September 26, 2005

CATch me if you can...

Henry is a dope fiend. I made the mistake of moving a basil plant without replacing it with another to act as blockade to the nip. He took it upon himself to have at the open salad bar while my back was turned. He proceeded to eat and then got half his body in the bowl before I stopped him.

Hmmm, this probably tastes good. Don't mind if I do. Posted by Picasa

What? I don't know what you're talking about. I haven't had any catnip in days. Posted by Picasa

September 21, 2005


We were delighted to discover that, according to Seattle Public Utilities, our household used 1,500 fewer gallons of water during this current billing cycle than during the same billing cycle in 2004. This is very encouraging. Our water saving techniques are working, even though we are still refining them and still discovering them.

GARDEN: Better soil means less watering. We also mulch when and where we can (can do more!). I also make sure to water specifically and deliberately where it is needed. We don't utilize a sprinkler. Still room for improvement. We don't water our grass so that is a big savings. Washing veggies is now done outside if at all possible. I pick 'em and wash 'em right in the yard. The water goes right back into the garden. If I must take the food inside to be washed, I dump the water back into the yard between rinses. The cat bowl gets emptied into a houseplant every day before refilling.

KITCHEN: No dishwasher. No plans to get one. Would have to be approved by the owner anyway. But we're not interested. We no longer fill the sink with hot, soapy water. We use a smaller basin. Once the other side of the sink is full of washed dishes, we rinse the whole batch at one time and don't use the biggest gush of water to do it. The leftover dish water is "gray" water and can be used on non-edible plants. This can go into the flower bed.

BATH: We take shorter showers. We're in - we're out. A long time ago I started to sit on the edge of the tub to shave my legs because it was easier on my back. But it also saves water because the water is barely running while I do this. It's on just to get the legs wet and soapy and to rinse the razor. Of course, we brush our teeth with the water off. But the biggest bathroom water saver (and waster!) has been the toilet. Not only did Julie replace the innards to prevent leaks, but we subscribe to the old adage, "If it's yellow let it mellow..." Say what you will, but we have save TONS of water this way. The toilet is a huge waste of water. Letting the liquid deposits mellow is ideal for saving water. Admittedly, we do not hold our company to this and we flush every time during a party or gathering, etc. However, if you come to visit for any extended length of time, you will be expected to give it your best attempt at being mellow if you leave yellow.

LAUNDRY: We wash full loads only. And I often set the water level a notch lower than I used to.

We will be getting a rain barrel for the upcoming winter. On the one hand, collecting the water is great. On the other, in order for us to water our garden for any long-term stretch, we'd need several rain barrels, all full. But every bit helps. We will start with one.

Our showers could be shorter still. We could still use less to wash the dinner dishes. We can get a water saving shower head. There is always room for imporvement.

September 20, 2005


Sunday we headed over to Ballard for the Sustainable Ballard Fair. Sustainable Ballard is a non-profit organization working to build a "community self-reliance and sustainability is good foreign policy implemented locally." We learned an amazing amount of information on everything from recycled building materials, how to grow a green roof, organic gardening, alternative modes of transportation and energy sources to fuel them, and much more.

We completed the scavenger hunt questionnaire and each got our names in the raffle for a variety of prizes. Julie won a $50 gift certificate to a local outdoor clothing company called Kavu. She picked up a great new shoulder bag. I received a $10 gift certificate to Great Harvest Bread Company and a new Chinook Book. The Chinook Book is like an Entertainment Book but specifically for the Greater Seattle area and is full of natural grocers, environmentally sound businesses and restaurants, etc. We've used over half of last year's Chinook Book and love it. Winning the new one was a bonus because we had just bought a new copy about an hour earlier. Now we have twice the purchasing and saving power.

From the Sustainable Ballard fair we walked way down to the
Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
to gaze at the salmon ladder. The locks were built to get ships from salt water to fresh water. In the same way, the fish ladder was built to aid the spawning of the various types of salmon in the Seattle area. Attraction water (water moving swiftly in a direction opposite the fish) helps fish find the ladder. An underwater conduit drains salt water from the basin at the upstream end of the large lock into the ladder. The salt water mixes with the fresh water from the lake, providing an abundance of attraction water and an area for the fish to gradually adjust to fresh water.


Some of the remaining tomatoes from Saturday's canning adventure were sacrificed to make some of the best salsa I've ever made. I'm not ashamed to too my own culinary horn. It kicked ass. Tomatoes, jalapenos, red onion, carrot, zucchini, orange and yello pepper, lime juice, salt, pepper, a dash of garlic powder and some crushed red pepper flakes. It's what we ate for dinner with some Guiltless Gourmet chips. It's all we ate for dinner. At one point I was eating it with a spoon and slurping up the juice like soup. I think I might have to make more tonight. But I can't promise I'll share.

