Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Moment to Breathe

I had been costuming an opera that had it's opening night tonight. Finally. I thought that I'd never be done.

First off, the music director has the belief that big body = big voice. It doesn't always work that way, but there is never a shortage of large opera singers. Let us just say that our leading ladies had 45" waists. One of them was 5'2". Yeah. The music director liked to refer to them as "larger than life". Did I mention that the time period was the 1930s? There are very few large women in that time period. Ergo, clothing doesn't look right, nor is there anything that large already made.

The grand total of all that I made (and in just over 7 days to boot!):

-- 5 dresses (2 styles, one for each lady and one for the understudy before I realized I could shaft her)
-- 2 men's button dress shirts (and had to draft a pattern)
-- 3 little girl dresses
-- 2 choir robes (under and over-robes for 2 characters)

... y'know, looking at the list doesn't seem particularly large. Lemme tell you, when all my assistant created was 4 A-line skirts (and it took her a week to make them!), it makes a girl frustrated.

Also, the damnable machine in shop had a computer in it -- it knew I never had a button-hole foot to put on it. So it refused to make button-holes. So guess who had to handstitch all the button-holes? Yep. Did I mention that I didn't have any zippers? Just buttons? Yep.

All of the LL's dresses were based upon one of two patterns that we bought, the choir robes had NO pattern (who needs a pattern for a T-tunic?), the little girl dresses I made up (and had fun doing so), but the men's dress shirts I had to draft the pattern based upon measurements that I had, and some that I didn't and had to guess. :-P Joy. Also, the book I was using DIDN'T actually have a template for shirts -- just jackets -- so I had to modify it from that as well.

I am weary and happy that the show is pretty much done. I'll stick with it for the rest of the run, to see if anything destroys itself (the vintage clothing for the chorus keeps disintegrating...) but other than that I'm done. There was to be a black-tie affair apres the show, but I have zero energy for gussying up and being NICE to people. Gah. I should be there, but the amount of prep work that would have required... and it's raining as well. Not my idea of a fun time, although free food would have been involved. Le sigh.

Hopefully I'll be able to get back to regular postings within the week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


So I brought all around town the "not-mine" Glass Dharma straw yesterday. Went out with a friend and grabbed chais (used my straw and chatted it up), and used it at work.

I discovered that, when using my glass straw, I became FULLY CONSCIOUS of the fact that my paper to-go cup should be recycled. And that there was no place to do so in the cafe. I simply started realizing exactly how much disposable waste I use! At work, I make a point usually to have a glass cup for drinking. Well, I added to that a plastic dish for ice cream instead of paper, and used my drinking glass for samples, instead of little paper cups.

I've never been that "gung-ho" recycling chick. I realize that I should be, and the fact that I'm discussing even stricter measures than recycling on here means I'm being an idiot about it, but it was still a huge slap in the face.

I spent the rest of my time with my friend talking about this awareness, recycling, and Glass Dharma -- she is not of the Doomer Persuasion, and I don't want to scare her off.

I know that recently I read a post on taking a vacation from your lifestyle -- only to have it follow you. That you CAN'T just go to the McD's and get a nasty burger with all of it's cardboard accoutrements. It just doesn't work that way once you've reached a certain level of awareness. [Can I remember who posted this? No. Guarantee they're on my sidebar though.]

Awareness. I will keep bringing my glass straws around -- I hope I get many many questions and strange looks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Glass Dharma again

So with the mixup in shipping (my box got labeled for FL, and hers came here!), I now have two straws that I have no interest in. She got stupid ones! :-P

Glass Dharma is reshipping out my order (it went in the mail yesterday) and said that I should keep the ones I have, and gift them and spread the word.

So... anyone want a bendy straw and an extra long straw?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Glass Dharma revisted

So I get a call today, from a lovely woman in FL -- she received my order, and I received hers!

Wish that my real one was here...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quick note

At this very moment, my baby kitten is sitting in the dishwasher. Comfortably. And quite happy!


So baby kitten went to the vet today (you call all see his picture on the sidebar there) for his annual checkup, some vaccines, and to test his urine. About 6 weeks ago, I had to take him in (luckily the vet is three blocks down my road -- no joke) for an emergency, as he was CLEARLY not doing well. Peed in the hallway, hiding under covers and whimpering, etc. Turns out, he had urine crystals.

For those who don't really have cats, or know about this, male cats can sometimes have problems with their food, and develop these crystals. If left untreated, it can block them completely, and they will die. These happens less often in non-neutered cats (I believe the testosterone limits this), and more often in cats which have been neutered EARLY (which Erik was).

So he's been on the "Good Food" for about a month, and we need to check how he is. I should have the results by tomorrow. He hasn't been having problems, but if he STILL has crystals, we're going to have to try different food again -- and it'll probably be even more expensive.

But, for the moment, he's a healthy, happy cat -- he got his rabies and feline leukemia vaccines, some drops for a minor ear infection, and lots of treats for being a Good Boy at the vet's today.

However, $224 later, it makes me wonder. What would I do if no one in my household HAD that money? (I borrowed my housemate's credit card.) What would I do in a sustainable household where there isn't cash flow because we don't need it? What will I do in the collapse?

I know that people like Sharon Astyk (from and -- don't feel like making a hypertext) have discussed futures in which they pay for such services as doctors and vets with a barter system -- but can I see this happening in the city? I feel that this is less viable that I could see it happening in the suburbs or country.

Thankfully, we have the money now, and we'll continue to be able to afford Erik's expensive food and vet bills. And he'll keep being a happy cat and Zu'ul's mascot.

Valentine's Day

So the BF and I are having Valentine's Day dinner together at his apartment -- as he's wicked busy at work, I shall be cooking for him (aren't I nice?).

But that being said, it's not going to be particularly complicated.

Food that I'm Making:

Black Tie Cookies for dessert

Firecracker Corn Bread

Italian Meatball Soup

I will probably also bring my coffee grinder, and a wedge of chocolate, so that we can make some mocha.

My shopping list is:
-- 3/4 lb. ground beef
-- parm.
-- parsley
-- eggs
-- garlic
-- lemon juice
-- beef stock
-- tomato paste
-- onions
-- carrots
-- celery
-- cabbage
-- cornmeal
-- baking powder
-- buttermilk
-- frozen corn

I hope it turns out well!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Glass Straws!

As one of my roommates and I both use an excessive amount of drinking straws (you don't want to see me drinking anything without one!), we are going to try Glass Dharma's re-usable, "glass" straws.

I learned about this company and the concept over at Retro Housewife Goes Green with this post

It's funny, because sustainable straws are something that I've been thinking on a lot. Not necessarily re-usable glass ones, but thinking more on the origin of straws: as a piece of straw from the fields! But as I couldn't see any easy way to obtain this natural straws, I left myself ruminating and drinking out of plastic.

But! Housemate and I are going to try these out, one for her, one for me (two slightly difference sizes to see what we like) and a bamboo carrying case apiece. If we do like them, we'll buy more for the house, but not the carrying cases -- those are specifically for our purses!

If and when we get the ones for the house, we will probably store them in a similar way to how one stores art brushes -- in a roll up bag of, usually cloth.

Picture of a sample holder.

The image is of bamboo, but that's the only one that they showed that was open!

I'll let it be known what the opinions of the straws are.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


So many people are talking about "how prepared are we for when the unexpected happens?" The unexpected could be unemployment, grid collapse, or somewhere in between.

Let me try and compare where we are now, to where I'd like to be a year from now. N.B. -- my estimates are VERY rough.


-- protein: we have probably 3 months of dried beans in house, 1 month of dried lentils, and 1 month of frozen meat, plus 4 cans of SPAM. >.>

-- grain: we have frozen english muffins (and coupons to get 12 more), and probably 6 months of rice, we also have flour for bread to last 3 months

-- vegetables: not so good; we have a few bags of frozen veggies, and very little else. Some dried peas maybe. Some tomato sauce.

-- fruits: we have applesauce to last 2 months, jam for 2 months, and canned fruit for about 2 months.

-- dairy: we have cheese to last maybe a month -- we're a cheese loving place. We also have powdered milk.

A Year From Now

-- protein: we will have close to a years worth of dried beans. We will also have chickens that we could eat.

-- grain: as I will not be growing any, we will still be dependent upon buying rice in bulk, and flours in bulk. So that should stay the same

-- vegetables: we should have canned beans, tomato sauce, salsa, and all sorts of goodies to last for at least 3-6 months.

-- fruits: will not be growing any, so it will still be storebought applesauce, jams, and canned fruits (unless they're on WICKED sale), but I should double the numbers we have at least.

-- dairy: we will have chickens, so hopefully we will have eggs on a regular basis, but cheese and such will still be storebought. And only cheese lasts any length of time. We do have powdered milk, but that should really only be used for cooking.

Also, we'll hopefully keep 2-4 weeks of cat food and chicken feed in the house.


Currently, one of my housemates is paying the bulk of the rent, as he has the bulkiest job (compared to my minimum wage/25-30 hour a week job and my other housemates student loans...).

We pay our heating through a combo of state aid and student loans. We have natural gas.

We pay our electric with student loans.

I think the gas for the stove goes in with heating...?

A Year From Now

Hopefully, more than one of us will have money with which to pay rent. We might also take in more roommates to pay said rent (will need to be broached with the LL carefully -- but I can handle that).

I don't necessarily see how we pay for the utilities changing, but we might work on getting a solar oven for summer, or at least grilling during the summer and/or winter. I'm not sure of the efficiency of the grill vs. our stove...


Right now we use the water from the tap and have maybe 6 gallons in storage.

A Year From Now

With a ridiculously over-the-top domain name, this site none-the-less gave me the answer I needed of how much water to store. 1 gal/day/person. And they recommend storing 2-4 weeks. That's 42-90 gallons in storage. Hopefully we'll also have rainfall catching equipment.


Right now, I use public transit usually, BF uses his car, one housemate uses his bike, and the other taxis or public transit. Or our feet.

A Year From Now

This is another item that I don't particularly see changing -- except maybe to get a cart to attach to the bike!

Hmm... there's so much to still do, and so much that even a year from now I won't have set up. Can I have my pretty manor house in the country now? Pretty please?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Energy Wasted

While going on a midnight drive with the BF last night (ok, so it was more like 1-3...), I noticed that pretty much every building that housed a chain store of some sort, was going through electricity like it was water. They had lights on inside, some had TVs or some other form of media playing, and just... SO MUCH! We wound up spending quite a bit of time discussing this, as energy consumption is something that I care about, and thinking of new things is a joy to my BF.

We could see several reasons for having these lights on all night, not in the least being the possibility of "Emergency Lights", which are often run with no input from the store, but the building management controls that. I work in such a store. We could also see it being that company policy is not to trust local management, and so, not even have faith in their abilities to turn lights on and off properly; that it is cheaper in the long run to pay for more electricity than to pay for training of employees. That thought just saddens me. Another possible reason could be for safety regulations; but as there is NO ONE in the store, I see this as less likely -- but you never know with Big Business! Anything to prevent one more lawsuit... And a final reason that we came up with, was for advertisement purposes. "Look! I'm a store! I'm closed, but you should come back when I'm open!"

There are easier ways to handle Emergency Lights; I once worked for a company where the Emergency Lights ONLY came on when all power was off, and it ran on generators. Much healthier for everyone. The not trusting management or employees to not be able to turn on or off lights... what the hell kind of people used to work for places like this way back when, to make this standard company policy?! There's a REALLY simple test to figure out if you've closed up properly. While locking the door, facing the building, look in through the door or window. See a light? You screwed up. The Safety Regulations gig... there have got to be better ways to handle that. For advertisements? Have your sign lit, if you really need it. But 9 out of 10 roads that have Big Business located.. on it have street lights -- you can see any building you need!

In discussing this with the BF, we came up with two approaches to try to control this. Work at business awareness with the green movement, or work with government regulations to change how one purchases electricity. Frankly, factor in the pollution involved. I brought up an argument that I believe Greenpa put forth; have a sliding scale of payment. If you use x amount, it's $n. If you use 2x, it's $n^2. Etc. The only problem with this, is that it has renewable resources on par with nonrenewable resources. So, have it COST more to use coal or oil in lieu of water or wind. That will perhaps make it more likely to fix this problem of overusing electricity by hitting business where it hurts: profit.

