Friday, December 30, 2016

2016...goodbye and good riddance

2016 is a year that will live in infamy.  For me anyway.  Bit up and down.  Too much down.

Simplicity and frugality-wise, it wasn't terrible.  I managed to re-supply my savings enough to think about getting the real cabin started in 2017.

And thank goodness, and frugality, I had enough savings to do what needed to be done during some rough times.

Starting last December, ok, end of 2015, but it rolled right on through the new year so I'm lumping it all into 2016.  Why ruin 2 years?

Last December, I lost two people.  First a really good old friend passed away suddenly.  She was younger than me.  I didn't stay to help her family because I was heading back to the folks to visit my father.  He had the "big C"...no, not that one, cancer.  It was bad.  Really bad.  He died.  But at least I had the cash in savings to help my friend's family and to go back for the visit over the holidays and the vacation time to stay through the end times and the memorial.

Then, 11 days later, Gramma falls and breaks a hip.  Frankly, I think the hip broke, and then she fell.
I didn't go home immediately.  I already had another trip planned for Feb to help with my father's stuff.  Instead, helped pack up Gramma's apartment as she had to move to a nursing home. I got to visit her and Mom and the rest which was good.

In June my godson graduated college which was/is AWESOME!  SOOOO proud of him (he got out with very little debt..yeay him!!!).  I went for the graduation, helped with a move.  Then he and I took a celebratory road trip back to the family homesite for my father's memorial.  Drove Idaho to Iowa, and back.  We thought we could take a leisurely tour on the way back to Idaho, but alas, he GOT A JOB!  Yeay him!!!!!   So, we booked.  The graduation and trip were the highlight of 2016.  And again, glad I had saved up and could do this.

In Sept, another trip to Iowa.  Flew out and an Aunt (a very young fun one) and I drove a moving van back to Idaho with my stuff and a couple of her things out of Gram's apartment.  Got to visit Gram again.  And Mom and the rest.  The trip with the moving van went really well until the end.  The end SUCKED.  But the company and the scenery were excellent. Thanks Aunt!

Alas, a few weeks after I got back, a person I had worked with and who filled the role of uncle or grampa for me, passed away.

Next Gramma died.  She had decided it was time and that there would be NO memorial or funeral or anything.  Nothing.  She did want my sister and I to take a vacation with Mom.  So we went.  It was great and once again I was glad I had saved up and had the money to do this for Gram. (We all paid our own way so actually: yeay all of us.)

Finally, I got word that a friend from college had passed suddenly.  He was almost exactly my age.  I miss him. 

That's enough now.  Just one more day of 2016 to go. 

More on the good stuff:
The graduation and road trips were great!

The vacation with Mom and my sister was fabulous.  We love Vancouver BC.

And I love my wee shed cabin thing!  It is a BIT tough to keep warm when it is below 10degs F, and windy.   The rest of the time it is awesome.

I splurged and spent 20$ on a sled!  RETAIL and NEW.  Very unlike me but I had enough screwing around looking at thrift stores and the snow wasn't going to last forever.  I have been sledding and snow shoeing on my land.  That is now my favorite thing.

The solar got fixed and the well works!  I spent a bit to get the good electricians out, but now it works.  That was worth it.

And I got bees!!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice!!!!



The light is coming back and I NEED IT.  The days getting shorter and shorter and shorter get on my nerves.  Which isn't fair to the universe.  It's just a thing that happens.  And if the days didn't get shorter, they wouldn't later get longer.  (I'm like a philosopher).

Anyway. I do love the winter solstice.  I even convinced myself that the sun came up earlier this morning because it was up while I was still at the gym.  Reality check:  I was running late.  Whatever.  I liked it. 

At my place the ski was completely clear when I got home at 7:12pm...and it was pitch dark.  The moon wasn't up yet.  It was a truly gorgeous night.  I woke up at about the time of the actual solstice which was nice.  I wake up every night, but at least this time, it had a side benefit.  Apologies to the recipient of my actual-time solstice text.  I kind of wish I had one of those cameras that takes night photos.  By which I mean...a camera.  The phone and the ipod weren't cutting it.  Hard to describe the stars to those of you who live in lighted areas.  It's amazing when it's dark and cold and clear. 

I see this as the beginning of the new year.  So, Happy New Year!  I guess that means I have several "years."  The calendar year beginning on Jan. 1.  The fiscal year which starts on Oct. 1.  The solar year that begins on winter solstice.

For those of us who celebrate solstice, we need better music.  Not crap like "here comes santa clause" or the smarmy tripe that runs on the radio and stores NON STOP for MONTHS.  Nor the moody enya type stuff.  Good songs like these few tolerable xmas ditties:


https://youtu.be/qTx-sdR6Yzk








https://youtu.be/gXkMQciZV8A

https://youtu.be/In3sApWlY1s

 


And just in case I don't get back to the blog before the calendar new year....here is an offering from Stephen Colbert and Michael Stipe with a needless and distracting James Franco cameo:




Thursday, December 1, 2016

Retirement?

There is a question mark on that because the discussion is so often presented as "must save 1million dollars!

It's as if f Dr. Evil were in charge of retirement planning...



There is no way in heaven or hell, or even in places that actually exist, that I will have 1 million dollars for retirement.  Not happening.

So, can I retire?

What about Social Security?  I hear that it might go bankrupt any minute.  But will it? Just because less will be coming in, fewer workers per retiree etc, doesn't mean it immediately heads to zero or that we can't start taxing the wages above whatever the current top limit is for SS tax (seriously, there is a top limit...I'll never hit it).  But, what if it DOES still pay out at something near the current rate.
Here is a spot to find out approximately what you'll get:
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/quickcalc/

You can see it in today's dollars or future dollars.  It did NOT say "zero."  I will get something.

I have a retirement plan at work, 401k type.  I contribute to get the maximum match from my employer.

I could contribute more but I'm going a different route.
I'm cutting expenses.

IF I can get expenses down below my estimated social security payment, then my work retirement account will be there to cover slack and unexpected expenses.

First, I do not currently have any debt and I take drastic lifestyle measures (to some, they don't seem drastic to me) to avoid debt.  E.g., I live in a shed and a camper. I paid cash on the barrel head for my current car.  For my land.  I have a small solar system for which I paid cash.  Same with the well.  My only recurring monthly out of pocket expenses at the moment are my cell phone and a storage unit with the stuff I hope to put in the future cabin I hope to build without debt.  Annually I pay car insurance and a healthcare/fitness program that I choose to fund and find worth the expense at this time.  The healthcare/fitness could be dropped if I lose some income.  As could the cell phone.  There is no TV expense, no internet, no utility bill of any kind (no utilities...like I said, some might find that drastic).

And of course, taxes on the land which I am working to keep to the minimum, like everyone else.

I do spend on travel, gifts, and other things.  Those expenses can be minimized or eliminated if need be.

