A Little Trip Downtown

Today was one of those perfect Southern California days. Please don’t hate us for our weather! It was 70 degrees down by the water today, a beautiful day to be out and walking around in short sleeves.

There are some places in San Diego that we have been going to for years and years and we just don’t want them to change. To us, they are iconic San Diego.

Seaport Village is one of those places.

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Saturday Ramblings: Washer, Raised Bed, Seeds

Repairing the Washing Machine

We have a Kenmore 110 series washer.

Over the last week and a half I have been working at fixing our washing machine.  It came with the house and I believe it to be around 8 years old.  It is a small machine and not very nice, but I hoped to save money by repairing the machine rather than replacing it at this time.

For about a week before the machine broke, it had been acting up.  A couple of times it didn’t drain fully, but I was able to unplug the machine to reset it and cause it to drain.  On the day it stopped working, it seemed to have been trying to drain all night.  Since the washer was full of water, I deduced that the drain pump must be broken.  I attempted to take the whole thing apart, which was rather difficult due to some corrosion on the spanner nut holding the drum in place.  I ended up having to tip the washer on its back and then I was able to easily remove the pump.  There is a plastic piece in the pump that moves water and it had broken off of its mounting.  I ordered a new pump off of Amazon for around $26.

Two days later when the pump arrived, I immediately put it into the washer.  However, this didn’t fix my washer.  In fact, I started to have another problem.  I could hear a whirring sound, but I wasn’t sure where it was coming from.  I had heard a sound when the pump was broken, but that was different because that plastic piece was bouncing around everywhere.  My dad kindly came over to help me take the washer apart the rest of the way.  Removing the spanner nut from the drum was impossible by myself.  There was rust and gunk that caused it to seize up.  I had to hold the drum still while my dad used a hammer and chisel to bang on the nut to loosen it.

Eventually, we found the pump was still attempting to pump even though there was no water in the machine, and it had been unplugged for days.  I ended up realizing that the control card for the washer had failed.  It seems that the integrated pressure switch failed and the control card thought there was water in the washer and was constantly telling the pump to run.  Since the pump was constantly running that is why it broke, so the broken pump was a symptom of the real issue.  My dad found a refurbished control card online for $88 that I ordered.  I had to wait 4 days for the card to arrive, but it fixed my issues.  My parents and in-laws were kind enough to let us use their washing machines for the week and a half we didn’t have one.  It is great to live by family when you have problems with things.

For $114 and several hours of anger and frustration, I was able to fix my washing machine.

While taking apart my washer, I found that it was filthy.  We had been having clothes get black streaks on them while in the washer.  I think they had been getting under the agitator and there was nasty black stuff under the agitator.  Another dirty spot was the outside of the drum.  The drum is the place where you put the clothes in the washer.  That rests inside of an outer drum.  Between those two drums must stay damp on a constant basis because there was mold on the drum.  I cleaned the entire washer really well while I had it apart.

If you have the time and any mechanical abilities, I would recommend at least taking the top off of your washer to see how dirty it is.  You might be suprised at the dirt lurking in your washer.

 

Raised Garden Bed

On Saturday I built my fourth raised garden bed out of cement blocks.  This time I bought the smaller 6x8x16 blocks.  They are 11 cents less per block and a fair bit lighter.  It was easier for me to move them around and made my back hurt much less.  My last bed kind of sagged, but this one was much more level.  Unfortunately, I ended up with some large gaps between the bricks somehow.  I am not happy with how it turned out so I didn’t take any pictures.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

On a better note, my Baker Creek seeds arrived today.  So while I have an ugly garden bed, at least I will have some nice seeds to put into them.

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These are a large portion of the things I plan to plant this year.

Atomic Red Carrots

I bought these merely for the looks.  I think they will be fun to grow, and the reviews say they taste good.  I enjoy growing plants that are outside of the norm, especially when it comes to color.

Nasturtium Dwarf Jewel Mix

My yard needs color in the worst way.  There is so much brown dirt everywhere.  Nasturtiums grow fast and do not need good soil.  As a plus the flowers and leaves are edible.

Tomatillo Purple

Tomatillos make a great addition to hot sauce and salsas.  This year I want to make purple hot sauce and purple salsa.

Bean Red Swan

Last year I grew purple beans and they did very well.  To mix things up I decided to go with red.  The pictures I saw looked more of a dusky pink than red, but I am sure they will look great growing and should make some good pictures.

Wagner blue green tomato

I had to have these after I saw the picture in the catalog.  The color is striking, and I cannot wait to see what they look like.  Bluish tomatoes with bright green flesh will be striking in salads and cut up on my plate.

Squash Desi

I need a squash that I can put in a raised bed.  Since these are bush squash, I am hoping that I will be able to grow them in a raised bed.  I know I won’t be able to get many plants in, but it will at least be something.

Green Copia Tomato

Another tomato bought just for the looks.  I almost rarely grow normal red tomatoes.  I can buy those in the store; I want to grow something more striking and visually interesting.

Black Hungarian Pepper

These were the genesis for the purple salsa idea.  They are supposed to be a mild pepper like a jalapeno.  I am looking forward to the purple salsa.  I wonder if I will be able to find anybody who will eat it outside of Lynn and I.

Tom Thumb Garden Pea

These are small plants that I can put in pots around my yard.  I think I can also grow them in the cement blocks that make up my raised beds.  These are an experiment to see where I can get them to grow well.

I still have a few packs of seeds on the way.  Now I have to control myself and be patient for a bit longer before planting all of them.  I don’t want to be too early and have nothing grow.

