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Showing posts from November, 2014

MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer

Since I make homemade yogurt and maple syrup, I often have to take the temperature of food. It's kind of a pain. I was excited to try the MeasuPro IRT20 Temperature Gun Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer  this week while making yogurt.

It worked great! The results were instant (unlike the thermometer I currently use) and I tested them against the current thermometer for accuracy.

I can't tell you how great it was to have the results instantly, rather than waiting. It takes a considerable time for milk to cool to the right temperature for yogurt making, and waiting and retesting can get annoying.

I also used the thermometer to check the temperature of a "cold spot" in our home where heat leaks through a vent.

I will be using this in the spring when we boil maple syrup to ensure an accurate temperature for preservation.

But what I'm most excited about is using this for my solar oven and greenhouse this summer! It's so nice to get fast, accurate temperature readin…

DIY Self Watering Water Bottle Seed Starters

When you start seeds, the soil needs to remain moist at all times. But you shouldn't water from the top because it increases the risk of "damping off" and also displaces the little seedlings that are not firmly rooted.

Here's a quick and easy solution (albeit an ugly one...at least in the following example.)
I have cilantro growing in these water bottles.  They are easy to make - just cut a bottle in half, cut a hole in the cap or cut holes into the top if the top will make contact with the water.

Put an absorbent wicking material into the soil and extend it into the water (I used yard. Hot pink works best *kidding*) Then add moist soil to the top half of the bottle and water in the bottom.

The soil will drain into the bottom if it is too damp and will wick up water from the bottom if is to dry.

The soil will stay wet enough on it's own. When you need to add water to the system, just lift up the top portion and add water to the bottom. Easy.

Mine are "dirty…

How to keep seedlings from getting leggy and reaching toward the sun without using grow lights or electricity

When you plant seeds without adequate light, they inevitably become leggy and stretch themselves toward the light source. The solution is of course to use artificial lighting, but that is not self-sustainable (or cost effective!)

I may have come up with an easy solution.

Tin foil! It works as a reflector to bounce the light back onto the plants. I popped off the top of my solar oven to use as a reflector for my plants. My houseplants always look pretty sorry because we have argon filled windows and that blocks up to 99% of the sun's UV rays.

With only 1% of the suns UV getting through, it's a miracle anything grows at all. Since I need to start seeds in the house and want to do it without using electricity, I am relying on the reflector to enhance the small UV exposure we do receive. I'll also be using a mini greenhouse outside and winter sowing a few plants, so between all 3 options, I am hoping we can effectively grow plants.

If you have non-argon windows, then the refle…

Are Siberian Cats Hypoallergenic? Results after 4 years living with a Siberian Cat.

Four and a half years ago, we adopted a Siberian kitten. We bought her from an area breeder (you can read about the experience here.) My husband and son were severely allergic to cats (and dogs.)

We were most concerned about my son because he had basically lived on steroids and nebulizers since the age of 1 1/2. He had severe asthma, a peanut allergy, and allergies to pets.

But we were determined to make it work. Here is the plan we came up with: Living with a cat when you have allergies. The first few weeks were challenging. My husband and son both had reactions. They took antihistamines for a few days.

Then we tapered off the antihistamines and eventually things changed. Sort of. Today, my husband is still allergic to our cat, but he can live in our home and has no issues unless he spends a long time petting or holding her. If he visits homes that have non-siberian cats, he immediately gets red eyes and sneezy.

My son is no longer allergic to her at all. He has no symptoms and actua…

How to Survive Winter Without Heat or Electricity in Northern Climates

Surviving the Winter without Heat or Electricity

What if you no longer had access to natural gas or electricity? If you have an indoor wood stove and plenty of firewood, then you could heat your home with wood.

But what if your house is not outfitted with a wood burning fireplace or wood stove and you do not have a source of firewood?

At this point, you might be tempted to try and build a fire inside your home. Don't!  Unless you are creating the fire in a properly enclosed area that is vented to the outdoors, you may end up killing your entire family. Unvented fires lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and uncontained fires could burn your home down.

You need an alternative plan!

If we are without natural gas, but still have electricity, space heaters can be used. You can bake to increase the heat in your home, use electric blankets, etc.

The following plan is for the situation where there is no natural gas, no firewood, and no electricity.

If we are without natural gas and electric…