Food...I'm going to need that.  I'm always trying to find ways to be cost effective with food.  Eating crap processed foods...which I do...is not the best.  While it can seem cheaper up front, one is not healthy on that.  And, turns out it's not cheap.  So, I try to eat as much whole food, cooked from scratch, as possible.  I'm also working on growing more food.  I have space, but not much decent soil so it takes time to get that going.  I do have 2 apple trees, some berries, and a small garden.  I have access to a cheap fishing license and stocked trout ponds which I could take better advantage of.

In the coming months, I'm going to focus back on eating whole foods, more fruits and veg and working to get my "added sugars" down to the recommended levels (6 teaspoons a day...which is 24 or 25 grams).  Since it's hard to tell how much of the "sugar" on a food label is added, the easiest way is going to be by not eating food that comes with nutrition labels!  Hello produce aisle, farmers market, and maybe a CSA.  And of course, gardens, sprouting jars, and the like.

I doubt I can totally eliminate packaged or restaurant food (much added sugar there too) or that I want to, but as I eat up what I have and even throw out some of the worst, I'll focus on replacing it with actual produce and meat.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Utility Sled...Money Well Spent

So, I need to move many straw bales.  I've been moving them by hand and with a wheelbarrow.

Why do I need to move them?  I'm stuffing them in the erosion problem and spreading them over the bare dirt that will run down the hill this winter without some help.   When one's land is made of snot (actually, it's mostly clay.  Clay and live gopher meat), one must try to keep it in place.  It needs some organic matter.

So, I got a bunch of straw bales.  Chopped straw is used on erosion issues.

I don't have a picture of the bales stuffed in the erosion issue.  The "erosion issue" is also known as "the path of the water line from the well head many hundreds of yards up the hill to the storage tank."  With the top of the tank also just being bare clay dirt that turns into runny snot.  The waterline path was an actual river all last winter and spring and eroded into a mini-canyon with depths varying from 2 inches to 2 feet, width from about 4 inches to nearly a foot.  Cripes.  SO.  I thought long and hard and decided if everyone else puts a few bales crosswise, I will also put a few bales crosswise to the problem, and a whole bunch more stuffed down IN the problem.  Then, I plant them with whatever seeds I can get my hands on.

The bales I got are not organic.  One only has so much money and time and I appreciate the farmer letting me know what the main herbicide is.  No broad leaf type things will grow.  BUT the bales will double as thistle killer so that could be handy.  I will try to get organic next time.  For now I am working with what I have.

Anyway, moving them by hand, carrying, turned out to be OK when they were dry.  At least OK for the first dozen and if I wasn't going far.  It's hard on the back.  And the butt.  I started using the wheelbarrow which was much better, but required that I carefully place the bale to avoid tipping it over AND that I balance the thing on the way to where it went.  Still, a good option for part of the job.

Removing all of the lifting seemed like a better idea.  So I got a utility sled:















It is "Otter" brand.  I haven't tried others.   It's made to move stuff around.  I measured the interior below the curve on the leading edge.  It is just big enough for 1 bale.  If I got one big enough for 2 bales, I'd try to do more weight than I could handle.

Here it is with a bale in it.







Works great.  The bales were stacked so I could put the sled by the side of the pile, pull a bale over the edge so it fell in.  Then I pull it with the included rope (which is crap but when it breaks I'll find something better), to where it goes.  Tip the whole thing over and go get the next one. 

I had all the bales stuffed in the path of the erosion issue so I was spreading some out around the bare earth.  I cut the strings off and raked the straw over the exposed ground, which had some seed on it.

As for the bales in the erosion issue.  I've added "nitrogen" to almost all of them now (yes, pee).  I also spread rye grass seed and whatever other random seed on them.  They are also sprouting lots of wheat.  WHATEVER.  All biomass is good.

As I was raking this straw about over the bare spots, it was covering clover and rye grass and winter pea seed.  It was also upsetting the odd gopher.  A group of vehicles on the highway were treated to the site of an old woman with a garden rake madly slamming it randomly and wildly into the ground.  Had they been closer, they could have seen that I was trying to impale a gopher.  So much for my karma.  Though I'm pretty sure he escaped unscathed.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Simple Thrifty Introvert Friendly Holiday Extravaganza!!

I'm partway through an excellent Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, how very American to celebrate the immolation and slaughter of native people.

Anyway, as you may have deduced, not my favorite holiday.  I don't mind celebrating the harvest with a bit of gluttony.  One can do that any day.  I have today off work and access to a friend's kitchen since she's out of town.  I am alone.  There is no television.  Introvert paradise.

Let overindulgence begin!

Breakfast: What did I have?  Oh, right. Spinach frittata and a coconut milk vanilla latte' which I made in my travel french press.  I did steal coffee beans from my hostess since I am out and forgot to buy any yesterday.

For a snack, a handful of walnuts (left from some thrifty holiday gift assemblage done yesterday) and a handful of stolen triscuits...sorry hostess!

I spent the morning preparing the big meal.  Most of my duties involved remembering the stove was one while something simmered or baked.

The main dish: Spicy adzuki beans on spelt berries. YUM!  I'd never cooked adzuki beans or spelt berries before but had done plenty of dry beans and whole grains.  That expertise along with the odd internet search saw me through.  I started both of those soaking, separately of course, last night.

In the morning I put the spelt in a big sauce pan with enough water to come about an inch over the top of the grain.  Brought it to a boil, and simmered. I don't know how long it simmered.  The internet said it would take 90 minutes, but it didn't take nearly that long.  I tasted it every now and then.  Once it wasn't crunchy, I called it good.  After a good drain in a seive, it went into a bowl in the fridge.
Since I still had some coconut milk after the latte' was made, I put some cooked spelt in a pint jar and topped it up with coconut milk and some fresh grated ginger root. It's in the fridge now becoming progressively more delicious.

After the exhausting time spent watching a video while the spelt simmered, I dove in and took on the beans.  These cooked up super fast as well.  Not the 40 min the internet told me. Lying damn internet! It was more like 25 min.  Again, I was tasting them off and on while they cooked.  They went from definitely not done to "OMG!  OVERDONE!" Pretty quickly.  But, still held up well in the final dish.

I drained the beans and left the lid off the pan to get them dried out a bit.  I don't like to leave cooked beans sitting in water.  Then, just let it all cool off.

Obviously I needed a rest after all that.

But wait!  What about dessert???
After the rest period, I made one of my quick tarts.  This may be the best one so far.
Apple with fresh grated ginger, and whatever cinnamon and nutmeg I could round up. Unroll the crust (the cheap store brand refrigerated pie crust...bought on sale of course), just one.  Put it on a baking sheet.  Not an insulted cookie sheet.  Those are stupid.  Just a thin piece of metal.
I had some plum pineapple jam from the farmers market so I used a couple tablespoons of that to make a circle on the unfurled crust (leave 1-2 inches of the edge unjammed).  I put the ginger more or less evenly on the jam.  I sliced up one granny smith apple, and scored the hide...these had crappy thick skin that was hard to bite through.  Arrange slices neatly on the jam.  Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on.  Fold the crust edges up over the apple edges any which way.  Seal up any cracks or tears in the crust. Bake at 425 until the crust is brown and the jam is a bit bubbly between the apple slices.

