How to Make it Rain

Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour 2014 - Waiting Out the Hail Storm

Have you ever wondered how to make it rain? The folks at Home Grown New Mexico may have figured it out. For the second year in a row the Kitchen Garden and Coop Tour has concluded with a downpour. I can't think of a more fitting end to a tour of permaculture gardens, water catchment systems and chicken coops than a powerful rainstorm.

More Than Just a Bunch of Wineries

Lagunitas Brewing Co. - The Writing is on the Wall

When you think of Sonoma, CA what comes to mind? Maybe green vineyards or rolling golden hills, but probably not craft beer and hard cider. On a recent vacation in Northern California I tasted quite a few beverages made with barley and apples instead of grapes. Sonoma County has built a reputation on wine, but a revival of hand-crafted beer and cider has grown from historic hop vines and apple orchards.

Banking on the Harvest

Petaluma Seed Bank interior 2

Why do banks give up these incredible buildings? The answer is probably very boring and financially sensible, but LOOK at this building and tell me do you prefer an ATM?

Anyway ... on our recent (and too short) northern CA vacation we made a trip to the Petaluma Seed Bank. If you enjoy seed catalogs, you will love this place. We browsed for quite a while and made small withdrawal (i.e. we bought some seeds).

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Getting a Charge at OAK

OAK Airport - Electric Car Charging Stations

The EcoFamily recently flew (a direct flight) into OAK for a long-awaited vacation. Walking out of the airport we noticed a new addition to the parking lot; electric car charging stations. It turns out that those charging stations are FREE (beyond the cost of parking at OAK)!

The Four Day Cocktail

This past week, I spent four days making a cocktail.

If you saw the picture in Bon Appetit, you might drop everything and make it too. Its marbled beauty reminiscent of an Italian cathedral.... Oh sorry! Back to the cocktail.

This craziness started on Sunday with a special trip to our local 'Swapper Jacks' for a stout beer. I did not want a whole six pack because, for lord's sake, it's 90 degrees outside ... who drinks stout when it's that hot? Beer acquired.

Can You Fix It?

Broken - Storm Door Latch and Coffee Grinder

Stuff breaks. This is a fact of life. But, is that stuff fixable?

Here are two recent examples of broken items from our home, a storm door latch and coffee grinder. The storm door was fixed by replacing the inside latch. The coffee grinder wasn't fixable (yes, I took it apart to attempt a repair). The coffee grinder, although it lasted 25+ years, is disposable. The storm door was designed with replaceable parts (latch, handle, screen, etc.)

DIY Coffee Roasting

Roasting Coffee - cooling beans

I am a big DIY nerd. Sometimes that leads to complicated, long term projects that take over your life. Fortunately, some DIY projects are ridiculously quick and easy. Case in point: roasting coffee. While I'm not a coffee connoisseur, I grind my own beans and we have four types of coffee makers (drip, moka pot, french press, pourover). I had read many self-described coffee geeks wax rhapsodic about roasting their own coffee. Frankly, I was leery of over-complicating my simple morning coffee habit.

Why I Garden #39

Santa Rosa Plum Tree in Bloom

One sure sign of spring is our Santa Rosa Plum tree in bloom. With crossed fingers, compost, water and a little help from Mother Nature and Luther Burbank we could have a crop of plums later this year. Barring any late freezes or big wind storms, of course.

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Prunus x domestica 'Santa Rosa' plum

Fixing a Broken Heart

Repaired Strong Mountain Bike Frame

The heart of a bicycle is the frame. The fork, wheels, bars and stem, saddle, pedals, etc. are vital, but they all build upon the frame. I've ridden many and owned a few bikes over the years and have determined through trial and error what I like to ride. I was despondent last fall when I discovered a crack on the chainstay of my mountain bike. I found a loaner bike to ride and pondered the fate of my well loved hardtail...

Slow and Steady Brings Results

Tortoise and the Hare

Over the past several years I've made incremental improvements to the building envelope of our home. Adding insulation above the garage ceiling is the latest in a string of insulation and weather sealing DIY projects. My slow and steady wins the race approach has chipped away at our natural gas usage. But, have I come to the end of the low hanging fruit?

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