Working for business awareness I see as a more tricky way to go -- once you get the ball rolling, it'll be easier for more and more businesses to follow the trend, but it's STARTING the momentum that's the problem. But, the winds of change are in the air -- more and more green regulations are going out (not necessarily working properly, or in the right direction, but it's THINKING about it).

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say with this post, other than it had never occurred to me how pervasive the feel of "energy is cheap! why think about it?" is in this country. If guerrilla work with a baseball bat one night would change things, guess where I'd be at 3 am every night...

Monday, February 8, 2010


So a hanky that I lost over a month ago was found today. In my boyfriend's house. In the fridge. There's really no more to say.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pantry Stuff

A few of the blogs that I read have been talking about pantry stuff: what they keep, how they plan, how they plant, how they store. Now a pantry is something that's always been very important to me; my mom has always had one, my aunt, my grandma, and probably further back whom I've never met. This is not to say that I learned the Fine Art of Perfect Pantry-ing at my Grandma's knee, but I picked up enough to realize it's importance. My grandma's problem was always not paying attention to what she had, planting for what she used (my grandpa actually did the garden, not her!), and actually cooking out of the pantry. Those 50 year old jars of canned wax beans are probably only good for dog food by now! My mother's problem was also not cooking out of pantry, but not realizing what she had. She learned that from Grandma. These are also women who have two full freezers, and still don't have food for dinner.

I would like to break the cycle! Now, as I have not grown my own food thus far, what I store in my pantry are dry goods (in mass quantities), and shelf stable items like jars of applesauce and dried fruit and nuts. We also have many many cans of pineapple -- I know, I know, it's shipped from far away, it doesn't grow anywheres near here (MA), and it being in metal cans makes it heavy for shipping to boot. But, sometimes you just want to open up a can of pineapple rings, and have a few for three days... and then make a smoothie with the juice and recycle the can. See? Not that bad.

One of the excellent ideas that the Matron of Husbandry discussed is just thinking: I am going to use at least one jar of applesauce a week, therefore I should have 52 jars of it. How many apples do I need to make 52 jars? Etc. If it's a crop that doesn't grow well for her, she plans for two years of food with it. She makes these plans starting around now, when she can look at her half empty pantry and go "hmm, I ate more of those than I thought" or vice versus.

With my garden plans for this year, a lot of what we're planting are beans. A lot of dried beans, and a handful of peas and wax beans as well. I bought so much, that I feel I need to start asking people for space to plant it all! I also have a lot of tomatoes and a nice pepper plant. Hopefully, my tomatoes will grow, and I can make my own salsa and canned tomatoes. (I would make sauce, but I feel like it will be better to can the tomatoes whole, and make sauce the day of -- any thoughts?) As most fruits are perennials or close to it, I am not planting any, which saddens me; so my fruit storage will continue to be jars of applesauce, dried fruit, and cans of pineapple.

At the very least, this will be a learning experience -- I feel that given all the options out there for obtaining food, I have a heavy curve in learning. 150 years ago, I would have had less options and hoped that I knew what I was doing (and would have learned from my mother as well). Whether we're better off or not, I'm thankful for the curve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Notes from Sharon's on Books and Herbs

In January, I went to an internship weekend at the lovely Sharon Astyk's. We milked goats, chatted, ate food, chatted, knitted, chatted, hauled wood for the cookstove and just all around had a good time. Guess who's good at milking goats? Me! :-P

But I took down a bunch of notes in my little Moleskine (the poor thing is split all down the side! :-( ) and I should put them here for ease of access.

Et voila:

Random Books and Periodicals
Small Farmers Journal
Heirloom Gardner Magazine
Murray McMurray Catalogue (chickens)
Artisan book series: The _______ Pantry (i.e., Mediterranean)
Build Your Own Earth Oven Kiko Denzer
The Complete Tightwad Gazette Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced "decision")

