| May 16, 2012 | 2:18 pm
My kids love fresh green beans so much. I make them about once a week in the summer because I know that they are going to go down fast. Steamed or roasted with a dash of lemon juice, that’s the ticket!
Since I knew that the kids would devour green beans pretty much no matter how they are served they made the perfect first choice for my latest cooking experiment. My friend Colleen let me borrow her Sun Oven! And let me tell you, the green beans were outstanding! Moist, still crisp, slightly caramelized, and quickly devoured.
So, what is a sun oven? It’s an insulated outdoor oven which directs the sun’s heat into the cooking chamber with giant metal reflectors. There are many tutorials online on how to make your own, which I may try after I have to give back my loaner, but buying one is pretty cool, too.
I have used the sun oven twice now, each time at about 4pm, facing west. The days were fully sunny and I got an average temperature of 275* in the cooking chamber. According to the directions, if you’d like to get a higher temperature, like around 350* to 400* you can grab the southern sun at noon by aiming the oven towards the south. Then your food will get a high heat in the early day, and the oven temperature will slowly lower to around 200* in the evening once the sun is no longer directly into the funnel of the reflectors. So essentially you are slow roasting food in a completely energy free way (after manufacture and shipping of course).
Is anyone else out there cooking in a sun oven? Are you using a handmade one or a manufactured one? If you’re using a handmade one, what is your average temperature? I am really excited about the possibility of using a sun oven in the summer when my western facing kitchen is too hot to cook in, but I want to know if it is worth it to make one, or if I should just buy the same model Colleen let me borrow. Feedback, please!
| October 7, 2011 | 1:29 pm
My dear friend, Mary, has joined up with www.BringEliHome.com to raise money for a very worthy cause. Eli is the victim of parental kidnapping and is being held illegally in Turkey since 2010. Sara, Eli’s mother, has been fighting to get him home ever since.
Well, like I said, Mary has joined with Sara to raise money for her travel and legal fees through the sales of her crochet hat pattern, the Bring Eli Home Hat.
Besides being a fantastic cause, it’s also a fantastic hat pattern. Here’s me wearing my fuchsia version (which Mary made). It’s a perfect casual hat, awesome for bad hair days, and very very versatile. I plan on making one to use up some rainbow wool that I have left over from a previous project.
So, check out the links. Say a prayer, and buy the pattern or make a donation. I can’t imagine being away from my sweet girls for a week, let alone a year. Let’s help bring Eli home.
| February 18, 2011 | 5:38 pm
I’m volunteering with Zero Landfill tomorrow & next Saturday. So if you decide to come for some free carpet & wallpaper samples, binders, fabric, stone, tile, etc., please say hello!
It’s open noon-3pm.
30 North High Street in Akron.
| October 5, 2010 | 9:02 pm
Through a bloggy friend I heard about this project in 2008. I’ve also seen people do “The Uniform Project” for a whole year, like The Little Brown Dress. The first time I saw it I was too late to start, and the second time I had just given birth, so I was obviously not gonna wear the same thing for a whole day, let alone a whole month!
But this year I am ready. I wore this dress every day this month (except to church on Sunday because I forgot- oops).
I told my friend Jennifer, and she said, “What’s the point?” People do it for a bunch of different reasons, so I can only answer for myself. I see it as a fashion challenge. Can I be as creative with my look while building off of one simple canvas as I can be when I’m using my whole wardrobe? If the answer is yes, then I need to rethink my purchases. I am in the process of rebuilding my wardrobe after 6 years of pregnancy related size changes, so perhaps I will learn to be more selective and intentional with my pieces and still have the ability to express my fashion voice. I hope that in the end I will become more of a fashion minimalist, at least when it comes to major clothing pieces, and will do my expressiveness with accessories.
I can’t guarantee I will take a picture everyday, even though that’s kind of the idea, but I promise I will try!
| September 22, 2010 | 10:38 pm
I’m fascinated with home energy efficiency & resourcefulness. I want to wrap my mind around the pros and cons of green living roofs, radiant floor heating, & grey water systems. And because I have no plans of building a new house, how feasible & cost-effective are these for an existing home?
So, for a little research, I went to the Museum of Science & Industry’s Smart Home. I was disappointed that we weren’t allowed to photograph while inside the home, only outside (because of some inventions & artwork). But besides that, the house was amazing to visit and completely worth the $10 admission.
I liked: the solar shades within the windows to keep the solar energy out, duel flush toilets, countertops made with recycled glass, a portable fireplace that runs on denatured alcohol, a gray water system to move used sink water to the toilet, open floor plan for air flow, and of course the rain barrels, green roof, & composter.
