Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cob House

I want to build a Cob house.  I'm not saying that I want to build it anytime soon, but one day, I think I would really like to build a house like this and living in it.  Maybe we can start small and build a office/getaway in the backyard first.

What is a cob house you ask? Good old Wiki describes Cob as:

Cob or cobb is a building material consisting of clay, sand, straw, water, and earth, similar to adobe. Cob is fireproof, resistant to seismic activity, and inexpensive. It can be used to create artistic, sculptural forms and has been revived in recent years by the natural building and sustainability movements.

Here are some link to check out to learn a bit more about Cob houses
You can also use straw:
Or even tires:

What do you think?  Would you ever live in a house like this or want to build one?  How about as a earthy office/shop in the middle of your homestead?

You can even add a green roof to these as well!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To make: Kandle Heeter

I was checking out heaters yesterday over at the and I stumbled across the above heater.  The company's official name for it is Kandle Heeter.  You can check them out at for even more information and to see a plug in light version.  The claim is that with this heater, you can heat a small area with just a candle.

When the candle (in a standing candle will melt and make a large mess) is lit, it heats up the steel bolt/nut/washer in the middle which in turns heats up the ceramic planters.  Here is
explanation of the heater:

The intense heat of the Steel Inner Core is transferred into the Three Ceramic Modulators, one into the other. The High Inner Temperatures are gradually reduced by the Increasingly Thicker Walls and Larger Surface Area of the modulators. The outer surface of the radiator becomes a Dry Heat Radiating Body with surface temperatures of 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface area of Over 88 Square Inches. The Heat from a Candle is effectively Transferred into your Home or Office!  Amazing! . .  And it WORKS! If you burn candles, now you can effectively Add Their Thermal Energy To Your Home or Office as Dry Radiant Space Heat!

You can buy a Kandle Heeter for $30 off the website if you would like but I think I have most of what I need to build one in the garage.  I'll be sure to let you know how it works.  I think I might have some time this weekend.

If everything goes well, I think I will make a few for around the house and might even build one with the light bulb.  I'm thinking a few of these would keep the VW warm through the night.

What do you think?  Do you think you will try and make one?  If you do, let me know how you like it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

We're going to Canada!

I am now in charge of changing our upcoming Seattle trip to a Vancouver Canada trip.  I have been searching for a VW bus for YEARS now and I finally found a great one.  The best part about finding this one now is we actually have the money saved up to buy it.  In the pass when I would look, I never had the money in the bank.  I would find a good deal on a  bus and then start looking around the house thinking, "what can I sell really quick!"

The guy selling the VW lives and works in Vancouver but happened to be in Seattle over this ast weekend.  This was great for us because my brother-in-law very happily met with the seller and inspected it with a fine tooth comb.  He even checked for rust under the floor mats!

We are ready have tickets to go to Seattle but now I need to make a few changes to the trip plans.  *Side note: we love Seattle because their are WAY more granola muchers up there.  Plus they have the best gluteen free pizza you've ever had!*

I'm not always good with the details so feel free to help me out if I've forgotten anything here.
  1. I need to change our tickets from round trip to one-way.  I want to find the cheapest (least amount of fees) way to do this.  I also want to make sure I get credit towards a future flight with Alaskaair
  2. Because we are going to dry the bus home, we are thinking of mailing our sleeping bags and cold weather gear to Firefly's brother.  I don't want to pay $15 per checked bag nor do i want to carry a sleeping bag onto the plane with us.
  3. I need a way to get from the Seattle airport to South Lake Union mid Friday morning while the brother is at work and then for three people to get back to the airport about 730 the next morning. (My brother-in-law is carless and we can't all fit on his bike...I can rent a car for the day/night if i need to but would rather not)  Any ideas? how about car sharing rentals in Seattle?
  4. From the airport I'm thinking we'll take the train up (4 hours...back to bed!) $26 each is all.
  5. Now were in Vancouver with a bus and need a place to camp?  I think the beach sounds like a great idea...anyone know of any camping friendly beaches in Vancouver?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Café Mam

If you drink coffee, please take note.

I want to introduce you to the coffee company Café Mam

 It seems to me that Café Mam became Café Mam by chance.  Here is how their website describes the company's beginnings:

"This story begins in 1982, when a group of farmers in Mexico read a magazine article in the Co-evolution Quarterly about New Growth Forestry, a worker-owned cooperative pioneering in stream restoration work in northern California.  They were interested in learning how to teach erosion control in Mexico.

    This group of farmers invited one of New Growth’s members, dahinda meda, to visit them in Tlascala, Mexico and teach classes on erosion control.  In 1987, two of dahinda’s students, Jose and Marta, became advisors on organic techniques to the recently formed coffee co-operative, ISMAM (Indigenas de la  Sierra Madre de Motozintla).

