My DH made a solar oven yesterday. What a sweetie. I had mentioned that I wanted to make one, but I was really busy with the garden and housecleaning for guests and all the other little minutiae that fills up the day. I looked up from the kitchen window about midday, and what did I see but an enormous cardboard box with an Elizabethan collar. You remember Elizabethan collars, don’t you? They’re the ones that the vet gives you to put on the dog so it can’t lick whatever injury it has. The fact that it makes the dog look like it has a satellite dish on it’s neck is just a happy accident.
DH had taken a old 1/2 bushel peach box (cardboard) and lined it with tinfoil. He then cut up another box to make the wings of the solar collector and attached it to the top of the box, so it looks like a large funnel. Finally, he cut a piece of plexiglass and trimmed the edges with tape and fit the plexiglass between the solar collector and the box of the oven. I was planning on buying a turkey basting bag from the grocery store, but since we had the plexi just lying around, it was probably better.

So, what am I doing with my wonderful little solar oven? Right now, I have my dutch oven out there with my beef tallow in it. I need to render the beef tallow, but it’s too hot to turn on the oven. I’ve heard, but have no experience yet, that the solar oven WILL get hot enough for this purpose.

Backwoodshome, a magazine which has lots of near information in it, has many recipes for solar ovens.

Listia.com and Dr. Pepper EA sports game codes.

So you say that nothing good in life is free? You think that you can’t get something for nothing? You want dr. pepper game codes so you can get that neat virtual weapon in Battlefield Heroes but you can’t buy dr. pepper with the code where you live? Have I got the solution for you!

Listia.com is a cool up and coming website which acts as a mediator between people who have junk they want to get rid of and people who want more junk. It’s sorta like Ebay, except it doesn’t cost actual money. It’s sorta like freecycle, except people actually want what you’re giving away. It’s sorta like craigslist, except it’s safer because you have the “listia assurance” against scammers.

What exactly is it? It’s a website, where people auction off their unwanted items. Anyone can join and it’s completely free to do so. Even before you’ve joined, you can browse the auctions and see what sort of cool and interesting things people are giving away. Once you’ve decided to join, you get a certain amount of free credits to get you started. If you link your listia.com account with your facebook or twitter account, you’ll get even more free credits. The geniuses at Listia will even give you free credits just for checking in, making comments on other people’s auctions and all sorts of other things.

Where does this lead you if you’re not a US citizen and you want dr.pepper codes? Well, the site is international, so you can sign up and get the free credits just like anyone else. Then you search for dr. pepper in their handy dandy auction search and start bidding. Of course, you have to verify your account before Listia will let you bid on those auctions, but it doesn’t take long to verify your account.

Listia has a seller/buyer feedback mechanism much like Ebay. Good sellers can be weeded from bad sellers by their feedback rating. You can even see what previous buyers have said about a potential seller by looking at their profile.

Does this sound like something you’re interested in? Use this link and look me up when you get there.

Blueberry Soda Syrup

Today I used up the last of my blueberries. Last weekend DH and I went and picked blueberries at a upick place. We had about 20 pounds of blueberries. The berries were getting old and I had made as much jam and blueberry pie filling as I could stand. I was looking for another thing to do with the blueberries. I still had frozen blueberries from last year, and my dehydrator is on the fritz.

Enter Alton Brown! He can always be counted upon to do something interesting with ingredients. I searched the food network site and found that years ago he made a blueberry soda. Just the thing, as I am still playing with my sodastream.

I took 2 quarts of fresh blueberries and 2 cups of water. I boiled them for 15 minutes until nearly all the blueberries had split. I then drained the fluid with my jelly strainer. I added 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 7 ounces of sugar and warmed up the fluid enough to dissolve the sugar.

Alton says that the blueberry syrup will last for months in the fridge. I don’t think it’s going to last that long. I added a quarter cup of syrup into 8 ounces of carbonated water and YUM!

Best use of blueberries yet!

My attempts at renewable heating

http://permaculturetokyo.blogspot.com/2006/05/top-10-fuel-trees-for-zone-5-and-above.htmlWe bought a new house this last year. It’s a moderate sized ranch, built in the 50’s. It’s not well insulated, but the previous owners have tried to improve it. The windows leak, but not much. It’s better when we cover the windows with plastic.

The most annoying thing to me however, is the oil furnace. The thought of heating with hydrocarbons hurts me in my little Eco-heart. In an ideal world, we’d have passive solar heating with a geothermal backup. Some day, when we have the funds, we’ll improve the passive solar heating.

Since that’s a long way off, heating with a more renewable resource is our best bet. We bought a wood-burning fireplace insert, manufactured by Hearthstone, called the Clydesdale. We have two fireplaces in the house, but were afraid to use them because they are so inefficient. Some places even said that we would require MORE fuel to heat the house.

Well, we’ve reached the end of another long winter! Hooray! It was a long and cold winter indeed for us in the midwest. I don’t have the specifics of degree days at this time, but as a quick comparison, last year in March, it got to 80 degrees near the end of the month. Now that is unusual for Wisconsin. This year it snowed on April 15th. Rather fitting, I thought. The point is that this heating season has been colder than last season, based on my nonscientific memory. Last year, without the woodburning fireplace, we went through 4 tanks of oil to heat the house. This year, using the fireplace insert almost every night that we were in town, and not changing the thermostat settings, we only used 2 tanks of oil. That means at the current cost of oil, the Clysdale will pay for itself in 2.5 years. A good investment and a step towards energy self sufficiency.

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