I have no idea how long that is.  Just keep an eye on it.

After another good rest, time to finalize the main dish.

I diced up an onion and sweated it in peanut oil.  This is thrifty peanut oil that I poured off the top of natural peanut butter I got on sale.  So, basically free oil.  I chopped up the remains of a head of garlic I found at my place.  Threw that in.  Let it sweat some more.  Turn up the heat and get a bit of carmelization going on the onions, but not much.  I put in about a tablespoon of cumin, and a mix of hot pepper (new mexico, ancho, chile de arbol, something else) that came in a multi-pack as a gift last christmas.  Stir that around and let it cook a tiny bit.

Open a can of diced tomatoes and throw that in.
While it heats up, get the beans.  I put in about 2 cups, maybe 2 1/2 cups.    Stir.
Then, I let it simmer.  It got quite dry even with the lid on the pan.  But, I let it be.  I probably kept it simmering about a half hour.

I heated up a cup of the spelt berries in a TINY bit of water in a smaller saucepan.  Once hot, I threw some spicy beans and mixed it up.  I had meant to slice up an avocado on there, but I didn't remember that until I was settled on the couch watching a movie and eating out of the pan so I just didn't bother.

The beans and spelt was really good!

The remains of the beans went into sandwich baggies with some spelt berries.  As I type they are freezing and I will take them to the office for microwave lunch options.

I meant to only eat ONE piece of the tart, but as I was doing some odd jobs in the afternoon, I just kept having "one more piece" and now, there is no more tart.  Oh well.

So, how was this all thrifty?

I got the organic adzuki beans for 50cents a pound and the spelt berries for about 66cents a pound.  A store was changing up the bulk-bin selections and had random bags of things they weren't going to carry in bulk anymore.  So, I grabbed what looked good.  I also got some prunes (which it turns out I do not hate) and other items.  The beans and spelt berries were the last things left from that deal.
The tomatoes are store brand, not expensive, but organic. The onion was something like 79cents a pound and the garlic is from the community garden for free.

Coconut milk is often a high end item.  The coconut milk I am using is from powder.  Wilderness Family brand.  While the bag of powder is still fairly spendy, there is virtually no waste.  You mix up as much as you need when you need it.  The bag I have is over a year old.  I think I spent $12.50 or so on it.  I don't use it that often, but it is still good.  Doesn't take up much space and no worry about freeze/thaw as I would have with cans.

The ginger was bought on sale about a month ago and I've been using it but it's time to use it up before it gets too dry and old.  Hence, ginger in things.

The jam was 3$ for homemade at the local farmers market.  I used 2 or 3 tablespoons full for the tart.  That's pretty thrifty.

I must say, it was a damn tasty meal!  All based on "what needs to be used up" supplemented with "what's on sale."  And a bit of theft from my hostess.  But I will leave her a tart or something as a thank you.
The store brand crusts were on sale for $1.69 and I used only 1 from the package of 2.
The apples were 79cents a pound.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tiny Car Pantry

Faithful readers (of which I assume there are none) will remember that I had mice in the car last year.  Followed by at least one dead mouse in the car which stunk.  I never found the carcass.

And yet!  I have NOT learned my lesson.  I am in the car a minimum of an hour per day on weekdays, and often that much on the weekend.  Many weekdays I also drive another hour or more during work.   Lots of car time.  I end up eating in there and since I don't live in a town, I shop when I am in a town.  That is often in the middle of a work day or during a full day of errands.  Food will be in the car for extended periods.

When I had the mouse/mice last year, I eventually found a stash of almonds in the spare tire compartment. I didn't remember having almonds in the car!  Cripes.  I later found part of a bag that must have fallen out of a grocery bad or off the seat when I was snacking. 

My hope is that with the tiny car pantry I can at least keep full track of the food and keep it mouse proof.  If the little bastards MUST come in the car, and I'm sure they must, at least they will have to leave to find sustenance.

I should have taken a picture but I didn't.
At a thrift store (obviously) I came across a lovely BIG metal tin with a tight fitting an hinged (hence can't pop off and roam away to parts unknown) lid.  It is about 8"x12"x5" with a domed lid. When I do a shop, I put the shelf stable car lunch ingredients in there.  Right now there are 3 small boxes of Lara Bars (cashew and some lemon), a tin of sardines, some high-end onion crackers that come in a box that will fit in the tiny car pantry, fig bars, a package of dried figs, a plastic spoon and fork and for no apparent reason, a hotel size hand lotion.   All the food was on a SUPER sale.  Normally it would be a jar of nuts.  Sometimes there is a bit of fresh fruit, apples or oranges, in there but with the current freeze/thaw weather that's a bad idea.

I think it also saves me a bit of cash because I can eat before I go into the grocery store.  I had been going in too hungry and indeed, one ends up buying too much when shopping hungry.  It's prevented me from stopping at cafes and coffee huts too.  When I get hungry, I can have a Lara bar and make it until I'm back that the office or home.

It's also winter so never a bad idea to have food in the car in case one gets stuck.

The tiny car pantry now lives in the back of the car now.  It used to live in the passenger seat but I ended up just eating what was in there because it was there.  That does not save money or make sense.  It's been a life saver on driving trips too!  The snacks are already in the car.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

WOW!

So, my little stats page view counter thingy says there have been 30,000 page views of this blog.
Um.  thank you.

I'm surprised. 
Of course the most popular post is the one about the whore house (probably see a bump on that now).

I hope something I've said has been useful to someone at some time.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Massive Thrift Store Blowout SAVINGS! (and a coupon..woohoo!)

Sometimes I go to the thrift store with a list either written or in my head.

On the list yesterday was a safety orange jacket with the reflective strips so I don't have to wear my stupid old vest with the velcro that grabs my hair during the winter.  It messes with hoods and isn't as visible as it was when it was new.

Also, I wanted a tiny camping espresso maker because they are tiny and I am building up a wee collection of thrift find tiny coffee makers, or at least interesting ones.  So far I use them all.

I'm only out about 30$ for the following:

2 travel mug coffee presses (press the coffee right in the mug and off you go).  One is a 25$ (new...2$ to me) stainless number that I use EVERY DAY.  The handle came off a month or two ago so now it's a tumbler.  The other I use more for tea and I think the plastic isn't going to last as long, but it was a buck or 2 and is good for when I have visitors which is pretty damn rare.

