Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Shopping with the Cheapskate

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in gerdening information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Got a gardener on your Christmas list? Here are some goodies that I know they will appreciate. Easy on the budget, too, because they're Cheapskate Approved!

They don't come much better than Fiskars and these comfy grip garden tools really come in handy for repotting, turning that soil, and digging out those annoying weeds.

I'm not one of those who enjoys the therapeutic effects of standing out in the garden, watering the plants for hours on end. I also don't enjoy the expense of sprinkler systems or wasting water.  I do really love my drip irrigation system, though. It's cheap, realiable, and does a fantastic job. As a bonus, if you live in a frequently droughted area like I do, drip systems save so much water that they're usually exempt from rationing laws.  This one is very easy to set up, too.

Taking the ease of watering to the next step, this timer...that sits between your tap and irrigation hose...makes it completely automatic. I use this 2 zone timer so I can set different watering schedules for my shade plants and those that sit in the full sun.  Can't imagine life without it now.

Not long after the holidays, gardeners are going to want to start their vegetable seeds. We use this tray, that can sit on a window sill in cold climates, to give our plants a greenhouse-quality start. Plant in the beginning of the year. When the last frost is past, you'll have some nice root balls that you can just pop out and stick in the ground.  When done, save for next year or turn in the completely recyclable components to your local recycler.

Again, thanks for supporting the Cheapskate Urban Gardener by doing your shopping through our links. Have a great holiday season.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(More) Shopping with The World on Wheels...Packing for a Road Trip

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in accessible travel information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Airfares are high, planes are cramped, and service leaves much to be desired...why not take a road trip?

Here are some great gift ideas for your road-tripping friends...

For less than $90, give the gift of never being lost again with a GPS unit with lifetime map updates.

Road trips are always easier with some cool drinks and snacks handy. The flat top of this ice chest also
doubles as a tray.

Keep your drinks cold and the mess out by using this ice blanket instead of ice. Wrap around the walls of your cooler and never see a melt puddle again.

For no mess or fuss at all, an electric cooler (that plugs into your lighter) works without ice or having to freeze your Blue Ice. Turn the plug over and it becomes a food warmer. We use this for bringing meat home on the road without spoilage.

Road trips often involve long stretches of continuous driving. If it's not your turn behind the wheel, make yourself comfortable and take a soothing nap with this inflatable neck pillow.

Finally, make those long stretches a little less boring with a massive collection of music on your iPod. This 160GB model will hold thousands and thousands of tunes to keep you awake and entertained on your way to your destination.

Happy Holiday shopping!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Road With The Cheapskate...Fall Color in Northern California

While Southern California has little fall color, there is quite a bit more up in the cooler north. No, it's not Maine or the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it sure is pretty. Above is a Zinfandel grape vine at Villa Toscano Winery in the Shenandoah Valley of the Sierra Foothills.

How to you know when you've reached Northern California? Well, this planting in the center divider of highway 99 near Fresno will tell you. The palm to the south, the pine to the north...this is the boundary between Southern and Northern California (look for it at exit 150).

We're visiting the wine country of the Sierra Foothill, specifically Amador County about 50 miles east of Lodi.  This is California's oldest continuously operating winery (since 1856), the Sobon Estate.

They still use this original wine cave, dug into the hill, to age wines 156 years later.

At the top of a nearby hill, the Shenandoah Vineyard has this nice, arbor shaded picnic area.

This is also the Motherlode, California's Gold Country. John Marshall discovered gold here just up the road at Sutter's Mill. Dozens of historic gold mining towns dot the landscape. This is Amador City.


Now, back to home and tilling my own garden.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Version of Fall Color

The Cheapskate's been on the road so posting has been light but I'm back...let's start with our late rose bloom in the front yard rose garden.  This unnamed pink rose is having a stunning final bloom with the neighbor's liquidambars showing their seasonal colors.

Next to that one is this gorgeous Julie Newmar which almost has more color than my camera can handle.

Out back, the roses are pretty much done. This is Mr. Lincoln, all done and just waiting to store energy in its rose hips.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shopping with The World On Wheels

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in accessible travel information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!


  Here are some items we at The World on Wheels like and think would make a great addition to your Christmas gift list.

