Showing posts with label México. Show all posts
Showing posts with label México. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

{backyard redo} The rest of the pergola

One of our goals with our new backyard was to re-use as many of our old backyard materials as we could.* We tried to transplant the perennials and shrubs. Some made it (peonies, catmint, and yarrow did well). Some did not (oh, my sad, sad blue mist spirea, russian sage, lavender, and artemisia).

The pergola (which was built by our contractor rather than by me, but not because I couldn't do it, of course...because I chose not to do it...hahaha), was built with mostly reclaimed materials. The posts came from a salvage yard in Denver and the top was made from our old deck, but the cross-supports were new Douglas Fir because we couldn't find anything old that was long enough, strong enough, and also affordable. I'm sure we could have found some old barn beams for a few grand but that's a little ridiculous, right? Of course, right. In order to camouflage the newness of the Doug Fir supports, I treated them with a bit of my famous (or infamous, depending on who's talking) oxidizing mixture. This grayed them up just enough that they didn't stand out and scream, "Look at me! They just bought me from Lowe's!"

Cross supports starting to blend in with the reclaimed wood after a good coat of steel wool and vinegar.

So we talked about the stone veneer pergola bases in yesterday's post, the materials for building the pergola today...what's left? Oh, only the crowning glory, really.

These star lanterns have a pretty special place in our hearts. In fact, if we ever move I'm not sure we'll be able to leave them behind. (Okay, well, maybe even these have their price.) Lanterns like these are pretty common in the part of Mexico where we lived in 2009-2010 and as soon as I saw them there, I knew we had to have one. Or two. Or maybe eight . So toward the end of our stay there we took a bus to Guadalajara, the heart of all things handmade in Mexico, and found a craftsman who made these. While we would have loved to have a bunch of the big ones with colored glass in them, our budget (and our ability to get them home) held us back. We ended up with two big ones with colored glass and a variety of smaller ones with just cutouts in them. The man who made the lanterns plastic-wrapped them into two very awkward bundles, which we proceeded to load onto the bus and carry them back to the big bus stop in La Peñita and then onto the mini-bus that got us from there back to our town. And you know what? They were totally worth all the weird looks and feeling like tourists.

Scott wired the lanterns using lamp kits from Ikea and LED bulbs. The small ones were pretty tough to put together and Scott's right hand may forever bear the scars of shoving bulbs into metal holes that are just slightly smaller than his hand, but we can rest easy knowing that we probably won't have to change the bulbs for a good ten years. It's also kind of wild (for me, anyway...I'm easy to please) to see them on at night and know they're taking almost no energy.

Last but not least, I've got to credit Scott with this:

Yes, my friends. That's one of two outdoor Bose speakers that Scott picked up from Costco. Some day I'll have him write a guest post for you on how he created our indoor/outdoor sound system. All I know is that it is awesome. He spent months researching how to put it together and it works like a charm (and required no drywall patching). We can control it from any of our (embarrassingly many) wireless devices, we can listen to it in the house, out of the house, or both, and I can have NPR on all day if I so choose. Inside or outside.

So, depending on who's home, you may at any time hear anything from Guns N' Roses (Scott) to TobyMac (the girls) to Marco Werman (um, obviously me). 

When I look at the pergola as a whole, I hope that the new materials (like the wiring for the lanterns and the speakers) are balanced out by the used materials (the lumber, the cast-off cast stone, and the flagstone scraps used to top the pillars). I want this structure to be not only beautiful and useful, but I also want to feel good about where it came from.

*Finding a contractor who is willing to work with old materials? I have to say, this was quite a feat. All other contractors I've talked to for all of the projects in our house have looked at me like I have a horn growing out of my forehead when my plan required anything that was in any way out of the norm. (Ahem...this is why I started DIYing.) This project was no different and so I feel really thankful to have found a contractor (Andrew Newland) who would not only agree to work with old materials, but who was actually excited and enthusiastic about both the challenge and the artistic license granted by using reclaimed materials. Yay for free spirits! And, more reclaimed materials to come...the backyard's not done yet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lasts

We had a little case of "the lasts" during our final week in San Pancho. Like...the last time we'll eat at Tacos con Amor. Very sad. The last time we'll pay the phone bill at an ATM. Not so sad. The last day of school. Sad enough to make us cry.

Here are a few photos from our favorite last events. And things.

The last dip in Grandpa's pool.

The last sandy nose.

The last party on the beach.

The last time pulling off of Nueva Galicia. Appropriately, the Cow Bell Garbage Alarm man was walking up the street shaking his bell at the same time. 6:20am.

Of course, shortly after Scott left, we had our last spider. He was about the size of my hand. Well, maybe the size of Brynn's hand.

Last dinner. Waiting for enchiladas at Eva's Tacos. Between the three of us, we ate eleven and a half enchiladas. Not proud of myself for that.

After dinner on the beach, we had our last play time/photo session on the beach.

She's saving some of that enchilada for later. A la Uncle Nick.

Last time watching the surfers.

Last cirrus clouds.

Last sunset.

Sunset + Eva's agua de limon = smiles.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We're baaaack!

The girls in Millenium Park, Chicago.