A 2 cup aluminum vintage/antique stove top percolator with tiny percolator filters.  2.84 (3$ with tax...love the store that does that even though I find them oppressively christian otherwise)

Small stove top Biali style maker that does 2 espresso cups worth.  There is an even tinier one...I have my eye on yours Diana...if it goes missing you should just ransack my shed and it will be in there.  Last time I pet sat for the aforementioned Diana I drank WAY WAY too much coffee so I could keep making it one demitasse at a time.  Mine was about 2$ and I've used it for years now. I had a bigger one as well but it went in one of the downsizings.  Someone else was probably thrilled to get it.

A 2nd large size stainless steel press, but this is a camping model that makes 2 or 3 cups worth at once.  It's a bit much but I knew it was over $40 new and I got it for about 3 dollars.  Use it tons.  For those who care, it is Planetary Design like the travel press stainless steel mug (now tumbler)


And just to keep the Planetary Design theme going, I found one of their desk press styles (slightly larger capacity because it doesn't have the little spot for extra coffee grounds to make a second cup on the go...) BUT it was missing the internal pressy bit.  The two presses I already own from this company have the press bits and both fit this so...no problemo.  3$ to me $33 new.  Etc.

OBVIOUSLY, a tiny stove top espresso maker was in order.  I had one ages ago and got rid of it either in a downsize or a move or something. Also, not so handy to use as they splatter everywhere while making coffee so it's just for use outside or in the camper, not in the shed.

It looks like this:
It was 4$..spendy, but it is BRAND NEW, never used, and I got a wee mug (probably the one it came with) for 1$, so it was the whole set.  This is GSI Outdoors brand and costs 30$ new if it's aluminum (I think it is) and 40$ new if it is stainless steel (it is quite shiny...).  The tiny cup is about $4 new.  So that's 5$ for a 34$ or 44$ item...and I'm already enjoying it.  Will make espresso with it soon.

The other item on the list, the safety jacket, was a big surprise.  I NEVER find those.  Sometimes I see a safety t-shirt or vest, generally in some gigantic size. This is the nylon rain jacket, orange, with full striping...in MEDIUM!!!!  It's dude medium but whatever.  It goes over a coat OK, though maybe not a giant puffy coat.  With the sleeves with double reflective stripes, it is more visible than the vest.  And with the crap lining, it is surprisingly warm...thanks petroleum!  Best to stay away from flames, sparks, and friction as I'm pretty sure it's flammable.  $26 New cost...$8 thrift cost...BUT WAIT!  There's more!!!
I had a 20% off coupon for donating to this thrift store (Goodwill, Moscow, Idaho) and they apply it to the most expensive item.  SO I got $1.60 off...$6.40.  I've already worn it.






Friday, September 23, 2016

My New Favorite Total BS "News" Article

So we all know how much I hate the "lower your chance of death by..." type titles.  Again, just to review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.  We all are.  The chance of death is 100%.  Just like the chance of time passing.

BUT did you KNOW that you could die of almost anything.  Even a HAIR TIE!!!!
Insert dramatic music and eyes like this:



This actual true headline made me LOL for reals (pronounced "rilz" with a slight sidelong sneer):

The Horrifying Reason You Should Never Wear Hair Elastics Around Your Wrist

 Turns out, one woman, one time, once got an infection from a gnarly filthy hair tie she wore on her wrist.  NOW WE CAN ALL DIE OF THAT.  So much for all that kale I eat, the exercise, and those stupid seat belts I've been wearing like a total dupe.  I'm going to die of hairtiewristitus. 

Seriously people.  From now on I'm only tying my hair with surgical tubing taken directly from the autoclave.  This will be handy since I'll have something clean to tie my arm off too when I need to get a vein to shoot heroin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Pear Is This???

I took this to my local nursery and they thought maybe ussurian pear...but the internet says those are yucky tasting. These were DELICIOUS! (sweet yellow flesh).  About 1-2" in diameter.
The farmer selling them said the tree was on the property when they got there.  No idea what it is.  I need to quiz him about thorns/no-thorns and a few other things.  And I saved some seeds.  Hope to get them going.  I may send some to my god son and see if he can get them going.  Divide and conquer.

Flavor: Sweet like candy (that said, I've been avoiding added sugar so may not taste as sweet to someone who just drank a pepsi and had cap'n crunch for breakfast).  Mealy but not very mealy.  Pale yellow flesh, not white. Most of them had a pink blush on one side.  some did not.  Didn't keep long.  Ripened over 2-3 days. 


Saturday, September 3, 2016

EVEN MORE TINY FOOD!

So I'm walking around the Moscow Idaho Farmers Market this morning and there are MORE of those tiny wee plums.  This farmer has them in yellow AND purple.  I bought a pound of the purple...and am saving every seed because day-yum are they cute.  And yummy.

Also more tiny eggs.  I saw a carton of VERY wee eggs at a stall where I thought I was buying one just the plums but next to the cash station was a carton of tiny eggs in dark rich earth tones: olive drab, dark khaki, grey-green.  Stunning.  A bit shiny even.  I asked if they were bantams...no.....
PHEASANT!!!  So I had to buy those.  I mean what if I never saw them again?  I asked how much a pheasant would lay and they said not all year, they are winding down for the winter.  So I was glad I got them.

Here they are














 I got tiny artisanal bread too.  Rustic rolls from a local bakery that uses local wheat and makes sourdoughs.  The salt in the bread won't be local sadly.
I decided to make local tiny toad in a hole by slicing the rolls and cutting out the centers of the slices.  Even the oil is fairly local.  Camelina oil from about 200 miles away (I admit, I do also own coconut oil, not local)
















And the flip-side.  I put on some non-local salt and pepper.  













The pheasant eggs are very rich.  The yolks take up the lion's share of the egg and are thick and creamy.  Really delicious.  The flavor is enhanced by the overwhelming cuteness of the tiny egg.

The shells on the bantams are sort of thin compared to a regular chicken egg (well, a regular free range local chicken egg).  The shells on the pheasant eggs are clearly meant to take a bit of punishment.  Thick and sturdy with a hardy membrane on the inside.  It is so tempting to use some tiny eggs, bantams since they have more white, to make a tiny angel food and cook it in a tiny oven.  But, I DO have a life to lead and there is only so much time for cute.

There WAS enough time to boil up the remaining bantam eggs. I ate two and I'm hoping to turn a couple into miniature deviled eggs.  And of course I must take tiny eggs, tiny plums, and tiny pears for my lunch this week. I think I have tiny cutlery to go with them.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fresh, Local, Seasonal...AND TINY!!!

I like tiny things.  Tiny games stuck to the ends of writing implements.  Tiny versions of watches, dice, office supplies, notebooks, appliances...living arrangements...

