Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘learning’

How to Make Mayo in a Blender.  (Why?)

Over the past year or so we have blogged about sustainability and how to make a transition to a more practical and healthy lifestyle. We have talked about GMO’s, dirt, worms, native plants, container gardening, companion gardening, safe sex in the garden, GMO’s, clotheslines vs. clothes dryers, blue belly lizards and Lyme disease and of course GMO’s.  How to make Mayo in a Blender seems a little off topic. A subject perhaps that was not even a blip on your radar screen of things you need to know.

I can hear you thinking “ I don’t care about how to make mayo.”  “Is that really important in living a sustainable lifestyle?”  “Learning how to grow healthy food and kids now that is important and something I can relate to.” It is true you can live without mayonnaise. If everything came to a screeching halt and you couldn’t get mayo well that would not be the end of the world. So, where am I going with this anyway?  Have I finally jumped the tracks and run amok?  Not exactly.

This is about way more than making mayo.  This is about you learning how to read between the lines. This is about you learning how to learn. This is about you doing something that you didn’t ‘think’ you could do or didn’t think was that important.  This is all about you.

Our shows and blogs gave you a reason why you needed to change things. And then we showed you what happened when you made the change. We showed you the pitfalls and mistakes and changes and adjustments we had to make along the way. The Clothesline episode was a real learning experience on so many levels. And our first Garden with the Giant Mutant Sunflowers and out of control tomatoes well, we shared it all. We showed you a direct correlation between cause and effect. Always the choice to do it was entirely in your hands.

Making Mayo is going one step further. Making Mayo is about you coming up with the reason why you need to know this and discovering for yourself how it will affect your attitude and approach to life.

“Really?” All that is going to happen from learning how to make Mayo in a Blender?  Whatever.  O.k. Here are some of the reasons I think you will make. “This is not important to me. I haven’t got time to do this. This doesn’t make any sense to me. This is silly. I don’t want to know how to make Mayo in a blender. I don’t really care about this.”  If you think any of these responses were a good reason not to learn how to do this then let me point out what was really going on in your mind.

All of the above responses were excuses why you couldn’t do it and not reasons why you need to do it. What you were really saying was, “I don’t think I can do it. What if I make a mistake? I don’t want to fail. What if it doesn’t turn out? I have never done this before. I don’t know how to do this.”

The point of this whole exercise and this series that I am Calling Green Eggs and Ham Try it series, is to show that all the reason you need to do something is because you can. You can do this little exercise in how to make Mayo in a blender because you don’t need an excuse not to. You need a reason to do it and the reason is You CAN do it. And I promise you that this is just the first little baby step in a wonderful journey and experience on finding out who you are and what you are capable of. This is about you making changes because you know if you don’t do it someone else will do it for you.

Sure it may not work out exactly according to the instructions then it again it may be better. It may not taste as good as you expected or it may be even better than you expected. Who knows? The point is now You Will know. You don’t have to wonder what the outcome will be or if it will work or what it will taste like, or if you can do it.  You will know because you did it and found out for yourself. Now you can make the necessary changes to get the results you want. You can build on this new knowing experience and apply it to everything else in your life. Again, with the wild and extraordinary claims about this silly exercise.

Do you know of any babies that after falling down the first time they tried to walk stayed down and never got back up again. I don’t know of any and why is that? First, babies haven’t learned yet how to make excuses. So getting up and doing it again was the only thing to do and eventually one step leads to another and the race is on. Do you think a baby asks the questions like “where is all this going to lead? What happens next? Why am I doing this? You know the answer to this because you are the answer. You are walking, talking, running, and it all started with one baby step for no other reason than because you could.

Making Mayo is you taking your first steps outside of your comfort zone. This is a baby step.

Now watch this video on how to make Mayo. Make fun of all the grammatical mistakes, the lousy audio, the stumbles and fumbles I make along the way and giggle and laugh at me like I did. I would be the first to admit this is not very professional because I in fact don’t know what the heck I am doing. But that didn’t stop me. I am learning. Nobody starts out perfect. I am getting better. And honestly there is also a real sense of pride and accomplishment in this little piece. I really didn’t think I could ever film myself and even more remote was the idea of editing this to make a video. I love proving myself wrong more than anybody. I was really surprised and absolutely delighted with how much I was able to do just by doing it.  I am not expecting an Oscar. But who knows? If I keep doing it maybe it will happen.

I promise you, you will learn something not only about yourself but also about the world around you. I promise it will trigger something else in your brain that will lead to other adventures you never knew existed. Now do it. Make this Mayo in a blender. You know why. Because you can.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

I suppose it isn’t the best sign that I’m recommitting to this blog on Saturday—after I promised my mom I’d post it on Friday. We talked last week and agreed we would post a new article every Friday to get back on track as I settle in to my new job and begin to find time to refocus on this project.

Because I have lots of ideas. There are some wonderful things we can do from two different cities. Everett is a wonderful place with a very robust green movement; it would be fun to compare, contrast, and even compete. May the greenest city win!

And I still have miles of footage from our shooting in SLO that I want to develop. Once I get all of my equipment up here from Cali in the next month and I once I get settled in to a workspace (my iMac is currently sitting on a dresser in our short-stay apartment) I can again dive into that great footage and put together some segments.

In short, we’re still here, and soon we’ll be back in full (or better) force—exploring, learning, teaching, and inspiring. And we hope you’ll join us.

Look for a new and insightful post from either me or my mom every Friday. It’s a promise from us. Well, for me it’s more of a commitment. We’ll call it a guideline.

Cheers and thanks for sticking around!

Read Full Post »

As I watch Logan and Kaia gleefully investigate their piles of loot (Dad, what’s a Milky Way? Mom, I have FOUR Kit-Kats!) I remember my own gloriously gluttonous nights of sugar-induced satisfaction. I remember my bag filling with each trick-or-treat until it was so heavy I had to switch hands every few steps. And I remember my eyes getting bigger as I sat on the living room floor and dumped the contents of my bag into an ever-growing pile of chocolate-covered decadence.

 

Sometimes excess is just plain fun. Sometimes.

I was reminded of a Philosophy Bites podcast where scholar Roger Crisp explains that we’ve done a great job of mucking up Aristotle’s idea of moderation by repeating something he never wrote but is now credited with: “Do everything in moderation.” According to Roger, Aristotle didn’t advocate the kind of moderation we now associate with the statement: a constant striving for a “middle ground” with no variation. Instead, Aristotle took a longer view, one that suggested our extremes should balance out over the course of our lives, that the “mean” of all our actions would be a moderate, or virtuous, life. For Aristotle, too much austerity was just as immoderate as too much gluttony, and a day-to-day search for moderation would probably result in immoderation.

It’s analogous to good driving: if we’re looking at the bumper of the car right in front of us and making adjustments every few seconds, we’re reacting to inconsequential events and actually doing a pretty terrible job of driving; however, if we’re also looking ahead, appraising things from a distance, and reacting to events that are of consequence, then we’re doing a good job of driving. Incidentally, the drivers behind us will love us, too, because we’re not hitting our breaks every 25 seconds or swerving for pebbles.

There are practical and psychological sides to this idea as well. What fun is life without a little bit of over-the-top? And how do we know what excessive is unless we’ve experienced it? Roger’s example from the podcast had to do with righteous anger. Aristotle, he said, wouldn’t want us to moderate our response if something made us angry; we should express ourselves, even if the response might be immoderate. If we’re living a moderate life, then the immoderate release of anger would be balanced at some point by an immoderate use of compassion or some other balancing action. Of course, we can have excessive responses, or have an immoderate response at the wrong time. Aristotle’s thoughts on this are a bit more complex than I’m getting in to, here. Best to listen to the podcast if you want a full explanation.

So why am I boring you with Aristotle when I should be peeling my sugar-hyped kids of the ceiling? Because another thought came to mind as I watched Kaia and Logan bartering a Kit-Kat for a Butterfinger: our modern emphasis on “moderation” has resulted in an immoderate lifestyle. Those who would live a modern “moderate” lifestyle are living consistently gluttonous lives. Ever-expanding waistlines are most apparent evidence of this. I’m afraid many kids are not as excited about Halloween as I was when I was young because it’s really no different than a normal day for them.

No less immoderate are the lives of those who seek a countercultural “moderation” rooted in austerity. These kids have apples and carrots on Halloween. Maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll get a “chocolate” cake made with carob and applesauce. Yummy.

What we need is a new definition of “moderate,” one that takes a long view and allows for excess. We won’t know “too much” unless we experience it. Likewise, we won’t know “too little” unless we experience that as well. Having experienced these excesses myself, I think the “moderate mean” needs to trend a lot closer to what we would define as austerity in our modern, overly consumptive world. Then we’d really appreciate events like Halloween; it would mark a departure from our normal lives. A bag full of candy would again be something to get excited about.

But it has to be a bag full of real candy. Just say no to carob.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Hi all!

It’s been three weeks since we planted, and the garden is officially taking off! Here’s a list of everything we put in the ground:

I finally got Denette in a photo!

In the big bed:

  • Tomatoes
  • Anaheim chili
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic

In the right bed:

  • Carrots
  • We were also going to plant leaf lettuce where the spinach is, but the spinach will not die

In the left bed:

  • Sugar snap peas
  • BeansThe garden is UP!
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber

In the mound:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pumpkin

Out of sight:

  • Potatoes

Since water is the next big issue on the horizon (if it isn’t here already), we’re looking for ways to conserve water. The straw keeps the soil moist and, as a side benefit, it keeps the birds off my shoots until they’re hardy enough to resist—I hope. We already lost a couple of pea sprouts to a perceptive winged assassin before I laid the straw down. But that okay, because I left the packet of pea seeds outside to help identify where the seeds were—and all the seeds in the packet sprouted. Now we have more sprouts than we know what to do with. Anyone want some pea starts?

We also started a small container garden, to see how much someone living in an apartment might expect to produce. Right now we just have a single tomato plant, but we’ll expand this week.

We’re going to be covering the summer planting in detail in episode 5, which I should have done in about a week. Wish me luck.

Read Full Post »

All right, gang, we’re back with another jam-packed episode!

One of our goals has been to make this into a collaborative effort, and it continues move in that direction. Jeff Jensen, my friend from High School (that place I went to nearly 20 years ago!) sent me some music to include in this episode, and I’m thrilled to add him to our growing collection of great artists. (Now if only I could get Fear Factory. What, not the right tone? Okay, fine.)

It’s also really cool to see the progress we’ve made on both the filming and editing front. We’re actually improving. Although we can only improve so much with me in front of the camera….

This episode sees us doing a little catch-up to get on schedule with the seasons: we pack the summer garden tearout in with the what I call a “winter garden medley”—photos of the garden as it grows over three months. Now our filming schedule will only be a month off instead of six….

We also take a trip to Mt. Olive where I learn a LOT about organic farming, and, inspired by their worm bins (200 tons of compost?! Seriously?!), I set out to build my own.

Join us! And let us know what you think!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »