June 18, 2024

Shade Cloth for the Greenhouse

Something I never counted on when we built the greenhouse, was using it in summer. Fall, winter, and spring, yes, but summer is just too hot. For example, the hottest day so far this month has been 91°F (33°C). This was the temp inside the greenhouse . . .

My max-min analog thermometer. The red pointer is the day's high.

The solar attic fan helps, but it's still too hot to grow things. Plus, since the greenhouse is built off of my sewing room, the heat transfers through the windows and walls so that room gets really warm too. Which in turn, helps heat up the rest of the house. My idea was to cover the greenhouse with shade cloth. 

It's graded at 90% shade and measures 12-feet by 20-feet. I got it on Amazon; here's the link for more info ⇾ QLOFEI 90% Shade Cloth


We used cup hooks to secure the grommets, with the help of baling twine along the bottom edge.

How much difference has it made? The first day after we put it up, we got to 89°F, (32°C). But the greenhouse temp only got up to 83°F (28.3°C). That's about a 20°F difference thanks to the shade cloth. Obviously, I'm really glad we did this!

I also use shade cloth to cover my new transplants. They really stay happier the first few days until they establish their root systems.

June 12, 2024

In Which I Learn How to Make Mayonnaise

A lot of people make their own mayonnaise, but for some reason, the idea always intimidated me. I have no idea why; maybe it was just the entrenched habit of using store-bought mayo. But then Dan and I got into another diet analysis discussion, and talked about more ways to improve our diet (there's always room for improvement). 

I had already changed the oils we cooked with. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon was a real eye opener on that front, and I eliminated all edible oils except extra virgin olive and coconut from  our diet. The hold-out was mayo, which is typically made with soy oil. For awhile, I was able to buy coconut or avocado oil mayo from our discount grocery, until they closed shop. I switched to the commercial mayo with olive oil, but it still contains soy oil. But now, with mayo costing $6 to $8 a jar, it was time to do something else. 

My first step was to ask for recipes at Permies.com. I got a lot of good ones, so I chose the simplest, plopped the ingredients into my power blender, and whirred it up. Except no matter how long or at what speed I blended it, my "mayo" remained liquid. Because of the EVOO it solidified in the fridge and tasted okay, but it didn't have the creamy consistency I wanted. 

After we finished that jar, I was tempted to just buy a jar of mayo again, but decided to hunt for a DIY video instead. This one, The Easiest Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe!, told me what I needed to know. She had the same results as me with her blender mayo, and recommended a stick blender instead. I vaguely remembered buying one for soap making, but it was still unopened in the box. Somewhere. 

Also called a hand or immersion blender.

I found it, assembled it, and dumped the ingredients into a wide mouth pint jar. Within seconds I had mayo! I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was. 

The first thing it went into was sauerkraut slaw.

Sauerkraut slaw. Just add mayo to sauerkraut or kimchi.

The recipe is the standard one found around the internet. For my records, here it is again.

  • 1 cup oil of choice
  • 1 egg
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (or 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar)
  • pinch salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp mustard (Dijon tastes best, but yellow will do)

Place all ingredients in a wide mouth jar. Insert blender all the way to the bottom and begin to blend. As the mixture blends, slowly lift the blender until the entire jar is mayo. 

Also, for mayonnaise lovers, here's another Permies thread with lots and lots of recipes and flavor variations for the stuff - Favorite kinds of mayonnaise and magic mayo method.

Who else makes their own mayonnaise?!?

June 7, 2024

June Blooms

Making this a crossover post with my much neglected photography journal.

daylilies
hydrangea

buckwheat

pickerel

butterfly weed

rose of sharon

chicory

June Blooms © June 2024 by Leigh

June 2, 2024

Evaluating the Budget

A budget analysis is a good thing from time to time. Things go up, things go down, and that makes it a good idea to make sure income and spending stay on track. This recent analysis is prompted by a notice from our internet provider that our internet bill was going up $30 per month starting in June. This is because Congress has refused to renew the Affordable Connectivity Program. That means this is a prudent time to take a serious look at how we're allocating and spending our money. 

When expenses go up, there are either two options: increase income or decrease spending. There could be three, if one considers buying on credit an option. Dan and I don't, so I don't include it on our list of options. Because we are in a so called "fixed income" category, increasing income isn't a sustainable option. This makes our budget limiting in some ways, but actually keeps it pretty simple. 

We basically have two spending categories: bills and household spending. We've averaged our monthly bills, and this amount is kept in the bank to pay as they are due. Household spending is on a cash basis. Since we're paid once a month, we make a cash withdrawal once a month. 

To keep track of household spending, we have a set of envelopes with the weekly cash in each one and open them when the new budget week starts. Anything left over from the previous week is put in the "extra" envelope. Granted, this system isn't practical for most people, but it works for us.

A budget analysis looks at our two spending categories versus our income. With prices going up, I'm still working within our original household spending amount because there's no way to increase it. But I've had to stop making some formerly regular purchases plus switch to lower cost alternatives for others. When I'm at the store, I now keep a running tally of what I select from my shopping list, because I know I'll have to make some decisions before checkout. Some items must wait until another time.

The bills category is a little more concerning, because there is less "fudge factor." I can't hold off paying one bill this month in favor of another, like I do with grocery items. Everything goes up, so we have to look to lifestyle changes to keep costs down. Things we've already cut out include: stopped using our HVAC for heating and air conditioning, not having more than one old vehicle, not making more than 2 - 3 trips to town per week, no eating out, no going to movies or shows, no television or streaming service, no subscriptions (of any kind), no buying new clothes, no dry cleaning, no cell phone, no travel and vacations, etc.

All of that leaves only one other category we could give up if we had to - internet. It's sincerely something I'd like to keep, but with a $30 a month jump in cost, it's on the chopping block. So far we can manage, but if prices and other costs keep going up, that will have to be the thing to go. 

Hopefully, everybody else out there is doing better than us! Yes, it could be the springboard for a lot of complaining, but complaining won't change anything. Especially, if the country's top tier of leadership thinks the economy is doing great and that we commoners are just too stupid to realize it. I don't mean for that to sound disrespectful, but honestly, the disconnect between the top and bottom tiers of society can be rather incredulous at times.