Imagine my delight when I found ALL of this at the week Plummer, Idaho Farmers Market:






 Bantam chicken eggs!  I had a 4 egg omelette this morning with baby beet greens.  I didn't think to take a picture of the baby beet greens, but trust me...tiny and hilarious.
I may have to boil a few of them just so I can make tiny deviled eggs.  AND I wish wish wish I had some rye bread to make tiny toad in a hole....I may look for a rye roll or any small roll at the Moscow farmers market just so I can do that.  I need MORE TINY EGGS.  The week before the same vendor sold me some of her regular chicken eggs and those are so huge I thought every one of them must have a double yolk.  For the record, none of them did.














 TINY PLUMS!!!! I have been just sucking these down like candy.  They are the size of tart cherries.  About half the size of Rainier cherries.  And super sweet.  Every pit is sacred.  They are in a jar, open jar, by my desk drying out. Cut AND delicious.  What more is there in life?














Those are PEARS!  Super sweet candy-like pears.  I think they might be Sekel pears.  I'm not sure.  I will take either a pear or a picture of the pear to the local tree nursery and say "I MUST HAVE THIS IN TREE FORM".  A few years ago I made pears, giant ones, dipped in dark chocolate.  Just take a whole fresh pear.  Wash it and maker sure it is totally dry.  Melt some dark chocolate.  Dip the butt end of the pear in said chocolate and set on wax paper (I had the wax paper over a muffin tin so the pears could sit in the muffin divots) to cool and harden.  You can also set them on some crushed nuts for extra flavor.  Anyway, for some reason it is the perfect food.  I'm thinking if I don't eat all of these first, I will dip them in chocolate and have tiny chocolate pears.  I could transport them in an egg carton.
 Of course I'm saving the seeds, though I doubt they will come true.  Worth a shot though just to see if the tiny-feature comes through in the next generation.

Right now I'm mooching a shower and couch space from friends (THANK YOU) and stealing their wifi while they are gone.  As much as I love my wee cabin (imagine my delight at eating tiny food in my tiny shed), I needed a SHOWER.  The gym where I usually shower is closed for a week and it's been chilly and cloudy so the solar shower is on the fritz. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Current "Go To" Breakfast: Watchagot Frittata

As much as I hate phrases like "go to" or "close of business" or, goddess forbid, "COB" ...
this is indeed my "go to" breakfast.  I make it many days of the week.  In the microwave or on the stove or in the solar cooker.  In the solar cooker it has to be lunch or supper.

I call it:  Watchagot Frittata

Here's the recipe:
1-2 eggs, beaten up a bit
Stuff
oil/grease

The "Stuff" is where the magic happens.

This morning the Stuff was a banana and a tablespoon of baking cocoa powder.  I mashed the banana up well, mixed in the cocoa, added the eggs straight from the shells and beat them in.  Then greased a bowl and poured this in. I put a lid on it, mostly to keep the crap from the top of the work microwave from dripping into the food while it cooked (I do wipe the microwave out, but the other 20+ people who use it do not wipe it out).  I pushed the "1 min" button.  After a minute it's only partly cooked so I mix it up a bit and put it in for another minute.  It looked pretty done but the bottom we still wet (gross) so I flipped it over and 20 more seconds.   It's somewhere between an omlette and a brownie.

I did this in the solar cooker this weekend with an added bit of baking soda and vinegar and it was even more cake like.

Other Stuff options:

Banana with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  Tastes more or less like banana bread but has the consistency of the center of french toast.

Chopped spinach or other greens (even dark green lettuces work well).  OK in microwave, good in a frying pan.  If you use kale or chard it's best to pre-cook a bit or used left overs.  Spinach is flimsy enough to cook right in the eggs.  Add spices if you like or it's nice topped with salsa.

Onion and greens, or garlic and greens.  Microwave or frying pan work.

Left over baked or boiled potatoes chopped and thrown in the egg.  THAT is really good.  The potatoes fry nicely in a pan, it's doable in the microwave but not nearly as good.

All of these except the banana based ones are really nice if you throw in a diced avocado.  The best spices for that are anything hot-peppery and/or cuminy.  Stuff you would put in stereotypical Mexican food.

Left over rice, quinoa, other grain.  Quinoa gets crunchy.  This is good in a frying pan, I haven't tried it in the microwave.

I find that 1 big egg can take up to 1 cups of Stuff, more if it is flimsy like spinach or precooked kale leaves.  So far, everything has been good.  Left over taco bar fixin's were especially nice, tomatoes on top after it was cooked, the rest mixed in.

I'm toying with the idea of hard fruits like apples and pears.  I think soft fruits like cherries and berries and plums would be too wet.  Might work with a tablespoon or more of flour, or even with crumbled stale bread for a bread pudding or cobble-esque effect.

Leftover pasta with not too much sloppy sauce works.  

It looks like anything that isn't terribly wet will work.  I've had some luck adding a bit of flour to soak up the soggy and mixing in an egg or 2.

FYI:  If you are cooking with a real stove, go with a metal frying pan with a metal handle, not toxic non-stick crap either, and you won't have to flip it.  You can brown the top under the broiler as long as you remember to preheat the broiler when you start frying the Watchagot Frittata.

This is an excellent way to use up leftovers without stretching them too much and ending up with even more leftovers.  This cuts food waste which is very fashionable.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Calling BS on "Health Report" from CNN

So, this is an actual headline today:

Meat-eaters may have a higher risk of death, but plants are the answer

Updated 11:16 AM ET, Mon August 1, 2016

 Yeah.  I hate to break it to you but no matter what you eat, do think, believe, feel, try, don't try, etc etc etc, your risk of death remains 100%.   You are going to die.  We are all going to die.  Everything dies.

How do "they" get away with such headlines?  I know the authors of the study meant a lower risk of death in a specific timeframe but that info does not appear in the title or the article presented here.  Why not?  Who writes this stuff?  Who is Jaqueline Howard?
Of course it's not just J. Howard.  It's a common theme in our nation's health news reporting.  What will increase or decrease your risk of death.

NOTHING.  The risk of death is always 100%.  Your risk of death in the next 10 minutes, 1 day, 1 year may be something other than 100%, no doubt lower, but overall, it is 100%.  You are going to die.

Perhaps be a decent human while you are alive.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Used Car Buying By ... Me



Obviously these are just my thoughts.  Not actual financial advice and non-binding (unlike my underwear today which are highly binding).
For many years I drove heavily used cars.  And I drove them into the ground.  I was so proud when I drove an 800$ pick up for 2 or 3 years, then drove it to the dealer to trade in (push pull or drag sale going on...got 500$ for it!  Take that dealer!), and they crushed it into a cube.  Not even worth parts.  I probably spent 500$ on oil which ran directly out the bottom, but still, I made that puppy last.
I think it was a 1972 Ford.  Not sure.  There was an early 80s 3/4 ton van (ugh).  A 1984ish Datsun (NOT Nissan so whatever year they switched the name, that was it) 200SX.  It was junk but my dog and I were adorable driving that thing around.  Including cross country.  Then a mid-1990s Toyota Corolla, obviously.  That one paid for much of itself when it got hit with major hail.  Every body panel had dents, but the glass survived.  The insurance guy asked which garage to write the check to...uh NO, that check goes to the bank to pay of the car.  Woot woot!  
And finally, the 6000$ 1992 (or was it 1994?) Subaru Legacy Wagon.  I think it was '94.  Anyway.  I almost made money on that one.  It drove and drove and drove and drove.  Never even a timing belt.  A few brake issues etc, but nothing like a transmission or other major repair.  Hence, the current Subaru.  Much less used than the others when I got it, though showing age now as I put 30,000 miles a year on it. 
So, I've learned a bit about buying a used car over the years.
My own hope when buying a used car is to get 10,000 miles per 1000$ of car price (a dime a mile).  If I can double that I'm SUPER happy but that only happened once.  So with my current car, I paid 17000 bucks, and planned for 170000 miles...I've gotten 135000 so far with regular maintenance, no big repairs.  I try for the same money game with major repairs like with my old Corolla I needed a new transmission (thanks to crap work at a jiffy lube...I've never been back to a jiffy lube...they drained the transmission and didn't refill it...bastards).  I paid 1300 for a new tranny and had to plan for at least another 13,000 miles.  I got it but I was running on 3 cylinders by the end times and only making 25mph up hill so sometimes it was a struggle to get the cars to last.  You make compromises when you're kind of poor.  Doing that let me save cash for future car purchases.  Now I try to put about 25cents per mile driving into savings.  That goes toward repairs and the next car.  50cents per mile would be better, but isn't workable this year. 
Other car buying advice from my experiences over the years (meaning mistakes I have made):

1) Call and insurance company like Geico or even a few of them, and get an estimate on a couple of pretend car purchases BEFORE you pick a car.  I didn't realize when I got the pick up that the insurance and registration would be much higher than a car of the same value.  Oops...  And that truck was a piece of SHIT.  Big mistake.  An 800$ truck is not worth having.   But, I made it last.
2)  PAY CASH FOR A USED CAR if you can possibly do it. Insurance and interest on the loan are BIG.  If you have a car loan you have to buy comprehensive insurance rather than just liability.   Comprehensive (which will pay off the loan, NOT buy you a new car) costs a ton more.  For example, I have comprehensive right now and it's about time to drop it because the car isn't worth so much anymore.  My current 6 month premium is 440$ish.  Without comprehensive and the other "luxury" coverages (rental car etc), my 6 month premium would be 170$ish.  If you have a loan, the comprehensive is NOT optional.
3) Always take it to a mechanic before you buy it.  Get a full list of what repairs it needs and what the timeline will be.  Never just trust the dealer.  Dealers are there to sell you cars, not make your life better.  The law seems to be "buyer beware" and even if they say it has a warranty, whatever broke or whyever I wanted to take a car back was somehow excluded from the warranty and I had no time/money to sue or fight.  Most used car dealers know that.
4) I try to focus on the mechanical soundness of the vehicle and safety.  I've never worried about color or style (obviously). Once I got a cute car, but that was because it was the cheapest car for sale in town when I was desperate. With super limited funds it wasn't practical to buy the cuter car.  This is why old men have awesome cars.  They are the old men who waited to buy the cute car until they could afford it.  the ones who bought a cute car when they couldn't afford it are still driving the remains of that first car, which now looks like crap while they stand by the side of the road on their flip phone with the hood up and one wheel off.
5) Never tell a dealer how much money you have to spend or let them run a credit check before you settle on a price for the car you decide to buy.  They will use all information against you and they do car dealing all day, every day.  We normal humans just buy cars once in a while.They are better at this than us.
6) Start by looking at the cheapest crappiest car on the lot and slowly work your way up to your limit.  They might come down 10% on price on these cheap cars.  If you look at a car you would love but can't afford, you'll just be sad about what you can afford and may end up over spending.  Better to underspend and be able to  have money for a bit of joy in life than to have a shiny car you can't afford to put gas in or insure properly.
7) If possible, keep back 500$ for the first repair, which it will need because it is a used car.  If you luck out and it doesn't need a repair, then you're 500$ ahead on the next car purchase.
8) Test drive a few models before you start to really shop so you know what you're comfortable in.  That way you can make a faster deal when the time comes...but don't test drive a shiny new pick up because that will make everything else seem like crap.  Test drive cars you could actually afford.  I learned this from those "say yes to the dress" shows.  Once the bride tries on that 10,000$ dress, she blows her $2000 budget.  I now apply this to my car buying and it has helped.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Importance of a Wee Break

Some lovely friends needed farm sitting!  YEAY!  They get a break and I get a break.  They have land as well, but with a "real" house that is a work in progress.  They also have livestock.

While they are off, actually about 30 min drive from my place, I'm up here, 90+ min from my place, sitting at their place.  They are camping and I get to be in a house with plumbing (plumbing with parts missing, see above "work in progress"). We all get a break.

Caring for livestock, sheep, horses, dogs, chickens, and cats, just for a weekend reminds me that livestock are a lifestyle choice.  Fence, shelter, feed, water, and minding.  I think for me the "minding" component would be the toughest.  I like to travel.  I like to know that if I need/want to stay elsewhere for the night, I can.  The bees will be fine.

While I'm enjoying their house, I also get to really see what I"m missing in my home.  I'm missing having a proper kitchen.  I don't mean one with ALL the modcons, but a stove I can just turn on and cook in more than one pan would be super.  I almost have that.  I've actually used the fridge a bit, but just for fun...cold brew and some overnight oats. Convenient but not important to me (but I must say...those oats were fine, more on them later).

I'm also having a netflix binge and will be glad to get away from TV when I leave.  It's fun for a while, but I don't want/need to watch every episode of "Chopped" in a row.  I did see some inspiring documentaries, but again, I can get those from the library if I want to watch them when I'm not here. 

Getting away also let me rethink my next cabin plan. I got too tied to one idea that was making the whole plan less comfortable.  On the drive, and knowing I didn't have any work tasks with me, I was able to think back through my varied plans and go back to the best one.  The one that I drew and thought "I would love to come home to that."  It shows off the kitchen, keeps the main entry as its own event.  It makes it slightly harder to put a summer kitchen in, but not much.  The overworked recent plan madeit awkward to enter the house every time.  So, back to the other one and let my personal architect (hi Jon!) work his magic with the summer kitchen.  The older plan also makes room for the solar equipment (batteries, inverter, etc) in a utility area rather than intruding on the living room . Those need to be in a closet, batteries preferable outside so they are fully vented. The inverter makes noise and clicks and has a light.  I'm in love with the dark.  The electronic lights at the farm sitting situation, as few as there are, still impinge on the dark.  I want DARK. 

