Welcome to Growbox Hill

Welcome to Growbox Hill
Welcome to Growbox HIll!

Friday, December 28, 2012

And so it was Christmas...

Christmas didn't quite go as planned this year.

Didn't get any mailing done. I was traveling on Wed and Thurs... Got up Friday morning and about the time the coffee was done we lost power. Called in the power outage and they told me an estimate on Sunday night.
Well crap, that effectively canceled the holiday at our house. I hadn't done any of the cleanup, decorating including getting the tree, or the shopping for fresh foods to cook with. Fortunately, we were able to set up plans to go over to the folks house instead, so Christmas was saved :)
We did get our power up on Saturday afternoon, but by then I was totally unwilling to start preparations for Monday afternoon. I may be pretty good sometimes, but I ain't that good.
So it ended up being a rather quiet and boring Christmas at Growbox hill.
Now I have a whole heap of natural decorations to string up on the trees outside, lol.
And we got some damage to the windows on the workshop porch that I need to figure out how to repair. 

The world didn't end, but it was kind of funny because we lost power and who knew if the world hadn't ended, hehehehe.

But as this year comes to a close, I am not sorry to see it go. 2012 was a bad year in a lot of ways, but it was a good year too in some ways. I'm looking forward to 2013.

Do I have new years resolutions? Of course I do. Everybody does, even those folks that claim they don't. If you have made plans into the next year, you have made resolutions to do something.

I'm going to make the second attempt at the veggie rows, work on improving what I already have plotted out. The black plastic was ok for the first year run. I want to at least upgrade to some proper path borders if I can lay my hands on some super cheap or free carpet.
I'm going to make the second attempt at the luffa growing project. I have enough seeds this time to guarantee a stand of growth if I don't completely screw up.
I'm going to try a second attempt at the marigold border for the firepit.
Oh, and a whole pile of other stuff too. I want to see my friends and family more, get all sorts of things done with the house... an endless array, hehe.

I hope the Farmers Almanac is right and we get in enough winter and early spring precipitation to tilt us back off the drought map. We are still considered abnormally dry and moderate drought is only a  county away. Things are looking pretty good according to the drought monitor- it has backed off a lot in the last couple months.

And so it was Christmas... I hope everyone had a good year. I hope everyone has a good year to come as well :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eeeep, it's December!

So we are partway into December already, all that winter holiday stuff is coming right the eff up!

To catch up, Thanksgiving was really great. I was able to deliver the cattails to my sister. And try out the sizing dummy of the quartz and rings project for her. And test out a dried veggie dip mix I whipped up.

We got in cookies from OMA in Germany. You rock Oma for making my holiday season brighter.

Got in some seeds and experimented. Got in a very very generous SASE of luffa seed and did a sprout test that came back of 90% of 10 seeds. If I am a good gardener, I will be able to proceed with my initial hops growing setup testing. I wanted to get that done last year, but then the luffas failed and I ended up planting in a gourd mix in the area instead. I didn't know really what would climb or not, so I didn't do the stringing of the area.
Tried out three kinds of dried hot peppers from a little local joint. Did 25 each of those, I didn't expect great sprouting, but hey, ya never know :) The Japanese pods had a 44% rate, so I think I will do another test. The guajillo had 1 seed barely pop. But hey, they all ground up well to make seasoning mix with anyway.

I've tried some projects, and some have failed, hehehe. Tried out birdseed ornaments- found out a lot, and also turned the first lot out to the critters. Perhaps my next batch will be better photo worthy other than what not to look like.
 Ah well. I just tossed the whole mess outside on a container and let the critters go at it. At lest a couple squirrels seemed to enjoy the mix.
 Lesson learned.. KISS, really. Packing the forms sucks, and all of them weren't done the same. The lovely round ones were made using a 1/2 cup measure and baked unmolded. Toothpicks did work great for the hanging hole. Baking at 250 for two hours then leaving them in the oven overnight seemed to work well. Lining the pan with paper is a really good idea. Use oil lightly for your molds. Use water lightly for your fingers to pack the seed.

Found out I could indeed string fresh cranberries and dehydrate them for a pretty garland for the holiday tree. Just takes forever and a day to dry them out while trying to keep them looking nice. 4 12 oz fresh bags gotten on sale yielded the 8 dried strands in the pic. Average length of each strand is about 4 feet. I tried a test bag. Strung them layed them out on a cookie sheet and into a 250 oven for the preliminary drying/cookdown. To darn hot. The skins did a lot of bursting and in general the strands look more like craisins than cranberries. I did up the rest of the strands on a couple cookie sheets at 200 for prelim, and that worked out much much better. Two strands coiled nicely per tray for the dehydrator. Then it ran at 95-125 for three days. Yeah, it took three frigging days to dry them slowly enough that they didn't loose too much of the cranberry look.

Made some music CD's. And a whole bunch of cookies, snickerdoodle, coconut, lemon, chocolate crinkle and snowball. I somehow managed to screw up spritz cookies. I don't know what I did wrong, and they aren't bad, but they just aren't right and very crumbly.
And hehehehehe... Been a long time since I made english muffin loaf and I never tried it in a regular loaf pan before. Wow, funny shit. I think I got the consistency of the dough right, it might have been a bit too loose. And I only used one pan, forgetting the important under a half pan rule. Then I decided to just go ahead with the snoballs instead of holding off and baking off the loaf before it started cresting over the loaf pan. And gee, also forgot to reset the racks and the top might be a tad too done. At least I was smart enough to put a cookie sheet under the loaf pan.

It took the mold perfectly and tastes pretty darn good :) Lesson learned: I always have made this recipe using a set of small loaf forms- while I was at school. Apparently this recipe is enough for 2 loaves, snort. I think I will try using the small form pans I do own- a pair of deep cone muffin pans.

Been listening to a lot of christmas music to help get in the mood. Found out there are some musicians out there I never even thought about that have made whole albums. Some of them not too bad, some of it is downright horrid. I got a couple stations I like though.