Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alternatives to a Grass Lawn


Our backyard has a good number of oak trees, which is wonderful during our hot summers, but means growing and maintaining a grass lawn is quite labor intensive. We gave up watering the lawn years ago, and now there are bald sections due to droughts. I decided to grow something green that would be helpful to the wildlife and be low maintenance. I chose white clover . I put down about a pound of the seed two weeks ago and already, with all the spring rain, it is coming up.

 There is also an "estate lawn" mix - grass and clover that looked interesting: Ecology Lawn Seed- 10# Low Grow- No Mowing

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Free Food: Eat Your Weeds


Source: bhg.com viaAlexandra on Pinterest


Great photo identification slide show for "weeds". Identify them and then find out if they are edible. See here.  See here too.

Weeds have many vitamins and minerals, and they are free for the taking. See here: Five Healthiest Backyard Weeds.

   The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Longest Sun: American Indian Cultural Studies



Story in Tewa language with subtitles. Tewa is the dying language of Pueblo Indians in northern New Mexico.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Restore and Clean Grout Product

Something to try, maybe. Check out the link here.

Slow Cooking Outside

With found curbside logs from downed trees, leaves, twigs, cardboard boxes, and a little charcoal to get it started, I was able to cook an 11 pound turkey and 10 pounds of chicken outside in my cast iron lidded pot. I found it cooked better after I added rocks up around the pot to keep the heat in(not shown in picture). I made this fire pit with chunks of found concrete and an old oven rack. The bottom is lined with pebbles and smaller concrete chunks.

It took many hours, but while it cooked I was able to clean up and compost all those leaves! ; ) The fresh air and sunshine was nice too.

The turkey turned out moist and delicious! If you have a day to do this, it's fun and produces a great result. You can't leave this like a crock pot and come back. The fire and food must be tended and watched the entire time. It certainly makes me appreciate the labor that goes into cooking on an outdoor fire for a family.

A more efficient and environmentally friendly option would be a rocket stove which maximizes combustion requiring very little fuel.This one is portable, but you can build one too with 16 bricks. Rocket stoves burn without smoke which makes them better for maintaining air quality. That's a project for another day. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

In the Garden


Broccoli! A volunteer found in the back of my garden. I've already cut off a few florets to eat.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hugelkultur Low Irrigation Garden Progress

Working on my Hugelkultur garden today! I've been throwing composting material in it as well as leaves, twigs, and some rotting logs. I'm going to make a run to a Starbucks to see if I can get a bag of used coffee grounds before they throw them out. This makes the soil so rich!


Inexpensive Powder Room Remodel Progress

We ripped out the tile instead of keeping it. It was too difficult to figure out how to marry the concrete that needed to be poured in the area of the old vanity with the existing tile floor. We are going to lay concrete over the entire floor rather than skim coating over the tile and filling in a small area.

A bag of concrete was five dollars, and we will probably need two 80 pound bags. I also got a black color additive for a few dollars. We'll need to purchase a concrete sealer as well.

Other plans include paint for the wall, making a faux concrete floating counter with the existing sink, and the addition of a large mirror after the  hole in the wall where the medicine cabinet was  is filled.

We were quoted $900.00 for the remodel of our powder room, so this is by far a much less expensive way to go.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Frugal DIY Concrete Overlay for Floors and Countertops

We are remodeling our downstairs powder room and decided to try a skim coat of concrete over the existing older cracked tile. The substrate is solid, the tiles are just old, 40+ years old. We took out the vanity, sink, and mirror. I kind of like the old sink, so I'll use the old counter off the vanity as a template, cut out some new MDF board,  and skim coat it with concrete. The vanity could not be saved; it was falling apart from water damage and old age.

The concrete that we plan to use is a resurfacing polymer concrete that will resist cracking. You can't use acid stain with this, but can add color.

I plan to use products from a big box store: a concrete resurfacer and a concrete bonding agent, sold by the gallon.

This is will be a very inexpensive remodel with nice results.  I'll share when we are done.

Here's a video on how to do the floor:



And one for counter tops:

 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Hugelkultur Low or No Irrigation Garden Beds


"Hugelkultur is a German term that roughly translates to “mound culture”. The hugelkultur gardening method has been used in Eastern Europe for centuries and is essentially a sheet-composting method that involves burying woody debris (logs, branches, sticks) and other organic matter under a mound of earth. This gardening method mimics nutrient cycling that occurs in nature. When trees and branches fall to the floor of a forest, they act like a sponge as they decay. That sponge-like property allows the wood to soak up rainfall and then release it slowly into the soil use by surrounding plants. Hugelkultur beds are designed to take advantage of this natural water-retention cycle – so much so that some gardeners who use this method claim they never water at all." Read more here.

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here:http://www.etsy.com/people/Alexandra66 And a blog: http://happyheartsathome.blogspot.com/