Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ecodent Tooth Powder and Rinse

After reading Cure Tooth Decay a while back, I have been looking for a dental alternative to my mainstream toothpaste.  I tried Tom's and the Trader Joe's toothpaste, and was unsatisfied.  But I have finally found one I like.  It is Ecodent tooth powder, and it comes in mint and a tooth whitener formula.  It makes my mouth feel clean and the powder fizzes right up.  I'm a fan.

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paleo Meal Recipe: Skirt Steak and Israeli/ California Salad

Skirt Steak
Grill a grass fed skirt steak on high on a preheated grill with the lid closed for 4 minutes per side.  Let rest for 2-5 minutes before serving.

Israeli/ California Salad
4 small tomatoes, diced
2 medium cucumbers, diced
2 T fresh dill, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1 t sea salt
1 avocado, diced

Combine and mix to serve.  Add avocado last so it doesn't get mushy.
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Veggie Box from a Pallet - Upcycling

This was a pallet from our neighbor's garbage pile (it was the annual pick-up-anything day) that we sawed in half using a Skil Saw and sawhorses.  I find the circular saw quite easy to use once you mark your line.  This wood was thick, so I had to saw from the top and bottom.

The connecting pieces are scraps of wood we had sawed for another project and hadn't used.  We screwed them together.

Then we added weed cloth to block the holes and staple gunned it on.  My preschooler did the stapling.  You can see his little brother playing with the dolly here.

Then we filled it up with soil (my favorite mix of a third vermiculite, a third peat moss, and a third compost-- but we put some straw from a straw bale we have for the chickens at the bottom to make the height a bit-- these are deep).  We planted them out with seeds and starts of marigolds, basil, and cilantro, and irrigated it with drip.

Now they have sprouted!

I am hoping that the sun on this side of the house will make up for the awning being right there.  Maybe it will be an advantage and the lettuces will do well and the cilantro won't bolt (an annual issue of mine).
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Bacon and Egg Cups

We did two kinds of egg and bacon cups this time: one with an egg in bacon, and one with veggies and cheese as well. 

The verdict?  The kids prefer them simple.  But next time I think I will give the bacon a 15-minute head start on the eggs so the eggs can be soft instead of hard cooked (together they were in for half an hour at 350).

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Sunday, June 23, 2013


I finally caught a hummingbird in action at the feeder!
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Garlic Braids

Here are our annual garlic braids (old post).  We keep planting garlic because:

1. it is easy (one clove=one head a half a year later)
2. it is delicious
3. it grows enough for a whole year (we braid and store it)
4. deer supposedly don't like the smell (we plant the whole front year with it, one at each drip emitter)

I want to make sure they are really dry before we store them this year.
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Cloth Napkins

These two napkins were really easy and quick.  We took a cloth napkin and laid it atop some fabric, added a seam allowance, and cut it.  Then we folded it over and hemmed it on all four sides. Pin It

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Front Yard Transformation Complete

This is, unfortunately, the best "before" picture I have.  The area we transformed is beyond the garage- it is the far area of the front yard.  Like the area in the foreground, it was red lava rock and grass when we moved in.  It had two non-fruiting mulberries in the lava rock (here is the fate of a similar tree in back).

Three summers ago, we sheet mulched the yard (after giving away the rocks on Craigslist).  Here we are, with boxes and brown shopping bags, topping them off with free tree mulch from the local tree service.  The idea was that we would sheet mulch, then wait two years, then make a gorgeous garden.

Here it is, sheet mulched and pristine.

Then last summer, we had a bit of work done in the back yard.  This included having a sewer line dug from the back to the front through our area in review.  I neglected to photograph it when the dumpster was there.  Here is the backhoe in action.  Notice the carbgrass on sheet mulch.

That was a fun two days.  

It was followed by a year of parking the car on the sheet mulch.

Then I noticed that the sheet mulch in other areas of the yard had produced fluffy dirt, and the California Poppy seeds we had flung had produced some beautiful poppies.  So I planted a pear tree and called someone to add some irrigation.

He dug it in.

And pick-axed some of the carbgrass out.

Then we added rocks in the ditch.

Then we realized the sprinklers the guy had done didn't work (they kept falling over).  So he came back and added a drip line, and permanent skinny sprinklers.  Then my kids pulled them out, and my neighbor made me feel better about that by saying the deer knock hers over all the time.   So we used our new irrigation prowess and pulled those sprinklers out and re-irrigated the area with drip lines snaking all around.  I am happy to report that my kids ignore these lines.

Meanwhile, we were adding plants.  We added a pomegranate tree and a lime tree, and moved the pear.  We also added some understory plants, and a little groundcover.  

We also added some river rock in a bifurcated pathway.

And we got bricks, painted them yellow (twice), then varnished them and buried them.

A yellow brick road!

The kids love going up and down the yellow brick road with their dump trucks.

We bought a bench and found a stump.  We put bricks (concrete scraps) at each corner of the bench- buried- to keep it from sinking into our clay soil.  The stump is at one end of the yellow brick road.  I have another bench on order for the other end of the kids' yellow brick road (you can't see it, but it also forks at the end).

