Make Your Own Scented Liquid Soap – Cheap and Quick

For good or for ill, it’s Bath & Body Works season, L’Occitane season, Anthropologie season, Savon de Marseille season. It’s fancy-soap-with-fancy-smells season, and even my normally bare-bones, ascetic sensibilities when it comes to home and self care can loft a bit to the girly side. But not $32 plus $6 shipping for a 2 cups of [Continue Reading...]

To Do In The Northwest Edible Garden: December 2011

Well, it’s December, and let’s be honest: most of us are pretty busy with the indoor bustle of the holiday season and are happy the garden is in a self-tending way. So far, November and December have been relatively mild, and I’ve still got tender herbs like lemon verbena growing well in sheltered locations. Harvesting [Continue Reading...]

The Man’s Guide To Manly Water Boiling

My dad, a capable man by any measure, a highly skilled Marine in his youth, a brilliant car mechanic and automotive diagnostician as an adult, and a generally handy-about-the-house guy, has long confessed that he does not know how to boil water. If a man of his skill and diverse competencies cannot boil water then [Continue Reading...]

Confessions Of A Total Garden Failure

A woman – a great photographer – came by and took pictures of my garden for a book she is doing on urban homesteaders. She was interviewing me and I said something like, “I think if I bought vegetables at the store at this point, I’d feel like a total failure!” This was one of these things [Continue Reading...]

Putting The Harvest Back In The Harvest Festival

Thanksgiving is my favorite of the celebratory checkpoints in the Fall-to-Winter Holiday Season. Putting aside the historical – ahem – issues regarding the origin story of Thanksgiving, I can really get behind a good celebration of the harvest and a day dedicated to gluttony and loosening one’s pants. This year’s Thanksgiving was a bit different because we [Continue Reading...]

The Political Act of Making Dinner

Emily Matchar recently wrote an excellent article for the Washington Post raising the question of whether the “new domesticity” was a step back for women. She asks if the burgeoning popularity of Gen-X jam making is a betrayal of the career-mom-and-microwave-meal life made possible by Baby Boomer feminists, and if radical homemakers risk setting our [Continue Reading...]

The Turkey Vortex: The Next Five Days Of Your Life, In Crayon

Happy Thanksgiving, all. I’m off to go prep for dinner. Have a warm and wonderful holiday, completely free of fried-onions-in-a-can. See you next week, if I’m not sucked permanently into The Turkey Vortex. What are your plans for the mass of leftovers the Grand National Gluttony Festival will inevitably leave you with?

5 Holiday Gift Ideas For The Male Domestic Geek

Black Friday is just around the corner, and let’s just suppose that your idea of a good way to spend the morning after Thanksgiving does not include any of the following: Waking up at 4am to queue (I haven’t done that since the last time Pink Floyd went on tour). Receiving trampling injuries from someone [Continue Reading...]

Garden Fresh Produce For Thanksgiving

In the Maritime Northwest, with only the most basic of season extension techniques, you can celebrate Thanksgiving as a true, local harvest festival. Kale needs no protection, and looks glorious bathed in crackling frost. Chard won’t make it unassisted through a snap of real cold (teens/low-twenties around here) but protected by a cheap plastic tunnel [Continue Reading...]

The Slow, Painful Truth About Chores and Patience

It seems like there is this phase kids go through where they really want to imitate their parents. My 14 month old son is in that phase now. This’ll tell you all you need to know about how I’ve spent the last 14 months of my life: he just adores wiping up spills, sweeping and pushing his mini-vacuum [Continue Reading...]

5 Ways To Be A Better Vegetable Gardener Without Lifting A Shovel Or Spending A Dime

1. Order seed catalogues. Amateur gardeners buy seed packets off the rack at Home Depot. Serious gardeners place orders with trusted seed houses. Once you’ve placed a major order with Territorial, Johnny’s, Irish Eyes, or your favorite regional seed seller, you’ll be on their list and – soon – on everyone’s. This isn’t a bad thing. Seed catalogs [Continue Reading...]

The Finnish Potato Masher I Can’t Live Without

A fellow personal chef friend of mine who is married to a Finnish man gave me this…uh…suggestive kitchen tool a few years back. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t entirely certain what it was (Scandinavian modern sculpture? World’s biggest muddler? Minimalist bishop from an oversize chess set?) or what to do with it, though several inappropriate [Continue Reading...]