I got up early this morning so I could write. Length of daylight hours is at the peak for the year, and I try to absorb as much sunlight as I can. The only trouble is, I usually tire out before the end of the day.
Bob and I finally got to celebrate the planting of our last field and then the advent of a rainy week. Our celebration consisted of time together — taking off a disk axle in a field. The machine had broken about five miles from home. Bob worked without it and around it so he could finish before the storms arrived.
Lucky for us, the rain didn't come in too early, otherwise we would have been muddy as well as wet. As it was, we were pretty dirty after working on the disk. Now we are waiting for parts, but at least we don't need the disk right away.
My days are filled with an odd assortment of chores. Before Bob came to me for help, I was drying ferns.
We have large patches of ferns planted around the house that look lovely — so fresh and so green. It was the perfect time to harvest some for use in my pressed flower bookmarks, which are for sale at Sissy's in Seymour, along with my watercolor pins and books.
After a I picked a good handful of ferns — can't even see where I picked because there are so many — I figured I'd press them like I had in the past, between the pages of an old telephone book. When I got in the house, I changed my mind. I decided to microwave some so I could use them right away.
I've dried herbs in the microwave before, but I wasn't looking for pretty flat greenery then. I only wanted them dry so I could store the herbs. I knew it was possible to press my ferns flat while drying them in the microwave, so I just started without checking books or the Internet first for helpful hints.
Just like in the slow drying method, I used paper to absorb the moisture from the fern. I took a layer of newspaper, paper towel and sheets of recycled paper and then set a section of fern on. Over the top of the fern, I went just the opposite — paper, paper towel and finally the newspaper. On top of the stack, I used a glass tile to keep everything flat. Then it all went into the microwave.
So far, so good, but I didn't know how long to set the oven. The best bet was to give it a try and watch what happened — I set it for one minute and watched the turntable spin.
The stack of papers was hot and damp/steamy when the minute was up. I carefully slid everything onto the table and removed the top papers. The fern looked good. When it cooled, I took off a lobe and bent it to see if it was dry.
The greenery seemed to need a little more time in the microwave, so I gave it another 30 seconds, and it came out perfectly dry.
The second frond proved challenging. Since our fern fronds are large, I'm actually drying just bits and pieces at a time, so each batch is different when it comes to cook time.
My second attempt was smaller. Even before I opened the microwave after one minute, I smelled smoke. I had charred bits of the fern and part of my paper. A little more cooking and I'd have had a fire — oops. Not as easy a project as it first seemed.
I changed my stack of paper out, getting rid of the smoky smell and tried again. This time I set the microwave for 40 seconds and found I needed a tad more, so, in 10 second increments, I heated the fern until it was perfectly dry.
When I had enough for my pressed flower project, I put the rest of the fern in the telephone book, leaving a good many pages between so they could dry. It may take them weeks drying out that way, but it's a sure bet I won't burn the house down with this method.