hacks

We parked a car in our yard

dogs and the VW

Mark recently did a gig that included a brightly colored VW Super Beetle as entertainment for the guests. They were given sharpies and stickers and told to decorate the Bug as they saw fit. After the show, the client didn't want the car shell and since Mark's employer didn't have plans for it, he asked if we could take it home with us, much like a lost puppy.

Anyone want a ride?

And so there it is, in my yard. The girls put chairs inside and "drive it" occasionally, enjoying the buttons and switches on the dash and the key that lives in the ignition. We planted a fig tree in the back seat with hopes that one day it's arms will reach outside the windows and grow up towards the sky. And in the engine compartment? That's where the compost goes, of course:

We had to move the compost bin for upcoming house build. Found the perfect spot!

My next plan is to remove the hood and fill the trunk with good dirt and bright flowers. Anyone have any suggestions as to what should go in there?

Make your own Elderberry syrup, sister!

Make your own Elderberry Syrup

Who is sick of being sick?

*Raises hand, then violently sneezes into elbow, a la Dracula.*

Seriously, I'm done with this crap.  Everyone in my house has been sick lately and that makes it very hard to get anything done.  Anya and I have been luckier than the Mister and Lily, but right now I'm nursing a sore throat and it feel like someone stuffed my head full of cotton.  To that person I say, NOT COOL!
The Mister blew through a bottle of Elderberry syrup with his last round of ick and so I decided it would be way less expensive to make my own.  Plus, I could spruce it up a bit.  Wanna know how?

I SHALL SHARE!

That is, if I can stop sneezing long enough to finish this.

The basic idea is this:

Take some Elderberries, simmer them in water, add honey.

I like to complicate things a bit so mine looked like this:
making elderberry syrup
1/2 cup elderberries, 1 stick of astragalus root, 1 cinnamon stick, some ginger.

added water
Add 2 cups water and boil down for 30-60 minutes (depends on thickness desired)

honey
Allow to cool* and add one cup local, raw, organic honey.

Store in a jar in the fridge. Decant to smaller jars for daily use, if you want to be able to bring it with you places or just suck it straight out of the jar in the fridge, same to me.

Now, there is some debate about if you should allow the elderberry mixtures to cool before adding the honey.  Thus my * above.  For honey to truly keep all it's awesome healing properties, it's best that it never get hot.  Some will even say they can taste the difference between honey that is separated from the comb with a hot knife and that which is removed the old fashioned, no-heat way.  Many will say that you cannot get truly raw honey in a store, because if it gets shipped, it'll heat up in the truck.  I don't really know.

I do know these things:

  • My honey is actually raw and I prefer to keep it that way, so I let the elderberry cool first.  This makes it hard to mix and most of the honey will settle at the bottom of your jar.
  • I also know that honey should not be given to babies.
  • See my disclaimer below, especially if you like to sue people who are broke. 

SO if you want a syrup that's all incorporated and stuff add the honey while the elderberry is hot.

 

As for dosage, I go by feel so please look it up elsewhere.  I do know this stuff makes an awesome tea... if you're OK with your honey being hot (I'll make an exception when tea is involved). Also? It tastes delicious.  Seriously.

Now excuse me while I go over treat myself.

And I should note for the record that I'm just a chick who likes to use natural remedies as often as possible. I am not, in any way, a doctor NOR have I ever played one on TV. So please remember not to be a dumbass and just consult a licensed health care professional when you're seriously jacked up. I prefer HHP's and Acupuncturist, but your body should always be your call.

Goat Laser Protection System 2000

At work today I was talking to one of the tech guys about how we want to get a goat*. He suggested I could just let it roam free about the property and it would eat things with wild abandon.  Which would be great, if, you know, we didn't have coyotes on the property that also tend to eat (living) things with wild abandon. 

"Oh, that's simple!" he proclaimed, "All you need is a Goat Laser Protection System."
"Um, why don't you draw that up for me, Dean."


Less than an hour later he came by my office and presented me with this:
Goat Laser Protection System
We're totally going into business.

*Dean and I go way back, are excellent friends and tend to talk about all manor of things, so discussing a goat isn't that odd for me and the Tech guy to be doing.

Greywater DIY

from washer, to collection

For a while now, Mark and I have wanted to find a way to reclaim some of the water that runs off to the nowhere lands after it passes through our home.  In fact, we made a stab at it over a year ago, but failed due to a missing element (hose) which we simply hadn't considered using as an instant outlet.
A fellow Mama at Lily's school is a greywater and reclamation expert and recently showed up in the local paper when the city decided to stop being asshats about the greywater rules.  Before, it could cost you more in permitting than it would cost for you to install a professional system.  People either didn't do it, or did it illegally.  Now that we're in a "level 2" water crisis, someone had the bright idea of getting the city to allow simple systems without permits, such as redirecting your laundry water to your fruit trees.
All this talk prompted me to take a look at how much water we use as a family.  The local average is 180 gallons PER DAY, which for us would work out to about 45 gallons per person, per day (/p/d).  My water bills show that we average 26/p/d when we're not watering plants all the time and 42/p/d when we are.  This is not terrible, but also not great.  I hate how much it goes up in the summer just to keep the trees alive.  If we were using our laundry water (with a greywater friendly detergent, like Seventh Generation, which we use already) then we could keep our gallons down to half of what the average resident uses.
Then someone sent a link to their own system and with one email to Mark, we were in business. It's so simple, it's ridiculous. First check out this link to get a good view of what you need.  Mark picked up all the items required in one trip to Home Depot.
Here's what we came up with:

Photos are over at Flickr if you want to get a glance at some of the stills.
To be honest, we discovered that we need a bigger trash can upon running our first load of laundry through this set-up.  It ended up overflowing.  So spend the extra $5 and get a bigger bucket if you go for it!

chicken's need water, duh

7 Days: 4 - chicken care
Brought the chickens some oatmeal this morning and then refilled their waterer, a clever, though awkward contraption made by the Mister. See, it's a trashcan and a big plastic serving platter someone left here after a party. Notch small hole in rim of trashcan, fill trashcan with water, put platter atop, FLIP! carefully, and viola, instant chicken waterer.

In fact, a lot of the coop was made with items the Mister had pack-ratted away over the years. The coop itself was made with old stage platforms, the hardware for the door came from an old carpentry gig, the hinges on the egg boxes came from another job, the door into the chicken yard is an odd shaped bit of plywood left over from something random, the roof of the yard is a discarded ocotillo fence, etc etc. All in all, I think he spent less than $100 total (mostly on the support lumber you see) on the whole project.

He's handy, that Mister of mine.