Check Out Them Apples

Check Out Them Apples by mikeysklar
Check Out Them Apples, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Two of our apple trees have started to drop fruit. I'm thinking that we will juice the apples, ferment them into hard cider and then distill that into a lovely apple brandy.

Check Out Them Apples #2

Summer Pizza

Summer Pizza by mikeysklar
Summer Pizza, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
I love making pizza during the summer. We have our own mozzarella and romano cheeses we make, tomatoes, basil and oregano from the garden and a pretty simple crust I ferment over night. The monsoon weather usually cools things down to the point that we can run a oven without making the house overly hot.

Summer Pizza #2


Fermented Oats Anyone?

Fermented Oats Anyone? by mikeysklar
Fermented Oats Anyone?, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
I tried serving Wendy some fermented oats for breakfast, but it didn't go over too well. I used two cups of oats and one cup of cultured whey and let them sit over night. There were soggy and a little sour from fermenting. I've read about people doing this to make oats more digestible, but I'm thinking maybe a lot less whey next time? Has anyone else tried soaking grains or legumes in whey?

Meet Art

Meet Art by mikeysklar
Meet Art, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

This is our friend Art who works at the hardware store. Every month or so I stop by and have them cut a bunch of plexiglass strips so that I can mill them down for my electronics kits. Art is using a fletcher 3000 to score the plexiglass. We then drag it over to a table to snap it.

Heartworm Prevention

With monsoon season come mosquitoes. Though we have few of them I take preventative measures by putting our dog Sesame on natural remedies for parasites and heartworm.

If your a long time blog reader you may recall that we learned a hard lesson last year when I got our dog Sesame a round of vaccines that nearly killed her and caused seizures that we were told would be permanent. When the doc recommended spinal tap I went to my plant medicine books. She's on homeopathic belladonna still, no seizures. After reading about the active ingredients in heartworm medication I decided to handle prevention in my own style, naturally.

Wormwood, black walnut and garlic are safe for dogs in small doses and short spurts. While high doses of garlic can cause other problems, low doses offer a variety of benefits. Sesame is 40lbs and is taking one dose per day: 1/4 dropper mixed wormwood and black walnut tincture, 1/4 clove of garlic once a day for a week. I'll continue this by putting her on it for a week each month through Oct.


Movie for DIYers: Bellflower

We watched Bellflower for the first time last night. The movie was released in 2011, made for less than $500k and won a Sundance award. I loved the story line of two guys building crazy apocalyptic flame throwers and vehicles. The main characters were totally obsessed with the humongous from Mad Max (the guy who wore bikini bottoms and a metal hockey mask). The best part was their DIY abilities. The films director/writer/star actually built the car with crazy flame effects and modifications as well as the diesel flame thrower. They even built their own camera to make the movie. If you like fire, burningman or crazy apocalyptic stuff see this film. Not for children. Want more info see the press kit.

Movie for DIYers: Bellflower #2



This time of year the garden is covered in butterflies and bees. I've made a collection of the lost wings.

Season of Scent

Flowers are arriving late this year. But who could get mad at them?


Prickly Pear and Mesquite Infused Meads

Latest Meads by mikeysklar
Latest Meads, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Just like the kombucha I'm using the same wild harvested flavors in our meads. Now we have a few experimental bottles of prickly pear and mesquite mead. If you wonder why I'm posting a crazy amount of stuff on mesquite and prickly pear it's because they are both in season right now. We can easily harvest enough of these wild foods to last us through the winter.

Sour Mesquite Bread

Sour Mesquite Bread by mikeysklar
Sour Mesquite Bread, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
This is my latest attempt at a sour mesquite bread. I start the bread the day before and let it is overnight to sour. After 24 hours I add more flour and some mesquite. The mesquite can only go in last as it tends to go to alcohol if left to sit. This batch could use at least 1.5 teaspoon salt to bring out the flavor. Also baking time should be on increased to 50 minutes as it's a little doughy near the center.

Sour Mesquite Bread #2Sour Mesquite Bread #3Sour Mesquite Bread #4

Yerba Mansa from UPS Lady

Yerba Mansa from UPS Lady by mikeysklar
Yerba Mansa from UPS Lady, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I was a little surprised to open our front gate this afternoon for the UPS truck only to be presented with a plastic bag full of plant medicine. Our UPS lady Valary is amazing at getting us our packages, but now she had kicked it up another notch. She delivered us free plants from her mothers garden based on a conversation we had last week and some herbal remedies we gifted her with.

Yerba Mansa is good for repairing damages tissues and mucus membranes.

New Kombucha Flavor : Peach Mesquite

What is brown on the inside and pink on the outside? Why our new localized kombucha flavors of course. We have been making prickly pear peach kombucha for years. It tastes like watermelon jolly rancher. Now I am experimenting with a mesquite syrup I have boiled down. The two inner bottles have been given two tablespoons of the mesquite syrup. We will know next week how it tastes.

Juicing Purslane

Juicing Purslane by mikeysklar
Juicing Purslane, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

It's the middle of summer and purslane is growing all over our yard. I look forward to harvesting this salt lush green every year for our morning juice. High in omega-3's this is a special plant to have.

Standing Desk

Standing Desk by mikeysklar
Standing Desk, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Over a decade ago I bought a fancy pants computer desk with height adjustment. Just recently I've set the desk to standing height and have been trying to work on it. It actually could be a little higher as I find myself looking.

It's crazy the difference in energy levels I feel while standing and working versus sitting and working. Something about sitting makes me go to sleep. Next modification will be a treadmill!


Endings and Beginnings

T or C is resistant to gentrification. The town seems to have a magical quality of bring to each person who moves here exactly what it is they need, like it or not. Some find themselves immediately expelled by an unnamable force. Others drift comfortably into what they quickly call home. In spit of this, structure is not resistant to change. A landmark building called the Buckhorn was demolished the other day. This came just after it actually started falling on it's own. The spectacle was enjoyed by townies as though a long awaited last episode to a good TV series. Here's a film posted to YouTube.


Endless Bummer - Our Town Pool

Last night we went had YAPM (Yet Another Pool Meeting). This was hosted by the city council and was well attended by the public. The problem with our city pool is that it is only open from June - September. It is shut down all winter despite the city having received grant money and a top. The cities concern is that the pool runs at a significant loss and they don't have the funds to cover it. The pools members just want to swim year round. It's been a stale mate for over 25 years with no progress made on opening the pool for the winter. Wendy got up and spoke as did others, but it doesn't look good for getting the cover up this fall.


Mesquite is Coming In

Mesquite is Coming In by mikeysklar
Mesquite is Coming In, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
I've been doing some light harvesting from the first mesquite pods which make a rattle sound when I pull them from the trees. Most of these trees are on irrigation so the pods are not desirable for flour, but are good for molasses which I will be adding to our breads and meads.

Mesquite is Coming In #2

Mesquite is Coming In #3

Mesquite is Coming In #4

Summer Rains == Wet Cat

Summer Rains == Wet Cat by mikeysklar
Summer Rains == Wet Cat, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Scardy has been getitng the towel when he tries to enter the house soaked from the rain.


I Wrote a Book

For six years Mikey and I have been exploring life as makers of things in New Mexico. For even longer I have been engaged in a whole hearted exploration of what life can be in a time in which the whole world is for sale, it is commodified.  My efforts have been towards finding a sane way to live.

The book is written (insert sigh of relief here) and is now in the art stage of its development. I am delighted to tell you that my publisher is putting a lot into its design. I believe it will be lovely.

It has been a practical and emotional journey that I am excited to share with you. The book comes out early next year, published by Storey Publishing.



My Favorite Kind of Yard Sale

The owner came out and explained that he didn't make any money the day before. It rain heavily that night and he left everything outside on tables. Thus the sign.


I Bet You Thought New Mexico was Hotter Than This

Rain and mild temperatures in the forecast all week. We have been passed over by a number of storms the last few days, but I am still hopeful that we will see some hard rain.

Scoring Plexiglass

Scoring Plexiglass by mikeysklar
Scoring Plexiglass, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

I've been using this paper cutter to score plexiglass and have been getting excellent results. I use plexiglass on for my electronics enclosures and scoring by hand would often lead to slightly diagonal lines from the ruler moving. This tool helps me align my cut points and get perfect score each time. I then place the plexiglass under my foot and lift up on a edge like a big lever to snap it.

Two Things to do with a Summer Watermleon

It's crazy that you can buy a 15lb watermelon for $4 this time of year. We like to make a watermelon gazpacho and blend the remains of the watermelon into a drink that we refrigerate. It's nice to know the fridge has a gallon of watermelon juice in it.

Second Planting

Second Planting by mikeysklar
Second Planting, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Our garden has been struggling this summer. We didn't pay much attention to it and the temps have been high up until this week. Now that things are cooling off for the rest of the summer we decided to plant a lot more hot crops (okra, tomatoes, melons, chilies and peppers). Our first freeze won't happen until November so we should have plenty of time to boost our garden output.


Tastes Even Better: Passion on the Plate

We have been ooh ahh'ing about our new coffee shop and bakery, Passion Pie. Today's salad, a total surprise from the chef who said to me, "a customer appreciation salad!" in reply to my ordering instructions, "I need green, help!" It tastes even better than it looks.

It was time!


Flip-Flop Collection

Flip-Flop Collection by mikeysklar
Flip-Flop Collection, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

Spotted at a local park where all the tubers get out of the Rio Grande. This could grow to be quite a collection of lost and found flip-flops.

Sun Oven Repairs

Sun Oven Repairs by mikeysklar
Sun Oven Repairs, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.
Our sun oven has been faithfully baking breads, dehydrating food and warming up breakfast leftovers for years. The opening and closing of the glass cover and reflectors has taken it's toll on the device. I finally had to add two new screws to the reflector mount and remove and re-seat the screws holding the glass cover. After a few minutes of drilling the Sun Oven was restored to working order.

Sun Oven Repairs #2Sun Oven Repairs #3

Princess in the Mud Room

Princess in the Mud Room by mikeysklar
Princess in the Mud Room, a photo by mikeysklar on Flickr.

She tells me that this is clean dirt.

Indoors: Medicine and Orchids

There are many plants that simply will not grow in the desert climate. Blueberries for one. I'm having good results growing valerian (left), skullcap and st. johns wort indoors. Along side the valerian in this photo is an orchid that has flowered every year since I got it. Oh la la!

Drying Holy Basil

I love holy basil. Each time I get a whiff of it I find myself unable to believe how much it smells like Bubblicious gum. OK the gum smells like the holy basil. I had a way small crop this year and will replant. Meanwhile what's flowering is drying in the kitchen and will become tea for the winter.


Last year we planted two jujubes, male and female. They're both happy and growing fast. They're already producing offspring too. We planted them about 15' apart with hopes that a forest of them would bridge the distance. Looks good! And they're fruiting too!

Variety of Chamomile?

Last year I threw down two varieties of chamomile. One was delicious, the other quite icky. Does anyone know how to tell them apart? The chamomile in this photo sprung up on its own this year and I don't know which it is.

Finally Back to the Gardens

A big writing project followed by travel kept me from the gardens. Little by little I'm catching up. Things are not as bad as I thought. I have mostly been yanking bermuda grass from the beds. Our dwarf apple is loaded with fruit, yay!

Temps Break

The temps dropped, clouds have rolled in, monsoon nears and all area happy!

Gene Simmons Cow Skull

I love this town!