The History of Cotton, and Why I Had to Grow it For Myself

Cotton I grew in my patio garden

The Marvelous Cotton Story

Written by Cara Harpole

I have always been fascinated by unusual varieties of fruit and vegetables, bamboo trees, and plants that are rarely grown by urban gardeners. One of the most fulfilling feelings for a person who is passionate about growing is to take a seed, plant it, nurture it, and later eat the fruit of your labor.

I once grew a Loquat (Japanese Plum) tree from seeds. Even though it took about four years to produce ripe juicy plums, the harvest was both plentiful and delicious.

What would be my next challenge? I conjured up a list of fruit and vegetables to grow. The goal was to grow something both exotic, and unusual for a typical urban patio garden. This special plant would have to razzle and dazzle friends and fellow garden enthusiast. It was my goal to show off my prized plant of choice once it reached its maturity. A photo would be posted on my social media site to wow my friends.

The next step was to choose a plant with a reasonable harvest time. It had to tolerate a temperamental hot and dry climate like Austin, Texas.

Continued at the link below


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How to Make a Wooden Compost Bin

Wooden compost bin

Compost materials from your kitchen

The inspiration behind creating my own compost kitchen bin was purely environmental.  This became a life style change.  I have been  recycling of my kitchen waste for years.   I’d rather see my compost in my garden rather than in a landfill.

Did you know that every year Americans generate around 14 million tons of food waste?  If we all saved our potatoes, oranges, apple and  onion peels and egg shells, coffee grinds  and old loose tea, we could not only add nutrient organic material to our gardens, but we could also help the environment.

I used  a few recycled materials to create this bin.  I highly encourage you to use as many recycled materials as possible.  To date, I have not purchase even a bag of soil in over 2 years.

Mixing compost materials with soil will create a mineral rich environment.

Outdoor Compost Bin, beginning stages


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Looming, My Accidental Hobby

Looming is a time honored skilled used to make carpets and also knit wear. The picture above is a sample of a preemie baby cap on a smaller loom. The loom in the background can used to make scarfs and purses.

Looming is something that I discovered by accident.  I never  read anything about it, nor did anyone one tell me about it.  One day when I was shopping in a craft store in Austin,  I saw an unusual gadget.  I read the description that said I could create hats and scarfs as if I was using a knitting needle.  It was on sale,  so I purchased this usual gadget and decided to make a video to share it with my friends.

Video coming soon


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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Arts and Crafts, Lovely things


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Fluffy Down Home Cornbread
 Like Momma Used to Make – Impress Your Friends Today

Fluffy down home cornbread
 like momma used to make

This recipe has been tested and proven to be–simply delicious.  Jiffy cornbread mix was the best kept secret for years, until I discovered it contained animal by-products (pork).   Kitchens around the gulf coast fooled many unsuspecting  soul food lovers with Jiffy mix.

You can now come out of the closet and make fluffy-down-home cornbread
 like momma used to make– and not the instant stuff.

½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup of buttermilk

Add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be loose – don’t  worry). Bake in a cast iron round pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Food related


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Guess Who Came to Dinner – The Invasion of my Birdseed Feeder

My patio garden is a part of a much larger Eco-system than I imagined.  The bird feeder was kept filled, and at some point I noticed an usual drop in feed levels.  “Where were all of the hungry birds I am feeding?” I thought.   It wasn’t until a late night drink of tea on my patio until I discovered this greedy critter who had been raiding my feeder for over a year.

Oh theaudacity.  What is an urban gardener to do?

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in nature and gardens


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How to Make Sustainable, Kitty Cat Furniture From Recycled Materials


Creative intervention is the act of allowing our minds to ponder on sustainable solutions to life’s problems and needs in dual form–we think, we create, we innovate – Cara Harpole
Written by Cara Harpole

Our pet’s lives can be greatly enhanced if we find creative ways to fulfill their needs for comfort, exploration, playtime, and grooming.  What better way to express your love for your pets than to build (and not purchase) their very own customized kitty furniture and scratch pads from natural, safe and sustainable resources?

“ Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generation.”  (EPA)

Look around your homes for wood, old conference bags, tree branches, or gently used kitty products that can be recycled and resurrected from their definite destiny­– the landfill.

It is surprising what a little creativity and ingenuity can accomplish.  We save money, make our pets happy, and help our environment when we use our hands to custom build fantastic furnishings for our pets.

Cats are especially enigmatic little creatures.  Their taste are eclectic, interest are ever changing, and their curiosity will never end.   What was “in” last year becomes out–whenever it pleases them.  That cut little bed you created with all of your love and anticipation will either be their favorite resting spot for life, or abandoned–just because.

There is good news, so do not fret this dubious fate.

Recycling and reinventing new ideas for future projects can be never ending.  Take the scratch pad I built from a firewood log.   I used outdoor carpet, pinewood and one very long screw to fasten everything together.  A staple gun was used to attach the carpet and wood.  The scratch pad is over 3 years yet is still in use by the cats today.

Continue at the link below:

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Kitty Stuff, Lovely things


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From Coffee, to Espresso to a Glorious cup of Cappuccino

From Coffee, to Espresso to a Glorious cup of Cappuccino

Written by Cara Harpole

This article takes us back to the discovery of coffee, to the canals of Venice, Italy. The Italians created espresso machines, which made the invention of modern day cappuccino possible. I also briefly discuss the science behind making cappuccino.

Many coffee shops get it wrong, and produce something they call cappuccino, drowning in milk and loss in flavor. My inspiration for writing this article stems from my last experience–ordering the worst cup of cappuccino I have ever had in my life. It taste like watered down milk. It was obvious that the staff was poorly trained. This was not an isolated incident. It happens over and over in well known coffee houses in the U.S.A. Businesses want to jump on the high revenue generating specialty coffee market, but not all want to give consumers what they want– quality authentic cappuccino.

Early espresso machine patent design

You can read the entire article by clicking the link below

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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Coffee, Food related


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