And since they renovate the home every winter, I hope to revisit it sometime to see the new technologies.
| August 17, 2010 | 10:00 pm
Today while making banana bread, I was thinking about how long it takes to bake. A loaf of bread takes 60 minutes, while muffins take 25 minutes. I opted to put the banana bread in muffin tins not only because my house was 80 degrees before turning the oven on, but because I’m thinking about energy use. There is no good reason to keep the oven on an extra half hour so my bread can taste exactly the same.
By the way, my recipe is Banana Banana Bread from Allrecipes. I made the following changes:
-instead of 1/2 cup butter, use 1/4 cup butter & 1/4 cup apple sauce
-instead of 3/4 cup sugar, use 1/2 cup sugar
-add some spice such as cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg
| August 12, 2010 | 10:24 pm
We were attending a wedding last weekend and I really wanted to dress up my outfit since it was a friday evening wedding. I thought about a necklace, but my blue dress had a ruffled neckline so that seemed a bit too much. Then I thought I should wear a slight veiled pillbox hat, but I don’t have one! So since I know how to make fascinators, and I had some blue crinoline in my stash I went to work on this beauty.
To make it was a piece of cake. I cut a 10 inch circle of crinoline and folded it in half so that the edges did not quite match up. Then I fanned the folded side about 4 times to give it dimension, leaving the ends straight. I stitched through the fan folds and used the stitching to attach the crinoline to a head band.
Then I decided it needed more drama, so I used acrylic paint to tint the edges navy blue, and used a vintage broach as a focal point. The bonus was that the broach covered my stitches that held it onto my headband.
Apart from drying time, this really only took me 15 minutes. And I let the paint dry while I got dressed and did my makeup. It was a really fast way to dress up a simple dress, and make a subdued statement. I can’t wait until I can wear it again!
Growing up, Mom always hung clothes outside to dry. I thought it was a waste of time because we had a dryer. Then I wondered if we were too poor to run the dryer. That was more concerning. But I just went along with helping hang clothes. At least if I helped, I’d make sure the underwear were hiding behind the towels.
Then in college, I really was a poor college student. I hated spending those quarters on laundry, so I hauled wet clothes to the dorm room & placed them strategically over chairs & shower curtains to dry.
After moving to our house, we bought a washer & dryer. I happily dried clothes in the dryer. I thought, “Look at all the time I’m saving. I just push the button! And my electric bill is affordable. This is great!”
But in the past two years I’ve been gravitating toward all things sustainable & energy efficient. I was shocked to learn there’s no energy stars for driers. Then I realized Mom is more energy-savy than me. Kicking & screaming, I resolved to hang my clothes outside. I thought it’d be terrible & too much time & too hard with the kids. But, I found that I like it. I’m saving energy, and it’s not all that hard. It takes 5 minutes to hang (I don’t bother with clothes pins), and really no more time to take them down while folding them. Plus, since my clothesline & drying rack are under the deck overhang, I can dry clothes no matter the weather. …Thanks Mom.
| June 30, 2010 | 2:22 pm
Summer time with a 5 year old means it is time for board games. And as much as I like to play Candy Land, there are only so many times I can play before I get completely bored. So I’ve been getting back to the board games I played over and over again as a child, and at the top of that list is mancala.
I was getting ready to compost this egg carton when the idea struck me that it would make the perfect mancala board, so I started to it immediately. It’s a simple project requiring a paper egg carton, newspaper, mod podge and some beans. Read more »
I received a rain barrel for my birthday in March and finally got it installed today…just in time for the forecasted storms the next few days.
It’s a Fiskars rain barrel. It wasn’t difficult to install. We had to cut the gutter & drill a hole in the barrel (while entertaining 2 kids at the same time).
So, why did it take three months to get it up and going? Well, mostly we weren’t sure if we should keep it. We have a small yard and wondered if it’d be an eyesore. Now I need to figure out how to camouflage it into the landscaping. We also weren’t sure if we could use the water safely in our vegetable garden. I read lots of websites to try & get a straight answer. The most educated answers I found from the Texas Water Development Board. They make suggestions for the types of roofs to use, how to keep out debris & other contaminants, and treatment methods for potable water. They said composite & asphalt shingle roofs leech toxins. Plus, my system doesn’t have fancy roof cleansing abilities or first-flush system, so rain will collect bacteria, mold, fecal material, etc from the roof. I’m not comfortable putting these things on my plants, so I’m pretty sure my barrel will just be for landscape plants. But either way, I’m thankful for my gift & I’m happy to conserve a little water.