Wood from mango tree

My house has 5 mango trees. I heard my mother tell that my dad planted these mango trees when I was born. These mango trees grew up with me. When I was 5 years old they were just as tall as me. Now they are 3 times as tall as me. They were associated with my childhood  Each summer is coming.  I often asked my neighbor’s friends to climb mango trees to take mango fruit.  We often take unripe mangoes to eat with soup. Its taste is so delicious. My parents and grandparents often wait for ripe mangoes to eat  On days of power outages. I often brought a hammock tied to a mango tree to sleep.The light breeze blowing when lying under the tree makes me feel more comfortable. Moreover, I often play a lot of games around mango stumps with my friends like mandarin square capturing, Hide and seedling man’s buff,…  Although, I don’t have a lot of time to play and talk with my friends as before. We are becoming more and more distant  But I will never forget that innocent time.

Unfortunately, My father plans to cut down 5 mango trees. He wanted to build another house for my brother. When he gets married. I don’t want my father to cut them.  They are full of childhood memories that I don’t want to forget. But I don’t know how to do.  Seeing me sad, my dad told me that he would use the wood of the tree to make me a new desk. Heard I am very happy. I comforted myself. Mango trees will always be with me. My father also intended to use the remaining wood to make necessary supplies for my brother’s new home.

The process of cutting wood and soaking wood wasted a lot of time. So, after one month, my father just started making them. My father asked me to work with him. My father said there was a lot of work to do. He will not be able to complete on time for my brother’s wedding. I am very willing to help him. I love this woodwork very much. I used to make myself a wooden pen box. I have known how to use some woodworking tools and equipment.

My father and I work together very effectively. For example,  When my father is cutting wood with hand saws. I will stand by and read to my father on the Woodworking books for the beginner the easiest way to cut wood. Therefore, my father only took about 30 minutes to cut the wood into sections. The next stage, when my father used a Makita Drill to keep the edges together. Moreover. He also uses a hammer to make the edges stronger and more beautiful.  I will use sandpaper to rub the wood. In the final steps. I found these items quite simple. Therefore, I used wood chisel (I have known how to use it from my carpenter friend) to decorate more patterns for the furniture becomes more delicate and lively.

After exactly one month. My father and I finished a desk for me, a dining table, a kitchen shelf, a wardrobe for my brother. Although it was hard, both my father and I were very happy. Wood from mango trees helped my family save some money. With that money. We can buy other necessities things for my brother’s wedding.

On my brother’s wedding day, most attendees complimented the furniture that my father and I made. They were also surprised to hear that we only made them only for a month. Some people even suggested my father make them some furniture like my brother’s. But my father did not agree. My father told my father not to have much time to do it. And I will test in grade 10. My father wanted me to focus on studying. But when seeing me sad. My father added after I finish the exam, my father and I will work together to make wooden furniture for them.  I was extremely happy when I heard my father say that. I will try my best to complete the test well.

The more I learn about carpentry. the more I love it . It helps my father and I become closer than before. Above all, it helped me reduce a lot of stress after hard lessons. Why don’t you try making any things you want? You sure you will love making it like me

I think Chowder is stingy.

Most of these are the organic catnip mice I made for them a couple of months ago.  Though I was disappointed in the way they turned out appearance-wise, they’ve held up really well and both cats seem to enjoy playing with them just the same.

Just when it seemed like I’d given up on blogging altogether!

I know, I’m the worst. But Christmas is coming up, and I’ll be making pretty much every gift this year, and hopefully posting about them as well. Until then, here’s the abbreviated, Instagram version of the last month or so.

I am still perfecting my Bloody Mary recipe. Some things I’ve discovered: Anchovy and HFCS-free Worcestershire sauce are almost impossible to find. Spicy Hot V8 is always a good idea. Homemade pickled green beans are a million times better (and cheaper!) than store-bought.

Grapefruits are finally in season again, and I took a picture of the first one I picked and ate about a week ago. Fresh citrus is my favorite thing about living in Louisiana.

Maxine is my best little study buddy. Now that it’s finally cooling off here, we spend a lot of time reading in bed.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

If I’d chosen a colored soap, this would probably look a lot cooler.

I’m ashamed to admit how long I’ve been meaning to make laundry detergent. One of my biggest obstacles was finding the right soap—I didn’t want to use something cheap with crappy ingredients, but I’m also in no position to use something fancy (like the $5 bar of peppermint Dr. Bronners I’ve been rationing in the shower for at least three months). So when I found a fairly affordable 3-pack of Kirk’s Coco Castile soap at Publix (while on vacation in Gulf Shores with my family, which means I still have to find a local source or order it from Amazon when I run out), it seemed like a logical choice for grating into laundry detergent. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday afternoon, following this homemade laundry soap tutorial from Clean, the Lusa Organics blog. The soap itself smells a little like Ivory, but the laundry detergent turned out fairly unscented. I tested it on a load of towels and gym clothes (the grossest load of laundry I had) and was really happy with the results.

To make your own laundry detergent, you’ll need:

4 to 5 oz soap (2 C grated)
2/3 C baking soda
1 C borax
1 1/3 C washing soda

Grate the soap using a box grater or food processor. (My sad old food processor wasn’t up to the challenge, so it was actually easier for me to grate the soap by hand.) In a large mixing bowl with a spoon you don’t plan on using for food, mix the soap, baking soda, borax, and washing soda. Store in an airtight container—I’m using a large, wide mouth mason jar for easier scooping. For best results, use 2-3 tablespoons of detergent per load of laundry, adding the detergent as the machine fills with water and giving it a minute or so to fully dissolve before throwing in your clothes.

For those of you lucky enough to have HE washing machines, this detergent is supposed to be low-sudsing and, therefore, safe for you to use as well.

Diva Cup Guest Review at Turby & John

A picture of Dawn & me, because my only other option was a picture of a Diva Cup, and we are probably slightly more fun to look at.

When I find a product whose performance I’m truly happy with, I tend to gush about it. I have been accused of working for Netflix on more than one occasion, and I’ve talked several of my closest friends into joining Pinterest just so I can look at all of their favorite things. Currently, I’m raving about the Diva Cup—in fact, I haven’t shut up about it since I bought mine a few months ago. Dawn graciously allowed me to take over her blog yesterday for the sole purpose of professing my love for the Diva Cup. If you’re dissatisfied with your current menstrual product, interested in alternative menstrual products, or just like to read about periods, then be sure to check out my guest review of the Diva Cup over at Turby and John. However, if you’re at all squeamish about periods, then consider yourself warned (also: grow the hell up).

Hot & Sweet Pickles

nine pints of homemade sweet-hot pickles

Pickles, in general, are one of my favorite snacks. But when my mom introduced me to Wickles last summer, I realized I might have discovered the tastiest pickle of all. Still, while irrefutably tasty, Wickles do have some drawbacks—not only are they around $5 a jar (making them more of a special occasion food for someone on my budget), but they also contain Polysorbate 80 and Yellow 5, ingredients I try to avoid. Unwilling to live without Wickles, I decided to attempt making my own. The last couple of summers I’ve experimented with canning (mostly tomatoes and jams), and I’ve been wanting to try pickles for quite a while anyway. So, tinkering with Emeril’s recipe for Homemade Sweet and Spicy Pickles, I came up with the following recipe:

Knockoff Wickles

3 pounds pickling cucumbers, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup pickling salt
6 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
10 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic
24 dried cayenne peppers

4-6 sterilized canning jars with bands and lids (I like to wash them by hand with warm soapy water and then keep them in the oven at around 200º until I’m ready to use them)

Soak cucumbers in pickling salt and water in a large, non-reactive bowl for 2 hours. Transfer cucumbers to a colander and rinse well for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine the vinegars, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves, garlic, and peppers in a mediumsaucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add the cucumbers and onions. Bring to a simmer and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Remove the jars from the oven. Using a slotted spoon, fill each jar with the pickle mixture, dividing them evenly, and enough of the liquid to come within 1/2-inch of the top. With a clean damp towel, wipe the rim and fit with a hot lid. Screw on the metal ring just until the point of resistance is met. Process the jars in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the jars, place on a towel, and let cool. Test the seals by allowing the jars to stand at room temperature overnight or until the lids pop. Remove rings and store in a cool dry place for at least 2 weeks before eating.

Because I had no idea how these would turn out, I started small, making only four pints to begin with. As it turned out, they were ready just in time for the fourth of July barbecue we had, allowing me a pretty large test audience. And they were a hit! While they were by no means exact, they were close enough to guarantee that I probably won’t be buying Wickles anytime soon (if you’re reading this, Wickles people, I’m sorry. I’m a grad student, and I just can’t afford your fancy pickles.) Furthermore, on my last trip back to Mississippi I inherited several more pounds of cucumbers from my dad, most of which went into making the second, much larger batch of these pickles.

Frumpy Floral Dress Refashion

One of my biggest summer projects is cleaning out our craft room closet. I’m a bit of a hoarder, especially when it comes to craft supplies, and most of mine has been collecting dust in our spare closet since we moved in last August (side note: how is it possible we’ve been here almost a year already?!). So I’ve given myself an ultimatum for this summer. Either I put all those materials to use, or I get rid of them. One of the first projects I’ve attempted is a refashion of the dress pictured above. I originally purchased it because of the sweet floral print and pleated skirt, thinking it would be easy to shorten the hem and do something about the sick collar and sleeve situation. However, like many of my projects, it got shoved in a box, which was buried in a closet and mostly forgotten until last weekend, when I decided I needed a new dress to wear to a birthday party. So, following this pretty straightforward refashion tutorial on I Make Stuff, I chopped off the hem and made it into a ruffle to be sewn onto the neckline. After removing the collar, I decided to sew the ruffle onto the dress’s back, turning the back into the front so that it would button down the back (because, after all, a row of buttons down the back is nothing if not classy). I also chopped off the sleeves and cuffed them just above the elbow (a length I find flattering on almost anyone), and took the dress in a few inches at the bodice and waist. The dress already had a pleat on each shoulder, and I added another to keep it from falling down.

Frilly Thrift Store Dress, After

I finished it in time to wear to the party and had Dawn take some pictures before we left the house.

While I’d hoped the tights would provide some protection for Louisiana’s monster mosquitoes, I was mistaken.

After hemming the skirt, I had a hard time getting the pleats to look right, but that might be due to my lack of patience when it comes to ironing.

Because the fabric is very sheer, I wore this vintage slip underneath. Also, a skinny brown belt makes just about anything more flattering.

After wearing the dress, I think I might go back and add a couple of darts to the bodice since it was pretty baggy even after I took in the sides, but overall I’m quite happy with how the dress turned out. Someone at the party asked if my dress came from ModCloth, and I certainly took that as a compliment.

Since completing this project, I’ve purchased a few more frumpy dresses from Goodwill (which is, I realize, completely incompatible with my goal of getting rid of things), and I can’t wait to get started on them! Do you have experience refashioning vintage and thrift store clothing? If so, please share your tips in the comments section!

Lately

Like the rest of the world, I’m pretty hooked on Instagram. Here are some pictures from the last several days. Two of my favorite things, as you can tell, are cute animals and sweet treats. Enjoy!

Maxine taking a nap on Dawn’s legs

Chowder loves sleeping on the back of the sofa.

This sweet guy showed up on our porch last week. He hung around until his owner came and picked him up.

Tabouli with Chevre, Red Onion, & Cherry Tomatoes

Avocado & Cherry Tomatoes on Toast

RolyYo is possibly the best frozen yogurt in the world, and definitely the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s pretty unbeatable with strawberries and blueberries.

MaraNatha Dark Chocolate Almond Butter & Strawberries on Toast

Being a Grad Student is Hard Sometimes

As was probably made evident by my extended absence, all week I’ve been paying for the fun I had last weekend.  I’ve been barely treading water as far as work is concerned–I have two presentations and two essays to turn in next week, plus a stack of Comparison/Contrast essays to grade at some point (not one of my sixteen students has dropped, which is great but also means more work for me).  So this weekend will be spent in front of the computer, drinking more coffee than I probably should, and eating foldover peanut butter sandwiches.  I’m sure the upcoming week will be more relaxed, and we have Mardi Gras break coming up, so I’ll have some cool (and in no way related to school) things to share soon. Hopefully this cute picture of Chowder will make the wait a little more bearable (since I know you guys are hitting refresh every fifteen minutes and tearing your hair out in frustration over my lack of posts).

Day Four: Learning from my Mistakes

More and more these days I find myself embracing my cat-lady status.  Cat art all over my walls?  Check.  Consistently covered in cat hair?  Check.  Talking strangers’ ears off about Chowder and Maxine?  Check.  I’ve even written some cat poems, which I think is probably the worst offense of all.

So, after completing my first stuffed cat last night before bed (just in time for my niece’s party tomorrow!), I didn’t hesitate before starting on my second stuffed cat this afternoon.  I wasn’t really satistfied with how lumpy the finished product was, so this time I lined the entire pillow with muslin for a (hopefully) much sturdier stuffed animal.  (I’ll be using the terms pillow and stuffed animalinterchangibly, since I can’t decide which one fits better.)  To make the lining, I sandwiched a gray striped tank top (right sides together) between two pieces of muslin and pinned everything in place so that I had a layer of muslin, two layers of gray jersey, and then another layer of muslin.  I then folded the whole thing in half (hot dog style), drew the outline of half a cat face, and then cut it all out in the same way I would a paper heart, leaving a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Then I unfolded it so that it actually looked like a cat face and sewed all the way around, stopping after each ear so that when turned right side out there’s a 6″ to 7″ gap at the top of the head.  This easily accomodates my embroidery hoop and leaves plenty of room for me to work on embroidering the sleepy and awake faces on the front and back.  I’m hoping that the top of the head will be a less conspicuous place to sew the whole thing up once stuffed, since I wasn’t happy with the way it looked on the chin of the previous cat.  So far, all I’ve completed are the sleepy eyes.  I’ll probably be working on this one at a much more leisurely pace since I’m not dealing with a deadline, and the next week of school promises to be busier than this one was (at least I’m not counting on two more sleet days, but who knows?).

Now that I’ve seen this photographed, I’ll admit I think I was subconsciously inspired, at least as far as the head shape and color palette are concerned, by these adorable Kitty-Cat paper dolls I saw on ModernCat yesterday.  So sweet!