Thursday, September 27, 2012

All About Her

Last weekend I was able to spend most of my time out in the shop doing this or that. At one point I was done with everything and trying to find something to do.
That kind of thing usually does not happen because I have a list a mile long with detailed projects that need to be done. I guess I really didn't want to start on any of them and just wanted to tinker in the shop.

I finished the trophies for the at home chili cook off we are having next weekend and I think they turned out okay. I would have rather of had a better selection of stains but you use what you got.  
Tip of the day, when you are at Lowe's or Homodepot, stop by the paint section and look at their "Oops" section. They will have a shelve full of items mixed wrong and will sell for a fraction of the retail cost. A gallon of $32.00 paint mixed in the wrong color will sell for $5 and same with the stains.

This weekend will be all about the wife, she turns 41 on Saturday. I have a real nice evening planned for her and I hope everything turns out good. The reason I say that is because me and fancy places really don't mix.
The last time I took her somewhere fancy, a little Japanese Geisha girl brought me a beverage that was on fire. The are some things you just don't mix all at one time and that night it was a fancy place, a redneck, alcohol and fire.
I don't know if they still have my picture up at the front door with the words banned written across it in big bold letters or not, but damn that was fun.

Only a few more days till the T-Shirt giveaway so if you have not already, scroll down and enter to win one either for yourself or for someone else. It's not hard.           

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get In the Zone

 Being back on track and with a new focus, I find myself once again flooded with new ideas. If I don't watch it, I will right back in the same pit of stress I just crawled out of.

 Add in my new past time of Competition Chili Cooking and now things are busier than they were before. Plus all the work I neglected over the summer and couple that with repeatedly being told everything I do is wrong and it's all my fault has the stress levels on the rise again. But fear not, there is hope and I call it Refuge.   

Do you ever get into a zone? You know what I'm talking about, kinda like that thousand yard stare sort of thing, but while your doing something. I guess the best way to describe it is like being lost in your own world and everything around you does not exist or even matter until you snap out of whatever it is you are doing. It's a zone where hunger pains do not exist, where you could go for hours without eating and only until you stop do you realize you are in need of a drink, food or even sleep as far as that goes. In that total state of "doing" you are free. Free of all the worries and problems you might be going through. It's a calming place where you and only you exist and time has no meaning.
So have I freaked you out yet? No really, I bet everyone reading this can relate one way or another to what I am saying either by doing gardening, reading, wood working and so on.

Recently I bought a shop, no I did not build it but bought it. It's the first shop I have had for several years and the first real fully functioning one ever. I had the building delivered and that day I went to work on building shelves and work benches. It has already made things easier and it was well worth the money. That shop is my refuge. When I walk in there all worries stay at the door. That is where I get in that zone I described above.

This past couple of weeks I have been building stuff for our Chili Booth. October 6th we will be doing our first trial run at setting up the booth and cooking our chilies for judges, a mock run so to speak. The judges will consist of around fifteen family and friends. This will help us out and get us ready for our first real event the following weekend.
Even though it's a mock event, the top three winning chilies still needs some kind of recognition so last night after work I walked in and zoned out.
It has been a really long time since I built anything small. My wood working tools are old and rusted, sandpaper that is so old it crumbles when used and most of the blades are twenty years old or older but still cut. I found out real quick I don't have as steady of a hand as I once did nor do I have the best eye sight I once had.
But in the end I really don't think that it matters that much. As long as I found my happy place and enjoyed what I was doing stress free.

Not a bad job I don't think for some scrap wood and a bunch of old tools. I still need to complete the ones for second and third places and then put some sort of finish on them. I haven't decided on paint or stain yet.

 I don't guess I have a moral for the story but I can tell ya this, get up and find something to do and when you are feeling stressed, get in the zone.

Thanks to all that entered the T-Shirt giveaway and if you haven't done so it's easy. Just go to the post below and leave a comment that you want one. The drawing will be in less than two weeks so hurry.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reality Check

With all the things happening around the world and even here on the home front this past week, it has been an eye opening reality check for me.

As y'all know for over the past couple of months I have lived without a plan and free from worry. Doing what I want, when I want and going where I want without really any care in the world. This has been the first time in my adult life I have done such a thing. Using the words "Oh, what the hell, lets go" became the new normal around the house and to tell you the truth, I liked it a lot.
Not worrying about how many pounds of corn mill or how many cans of freeze dried fruit I had on hand was nice. Not giving a second thought on animal production and sells was even nicer. We even half heartily planted a fall garden, but soon forgot about it and nothing even sprouted, but that's okay. When you doctor looks you eye to eye and says if you don't change something quick and stop worrying so much you will not be around to enjoy your grand babies. She went on to say if I keep going the way I am it would not be long. When something like that is said to you, you tend to start second guessing if what you are doing is really so important and if it's even worth it.

I can see how easy it is to get caught up in normal people's lifestyle. (I use that term only because they think they are the normal ones and we are the whack jobs). Only thinking about doing fun things and not caring if the sun comes up tomorrow gets addicting. Buying only the food you need for that night is actually really fun. Eating without a plan is like a getting a surprise every night, you never know what you might get. Going places without times, purpose and care was thought to be pointless before has now turned into a great time just being out with he family.

 Before the doctor (BTD) my personality and mental disorders made it where everything had to have a plan and be organized. Even if something was spontaneous, I usually started making the schedule and plans while walking to the truck and by the time we arrived, it was all planned out. I had to be, nothing else would do.
For a little over two months now I have not had to do that, but then this last week something changed.

When the attacks happened on our Embassy and the events that followed, emotions started building and something triggered in my brain, I found myself starting to worry again. I suddenly thought about the last time I did inventory on my food storage and I couldn't remember. I wondered how many months I have left of food since we stopped putting up. I wondered why I shut the bathhouse off and have not used it for over two months now. I could not figure out why I took my "get home" bag out of my truck. I could not understand why I have not used my hand powered washing machine in months and I felt depressed and the onslaught of panic started setting in when I remembered there was nothing growing in the gardens. I also felt sad because I don't have any animals left to care for and sustain me if need be.
Instead of looking out over the Mini Farm and seeing freedom from all the work like I have been doing all summer, all I could see now was emptiness and a lost dream.                   

The first opportunity I had Friday after work I grabbed the wife and went to Sam's. Then to Walmart, followed by a couple more quick stops on the way home. I am happy to say the storage room is stocked back up to where it needs to be. A few more things and it will be like this laps in judgement I had never happen.
Next on the list to get done was repacking my BOB and GHB for winter use. I picked up some new 72 hours kits from Wise foods a while back and finally got them packed. Plus I added some warm wear to the bags just in case.
It's not too late to get the green house replanted so tonight I plan to get the lettuce, carrots and whatever else I can think of planted for a winter garden. As far as the animals, I do not plan to get anymore until spring and when I do it will be nothing like what I had. I am not going to mass market and sell this next year near as much as I have done in the past, maybe a few dozen at best mainly for personal use.
I am also happy to say the bathhouse and washing machine are up and running again and are being used. Even though it was only a short time, I have forgotten how nice a 100% free hot shower felt until this last weekend.

Here's what's different this time around. I have now learned not to stress out over it all. If it can't get done it won't and if it's not getting done in a timely manner then that's okay. BTD, I was wound as tight as fishing line around a tree branch. Now ATD, I can now control my worries to what matters and I learned how to have fun again, everything is good. I have lost over 30 pounds, my blood pressure is almost back to normal and I feel great.

Homesteading, prepping and surviving is my focus and my way of life, but I have to take care of me so I can enjoy it. The cool thing is, I don't care if that is selfish.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It's That Time Of Year Again

October will kick off a new year in the Competition Chili Cook Offs and it should be a good one.

