Month: May 2016

Pinterest Made Me Do It-The Tomato Slice Hack

heirloom sprouts

I haven’t posted one of these in a good long while.

The idea is that instead of trying to sprout and grow individual seeds you cut up a tomato and plant that.

I…never actually read the original post. So some of what I did I seem to have done wrong, and some of what I did, I did on the advice of wiser Facebook friends.

There doesn’t seem to be much more to the pin/viral post other than chop up a tomato, plant it in a pot, wait for a plant. Here’s what I was told by word of mouth: the tomato should be an heirloom tomato in order for it to have a chance to actually grow tomatoes, and that the tomato should be sliced thin.

So two things here:

  1. I actually have access to heirloom tomatoes. While I wanted a black one I ended up with a plum/Roma type. It was the smallest, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on this, and I’ve heard since then that blacks are really finicky to grow. The fact that I have steady access to heirlooms seems surprising to people. I’m working off the assumption it was actually an heirloom,it was in the heirloom bin.
  2. I found out about the ‘thin’ thing after the fact. I didn’t slice it thin. About as thin as you would for a hamburger, I ended up with 4 slices.

I’m not sure what happened to my fancy planting photo but it’s boring. I will say this though since I don’t know if it’s actually relevant here. I drowned the pot two or three times before I realized that the pot wasn’t draining properly and I transplanted it to the pot it’s in now. The soaking wet potting soil may be a factor here, I don’t know.

Perhaps this is me being unfair but the other thing I noticed is that it took a good while for them to sprout. I was actually about to dump the pot and use it for herbs when I dug up one of the slices and found it full of sprouts. Now that it’s going, though, I’ve gotten a ton of sprouts and the entry photo is the first thinning.

*Again, I’m working off the assumption the tomato was an heirloom. Since I can’t verify that, I’m considering the post a success-the pin was about planting tomatoes and getting them to grow. They grew. I didn’t plant with the end goal of a huge crop of tomatoes.

**I’m practicing what I call Meh gardening. I planted them. I put them in the sun, the neighbors seem to tolerate where they’re at. They get watered if it’s really dry (that’s the bottle in the photo), otherwise I let them get watered when it rains. I haven’t fed them, I haven’t done anything other than pick obvious dandelion seeds out of the pot. If they grow awesome if not oh well. I’m taking the stance that nature doesn’t mess with plants and neither will I. If I feel like feeding them once they get bigger I will if not, okay too.

Dante and Virgil: The Light/Shadow Split [Shadow Work 101]


[Another Pagan entry. Feel free to skip this one.]

[This is a very rough starting point for this concept, and will be revisited and reworked in the future]

Part of why I’m writing these entries is that I get asked about this style of work all the time.

Part of this is hard for me. I didn’t choose the shadow life, the shadow life chose me. That’s…only sort of a joke. Most of my life has been spent staggering around falling into potholes, figuring out what I can take from it, getting out of the hole, and repeating the whole process over again.

I can honestly say though that I only spent about five minutes on a ‘light’ path. I found myself in gray and then into shadow pretty much as soon as I figured out what that meant-and from there fell into the direct healing aspects of shadow almost as quickly.

The main issue that people seem to have is where the difference between light and shadow begins and ends. And that makes a lot of sense because I don’t see them as a conflict or even as a dichotomy, I see them as a partnership-they don’t fight each other, they work side by side and often weave in and out of each other. You can be very light shadow and very shadowed light.

I see them as Dante and Virgil. As in, the Inferno.

Bear with me on this one.

So the thing with shadow and light work is that there’s three main points here. Maybe only one major point and a acouple observations.

1. I’ve had -a lot- of workers say things to me like ‘but I always thought I was a light worker but what you’re saying makes sense to me!’ Then you’re probably a light worker. Most shadow workers I know, knew light wasn’t a good fit for them from the start. If you’ve been using that label, keep using it.

Seriously. You can do healing work as a light worker, you can do grief work even as a light worker, you can do most everything a shadow worker does as light worker. A therapist and a dentist are both healers, they’re just going at different systems.

If you honestly feel like you might need to spend time with shadow, then do some readings, start talking with a worker, look into it. By all means, explore the paths a little. But don’t let yourself be forced out of your path because you read about a new term.

2. The main difference seems to lie in where you’re putting your push. Shadow says that your pain/aggression/anger/’dark’ emotion is a valid place to be as it is-just perhaps one you don’t want to set up shop in. Movement out is about hitting balance. Light on the other hand wants you out of there as fast as possible because basically pleasure is the end goal. I use that word deliberately here, because it’s not so much happiness that light seems to be going for, it’s about a lack of pain.

