Saturday, April 30, 2016

Gun Skins Revisited

As you know, we've been thrilled with our GunSkins, GearSkins and MagSkins.  They are an excellent solution for both aesthetic and tactical problems.  We have used them in many capacities, but mostly as a way to allow our children to customize their weapons without affecting their resale value. 

Recently Sir Knight added another caliber to his collection - 300 AAC Blackout.  The 300 Blackout is an outstanding performer, however it is easily confused with a standard AR-15 (which is 5.56), since they are capable of sharing the exact same magazine.  Although this is a great advantage, it can also cause potentially deadly problems - the standard AR-15 is chambered in 5.56mm (approximately .22 caliber) whereas the 300 Blackout uses the exact same casing but with a 30 caliber bullet, which is .308.  This means that if you inadvertently put a Blackout round in a standard AR and it chambers, it will cause a catastrophic failure.  Enter MagSkins.  In order to quickly identify the Blackout magazines Sir Knight bought MagSkins and attached them to the magazines designated for 300 Blackout.  Now, at a glance, Sir Knight immediately knows whether he has an AR magazine or a 300 Blackout mag.  No catastrophic failures!

Sir Knight had 300 laser engraved on the lower receiver

Another application Sir Knight has found for the GunSkins (in GearSkins form) is camouflaging pistols magazines in his Costa drop leg rig.  The old magazine holders had flaps that completely concealed the magazines, however, the new rig uses magazine holders called TACO's, made by HSGI.  They are very fast (pulling magazines), however, they leave the tops of the magazines exposed.  And since Springfield Armory makes their XD magazines out of stainless steel, they were too shiny.  Sir Knight found that installing GunSkins on the magazines eliminated the shine and camouflaged the magazines perfectly.

Before GunSkins

After GunSkins
Sir Knight opted to use Gear Skins rather than MagSkins since MagSkins are only available for rifle magazines, not pistol.  Out of paper, Sir Knight created a template, which he laid on the GearSkins.   He cut them and affixed them to the magazines and was very pleased with the results. 

We have found the MagSkins and the GearSkins to be very versatile.  They effectively and economically solve finish related issues and have our highest recommendation.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Life in Pictures.....

Just a slice of our sweet American life.....

Princess Dragon Snack and her best friend asleep with their guardian

These girls are SAFE!

For her 11th birthday, Princess Dragon Snack had a sleepover

Miss Serenity saved her money, got her drivers license and bought her first truck.....

So she could transport her motorcycle!

I think she's pretty pleased!

The Comfrey is loving the weather!

And the lilacs are beginning to bloom

New clover coming up around the fruit trees

And the apple trees are blossoming

The sun room is open!  Our favorite part of spring!

Perfect for relaxing with a glass of lemonade or iced tea after our Chainsaw Gardening adventures!

Sir Knight salvaged the door for me out of a homesteaders barn - it still
has it's original porcelain door knob

I hope you are enjoying a beautiful and productive spring!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Chainsaw Gardening

As I've mentioned, Sir Knight and I are trying something radically different in our garden this year.  After many years of traditional gardening, with less than stellar results, we put in our first "Hugelkultur" raised garden bed.   A Hugelkultur bed is nothing more than a raised garden bed filled with trees, branches and bushes - in other words, bulky organic material.  These beds utilize the composting trees to fertilize the garden, providing a constant source of nutrients for years.  The makeup of these gardens also reduce (or eliminate) the need for watering, and if done right, don't require weeding.  Or, at least, that's what they say.....

Our new garden is a complete departure from what we've always known!  As our Mennonite neighbors till, fence and create perfect rows, Sir Knight and I are busy dragging trees (windfalls from our huge wind storm) up from the woods, digging trenches in our yard and gardening with chainsaws!  While their property looks perfectly manicured and tidy, ours looks - well - like a construction zone.  Their beautiful shrubs pose a stark contrast to our ragged, shaggy pile of dirt!

And so, we will watch with great anticipation as our garden grows and evaluate the merits of chainsaw gardening....

Sir Knight cutting the trees into manageable bites

Sir Knight had to take a minute to help Master hand Grenade fly a kite!

We had a dump truck deliver 12 yards of screened top soil for the top of our garden bed

And clover to plant as a cover crop over the entire garden bed

Our friend digging our garden bed trench

Filling the trench with bulky organic material

And filling the trench with soil

Adding the screened top soil

Our new Hugelkultur bed

Sown with clover seed and 8 blueberry plants on top (we will be planting more blueberries)

Our Hugelkultur bed method:

1.  Dig a 2 to 3 foot deep trench (you can build these directly on the ground)

2.  Fill with trees, shrubs, branches (any bulky organic material).  You can mound the organic material 1 to 2 feet above the ground.

3.  Add manure, chicken coup material or other stinky compost (if you have it).

4.  Pile dirt onto the mound, sod side down.

5.  Pile topsoil onto the mound - up to 5 to 6 feet tall.  Our garden only ended up being about 4 feet tall, but I would have rather had it taller.

6.  Plant trees or small brushy shrubs on top (we planted blueberries) and seed all over with a cover crop (or plant with vegetables immediately), and water well.

We'll keep you posted on our Chainsaw Gardening adventures!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Welsh Cakes...Sweet Perfection

Welsh cakes - even the name evokes images of cozy kitchens, dreary weather and steaming cups of tea.  And, oh, they do live up to expectations! 

Welsh cakes are quick bread cakes that are quickly mixed together and are baked on a griddle (or in a frying pan).  The ingredients are similar to those of baking powder biscuits but the taste and consistency, oh so delightfully different.  The butter to flour ratio is very high, producing a flaky, delicate cake.  Welsh cakes are slightly sweet, but not so sweet that they are reserved only for the dessert course - they are very nice alongside a savory dinner.

These cakes are one of my favorite "emergency" tea treats (someone unexpectedly drives up the driveway - and I mix up Welsh cakes while the kettle heats) that seem to have universal appeal.  And of course the ingredients are basic, so I always have them on hand.  Slathered with butter and served with homemade jam, they are humble perfection.

Welsh Cakes
1 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
pinch salt
1/2 C butter, cold
1/4 C sugar
1/3 C currents or raisins (optional)
1 egg
2 T milk
Powdered sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg (if using) and salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles course crumbs.  Stir in the sugar and currents or raisins (if using).  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the egg and milk.  Using a fork, mix the ingredients until the dough comes together.  Flour  a work surface and roll the dough out about 3/4 inch thick. 

Cut with a round cookie cutter (fluted is traditional), gathering up the bits and cutting cakes out until you have used all of the dough.  Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat.  Lightly grease the griddle (or skillet) and place as many rounds as will fit without touching.  Bake approximately 3 - 4 minutes on first side (until brown) and then carefully flip over.  Cook for another 3 - 4 minutes (until browned).  Remove from griddle onto wire rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar (if desired), or place directly unto a platter and serve.

Butter added (I always double the recipe!)
Cutting in the butter

Stirring in the egg and milk

On a floured surface

Rolled to 3/4 inch thick

Cut (with a fluted edge!)

Ready for the griddle

Just flipped

Welsh cakes are served!

With Dublin Coddle
We have a tendency to keep it simple when it comes to Welsh cakes.  I rarely put currents or raisins in them (my family aren't fond of either) and I leave out the nutmeg.  Occasionally, I will add nutmeg or cinnamon, just to spice it up, but only if I will be serving them with tea, not alongside dinner.  We love them warm, fresh from the griddle, and cold, with a bit of butter and jam (although lemon curd is quite nice, too!). 

I hope you try these delightful little cakes and find, as we have, that they are bites of sweet perfection!