Tuesday, October 30, 2007

coolest paper shredder ever

I found this on Cute Overload--my new addiction. I need a shredder, now I have an excuse to get a hamster too. This is part of Tom Ballhatchet's art work. Check this out.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

RIP my wiggly friends

The worms bit the dust. I don't know what went wrong but I think it had to do with temperature. Texas is hot. To conserve on our electricity bills S. and I kept it pretty warm in here and the little guys might have gotten cooked. That's the only thing that I can think of, I did everything right, I've been trolling the internet trying to understand what went wrong. The only thing that I can think of is that we let it get too warm. I can't justify spending the electricity to keep it under 80 degrees in here especially if we're not home.

It's too bad since the weather just flipped and it's now nice and cool. Oh well. It just turned into a big messy fruit fly home. I put out apple cider vinegar in little cups to catch the suckers but it didn't work too well. I caught some but not enough, though I will say my hand eye coordination is a lot better after hunting those buggers.

I guess I'll keep up my covert composting and recycling. Sigh. Oh worms, we hardly knew ye.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

bath mat is done!

I never thought I'd finish it but I did! The bath mat of doom has been finished. I felt like there was some kind of drum roll as I bound off. The bathroom looks so much better too. Check out the before and after pictures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Garlic Soup!

S. is sick today so I made my heal all soup. Move over chicken noodle this one will kick your illness in the pants.

Mince or press about 7 or 8 big cloves of garlic and saute it briefly in about 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a big soup pot. Then add one container of Swanson's Organic Vegetarian Soup Stock. They come in big aseptic boxes. Bring to a boil and add one can of diced tomatoes and one can of water. Keep boiling for about 5 minutes. Then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or so. Then take the lid off and add cracked black pepper and lots of oregano salt to taste. You can serve with a generous dolop of chopped fresh parsley if you like.

MMmmmm. It's tasty and so darned good for you. S. should be all better soon.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have worms

No, it's not what you think. I'm composting inside our apartment using red wigglers, a powerhouse of an earthworm that is perfect for apartment composting. I found out about this online when trolling around looking at various green sites I came across a video that really inspired me. After watching that I looked around on line and discovered there are lots of people doing this.

With landfill waste becoming issue it makes sense to divert organic waste away from the landfill. About 24% of household waste is compostable. It might not seem like a lot but over time this translates into a huge amount of garbage (especially for a vegetarian) that can be turned into super rich soil that can be used on my plants or where ever. If all this organic stuff went into the landfill all that would happen would be it mixing with other compounds and forming toxic sludge which usually leaks out of landfills. No, thanks.

About my new friends, they live in a stylish silver box under our sink. They're the perfect pets. They just need air, water, bedding and food. Babs and I drilled lots of holes in the box so they can breath easily. If the box doesn't get air then it'll be like a trash can (aka stinky) because of the anaerobic bacteria. I shredded about a Chronicle's worth of paper for their bedding which I moistened to just barely wet. I can feed them vegetable waste but not oil, dairy, meat, bones or animal wastes. We don't have a whole lot of that in our house anyhow.

I got them about two weeks ago and they've been pretty good about staying in their box. There were a few initial explorers wandering away from the box but I've been keeping a light on them (compact florescent). Because they're shy and avoid light they won't leave the box. After a few weeks they'll settle down and get to work. I have a stash of goodies in the tub--potato peels, cabbage leaves, carrot stubs, house plant leaves and what not. My wiggly friends will get hungry and get to work on those goodies and forget their wandering ways and I can turn off the light. They'll even eat the paper and turn that into soil too!

Vermiculture is the nice term for worm wrangling and it's nothing new. A lot of city waste websites have detailed information about it. It's not just tree huggers, a lot of gardeners compost with worms because it is a lot quicker than a traditional compost pile and the soil the worms make aka "castings" is so very rich and won't burn plants like nitrogen based fertilizers can. There are lots of books written about this too! It's not stinky and I feel like I'm making a difference. I'll still keep up my covert compost until my little friends calm down and concentrate on eating.

Here are a few links for you interested people. Check out the videos!

My favorite worm blog
Another cool worm site
Another cool video about worms

Ha ha ha ha! Ha!

This is a super funny video on YouTube. I swear I'm not this pushy but it's good to laugh at yourself sometimes. No, I don't read by candlelight and I'm not renaming myself. Yes, I do pick up and recycle litter.

click here to laugh

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baby hat finished

Last month when I was flying out to L.A. for a wedding I started working on a pair of baby socks. There's this group called Touching Little Lives that's been really great to my family so I've been working on some projects to donate to them. Anyways the friends that we stayed with announced they were expecting so with a lot of speed knitting I finished the baby socks and left them with our friends as a gift. I've been working on a baby hat in matching yarn and now I'm finally done. It's all machine washable--as I believe almost all baby gifts should be. I'm really happy with this yarn it's super soft. Well into the mail it'll go this week. Now to finish up the stuff for Touching Little Lives and to get a move on my holiday knitting. I've got to write a paper for school this weekend too.

The camera is down right now. I'll post a picture of it later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Plarn=plastic yarn

What to do with all those pesky plastic bags! It seems that no matter how much you try to avoid them sooner or later you've got some. Most grocery stores have bins where you can recycle them, however it you're crafty like me you can make stuff with them. I've been making market bags. I totally suck at crochet but that seems to be a bit faster and less stretchy than knitted plarn.

I take the bags flatten them out then fold them and cut the handles and bottom. That leaves a tube that I cut up into loops. The loops are then looped on each other to make one continuous string of plastic yarn or "plarn." Sure it's time consuming but what I have will last me a long time and stay out of the land fill. It takes a lot of bags to make one market bag so I feel good about it and I use up my friend's and family's bags. Making the plarn is my television watching activity or should I say "television listening" activity since my eyes are on my hands.

Maybe I'll get better at crochet and make something more interesting. Some people use old vhs tape to make these shiny, crinkly purses and stuff. I even save and wash the plastic bags from frozen veggies and fruits, as well as the bags that toilet paper is packaged in. Almost anything that can be cut into a tube or loops I try to reuse because I can get a lot of color that way. The plain white bags get a little dull looking and who doesn't like a little color?

The most colorful one is still in progress. I'm knitting some handles out of acrylic yarn to be a little easy on the hands. I'll post a picture once I'm done with it. By the way I keep working on the bath mat of doom but it's still slow going.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bag the bags

Let's give up bags, plastic bags that is. There's an awesome group in Austin called Bag the Bags. They want to ban bags in this town. It's not that there wouldn't be any bags but there would be a charge for plastic bags. In Ireland the adopted this strategy and they reduced their plastic bag usage by 90%. Wow. Plastic bags are one of the most prevalent kinds of litter. Just look around, they're everywhere. Not only are they unsightly and dangerous to animals, they give off nasty chemicals when they break down. Just say no to plastic bags.

Bag the Bags Here's their website

In the meantimes just use canvas or reuseable bags at the grocery. It takes a little getting used to but don't let that discourage you. Sometimes I get half way through my shopping and realize that I don't have my bags. I just park my cart and go get them before I get in line. It takes 2 minutes. Really. It's very practical. I always look at bags when I go to Goodwill. A couple weeks ago I found a really awesome white faux patent leather bag with black handles. Very chic! It was a Saks Fifth Avenue give away and practically brand new. $4 that's it and it's super sturdy and great for carrying just about anything. I've scored other awesome bags there.

A lot of times if I'm only getting one or two things I just say "no bag please" and carry it out. Some grocery stores will give you 5 or 10 cents off your purchase for bringing your own bag, places such as Wheatsville (I love Wheatsville!!) and Whole Foods.

Friday, October 5, 2007


The baby toes bloomed! One of the plants in my succulent/cacti garden is in bloom right now. A big beautiful yellow flower! I haven't had anything bloom for me ever, it must really be happy living here with S. and me. It closes at night too only to reopen in the morning. I wonder what I'm doing right. The picture is a little fuzzy but you get the idea.
maybe I'll take a better one later

best recycling basket ever

You know, sometimes things were just ment to be. For example, one day at work someone brought books to sell and left behind this gorgeous sturdy basket. We held on to it for a few days but no one came back to claim it. So it went home with me and it now is our recycling basket. It fits perfectly on our counter and can hold a lot of crap despite its compact size. It was just ment to be...sigh.

