Monday, September 29, 2008

Thinking Not Doing

1. Plan a garden:
I did more work on the tentative plan (Had to make room for the luffa, after all)
I put all the chicken compost that The Boy got via freecylce

2. Take a formal herbwifery calss:
Nope. I did do a lot of reading though.

3. Choose a major:
Eh. Not yet. The Boy and I did do a lot of talking about it last night though. So that is a start I guess...

4. Learn to tie-dye:
Gr. No. All the stuff is still sitting in the box by the backdoor though.

5. Organize soap lab:
I did a bit of work in there. Only to make room for the new and fun things I bought. I must stop buying things! On a positive note I did craft a wonderful hair mask :)


9. Exercise:
No :( The work I did in the yard has made my arms sore though. So that should count a little.

10. Getting into craft shows:
No. Maybe I'll look into that today.

Note to self: Have fewer irons in the fire.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Project

We started a new project here at the faux urbanhomestead. I'm very excited about it! It took all of yesterday to get the bare bones together, but I think it will be worth it later.
Stay tuned for details :D

Friday, September 26, 2008


This morning I was reading the newest post over at Women Not Dabbling in Normal in which they are responding to a question regarding growing luffas. Wow. I've never even thought about the possibility of growing my own luffas! Following links and doing some Internet searching I came up with a couple more links. Here. And here.
It would appear that the zone we live in is just barely passable for growing luffa. I'm thinking about buying seeds from Local Harvest. Now we need to find a place for it to grow. They need a strong trellis to grow their up to 20' tendrils on. Eek. I'm thinking maybe it could grow over the sheds in the back yard? I don't know how easy it would be to harvest them though. We need more wall to grow all the fun plants on! I'm wary of growing something that may become invasive near our neighbors, as a courtisy thing. I guess they could have their own luffas too though.
I think having home grown luffas for sale along with our handmade soap would be wonderful!

Luffa fruit and flowers from

A ripe/cleaned luffa and some seeds from Rasta Seed.

Luffas are also good at cleaning dishes and other surfaces. One less thing that we would have to buy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Autumn is here! (I know I'm a couple days late) I love autumn! The smell of the changing seasons, waking up when it's still dark out, putting the down comforter on the bed! And soup season is almost upon us! (Pardon the excessive parenthesis use this morning) Green chili stew. Potato chowder. Pasta fagioli. Oh my!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Solar Fiesta

The Boy and I went to the 9th annual Solar Fiesta over the weekend. There were some very interesting booths, and some not so interesting. I love how people have adapted the suns energy for various uses. The Solar Oven, for example, very cool (unless you get blinded by them, then it's not so cool). Breeze Dryer had a booth, very cool stuff. Santa, if you are reading this...I want this one :) or this one. Those are some heavy duty clothes lines!! Ban the dryer, use the wind and sun to dry your clothes! We also met some people from the local Vegetarian and Vegan group. It's always nice to meet people with similar interests. Their pot lucks sound interesting.

Definitely lots of food for thought and ideas for the future!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nom Note Of The Day

I subscribe to Dr. Ben Kim's newsletter and this recipe was in today's issue and it looks to good not to share with everyone!

Healthy Sweet Cashew Cream Recipe


1 cup raw organic cashews or raw organic cashew butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raw organic honey


1. Combine all ingredients in a strong blender.

2. Blend until smooth. Add more water if needed.

Transfer sweet cashew cream to a glass jar, cap the jar with a lid, and chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours before using. Sweet cashew cream will stay fresh in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Please note: If you prefer a thick cream, use less water and pause the blender to give the ingredients a good mix/swirl one or more times.

I haven't tried it yet but it looks so good! And I do have all that raw honey we bought the other day! Time to get cooking!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Virginia Creeper

We have a very evasive plant growing in the back yard (where the evil junipers once lived), and it seems to be taking over the entire property! I put a call out to forum members at a forum I belong to and they have identified the plant as Virgina Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). Here is some interesting information I have found, since it seems I am stuck with this fellow.

Herbal: claims it's stimulating, diaphoretic and cathartic.
In India the leaves are used as an aperient, and a resinous matter that in warm climates exudes from the bark of the main stems is considered a useful stimulant, antispasmodic and emmenagogue.
The juice is said to cure headache, when applied to the nostrils.
The fresh leaves of Ivy, boiled in vinegar and applied warm to the sides of those who are troubled with the spleen, or stitch in the sides, will give much ease.

A very interesting article by Henriette and yet another article she wrote.

This bad boy takes over and can climb just about anything.
"Virginia creeper is grown as an ornamental plant, because of its deep red to burgundy fall foliage. It is frequently seen covering telephone poles or trees. The creeper may kill vegetation it covers by shading its support and thus limiting the supporting plants' ability to photosynthesize." Quoted from wikipedia.
Evidently it turns bright red during the autumn. That should be beautiful. Here is a photo I found on the internet to give as an example.

I wonder if ours will turn such a beautiful color? I'm hoping to train (as much as one can "train" a plant) to grow along the East wall to cover up the cinder blocks. Hopefully the neighbors don't mind.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trench Composting

This year we have put all of our soil amending efforts into one of the two veggie beds the house came with. We've airated (we needed to use a pic axe because the soil was so compacted), we've added steer manure and organic mushroom compost. The Boy is on his way to pick up several garbage bags of chicken compost so we can finalize the first veggie bed for the winter.

For the second veggie bed we are going to try trench composting. We've chosen this method because we don't need that second veggie bed for next year (baby steps and all), and we still have a lot of kitchen scraps that the worms can't possibly eat it all.

Photo: Those are our two veggie beds this summer while we were trying to figure out what to do. In the forefront is the bed we have concentrated our work on (ignore the weeds, they are no longer there) to the right is the second bed in which we will be trying trench composting. In the far right top corner (barely visible) is our main compost heap, that should be ready for use this summer.

Quoted from Florida's Online Composting Center-
"Trench Composting is a relatively straight-forward method of composting directly in the soil. This method does not require a bin. Simply dig a trench 8 inches deep in the garden area, fill with 4" of kitchen scraps and backfill with soil.

After a few months, the material will have decomposed sufficiently for planting above the compost trench. For large amounts of material, consider roto-tilling the material into the soil, and waiting a season before planting.

The advantages of trench composting include ease of implementation and its ability to handle kitchen scraps without attracting pests as readily as in sheet composting.

The disadvantages of trench composting include slow rate of decomposition and potential for pests to excavate trenches. Additionally, if the raw materials contain weed seed or plant pathogens, these undesirables will not be destroyed in the trench composting process.

A variant of trench composting was taught to the pilgrims by the Native Americans. You may have heard the story of how Squanto showed the pilgrims how to fertilize their corn crops by burying fish scraps underneath the corn. As the fish composted, nutrients were released for the crop"

More info:
Instructable- not a lot of info, but there is some
Horticulture Blog
Mother Earth News- article on general composting, touches on the trench method

A picture of trench composting from Garden Organic

Now we (I mean The Boy) has to dig a trench so we can get started!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Years Ago

I met my Boy at Power To The Peacefull 2006. We had never met before. We carpooled together with a mutual acquaintance. After a long and silly adventure we finally got to Golden Gate Park. He wandered off and I grabbed his arm for all I was worth and figuratively haven't let go since. To save you all from having to read my mushyness toward him...let's suffice to say he is my best friend and soul mate.

Ah, but we are celebrating this weekend by going out of town for a couple days which I am very much looking forward to!

(Hopefully we will be able to go to California to Power To The Peaceful 2009. It was an amazing experience.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


The other day I was taking a gander at one of the local papers here and noticed this article on purslane (Portulaca olearacea). I had seen this "weed" in the backyard growing all over the pathway I put in earlier this summer. I put on my internet searching skills and came up with a lot of very interesting information!

  • Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant.
  • It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.
  • In Greek popular medicine, purslane is used as a remedy for constipation and inflammation of the urinary system.
So we decided to try some on the taco's we made last night instead of lettuce. Oh my! That is one tasty plant! It is very crisp (and stays so even on top of hot beans, unlike lettuces) and has a mild, yet distinct flavor. I can't wait to add this "weed" to other meals! It's hard to beat having a free, healthy plant taking over your yard.

Word of caution:
Please carefully and positively identify any plant before you eat it! There is a sneaky purslane look a like that is toxic. Spurge. As far as I have read an easy way to identify the difference between your friend purslane and the bad spurge is that spurge will release a milky substance from it's stems when broken and purslane doesn't. So milky substance (when identifing purslane) = bad

Related articles:
A Guide to Wild Edible Plants for Parents and Teachers to Use With Children Landscaping
Purslane Article
The Joy of Purslane by Susan Weed
New York Times Article

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thinking Not Doing: Week 4

1. Plan a garden.
-The Boy planted the bamboo (pictures to come)
-While he was amending the soil for the bamboo I found a cache of more morning glories. I have no idea where they have come from but they have the most beautiful purple flowers.

2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
-I brought several Sage Woman and The Essential Herbal magazines that Cory gave me. Both have amazing information and inspiration.

3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
-The Boy and I have been talking about opening an all vegetarian restaurant. I think that would be a wonderful project, but not one we are ready for at this time.

4. Learn to tie dye.
-I'm really slacking on this goal. All the materials are in a box next to the back door, I just keep putting it off for some reason.

5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
-I went on a "cleaning out the cupboards" over the weekend on a couple products I am making for swaps. That helped a bit.

6. Replace our current refrigerator.

7. Learn to can and preserve food.
-I made and canned mustard yesterday. I think I must have done something wrong though because it is as thin as water. I took a lot of photos so hopefully I will have them up some time this week.

8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
-Voted on logo colors.

9. Exercise four days a week.
-I'm so embarrassed about this goal. We did yoga for about five minutes on day. I spent some time weeding. That's about it though.

10. Be a vendor for two more shows.
-I still haven't heard from the woman I emailed last week. I think it's safe to assume I didn't get in. I wish she would email me so I would know for sure.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Here are some fun photos from our most recent batch of kombucha.


Here you can see the scoby fell to the bottom and folded over on itself. It looked a bit like a tortilla. Notice the yummy bubbles at the top? This was our best batch of kombucha to date.


And a shot from above. Doesn't that look delicious? Ok, maybe not. But it sure makes a delicious beverage!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


My name is Brittney. I am a recipe addict. I have piles all over the house of recipes. I can't stop looking for more to print and try.

For this weekend I want to make (and can!!) some salsa and hot mustard. I'm a picky salsa eater, so it will be nice to make it just how I like it! We also go through a lot of mustard at my casa, it will be good if we can make and store our own.

Favorite recipe sites at the moment-
Post Punk Kitchen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Three And A Half Day Weekend

1. Plan a garden.
-Emended soil in one bed with 10 cubic feet of steer manure and 4 cubic feet of organic mushroom compost
-Bought the biggest jalapeno plant. The thing is at least three feet tall. A lot of the fruit has turned red (although there looks to be at least 20 green peppers left and many flowers) so I plan on making them into a garland.

2. Take a "formal" herbwifery class.
-This weekend was supposed to be our Wild Food Weekend event, but we had to cancel.

3. Choose a major, and act on that choice.
-Yeah, nothing is coming to mind at this point.

4. Learn to tie dye.
-It rained much of the weekend so we didn't get an opportunity, it was on our list of to-do's though.

5. Organize the soap lab, and make space for an herbal lab.
-I did go through some container boxes and I think I may have come up with a way to use some of them.

6. Replace our current refrigerator.

7. Learn to can and preserve food.
-Not per say. We did make a lunch meat recipe I found on Vegan Dad. I haven't tried it yet, but is smells good (and was very cheap to make!)

8. Get 24/7 off the ground.
-I emailed some stuff to my secret agent.

9. Exercise four days a week.
-We weeded and emended the veggie plot. Not a whole lot other than that though.

10. Be a vendor for two more shows.
-I applied for one to be held in October, I haven't heard back from the venue yet.

All in all this was a great and relaxing weekend!