This past weekend I got a chance to do one of my favorite spring time activities; Wild Mushroom Hunting! I was joined by my wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law in the hunt. They have joined in past years and all have a keen eye for Morels.
For years we have cruised choice mushroom hunting spots for the ever elusive morel mushroom. This year however was a bit different because I was able to go hunting on 190 acres of our families new recreational property in New Lisbon, WI. What also makes this different than the past is that for the first time in a long time I don’t have any go-to hot spots. Prior to purchasing this new property we did ask the previous owners if they had any history finding morel mushrooms and they informed us they had much better luck finding Oysters and Hen of the Woods, two varieties I didn’t have much experience foraging.
Tip! When I am hunting Morel mushrooms I typically follow the “dead elm rule”. If there are morels to be found, find them by the dead elms.
I have found morel mushrooms in many different places, open fields, along creeks, under pines, but dead elms seem to be the most common place to find them here in Wisconsin. That said, in 2 days I must have checked over 50 dead elms, but no luck. In the end I struck out and didn’t find any morel mushrooms. However, I didn’t walk away empty handed. I was lucky enough to find a nice batch of pheasant back mushrooms. Now normally I am pretty dismissive of pretty much any wild mushroom except for morels, but I had been doing a fair amount of research lately and knew exactly
what I was dealing with as soon as I spotted it. The pheasant back mushroom as also known as hawk’s wing or dryad’s saddle and its formal name is polyporous squamosus. Pheasant backs are very easy to identify (based on looks), has no poisonous look-a-likes (that I have been able to find in some exhaustive searching), and can often be found in large quantities. They also have a very watermelon or cucumber-like smell once picked. The mushroom is actually a tree-wound parasite of hardwoods, and causes white-rot. I have heard people generally have the most luck finding pheasant backs on old or dead box-elder and elm. In my case it was an old oak tree. In all I found over 3 lbs!
If you want to learn more about pheasant back mushrooms I recommend checking out the following links:
Disclaimer: I am not an expert at this. While I have done my share of research and am very selective over what I eat. I hold no accountability over your choices to consume wild mushrooms. Some mushrooms are poisonous and may even result in death if consumed.
A few weeks ago my wife came home and said “check out this patio set someone was throwing out!”. At first glance, it was clear to see why, it was a deep forest green and had several spots that were starting to rust. Yet upon closer inspection the set was actually very sturdy and in good shape. Here is a photo I took of just 2 of the chairs and the table after setting it out on the deck:
In the picture you can see how plain and simple they are. You can also see some of the rust spots around the center of the table, which regardless of my approach was going to need to be addressed. Soon after getting them an idea formed pretty easily that I knew would suit these iron chairs and table very well, especially considering I am just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Taking inspiration from the iconic U.W. Memorial Union terrace chairs, I just knew a variety of bold colors would look exceptional, here is what the Union chairs look like if you’re unfamiliar with them:
Armed with an idea and an inspiration photo, I headed to my local hardware & paint store and came away with 3 cans of spray paint per chair and 5 cans for the table. I choose a palette of red for the table and green, yellow, blue, and orange for the chairs. I also specifically stuck with high gloss paints that identified as good for use outdoors. I then used painters plastic drop cloth and some duct tape to setup a paint studio in the garage (which allowed great airflow with the garage door open). Here is a picture midway through the painting of the green chair in the paint studio, which is also good because you can see the before (right side) and after (left side) greens that I was dealing with.
As far as prep, outside of building the studio, on the table and chairs I used a course sponge to clean the chairs before any paint was applied. I also sanded some of the rusting spots with a piece of sand paper. Once cleaned off I was ready to complete each chair. I actually started with the chairs flipped over and started from the back/bottom first. Once that side was dry I flipped them right side up and finished the front/top of the table and chairs. I was super happy with the end results and really wouldn’t change a thing about how I did this refinishing project.