Herbal and Medical Texts
The Herbal Home Remedy Book by Joyce A. Wardwell **Sharon's pick**
The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood **buy this later on in your herbalism study**
The Herbal Medicine-Maker's Handbook James Green **this and the book below are both excellent**
Making Plant Medicine Richo Cech
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal Tammi Hartung **best GROWING book**
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean **B/W line drawings**
Weeds of the Northeast Richard Uva, Joseph C. Neal, Joseph DiTomaso
Childbearing Year Susun Weed
Herbal Healing for Women Rosemary Gladstar
Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable Juliette de Bairacli Levy **also has one for cat and dog**
The Male Herbal James Green
Healing Wise Susun Wood **very touchy feely**
Herbal Renaissance Steven Foster
Herbal AntibioticsStephen Harrod Buhner **apocalypse book!**
Sacred and Healing Herbal Beers Stephen Harrod Buhner
Family Herbal Rosemary Gladstar
A Kid's Herb Book Leslie Tierra
A Weaver's Garden Rita Buchanan **also A Dyer's Garden**
The Village Herbalist Nancy and Michael Phillips **Sharon's pick**
Herbs For Sale Lee Sturdivant
The Complete Illustrated Holisitic Herbal David Hoffman
The Complete Medicinal Herbal Penelope Ody ** Sharon's pick**

Sharon's Starter Selection
How To Live On Almost Nothing and Have Plenty Janet Chadwick
The Contrary Farmer Gene Logsdon **or anything else by him :-P**
The Encyclopedia of Country Living Carla Emery ** everyone's pick!**
Four-Season Harvest Eliot Coleman
The Complete Book of Composting Rodale Books
Seed to Seed Suzanne Ashworth
The New Seed Starters Handbook Nancy Bubel
Anything Grows! Sheryl London
The Bountiful Container McGee and Stuckley's
Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers Edward Smith ** recommend take out of library
1001 Old Time Garden Tips Roger Yepsen
Gaia's Garden Toby Hemenway
Toolbox for Sustainable City Living Scott Kellogg and Stacy Pettigrew
Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening
How To Grow More Vegetables John Jeavons
The New Victory Garden Bob Thompson ** from the 70s**
Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats Jerry Belanger
Root Cellaring Mike and Nancy Bubel

Herbalism Notes

- Sasparilla pulls heavy metals out of people
- Mullein or Garlic Oil for earaches
* if mullein grows crooked, it's in polluted/heavy metal ground
* mullein, sunflower, and sumac pull heavy metals and remediate your ground (if you compost the plants elsewhere!)
- anise hyssop: great digestive aid, works in tea, leaves and flowers are usable
- garbling: after drying herbs on a stem, the process of crumbling the leaves off of the stem
- elecampane: dig up the root in 2nd year in fall or spring, dehydrate; immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, used in tea or tincture
- valerian: anxiety, anti-depressant, some get jittery, valerian roots are used -- dig in fall or early spring
- viburnum (cramp bark): "cranberry bark viburnum" loves wet soil, sweetened berries for bird food. Use inner bark, harvest in winter. Don't fully girdle a tree, or it'll die. Dry inner bark, use in tea or tincture
- meadowsweet: flowers and leaves are used, asprin plant, loves damp ground, harvest when it first comes into flower
- willow bark: use the inner bark, harvest in winter, asprin plant, use in tea or tincture
- rose petals: soothing scent and can make jelly
- rose hips: dry (slice to dry) and use for Vitamin C, use in tea or straight, harvest when ripe (looks like a ripe berry)
- hawthorn berries: used for heart irregularities, use tea or eat straight, flowers can be used in tea or tincture
- motherwort: heart herb, leaves in tea or tincture, "cardiac stability", commonly given to laboring women to ease pain without relieving contractions
- raspberry leaf: helps uterus contract, menstrual cramps, good for menopause, use in tea
- chamomile: relaxing tea, milk pain reliever, can be given to infants, use stems in tea for cramps
- nettle: leaf and green seed are used, blood cleaners, high in iron, harvest with GLOVES
- calendula: blossoms are used, "pot marigolds", diaper rash, use in oil or cream, skin injury, burns
- comphrey: use for wounds -- can use a "spit poultice" -- chew it up, don't swallow, spit onto wound; green leaves for rabbits/goats after birth -- also good every day for them
- yarrow: soft bendable stem, leaves and flowers are used, immune stimulant, tincture or tea
- feverfew: use for migraines, really bitter, can eat fresh, flowers and leaves, tea, tincture or fresh
- betony (stachys officianalis): headaches, tincutre or tea, likes part shade, wet or dry, used as a tea substitute
- lambs ear: makes good bandaids, do not take during pregnancy, but can during labor, mouthwash
- scullcap: headache hearb, leaves and flowers, can mix with betony or feverfew, tincture or tea
- red clover: blood thinner, cholesterol lowerer, anti-oxidant, nice tea, maybe for allergy, dried/fresh aerial parts
- slippery elm bark: food -- if you're throwing up, it'll be the only thing you can keep down and keep you hydrated. Mix inner bark (dried and ground up) with water, maybe add a little honey. Does NOT reduce nausea.
- wormwood (artemisia absinthium): used for deworming, used as tea. NOT for pregnant women or people with liver problems.
- mugwort (artemisia vulgaris): used in tea or tincture, appetite stimulant, used to combat irregular periods
- pennyroyal: abortive, oil is toxic, can be used as flea control
- elderberry: vitamin c
- lavender: upset stomach
- marshmallow root: chop to dry, dry it, used for coughs, used in tea, NOT for tincture
- catnip: sedative, can give to young children, good for cholic, stomach relaxant, gas, cramping, will dry a rabbit's milk
- catmint: just a good tea
- lemon verbena: just smells good -- the plant will appear to die so don't worry!
- blackberry: root for diarrhea
- burdock: increasing urine, helps liver
- dandelion: very nutritional, stimulate urine
- garlic: anti-oxidant

