When It Gets Hot in Chicago: Make Tempeh!

Tempeh image from Wikipedia. Today, a guest post from Nancy Klehm, writing to us from Chicago, in the midst of an epic drought and heat wave. Here’s Nancy: A Drought of Inspiration Until last week, we were at 12% of our normal precipitation for our eight month growing season. This, plus extreme temperatures, made us delirious when some humidity blew south from Canada and was sticky enough to grab ahold of some clouds and build th...

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How to Store Canned Goods: Take the Screw Band Off!

Right in the center, wrong on the left. Bungee cord ’cause we’re in earthquake country. Another quick tip from the Los Angeles Master Food Preservers: you should store your canned goods with the screw bands off. Why? So you can clean underneath the band to prevent spoilage and bugs. The screw band can create a false seal. Leaving the screw bands on can cause corrosion.  The only time to have the screw bands on is if you...

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Of Makers and Bowyers

Film One: Harry (Archer & Bowyer) from Dylan Ryan Byrne on Vimeo. I had a great time yesterday as a guest on a panel discussion at the LA Times Book Festival with Mark Frauenfelder and David Rees (thanks to Alisa Walker for being the best moderator ever). We talked about DIY culture and the ethos of being a “maker”. I think it’s safe to say that all of us on that panel have great admiration for talented “makers̶...

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How to Prevent Bees From Living in Your Walls . . . or Welcome Them In

...;s an example of a hive box built into a stone wall in India: Photo from http://ranichari.blogspot.com/ There’s a tradition of keeping hives in wall or niches in Europe and many other parts of the world. No need for spray foam or exterminators–just lots of free honey from your wall. Bee skep in a wall in Kent, England. Time to bring back this practice! Note from Kelly: This might seem obvious, but you would be surpri...

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How to Prep Fabric for Dyeing: Scouring

...ave that, I’d have turned to Bronner’s Sal Suds or dish soap. How to: How much water should you use? The fabric has to have lots of room. If you pack it into the pot it won’t clean properly.  Liles recommends 1 quart of water per ounce of cotton yarn and 2 quarts per ounce of cotton fabric.  This may mean you’ll have to scour in batches to do it properly. Allow time for this. Recommended quantities of soap and soda vary so...

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Update: Citrus Vinegar for Cleaning

...I’ve been doing this for a while now, using a 50/50 water and vinegar blend in my spray bottle, and I like the scent, but I’ve realized that because the vinegar is tinted by the orange peel if it is left to dry on a white surface it will leave yellow marks behind. This is not a big deal, because when using vinegar spray you are usually spraying and wiping at the same time, and I’ve never seen yellow streaks left behind from usin...

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Avoiding Hyperthermia

When spending a day baking pizzas at a public event in front of a 1000º F oven in the full Southern California sun remember to drink water and take breaks. Otherwise you will spend the next day in bed with a splitting headache, unable to eat, barely able to drink anything and at the mercy of two young cats. The first time I pulled off a case of hyperthermia was after a long bike ride. I would not call it fun, nor would I like this to happen whe...

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Fall 2012 Adobe Classes With Kurt Gardella

I’ve taken three adobe classes with Kurt Gardella–and he built the amazing earth oven in our backyard. Kurt has a couple of classes coming up and I thought I’d help get the word out. He’s a great teacher. From an email he just sent: Dear adobe friends, Intro Fall is a great time for natural plastering and interior finishing work. Interior mud plastering and installing an earthen floor finish the normal adobe house constr...

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Don’t be so quick to clean up

A lot of magic happens in the “dead” parts of a garden. Flowers gone to seed feed birds. Dead stalks support important insect life–from spiders to pollinators. Fallen leaves and sticks give habitat to lizards and toads and mushrooms and myriads of invisible creatures. Yet dead growth is not attractive to the human eye, and around about this time of year we’re all itching to make a clean sweep of all that brown stuff. I...

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