    In 1987, dahinda retired as a restoration contractor and became an organic blueberry farmer near Eugene, Oregon.  In 1989, ISMAM harvested its first certified organic crop of coffee. Because of the connection with Jose and Marta, dahinda purchased the first 37,500-pound container of coffee from ISMAM (invoice # 0001). Thus, Café Mam was born."

Their coffee is Organic, fair trade, shade grown, high altitude, freshly roasted, and tasty!

I just happen to stumble on to their story this weekend. We only have two organic, fair trade coffee shops here in town (to my knowledge) so if I want coffee while I'm working, they are where I go.  I decided to take a coffee break on Saturday so I stopped in at the Delta Cafe (next to Sparks High School in Sparks in Nevada).  The owner was working that day so we talked for a bit and he told me all about he had tried over 100 different coffees before decided on Café Mam coffee.  He likes it because the espresso is a bit sweeter then most.  The thing that sold me on the company is that they support Coffee Kids which is all about helping the children of coffee farmers.

If you have a few moments, I really think you should read Café Mam's about us page.

I think I might just have to order a few sample sized bags and have a tasting party!

Check 'em out!  I know next time I am in Eugene, I'm gonna stop by!

Location of stores

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Onions Beware!!!

Fireflyskies Family Farm

Firefly and I have created a joint blog to share about our life here on our family farm.  After reading "The Urban Homestead" we decided that we too wanted to start an urban homestead.  After some thought we came up with the name FireflyskiesFamilyFarm. Our new blog address is simply

We just got it up and running so there is not much there yet.  I am going to re-post a few farm related post from this blog over there to get things started.  As we get closer to spring and work around here picks up, we will be blog more frequently.

Fireflyskiesfamilyfarm is going to lean more towards just life around here while Stillmorningair starts to head more toward substainable living and morning thoughts.

Please check us out over yonder and please please please feel free to share your thoughts and stories!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Painted white with snow

The world has ended and the quiet is beautiful.

While the world has not ACTUALLY ended, you might think so while looking out our front window.  A week ago, we all woke to a city that had been painted white with snow while we slept peacefully in our beds.  That first morning, it seemed that the whole city was enjoying the snow day.  I saw countless snowmen being built and walks being shoveled.  Everyone I saw was smiling and would wave as I passed by.

That was a week ago...It seems the smiles have gone as the snow kept coming.  It seems the snow that only a week ago made people so happy has now turned them into cranky pants!  Not just cranky pants but cranky pants that are piss poor drivers.  This has happened all over the city.  Except for one place...

That place is our street.  Looking out our front windows, the world is peaceful and happy.  The snow is still bright white, and not the awful brown sludge that comes with the sanding of the roads.  The streets in our neighborhood have yet to be plowed so it feels like we are living in a snow globe.  There are foot high frozen ruts along the street so people don't even bother to drive if they don't have to.  People have forsaken their cars only to rediscover the joy of walking.  People actually stop and talk to each other now and even help each other shovel their walks or push their cars out of snow berms.

A part of me cannot help but think that THIS is how we are meant to live...more connected to those around us.  Our cars have driven us all apart, we have so few opportunities to "bumb" into people these days because we are always in our cars.  It's night like tonight that make wish $20 a gallon gas would hurry up and get here...

What does your neighborhood look like this evening? How about in the still morning air?

painted with snow

RSS Feed Holiday Stocking

It might be a little silly but I really like the holiday RSS feed stocking I made.  I just anted everyone to know that they are more then welcome to use it on their own site if they would like, I can even explain how to set it up if need be. 

Books of 2009

For the past two years, Firefly and I have been keeping an ongoing running list of the books we read each year.  I used to have a sidebar link to my lists but I lost it during one of my many blog template rearranging sessions.

I have gone back over the bookcase and the following are the books I came up with.  I feel like I am still missing one or two so if I remember them, I'll be sure to add them.

What was your favorite book your read in 2009?  Have you read any of these? 

P.s.  This list is in random order...enjoy!

  • A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias
  • The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell and Don Golden
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen
  • Last Mango In Texas by Ray Blackston
  • So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
  • Secret life of bees (currently reading) by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Urban Homestead by kelly coyne & erik knutzen
  • Idiots guide to beekeeping
I don't remember if I read the following two books early this year or in December of last year.
  • Captains and The Kings by Taylor Caldwell
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Ornament Story

Firefly and I got married the summer of 2006 so this is our fourth Christmas together.  Our first Christmas, we were living with friends of ours and we didn't have a tree.  Our friends had a live tree that lived on the front porch so we didn't really do anything other then just lights.

Before our second Christmas we decided that we didn't want to have a bunch of meaningless ornaments to store every year.  We decided that every year we would each give each other a handmade ornament and those would be the only ornaments on the tree.  The plan at the time was to do this for 10 years (20 ornaments) and then on the 11 year the first two ornaments would be retired.  My thinking on this is so that the tree doesn't get too cluttered and I figured we would have kids bringing home ornaments they made in school by then.  I'm the kind of guy that likes to have a plan even if we never stick to it.  We'll see soon enough how things really turn out.

Below are the ornaments that we have given to each other.  The top ornaments are the ones I gave to Firefly and the bottom ones are the ones she gave to me.

Christmas Two:

Christmas Three:

Christmas Four:

We both bought the ornaments the first year.  We made them the second year. I etched glass and Firefly used clay.  I bought my ornament this year off and Flyfly made hers.

It makes me laugh that for the last two years, our ornaments have had the same theme to them. The ornaments are a surprise so everything is done in secret.  The only rules of the game are 1)Don't tell the other person and 2) Hand or homemade. From the get-go, each ornament has come to represent where each of us is in life that year.  The Nurse was because Firefly decided to get a second degree and become a nurse and the bike is because I love bikes and have always wanted a tandem! The giraffes were because we both had baby fever that year and the houses are because of our new home.

I want to say thanks to Megan at Meganelene boutique ( for making the house ornament I gave to Firefly this year.  She even volunteered to "Christmas" it up and added our name and year above the house and our house number on the mailbox.  If you are looking for a great (and cheap) handmade ornament for next year (maybe even this year), be sure to check her out!

Our Christmas Tree Hunt

The test all went we wait :)  I now know why people tend to get claustrophobic in the machine... it sure is tight in there! I just kept my eyes shut and tried to take a nap.  It wasn't bad at all really and the tech was really nice and friendly.  She would tell me exactly how long each segment of testing was so you knew how long you had to be still for...she said even moving your eyes could mess up the image scan.  I know people have been complaining about government run health care but I LOVE the care I get at the VA and they are one of the models for the new health care system.

After the eye doc, Firefly and I went on a tree hunting adventure!  We debated for quite some time about if we wanted a tree or not, see Firefly's post, before we finally decided to get a tree cut permit from the forest department. I like this option because it is in a controlled but still wild area (we saw 10 deer) and it helps the forest department thin out trees to help protect against forest fires.

We decided to head to Dog Valley for our adventure which is great because it is only about 15 miles from our house.  Our little Jimmy did really well climbing the mountain to get into the tree cutting area.  We went from 2 wheel drive to 4 wheel to chains but we made it to the top...even if we had passed a group of guys with snowmobiles that didn't think we could do it! We did however decide that next year we are going to go BEFORE there's two feet of snow on the un-plowed road and that we would bring dry clothes to change into after the hunt.  Once we got to the top, we headed off on foot down the mountain, up the mountain, up again, across the ridge, down the mountain, across the road, and then finally down the mountain again.  And then we found the perfect tree!

We cut down the tree and thanked it for letting us cutting it down and for joining our family and for eventually heating our house as fire wood.  It's skinny, full, and funky...its perfect! 

The hardest part was getting the cut tree through the snow covered juniper bush jungle and back up the hill to the road.  This took Firefly up front with the top of the tree and me shoving from the back.  We took it one step and a time and finally made it up...I'd say about 20mins of tree shoving.  We both needed a rest when we got to the top again!

I love being married and being part of a great team.  We got the tree up that hill fight free!  We loaded him up and home we went. (Firefly named the tree Richard)

Into the house it came and out came the lights and the ornaments!

Firefly also used the branches we cut off to decorate the mantel

Testing Testing 1, 2, 3

I have two test today...and I'm not even in school anymore!

The Army gave me some gifts once I left the service.  Almost everyday I have this dull level 2 headache that never goes away.  It doesn't usually get to bad, its just annoying.  It does just up to a "6-7" ever now  and then but it seems that lately, it spikes more offen then not.

It is a sharp stabbing pain at the front of my head.  I'd describe it as someone sticking a knife into my forehead (usually right side) and then twisting the knife while they pour lime juice on my head.  It doesn't knock me out like a migraine just hurts and makes me crabby. (Sorry Love)

I also have a very annoying sinus problem.  Whenever I in a situation where there is a temperature change, the world smells bad to me.  If it is warm inside and I walk outside into the cold morning air, BAM! If it is cold outside and I get into my warm car, BAM!  Sometimes the smell is super quick and other times it last for several minutes...I used to think that I just smelled bad.  Turns out, my "smell-er" is broken a bit.  The smell is a combination of cat urine and a chemical smell found in a Army "wet weather bag."

The first test today is a MRI at the VA hospital.

(hopefully they have a little newer equipment)

(This is more of what I'm hoping for!)

The plan is to scan the head and see what they see.  Hopeful my Doc will be able to figure out what is causing the headaches and the smell issue.

After that, it's off for my year eye exam...hope I'm not Far-sided :)

Then Firefly and I are off to hunt a Christmas tree.  We got a permit from the forest department... unlike the people in Seattle that cut down  a rare conifer from the Seattle Arboretum, leaving just the stump.