As I write this, I'm sitting in a Best Western in California's Motherlode and Letty has informed me that she forgot our toiletry bag. Dang...hate when that happens...but be sure you have a good toiletry kit available. Start with this oral care kit from Dr. Fresh. With four kits, there's enough for the whole family.

You can also get this travel kit from Donavan that includes deodorant, razor, shaving cream and more...

To carry your gear, we recommend a lightweight, folding, and hanging flat bag that you can just hang on the bathroom hook when you get to your hotel. This bag from Lewis N. Clark fits the bill.

My wife wouldn't want me to finish this list of travel grooming accessories without mentioning a good hair dryer and curling iron combo for travelers, so here you go...

That's it for our Black Friday list but we'll be back with more recommendations as the gift giving season continues.

Stay tuned...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shop Amazon with The World on Wheels!

JUST A REMINDER: The World on Wheels is an Amazon affiliate. When you shop through the Amazon links on our page you support our efforts to provide the best in accessible travel information at no cost to yourself. I really appreciate our supporters who use our Amazon links!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Citrus

Fall weather has finally arrived here in Southern California which means there's just a hint of cool in the very dry air. The leaves are turning brown (no color here) and they'll soon drop.

Winter's arrival means that citrus season is here. At the top of this post is a little bit of our harvest from last year, cara cara navel oranges and Meyer lemons.

This is our "citrus grove," consisting of three dwarf citrus trees...

...the Meyer lemon...

...the cara cara navel...

...and this rescue of a tangelo that was near death when I got it last year and nursed it back to health.

I get a few fruit each year but nothing like friends and family that have old trees in their yards that they don't even pay attention to and, yet, get hundreds of fruit that end up rotting on the ground.


I try to ignore mine and get even less fruit. The leaves shrivel and get mottled, so I treat 'em well, they look better, and I get a few fruit but not much.

Still trying to figure this citrus thing out. I fertilize every two weeks, water regularly, and treat with ironite once a year and the harvest doesn't change much. of these days.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

TRANSIT REPORT: Denver, Colorado

Denver is a very large city surrounded by a patchwork of smaller towns, plains, and mountains.  It's transit system is actively growing and is not quite a mature system.  Some things work quite well, others are OK, and there are still patches where transit is not yet a viable option.

Public transit here is provided by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) and is a mix of light rail and buses.

LIGHT RAIL - Currently, there are five lines that make up the light rail system.  It runs two lines to the south to Englewood and Littleton and terminates at two points to the north of downtown, 30th and Downing and Union Station at the western end of the 16th Street Mall.

Inside, the trains are clean, modern, and fast. For wheelchair users, there is a raised platform at the end of each station at the driver's end.  A manual ramp is deployed by the driver to allow chairs and strollers to board.  In this configuration, up to three wheelchairs or strollers can be on any given train.  The trains themselves have a much larger capacity.  Either 12 or 18 chairs/strollers can be on a train (depending on if it is a 2 or 3 car train) and if the platforms were built to train level instead of below it, more chair users could be accomodated. 

New lines under construction are also following the lower platform model the current stations have.

Chair users must tell the driver where they plan on exiting so the ramp can be deployed.  This seems like a missed opportunity in universal design and puts an extra burden on wheelchair users that the general public does not have.

Another egregious lapse in the system is that it does not serve the airport but a line is under construction and service to the airport is expected to begin in 2016. To the west, a new line to Golden that will get you close...but not the Coors brewery will open in 2013.

BUSES - The buses run by the RTD are like most cities in the U.S.  A lift or ramp is deployed from the front door and up to two wheelchairs can be accomodated in each bus.  Tie-downs are installed in each position.

The bus system covers a much larger area reaching towns in the nearby Rockies to the west; Boulder to the north; Denver International Aiport to the east, and the county line to the south.

16th STREET MALL FREE SHUTTLE - One of the stars of the transit system here is the shuttle that moves people back and forth along the mile long 16th Street Mall from Union Station on the west end to the Capitol Building on the east end.  Just about anything you want to do in downtown is within 3 blocks of this route.

The buses are electric/hybrids and have multiple entry doors like trains.  Wheelchairs enter via the second door where the driver can deploy a manual ramp.  It's an easy entrance into the two wheelchair locations and tie-downs are available.  Buses run every couple of minutes and are among the easiest I've seen for wheelchair entrance and exit.  They are also free.

