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Posts Tagged ‘diy’

This is totally last minute, but I wanted to give an almost-Twitter-sized announcement about World Habitat Day, an event put on by Habitat for Humanity, one of the most profoundly committed and productive organizations I know. We utilized one of HfF’s local “recycling” stores for some of the parts to build our raised beds and clothesline. The stores receive various parts and supplies from contractors that they then sell at deeply discounted prices to budget-conscious DIYers like me. All proceeds go to local HfH projects. It’s a genius idea.

HfH has lots of other genius ideas, too, like World Habitat Day. Check out the announcement, get edumacated, and get involved!

This video kinda says it all…

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We’ve finally managed to get all the boxes (mostly) unpacked and I can tell you it feels VERY nice to be settled. The furnished apartment was pleasant, but it wasn’t home. Now those things that make a home what it is are in their proper places and I feel like I can breathe deeply…

…and get to work on transforming this place into sustainable central. First, the worm bin. We picked one up for free on Craigslist. And I found a red wriggler supplier in Marilyn, the owner of Zippy’s Java Lounge. (I’ve heard she has the best in Everett. It’s good stuff). I plan on stopping by this weekend and picking up a pound or two. Then we’ll start converting our table scraps into brown gold. The worms will love us, especially when we start giving them the leftovers from our gorgeous new stainless steel Juicelady that Denette picked up at Goodwill for $20. Have you ever had fresh carrot juice? It’s the nectar of the gods. Seriously. You have to try it.

Next, the garden…and beyond. I’m going to go a bit more Permaculture up here—create an edible environment throughout the yard. And speaking of yard, I talked with one of the landlords and he said we had creative free rein. He might not have said that if he was aware of my knack for yard transformation. We have a beautiful section of south-facing lawn that—once leveled—will make a perfect spot for some raised beds. No tomatoes, though. I’ve been told by a couple of old salts that it’s just not hot enough for them. Of course, that sounds like a challenge to me, so I’ll have to find a solution. I like my fresh tomatoes too much to give up without a fight!

Speaking of transformation: Denette transformed an empty house with little furniture into a fully-furnished home in three weeks. And virtually for free. We now have a couch, a guest bed, an entertainment center, two chairs, and an end table, all acquired through craigslist/freecycle. Now when I get home from work I can collapse on the nice comfy couch instead of the hard wood floor.

I can’t tell you how nice it is to be four blocks from my place of employ. I walk down in the chill of the morning and arrive with lungs full of fresh air and my heart pumping. People at work think I’m irritatingly chipper at 7:30 AM. I just smile and nod. Even better is the return home, when the kids come racing down the hill on their scooters to meet me. Then we go for a walk. Well, I walk, they ride their scooters or their bikes. I have to take my bike in for repairs (Kaia has grounded me because of my lack of brakes), but once I do I plan to use it as my primary means of transportation to both hospital campuses and around town on the weekends. The city center in Everett is perfect for biking.

Not only am I four blocks from work, the kids are four blocks from the home school facility. I know, it sounds a little oxymoronic, but the home school program up in WA is an extension of the public school system, though they have considerable autonomy. They offer structured classes for those who want them. It’s really kind of like college for primary-age kids. Logan is loving his classes in math, science, social studies, and tae kwon do. He spends an hour a week in class, the rest of the work he does independently. Kaia should be in the program as well, but she just missed the cutoff date for kindergarten, so the goal is to get her tested into 1st grade next year. When one of the teachers at the home school facility saw her reading, she thought Kaia was already in 1st grade.

Final topic for this post: when we moved up here I set a goal of creating a home gym for free. When we were still in Cali, we had canceled our gym membership and I had created a pretty nice setup with cinder blocks, a couple of iron bars, and some free weights. I wanted a bit more up here, but I was determined not to pay for it. I knew of there were lots of people who had bought a treadmill, used it for a week, and then were desperate to get rid of it to assuage their guilt for letting it gather dust. Well, I’m proud to say that we accomplished my goal within the first two weeks! We now have a Nordictrack, an elliptical, a multi-use home gym (pulldown, bench/flye, leg extension/curl, low row, and stair stepper), a flat/incline bench with a preacher curl connector, a barbell, and two dumbbells with about 190 lbs in plates. This incredible haul was due mostly to Denette’s amazing craigslisting/freecycling skills. She would find it, I would call on it, and we would go and pick it up. I’m totally inspired. In fact, I think I’m going to have to get a quick ski in right now.

With that, I raise one well-muscled arm to you in farewell. Until next time!

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In our continuous effort to be absolutely ubiquitous, I have started posting on YouTube.

Our first piece is an excerpt from Episode 6: the “solar oven scene” to be precise. It’s fun and exciting. (My mom’s excited anyway). In the future I see us moving toward the YouTube format and away from the structured episodic format to give us more freedom and the ability to stay current. (Not that staying current is in any way related to my inability to stay on schedule).

So, what do you think? Any suggestions for quick, 5-minute bits we can do?

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Hey all!

Well, I’ve FINALLY finished this episode. The past few months have been…epic. Lots of things going on in the Blackwell household, the biggest thing being the move to Austin.

But enough about me. This episode has it all: intrigue, humor, excitement, fun, children, and Tom Ogren. Take a look. Leave a comment if you would like to encourage our behavior.

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It’s true, the sunflower has mutated into some hydra-like plant that seems to produce an endless number of sunflowers. Not that I’m complaining, because I now have dozens of little sunbursts to ogle at, but it’s truly amazing how much it is producing. In fact, it’s producing so many sunflowers that the sheer weight of them is overloading the branches and causing them to break off. It’s a bit mind-blowing.

But not completely inexplicable.

You see, when the sunflower was still a wee lass, Denette mistook it for a weed. And pulled it. Denette is very industrious and efficient. I love you, sweetheart. When I came out to the garden and saw the poor little sunflower splayed out on the ground beside the bed I cried a little.

“Oh,” said Denette, “I thought that was a weed.” (I’ve already told you this part, but the dialogue seemed important).

“Hmm…” I said, “…it wasn’t. It was a cute, innocent sunflower and you murdered it.”

Denette gave me one of her oh, puh-leeze looks, picked up the dying sunflower, and jammed it back into the soil of the raised bed.

“There,” she said. “It should be fine.

I did not concur. And I fully expected it to find a shriveled stalk the next day. But what I found instead was a sunflower that knew it had a second chance and threw all it’s energy into making as many descendants as possible as fast as possible in case it was again mistaken for a weed in the future.

The bees are certainly happy.

They’re also happy with my pumpkin. Yes, that’s one pumpkin. Growing out of a mound of compost.

And taking over.

...

I have had to hack it back with a pair of clippers to keep it in line. So far, it’s tried to kill pretty much everything else in the garden, save the tomatoes, which can totally hold their own. My poor little Stars and Moons melons are surrounded and feeling very claustrophobic. “We didn’t sign on for this,” I can hear them saying.

Every day the pumpkin grows another foot. Seriously. A foot. Now it’s into the cucumbers we planted.

And the actual gourds themselves? Yeah, there’s already a dozen of them. One is as big as my head. Already. I have no idea how big it’s going to be by Halloween. Or, more importantly, where it’s going to fit.

The rest of the garden is going crazy, too, especialy the tomatoes which have boldly resisted our attempts at control, but that’s a subject for another post.

Oh, and here’s how the kids “help out” in the garden. Gotta love ’em!!

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We have a wonderful, shiny new episode for you! It’s summer garden planting time, and that’s just what we do. We’ve learned a lot from last year’s planting and we use that to make this year’s garden even more prolific.

But wait, there’s more! In this episode we have a lively discussion about sustainability and government with Adam Hill, newly elected county supervisor. He’s also a former English professor of mine from Cal Poly, so the conversation is an easy and a fun one to have.

And if you act now we will even throw in a segment about building a clothesline, complete with all of my struggles, mistakes, and brilliant recovery. In the end, it actually works. And five months on we’re still hanging clothes exclusively. FYI, major money savings! Check out the Project Expense Tracker and our Energy Savings Tracker to see how our savings are adding up.

But you must act now! Hurry, my mom is standing by to hear your opinions of our latest endeavor!

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Umm….the garden is going insane. I can’t believe how much bigger everything has gotten in just a few weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of the progress:

One month on...

  • The tomatoes, the anaheim chili, and some of the gourds are flowering
  • Everything is up now, and VERY healthy
  • The mulch is doing an excellent job of keeping my soil moist; I’m watering much less often
  • I still have to replant a cucumber (note to self: you LOVE cucumbers; go plant one!)

I planted FAR too many potatoes. I see that now. I’m going to have to do some serious thinning. Which I hate doing. There’s something wasteful about tearing out a perfectly good plant. I might just have to start another bed…

Some thinning may be appropriate...

Lastly, the gourds are taking over. It’s not pretty. I have about 10 volunteers sprouting out of the mound. They are threatening my beautiful Stars and Moons watermelon sprouts, and I cannot allow that.

Stars and Moons watermelon!

But, I simply can’t pull them out and throw them away. Like I said above. Not a fan.

So I’m offering the starts to a good home. If you want one or two, leave a comment and I’ll arrange a time to bring it over and help you prep a mound in your yard.

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