Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Putting pillows out to pasture

Pile o' pillowsOne of the moms from my son's school asked me a question recently. It turns out she checked out my blog and has a host of questions, so I suspect this is just the start of what I'll call (insert deep announcery voice here):

Kindergarten Blog Fodder

Ok, enough theatrics. Let's get down to bidness.

The question at hand was, "what the hell do I do with old pillows and down comforters?" Or something like that.

The charities that she had contacted don't accept said items. I suspect they probably heard about the headlice outbreak at our school (again! what's with these kids?) and know better. She didn't want to throw them out and she said she didn't have the gumption for repurposing the items into something crafty, so I told her I'd do some crunchy recon and see what's what.

Fortunately, there are a number of options.

The Salvation Army accepts pillow donations and blankets or comforters in some areas. Many homeless shelters will accept donations of pillows and blankets. If you can't find any in your area that accept these donations then check with the local animal shelters. If they don't accept bed pillows, but they do accept dog beds, see below.

You can also try Freecycle or Craigslist. You never know what use someone else can put them to and you might just make some money out of the deal. If none of those options work and the pillow or blanket is made out of down, you can compost the feathers.

For those crafty types, some pillows have innards you can wash and re-stuff. You can even wash the feathers and use them as stuffing for a number of projects. If your local animal shelter accepts dog beds, there are a number of different ways you can use the filling to make your own dog bed for donation.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Super showerhead

Road Runner by EvolveI recently found out about this new, water saving showerhead by Evolve. I contacted the company to find out more about how they work and ended up getting a sample of the Road Runner. Here's the scoop.

All of Evolve's showerheads save water in that, once your water has reached 95° F (35° C), the water shuts off into "trickle/savings mode". In other words, the water more or less turns off and the showerhead starts drooling like a dog with overactive salivary glands.

This is fantabulous for people who turn on the water and wander off while waiting for it to heat up. So, if, while you are waiting, you tend to get engrossed in picking the lint out of your toes, tweezing the hairs out of your nostrils or deciding that, in fact, you really did need to take a crap, it will dutifully wait for you without wasting as much water.

The question I initially had about their products was regarding the water flow. Did they have a showerhead with a low-flow? And, if so, was it adjustable like some of the low-flow showerheads on the market?

Turns out they have one product on the market, the aforementioned Road Runner. It uses 1.59 gallons per minute (GPM) versus the rest of their products at 2.5 GPM.

Great! But can I adjust the flow to even lower if I want or does it have some sort of "pause" button? Well, not yet. It sounds like they are working on this technology for future products. If that's the case, then I think it will have a great appeal to the enviro-masses.

In the meantime, how was the Road Runner, you ask? Well, the trickle/savings mode only went into effect if I had the hot water blasting. I must use low temperature water when I shower because I was in the shower and ready for action way before the trickle kicked in. And the water was comfortable to stand in (most likely because of the 60 degree temps in my bathroom). I probably would need the temperature shutoff set to 85° or less.

As for the feel, the Road Runner has something called "Pressure Compensating Technology". Most low-flow showerheads use some sort of aeration and, as a result, the water pressure is generally pretty low. So, Evolve makes up for that. In a big way. For me, it was too much, even though the gallons per minute emitted are less than my regular low-flow showerhead.

Because the spray was so strong, I actually couldn't wait to get out of the shower. You see, my shower stall isn't very big and I couldn't get out of the way of the needle-like stinging, skin-removing spray. I'm telling you I was actually in pain. And, as you all know, I am not prone to exaggeration. No, really. In an independent study, Mr. Crunchy's report stated that the spray was "like needles" although he didn't find it as painful.

So while, the Evolve showerhead may not be for me, it would be great for people who dilly-dally while waiting for the water to heat up and who don't mind being flayed alive.

Alas, I so wanted to love this showerhead. I love the idea of the tricklies, it would just need the temperature cutoff set to "Arctic". And I would need to be able to reduce the blast. And then, I'd be real interested.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My hemp, my hemp, my toasty tasty hemp

What you gon' do with all that hemp? All that hemp inside your drink?Mr. Crunch and I went and tried out a new coffee shop close to Crunchy HQ. Not only does it serve fabulously organic, fair-trade Stumptown Coffee it carries something called, Hempmilk. I noticed it as there was a little sign advertising the intriguingly named, "Hempuccino".

Never the shy one to ask for far more details than the average chicken, I inquired within. And we were both served samples of Hempmilk. Well, I'm here to report that it's actually surprisingly tasty. It's a toasty, nutty, creamy little concoction and not as cloying as soymilk.

It's made from hemp seeds and purportedly contains 46 percent of your daily calcium and 43 percent of your phosphorus in one 8 oz serving.

If you're too damn cheap to buy it off the shelf or you just want to cut down on packaging (no throwaway asceptic containers here) you can make it yourself. I bet you can use a soymilk maker to make it, too.

There's no guarantee that it will taste like the manufactured product, but then again, you control the ingredients. Assuming you can get yer hands on them. Finding bulk hemp seeds may prove to be a tad difficult south of the border. And I'm talkin' the 49th parallel around these parts. Well, at the very least, here's another good reason to move to Canada. Or get on Greenabis' good side.

Now, I'm not about to switch from good old-fashioned organic, local milk (here is where I, once again, irritate a handful of vegans), but it would be a good alternative to all those out there who don't do moo and who are allergic to soy. If I were vegan (again), it would be tops on my list of milk substitutes. It doesn't have the chalky, beany flavor of soymilk and it's not watery like rice and almond milk.

Has anyone else tried this stuff yet?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In Defense of Food book discussion (chapters 6 - 10)

In Defense of FoodAlright. Enough squirrelling around. Here is the second installment of the In Defense of Food book club discussion posts.

Chapter 6. Eat Right, Get Fatter - What? I can't eat a whole package of Snackwells and not get fat? But it says right here, fat-free. I should be able to eat at least half the bag and not get fat, right? Uh, no.

Since the late 1970s, when Americans began stuffing their pieholes with carbs, we've gotten fat and fatter and the rates of obesity and diabetes have climbed. Now, I'm not suggesting we blame it all on Devil's Food Snackwells. But doesn't it seem a little strange that you can eat half the package and it will only set you back 300 calories? Of course, that's 276 carb calories which will launch your blood sugar into the mesosphere.

The problem isn't so much that we're eating more carbs as that we didn't cut back on the total consumption of fat (even though we were supplanting saturated with polyunsaturated and trans fats) to make up for it. And the idea that, since these foods were so healthy for us, we should eat lots of them caused us to increase our total overall caloric intake. Thereby, making us fat.

Do you excuse your (over)eating of a particular food, convincing yourself that it's okay because it's better for you than the "regular" version?

Chapter 7. Beyond the Pleasure Principle - The idea that Americans have become immune to enjoying food, due to the sheer abundance of it, is an interesting one. It allows people the luxury to focus on food for it's nutritional value only.

I know several people whose diets revolve solely around its nutritional value and not their actual enjoyment of it. It's not as obvious when people focus on garlic, olive oil, flax, salmon, etc. purely because they offer some sort of "extra" nutrition. But, when it rules one's diet to the exclusion of seemingly lesser foods and taste is not being used as a "true guide to what should be eaten" it can get more problematic. In other words, "experimental science has produced rules of nutrition which will prevent illness and encourage longevity" and a lot of people have subscribed to this way of thinking, looking for the holy grail of nutrients to keep them alive and healthy for longer.

Do you fall prey to this type of eating?

Chapter 8. The Proof in the Low-Fat Pudding - Understanding how we can potentially gain weight eating carbohydrates rather than fats (when fats have 9 calories per gram versus 5 for carbs and protein) is a little counter intuitive. The theory goes along the lines that refined carbs interfere with insulin metabolism, causing you to become hungrier and leading to over-eating and, thus, extra fat storage in the body. Remember those Snackwells? There's a reason why you can actually eat the whole box. Because they are totally non-satisfying. It's like eating chocolate flavored wood chips. But with calories.

Do you find that, when eating low-fat foods (generally made with refined carbs), you tend to eat a whole lot more simply because you didn't feel satiated?

Chapter 9. Bad Science - Nutrition science is a sticky wicket to say the least. It's impossible to distill one nutrient at a time, without ignoring how those nutrients interact with others in a food when digested. This sort of scientific reductionism works wonders in other areas of scientific research, but when it comes to nutrition, it can be a disaster. Because people don't just eat nutrients, they eat foods and each person metabolizes food differently. There are too many chemical compounds in a food to be able to determine, with much assurity, that it's one compound over another that is healthier.

There isn't much risk in this sort of reductionist thinking when you are eating whole foods. But if the goal is to distill out the components (like polyphenols or carotenoids), can you really substitute those for "real food"? Are the benefits the same?

Chapter 10. Nutritionism's Children - "Thirty years of nutritional advice have left us fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished. Which is why we find ourselves in the predicament we do: in need of a whole new way to think about eating."

So, now what? All this has left the American eater confused and anxious about what's safe to eat and what we should or should not be eating. High carb, low-fat? High protein, low-carb? There's even a new eating disorder called Orthorexia nervosa, which is an obsession with healthy eating.

What's next? Well, this ends Section I: The Age of Nutritionism. The next post will start Section II: The Western Diet and the Diseases of Civilization. Sounds ominous, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The most wasteful product ever?

The American consumer seems to have a tremendous capacity to buy the most amazingly useless junk.

Now, this may not actually be the worst product ever, but it certainly is one the most wasteful ones I've seen in a long time. I saw this while shopping yesterday and I had to stop and actually take a look at it, mostly because it was just a strange product to begin with.

It's called the Lucky Break Wishbone and is, essentially, a plastic wishbone. "Making your wishes come true is a snap with our 99.999% realistic synthetic Lucky Break Wishbones." No more fighting over the wishbone! Great for vegetarians!

So, you spend approximately 3 seconds snapping this thing in two and it's utility is over. Do these actually bestow any luck? And once you snap it, then what?

The clincher is on their website's FAQ page, where they have the question and answer:

Can I recycle Lucky Break Wishbones?
Yes, of course. We are very conscious about our global environment. Both the packaging and wishbones are recyclable.

Umm. Okay.

What's your "favorite" wasteful product?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Project Nowaste - produce preservation products

Project NOWASTEIn this week's Project Nowaste post, I wanted to talk to y'all about produce preservation products. Say that ten times fast.

First off, there are bags like the green bags called Evert Fresh. They claim to keep your produce looking fresher and lasting longer than regular produce bags. They also advertise that the bags will keep produce fresh 3 to 10 times longer and will reduce vitamin loss by up to 50%. Supposedly they can be reused 8 to 10 times.

Evert FreshHow do the bags work? Well, they remove ethylene gas, the gas that is produced by some fruits and vegetables. The ethylene gas released by your apples, tomatoes and the like quickens the ripening of produce. The Evert Fresh bags claim that they slow down this process. They also claim to have natural minerals in the bag to absorb ammonia and carbon dioxide which are damaging to fruits and vegetables. Finally, they reduce moisture and thereby reduce bacterial growth.

Don't want to deal with bags and you'd much rather just huck something into the crisper bin of your fridge? Well, there's the option of the E.G.G. (Ethylene Gas Guard) or the ExtraLife Fresh Produce Preserver disks.

Behold... the E.G.G.The E.G.G. is like a plastic Easter egg stuffed full of potassium permanganate bonded to zeolite. I have no idea what this means, but the take-away lesson, kids, is that the payload this egg is carrying helps reduce the amount of ethylene gas in your fridge. The beauty of the E.G.G. is that you can remove the zeolite package and dump it on your plants. It's like catnip for plants. Or something like that.

Anyway, you can refill the plastic E.G.G. with more of this pomegranate dilithium crystal stuff and you'll have minimal waste. It doesn't sound like they have the other magical minerals to prevent premature aging and wrinkling. So you'll need Botox for that. But zeolite does manage moisture levels, absorbing moisture when it's too high and releasing moisture when it's too low.

The ExtraLife disks supposedly absorb 97% of ethylene buildup and each disk lasts 3 months before it gets sentenced to eternity in landfill purgatory. So, if you were to choose between the two products, I think the E.G.G. is the way to go. Just make sure to teach your kids that the permacultured neolithic chrysalis inside the E.G.G. isn't edible.

Has anyone tried these products? What do you think? Can you really prevent the ubiquitous bag full of black, slimy spinach, at least for a few more days?

[Please note: I am in no way promoting the purchase or use of these products. A reader had asked that I do some recon on them. I much prefer that people buy their produce in reusable produce bags and store them in BioBags if limpness is an issue.

As for the Evert Fresh Bags, if your produce is currently entombed in plastic and you go shopping infrequently, this might be a better alternative for storage. So, as much as I'd like to throw out a "WWFPFD?" (What would Fake Plastic Fish Do?), not everyone has the time or interest in planning out their plastic usage. Just saying.]

Friday, February 22, 2008

Frontier House movie scheduling

La Casa FronteraFor those of you interested in watching Frontier House and doing the movie discussion, have you gotten a copy of it yet? I don't know how many of you are waiting for a library copy or if you've already gotten it from Netflix or Blockbuster or your favorite independent video rental place. In other words, have you started watching it?

To recap, the three-part series takes three families and exposes them to what it was like to live on a homestead in 1883 Montana. They spare no one from the vagaries of 19th century living for six months. A homesteading dream? Or lots of quibbling?

Dang. Two polls in a row. This just ain't right. So....



Whether or not you are interested in Frontier House, I have another post for you below...

A shot across the bow

I'm sad to say that, a few weeks ago, Greenpa launched a vicious attack against me.

So, instead of spending this precious time regaling you all with my meanderings regarding making my own butter and toothpaste, or with more community-building posts such as book clubs, polls and the like, I feel compelled to defend myself against this spiteful public smear campaign.

Now, while I appreciate the intense jealousy that must be fueling his actions, Greenpa is living in a pretty big glass outhouse to be throwing stones.

Let me begin this story with Greenpa's various "absences". Most notably November 6th through December 2nd and December 31st through January 17th. Many readers will assume that Greenpa was "busy" or "away on vacation". Alas, this is not true. I even feel ashamed being part of the cover-up as illustrated in my guest post on December 3rd. But it was only to protect the intense investigation I was running.

In fact, instead of cleaning out his weep hole, lighting his chimney on fire, or whatever nonsense he was purporting to be doing, Greenpa was, in fact busy working on what he really does for a living.

Sure, he leads us all to believe that he's this maverick living out in the woods, off the fat of the land. But it's all hooey. You see, the blog is just a cover for his real avocation. Growing marijuana. I'm sorry to burst your bubble about Greenpa, people, but those big greenhouses of his aren't growing spinach. In fact, Greenpa has several grow operations spread across the country. And Guam.

Visiting 'grandpa'He even has the audacity to bring his children along with him to check in on the operations, codenamed 'grandpa'. Not very clever, I might add. Thus, the reason why Dick Cheney (DC) was trying to plant operatives in the THWASPCO.

But, the truth of the matter is (after much investigation from this particular government employee) that Greenpa has had an amazing breakthrough in developing a hybrid marijuana, Cannabis greenpis, that takes nearly no energy to grow and very little land. There is suggestion that this may very well be the bio-fuel that saves the planet. Yet, one of the effects of this clean burning fuel is that the emissions that are emitted cause, shall we say, a rather pleasant experience.

The only drawback is that it may increase the obesity rates of Americans as one of the natural side-effects of inhaling this exhaust is a bad case of the Munchies (Norwegian pronunciation here, please). Hence Greenpa's fascination with Edvard Munch and his insistence, during a research-induced high I must presume, that I am "The Scream". Frightening indeed.

Fortunately, Greenpa is working on a few genetic tweaks to hopefully provide an appetite suppressant quality to Cannabis greenpis. Thereby solving two massive problems, global warming and obesity, with one solution.

He who controls the Spice...So, this is the real reason why we have no concrete information on Greenpa's identity and his super secret nature. And, perhaps why he refers to himself as "Green"pa and his wife as "Spice". Either that, or it's from too many viewings of Dune while in the lab.

However, make no mistake. I will continue to closely monitor Greenpa's activities if only I can bring myself to read through his 5,000 word posts.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Brown baggin' it

Brown baggin'If you are a parent, this may have a little more meaning for you, but everyone was a kid once. Unless you were homeschooled, you had to endure the business of "school lunch." You were either one of those brown-bagging kids or the kids that got money for lunch. Maybe you were lucky and had a choice.

How do these early habits translate into adult life? Do you still have the habit of bringing your own lunch, or was doing so as a child so traumatizing that you refuse to bring a sack lunch even now? If you got money for school lunch, are you still in the habit of buying every day or have you switched over to the "brown" side?

Oh my, I feel a poll coming on. And it's not even Sunday.

For your answer, select what you predominately did/do for both.



I'm interested to see (in this highly scientific poll, I might add) how early influence affects your adult behavior. If there's any correlation, then it could be argued, much to the chagrin of parents who provide lunch money, that sending kids to school with a bagged lunch might be setting up better healthy eating habits later.

Of course, if you pack the same nasty stuff they provide at school, then I guess it's a wash, but at least when you're old enough to pack your own food, maybe you'll make decent eating choices. And, you might remember to pack leftovers to save food waste!

And don't forget to use a reusable lunch bag.

Does anyone else remember space food sticks? My mom packed those in our lunches for while. I think she thought they were healthy for us. Aaah, memories...

Do you have any sack lunch food memory items that don't exist anymore?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fake Plastique Fish

Fake Plastique FishI was planning on posting something a little more serious today, but I was so excited that Beth's TV show was picked up as a movie, I just had to share it with all of you guys.

It opens on June 15th. So make sure you check it out! I think it opens in limited release, but should be in theaters nationwide by the 4th of July.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Beth (she goes by the stage name, Betty) Terry stars as an environmental explosives expert. It's got great writing and tons of action. I'm hoping the movie will be even more exciting than the show.

Congratulations, Beth!

And, no, I'm not trying to scrounge free tickets. Just maybe an invite to the premiere (hint, hint).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Living Like Ed

Living Like EdToday, I have a book post of a different sort as it is the release date of a new book, Living Like Ed, A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life, by, not too surprisingly, Ed Begley, Jr. I managed to get an advance copy using my crunchy wiles and here's the scoop.

Ed Begley, Jr. has been Hollywood's gold standard of environmentalists for decades now and, as you may remember in my celebrity poll from last year, he beat the pants off the rest of the contenders.

You may also remember that he had a show on HGTV last year called, Living with Ed and I had the pleasure of interviewing him right before the second season started. Well, in this follow-on book, Ed dispenses advice on going greener with his usual goofy style.

In the book, the eco-friendly changes suggested are qualified starting by doing the "low hanging fruit" first and foremost. In other words, the changes with the most bang for your effort. He lists the changes by type to make it easy to see what you're getting yourself into. The different types are: easy changes (mostly things that don't cost a whole lot of money), not so big changes (small investment), and big changes (things that cost a lot but save you money in the long run).

Since Ed is also a cheap-ass (I mean, a frugal individual), he points out how implementing many of these changes can lower your household budget. He even provides worksheets for monitoring the changes so you can track how much you are saving.

It makes for a real easy read and I even learned a thing or two. Actually, I learned a lot. Like don't let Ed drive you to the hospital. All kidding aside, the book is really well researched and thorough in its analysis of things, explaining details that often get glossed over. But the information is not presented in a preachy, drawn out or boring way. Plus, it's Ed! You really can't go wrong.

Ok, maybe I'd like to see him step things up a notch. The rest of us are catching up to your nutty environmentalism, Ed! So, if you want to stay on top you better start pushing your own limits. I don't want to hear how George Clooney is leaving you in his dust by using a composting toilet and cloth wipes (how much do you think those would go for on eBay?). Unless, of course, it means I get to interview George, too.

How low can you go?

I survived the Freeze Yer Buns Off Challenge '08My green friend, Thistle, was inspired by Sunday's post to create a t-shirt of her own, honoring survivors of the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. It's hard to read the tag line at the bottom, but it says "I survived the Freeze Yer Buns Off Challenge '08".

So, for all of you proud, frozen peeps out there, go check out the collection. Although the thong might be a bit chilly.

And, Vanessa, while you're at it, I have a suggestion for future merchandise (this one's just for the guys):

Ladies, I'm really much bigger.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Freezin' yer knockers

It's not polite to pointMy mom has been complaining vociferously about how cold our house is. This, coming from a woman who routinely kept our house at Arctic temperatures when I was young.

It was so cold in my house growing up, we kept upwards of 9 blankets on the bed, could see our own breath in the morning and could hang meat in my (exposed on three sides) bedroom. It was more due to expenses than environmentalism, but I nevertheless have to point out the irony.

She now lives in a condo with "free" heat in that she runs her gas fireplace as her only source of heating. Since the gas is "free" she has no problem keeping her place at a balmy 78.625 degrees (she also has no qualms about stating the digital temperature readouts to at least 3 significant digits).

So, when she comes to visit our 62 degree house, we get the complaints. Maybe I need to buy this t-shirt for her - if only it came in long sleeves. And wool. With a hood. And matching slippers.

For all you participants of the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, are you getting complaints from visitors or residents?

Also, what do you turn the heat down to when you leave your house for more than an hour or so?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Project Nowaste - losing it!

Project NOWASTEIt's been a while since you've done your calculations to find out how much you should weigh and, since you know your initial weight, how is everybody fairing on the weight loss aspect of Project Nowaste?

I initially lost 5 lbs, but have probably gained back about 2.5 due to porking out on garbage. Chocolate covered candied orange peels are dangerous, people! And, homemade butter? Goodness gracious, I think I'm in love.

So, all that, coupled with my husband's constant baking forays, well, I can't say there has been much success on this end. Plus, I haven't been able to exercise for the last 3 weeks due to a back injury for doing something incredibly stupid. That being, dragging an extremely heavy yard waste container up some rockery.

I, know, dumb. But, who designed our yard to have steps on both side-yards from front to back? Enough excuses...

Anyway, how are the rest of you fairing during these dark, cold, dreary days? Days full of butter, chocolate and candy? Hopefully better than I!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The plight of the city coyote

Don't hate me because I'm beautifulA few weeks ago there was a bit of hubbub about one of the coyotes that lives in the city of Seattle, namely in Discovery Park. This park includes 500 acres of heavily treed land and is partially owned by the Navy. It is a very popular park used by many Seattle residents for running, hiking or picnicking.

Apparently, the Navy thought it would be a good idea to set up leg traps to capture the animal, citing their concern over the safety of the residents of the military housing on Fort Lawton that abuts the park. This plan was shut down by the City of Seattle when the surrounding community complained. It seemed fairly irresponsible to me to have traps where children and dogs might accidentally roam.

Next up on the plan (and this one got all the press), was the assigning of a Naval marksman to come in and shoot the coyote. Needless to say that this plan was also scrapped, as city Parks employees and area residents went on the lookout for any armed individuals in the park. That seemed like an accident waiting to happen. The USDA Wildlife Services (apparently acting on behalf of the Navy) scratched that idea off their list.

Following that brilliant move, the next plan was to trap the animal and then euthanize it. But that plan didn't last more than a day or two at most.

Finally, the USDA gave the coyote a reprieve, allowing it to roam without being molested by crazed humans. It is believed there is more than one coyote living in the park and there are a number of urban coyotes that live in the city of Seattle (including some by me).

So, what was warranting all this attention? Well, the coyote's biggest offense so far had been killing a cat and chasing a small dog. Perhaps the cat's owner was just pissed that they couldn't get $45,480 from the coyote's owner, well, because there isn't one.

Now, I shall turn the saga to you - what do you think should be done with city coyotes? Although this spectacle certainly didn't have the excitement of the coyote that was chased through Manhattan, nor does Seattle have the coyote population that Chicago does (estimated at several thousand), these city coyotes are certainly adapting to urban environments and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about these types of conflicts in the future as suburban sprawl pushes out the wildlife.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Last minute Valentine's suggestions

Did you forget to heed the advice I gave in last week's post, Planning a Green Valentine's and are at a loss as to what to do?

Were you semi-inspired by 'Burban Mom's Eco-friendly Blow Job post yesterday? (Those suburban ladies are the naughtiest - next up we'll hear about how she's hosting a hybrid vehicle 'car keys in a jar' party.)

Well, here are some cheap, last minute ideas to treat your sweetie, using things commonly found around the house.

1. You forgot to get a card, didn't you. Or, better yet, you didn't get one on purpose because you didn't want to kill a tree in the process. And sending an e-card seemed, well, less than romantic. So, here's a solution: find whatever semi-indelible marker you have around the house (NOT a Sharpie), or henna, and write secret messages on your naked person. Get dressed and surprise your mate by letting them catch glimpses of what you have in store. Halfway through dinner it might be fun to expose a little something something. I bet you won't make it through dessert. Men, if you are extremely hairy, you may have limited real estate, so, in some of your cases I would recommend a fine tip pen and a magnifying glass.

2. You didn't have time to look for fair-trade, organic chocolate and the box o' wax Whitman's sampler from the drugstore just won't do. What other sweet treats do you have? Organic chocolate syrup? Hmmm... what about all those jars of jam you canned last summer? Perhaps now's the perfect time to practice your edible body display talents.

3. You are planning a quiet dinner at home but mid-way through cooking the meal, you realize that you forgot to buy butter that you need for the dish you are making. Searching the fridge desperately for a hidden stick or two you notice that you have a half pint of heavy whipping cream begging to be used. You remember my fascinating article on making your own butter and ask your partner to help out. Checking on its progress a few minutes into it, you decide to put the whipped cream to better use.

4. Create a good reason to use that soap you made at home. Oil up your partner with your favorite organic vegetable oil and give them a much needed massage. Follow up with a good scrubbing.

5. Ladies, when in doubt, just show up without wearing any underwear. Men, if you didn't plan ahead, you're screwed (and I don't mean that in a positive way).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Black is the new green

It just comes natural...I ran across this ad today (in PC Magazine of all places):

"Natural Tastes Better... We grow our premium natural [product] in a responsible, sustainable way through our earth-friendly and organic growing programs. We also strive to reduce our footprint on the earth by using recycled materials and renewable energy sources like wind power. Protecting the earth is as important to us as it is to you."

I get such warm fuzzies when manufacturers really take an interest in things I value.

"Try the true, authentic taste of 100% additive-free, natural [product] for yourself. We think you will agree, natural tastes better."

The ad is coupled with graphics showing a big happy sunflower, solar panels and a wind turbine.

Now, what product do you think they are selling? Pasture-raised, rotational grazed beef? Organic, free-range eggs?

Nope. It's tobacco. Anyone else see the irony in this?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Affluenza book discussion (chapters 11 - 14)

Affluenza: The All-Consuming EpidemicHere is the discussion post for the third installment of the Affluenza, The All-Consuming Epidemic book club.

Chapter 11. Resource Exhaustion - One of the points made in this chapter was regarding the real costs of the products we buy. For example, when we buy a computer we don't take into account the 700+ materials that went into it, we don't account for the 140 pounds of solid and hazardous waste resulting from its manufacture and we certainly don't account for the 7,000 gallons of wastewater and the massive amount of energy used in production.

The argument was not so much that we need to necessarily give up everything (although there is merit in that point), but to be conscious of what we are buying and choose products, when we do buy things, that have less ecological impact. For example, if you must still buy coffee, make sure that it is shade-grown or organic (and fair-trade, I might add).

What items do you still purchase that aren't necessary, but where you've made a concerted effort to choose a product with a lighter footprint?

Chapter 12. Industrial Diarrhea - We live in a toxic sludge soup, where 1,600 pounds of synthetic chemicals are produced every year per capita. Over the last half century the production of these chemicals increased 600 times. Again, there are hidden costs. All that cheap food is the direct result of chemical use, with cost savings a result of fertilizers and pesticides. And how many of those chemicals are we storing in our bodies?

The estimate in the book that 2 out of 5 Americans will contract cancer at some point in their lives rings true for me. Of the 5 family members I have living in Seattle, 2 of them are battling aggressive forms of cancer.

We rail against products like DDT, but how many of you are aware of the dangers of Scotch Guard, a common product that shows up in nearly everyone's blood stream? How many of you are still using non-stick (Teflon) pans? Convenience never outweighs the public health risk of many of these chemicals yet we oftentimes turn a blind eye on them until the risks are so blatantly obvious that we can't do anything but avoid them like the plague.

How aware are you of chemicals in your environment? Do you get disturbed every time you see advertising for spray air fresheners, and that hideous Febreze? Or do you think their benefits outweigh any potential hidden cost?

Chapter 13. The Addictive Virus - Consumption is an addictive virus, hooking the victim into feeling a sense of reassurance when they have purchased all those goods. Yet the standards for what is fashionable or acceptable changes constantly (thanks to product improvements and new, additional features), thereby leaving the addict never feeling satisfied with what they own. So, they continue purchasing, hoping to feel like they finally have what they "need".

I found this statement interesting: "Psychologists tell us pathological buying is typically related to a quest for greater recognition and acceptance, an expression of anger, or an escape through fantasy - all connected to shaky self-images." This sounds awfully like many of the "therapy shoppers" I know out there. There is the perceived need to have the next best thing lest you be though less of, or think less of yourself.

I frankly don't care about recognition or acceptance based on what I own, wear, want, read or eat. But it seems like the majority of Americans are stuck with that sort of mindset. Do you feel this is a result of media influence (TV shows like Friends, Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives) or product marketing or both? Sometimes I feel like product marketing in a vacuum outside of media doesn't have the same impact as watching what your favorite stars wearing or using what is being hawked.

Chapter 14. Dissatisfaction Guaranteed - We are not only working ourselves to death in order to buy things we really don't need, but we are working ourselves into a state of unhappiness. That's not to say that rich people are inherently unhappy. For many, it's the goal of wealth that drives people too hard, displacing things in their lives that are necessary for an enjoyable life.

So, let's talk about real wealth in terms of friends, skills, libraries, wilderness and free time for napping. The more real wealth we have, the less money we need to be happy. Hell, I would take a significant pay cut to keep my afternoon naps.

I think if everyone made a list of their top ten "real wealth" items, many of them would be inexpensive, or needn't be expensive. Things like spending time with friends and family cooking, eating or talking, taking a walk through the park or on the beach, watching the sun set, stargazing, playing with their children, having sex, reading a good book on a rainy day, sitting in front of the fire.... the list goes on and on. Granted, for many, the list would also include expensive entertainment (eating out, theatre, sports, travel) but I would argue that it includes less material items than you think.

What are a few of your favorite things? I, for one, won't be including opening the door of my overpriced faulty refrigerator as one of my top tens.


That ends Section I. Symptoms. Stay tuned for Section II. Causes in two weeks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Frontier House - movie screening and discussion

La Casa FronteraSince we are doing a book club online, why not do a movie screening and discussion online while we are at it?

Someone recently left a comment about the PBS series, Frontier House, which I saw part of when it was on TV a few years back. The series takes three families and exposes them to what it was like to live on a homestead in 1883 Montana. They spare no one from the vagaries of 19th century living for six months.

For those of you fantasizing about life on a homestead this will give you a glimpse of what it really takes to survive on your own. Of course, this is a reality show, albeit for PBS, but it's still edited for entertainment in addition to the educational element. In other words, take it with a grain of salt.

You can get the two disc series from Netflix, Blockbuster or you may try your public library (I know mine carries it).

Anyone interested in doing a group movie screening - it's filmed in three parts so there would be three discussion posts.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A backlog of awards

Green Mom ExtraordinaireI've been negligent in acknowledging the awards I've been receiving over the last month(s) because, well, I'm finding it hard to keep up. Moreover, I generally pass on the awards in a different way, such as constantly humiliating other bloggers. But I shall spread the love - just know that I won't follow the traditional tagging. I'll let you know about other blogs in my own, special way. Mwooohoohaha.

I've already mentioned these awards:
Thinking Blogger Award
Power to Schmooze

But, since then, I've received, umm, a couple more:

Bloggers for Positive Change Awards from here, here and here
Nice Matters from Pondering the Myriad Things
Community Blogger Award from Chile Chews
Less than Three Award from Morning Ramble
A Roar for Powerful Words Award from Towards Sustainability
Rated E for Excellent Award from Boys Rule My Life
Rated E for Excellent Award from Art By Strong Heart
Rated E for Excellent Award from Chile Chews
Rated E for Excellent Award from Pondering the Myriad Things

The most recent one I've been awarded is Green Mom Extraordinaire from Green Mom Finds, which includes a blurb about my blog and a nifty little interview if you want to check it out.

Project Nowaste - The History of Garbage, Part 1

19th Century garbage collectorDo you think we have problems with trash? That it's a modern problem caused by too much waste and not enough care about the items being thrown out? Well, garbage has been a problem for cities for hundreds of years.

This installment of the history of garbage covers up to the turn of the 20th century. And, as much as I love studying 17th century social life in London (back when dolphins in the Thames were a common sight), following only the colonies will be sufficient. So, here are a few facts to help you get an idea of the more recent history of garbage.

During Colonial times in the U.S., paper was made from cotton and linen rags. "Rag drives" were held to collect scraps which were then boiled, mashed and pressed into paper. Two hundred years ago scrap metal, ashes, bones and fat (used to make soap and fertilizers) were sold. So, instead of paying for someone to haul these items away, people got paid for this type of trash. In fact, the only things thrown out were glass, broken pottery, and other trash that wouldn't decompose or be fed to the animals.

Fast forward to the mid-1800s where population increases in city centers compounded trash problems. Pigs were let loose in city streets to eat through the garbage that was left out and they, in turn, left behind their own waste products. This not only brought on a horrible smell (both the garbage and the pig waste) but also attracted vermin and rats - even the White House was not immune to this.

Streets were lined under several feet of manure, waste and human fecal matter rendering it unsafe to walk on sidewalks (and under second story windows from which people emptied their chamber pots). It wasn't until 1866 that New York City forbade the throwing of dead animals and garbage into the streets.

During this time there were over 3 million horses working in American cities, each producing over 20 pounds of manure and gallons of urine per day, most of which was left on the streets. And what did you do with your horses when they died? You couldn't transport them out of the city because, well, they were your transportation. So, you left them in the street. In 1880, New York City scavengers removed 15,000 horse carcasses from the streets.

In 1900, American cities began to estimate and record collected wastes. According to one estimate, each American produced annually: 80 - 100 pounds of food waste; 50 - 100 pounds of rubbish; 300 - 1,200 pounds of wood or coal ash - up to 1,400 pounds per person. Not too surprisingly, around the turn of the century, 180 garbage incinerators were built in cities across the U.S. and small and medium sized towns built piggeries, where swine were fed fresh or cooked garbage.

The next installment coming up covers the 20th century. During this time came wealth and with that a throwaway society where the focus of products is on planned obsolescence based on fashion rather than durability.

For those of you calculating the weight of your food waste, how do you compare to the 1900 averages?

Friday, February 8, 2008

New environmental TV shows

Due to the long-standing writer's strike, there has been a dearth of new episodes on TV. Let's face it, the networks are getting desperate. Fortunately, producers are looking at a new crop of shows, loosely based on some environmental blogs out there.

Cocktail meets CasablancaCasablanca's Book (Romance) - In a post-peak-oil world, Sheryl Astuck, exiled American and former Israeli freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town, serving signature cocktails like "Post-Apocalypse Now." Co-starring Tom Cruise.

Impacted Man (Comedy): A Manhattan writer travels the country on his bike in search of a doctor to cure him of his severe constipation caused by his limited winter diet.

Fake Plastique Fish (Action) - Explosives expert and Jiu-Jitsu master, Betty Terry, saves Bay Area residents each week from crooks, criminals and heavy users of plastic-laden products.

Boyz n the Wood (Drama) - Urban gangstas are sent to live in a little log cabin out in the woods and are put to the test cleaning weep-holes, digging outhouses and putting up with the ramblings of a demented, ranting old man.

Clean my Thistle (Home Improvement) - New homeowner, Vanessa, sets out to hire a team of experts to whip her house into enviro-shape with weekly team contests and the pressure and threat of receiving the dreaded, "You're flushed!"

Ride 'em cowgirl!The Adventures of Chile and Fartsy (Western): Set in the old west, this rip roaring tale follows the antics of Cowgirl Chile and her trusty dog, Fartsy, as they corral wild citrus fruits against a backdrop of cactus and canning equipment.

A Homesteading Nymphomaniac (Reality) - Ex-porn stars battle it out in a test to be the last nympho standing while running a homestead, raising donkeys, fighting against NAIS regulations and all the while squeezing in lots of baump chicka baump baump.

Kurunchi Chikin (Anime) - Japanese animation sets the tone of this series which highlights the daring adventures of super-heroine, Kurunchi Chikin, as she saves people from bad diets, too much garbage and evil, scratchy toilet paper.

Thank goodness there's hope on the horizon. Rest easy, my friends.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Are you green curious?

For those of you coming over from the article on CNET News.com, here's a little teaser on what's going on at Crunchy Chicken.

Book clubs - I have two book clubs going. I post discussion questions every Tuesday (alternating books every other week). We are reading Affluenza, by John DeGraaf and David Wann, and In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. Reading the book is not required to participate, but it certainly helps. At the end of the book club, I host a book giveaway, so if you didn't get a chance to read the book with the bookclub you'll get a chance to win it.

Challenges - There are two challenges underway. Freeze Yer Buns where the goal is to lower your thermostat over the winter to help save energy and money. There's also Project Nowaste, which just started last month, where the focus is to reduce your food waste as well as your food consumption. Most of my challenges have giveaways, to keep you on your toes.

My Own Projects - I try to post what things I'm working on to lower my footprint such as making my own toothpaste, making butter, growing my own food, frugal living and whatnot.

Polls. Lots of Polls - Every Sunday I post a poll, generally environmentally related, to give you an idea of what other people are doing, how they feel about a topic or how they are doing with a challenge.

Sheer Insanity - Just to shake things up I'll put up posts that have some sort of environmental bent, but are generally just silly. You'll find that this blog isn't exactly serious, but sometimes it gets downright nutty. If you are in dire need of a laugh, check them out.

Finally, for a list of the goals I set out for this blog for 2008, check out my New Years post.

Project Nowaste - Candied orange peels

Chocolate dipped candied orange peelsLately, I've been analyzing everything that goes into our food waste bin, making sure that food that is edible gets eaten before it goes bad. I've already discussed in great detail my butter making forays. But now I'm looking at things that generally aren't considered edible and seeing what I can do with them, too.

This one isn't too hard a stretch of the imagination, but when my husband got a bug in his ass about making Harvey Wallbangers (thanks, NY Times), we had all these orange peels leftover as a result. Not one to just want to throw them in the compost, I decided to make candied orange peels instead.

So, I took a recipe by my husband's favorite Italian food personality and adapted it a little.

Orange-infused simple syrupThe recipe and blow-by-blow instructions are available over on Crunchy Chicken Cooks if you want to see what it takes to make these delectable little chunks of food waste.

For those of you wondering what I did with the sugar syrup that the peels were boiled in, well, waste not want not! I strained the sugar syrup (that is now infused with some serious orangeness) and bottled it. If you do this yourself, make sure you refrigerate it. This can be used as an orange-infused simple syrup in a number of drinks or cocktails.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Planning a green Valentine's

Green heart leafBefore you go red for Valentine's Day, think green. There are several things you can do this Valentine's to tread a little bit lighter on the earth:

1. The Dinner Out. Why not try dinner in instead? Shop your local Farmers Market (if you have a winter market going this time of year) or buy local or organic from your favorite independent grocer. Not only will eating at home save you money, but you have more control over the ingredients. And your sweetie will appreciate the extra love that went into slaving over a hot stove.

If eating out is more your bag, try to find a restaurant that features local or organic products. If you don't have any in your area or you want to try a restaurant that doesn't focus on organic, then choose less meat-based items. The impact of your dinner will be lower and you won't feel guilty for the splurge. Now's also a good time to remind you seafood lovers of the Seafood Watch Program provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It lists which fish to order (or not) and why. Finally, if you are really into it, take public transportation, or walk or ride your bikes if you are eating out.

2. The Flowers. Is there a better way to say "I love you" than giving your loved one flowers that are pesticide free? Who wants to breathe in the scent of all those roses if they are coated in toxic chemicals? Not to mention the danger to the workers processing the flowers. Instead, order your flowers from the many organic producers that are out there. And, if you don't believe me, rent Maria Full of Grace to see a fictionalized account of the flower packing industry, among other things.

3. The Rocks. For some, Valentine's Day is the day to pop the question or to show a little appreciation through gems, jewelry and other baubles. You'll want to look for diamonds and gold that avoid the environmental and human-rights violations inherent in the industry. Even supposedly conflict-free diamonds are questionable. Why not try to find a more sentimental antique or heirloom quality piece of jewelry instead?

4. The Chocolate. Now we're talking. Just make sure you look for organic and fair-trade certified chocolates. You both can indulge in some sweets without the worry. My favorite organic, local, fair-trade chocolatier is Theo Chocolates just down the street. It's a win-win situation around here.

Love me, love my merkin5. The Nookie. Even if you and your partner have been around as long as Methuselah, why not put some spark into your relationship with some inexpensive at-home fun? You can start off by playing a "romantic" board or card game, watching a "suggestive" movie, or taking a "hot" bath together.

And finally, don't forget to check out my take on Greenpeace's Guide to Environmentally Friendly Sex.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

In Defense of Food book discussion (chapters 1 - 5)

In Defense of FoodFor those of you in shock, I mean shocked!... I'm starting another book club today, inspired by Project Nowaste and our issues with food - both in eating it and throwing it out. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto is a follow-up book of sorts to The Omnivore's Dilemma.

It's a slim little number with quick chapters so I'll be cruising along through some of the (three page long) chapters with nary a comment.

Chapter 1. From Foods to Nutrients: This first chapter discusses how, in the last 25 years, supermarkets have been stocking not so much "food" (like eggs, butter, bread), but food substitutes like egg-beaters, margarine and low-carb bread. Most of these food substitutes advertise their merits of having no cholesterol or saturated fats and high fiber or whatever is popular at the moment. Instead of buying foods with a short ingredient list we are now bombarded by a laundry list of chemicals, additives and replacements.

For example, mayonnaise should contain egg yolks and oil. (One of these days I'll show you how to make your own.) But the "healthy" version will contain something along the lines of modified corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, etc.

The focus over the years has been on what's not there as well as what's been added for your health - phytonutrients, vitamins, and the like.

When you go shopping for food, do you make a point of buying low-fat, low-cholesterol or high fiber foods? If so, do you look at the ingredient list to see how this is achieved? Do you think it's better for you to eat these more "nutritious" foods than the original versions?

If you do look at the ingredient list, do you avoid those with the huge ingredient list of substitutes and just go for the originals?

Chapter 2. Nutritionism Defined: The concept of nutritionism is the idea that foods are essentially broken down into what nutrients are in it: fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The problem with this sort of thinking is that there are myriad elements in food that we do not understand. And by this I mean that scientists do not know exactly what they do or do not do. An example is breastmilk - a more complex food, sure, but equally difficult to ascertain how each component functions on a growing brain and body.

The big issue with nutritionism is that if we believe we can break food down into the sum of its parts, then it's easy to believe that processed foods can be even "healthier" for you than the whole foods strictly based on the fact that it has the appropriate quantities of some nutrients, even if we do not fully understand what some of the other elements (phytochemicals, etc.) do for us.

Do you believe that processed foods can be just as good, if not better than the whole foods they are substituting?

Chapter 3. Nutritionism Comes to Market: The first important synthetic food to hit the market was margarine, which started out in the 19th century as a cheap and inferior substitute for butter. During the 1950s, when the concept that saturated fat and cholesterol caused heart disease (called, in the book, the lipid hypothesis) hit its stride, manufacturers lept on the opportunity to market margarine as the "smarter" butter. The bad nutrients were removed (cholesterol and saturated fats) and replaced with the good ones (polyunsaturated fats and vitamins). Of course, we all now know that transfats are a killer, yet margarines have managed to be reinvented and carry on (Now Transfat Free!) as if nothing happened.

In 1938, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act imposed strict labelling of "imitation" products. That was tossed out in 1973, thereby opening the doors for all manner of fake, low-fat products. As long as the new product was considered to be nutritionally equivalent to the original, it was no longer considered fake.

What's your impression of the whole trans-fats debacle? Do you feel like it was just swept under the rug and that no one really fessed up to the fact that the pushing of the lipid hypothesis potentially did way more harm than good? Do you feel safe from having this happen again or do you think that manufacturers and food scientists are just carrying on with business as usual - trying to sell enhanced products without much merit?

Chapter 4. Food Science's Golden Age: Starting with oat bran in the 1980's and continuing with omega-3 enhanced eggs, lean pork (aka "the other white meat"), low-carb pasta and the like, foods that could be manipulated to have a different nutrient profile were winning the marketing game. The poor banana, avocado and other whole foods that can't change their nutritional stripes can't compete against fantastical health claims like "whole grain goodness" being sported on boxes of Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs.

Do you get drawn into the marketing on boxes at the supermarket? Do you choose the one with splashy nutritional advertising when comparing two products? Or do you look at the actual quantities, for example of whole grains per serving, when comparing items?

Chapter 5. The Melting of the Lipid Hypothesis: The gist of this chapter can really only be summed up with a direct quote or two:

"The most important nutrition campaign has been the thirty-year effort to reform the food supply and our eating habits in light of the lipid hypothesis - the idea that dietary fat is responsible for chronic disease. At the behest of government panels, nutrition scientists, and public health officials, we have dramatically changed the way we eat and the way we think about food, in what stands as the biggest experiment in applied nutrition in history. Thirty years later, we have good reason to believe that putting the nutritionists in charge of the menu and the kitchen has not only ruined an untold number of meals, but also has done little for our health, except very possibly to make it worse."

"At this point you are probably saying to yourself, Hold on just a minute. Are you really saying the whole low-fat deal was bogus? But my supermarket is still packed with low-fat this and no-cholesterol that! My doctor is still on me about my cholesterol and telling me to switch to low-fat everything."

What do you think about this? Do you feel there is merit in the lipid hypothesis - that low-fat, low-cholesterol diets are heart healthy? Or do you think it's just a nutritional philosophy that took on its own life and now can't be expunged from the culture of nutrition?

That's a lot to take in, for sure. Some scientists argue that there was little scientific basis to back the lipid hypothesis even back in the 70's. The next few chapters get more into the heart of the matter. Ha ha.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Free dress form

Who has boobs like this anyway?Wondering what to do with all those seed catalogs you got last month? Looking to start sewing your own clothes and need a cheap dress form?

Well, here's all you need to do. Check out this article, Clone Yourself a Fitting Assistant, to get the basic idea. Rip the pages from your seed catalogs into strips and, using a little flour and water or faster drying starch, cover your body from your neck over your torso. Like one of those balloon papier-mâché projects you did as a kid. Except you are the balloon. You can wear a shirt underneath or plastic or go au natural (grease up first, though). You'll need someone to help you and cut you out of it once it's set.

If papier-mâché isn't your style, you can make a dress form using duct tape (on top of a shirt, or you'll be regretting it later) that is almost as accurate. You will end up using one or more rolls of tape for this version, which isn't exactly as environmentally friendly as newspapers or seed catalogs.

So, why spend several hundred dollars on a dress form when you can make one for free?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

How do you spend Super Bowl Sunday?

Today is a big day for a lot of football fans. Never having been much into football, I'm generally totally oblivious to the festivities.

We won't be watching it, but I will be having a party of sorts. I am making a dinner party out of scraps (for Project Nowaste here). You'll see what I mean - I'll be posting about it soon.

Since the Super Bowl is in Arizona this year, I'm sure that Chile will be hosting the entire state at her big blowout party to see who wins.



And speaking of winners, congratulations again to kssnflwr for winning the Reader Appreciation Day gift card.

Reader appreciation winner!

And the winner of the $50 gift card to the seed catalog/supplier or nursery of their choice goes to....

kssnflwr aka "Melissa."

So, Melissa, email me at crunchychickenblog@gmail.com with your contact information and your seed supplier and/or nursery of choice. If you want to split it up (e.g. $30 here, $20 there or however you want to break it down, that's fine by me).

And for all those jealous readers out there, let us know what you are thinking of getting!

Congratulations!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Peak oil butter

Mmmmm. Handmade butter.Do you have leftover (or just about to spoil) cream that you don't know what to do with but don't want to throw out?

Additionally, if Sharon is right about peak oil and you end up buying a cow (see #3), you'll want to make butter.

However, if you can't spare the electricity to make the butter with your Kitchenaid, I've posted step-by-step instructions on how to make butter using just a Mason jar and your two hands over on Crunchy Chicken Cooks.

Thirty minutes or less, start to finish! Check it out!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Build my bed, baby!

Welcome back, Carter!My friend, Rachel, has been stressing over her unprepared garden beds. She has big dreams of turning her small, shady backyard that's chock full of deer, coyote and bears into a gardening mecca. Now, in spite of the obvious potential problems, she remains undaunted. Until she slipped a few discs in her back last week.

So, in pain she lies, tortured by the thoughts of missing out on this year's gardening season. I argue, of course, that she has months to get things done.

Or maybe we can just get this guy to come out and build her beds (wink wink). I'm sure her husband, Dan, won't mind.



Why have I not seen Carter Oosterhouse before? Oh yeah, I don't watch TV.

For those interested parties, he's got a new show on the DIY Network called Inside Job during the Nailed at 9 lineup. Does anyone else have their mind in the gutter? Not that mine leaves it very often, but when did DIY start doing soft-porn? How many women will be DIY while watching this show?

Good Lord, Rachel, I'm thinking this might not be a bad idea. Sorry, Dan. But, I gots to look out for my peeps.

Sheeez, I'm digressing here. Anyway, my "inside" source tells me that every episode features a green element as an integral component of the construction project. So, while I'd like to see a mainstream show constructing truly green homes or following some sort of LEED-certification, at least it's a baby step toward getting the masses used to the idea of green building.

Hmph. I guess we're still just stuck with Greenpa for now. Sigh...

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