Stuff and Nonsense


3.07.2020

CliCK Willimantic: Beeswax Wraps

Beeswax wraps are all the rage at farmers markets and craft shows near me. Made of cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin these wraps are an all-natural, washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to plastic wrap and baggies. They're great for wrapping sandwiches, snacks, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. You can also use them to cover a bowl or casserole.

You shouldn't wrap raw meat in a beeswax wrap and expect to be able to use the wrap again -- they're not airtight and can't be cleaned the way you're meant to clean a meat container. You also probably don't want to use it to cover a bowl of something sloshy, like soup or sauce, as the wrap will grip, but not seal.

Anywho, 14th on my 43 in 43 list is to use less plastic. Beeswax wraps seemed like an answer to the plastic wrap and baggie problem, but the idea of purchasing such a basic product bothered me. I possessed a box of cute, high-quality cottons and knew Amazon could supply me with beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil. Surely, I could make my own beeswax wraps.


For months I thought about making wraps, but didn't actually do anything until I saw that CLiCK Willimantic was offering a DIY class is their teaching kitchen. CLiCK is part local processing facility for small farms and business, part education center, and part community garden. It hosts ServSafe certification classes as well as classes for more domestic types -- jams, pickling, vermicomposting, and the afore-mentioned beeswax wraps.

Last weekend, nine or so of us learned to gently melt the wax, resin, and oil together over a double boiler, then brush it onto our fabric squares and pop it in a low oven for 3 minutes. Once the fabric looked evenly shiny and saturated, we hung them up to "dry" for a few minutes. And that was it, the whole shebang. Nine complete beginners made two wraps each in an hour.

While I clearly applied too much wax to my wraps, I'm still quite proud of them and have already put them to use. If I were ready to make more wraps now, I would place the CLiCK wraps in the oven until they warmed up and then lay them on unwaxed fabric to blot up some of the excess wax mixture.


CLiCK is part local processing facility for small farms and business, part education center, and part community garden. It hosts ServSafe certification classes as well as classes for home gardeners -- jams, pickling, vermicomposting, and the afore-mentioned beeswax wraps.

3.01.2020

February 2020 Reads



The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
In a war between the corporate states of earth and the humans of Mars, armies of the poor are recruited and modified to transform into "light" which allows them to be beamed to the frontlines. Then one infantryman finds herself returning from missions with experiences very different from those of her platoon ...

The Light Brigade raised some interesting ideas about late-stage capitalism, fake news, fear, and individuality, but their treatment was frequently heavy-handed. Still, a highly readable combination of violence and philosophy.


We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ [hoopla digital]
Eight space travelers become stranded on an uncharted planet. Seven survivors fantasize about colonizing the planet, creating their own society complete with babies. However, our narrator is quick to realize survival is not possible for any of them and that the only real choice is death. This certainty alienates the other survivors, who are simply not prepared to hear it, setting in motion a dangerous conflict.

We Who Are About To... is a well-written, ultimately satisfying tale which raises interesting questions about paternalism, imperialism, autonomy, and dying.


The Bird House by Kelly Simmons
Nonlinear story of elderly widow Ann Biddle, the secrets of her past, and their impact on her present relationships.

Ann was an absolute firecracker and I enjoyed her developing relationship with her young granddaughter. The nonlinear narrative was a good choice and held my attention effectively. However, Ann's dementia felt unreal -- like a poor attempt to inject additional drama. Overall, a melancholy read about aging, secrets, and intrafamilial struggles.

2.23.2020

2020 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford is something I look forward to every February. Even though I don't attend every show, the photos it generates are a godsend in the middle of winter blahness. Over three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, horticultural displays, and vendors transform the Connecticut Convention Center into a gardener's paradise. The themed gardens are just so much gardeninspo, filling my head with fantasies about my new yard.


If all that's not enough for you, the show also offers a daily series of talks and workshops. As large crowds in enclosed spaces tends to trigger my anxieties (working on it), I used the talks as an opportunity to create a little breathing space for myself.

I attended three talks:

Grow a Pollinator Garden with award winning, nationally recognized garden writer Charlie Nardozzi

Every Yard Matters: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home with Diane St. John of Natureworks Garden Center

Wild Flowers with Owen McLaughlin, landscape architect and founder of Perennimix.com


And purchased three books from the UCONN Hartford campus bookstore's gardening and local interest display:

New England Bird Lover's Garden: Attracting Birds With Plants and Flowers by Randi Minetor

Northeastern Birds Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson III

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe

Do you see a theme?