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Do It Yourself

Preparing for Rain and Drought

IBC Tote & Pallet Wood Rain Cistern

Rain barrels might just be a gateway drug. I started with two converted 55 gallon olive barrels. Then I converted two more soda barrels for 220 gallons of capacity. But, I discovered that I could use all of that water in about a week and a half watering our garden. So, I've gone the next step in my addiction to rainwater catchment.

There, I Fixed It!

Repaired Coffee Grinder and Tools

Less than two years ago I replaced a broken coffee grinder. The old coffee grinder was unrepairable, yet it had worked for over 25 years. I just fixed the 'new' grinder which had a frayed power cord due to a design / manufacturing flaw (the sliding cord cover cut the wire insulation). Somehow this doesn't feel like progress.

Resolutions and Resolve

Pints of Homebrewed Hard Apple Cider and Scotch Ale

Late 2015 and early 2016 have been an interesting time in the eco/enviro world. An international agreement was reached in Paris at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) to reduce CO2 emissions. Yay! Following COP21 it was announced that 2015 was the warmest year and January 2016 was the warmest month (measured globally) on record. Boo! What to do when bad news effectively cancels out the good news of a month earlier? I think it calls for both resolutions and resolve.

Why I Garden #43

Shasta Daisies

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum). After a wet spring and much watering the Shasta Daisies are in full bloom. These flowers are neither native (a hybrid created by Luther Burbank) nor xeric (in our climate) we have made an exception for this small planting.

More Info:

Shasta Daisy

Leucanthemum × superbum

Luther Burbank

La Historia de Una Abeja

Empty Throne

Readers, let me tell you of my bee woes. One of my hives has been a regular telenovela.

Round about this time last year, we noticed one of our two hives was quiet … too quiet. It turned out as we feared. The whole colony had departed for greener pastures after a wet, cold winter. It was tragic inside the hive. I found several bars of bees frozen in place with a comb full of honey not that far away. I wasn't in the market for a new colony so it just sat there empty.

Paris à Vélo (Paris by Bicycle)

Cyclist at Versailles

One of my trip goals was to bicycle as much as possible during our stay. This turned out to be much easier than I expected. Due to projects like Paris Respire and Plan Vélo Paris has become a relatively friendly city for bicyclists. With Vélib' kiosks throughout the city, finding a bicycle to ride is quite easy. Vélib' bikes are perfectly usable, if a bit heavy, city bikes with 3 gears, fenders and a basket. During our stay I learned a few tips that made cycling in Paris even easier.

Bicycling = Work and Freedom

Chained to Work poster

While I prefer multiple gears and brakes on both wheels (as opposed to fixies with a front brake only) I do agree the message of this poster.

'Biking is work. You are the engine.

  Your legs pump the pedals that rotate the sprocket. Its teeth grab the chain, rotating the back wheel, and you are fearlessly propelled forward. Gyroscopic and centrifugal forces help keep you balanced, all while you swerve, turn and switch gears.

Hitting The Reset Button

Power Reset buttons

A few days into January and I finally have a moment to reflect on the past year. I didn't finish all the projects I wanted to (Shock!). Nor did I write as much as I intended to (Surprise!). But, I did finish some tasks and started a few more. What lies ahead in 2015? Quite a lot.

Really Making The Apples Last

Apples 2014

As we settled down for some PBS Christmas special last night, I reflected on the winter. A sneak snow storm was dusting the roads outside and it appears that winter has finally arrived, technically and meteorologically. While the apples in Santa Fe are well past their peak, once again we have put some up.

30 minutes Or 75 minutes, whatevs...

Kitchen Timer

Mark Bittman, you're killing me. I made your Spaghetti and Meatballs with hope in my heart and I made it in 30 minutes! (times 2.5)

I completely understand your argument that mise-en-place is an overly fussy step for home cooks. The only time a home chef needs to have everything ready is for stir-fries where everything comes together rapidly. The preparation of the mise-en-place works well in a restaurant where a cook is moving all the time and has several different dishes going. If a restaurant chef has a moment after something has started, they better get going on the next order. If I prep everything ahead of time that means I'll have small six to ten minute breaks between recipe steps which sounds terribly annoying. I could either do a few six minutes chores and forget to stir the onions or I could prep along the way.

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