Monday, December 28, 2009
(This is a picture of Sugar in Tallahassee...she's up for adoption)
I'm totally in love with our adopted Australian Shepherd (Kaleb), and so is Jack. He gives us something to laugh about and enjoy every day, but takes his job of being our canine companion very seriously. He's his happiest when he's all but attached to our persons 24/7.
We can't imagine a better fit for our family than Kaleb. That doesn't mean I don't still look at the remaining Aussies Awaiting Adoption, though. I'm not only in love with our fella, but I love the breed. I'm sure there are some challenging individual dogs out there that may not have been nearly the best option for our family, even with this breed, but I often run across many that seem by their descriptions to be great dogs.
So I'm going to periodically post listings I see for some of these, in the hopes that some folks who have the time and attention to devote to an Aussie of their own might consider adoption as a real option. Some are purebred and some are mixes, and all are special dogs. For us, adoption was ideal. There are always unknowns going into it, but the experienced rescue organization folks are skilled in helping match the right person to the right Aussie.
Here's today's beautiful girl, Sugar, in Florida. If you'd like to read more about her, here's her page and more pics. She's just the sort of Aussie we'd be looking at if we were looking to add another fabulous furball to our family right now ...maybe she's meant to be a part of yours :)
Florida too far? Here's a map link to more states so you can find a wonderful Aussie for adoption in your neck of the woods...
Monday, December 21, 2009
It turns out that this plant should reach a quite tall and broad shrub size. We're not sure how long that'll take. It's not the sort of plant that can be pruned to a formal hedge shape, but since we're not exactly formal hedge folks, we're hoping to propagate some more through cuttings to achieve a loose, informal grouping that can be used as a cut-and-come-again source of edible leaves.
I did find out (since I'd forgotten) that the leaves are NOT edible raw...there are toxins that shouldn't be eaten, but, as with some other types of subtropical plants, they are neutralized if the leaves are cooked. And like so many other tropical leaves, they are described as tasting "like spinach" when cooked. We haven't gotten to that point yet. Let's see how this one weathers the.....um....weather. We'll also see how it does as the temps dip, and whether frost kills it back. Many of our plants we lost last year came back from the roots (except ALL the papayas and coco plums, wahhh), so we're hoping that's the case with this one if we go down that same road this year.
We'll probably put several layers of cardboard down around it this year before the heat sets in, to help keep the bermuda from choking it out. It does not like standing water or damp roots, so it's in an area that dries out fast.
I'll report back when we taste-test it one of these days. It is said to be hardy in zone 8 and warmer. If it's hardy AND tastes good, it's a keeper :) Will keep you posted....
Here's the side lot, facing the back swale. Moringa tree is to the left, some seedlings being clustered at its trunk in case of frost, pigeon pea bush to the right, forefront is a cranberry hibiscus/false roselle badly in need of a good prune. Jack's letting it recover from being transplanted first.
What we initially mistook for hips really proved to be the buds prior to flowering. The leaves of this plant are edible raw or cooked, as are the flowers. The leaves have a bright lemony flavor some compare to sorrell (I've never had sorrell)
We have about ten or so each of the moringa trees and the pigeon pea bushes planted out. The 5 gallon buckets we started with three years ago (for seedlings) are now clustered under and around these because the weather here in the last couple days has dipped to nighttime lows in the mid-thirties. There are various tree and shrub seedlings in the buckets, and while they are (imho) rather an eyesore, grouping them in clusters near buffer plants seems to help them through the lower temps. I was out there today checking on some of them and among the buckets we still have some tamarinds, malangas, guavas, etc. The papayas, which are more tender at least at the height of four feet that ours are, have been moved to the interior corner of our back lanai, out of the wind and protected on two sides. We lost ALL our papayas last year, so these are from this year's seeds and we hope they'll survive. We don't even try covering everything this year when it's that cold. If the forecast says below freezing, we'll blanket the small citrus and that's about it. We have old cardboard boxes saved for cutting down and putting around the bases of some of the other plants, but mostly Jack uses them around the bases anyway to cut down on weed burden.
We've never grown the pigeon peas before, and I had no idea they'd be blooming right in December and putting out peas! Here are some of the pods that just matured, before picking them. Again, I'm not used to Florida yet...can't believe I can pick this in December...
Here's the faithful guard of The Jungle. He's next to some pigeon peas and cranberry hibiscus, with a chaya plant just behind him (in the forefront). I'm reallyyyy hoping the chaya makes it if there's a freeze. It's the plant that at first glance seems to be a thistle.
Here's the chaya closeup. It's another of those plants, I think originally from Mexico or thereabouts, that is supposed to thrive in this climate. It has multiple uses and this is the size after having ordered a small starter plant this summer. I believe it can be propagated by cuttings and the leaves are edible, though we have yet to try it. We got it because of its usefulness as an edible cut-and-come-again green that can form nearly a hedge. I don't know yet if it's edible raw.