Recipes... of a sort
* with comphrey, beeswax and olive oil [cook comphrey in water just a little to soften, then infuse into olive oil, mix with beeswax] use as a lotion for those mere flesh wounds in your life
* 350 mL cheap vodka, qt. raspberries, couple lemons, bunch of lemon verbena leaves -- mash raspberries, squeeze lemons, throw in leaves, 2 c. sugar, pour vodka over and let sit for a few weeks, turning occasionally
* lavender flower, dill seeds, and peppermint tea for upset stomach
* ginger tea for nausea
* catnip and chamomile for calming tea
* honey, lemon and ground culinary flax for coughs
* whiskey with honey helps coughs and helps sleep
* sage tea is good for hot flashes
* sage dries up breast milk
* raspberry leaves, nettle leaves, alfalfa leaves (anti-oxident), oat straw tea -- high in calcium, mild relaxant

* decoction: steep in hot water
* infusion: bring to a boil with herbs, steep for a while
* ATTRA: free brochure on how to secure land -- government program
* a place to get books fairly cheap
* mangle beets: use for animal feed, up to 35 lbs. Bountiful Gardens, FedCo, Seed Savers, etc.
* officinalis means it was the official medicinal plant used (in lieu of other varieties)
* Vitamin C will help constipation
* oregano is good anti-fungal and anti-biotic
* ginko as tea helps blood circulation
* gotu kola leaves are good for alzheimers


Over at the Just in Case Book blog, she made a post today about where to find ridiculously cheap, food-grade storage buckets. Does that sound like useful information to you? It does to me!

There's the website. They have storage containers, storage aids (like drying packets and such), shelf stable food, and manners of cooking said food. Their tag line is: "We make preparing possible! Delivering Peace of Mind through preparation!" along with a kitchy little pic of a 1950s style mom. Because everyone knows, Mom back in the day could fix anything. :-P [N.B. they appear to be Mormons, so if you have a problem with that, you know now!]

In reading the JiCBB (Just in Case Book Blog -- too lazy to fully write it), she talks about the prep for what will basically be the end times -- i.e., her son keeps 5 jugs of gas in his basement, so that when the world ends, he can get to his mom's house. Isn't that kinda cute? As well as very doomer. I approve.

But that brings to mind: how would I manage if the world ended tomorrow? I'm not sure, but probably not that well. [Side note, why does the teakettle smell like soup cooking...? Whoops! Wrong burner!] Just that, is an example. We don't have any alternate form of cooking! Well, we have a small grill, but that runs on propane, and I'm sad to say, it noms it up ridiculously fast. So if I were to have that as my backup plan, I should probably get more propane cans. Then, I have the crockpot (if the electric still runs but not the gas lines -- you never know!), but that should not be counted on. Now, I love Zu'ul, and we are perhaps MORE prepared than a lot, but there is so much to be done.

Items Needed To Survive the Apocalypse

-- large, full pantry and root cellar (halfway there I feel)
-- alternate source of heat
-- alternate form of cooking
-- source of transportation independent upon outside influences (Dan has a bike -- if the apocalypse was tomorrow, I'd get my bike from my mother)
-- cat food stockpiled
-- medicine stockpiled (VERY important, and probably very difficult)
-- manner of paying rent (ouch)
-- water stockpiled (we have some)

I'm trying to think of what else -- basic necessities are: food, water and shelter. Yet, I feel that if we dropped into a barter economy tomorrow, we'd be ok. We'll be better when we get the chickens from Beth! :-D Oh fresh eggs to eat and to barter... looking forward to it.

The dependence upon the stove does bother me -- if we were using a wood burning cookstove, that would also be heat! Two birds with one stone. Ah well -- that is waiting for the day I have my own place.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Garden Timetable

So I went through the calendar and my seeds tonight and have put together a vague outline of what will happen when. Luckily, because I can do succession planting, I DON'T have a shitton of seeds like I thought... just a regular ton. :-P

So to keep myself on track, and have this all written in ONE space, I'll put my timetable here. N.B. -- after harvest of any one item, if there is to be a second planting, due to variables in growth, I have not noted an "official" second planting date.

Random Times etc.

-- Long Red Narrow Cayenne Pepper: 75 day growth; sow indoors, keep near 80 F, can transplant in early June
-- Be My Baby Gene Pool Cherry Tomato: 65 day growth; sow indoors, keep warm, can transplant after frost
-- Heirloom Tomato Mix: 65-90 day growth; sow indoors, keep warm, can transplant after frost
-- Rutgers Tomato: 75 day growth; sow indoors, keep warm, can transplant after frost
-- Bouquet Dill: direct seed in spring
-- Sweet Basil: start inside ~4/1, sow outdoors after ~4/20
-- German Chamomile: direct seed in spring
-- Cilantro: direct seed in spring every 3 weeks

First Planting

-- Melissa Savoy Cabbage: 85 day growth; plant ~3/14-3/20; 2 plantings; ready ~6/7, 9/5

Second Planting

-- Sugar Snax 54 Carrot: 68 day growth; plant week of ~4/4-4/10; 2 plantings; ready ~7/11, 8/20

Third Planting

-- Arugula (Rouquette): 47 day growth; plant ~4/20; 3 plantings; ready ~6/6, 7/29, 9/16
-- Salad Bowl Lettuce: 46 day growth; plant ~4/20; 4 plantings; ready 6/5, 7/23, 9/10, 10/30
-- Vermont Cranberry Shell/Dry Bean: 70 day growth; plant ~4/20; 2 plantings; ready ~ 6/29, 9/12
-- Tiger Eye Dry Bean: 60-85 day growth; plant ~4/20; 2 plantings; ready ~ 6/29, 9/12
-- Midnight Black Turtle Dry Bean: 104 day growth; plant ~4/20; 1 planting; ready ~ 8/3
-- Indy Gold Bush Wax Bean: 54 day growth; plant ~4/20; 3 plantings; ready ~ 6/13, 8/12, 10/10

Fourth Planting

-- Arava Cantaloupe: 80 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 2 plantings; ready ~ 7/14, 10/5 (temps above 40 F)
-- General Lee Slicing Cuke: 66 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 2 plantings; ready ~ 7/7, 9/14
-- Baby Pam Pumpkin: 99 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 1 planting; ready ~ 8/5
-- Raven Zucchini: 48 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 3 plantings; ready ~ 6/9, 8/8, 9/27
-- Sugar Baby Watermelon: 80 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 2 plantings; ready ~ 7/14, 10/5 (temps above 60 F)
-- Small Ornamental Gourds Mix: 95 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 1 planting; ready ~ 8/1
-- Saffron Summer Squash: 42 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 3 plantings; ready ~ 6/13, 7/27, 9/11
-- Lincoln Shell Pea: 70 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 2 plantings; ready ~ 7/11, 9/26
-- Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea: 59 day growth; plant week of ~5/2-5/8; 2 plantings; ready ~ 6/1, 9/11

With the succession planting, hopefully I'll have learned from one planting to the next, and get more successful with each succession. :-P With the schedule that I have, I do not have anything (except maybe herbs) that I will be trying to overwinter, and that's just as well -- no need to try even MORE at once!

The Average Last Spring Frost for my area is: April 20
The Average First Fall Frost for my area is: October 20
Zu'ul is located in USDA Zone 6.

We'll see how that holds.

Food Challenge

So I've joined Zu'ul into Crunchy Chicken's Food Waste Reduction Challenge for 2010. Basically, the idea is to lower food wastes for the month of February. For us, this will mostly mean cooking/eating at home, eating leftovers, and eating what's in our fridge.

I don't think this will be TOO difficult for us, but we are notorious for looking in a full fridge and pantry and deciding to order pizza instead. :-P

So, starting with dinner tonight, we're having a go! Because the package of tofu that I bought the first week of December might be going fairly soon, I fried it up, and made a yummy, yummy sauce with pineapple juice, soy paste, duck sauce and a smidgen of potato starch. Served that over some rice that may or may not be slightly infested (what I cooked wound up not having anybody float) and needed to be used up before any of our large containers of stored rice. (Also, then it'd be another container for storage!) Threw in some frozen peas that had been in the very back of the freezer for a LONG TIME, and I consider it a fabulous meal.

We're on our way.

Pantry Thoughts

One of the things that makes me incredibly sad is the fact that I cannot have fruit plants in my apartment. Technically I can, but most fruit plants are not movable, and last much longer than one year. (Hmm... strawberries... nope, I have no room.)

With this lack of fruit, much of what I would store in a pantry is bought, sadly. This is rice, flours of all shapes and sizes, nuts, and anything involving fruit.

However, some of my garden ideas CAN be pantrified.

-- Tiger Eye Beans: dried
-- Vermont Cranberry Bean: dried
-- Wax Bean: canned
-- Midnight Black Turtle Bean: dried
-- Sugar Snow Pea: frozen
-- Herbs of all shapes and sizes: dried/keep growing :-P
-- Tomatoes: canned, tomato sauce, etc.
-- Cabbage: lactofermented, canned
-- Cucumber: pickled
-- Zucchini: frozen
-- Summer Squash: frozen

Root Cellar Storage Items:

-- Cabbage
-- Carrot
-- Watermelon
-- Cantaloupe

Here's to hoping that I have enough of my plantings to actually store!


So my order from FedCo arrived on Saturday -- now I just have to figure out what to do with all of it! Here's my rather optimistic, hopeful, newbie order:
- Cilantro (1 gram)
- German Chamomile (1 gram)
- Sweet Basil (4 grams)
- Bouquet Dill (4 grams)
- Heirloom Tomato Mix (1/5 gram)
- "Be My Baby Gene Pool" Cherry Tomato (1/5 gram)
- Rutgers Tomato (1/5 gram)
- Long Red Narrow Cayenne Pepper (1/2 gram)
- Melissa Savoy Cabbage (1/2 gram)
- Arugula (1/16 oz.)
- Salad Bowl Lettuce (2 grams)
- Sugar Snax 54 Carrot (1 gram)
- Sugar Baby Watermelon (1/16 oz.)
- Arava Cantaloupe (1 gram)
- General Lee Slicing Cuke (1/16 oz.)
- Raven Zucchini (1/8 oz.)
- Saffron Summer Squash (1/8 oz.)
- Baby Pam Pumpkin (1/4 oz.)
- Small Ornamental Gourds Mix (1/8 oz.)
- Tiger Eye Dry Bean (2 oz.)
- Vermont Cranberry Shell/Dry Bean (2 oz.)
- Indy Gold Bush Wax Bean (2 oz.)
- Midnight Black Turtle Dry Bean (2 oz.)
- Lincoln Shell Pea (2 oz.)
- Dwarf Grey Sugar Snow Pea (2 oz.)

Woof! We'll see how well any if all of them turn out! My worries are where I'm going to find space for it all... I'll probably mostly be doing container gardening, with some on the boy's deck, and some outside. A few problems with this: I don't have anything set up for starting plants inside, I don't have anything set up for plants that require runners, and my cat eats plants!

Now I have to figure out the schedule for planting...