It's all gone Posted by Picasa

September 18, 2005


Perhaps inspired by the full Harvest Moon that would appear that
night, or maybe encouraged by a healthier alternative to store-bought
tomato sauce, we were up early on Saturday and headed to Sally’s house
and spent the day canning tomatoes.

We canned about 70lbs. of tomatoes, yielding 22 pints and 17 quarts. We took home 12 quarts. Part of our labor was for Sally’s friend,Theresa, in exchange for use of her pressure canner.

The system was simple enough. First we blanched the tomatoes to make them easy to peel. Then we cored and roughly chopped them before we filled the jars. A little salt, a little lemon juice and then the lids and rings. Several jars can fit into the pressure canner at once and it takes about 17 minutes to finish the three step pressure process.

We are set for a long time. There were even whole tomatoes left over that we took home. Vegetarian chili, fresh salsa, and delicious pasta sauce are in our immediate future.

Blanching Posted by Picasa

Peeling and chopping Posted by Picasa

Filling the jars Posted by Picasa

Fruits of our labor Posted by Picasa

September 11, 2005

Mammoth basil

I've got to hand it to me...
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
My basil did well this year in the ground. I grew four types, including the mammoth basil variety seen in the photo. My hand isn't terribly big but it's still a hand and the basil leaves were a good inch wider and longer. In an effort to preserve the harvest, I made some pesto.

First I sautee a giant load of chopped garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil. I happened to have kalamata extra virgin olive oil and I love the taste. Once the onion and garlic is quite soft and fragrant, it goes into the food processor with the basil and the parmesean. As the machine blends the ingredients I add a little more oil and a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds. Even a little hot water to thin it out but not make it oilier. Food for the gods indeed. I then froze pesto cubes for future use. I underestimated my basil harvest and tomorrow after work it's back to Big John's PFI for more cheese. There is much more pesto to be made.


Fresh is best
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
Decided to give Trader Joe's pizza dough a chance. When we arrived at the store we discovered only one bag remaining. We came to buy whole wheat and left with garlic and herb. Not a fan of the pre-seasoned , pre-made dough but we were getting hungrier by the minute. Once home we sliced up onion, a couple large mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, olives, fresh basil and some thinly sliced pancetta. While the pizza baked we did a pilates tape. While we ate half the pizza we watched Alexander and sipped Woods Lake Winery's Red, a great pizza wine. The pizza was delicious even at 9:30 pm and then for lunch again today. The movie was mediocre but had great battle scenes. The dough from TJ's worked pretty well. We suggeste, however, to partially bake the crust, add the sauce and toppings and continue baking. This is our plan of attack for next time because last night we ended up with a slightly soft center.

September 07, 2005


I'm so glad I idn't get stung
Originally uploaded by sissalice.
While I'm composing, sorting, creating, or just thinking about blogging about my recent trip or the August BO-BUTT, life goes on.

On Labor Day Julie, Sally and I drove out I-90 East about 45 miles to hike to Talapus Lake. It was an easy hike of just over 4 miles round trip. The elevation gain seems to be up for grabs as I've read four different numbers on four different sources - 600, 800, 1,000, and 1,200 feet. Regardless, the switchbacks made the climb gradual and the trail was often wide. This is a good hike for a hot day because it's almost completely wooded.

We were just about to the lake when we heard a substantial thud. Where would a noise like that come from in the woods? Was someone dropping rocks from the trees? Almost. A large, heavy pinecone came rolling our way. We stopped to investigate but suddenly Sally let out a yelp. Something had stung her, more than once. Then something stung me. Julie had hightailed it and suffered no stings. Sally and I ran and swatted and swore and swatted. By the time we reached the lake I took three stings and Sally five or six. Even a young dude who was packing up his camp with his buddy took a sting on the nose from a buzzer who followed us to the lake. Whether bees or yellow jackets or hornets, the stings smarted something fierce. The swelling and pain was gone the next day for me but Sally dealt with itching for a couple of days.

We ate our respective lunches then headed back to the car, quizzing hikers on their bee experience. Some faired as poorly as we did and some came through unscathed.

It was a really nice hike in spite of the bug bites. But I'd like to give big thumbs down to all the damn hikers who brought dogs and let them run free. This is bad for the preservation of the trails not to mention risky for the dogs and other hikers. Folks who dig the outdoors and hiking should know this - DO know this. So what the hell is the problem? We saw plenty of dogs and only two on leashes. Pitiful and unacceptable. Get it together you lazy-ass dog owners or leave the animals at home.

September 05, 2005


Life has been hectic and fun. I'm back from my trip to Cleveland and have many photos and stories to share. I still have to print the July BO-BUTT though it was sent via email to those with internet. I still have to write and create the August BO-BUTT. And I need to update both blogs in general. Hang tight. I'm working as fast as I can but more stuff is coming. Plus, work has become very busy so no more blogging from the cubicle. So much to do!