-Joshua

Saturday Miscellany

Over the last three weeks I have been working on my dining table as I get time.  The steel beams that I got were pretty rusty so I had do a lot of work to get those cleaned up.

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I bought many things to try to use on the rust, but the simplest thing ended up working the best.  I have a cheap angle grinder that I bought from Harbor Freight, I got some some abrasive wheels for the grinder that quickly removed the bulk of the rust.  I actually ended up removing too much of the rust on parts of the large I Beams and the metal started to look shiny rather then aged.

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Once I had cleared all the rust off that I wanted the beams still didn’t look like I wanted.  I wanted them to look darker and more aged.  I had some mineral spirits on hand and knew from past experience that it could darken wood.  I rubbed the mineral spirits onto the beams and found that it darkens the metal also and made the rust less orange.

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Lastly, I sprayed Rust-Oleum clear enamel paint onto the beams to seal them and prevent future rust.  Cleaning the rust was time consuming but ended up being the easy part.

Last Saturday I worked on drilling holes in the beams so I could attach the cross beams to the leg beams.  I want the table to be strong so I am going to use 1/2 inch galvanized bolts.  To use those bolts I have to drill 1/2 inch holes, thinking this would be easy I bought a 1/2 inch drill bit for steel and set out to drill holes.  I ended getting my first hole about half way through and then all of a sudden nothing was happening.  I had made my bit dull in that short amount of time.  I was able to use a 1/4th inch drill bit to make some starter holes in the beams, but was unable to get even a single 1/2 inch hole drilled.

A bit late I decided to do some research into how to drill holes in steel.  I found out that putting oil in the hole or on the bit helps with over heating.  Today, my dad came over to help me drill my holes.  We put oil into a container to dip the drill bit into but still didn’t have a lot of luck in drilling those 1/2 inch holes.  Luckily, my dad had my great grandfather’s table grinder with a drill bit sharpener that we were able to use to sharpen my drill bit.  After that the hole drilling went pretty quickly.  We put a new point on the bit a few times and got a large number of my holes drilled.

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Burned metal shavings
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drilling holes
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I wanted a picture of the shavings, but the camera focused through the hole. It is a mistake picture, but I think it is interesting looking.
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Me drilling holes
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My 1/4th inch starter holes

 

 

 

 

I found it easier to drill the holes if I made a starter dimple in the metal.  I took a piece of cardboard and put holes in the pattern I wanted to drill my holes.  I put a nail in the holes and hammered a small dimple into the metal.  This keeps the drill bit from wandering around the metal when starting to drill.

using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.
using a hammer and nail to make dimples in the beam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam
The 3 dimples can be seen in the beam

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often when drilling the holes the oil would start to smoke and bits of smoking metal would be thrown around.

tfp3x

 

Don’t forget when working with tools, “Safety First”

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my neighbor’s chickens destroying my yard.  After that I started to aggressively chase them out of my yard.  Even with scaring them as much as I could they kept coming back.  I enlisted the help of my brother-in-law to try and capture the birds in my yard.  We caught one of the birds and chased the other 4 back into their yard.  I took the captured chicken, and put it in a box with a note that said, “Your chickens are destroying my yard, please clip their wings or keep them caged.”  I drove around the block and put the boxed chicken by their front gate.  The next day I did see chickens in my yard and had to chase them out. Since then, I haven’t had one stray chicken in my yard!  I guess my neighbors finally got the hint and did something about their rampaging animals.  Sadly, I also had to remove 3 dead chickens from the space between our two fences, that wasn’t a fun task.

Two months ago we made hot sauce, and last week it was ready to eat.  In texture it is a lot like the hot sauces at the Mexican restaurants we have around us.  The spicy level is good for eating with chips, there is some heat but not so much that it burns your mouth over much.  The only problem I have is that it tastes more like apple cider vinegar then I would like.  I want to make the recipe again but use different vinegars for a different taste.

We also made sweet spicy pickled peppers which are also ready to eat.  We opened one of the jars that didn’t contain habanaro peppers.  The peppers taste a lot like sweet pickles which shouldn’t come as a surprise.  Since the peppers are mostly Serrano they do have a good amount of heat which is nicely counteracted by the sweetness.

 

-Joshua

 

Making Our Own Hot Sauce

This year I really wanted to grow peppers so I could make my own hot sauce.  I planted some Santa Fe Grande, Serrano, and Habanero peppers.  The Serranos have gone crazy and have many peppers on them, the Santa Fe Grandes are doing well, and I am still waiting on some Habaneros to ripen.  I have so many of the Santa Fe Grande and Serrano peppers that I decided to make a hot sauce using the two pepper types combined.

Santa Fe Grande and Serrano
The Santa Fe Grande are the larger peppers and the Serrano the skinny ones.

The Santa Fe Grandes are mild and rate about 500-700 on the Scoville Unit scale.  That means they are less than half as spicy as a jalapeno.

The Serrano are much spicier and rate 5000-23000 on the Scoville scale.  I think mine are a bit on the mild side.

The recipe I followed came from the Make the Bread Buy the Butter book.  The recipe called for Fresno peppers, but I figure any peppers will work well for hot sauce and each kind will give it’s own unique taste and heat.  Instead of fresh garlic, I used pickled garlic from Petrou Foods. They sell at a local farmers market.  The pickled garlic is a bit sweet and is good enough to eat plain.  I also added dried cilantro for flavor.

Garlic added dried cilantro

Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar for the liquid

I ran the peppers and other ingredients through the blender until they reached the right consistency.  I then poured the sauce into jars and put it into a cabinet to sit for 6 weeks.

liquified In Jars

I think it is going to be hard to wait 6 weeks for the hot sauce to be ready…

-Joshua