Last weekend our team judged at the Oklahoma State Chili Competition in Durant and had a great time. We got some good ideas on what we want our booth to look like this year and met some really nice folks with some even being past world champions themselves.

October 13th will be our first one of the year held in a little town just to our West then in November on to a town to the East.  I hope to get to cook for at least ten competitions this year to gain enough points to get invited to the big one. I know it's a long shot and I am really not planning on it, but it's worth a shot.

Our pots at the house have already been fired up to make sure our chili meets the standards. Every little change causes big differences in the taste and no pot is ever the exact same twice. Just changing the brand of chili powder can make a huge difference. It will take several more pots and the rest of this month to prefect the chili we intend to turn in. 

I personally do not like competition chili because it's only juice and meat. I like mine thick with some substance, but the judges don't so I make it their way.
The wife makes hers with a little more bite than mine and the other team mates go a little outside the box with theirs. I want mine to be simple, smooth and with a slight aftertaste.

The weekend before our first competition we will be having a chili tasting here at the house for all the friends and family to come by and give us some feedback. We will go through the whole set up with our booth and act like it's the real deal for the "at home advent", a trial run so to speak. That way we can see how our booth looks and make any adjustments if needed to the set up. We have four cooks in a 12x12 booth at the same time and things will need to be arranged so we do not step over one another and get in each others way. Plus the honesty of the tasters will help in deciding if we need to make any final adjustments to the recipe just in case it is too salty or anything else they come up with.  
This also gives us the chance to make sure our carts are stocked with everything we will need. It is easy to cook in the house with a well stocked kitchen, but there is nothing worse than finding out you forgot something when you are away from it. A fully equipped cart is the backbone to having a great time. 
It's going to be a good year and It's also going to be fun. I will post pictures when we have the booth all set up for you to judge how it looks. Plus I am sure I will share or trials and tribulations along the way.

Until next time,   

Sunday, September 2, 2012

At Last! At Last!

For twenty years the wife and I have been on the search for a wood burning cook range.
We have found several though the years ranging from the best of the best to the worst of the worst.

The closest I came to actually affording one of these stoves was a few months ago when a lady had one stashed away in a barn and was asking $400 for it. This was the cheapest I have seen so I was excited. It turned out it was all rusted out and missing several parts so I reluctantly passed on it, but glad I did. I really did try to talk myself into it. Most of the stoves I have seen for sell around these parts are priced from $1500 to $5000, way too rich for my blood.
Every friend, every family member and every stranger that would listen knew I was looking for one. Every consignment and antique store for miles around has my number and is instructed to call me if they hear of anything that comes up.
 If one came up for sell anywhere around I knew about it, but yet I could never find one I could afford.

A buddy of mine picked up his stove up a couple of years ago. He found it in a barn and bought it for $100. He got a beautiful, solid, antique range in great shape that could easily go for three grand on the market. He actually unloaded his truck right in the lady's yard so he could load the stove and get it home before she changed her mind. To say I was jealous is an understatement. Even though I was happy for him, I was sick to my stomach for not being able to find it first.

That same buddy called me this last week and asked me if I was still looking for a wood fired range. I simply answered that I was. He said he knew where one was if I wanted it. Being I have been through this several times before and the deal only ending in disappointment, I played along and I asked where and how much. He said it was in his front yard and to just come get it.
Okay, now he had my full attention to say the least. Being the skeptic that I am, I could only imagine the condition this thing could be in for my buddy to give this stove to me for little to nothing. At the most I figured it was just going to be more junk I would have to pile in the barn to maybe later restore somehow.

This is what I picked up last night.  

I can't believe after all these years I finally have my very own wood burning cook stove.
Right now it sits in the house just for decoration. After I get the outdoor kitchen done then it's final resting place will be there. I plan to do most of my cooking on the old Queen for many years to come.
I am giddy.