Category Archives: Green

Harvest Monday 3-18-13

Welcome to harvest monday! I have a couple of gardening questions so I’m glad you came. Also I have a wordpress question. Does anybody who uses wordpress on their own site (rather than the free wordpress) have a widget that notifies commenters when you respond? Because when I respond to comments, commenters don’t know it unless they come back to check, and that kind of sucks.)

Onward. GARDEN!

kitchen farmI have been transplanting seedlings. My kitchen farm is messy but is working. The problem is, once I got all the seedlings transplanted, I didn’t have room for them all under the light.  I put the overflow under the eave of the house outside where they won’t ever get any direct sunlight but plenty of “bright” and am hoping they don’t suffer.  It’s not hot yet, but if you think I should, I’ll bring them back in and just be diligent about rotating stuff under the lights. This picture doesn’t show all of them. I snapped it while I was still in the middle of transplanting.

seedlingsAlso, in Department Fail, I lost track of which transplants are Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, and Roma.  So some are marked but many aren’t. Oh, well!

Last week I planted several tomato bedding plants that are much further along than these babies. I’m hoping that this summer will help me determine whether starting them from seedlings is as productive as buying bedding plants. Also, next year will start seedlings much earlier, and probably get a second growlight, though my kitchen may protest.

If you’re curious, I used this video to learn how to transplant and this is why I transplanted when the seedlings are so tiny.  I decided I waited too long last year.  Each of my seedlings was an inch or two long with small leaves on top, and now the stems are in soil so they can sprout roots, too. Hope it wasn’t too soon.

lame carrotsThis week’s actual harvest.  We got about 5 ounces of carrots that now are actually carrot-sized but the carrot seeds I planted in early February are doing so little, I doubt if I will get anything from them before it’s too hot. I say that not really knowing when it gets too hot for carrots, but just knowing they are cool-weather crops and Dallas doesn’t stay cool that long. Opinions?

carrot topThis morning I steamed some organic carrots that I bought at Whole Foods Market and have stuck one of them in soil to grow. But does this really work? Will it grow a new carrot, or just greens out of the top?

greens eggI also made a quick trip through the garden and pinched off some greens of various sorts, a small sweet red pepper from the fridge, and some green onion tops to put in a scrambled egg. It turned out very nicely, though next time I’ll also add onion. The pepper didn’t add quite enough flavor for my tastebuds.  Also, I am wondering if I plant the pepper seeds, will all the peppers be red or will they be a mix of red, yellow and orange like the package they came out of? Hmmm.

Animal_Vegetable_Miracle_A_Year_of_Food_Life-119185998039816My goal this summer is to have so many tomatoes and so much squash I have to freeze a whole lot of it. If all my tomato seedlings take off I’m sure I’ll be giving some away, but that remains to be seen.  Maybe I’ll even have to dry some of the tomatoes in a dehydrator! (I remember how many tomatoes Barbara Kingsolver had in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life–a book I can’t recommend highly enough, especially for those of you who are gardening!)

As always, you can see more harvests from around the world by checking out the others hosted at daphne’s dandelions.


Filed under Garden, Green, Monday Harvest

Green Housekeeping

I go through phases. I am more green sometimes than other times.  A few months ago I ordered this book, Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck, but then never got around to reading it.

Last week I started flipping through it because I wanted to know the best way to clean the surface of my mother’s old maple drop-leaf table, mid-century early American, solid wood.  The finish is very thin and in a few places is gone. I may go ahead and strip the top and put a polyurethane finish on it since it’s now getting used daily, but I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on that project, so I wanted  to just do the best, safest job I could of cleaning it up.

Murphy’s Oil Soap, according to Sandbeck. 1/4 cup per gallon of water.  It took some elbow grease but it did a pretty good job. I’m pleased, plus I have leftover cleaner and have started cleaning my kitchen cabinets.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I was told that Murphy’s is what the Servants Guild at St Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Dallas uses, and they take that very seriously.

She gives recipes on making your own furniture polish and oil, your own cleaners, mainly using castile soaps or grain-based vinegar.

Guess what I bought today. A gallon of vinegar and a big bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Castile Liquid Soap.

Citrus because I like the scent, but the choices were wide open, from lavender to almond to peppermint, etc. Dr Bronners has been around for about 90 years. The labels are a hoot to read because there about some wacked out interesting religious ideas (no offense to anybody who shares them; I’m sure some of mine are wacked out, too).

And to my delight, they are not only certified fair trade, organic, and made in the USA but are also, according to this website, union made.

Our first exposure to “fair trade” was when we attended a service at Wells Cathedral in England. Afterward they had tea and biscuits (very traditional in the Anglican traditional to have coffee, tea, etc. after service for fellowship) and also a fair where they were selling a lot of craft items, including some from various missions around the world that were fair trade.  It was very important to everyone there that things were fair trade, and they were certainly happy to educate us about it.

Another thing I have done this week is throw away all my sponges. Did you know the dirtiest thing in your house is probably your kitchen sponge? And even if you laundered it after every use, it’s highly unlikely that the water would get hot enough to kill the bacteria. Handwashing it with soap in the sink doesn’t work. Putting it in your dishwasher not only doesn’t work–it spreads the bacteria all over your “clean” dishes.  What kinds of bacteria? As nasty as you can think of. E coli, staph, etc.

And what do we do with those nasty bacteria incubators? We wipe them all over every surface to spread the joy!

Makes you want to lick your countertops, doesn’t it?

The nice part is that the stuff she recommends you use for cleaning is easy to get and inexpensive. She gives science and sources to back up her facts.

Oh, and her best advice ever? In order to stop fighting with whites, trying to keep those white  towels and sheets as white as new?

Don’t buy white sheets and towels.

Now that’s advice I can get behind.

My new towels are Emerald Blue and Soft Butter.

Do you follow any green cleaning habits or use earth-safe products? Which ones?

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Filed under Books, Green, Household, Housekeeping

WWW Wednesday (July 11, 2012)

I’ve missed a few weeks even though I’ve been reading. But, moving forward!

From shouldbereading:

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Another library ebook loan, Crossed, by Ally Condie. This is a strong book for the middle of the trilogy.  In a dystopian future where teenagers are matched by the Society and given their spouse/match, what happens if there is a mistake? That’s the first book, Matched, which I first mentioned here (scroll down).  The second book deals with the fallout from that mistake. This is the now-typical romantic plot of a girl with two guys to choose between, but it works on all levels.  The world-building is strong and interesting and the characters are not cookie-cutter.  The final book, Reached, is available for pre-order and will be out in November.

I’m also reading The Disorderly Knights: Third in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett.  I was already into it when Crossed showed up from the library.  Since there is a waiting list for Crossed and I own Disorderly Knights, I decided to stop and read the fast-read YA dystopia so I can get it back into circulation. Aren’t I a good citizen?  Can’t wait to get back to Lymond, though.  [I used an older cover because I think it’s pretty, and it shows the Malta setting so nicely.]

• What did you recently finish reading?

I earlier mentioned an audiobook, Anita by Keith Roberts. This is from the Neil Gaiman Presents collection on audible, and he says he chose it because, Anita is an almost forgotten novel by one of the finest UK writers. It works on two levels. The stories are a product of the 1960s – they come out of a swinging world and a ‘Georgy Girl’ time, and Keith Roberts, then a young art director, has captured that feel. At the same time, it’s about a teenage witch being brought up her Granny. He writes about her falling in love, getting her heart broken, about change and growing up and compromise, about what magic is and how you can lose it sometimes and how you can get it back.”

I’m bringing it up again because… well, it’s one of those very rare audiobooks that I didn’t finish.  It’s a short story collection and it frankly didn’t hold my attention.  Others’ mileage definitely varies.

Fortunately, Thief of Shadows, by Elizabeth Hoyt, fared better.  The fourth in the Maiden Lane series, it was an easy listen with a nice and unexpected twist at the end that probably raised it to 4 stars from the 3.5 I was thinking of giving it. I think I’m getting burned out on romances. I like more plot and less emphasis on “when will they?” and “how?” and such.  On the other hand, this book had a younger man/virgin hero which is not the norm. Recommended for readers of historical romance, especially if you like a setting in the underbelly of London along with the usual.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

After I finish the third chronicle of Lymond (see above) I have so many to choose from, but I may make a quick foray into the realm of nonfiction with Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth I. Cline.

“Overdressed does for T-shirts and leggings what Fast Food Nation did for burgers and fries.”  —Katha Pollitt, The Nation columnist

I need to buy some clothes, having lost weight over the past few months.  I’m much more interested in cotton and wool than synthetics for various reasons.  This book looks like it’s the right inspiration at the right time. If it gets me out of t-shirts and jeans it will have moved a mountain!

What about you? What are your WWWs? If you post on your blog, leave a link below! Otherwise answer here.

Warning: My notifications aren’t working. If you leave a comment, I will reply to it! But you won’t know unless you check back to see. Sorry. I’m having wordpress issues!



Filed under Fashion, Green, Novels, Reading, Romance, WWW Wednesday, Young Adult

How You and Bees (that don't sting!) Can Save the World

Maybe you’ve seen that honey bees are in crisis, possibly because of pesticides and genetically modified crops that are now the primary crops grown in the US and possibly other causes as yet unidentified.

Maybe you’ve seen that if honey bees and other pollinators don’t flit about doing their buzzy thing from one blossom to the next, blossoms aren’t pollinated and fruit and vegetables don’t grow.

If you haven’t, google terms like “honey bee crisis” and you’ll find more articles than you can imagine from sources around the world.

But one thing kind of slides under our radar. The European honey bee is an import. (Duh.) And we have native bees on this continent that do the job just as well. Bees that don’t make honey (which is probably why we’ve pretty much ignored them) and don’t sting (wait, this is sounding good) and do the same job as the disappearing honey bees (okay, great maybe?) and that you can host in your garden or apartment balcony without elaborate bee hives and such (bingo!).

Click for source of photo and article.Mason bees.

Instead of communal hives they lay their eggs in 6″ long tubes, wherever they can find them.  And if you provide the tubes, they will come.

They can be simple bamboo or reeds that you find or buy, or specially made tubes.

You can find out by surfing the web and reading articles or watching youtube videos.

You can follow Martha Stewart’s example and just tie some  tubes together with twine.

 You can drill tube holes in wood.

You can buy cute ones like this, or maybe make one by sticking tubes in a basket and hanging it.

They can be simple or cute or both!

Made by teens in Marquette, MI

Loooove this one.


Great use of scrap wood. This guy sells them on etsy.

Click to see more!

And while you’re at it, you just might want to plant a few zinnias or sunflowers or other easy bee-attracting plants.

Click to see pretty blog source of image.

That easy. And you can help save the world.

Because without pollinators there is no food.


Filed under Bees, Garden, Green, Honey Bees, Mason Bees

“Do [ya] feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

Do you believe in lucky talismans?

I have tried. I have done certain things or collected certain things because they felt lucky, or the idea of them pleased me and felt lucky.  These are almost always around my writing.  Collecting feathers when I first started screenwriting, for example. Every time I found a new feather, it felt significant.  My friend and I taking our usual two-mile walk and having a bluejay feather literally drift to the ground in front of us.  An owl feather, fluffy and beautiful, on the ground by the car when I got out to look at the Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico. A hawk feather on a desk, and being told by the man who owned that desk, “It’s illegal to own that. If it disappears from my desk and I don’t know what happened to it, I’m fine with that, though.” I mean, it seemed the universe was flinging feathers at me, so, this had to be lucky, right?

However, it was years before I won the Nicholl Fellowship, before the “lucky” things happened, and by then my feathers were dust-collectors that I hadn’t looked at or thought of in, well, years.  Very difficult to connect the dots there.

So, the thing about luck is, it’s fun for me to “play” with, but it doesn’t really seem to mean anything.  The idea of it is magical. The reality? Not so much.

As I continue to ruthlessly mine layers of my office and get rid of Stuff and box books to haul away, I have run across a few remnants of luck.  Some of it I am keeping because I just happen to like it.  I can’t recall why this little brass swan on my desk (a paperclip holder) was supposed to be lucky to me, but now it’s just a pretty thing on my desk and I like it.

(see brass paperclips? used on scripts with brass brads because the silver clashed, yes, I am like that)

The luck thing doesn’t seem to have helped me much, other than the adage that to be lucky, you have to do the work first, and I’ve done a hella lot of luck in my writing life to get lucky, and mostly, it seems the work is more important than the luck.

Do you believe in luck? Do you collect talismans?  Is luck real or just fun?

What do you collect because it makes you feel lucky?

[also should I paint my office or just rearrange it, and if I paint it, dare I use the darker green I love or play it safe with the lighter green that will be darker on the wall? if I paint I will be using green (chemical-odor-free) and green (color) paint, btw]


Filed under Green, Household, Luck, Office, Organizing, Writers, Writing