California Homemade Food Act Signed Into Law!

Soon to be legal to sell. A bit late to report this, but AB 1616, the California Homemade Food Act was signed into law by Governor Brown last week. The bill will allow Californians to produce “non-hazardous foods,” such as such as jams, jellies, bread and honey, in a home kitchen and sell them. The bill takes effect in January. There is still, however, a lot of work to be done to figure out exactly how local health departme...

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Your Essential Oil Toolkit

...No more than 1 drop! Too much will make you sick.You’ll be surprised how strong one drop is. Sip on this. It should feel good. Don’t force it down–if it’s making your stomach upset, it’s too strong. Dilute it more. Used sparingly, the peppermint oil really helps your shocked stomach relax. It’s saved me after many a too-large meal, especially when I’m traveling. Make a quick and dirty toothpaste by mixin...

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How to Make a Native Bee Nesting Box

Back in the spring I made a native bee nesting box by drilling a bunch of holes in the long end of a 4 by 6 inch piece of scrap wood. I cut one end of the 4 x 6 at an angle so that I could nail on a makeshift roof made from a piece of 2 x 6. I hung the nesting box on an east facing wall or our house with a picture hanger. I used three sizes of holes to see which ones would be most popular: 1/4 inch, 3/16 inch and 1/8 inch. All were moved into b...

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Guilt Free Ice Pops

Orange blossom ice pops from Homestead Survival This could be the year that the ice pop becomes the new cupcake. I’m sure some Brooklyn hipster is just about to debut an artisinal ice pop cart pulled by heirloom draft dogs. Cynicism aside, what I like about ice pops is that, unlike other desserts, you can make them with either small amounts of sugar or no sugar at all. All you need is a ice pop mold and a freezer. What follows are...

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Phoebe Update and a Question: Is Pet Insurance Worthwhile?

Many of you have asked for an update on our cat Phoebe. She was born with a very defective heart. Instead of being separated into chambers, basically Pheobe’s heart is one big sack. Even her heart valves are defective. If she were a human being, in a prosperous country, she would be waiting for a heart transplant. Cats, however, can’t have heart transplants. Our vet has said that we should enjoy every day we have with her, but that...

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How to Roast Your Own Coffee in a Stovetop Popcorn Maker

...nutes. The next thing you’re listening for is the “second crack.” As soon as those beans start making noise again you dump them on a cookie tray to cool down. That’s really all there is to it. Sweet Maria’s has a pdf sheet with more detailed Whirley-Pop instructions as well as a review of other home roasting methods. Our instructor at the Institute class, Ian Riley, suggested storing the beans at room temperature in...

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Boycott Hollywood!

...? I appreciate that many of my friends and neighbors work hard in this industry and derive their livelihood from it. But maybe, as media theorist Daniel Rushkoff would say, it’s time for a break during which time we could rethink our relationship with mass media and its impact on our lives. To that end I thought I would try an experiment and give up the products of the film industry for 100 days and use the spare time to study the classics...

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The World’s First Lamp

Erik’s link to the orange lamp on Saturday reminded me to post this. This is Project #1 in Making It, and we often open our lectures by building one of these, but I realize I’ve never talked about oil lamps here on the blog. Forgive the somewhat atmospheric photo. What you’re looking at is the simplest thing in the world: an oyster shell filled with olive oil and balanced in a small dish of sand. Three pieces of cotton stri...

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Eco Blogging, Tin Foil Hats and Convention Mania

...at the same time. I find out later that Colin got into Girltopia next door and I grill him later for details.  4:00 PM I walk down the last aisle in the hall. There is a “Red Tent” set up for those beset by the monthly visitor. I’m so tired I consider asking if I can go in and lie down. It just so happens that I had been “thoughtstyling” with Mrs. Root Simple the night before about making a Red Tent that we could s...

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Vital Farms: Pasture Raised, Organic Eggs at Whole Foods

Image from the Vital Farms blog. Over the weekend I attended the Natural Products Expo West, a massive health food industry convention. Yes, indeed, Fabio was in attendance selling some sort of powdered supplement and I may have seen Ziggy Marley packing up his own bottles of “Coco’Mon” coconut oil. Such are the indignities one encounters on the downward arc of a career in reggae music or romance book cover modeling. O...

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