More to come, but my computer's slow at downloading, so I'll call it a night for now. Please send pictures of snow...I miss a fireplace but otherwise have no complaints, since it gets chilly enough at night here for my liking :)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
This recipe is so easy, it literally takes two minutes to make, and it's easy to have something completely raw that eats like a meal, depending on what you use to dip it with. Any raw veggie works well for dipping...tonight I had cauliflower. I topped it with chili flakes and after taking the pictures above (bad lighting, sorry), also topped it with more sesame seeds. Why I love them so much right now I do not know, but who cares? They're wonderful!
As you can see, I am really suffering through this raw eating experience ;-) Green smoothies chock full of whatever dark leafy greens I want to put in there, topped off with frozen blueberries and a couple of bananas and blended to a cold thick pourable milkshake consistency, are split between Jack and myself. A small portion of fish or lean meat, if desired, with some raw veggies in different variations such as the zuke hummus shown here, or some gorgeous emerald spinach tossed for a few seconds with just-cooked salmon and eaten up. Any fruit out-of-hand, or a fruity smoothie ice cold for a sweet tooth.
Monday, December 14, 2009
But the kicker for me was this...my tastebuds fell head over heels with the combination of wasabi (for the uninitiated, it's a powerful Asian horseradish that can't adequately be described beyond "green," "potent," and "WOW") and soy sauce..mixed together and into which edibles all wrapped in substantial bites of rice (sometimes), a dry crisp seaweed sheet, and maybe rolled further in sesame seeds...are dipped. Into the sauce. Till they soak some of it up.
And your mouth goes POW. And then repeat.
Well, if it's an acquired taste, it didn't take me long to acquire it. Oh. My. Gosh...I love wasabi. I must have brain explosions of happy chemicals as a result of eating it, and it may be the closest substance in my life I probably need a 12 step program to address (heh heh) It's also about the only time I eat soy sauce, since I avoid most other soy like the plague. But anyway...
I used to visit a family-owned restaurant off and on when I lived in Memphis (it's no longer there now) and they served made-on-the-spot sushi rolls back when it was more of a novelty (well at least in Memphis it was). I liked the combination of avocado, minced carrot, cream cheese, minced shallot inside the seaweed sheet then rolled with rice around the outside and finally toasted sesame seeds. My body must have wanted the iodine or something in that seaweed, or maybe the wasabi, but several of my trepidatious friends, after trying these, became addicted, too. We called them "Robbyn rolls," and I wish I knew how to make them like Andy did. Andy barely spoke English and was from an undisclosed nation in Asia, but chose the name Andy for his English moniker, and he was the master touch for our veggie roll get-togethers. Thankfully they were inexpensive, so it was a fun way to while away some social time with friends over pots of hot green tea.
Well, I've failed miserably at making sushi, but I still keep trying.
Here's my latest attempt, but the NICE thing about this is that I was trying to find something that would hold together well but not have the consistency of carrot. Carrot's just not my favorite texture in a veggie roll. Enter the idea of pumpkin. Winter squash would work fine, too. I thought it might pair well when ultimately dipped in the wasabi/soy.
I peeled a piece of calabaza, which is simply a tropical pumpkin, and shredded it on one of those box shredders...I don't have a food processor and my blender would make mush of it. Instead of rice, I diced some cauliflower really fine, and layered it on a sheet of seaweed, cauliflower first and then the shredded pumpkin. Then I topped that with toasted sesame (I don't have any raw), and rolled it up and let it sit a minute. I put too much filling in this time, so they came out fat and bulky, but at least this time they held together all the way through this stage.
I sliced them carefully and turned them on their sides. But there is no way they were secure or small enough to hold together to dip. So I mixed up some soy sauce and wasabi (found in the ethnic section of the regular supermarket) and dribbled some over each roll, to soak into the filling (not the wrapping, or it would collapse). They held together well enough for me to pop them into my mouth and chew, so hey, I've improved!Ok, YES. YES YES YES. It worked! It's not going to replace the really great fillings that normally come with ones made by a pro. But the textures worked, the flavors worked, the taste was great!! (But I say that meaning that ONLY with the wasabi/soy mix does it taste right...otherwise, not so much)
Can we say YAYYY??? All of it was raw but the sesame seeds. It would taste even more wonderful with a little cream cheese inside. But that'll hafta wait...
I can SO handle eating this again :) And I just found a fun use for our pumpkins, woo!
I've included pictures of my victims (the ingredients). While not the most artistic, my tastebuds and wasabi-craving brain receptors did not complain :)
Saturday, December 12, 2009
I've been trying to get my sleeping schedule back to some semblance of normality. Eating "high raw" (a high percentage of only raw foods) is going well with the only real bumps being some flubs with hamburgers on my work days...I really am trying to stay away from those. But I had run out of the leafy greens and the fish both, so I planned better when shopping this time around.