I'm glad these friends have what they like and are making it more so.  And weall respect each others' choices about what we like.  None of us would impose the choices on another of us. (same with my other friend who has a new home: Hi Ange!!!).  Her home is different and perfect for her.  What we both have in common is that we come home and say "I can't believe I get to live here."  Yeay us.

So, the "work in progress" bit.  The place I'm farm sitting is an old unarchitected home.  My friends are redoing itasthey go.  Mostly it's great, but the adhoc bathrooms need updating.  So the old homestead house now has a beautiful bath with a repainted clawfoot tub, wood tongue and groove paneling on the walls, a toto toilet (low flush, easy on the septic), and some lovely primitive benches for the soaps and towels and whatnot.  The sink isn't in yet, but the tiles are placed to be grouted into a mosaic.  Very pretty.  They found towel racks, a light fixture, and toilet paper holder made of pipe.  Looks perfect and clean and goes with the house.

I think they will appreciate my future kitchen made of old table leaves and iron shelf supports and enamelware table portions.  They like eclectic and interesting too.


Monday, June 13, 2016

If You Love Something...Set It Free

So, I was with some young people this weekend who were graduating from college and moving out of their college apartment.  Said apartment was partly furnished with things I used to own.  I fobbed the things off on them (couch, dining table and chairs, dishes, appliances, etc) when I moved out of the Plummer single-wide.  The couch I had bought (through the mail, cheap), the rest were gifts either new or pawned off on me when I set up housekeeping decades ago.

Let's trace the life of the table and chairs. 
When I was 8, my family bought a house and contents from a distant relative who'd either died or gone to the home to wait to die. 
Among the contents was a table with 4 chairs.  It was covered in ugly paint but super sturdy.  Eventually I moved out to go to college.  At some point during my thorough college career, this table and chairs came to live with me, paint stripped off.  I think it was when I was in grad school so about 1989.  I've had it until then and used it a TON.  Eventually put varnish on it (sorry Mom!  I used it without varnish for a while).  Moved it hither and yon, back and forth across the country multiple times.  All the while acquiring more dining sets.  Now that I'm smallify-ing my life, it was time for the table to find a new home.  When a young friend was getting his apartment with a girlfriend I thought "BINGO!" and helped him move, bringing along the couch and table/chairs, various plates, dishes, appliances, and etc that I no longer needed.  Don't worry...I still have several tables so if anyone else is starting up, I can donate more.

They've used it for a few years.  It's showing its age.  A leg is cracked, the chairs need to be reglued.  BUT, still a good solid oak set.  They could not move it or the couch with them. The couch was pretty well shot (cheap, mail-order, flat-pack so lasting 12 years was really good anyway).  The couch cushions were all that was left.  These went in the dumpster...next day they were no longer in the dumpster and we saw one a few blocks from the apartment. It had gone rogue. Perhaps trying to find the couch cushion mating area or the  burial grounds.  We don't know.

Anyway, on Sunday morning, it was the final push in the move so we set the table out by the dumpsters.  Within an hour it and the chairs were gone.  They'd found a new home and I'm sure whomever found them will enjoy them and pass on whatever portions are left when he/she is done with them or moves on.

This to me is one of the joys of a college town/neighborhood.  Things don't often go to waste.  They move on.   As we were hauling the mattress out one of the young people suggested we put it near the median where they got it.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repeat.

They did move some of the art, the good blankets, and the favorite bugs bunny waffle iron.  I was honored that some of my cast offs and gifts were among the things worthy of being kept and differently honored that some of the things were passed on.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dear Women, You Are Flawed. Love, Fashion Media / Society


Have narrow shoulders?  Here's how to look like you have broad shoulders.
Have broad shoulders?  Here's how to look like you have narrow shoulders.
Big butt? "Minimize" it.
Flat butt?  Add padding!
Big boobs?  Crush them hide them.
Tiny boobs?  Add padding!
Big thighs?  Hide them.
Small thighs? Add padding.

and on and on.

I keep wondering if these hints are like shampoo:  lather, rinse, repeat.
Do you make your wide shoulders look narrow, then add shoulder pads to broaden them up?
Then you decide you have a flat butt and add padding, which you can now minimize under your spanx.  Athletic thighs? Hide them so well they look like small thighs, then add padding.  Then hide the padding.   Then add more padding.

Eventually we'll all be wearing 3 alternating layers of padding and spandex.  Crush it in.  Push it out.  Crush it in.  Push it out.

What if we LIKE our narrow/broad shoulders?  Big/flat butt?  Big/tiny boobs?  Big/small thighs?  What if we have SOMETHING ELSE TO DO than worry about what society says we should look like and what crap media say we should do to meet that crap expectation?  Like say school, jobs, reading, staring into space?

The saddest thing I heard of late had to do with "resting bitch face."  I was talking to a younger woman, late 20s, maybe early 30s.  Anyway, a career woman with a kid and husband and home and life.  STILL she was concerned about her "resting bitch face" and told me she was "working on it."  WTF?????  WHY????  Who applied this label and why on earth would anyone worry about it?   She apparently believes that she can't even just relax without making sure her appearance, right down to her facial expression, is pleasing to some undefined audience.  Will this anonymous, probably nonexistent, audience eventually let her know that she's done it...she's conquered her resting facial expression?  Of course, if one must constantly pay attention to that sort of thing, one is not resting.  Society has convinced her to harass herself at all times to .....  to what?  No one cares.  There are no consequences for having "resting bitch face." 

And what about men who have "resting ass face"? Shouldn't they try to have a pleasant expression just in case someone, say ME, happens to glace over at them while they are resting, and think "That is not an acceptable expression, he's probably an asshole"?

This sort of thing gives me  active bitch face. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bee-autiful

I'll try to stop with the bee puns, but it's just so easy (see..I didn't say "bee-asy" and I totally could have).

I have an invertebrate ecologist friend...well, his wife and I are on the radio together, and so I know him.  It's not like we hang out on Saturday nights.  Is that what friends do?  I don't know.  Can't be bothered with humans.  Too much fun with the bees.

ANYWAY (any-bee?), he came up and took some boudoir photos of the bees while I was feeding them and inspecting the hives a few weeks back.  Here are some highlights in no particular order:


 Using the hive tool (like a tiny flat crowbar) to remove a frame.  I think you can click on the photos for biggification, but I'm not sure and in trying to check that out, only some of them biggified. 



The frame.  The bees are doing a good job!


 Another Frame.  Another good job.  The black bit where the bees aren't is the foundation that is already in the frame.  It is plastic (sigh...I would like to avoid plastic but decided not to complicate my life the first year so just take it and say thank you and learn to work without foundation in the future) with a layer of beeswax on it.  The wax is imprinted with hexagons to inspire the bees to build comb.  Or to make sure they don't screw it up.



