Friday, April 30, 2010

Welsh Rabbit, Ghetto Version

Photo- BBC Good

My favorite rabbit to eat, the Welsh kind. Okay Welsh Rabbit (As my Uncle Russ called it) or RAREBIT isn't rabbit at all. And I ghetto it up so I can have it at work, or home - anywhere there is a toaster oven! Really simular to English Muffin Pizza, another work favorite!
2 slices french bread
2 slices cheddar or american cheese
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 dash of Worcestshire Sauce
SOme green onions, chopped,

Spread the mustard on the bread, put your dash of Worcestshire Sauce on the mustard, top with the cheese, put in toaster oven for 6 minutes or well done toast setting,(or a 350 oven) remove, top with green onions to taste and serve.
OPTIONAL Top with crumbled bacon when done.
NOTE: I don not use beer or ale in this version- for that check out this recipe from the Pioneer Woman

Thursday, April 29, 2010

(en)VISION E V's

EnVision's EV Pick UP... Made just for Me???

A lot has been written about those EV Sports cars like Tesla and the Lightning GT, that would cost a small fortune to buy. But what about the rest of us? Has nobody got the vision to make an affordable All EV for us?
Well enter EnVision Motors- a complete line of EV's that include a mini-van, a cargo van and a pick up! Based in Ames, Iowa, they plan to be on sale in the US by Summer 2010.
The vehicles will be outfitted with 24kWh sodium nickel chloride batteries and AC motors. The company states they'll have a max speed of 75 mph and a 200-mile range. They have on board chargers and can juice up at home on a 110V circuit in six to eight hours. The vehicles have already passed crash testing.
It is getting exciting! I am betting it won't be too long until I get my dream of an EV.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Did you know April is recognized as National Volunteer Month?

Sherri Osborn, who writes the Family Crafts blog has some great ideas on easy volunteering
Volunteer to go down to a local park and pick up litter. Even little kids can do this, not hard all you need is a garbage bag.

For more ideas on easy volunteer ideas for kids, check this post at "How Stuff Works" And just because April is about over, doesn't mean you can't go some nice things in May or the other 11 months in the year!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pot/Pan Lid Rack to Mag Rack

I wanted one of those fancy wall hung magazine racks to hang one my coat wardrobe, so I took an IKEA pot/pan lid rack for hanging lids for the pots and pans, bent the lid hooks in just a tad and now have a wall hung mag rack! Since I already had the rack (cause I bought 2 when I bought them for lids), it was like free!

PLANT'S I'll Grow again

Marianne Ianotti asks WHAT PLANT'S WILL YOU GROW AGAIN? on her garden blog. Reading it I assume she means what new and unusual plants will you grow again. For me, I want to grow some varieties of tomatoes I had good luck with last year like robin, Paul Robison, but seem to be failing at starting this year. Maybe I need to make one of these propogation stations for next season. I am definitely doing Artichokes again, this time in my garden bed, (Leaving the blueberry beds as the soil is to acidic- the bluberries love it though) and I would like to grow birdhouse gourds. Anyway my squash and gourds and pumpkins are doing great, just not the damn tomatoes and peppers. Melons are on my list, only this year I planted Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe instead of midget watermelons. And they live in the green house! And I plan on some herbs in my vertical garden.
What about you? what unique and different plants will you plant again this year?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Community Gardening- The Weekly Challenge Update

Very busy week... been helping to get the community garden ready to go... collecting cardboard, tools, signing up a bed for mom, moving wheelbarrows full of compost. So didn't get as much done around my own house as I would've liked. But oh well! Onto the challenges:

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge Year 3, week 14
1. Plant something: Cayenne pepper, Jalapeno Pepper, Banana Pepper, Green Bell Pepper
2. Harvest something: nothing3. Preserve something: nothing
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Reused Pizza boxes for weed block; Saved up a bunch of 4” planting pots for Sustainable Burien to put wild strawberry plants in to give away at this years Wild Strawberry Festival; recieved a wheelbarrow that needed a new wheel from one of the community garden's neighbors and replaced the wheel now the community garden has a wheel barrow
Collected vast quantities of used, thrown away cardboard for the community garden to use for weed block;
5. Preparation and Storage: Applied for a plot in the Community Garden with my mom. Won’t know until May 12th if we got one.
6. Build Community Food Systems: Volunteered time, tools, and labor to the new Community Garden; Saved up a bunch of 4” planting pots for Sustainable Burien to put wild strawberry plants in to give away at this years Wild Strawberry Festival' recieved a wheelbarrow that needed a new wheel from one of the community garden's neighbors and replaced the wheel now the community garden has a wheel barrow
7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Some local bacon in my ghetto version of Welsh Rarebit,
Garden Challenge "Extreme Evangelist Edition" - Saved up a bunch of 4” planting pots for Sustainable Burien to put wild strawberry plants in to give away at this years Wild Strawberry Festival; Collected vast quantities of cardboard for the community garden to use for weed block; Volunteered time, tools, and labor to the new Community Garden; Obtained some raspberry plants to donate to the community garden, recieved a wheelbarrow that needed a new wheel from one of the community garden's neighbors and replaced the wheel- now the community garden has a wheel barrow

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring is HERE!!!

After yesterdays profanity ridden post, I thought I would post on something a little more cheery. A sure sign spring is here is the return of the Burien Farmer's Market, to the city. This year
a local meat vendor will join the many returnees offering such food finds as local raw honey, handmade gluten-free pasta and fresh-baked goods.

Customers can enjoy an affordable al fresco lunch from the market’s hotdog cart, or relax at one of the market’s patio tables while catching live tunes by Eric “Two Scoops” Moore from noon to 3pm.

Romeo and I have waited all winter for the return of the market, so we will be glad to go this year! The first day of the market has a puppy fashion show, so who knows what Romi will wear?

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Smoking Version 2.0


Last week, I made a decision. Smoking is bad. Smoking is far from sustainable. So I quit. No big deal. I have smoke for over 30 years. Now I need to rant:
OK, I have tried to quit before and failed. So far I haven't had a cigarette in 7 days. Not out oh willpower or sheer determination, I have been drugged. On Chantix.
And while I'm talking about the joys of quitting a 30 year addiction, let me do a mini Rant here
Congratulations, You Hypocrites, You- Since you can't come up with or even agree on some serious tax reform in the state, I am quitting smoking. I am tired of supporting the state with the ridiculous tax on cigarettes just so the anti smoking coalition can pass more laws prohibiting where I can and cannot smoke. Since you deny me the pleasure of using a legal substance, but want to tax me, I say Screw you and quit. (Cigarettes are taxed at $2.02 in the state of Washington and are going to go up $1) No more tax money for your schools, your programs. And since I don't drink, I say raise the beer tax and alcohol tax through the roof! Like I tell my wine drinking cousins who bitch when I light up- Allow me to get you another glass of crutch.
And while I am ranting here, where are all the taxes on alcohol and beer? The state of Washington just raised the Alcohol tax, 38 cents per bottle of beer, but did not raise the tax on Micro-Brews, stating that since they are made locally, they increase the employment in the state- of course they didn't mention that the micro brews are also the favorite of White Upper Middle Class A-holes who would bitch too much if they had to pay .38 cents more for their pint of ale. So only those who drink Bud or Pabst have to pay. And I think the wine drinkers are pretty much unscathed as well. Of course, Seattle still want's to rid fortified wines and malt liquor from convenience stores so the homeless and poor won't be able to drink. Instead of providing programs and housing, the City of Seattle would rather make panhandling illegal, not solving the problem, but rather hoping to drive the problem away. I call that throwing out the bathwater with the baby. Although the mayor's office is against the panhandling law.
I personally find it curious that the state which still depends on the tax revenue from Cigarettes, is the same entity that is trying to make folks quit... something smells bad here... why would the state want people to quit when the state is bound to make money??? And why would the state all of a sudden start taxing candy soda and gum??? Maybe Tim Eyman is right!
Anyway I better stop there cause all this ranting makes me want to have a ciggy real bad!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Trees are terrific in Cities and Towns"

Washington States's winning entry in this years Arbor Day poster contest!

