Saturday, May 31, 2014

Leg One of My Journey - Phoenix to Gallup, New Mexico

It took me two days and two sets of truck loaders to finally get my but on the road to Oklahoma. The first group I hired to load my truck took frequent breaks, loaded things incorrectly, left half my things off the truck, and cost me a full day of travel. I had to hire a second crew to come and unload the truck and reload it with everything and send me on my way. I left Phoenix at 7pm on May 30th tired, but excited. Round about Winslow, AZ and midnight, I decided to pull into a truck stop to use the restroom and take a break. I was promptly trapped by big-rigs who were parked for the night and blocked the exit. I lost 4 more hours waiting for one of them to finally get going so I could get out. I tried resting, but it was difficult in the cab of the truck and the critters were restless. Finally, around 4 am, we got going again. By this time I was feeling fatigued and made it to Holbrook, AZ to get gas and pick up some snacks to try to perk back up. It didn't help and by 6:30 am I knew I had to get some real sleep. We voted on a Motel 6 which allowed the three dogs and the cat. All went potty and are now passed out. I am going to go back to sleep after this post.

The pets seem to be enjoying the trip. Tarocchi spends a good deal of time alternating between looking out the window and sleeping. My cat, Helen Keller, has explored the cab of the truck with her nose and sense of touch. She enjoys hanging out by the windows where she can smell fresh, cool air. She sure does well for being deaf and blind. Poor Ralph is covered in dog hair, but he seems to be enjoying the snuggles of the critters.

We are going to hole up for a while more and get some rest before hitting the road again. I prefer to drive in the afternoon and it will be much easier since we will be heading a way from the sun. The truck with the car hauler is as long as a semi and I am enjoying driving it. It struggled up the larger mountains in Arizona, but other than that it goes along very nicely. In fact, I have to be careful since a few times I looked down and I was doing 70. I really am trying to stay in the 55 mph range, since I fear it getting away from me.

Stay tuned, more updates to come!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wool Dryer Balls - Helpful or Hippie Hype?

Smart Sheep Brand Dryer balls 
Years ago dryer balls were being hocked on television as the greatest thing to improve dryer performance since God made wind. These hard plastic balls had nubs all over them and the claim was that they would help dry your clothes and make them soft while helping control static cling, all without the use of chemicals. It was supposed to save you money as well. I and millions of others ordered these gems, threw them in the dryer, and got as annoyed as hell as we listened to them thump around like three pairs of tennis shoes were in there as well as the load to dry. I couldn't stand it. I put the dryer balls on a shelf and never use them. They are just too loud and I worried about damage to my dryer and clothing.

Recently I have been hearing about an all natural dryer ball option made of wool. Wool would certainly be quieter than hard plastic and, I assume, gentler on clothing. They supposedly will help control static as well. Now I have always found wool to be a static-ridden material, so I am not thinking it will really control the static thing, but I don't really worry too much about static. I just use a tightly wadded ball of aluminum foil in the dryer to take care of that issue. So, the real issue is two-fold: 1) do the dryer balls actually help shorten the drying time of the load and 2) do they really help reduce wrinkling too.

The History of the Ghost Town of Sparks, Oklahoma

ghost town is an abandoned village, town, or city, usually one which contains substantial visible remains. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters. The term can sometimes refer to cities, towns, and neighborhoods which are still populated, but significantly less so than in years past; for example those affected by high levels of unemployment and dereliction. Sparks, Oklahoma fits this description.

From Wiki via Oklahoma Ghost Towns on YouTube: 

Sparks lies between Meeker and Chandler in Lincoln county, the town is situated on land that was once part of the Sac and Fox Reservation, which was dissolved in 1890 when the principal chiefs signed an agreement with the Jerome Commission that each tribal member would receive a 160-acre (0.65 km2) allotment. The surplus land was opened to settlement in a land run on September 22, 1891. The original townsite totaled 186 acres (0.75 km2) and was homesteaded by William and Tabitha Baker.

The Eastern Oklahoma Railway (acquired by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1907) and the Fort Smith and Western Railroad (FS&W) established plans for a town at the junction of the two lines as they began surveying Lincoln County in 1902. The town was named in honor of George T. Sparks, an FS&W director. The first school, known as Ball School, was built southeast of Sparks in the late 1890s. In addition, there were two subscription schools, which charged a dollar per pupil per month. A post office was established on August 30, 1902, and the town eventually had approximately fifty businesses. Soon, two newspapers, the Sparks Review and the Sparks Visitor, were published, both Republican in politics. At 1907 statehood the population was 503.Historical population

When farm prices fell after World War I and during the Great Depression, people looked elsewhere for employment. In 1920 and 1930 the federal census reported 472 and 470 citizens, respectively. The last bank closed in 1938, and rail service ceased in 1939. By 1940 the population dropped to 339. The high school closed in 1957, and the grade school closed in 1993. The number of citizens declined from 233 in 1950 to 183 in 1970. At the turn of the 21st century the town, with 137 residents, had a post office, a few churches, a rural water district, a volunteer fire department, and two community centers, one in the old Sparks school building, which served as a senior citizens' center and town library.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Canning Butter - Mason Jar Monday

Did you know you can preserve butter in Mason jars? Yes, you can actually store butter in your pantry instead of your refrigerator or freezer. Just think how convenient it would be to never run out of butter!

Poking around on YouTube, you will find many, many videos on preserving butter. I think one of the best videos is by Sharon Glasgow. She shows you quickly and easily how to safely pressure can your butter for long term storage. She explains the process clearly and describes what the finished product should look like when you open the jar. The instructions are simple to follow. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Check Out My Antique Godin Coal and Wood Cookstove!

