Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring has officially sprung!

Today I did some hardcore spring cleaning- I cleaned out the backyard shed. I mean REALLY cleaned it out. And I confess, I didn't even know it had a red painted floor until today, because it has always been under a thick coat of dust and dirt. Youch!!! So now I'm extremely pleased to have a good workspace out back.

We dug up our front yard (yes, our FRONT yard, it's the only place with good amounts of sunlight) and created six raised beds. I heard a local Master Gardener say yesterday that the ground was still too cold to plant seeds. I winced a little and hung my head in shame; I planted seeds in our beds last weekend. Oops. But on the bright side.... we have some beautiful little sprouts today!!!

Picture: Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean. I love this bean. It grows easily and produces a LOT of beans. Last year my sister and I grew these, and I had enough for several meals and about 2 qts to freeze. I'm hoping to up the yield this year with the garden in my yard (last year we were growing them together on property an hour away from my home).

Next comes the okra. I ordered these Heirloom Dwarf Green Pod Okra seeds from My Victory Garden on Etsy . They arrived quickly, and I started the seeds indoors several weeks ago. I used a little trick I read about in Mother Earth News a while back- I've been saving my toilet paper rolls, and I used them as little seed pots. When I put the seedlings into the garden, they went straight in with the little pots! They are biodegradable and the roots are able to grow right on down into the earth. I'm very excited about my okra, as my best friend and I are positively obsessed with pickled okra, and I plan to pickle enough to last us all year!

Along with pickling okra, there will be lots of cucumber pickling going on at the end of the summer here at Casa Buck. Pickles, Relish, Chow Chow... oh the possibilites. The variety I have chosen this year is one I purchased from Horizon Herbs last year and had seeds left over. It is called Peacemore, and I also grew it last year. It grew well and produced a TON of cucumbers. This year I hope to save the seeds myself from this crop to use next year. I'm a VERY novice seed saver, but I will be working on that :)

My husband is in charge of the tomatoes this year. I've tried growing them for years with zero success. I'm convinced I'm tomato jinxed, so we'll see how he fares this year. He will be growing Romas and Amish Paste tomatoes. The Romas were bought as plants to transplant, but I'm starting the Amish Pastes from seed for him to transplant later. We also have some nice Latvian seeds that he may attempt, too.

My beautiful Passionflowers are sprouting up for Year#3 on my porch, the catnip is back in action, and the cuttings from Leanne's garden last year (lemon balm & some beautiful lillies) are peeking out of the ground.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kudos to Spokane

I really can't comment on the attitudes interviewed in this story. My mama taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say to not say anything at all.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Soap Nuts

I have recently discovered a unique, and super-cool way to wash clothes.. SOAP NUTS! I had read about them a few times, but I just could not conceive of them actually working. Well I was wrong, they DO! I had been reading about them again on Debra's List and decided to give it a whirl. I ordered my Soap Nuts from Milkweed Mercantile, and they arrived at my door 3 days later. It made me giggle when I read that the Nuts were distributed by a business only 20 miles from my house!

Soap nuts are the shells from the fruit of Sapindus mukorossi, "The Soap Tree", grown in Northern India and Nepal. When the shells are added to water, the natural saponins (that's the stuff in soap) are released.

So GO NUTS! Try them for yourself!

Edited to add: There are several trees out there in the big old world that have berries with saponins. As such, there are other brands that will clean your laundry. This blog is my own personal experience. Please don't comment on my blog with an advertisement.

More technical information can be found here: Soap Nuts Information Page

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Old Time Wisdom

We are quickly losing the wisdom of our grandmothers, and it makes me sad :(

I was reading my old Betty Crocker Cookbook recently, and I read this tip: to make peeling boiled eggs easier, roll the egg in your hands a few seconds before peeling.

This past weekend, I seeded about 100 pepper. I read all the warnings in the cookbooks to use gloves to "prevent burning", but I thought it was just scare tactics to keep dummies from getting peppers on their hands and then rubbing their eyes. But guess what? It's REAL. I burned my hands so bad that I couldn't sleep that night. It felt like a chemical burn, and it HURT. I called my incredibly country-wise friend, Leanne, and she told me to wash my hands in Apple Cider Vinegar. The burning stopped IMMEDIATELY, and after 3 washes was gone for good.

But I thought about some of my more "modern" friends. First of all, they wouldn't have been making pepper marmalade in the first place. Most of them have no idea that processed foods are bad for you and hold no value in good, homemade foods. But for the sake of this writing, let's just say that did seed some peppers and get that burn. What would they have done? I suspect they might have spent their $20- $40 insurance co-pay and went to the doctor. And what would the doctor have done? I really don't know, but I suspect they would have written a prescription for something. Then my friend would go to the pharmacy and fill it for $10-$20. All that time and trouble, and they would have never known that they could have solved their burn with $3 and a bottle of ACV.

I think about all the other "home remedies" that have been lost through the ages. All the little tricks and tips that moms used to teach their children and their children taught their children. Those remedies are dying. My friends don't know those remedies anymore.

I read recently in the book In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen that we have to turn to our Grandmother and even Great-Grandmothers for the knowledge of real food. That is so true. Most of our mothers (my mother is 68) have lost the old knowledge. They were so seduced by the marketing of processed foods that they don't even have an idea what "real" food is. I know my mom doesn't. She thinks it's just "crazy talk" when I tell her that real butter is better for you than margarine.

So where do we go from here? I encourage all of you with "old time" wisdom to WRITE THAT WISDOM DOWN! Write down your home remedies for medical issues. Write down your recipes for whole, local foods. Write down your tips for natural home cleaning.

I find that usually, the simplest of knowledge is the hardest to find. And yet, the smartest.

Some figures for your Consideration

From the latest 7th Generation newsletter:

  • Average number of pounds of paper used annually by every American: 680
  • Number of trees required by every American to meet their yearly demand for paper and wood products: 7
  • Percent of the U.S. waste stream composed of paper (by weight): 35
  • Gallons of petroleum saved by recycling one ton of paper: 380
  • Number of trees saved by recycling one ton of household printing paper: 24
  • Number of annual pounds of carbon dioxide absorbed by those 24 trees: 353
I choose to use cloth in my kitchen and toss them in the wash with my other laundry. It doesn't take any extra water or energy that I wouldn't normally be using. I have 4 kids... I do a lot of laundry, there's always room to toss in a cleaning cloth or cloth from my bathroom. I buy ONE roll of unbleached 7th Generation paper towels about every 2-3 months. That's it. I can't even imagine how much paper I've saved from our local landfill. Yes, it's biodegradable, but that's not the point. I believe we have a responsibility to conserve our resources and energy. Period.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today's Dilemma

This morning as I was getting my girls ready for Horse Camp, I ran into a problem. We had lost the tops to their stainless steel travel cups, and all we had were the plastic ones that came with their lunch boxes. They were SO SMELLY that I couldn't put anything in them in good conscience. The scent of plastic and chemicals was insane.

In light of this morning's disgust, I'd like to post an article written by Debra Lynn Dadd:

Toxic Plastic Water Bottles

by Debra Lynn Dadd

I recently received a question from one of my readers about the safety of drinking water from clear plastic water bottles. These bottles, made from Lexan polycarbonate resin (a plastic polymer), are widely used for single-serving sales to one-gallon of water in stores and home-delivery bottles.

These bottles appear to be safe because they do not impart any taste or odor to the water. Lexan polycarbonate is also used to make compact discs and DVDs, bulletproof windows, mobile phones, and computers.

The water delivery company sent my reader a notice saying that their Lexan polycarbonate bottles are perfectly safe to use. They suggested their customers visit a website that was designed to portray this plastic in a positive light.

But, actually, a toxic chemical is lurking in these bottles that does end up in the water you drink. Lexan used to be used to make baby bottles, but these are no longer sold. Hmmmmm...

Stay Away From BPA

In 1998, Dr. Patricia Hunt of Case Western University in Ohio discovered that one of the components of Lexan polycarbonate resin--bisphenol-A (BPA)--can leach into water from water bottles. BPA is a potent hormone disruptor. It can impair the reproductive organs and have adverse effects on breast tissue and prostate development.

Who do we believe? The water delivery company or Dr. Hunt?

I'm inclined to go with Dr. Hunt. I went to a website maintained by the authors of Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival, who are continuously searching the scientific literature for information on endochrine disruptors. The Our Stolen Future page on bisphenol-a ( gives a whole page of links to scientific studies that show that BPA damages the endocrine system in a variety of ways.

BPA can leach from water bottles when exposured to heat and cleaning agents, but detectable levels of BPA can also leach into water from bottles just sitting at room temperature, according to a 2003 study conducted by the University of Missouri published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Is there is a level of BPA that may be acceptable? To answer that question we have to ask: acceptable to who? A healthy male? A woman? A child? The elderly? And how would you know how much leaching has occurred in the water? It could easily vary from day to day depending on how long the water had been in the bottle, whether or not the sun was shining on the bottle in the delivery truck, and a variety of other factors.

I'm concerned enough about the possible danger of BPA that I am no longer purchasing bottled water in plastic bottles.

Health concerns aside, plastic is also not good for the environment. Americans use about 10 million tons of plastic every year, but recycle only about two percent of it. A plastic milk jug takes about one million years to biodegrade. And, getting back to health concerns, the manufacture of plastics produces toxic wastes that return to us indirectly through polluted air, water, and soil.

But we also have to use common sense and choose the greatest benefit at any given time. If your choice was to drink spring water in the polycarbonate bottle or drink tap water or drink no water at all on a hot summer day, I would say drink the purer spring water in the polycarbonate bottle. Once in a while, a single exposure will not do much harm. But you don't want to be using water contained in a Lexan polycarbonate resin bottle as your everyday source of water supply, or drink from these bottles all day long, every day.

There are other options.

Better Options

My best recommendation is to get a good water filter that is right for your water and filter your water at home. That way there is no questionable leaching at all. Even though this may be expensive, it is one of the best investments you can make in your health and will save thousands of dollars in medical expenses in the long run.

For those of you who carry or purchase water in the small, single-serving polycarbonate bottles, you can purchase plastic-free refillable bottles in various sizes to suit your needs. They are lightweight and much more attractive than the disposable plastic bottles.

It's a good idea, particularly in the summertime, to carry clean water with you, as your body needs water throughout the day for good health. The Mayo Clinic suggests you divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water every day. So if you weigh 128 pounds, that would be 64 ounces or 8 8-ounce glasses of water per day. It's better to carry your own clean water in a safe container than drink tap water or water in a plastic bottle.

For sources of water filters and reusable plastic-free refillable bottles, visit .

Hailed as "The Queen of Green" by the New York Times, Debra Lynn Dadd has been a leading consumer advocate for products and lifestyle choices that are better for health and the environment since 1982. Visit her website to learn more about her new book Home Safe Home, to sign up for her free email newsletters, and to browse 100s of links to 1000s of nontoxic, natural and earthwise products.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Planting, planting, planting!

My sister's Mother-In-Law gave me some seeds that she brought back from Riga, Latvia. I've been really excited about seeing how they grow, and I started them last week. I'm not sure how they will do down here in the South, Riga has a very different climate, but I love a good experiment. Here they are about 2 weeks after planting:

My neice planted some sunflower seeds last year, and they came up as MAMMOTH sunflowers. My girls have been totally excited about the prospect of big sunflowers again. A few weeks ago, one of their teachers did a project with seeds, and some of the kids got sunflower seeds. I was glad one was mine! Here are her 2 sunflower plants today.

I'm doing a correspondance course with Susun Weed called "Green Allies". I chose Red Clover for my ally, and I have started some seeds in a small bed in my yard.

Day One:

Day Seven:

And I'm planning a mint garden this year. Peppermint, Spearmint, and Lemon Balm. I got my seeds yesterday from Horizon, and I'll be starting those this weekend.