SKYRIDE - RTD also operates a bus service to the airport via large buses that serve Englewood to the south, downtown, Broomfield to the north, and Lakewood to the west.  It also connects with several light rail stations.  Fares run $9, $11, or $13 each way.

Unless noted above, the basic fare on buses or light rail is $2.25 (disabled $1.10), which is in the high range for most transit systems. 

Day and multi-day passes are also available, which would make it a little more affordable for travelers, except that they're not available at the have to buy them at approved retailers such as Safeway.  This makes it pretty hard for a traveler to get one when they're in town.

Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
Front Range Express provides accessible bus service between Denver and Colorado Springs for $11 each way.

Friday, November 9, 2012

More Visitors to the Cheapskate's Garden

One of the joys of a good garden is attracting nature's visitors.  We've had around 50 different species of birds come through the yard over the years. Here are a few we've been lucky enough to catch on camera. Above is one of the western bluebirds that we see sometimes in the spring.

We also have a whole lot of birds of prey. The most common is the buzzard or turkey vulture.

Here, a house finch hangs out with a couple of white capped sparrows on our back gate.

The titmouse is a fun and welcome visitor anytime he comes.

...and, lastly, this Allen's hummingbird guards the feeders viciously.

Copyright 2012-Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Abusive Parent Tries to Make Amends...

One of my horticulture professors used to tell us that we should know all the plants in our garden like they were our children.

Didn't really catch on to what he said at the time but now I understand. I know each plant intimately, although I have to admit, I like some more than others and tend to play favorites sometimes.


Such is the case with my zygopetalum orchid. Not that I don't like it...I do. It's got spectacular flowers with an amazing scent but a few years ago we had the worst freeze in my memory. Two weeks of sub-30 nighttime temperatures with most nights getting to 27-28 degrees. These guys don't like that.

I had two plants, one didn't make it and I didn't think the other one did either but it eventually came back.  I left it alone to see what would happen.

Nothing.  It grew but went from being a consistent "bloom every Halloween" to never even thinking about throwing a spike.  

I neglected it and moved on to other things.

This year, after another year of no blooms, I decided to return and show it a little more love by repotting it.

Pulling it out of the pot, it came like soil whatsoever. I'm surprised that it still grew.

The plant naturally fell into two pieces when I took it out so now I have two plants to repot.

Since it's an epiphyte, the process is exactly the same as when I repotted our phalaenopsis orchid.

Now to just water in, put back on the bench, and see what happens.

Copyright 2012- Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indian Summer Puttering in the Garden

November 3...80 degrees. 

The plants are loving this late season heat. Julie Newmar even put out one, last small bloom.

I removed all of our tomatoes but something made me leave this plant in and just cut it back. Glad I did. It's coming back and I'm hoping for another crop of tomatoes by Christmas.

While the season is ending for a big part of our garden, other parts are just coming into season. I needed to put a stake of the buds of this cymbidium that will be blooming soon so it won't break off.

You can't see them all in this picture but my wife and I counted five spikes on this cymbidium. Hoping they all survive.

Here's some more cymbidium buds clinging tight to the sprinkler.

The hot chiles are ripening. They go from green, to dark purple, to red.

Here's one that's already to go.

Our citrus "grove" is also doing well. Here, the Cara Cara navels are slowing going from green to orange.

The Meyer lemons are almost there.


Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Recipes for a Cheapskate..Cream of Bell Pepper Soup

My favorite soup. I always look forward to cooler weather and my wife making this soup.  It's so good.

Let's start by harvesting some fresh, bell peppers off of the vine. Our little plot of bell peppers have been very productive this year.

Along with the bell peppers, we'll add a couple of serranos for taste. They come from the garden too.

Chop up the peppers and throw into the blender.

Saute some chopped peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil.

In a 5 quart pot, put some flour and water in as a thickener. Follow with some chicken broth.

Blend the peppers.

Add the peppers, temper in some heavy cream, and cook on low flame for 10-20 minutes. Serve with some tortilla chips and jack cheese.

For a more complete recipe, try this one at  the CD Kitchen

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved