Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where Does Your Water Come From?: An Excerpt from The Water-Wise Home

Author and Greywater Action cofounder Laura Allen writes that knowing where your water originates is a first step in conserving it.

The Mokelumne River supplies Oakland, California, with water.
Photo by Kharker at the English language Wikipedia

Where Does Your Water Come From?
I grew up with a neighborhood water supply in Northern California. An artesian spring filled a storage tank that fed a dozen houses on our country road. If a neighbor left the hose on all night, or if a pipe broke, the tank would run dry and we’d have to wait for it to refill. I knew where the water came from, and where it went — into the septic tank and leach line under the front lawn.

When I left home to go to college, it took four years for me to wonder where my new water supply came from. Thinking back, I find it ironic that I graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from UC Berkeley but had no idea where my drinking water came from. I’m thankful for that first water bill and the effect it had on me and my household.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: Pig’s First Year

Last February, a calf was born on Heather Smith Thomas’s ranch during a stretch of brutal winter weather. Heather shares an update after a long year of recovery.

Bringing the cow and rescued calf out of the barn to a separate pen
Read Part 1 of the story here.

After the rescued calf and her mama had been in the barn for a few more days, the calf seemed to be getting around okay on her frostbitten feet. Michael and Carolyn shoveled snow out of the windbreak corners of a pen below the barn and put down hay for bedding. We moved the pair down there, and they were happy to get out of the barn.

We thought our “surprise” calf would be would be the only surprise, but on the morning of Valentine’s Day, we found Michael and Carolyn’s skinniest old cow was calving. A few hours later, our second surprise calf had arrived. Michael pulled the calf down through the two fields in a sled, with the mother cow following. We put them in the barn, out of the wind and snow. It snowed hard all evening.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brooke Dojny: Marvelous Mussels and a Recipe for Chowder

mussel chowder
Mussel chowder with colorful vegetables
Photo © Scott Dorrance, from 
Dishing Up® Maine
Mussels really are a most marvelous bivalve. Not only are they delicious to eat, but mussels are also plentiful, inexpensive, and, with their gorgeous shiny blue-black shells, beautiful to look at. Farm-raised mussels need only a simple rinse before cooking, but if you happen to have wild mussels, give them a quick scrub with a stiff brush and pull or cut off their wiry beards. Since wild mussels live on top of — and not under — mud flats, they’re not usually in need of soaking, but if they’re muddy, let them soak in a couple of bowls of cold salted water for about an hour, lifting them from one bowl to the other, changing and swishing the water until it is almost clear of sediment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Q&A with Maribeth Casey, Winner of the 2014 Pamela B. Art Humanitarian Award

The award, given annually, honors a Storey employee who enriches her or his community through charitable work.

Maribeth Casey, with her award.
Photo by Mars Vilaubi
In her job as International and Club Sales Manager, Maribeth Casey represents Storey all over the world, from Canada to Germany and beyond. But Maribeth is a lifelong resident of the Williamstown/North Adams area and, when she’s not on the road, she’s been a tireless advocate for her home community and its residents. From serving meals at the Berkshire Food Pantry and serving on the board of the Northern Berkshire YMCA, to regular participation in school activities and active fundraising for the Northern Berkshire United Way (and much, much more!), Maribeth is the embodiment of passion, dedication, and generosity. Storey Publishing is lucky to have her, and we’re so pleased to share the news that was recently named the 2014 winner of the Pamela B. Art Humanitarian Award. Congratulations, Maribeth!

When you were growing up, who were the role models who inspired and helped you develop your compassion for others?

I grew up in a family of five kids, all pretty close in age. I was second to my older sister. My dad worked long days in Albany so my mother needed as much help as possible with our three younger brothers. I spent a lot of time in the summers babysitting and overseeing younger cousins.

Your connections to this area run deep! How have you gone about finding the causes that were most important to you? 

When I was in my twenties, I wasn’t that aware of the community’s needs. When we bought our first home in North Adams and, living here, poverty and social issues became more apparent to me. Sprague Electric had just shut down, many white collar jobs moved from the area, the housing market was flooded, and many manufacturing jobs were lost.  The 80s were a difficult time for North Adams. I felt fortunate to have a good job at Storey and asked John and Martha if they would consider giving to the United Way and matching employee funds, which they agreed to. At that time, I was serving on an allocation committee. At first it was just Northern Berkshire but we had employees in Bennington, Hoosick, NY, and Pittsfield, so our reach broadened over the years to include other United Ways. We’ve always had a high percentage of employees who give.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Donna Smallin: Five Armchair Decluttering Tips

You don’t even have to get up from your chair.

Illustration by ©Zoë More O’Ferrall/Illustration Ltd., from Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness
You want to declutter your home. I know you do. I also know that the hardest part is getting started. So I’ve come up with five things you can do to declutter, organize, and simplify your life — without even getting out of your seat. No excuses, now . . . get to it!

Stephanie Tourles: Rising from the Ashes

An author shares the intimate origins of her new book.

My latest book, Raw Energy in a Glass, is a very personal one. In 2012, the year of my fiftieth birthday, life dealt me a poor hand of cards. In January, my huge, loving, Maine Coon cat died unexpectedly. My heart broke. Then, over the next few months, I suffered a series of accidents, the worst of which was tumbling down my home stairs twice in two months, both times injuring my left hip and knee. By April, I was limping, and by June, I was nearly wheelchair-bound due to the pain in my left leg. Several X-rays and an MRI later, I was diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis and informed by two orthopedic surgeons that I would need a total hip replacement soon or my quality of life would continue to deteriorate. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t hurt anymore, my marriage of 22 years fell apart.

I am normally a vibrant, energetic, resilient, relatively peaceful person. Never in my life had I experienced such uncomfortable chaos.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Hannah Fries: Good Hair Days

Step 1: Make your own herbal hair care products. Step 2: Perfect your slow-motion hair flip.

No magic ingredients in this shampoo and conditioning rinse! Just herbs, essential oils, soap, and vinegar. 
So, there might have been a period of time in college when, in a fit of asceticism, I washed my hair with nothing but a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap and rinsed with a capful of plain white vinegar. My friend had advised me that it ought to be a bar of soap, not liquid, because bars come wrapped only in paper — no evil plastic involved. While this was noble, sort of, the method was rather harsh, and I can’t say it had salon-worthy results. I wasn’t exactly a dirty hippie, but neither did I seem destined to be a hippie washed only in the All one! All one! suds of the good “doctor” followed by a pickling rinse. (If you’ve ever been curious about the eccentric text on the packaging of Dr. Bronner’s products, I recommend the documentary Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap Box. TO UNITE ALL MANKIND FREE! It’s no joke.) 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Carob Protein Smooooothie from Raw Energy in a Glass

Start the new year on a nutritious note!

Bananas, raw carob, nut butter, and vanilla are a perfect post-workout treat.

Author Stephanie Tourles recommends this superfood-packed smoothie recipe to boost your energy and keep your mind sharp.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Clean Your Bathroom in 5 Easy Steps with Donna Smallin’s Bathroom Blitz

Start clean in 2015!

Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness is available wherever books are sold.
What is it about hosting a gathering at home that illuminates every speck of dirt, fingerprint-marred window, and layer of dust? Surely you know this phenomenon: you think your home is in decent shape for an upcoming brunch or dinner party until, in the light of day, panic sets in.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Storey’s Top Blog Posts of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, we take a look back at the year’s most popular posts.

From quilting and cooking to heritage breeds, here’s what resonated with readers.