Friday, June 27, 2008

One Mistake Among Many

That's my kitchen floor, burned to a crisp. French fries gone awry. Advice: don't put the cooking oil on your electric stove set on "high" while you are still chopping the potatoes for french fries. Also learned from a previous grease fire (which I did not start), do not keep your baking soda directly above the stove where you have to reach over or into the fire to get it.

The good news is, nobody was hurt. I remembered to put baking soda on the fire, thankfully, because the pan lid was doing nothing to smother it. The flames simply shot out of the sides. I took the pan off the stove and put it on the floor because I was afraid that the flames would catch the cupboards above it, thereby setting my entire kitchen on fire. We have 10ft ceilings in the bungalow, so I knew it'd give me more time to grab the baking soda if the pan were on the floor. There was an enormous amount of smoke from the fire, despite my quick action, and my entire kitchen was covered in a very thin film of black ash. I aired out the house last night, but there's still a bit of burning smell today. The Husband was NOT happy when he got home.

In less than good news, but not bad, the flooring in this kitchen needed to be replaced anyway, and not just because it was ugly. There were cigarette burn marks in it from the previous owners, and it was stained and scratched beyond repair. It's certainly not period appropriate for our home (but neither is the rest of the kitchen), so someday, when we have the money, this floor is going to be ripped up and replaced with whatever I can manage to discern was there before. For now, the answer is a rug. :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Shake or Heavy Metal?

Sometimes, on the journey to a simpler and more sustainable life, you're forced to make decisions that you don't want to make. I'm facing one of those decisions right now. The question is: do we replace our current roof with the eco-friendly metal roofing option, or do we go with an historically appropriate shake roof?

I'm sure there are people out there for whom one option or the other would seem obvious, but I'm really torn. I have a deep respect for history, which is one of the reasons we chose this house, despite the fact that it is at least an hour away from family, job, etc. Our little bungalow was built in 1927, and I knew immediately that I wanted to restore it to its former glory. This idea inevitably comes into conflict with my other dream to "go green." For example, there was no such thing as a composting toilet in 1927. Instead, they had toilets more like this or this. Do you have any idea how many gallons of water these use in flushing? LOTS.

But toilets aren't the issue here. I've already made that decision in our home for the time being. The issue now is the roof. We knew when we moved in a few years ago that the roof would need to be replaced soon. With each thunderstorm or heavy wind, more shingles come loose or off completely. Last year we had an issue with leaking around the chimney, which has been temporarily fixed, though the damage it caused has not. We're going to have to bite the bullet soon.

So, once more, do we go with the more sustainable metal roof or the historically accurate shake roof? I keep trying to rationalize each choice in my head, but ultimately the choice will probably be made with green in mind. And I ain't talkin' the environment.

We found a company here in Ohio that makes shake style metal roofing, so I'm going to call for a free estimate.

Here's a few of my requirements for the metal roof:

1. The metal shakes must be authentic looking. Yes, aesthetics are very important to me when it comes to something like a historical home, even if that home is not historically "important."

2. The metal must be coated with acrylic, NOT Teflon or PVC.

3. Must be Energy Star rated.

4. Must be drinking water safe. That water's going on my food crops, after all!

5. Must contain recycled content AND have end-of-life recyclability.

6. Must be LEED certified.

7. The color choices for the shakes must be varied and historically accurate.

8. The cleanliness of the manufacturing process will also be considered.

La Framboise


When I was growing up, it was our Summer Solstice tradition to go berry picking. We never had to go far for the raspberries because there was a hedgerow of them right in our backyard. My mother never had a vegetable garden, but raspberries were a must-have. It was a legacy in our family. My great-grandmother had raspberries on her farm, and she passed them onto my aunt who had a farm when I was a little girl. A few snips later, and my aunt had passed them onto my mom. One of my greatest regrets is that I don't have a daughter of my mother's raspberries growing in my garden. Luckily, though, my cousin rescued some raspberries from my mother's house and is growing them in her garden. As soon as the two of us can get together, I'll become part of the legacy too.

For now, my Latham Reds will have to do. Is it just me, or does this raspberry love me too? Beautifully heart-shaped...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Sting

Ouch! Yes, that's a baking soda paste (add enough water to baking soda to make a paste with the consistency of peanut butter) on my foot. On Sunday, I was trying to get the kids indoors before a big storm hit, and unfortunately I stepped on a poor little bee. Since I was carrying The Bean, I couldn't get the stinger out right away and was pumped full of venom. My foot's been painfully swollen and itchy since then. I've been using cold compresses, but since the wound is on the bottom of my foot, any walking aggravates the itching and makes it swell further until the throbbing is enough to make me sit down and elevate it. Not much is getting done around here, I'm afraid! First the cold that Daniel brought home, now the bee sting. *sigh*

Next year, I fully intend to have some herbal remedies for bee stings in stock. I'm looking at calendula salve, lavender essential oil, and apple cider vinegar as possibilities...

UPDATE: No sooner did I type this than there was no more pain and itching... Magic!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What's Blooming in My Garden-- June 24, 2008

Ahhhh! The buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is abloom. Hopefully, it will be drawing in the beneficials very soon. I took this picture a couple of days ago. Now all that green is slowly being overtaken by the little white flowers.

Bachelor's buttons (Centaurea cyanus) reseeded themselves and are tangled among the lacy leaves of the yarrow (Achillea millefolium.

Prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) blossom. I'm trying to enjoy these more... exotic flowers now because they won't be here next year. The prickly pear is coming out to make way for more blueberries and blackberries. Yes, I know the PP is edible, but I can't tell you how tired I am of having to pick those insanely tiny little spines out of my hands and feet and clothes. Give me blackberry thorns anyday!

Ummmmm... not really sure what this one is. It's an Allium of some sort. I can tell by the smell of the leaves, but I'm not sure WHICH Allium. Anyone out there wanna take a stab? Last year, I swear these did not come up. There were chives and a whole lotta Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), but none of these bad boys. These plants are quite large, towering over my raspberry bushes even. Whatever they are, they're quite beautiful, and I'm glad they showed up.

Last but not least...

The first hollyhock just bloomed today. I see flower dolls in my future...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Independence Days Challenge-- Week 3

This week was certainly better than last week, but I'm still falling short in so many categories that it's frustrating.

1. Planted: Oh, let's see... Planted an avocado pit from a store bought avocado, spaghetti squash, a variety of summer squash which I can't think of off the top of my head, a couple of sunflowers to replace corn that was stolen by the squirrels, potatoes, Black Turtle bush beans, dill 'Bouquet' (Anethum graveolens). HA! That's 7!

2. Harvest something: Got just a couple strawberries this week, but none of them made it beyond the garden. Annie ate 'em right then and there! Also harvested some more Rosalita lettuce.

3. Preserve something: Nothing.

4. Prep something: Prepped the bed for the beans and potatoes, started on the next bed. Looked into the benefits of metal roofing since our current roof is going to need to be replaced soon and metal roofing is being touted as "green."

5. Cook something: While not technically cooking, I made the yummiest taco salad ever using our homegrown lettuce. I thought we'd have plenty for dinner that night and lunch the next day. Uh-uh.

6. Manage your reserves: Weeding, weeding, and more weeding.

7. Work on local food systems: Nope.

8. Reduce waste: Began using my urine as fertilizer rather than flushing it down the toilet. Other than that, nothing beyond the ordinary composting, eBaying, and Freecycling.

9. Learn a new skill: Learned all about Liquid Gold while participating in the Golden Showers Garden Party. I was already quite skilled at peeing, but hey! I had to learn how to properly dilute it...

Golden Showers Garden Party-- Befejezett!

This was just the first of several jars of liquid gold that I hauled out to the garden yesterday. I opted against the bucket method of collection, in part because I knew The Husband would freak out if there was a bucket of pee sitting around in our bathroom, but also because I was a little nervous that the kids would do more than pee in it. 4-year-olds are not to be trusted, I tell ya! :)

Really, I wasn't a bit nervous or disgusted about peeing in a jar or pouring it in the garden. The only thing that gave me a pang of nerves was the idea that perhaps I had not diluted it enough. I'm gonna have to pick up Liquid Gold by Caroll Steinfeld, I think, because this is something I feel should be done here at our little homestead on a long term basis. The whole operation is going to need a little tweaking, but I'm confident it can be done. Stay tuned for updates. Muahahahaha!