20090930

Writing for Popular Science


Writing for Popular Science
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I have been blogging for the Popular Science DIY site for about two weeks. In that time I managed to put together about 12 stories. I recommend subscribing to their feed or at least my feed.


How to Give Your Car Its Very Own $300 Google Street View Photo Rig
Best Tool for the Job: Cutting Rebar
How I Converted My Mercedes-Benz To Run On Veggie Oil
Open Source Homeland Security: The $250 DIY Bedazzler Induces Nausea via LEDs
What Comes After Arduino?
Making Alcohol making Easy
How To Make Ferrofluid
Learn How to Do Anything with Netflix for DIY Nerds
The Ultimate Minimalist Shelter
Three Incredibly Creative Musical Flamethrowers
Get More Life From Your Li-ions
The Worlds Toughest Workwear


Kefir Cream Cheese Spread


Kefir Cream Cheese Spread
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Woah. Kefir sure is adaptable. We saved some curds in cheese cloth today and let them dry out for 2 hours. I then added a pinch of garlic salt and we had a delicious cream cheese.

Apple dehydrating


Apple dehydrating
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy is dehydrating apples again. This time she added two additional steps to the prep:

- core the apples
- dip the slices in lemon juice

20090929

Fence Progress


Fence Progress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have a lot of metal fence up. If you clap your hands on our property there is metallic sound echo that bounces around. We have now sealed off the north side of our property with a new fence. There is a bit of old fence that needs to be extended from 6' in height to 8' that we will get to next week. It sure feels good to run around the yard naked.

Kaya and Sesame


Kaya and Sesame
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our dog Sesame has been improving virtually every day since we adopted her. She actually appears to be a well adjusted dog when we take her out for walks. Today our neighbor Eve dropped off her new healer puppy Kaya for the day. Sesame and Kaya enjoy hanging out together and had a pretty active day. It looks like Kaya will be visiting more often.

Kaya and Sesame #2

20090928

Kefir Pancakes


Kefir Pancakes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I used a half cup of kefir with our pancake batter this morning. They came out great. Wendy insisted that these were the best pancakes ever. I believe her.

20090927

Before & after composter refresh

Instead of dumping our old composter, which you can see we've repaired more than a few times, I called the company that made it and they sold me a replacement barrel. This made me like them even more as the replacement kit allows one to keep the parts that hold up well to the elements and replace those that decay. Here's our before and after shot of the same composter stand and side drum wheels with a replacement barrel. Oh yeah, the company that made this is compostumbler

Intoxicated

Our large pumpkin patch has had lots of visitors. Every day I look into the blossoms and sure enough there's a drunken bumble bee in each and every one of them.

20090926

Kefir Party


Kefir Party
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We made the following with our first kefir grains:

Blueberry smoothie
Salad dressing with dill
Cheese

The kefir was made from two cups of organic milk sitting at a temperature of 72F for 24 hours. I think these all would have been better if we had let the kefir sit for two days making it a little thicker and more pungent.

Kefir Party #2 Kefir Party #3 Kefir Party #4 Kefir Party #5

Melon farmers again

We seem to be natural melon farmers. We can't keep up!!!

Useful volunteer

This mint showed up on it's own ambition. I was wondering if it's a good tasting variety. I can't tell because it bolted and is bitter

Baggie drying

I love the simplicity of the brown paper bag for drying herbs. We have a fancy electric dehydrator and of course living in NM we can easily dry outside with a simply made screened wood frame dehydrator. I do intend to make an outdoor dehydrator when I am more successful at growing herbs and therefore have volume to dry. For small harvests the brown bag is kinda sweet. I like having them hanging all over the house with messages written on them.

Loofah Sponge/Squash

Our first loofah! I only got two plants this first year and one I accidentally yanked out while weeding (dur) and so I lost it. The remaining plant is currently giving me a total of two sponges, one that I picked and am drying, the other is still on the vine. I'm going to let the second one dry while connected to the plant. I do have a lot of blossoms and I think that I will get some more fruits this year from this fast grower. I'm excited to grow more of this next year and produce a whole bunch of sponges for kitchen and bath.

Holy basil - tulsi

Here's my first batch of Holy Basil (Tulsi) before cutting it to dry it. If you've never grown it here are a few interesting facts: It smells exactly like double bubble gum; it is a nerve tonic known to sharpen memory, strengthen the stomach and induce perspiration. For colds dried holy basil leaves mixed with cardamom, milk and sugar brings down a fever. It helps with mucus heavy coughs and respiration, strengthens the kidney, reduces blood cholesterol and can be an anti stress agent (leaves chewed). The list goes on.

The many uses for guerilla glue

Guerilla glue is pretty bad ass. We're taking it to a new level here by using it (along with enforcements in rebar) to to attach a piece of telephone pole to an existing telephone pole. We needed to add height. Gobs of guerilla glue bond the two.

Garden. . . still going

We're still pulling fruit and veggies every couple of days. These orangish melons really tricked me this year. I almost pulled up the plant because I was sure these kinda ugly guys were hybrids and would be half cucumber and half melon or some other weird tasting combo. But they're not, they're positively yummy. Does anyone know what these are?

What a difference a fence makes

I can not believe the amount of creativity and inspiration that this
fence has spawned. The property is finally framed in a clean line.
This gives rise to spots that call out to be designed. My creative to
do list is a mile long all of a sudden. Oh and the privacy is worth
every bit of energy that went into building it!

20090925

Kefir


Kefir
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We received some kefir grains in the mail from GEM this week. Seems easy enough to work. Add milk leave in a jar swirl occasionally. In 24 hours you can start drinking it, save some grains, repeat.

New Fence almost Up


New Fence almost Up
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy has been working hard on our new fence. We spent some time hanging stringers yesterday and even more today. This one is going up fast since the telephone poles we stole from the city were already in place from our last fence.

20090923

Bye Bye Fence


Bye Bye Fence
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We spent three hours dismantling a fifty foot section of incomplete papercrete fence. It was ugly and never made it to completion. The new fence will be 8' tall and should give us a real sense of privacy. Since the telephone poles are already in the ground we should be able to get a new run of fence up by early next week.

Bye Bye Fence #2 Bye Bye Fence #3 Bye Bye Fence #4

Off-Road Fed-Ex


Off-Road Fed-Ex
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Apparently our Fed-Ex guy has a difficult delivery route. Even more strange more amusing than the filthy vehicle is the UPS someone wrote on the hood. There were a number of dead birds in the grill. Nice.

Craft Story on Mesquite


Craft Story on Mesquite
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy did a nice write up of our mesquite knowledge and submitted it to Craftzine. The story covers how to collect, process, and cook with mesquite flour. If you are ready to get into wild foods this is a easy one to start with.

20090922

T or C WeiRdnEss

There is a creative weirdness about Truth or Consequences that is hard to describe. It's kinda random and a bit off kilter. A while back there was a great graffiti tag on a building on my corner. It said, "Your life is a lie." I loved it and was bummed when it got painted over. Then there was a round of drawings on paper that were pined to telephone poles for a while. They depicted personal scenes between members of this community. Clearly someone was pissed off. Most recently an artist left about 9 (we think) original works around town to be found and discovered. And there's a great tagger who's been hitting boarded up windows with flowers. She made the paper. This morning I got this song/poem in my mail box. No envelope, no name, no signature, just what you see her. Another day in T or C.

Industrial Re:Use Couch

I had started this outdoor sectional couch last year but ran out of materials. I just finished it. The bases are industrial pallet's that I picked up at a surplus store for $5. I topped them with 4 inch foam cushions that I wrapped in shade cloth. This cloth was used last year to dry paper crete slabs on so I had to hang it from a laundry line, and scrub out the cement /paper mix first. It feels good to see it go one more leg and find a final use.

Loofah


Loofah
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I've never eaten or used a loofah sponge. I was surprised to hear from a homesteader last year that was growing them. I thought that loofah's might be from the ocean some sort of coral like plant. We are allowing the loofah to mature so we can use them as sponges. Now that I see what they will look like maybe we should have just ate them when they were blossoms.

Blaklader vest


Blaklader vest
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Don't knock it until you have tried it. This swat team looking vest is the latest garment from Blaklader. Lots of pockets. I mean a crazy amount of pockets.

Coffee size up


Coffee size up
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy decided that her current coffee mug which is affectionately named "Sue" was no longer adequate. Sue could not hold the proper volume of coffee and was relieved from duty. Now Wendy is drinking out a giant glass while I have my little beer glass.

Crazy cantaloupe


Crazy cantaloupe
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This cantaloupe we grew has a odd looking skin. I would have guessed it to be a hybrid if it were not so damn good.

Finished sealing the wood


Finished sealing the wood
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We had no trouble getting all the 2x4's sealed with a oil based polyurethane. It took roughly three hours and was pretty fun (fumes and all).

20090921

Fat cat in a tree


Fat cat in a tree
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Not sure when our fat cat baby IO learned how to climb up a tree. He pulled it off yesterday with his brother (adopted) Scardy.

The right tool


The right tool
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This bent screwdriver has been prying stuff open for us for years. We have begun the process of polyurethaning our fence posts. Opening the can we had with left over urethane was quite the task.

Pumpkin #1


Pumpkin #1
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

It's little, but ours. We never grew a pumpkin before this one and we have a quite a few more coming in.

Cabinet cleanup


Cabinet cleanup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This particular was a cabinet was a total disaster. Wendy cleaned it
up with the help of a lot of mason jars. We didn't even know what
kinds of food and herbs we had.

Still Harvesting


Still Harvesting
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Plenty of melons and tomatoes coming out of the garden each day. The late rains have been invaluable, preventing the fruits from withering up.

20090920

Trader Joe's Albuquerque

Since dumpster diving has been a hot topic lately, I stopped at the Trader Joes in Albuquerque to see what was up. I immediately found these shopping carts of food outside by the dumpster and near the employee exit. I asked an employee about them. These bags were set to go to a variety of charities. When I asked about dumpster diving she told me that TJ's does not allow it. They case off divers when they see them. Their main issue with it was that this locations dumpsters were in the middle of the parking lot and in plain view. Additionally,since this store had an elaborate donation network, they believed that what went to the dumpster was genuine unedible garbage. I will check some other TJ's locations that are known for their good diving to verify if dumpster diving policy varies from store to store.

20090918

How to quit smoking

I hate to admit that I have had a long on and off love affair with smoking tobacco. It defies who I am, a yogi and for many years was a vegan. I have no aversions to renunciation and easily get rid of whatever threatens to have a hold over me. I like smoking. There is something leisurely about the minutes of repose that a smoke offers.

I'm a non smoker right now. I miss the activity though so I searched out a tobacco free natural herbal smoke on the web. I found K2 Citron, a combination of common herbs including the familiar calendula blossom. Sounds innocuous right? I rolled up a cigarette of Citron and lit it on route to Albuquerque, a 2.5 hr drive. A few minutes later I wondered, "Am I high?" "Couldnt be." Then again, "I think I'm high!"

Since I'm easily swayed by the power of suggestion, later that day I lit another cigarette for a 2nd test. High again! When I got home I ran to Mikey "You gotta try this." Yep, he got high too. The high is super duper relaxing, gentle and gives rise to creative bursts. It's not overwhelming and lasts about 1 hour.

My conclusion: if your quitting smoking and need something to smoke for the occasions that you think may slide you back to a tobacco cig, try K2s Citron. And if you find pot to be too strong or if it makes you paranoid, you might just find that this is a great alternative.

Surely its worth asking if replacing one smoke for another is really "quitting." But since Citron is not tobacco (and not addictive), and I think it's a worthy trade off. My guess is that its a smoke you'll just forget about one day. By then, you're off tobacco.

More seeds


More seeds
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Today a refresh of red Russian kale seeds and sweet marjoram arrived. We have a lot more on order. These were purchased through localharvest which is really just aggregator site. The seeds themselves came from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Fence delivery


Fence delivery
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We received our next round of fencing material today. Another 24 2x4's and 35 galvanized panels. It will look a lot like the fence in the background. This should block the view into our property enough that we can start soaking outside.

Hot Spring Drain


Hot Spring Drain
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I pass this drain each day as I walk the dog. It costs $30 a month to send your bathed in hot spring water into the Rio Grande. Weird, right?

Albuquerque library rainwater

While in Albuquerque visiting my mom I found this great rainwater
system at the local library. Needless to say thwir gardens looked
great. Looks like their 4 tanks are holding about 2500 gallons.

20090917

Missing Mountain


Missing Mountain
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have had to excellent rain storms. One storm gave us almost 1.5" in less than two hours last Friday and another one that has been on and off today. We still have a good chance for more rain tonight/tomorrow. Our mountain disappeared and the temperature didn't get over 65F today. Goodbye summer hello fall.