More Rust Dyeing

I continue to be intrigued by the possibilities for rust-dyed projects, and have been playing around a bit the last several days.  When I was at the farm/hardware store last weekend picking up chicken feed and other assorted stuff, I decided to buy a handful of steel washers to see what rust results I might get.

After washing them to hopefully get off any manufacturing oils, I arranged the washers in some patterns on a plastic dog pen liner from a crate our dog has outgrown.  I soaked some fabric (from a thrift store sheet) in water with a some vinegar added and placed it over the washers.  I then sprinkled on some salt and sprayed it down with more water.  I covered it loosely with a plastic bag and left it out in the backyard.  I checked frequently to be sure it was still damp, spraying it down with more water as needed.  For two days, nothing happened.  I started to think that I must have gotten washers that were either not steel or were heavily coated with some sort of protective coating.  Finally, though, some little edges started to rust.  After a total of 4 days of dampness, this was my resulting fabric:

Now that the washers had a layer of rust on them, I decided to try again, this time using small pieces of fabrics rather than a large one.  Here’s a picture of one of my washer arrangements:

I then covered them with a piece of dry fabric ( I skipped the vinegar this time).  I sprayed it with water, sprinkled with a little salt and then sprayed it with a little more water:

I then covered them loosely with plastic, checking them and re-spraying them as needed.  This time, the rust designs started to show after just a couple of hours and were pretty strong in one day.  I left them outside for two days, though, as I didn’t have time to deal with them sooner.    I liked my first results, but I REALLY like these:

Here are some close ups of a couple of them that I especially like:

Here’s a picture of an old saw blade that I’ve also been playing with.  This is the side that was touching the metal:

This is the reverse side of the fabric, which I also like:

I’m going to play with overdyeing some of these and also keep experimenting with objects that look like they might rust.

My 18 year old son doesn’t usually show that much interest in my little projects, but he actually commented about these, saying that they had a steampunk look.  That is apparently a good thing :).


Biking Around Town

Just over a month ago, my mom generously paid for half of the price of a new bike for a birthday gift for me.  I have been loving it and am using it now for most of my errands.

I am not a person who has really ever been part of biking culture.  I had a bike as a kid, but probably didn’t have one of my own that actually fit me past the age of 10 or 11.  It just wasn’t a big deal to me.  Then, a few years ago, my daughter learned to ride a bike.  She wanted to ride it everywhere, and at first I could keep up just walking along behind her as she went around the block.  As she got faster, I couldn’t keep up with her and didn’t feel comfortable with my little 7 year old riding very far without an adult nearby.  I decided that I should get a bike.

I bought an inexpensive Huffy cruiser bike with coaster brakes from K-mart.  At that point it would not have occurred to me to visit an actual bike shop and I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to ride anymore.  After a couple of wobbly rounds of my block, I figured out bike balance again.  My daughter and I started riding around the neighborhood all the time.  We’d ride to the library and downtown and just randomly around the neighborhood.  I loved it in a way that I don’t remember loving biking as a kid.

That bike served me well for several years, but it was getting worn out and I was really wanting to start using my bike in more serious ways for errands and groceries.  Over the years as my daughter has grown, she’s needed new bikes and the last couple have come from a local bike shop rather than a discount store.  I love the people at this bike shop, and went there to try to figure out what my next bike should be.  I explained what I wanted and the bike guy offered some suggestions to try.  I was nervous, though, as I’d never ridden a bike with handbrakes and I was going to need to do that for the kind of biking I was wanting to do.  There is an alley behind the bicycle shop where one can try out different bikes, and the bike guy offered me some tips about handbrakes and said he’d stay near me while I tried them out.  After a couple of runs up and down the alley, I realized they weren’t that hard- much easier than I’d thought.  The bike guy then had me take a few more rounds of the alley shifting the bike into different gears. He was very kind and helpful and  didn’t make me feel silly about not knowing how to use handbrakes or gears at the age of 43 :).

I tried out a few different bikes and ended up with a Trek Navigator 2.0.  I had a rack mounted to the back and now have two bike bags that hang on the rack.  I LOVE this bike!  It rides smoothly and I no longer have pain in my knees when I ride a bike because it actually fits me well.  The bags work great for library and small grocery runs.  My next step was to get a trailer for bigger errands.  I was able to find a used kids trailer on craigslist that my husband modified for me to make it easier to use to haul groceries, etc., around.

