Seven Solar Surprises!

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It’s been three months since we put solar panels on our roof, and there have been a few surprises. There were things about ourselves and the technology and physics that we didn’t expect. So, as part of our ongoing look at Project Solar, here are a few things I didn’t expect. 1) For Easy Energy [Continue Reading...]

Does Solar In Seattle Work? {Reader FAQs}

Solar in Seattle

In early April, after about five years of deliberation, we had solar panels installed on the south and west facing portions of our roof. On April 15th our panels “went live” and since then we’ve had a chance to evaluate what it means to be solar powered in Seattle. We’ve been sharing moments of our [Continue Reading...]

DIY Non-Toxic Weedkiller That Works

Weed Killer

There are situations where you want certain plants dead, but hand weeding is difficult or counter-productive because it will bring fresh seeds to the surface to germinate. This may be a situation for an herbicidal spray. I approach this topic with hesitation, because some of you stopped reading at the second sentence and are right [Continue Reading...]

How To Organize Your Spice Drawer With Mason Jars

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Like most pretty serious cooks, I have a pretty serious spice collection. I’ve been a fan of buying my spices in bulk at my local Yuppie-Hippie Co-op for years now. The spices you get in bulk, if you are in a place that rolls through their stock, tend to be fresher and of higher quality [Continue Reading...]

How To Use Pee In Your Garden

How To Use Pee In Your Garden

If you can get over the ewwww factor, pee-cycling your own urine into the garden makes good sense. Fresh urine is high in nitrogen, moderate in phosphorus and low in potassium and can act as an excellent high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer or as a compost accelerator. Components of Urine The exact breakdown of urine varies depending on the [Continue Reading...]

Can You Heat Your Home With Bricks and Twigs? Paul Wheaton Thinks So.

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Let’s say, just for argument’s sake, that you think the world would be a better place if the collective “we” used less coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and other heat-generating resources. Or, maybe you don’t give a rip about the environment but you sure like saving money. Perhaps you just need a reliable DIY way to [Continue Reading...]

A Brief History of Monsanto and Seed Houses Who Got Screwed

Territorial Seed Catalog

The following is adapted from a note I published on Facebook in February 2012. Since I’m still getting questions about Territorial Seed and Monsanto, I’m publishing it here to make it more widely available. It’s seed catalog time! The dripping seed lust of gardeners at this time of year, flipping through pages filled with new [Continue Reading...]

Mini-Money Challenge: Wrestle More Money Out Of Your Largest Appliances

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Once I was visiting my in-laws in Central California. We were driving through what used to be Ag Land but is now, inexplicably, where people who work in San Francisco live. I say inexplicably because this area is about a 90 minute to two hour drive from San Francisco depending on traffic. People explain why [Continue Reading...]

Lunch In A Jar: How Mason Jars Can Make Your Brown Bagging Easier

Mason Jar Lunches (4)

Do you run short on reusable, environmentally-friendly containers when you are packing lunches? In the, “this may be too obvious to be a blog post but may also change your lunch hour for the better” category, I’d like to talk about using your stash of mason jars for things other than canning (or margaritas). Like brown [Continue Reading...]

Giveaway: ReCAP Mason Jar Pour-Spout Lids

I freaking love my reCAP lids. I have 10, a thank-you gift for supporting the initial Kickstarter fund-raising campaign that helped turn reCAPs from a really great idea into a really great reality. The BPA-free plastic, pour-spout lids transform any regular mouth mason jar into a leak-proof, easy-to-use pourable container. I have my Mason Jar Stir-Fry [Continue Reading...]

Wall Mounted Clothes Drying Rack, Perfected

Drying Rack Remodel (2)

Last week I talked about building my wall-mounted DIY clothes drying rack from a Freecycled baby play pen. Several readers expressed their concern that my rack as-built wouldn’t allow quite enough airflow to ensure prompt drying. I addressed those concerns temporarily by propping the rack when in-use away from the wall using a fruit tree branch spreader. [Continue Reading...]

The Simple Decisions of a Complex Life

Eggs

Want to know why I really keep backyard hens? The eggs are great, the chicken TV is a blast, and the deep-litter compost might actually make our hens a financially reasonable investment. But that’s not really why I have the girls. I keep laying hens because the sum total of the work involved in feeding, [Continue Reading...]