My Brand New Homebrew Soda Carbonator

...Erik won the good husband award this Valentine’s Day. He surprised me with my very own soda making machine. This is not a SodaStream–it’s better. It’s an industrial strength CO2 tank topped with sturdy dials and valves and whatnot, all sourced from the local homebrew shop. He’s going to do a how-to post soon (tomorrow maybe?) on how to put together the parts, and how to use it. So hold on for those det...

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Made in the shade- Passive cooling

...re adapted to local climate conditions. Current construction practices tend to favor the same type of ramshackle 2×4 and drywall buildings from California to Long Island, and all the climate zones in between. Just stick an air conditioner on top, put in a heating unit, and you’re done. Sadly, most buildings are an energy efficiency disaster. Poor design is so prevalent, it is shocking once you know what to look for. Have you ever leane...

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How to Keep Skunks Out of the Yard

...years I’ve used bird netting to keep them out of my vegetable beds. The problem with bird netting is that it’s a pain to work with–it catches on things, tangles up, and occasionally traps a bird. I hate the stuff. It took me 16 years to realize that I could exclude skunks from the entire backyard.  All it takes is a simple strategy: know thy enemy. Our new back gate. Hopefully the skunks will be scared by the...

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Online Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

...w online classes. More information after the jump. Dear adobe friends, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching 2 Adobe in Action online classes beginning next Monday, March 17th. The History & Basics class will give you all of the skills you need to find and test soils for use in adobe construction and also take you through the process of making your own adobe bricks: Class: History & Basics of Adobe Construction (8-Week Online Class) D...

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How To Make a Sourdough Starter

.... And I take requests–if there’s a topic for a video you’d like to see just leave a comment.  Making a sourdough starter is as simple as mixing flour and water. There’s no need for all the crazy things I’ve heard suggested: adding potatoes, grapes, yogurt and certainly not commercial yeast. And the yeast that makes sourdough happen is on the flour itself in far greater quantities than in the air. After following the...

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Party in the Bathroom!!!!!

...an thrilling. I wonder why cats tire of everything else (toys, perches, etc.) quickly but the faucet never loses its charm. And I can’t help but obey her every wish, because, after all, she’s dying (despite looking bright and fiendish, she is in heart failure) and she’s on lots of diuretics, so water is good for her. I am her tub slave. Phoebe says, “Hmm, the rate of flow lacks that certain je ne sais quoi, Fix it. Now....

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Get Baking and Share the Loaves

...he refrigerator. This deepens flavor, allows flexibility in your baking schedule and can help a hearth loaf hold its shape in the oven. Are you beginner? Make your bread in a loaf pan. It’s a lot more forgiving than trying to shape a boule. Use a tip sensitive thermometer to determine if your rye bread is done. Baker didn’t discuss the exact temp, but I shoot for 210°F. For wheat loaves let color be your guide–you want just shor...

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Biodynamic Composting Workshop

...y Erik Knutzen of Root Simple. Erik Knutzen is the author, with his wife Kelly Coyne, of The Urban Homestead and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World. He blogs and produces a podcast at www.rootsimple.com. Cost: $20 per person. Space is limited to 20 attendees. Children are free and welcome to participate under the supervision of their parents.  Register in advance here. What to bring: hat, gloves, sturdy shoes – be prepared...

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Virtuosic Bread Shaping

...sked her how she learned to shape pizzas. The bread being shaped here is called Markook, In Arabic, مرقوق، شراك. It’s a flatbread found throughout the Middle East (an Armenian friend who grew up in Lebanon told us about it). A casual Youtube search will reveal many different Markook shaping techniques. Here’s a pillow free version making the rounds on Facebook: Post by Akhilesh Sharma. Back to learning a difficult skill. In the...

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Shoemaking workshop in Los Angeles, Oct. 16-19

...heels. The shoes are made from custom patterns modeled on your own feet, so the shoe will fit you like no other. It’s a pricey class-but keep in mind how many hours of instruction you’re getting–and you’ll walk away with a pair of custom shoes and the know-how to make more.  In the end, it’s actually a great deal. I’ll be there, and there’s only room for 4 more people. So save the date and register now! E...

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