"Trees are terrific in Cities and Towns" This years Arbor Day theme.
Long before earth day was Arbor Day a day when people celebrated by planting trees. In Washington state, arbor day is officially celebrated on the second Wednesday in April, but nationally it is April 30th. One of the ways I celebrate is Earth Day and sneak in Arbor Day too is plant a tree. This year I am planting a dwarf peach. Last year was the Columnar apples and a cherry tree. Year before that an apple tree. When I first moved into Rancho Flamingo, I planted my yellow chinese plum tree. If I keep it up I will have a nice small orchard in the years to come.
My new Dwarf Peach tree!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Well I didn't honestly think I would learn anything from this challenge. I was wrong! In January, my portion of the one small change challenge was to reduce my waste paper consumption. I learned that we have many wasteful things at work, while doing well in other areas like double sided printing as our default, then turn around and have one page of paper say "This page is intentionally kept blank" on a third page- makes no sense! I have talked it over with the boss, and we will see what happens in the future. But I do notice my efforts to reuse blank pages and such as scratch paper have a significant reduction in the amount my recycle bin for paper needs to be emptied!
In February, I decided to finally seal the light switches and outlets on all the exterior walls in my home. The benefits are as one expects- warmer house with no little mini- drafts. This was particularly important doing Crunchy's Freeze my buns off challenge as well.
March, I opted to not buy any soda or sparkling water. The one thing that helped was I got a soda stream for my birthday. I can make my own sparkling water. And the CO2 cartridge gets shipped back to the soda stream company, and you re-use the bottles. Whats more I found I like espresso syrup in my soda! (Glass Bottles) Anyway, couple that with the fact Martin quit his 6+ day coca cola habit, we have much more room in the recycle bin!Reduced waste is too cool! Guess what- I still haven't bought a soda or water!
Finally in April, My plan was to reduce the waste from take out. The best answer would have been no take out, but that wasn't an option for me. I did pretty good about getting my sandwiches, Chinese food pizza what have you with no plastic containers. I also had a big fail- I bought a salad that came in a plastic clamshell- low blood sugar induced panic. Well ever since then I just realize that when I have to go somewhere on an empty stomach, eat something or bring along a piece of fruit! This is crap I know, just needed a reminder.
Thanks to Hip Mountain Mama for bringing this challenge. What I learned is none of things are that difficult. It takes planning in some instances, in others labor (someone had to seal the outlets ans light switches- I got the sealing kits for free form the electric utility!) and that a few small steps turn into some big giant leaps!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

40 Years of Earth Day!


I have always lusted after these three tier planters for strawberries. But I have always shuddered at the price. $50?? At the risk of becoming known as Cheap Vegetable Gardener JR, I figured I could make one that would work as well as the store bought one. Well my dumpster diving has again come to the rescue. Remember a few weeks ago I rescued a kiddie pool out of mom's dumpster at the apartment complex? That is the base for my three tier planter. A concrete tree round is the second tier. A pot one of my apple trees came in with the bottom cut out is the top tier. added the strawberry plants and some kinnick kinnick or Bear berry ( a native fruit bearing ground cover) and I have a three tier strawberry planter minus the sprinkler through the middle- I figure since I prefer to water by hand it was not necessary.

My homemade DIY three tier planter- not as pretty but it should do the job- we'll see during the season how it works!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Perusing the global buckets webpage, I saw an idea to make one out of 1 bucket and the top from a 5 gallon water bottle. So I had to to try one.

Take an ordinary water bucket-cut the top, drill a bunch of holes, put a rage over the pour spout, make sure to drill or cut a hole for a 1" or larger piece of tubing to go into - this is how you are going to add water to your planter!

Shove it in the 5 gallon bucket- pour side to the bottom

Fill with water up to the pour spout, fill with dirt and plant! I put a cayenne pepper in this one- now it goes into the green house for warmth!
Note- You may want to add a few "overflow" holes in the bucket... just put them beneath the level of the water bucket top (where you cut it off), and above the spout! Save the bottom of the water bottle for a bucket, or re-use as a planter!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Busier, busier, busier- The Weekly Challenge Update

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge Year 3, week 14
1. Plant something: Planted spinach, Chard, lambs quarters in the garden (Yes I know they are a weed) ; planted strawberry plants; transplanted rhubarb; planted raspberry bush
2. Harvest something: Got up early one morning- foraged a bunch of dandelion flowers and greens
3. Preserve something: Nada
4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): "Mortar mixing" tub from dumpster, 5 gallon buckets for SWP planters, 5 gal Water bottles for SWP Planters
5. Preparation and Storage: Made small garden beds out of two mortar mixing tubs;
6. Build Community Food Systems: I finally got the seeds donated. I took
them to the sustainable Burien meeting and told folks that they are Non-GMO seeds donated to me via my Blog from Hometown Seeds for a small ad, take what they need and John, our community garden guru, stepped up and said he will take what’s left for the various community garden projects around town. Also- Burien will open it’s first City wide Community Garden patch this year- very exciting (proof that almost two years of bitching and moaning works- sometimes)
7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Made Dandelion Fritters; Cooked up a European style artichoke- and artichoke with a foot long stem, cut the stem and cooked that up too!

One Small Change- After failing last week- did much better this week. I stopped by Pantera bakery, and manage to get out of there with no clamshells, or utensils. They like to sneak the clamshells and utensils in your order. It really makes me appreciate places I regularly go like Burien Press Espresso- real silverware, real plates, real cups and mugs if I forget muggsly.

