Saturday, February 17, 2018

Impromptu Art Class

Once a month, as an Active Member, I work at the Llano Art Guild and Gallery. Today these talented artists came in with their mom. As I had already brought paints and sticks to teach a neighbor how to do Dot Painting, I asked if they'd like a lesson. Well, it didn't take long for them to get the hang of it. They were dotting away in no time.

I have the best adventures!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Juice Mammas

Juice Mammas is a new juice and smoothie bar in Llano. As a Private Member Association, they serve up the most healthful, nutritious fresh organic juices, smoothies, bone broth, home-made soups, crackers and cookies. Their Lunch Specials offer a vegan and non-vegan choice at a competitive price. 

The shop is an amazing calming, inviting and invigorating space with hand crafted items, food items, supplements and spices, healing and restorative services. If this sounds like a review, I guess it is. I think a place like this is essential to a community that prides itself on caring for its people.

Today I visited and helped out, learning the ropes just in case an emergency arises and they are short an extra person in the shop. I juiced for the first time and it's fun! I settled into a Zen state making Fiber Crackers, made from the juice pulp and flax meal. Then they're dehydrated to get extra-crispy without being baked or fried. I love them!


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Collecting Leaves

I love leaves as a mulch and decomposed leaves (leaf mold) as a soil amendment. Unfortunately I have only one oak tree on my property and the flowerbed under it gets all its leaves. 

I wanted to collect leaves from my friends, but was dreading raking and finding some way to haul and mulch them to get them started decomposing. Then I found out about leaf blower/mulching vacuums. I ordered this model and this accessory that allows you to deposit  the chopped leaves right into a container. The product works as promised.

My friend Paula messaged me this morning and asked if I still wanted leaves, she was getting ready to mow hers. I said, why yes, yes I do. We put the new toy together and cleaned up her yard. Went home with three huge bags of chopped oak leaves.

This guy made a collector system way cheaper than the store-bought attachment. Gotta give credit to the handy-people! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Going Greener

We've been looking for ways to go a little greener in our everyday lives. Here's one way. I was looking for 100% recycled bathroom tissue and found the Marcal brand. It uses only recycled paper, no new wood pulp and non-chlorine bleach. It's indistinguishable from the 2-ply HEB brand we use so I got a case of 48 rolls.

If you get some be sure to check the packaging, they have one-ply (which I don't care for) and 2-ply (sometimes called Small Steps). Available at Amazon, ebay and Office Depot that I know of, probably many other places. 

Now, to cut down a little on the plastic packaging we still use...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Bubble Wrap Insulation

We're getting the first serious wintery blast here in Central Texas, and the heat sources we count on were running continuously. We have an oil-filled radiator heater and a small space heater for our 420 square foot efficiency apartment. 

I suddenly realized that we hadn't insulated the windows like we have in the past, so I got out some bubble wrap and insulated the 3 generous windows we have. Within 30 minutes the space heater was cycling off and we were toasty warm. 

Years ago, we lived in Don's mom's old house, approximately 2000 sq. ft., with leaky floors, walls and windows--single pane windows. One winter, in desperation, I insulated the windows with bubble wrap. The next month, a colder month, our electric bill went down over $70. It worked so well we left it up for the next 3 years, then peeled it off and replaced it. It works well for cooling, too.

It's easy to do. Just cut out bubble wrap to the size of the window-you can patch. Spray the window with water and press the bubble side to the glass. It will adhere on its own. If it comes loose, spray a little more water and stick it back up. Step two? There is no step two, that's it. 

Now compare the cold radiating into the room from another window to that one, then go scrambling for some more bubble wrap.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017 at Fuel

For the third year our band Turnabout provided the music for the Community Christmas Party at Fuel Coffeehouse in Llano. Our friend James Smullins conceived a wonderful idea to open Fuel to friends, friends-to-be and travelers on Christmas Day. 

The fabulous meal was provided by the extended family of Tommy Burney and numerous friends and was served with love. We are so appreciative of the many people who came in, for minutes or hours, to share the meal and enjoy the music.

The spirit of the season is the spirit of Llano. Merry Christmas to Y'all! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cedar Fever

For only the second time since I moved to Texas in 2004 I have the dreaded "Cedar Fever". It's an allergy to cedar tree pollen, but just like the state of Texas, it's an overachiever. According to Texas Monthly;

"The signs are unmistakable: The eyes burn and turn fiery red; the nose runs; the insides of the ears itch. Incessant sneezing—up to two or three hundred times a day—leaves some victims exhausted. On top of this, an insidious malaise sets in, making it hard to do anything but stare vacantly at the wall, while at the same time a nagging little voice says, “Get up. It’s just an allergy.”

