DIY: Lavender Room Spray

July 17, 2013 Comments Off on DIY: Lavender Room Spray

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I would love nothing more than a house that smelled like nothing. The kind of absence of smell that makes you think your house is clean. However in a house with two big dogs, that just doesn’t happen. So I resort to this easy solution for deodorizing.

DIY Room Spray

  • 1 part water
  • 1 part alcohol( I use a  cheap high proof vodka)
  • Approximately 1 Tbsp of baking soda per 2/3 cups of water ( you want it to dissolve)
  • Essential Lavender oil (for a small  spray bottle I use 40 drops)

If you have a more refined olfactory pallet, you can mix scents with lemon, bergamote, rose, or geranium. I have even mixed with citronella, but that is really a more acquired smell.

Happy Mixing!

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.

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.

Beyond the Gardens: The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

March 27, 2012 Comments Off on Beyond the Gardens: The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

A glimpse inside the Millenium Seed Bank Partnership in Kew Gardens Surrey. It is home to 10% of the world’s plant diversity. If you like this you should also check out this video on the work mycologist are doing to preserve fungi. Fungi helps plants absorb nutrients so it’s important!

Because Everyone Needs a Goat

December 3, 2010 Comments Off on Because Everyone Needs a Goat

People are so thankful at Thanksgiving. People fill the interwebs with tweets and updates about how thankful they are for their family and friends, but for some reason the thanks fades pretty quickly and people never fail to realize that something they should be thankful for is in front of them every day.

It is clearly no secret that I am not a fan of the industrial agriculture that controls our food system, and for the most part I choose not to support it. Opting instead for helping establish a healthy community by  buying products from local suppliers. So  one of the things I am grateful for is that I can CHOOSE not participate and still have access to food. I am not going to starve because farmers are working hard and supporting me and then I, in turn support them, together we create a more financially and environmentally sustainable community. So it shouldn’t surprise you that creating a strong agricultural system can up lift a community in any part of the world. That’s part of what makes Heifer International so great is that they provide areas stricken by poverty with animals or plants, the animals and plant  in turn provide them with food and often capital that they can use to trade or sell within their community. I particularly love this organization because in  essence it is saying that people are not helpless, that given the right tools. People and communities can work to reduce hunger and poverty in their own  community,helping themselves. It is also pretty admirable that they have programs in U.S  in addition to communities around the world. The U.S is a powerful country,  but we forget that our rapidly changing economic climate has created major holes(some of which were never really filled in the first place.  Lastly what is really awesome is that you can give these animal donations as gifts for other people, so you can give a flock of chickens in the name of you aunt who already has everything and really doesn’t need another trinket, or even relatives that  you don’t know that well instead of buying then a non committal “hey I don’t know you well gift”  I’m looking at you candle  or coffee mug. So join me in giving to others this holiday season and don’t think you’re alone, even in the toughest economic climate this country has ever seen individuals gave over 210 BILLION dollars in 2009.

Goat by Hana Muchová

Kind of Garden Lust Friday and Why Cookbooks Are Pissing Me Off

October 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

Ok so maybe you are one of those people that doesn’t think that industrialized food systems aren’t so insipid. That they haven’t seeped into every little corner of our lives. I have one thing to say to you, have you opened a cook book lately? I have . I have been trying to make myself happier sane by cooking. I scour for recipes everywhere, I frantically subscribe to food bloggers, I flip through pages of my cookbook, just so I can create something new.I can’t cook on my own everything comes out tasting the same or like salt, I am not entirely sure how I do it. However it seems like when I turn to my handy dandy cook books I am a little let down, because t he ingredients are just sad, they have things like seasoning packs, canned soup, canned beans, and everything else processed under the sun. This is how industrial agricultural has seeped into our lives, because really you don’t need anything canned across the county with crazy preservatives in it to cook good food. I admit it makes things easier, but when the zombie apocalypse comes and we all need to hide in the mountains, where will our canned from, us that’s who. So I am in the search of good cookbooks , with delicious recipes.  I also like cookbooks with pictures, because I am simple.  I have found a few good ones below, which I don’t own but lust after. What’s your favorite food centric book or cookbook?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.) Animal , Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

 

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat Good Meat by Deborah Krasner

Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic FarmEarth to Table by Jeff Crump

 

A novice’s cures for common garden maladies

October 6, 2010 Comments Off on A novice’s cures for common garden maladies

So this summer there was  a war brewin’ in my garden, and during the summer I gained some useful combat skills against  garden bugs and diseases. I am caught between not wanting to use harmful  pesticides on my garden , and watching my garden get squashed.  Plants dying is part of gardening and usually I can pick myself up after killing a plant, because I learn something, like don’t over water the lavender (only took me killing it twice.) But   I still want to give my garden the best chance, so I discovered a few less harmful things to kill critters.

Flea beatles, which tried to kill my eggplant, when my leaves started turn to lace I put some Diatomaceous Earth in the soil and VOILA! My Eggplant to grow up to be a big boy(or girl)

I also had a problem with powdery  mildew on my squash, it started out small but then just started taking over. I made the mixture below to kill it(which I found by googling powdery mildew and then putting everything together.) It’s really technical so don’t get confused.

A little milk.( a natural anti fungal, seriously read about  it

A  tiny bit of Baking Soda

A little garlic- high in sulfur.

I a little bit of soap.

A little bit of water.

Put in a bottle and spray that sucker for a day until it goes away or at least until your plant looks like it’s immune system is handling itself.

The last but not least the aphids, man I hate aphids, they are sneaky. You have a beautiful plant and the BAM they are covered with aphids, which like fleas, creep me out a little bit. But I used some Mrs. Meyers all purpose cleaner , sprayed it on and then they all died. I’ve never been so happy to see so many dead things, it’s like I need black make up now, or maybe black hair, I can’t decide. Anyway the soap destroys the waxy coat on the aphid and they dehydrate, it’s cruel I know, but sometimes it is a cruel world.

Pre Spray

The massacre

I still don’t have a  cure for stink bugs though, pesky asian fellows.

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