Cider Pressing!

I’ve been saying a lot lately that someone was thinking of us 20 years ago because they planted a lot of fruit on our property that we get to enjoy! Of course we are planning to think of the family that lives here in the future (like WAY into the future), and we’ll pass on the tradition, but for now, man are we enjoying what we have! Being that someone nice decided to plant lots of apples on our property, we were swimming in apples. I felt like Bubba Gump. Apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples, applesauce, etc. When we got tired of eating apples every other way, we picked every tree clean and took them over to my friends house. You see, she has a cider press and graciously allowed us to use it! We took about 30 gallons of apples and walked away with 10 gallons of apple cider. Some of it was fresh canned for Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings, but the rest is fermenting and bubbling away for our future enjoyment as hard cider.

The kids were a big help! Daphne helped collect (and drink) the freshly pressed cider.


She also helped oversee while Julie ground the apples before pressing.

And then while Matt did the work for grinding.

Oh.. and Cyprus managed to get in on the action too!


We had so much fun, this is definitely going to be a traditional fall thing!

Red Milk Painted Ceiling

Ceilings are important to me. I have a plan for every single ceiling in my house, something cool, something fun, something wonderful. I removed the accoustical tile on the ceiling of the play room to discover that it was wood plank. Of course, it had 4 layers of wall paper on it, so after removing that and then sanding it down, I’m laying down the red milk paint. I just finished putting on the third coat today and it looks striking! Here I am working on the first coat.

Red Ceiling

The house is slowly revealing itself to me, and it is magical.

Old Fashioned Milk Paint

We are workin on restoring our 100 year old farm house.  Since I am really particular about many things, this is a slow process.  I want as much of the house to be left in its origional state, and where that is not possible, I want to use old wood from other houses to complete projects.

I was turned on to milk paint a while ago, and I am now throroughly hooked.  The big bonus is that I am using the raw milk from my two wonderful cows to make the paint for the walls of my house, and it is just lovely.  It has so much more meaning than driving to Lowes to buy a bucket of toxic paint.

This is the recipe I use for my milk paint.

1 gallon skimmed milk (cream taken off top and used in coffee or creme brulee)

4 ounces hydrated lime (also known as agrucultural lime you can get a 35 pound bag at a feed store for about 11 bucks)

200 grams of pigment of choice

Pigments, oh yes.  Luckily, I went to art school, so I know all about this.  For white, we are using titanium white.  Zinc oxide will also work.  The red I am using is straight up Indian red.   My yellow is a 50/50 mix of yellow ochre  and a lemon yellow that is an oxide.  Whatever you use, know you can lighten and darken any color with black and white.  Just make sure the pigments you are using are lime proof.  I like getting my pigment from my local art store because I can gab while I buy, and I get to look at the pigments myself.  I can also take them back if I decide I don’t like them.

Milk paint does not stink.  You can paint and stay in the house all day and not feel the drag from the toxic fumes of traditional paints.  I let my kids paint with me and get it all over themselves.  They get to help and I get to enjoy them while I paint.  Milk paint is also very durable and lasts a VERY long time.  It will not strip off, it must be sanded off.  It is very easy to make and so much fun.  Give it a whirl, and you could look like us.


Milk Painted Daphne

Sunday June 19 and Monday June 20, 2011

Busy, busy lots to do.  I’m trying to write every day, but it can be so hard because of all the projects I have going on.  I was determined to get some projects done this “summer.”  Well, the spring has really only started, and tomorrow is the first day of summer.  Of course, it is also the solstice, which means that though it will be the longest day of the year, it also marks the six month decent into darkness and rain… and less light and ambition to get some work done around the farm.  All in all, we haven’t even been at this property for a year, and the improvements are wonderful, so who am I to complain?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I decided to tear apart the playroom and see what I could do for some restoration.  Behind the horrible 1970’s paneling, I discovered some beautiful wood plank boards.  The ceiling, the walls and the floor were all this beautiful wood.  I know what I want to do with the room now, but it involves getting the ceiling done first.  I had to remove 4 layers of wallpaper from the whole ceiling, which was a nightmare.  It involved steaming and boiling water and scraping paper off the walls at 4 am while the kids were asleep.  I was glad when that was done.  Next came sanding, and that was just as bad.  I like to sand, but not really up over my head.  It took about 5 hours to sand the ceiling,  But boy was it worth it.  That ceiling looked amazing sanded down and loved.

Enter milk paint.  I’ve known about milk paint for a while, but I’ve recently fallen in love with it.  I have plenty of milk around, and plenty of lime.  It is so easy to make.  It is also non-toxic, so when the kids want to help paint and they all but roll in it, there is no harm.  In fact, they could eat the stuff and be just fine.  It is also the most durable paint in the history of man, yep, really.  I hear that if you want to change the color of something painted with milk paint that you actually have to sand the top layer of the wood off.  Luckily, I went to Europe and studied art and painting and pigments, so making my own colored paint wasn’t so hard on me.  The first coat of the ceiling is red.  Oh man, is it a beautiful red.  I almost swoon every time I walk into the room.  And though I am going to paint over the red with something less dramatic in the future, I am enjoying the red for now.  In fact, I might just clean up the room and let it become a playroom for another few weeks while I admire the best paint job anyone has done anywhere.  It is THAT good, I mean it.

I had made a gallon and a half of milk paint for the ceiling.  I didn’t want to run out in the middle and have the color change on my slightly.  Well, it was way too much paint.  As I was contemplating what to do with it, i.e. where to dump it, it occurred to me that the red chicken coop in the barn could use another paint job.  And so, off the kids and I went to work on yet another project.  Painting the chicken coop was so far down my to do list that it hadn’t even made it on the list yet, but I must say that it makes our place look pretty darn spiffy.  It is a nice, dark, deep, rich red.  I like it.  I do have to coat it with a sealant, but I won’t mind looking at that color for the next 40 years of my life.

Today, Monday, I headed over to Julie’s house to eat breakfast out, just for fun.  MMMMMM, poached eggs and scones.  We then headed to check out the nitty gritty details of another friend’s new house that she just moved into.  it was built in 1920, and it is cute.  I love looking at old houses.

We then went on a hunt for a place to pick strawberries that did not spray fungicide this year.  The berries we picked first this season were sprayed.  The berries are so porous that the chemical can’t be washed off, and the berries actually taste like chemicals to me.  I picked another 30 pounds of berries for the freezer.  I think I’ll be done in two more picks this year.  Lots of work, but we will have lots of berries.

I was feeling overwhelmed with all that I had to do when I got home to make dinner tonight.  I then checked my email and saw that we are well on our way to turn the farm’s lease into an actual purchase.  In fact, a little bird says we may get to sign the paperwork this week.  This put it in perspective for me.  This truly is our little spot of Heaven, right here.  I’m so happy and honored to live here that I could burst with wonderful joy.