Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Adding a Patio Cover

Mike and I went back and forth about what we should do for our new patio.  We wanted a cover to give us some shade and to also keep the patio clean.  We thought about doing a wood one like we have in Tennessee but wood lately has been really bad quality no matter where you go for it.  Then we thought about the roofing panels but we weren't sure if we wanted a full screen room.  Then Mike remembered seeing the aluminum panels at Lowe's.  We checked them out and they seemed like a good idea for what we wanted.  Clean and easy to install and no maintenance like the wood would have been.

Next we took a measurement.  Since we have a large patio we decided to only cover part of it so we could also sit in the sun if we wanted to.  We used the panels that later on can be used for a screen room just in case we want to add on.

The panels…oh what fun they were get home, not, lol.  They are 12 feet long and we needed 26 sections:

Next we had to figure out how to lay it out.  The frame needs to go up first so Mike starts off by drilling holes in the concrete:

Adding the base piece for the post:

Screwing in the L bracket before the post goes up:

The frame for our first 10 foot section:

Once that is up Mike screws the face piece that will hold the panels to the house.  Now we can add the panels.

Mike cuts the panel to the length we need it.  It was too hard for me to cut so I did the measuring and poor Mike had to do all the cutting which was really hard on the hands:

First panel going up:

I help Mike get the panels up and then he screws the panels to the house and to each other.  They overlap so there is no leaking when it rains:

Moving right along…this is so much easier and lighter than wood:

We are halfway there:

Guess what's next?  Yup…Mike has to take down this gutter…again, lol, but this is the last time…really:)

Once that is down we add the piece that hold the panels to the house:

We finish installing the panels to just past the door:

How the top of the panels look when screwed together:

New gutters going up:

And now adding the downspout for the new roof:

Now we have a nice new covered area to use with the hammock in the sun:)

We'll see how it all works out.  Later on we may screen it in but for now we like it.

That's all for now.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Peppermint Patties

I have been testing out some candy recipes and I will post the "keepers"

This is the first time I tried making peppermint patties and I am happy to say they are super easy and very good.

Peppermint Patties

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon Peppermint extract
1 tablespoon Crisco(optional)

12 oz chocolate of your choice for melting(bark, chips, or melts)

Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, and the Crisco(I used it in one batch and not the other…both were good).  Add the remaining powdered sugar a little at a time until you have a fairly stiff dough.  You may have to use your hands to get it all mixed together.

Make a 1/2"-1" balls from the dough and place on waxed paper.  Flatten with fingers into small discs.  Cover and freeze for about 4 hours.  The colder it is the easier it is to dip in the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave stirring until it is creamy.  Drop a disc into the melted chocolate and flip with a fork.  Lift with a fork, let drain a bit and place on waxed paper.  Do this with the remainder of the mints.  You may have to do this in small batches.  If the mints got too soft put them back in the freezer.

Once they are coated with chocolate place them back in the freezer until the chocolate hardens.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  You can store them in the refrigerator or the freezer.


Mix 1 cup powdered sugar with corn syrup, water and peppermint extract:

Add powdered sugar to make a stiff dough:

Roll into balls and flatten then chill in the freezer:

Take them out and start dipping:

Freeze until very cold.  Dip in chocolate and freeze again:


They are a little messy but it gets easier as you go.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weed Razer and Some Lake Wildlife

Hello everyone.  It has been a few weeks but let me tell you about cleaning up some of our lake weeds/grass and checking out our wildlife.

One of our neighbor's has what is called a weed razer.  It is used to cut down lake grass and weeds.  He told us we could borrow his but since we don't like borrowing things Mike bought one:

You are not really supposed to use a boat for this but we gave it a try.  Mike driving the boat and the razer on board:

The yellow is the protective cover over the razor sharp blades.

Once Mike gets in position he throws the blades out into the water which is attached to a rope and tied to the boat:

Then he starts driving and we can watch the weeds being cut:

We don't want to cut all of them down but just clean up a bit.  It is pretty cool to watch the razor do the work.  It sinks to the bottom and cuts the grass off.  Once the grass is cut it pops up out of the water.

A couple of pictures looking back at the house:

It is a slow process as the blade gets pretty heavy and full of weeds.  We have to stop, clean off the blade and start again.  We only did a few swipes this time.

Some of it we can do from the land.  One of us throws the weed razer into the water and pulls while the blade cuts and the other one cleans up the weeds with a rake and pulls them out of the water.  It's a messy job.

Once that all dries we can put it out in the yard debris trash.

And some pictures of our wildlife:

Looks like they are friends, for now:

And this little guy who is not afraid of us at all:

Have a wonderful day and I will write again soon.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Homemade Natural Cleaners And How To Make Them

Nicole started me on this and I have been making my own cleaners on and off over the years.  Today I will give you some easy recipes for an all purpose/glass and floor cleaner and also a granite counter cleaner that will leave it shining.

First off some background on some of the basics.  Many natural cleaners are made with vinegar, alcohol, peroxide, baking soda, castile soap, baking soda and essential oils.

Here are the two cleaners I just made:

Some common essential oils and what they are good for:

One of my favorites.  Lavender pairs well with another common natural cleaner, vinegar. Use lavender’s soothing scent in homemade dish soap, laundry rinse and linen spray. 

It is naturally antibacterial and antiviral, lemon is commonly used to degrease stubborn stains as well as freshen the air. Use it to deodorize your fridge, clean the floor or combine 10 drops with 1/2 cup olive oil for a natural wood or leather polish.

This fights germs, bacteria and viruses in everything from homemade wipes to hand soap to daily shower spray. Tea tree oil is a handy weapon against bugs, too. Add tea tree to a spray bottle with water, shake well, and spray outside and inside the home to deter lice and other pests.

Rosemary’s natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties make it a great addition to homemade dish soap and laundry detergent. Essential oils are perfect for homemade air freshener sprays, and the combination of peppermint and rosemary is perfect when when you need to stay focused and on task.

It’s great against grease. Use 1-2 drops to lift grease or glue from surfaces or combine 12 drops with 1/4 cup castile soap and water to wipe down stovetops and counters. 

This natural germicide is a powerful dust mite buster. Use it with baking soda to deep clean your mattress and in a dry wash for stuffed animals or just put a few drop in your next wash cycle. And with its clean smell, eucalyptus is great for stinky jobs in the kitchen and bathroom. Eucalyptus leaves and essential oil are great in cupboards to deter pests.

There are countless uses for peppermint oil around the home. Its cool, invigorating scent and antibacterial properties make it a great addition to spray cleaners and natural deodorant spray. For an air freshener that also deters ants and spiders mix 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray along cracks and crevices or wherever ants are see.  It can also be a deterrent to mice.  Place 5 drops of peppermint essential oil into a cotton ball and place the cotton balls where mice can enter your home.  This should deter them from entering that way.

Cinnamon is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. Powerful against mold, it’s a great addition to homemade mold and mildew spray. Ground cinnamon and its essential oil are both effective against pests. Sprinkle the ground cinnamon anywhere that pests are seen or apply pure undiluted cinnamon essential oil to the areas with a cotton swab.

Already a common ingredient in cleaners.  Pine oil is effective at killing yeast spores, E.coli and other household germs. Pine is perfect for ridding the bathroom of mold and mildew and cleaning hard floors while leaving a natural fresh scent.

Thyme is one of the most powerful essential oil weapons against germs. Thyme is effective against salmonella so you can add it to homemade dish soap and use it to clean cutting boards that have come in contact with raw meat.

Here are my main recipes:

Floor Cleaner-
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon water
10-20 drops essential oils
(I use this each week to wash my floors)

Granite cleaner-which can also be used on stainless steel(I do not use vinegar on granite.
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
3 drops dish soap like Dawn
distilled water to fill a quart container
5-10 drops essential oil

All Purpose cleaner which can also be used on glass and a quickie clean up for floors-
1 cup vinegar
3 cups water
15 drops essential oil

Glass cleaner-
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup alcohol
2 cups distilled water

Homemade Pine Sol-
To make a toxin-free Pine Sol at home for a fraction of the cost, try this recipe:
1 tablespoon unscented liquid castile soap
4 cups warm water
10 to 15 drops pine essential oil

Baking soda and water mix makes a a good rubbing paste for scouring.  Nicole likes to use peroxide instead of bleach.  It is a natural stain cleaner and whitener and can be used on toilets, in showers, on grout, for cutting boards and laundry.  I still use bleach.  Someday I may change that.

How I made my recipes:
My granite cleaner:

Really easy….
Use a quart sized bottle and add 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, then add 3 drops of dishwashing soap, and fill up with distilled or purified water.  Add 5-10 drops of essential oils.  For the holidays I used 5 drops of Lavender and 8 drops of peppermint.

Ingredients for my all purpose cleaner(this time):

Add 1 cup vinegar to a quart sized bottle and fill almost to the top with distilled or purified water.  Add 15 drops of essential oils.  I used 7 lavender, 4 lemon, 2 tea tree and 2 rosemary.

There is no exact science to the mixtures you use.  Play around with the scents you like.  I have found the best prices for my oils are from Essential Oils

Have fun and give it a try.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lentil Tacos or Burritos

This recipe has been on my to try list for years.  I finally made it and it is a keeper for me.  It can be used for tacos, burritos, enchiladas or over a salad.  It is a very good filling.

Lentil Tacos

Lentil Tacos

1 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup salsa(I used cron and black bean salsa)

taco shells
shredded lettuce
chopped fresh tomato
shredded reduced-fat or regular cheddar cheese
sour cream

1. In a large nonstick skillet, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
2. Uncover; cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Mash lentils slightly. Stir in salsa.
3. Spoon about 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream. Yield: 6 servings.


Saute garlic and onion in oil until tender:

 Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute.  Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. 

Uncover and mash the lentils:

Stir in salsa of your choice:

Finished filling:


And dinner:

This was a very good meal for a meatless night.  Enjoy!!