Tuesday, November 1, 2011
So back to our first Halloween in Golden Valley. On Friday night the girls school had a trick or treat inside the school. We were told about it from the girls a few days earlier and so thought that this would be cool. We had been to other TorT's at the girls school in Fl and they were always fun and really cool.
When the girls came home from school that afternoon they cleaned up and got into their costumes. Our oldest girl was a dead witch/cat, which I must say she pulled off very very well. Our youngest girl was a witch, such a cute little witch, but don't tell her that lol. Anyways we went to the school and as soon as we went into the doors there was a line. At first we were like okay. We over heard a lady telling her friend that they had the staff doing TorT in the hallways at their rooms. So we are thinking that you are going to go to a teachers room, go inside do or see something fun, umm I mean scary, get some candy and then get in line to go into the next room. That is what we have done before. So we were like okay cool. Is that what happen? No.
We got into line and stood and walked in the dark slowly and I mean slowly, walking in the hallways of the school, where every once in a while you would come up to the desk with a teacher or volunteer sitting there handing out candy. Really? Please, you have got to be kidding me! So we spent about an hour walking, more standing around then anything, just so our girls can get a piece of candy here and there. I do hope that this was the schools first time doing this, but I found out the next day it was not.
After we left the school we went out to eat. When we lived in Fl we went to Cracker Barrell every Friday for fish Friday. It is/was our tradition for many years. When we talked about making the move, we knew that some things were going to have to change and this might be one of them. So after about a month of not going to CB we got to go and it was really nice. I hate changing things that my family loves, things that we can count on to brings us together. I will fight tooth and nail to change this one, so I plan on doing something about it. Even the girls look forward to it even thought they do not eat fish lol.
On Saturday we stuck around the house. The girls went out with daddy for a bit to help him get things for the house, while I worked. Our oldest daughter got invited to a party/sleep over. This would be the first time that she would be going to a Halloween party with boys there. I promise you I did not get any sleep friday night or saturday night. So that evening my hubby took her over there and met the father of the girl throwing the party. We knew that we would both be working, job wise, on something since it was the end of the month so we invited my sisters 2 daughters over to spend the night with our youngest. Needest to say everything went well.
Sunday we got up and went to a swap meet after dropping off my sisters kids. I had to work in a few hours so we kind of had to hurry but things went well and we had fun.
On Monday the girls went to school and I started work. I had a meeting with my team before we could leave to go TorT so the girls got ready to go during this time. We had been told last week by the cable guy that the boys and girls club does a Halloween event at their place and it involves a local car club. We love old cars. We love car shows. LOL It was going to be win win. So we headed down that way and went searching for the entrance. As we were rounding the block we saw the line. We had gotten there about 30 minutes after it started up so we were like okay. As we were moving in line which was moving faster then the line at the school, we started to round another corner and saw it. The line must had been at least a half a mile to a mile long. So while standing in line my hubby walks down to see how long the line is and where the entrance is. He also wants to check out what is there and how it is moving after you finally get inside. He comes back and says that there are some nice cars, but once you get past the entrance it is the same as outside. We ask the girls what they want to do because it is their halloween and they say they want to try to find a community like we are use too.
So we leave there and head to Del Taco for dinner. They had a special going on that if the kids come in dressed up they ate for free. Can you say cool! So we had dinner and asked the lady at the front if she knew anywhere we could go. She said a church down the road always had an event each year. We headed down that way but when we got there the girls said they did not want to go in there. Not knowing the people and all. So we told them we would look around and maybe see something else. Well I am not quite sure how it got started but we ended up having a candy fight inside the truck. While my hubby was driving, me and the girls were throwing candy at each other, laughing so hard it hurt to breath. So we went from Kingman to Golden Valley which is about 30-40 minutes away from each other throwing candy and just having fun with each other. By the time we got home I could hardly talk and our youngest was passed out. I have to give kudos to my hubby for getting us home safe while candy was flying past him. I do not think we have ever had this much fun on Halloween.
Will I go to work today? No already released my shifts for today and will do non-talking work for at least today.
Happy Late Halloween everyone!!!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Last night my hubby and I went to see Dream House. We went there thinking that this was going to be a normal ghost movie or that the new people in the house were going to go crazy because of the old murdered family was going to haunt them to death.
Well it was not your normal ghost movie and we were both very happy with the movie. Even if I did cry a bit at the end. This movie was well worth the $19 it cost for our tickets. Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Naomi Watts were all very good in this movie playing their parts equally. They never give the ending away and when you think you have it figured out, you turn out to be wrong. The best part is that you will be happy to be wrong.
What a great movie!
Friday, October 14, 2011
Produce Bound Underground
Root cellars, the ancient technology that enables the long term storage of your farm’s bounty.
By Rick Gush
You stroll out into the garden, picking ripe fruits and vegetables, knowing that come February you’ll still be enjoying their freshness. For those of us attracted to the romantic aspects of small-farm life, this is an appealing scenario.
Root cellars, the ancient technology that makes such scenes possible, are currently experiencing a rediscovery, but not merely because of the pleasures of eating self-grown food, but also because of the actual possibility of reducing expenses and providing for significant food storage in times of potential trouble.
Read more about one person's experience.
Underground storage facilities from the Iron Age have been discovered, and the Etruscans commonly buried their immature wine, but the actual use of walk-in root cellars as a means to prolong the freshness of fruit and vegetable crops was probably an invention that occurred in 17th century England. It might seem surprising that the great civilizations of China and Egypt did not develop root cellars, but the Chinese were the masters of food preservation via salting, pickling and the additions of spices; the Egyptians, residents of an arid environment, were the masters at drying food. It took the right combination of cool winters and hungry Englishmen to finally invent the concept of root cellars.
Certainly the most notable practitioners of root-cellar arts were the early colonists that arrived in North America from the United Kingdom. The eastern halves of America and Canada contain thousands of old root cellars, and the small Newfoundland town of Elliston actually claims the title of “Root Cellar Capital of the World,” and boasts of over 135 root cellars, some dating back 200 years.
The basis of all root cellars is their ability to keep food cool. They were, essentially, the first refrigerators. A well-insulated root cellar can keep the food inside 40 degrees cooler than the summertime temperatures outside. This coolness also has benefits during the winter, as maintaining food at a temperature just slightly above freezing has the effect of slowing deterioration and rot. Temperatures inside the home, even in basements, are noticeably warmer, so food stored inside the house has a tendency to spoil much more rapidly than food stored in a cooler root cellar. Temperatures above 45 degrees F cause toughness in most stored vegetables, and encourage undesirable sprouting and considerably more rapid spoilage.
The temperature in a root cellar is never uniform. The temperature near the ceiling is usually 10 degrees warmer than elsewhere in the cellar, so the ceiling area is therefore appropriate for placement of produce that tolerates warmer temperatures well, such as onions, garlic and shallots.
What can you plan on storing in your root cellar once you build it? Certainly, many of us probably have visions of root cellars in the 19th century, packed with bushels of apples and sacks full of potatoes. Today’s root cellars are really not much different, and potatoes and apples are two eminently storable farm products. But the problem with that pair is that they don’t really go well together. Apples have a tendency to emit ethylene gas, which causes problems for potatoes stored nearby, and will also make any exposed carrots or other root crops bitter. As a matter of fact, many fruits, including plums, pears and peaches, and some vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage and Chinese cabbage, are also notorious ethylene producers.
In addition to raw produce, root cellars are excellent locations for a number of other foodstuffs as well. The previously mentioned beverages, like wine, cider, and beer, all enjoy the cool, dark environment of a root cellar. Cured meats like ham, bacon and other smoked meats store very well in temperatures below 40 degrees F. Milk, cream, butter and cheese all appreciate the environment of root cellars. Grains and nuts store very well in root cellars, but require extra precautions against insects, and must be sealed tightly to be secure. Dried and canned foods also keep well, provided they are kept either in less humid cellars, or in separate, drier compartments.
Fresh vegetables and fruits last different lengths of time when stored in a root cellar, but potatoes probably last the longest among vegetables; apples among fruit. Other good keepers include cabbage, beets, kohlrabi, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, pumpkins and turnips. Beans, nuts and dried peppers are very long keepers.
After temperature, humidity is the next most important feature of a typical root cellar. It is a good idea to equip your root cellar with a humidity gauge called a hygrometer. Most fresh fruits and vegetables require high humidity to avoid shriveling. A typical underground root cellar will naturally maintain a high humidity if it has an earthen floor, but depending on your particular environment and intended cellar use, you may wish to adjust the humidity level up or down by your management practices. Coolness is generally a desirable characteristic regardless of what you’re storing, but if you are storing a lot of canned goods, nuts or dried fruit, humidity can be your enemy because dried fruit can easily rot and metal canning lids can rust in humid environments. Once you make a list of the products you would like to store, the value of a root cellar with one humid chamber and another dry chamber might become more evident.
Humidity can be increased with an exposed dirt floor, sprinkling water on gravel floors and packing vegetables in wet sawdust. Humidity can be lowered by using concrete floors, barrels of rock salt or by allowing for more ventilation entering from drier air outside.
One problem with high-humidity environments is that sometimes the air will condense as it cools, and that condensation can be a problem if it drips off the ceiling structures onto produce stored below. Avoid placing storage barrels below potential drips. Pre-treating the ceiling with disinfectants like chlorine can also slow the potential spread of dripping diseases.
Hot and Cold Places
Root cellars serve different purposes depending on their locations, and cellars in regions with excessively hot or cold temperatures are modified to suit their purpose. If winters are mild, as in Arizona or Florida, low temperatures can be difficult to obtain, no matter how deeply a root cellar is buried. But even in these warm areas, root cellars can help keep produce as cool as possible, and some builders are particularly inventive in designing methods whereby water dripping across burlap sacks cools the air near the root cellar’s intake vents. Other warm-weather residents content themselves, like the Egyptians, with storing nuts, grains and dried foodstufs in warmer, low-humidity cellars. Arizona is a particularly good environment for producing sun-dried fruits, and those products will keep for many months without preservatives if kept dry and a bit cooler than the normal environment.
In very cold areas, the purpose of a root cellar is generally to prevent the stored food from freezing. Toward this end, such cellars are usually constructed to be extra heavily insulated, and with vents that allow some sun-warmed air to be conducted inside. Large barrels of water inside the cellars can act as thermal buffers; some builders even go so far as to build covered manure pits because the slow decomposition gives off a bit of heat. Other people use the more modern solution of hanging a light bulb from the ceiling, taking care to shield any potatoes, onions or other root crops from the light.
|Smoke summer-caught Fish |
One novel but excellent idea is to keep dried and smoked fish in a section of your root cellar.
This technique is a great alternative to keeping those old trout from your camping trip in your freezer.
Smoke the fish over your campfire—just put the cleaned fish on a rack where the campfire smoke wafts by for a few hours—and then store them later in your root cellar.
Far tastier than thawed fish, smoked souvenirs of your vacation are a novel mid-winter treat.
One of the key control features of a root cellar is the set of air vents that allow air to enter and exit the cellar. These vents not only allow a greater amount of temperature adjustment than available to a static space, but the air circulation can also be a valuable tool to deal with the ethylene gases and odors produced by a mixed assortment of fruits and vegetables.
The minimum arrangement is one inlet vent and one outlet vent, although there are a variety of situations in which multiple vents would be appropriate. In general, inlet vents should be placed low, and exit vents placed high. This is conducive to a nice, passive air flow through the root cellar.
The outsides of the vents should all be sealed where they enter the structure with packed cloth, expanding foam or tight rubber gaskets. The vents themselves should be equipped with closing and opening valves, and it is convenient to make these valves operable from outside the root cellar. Closing vents in freezing weather and during summer heat spells will help keep the temperature inside the cellar more uniform. Vent pipes that can be twisted depending on the season to catch cooler or warmer winds are also a good idea. In the spring and the fall, cooling can be encouraged by opening the vents and possibly even the door at night when the temperature outside is dropping below the current temperature in the cellar.
Inside the cellar, the arrangement of shelves should allow for generous distances between them. The shelves should also be kept a few inches away from the walls to encourage greater air circulation. Materials placed on the floor should be raised a few inches by small blocks or racks.
Pests and Diseases
Rodents are the single most common pest problem for food stored in root cellars. Installing metal wire mesh in common entry points, such as open vents, is a good idea, as is a frequent trapping program. Poison baits placed away from stored food are fairly effective, and even some of the battery-powered sonic repellers can do a good job.
The next most vexing problem for stored food is plain old rot. The saying that “one rotten apple will spoil the lot” is quite true in this situation, so care should be taken to remove any spoiling produce or other foodstuff. In general though the lower temperatures will combat the mold and bacteria problems that are common in warm, wet conditions.
If there are nuts or grains stored in the cellar, insects may become a problem, but still, it is not a good idea to use insecticides, as they may contaminate the stored foodstuffs. It is better to seal susceptible foods in tight containers.
Building a Root Cellar
There are a number of different basic root cellar designs.
Certainly the most classic is that which is dug into the side of a hill. But many modern root cellars are dug down into flat ground, and feature a set of stairs that lead down to the door. Read more about one design>
In very cold areas, there may also be a second door at ground level to further insulate the cellar. Modern survivalists have been particularly inventive about constructing root cellars, and have made enormous root cellars from sections of metal culvert (these serving also in some cases as potential underground shelters in which people could live for long periods of time). In other cases, simple root cellars constructed from barrels, pallets or packing crates serve the purpose of creating an underground storage area for a quantity of emergency food.
Regardless of the specific style, the basis of any root cellar is the insulative value of the soil into which the cellar is dug. With only as little as one foot of earth above it, a root cellar dug into flat ground can create a temperature of 20 degrees less than the summertime temperatures above. Several feet of soil, optimally at least three or four, will suffice in most cases, but one must have a full 10 feet of soil above and alongside to ensure the maximum possible insulation and temperature stability.
An obvious rule of construction is to keep the doorway and any exposed parts of the structure in the shade during the day. Building on the north side of a hill or digging in the shade of your home or other building is one mandatory design principle.
The next consideration should be to design a structure that does not suffer from leaks or drainage problems during times of rain. This may require sloped doors, creating drainage ditches outside or positioning the floor level above the base level of the surrounding terrain.
As mentioned previously, the most flexible root cellar design will include two chambers, one colder and more humid than the other. This complexity certainly makes construction doubly difficult, but will also double the variety of foodstuffs that can reasonably be preserved in the cellar. Making the drier section essentially the foyer that leads to the entrance of the innermost area is the usual method of dividing the two sections of a root cellar.
When planning the size of your cellar, general wisdom holds that an eight-foot by eight-foot area should provide plenty of storage space for the average family. Larger structures are certainly more luxurious, but also may be more difficult to insulate and maintain at an even temperature.
It is a good idea to use waterproofed wood in any construction, but be cautious of the chemicals in pressure-treated lumber. Treating wood with waterproofing materials can result in an environment in which stored food picks up the undesirable odors of the treated wood. If you can use bricks or concrete blocks for some parts of the construction, you may avoid some of those problems.
Remember to design and install a good ventilation system, and run a few smoke tests to make sure the intake and outflow vents create a siphon between them that moves air automatically through the cellar.
Finish your new root cellar with a thermometer and a humidity gauge, and from there observe and adjust until conditions produce the desired results.
About the Author: Rick Gush is a freelance writer and small farmer based in Italy.
Thank Hobby Farms for this article it is great.