Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July Landscape Watering Reminder from City of Mesa

Summer’s here! While temps were mild in June, it’s plenty hot now. As monsoon activity picks up, humidity levels will increase and make it easier on plants. Shop for a rain gauge if you don’t have one since monsoon storms are localized. Turn your irrigation off if you get at least 1/2 inch of rain.

These recommendations are for plants that are established in the landscape (in the ground about 2 years).

Lawn watering:
Summer grass (Bermuda) - once every 3 days
Overseeded cool season grass (rye) – grass dies out

If trees and shrubs are on the same valve:
Desert Adapted - once every 14 days
High Water Use - once every 7 days

Tree watering:
Desert Adapted - once every 16 days
High Water Use - once every 8 days

Shrub watering:
Desert Adapted - once every 12 days
High Water Use - once every 5 days

Groundcover and vine watering:
Desert Adapted - once every 12 days
High Water Use - once every 4 days

Cacti and succulent watering - once every 21 days

Annual & vegetable watering - once every 2-3 days

Note: These recommendations are a general guideline only and may need to be modified for your specific site conditions.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gardening with Newspapers

When we purchase plants for our garden we like to purchase the vegetables that have been growing in the peat pots that you plant directly into the ground. It is a lot easier then trying to get the plants out of those plastic containers and especially the pony packs. You buy a six pack of green peppers in one of those pony packs and end up with four plants.

There is even instructions on the web on how to plant the peat pots at the Bonnie Plants website.

Sometimes, you just want to sprout your own seeds. An biodegradable pot is still nice to have so you don't have to handle your plants too much. You can make your own with either peat or newspapers. They are easy to make. For peat pots check out the Garden Grapevine website. If you want to use some of that newspaper that is piling up in the utility room try the method shown on this YouTube video, or for the folding challenged check out this or that.

Using newspaper does not require any fancy presses or other tools. Just a little folding, and Presto! A pot.

Happy origami gardening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home Fix Up Time - Free Paint

Glidden is giving away free paint!

Time to start fixing up the house or some other project. Of course, a quart of paint does not go a long way, but it is a start.

Check our their website, here, for details.

Paint give aways begin tomorrow, June 25th.

Saving Energy with CFL's

SRP customers can save energy and money purchasing CFL's.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use up to 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

Check out the SRP site at this link.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prescription Discount Cards

The city of Mesa has launched a program to help provide residents with some relief from the high cost of prescriptions for those drugs not already covered in whole/part by insurance.

The City is making free prescription drug discount cards available to Mesa residents through a program sponsored by the National League of Cities.

The discount cards offer City residents an average savings of 20 percent off the retail price of commonly prescribed drugs.

More details can be found here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Yes, it is Father's Day, but what better way to celebrate then planning an outing to the Arizona Museum of Natural History to meet author Chris Gall and discuss his new book Dinotrux.

Millions of years ago, DINOTRUX ruled the earth! These mighty part-truck, part-dino creatures rumbled, plowed and bulldozed their way through the centuries, demolishing anything in their path.

Arizona Museum of Natural History (the old Mesa Museum) will have a special morning program with discounted admission on Saturday, June 27. A light continental breakfast will be served from 9:00 – 9:30 am, followed at 9:45 by a program and booking signing by author, Chris Gall. The discounted admission is $4.00 for everyone under 18 years and $7.00 for everyone 18 years and older.

One reviewer said: "Members of the jury, I trust that when you review the facts of this case, you will find that Dinotrux by Chris Gall (Dear Fish, There’s Nothing to Do on Mars) is so appealing to children, especially boys, that it constitutes an infringement on free will. Children will want to read this book. The premise that hybrid dinosaur/trucks used to rule the earth ignites curiosity, while the brief, expressive text all but demands repeat reading."

Happy Fathering!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pandemic Exercises

We had a national pandemic exercise today at the office. I hope we never have a real one, if we do, someone needs to be filming...

In any case, we hear a lot about pandemics right now between the Bird flu and Swine flu. The Nez Pierce County in Idaho has setup a site of infomation on pandemic planning. They call it Get Pandemic Ready.

They have summarized some of the information and these can been seen at the links below:

Pandemic Planning here
Addtional Pandemic Resources and Links here
Influenza Treatment Kit here

Take care, and get some real exercise, try dancing...it is fun and healthy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cooking Your Food Storage - Part 2

Butane stoves are easy to store and lightweight and most of the ones I have seen come with a carrying case.

