20100228

Happy Doomsday!


Happy Doomsday!
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Those of you who know me already have learned what a fan I am of the doomsday in your head calendar trick. It is a simple method for calculating the day of the week for any day in any year. I've tried to explain it in person to most of my friends, but it is difficult to grasp that way. This site does a pretty good job teaching you how it works.

(from wikipedia)
"It takes advantage of the fact that within any calendar year, the days of 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, 12/12, and the last day of February always occur on the same day of the week—the so-called "doomsday" (and furthermore that other months have "doomsday" on the pairs 5/9 and 9/5 as well as 7/11 and 11/7..."

Giant Bird Almost Eats Giant Frog


Giant Bird Almost Eats Giant Frog
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

On most mornings I see a Great Blue Heron hanging out in the park as Sesame and I do our morning walk. During our walk yesterday I noticed something enormous in it's mouth. I thought it was a fish and was looking forward to watching this amazing bird devour it's meal. Unfortunately, a truck pulled into the park nearly hitting the bird and scaring it away. The bird dropped what was in it's mouth and I went over with Sesame to investigate. Turned out to be a enormous frog that was till alive, but pretty badly wounded from the bird. Why does everyone have to drive their damn truck in the park?

Compost Tea


Compost Tea
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Two of our evergreen trees are looking rather yellow in color. It was suggested to us that we get our soil tested to understand the nutrient deficiency. We already know that our property is deficient in virtually all nutrient since it is just a old parking lot on top of land fill. We came to the conclusion to add more compost in liquid form to the trees. A few balls of well composted material put into a 5 gallon bucket of water and mixed then applied to both trees is our approach. We will continue this treatment once a week for the next month and see if the trees start to show a healthier color.

Compost Tea #2

Veggie Dumplings


Veggie Dumplings
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy had a craving for wonton soup which somehow turned into making vegetable dumplings. These came out delicious. Finely chopped vegetable scraps from the fridge rolled up in dumpling dough and briefly fried. This might just be a new staple in our diet. We normally make our own pasta, raviolis, and spanakopita dough so making our dumpling dough in the future should be a easy addition. They are only made from flour and water with a brief set period of 15-30 minutes.

20100224

Worms, Worms, Worms!


Worms, Worms, Worms!
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

The better part of our afternoon was spent digging through worm castings. The new garden bed needed some compost from our worm bins, but we wanted to return the worms their home so they can deal with our next round of compost.

Worms, Worms, Worms! #2 Worms, Worms, Worms! #3 Worms, Worms, Worms! #4

Kombucha Bottling


Kombucha Bottling
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We bottled up two small batches of kombucha this morning. Using beer bottles that are not designed for high pressure and metal lids which can corrode is less than ideal. I placed all the bottles into a plastic cooler in case we get a explosion during the next 24 hours as we let the bottles go into their anaerobic fermentation. I'm going to refrigerate after this point and I think we should be able to avoid the exploding beer bottle scenario as long as the kombucha doesn't warm up.

Kombucha Bottling #2 Kombucha Bottling #3

Lost in Translation


Lost in Translation
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our new beverage cooler that Wendy's Dad gave her. I find it motivational. It was probably on sale.

Vending Machines with Issues


Vending Machines with Issues
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

A recent trip to El Paso to pick up Wendy from the airport allowed me to check out some unusual vending machines.

Vending Machines with Issues #2 Vending Machines with Issues #3

20100223

Botanical Drawing Tip for Preservation

I just started doing botanical drawings. Wendy Hollender's Workbook Botanical Drawing A Beginners Guide has been a great help to me. While trying to figure out a way to preserve a plant and also see it from top to bottom (root to top of plant) while drawing it. I cut a hole in a piece of cardboard and placed it over a tall glass of water. I put the plant root through the hole and into the water. This sample has been alive and well for over a week.

20100221

Hiking in Sierra County


Hiking in Sierra County
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our friend Andy spent the weekend with me as he made arrangements to move to TorC later this week. We did a bunch of geeking out for a contract we are working on and a fair bit of hiking with the pups. At one point we even came across some deer remains which didn't look too old. The dogs are developing their own skills for navigating the difficult terrain.

Hiking in Sierra County #2 Hiking in Sierra County #3 Hiking in Sierra County #4 Hiking in Sierra County #5 Hiking in Sierra County #6 Hiking in Sierra County #7

20100220

Steel for Shade


Steel for Shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We traded our gas powered chainsaw with a neighbor who is into hauling. The deal was that he gets to keep the chainsaw and in return we get him to haul some stuff for us. These steel posts were the first haul. We will be using them make sturdy shade structures around our property before the temperatures warm up. We have four shade areas in mind which should completely change how we spend our summer days.

Glass Bottle Pickup


Glass Bottle Pickup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We finally had the recycle center stop by and pickup five of their large dumpsters they had loaned us one year ago. We originally were using glass to fill the base of our dome to prevent the insulation from wicking moisture. We used the first two dumpsters and our neighbor Scotty used the rest on his glass bottle fence.

Pomegranate Tequilla


Pomegranate Tequilla
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Andy brought over a bottle of pomegranate tequila for the weekend. I really like the taste of this one, but the ingredient list is a little shady. There is some difficult to locate text on the front of the bottle stating that it is made with artificial flavors and certified color.

20100219

I'm a Plumber


I'm a Plumber
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We cut and glued PVC to put together another piece of our irrigation system. It now takes very little time to add new garden beds. Lot's more of this coming up. We are just waiting for some rain to soften the ground.

Kale


Kale
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We just harvested our first winter kale. I used scissors to cut the tops off then soaked the leaves in a lime, chipotle, salt, onion powder and sesame oil marinade. This batch dehydrated in about five hours and was devoured in about five minutes.

Kale #2

Vacuum Sealing Tip


Vacuum Sealing Tip
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Used corn chip bags make for a good vacuum seal. They certainly beat
having to pay for new 'foodsaver' brand bags.

20100218

Have a nice visit

Just arrived on ft lauderdale due to an obligatory visit to see my
dad, and I was immediately baffled by this display in the airport. I
can't tell u if this person is real or not. The sign on the right says
welcome to fort lauderdale.

20100216

Hot Spring Pump Enclosure


Hot Spring Pump Enclosure
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

We have been meaning to make a nice enclosure for our hot spring well pump for the last....ohhh...six months? Today we decided to nip the task in the butt before the sun eats the pump as it does with everything else here.

Hot Spring Pump Enclosure #2

Sand Collection


Sand Collection
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

As we build more beds it requires us to create more soil. Our soil is a mixture of compost, manure, sand and peat moss. We collect the sand from the Rio Grande just down the road from our place. Today was a especially beautiful day for sand hauling. We spent almost a hour exploring the river bank. We found giant mullein patches and salt cedar tunnels.

Sand Collection #3 Sand Collection #4 Sand Collection #5 Sand Collection #6 Sand Collection #7 Sand Collection #8

Another Raised Bed


Another Raised Bed
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our winter greens are still cranking out, but we need some more bed space to start spring planting next month. We had a disastrous pile of wood that needed to be cleaned up so we relocated it and dropped in a new 4x8 bed.

Another Raised Bed #2 Another Raised Bed #3 Another Raised Bed #4

20100214

Raw Key Lime Pie

We were having some friends over and I wanted to make a desert. I almost ran out for ingredients to bake brownies and then I thought about the food we buy in bulk: avocados, limes, dates, several kinds of nuts, shredded coconut, honey. I decided instead to make raw key lime pie with those very ingredients. Here's the recipe.

FIlling:
four to five (depending on size) avocados
1 lime
honey (apx 4 to 6 tablespoons)

Pie Crust: 1.5 cups assorted nuts that you like
6 pitted dates
1.5 cups shredded coconut

Add all ingredients in this order: nuts, coconut, dates to a food processor. Never let the materials get too fine, keep it a little chunky. Then dump into a pie pan and use the bottom of a glass to compress into your crust. Freeze for 20 minutes to set

Mix avocados, juice from one lime and honey (sweeten to taste) with a pinch of salt in the food processor. Pour into pie crust and adorn with fruit if you want to. Freeze to set. Pull out 1/2 hour to 45 min before your ready to eat it. Yum!

Spanakopita

Finally! I've tried cooking spanakopita a few times. The results are always eh. I finally found a recipe by googling "greek grandma's spanakopita" and I found a great recipe. Now there are some obvious reasons for it's greatness like butter, lots of feta, milk etc. . . I already modified it by taking out cottage cheese and three of the eggs. Little by little I'll now shrink back ingredient by ingredient and look for the "sweet spot" at which the recipe holds it's integrity while giving up a few over indulgences. Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2lb frozen spinach (steam to unfreeze and then be sure to press out all remaining liquid)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 lb butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1lb feta
2 eggs

In a large pot heat oil and add both kinds of onions and cook till soft and transparent, not brown.
Stir in spinach and cover 5 min. Add dill parsley salt and pepper and cook uncovered 10 min. Transfer to a deep bowl and stir in milk. Cool. Add crumbled feta, eggs and mix thoroughly. Using a 11X17X2 baking pan put pie together using 3 to 5 layers of filo dough painted in butter followed by spinach mixture. top with more buttered filo layers. Bake 350 for 45 minutes.

Mikey made a mean filo dough too!

Important Bill - Protecting Farmers

Our friends at Whittled Down tipped us off to a bill introduced in the state legislature here would protect New Mexico farmers from liability if their fields are unintentionally contaminated with genetically modified seed. We all know the Monsanto game of suing farmers who are the victim of monsanto GMO patented seeds that have blown into their fields and who are sued for growing the patented seed. New Mexico has a chance to protect it's farmers and do the right thing.

Please tell your state representative to vote YES on HB259 - Private Right of Action Act - sponsored by Ben Lujan. HB 259 amends the Environmental Improvement Act, the Water Quality Act and the Oil and Gas Act to allow private citizens to enforce the pollution provisions of those statutes. So please call or email your representative TODAY as this may be voted on as soon as today! Representative Rudy Martinez (Grant, Hidalgo): rudy_s_martinez@msn.com; (505) 986-4233 Representative Andy Nunez (Dona Ana): annunez@zianet.com; (505) 986-4423 If your representative isn't listed above, you can call the Capitol switchboard at (505) 986-4300. You can tell your legislator that the Private Right of Action Act will: Supplement the environmental enforcement ability of state agencies at a time of limited budget Enable local citizens to sue a company that is polluting and get a court order to make the company stop polluting Make it possible for local groups that might not have the resources to get reimbursed for litigation costs, including legal fees and expert fees, should the local group prevail Require that the state receive any civil penalties ordered by the court.