Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Home Made Vegetable Oil Lamp: Judyofthewoods.net

Home made vegetable oil lamp: Judyofthewoods.netJudy of the Woods has instructions for these fantastic looking vegetable oil lamps.

Judy used wire, wick, vegetable oil, a container and hand tools to make these oil lamps.

She lists some advantages of oil lamps:

  1. very cheap to run – can even burn used cooking oil
  2. the fumes are less toxic than those of paraffin candles or mineral oil lamps
  3. the production of renewable vegetable oil is less harmful to the environment than petroleum based products (including paraffin candles)
  4. for the extreme survivalist, vegetable oil is easier to store in bulk, or can even be produced on the home farm
  5. due to the wider base, more stable than candles, and the flame of any burning wick falling into the oil will be extinguished
  6. odour free when using olive oil

I’ve made many beeswax candles over the years and love the smell, but they are a lot of work to make. These sound like they are easy to make and look great.

The price of eating healty

The NY Times has an article titled A High Price for Healthy Food, where the author reviews a University of Washington study that compares the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area.For the study, the scientists compared the price of a calorie of junk food to a calorie of healthier food.  They found the prices to differ significantly, averaging $1.76 for 1,000 calories of junk food, compared to $18.16 for 1,000 calories of nutritious food.

The study also showed that the price of junk foods were more likely to remain stable, while the prices of healthy foods increased 19.5% over a two year period

Matt Mayer of GroovyGreen offers some advice to offset these costs in Let them eat cake!,

His advice:  Shop local farmers markets, grow your own,  buy in bulk and join local buying clubs.

That reminds me, have your checked out our “Produce” page?  My wife operates a bulk organic produce buying club.  Take a look at our prices and feel free to drop her an e-mail laura@ericsprojects.com for more information.

A skunk in the chicken house

Chickens and skunks do not mix well. Not too long ago, I was surprised to find a skunk in the chicken house. It was after dark and I had my flashlight and just as I shone it into the chicken house, there he was, nosing around, looking for something to eat.

I tossed a few pieces of wood at it, and after getting hit a few times, it decided to leave. I kept the light on it, hoping that it wouldn’t be able to see me. My plan worked. I tried to follow it, to see where it was getting through the fence, but I didn’t want to get to close. I don’t really know much about skunks, and after smelling a few, I decided that there were some things I didn’t want to learn first hand. It got away from me.

The next day, I found a few places in the fence where something had been going in and out. The path was quite well worn and I and wondered how long this had been going on. I located a few wooden stakes in the wood shed and drove them through the fence and into the ground. I haven’t seen the skunk since.

Getting more while reading less

I used to read more than 30 RSS feeds a day. OK, I didn’t actually read them. I just scanned them and read the interesting stuff. The problem was all the “unread” stories. They kept calling me.

While purging my desk, my drawers and my in-box, I have also been purging my electronic life. I went through my e-mail in-box and applied the same rules: Do It, Delete It, Defer It or Delegate.

The RSS feeds were the hardest to prune down. Sites like MAKE:, Lifehacker and Treehugger have been regular reads for so long and yet, many of their stories were duplicates or things to buy. They were overwhelming me.

So my current list is:

ARSTechnica – High quality tech articles, no duplicates of other sites and the number of posts a day is low enough that I can keep up.

EcoGeek.org – Technology for the environment and just a few articles a day.

EricsProjects – my own website – I like to see how it shows up in the RSS reader

lifehack.org – Daily digest and pointers on productivity, getting things done and lifehacks

The last two sites have some of the best posts If I had to limit myself to just two RSS feeds it would be:

Zenhabits.net – Simple productivity – 1 or two posts per day and ALL very useful. Here are two great posts from Zenhabbits.net:

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

A Guide to Escaping Materialism and Finding Happiness

Slower-living.org – Living as if you mean it. Here are two great posts from slower-living.org:

There isn’t always better than here

Is being right really worth it?

Doing more with less

So far, I’ve been able to keep my in-box empty, desk clean and projects organized. I’ve found that without all the junk on my desk distracting me, I am able to find what I am supposed to be doing much easier. Just yesterday, right there under my desk, I found a dead UPS that I was supposed to order replacement batteries for.It’s kinda funny too because when I first started cleaning my desk, one of my office mates asked if I was bored. I can understand how he got that. I spent about three days sorting out the desk drawer, CDs and files, while doing other things. Even the boss noticed. His comment was “hey, Eric doesn’t have any work to do.” Hardly, I’ve taken more items off my to-do list recently than I have in a long time, but without all the clutter on my desk, it does look like I don’t have anything to do. In reality, I just don’t have anything in the way of what I want to work on.

Scythe, wooden tools and making adjustments

I purchase a scythe from Lehman’s and found it a bit awkward. I ordinarily don’t have problems with tools from Lehman’s so I thought I just needed to learn to use the tool. After reading this page on snath making at scytheconnection.com I realized that it was the tool that needed to change, not me.

The snath is the wooden handle of the scythe. Being made of wood, it should be very easy to change or duplicate.

According to scytheconnection.com, the grip where you put your hand should be about 2 inches above where you hips bend. The grip on the Lehman’s snath was much higher than this and angled away from the blade. I took the snath apart and made a new piece to connect the grip to the snath. In the photo on the right, the piece on the left is the original. The one in the middle is my first prototype, made from plywood and the last was made from oak. Click on the image for a better view. You can’t see it in the picture, but the tenon on Lehman’s piece was only cut on one side. The new one I cut from Oak was cut on both. This should make it sturdier, and help it last longer.

Because of the curve, the grip was now placed forward by about 4 inches. This made all the difference. The scythe was easier to balance and it was easier to keep the blade parallel to the ground. If you click the image below, you can see how everything goes together.

I love wooden tools because they are so easy to change and improve.


Zenhabits.net propelled me forward on my quest to simplify my life with this article Simple Living Simplified: 10 Things You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life.

The first steps I took were to empty out my IN box. The only things in my inbox are individual project folders. Everything else is recycled, delegated or done.

I also cleaned off my desk. All old software CD went into the trash. Some CDs that I was saving for the Serial # were packed in a box in the storage room. Stapler, tape, paperclips, and pens all went into a drawer.

I’ve also begun working on sorting and organizing other drawers.

The amazing part is just how much I was able to just get rid of. There is that much less to do!

The RSS feeds were cut down to essentials. I went from over 30 feeds to 11 and one happens to be my own! The interesting thing about the RSS feeds was that most of them I scanned through, looking for something interesting to read and later. Now, I have so few, I am able to read them all right away.

Of course, with all the distractions gone, the only things left to do are work or play. Choices, choices….

AC versus DC

s_fireworks10.jpgAn article on AC vs DC on Treehugger.com sparked some interesting comments…

This comment especially caught my attention. In it, the commenter mdpd looks at some basic electrical calculations to show why we use high voltage AC to distribute current around the nation.

The short answer is this: We transmit electricity at high-voltages because it can travel longer distances, over thinner wires. We use AC because it can be converted to a lower voltage on-the-spot, with nothing more than a transformer.

The calculations provided in the comment will be very useful when I start looking at solar-power and/or wind power. I believe there will be some limits to what I can do with 12 volts DC.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Scythe Connection

I have used a scythe for a while now and thought I had learned all I needed to know. After looking at Scytheconnection.com, I can tell I have a lot to learn.

There is a buyers guide that is quite through, with information on where you can buy a blade and snath (handle). A good page on selecting the right blades is here. They recommend two blades, a longer blade for open fields and a shorter one for trimming work.

The blade and snath I ordered from Lehmans (brush blade / standard American handle) has always always felt a little out of balance and I thought it just took getting used to. It may be that it just isn’t quite right.

There is even a section on making your own snath (handle). I may give it a try, just to see the difference.

Here is an earlier post of mine on mowing with a scythe…