Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Master Gardener Garden Walk 2010 video

The video is finally finished for the Master Gardener Garden Walk.  It shows off some of the beautiful gardens of Seminole County Florida. CLICK HERE to view the video! If you're a Seminole County FL resident consider submitting your garden for the 2010 walk to be held on Sunday, May 16.  Submission must be in by February 23.  Anyone can come on the walk!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chai On The Fly!

Wiki article on Chai

I accidentally purchased condensed milk over the holidays. Being a raw/healthy eater, I'm not much of a baker and only make things like pumpkin pie over the holidays. So I looked at the can and was surprised to see the ingredients were simply milk and sugar. NOT corn syrup! So I tried a little experiment and the result was a really tasty fast version of Chai.

First boil some water in a cup in the microwave as usual for a cup of tea. Next cut up a small slice of fresh ginger. When the water is ready add a tea bag or some loose tea in a strainer. I found a nice black tea with natural apply spice to be very good in this.  Next add the chopped up fresh ginger and about 1 tablespoon of the condensed milk. Stir until it's time to take the tea ball or bag out.  It's really tasty and in the end I chew up the fresh ginger since the brewing has mellowed it.

Now I probably won't go out and buy more condensed milk, but it's sure been a nice warm beverage during an unusually cold winter!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How Green Is Your Garden? - National Wildlife Magazine

This is a great article and I initially posted it here as a draft so I could refer to it. Then I figured I should share it since there are so many good tips for "greening" your yard.  I hope it can be of help  to you!  Let me know if it was, leave a comment!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Experiment in climate control

Update: Jan. 10, 2010
I just got December's electric bill and it's only 117! That's the lowest ever. I have to enjoy it, since I know with this cold spell, it will be much higher for January!  However, there are some other new tricks this year that should help. For one, all my electronics are on surge protectors so I turn everything off with one switch for groups like computer/external drive/printer or TV/cable box/DVD player. Lights that were on timers are now on a remote system so I can still have light as I walk into a room, but now it doesn't have to be on for long stretches. I've also started doing all my laundry in cold water. Using white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser has really worked to make the clothes feel soft and smell nice! My gas bill has seen a drop from $80 to $50 per month on average.  Other things this year that weren't up last year are the weather stripping on the back door, and insulating drapes up on all windows and doors. I've still got the safe space heater which I carry from room to room.  It's made a huge difference. With the upstairs heat set  at 58, my room is around 64! It is a newer model that does have the auto shut off feature in case it is knocked over.  It also has what it calls its "eco" option which sets it to turn off automatically in three hours. These are good safety features and I can't stress this kind of thing enough when it comes to space heaters! They are a major cause of house fires in the cold months! But used with care, it sure helps save energy!

So the experiment continues! How are you coping with this rough winter? Any tips for saving electricity? Please share them!

Previous logs of my electric experiment!
June 5, 2009 - update:

The A/C guy fixed my downstairs unit - seems a transformer needed replacement. It was only $84, so pretty good there. But now that I'm used to the warmer temps, I'm setting my downstairs unit on 85, with the fan running continuously. My electric bill with only one unit running has gotten below the $180 per month mark. We'll see what it goes up to now. Usually I use the upstairs unit more in the summer - cold air drops, and my bedroom is where I need the most cooling comfort anyway. In the winter, I use the downstairs unit most, since the warm air rises and I use my space heater sparingly. This month's electric bill was $169. That's for 3700+ square feet! When I moved here the electric bill was hovering around the $500/month mark!
And the experiment continues!

Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 10:18am
My mud room was 91.5 degrees yesterday! Outdoor temperature was around 94. The mud room is an add-on to the actual house. However, the interior of the actual main house downstairs is staying right around 80. My bedroom (upstairs) stays at 75.5 even though the upstairs unit is set at 83. My great experiment on being cheap and keeping comfortable without as much electricity continues! The downstairs unit still not working. (Over the winter my dining room came in at 38 one morning!) I get very hot direct sun in the front (East) up until about 2 PM at which time I start to get direct and HOT sun in the back (West) of the house. I have put up heavy triple-lined draperies on most windows and they make a huge difference in the main house. So as an experiment I put up (or I should say staple-gunned up) some insulated draperies bought on the cheap at a JCPenney's sale. And it made a big difference. The hottest the mud room is getting is right around 85-87. That's down from the 90+ mentioned at the top!
The A/C folks are coming week after next.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Southeast Needs to move into the Future

Every time I do a search on natural yards I get a multitude of sites on the west coast. And while I used to live in Northern California back in  the 70's and realize that we were already working on all the buzzwords of today's modern ecologists, I still cannot fathom that we here in the Southeast are so far behind the curve.

We're still promoting growth, the use of herbicides and pesticides and artificial fertilizers. We're still promoting the use of artificial irrigation. Granted we're trying to promote micro and drip irrigation systems, but in these times of water shortages throughout the world, we should not be promoting any automatic systems. If one needs to water due to a drought, or to establish a new plant, then one should use a hose and an auto-off sprayer. This harsh winter should open our eyes. I've had no casualties due to the cold temperatures. Some of the natives have died back, but I know they will be returning in the Spring. Natives may not be a pretty but they are certainly substantial.

We (meaning all homeowners with land to tend) need to be using composting as a means to enrich our soils and maintain moisture. We need to plant native plants that don't need extra watering, chemical care and sheets in the cold! Not only will we all reap the benefits of lower costs and less physical maintenance, we will also have more birds and butterflies visiting. And  the all important pollinators will have some refuge and new sources of pollen.

It all works together as one piece and most of the world is waking up to that fact. It is time to move forward and become the examples we should be.

I would love to hear what you think about this! Please share your opinions with a comment!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The wonders of the Neti Pot! Save Your Sinuses!

For years I suffered two sinus infections each year, one around Easter and the other in the Fall. Both times related to specific plant blooming times. I had to take Zyrtec in the morning and Flonase at night as well as the antibiotics! Ugh!

Then finally a doctor at the Mayo clinic started me on the path to freedom from sinus infections. His advice: keep the nasal passages moist so they can deal with the pollen attack better. He recommended "Ocean" nasal spay. I took it one step farther, to the Neti, and haven't had an infection since.

The Neti is cheap, safe and well proven over several thousands of years. Learn more about it here:

And of course, Google/Ask/Bing it yourself. The main thing is that I no longer need antibiotics twice a year. No more daily antihistamines. Although I will take a Benadryl after a full day of gardening during certain seasons and high pollen counts.

I also stop all cow milk products during the high pollen times. Cow milk products simply exacerbated the problem for me with the increased mucus dairy is known to produce.

So between the Neti and no cow's milk for those two months, I am sinus clean! (And I love my cheese and ice cream the rest of the year!)

If this helps just one person even a little bit, then I'm happy! Have you ever tried Neti? If so, share your experience in a comment!