Jack and I both watched a documentary about some people who went to Gabriel Cousens' center and spent a month eating raw food only, and reversed their diabetes. The CD couldn't have come at a better time, since I was needing some direction. Correction...we, Jack and I both, were needing some.
I did vary from the smoothies and tried two recipes in the last couple days. One was raw "popcorn" using raw cauliflower cut up and tossed with nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy/nutty flavor) and savory spices like sea salt, cayenne, and paprika. We did like that for munching. It doesn't do well refrigerated, though, because the seasonings turn to mush.
The other recipe I LOVE is one I saw on a video. Supposedly it's a beanless hummus. It's made with raw zucchini, tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, pinch of sea salt and cayenne and cumin. [[later edit...I forgot to mention garlic...lots of garlic! ]]] OH MY. I forgot the cumin and even so it was SO SO SO good. A beautiful pale green, and we sliced raw veggies and cherry tomatoes and used them as "chips." I'll definately be using that again. SO easy in the blender...you just blend the ingredients together. Jack loved it, too.
I think his body is in shock. He's eaten more greens IN his food in a few days than he usually has in a month ( or maybe more). I fix us smoothies in the blender daily, and vary the fruit and the greens that go into them. But I love the frozen blueberries and have started freezing the bananas in chunks because it gives a great texture and sweetness that masks any strong flavors that might be unfamiliar for us starting out. We eat a lot of kale, parsley, romaine, collards, and will try turnip greens coming up...all in the smoothies, cleverly disguised (haHA) :)
I've not lost any more weight. Since that's my secondary focus at first, I'm not panicked. I do feel so much better overall it helps keep me from getting discouraged. I do eat a lot of what I think of as "oily fish"...salmon, and tinned kippered smoked herring, whitefish, the like. My body seems to be having a party with all those omega-3s.
We ordered Cousen's book about reversing diabetes. We're getting serious about it. So far we're resisting the urge to get too much "health store stuff" because of the cost and the fact we need something that works for us for the long term.
There's more to write, but I'm sleepy and just wanted to check in here.
What's going on in your world?? :) Hope your days and weekend are great :)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
But moringa is on the docket, as it's plenteous and now we need to learn how to best harvest and use it. I anticipate this week using it in nearly all the smoothies.
I'm sleeping WELL.
I'm eating WELL.
It seems this raw food experience should be a more difficult transition, but so far, it is just great!
Up this week, besides the moringa, will be starting sprouts. And making vegetable "sushi" rolls. Anything to get my wasabi fix :)
For the daily updates, ad nauseum, on the raw experiment, it's here at my Raw Green Blender Queen journal page.
I'm off to blend :)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
(yes, I know it's December now, and fully winter here in the ol' Western hemisphere. And the corn growing season is done, here in Florida, too...I think??...but we had this prodigal plant make it till now because of our warm temps...don't be hatin'...I need your advice!)
This is an ear of a South American type of corn planted from a seed I got from a rare seed company some time back. It was definately planted at the wrong time this year, just before the weather turned cooler. I think Jack only had planted three seeds, and one of the resulting stalks just kept on going despite the dips in temps.
It turned out to be a beautiful black purple, and even the husks stain my fingers purple...the color is deep and gorgeous. I do have some questions...I know there's somebody out here who'll have some answers :)
1. I may have picked this too early. How can I tell? The tassells had turned brown, so I guessed at it, but I don't know how to tell.
2. Why are so many of the kernels missing? There was only one other corn plant that survived, and it looked pretty puny. Does this have something to do with it? Or could it have been soil infertility? The soil was top dressed with composted manure, but underneath the soil was hard sand.
3. The few developed kernels seem to be fairly big. Why did they develop, and others did not? I did not notice any sign of insect damage either outside or inside the husk.
4. If we grew more of this, how would we best select and preserve the seeds for future plantings? Do we husk them and let them dry, and if so, at what stage and how would they be stored?
For the basic stats on my 30 day experiment, the weight and such tallies are over here.
The one surprising thing I'm learning, since I've never really done raw blended things before, is that it really doesn't take big quantities of anything. In fact, I could have cut the quantity to one third instead of having a lot leftover to eat/drink later. With the price of produce (which we're still having to buy, but someday won't, hopefully), I only have to use a few stems of this and that, and it really is going to last longer than I'd anticipated.
I used one fresh beet (scrubbed) and its greens...love those ruby red stems. I also used raw collard leaves, parsley, and kale, and blended in some raw chunked sweet potato, some pear, and a banana. To help with blending, I wet it all with the storebought 100% juice cranberry, which has a mix of apple and white grape juice, I think, instead of cane sugar. Anyway, this came out a lot sweeter than I'd thought, and I actually liked it...I had prepared myself to drink it no matter what it tasted like, anticipating holding my nose and getting down a few good gulps. This drink has a copious amount of greens in it...all raw. I'm pretty surprised! There's enough left over for about three hearty servings later, if I'm even hungry.
This is the first blender I've owned, ever...just got it yesterday. All the produce showing in the pic, minus one banana and the lemons, were what I blended just now.
I need to wear an old shirt when blending. I have some splats from the beets that make me look like I sustained some chest trauma, ha :)
I just finished a very large glass of this concoction, and I need to adjust my quantity...I need only a third, which now that I'm thinking about it would mean I'd get several meals off the amount I just made.
I don't know the exact $$ amount, but with this being so fiber and nutrient-dense and so filling, I'll be surprised if I can empty the veggie bin in my fridge before some of this needs to be made into soup. Let's see!
At any rate, look, Ma...I ate my greens :)
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
And so I've been doing some more reading up, as well as contemplating what would fit with our family goal of growing most of our own foods. That in itself will require a change of eating, because typically we can't afford right now to eat as much produce as we'd like. BUT (isn't there always a but?)...that has to change. As we DO grow more of our own food, our appetites will have to accomodate a lot more green things as well as some veggies that do well in our area but that I never grew up eating.
I'll go out on a limb and say that I never see myself totally eliminating animal products from our diets, or at least mine, by choice. That said, I DO see our transitioning to raw milk and milk products, unmedicated meats, and a completely different ratio of raw and veg foods than we eat right now. Eggs, too.
I simply don't know if I can do this, but I am trying very hard since the months-long run of having been ill and now feeling stronger, finally...am trying to listen to what I need to do better "self care"....I'm not hard on myself and don't ignore myself. But I need a more specific type of healing, I think, and I believe that means unburdening my body from complications and giving it what it needs to heal and be less toxic.
I'm seriously contemplating a modified raw food regimen (with some frozen berries thrown in), the exception being the occasional inclusion of meat/bone broth and fish. I am thinking of trying this for 30 days and charting the process, if for no other reason than to help me transition to a different ratio in my eating, changing over to mainly fruit and veg. It would also do a lot to help me eliminate the temptation of processed flour and other processed foods, as well as find other ways to get the taste I enjoy by un-learning some of my grab-and-go standbys and exploring some equally tasty but more nutritionally dense alternatives.
Maybe I just want to know I can do it and maybe I feel the need for a cleanse. Anyway, I'm thinking about it.
Strangely, and gladly, I am at a different mindset going into this than I have been at other points in my life. At other points, I felt the urge to nurture myself because of feeling depressed, and other emotions linked to situations present at those times. I did experience welcome breakthroughs when I did that back then. But this time is markedly different because I am very content and happy in general and the strongest emotion I have driving this desire is to be able to enjoy my world physically as much (and as long) as possible, to improve some conditions that I'd like to see gone healthwise, and to really invest in having as many years possible to enjoy my husband who is the dearest friend I have.
It's been important for me in the past to work through challenges when making life changes, especially to be motivated for the positive rather than through feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and such. Negativity or fear can't drive me. My weight has always been a challenge, but I can say that though I have a lot to lose, I've been both thin and very overweight, and I accept my body and am comfortable in my own skin wherever on the spectrum I am.
I made a conscious decision years ago to never diet again, therefore I won't. But old dogs can learn new tricks, and giving my body what's best is no prescribed diet...but it's a dietary change. I've lost 30 lbs in the past two years, most of it during the past year, ten of it while sick. I'd like to see more shed. If it happens, I'll applaud better choices and ride the momentum.
For now, I have to get used to eating foods I need, enjoying a broader range. (I already love veggies and fruits anyway). Lots and lots of different greens. A completely different ratio of raw and cooked, fruit/veg to starches and meats.
I'm contemplating whether 95% raw is something I should try for 30 days. That's enough time to see where I'd like to go from there. I'd include fats from fish, avocados, flax seed.
Thoughts? Experience you'd like to share?
I'll report back here about what I decide. I'll continue thinking about it while I fix myself a blueberry smoothie...yum :)
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
And pumpkin pies. Check! Doubtful on the pie crust, as I am one of those unfortunates who have not yet mastered the art of the pie crust. And those Pillsbury All-Ready ones? Well, dangit, I had to go and read the ingredients and sure enough, O Lard, there's lard in it. I have nothing against the piggies, but we just don't eat 'em, so I had to scramble to find some sort of easy crust to substitute. I found an easy recipe online with a simple list of ingredients that can be basically stirred and pressed into the pan using a bare hand and some waxed paper. It's not so pretty as the rolled out sort, but I need to work on my crust skills. So this sufficed for now and hey, the taste isn't bad. The actual pie is the same recipe we grew up with...my Grandma used the recipe on the Libby's label no matter what, and if you jazz it up with a few more shakes of spice than called for, it's tradition.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
1. I'm now in the care of an ear/nose/throat specialist. I'm feeling relief and can hear now out of one of my ears and both are so much better. We're working on the right ear to get the stubborn infection nixed. I really love this doc. He sees the yuck and gets this tube thingy and suctions it all out. Ohhhhh, so very great (total relief, ah :))
2. The losers who stole and wrecked our vehicle recently now have been making their way through our personal effects, namely the checkbooks and outgoing mail (checks sealed for mailing for monthly bills) that were among the stolen contents of the truck. It looks like we may be dealing with three counties in question, so I am doing due diligence trying to coordinate hubby/bank/case detective/copies of all the paperwork in question so that it can all be linked to the one same crime...and if fingerprints, checks, etc ever produce a break in the case, they can be busted for ALL of it. And oh, how I hope they are.
3. Been making the most of the library. The past few weeks it was espionage-ish type novels, then made my way through various sets of authors and their collections, then had a dry run of some authors I've never tried, with varied success. I'm now in the middle of one of Barbara Kingsolver's older ones, and just replenished the stack with some books of letters/logs/diaries (historical), some history local and of cuba, and various random selections from my ongoing author search in the fiction section, trying to locate others I've never read but might enjoy. I'm keeping the stack to about 15, and rotating out as I go so it stays fresh. I devour books.
4. Pulling things together for an early thanksgiving celebration with friends this weekend. Every minute between now and then is accounted for and I have no idea when i'll get the items in time (the things to cook and take...I was given a list of things to make that we don't usually have at home) because the work schedule (shared rides) have really screwy hours, PLUS Jack is having to handle driving time to banks to keep following up on the #2 above. But that said, my husband is very relaxed and seems to be immune to The Disaster Which Is My Kitchen presently, knowing that I will someday knock out the nuclear waste that is my stack of dishes in the sink. That, too, rotates, but quickly gets behind. I'm feeling SO much better physically! And perhaps too relaxed?? Well, I'm getting plenty of sleep, and am feeling so much better by the day!
5. And that's its own point. I'm so much better by the day, and I feel more like myself...HOORAY!!! Thank you to all who prayed for my health! There are still tests being run, but the feeling like I was hit by a bus is definately OVER. WHEW!!
6. Pup's good! Kaleb is thriving on his regimen, and is so well-knitted into the fiber of our family I can't imagine it without him. If you want a dog to not only be a faithful companion but to be totally in adoration and keep tabs on you 24/7, that's an Aussie. He's bonded well with Jack, too...they have their special "man talk" they do. but Kaleb is like an old mother hen about me and if one of us goes outside and the other stays in, he'll opt to stay close to me and worry about me while still going frequently to the window and worrying about Jack...it's really sweet. So we play and spoil the daylights out of him, and he seems to be thriving...yay :) His coat is looking like a whole new dog. We have to be careful not to be in the direct line of fire of his exuberance on these cooler days when he rockets around the yard outside when we take him out. He doesnt understand that he's the equivalent of a 65 lb freight train :)
7. Still researching the technologies I mentioned in a recent post, adn following up on the comments you guys left there. We LOVE those and love chipping away at those things!
8. Land search news on the horizon. Mum's the word till there's anything to report. But it still is being labored on.
9. I've never owned a gun. I've shot rifles and a shotgun before, but never a handgun. I've always been somewhat intimidated by handguns. But for whatever reason, we've made a couple trips to shops where I can see and feel handguns, to satisfy my curiosity and try to get over my irrational fear of them. I'm doing this for myself because I'd rather be educated than intimidated and ignorant of something. To know if I like it or not, and if not, to be sure of my reasons why. Doing some reading and going to these shops has at least gotten me less shy around them. I'm curious about them and am contemplating a gun safety class. And if I reach a comfort level, I'd like to go to a firing range and get more comfortable operating them. And possibly contemplate a class on concealed weapon licensing? Dunno, we'll see. Any thoughts?
10. I've gotten outside more and have been walking more. As my health has been better, I've craved walks in this beautiful weather that's mild but with good strong sun coming down...perfect! Been enjoying walking Kaleb, and I haven't gained back any of the weight I lost while sick (yay!). Now to get on a regular sleeping schedule.
all for now....
going to finish out the demanding week, and get in my great stretches of rest, especially since Jack's encouraging them. In spite of the stack of dishes.
I love my husband :)
P.S. Sometimes Kaleb snores like a little old man. And as he naps at my feet, sometimes he makes dog noises that freak me out because they sound like someone whispering. He also makes jealous dog noises, or pouting noises when Jack and I snuggle up asleep at night. But he gets over it. You should hear his sigh of resignation when we're all cuddled. As in "hey you two, get a room." And then he settles back into his deluxe pillow-stack condo beside my side of the bed. Yeah, he's got it so rough... It's a dog's life... :)
Monday, November 9, 2009
Before I go further, I'd like to say that I personally lean to the less-is-more concept of simplifying life. In fact, I'm not a technology bandwagon person. I'm also not a spend-more-to-be-green person.
My hubby loves technology and finding ways to innovate. I am a crusty codger about technology, and am more drawn to kerosene lamps and open fires, and very low-tech tools. That said, it would be a big adjustment for me to learn to live with average daytime temps of high 90s F for most of the year, and nights in the 80s F and up. But we keep looking for options and ideas.
Here are some things we've been reading up on, but have come to no particular conclusion about yet...but they continue to interest us in a closer look:
1. The Coolerado Air Conditioner. Here's a pic from their site --
Features of this type of A/C? It needs no refrigerant, and Jack believes that means it would cut out the A/C service costs completely. It supposedly is priced competitively with standard A/Cs, and it uses only ten percent of the normal energy of conventional A/Cs, which means it can be easily connected to solar panels without a huge drain of energy. It also thrives in heat and gets more efficient the hotter the weather. And so on and so on...here is a youtube video where they go into a bit more detail. Needless to say, this is on our curiosity list to follow up on and keep researching. It would mean A/C would be possible even off-grid, for the price of an airconditioner.
This video is about the larger A/C unit that would cool a larger building exceeding 1500 sq ft.
2. Getting Drinking Water from the Air: EcoloBlue 29 Atmospheric Water Generator --- this is something I ran across when googling off-grid living and was wondering about water options. The three downsides I see from the outset for this product are the cost and the fact it has a plug (needs electricity), and needs filters every 3 years or so. The up side being it produces clean drinking water from the air (yeah, that is very cool!) , needs 480 watts while running, cuts off when done....ergo, it could be fueled by solar panels as well. It's completely portable, meaning it's not fixed to plumbing or anything...it functions like a water cooler/heater drinking station. It can be used simply as an R/O system with existing water systems, if desired. But it needs no water source other than the air, since it uses the air humidity. It claims to produce 7 or more gallons of water a day, and switches off when full until the next time it's needed. Cost is in the ballpark of $1200. That's a big downside. For folks like us with filthy and very VERY hard to stomach well water due to the high sulfur content (we have to BUY all our cooking and drinking water weekly, ugh) We do have a Berkey filtration set-up, but it does NOT remove the sulfur smell...which is not something you'll find in their literature. So we're definately interested in these claims, especially since we live in a high-humidity area, though the literature states that it will run in any area.
Here's a video about it
Here's the pic from their site:
Reading comments from users seemed to show they were satisfied and also noted that periodic flushing of the unit to keep it clean was the only real maintenance that came up. We'll be checking this out more, but at this point, the price for our situation is too spendy.
3. The Rocket Stove. I first saw this at one of my favorite blog sites, La Ferme de Sourrou...here is one of the posts where you can see it in use. This has REALLY impressed me, since its biggest selling points (to me, at least) are its ease of construction from really inexpensive materials, its ability to realllyyyy get hot fast, and the fact (this is HUGE) it needs VERY VERY little fuel...a few corncobs, or small pencil-sized sticks, leaves, things you'd find easily without chopping a lot of trees or paying for fuel. Here are a couple of links I found you might enjoy. This handmade technology is SIMPLE but EFFECTIVE. It really will get our attention as we hammer out alternative ways to cook, especially if we relocate, without being dependent on paying for fuel or chopping wood. I'm not sure if I could adapt it for outdoor canning, but it's certainly worth finding out.
Here is one of my faves...I love the ease of construction. This one's made of adobe bricks.
This one below is constructed of basic metal containers and Parts one and two show the ease of construction from about any metal container (note: the author notes later to use black metal for one of the components)
This one is my favorite of all. This shows several being used in Africa. Each one is made of 6 bricks and is the rocket stove concept, using very very little kindling or wood, mostly just a few twigs.
This one shows the above 6-brick stove's construction. They apparently are later mudded over to customize the exterior shape for the owner.
That's it for now...what's caught your interest lately? I'd love to know what's worked best for you...any category...as a best solution for your homestead :)
Saturday, November 7, 2009
We got a call late evening last night that the police had found our stolen truck lodged in the mud on the side of the road on a two lane heavily partied area near a popular beach. These are photos taken in the dark, but they give some idea of what we found when we got there.
Probably, because the area is well-traveled, the location may have prevented them from stripping down the vehicle all the way...tires, etc. As it was, EVERYthing from the interior that could be removed by hand hastily was. Registration papers, everything from all compartments, our many tools and supplies we kept in the back for our work, and even stupid stuff...all gone. The gift they left us was the aroma of pot smoking and spilled beer, damage to the inside and outside we're not entirely sure yet the full extent is till we get it to a mechanic, and an abandoned cooler left in the truck bed.
One of the dents. The side door doesn't close well as a result. And soon I will discuss my FEELINGS about people who do this to other people's property just for the fun of it.
These smudges are where the deputy dusted for fingerprints...and got some good ones. I hope some are in the state computer and that they get prosecuted.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Tonight was not the night to leave a full set of keys, a wallet, and a lot of personal and work items locked in our only vehicle at work. At least for us, it wasn't the best of nights...but for some lowlife professional break-and-enter car thief, it was probably high cotton.
Our only vehicle is gone. Practically right in front of my eyes. Right at work.
Prayers are appreciated! We're making all the necessary calls to try to mitigate any compromises of identity, financial data/accounts, etc. What. A. Headache.
We would love the vehicle to be recovered in good and driveable condition. We're really happy no one was hurt (me!) and that we seem to have a pretty good basic insurance coverage (helps).
I need to send a big thank you to everyone who has offered health recommendations and encouragement in the last post, too...I've read them carefully and implemented many of them. I have an appointment with a specialist early next week, if I have a replacement driver's license and rental vehicle to drive by then.
Shall be back to post periodically, but wow, hmmm...what can I say? Just very grateful no one tried to take something more precious than some transportation...such as one of our lives.
Makes me hug my hubby tighter! And my sweet daughter, who was great about taxiing us home (wow, shoe on the other foot...memories of how many times we taxiid her ...thanks, Rachey!)
Hug the ones you love. Cars (or trucks) can be replaced....(we hope!!!)
Love you guys :)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Long story short is that I don't much like my personality just now, and normal life ups and downs just seem more intense, though they probably aren't. I feel irritable even in regular conversations with those I love. That's not "me."
I don't get really low often, but my spirits are really not in a good place. I'll be back here when I have something positive to contribute. I can't seem to shake my irritability, and it's got me wanting to just take a bus and disappear from everyone, period, till I find my good humor again.
My "sky's still the same color".....it's just my own perspective of it that needs a readjustment.
Hope to be back soon when I can find my smile :)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
She charts everything by computer, and every visit is more or less as if she has no idea what we've done prior or what's even wrong with me.
It's a small office and they downsized and no longer even have a nurse in the office. But I think they're milking this office visit thing for money.
They used to have good communication via phone when there was a regular nurse, but now I have to go for an office visit for everything...and begin all over again as if the doc didn't just see me three days ago (argh!) She actually asked me why I was there last time I came in and I said Because I'm SICK and you told me to come back in??? (maybe it comes out more polite than that) Their office has a phone line where you leave the doc messages for refills or other communications. At her instruction, I've called with updates she requested. She's answered none of my calls. At the last visit, she said she is not going to do anything via the phone, and is just going to have me come in each time since I get confused. I'm the one confused???
I really think at this point that in my case she has no idea what she's doing, and I can't believe I've waited this long to change docs. Dang dang dangit!
And now how to get a referral to someone better without paying my current one for another office visit...
Monday, October 26, 2009
This is a quickie update...let's see if I can keep each bullet point to six words or less (??!)
1. Doc ordered bedrest.
2. I don't do bedrest well.
3. Went to health food store.
4. Got eardrops, mullein/garlic, teatree/grapefruitseedextract.
5. Taking enough meds to sink Titanic!
6. Am beginning partial Budwig protocol.
7. I chose it. It can't hurt!
8. Eating homemade soups/bonebroths daily.
9. Losing weight a bit (no complaints!)
10. Jack bought me fresh bed linens :) :) :)
11. Breathing is a good thing.
12. Periodic sun soaking feels great.
13. Baked 2 turkeys for more......SOUP :)
13 1/2. Two HUGE stockpots of SOUP.
13 3/4. And 4 gallon freezer bags of meat!
14. I love my dog
15. I love my daughter
16. I adore my husband
17. Must kick this pneu/flu permanently!
18. Am tied to the kitchen, no complaints!
19. I believe health converges there.
Soups made in the kitchen in the past 5 days:
1. Homemade chicken soup. Broth from boiling whole chicken and straining the broth. Skimmed most of the fat off. Sea salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, onion, celery seed, ginger, turmeric, paprika, parsley. Carrot sections added last. Added chopped meat if desired to individual portions before serving. Made from the first boiling...the best of the broth.
2. Homemade vegetable chicken soup. Took carcass and darkmeat of above chicken and boiled second time, then simmered a couple hours with sea salt and onion, covered. Strain and add in the small pieces of meat, chopped fine. Add canned tomatoes, onion, celery, similar spices to above, simmer. Closer to serving time, peel and chop several potatoes into small chunks, few large chunks of carrot (whatever veg desired) and cook till soft, adjust seasoning. Toast a couple leftover biscuits till hot and golden and break into pieces in individual servings of soup, or serve with open faced toasted cheese toast.
3. Chicken corn chowder. Take leftover soup of #2, mash any large chunks till small, heat up, add a good quantity of creamed corn and turn heat down, add splash of milk or cream, serve.
4. Turkey soup is similar. Spices vary slightly. For calabaza/winter squash cuban soup...Veggies include mix of calabaza/winter squash cubes, sweet potato/boniato cubes, potato cubes, celery, onion, garlic, cassava/yucca chunks, green plantain chunks if available toward end of cooking. Use richest availabe turkey broth and add in small amount of chopped dark meat...adjust spices...sea salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, sofrito, turmeric, thyme, cilantro. Serve with hot basmati rice and whatever else you like....black beans, a dense homemade bread chunk, some melted cheese toast. I like it by itself and Jack likes it with the rice served in a scoop to one side right inside his bowl of soup. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Just an update on some of the plants that have graduated from Bucketville to The Bermuda Rectangle (the lot next door where we've spread horse barn compost throughout the year, giving rise to a jungle of Bermuda grass and various other lawn-mower-defying growths....oh for livestock!)
Last year, this lot was flat and bare. Now we have a good collection of test plants going. Seen here are a pigeon pea and some moringas in the background.
We see these both as potentially valuable crops to us beginning now, but even moreso in the future. Rather than back up and reiterate the many uses of these under-utilized (in our country) plants, here are a couple of good links from one of our favorite resources, ECHO (an hour away, practically in our own backyard, yay!)
Pigeon Peas link
Moringa link and Another Great Moringa Resource list from another site
And not pictured in this post, but something we're trying to encourage the proliferation of is the Chaya plant (the link is a download...it's worth a good read) Jack's trying to get some cuttings of our very small plant going in the Bucketville nursery.
If there's anything that can pick me up from the doldrums, it's seeing that some of these plants are hardier than our horticultural learning curve, and the joy of spending time reading many of the resources from lists like this...it inspires me that we have so many underutilized plants that we really NEED to gain the wisdom (regain, more often) to use in our own backyards. And we DON'T have to have fancy equipment...there is so much we CAN do at the most basic level (reminder to self!) Here's such a list...
MJ had recently requested pics of the pigeon pea progress here, so here are a few. We didn't know when to plant them this year, so we may have planted them late...no pods on them yet, but one of our intentions in growing them was as a fodder plant for livestock. (We're working out the growing part ahead of time... no livestock as yet) See how tall this one is? Kaleb's size lends perspective to how much growth we've seen in these in a relatively short time. I think Jack planted the pigeon pea seeds in July, starting them off in (what else? ha) 5 gallon buckets. Things learned?
1. They prefer being in the ground
2. They're vigorous enough to skip the bucket stage and just be sown directly at their permanent site.
3. They prefer a drier location that's not often waterlogged.
4. They really put on growth quickly.
5. Of all our plants, they are among the ones that take the most abuse...heat, drought, extremes of weather. Let's see how they do this winter...
6. They make good nurse plants to give partial shade to smaller seedlings. That's what the buckets beneath are in the pictures shown.
Shown below are the moringas, started at about the same time, or even later than the pigeon peas. The growth is amazing...I think these are in the 8 to 10 foot range high. We were supposed to cut them at the 3 to 4 foot height if we wanted a coppice sort of rotational leaf/limb harvest, but we have to get our act together and read up on it before we start hacking away. Thankfully, there are excellent resources ( see those lists above) to familiarize ourselves with. But to answer the question of whether they'll grow? Yes! They are not much good as a shade tree, but the leaves and the entire tree all have individual uses...the leaves are packed with so much nutrition, they're said to be the cure for malnutrition in most of the known warm-weather world, even where there are weather extremes of heat and drought. And I believe they are cheap and easy enough to grow that their harvests should benefit the entire world at large nutritionally, without science and marketing putting a hefty price tag on it.
Here's some idea of our little jungle we have going. There's something really encouraging about seeing this where before I couldn't get a shovel to penetrate the hardpan. Jack gets the lion's share of credit for the brawn and sweat involved moving a lot of that manure and digging all those holes! He told me once he never knew he could grow things, but I have to say the plants and he seem to have a symbiotic enthusiasm for each other. Most likely my biggest contribution is fueling the plant addiction...ha! (that's not really an exaggeration)
Here is a closeup of the moringa leaves, with morning dew. All parts of the moringa are edible. The leaves can be cooked, or dried and powdered. They are edible fresh, too, but have such a strong peppery flavor that way that a little goes a long way. Cooking them or drying them for additions to soups and so on de-intensifies the sharp flavor significantly, and it's not very noticeable...but oh, the nutrition! Super great, and responsible for keeping whole populations of third world babies from malnutrition, and mothers in milk. Don't get me started on breastfeeding as a topic :) My baby is 21 and I was fortunate enough to be able to nurse her for a great start in life. Ok...back to the post :)
Well, that's about it, but no post is complete without Kaleb photos. I'm sorry about my rant in the last post. Besides my hubby, Kaleb is a bright light every day...how can anything be really terrible when you have 100% devotion and adoration from this soft and loyal companion?
Regal canine... and his squeaky toy.
Love is...my own personal bodyguard glued to whatever I'm near, if he can't be glued to my person. Love you, Kaleb!
And of course, the frog leg pose always makes me smile!