I have secured the ultimate Craigslist find! Those of you following along on my journey know that I have been searching high and low for the perfect wood burning stove for the farm. I will say it again, it is not easy to find a good condition vintage wood cook stove in Arizona. We simply do not need them and, as a result, they are often neglected. However, check out my find! I am convinced this stove was intervention from a higher power. This is an antique French stove made by Godin. It is capable of burning both coal and wood. Hand painted enamel and solid cast iron make this a stove that is not only practical, but absolutely beautiful. I cannot believe the luck at finding this gem!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere!

I am very pleased to announce that the packing of my home is almost 90% complete. I have boxes stacked in the sewing room to the ceiling and three courses deep. I was forced to begin stacking them in the living room as well. I still need to tackle the garage, but it was 107 here this weekend and I said, "To hell with that." So, hopefully, I will be able to get to it tomorrow night when it is cooler. Cooler being relative since it is expected to be in the mid 90's, but that is still better than triple digits.

The garage is really not that bad. I need only to stack all the containers I have on shelves on top of one another and disassemble the shelves themselves. I need to organize my workbench and look over my tools. Other than that, the garage is pretty simple. It looks cluttered because there is a refrigerator, stove, bathtub, dresser, and patio furniture in there. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Every time I walk through the garage I have a mini heart attack. I don't do chaos well.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Husqvarna Viking 600 Embroidery Sewing Machine

Husqvarna Rose 600 
I got the best gift from my best fried, Liz. She recently purchased a new embroidery sewing machine and sent me her old one. Her old one was my dream to own back when I bought my sewing machine and serger, but I could not afford the thousands of dollars to buy it. Imagine my delight when Liz told me it was on its way to me! I was so excited when her friend and Bishop, who happened to be visiting the Phoenix area, hand delivered it to me.

Today my mom and I sat and played with the machine figuring out the function of each of the multitude of buttons. This machine has a ton of bells and whistles. We started with some simple redwork designs just to get familiar with the settings and to see the machine in action. Once we mastered one-color designs we dove right into one with 14 colors! The first attempt at the basket of flowers was a good learning experience and allowed us to see what colors worked and which did not. The second attempt was so much better and the end result was amazing. You can see the final result in the picture on the left below. The picture on the right shows the pattern in the book. I just adore this machine!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Can You Hear Me Now?

Midland GXT1000VP4

Debbie Hite heeded the tornado warning and sought the safety of the shelter she had installed in her garage. Climbing down into the concrete and steel hole, she slid the top shut and waited out the storm. After the storm passed, Debbie realized the real danger wasn't the tornado, but the shelter she was in - the storm shelter door would not open. No amount of wiggling, kicking, hitting, etc. would release the latch. Debbie was trapped. She stayed trapped for 56 hours until co-workers came looking for her.

I  have been thinking a lot about storm shelters and tornadoes lately simply because I will be moving to a place where the potential to experience one is real. I have a list of items I will keep in my shelter, just in case. You have to consider that when you enter your storm shelter, you may emerge later to find nothing left of life as you knew it. Your house, car, everything, may be gone in seconds. Keeping some clothing, food, water, etc. in your shelter just makes sense.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New vs Old Refrigerator - When Should I Buy A New Fridge?

A few months ago I bought a refrigerator off a friend. Unfortunately, because there were some problems with it, it was not usable. I was bummed simply because I now had to add "find a refrigerator" back on my to-do list. I hate having to add things back on my list once I cross them out. Anyway, I was lamenting and singing the woes of my refrigerator needs to a friend when she said she and her husband have an extra fridge in their garage that I was welcome to. I was a little reluctant at first since I definitely need a black refrigerator to match my other appliances and, guess what? Yup! It is black. Oh, but things got even better.

We took a walk out to the garage to give the fridge a once over. I was very pleasantly surprised that it is a model that I had admired back in the day when I was appliance shopping for a prior home. Part of the GE Monogram line of appliances, this unit was quite expensive then and was way out of my budget. What made the fridge was so cool was an extra small door in the regular door that is known as a "Beverage Center." Built into the door of the refrigerated side, this small door is a convenient way to grab a soda or bottle of milk without opening the larger door which, in turn, allows all the cool air to escape forcing the refrigerator to have to work to cool itself back down. The freezer door side has a water and ice dispenser as well, so you can get water and ice without ever having to open the door.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Shaker Jars by Ball - Mason Jar Monday

While perusing my local big box store the other day I came across this box of Shaker Jars. I have never seen them in the store before and I was very excited to lay out my $5 to take a set of four home for my very own. I also saw that just the lids were sold for $1.47 for 2. I snatched up a box of those as well. I really like them so I thought I would share them with you here.

The box labels them as herb jars, but I saw all kinds of potential. For example, different kinds of finely shredded cheeses would store quite well in these airtight containers. Homemade seasoning salt is another thing I think these jars would work well for. I like that the lids can transfer to any wide-mouth canning jar because the small jars that come with them would just not be large enough to store larger quantities of shredded cheese. The holes in the lid are not very large, but not too small. Soft cheeses such as Velveeta shredded would not do well in this type of jar, but then Velveeta is not made to be sprinkled like a cheese such as cheddar or Parmesan.

I love that the jar makers are expanding the possibilities for the uses of the simple jar. They continue to be the most important staple in my kitchen and the opportunities to utilize them are endless.

What do you think? Useful or useless?