVER said "Oh, this dish has too much cheese"?!
He then set up the cooker, and put the pot into it on low.

Like lobsters in the pot!  Note the extra cheese on Aunt Vicki's placemat.  Daddy can clean that up.
Talk about some real-world applied knowledge!  We often bake together, but this was one of the first meals he's helped with that didn't use any measurements.

Cook faster you slow cooker!
So hungry now!

Minutes before the bowl was empty - it was FANTASTIC!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Starting to Trim Some Windows

My excitement to post this is tempered with the fact that I didn't tell Donna I had done the work, and she took an extended sauna last night, and didn't even notice the change!

In any case, after working on the aeration of the pond and well, I really wanted to at least make a start on trim work around the homestead, something I've left on the back burner.

I decided to begin in the sauna, and test out some thoughts there.

First up I put some sill gasket all the way around - I thought that this may seal up any slight leaks.  Sober second thought makes me think that caulking the seams under the trim may be a better use of my time though.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
And some more.
Then I put on the outer trim all around.  I used simple butt joints here - I don't mind the look of them.  I only tacked this up with a few brad nails - I have something more substantial in mind as the project progresses.
The first board.
Then I used a slightly thinner, narrower and more finished fence board to put in a sill.

I continued to use the fence boards to trim around - instead of having the outer trim cover the edge of the casing, I instead had the casing extend out from the trim slightly (by measuring around the window depth all the way around and basing my width on the deepest spot).  I'm hoping that this will hide the fact that my log walls are quite wavy in places.

Of course, I didn't think completely ahead and ended up one board short for my first experiment.

And one board short.  Note the dark area on the wall where I always end up leaning when taking steam.
Due to this, I went outside and removed one of the original outer trim boards to begin thinking about the outside trim as well.  That's when I really decided that caulking was the best tool for the job, and I couldn't find my caulk or the gun.

And outside.  You can see where steam has escaped over the years due to lack of good seal.  We'll see how it goes in future.
I'll try to post updates as the work progresses.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Improving the Aeration of my Goldfish Pond

Stunning as the survival of two goldfish was this past winter, I still would like to believe that we can keep this up going forward.

I purchased a dozen new fish to add to our pond a couple weeks ago, although within the first hour we lost one, and the next day, found another floating belly up.

The remainders dove deep and only in the past few days have we begun seeing them poking around at the edges of the pond.

Today was a lovely, sunny day, so I decided to finally make use of the spare solar panel and pump aerator I had purchased in the fall (but which arrived too late to be able to install).

Previously at our well, I had put the pump inside a small plastic box.  This time I decided to be more frugal and pulled out the jar and lid from a recent nacho cheese indulgence.  These actually appear as though they may work even better.

Mmmm, Nacho Cheese.
I was able to drill a nice sized hole through the lid.

Next time I should clamp the lid before I drill.
Then, used my needlenose pliers to fold over the edge so it wasn't in danger of abrading the power cable or air hose.

Making sure the edges aren't too abrasive.
I inserted the pump and screwed the lid on tight.  It looked really great!

Looks pretty good to me actually.
We took it down to the pond and dropped it in - it worked really well - I placed the aeration stone under the existing trough, to keep all the disturbance in the pond in one specific place.

Bubbling like mad!
I simply laid the solar panel on a nearby rock, and then decided to waterproof the connection between the solar panel and the pump.

Nothing too fancy, tried to tuck the jar down between the rocks.
A simple way of waterproofing the contacts.
This worked so well, I sanded the contacts of the pump and panel at the well, and then did the same hot glue waterproofing there.

Added some water sealant to the entry point of the air hose as well.
These contacts were in rough shape after the winter - I sanded them for better conduction before waterproofing.
I was really tickled with how well it all turned out!  It will be interesting to see just how long the aerator is able to keep a bit of the pond ice free for longer - and if there is a commensurate increase in fish survival.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Quick Update to my Water Tank Sight Tube

With the amount of iron in our water, our sight tube for the kitchen water tank seemed to get cloudy fairly quickly.  I've been removing and discarding the entire tube every couple of times I scrub the whole kitchen down.

It was always a hassle though, I had mounted it with brackets and screws.

First I had switched it to a threaded connector to make it a bit easier to replace, but I still had to back out the screws each time, and then re-tighten them.  I worry that over time, they would strip and no longer hold very well.

So this time around, I replaced the two brackets I previously used with four eye hooks that were large enough that the hose could easily slip through them, while at the same time, it was tight enough that the hose wouldn't fall out on its own.
Looks nice and clean!
Much nicer to work with.
Unfortunately, I must have done something to the LED strip in behind, and now it doesn't work.  Sigh.  Time to order a new one.

Rats, no longer glowing!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Hero?

Across the finish line?
Saw this guy trying to cross the road a couple of days ago - I just missed him by a hair!  (Get it?  Hair?  Hare?)

Anyway, I helped him get back to the lake.  Or was it her?  I know I picked them up, but I didn't question their gender too closely.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Gyros Casserole

On Tuesday Kenny decided quite surprisingly that he wanted to visit the Hoffman Hobby Farm down near Murillo.

I had to act fast to figure out supper!  Luckily inspiration struck and I was able to use up some stuff in the fridge and freezer and let our solar power do all the heavy work.

First, frozen hash browns mixed with Tzatziki.
Mix in some homegrown alfalfa sprouts and chunks of feta cheese.

Slices of pre-cooked gyros meat.

Layer the meat like lasagna noodles.  In fact, this whole thing is just lasagna using meat instead of noodles.

A spoonful of the hash mix.

Some Monterey Jack cheese on top.

Some parmesan and asiago cheese, as well as spices, and crumbled bacon.  Because, why not?

I put that on low for about six or seven hours, and we had two perfectly serviceable meals!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Firewood and Ants

I won't say that things haven't been happening here on the homestead, just that I've been busy with stuff that I haven't gotten enough pictures of to be noteworthy.  As well, many of the jobs haven't been completed yet, so I feel guilty writing about them, instead of actually DOING them.

After doing an IT call and then some other IT work at home, I took a bit of time out after lunch to go and cut down a tree that I could see from the cabin that had died.

As soon as it fell, it was readily apparent what the problem was.  As usual, ants had chewed up the insides terribly.  I'm curious how far up the trunk they have travelled, but I'll have to wait until I cut it up more to find out.