For me the most telling symptoms are when I wake up in the morning hearing my heartbeat and having no reason to live. Fortunately, the recommendation of a friend led me to a real treatment, a product called Cedar X. It comes in two formulations, one is a blend of oils that you apply to your wrists and rub in, or drops that you administer by mouth. They have no side effects and for me work really well. For fellow sufferers, check out the "Looking for Cedar X" link on the home page.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Angel Tree

Fuel Coffeehouse in Llano hosted an Angel Tree for Christmas. Customers and friends may choose an 'Angel', details of the child's gender, age, clothing sizes, requests or interests are given to the donor to purchase and gifts are delivered back to Fuel. When the gifts are ready, they are picked up, or delivered if necessary.

Lisa Davis, general manager, called out for a Gift Wrapping Party and the generous people of Llano responded. They brought paper, boxes, ribbons, scissors and tape and wrapped hundreds of gifts to give to 98 local children whose holidays may have otherwise been less than bright.

Did I ever mention how much I love Llano and Fuel Coffeehouse?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Red Wigglers

I've started Trench Composting and feel that the process can be improved by the right kind of worms, Red Wigglers. I ordered some from Texas Worm Farm in Georgetown, TX. Read their About page, these are some awesome synergistic people!

I received one pound of the worms in great wiggly shape and placed them in all the holes I've made so far. I'm pretty sure that they will migrate to the new holes or perhaps I will switch to an actual trench so they can move more freely. 

Yeah, I know. You wish you were me.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Trench Composting

I have some good reasons for wanting to compost our kitchen trash. I'd like to keep organic matter out of landfills, we don't have trash pickup to save money, and compost is essential for gardening. I don't have the dedication (or the back) to turn mounds of compost, fight ants, bugs and critters and I know I won't continue in summer temps over 100 degrees.

Trench composting does it all for me, and when each spot is 'complete' and it sets a couple of months, I'll have a hand-tilled garden that will require virtually no work. Even if I don't, the trash went away and didn't cause problems. Our lovely decomposed granite 'soil' is lacking in organic matter and when dry, turns rock-hard. We have to water it to dig a hole.

This is the 'cathole' method. I marked a spot with landscape timbers and wood and dug a hole about 14" deep. First in is all our organic kitchen trash, fruit and vegetable peels and cores, coffee grounds and tea leaves, etc.. If you don't have enough nitrogenous trash to bury every 3 days or so, you can freeze scraps in a container until you do. Meat and bones need to be disposed of by the next day. Trust me.

Then for carbonaceous material I layer all our used tissues, torn paper and newspaper, and cardboard torn into small pieces (no plastic or tape). The paper layer on top does a good job of preventing smells from attracting critters. I water the paper, fill in the hole, water a little more and dig the next hole if I feel like it, and cover with a large sheet of cardboard from a furniture store. Even if I'm pressed for time, if the hole is already dug I'll 'take out the trash'.

I've ordered some Red Wiggler worms from a worm farm and when they arrive I'll add them to one or more of the holes. When they're finished processing one hole they should move on to the others. The big deal for them is fresh food and adequate moisture. Without enough water they will either dry up and die or move on. As they move through the soil they will loosen and aerate it and add their castings (valuable worm poop).

I know this works because in an area I've been trench composting rather haphazardly, I went to add some plants I had to get in the ground right away. Even though it had not rained for weeks, the soil was moist and the shovel went into it like butter. In this case I'll have a 4x8' area of improved soil. I can plant in the soil or just dig up the compost for other uses.

One of the most important things to remember is that composting and worm activity will only occur in a moist, well-drained environment. If you cover with any impermeable material, you'll need to check and water it occasionally. To be specific, if the soil dries out, microbial activity (composting) will stop and your worms will go shopping elsewhere. If the spot is covered rain will not be able to get to it, so you'll have to provide the water. Check occasionally to see how moist the soil is. 

For the best instruction on Trench Composting I've ever seen, check out this video.

A slide presentation on Trench Composting for anyone to use for any purpose,  


I fill a hole with garbage every few days, and occasionally bury trash in other spots around the yard in places I may want to plant later.

Here I've finished the 4x8' bed I want to plant winter vegetables in next fall, so I bordered it with limestone blocks. My nice neighbors gave me a couple of washtubs full of dirty pine shavings from their henhouse and I put another 3" of chopped leaves on top of that. Now for the trash and the worms and the mulch to 'cook' me a nice bed that never needs to be turned again. The first bed has no cardboard barrier so rain will be able to moisten it. Still, I'll check and water it when necessary.

Then I started the next one.