Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hand Powered Espresso Maker for the Home

In case you don't know, I love Americanos.  An Americano is simply hot water added to espresso, usually 1 shot per 8oz of water.  For the past year or so I have stuck (mostly) to my pledge of not drinking coffee from a disposable cup.  This means that if I am out and about and I want a cup of coffee but I don't have my own cup with me...I'm out of luck.

Each morning, I hand grind my own coffee beans (Blind Dog Coffee - a local fair trade, organic, coffee roaster.) and then use my French Press to make my morning cup of joe.  I love making coffee this way because of the low energy impact...just enough to boil the water. 

However, some mornings I really want an Americano but I have no way to make one at home.  I really don't want to buy some huge power hungry machine so I've been searching for some sort of hand powered espresso maker...

The first espresso maker I found was the: Handpresso Handheld Portable Espresso Machine.

This seemed like a great little machine and I loved he fact that it was portable...hello camping espresso!  The downside I found to this device is that you can't use your own espresso, you have to use those little espresso pods that just get thrown away... No thanks.  Price is about $135 (price is in British pounds)

Then this morning I came across: the Presso Espresso Maker
I love this espresso maker!  Everything is hand powered like my french press and the best part is that you can use your own espresso.  This also comes with a double shot maker attachment so with this machine, I would be all set to make my own Americanos!   Price - $150

While $150 is a bit much, I think it would pay for itself within the first year.  Plus the whole thing is recyclable. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Catching up

I love fall.  I love that the weather is starting to cool off and that life's pace is slowing down.  We are eating more soup and I can bust out my favorite long sleeve shirts.  

We've done a lot of the past month so let me catch everyone up.

My brother-in-law got sent to Switzerland for work at the end of last month and i decided to join him. I got to spend several days in Geneva while he worked at the W.H.O. and then we spent several days hiking in the alps and checking out small villages.

While I was gone, Firefly had a wood insert installed in our fireplace (we were going to do it after I got back but she wanted to surprise me)

Our Silkie hen went broody on us and stopped laying eggs and was also causing the other hens to slow down as well.  To finally break her of being broody, I dunked her into a bucket of water.  This is not as mean as it sounds.  You have to find a way to cool her off and lower her body temperature.  Dunking her in cool water on a warm day is the best/fastest way to do it.  

Firefly has finished one chair and is getting ready to start on the second one!


 we added a red ball and pull string after this shot so that it can be pulled around...which makes the legs move.

I have a list of projects to make for Christmas this year and I'm also thinking of starting a wood working blog/website to start building my wood working portfolio.  I really like old wooden toys and I think I might try and focus on making them.  I like that they last a long time and don't contain harmful chemicals or metals.  Maybe they'll even be passed down for a few generations.  Stay tuned for more on this.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Image from

If you have a little bit of time I think you should take a moment to listen (or read) about the US Navy's most important humanitarian rescue mission in history.  This rescue mission took place 35 years ago in Vietnam and save the lives of 20,000-30,000 Vietnamese refugees.

The story is told in three parts so you can either listen to them back to back or over a few days if you'd rather.

You can listen to parts 2 and 3 but have to read part 1.

  1. After 35 Years, Unlikely Navy Caregivers Receive Recognition

  2. 35 Years On, Vietnam Heroes Reunited, Decorated (This is the best part)

  3. At War's End, U.S. Ship Rescued South Vietnam's Navy


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Egg Recall

You should check out this post on the blog Small Measure

Ultra Marathon Man - Dean Karnazes

If you are into running or know of someone who is, I think you would enjoy this book.  It is a quick and easy read about an ultra marathon runner.  It follows his running life from middle school until he finishes several 199 mile runs.  Along the way he runs the Western States 100 and a marathon to the South Pole.  Enjoy! (I think I would just borrow this one from the library.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nesting Blocks - Quick and easy way to attract bees

Our "new" bee nesting block

Over this past weekend, we decided to build a small bee nesting block with the hope of attracting some solitary bees to help pollinate the garden.  I read that there are over 5000 types of solitary bees and 1500+ here in Nevada.

Solitary bee (Zool.), any species of bee which does not
        form communities.
Solitary bees are pretty neat little things.  After they find the nesting block, they will choose a hole size they like and move in.  They go to the very back and start building egg cells and laying eggs as they move their way back towards the entrance.  They then packing in some pollen and nectar and seal the hole up.  When the eggs hatch, the larva will eat the polling/nectar.  Once they turn into a bee, they will dig there way out into the open and join the world.

Building a nesting block is pretty simple.  I grab a piece of unpainted/unstained/untreated scrap 4x4 and then drilled lots of different sized holes into it with my drill press.  I then added a slanted roof to help keep the rain off and hung it on the wall near the garden.  Two days later, the bees have moved in!

A nice thing about solitary bees is that they are not very aggressive because they have no hive to defend.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dear Old Spice Man, will using your product make me, um, less manly?

I read this letter to the Old Spice man this morning on Grist and I thought I'd repost it here for others to see. If you don't read Grist, you should check them out at

Dear Old Spice Man, will using your product make me, um, less manly?: "
by Tyler Falk.

Dear Old Spice Man,

I see you a lot on TV lately, running around with your shirt off telling me that I won’t be a man if I don’t use Old Spice Body Wash.

I hate commercials that blatantly play at gender stereotypes. But I’m not gonna lie, these ads (and your response videos) do make me chuckle. However, I’m worried that your “manly” line of products may actually make me less manly.

According to the Environmental Working Group, all but one of the 92 Old Spice products pose a moderate or high health risk to consumers, or all those men you say smell like ladies.

And one of the products in the After Hours line that you are promoting is one of your company’s worst. Ingredients in it are linked to cancer and may harm the brain, and, yes, the reproductive system. The ingredients in that product can lead to infertility, reproductive organ cancers, and birth defects. Doesn’t sound so manly to me.

To be fair, the body wash you hold up in the commercials is free of the harmful ingredients linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity, but it still contains stuff that can harm the brain, nervous, and immune system.

So I’m asking you, Old Spice Man, please make this right. Encourage Old Spice to use ingredients that keep our reproductive systems performing! In the mean time, I’m on a Crystal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How big is the BP Oil Spill now?

I heard about this great website the other day while listening to the BBC.  The site is called: (If It Was My  All you have to do is plug in your city and state and it will overlay the oil spill onto your hometown (or whatever city you pick).  You can pick any city in the world.

Here's what it would look like if the oil spill had happened where I live.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keiro Kitchen Compost Grinder

Both pictures are from

For about 2 months, I have been trying to build a manual compost grinder so that I could break down our kitchen scraps before putting them into the compost pile.  This actually proved to be way harder then I thought it would and only of my designs worked...and it was way to bulky to be of any use.

Then just a few days I read that had just had a compost grinder competition and the winning product, Keiro would be going into pre-sale very soon.  Please take a few moments and check out this awesome kitchen counter sized compost grinder.

The idea behind the Keiro is very simple. Instead of placing all you scraps into a small container to take to the compost pile, you can just grind it up really quick and then broke down food falls into a storage container.  There is also a filter system in the container to trap any smells.

In order for this product to be made, 1140 people need to commit to buying it.  Once that number is reached, it can go into production s please check it out and tell your friends and family.  They say that you can un-commit at anytime and you won't be billed unless the product is actually made.  

Right now we are at 26/1140

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is Millie Really Miles?

Firefly discovered that one of our hens may in fact be a rooster. We agreed when we got the chicks that if one turned out to be a rooster that we would try to find him a good home but now we are pretty torn as to what to do with him. He is one of the friendliest chickens we have and it would be really sad to watch the remaining Silkie perch by herself at night. (The Silkie perch on the lower roost and the Winedots like to perch together on the higher one.)

Below is a repost of Firefly's blog about why we think Millie is really Miles:

Is Millie really Miles?: "I think one of our Silkies is rooster. :( Millie is actually Miles. I started thinking about how different Millie and Petri looked and the wheels started turning... something is very different. So, I googled how to tell the difference between male and female Silkies and discovered that the males will have wilder feathers on the top of their head, the feathers will be different lengths and point more towards the tail, they will also develop bubbly 'brain' looking skin on top of their beak, and have wattles under their chin. The females have more of a puffball for feathers on top of their head, they don't have the bubbly looking skin, and no wattles. So, I went out and took some pictures of the birds to confirm with others (hopefully someone who knows more than I do) as to the gender of our feathered friends.

This is Millie, notice the bubbly skin and wattle.

This is Petri, notice the neater feathers, lack of bubbly skin and wattle.

And, just to be sure, I took some of them further away:

Millie (Miles)


And because I didn't want the other two to feel left out... Here are Gibbardanna and Thelma:


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Responce from Springfield Creamery - Nancy's Yogurt

 Last month I start to wonder about the dairy products that Firefly and I buy each week.  Here is the post. I want to make sure that the dairy products we eat are made in a sustainable and humane manner after see this video of dairy farmers abusing their cows.  

I wrote to the company that makes the yogurt we enjoy, Nancy's Yogurt made by Springfield Creamery in Eugene Oregon, and below is their response:

Thank you for your interest in Nancy’s Products.  We frequently are asked about farm practices at the dairies that supply us milk for Nancy’s Cultured Dairy Products.  There are many variables involved in dairy farming so we may not be able to provide exact answers, but we are in frequent contact with representatives from the dairy coops that provide us milk, in order to provide the following information:

  • We purchase our milk from 2 dairy cooperatives: conventional milk from Northwest Dairyman’s Association (NDA) and organic milk from Organic Valley Family Farms.  The milk comes to us directly from the farms, all farms within about 100 miles of our plant, all family owned, with average herd size of 150 head. None are “factory farms.”

  • The use of Bovine Growth Hormones (rBGH, also referred to as rBST) is prohibited in organic dairies.  NDA, who supplies our conventional milk, has a strict policy of segregation of milk from treated cows and untreated cows.  All farmers are required to sign affidavits indicating their adherence to this policy.  NDA and Springfield Creamery pay a higher premium to the farmers to produce milk that is rBGH free.  We only use rBGH free milk.

  • There are many variables that affect feed and pasturing practices.  They are farm size, weather, season, management style as well as stewardship of the land.

  • All cows are fed a mixture of forages and grains.  Forages include grass, hay, silage and other field greens.  Corn, barley, soybeans, oats, field peas and flax are grains.  Conventional farms average a ratio of 60/40 forage to grains.  Organic farms average 80/20 forage to grains.  None of the grains are imported from outside of the USA at this time.

  • Access to pasture varies by farm.  Organic Valley encourages and sets standards for amount of pasturing(view at

  • Generally, the smaller the farm the more access to pasture.  Access to pasture also varies by season and weather.  In order to protect the pasture, cows are allowed to pasture only during the grass growing season, which is about 8 months in Oregon.

  • Pastures take careful management to limit damage by trampling.  Organic Valley’s standard is 3 head per acre.  Cows are moved from section to section of the pasture to allow recovery of the grass.

  • Conventional Farms with large herds may or may not pasture, partially because of the logistics of rounding up the cows for milking, however cows are able to move around in the “loafing” area.  No cows are confined to a stall, other than during milking.
  • All farms provide a humane and healthy environment for their herds in order to produce the fine quality milk we purchase.  We have always had the utmost confidence in the quality of milk we receive- for 50 years!
Kind regards,

Elaine Kesey
Springfield Creamery, Inc.
Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Silver Creek Campground and Reserve America

For our first camping trip with Daisy we decided to go to a camp ground that wasn't to far away just in case we had problems and needed to limp home.  The bus did great and we had a great time.  I also wanted to be close to home in case we needed anything that I knew we would forget.

We went to a little campground just outside of Truckee Ca, and had a nice quiet break from life. 

We ended up at Silver Creek campground but I think next time we come back to this area, we would go to the campground just north of this one (towards Truckee) called Granite Flats

I also wanted to let you know about a great website called From here you can search campgrounds all over the United States by location and/or by features of the park or spot.