They can be found at Lee Lee's (Warner and Dobson), Mekong Supermarket (SW corner of Dobson and Main), and a score of other places. I only paid $12 for mine.

These stoves are powered by small butane cartridges. Depending on what you read, the cartridges last for 3 to 5 hours. I put a new cartridge in my stove and let it burn on the medium heat setting until the flame went out. It took 21 hours. I have not tried it again, but obviously need to. The cartridges run from $2 to $4, depending on where you find them. I have purchased a case of 12 for $15 on sale.

I have not actually cooked on one of these yet, but I plan on using lightweight pots and small stainless steel frying pans when I do. I would not want to waste the butane getting cast iron up to heat on one of these.

If you have any experience with one of these, please let us know.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Emergency Preparedness Workshop

On the fourth Thursday of each month, the Higley Stake holds an Emergency Preparedness Workshop. This month's workshop, on June 25th, is Keeping Cool Without Electricity. More information can be found on the flyer, you can view it here.

The Higley Stake is located on Recker Road, south of Warner Road.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Job Search Tips

At the Provident Living website, there is a new page, called Job Search Tips. It is the right hand column of the page.

The information on this page goes hand in hand with the Career Workshop taught at the LDS Church's employment centers. Areas included are:

Job Search Planning
Surviving Unemployment
Me in 30 Seconds
Present Your Skills
Effective Networking
Interview Techniques
Writing a Résumé
Written Communication
Working a Job Fair
Negotiation Skills
Earning Your Daily Bread

Check it out when you get a chance. This is good information even for us that are not currently looking for a job.

Good luck.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cooking Your Food Storage - Part 1b

There are several ways to estimate the temperature of your coals.

For the three of methods listed below the coals are put around the top edge of the lid and just inside the legs on the bottom. In fact, if you can put them between the legs, just under the bottom edge, that is perfect. You want to keep from putting coals in the center of the bottom for baking, this creates hot spots and will burn your food. The same for the top, if you are doing a bread or cake, coals near the center will create hot spots and burn the center of your bread or cake.

1. Use the Lodge Baking Temperature Chart. A PDF version can be found here. You use this by finding your Dutch Oven size in the left column, go across the top to the degrees you want. Find the intersecting point. For example, a 12" oven, at 350 degrees would be 25 total coals. You would put 17 on top and 8 on the bottom.

2. Rule of 3: Take the diameter of the oven and double it. So for our 12" oven we would use 24 coals. We would put 3 less on the bottom and 3 extra on top, or 9 on the bottom and 15 on top. This will give you approximately 350 degrees.

3. Ring method: Ring the entire lid with a single ring of coals, so that the edges are just touching. Do the same on the bottom. This will give you approximately 350 degrees. This is better explained on the LSDOS website.

There are other methods as well. Just do what you can remember. Most of us around here use the Rule of 3.

Each coal is approximately 10 to 15 degrees. So if you need more temperature, add the appropriate number of coals for methods 2 and 3. If less, subtract. I have found that most things can be cooked at approximately 350 degrees. If the recipe calls for 325, cook less time, if 375, cook longer. Some things, like Prime Rib, require a really hot oven at first, around 400 to 425 degrees, but most things are happy at around 350.

Also weather effects the heat of the coals. If it is really cold, not a real problem here, or windy, a typical issue in my backyard, it will take a couple of more coals. The wind makes them burn hotter and quicker, so you have to watch them. A windscreen is a good accessory.

As you can see from the methods, it is not an exact science. You get the feel for it after cooking awhile. Good cooks can tell the temperature using the palm of their hands held over the ovens.

The above information is for baking in the Dutch Oven. If you need to fry or saute something, then you need more heat on the bottom. If you are cooking something like beans and need it to boil, more heat on the bottom and top.

Remember Cee Dubs basic rules:
1. If it smells done? It is DONE.
2 . If it smells burnt? It is BURNT.
3. If it don't smell? It is NOT DONE and NO PEAKING.

Happy cooking

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cooking Your Food Storage - Part 1a

A lot of us are working on our three month supply, and is some cases one year supply. Depending on why you need to use this supply will dictate how you prepare it. If you do not have access to your normal cooking method, and for most of us that is electricity, how will you cook it. There are several methods for creating a heat source: propane, butane, charcoal, wood, etc.

Since I do quite of bit of Dutch Oven cooking, I generally use charcoal. In fact, I am making Kings Ranch Chicken for dinner tomorrow. So lets start with charcoal.

In Arizona most of the Dutch Oven cooks that I hang around with, members of the International Dutch Oven Society, prefer the Kingsford brand of charcoal, not the Match Light kind, but the standard charcoal that comes in the blue bags. The Match Light burns too hot and too quick. In other areas of the country, especially the Midwest and Texas, they seem to prefer the Royal Oak brand. They claim the Royal Oak briquettes are larger and burn longer. That has not been my experience. Your mileage may vary.

When heating charcoal for cooking with a Dutch Oven or other type of pot or pan, it is almost necessary to have a chimney of some sort. This is a device, as shown, that allows you to quickly heat your coals. I generally heat mine on a propane burner. I used to use newspaper, but I did not like dealing with the paper ashes and pieces blowing around. If you want to use newspaper, just take five half-sheets, crumple them up, and stuff them into the bottom of the chimney. This is plenty of paper to start a chimney full of coals. However, since coals are kind of pricey, just heat as many as you need.

The chimney shown is the Weber Chimney. I like it because it is large, has a nice handle plus bail (so you can easily use two hands), and the grate inside is conical, allowing the coals to heat faster. I got mine at Home Depot.

The coals are ready for the Dutch Oven when the corners begin turning grey. If you are going to need more coals right away, leave a couple of layers of the hot coals in the bottom of the chimney and pour the new ones on top. They will heat up without any additional heat.

Then it is time to dump out the coals and start heating your ovens.

I will explain a couple of methods of estimating the heat in the next blog.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 5th National Donut Day - Free Donuts

Free Donuts! How cool is that?

For a free donut at Dunkin Donut check out their site. A free donut with purchase of a drink.

If you prefer Krispy Kreme's, or just need a second donut, I understand they are also giving away donuts at participating locations. However I have not been able to verify that. They supposedly also have donuts if you signup as one of their "friends" or have good grades. Check the Freebie Blogger site for details.

Of course all Dunkin Donuts in this area are now baked and not fried. Not quite the same.

Happy Donut Day!

Cool Family Field Trip

Learn about history, geology, and volcanism, all in one fun trip. Located about 45 minutes north of Flagstaff is a wonderful natural wonder, the Lava River Cave, or Lava Tube. For more details, click here.

700,000 years old, this is a fun place for kids of all ages. An average temperature of 40 degrees makes it a great place to escape the heat. Settlers used it to make ice for various purposes including ice cream.

My kids always really enjoyed our visits and still talk about them. Make sure you take at least one flashlight per person, 2 or 3 are recommended by the Forest Service. It gets really dark when there are no lights on.

So take a cool trip north and visit a great place.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Coupons - Coupons

I am not a great couponer (if that is a real word). But I did save $10 yesterday at Woodcraft using a coupon for a deadhead hammer. No Jerri, that is not a Grateful Deadhead hammer.

A lot of folks use coupons everyday and save a lot of money. With today's costs rising all the time any savings can be a real help. 

One site mentioned to me is Sister Savings, I notice it is a subscription site now if you want the weekly sales list. I don't know if that is a good deal or not. If you have others please let us know.

Happy shopping.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Canning Butter

I have heard a lot of debate in the last several months on the issue of canning butter. The Everyday Food Storage site has a good article on it today. I don't have an opinion one way or the other since I don't can in any fashion. I leave those decisions to my wife and anyone who would like her opinion is going to have to ask her, I learned a long time ago not to speak for her. :)

I do know when I was growing up my grandmother used to tell us how they would use lard for butter, even on toast. Of course, they saved bacon grease under the kitchen cabinet and used it everyday. They even lived to tell us about it!

My grandmother used one of the small Crisco cans and sometimes a small coffee can. It lived beneath the kitchen sink and all the drippings went into the can. Whenever we needed oil, or grease for a pan, she would scoop out a tablespoon or so and drop it into the pan. Eggs have never tasted as good as they did then.

My wife's grandmother was a little fancier. She actually had a "Drips" can. I suppose she may have stored it on the kitchen cabinet, or under the sink. This was just something everyone did. I am lucky enough to have her old Drips can.

So check out today's site and if you want to add your opinion, please do.