Growing Challenge Extreme Evangelist Edition- I finally got the seeds donated. I took
them to the sustainable Burien meeting and told folks that they are Non-GMO seeds donated to me via my Blog from Hometown Seeds in exchange for a small ad/link, take what they need and John stepped up and said he will take what’s left for the various community garden projects around town. Also- Burien will open it’s first City wide Community Garden patch this year- very exciting (proof that almost two years of bitching and moaning works- sometimes) Planted spinach, Chard, lambs quarters in the garden (Yes I know they are a weed) ; planted strawberry plants; transplanted rhubarb; planted nasturtiums, planted raspberry bushes- phew!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Artichokes- not just for breakfast anymore!

I have loved eating artichokes ever since I was a little kid. I would rather have an artichoke than say, a lobster!

This is what trader Joe's calls a "European Style" Artichoke. The only difference from a regular American style artichoke that I can tell is the 12" stem. Some claim the stem is the better tasting part of the artichoke. It is quite tasty. But I still prefer the leaves-

How I to prepare an artichoke:

Get a pan large enough to cover the artichoke with water

Fill with water, bring to a boil.

Place artichoke into boiling water. Let boil for like 20 Minutes, until tender and the leaves van be easily pulled away. Prepping the European Artichoke is a little more work- before boiling, cut the stem away, then peel the skin. Add it with the artichoke in the boiling water.

Serve both with melted lemon butter. Remember to only eat the tender part of the leaf. When you get down to the heart, scrape the little hair like pieces off, cut the heart and eat that with butter as well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Report on Enviormental Education Week Challenge

When Abbie first put this challenge out, I thought who can I work on to educate, besides myself? I am surrounded by folks who just don't care about the environment. I have an Uncle who swears that this country wouldn't be great without the pesticides of the 40's, 50's and 60's. My Mom loves the convenience of packaged foods. Martin has more food packaging going into the garbage can than I care to admit to. At least some of my coworkers seem to get it- a bit. At one of my buildings, were they cook their own lunches,which on it's own is an eco-concept- one co-worker feeds the crows leftovers. Not perfect but an eco-way in reducing food wastes, but the birds get fed- the garbage goes away. In my building the recycle bins for bottles and cans are still there and still used.

I decided to work with Mom and Martin...

Martin quit his 6+ a day Diet Coke habit. To celebrate I got him a stainless steel Water bottle- I think he sees the advantages of carrying a stainless steel water bottle over the old BPA Infested one he had from work! The downside is his workplace will only allow approved containers for drinking at his work... which just happen to be the BPA infested water bottles that say "AAA" Washington on them.

Now if I can get him to lessen the plastic clamshell habit? That and heating up soup from the store in the plastic container! But not to preach- using the stainless steel bottle is a baby step.

As for Mom, one of her issues was no recycling at her apartment complex. So I left her with a recycle bin, smaller version, and told her I would pick it up when full. Now she can recycle cans and bottles again. Also I showed her where there is a paper collection box for recycling not far from her house- in fact she can go there when she goes to the swimming pool where she does water aerobics. I discussed the Pacific Gyre with her. I think she has an understanding. But she does take her canvas grocery bag with her. Of course there is a bit of Trader Joe's making you feel like a criminal when you don't bring your own bag, I never thought that would help. But it does, even though TJ's is a ridiculous store with their plastic packaging. (I have never gotten over seeing 4 apples in a plastic clamshell!)

As for trying to educate either one- well Martin and Mom both think I have turned into an environut, so trying to talk or show them things is met with rolling eyes. Martin likes the convenience of take out containers of soup and styrofoam clamshells. But seeing as he isn't putting a six pack of cans in the recycling bin daily, is cause for celebration.

Mom is enthralled with the plastic encased goodies at Trader Joe's and Safeway. But she willingly recycled in the past and it is good to see her do it again.

Just keep telling myself... Babysteps Rob

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Getting Dirt-y

I go to Burien Bark Supply to supplement my meager compost when building new beds. They can be very good. You can get Bark, compost, soil and mixed soil and gravel there. In a bag, if you don't want to mess up your car, loose if you have a truck or trailer, or delivered if you want a mountain of dirt in your driveway. This time I bought plastic bags of garden mix soil. Bags? Yes- It is easier for me to haul/lug the bags to the garden beds, then I save the bags for reuse. Most times, however, I would normally get 1/2 yard loaded into the pick up. When I order the gravel for the front yard, I will choose delivery. It's more economical to have them deliver 3 yards of gravel than me picking up 1/2 yard, making 6a trips, and easier too, They just back up the dump truck and dump their load, leaving me the wheelbarrow and shovel part of the job. Anyway- it has been fun over my life to watch this family run business grow. When I was little, they ran out of a small trailer with the huge piles of bark all around. Today they run out of the basement of a strip mall they built and manage. And the cool thing about them they always are ready to donate to community gardens, helping others grow too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


In case you didn't notice, I added some more blogs to the Garden Blogs Blogroll. Welcome Global, Whom I posted about on Saturday. Also welcome Green Roof Growers a blog I discovered through Global Buckets- very interesting blog- he has all sorts of neat things including this vid on a fellow roof top gardener who has a cool garden, with a pea pole that I am going to steal. And honey bees! And welcome My Grandpa's Garden, a garden blog by Michelle who was inspired by her grandfathers love of gardening. And last but not least welcome Heavy Petal, who should not be new to anyone who peruses gardening blogs, hails from Western Canada, and has great Ideas on raised bads and such, and makes seed bombs!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seed Cups

For today's DIY/2nd Time/Trash to treasure post, I put up something you can easily do with your kids. It may seem juvenile, but hey, that's the idea! All it takes is a Small cup or yogurt container, and old bottle, some growing medium (peat or coco noir) and a sunny window ledge, and some seeds- I suggest pumpkin or sunflower- easier for little hands to manage, In my home version I used bok choy and chard.
The store bought version of Ferry Morse's Seed Cup

I was in Lowes and saw these Ferry-Morse Kid's Cups; a single mini green house that comes with three or four seeds, a jiffy pot and a peat pellet in a dixie cup. I have no doubt that you could make these at home, but I yielded into temptation and bought a couple of kid's cups.
But I felt immense guilt upon coming home. So I put a creative freak on and came up with my own! I just took a dixie cup, filled it with Coco Noir (I personally try to stay away from peat as much as possible, cut the top of a discarded water bottle to make a "dome". In another one I used a plastic condiment cup for the dome that some corn salsa came in.

My home DIY version Seed Cups.

This one has a dome cut off a water bottle, I used a second Dixie cup to catch the water.

The lid from the condiment container became a drip pan for the bottom of the cup.

I would think yogurt containers would work great for these, as would juice box cups and milk cups. I suppose you could decorate the cups, I found the floral motiff good enough. And I will see which does better- the plants grown from the Store bought "Seed Cups" or the Home made version that is made from discarded materials.

Monday, April 12, 2010

NEWS BREAK- Burien opens a "B-Patch"

Proof if you whine long enough, people listen.....
Burien will soon have a Bee-Patch of it's own. It will be similar to the Seattle P-Patches, but all Burien. The garden will be in the front yard of a City owned house west of the old Community Center.The address is 437 SW 144th St. The P-Patches in Seattle have waiting lists of up to 3 years toget a space. The Parks Department will start taking applications on April 19 and the deadline is May 2, plots will be assigned by May 12. If you or someone you know is interested in getting one of the available plots make sure an application is filed between the 19th and the 5th. Do not apply early, you'll just have to do it again. Plot assignments will be by lottery so there's no advantage to being first. Applications will be available from the Parks Department website, by email, or by phone.Check the Sustainable Burien site for details. The ground has been tilled, but there's still a lot of work to do to get it ready for planting. More will be coming on this...
My mom plans on applying for a "B-Patch"- Hopefully more will be created in Burien. It's just so cool to think something you had a small part in dreaming of becomes a reality. Council member Lucy Krakoviak said today at the Sustainable Burien meeting that this got streamlined because of the demo garden we planted last summer. So part of the original Community garden at the now defunct BIAS site will live on in spirit.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

BUSY BUSY BUSY Weekly Challenge Update

Sharon's Independence Days Challenge Year 3, week 13
1. Plant something: Peas, Beans, Bok Choy, Radishes, carrots,
2. Harvest something: Pea sprouts; Radish Sprouts

3. Preserve something: Bottled some Red Onion infused Vinegar; Bottled some Fennel Infused Vinegar

4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Used the pickling juice from Pickled Red Onions and Fennel as Infused Vinegar; pizza boxes as weed block; Rescued two kids chairs from dumpster and reused as planters
5. Preparation and Storage: Got my kiddie pool planting beds ready
6. Build Community Food Systems: Nothing. What is it with these groups? I offer free seeds and I know they all have gardens and no one returns my calls/emails. I am starting to get a complex! Try the sustainable Burien meeting on Sunday.
7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Clover top tea, thistle tea, lemon grass tea (I didn’t harvest these, but plan to plant clover as a cover crop and forage thistle for tea and wanted to see If I would like it; Pea and radish sprouts on a sandwich, “Infused” Vinegar and sprouts on a salad;

One Small Change- Well hell I failed on Wednesday- I bought a salad at Trader Joe’s, came in a plastic clamshell, had a plastic condiment container of corn salsa in it. I had been at the doctors and didn’t eat breakfast as I was having blood work done, was hungry, late for work and my blood sugar was getting low. So I panicked and bought a chicken bbq salad. Panicking is what I do in low blood sugar situations.
I did however save the clam shell for starting plants, and used the condiment container on a seed cup. I know however, that planning is crucial for days like this.

