Monday, September 21, 2015

Mary Kay: Home Business Opportunity or Flopportunity?

Does the Mary Kay home business opportunity provide the typical consultant with enough income from product sales to replace an entry-level, minimum-wage job such as burger flipper, Wal-Mart greeter, or convenience store cashier?

Not only no, but hell no!   You'll be lucky to afford to buy a burger for your kids. 

Potential Income for Mary Kay IBCs

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

10 Pound Chili: New Mexico Style, with No Sissy Gringo Ingredients

Huge Boxes of Locally Grown Chilis, Roasted to Order
In the summer, supermarkets sell a lot of steaks. That means that the cuts of beef that aren't suitable for steaks will be abundant and cheap. So when the neighborhood's grills are full of steak, I buy the less tender cuts to make New Mexico style "Chilis Verdes con Carne". This is just what it says in Spanish: green chilis with meat. It combines the essentials of New Mexican cooking, green chilis, garlic, onions and slow-cooked beef with the classic spices of Old Mexican mol├ęs.

It's called 10-pound chili because it takes 10 pounds each of the three main ingredients.

The recipe makes about 4 gallons of chili, which is enough for a crowd, or to freeze for later use. Start it the day before you plan to serve it, because the time in the oven is when all the flavors blend together.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Kill Bermuda Grass in 10 Easy Steps

In its proper place, Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) makes a good lawn or good pasture. Unfortunately it doesn't stay in its proper place. The underground roots and the above ground runners spread everywhere. Soon you have Bermuda grass erupting from your flower beds, creeping through your cactus, tangling in your shrubs and even invading your garden shed.

Killing Bermuda grass is not difficult, but it's not going to happen overnight. I'm a desert landscaper. I spend a lot of time killing lawns, especially Bermuda grass lawns, to replace them groundcovers that use less water. I have learned that no matter what the herbicide package says, it will take at least a month and several applications of herbicide to kill 90 to 95% of the Bermuda grass, then several months of spot application on surviving sprigs to get the remainder. It's a tough plant. It's so tough that it grows in the cracks of the concrete medians in the middle of a Phoenix freeway.

Bermuda Grass with seed heads
By Harry Rose from South West Rocks, Australia via Wikimedia Commons

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Natural Pest Control for Gardeners and Landscapers: It's a Bug-eat-Bug World

The no-work, pesticide-free approach to controlling garden pests is to let their natural enemies eat them. The easiest and cheapest way to minimize the numbers of insects that damage your plants is to encourage predator insects that will eat the plant-damaging insects for free. The easiest and cheapest way to encourage these insect predators is to stop killing them - stop using pesticides in the garden. There may be a brief surge in the plant eaters, but the predator populations will expand to control them.
Caterpillar on 4 O'Clock Flowers
Think of the advantages for you - no buying pesticides, no weekends wasted spraying pesticides, not worries about pesticide residues on your vegetables. Just sit back and watch the food chain in action. For sex, violence and mayhem, it matches anything you can find on television, except maybe Game of Thrones.
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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Okra: How to Grow, Cook, and Preserve It

Okra is not easy to find in supermarkets and outrageously expensive when you do find it. But, if you have dirt in all-day sun, a reliable water supply, and lots of hot days you can grow your own okra. The okra plant has large leaves and pretty hibiscus-like white or yellow flowers that would look good in a sunny flower bed.

Okra Flower

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DIY Trommel Sifter for Compost

My composting method makes compost with very little effort, but it needs sifting to separate the undecomposed material from the compost.

The first sifting method relied on rubbing the compost through a wire mesh placed over a wheelbarrow - that was way too much work. 

Then I found this instructable on making a rotating sifter, called a "trommel". The one I built from this idea used a wooden frame that could rest on my garden cart.  It was OK, but having to lift the trommel and frame off the cart to move the compost to the garden and then set it up again to continue sifting was a nuisance.

First trommel with supporting frame

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Tilling and Plowing Tips for Gardeners

Everything I know about tilling and plowing gardens I learned from a horse. He was a darned smart horse.  I learned to use a garden tiller in my uncle's 1-acre garden plot, walking behind a small, horse-drawn cultivator. It was not easy, but the horse was twice my age, knew 10 times more about cultivating than I did, and he plowed the way he knew it should be done.

Farmer plowing in Germany. Photo: Ralf Roletschek

Unfortunately for suburban gardeners, their garden tillers don't have the brains of a plow horse guiding them through the process. Let me pass on what I learned from that old horse (and my uncle).

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DIY Cheap Compost Bin

Twenty dollars in materials and a handful of paperclips is all you need to make a sturdy, functional compost bin that holds almost a cubic yard of material.  This will make one wire bin, about 3 feet in diameter and 4 feet high. Wire compost bins will not produce compost as quickly as solid-sided bins that allow frequent turning and they can be untidy looking. However, "cheap and easy" is my gardening motto.

You will need about 8x4 feet of space for the assembled bin to allow room to rake around it and room to remove the compost later.
Compost bin, almost full

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mary Kay Ash and the Missing Marriages

Mary Kay Ash said, "A woman who will tell her age will tell anything." She never told her age. She also never mentioned other details that might have interfered with her carefully crafted public image as the plucky divorced single mother of three from the wrong side of the tracks who founded a cosmetics company to give women like her a chance. Somewhere, somehow, she managed to lose track of several of her five (or seven) husbands.

Mary Kay Ash had seven husbands? Yes, it appears that Mary Kay Ash had seven of them, not the three that are usually acknowledged in her various biographies.

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