Here is a picture of me that my daughter took this morning on the way to church.  I had to bring in a couple of big boxes of T-shirts that will be used for VBS this week, so I popped them into the trailer.

After church, I ran by the grocery store and picked up a few groceries and put them in the trailer:

This is about $100 worth of groceries, which sadly only fill up about half of the trailer these days.  I’ve easily been able to bring home twice this many on other trips.

Here’s some pictures of the simple modifications my husband made to the trailer.  He found an old piece of plywood in the garage and cut out the various notches to fit the trailer frame.  There is a lip of plywood that sits on top of the frame.  Here’s a picture of the bottom of it:

Here’s a close-up of the clamps he used to attach the plywood to the frame:

It’s very stable and has worked great for everything I’ve needed to haul with it so far. The plywood was free, and the clamps were $3, so it was a very affordable project :).

I really don’t think at this stage of my life that I’ll become one of those true biker people like friends I know that are doing the Seattle to Portland ride this weekend.   At this point, I’m very happy just to be able to run my little errands around town, knowing I’m doing a small part to use less of the world’s resources while also getting myself stronger and healthier.

Cooking From My CSA Box

Each week, I pick up a box of a variety of fruits and vegetables from a wonderful local CSA, Welcome Table Farm .  I really enjoy it as there is always a variety of different fresh foods, including lots of stuff that I really like but never think to buy when I am in auto-pilot shopping mode.  I’ve also had the opportunity to try a few new things and my daughter learned that she adores fresh beets, something that I seldom even think of buying otherwise.

Last Friday, we were invited to a neighborhood barbecue/potluck for the 4th of July and I decided I wanted to try a new recipe using lots of foods from my most recent box.  I decide to try a recipe that had sounded good to me for a long time from a cookbook I really like, Simply in Season (and if you visit this site, you have the option of signing up to have a recipe from this book sent to you each week).  I decided I wanted to make the Veggie Bread Ring recipe.  Here’s a picture, followed by my version of the recipe (I changed a few things as I nearly always do for some reason!) :

Veggie Bread Ring:

4 cloves garlic (pressed)

2 cups assorted fresh vegetables,minced (I used broccoli, grated carrots, green onions, and yellow summer squash)

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 cups grated cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar, monterey jack and parmesan)

2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs (I used fresh dill)

1/2 teaspoon salt

A few shakes of black pepper

Mix well.

1/2 recipe Zucchini Yeast Rolls (recipe below- or  the recipe says you can use any whole wheat bread dough for one loaf)

Prepare dough according to directions through first rising. Punch down. On a lightly floured surface roll into an 18 x 24-inch rectangle. Cover with vegetable-cheese mixture, pressing down lightly. Roll dough into a long log, as for cinnamon buns. Bring ends of the log together and pinch shut. Transfer ring to a greased baking sheet. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, slice into ring at 1-inch  intervals, going about three-fourths of the way into the log. After making cuts all the way around, twist each piece slightly so the rolls fan out from center of the ring.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place 25 minutes. Bake in preheated oven at 350F for 25 minutes. Eat immediately or cool on wire rack and store in refrigerator.

Here is the recipe for the Zucchini Yeast Rolls (also changed slightly from the recipe in Simply in Season):

2-3 cups summer squash, shredded (I used both green and yellow)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil, but may try melted butter next time)

2 tsp. salt

Combine above ingredients in a saucepan and heat slowly until warm.

Mix together in large mixing bowl:

1 cup bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

Add liquid ingredients and beat well until smooth.

Stir in additional flour- from 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 cups (I needed a bit more, I think due to using the higher amount of very juicy summer squash) to make a soft dough.  Knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (I used my kitchenaid  mixer for this part, and kneaded for about 6 minutes).

Place dough in greased bowl (turn to grease both sides), cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double (which only took about 40 minutes in my warm kitchen).

At this point divide dough in half and proceed to make veggie ring with one part and rolls with the other part.  I made a pan of 16 rolls with the remaining half.   Let rise again(covered) for 25 minutes, as in instructions for Veggie Ring.   Bake both rolls and veggie ring for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Here’s a picture of the finished rolls:

This is a great way to use  zucchini and other summer squash, which I’ll be making again.  And- every speck of both the rolls and the veggie bread ring were eaten at the picnic, with lots of requests for the recipes.