Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our weed eaters

I was passing by our back door the other day and caught this bunny lounging comfortably under the shade of our patio cover. If you look closely (click the picture to enlarge) you can see his friend by the terra cotta pot on the left (with the rain-beaten tomato plant). They do their best to try to keep our weeds trimmed, but it is just too much for them. Our dog likes to chase them, but has no interest in actually catching them. If she gets within a few feet and they haven't run away, she makes a wide circle around them until they run off. They don't even leave the yard, they just hop off a few feet and she is happy that she has scared them enough. I think she likes them because they drop that unique tasting kibble that she likes to eat when we aren't looking.

Run for it!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


This one is for my crazy cat lady sister.

Fix yo kittehs!

Click the picture for more. It's one of my favorite sites.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My drug lab?

Not quite! Last week "the Mrs." discovered a LOCAL supplier for me to get the good stuff pictured above. It's good quality stuff, not that stuff you get at the local big chain stores that is full of sodium laurel sulfates and whatnot. Ordering good stuff like this online always negates my profit due to the high cost of shipping, so I was really glad to find a supplier nearby. The pharmacy requires an ID for me to get sinus medicine, but the stuff in the picture I walked out with and didn't even have to give my name! What is it? Well, when put into the hands of a master craftsmen (or just me), it becomes this:

Fabulous soap! I have made it for a few years now and thanks to finding a local shop with good quality supplies and over 2,000 scents to choose from, I have taken the plunge and am selling it online in my (second!) Etsy store: Mr Soap! It is a lot of fun to make and even more fun to wash your hands with something that smells like Funnel Cake or Cantaloupe rather than plain old Dial.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympics!

For the past several days my wife and I have been enjoying watching the Olympics. Yesterday we got into a discussion of how certain sports had only one event, you either win a medal or you go home with nothing. However, in swimming, they have like 30 chances to win a gold medal. It's like getting to go to the arcade with a roll of quarters! Game over? Nah! Try again! This discussion led me to do an internet search related to Olympic swimming and I came across a great story from the Sydney games back in 2000. This, my friends, is Eric Moussambani...

"Eric the Eel" is from Equatorial Guinea, a tiny sliver of a nation on the Atlantic coast of Africa. Prior to 2000, Equatorial Guinea was not known for it's swimmers, mostly because in the whole country there are a total of two swimming pools. That's right, only TWO swimming pools! Luckily, the Olympics has a wild card drawing of sorts to allow developing countries that would otherwise not qualify to participate to have a spot in the games. Due to this excellent rule, Mr. Moussambani would represent his country in the 100m freestyle.

Only eight months prior to the games Eric began training in a "less than Olympic size" hotel swimming pool. Before arriving in Sydney he had not even seen an Olympic pool. Needless to say, swimming all 100m at the same time was quite a tall order for Eric. There were two other competitors in his heat of the 100m, but in a bizarre turn of events, both of them had a false start, which disqualified them from the heat. This meant the pride of Equatorial Guinea was the default winner of the heat and would just have to solo swim the 100m to win. I will let you view the video to see this great Olympic moment. Make sure you keep an eye on the world record time on the left and Eric's time on the right. Both hilarious and inspiring in my opinion.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Favorites- Compost!

I am hooked on composting. It is the nerdiest pseudo-hobby ever. It all started a year or so ago when my father-in-law decided he wanted to get rid of his compost bins. I am the eternal opportunist when it comes to useful things that are destined for the curb (it's genetic), so I jumped at the chance! They may look like simple Rubbermaid panels that interlock to form bins, but, well... ok, that's exactly what they are! You can make compost bins out of anything or just pile up your materials in a corner, but the bins are a little more aesthetically pleasing than a bunch of ramshackle pallets hammered together into a box.

To start this "hobby" I got my bins set up and did some research on what to put in them. I was delighted to learn there is really no way you can mess up compost, unlike my previous hobby of building small nuclear reactors in the garage, man did that go wrong! Anyways, given enough time, anything will compost, but if you do it right you get compost faster. Composting is simple, you basically mix up "browns" and "greens". Browns are your carbons- dried leaves, hay, shredded newspaper, etc. Greens are your nitrogen- grass clippings, coffee grounds, fruit & vegetable scraps. You can even ask for free "Grounds for your Garden" at Starbucks! Caffeine fix and nitrogen, all in one stop!

Compost occurs in nature pretty much everywhere leaves (browns) fall on the growing plants (greens). This creates a thin layer of compost on the ground over the course of several months or years. The idea of a compost bin is to speed the process by making it into a large pile. The reason for having a good nitrogen/carbon balance is for the little workers who make your compost for you. Tiny creatures, from bacteria to visible bugs use the carbons for energy and the nitrogen for growth. They basically eat all of your yard waste and turn it into compost. By "turn it into compost" I mean the microbes eat your yard waste and then poop compost. Before you decide that is too gross to even touch, think about the part that microbes play in how your yogurt, cheese, or beer is made... and you actually EAT that!

After you start a compost pile you start to realize just how wide a variety of stuff can go in it. The tomato on your plant rotted in the sun? Toss it in the compost! What do I do with all the corn husks from those tamales? Into the pile it goes! I even bought a blender to liquefy scraps and really speed up the process. I'll be honest, the "veggie scrap smoothie" looks disgusting but when I add it to the pile I feel like Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard putting the "fixins" in the moonshine still.

Ok, now that you have your compost, what good is it?
See for yourself-
Ok, I should have taken the picture before the heat made the marigolds all scraggly. The marigolds on the right I got for free because they were clinically DEAD. When I planted them they were tiny brown crumpled stems. I mixed some compost and potting soil (1/3 compost and 2/3 potting soil) and planted them and they have taken off like crazy. The marigolds on the left were bought and planted alive and just put in regular potting soil. They remain status quo. But who wants status quo plants? I like my super-freak plants, enhanced only by the natural decomposition of the junk that came out of my yard and kitchen!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A little insight into my weirdness

One year in elementary school I was in a classroom that had a large calendar that took up the entire length of one wall. Each month of the year was on it's own giant poster board in a unique color. It is for this reason that I confuse February and November to this day! As you can see from my handy color coded calendar, February and November were both brown! All the other months were different colors, although March and May were different shades of blue and June and July were different shades of green. For some reason though, this has always made sense to me because they both start with the same letter, so it would be logical to have similar colors.

Also in elementary I was always a little stressed in the lunch line because I would confuse salad and lettuce and didn't know which one it was to tell the lunch lady that I didn't want. I'm sure she was entertained when I asked for no salad on my burger. Hmm... let's see what other weirdnesses can I try to justify through my crazy logic... I tend to read magazines backwards, not the sentences or paragraphs, when I pick one up I just always start from the back cover and peruse backwards. . Ok, for the finale I will reveal how I visualize numbers. I have explained this to a lot of people and there are only two reactions- they either think I am completely nuts or they can relate exactly to what I'm talking about. Ok, so here it is. This is how I view numbers in my head-At 101 the pattern repeats, going up, then to the right, etc etc. Makes perfect sense, right? :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Favorites!

Ok, I am blatantly copying my mom and sister's ideas and I'm going to start posting some of my favorite things every Friday. Pictured above is my delicious dinner from last night, BRATWURST!!! I first discovered bratwurst when I was somewhere between 10 and 13 years old. The good people at Johnsonville had set up a huge trailer sized grill at some sort of Octoberfest event my family was at. I expressed interest in this new dish and so my mom bought me one. They were served wrapped in a flour tortilla (although I have not had them in this format since) and were delicious! I remember going back for at least two more that day. Now that I can grill my own, I do every chance I get. There is only one rule to grilling bratwurst. The rule is this: never poke holes in the bratwurst!! Doing so releases all the delicious flavor juices that make them so good. What you end up with is something that resembles a bratwurst visually but only with a hint of the flavor. Another good tip- when you are out somewhere (especially fast food places or ballparks) and you see it advertised that bratwurst is sold, but it is the size of a hot dog and kind of grayish, don't eat it! It's nowhere near as good! In the picture you can kind of see I was indecisive on my toppings. One has mustard, one has ketchup, and the third has ketchup on half and mustard on half. If you are really daring, onions and relish are good to. My wife likes Miracle Whip on them.. she even does this to chili dogs. Disgusting, but it's the only thing we disagree on, so I'll let it slide.