Here is the finished set out on my deck, just prior to a party we had this past weekend:
If you’re looking to accomplish this same effect, here is a general build list of what you will need:
Iron Patio set with Table & Chairs – best to check at thrift stores, yard sales, and garage sales.
I have been seeing several wordle clouds lately and thought it would be cool to do one of my Twitter posts over the last 2 years. I like that wordle lets you right click on words you want to remove (which I did with my username, months, and other common twitter words like reply, favorite, etc.). This is the end result:
looking now I see a few other common words were still left in (like summary), but overall I think it is a pretty accurate snapshot into my Twitter interactions.
So my friend Andrea has been brewing and drinking the stuff for ever. I have always really enjoyed drinking it as well when ever given the opportunity. I finally decided to jump in and brew some myself. Andrea pointed me to her mom’s blog about how to get started brewing Kombucha. I used this as a shopping list of what to buy and as soon as everything arrives I’ll get started. I hope to post some of my experiences with Kombucha here on the blog so please check back to see my progress.
I can’t believe that I have moved away after only 2 1/2 short years. Cincinnati; you have been good to me. I was welcomed with open arms and honestly felt like I fit in right away. Within our first 3 months in the Queen City we had done so much to embrace the local flavor. Since we have kids we took many trips to the Cincinnati Zoo. We also became members of the Cincinnati Museum Center and spent many hours wandering through the various exhibits; the kids especially loved the Duke Energy Children’s Museum (as an added bonus we even made it to COSI in Columbus a few times). There were many Reds games, a few trips to Paul Brown Stadium to catch the Bengals, and we even ventured to Dayton to check out a Dragons game.
You see, when we came here a few years ago, we knew very little about the area. It was a job that brought us here in the first place. We knew we would need to totally immerse ourselves in order for this to work, since we were leaving our home town, our families, and our entire network of friends. The first month here we subscribed to Cincinnati Magazine and have been getting it ever since (which I highly recommend). We followed many of the leading local tweeters and started venturing out and exploring. We wasted away hours bargain hunting and people watching everywhere from Treasure Isle to Traders World to The City Flea.
I just sort of realized that it has been far too long since I have posted any of my music. I am still spending anywhere from 5-10 hours a week playing, but just haven’t been overly happy with any one project for a while now. Well over the course of the weekend I kinda got into an old school techno vibe and was really pretty satisfied with the results. It was a total throwback with a few wobbly additions here and there. In the end I can still listen on repeat and not hate it, so I thought I would share…
I know I am a few days late posting this now, but Bret Bielema is gone from Wisconsin. I think my delay has more to do with my being in shock, cause I didn’t see it coming. Let me go on record that I don’t dislike Bret as many in Wisconsin do, however I have been as skeptical as anyone. One of the most frequent questions was why was Bret not loved by so many in Wisconsin? It is purely opinion, but I think I know:
We were spoiled by Barry. Wisconsin is the house that Barry built and Bret didn’t like being in his constant shadow.
The record when it counts… he was 2-4 in 6 bowl games, with one of those wins in his first year as head coach, coaching a team of players Barry was primarily responsible. (Barry was 8-3 in bowl games, including 3-0 in the Rose Bowl)
His record as a closer. As a die-hard Badger fan one of the greatest sources of frustration came into play in games when it felt like we should have won, but didn’t due to play calling. Falling into the same bucket is the consistent criticism of Bret’s clock management skills.
I think there is a sense that he never earned Badger fan’s respect as head coach. Many were shocked by his assignment as head coach in the first place. When he came into the program as a Defensive Coordinator I don’t remember there really being any animosity, but when out of nowhere he was given the Head Coaching job just a few short years later I think it shocked many people.
Overall I appreciated the effort the team under Bret brought. He was responsible for bringing in some of my favorite players, such as JJ Watt, Montee Ball, and Russell Wilson. I think he was under rated overall and the Hogs should be proud to have him as a coach.