Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Urban Farm Handbook review

Do you live in the city or an otherwise urban area, yet yearn for life in the country? Well, quit dreaming and start living! The Urban Farm Handbook is a necessity to prove that you can be (mostly) self-sufficient and not have to move out to the sticks to achieve your goals.

It also will appeal to those of us (my family included) who want the ideals of country living, but still have the benefits of city living - energy efficiency, improved transportation, access to the arts, excellent dining, etc.

The Urban Farm Handbook, by Annette Cottrell (of and Joshua McNichols (who, apparently, lives nearby me), will want to make you grind your own grain, raise mealworms in your house to feed your flock of backyard chickens, make your own chevre from your dairy goats (where legal, of course), dispatch your own bunnies and beyond.

I get a lot of books to review, but I cannot say enough good things about this book. You'll just have to trust me on this one. If you are interested in the local food movement, even if you do live out in the sticks (you lucky bastards), you will really enjoy this book.

Normally, I'd do a giveaway of the books I've read, but this one's a keeper. Sorry, you're going to have to buy it yourself :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011

While I'm off on vacation, I thought I'd bring back the posts that caused the most "excitement" in the last year.

And the top 5 posts are....

1. Urban Homesteaders - Cease and Desist: I can't believe it's been almost a year since the whole "urban homesteaders" trademark activity hit the fan when the Dervaes family started pursuing people and organizations who had the audacity to use their brilliant concoction of words never before used by man.

2. The Skinny vs. Curvy Ideal: This clearly must have been a result of people Googling the wrong thing, but nonetheless, it got over 2,000 pageviews.

3. Top 5 Easy Homemade Cheeses: What can I say? Everybody loves easy. And most people love cheese. A winning combo.

4. Urban Homesteaders Blog Like a Pirate Day: On the heels of the whole silliness involved with trademarking common terms, bloggers come out in force to thrown down against those arrogant enough to trademark them.

5. BPA-free Canned Tomatoes: Hitting the news this year was research after research showing the unsavory health consequences of consuming BPA through food, drink and touch. The popularity of this post shows that people are serious about finding alternatives to BPA laced cans. BPA, most recently, was shown to make healthy breast cells act like cancerous ones, render the chemo drug Tamoxifen useless and push women's hearts into deadly arrhythmias. Better living through chemistry? No thanks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Going pioneer in 2012!

I know you are just now hearing about my new book, The Non-Toxic Avenger, and will be hearing a heck of a lot more over the next few months when my blog book tour begins, but I did want to share with you my next book project which I'm actively beavering away on right now.

My next book (tentatively titled, Little House in the Big City: Pioneer Living without the Prairie due out early Fall 2012 from New Society Publishers) is a combination of pioneer living and fun and merriment gleaned from the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books.

My 8-year-old daughter, Emma, and I are going through the books and reenacting as much as reasonably possible. In other words, we aren't smoking a deer in a stump in the backyard. But we are doing whatever we can. For example, we spent the day yesterday making our own butter with carrots from the backyard to give it a bright yellow color. It turned out better than I thought. This Christmas Eve, we are making an Ingalls-style dinner with various things like dried apple pie, "Injun" bread and beans. So, if it's in the book and doesn't involve something not legal in my area, we're doing it. And, Emma is penciling the illustrations.

This book project doesn't exactly bode well for my bathing habits, but we'll see how that goes. In the meantime, I'm running around trying to find salt pork, pig bladders and tails and making straw hats, rag dolls and other really random, fun, pioneery projects! So, stay tuned!

Are you a fan of the book series, TV series, or just pioneer living?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Freezing for the holidays?

For those of you participating in this year's Freeze Yer Buns Challenge, you run the problem of having visitors over who might not, say, appreciate the lowered temperatures. When you're acclimated to 70+ degrees it's really hard to drop the 5 or 10 or 15 degrees in one fell swoop.

Generally, when we have visitors over, we are also doing a lot of cooking and, by virtue of having lots of mammals over the house (i.e. human visitors), it tends to heat up naturally. Sometimes, however, the oven and human body heat just isn't enough and we'll turn the heat up for their benefit. If we're all sitting around, blankets can be used, but aren't exactly helpful at a dinner party. And, since we don't have one of those neat, heated Japanese dinner table thingies (aka a "kotatsu"), I don't expect our guests will have a pleasant time eating if their teeth are chattering. So, we turn up the heat.

My mom and brother have learned to dress warmly when they come over and my brother always remembers to bring over his slippers, which I find very entertaining. Not because I'm trying to torture him or anything, but just because he's always so prepared for everything (the OCD helps).

In any case, what do you do for the holidays when you have visitors? Make them tough it out or turn up the heat?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Big Dipper Waxworks candles winner!

The lucky winner of the following candles:

2 Beeswax Ornament candles (each has a burn time of over 40 hours)
1 Beehive candle in Holiday Spice (burn time of over 35 hours)

from Big Dipper Waxworks is...

Amy McPherson Sirk of the blog, Mamas Garden Ramblings: Life and Times on the Not-So Urban Farm, proving that jumping around like a crazed 4th grader influences the random integer generator in positive ways.

Congratulations! Email your contact information to and I will have Big Dipper send the candles out to you directly!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Last minute handmade holiday gift run-down

Layered peppermint barkStill squirreling around looking for last minute Christmas gifts? Well, here are some posts from the past with quick gifts you can make that will surely please!

Chocolate Covered Candied Orange Peels - I didn't make any this year and I'm sure there will be lots of complaints.

Caramel Covered Homemade Marshmallows - Doing the caramel is a bit tricky so if you want to skip it, the marshmallows just by themselves are divine.

Salted Chipotle Chocolate Chunk Cookies - I still can't get over how awesome these cookies are. If you like spicy, then double the chipotle!

Douglas Fir Infused Gin - Get your holiday drink on with a little help from your Christmas tree.

Peppermint Bark - This is awfully dangerous to have around the house, but way easy to make.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book review by the Non-Toxic Nest

I don't know how I missed this, but between Thanksgiving and the Dad drama, I didn't spot this review of my book, The Non-Toxic Avenger, until just yesterday.

The Non-Toxic Nest bills itself as "investigating everyday toxins & going green in New Zealand" so it seems very fitting that the author of the blog read my book and did a review. She gives a very honest review of what she liked and didn't like about my book.

If you have time, check it out! Also, don't forget to enter the Big Dipper beeswax candle giveaway if you haven't seen it yet.

Thanks to other bloggers who are reading my book and hosting reviews! And, for everyone, if you read my book and have an Amazon account, can you please leave a short review? Thanks!

Other blog reviews of my book:
Skruben - The Non-Toxic Avenger
Nature Moms - The Non-Toxic Avenger Book Review
Backyard Farms - Books for Blustery Days
Skruben - My Less-Toxic Life List

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Big Dipper Waxworks Holiday Candle giveaway!

If you are like me, you worry about the nasty toxins found in conventional candles. Most candles are made with paraffin, which is a petroleum product, and even if the manufacturer claims it's made from beeswax, you need to look for 100% beeswax candles. The rest is just paraffin filler. Not to mention that many candles made overseas are chock full of lead in their wicks. It's a lung polluting disaster in the making.

Last year, I did a giveaway from local beeswax candle maker, Big Dipper Waxworks, and they sent me some samples of their products. Since I love their beeswax candles so much, I asked if they were interested in doing another reader giveaway for the holidays and they were!

Here's some more information about beeswax, Big Dipper candles and the scandalous lack of regulations and ingredients disclosure (my emphasis):
Beeswax is 100% natural and a renewable resource that actually cleans the air by emitting purifying negative ions.

Most candles are made with paraffin, a petroleum by-product, which is not natural and is unhealthy to burn. To prepare it for candle making, it is chemically bleached and hardened, then artificially scented. Burning paraffin emits harmful, black soot and pollutes the air.

Currently, there are no regulations in the U.S. on disclosing ingredients on candle labels. You may find candles labeled "beeswax" that are made with paraffin, or other candle waxes, and contain as little as 1% beeswax. Big Dipper Waxworks is very proud to say that they use 100% beeswax in all of their candles, with the exception of a select few that are a blend of 50% beeswax and 50% soy wax, and are noted as such.
The Giveaway
So, here I offer to one lucky winner, a holiday gift set of fabulous candles, worth over $45. Absolutely no fragrance or synthetic scents are used.

Included in this giveaway are:

2 Beeswax Ornament candles (each has a burn time of over 40 hours)
1 Beehive candle in Holiday Spice (burn time of over 35 hours)

How to Enter
If you are interested in entering this random drawing, add your name to the comments of this post. You get bonus points for liking the Crunchy Chicken on Facebook. Just let me know if you're a fan of the page in your comments.

You have until midnight PST, Friday, December 16th, to enter. And, now for the legal mumbo jumbo: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents, 18+ only. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Winner will be selected Saturday, December 17th and will have 2 days to respond.

For More Information
If you are interested in learning more information about candles and their potential toxicity, check out my book, The Non-Toxic Avenger: What you don't know can hurt you.

Warning: I was in no way compensated for this post by the company outside of samples received.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Town Hall Seattle Book Launch and Event

It seems like every real high point in my life is tempered with some dreadful low. Since my book was released in mid-November, I should be riding a wave of tremendous highs with book signings, radio interviews and other speaking engagements. Instead, I've been riding a wave of tremendous turmoil since my father passed away suddenly on November 30th. I think this is some karmic way for me to stay humble. Or something.

In any event, in spite of the ups and downs, I'm pulling on the upswing and am extremely excited to announce that my Town Hall Seattle book event/launch and signing is still going full speed ahead. On December 12th, I'll be doing a 40 minute or so talk about my book followed by a Q & A and book signing as part of the Future of Health Series at Town Hall. The event is from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm and will be taped by our local NPR station (KUOW) for their Speaker's Forum show.

The University Bookstore (from the University of Washington) will be there selling my book as will WA Toxics Coalition. They will be tabling the event, offering additional information about toxins in the environment and in the products you use. They were instrumental in providing feedback for getting my body burden testing done as well as providing the resources for doing the XRF testing of consumer products that I discuss in my book.

I have a few more organizations that may be supporting the event as well. They are not yet confirmed so I don't want to mention them, but I will in the next week. I also have a list of very exciting radio interviews and TV interviews and book signings on the horizon that I will announce as they are confirmed.

But, make no mistake, my Dad is always on my mind and I dedicate all of this to him. He would have been very proud.

If you live in the Seattle area, I hope to see you there! Did I mention there will be beer and wine?