Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I have yet another confession for my loving audience. I have fallen in love with the TED.com website. I will often play these talks while going about homework or design. Some are funny, some are eye opening, all enrich you a little more than before you listened. (Every man knows something I do not, therefore, every man is my teacher. - Lincoln)
We often hear a lot of talk, claims, about what is greener than whatever else is on the market. I'm learning at this point in my life that old adage - If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Very true. HERE is a TED talk by Catherine Mohr on building green and quantifying your decisions. It's short, about 6 minutes, but she's funny and so it feels like three. -Jason
Monday, November 22, 2010
No, not the plastic! What is under the plastic! Are you ready for the big reveal???
Discarded Halloween decorations! Three wonderful, huge bales of hay/straw (I naively have no idea of the difference). I couldn't be happier! Great for the garden beds and the coop, these puppies cost between $10-$15 per bale at the local Feed Store. Needless to say I am quite pleased with the find. These will easily last us through the winter. -Carrie
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
People put out the darndest things! I seriously would encourage anyone who lives in a city that does this to take advantage of this free way to find some awesome, completely usable, and sometimes amazing, items. It may feel a little bit odd at first - stopping on the side of the road and going through someone's castoffs - but in time those feelings fade. They are replaced by feelings of resourcefulness (can this be used in a different way instead of putting it in a landfill?) and the thrill of the find. I have never driven around systematically hitting neighborhoods looking for items, but if I come across something while on my daily travels that may look promising, I often stop. The following is a pictorial of some of the better things we've found.
Set to go to the dump no less! It's about 4' x 18" and really cool.
I plan on putting it on the wall in the next few days.
Some other items we've picked up that are not pictured here include:
- 7 foot tall Wisteria Vines, used to decorate the corner of a room
- Indoor pet gate
- Small Dog Carrier (to be used for the chickens if we ever need to transport them!)
- North Face bookbag
- The beginning materials for what I hope will be our next chicken housing project - a chicken tractor! More on that in a later post...
- Square Compost Bin - pictures in this post
- Set of old windows to be used for a mini greenhouse or cold frame, detailed here
- Most of Materials used to make our coop
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
However, we lived less than two miles from our 5 closest cousins who lived in a much larger, more traditional neighborhood. This became our haunting grounds every October 31st. The moms would stay behind and hand out candy, while the dads walked (often more like ran) the eight of us around. We each got a glow stick to wear around our necks (seriously one of the highlights of the night - we only got a glow stick once a year). The houses weren't too close together or too far apart (most of the lots were approximately 1/2-1 acre). We hit as many houses as our little legs could carry us. There was always so much anticipation for the candy that would soon fill our bags. What kinds would we score? How many of each? Etc., etc. Then there was the organizing and trading when we got back to "base camp" (my uncle's house).
I don't know if I've gotten too old or cynical or jaded or what, but Halloween seems to have lost some of it's mystique. The picture above was taken two weeks ago. Crowded doesn't even begin to describe it. Because we now live on a busy, fairly major thoroughfare where no one trick-or-treats, we walked the mile to our old neighborhood to partake of the festivities. We literally know most of the people who live there, so we were also looking forward to catching up with a few of them. However, it quickly became apparent we wouldn't be staying very long. With every house we attempted to get our son up to the porch, I literally started feeling sick to my stomach. I just couldn't shake the thoughts of "What are we becoming as a society?"
Somehow, in recent years, our old historic neighborhood has become something of a "destination" - a holy grail, if you will - for candy seekers. I haven't been able to come up with a solid reason as to why. We've heard horror stories (no pun intended!) of people going through 2,000 pieces of candy, or a couple of hundred dollars worth of candy - in only 30 minutes. I would guess about 95% of the trick-or-treaters do not live (or have never lived) in the neighborhood - and it's a large one with 700 houses. I can appreciate perhaps wanting to take your kids to a safe neighborhood. I really can. But what kills me are the kids (and adults!) who aren't even dressed up at all, walking up to the homeowner and just sticking out their bag. What happened to common courtesy? Another frequent sight are the parents who drive their kids from house to house because they are literally too lazy to park the car and walk. Folks, these houses are not far apart - the lots are each 1/6 of an acre. Yes, the argument could be made that perhaps they have a disability or something. This could be true - but it's probably 1% of those driving. After one street, we walked home.
Friday, November 12, 2010
A Landscape Architect is given the privilege of marrying man to the landscape. Like all marriages, the ability to harm is just as real as the ability to nourish. This marriage must be a good bond capable of restoring the soul and must be equally beneficial to all parties, both man and nature. We have moved out of the house of nature and sure as a father who moves out of a broken home, problems will fester in his absence. We must be equally good to each other for our existence is weaved so very tightly together.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I recently needed to prepare a meal with some organic butternut squash we were graciously given by a friend (thanks, Sarrah!). Wanting to find a new recipe, I took to the internet. Just reading the first recipe that showed up on google made my mouth water. I decided to give it a try. And let me tell you it did not disappoint. Instead of reprinting it in this post, I'm providing the link here. Made in a slow cooker, the flavors just meld together perfectly. This was actually only the second time in my life I have used a slow cooker. I've always shied away from slow cookers for some reason, but I don't know what I've been thinking! It doesn't get much easier. And the smell wafting through the house - I can't put it into words - but if I was forced to come up with something...perfection!
A few things I did differently from the original recipe:
- Instead of 2.5 pounds of butternut squash, I used 1.25 pounds and 1.25 pounds of sweet potatoes
- I didn't have tomato paste so I used tomato sauce instead
- I didn't have fresh ginger, so I just sprinkled on a bit of powdered ginger (1/4 tsp?)
- I didn't have saffron so just completely omitted it
- I ended up not adding any lime juice, though I think it would taste great to add a small squeeze to each serving
Monday, November 8, 2010
A few weeks ago I was perusing a new-to-me blog, MamaStories, and I had an "Ah-Ha!" moment when I came across this post. One of those so-simple-yet-so-awesome ideas. Are you waiting with bated breath? It's the idea of adding neighborhood pumpkins to your compost pile! Why haven't I ever thought of that? Katrien and her daughter, through a cute little art project, get the word out to their neighbors that they will take any and all pumpkins after Halloween. They then use these as a supplement to their compost piles. Ingenious! Keeps them out of the landfill while building up the soil. I can't think of anything better.
So I took this idea and ran with it. Instead of making flyers I sent out an email to my local mom's group. It read exactly like this:
"After Halloween, instead of throwing your pumpkins in the trash, consider giving them to me! I will take any & all pumpkins, gourds, etc (both cut into and not) off your hands. Most will be composted. If I have a few that are uncut & still "viable" I will probably bake with them. I will be more than happy to pick them up from anywhere in the north oak cliff area. I just figured it's a way to 1)not put something in the landfill, 2)add to our growing compost, & 3)maybe even get a pie out of the deal!"
Let's just say I couldn't be happier. Over the last few days, during my usual errands (so I haven't had to drive out of the way), I've picked up numerous spent jack o' lanterns from about 5 families. They've filled the bags in the picture below (and don't worry, almost all of the bags I will be able to re-use). I already placed about half of them in our compost when I turned it on Saturday.
But just yesterday I hit the jackpot! From one house I received enough unblemished pumpkins to fill the entire back of my minivan! I was astonished!
I offered to make the homeowner a pumpkin pie, but all she asked in return was for 2 cups of pumpkin puree. Now I have enough edible pumpkin to last me through the spring - if not the summer. All of these pumpkins would have just gone in the trash. Now they will help to feed our tummies and grow summer veggies. Thanks again for the idea, Katrien! And thanks to all those who donated your pumpkins. We'll definitely be doing this again next year. -Carrie
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Three piles of poop (as usual), with the most southerly being the most disturbing. There is a mess of stuff going on there that I can't even begin to work through. You can even click on the picture for a larger view if you are so inclined! Any thoughts? Does she have some bug? Does she need medicine? I don't see any worms or anything in there. She didn't eat anything out of the ordinary yesterday (that I know of), but this is the first time since we purchased them 6 months ago that I've come across something this messy and variable. On a possibly related note, her egg production has declined sharply in the last few weeks, where as our Black Sex Link is still going strong. Your expertise is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance! -Carrie
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I got this recipe from Annette over at CoMo Homestead. You can view the original recipe here. And my slightly tweaked version, below:
Golden Carrot Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
- 1 1/2 cups packed finely shredded carrots
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup golden and 1/4 cup regular raisins
- 2 T canola oil
- 1 T coconut oil
- 1 T butternut squash puree
- 1 T no-sugar-added applesauce
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/4 t salt
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Wash carrots and shred in food processor or with grater.
- In large bowl, mix all the wet ingredients (first 9).
- Add the dry ingredients (last 5). Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Spoon muffin batter into muffin tin and bake for around 17-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of muffin.
- Allow muffins to cool before serving.