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Tomatoes UP!! Oh yeah, Baybee!

TumblingTom1There is nothing like planting seeds and seeing them come up. Oh yeah!!

This tomato is a variety called Tumbling Tom and was developed specifically for hanging basket growing. Yes, even though here at Chez Siberia, we have certainly a big enough garden (though, ahem, I’m thinking we could use another couple of beds…a discussion for another time), I thought we’d try some hanging basket vegetable growing. We have a great, sunny deck which I usually use for hanging baskets of flowers, but who says that hanging basket veggies can’t be decorative too? We just have to make sure they get plenty of water (though I also have a plan to try out recycling baby disposable nappies – just the ones that got wet — as a way to keep moisture in the baskets). (more…)

Next Up: Bathroom Storage

bath1 This, my friends, is a bathroom.
Not MY bathroom, actually. But a bathroom.

This is the downstairs half-bath in my son’s house. This house, built in the late 19th century, has extremely tall ceilings and the person who did all the original rehab work on the house basically threw up his hands in the bathroom, put in a toilet and a sink and walked away. (more…)

We have a winner – actually several!!

ooo, the raw, unadulterated excitement!!

First – the lovely company that sent me samples, “O’Keefe’s” has offered to do a separate gift to someone, so I got to select TWO people out of the batch. So, please email me, at htwollin at yahoo dot com, your real name and mailing address!!

Linda C in AZ
and
Sandra

And, for the foot cream:
Jessica e - come on down!! and send me your full name and mailing address and I’ll send you the foot cream.

So exciting and thanks so much for participating!!
Aunt Toby.

The hands have it – AND, a giveaway

wintercreekIt’s winter where we live (which is, strangely enough, why we refer to the place as ‘Chez Siberia’). We got up as high as 24 this week. Woohoo!! Break out the suntan lotion and halter tops (or something like that).

Winter is tough on everyone, especially on exposed skin (I will not try to get statistics on the sales of lip balm at this time of the year, but I have the feeling that something like 75% of the pockets in North America have at least one tube of lip balm in them at this very moment). But exposure to cold and wind is not the only thing and exposed skin is not the only area of the body that suffers in the winter. (more…)

Oh, my gosh, I’ve been missing

snowyfield Well, ‘missing in action’ does not even begin to describe my lack of posting. We’ve been busy-busy (as have everyone else at this time of the year, but we have birthdays as well as the usual holidays so it’s been a veritable factory here at Chez Siberia.

And the elves are all out on strike so it’s up to us. (more…)

Thankful-ness

Most of the time, when Thanksgiving rolls around, I remember my father’s yearly ‘what I’m thankful for’ speech, which used to be served up between the turkey and the mashed potatoes, as I recall. Every year, it was the same and certainly I never thought about it. My father was not a particularly emotional guy, nor was he prone to fits of psychological analysis. But looking back, what he said was the most important thing.

“We’re all here.”

Now, he didn’t mean ‘here’ in the physical sense, because there were parts of the fam who were hundreds if not thousands of miles away. What he meant was that we’d gotten through another year and we hadn’t lost anyone. No one had died or disappeared; we were all still in touch with one another, in some way, shape or form (and this was before Skype, for goodness sake).

What a blessing it is when you can roll that sentence around in your head – ‘we’re all here.’

In 2002, my dad died and in 2006, my mom died, after a horrible last year battling cardiac disease, dementia, a broken hip and a world spiraling vastly down and out of control. So, we weren’t ‘all here’ again for a while.

And then my two eldest got married and started families of their own. One of them is far, far away and we don’t get to physically see them very often, though Skype is a big part of our lives now. And the others are actually close by and we share them with the in-laws (the way all families must where married kids are concerned). But today, I thought about my dad and smiled because we’re now at that stage where I can say to myself, “things are good; we’re all here.”

For this one moment, everyone is safe. Everyone is in good shape healthwise. Everyone has a place to live and food to eat, jobs, heat in the house, a decent car, time to dream a bit and have a bit of fun. Perfection? Perhaps not but actually extremely good. Feeling lucky – touch wood.

Dad – we’re all good. We’re all here.

Hope you all had a lovely, love-filled Thanksgiving today.

