May 14, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Well enough to keep me from working on my other projects right now.

School is almost out and I've been super busy trying to get things done that will be harder once the kiddos are home.  Between that, a spring cold that knocked me on my rear for several days, and garden chores, I've honestly not had the time, or the inclination to sit down and write a blog entry.  

However, today the skies are darkening, threatening rain, keeping me inside and blog guilt has gotten to me.  So, here's an update on my garden.

As a reminder, here's my garden  in mid April.  

And here it is on May 9th.

And here it is today.

The first produce from the garden came from this tiny little 1'x 2' rectangle planted with assorted Greens.  I harvest just the outer leaves as they mature, leaving the inner leaves to grow.  So far, we've gotten about half a dozen family sized salads from it.  

Since it's really starting to warm up here I know it's days are numbered.  I'm planning for Cucumbers to follow the Greens.  So, I pulled up enough of the Greens to  make way for the seeds and cut the rest of the greens to soil level.  Apparently, not all of them are ready to call it quits and I may get one last harvest.

Spinach is the second thing the garden has yielded.  I've gotten 2 good harvests out of it so far.  Like the other greens, it want's to bolt and is trying to send up flower stalks, which I've been pinching off.  
Since it's days are also numbered, I went ahead and planted Bush Beans between the existing plants.  I figure the Spinach leaves will act as a canopy to shade the soil and keep it from dying out too quickly giving the seeds a better chance to sprout.


To extend the greens harvest, I have two other small sections in the garden, that will be ready to harvest this week.  I also decided to start a couple of pots which will live on our cooler and more shaded porch in the hopes of getting a much later harvest.

Another thing I've done is to plant Soybeans between my Sunflowers, now that the Sunflowers are about 4 ft tall.  I'm growing a Mammoth variety that should reach 12 ft.  As they grow taller, I'll strip off the lowest leaves to allow sun to reach the soy beans in what would otherwise be wasted space.  

How is your garden growing?
I'd love to know.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your growing, and how it's doing.  

Do you have any super clever tips or tricks?
If so, share those in a comment too.

Apr 25, 2014

1927 Singer Sewing Cabinet Restoration Pt. 2 - Beware What Lurks in the Shadows

I could also subtitle this:

 "Why disassembling a project prior to restoration is not such a bad idea, especially if it's easy to take apart, has been in storage a long time,  and is really really dirty with lots of crevices that are hard to clean"

But That's a lot to type and it doesn't fit so nicely on the page, besides, 

"Beware What Lurks in the Shadows" 

has such a nice ring to it.

Any who, I just know there is some one out there who has read part 1 and has thought to themselves.  

"What a waste of time!  
"That top is the only thing that looks bad. Why on earth is she going to take that whole cabinet apart?  She could  work on as it is and it'd look just as good!"

I know this because the same thought went through my head for a second.  
Followed by:

"Yep, I could do that!  But...... "

 But, there are a few really good reasons to disassemble this piece before I start restoration.  

  1. It's got lots of crevices, and it's filthy in those crevices.  I can't get it really clean as it is.  Most of the pieces are just screwed together, so it comes apart and should go back together pretty easy.
  2. It's a learning experience. I can see first hand how the fastenings and mechanisms work.
  3. Working on individual pieces, I'm less likely to accidentally drip the denatured alcohol (which will dissolve the shellac) somewhere it doesn't belong.
  4. The most important reason! I can easily check for things I wouldn't find other wiseThings like hidden damage, 
or these guys:

Talk about a monster case of the Heeby Jeebies! 

It's true, I dropped my tools and took rather large and swift step back when I saw the first one.  I probably gasped a little too, and I don't feel a bit ashamed about that!  After all, this cabinet spent some quality time in an attic before it saw the inside of my house.  In these parts it pays to be wary of things that have spent a lot of time in cellars or attics.

A prod with the screwdriver confirmed the spiders weren't alive.  I continue to take things apart, finding more "dead spiders" as I worked, but not without the nagging feeling that something seemed "off" with my new friends.

So I took a closer look.  Then I saw it!

It's legs are sticking straight out!
Spiders usually curl up when they die. 

Those aren't dead spiders, those are shed spider skins!  

I quickly Goggled "shed spider skins" and scanned the pictures. 

Hmm, those look an awful lot like the ones here on this page about how to identify brown recluse spiders. 

A shiver ran up my spine and my skin began to crawl at the thought.

This cabinet was sitting inside my house for at least a month before I started to take it apart! 

I scanned the floors expecting to see hoards of creepy crawlies marching toward me.  

Whew!  Cat hair, dust, and plenty of crumbs, but no spiders.

Once the panic subsided and rational thought returned, I decided the spiders were probably long gone before the cabinet even got to my house. 

I also realized my floors are filthy and need a good cleaning.

Up Next: 
Pt. 3- Disassembling the Cabinet

Apr 23, 2014

1927 Singer Sewing Cabinet Restoration Pt. 1 - Assessing the Damage

Warmer weather is here!
The garden is planted and although free time is still hard to find, I'm making time to turn my attentions back to Freddie Mae, or more specifically, her cabinet.  

 It wouldn't be right to put her back into a time ravaged cabinet, now that she's been revitalized, would it?

Step 1 Assess the damage.

Like other singer cabinets of it's time, this one rolled off the factory floor with a pristine shellac finish.  But time and water have taken their toll.
(shellac really doesn't like water, and that's it's downside) 

Looks pretty bad doesn't it?  Believe me it's worse in person.  

The bad news: 

The top is in bad shape.  In addition to the obvious water damage, there are speckles of what I believe to be white paint on the top plus, the veneer has lifted in a few spots.  

The bottom line is that the finish on the top can't be saved.  It'll have to come off.  But that's the upside to shellac.  It'll be pretty easy to remove and I think, I can manage it without loosing too much of the patina.  

The good news:

 Aside from a few small scratches and some dirt, the sides are in good shape and won't need to be stripped.

  The plan:
  • Disassemble the cabinet.
  • Use denatured alcohol and very fine steel wool to remove/level the worst of the shellac on the top.
  • Clean the rest of the piece with my new favorite homemade fine furniture cleaner.
  • Apply a fresh coat of boiled linseed oil.  
  • Add a fresh coat or two of shellac.
  • Buff with superfine steel wool to remove the "brand new" feel.
  • Apply a coat of good quality furniture wax.
  • Put it all back together.
Next Up: