Say Cheese!

April 26, 2012 § 2 Comments

Last year for christmas I received the book nourishing traditions which put the seed in my mind about making my own cheese. However like most things in my life it wasn’t a priority and so has yet to happen. I initially used the excuse that I didn’t have access to a milk I thought would be sufficient. Virginia has very strict and some might say needlessly obtrusive restrictions on raw milk. However as it turns out you don’t actually need raw milk you just need milk that is not ultra, that means not  ultra pasteurized or ultra homogenized.  These extend shelf life of the milk , but it not so good for the cheese making. I have since found milk through a local dairy as well as a few in store varieties that could be used. I haven’t yet taken the plunge, Urban Cheesecraft  has affordable $25  cheese kits that I’m thinking about trying. Any thoughts?

Garden Lust: Hanging Strawberry Pots

April 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

Since I might actually get around to planting the strawberry pot I got over a year ago for my birthday. I thought I would share these cute hanging strawberry pots.

Strawberry Pot Hanging Planter in Yellow and Green Stoneware

I also wanted to share this poorly thought out idea, the “Strawberry Jar” bird bath. The last thing you want to do is to attract birds to your strawberries, but maybe this could live on as a succulent planter.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

April 20, 2012 Comments Off on Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

As you get ready to head out into the garden, I hope you  don’t forget to wear your hat and put on some sunscreen. However that last part is a little trickier than it used to be, like so many other things in our increasingly growing world there are so many choices. The most important thing is to have a sunscreen that protects and UV-a and UV-b rays. I myself use mineral sunscreens, which work by reflecting the sun. I believe them to be safer and I have a terrible habit of rubbing my eyes, which if I do while wearing a chemical sunscreen gives me a not so pleasant burning sensation. However they do have their down falls, as there are few aerosol versions, and some can be very messy if you are doing a sweaty activity.

I wear sunscreen on my face everyday and the only kind I have found that  does not make my pores clog or my face sweat, and will also stay on if you sweat is Origins Out Smart. Which I have found in the course of  writing this blog post has been discontinued, so if anyone has a favorite mineral facial sunscreen let me know!

For everyday use on your body I would recommend Alba very emollient sunscreen. I prefer unscented I don’t want to smell like sunscreen or vanilla or any other horrible sunscreen scents. I’ve also found that the kid’s version rubbed in easier, but this could have just been my perception.

Kids  Mineral  Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Cost Comparison: Coffee

April 16, 2012 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Coffee

I didn’t start to drink coffee until I was in college. It was my bribe to hang out in the library. Go  to the library drink a coffee flavored milkshake. It seemed like a decent trade at the time.  Little did I know those coffee flavored milkshakes are quite the gate way drug. I’m already well on my way to french pressing my way to snobbery.

There’s a gamut of options to consider when finding your favorite coffee,is  it fair trade, what roast, what flavor, what region, local, non local, organic, non organic.  I haven’t been using my french press long enough to  to know the implications of each choice, so I won’t pretend.  My preference is for something local, fair trade, the flavor is mostly irrelevant  for me because I  frequently change what I am drinking. But if we’re being honest here, I also frequent Starbucks just as much as my local coffee house, which makes me just a little bit of a hypocrite. Although this mostly dictated by location. However my favorite by far is Trager Brothers coffee. When I was working my dismal job in the hospital it was the only thing that I looked forward to.

 

Blend 50 by Trager Brothers (local, organic, fair trade) at $11.99/pound  this is roasted locally in Nelson County Virginia and is honestly the best coffee I have ever had.

Whole Foods 365 Bulk (traditional and organic) $8.99 to $10.99/pound

Starbucks Sumatra (making an effort to be fair trade)$13.50/pound

Folgers (probably not fair trade) ~$8.96/per pound

For just a few dollars more you can really get a higher quality and potentially more ethical cup of joe.  Now you’ll say of the folgers only cost be $6.00, yes this is true, but they are also giving you less coffee about 11 or 12ounces, so the comparable cost  to many “premium” brands is actually closer.

Now how much do you save by making your own coffee?

I have found a pound makes about 8 cups(32 ounces) of coffee for 6-7 days, comparably if you were buying two grande coffees(at a coffee house, not a gas station) at $4/a day it comes out to be $24-$28/week. Meaning if you brew your own coffee you are saving $12-$15/a week spread out over the year $624-$780.

Around the Web: Leaf Hooks

April 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

It’s safe to say that  flower and garden inspired hooks and knobs are everywhere these days. I’m a huge fan of bringing the outdoors in  but I find that once something becomes common place it can be hard to find accents that seem to belong in your home.  Because of this and my struggle to balance nature inspired decor with a modern look I haven’t been able  to commit, what do you think?

Vintage leaf hooks

Leaf Hooks from Salt Lake City Forge

from HookLady

From Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage

From  Pretty Clever Decor

Friday Reading

April 13, 2012 Comments Off on Friday Reading

The fridge without the fridge.

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

Look at this badass coffee house in New Zealand.

Cute treehouse for kids.

Tips for Controlling Aphids with Ladybugs

April 12, 2012 § 3 Comments

 It was about this time last year when I was lamenting over the aphid infestation on my mandevilla(which has since died from other causes.) I had tried unsuccessfully all winter to kill aphids with Mrs. Meyers all purpose cleaner, which kept them at bay but certainly did not wipe them out. So I turned to my spotted, hungry, and more motivated colleague the ladybug. I ordered mine from Beneficial Entomology on ebay and they shortly arrived in the mail.  I can’t really remember but  I think I ordered 5,000 and since an adult ladybug can eat over 5,00 aphids in its lifetime, the math was in my favor. The hardest thing you will encounter is that you can’t keep ladybugs in one place by sheer power of will. You can,however, incentivize  their stay by doing the following things.

  • Making sure they have a water source,water plants before putting the ladybugs on.
  • Make sure they have a food source, sadly if there is nothing to eat they will leave.
  • Ladybugs are less active at night, so apply in the last afternoon or nighttime.
  • You can spray them with sugar water to make their wings stick. I personally found this a little cruel and decided against it.
  • Ladybugs will keep in the fridge. The seems cruel, but really they just go dormant. I applied to rounds of ladybugs about a week apart to completely wipe out the aphid population.

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