End of the season?

novgarden2 And a good, good day to everyone, wherever you are. This has been a very busy week in the garden for the DH and your Aunty. Not for choice necessarily, but sometimes you have to get things done before the weather gets colder, or rainier or something else (yes, what is on that kale is SNOW – it was 27 degrees F this morning. I think we can safely say that winter is coming).

The big job that had to be taken care of was the arrival of the replacement fruit trees. Yes. Replacement. Not addition. Replacement, as in ‘Dear Sir, the fruit trees x.y.z etc. that I ordered from you did not grow. As a matter of fact, they died. Toes up. Kicked the bucket. Gone to meet their maker. Please send replacements. Respectfully…” It happens, and if you don’t know this first thing in the spring (which most people don’t because you are waiting, hopefully, that the damned things will leaf out and oh, joy!!

Only these ones did not. (more…)

Do this now – get those cracks!

windowframe In the photo, what you are seeing is the light of day, streaming through the crack between one of the windows in the basement at Chez Siberia, and its frame. Then, underneath the frame itself, you see a line – that’s the seam between the frame and the concrete foundation.

As far as energy is concerned, I may as well just open the window this winter and let the let all the cold in. We will not discuss why we are, all of a sudden, paying some attention to the windows in our basement. Like everyone else, it’s ‘down there’ and we don’t think about them much. For anyone who has a furnace in the basement, however, it might be a really good idea to check (and it’s easy enough – just do what I did, go down to the basement during the day, keep the lights in the basement off and check around the edges of the windows – if you see light from outside, then you have a leak going on there.

So. What to do now? It’s October!!!

Well, first thing is that it’s not that cold yet – as a matter of fact, here in the eastern half of the US, next week, it’s going to be positively balmy. Any temperatures over 55 degrees F. and you are good to go to seal up those cracks with silicone caulk, spray foam (the cans with the little pipette tube at the end are great to get the foam EXACTLY where you want it, rope caulk and the like. ‘

The first question you need to ask yourself is this: Do we EVERY open these windows? EVER? OK, so if your basements floods every spring and you need to get fresh air inside to dry things out, you might need to open the windows, but a lot of people do NOT ever open their basement windows. They are merely there to provide some ambient light. If you open the windows (or only certain windows), then use rope caulk like this. You just split the roll into the little ropes and press them, a piece at a time, around the seam around the window frame. Then, in the spring if you need to open that window, you are good to go; just pull out the rope.

However, if you only need to open one or perhaps two windows in your basement, I’d advise a) using rope caulk on those and then sealing up the rest with caulk or spray foam. First, examine the windows themselves. Are there loose panes of glass and so on? Well, the best method is to take out the window and repair the caulking around the glass panes. That will require you to chip or scrape out the old caulking (and you may break a pane, which is…a pain), and then putting in NEW caulking. Or, you could take the lazy person’s route and get a couple of pieces of plexiglass sized to cover the window, screw those in and the window panes are sealed. Then shut the window firmly (you might need a shim or some other stuffing to get it to hold tightly in the frame) and seal around where the window meets the frame with spray foam or silicone caulk.

And what about that seam between the frame of the window and the foundation – Ditto. Seal that baby up with caulk or foam. Remember: even if you do everything upstairs from first floor to the roof to keep the warm air in and the cold air out, if you have not sealed up the seam between the foundation and the sill in the basement, you may as well just leave those windows open all winter long. Wastes a lot of energy AND it makes the floors on the first floor feel very cold.

Until next time…

How to make an apple pie

pie11 Your dear old Aunty realizes that this might sound a bit silly, but there are people in the world who have never made an apple pie and who dearly would like the experience of making one. And at this time of the year (at least in cooler parts of the world), the availability of apples is pretty much at its height. (more…)

How to get the most out of taking workshops

tabledone It’s not a secret to anyone, I think, that I love taking workshops. Learning new stuff is something that I dearly love to do. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that there are really several different sorts of workshops and of course people have all different sorts of reasons why they are taking them. Here are a few important things to remember when researching workshops to learn something specific. My most recent workshop was in woodworking but I think these are worthwhile when you are looking for any sort of workshop.

1. Be honest with yourself. (more…)

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