Weekend projects

I used Valspar instead of Krylon this time, mainly because I couldn't find Krylon. We'll see how it weathers.
I used Valspar instead of Krylon this time, mainly because I couldn’t find Krylon. We’ll see how it weathers.

This weekend was all about clearing projects off my plate. Most of them were little projects (moving the quail, putting bird netting in the garden to protect my tomatoes, and starting a new batch of beer), but the big one I’d been meaning to finish involved the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar.

I’ve been neglecting the car for about two years. Oh, not the mechanical stuff — I take it in to have the oil changed and the tires rotated and various belts and filters and things replaced at all the appropriate times — but what makes the Dreamcar the Dreamcar is its Amazing Technicolor paint job, which becomes decided less amazing and decidedly less technicolor after a few months in the sun. To look its best, it really needs to have its hood and roof repainted about once a year.

Last time I repainted it was a couple of days before we left for vacation in 2012.

After spending the brutal summer of 2012 in the Oklahoma sun, it was pretty faded out, but before I got a chance to repaint it, we moved, and I was too busy to mess with it. I also managed to leave all my leftover spraypaint behind when we moved, and I couldn’t really justify spending the better end of $50 on a glorified craft project while we were paying for two mortgages. By the time we sold the house in Tulsa, it was October, and then the holidays hit, followed by ice storms, a rainy spring and a stormy summer, and … well, yesterday was really the first opportunity I’ve had to do anything with the car, so I took advantage of it.

While I was working, I installed a few of my recent acquisitions on the dashboard:

On a recent trip to Memphis, I picked up some miniature rubber chickens at Schwab's. Because if there was one thing my dashboard needed, it was rubber chickens.
On a recent trip to Memphis, I picked up some miniature rubber chickens at Schwab’s. Because if there was one thing my dashboard needed, it was rubber chickens.

Is there a Doctor in the house? From right, the Seventh, Fourth and Second Doctors, accompanied by a Roman centurion auton.
Is there a Doctor in the house? From right, the Seventh, Fourth and Second Doctors, accompanied by a Roman centurion auton.

I painted a TARDIS on part of the car last night, but the sealer I used on it this afternoon interacted badly with the paint and ran all over the place, so I’ll have to sand that area off and start over as soon as I can shake free.

Emily

(Belated) Eco-Saturday: Dehydrating herbs

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow.
Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow.

If you have a yard, a balcony or even a sunny window big enough for a flowerpot or two, you can grow your own culinary herbs.

Herbs are among the easiest plants to grow. My favorites are basil, dill and cilantro — all vigorous self-seeding annuals that will produce plenty of volunteer plants year after year — and peppermint, spearmint, oregano, rosemary, sage and chives, which are all reliable, productive perennials.

If you grow herbs, you’ll inevitably end up with far more than you can use in a season, so you’ll have plenty left to dry for winter use.

The fastest way to dry herbs is in a dehydrator. If you have more than a couple of plants, a cheap electric dehydrator is probably worth the investment. You can find a good one for $50 or less. I got mine in the hunting aisle at the feed store.

Dehydrating is easy. I’m using basil as an example here, but the same method works with pretty much any herb you can think of.

This is part of one plant.
This is part of one plant.

Start by harvesting as much as you plan to put up. A good pair of shears will speed the harvest along.

Ready to rinse.
Ready to rinse.

If using a dehydrator, snip the leaves from the stems. Put the leaves in a colander and rinse them off. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, just rinse the stems and leaves, tie them in bundles with string or rubber bands, and hang them upside-down to dry, checking them frequently to make sure they’re still bound tightly.)

The thinner the layer, the faster they'll dry.
The thinner the layer, the faster they’ll dry.

Arrange the leaves on your dehydrator trays. Try to keep them to a single layer per tray to allow them to dry quickly and evenly.

After dehydrating.
After dehydrating.

The leaves will shrink as they dry. Check them every half-hour or so until they are completely dry.

The finished product, ready to add to spaghetti sauce.
The finished product, ready to add to spaghetti sauce.

Put the dried herbs in a ziplock bag to keep them fresh, crush them and use a Sharpie to label the bag with the product and the date. Half-pint Mason jars are also excellent for storing dried herbs, or you can recycle old containers from storebought spices.

Emily