Garden Challenge Extreme Evangelist Edition- I have been trying to give seeds away to some groups that I know have gardens. But they don’t return my calls/emails. So I will try again at this Sunday’s Sustainable Burien meeting. It’s a shame- nice non- g.m.o. seeds. I got the kiddie pool gardens ready for planting, And I got some good news to share in tomorrow's post!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grant and Max and the Global Buckets!

In there own words, how the global buckets work:

Remember the post I wrote a few days ago on teaching Kids to garden? Well how about the kids teaching old Rob a thing or two? And these two guys got it going on!
Grant and Max Buster are two high school students. They have taken the Self Watering Planter (SWP) to the next level. They even invented an automated watering system. And they had a vision and a purpose- Teach people how to grow food!And re-use materials doing it! Here is their story in their own words:

"It started when our dad bought an EarthBox® planter. We read in the sales materials that the United Nations was using Earthbox® planters to teach people in developing nations an excellent way to grow food. This sounded like a great project, but we thought it would make more sense using locally sourced free or low cost recycled materials. That's what got us started.Also, watering Global Buckets by hand become a BIG pain everyday so we explored ideas on how to automate the watering job using atmospheric pressure. Our system works great! This entire summer we only spent about 20 minutes dealing with water. Previously, we spent about 10 minutes a day. Using some engineering and physics to create wonderful efficiencies was the most rewarding part of the project."

Visit their site to see whats new in the world of homemade SWP's. And here are some great vid's to look at, that explain their Global Buckets campaign. More proof you never are too old too learn new things. Even by those who are much younger.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Infused Vinegar (sort of)

Add Image Fennel on the left, Red onion on the right

In the spirit of Crunchy Chicken’s No Food Waste Challenge, I drained the last of my pickled fennel and pickled red onions. And then it came to me- why not save the pickle juice from the jar to use as infused vinegar put on Salad? Now I know this isn’t technically how you infuse vinegar… but it taste’s good so I grabbed a couple of little jars and bottled the stuff up. Tastes great on a green salad, makes a nice vinaigrette when used in place of regular vinegar.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Clovers, Thistles and Chamomile- Oh My

I am sitting here enjoying a cup of Red Clover Tea. And tomorrow I will have thistle tea. And some lemon grass tea.
"Red clover's constituents are thought to stimulate the immune system. (It has
been a traditional ingredient in many formulas for cancer.) Red clover has also
been used to treat coughs and respiratory system congestion, because it also
contains resin. Resinous substances in plants have expectorating, warming, and
antimicrobial action. Red clover also contains the blood-thinning substance
coumarin. Coumarin is not unique to red clover; it is found in many other
plants, including common grass. In fact, the pleasant sweet smell of freshly cut
grass is due to the coumarin compounds. People on anticoagulant drugs such as
Coumadin should be cautious of using red clover, as the blood may become too
thin." -
How stuff works, Benefits of Red Clover
I made my tea in a jar, Letting it "steep" overnight, poured it in a cup, then nuked the cup. I was going to add agave but found I liked it as is. Here is the benefits of Clover Tea according to How Stuff Works.

Thistle tea: Thistle Tea may be used for treatment of digestive problems, like gas, constipation and stomach upset and may be used to detoxify the body. Thistle Tea may have some liver and gallbladder support properties, though there is a need for more research in this area.
I am also trying desperately to grow my own chammomile- known to aid in sleeping, and improves liver function and kidney function. And it is relaxing.

I don't know if drinking clover tea or thistle tea is answer to all maladies, but I do know it is easy to grow/forage, all I know is I am constantly looking for substitutes for coffee and tea. And all those honey bee's can't be wrong! Amd I do know that clover is an excellent cover crop for your garden. There is a side benefit- you plant clover, it puts nitrogen in your garden, attracts honeybees (they love clover flowers), and you get tea!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Start of Abbie's Challenge, End of Crunchy's Challenge

Today I am posting about Abbie, the farmers daughter. And her first challenge. You see, Abbie is a science teacher, new mother, wife, farmers daughter and pie baker extraordinaire. And she put up this challenge to all- Ab's says on her blog:

"I’ve decided to host my very first challenge at Farmer’s Daughter!!! I
challenge YOU to participate in National Environmental Education Week. At
some point during the week of April 11-17, educate someone about the
environment. It doesn’t have to be fancy! You can work with your kids,
your significant other, friends, or even pledge to educate yourself! Then write
a blog post about it and send me the link, and I’ll share the links here on
my blog."

Sounds pretty simple now, yes? I will be working on my Mom... not a total loss eco-speaking but being an apartment dweller she has some pretty small needs to be more eco-friendly. So here we go - a new challenge.

Crunchy's Skanky Stripping Weather Woman

My Not As Skanky as Crunchy's Stripping Weather Man

CRUNCHY'S FREEZE YOUR BUN'S OFF CHALLENGE WRAP UP: Well made it through another season of Ms. Chicken expecting us to shiver. I did however, manage to get a new thermometer with a stripping weather man- although not as sexy as Crunchella DeVil's. But then what is?? Anyway, with the help of programmable thermostats (Yes they do make them for baseboard/wall heaters) And a light cold season and no flu, I would say this one is a success for the year. Except for that week I had a horrendous cold and could not get warm no matter what.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Small chairs for the garden!

Another Dumpster Dive and more Junk to play with. I found these two kids chairs, and decided right away that they would make great planters. The legs are hollow as is the seat, so I just cut a hole in the seat of the chairs, filled with dirt and put in some marigolds!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kids in the garden (And I ain't talking about goats)

What? You mean Rob doesn't sit on the porch telling the neighborhood goonies to "stay the hell off my yard?" Sorry to disappoint, but no. I firmly believe in educating young 'uns in my hobbies.
One way to ensure a hobby grows is to get kids involved. That way, when there is an interest, the future of the hobby will go on. Now short of 4h and FFA clubs, which we did not have the advantage of when I was a little Rob, What can you do to ensure the interest of your kids to garden??

First of all involve them. Pick easy things for them to grow. Radishes are a great pick, because of their short growing period, children get instant gratification. Or start some pumpkins on a sunny window- they are easy to start, require little maintenance besides some water every now and then. Some kids might even desire their own tools fitted for their own little hands.

This is not necessary to spend $12- $16 on a child;s garden tool set, I have seen garden tools at the dollar store that are more than satisfactory for your "little John Deere wannabe". The important thing is make sure your little farmer has gloves, a cultivator, a planting spade, And if you are really serious maybe a carrier to hold them in.

But basically, let them get involved and make some decisions. When I was little, my dad let me have a space to plant a garden in. Right out in the front yard. When that space got too small, we made me a bigger garden in the back yard. And our neighbor, Mr. Wilson, who grew one of those large gardens you see on Martha Stewart or Victory Garden would listen to all my questions, and try to answer them simply. That first knowledge was appreciated. My first garden had radishes, carrots, some onions and few tomato plants. And I was proud of it.

Today we have the Obama's and the Whitehouse garden setting an example. We have Alice Waters an the Edible Schoolyard. Alice's program, not only teaches how to plant a garden, but how to cook out of the garden, and how to maintain the garden as well. My friend, Cheap Vegetable Gardner often involves his daughters in many of his gardening experiments.

For Ideas, try making a sunflower house with your kids or making a child's garden out of their old kiddie pool, reusing it instead of throwing it away! If space is limited why not try a garden in a planter? One of those large tubs for kids toys and such would make an excellent large planter for a salad garden.

I feel it is important to get kids interested in gardening, and helps teach them where their food comes from. And who knows? Maybe your child will sit on the porch and yell at his friends to get the hell out of his garden. Snnnf... it would make Rob proud.

Seed Collection and Tools for Kids:'s Guide to designing a Children's Garden

How to design a children's garden video

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dodging Mammoth Raindrops- The Weekly Challenge Update

Very Busy. I am getting to like the greenhouse very much, It rains, you stay dry! And might be planing on building a more permanent one in the near future. Of course, I will free cycle the plastic behemoth if I decide on building one

1.Plant something: Started some gourds, Mortgage lifter tomatoes, some ground cherries; Obtained some brandywine, Oregon spring, Striped German, Black Russian and Cherokee Purple tomato starts, obtained a flat of strawberry plants; planted radishes, peas and beans
2. Harvest something: Foraged some Dandelion greens and flowers.

