Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

How to Make a Leaf Lampshade

Instead of spending a lot of money on a fancy new lampshade, I made my own using an old lampshade and a few materials.

Materials: lampshade, rice paper, craft glue, and pressed leaves.

Step 1: Remove material on lampshade.  Be careful not to put too much pressure on the hard plastic or you can crack the shade.

Step 2: Cut out rice paper to fit the lampshade with about an inch of excess on all sides  You want excess paper so you don't come up short!  A helpful hint is to make a pattern by rolling the lampshade on a large piece of packaging paper. This way you have a pattern for future projects and you don't risk wasting the rice paper in case you trace incorrectly.  For large lampshades, you may need to have 2 pieces of paper because the rice paper roll is narrow.  Rice paper can be purchased at craft stores such as Michael's. 

Step 3:  Apply the glue.  In the picture above you can see globs of glue; it doesn't take much to cover a large area. 

Step 4: Smooth out the glue and add leaves.  If the glue isn't spread out, there will be dark areas on the lampshade when you turn on the light.

Step 5: Lay the rice paper over the leaves and lampshade.  I like to crinkle up the paper a little bit to give it texture.  Note: glue is not put on top of the leaves. 

This is what it should look like before the top and bottom paper is trimmed.

Step 6: Cut off excess rice paper on the top and bottom of the lampshade leaving a little excess.  Apply a little glue along the edge and then wrap the paper around the ring.  Don't leave too much paper on the inside of the shade because it will show when the lamp is illuminated.  In the picture above you can see the strip of tape that was removed from the bottom of the lampshade.  Most shades come with tape because it holds the hard plastic to the metal ring.  You don't have to remove the tape but I do because it gives the shade a cleaner look (in my opinion).   

Resawing/Milling Walnut Logs

A few months ago Jon found a large walnut limb that had fallen in the Derecho storm this summer.  It was a dead limb and was completely dry.  Jon was really excited to find wood on the property that was dry and bug-free!  In the second picture Jon is scraping off the bark and some rot with a draw knife.

The logs have been laying on the garage floor for months waiting to be cut into boards. The plan is to use some of this walnut wood with the aspen to make a hutch for the dining room.

Jon feeds the log into the bandsaw and I am on the receiving end making sure the log stays flush along the guide.  Walnut is a hardwood so together we must feed the log at a slow and steady pace through the blade.

The planer was used to smooth out irregularities caused by the blade and uneven thicknesses.

Paul really enjoys playing in the sawdust!

Here is the stack of finished boards that we cut from the walnut logs!  This wood is beautiful---it's dense with very few worm holes.  I'll make another post when the hutch is complete!

Keeping Fresh Eggs Throughout the Winter

It's December and my three Golden Comet chickens are still laying eggs each day.  My family manages to keep up with their rigorous laying with baking, noodle making, and omelets so we haven't put any away for a later use.  I was curious how other chicken keepers keep eggs fresh throughout the winter so I did a little research and came across these books and their tips:

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables by: Mike and Nancy Bubel
The Joy of Keeping a Root Cellar by: Jennifer Megyesi
  • The idea is to keep the eggs cool and somehow seal their pores or protect them from air.
  • Never wash eggs before putting them away.  Washing removes the natural protective coating (called "Bloom") that helps to prolong their storage life.
  • If you are unsure whether an egg has gone bad and is safe to eat, put the eggs in a pot of cold water.  If they float, they should be discarded.

Here are a few methods to keeping eggs:

1. Pack them in crocks full of waterglass---a thick, slippery substance that effectively encases the egg and keeps out air.  Eggs can keep in usable condition for up to 5 months.  Make a waterglass solution by mixing a pint of sodium silicate (available at your drugstore) with nine quarts of boiled, cooled water.  Scald your crock or jar with hot water, pour in the waterglass solution and then carefully put the eggs in, always keeping a good 2 inches of waterglass above the top layer of eggs.  Keep the crock in your root cellar or cold pantry and add boiled, cooled water as needed during the winter to keep the eggs well covered.

2. In a covered container at 33-40 degrees F and 70% humidity, eggs can keep 3-4 months.

3. To freeze eggs, break them into a bowl and scramble them lightly.  To prevent the yolks from turning gummy, add 1 teaspoon of honey for each cup of eggs destined for use in desserts, or 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of eggs to be used in general baking or breakfast dishes.  Pour the prepared eggs into labeled containers.  To use, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours and use right away.

Preparing for Maple Syrup Tapping

We are really excited to finally live in an area where we can tap maple trees for syrup!  We are doing a small operation here with maybe 2 dozen taps and we are boiling the traditional way over an open fire outside.

In the above picture I am measuring the circumference of a tree and recording it in my notebook.  I am still learning tree identification without relying on leaves so I wrapped pink surveyors tap around each tree.  The circumference tells me if the tree is large enough to tap and how many taps I can drill.

I sketched maps showing the location, size, and species of each maple tree.

We are using traditional metal buckets with lids for our small-scale operation.

I found several maple trees on the property that have large splits in the trunk.  From what I could find doing a general Google search, these splits are caused from drastic freezing and warming temperatures.  I won't be tapping these trees because I consider them wounded and/or stressed.  Perhaps they are also diseased?

We used bricks left from the previous owner to make the fire place area.  We are still working on the design but this is our first try.

My dad found this kettle at an antique store for $55.00.  It holds about 25 gallons and will be used for boiling the sap. 

To support the kettle, my Dad welded a stand for it to sit on. The stand can also be used as a grill.

We are going to need a lot of wood to burn for the sap boiling.  This is a snapshot of what the woods looked like after the Derecho storm and Hurricane Sandy.

These 4 gallon water jugs are thrown away at Jon's work because there isn't curbside recycling pickup here. These jugs will hold the sap we collect from the trees before boiling over the fire.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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