We wrapped the trees to protect them from the deer.

We added bags upon bags of mulch from Home Depot.   It took us four full trips in our "big" car.
And now we love it!  We want to ignore it so it will grow big :) .

Meanwhile, we pick crabgrass all the time.
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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Homemade Ice Cream -Sugar Free

We have talked about vanilla ice cream before, but we are at it again.  And this time with two munchkins at the spoon.

p.s. It's sugar-free because I skipped the maple syrup/ honey. They don't even notice.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Homemade Condiments

I don't really love condiments, but was recently inspired to make some to up my fat intake (see this post for details).  I made the Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing from The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance and it was good.  I won't make it again, but if I was already a lover of Blue Cheese dressing, it would be a keeper.  It was also an interesting experiment to try and make a recipe from a Kindle book instead of a paper book.  I may try and print recipes next time... got a bit messy...

I then made the Honey Basil from  The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance.  Eh, it was ok.  Nothing to write home about.

The Honey Mustard dressing from Mommypotomus was great (I LOVE her stuff) but mine didn't look like hers.  Also, the kids didn't like it.  Go figure.   With that in mind, I like when they pick at my salads and they didn't with this dressing on it.

The Mayo from Well Fed was fabulous, as always.  Although this time I made a double batch and ran out of olive oil. I used up my sesame oil and melted some coconut oil to substitute, and it tastes good, but is a bit too solid refrigerated.  I am tempted to try this sardine mayo recipe next time.

Lastly, the "Sunshine Sauce" from Well Fed (subbing almond butter for sunflower butter because my local store adds sugar to their sunflower butter) actually really tastes like peanut sauce.  I haven't come up with a good use for it (the others have ended up on my salads- and the mayo on my, ahem, cheese), but it is really tasty.

All in all, that was a fun afternoon making all these sauces in the food processor.  I think I will keep with the mayo and adding olive oil to my salads, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Recipe: Not Your Mama's Spinach Pie (It's Paleo Pie)

One of my favorite recipes of my mom's is her Spinach Pie (you can find it in the cookbook my brother and I wrote).  It is basically a pie crust with layers of spinach, cheddar cheese, and onion/ mushroom/ garlic.

In this, the Not-Yo-Mama's-Paleo-Pie version, I used a bacon wrap instead of the pie crust, added a meat layer, and kept the onion and cheese layers, and replaced my mom's frozen Stouffer's Spinach layer with a fresh wilted spinach layer.  I think she would have loved it.

Actually, I think the bacon wrap needs to be removed and the cheese should be made into a crust (the bacon was too hard to cut - this is why there aren't any finished photos- it got too messy).  I'd put the bacon on top instead of cheese as the top layer.

Layer 1: Bake cheddar and parmesan at 350 for 15 minutes until it resembles a crust.
Layer 2: Wilt a bunch of spinach (using broth, if you have it). Put half onto cheese crust.

Layer 3: Combine leftover chicken, cut into cubes, with random CSA box veggies like beets and turnips (left skillet, below).  Other meat would also be fine.
Layer 4: Sauteed onion, garlic, and mushrooms- half.  Add salt or other spices to this layer if you want more salt than the bacon provides.  My guess is that you won't want to add any.
Layer 5: Cheddar cheese, shredded.
Layer 6: Other half of wilted spinach.
Layer 7: Other half of sauteed onion, garlic, and mushrooms.
Layer 8 (top): Either lay strips of bacon on top, or cut them and put pieces, or skip the bacon and do another layer of cheddar.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


And let me know how it goes!!
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Onion Harvest

These beauties are our onion harvest.  We got them from starts in a 6-pack, and I didn't thin them as we transplanted them.  Last year we got a bundle of them from Home Depot and they filled a whole veggie box. This year, we just got a six-pack.

Ok, so they are beautiful, but tiny tiny.  They were in the veggie boxes for a long time.  Next year, I will thin them.
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Saturday, June 15, 2013

BOB Stroller Console Repair

You know I love the BOB Stroller.  So when it came time for a double stroller, it was a no-brainer to go with BOB again (the Revolution Dualie).

You probably also know you have to buy the "console" separately.  This is the piece where your water bottle and phone go when you are out and about.  For my single, I bought the Stroller Strides Console.  It was $10 more, but it had a huge zip pouch and one water bottle holder instead of two.  I thought I'd be able to use the zippered area more than a drop-in area, and was/ am happy with it.  It has held up nicely and proven quite useful.

When we got the double stroller, I got the regular BOB console.  It took it about 10 excursions (if that) to show some wear and tear.  The top webbing was thin, and ripping with only my phone, sunglasses case, and small water bottle.  I safety pinned it together for a bit, then decided I could do better.

So I took some 1" webbing from REI (like this or this) and laced it through the top and stitched it with my machine back and forth and back and forth (about 5 passes).  I didn't do anything with the ends to prevent fraying, thinking I'd never be washing it so it wouldn't matter.  You could burn the ends if you prefer.

The edited version of the console is quite sturdy (as sturdy as the single BOB console I bought), and I am happy with it.  Having a place for my stuff as I am walking makes such a difference. I love the BOB again!
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Friday, June 14, 2013

NY Sours are Done! Cucumber pickles.

All of this talk about pickles (here and here), and I haven't even shared the recipe.

You see, it's not mine to share.

It's from a great pickling book, The Joy of Pickling (aptly titled). Other great pickling books are Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation.

However, I just gave my friend a pickle from this batch and she asked for the recipe.  And I was going to give it to her, but thought posting it here would be similar to my sharing it with her...

Oh, and I just watched a Good Eats from Alton Brown about pickles so I may try some of his tricks next time; namely, using filtered water whenever it calls for water, and making sure to trim the end of the cucumber where it was attached to the plant.

Lower East Side Full-Sour Dills (from The Joy of Pickling)

4 lb pickling cucumbers, blossom ends removed
4-6 dill heads
2 small peppers, slit lengthwise (note to my friend- I didn't add these this time)
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1 T whole allspice
1 t whole black peppercorns
2 T whole coriander seeds
3 qt. water

Layer cucumbers in a gallon jar with everything but the salt.  Dissolve the salt in the water, and pour enough brine over the cucumbers to cover them.

Put a gallon-size freezer bag into the jar, pour the remaining brine into the bag, and seal the bag.  Keep the jar at room temperature.

Within 3 days you should see tiny bubbles in the brine.  If scum forms on top of the brine, skim off daily and rinse the brine bag.

The pickles should be ready in about 2 weeks (note to my friend- I let mine go about 10 days but it was fairly hot- like 75 degrees inside- during that time).  They are ready when they are olive green and sour.  At this point, remove the brine bag and any scum, seal the jar, and store it in the refrigerator, where they will keep for several months or longer.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Front Yard Shade Garden + Deer Zone

As you may recall, we have deer in our front yard.  We also have wild turkeys, but they generally don't come this close to the house, so it's not entirely relevant for this post.

The house casts a lot of shade over the front section of the yard.  In the summer, it gets late afternoon sun.

That is a black currant in the back, and it's been there for a while and last week was the first time the deer munched it.

The front part has mainly ornamental strawberries, and we just planted Hostas.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Irrigating Pots on a "Windowsill"

Again atop the step ladder and with his irrigation tool box in hand, my almost 5-year old and I sorted out the irrigation to these pots after we put some white petunias in them.  We worked on it together since we had some old irrigation from the previous owners to use (we call these finds, "irrigation treasures").

The previous owners had these red pots and irrigation in them.  We moved in and turned off their irrigation system, since it had massive leaks we couldn't find.  The plants dies and we put the pots in the shed.

We just found the pots and decided to get them some flowers.  So we potted these up, and found the old emitters.  There were four on the old line, so we cut one of the middle ones off and did a 2-plug junction to close the gap.  Then we cut it from the old irrigation and capped off the old line (just in case).  On the new line, we added an on-off switch that my son had been really wanting to use.  This way, we can turn it off if we decide to not have something in the pots in the winter.  Then he plugged this into the new thick tubing which runs the water to the plants down below ~ via a thin feeder line.

Viola!  Irrigation experience and a little polish to the front door area.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

almost 5-yr old's Irrigation of a Raised Pot

My preschooler has been very involved in our irrigation upgrades.  We have a drip system, and many thick feeder lines around the yard.  He has figured out how to add thin soaker lines off of it, add emitters, add sprinklers, and other various tasks.  He also loves to carry the irrigation tool box around, and is trying to get our neighbors to let him do their irrigation.  He also keeps it stocked and helps me choose supplies.

This hanging pot was his project.  Both he and his little brother love white petunias.  He planted them and a thyme plant in this hanging pot from the shed (after hammering drip holes into it~ it was in the shed because Ikea hadn't done that in the first place, actually).  Then he decided to hang it on the flag holder we don't use.  He put a thin feeder line up, then added an emitter at the end, and pinned it into place with a U-Hook (all atop a step ladder).  Then we tested it to make sure the water would flow up, then he found a cable tie in the garage and pegged it into place to keep the line steady.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Loquat Tree

Loquats are delicious and grow well in our climate, and are really vigorous-- if you can keep the deer away when they are small (that is our basic continuing issue).  So, through this deer netting, you see the Loquat we planted.  It is tropical and we are excited for it to grow big and give fruit.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Used Bumkins All-in-One Cloth Diapers size L for Sale (14)

Bumkins all-in-one cloth diapers are waterproof on the outside and have flannel on the inside.  They close with velcro and have laundry tabs.  These are size large, 22-32 pounds (I used them from 17 lbs through potty training, and they weren't pooped in-- and they were part of a much larger rotation). 13 are in great condition, and 1 got a rip in the flannel and I repaired it with white flannel so now it's in good condition.

We loved these; they are so easy to use and don't leak.  11 white, 1 blue swirls, 1 yellow bugs, and 1 red barn (14 total). Sell for $16-20 each new. $100 for the lot OBO. You also pay shipping from Northern CA via USPS.

Blogged about them here.
Similar to these but not snapping and not one-size (sorry I didn't find a better photo but they really are great diapers).

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