3. Preserve something: Nada

4. Reduce Waste (recycle, reuse, reduce, repair or compost something): Made a bench from a skateboard deck, the usual recycling, composting crap that I do always
5. Preparation and Storage: Separated some onion bulbs that I discovered wintered over and replanted them, Bought some Red Clover tips, lemon grass and Dried nettles for making tea until I see these things growing here.
6. Build Community Food Systems: No contact made with New Futures about taking the seeds I had for them (not for lack of trying)… Maybe a giveaway in the near future- but first I am going to call the food bank on Monday and see if they want them for their little garden at the food bank. As Gawd is my witness I shall give the seeds away!
7. Eat the Food (cook or eat something new): Strawberry Ice cream made from strawberries in the freezer; salad with dandelion greens
Freeze Your Buns off challenge- My little thermometer man has been keeping his clothes on. Typical Seattle Spring. I think I need to build an Arc

One Small Change- Decide and started the last leg of this challenge. TAKE OUT: No non-compostable containers, plus no non compostable or compostable utensils (As I have decided they wont compost, at least not in a home composter). Got a great start this month as Martin brought home some Mexican from someplace in downtown/SODO area of Seattle. Came on a paper plate with foil as the top. And of course we ate pizza, which I reuse the pizza boxes for weed block.

Garden Challenge "Extreme Evangelist Edition"- Started some gourds, Mortgage lifter tomatoes, some ground cherries and Obtained some brandywine, Oregon spring, Striped German, Black Russian and Cherokee Purple tomato starts, obtained a flat of strawberry plants, Separated some onion bulbs that I discovered wintered over and replanted them; No contact made with New Futures about taking the seeds I had for them so… Maybe a giveaway- but first I am going to call the food bank on Monday and see if they want them for their little garden at the food bank. As Gawd is my witness I shall give the seeds away!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

C'mon dad- Let's GO!

Romeo waiting for me to get in the truck on a recent dumpster dive expidition.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are "Compostable Utensils" Really Compostable?

I put that question to google, and of course Beth at Fake Plastic Fish was the #1 return. But there are others... World whom manufacters biodegradeable utensils, came up with the same conclusion as Beth. In fact they write in their website:

"In the past we manufactured non-heat resistant utensils
made from non-GMO PLA, and heat resistant utensils made from 80% non-GMO corn starch and 20% other fillers. Through recent testing, we discovered that the corn starch resin used in the production of our heat resistant utensils (a resin certified by BPI and ASTM standards) is not fully
compostable. Therefore, we have discontinued the use of the corn starch resin and have begun using an alternative resin that will meet the standards of compostability. The new resin is a mixture of 70% non-GMO PLA and 30% talc. They are also heat resistant upto 200 degrees F, and the resin is
under testing for certification under ASTM-6400 standards.
Our current non-heat resistant utensils do not have any
issues with compostability. We have also taken the opportunity to redesign our cutlery to offer a more
aesthetically pleasing option.
We will continue to offer our current utensils at a discounted
price, until they are no longer in inventory.These utensils will
take 180 days to compost in a commercial composting facility.
Home composting is not recommended as they do require a higher heat to break down, which may not occur in most
home composting systems."

I for one can say my home composter does not get hot enough to break these down. I do have and use commercial composting, but after reading some articles about it on the internet, I have come to the decision that it is better to bring my own, use bamboo chopsticks or my fingers.

Soap dish made from recycled chopsticks

Bamboo chopsticks? Well they have been around for a long time, come from a renewable resource, biodegrade- plus they can be reused over and over and for other things. I have one of those pasta pots that has a colander that slides right into the pot. But the downside of it is... Nothing to lock the colander up in place when draining the pasta (or potatoes) so my answer is a simple bamboo chopstick. When I raise the colander to drain, I simply stick a chopstick through a hole in the colander and it stays in position. Another thing I use chopsticks for is two of them together to beat eggs for omelets (I learned that watching Julia Child as a kid), Somefolks make soapdishes out of them, If you’re handy with the arts, or just like to build things, then the chopstick can be very useful to you. Chopsticks can be the medium of baskets, jewelry, frames, mobiles, or abstract centerpieces. There is no limit to the imaginative creations that can be made from them. Anyways... my point is, I am adding this as my compostable only for the one small change challenge... no "compostable" utensils as I am not sure of their compostability.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

17 Things You Didn't Know You Could Rent

Recently, the daily green published a slide show about 17 things you didn't know you could rent. Some of these are some we know, like tool rentals (Yes Rob doesn't go out and buy every tool on the face of the earth), Bicycles and cars. Some of these are things we didn't know like Wives and Sex Dolls. Anyway good to know that there are a lot of useful and some not so useful things to rent. Did I ever mention my Dad, who was cremated, was laid in a rented casket? Wasn't an Eco-issue, but a cost issue. Since he was to be cremated, and he was known to be extremely frugal, there was no sense in spending thousands on a casket just for the funeral. Renting one was about one tenth of the price. And it was the funeral home director that suggested it.