Making A Pallet into Planter Boxes Freestyle

I guess you could say that this all started with Hurricane Irma.

We made it through fine.  The folks elsewhere had much more to deal with than we did here, because, we had been planning for it since we moved here in 2006.

However, we did learn in the two weeks power was out that we needed to upgrade our generator.

That generator has arrived and came on a pallet.

If you ever got something that came on a pallet, you also know that the pallets tend to stick around for a while.  If you don’t use the wood up, you have to chop it up and find a way to toss it out.

Being the creative type, I also know that the pallets are a great source of wood for projects.  Some are quite elaborate, some simple.

This Project Can Be Completed In An Hour.

Ok, so Caveat – you need tools.  I used a battery powered Sawsall and a battery powered screwdriver.

I did say we were prepared. Those tools were rescued from people who don’t realize that you can both replace the battery pack and you can retro fit the packs with fresh batteries.  So thanks to whoever it was that left them outside with a sign saying “Free to a good home” because yeah, I can fix that.

That pallet pictured is marked off where I cut the thing apart.  With 12 cuts into the wood itself, plus some extra cuts between the slats to remove them from the base, the whole thing was in pieces in about 15 minutes.

Then I took a few pictures to show my handywork.  The thing is that with the right tools, this is trivial.  The Sawsall is like an electrically powered hack saw that is a must have for a homeowner.  I used mine the other day to take down 7 palm trees in the yard, and while there are at least a dozen more that need to go, the tool is great for the job.

I’m still on the “first charge” of the battery pack after downing the trees and cutting up this pallet.

You will notice that I am not giving dimensions to this project, either.  Pallet wood is never very good.  Mine was brittle, and the pieces were there to hold a generator steady, not to be pretty for use in furniture or planter boxes.  The cuts have to be made as a Judgement Call.  You have to figure out for yourself where the cuts go.  You also have to determine for yourself whether you want to use a somewhat dangerous tool to cut through the nails that hold it all together – Standard Internet Warning Applies – Do This At Your Own Risk and Take Precautions to Keep Yourself Safe.

Or get Mommy or Daddy to do it.  I’m not taking responsibility for any damage or injury, you’re an adult, figure out the tool use.

Ok, so I sound like your big brother.  I am someone’s big brother, and my kid sister will tell you that I have my own way of teaching.

Boy did I open myself up there….

So once the rough cuts are done, you need pieces to reassemble these boxes into the end

result.  The pallets are made with a semi-solid deck on one side, and three support beams in the bottom.  Those three support beams are where the cuts happen.  They are also going to be the easiest place to make your cuts since you already have four out of six sides of a box assembled for you.

Take some of the extra wood from the scattered pieces, and nail them in place.  The scattered pieces were in differing levels of usability – some were split before I got to them, others were quite solid and could be screwed into the thing to serve as a base.

I used the electric screwdriver and some “Drywall Screws” and it was done in short order.  Be sure to use enough screws to hold the boxes together.  I used two on each end of the plank, and two in the middle.

From what I can see, the only thing that will take these apart will be time, water, and termites.  They’re sturdy enough to hold my weight, although you may not have that luck depending on wood, weight, and other variables.  In fact, forget I said it.  They don’t have to be tested that thoroughly, don’t go standing on it.

(Standard internet warning applies – blahblahblah don’t hurt yourself blahblahblah)

At any rate, the only other oddball thing I have been considering was to line these with some landscaper’s cloth to hold soil in place while the boxes are hung on my fence in the yard.  That is not strictly necessary since I’m also considering using one or more of these to hold orchids.

You can also paint them if you desire, but I’m leaving them “wood” colored because my fence is rather “wood” colored as well.

But yes, I got these boxes done in under an hour.  Electric tools help.  Using a rip saw and #2 Phillips Screwdriver by hand would make this a rather painful process.   As is my right thumb got a blister from the Sawsall vibrations and I felt it the next day.

Just be careful.  I’d like you to visit again some day without thinking this fool gave me an idea that I did and I broke a nail or something else doing.

 

Hey, tools can be fun, but they can be dangerous.

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Have You Ever Really Looked At A Coleus Flower?

I spend a lot of time in my garden.

At 7:30, every single morning, I have an alarm set.  It tells me that I have to go outside to the yard to inspect the irrigation system.

There’s a ritual here.

I stand up, put some water into the French Press coffee mug I have and call Rack The McNab SuperDog if he isn’t paying attention.

Usually he has beat me to the back door by now.  Only if there is an active thunderstorm will he hold back.

I open the sliding glass door with a “Hi Oscar” to the parrot, and walk outside.

That coffee mug gets emptied into the garden with a chuckle.   I’ve been told “it’s Gardener’s Gold and must not be wasted.  Parts of my garden is more than half coffee grounds and the rest is that beach sand that passes for soil here.

But I do have to go out, inspect the swimming pool and make sure that the pots are getting watered.  They have a short, ten minute time period, where the irrigation pump is dribbling water into the orchids, mangos, various cuttings, onions, and green onions, and all the rest of the things that I have in a little terra cotta prison.

They get drip fed their water, and I walk around and enjoy them.

It also is what the photographers know as the Golden Hour.  The sun is up, now in mid May, but not up so much as to be harsh.  There’s a golden glow on everything.  Shadows are prominent.  Flowers are back-lit to a brilliance that the noon sun’s harshness would overpower.

Everything is burnished in gold.

If you are fortunate, you will get to see this.  Just at the right time, just at the right angle, simple things become amazing.  The forgettable becomes something to remember.

I was fortunate that day.

Inspecting the Milkweed plants that were being turned into stumps by baby Monarch caterpillars, I looked closely at every single pot.  I wanted to know if my green onion was going to be the temporary home for a pupa, as it has happened before.

My showy leaves on my involuntary coleus were shining.  Usually their reds, greens, and yellows were more muted, but this particular morning, at this particular time, they were radiating a glowing show of colors.  My friendly office plants that insist on dropping seeds into pots that I would rather not have them in so thickly were singing a chorus of beauty.

Then I spotted it.  The Inflorescence.  Coleus bloom dozens of little pale purple and lavender flowers on a flower spike, called an inflorescence.  This one inflorescence was backlit perfectly.

I had to remind Rack that I had pictures to take, this was too good to miss.

When I got back inside, I looked at the tiny flower.  There were hairs that were radiating as if they were shine lines on a comic drawing.

I had taken the time to smell the Coleus flowers and it showed me a side of it that I have never expected.

Sometimes, the very things that you have in abundance that have faded to become mundane, can be so beautiful you have a new appreciation for them.

They’re all over my yard.  I have been pulling them up and tossing them in the thick tangle that is the utility easement behind the pool.  They taunt me by growing even back there in the shade.

I guess that if they can grow in a ninth floor north facing single pane window in a cold Philadelphia winter, they can gather enough sunlight to grow here in the riverine wetness that is South Florida.

And if you are lucky enough, you just may be treated to their shine.

 

Downtown Fort Lauderdale From The Causeway

I get asked to do things by people.  For some reason I get drafted to do a fair amount of heavy lifting.  Sure go ask the 6’4″ guy, 193 CM, he’ll do it.

Well I did whine a bit, probably more than I should.  Ok, Ok, a lot more.  I’ll shaddap.

This was for a very good friend who has done quite a lot for me.  I have helped him and his company out a lot in the past with technology issues, as well as this sort of thing.  Sometimes it even goes both ways like the time I installed a power battery backup for their servers.  Bolted that right into a cabinet.  I had to do the same thing for the company I was working for very shortly thereafter so it was nice not to have to use my own responsibilities as a guinea pig for that sort of thing.  I will call it on the job training.

I was told that mine later had to be cut out of that rack because batteries in a power conditioner and battery backup have a nasty tendency to swell.  Given about three years, swollen batteries will warp the case and lock everything in place in the server rack.  Get out the tin snips, it looks like a giant iPhone blew its battery pack.

That day was simpler.  Get a small refrigerator to the roof of the office block and leave it open to allow it to drain.  Come back the next day.

While I was waiting for things to settle and get ready, I was invited to a cup of what I call Office Coffee.  That’s appropriate since I was the taste tester for these things.

One sip and “It doesn’t taste right.  Your water temp is too high.  It’s bitter”.

Office coffee has a bad reputation but any bitter coffee can taste better by reducing the brew temperature.  Don’t even get me started with Starbucks, I won’t drink it willingly.

I have had this exact Kona blend before but I made it with my French Press.  Bring water in a kettle to a complete vigorous boil.  Wait 20 seconds, no less, for the kettle to cool to the correct temp, then brew normally.

Ahhh, coffee nirvana.  But this was … wanting.  There is a coffee company in the London that brews at 92C to 93C if you are looking for exact numbers.  I do it by waving my kettle in the air for 20 seconds.

I finished the brew, then we went upstairs.  With the refrigerator.  And my hands slipping and sliding the whole way with my mind repeating “I Think I Can! I Think I Can!”

Truth be told it wasn’t so horrible, and the view up there was quite nice.  Coffee or the heavy lifting both.

The city centers of South Florida from Jupiter through West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami are in discrete pods.  If you stand in the right place they line up like you would waiting in a queue.  Plop! There’s downtown Miami with Miami Beach next to it.  A little ways North is Aventura.  A little further is Hallandale with its massive towering condos packed too closely together.  Hollywood, then downtown Fort Lauderdale and the Beach behind it.

That day was brilliant, beautiful, and breezy.  Fort Lauderdale shined in the sun, becoming a playground once again for the sun worshipers.  A couple miles away over the palm trees it rose above the squatting homes below the tree line.

And all I had to do was help move an office fridge to get to see it.  Rather a nice bargain if you ask me.

The next day we moved it back downstairs after we chased the mosquitoes that colonized the water dripping from the little freezer in that short time.

Taking a sip of coffee, I commented “If you can, drop the temperature in this coffee machine a few degrees.  It will taste better.”

The look I got I think was a bit disbelieving but I know if it happens, I’ll get a report back.

Don’t overheat your coffee while brewing.  You may end up on a roof with a story to tell.

Dry Barbecue Potato Chip Seasoning Recipe

Barbecue Potato Chips.

I was the weird kid that really truly enjoyed these.  I learned early that the Redder The Better because there was more flavor on them.

So I went looking, found lots of recipes on how to make this, and ended up tweaking to get this recipe.

It’s the powder that you sprinkle on potato chips to turn them into BBQ Chips after putting it in the oven.

I have been dipping tortilla chips into it and knocking off the “excess” the last couple days and, Yeah!, pretty darn good too!

This is a smallish recipe, and can be scaled up easily if you find you like it.

I bet it could also go into a cheese shaker or a salt shaker for use as a condiment on the table.

I know I like this on a baked potato, and the little bit I need isn’t enough for me to worry about the calorie count, or whatever else is in it.

Yes, there is salt and brown sugar in the recipe.  Depending on how you use it, it’s possible that the salt can be left out.

You know… season to taste?  Especially good on bland foods.

 

Oh one last thing that I noticed when I put that pic together?  It’s a great way to use up your old or out of date spices.  If you look at that pic really closely… you will notice that the date stamped on top of the Onion Powder is 2013.  It’s now 2017.

Oops!

Dry Barbecue Potato Chip Seasoning Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar (I used Dark)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To Prepare:

Mix everything in a jar thoroughly.

To Use:

Dust the surface of the food to taste after cooking.

How Much Chocolate is Too Much

When someone near to me came home from London, he brought me something that I appreciated very much.

I just did not know how much?

I mean… this is apparently a “Thing” in Britain.

By which I mean “Supersized” chocolate bars.

I am laughing at the display on my room organizer right now.  This is … ridiculous.

But it is a “thing” there, and the reality is that there is the concept of a reasonable amount of any given food to eat.

Really, this is huge!  The sheer size of it has me laughing.

Way up at the top of the picture is a “standard” single serving Hershey’s Chocolate bar.  It’s not my favorite chocolate by a long shot, but here in the land of Big Food and Cheap Food, it’s what we think of as a single serving.

Granted, it is 220 calories which is a bit large for some of my more petite friends to have in one sitting.  I have a friend who is 1/2 my size and weight, and that 1.55 ounce, or 43 gram serving is what should be about all she should have of candy or dessert all day.

My being twice that size I’m maintaining weight with twice that amount per day.  I lose a pound all week, gain it back on the weekend, and I have since High School.  It’s in balance.  My doctor had no complaints about my weight or my fitness level at all.

Rule of thumb is calories are to be balanced from 30% Fat, 30% Carb, 40% Protein.

Training Diets are 1 gram protein per pound of weight.  Lower Fat and Carbs as needed.  Good luck with that.

Nutrition guidelines aside… that little bar is a “single serving”.

Now, since what we get here in Los Estados Unidos with the name Cadbury doesn’t taste right to me, I have a standing order with anyone going to England to bring back Cadbury Chocolates.

It used to be that Cadbury was made by Hershey by license.  It also does not taste right to me, nor the same.

 

Close, but not quite.  Kit Kats are the same too for me.  I could be wrong.

 

Could be the water, or that the chocolate is different.  I don’t know.  When I have a Cadbury branded chocolate here I don’t think it tastes “right” to me.  My opinion.  I’d just rather get Cadbury imported from Old Blighty than walk down the block to the rather excellent candy store and get a bar there.

Maybe I should.  Just not today.

 

That and my licorice allsorts.  Bassetts.  They’re stale if I get them locally, but amazing if bought at the airport at Gatwick just before you leave.

 

Please Exit the UK via the Gift Shop.  Don’t forget your Licorice and your ridiculously large chocolate bars!

So I am getting enough from other sources.

Then there’s that bar of Cadbury Fruit and Nut in the middle.   It is 300 grams.  10.58 ounces.

And don’t get me on Your Country Should Go Metric.  We did, it’s just we have a translation layer there so it makes things easier for us.  All our units of measurements are defined as a multiple of Grams or Liters or what have you.

 

Maybe you shouldn’t have a license plate for a candy bar.

Anyway, at 495 calories per 100 grams, the whole bar is 1485 calories.  At 212 calories per serving it serves 7.

Seven.  And that is the middle sized bar.

When I first saw that bar I thought it was insanely sized.  Why?  Because I know people who would attempt to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Don’t do that.  Nearly a day’s budget of calories for a tall woman in one bar of chocolate is insane.  Just Don’t Do it.

Well, at least that’s the math if I can read the British Nutrition Label.   They suggest a more reasonable serving size of a little more than an ounce.

While people in Britain are smaller than in some parts of the US – Buddy, you folks are catching up.

But that fruit and nut bar that I truly enjoyed massively was a shock when I saw it.  Ok, “Gift Sized” was what I called it.

What about that plank of Dairy Milk in the box.  On the bottom of the picture.

Come on Cadbury, you’re kidding me!  800 Grams?

Yes, I know, Portion Control.  I’ve been doing portion control for so long that I can estimate calories in my head – and do.

800 Grams.  28.22 Ounces.

When I saw it I asked “What the hell is that thing, is it really chocolate?”

Yep!  I am laughing at the massive bounty of chocolate that that is.

Real good chocolate too.  The way a Cadbury Chocolate Bar should taste.

And yes, I will enjoy it, completely.  Every last gram.  But I will “Do The Math”.

For 100 grams, it is 530 calories.

For the whole bar that is an amazing 4240 Calories.

Serving size according to Cadbury is a measly 25 grams or 132 calories.

So a giant 800 gram bar serves 32?

I’m laughing at that.

No wonder why the NHS is moving to disallow hospitals to sell these on premises.  I would say that the heft and size of the thing, it could be used as a weapon.

So I guess the whole supersizing thing that we went through here, they did in Britain, differently.

Good luck folks, I’m still laughing at the bar being so bloody large!

At least I have until December 2018 to finish all this stuff!

I’ll go with a roughly 200 calorie serving and enjoy each bit.  By the time I finish all this stuff, this “table leveler” block of chocolate, someone else will be going back to England and coming back with a ludicrously large bar of chocolate again.

It will be appreciated.

 

Six Chunks at a time.  I just want to watch the world burn and have a wee bit more.

Ginger Blossom and Frog

Travel.  Broaden Your Horizons.

Bring a camera.

All that.

I don’t actually get into the Jeep often.  15 year old car with only 46,000 miles on it.  So when I do go for a drive, there has to be a reason, and I almost always really enjoy it.  It’s a fun vehicle to drive, and I’ll get there.  You may not, but I will.

The occasion was that I got to visit one of my favorite people, my godmother Kathie.  She’s a prime example of love makes a family.  The godparent tradition came from our childhood, and we both have found different spiritual paths.  But we stayed in touch via her moves to Florida, my much later move, and many years.

Plus she’s great company.

I got a message in my email asking if I wanted to come up and enjoy a lunch in the restaurant.  Sure! Great! When?

When became a rainy trip up.  We’ve had a lot of random smallish rain storms.  Fun.  I’ve got the right car for it.  30 inch rubber donuts, no lifts, it’s a Jeep not a Mudder.  My theory is that 10 mpg is no fun, and while the car is rated 15, I drive gently and get 18 city, 22 Highway.

Not a Prius.  But I don’t fit in a Prius.

After watching people do stupid things on the back roads, and one clown spin out, I got there.

We chatted, I added her printer to her Mac, and we went out to look at the Preserve.  Hurricane Irma took out a few trees, including a Honeybell Orange that I will miss.  But she did point out the Ginger plant.  We’ve got one too that I just planted, so I was interested to see it in bloom.

You know that motto, Always Bring A Camera?

She lifted a fallen leaf to show me the blooms and right there, sitting on the flower was this wee little Frog.

“I need a Picture of that!”

“For Ramblingmoose.com?”
“Of Course!”

So there it is.  We still don’t know if that is an Ornamental or Culinary Ginger, but it is a pretty thing.  The flowers merely smell Floral instead of smelling like a Gingerbread.  That may be what I will get out back by the shed.

The ginger, not the frogs.   Frogs are welcome too.

There Is Quite A Lot Of Wildlife Watching Me

I admit it.

Actually I admit it frequently.

I’m fascinated by the wildlife that we have here in South Florida.

Walk out into the yard and I’m being watched.

Lizards, literally everywhere.  I had heard there were a lot of them around, but coming from a “temperate” climate like South Jersey, I never really believed that they existed.  You just don’t see a lizard staring back at you from a Pin Oak tree in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Here, I walk to the front door and there are lizards sunning themselves on my driveway watching me back through the glass.

I’ve seen Muscovy Ducks on my front porch more times than I care to count, and I’ve taken to inviting them to leave.  They’re way too messy to be a good house guest.

They are perfectly fine on the water and near it, but the one night that I stepped onto my porch after sunset and found myself interrupting some seventeen of them making funky Duck Love and smelling the pungent aroma of what happens when you startle them, they needed to move on.

Did you know a bird will lighten the load before flying by making a poop?

Some other places have alligators in their swimming pool.  Key West, Florida has Chickens.  I suspect they are fine until they get to be a bit too populous, but people brought them there to begin with.  If you don’t want chickens, help yourself to the eggs they leave under your shrubs.

I wonder if they will trade a few chickens for some ducks?

They came there because their many generation removed grandparents were used in fighting.  That’s not at all allowed these days, but some did escape and settled in.

So I did get to see the chicken cross the road, even if I am still not quite sure why it did.

You end up with wading birds deciding that it is time to perch on your Jeep.  It doesn’t happen too often, they aren’t out there every day.  Luckily they are some of the more shy creatures out there.  If you get anywhere near them they fly off.

I have seen these Snowy Egrets, or what ever they are called, walk across lawns in long herds like something out of a Disney Movie.  They’re also the reason why I don’t tell the landscapers to spray the yard.

We get so many of them here that the grubs I see them going after are kept well under control.  Along with the Black Racer snakes in some rare occasions.

But we do get quite a few visitors.

In the morning, being awakened by the song birds that show up in my bottlebrush tree is a normal happening.

Some of them are louder than others.  And some are more insistent than others.

It’s also why I  have a habit of waking early, or at least an explanation.

Go on outside and have a look around.  The sheer volume of things that I see in my own little yard here in suburbia always has me wondering just what am I missing.

I’ve been told that there are scorpions here, and if I leave my boots outside for some strange reason, I bang them on the pavement to make sure I don’t bring any hitchhikers in.

I’ve found way too many lizards to count.  They do keep the spiders at bay though and that’s a welcome aside.

After all, a Banana Spider in the house at the size of a Volkswagen is a but of a shock.  For a while I was fortunate.  My old windows had another predator that took up residence in one small nook.  Then the house was upgraded to Impact Resistant glass.  Hurricane Glass they call it.  But it also took the nook away and my frog was gone.

I do kind of miss the frogs after all that is said and done.

Really, Frogs, since I saw three there the day before the nook was taken away a couple years back.  Funny how things like that end up in unexpected places.

At the moment though, there are the butterflies.  Sure, I have all of those creatures cohabiting with me, the dog, the parrot, and the humans in this house.  But the plants are all scattered with a dusting of butterflies in various stages of life.  They all will hatch as time allows them, and I am surprised that they spend more time in that chrysalis than I would expect.  After all, hanging on a leaf just means you’ll get spotted and the leaf could get brought inside for an incomplete photography project.

But I am sure that you all have heard that before, haven’t you?