Taking out another frame.  Like my bee ensemble?  I went with just the pith helmet (which is hard plastic and doesn't fit that well) and a net veil (which is strange and exposes the back of my neck sometimes but I'll get used to wearing it), a light t-shirt (which I have swapped out for a white button down shirt (from thrift, obviously).  That shirt works better because it is huge and I can put it on over whatever else I'm wearing, and I can turn up the collar and button it tight, with my pony tail or braid inside the collar.  This is a bit gaggy, but means the veil stays down over the collar.  With the old system of t-shirt and veil, I had one bee get up inside the mesh by my face.  I chased her out but clearly she was not amused, neither was I.

The bees!  And you can see the frame feeder.  It is the black bit I'm pulling out. Fill  1/2 to 3/4 full of 1:1 sugar water until the bees have enough real nectar to survive.  Since this is a totally new hive, both hives, with no comb built upon arrival, the advice is to feed lots. Next year when the bees have the left over comb from this year, they may not need to be fed so much for so long. 



Another frame.  Nice shot Tim!  (Photographer: Tim Hatten of Invertebrate Ecology).  Shows the burr comb...those lumps.  At least I hope it's burr comb and not new queen cells.  I'd hate to have a coup my first season of bee keeping. 

And let's close with a nice close up of the bees.

No, how about a view of the beeyard as the closing shot:
Bee yard...now with more finger!  (Sorry Tim, couldn't help myself).  You can also see the gallon jug (heh heh...I said "jug") with the sugar water feed, and the yellow hive tool I forgot to pick up.  Thank goodness it's yellow or it would be lost by now.  The bees face east for the morning sun to wake them up.  I stacked those cinder blocks myself.  One of my more successful construction projects.  If you ignore how the one hive lists to one side.  You can see one of my apple trees in the background...just below the finger.  The flowers are on hawthorns.  Bees seem to love hawthorns.

Thank you VERY MUCH to Tim and his Mrs. for coming up for the photo shoot.  Nice to have a professional bugman in one's circle of acquaintances.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bee-yonce'

Too easy with the pun today. 

I saw a bee doing the bee dance!  The one where they dance in a figure 8, shaking the money maker, to tell other bees where the food is.
I didn't get it filmed, but many other people did.  Here's an example:


I didn't check the angle of the sun as I was holding up a frame of comb and had just filled the feeder.  I didn't want to keep the hive open while I dinked around trying to record on a crap phone while wearing bee gloves. (Those are heavy leather long gauntlets, not gloves made of bee-hides.)

Still, pretty exciting to see it so soon after becoming a bee keeper.  For the record, it was one of the Italians, not a Carniolan. 

The bees have the 2nd deep hive body, 8 frame, on top of the first now on both hives.  They are starting comb up there.  Of course I read the instructions for putting those on properly after I put them on improperly.  You do just set the box on top of the old box and cover as usual.  BUT the book says I should have "baited" the top/new hive body with a couple of frames of brood from the bottom hive body.  Oh well.  The bees found their way up.

The Italians also seem to build lots of burr comb that I then remove or think "I should take that out.  It will make a mess if they fill it with honey and I have to tear it up to do extraction."  Of course, this year I won't be extracting, and they are building it between the first and second hive bodies.  So, even in future years, they would get to keep that for winter food.  If I take it apart and clean it up a bit in spring, it will probably be empty of honey or babies or anything else.  So why force them to conform?
I'll read the section of the book on that after I've let it go too far to correct.  That's just how I roll.

And now...from the original Beyonce':


( I think this means the food source is about 200 yards at a 58.3degree angle from the sun. )

Friday, May 20, 2016

This Is Pretty Much What My Floor Plan Has Become

I keep trying to redesign my floorplan.

I've been basically in love with this one:

Level 1

for years.  I like the single wet wall (sink backs up to the bathroom water so only one wall with plumbing).  Simple.  Lots of south glazing for passive solar.  I'd do a shed roof, higher to the south/front to allow for a loft up there for the hot water storage (passive solar on roof/southwall), maybe a greenhouse on part of the front.

I have decided I don't need the 2nd bedroom, but likely need a bigger kitchen.  Eliminating the 2nd bedroom lets me spread the kitchn into the "dining/living" areas as needed.  Anyway, someday I may or may not post a sketch.

BUT then today I ran into this floor plan which is another dream of mine:

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/be/12/e6/be12e602f5974695da0eb89a6442067d.jpg

























A bedroom in the back of the library.  A private bath and somewhere to cook.  Everything I need.  I think I could go ahead and sleep in the kitchen and use the bedroom for the rare books collection.




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Added Sugar Rant part Deux

That's "part 2" for those who don't speak paristalk.

Anyway, interesting results so far with the added sugar avoidance experiment.
First, I feel better so I'm continuing on with it.  My cousin is also continuing on so we send each other supportive texts which helps.  At least it helps me.

The thing is, I've lost weight even though I've kept the calorie intake up, even with extra exercise because it's summer and I'm planting stuff and doing stuff, I'm eating plenty of calories.  I use an app for that (I know...odd for someone who doesn't have a smart phone.  I have a used ipod and my sister loaded the free version of "loseit" which I've used for years to track calories eaten and expended each day.  It works for me.  Boring for others.
The point here is that according to the app, I'm consuming enough calories to support 5lbs more than I weigh.  What gives?

I don't mind, though I don't want to get any thinner.  I'm still above what the old charts say I should weigh, but I'm as thin as I care to be.

I wonder how much is the sugar and how much might be added muscle mass from working out, digging holes, and living on a hill with no road (I have calves that could crack walnuts) that I climb multiple times a day.

I climbed that hill last year and didn't lose weight. Something is going on with the lower added sugar intake.  I end up eating fewer grain products just because so many of them have added sugar, but last week and this I have gotten locally produced (and delicious) breads that are just flour, water, salt and yeast.  No sugar/honey/whatever.  And I've added a brand of crackers where I've found a few different options with no added sugar.  Sardines are better on crackers.  Since adding in those grains, I lost another pound.

My fiber intake is in the same range as before, maybe 5-10 grams more a day but no where near vegan levels.  I eat plenty of fruit so it's not that there is NO sugar (that would not even be smart).

And I'm not a complete purist with the no added sugar.  There was a day where a woman was getting offended because I didn't want a stupid popsicle.  It only had 40 calories so even if it was mostly sugar, it wasn't much.  And I was hot.  So I ate one to shut her up and to be polite.  I've had a BLT too and I'm sure the bacon and bread at the restaurant had a bit of sugar.  And of course, when I spilled some runny honey from the bee hive on my glove while working the hives, I licked it off before it became a giant sticky mass.  You can't really leave the bees mid-hive-working to go wash a glove.  Easier to lick it and finish the job. I'm sure there have been other slip-ups too.

So what gives with the loss of tonnage?
Anymore and I'll need new bras and pants. Annoying. It doesn't do the neck wattle any favors either.

Oh well. I don't have a mirror up at my place so I don't have to look at it.