Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hungry for Change

Move On is a wonderful organization. I heard that they amassed their fortune originally by inventing the flying toaster screen saver, but I'm not sure if that is true or not. Anyway, they believe that individuals are able to make a difference in politics. I find this refreshing in a time when most people feel so disenfranchised.

They send emails with different "actions" that you can add your voice to. They also make things very easy for the armchair activist. You can just add your name to a pre-written letter and hit send and they send it to your correct political representative. It doesn't get much easier than that.

They also organize house parties, where someone volunteers to host a bunch of strangers and people attend the party to make phone calls encouraging swing state citizens to go out and vote. I've attended these parties in the past, but I have to admit that I really hate cold calling people. Makes me feel like a telemarketer. I've done date entry for them when the option came up last election.

I was so happy to see their latest action, which was called "Hungry For Change". They brought people from all over the country together (they organize that part) to have bake sales to raise money for Obama's campaign. Isn't that fabulous? Last weekend I baked cookies for Obama. There were about 6 different bake sales in my immediate area and the one for which I baked cookies raised over $700!! Over 12,000 MoveOn members across the country held bake sales and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. What a simple and effective idea. You can click here to see photos from the different sales. I didn't make these cupcakes, but thought they were adorable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Martha vs. the Mulberry tree

My garden is bursting with greenery as we're having a nice and wet spring/summer so far. The red dahlias in the pot are from my friend Simone who is growing her own in Germany. We can think of each other when we look at the pretty red blooms.

On another note, I'm starting to battle the mulberry tree that hangs over the back of my garden. This tree drops mulberries in my garden, which not only attracts flies and bees, but it also smothers the grass. Each year I try and pick up the berries as they come down, and each year I lose the battle. This has been going on for over 10 years. I plant new grass each spring only to lose it to the blasted berries. I can't even eat the berries because by the time they drop they are overripe. There are so many that they actually mold in lumps in the yard (and stick to the bottom of our shoes). That with the cloying smell of the rotting berries drives me nuts.

This year I tried to get smarter to win the war against this tree. (We aren't going to chop it down because it blocks out the neighbors and for most of the year is a lovely tree) I bought a miracle gardening fabric that allows 70% of light through. It is water permeable and lightweight, so the grass doesn't get smothered. I laid it down in the back of the garden and Neil helps me gather the corners to dump the berries into the compost bin. We collect the berries about every other day. Today I think we had about 15 pounds of berries in the fabric. The amazing thing is that after 2 weeks, there are still loads of berries on the tree. I think this year I will win the battle of the berries!! Here are some photos:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Open Studios and chickens

I recently went to an open studio tour of a friend of mine who is a painter. Actually, he's also a teacher, but I mostly know him as the father to one of Lindsay's classmates. In fact Lindsay decided about a year and a half ago that she was going to marry his son Mason, and continues to stick to her guns. Both sets of parents are thrilled at the prospective match. But I digress...

It's always worrisome to go see a friend's artwork. There's the potential that you will find it ghastly and have to pretend you like it. Fortunately we liked his work and the work of many other artists. There was a woman named Alyssa Ettinger who is a ceramic artist. She makes these lovely vases that have a subtle (more subtle in person) knit pattern on them. The glazes are pretty shades of ivory and celery.

And on another landlady gave me the go ahead for having chickens in the back yard!!!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Farmer Girls

I'm doing more and more chicken research. I think I'm almost ready for the hens. What do you think??

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Funky Chicken

I have become completely obsessed with wanting to have chickens in my Brooklyn backyard! Ask Neil, he'll vouch for me. It all started when I was reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. There was a whole section on Polyface Farm, where they raise pastured chickens. Did you know that chickens prefer to eat grass and bugs (ticks and mosquitoes too!!) over the corn-based grain we give them? Did you know that the grass adds beta-carotene, which is what makes the gorgeous orange yolks you see more in Europe? Pastured chickens produce eggs that are higher in Omega 3s (because of the green grass) and lower in cholesterol (because they aren't eating corn). I thought that was really cool. So then I started looking online and that is where the obsession continued. Here's a great chicken site.

Then I started talking with my friend Allison who works for Heifer International. She is in charge of many (most?) of the projects in the US, and knows a lot about farming. Turns out she's interested in keeping chickens also! She found a couple of women who keep chickens in their Brooklyn backyards and we went to visit them this weekend. Both women live in beautiful brownstones in my very fancy neighborhood. Both couldn't have been lovelier and more generous with their time and knowledge. Chicken fever continued! The first family had a totally modern chicken coop from a company called Omlet. It's called an Eglu and it looks a bit like a colorful IMac computer. It came with these two chickens.

The second woman had a more "traditional" wood and wire coop in her backyard. Her garden was filled with herbs and vegetables. I think she's a chef as well as a classically trained singer. She had an araucana chicken called Uno (her dog ate the other two) Here's a photo of a hen. These ladies lay lovely blue/green eggs.

I'm torn about which breed I like best. I can only keep about 2 here. I am really smitten with the Polish variety of chickens, although they aren't the best egg layers. Who could resist a face like this? Or this?

Neil was completely opposed to this idea, but is starting to cave. He said that he would agree to chickens if the landlady said it was okay. Isn't he great?