Carrots, how I do love thee

I love carrots. They're probably my favorite vegetable of all vegetables. Sweet and crunchy, you can add them to almost anything, salads, soups, spring rolls, pasta sauce (a little grated carrot does wonders), or even on their own.

Today I made carrot ginger muffins, . I added 1/4 tsp cardamom and I think it added an extra oomph. Oh how I wish this were a scratch 'n' sniff picture so you could smell 'em. Technology lags behind though, here's the recipe. Pretty soon I'll learn how to make links. In the mean time you can just copy and paste.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Covert compost

Like a ninja, I prepare myself and move out under cover of darkness. The warm night envelopes me as I move towards my target. I've got the goods and I'm not afraid to do the job that needs to be done. COMPOSTING! Yes, I am the secret composter! Silent as an assassin with my stash of cabbage leaves, avocado skins, and carrot tops. I seek out the chosen place and deposit the goods. No one suspects a thing!

I sincerely believe that no one would mind either. There is a huge empty lot next to our apartment complex. It's just sitting there. Nothing ever happens except litter and a few stray cats. It's far enough away from any buildings to warrant complaints. I try to be a smooth operator though. I'll keep it neat and tidy. There's nothing gross like bones or animal wastes. Nothing to attract vermin. I'm not about to ask permission because there's no problem with what I'm doing and it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. About 25-30 percent of household waste can be compost able. I'm dramatically reducing our waste. The fact that we live in an apartment complex won't get in our way! I cannot be stopped! Ha Ha ha ha!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The bath mat of doom!

This is the bathmat that will not end. I swear I work on it every day and it doesn't seem to move or grow or anything! The only reason that I started this project is because I thought I could whip this out in no time. Well it's been week and weeks. I think they call all those weeks months. Well it's been months.

The idea was a good one. Our bathroom is navy blue with hints of browns. We wanted a navy blue bathmat. Do you know how hard it is to find a navy blue bathmat? You can find baby blue, indigo blue, marine blue, Tiffany blue, sky blue, robin's egg blue and even navy blue and green, but no solid navy or heather/verigated navy blue bathmat. Nothing under $20. I found a nice one for about $35 online (not including shipping) but we're broke and it seems silly to pay so much for something that's the human equivalent of a spoon rest. Let's face it, all a bathmat does is catch drips.

So off to Hobby Lobby I went with gift card in hand visions of the coolest bathmat in the universe and got about $15 of cotton/something yarn (it's washer&dryerable) and got cracking. Initially it was flying by; I was making progress by leaps and bounds. Then when I used up the second ball of yarn it started to slow, now I'm on ball number three and I need to put a stitch marker in to tell if I'm making any progress at all. I keep knitting but it doesn't seem to be getting any bigger. I feel like Sisyphus pushin' his damned rock up a mountain.

When it's done it'll be pretty cool. Most of it is in garter stitch with moss stitch borders and lines breaking it up in geometric ways. I think it'll shrink a bit when I wash it for the first time and that'll probably bring out the contrasting pattern a little more. You can't tell much from this picture but I'll keep you posted.


I have had mixed results with houseplants. In my last apartment there was just one tragedy after another including a miniature rose plant that just lost the will to live and shriveled up within days. There have been experiments with ivies and jade plants even an herb garden that met a tragic end (we won't ever speak of that herb garden again).

Ever since moving in with S. there have been successes. I have a small succulent/cactus garden that is going really, really well. The baby toes (a plant, I swear) are about to bloom! I have an ivy that I brought back from the dead and a croton that has come back from the other side of the veil of death.

The best part of all of this is that these plants do more than just look pretty. They actually help clean the air. A lot of common houseplants are really good at removing airborne toxins such as dioxin (big-time carcinogen), and formaldehyde (often found in carpeting and new construction material). The heaviest hitter in the houseplant world is the golden pothos. Easy to grow and easy on the eyes NASA has done studies on the most thorough air cleaners and this plant takes the cake. Ivies are also pretty darned hard working and easy to find in nursuries or even the grocery store. Other common plants that will work hard to clean your air are spider plants, snake plants, peace lilies (makes me think of the movie Hot Fuzz!), palms, Chinese evergreen, bamboo, and more.

For an interesting article read this: