People today are more concerned than ever about the effects of the cookware they use on their health. A person’s health is the most important thing that they have in their life. It should come as no surprise that people are concerned about the healthiness of the cookware they use. Today we’re going to talk about stainless steel. You’ve probably heard about the health dangers of using cookware coated with Teflon or other materials.Read More
In Greek mythology, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs. And since sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, he's been keeping a trained on eye all the goings-on at Better Farm.
I've long wanted to invite visiting artists to add their own mini-murals to the wall, but got so caught up in large-scale projects (like a mural in a bedroom upstairs, another one in the birdhouse, and an almost-lifelike wooden family portrait-turned-roadside attraction), the last four years haven't seen any add-ons to the Wall of Pan in the kitchen. 'Til now, of course.
Last month's intern Zoya Kaufmann has a big-time passion for art and, well, bugs. So when she was invited to make a small mural of her choosing alongside Pan, she couldn't resist. Inspiration drew on her insect intrigue, combined with an inclination to paint something mimicking the mood of the Pan portrait.
Zoya explained, the Pan mural is presenting viewers with an unusual vantage point of something we rarely pause to look at (or even begin to imagine). Running with this idea, she painted another such creature (albeit literal, not mythic): the western conifer seed bug.
The western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, is a species of true bug (Heteroptera) in the family Coreidae. It was originally native to the warm-temperate western USA (California, Oregon and Nevada) but has in recent times expanded its range and become an invasive species in parts of Europe. This species is sometimes colloquially called "the leaf-footed bug", and is sometimes mistakenly identified as a stink bug due to the unpleasant aroma it emits when disturbed. In its native range the western conifer seed bug feeds on the sap of developing conifer cones throughout its life, and its sap-sucking causes the developing seeds to wither and misdevelop. Here's a photo of what a western conifer seed bug looks like:
And here's Zoya's painting from beginning to end, bringing this unusual sight directly into the foreground for your viewing pleasure:
Using discarded tiles from another project, some trim boards we found in the wood shed, a little grout, caulk, and double-sided tile tape, we were able to create a tile backsplash for less than $30 that reinvented our kitchen space.
We started by taking measurements and determined we'd be covering a six-inch wide, eight-foot-long area.
Next, we removed the old backsplash and sprayed bleach onto the mold we found:
Then we screwed on leftover pieces of cement board from another project to use as our base and laid out the tiles we'd be using:
Then it was time to lay the tile. Here's Greg applying Simple Mat, a double-sided tape you mount your tiles on (truly the simplest way we're aware of for laying wall tiles):
Then it was just a matter of mounting the tiles:
Mixing up some grout:
Got a DIY tutorial you'd like to share? E-mail us at email@example.com.
|An old church altar becomes a kitchen island.|
Next, Greg used a small sander to get the paint off the top of the altar. Then it came time to move it (note that new farm truck Jackson's sitting on!):
Eventually I'll have a kitchen sink installed in the center of the island. But for now, it's a great work station and spot for casual conversation while cooking is underway. Bring on the soul food.
As renovations began in 2009, the patchwork wallpaper job in the dining alcove got stripped, cleaned up, and replaced with a coat of white, eco-friendly paint. When we scored some church pews off Craigslist from a soon-to-be renovated church in Calcium, N.Y., Better Farm's dining alcove felt like a a whole new space.
But we weren't done! When the single, hanging bulb over the table broke sometime around New Year's Eve, we were reduced to candlelight. Danny Ely came in at the end of May and installed new chandeliers for us, which left us with one final project: the ceiling.
The main part of the kitchen is graced with a gorgeous, original tin ceiling that's been painted white. We mimicked the style, buying faux tin ceiling in mass quantities from Lowe's and affixing it very carefully.
Only thing we've left to do is commission a custom table that follows the arc of the pews...
Lighting changes everything. And at Better Farm, there's been an ongoing issue with really ugly lighting fixtures; from exposed bulbs in the front hallway and bathroom to the hideous "chandelier" that's been hanging in the kitchen for who-knows-how-long (see above photo). The aesthetic nastiness of that chandelier was incentive enough for us to start shopping around for something more lovely.
Then, I discovered that the government is offering tax credits for up to 30 percent of the cost of energy-efficient home appliances, insulation, doors, roofs, and windows. Hot damn.
So, off we went to Home Depot to check out the selection. Key factors we sought: reversible directions, various speeds, farmhouse chic, and Energy Star certified. After much browsing, we settled on Hampton Bay's 52-inch ceiling fan. Here's Fred doing the installation:
The whole process was started and finished within an hour. Now we're enjoying late summer breezes in style.
Inside the bin are hundreds of what I believe to be red wigglers; one of the best worms around when it comes to compost. They eat fast, and provide some of the darkest, densest, nutrient-rich soil there is.
Into the bin go coffee grounds, vegetable and fruit rinds, unfinished salad scraps, and the like (no bones or meat). If the bin starts to smell, wet some strips of newspaper in the sink, ring them out like a sponge, and put those in the bin. The pH level will right itself in no time. You can also ensure a smell-less bin by not overpowering your worms. Only put in as much as gets gobbled up. It doesn't do anyone any good to fill the whole bin at once with table scraps only to suffer through the rot process. Always err on the less-is-more side of things.
I've been turning the compost (which, if you have sealed in a heavy-duty plastic bin like ours, you can keep right under your kitchen sink) over with a trowel every week or so; and have already used it to bring several houseplants back to life. In a few weeks I'll start adding it little by little to the acre we've plotted outside for next year's crops.
Better Farm feeds anywhere from one to 20 people on any given day. With a constant stream of visitors and residents (and no shortage of interesting meal options), seating is a constant issue. The kitchen has for the last decade been an excellent hodgepodge of mismatched chairs and tables. Then, a few weeks ago I stumbled on this Craigslist ad:Read More
We were finally ready to paint by the end of Day 1. To keep things basic, we went with plain white paint from Olympic's green line (only $15 at Lowe's—who said going green had to be expensive?), and hung fresh lace curtains reclaimed from storage. And, voila:
- Rip down the old wallpaper and throw up a fresh coat of paint
- Figure out the situation with the old wood-burning stove vent (in photo above right). Right now it's very drafty. Should we properly seal it? Or attempt to revive the rusty old dinosaur that still sits in the barn and drag it in? Would that be less drafty? Is it a viable heat source?
- Dining alcove: Light fixture? Insulating windows? Expanding bookshelves to ceiling? Definitely doing away with the old carpet below the table. Looking into seating? Different table? Wallpaper on left wall definitely has to go. The dryer in above-right photo is only in the shot because it was on its way out - not a permanent addition to the room!
- Main lighting fixture over center of room - replace? Or at least find covers for exposed bulbs? Will replace all the bulbs with energy efficient ones next month.
- Here are some remaining shots to give a feel of the overall room, countertops, appliances, etc. There are a few broken/loose handles on the cabinetry that will also need to be addressed: