20111127

Pancake Party

Pancake Party by mikeysklar
Pancake Party, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

A few weeks ago we made pasta for our friends. This morning we made pancakes. I love these simple get togethers based on eggs and flour.


Pancake Party #1Pancake Party #2Pancake Party #3Pancake Party #4Pancake Party #5

Woops : Irrigation

Woops : Irrigation by mikeysklar
Woops : Irrigation, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We had a hard freeze last night. Normally it's not a big deal, but when our irrigation system kicked on at 9am we got a fountain.

Tomatoes : Just Can't Get Enough

Still drying...Still Canning...The box system works.

20111126

Easy Mead

Easy Mead by mikeysklar
Easy Mead, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I kicked off another batch of mead this afternoon. We recently finished the 5 bottles that we made last March. The process is easy. Mix a half gallon of warm water with three pounds of honey. Add 4 tsp acid blend and 3/4 tsp yeast nutrient. Wait one day then top off with 75F degree water and champagne yeast. In three weeks the fermentation is complete.

20111124

Holiday House Cleaning: Gifting Your Freebox


As the holidays creep up I want to share a little practice we do each year. Mikey and I made super cute elf suits each has it's own big red sack with white fur trim. Just before the holidays we go through our house and collect everything we no longer want. Then we pack the sacks with stuff:  hair clips, little jewelry boxes, books, candle holders, pocket knives, whatever. Take your free box (if you have one) and fill a santa sack with it. Then we put on our elf suits and go to parties where we hand out the loot. We scan our community looking for the right match for each item in our sack. Believe me, there's always a right match! This practice serves a variety of functions: we give gifts that we did not have to spend money to obtain, we brighten up occasions with our elf suits, we don't consume products that required the mining of new materials, we get rid of stuff without adding it to landfill. It's super fun and in the end, the house has been cleared of clutter. Enjoy!

20111122

Kichen Magic : Indian Food


Kichen Magic : Indian Food, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Kichen Magic : Indian Food by mikeysklar
Still enjoying sous-vide cooking we returned to a dish we mastered some time last year - sous-vide spicy cauliflower- and added to it garlic naan, wild rice, completed with a lovely spinach, tomato, almond dish.

Curious Costume

Bike It by mikeysklar
Bike It, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Mikey's taken on the fashion of a real apocalyptic renaissance man: old man sweaters from thrift shops and modern north face pants from the REI garage sale, combined with a trendy fixed gear bike and beat up trailer. Nice. Oh don't forget the 50lb bike lock belt.  I see you dressed yourself today Mikey!

20111121

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors


Life + Love = Health: DIY Poultice





Ya I did it, in less than two weeks I blew out my calf muscle. That's what I get for getting over inspired by the New York Times best selling book, Born to Run.

This morning I enjoyed making myself a poultice. Everything in it came from my own garden. I clipped some comfrey, yarrow, and yerba mansa and then added a calendula flower just to tell my ripped muscle that it was loved.  I had some heals all (aka self heal) in dry from that I sprinkled on top.

As I clipped the plants from their spot in the garden I thought about when my mom was in the hospital with a busted hip. The nurses and staff were short fused and carried an air of fed-upness. I imagined that the industry of health had stolen from them any caring they came to the job with. Perhaps some came without it, you know it's not a requirement. Then I looked down again at my plants as I chopped them and put them in boiling water. The generosity of nature was what I was focused on and my good fortune to have these life forms right here on hand.

The warm poultice could only have felt better if someone else applied it, like yesterday when my friend came over to make one up for me. We can't take love out healing, they're inseparable and threaded together but it seems that's just what the health care system did. Commodification swallows all things and leaves behind a weak mimic of the original. Today, in this economic climate, my garden is my health care. I carry only catastrophic insurance and wonder all the time if I ought to drop it. As long as I'm working with power tools I'll keep it around a while longer. Meanwhile I continue to sow and reap and notice what comes of it and never ever ever do I forget to say thank you.

DIY Poultice: chop herbs and put in hot water, steep for 10 minutes, scoop plant matter onto washcloth, pour some tea from the brew on the cloth too, wrap the cloth onto the injured area with a plastic bag and tape. I added a heating pad too.

NOTE: some herbs, like comfrey, can not be used on open wounds, be sure you understand the plants your working with.

20111120

Wireless Remote Goes Bling Bling

Tub Repair by mikeysklar
Tub Repair, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We use a $7 wireless remote to turn on our hot spring pump. The remote has been melting away in the New Mexico sun for nearly two years. At this point the buttons and batteries have also failed. I decided to tear out the circuit board from our failed remote and give it a new bling bling home. I used a $8 outdoor electrical box and a pair of Adafruits blue LED buttons. I also used my CNC to cut some text into the cover plate and make a little circuit board to reduce the number of connections. It took about three hours to make everything.

Tub Repair #2Tub Repair #3Tub Repair #4Tub Repair #5Tub Repair #6Tub Repair #7Tub Repair #8Tub Repair #9

Ran Out of Run

Ran Out of Run by mikeysklar
Ran Out of Run, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Wendy experienced a blow out in her upper calf during our morning run yesterday. She went to a body movement class today which turned the pain up to 11. Now she is sitting on the couch with her calf wrapped in a homegrown comfry poultice. Our neighbor Catherine came over and showed us how to make the poultice.

20111117

Love For The Run

I am shocked to be reporting that Mikey, Sesame and myself have run at least a mile a day for a week straight. This morning on a two mile run we were stopped at the end by a guy walking his dog who pointed up into the hills (see pic) to a cayote (look real close) who was sunning him/herself after having just run in parallel with us along the opposite side of the rio grande. A common language, the run. We'll look for him tomorrow.

Living Large in Loofa

I just pulled most of this year's loofa crop. As you can see it was a good year. I gave them plenty of climbing apparatus and placed them in front of a south facing wall painted white, a real hot spot. I'll let these dry out a bit, till they're light in weight and dry enough to crack open. It's tricky finding the right moment to peel the skins and I'm still trying to master it. Too early and the meat inside is left and begins to rot. Too late and the spongy interior, over dried, falls apart in your hands.

Our hope with this batch is to make bars of soap that contain a slice of sponge in them.

Good Barter

A while back I did a friend a favor and helped her straighten out a document of labels for her cottage industry products so that it would print right. Today I got a return gift, a tortilla basket that she custom quilted a liner for. There are move of these for sale in town at the Bountiful Alliance Community Kitchen & Store. Nice!

20111116

Latest Chihuahua Cheese

Latest Chihuahua Cheese by mikeysklar
Latest Chihuahua Cheese, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We have been successfully ago our chihuahua and romano cheeses for over 6 moths. As we make cheese wheels more frequently we could reach the two year mark before eating them.

Our Soap Works

Our Soap Works by mikeysklar
Our Soap Works, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We made soap over the weekend and tested it out today. Works as advertised.

20111115

Starting the Winter Garden

Starting the Winter Garden by mikeysklar
Starting the Winter Garden, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We started preparations for our winter garden this week. I planted arugula, kale, cilantro and other types of lettuces. The weather is warm here with temperatures peaking at 65F. My hope is that the lettuces both in the cold frames and outside are edible in the next four weeks before the really cold temperatures kick in.

20111114

Art Scene Continues to Spark


It is exciting to see T or C's art scene advance beyond the gallery wall. Last night we enjoyed a great performance called Hot China. The women who produced it are in T or C as artists in residence here through a residency program new to town and called Starry Night. Described as an evening of cosmic food and energy Hilary A. Baldwin & Samantha Rehark read off continuously from lists of food items that they pulled out of two cookbooks written in the 1950s that they bought in a T or C thrift shop. All the while they sat inside two large meditation triangles and around a display of hors d'oeuvres they prepared from the same books. Guests were encouraged to eat and some approached and came away with green sherbet and 7 up beverages, marshmallow and strawberry sticks and vienna sausages. Bravo! 

20111113

Let's Make Soap!

Let's Make Soap! by mikeysklar
Let's Make Soap!, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We were gifted a large amount of soap equipment over the summer. Yesterday, we finally got around to looking up a simple recipe and making our own soap from olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, sage oil and a bit of sodium hydroxide. Rather than making a batch we started by making two small bars (about 5oz).

Let's Make Soap! #2Let's Make Soap! #3Let's Make Soap! #4

Another Art Hop in T or C

Truth or Consequences hosts a monthly art hop. In the winter these events are especially lively. Last night we went out for it after having missed a few over the summer. We were immediately reminded of the charm of T or C. In quirky retail stores people gathered and caught up with neighbors.  Artists stood by their works and talked about their inspirations and here and there music of all variety blasted out. My favorite not only of last night but forever was this pair who I found playing in a gift shop.

Saving on Beverages

Saving on Beverages by mikeysklar
Saving on Beverages, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

We just started using a french press to make tea. I am impressed by it's filtering capability. Every other day I like to make a half gallon of hot tea which I let cool, add honey and toss in the fridge. We usually rotate between two of our blends:

1. Perky - ephedra, mint and hibiscus
2. Cota - plus some local mint

We grow or wild harvest most of the ingredients so the cost is close to zero for us. I like to compare the price to what it costs to buy pre-made drinks from grocery stores. Most commercial drinks have ingredients we would not want to drink like high fructose corn syrup and cost several dollars for far less quantity.

Now We Run

Now We Run by mikeysklar
Now We Run, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
After reading Born to Run Wendy and I added running to our daily regiment. We both averted running until now thinking that it looked brutal. Now, having run about a mile a day for the last four, we are really enjoying it. We're going to try to build up to 20 minutes without a break and reach beautiful areas in nature that are nearby. This might prove to be our winter alternative to the pool being closed. Already we've named a few things we love about it, it's a great physical example of breaking through boundaries, it takes us to beautiful places outside, it reduces Sesames seizures, there's technique to try out we feel great.

Homemade at Someone Else's Home

There is nothing I can compare in value to the home made gift. The contents in this lovely basket of goods came from a a hodge podge of friends who stopped in to say Happy Birthday the other day. Oh la la! Better than a Gap T shirt wouldn't ya say?

20111110

Switching Seasons, Repairs, Root Veggies and Cold Frames


The nice thing about switching to winter gardening is that there is little to rush over. I can meander day by day pulling out frozen plants that died from the cold, bang a few new boards on where old one's have decayed, weed the newly empty beds, fertilize them and put to bed the gardens we don't use in the winter. Today I also converted a couple of beds into cold frames for a run of winter greens. These get a simple junk trailer window placed over them at night. Three of our gardens are still in full effect. I was able to make lunch, a veggie stir fry with cashew nuts added to  broccoli, carrots, celery and parsnips from the root veggies that are now happily enjoying the cold.

20111109

Landcaster Report: Garottage


We've posted about our friend Brad Landcaster many times. Having just stopped in on him in Tucson we got a quick update on his experiments and projects. Brad's responsible for lots of restructuring in Tucson including curb cuts, light laws, community boards with information about the local water shed and the recent addition of areas for water to be captured and drain back into the aquifer. He's tireless. On this trip we stayed in what used to be his old garage and is now property referred to as the garottage (garage + cottage). With it he wants to demonstrate how little space one needs to live and he did just that. We spent two nights without a moment of discomfort or over crowding. Just outside of it are two newly installed water catch tanks providing the garottage with all the water one needs for light bathing while giving the nearby plants what they need to live.