The idea that light is seeking pleasure isn’t a judgment statement, and with any luck I’ll be able to come up with a more sophisticated description at some point. However, this is a split that makes sense to me on an instinctive level-because shadow is most definitely -not- about pleasure seeking and life needs both healing/balance and pleasure to be worth living.

3. Shadow isn’t dark, dark is another path.

Shadow can certainly run very, very dark and hit on topics like death and destruction in a range of applications. But there are separate dark paths.

I’ve just never encountered anyone doing what I would call ‘true’ dark work. I have however come across some energies that have given me significant pause, and been banned from the playground, and I know those energies have people working with them, so yes at least in theory there’s dark workers in the world. I suppose that if for no other reason than true energetic balance they need to exist.

Note: I avoid using terms like black magic for a reason, because I feel like in a world where horror is a thing that exist it brings up images like rams’ skulls and black candles and hooded robes. It’s not the image that I’m going for-though maybe those things are what’s at play, I don’t know.

Okay, now we get to the fun part.

So Dante is a man who knows that he has to get through hell to get to his end desire. It’s literally impossible for him to do what he’s trying to do without doing it. He’s not necessarily looking forward to it, and this isn’t going to be a ‘fun’ afternoon activity. Dante is our light worker here, who just wants to get on with the whole thing.

However, he encounters Virgil-a wise man (literally, a wise man, the man who is wise enough that God and Satan both are allowing him to wander through hell with Dante) who will show Dante how to get out. However, one of the thing that Virgil is saying to Dante is that there are things that Dante must learn in hell, that will make him a better person-and more importantly, can only be learned through hell. At no point does Virgil tell Dante to speed up or take a short cut-he doesn’t even really tell Dante “I know you don’t feel good and I wish I could make it better for you.” Virgil knows that this journey will make Dante a better man-and even more importantly, he knows that it will end.

Virgil is the shadow worker here. It’s not a perfect fit, for either man. Dante is slightly more openly obsessed with his desired pleasure than most light workers I’ve come across, and most shadow workers don’t get the luxury of quite that level of wisdom or the ability to know exactly where the path ends. However the coupling also highlights the way that the two perspectives compliment each other-light sometimes needs shadow to guide it through hell [or whatever situation it’s being faced with], and shadow needs light to give it an end to work towards or it gets stuck in its obsession with balance above all else.

This is a really important point, and part of the reason that I find a lot of the back and forth over labeling tiresome-the two work together. At no point is it implied that Dante or Virgil is actually more important than the other. They are working together as teacher and student, but teacher and student in a way that suggests that they need each other. It’s not that shadow has more wisdom and light is more flighty-they’re just coming at the world from different angles. [It might look like this example is actually implying that Virgil is the smarter, more developed player-but remember that there’s two other books in the Divine Comedy and the closer Dante gets to Heaven the more important light becomes. Light is just not necessarily the best tool in a trip through Hell.]

Follow Up [Fermented Soda]

I told y’all I would write a follow up post if/when I got a batch of fermented soda to go successfully.


Well look at that. Fermented soda.

Fermented soda has a lot going for it-you can adjust the fruit flavors, there’s less sugar…and it’s kind of a cool project to watch.

This is a multiple step project-

First you have to make a root bug. This is a simple though time consuming step.

  1. Grate ginger or turmeric root for about a tablespoon’s worth root.
  2. Add about a tablespoon sugar [white is fine. It’s feeding the ferment so it doesn’t matter.]
  3. Add about 3/4-1 cup filtered water [you can let tap water sit for a few hours and it’ll work]. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  4. Add sugar and grated root once a day for about five days [and really do wait the five days, unless it’s really warm]
  5. After five days feed it every other or every three days, adding water as necessary
  6. It’ll be really foamy and yeasty when it’s done

To ferment soda:

  1. Add about half a cup’s worth root bug to a jar. [Make sure you stir it]
  2. Add about a quarter pint’s worth syrup [or you can use several cups juice, but use 100% juice or steam/boil your own with plenty of sugar]
  3. Add water to make up volume in the jar
  4. Cover semi tightly, and let sit. It will eventually get fizzy and the sweetness will start to fall. Stir once a day to check-this batch took about two days in a fairly warm kitchen
  5. Add to a demijohn or a soda bottle, and ferment several days [or less] to increase fizz [soda bottles will be hard when they’re ready]
  6. Refrigerate, keeping in mind it’s going to get less sweet the longer it sits. -Open over a bowl or sink-

Jalapeno Mash

It actually is that shade of green

It actually is that shade of green

It’s not exactly any sort of secret that I love hot food, and I am the type of person that thinks that if 10 bottles of hot sauce are good, 25 will certainly ensure that I will never have to be without both variety and heat.

