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More Shady Doings at Chez Siberia

I did not describe the process by which Aunt Toby came to the conclusion that making shades for the pergola was the way to go. Actually, I did not describe the process by which the decision to put a pergola on the deck was made either. But, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

There are numerous ways to gain shade: (more…)

My Kingdom For Some Shade

Aunt Toby is not sure exactly when decks replaced porches but somewhere in the not so distant past, people got all hot and bothered to have a place to sit outside that wasn’t a patio and didn’t have a roof. And not being immune to this, when we did “the first big dig” on Chez Siberia (which consisted of a double dug, French-drained basement with its own separate sump and pump to take care of the amazingly huge hydrostatic pressure that we had), we put on this little deck at the back entrance (it is a RULE that all houses in the country must absolutely have a ‘back door’ or ‘kitchen door’ which is what everyone expects to use as the entrance no matter how lovely or appropriate the front entrance is. It is a rule, probably promulgated by Organic Gardening or Mother Earth News or some such publication, but I digress). (more…)

Tool Repair: Garden Fork

It’s spring (except if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, it’s fall, but this will probably be useful for you folks too). And you want to work in the garden and go to wherever you store your garden tools (Well, let’s hope they got stored and not left to be covered with snow over the winter – don’t laugh; I just heard a tale from a coworker last week who relayed that she’d somehow left a garden rake out in the lawn over the winter and did not remember until her husband ran the mower over it). And what you find is that you’d put away a tool, thinking at the time, “I’ve GOT to fix this,” and you forgot and now you need it. (more…)

On Vinegar

(Ha – you thought I was going to go with a photo of bottles of vinegar or something, right? Fooled you. Photo courtesy of Casch52)
Vinegar comes from the Old French, “vin aigre”, meaning ‘sour wine’. Vinegar has the taste and the pH that it does because of the action of acetal bacteria which turns whatever carbohydrate there is in the liquid (and you can make vinegar out of the most amazing stuff out there – the list is almost endless and includes coconut milk and water, malt, any fruit known, and so on)in acetic acid. In the US, household vinegars are sold at 5% strength. This discussion is not about vinegar as a cooking ingredient. (more…)

Landscape Plants On the Cheap – Rooting Roses

Aunt Toby is, I am ashamed to say, a rose rustler. I am an absolute pushover for rose bushes in abandoned lots. In our fair city (and yes, if someone were to ask about it, I’d have to say, “Yep, it’s fair..”), I walk past a lot that on the down slope side, had been long ago turned into a parking lot in all of its asphalt paved glory. On the uphill side, facing a totally different street (and one which you can tell used to have some very nice houses on it in the 19th century), there is the remains of a paved walk and entrance, a rather imposing chain-link fence, and several scraggly rose bushes. These are not pampered roses – they are of the rather old fashioned, flat double type, about 2-3” across. Nothing to get excited about for sure. (more…)

Double Clutch

Never let it be said that Aunt Toby is easily discouraged. I think it can be said that I made just about every error in the clutch trial run and ended up with something that was not what I’d hoped. Not that I won’t use it – I’ve never had a purse yet that I couldn’t find a use for. But the whole basis of this was to check off an item on my ‘Want to do in 2010’ list, which is to sew with leather. For all the sewing I’ve done over the years (and I’ve made everything from snow suits with double zippers, softsided luggage, hunting and photographer’s vests with a zillion pockets et al., I’ve always been pretty afraid of sewing with leather. Somehow I had this vision that I’d burn out the motor of my sewing machine. It’s just a Kenmore, after all. (more…)

Bringing Spring

Sometimes, Aunt Toby is wont (yes, wont) to taking things into her knobby but capable hands and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. This year’s winter has been, for practically the entire Continental United States, one long sitting through of “Ground Hog Day”.

Awful. Miserable. Interminable. (more…)

Clutch Trial Run

One of my goals this year is to work with fabrics and materials that I don’t have any experience with. There are certain materials that give me the willies and over the years I have dipped my experiential toe into working with them. This year is to basically work with leather enough that it doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s not that Aunt Toby lusts after a leather skirt or something like that (I am, ahem, post-leather skirt, if you must know). But it’s an intriguing material. (more…)

Snowed In? No Power? Cook With Your Grill!

As promised! True to my word! At one point over the past week, there were probably a half a million people either unable to leave their homes, travel, and/or had no power because of snow storms in the area between Virginia and New Jersey. Sitting home in the cold and the dark is bad enough; if you are running your kitchen on electricity, it’s cold, dark and hungry too. (and there is that whole ‘how long is the food going to last in the fridge and the freezer?’ thing) (more…)

Strike While the Iron is Hot

Aunt Toby realizes that anyone looking at my postings would not exactly find a really rigid organization functioning here. The blog really functions the way most of our households do – gotta keep it flexible within certain immutable facts; gotta take advantage of things as they come along. Strike while the iron is hot and all that. (more…)

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