Monday, January 21, 2013

Recent Nature Outings

Winter really settled into Ohio today with some cold temperatures: tomorrow's high is 9 degrees Fahrenheit!  It's really about time though given our geographical placement.  Prior to this week, the temps were fairly balmy and we made sure to capitalize by getting outdoors.

Jennifer assisted Steve with stewardship on one of his far flung preserves in southern Ohio on a warm 50 or so degree day. A combination of geology, topography and geography result in a spectacular natural area with everything from dry oak uplands to hemlock-lined canyons to yellow buckeye-dotted valleys.

There is a memorial on the preserve: this speaks for itself!

Green stink bug, leaf litter and deer scat play their part in the a complex world underfoot - the forest floor.

Awesome foliose lichen with marginal cilia (resembles eyelashes - look closely at Jennifer's left index finger.)  

Sprouting yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava)...

We both loved the hemlock lined gorge.

Steve noted a warbler nest over this gorge last summer.  What an incredible place for a nest - attached to the very tips of a flimsy branch and over water for protection, with more than adequate food present, no doubt.  

Can you say moss?!  This moss was at least an inch thick.  Jennifer couldn't stop touching it...the squishiness was just too cool.

Another warm day took us over to Lawrence Woods, a large (1,035 acres!) state nature preserve known for its red-headed woodpeckers, short-eared owls and...  

one of our most favorite ecosystems ever...wooded wetlands.

This oak tree amazed both of us.  Surely it was a Native American trail marker tree.

One of our favorite books helped us identify cool invertebrate signs.  Here's a promethea moth cocoon, which will metamorphose in the spring into one of our beautiful large silk moths.

Bagworm cocoon, which also yields a type of moth...

Blister beetle (Meloe sp.)...

Often animals shy from humans, but the signs left behind say enough...

Sunset always comes too soon when we are on nature outings! We'll have to plan a backpacking trip soon so that we can stay outdoors past sundown...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Handmade Holidays 2012

Happy New Year!  We are so looking forward to 2013 and it's good already!  We are getting out and hiking regularly and that makes us happy.  We have more posting to do on our adventures...soon.  But first: holidays!  To celebrate we made our families homemade gifts once again and wanted to highlight a few of the items for some fun inspiration.

Thanks to Martha Stewart, we made these fun and easy magnets.  Once Jennifer got started she couldn't evidenced by the fact that everyone received at least 5.


Jennifer put her grandmother's treadle sewing machine to use to make everyone cloth napkins.  The assorted fabric stash from years of gathering at garage sales, etc. was raided and made into simple reusable napkins.  The napkins are two sided to add visual appeal and durability. Jennifer's handspun yarn tied the stacks together.

Jennifer created a festive soap scented with cinnamon and cloves to celebrate the season.  This is one of Steve's favorites now.  Don't ask for any though because we are completely out of soap.  Oops!  We sold out for the holidays (yay!), but have yet to get back into the soap making groove.  As Steve likes to mockingly say, "Oh, where does the time go?"

We also included some of our lavender hand salve and spiced pecans in our packages and to celebrate the Year of the Bat and the awesomeness of these creatures...some fun stickers.

Hope you all are enjoying the start of a great 2013!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Brown Family, We Love You

We've been spending more time lately visiting our local natural areas and have been very pleasantly surprised about how numerous, how well taken care-of and how wonderful they are.

Case in point: The Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon College near Mount Vernon, Ohio.

This part of Ohio is in the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau and has rolling topography, beautiful scenery and mixed rural land use as illustrated  here:

We hiked nearly 4.5 miles through mature forest, rolling pastures and recovering old fields. It was COLD and therefore we didn't get a lot of pics but we HAD to document this old, BIG White Oak:

Here's Steve for scale:

Here's Jennifer, closer still, for scale:

We determined that it takes 3 people, arms outstretched, to span the circumference of this monster! We are very grateful to all of the people who could have cut this tree down, but chose not too. 

Hug your favorite local tree!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another Jelly Cupboard, Quick-Like, Part 2

Here's Another Jelly Cupboard, Quick-Like, Part 1

Here's Another Jelly Cupboard, Quick-Like, Part 2:

For the shelving I knew that I certainly could continue the "reclaimed" theme from my stack of small salvaged stock. Sure enough, leftover from the packaging that our storm windows arrived in, I found just enough wood to make three shelves.

I had to combine smaller pieces but they turned out pretty nice.

Before sanding (belt sander with 50 grit then palm sander with 80 grit):

After sanding:

Here's a view of how I fastened small boards together (I call this a "cleat"). I simply lined up all the sections to make the shelf and then fastened them together using 2 cleats each of which I'd cut a 45 degree bevel on the front for aesthetics and for ease-of-access to the shelves from the front. You can see that this particular cleat is serving to connect 3 pieces of wood - one long piece along the back and 2 shorter pieces along the front. This was the last shelf I made and it took the very last of the storm window packing material to make it - satisfying!

Here is a view from the top side of that same shelf:

Here is a view of the shelf hardware that I used. Other than fasteners, this hardware is the only part of this project that is not reclaimed material. I used these because 1) they allow for easy shelf height adjustment, 2) because they are super easy to install and 3) they are very affordable. 

Some additional sanding to the carcass and door and...

It's pretty much complete!

I used the hinges that were original to the door:

But the closure hardware crumbled (from rust) when I tried to remove it to sand the door. I ended up using something else from my salvaged hardware grab bag. This was also incomplete (it was missing the part that allowed it to function as a spring latch) so I turned it 180 degrees and now it's simply a pull type opener and the door is held shut with an internal friction latch.

The  good thing about old houses is that there always seems to be little nooks to place cool cabinets!:

This one is nice and thin so it does not block our new pass-through from the living room to the hall way:

We already like it so much that I suppose I will have to make another one just like it if I hope to ever sell one!