I’ve been slowly getting back into fermentation again. This is a simple enough project, that can be scaled to fit the amount of peppers you have-which means it’s a good project to have in your box for summer harvests.

This can be done with any peppers, but I used jalapeños because I found organic at a decent price.


Doing a fermentation in this style requires the produce to stay under the water level at all times. The easiest way I’ve found to do this, for the amount of peppers I ferment at any given time, is to weigh the peppers under with a small (quarter or half pint) canning jar. Clean a wide mouth jar, at least pint size, place the peppers into the jar, cover with brine. I like to skim off as many seeds as I can but I’m not actually sure that it’s necessary. I then place the [cleaned] smaller jar, which will fit into the mouth of the larger, into the larger jar. It will push the peppers to the bottom of the jar and brine will displace around the jar and make sure they stay submerged. Do this in a sink in case it floods. If you pack loosely enough you can cover it with a lid.



Make a brine-I used warm water and salt, at a ratio of 4 cups water to 3 tablespoons salt. Sea salt is best.

Cut the tops off the peppers and if fermenting whole cut a slit in each pepper. You can also chop or slice.

Cover with brine, and cover with a lid. See the notes regarding weights [you can see the smaller jar in the above photo]

Ferment for at least a week, or to your normal time frame for peppers


Drain the peppers but don’t rinse

In a blender add 1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, dried turmeric (about a tablespoon), 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, and the peppers. Blend until pureed. Place in the refrigerator.


Experiments [Fermenting Soda]

photo from pixabay

photo from pixabay

I’ve been driving my list on Facebook up a wall. I’ve been trying to ferment soda all week.

It’s become something of an ego challenge at this point-I can ferment stuff like pickles, hot sauces I can do in my sleep, and I have a fairly active turmeric bug that I started last week that’s foaming away.

But soda is just outside of my grasp.

Fermenting soda in theory isn’t hard-it’s water (maybe), juice or other fruit/sugar material, and a starter. You put the starter, the juice (what the starter is feeding off of and is flavoring the soda), and water to make up volume in a container, let it sit for a few days, and then bottle it which forces the CO2 into the fluid and makes it fizz.

Except my soda just sat there. I’ve come to realize that it’s the syrup that I used for the first few batches. I ended up dumping out of my first batch outright. It sort of fermented, but tasted foul and never fizzed.

The second batch just got another boost of turmeric bug, thinking my bug was too young to have a full bacterial load yet.

But then came the second phase of the experiment…

You can make mead with yeast. Normally wine yeast but you can do with bread yeast in a pinch-and bread yeast I have. So I added some runny grapefruit jam to a jar, added water, and added a teaspoon of yeast. It sat overnight and is actually bottled and in the freezer already. [The longer it sits the fizzier and drier it’ll get, so definitely use bottles designed for soda/carbonation with yeast. I’m actually using old soda bottles since they’re built for the pressure, and I have them.]

The jam batch was foamy before I went to sleep last night, about an hour after I set it up.

The syrup batch is barely foaming hours later. I think that the syrup just doesn’t have enough sugar to do much of anything.

So this is my basic structure for quasi-fermented [yeasted] soda:

about 1/4 to 1/2 pint jam, heavily sweet fruit syrup, or other canned product*


Several cups 100% fruit juice*

Roughly 1 tsp yeast

dried or fresh herbs, if desired, to taste**

mason jar with a ring and a coffee filter

Some sort of flip top jar or well cleaned soda/gatorade bottle with lid

*This is a project where you actually want a lot of sugar. The fermentation runs off of it, so the process actually eats the sugar and you don’t drink as much as it feels like you’re putting in the jar. Make your syrup sweeter than what you would if you were eating it straight. While this will never be a ‘true’ health drink like kombucha or jun may be, you can still make a soda with much, much less sugar than what’s on the market-and you can use raw or low processed sugar.

Because of the need for sugar this is actually a good project for jams that didn’t set/ended up as syrups. That’s what I’m using right now to reclaim jars without dumping out my work.

**Place into the 2f/second step jar, not in the first round of fermentation


Add syrup/juice and yeast to the jar. Add filtered water to make up about a quart of volume if necessary. Stir. Secure coffee filter to jar with lid. Let sit overnight or 2-3 days. The longer it sits the more sugar the yeast will eat, so taste to see if you like the sweetness. Try to pull it sweeter than you normally drink it.

Add herbs if using to the 2f bottle, add the soda to the bottle and cap it.


The longer it sits the more carbonated it will get and the pressure will build up. Open the bottles regularly to release pressure.

After a day or so (or less time if it’s really active), put your bottles into the fridge. The cold will help hold the carbonation and slow down fermentation.

Open over a sink or bowl in case it explodes.


***You can upsize this accordingly, I make about 20 oz at a time.

You can play around with flavors as you like.


If I can get a ‘true’ fermented soda to work, I’ll post that process as well.

[This is basically the first steps in wine making. If you let this sit long enough and added an airlock you would end up with a raw wine. What I’m getting at is that if this sits long enough you will develop an alcohol content. If you’re storing for an extended period of time, test before giving to children.]


Learning to Homestead-Basic Food Prepping List



It can be hard to figure out what you need to have in your ‘stockpile’, especially if you’re starting out from scratch.

The easiest way is start is to think about what you normally need-if you absolutely, insistently, will not eat beans, then don’t put them on your list. Remember, start prepping for mundane reasons like bad weather and economic hardship first, and worry about the zombies and SHTF later. Call me overly optimistic, but I’m fairly certain job loss is much more likely than the grid falling.

If you have as many staples as you can built up, you can supplement with fresh dairy and produce.

Then think about your space, and optimize your list in importance by what you can use and can easily store first.

My list, depending on space and sales, in no particular order:

White Sugar

Black Strap Molasses (both can be used separately, and can be used together to make brown sugar)


Dried Milk

Canned milks

Shelf stable soy or almond milks

Shelf stable tofu

Beans-canned and dried

Corn-canned and frozen

Peas-frozen, if I have room

Green beans-frozen and canned

Tuna fish or salmon, canned

Tea Bags

Raw sugar, when I can find it under $1.50 a pound

Peanut butter

Oats-not in large quantity, they can go rancid, steel cut and instant. I often get these in the bulk bin

Dried fruits-in the bulk bin

Nuts-in the bulk bin

Baking supplies-baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, etc. I get these on the Christmas and Thanksgiving baking sales

Unbleached white flour

Wheat flour-in small amounts for bread

Yeast-I try to have some in the house. but I don’t stockpile it

Shelf stable stocks or stock bases

Stocks-frozen or canned

Canned fruit

Oils-olive, corn, coconut

Garbage bags

Dish soap

Dish rags

Parchment paper (eventually I’ll get some Silpats, but for now, parchment paper)

Tin foil

Plastic wrap (only a box or two, one box lasts me years)

One or two bee’s wax clothes

Paper towels-there are some really nasty tasks I still prefer paper for, like draining bacon

Cleaning rags

Vinegars-white and apple cider

Citrus cleaner-I normally make my own

Salt-table, and whatever other kinds I can find on sale

Canning supplies-have on hand if you know how to can in case you find awesome produce sales


52 in 52 Challenge-An update


I knew it had been awhile since I updated the list.

I didn’t realize I was 11 or so books behind.

I am giving myself a challenge for the next twelve months: I want to read 52 books between November 1st 2015 to November 1st 2016. I am horribly, horribly backlogged on books. I have something like 1,100 in my Kindle library…that level of backlogged.

So I am putting myself on this goal. I will be reviewing the ones that strike me to, but I read -a lot-of cozy mysteries and I don’t want overwhelm you, readers. To that end I will be updating this post with a running list and total.

  1. A Murder in Mount Moriah
  2. Hairspray and Homicide
  3. A Mouthful of Murder
  4. Green Lake
  5. Pineapple Lies: A Pineapple Port Cozy Mystery
  6. Who Murdered Mr. Malone?
  7. The Shining
  8. Dead Leaves
  9. Mechantula
  10. Ted Saves the World
  11. Haunted New York
  12. Murder Under Construction
  13. Murder on the Page
  14. Death Takes a Trip
  15. Sharcano
  16. I Bring the Fire Part 1
  17. Dead Shifter Walking
  18. A Head Full of Ghosts
  19. Shifty Magic
  20. The Long Way Down
  21. A Feral Darkness
  22. A Narco History
  23. The Virginian
  24. The Halloween Host
  25. Halloween Tales
  26. At the Sign of the Jack o Lantern
  27. Crazy Little Thing
  28. Only Yesterday
  29. Grim Tidings