We're back from the midwest and trying to squeeze a lot of Mexican fun into a little bit of time. Our tickets home are booked for June 16th, giving us a little less than six weeks to enjoy Mexico. We've started off with a bang, though, visiting our favorite taco shop, our favorite organic bistro, getting estimates for some of the work that needs to be done on our car, spending time at the beach, and playing with our puppies! Yes, they're still here. And Mama Milly, too. But, puppy number two (Rosy) went home a few minutes ago and puppy number three (CJ) goes home tonight. Mama Milly leaves next weekend for the SPCA shelter in Puerto Vallarta where she will await a home in Mexico or transport to Canada next fall. We'll hang onto puppy number four (Renegade) until we figure out whether or not we're going to adopt him! If not, we know we'll find a great home for him because he is super double cute and a really easy pup, too.


On a totally different subject, I thought I'd share this bit of an email I got from our farm today. It reminded me how lucky we are to be heading back to a place where we have such easy access to amazingly fresh, clean, honest, and happy local food! I love my farm. And I really love her catch-phrase at the end: "Buy better, eat less." Amen, sister.

Factory Farming - It Gets Worse
Cheap Food Comes at a Price...

I recently had the experience of visiting with a local farmer who was a grower for a not-to-be-named turkey producer who was bought out by another non-to-be-named turkey producer (call it company X). In the buyout, the new company X ended all of of its operations in Colorado, leaving this farmer with two barns the length of four football fields empty. He could leave the state and continue to work for company X, but his conscience won't let him despite losing a significant portion of his income. He went on to tell me about the practices of turkey company X - I didn't think my jaw could drop any further, but it just kept going.

Company X has a practice of shipping corn in from other countries because it is cheaper than purchasing corn from the US, in spite of our surplus. This foreign corn does not have to meet any standards related to pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that conventional US farmers have to meet. They can spray just about anything they want to make the corn grow faster and bigger, cheaper. This corn is eaten by the turkey and ultimately is eaten by you, the consumer.

Don't worry - it gets worse. Company X also has a practice of injecting the birds with water and filling the cavities with water just before packaging and freezing them. So, it may seem like a too-good-to-be-true price per pound, and it is, since you are also paying for a good amount of water!

When a company grows millions of turkeys, profits are made on mere pennies saved, usually to the detriment of the consumer. This goes for all CAFOs which can, and often do, feed chicken byproduct and manure to cattle, pigs and even other chickens to save a buck on grain!

The cost per pound of meat in the grocery store does not reflect the true cost of what it really takes to raise a chicken or cow, not to mention the environmental damage, animal and worker welfare and consequences to our health. As an example, it has been discovered that humans are developing resistance to the most basic of antibiotics due to the overuse of antibiotics used in factory farms to prevent diseases that occur when animals are in confined spaces.

You can be sure that at Grant Family Farms we make our animal farm transparent and never use antibiotics, nor confine our animals - we let a pig be a pig and let a chicken express her chickeness. The price you pay for organic, pastured meat from Grant Family Farms reflects the true cost of raising and caring for the animal and gives the farm a fair price. In addition you are feeding your family a much healthier alternative - animals raised on pasture are proven to have less fat, less cholesterol and more vitamins and omega-3s! Instead of "get more, pay less," I like the phrase "buy better, eat less."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love that lunch.

What a great surprise it was when I saw (and eventually translated) my kids' first school lunch calendar this fall. If you've been reading this blog for even a little while, you can probably sense that I get a bit (okay, a LOT) uptight when it comes to the food my children are offered. I have long feared the day when I will send both of my children to full day school where they will encounter a lunch menu filled with bland processed, frozen, and fried foods and I have thankfully accepted the fact that I will be making my children bag lunches (just like my mom did for me) from their first school lunch until their last school lunch.

This year, though, has been a relief. For lunch today, both of my kids are drinking jamaica (hibiscus tea) that is sweetened with sugar. That, I could do without. But, look at the rest of their menus for today! The primary school is eating lentil soup with carrots, corn tortillas, and oranges. The preschoolers are eating papaya, bananas, plain yogurt, granola, and oatmeal cookies. Today's menu could be better, but it could be a whole lot worse, too. Our school puts together a menu about every 30 days and parents sign up for which meals they would like to bring. I have to bring one meal each month for Brynn's class and one for Callie's. The meals are generally well-rounded vegetarian meals and always have fresh fruits and vegetables as main ingredients.

Today our farm posted a link to this Time Magazine article about school lunches in France. After living in Mexico and experiencing what this non-American lunch menu is like, I was really interested to see the French lunch menus. The article wasn't really surprising, but it did reinforce what I already know: As Americans, we are really screwing up our kids by offering them crap to eat for lunch every day. The school districts and the government can offer all kinds of excuses for why they offer our kids crap and I know that school lunches aren't something we can change overnight, but all it takes is a little bit of time visiting schools in another culture to know that we are selling our kids short. To me, the biggest bummer is that most parents either don't care or figure their kids won't eat anything other than chicken nuggets and tacos, so why bother offering (or demanding) something better? The parents who do care and who have the time and the means to pack lunches for their kids take the easy way out and avoid trying to change the system. That's probably what I'll do.

But...our farm is looking for ways to get our organic produce into our local schools, so maybe I'll see what I can do to upset the apple cart in my district when I get back. It sounds like an overwhelming challenge, but it is one that I care about!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An evening at the beach

You've already seen some photos from a recent evening at the beach. Here are a few more...

Bubbles already has three great families interested in adopting her when she gets to Canada next month. Hooray!

Happy Callie.

My girls LOVE to dig in the sand. It is never-ending entertainment for them.

She can be thoughtful...for about two seconds.

Brynn intends to win some races someday.

Scott doesn't get to go to the beach much, so when he does, he REALLY takes it all in.

Doodling in the sand is another favorite beach pastime for the girls.

Baby turtles!

Watching the turtles go.