My 2013 New Year’s Resolution

A day after writing about all the things I didn’t do in 2012 I understood the main problem with my New Year’s resolution list. And it’s not that the list was too long. The problem was that I was treating my life as a collection of merit badges. I think it’s an obvious trap for a how-to book author and homesteading blogger to fall into. My merit badge accumulation better served my ego than those around...

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Straw Bale Gardens

Tasha Via’s straw bale garden. Michael Tortorello (who profiled us when Making It came out) is one of my favorite writers covering the home ec/gardening subjects we discuss on this blog. He had an article last week in the New York Times, “Grasping at Straw” on straw bale gardening. We’ve very tempted to give the practice a try in our backyard. Why? We have lead and zinc contaminated soil so growing veg...

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How to Bake a Traditional German Rye Bread

In the interest of health, I’ve focused my bread baking obsession of late on 100% or near 100% whole rye sourdough loaves. I’ve used as my guide a nicely illustrated book How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. His specialty is just the sort of rustic German style breads I’ve always wanted to learn to bake. What I love in particular about his caraway rye sourdough loaf (pictured above) is the crust. Unli...

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Why You Should Avoid Staking Trees

The correct way to stake a tree. Image from the Vacaville Tree Foundation To answer the question of why tree staking should be avoided, one can turn to the latest Extension Service advice or to the nearly 2000 year old words of Seneca: No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in...

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A Primitive Bow Workshop

After spending an entire week staring a computer screens to update this website, it was a great relief to spend a Saturday carving primitive bows in a workshop led by local self-reliance expert Christopher Nyerges. Kelly and I have been into archery for many years, off and on,  but we’ve never tried to make our own bow. Root Simple pal John Zapf carves a bow to match that stylish hat A bow seems like...

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Sourdough Pancake Recipe

Yes, that’s a real children’s book from the 1970s. A question came in as to what to do with extra sourdough starter. First off, check out the new way we feed our starter, which wastes a lot less flour. But another answer is to use all that tangy delicious starter to make pancakes. For years we’ve used Nancy Silverton’s recipe. Basically, the starter fills in for the flour and milk used in standard panca...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

Last week Erik and I went to see well-known food writer Mark Bittman speak on food policy. He spoke in a huge room in The California Endowment–and it was a full house. Afterward, Erik and I compared it to being in church. We were surrounded by people of the same faith, being told things we already know, and being reminded to be good. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! It never hurts to meditate on how to be bette...

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Feral House and Process Media Winter Soltice Party

Feral House and Process media, the publishers of our first book The Urban Homestead, will be holding their annual solstice party on Saturday December 8th from 7 to 10 pm at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, located within the Wacko gift store. Judging from the flyer, naked Shriners will frolic in the Griffith Park Fountain later on in the evening. Whatever happens, it’s a fun event not to be missed. Kelly and I will be there to...

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We’re Car Free

Street art by Skullphone. Well, at least temporarily. Some idiot piloting a SUV sturdy enough to patrol the streets of Kabul rear-ended me last week. He was probably busy posting a Yelp review on his smart phone.  I’m still in pain and our car is totaled, but I’m thankful I’m alive. In the meantime Kelly and I have no car. Normally this isn’t much of an issue as I can get around by bike/public transit....

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Saturday Linkages: Poison, Pee and Plagiarism

Birdhouse shaped like a Google Map icon. Via Dornob. For the birds Avian Accommodations: Google Map Pin-Shaped Birdhouses | Designs & Ideas on Dornob http://dornob.com/avian-accommodations-google-map-pin-shaped-birdhouses/ … Thar she blows . . . Here’s to No-Blow Gardens | Garden Rant http://gardenrant.com/2013/03/heres-to-no-blow-gardens.html … DIY Pure Salvage: 10 Eclectic Tiny Homes Built with 99% Scrap | Designs &am...

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