Sara Hartwin

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since Nov 23, 2023
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home care tiny house cooking writing
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[autumn 2023]
Full-time RVer. Husband and I are DIYers by necessity.
Grew up in Appalachian foothills. We typically winter in the southeast US. Want to settle higher in the Appalachians.
Current interests (aka things I work on now):
camper living, sewing, frugality, cleaner/simpler nutrition, kinder personal care, practicing nature observation, complex-PTSD recovery/reparenting/self-growth, bodyweight/functional fitness (via GMB Elements), thrifting, self-guided broad-range education
Currently educating myself in:
soil building/rehabbing, low tech where it's practical, working with not against nature, food preservation, navigating bureaucracy, growing on slopes, natural fibers/fabrics, adding texture to land, lazy polyculture, landrace gardening
feed ourselves and others better quality food than we've ever had before, live untethered from "we do it thusly b/c we've always done it thusly," and "you must depend on us and do it our way," leave wherever I am/have been better than I find it
Have devoured:
Dr Bryant Redhawk's Soil Series, anything about Sepp Holzer, Hugelkultur info, Paul's keynote, several podcasts
Ongoing consumption:
Going to Seed: Adaptation Gardening eCourse, R Ranson's various fiber threads
For More
SE USA, Piedmont uplands, Zone 8a/b
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Recent posts by Sara Hartwin

I'm at a decision-making point with the LAB concentrate. I'm still burping it daily, it still smells mostly sweet with perhaps a faint, faint bit of pickle-y - not unpleasant by any means.
In addition to my questions/thoughts from the first post, can anyone tell me if the following thoughts make sense?
If it's gone anaerobic, wouldn't it be obviously stinking?
If it's been contaminated by yeast or mold, wouldn't I be seeing growth of some kind by now (fuzz, film, strands, etc)?

What would you do - keep and use? or toss and culture fresh?

Edited to correct misspelling.
I cultured and have been using LAB, documented in a different thread. The molasses-saturated concentrate (from Phase 3) has been stored in a closed* 1/2 gallon jug in an open cabinet. All was well until about a week ago - I pulled the jug out to find it expanded, with an audible off-gassing when I loosened the lid.
*The lid was screwed on tightly but I had a paper towel-scrap between lid and jug. (Can't remember my reasoning for that now.)
The jug has been in the back of an open cabinet (no door). The spot is shaded from direct light but is not completely dark. Temperatures have generally been in the mid-60s to mid-70s with 2-3 spikes to 80degF.
It still smells sweet but may have a new subtle "pickle-y" odor, different than I remember when I first mixed it up.
There are lots of tiny bubbles coming to the top, making a thin foam layer.
What do you think is happening -
destabilization and reactivation of the LAB?
a double ferment?
contamination w/some other beastie?
something else entirely?
Can I still dilute this and use it on my kitchen scraps effectively?
Can I still dilute it and use it as odor control?
To mark a milestone for us - we have a garden! The first of my adult life (my parents gave theirs up when I was school-age).
It's conventional and built with lots of inputs, but it is growing, flowering, and fruiting and represents greater independence from grocery store shelves for us. Also I'm enjoying the opportunity to observe how the commercial/conventional plants and seeds behave, and what kind of "pests" are attracted in.

Meanwhile, I am adding LAB-inoculated kitchen scraps to the clay dirt in the back half of the property where we're staying, hoping that next spring I'll have some richness to sow seed into.
5 days ago
Phase 4: LAB dilution for immediate/ongoing use
To keep my notes straight, I've been calling the result of this phase "LAB-3". The recommended dilution is 1:20.  Using the amazing internets, I found that 1 tablespoon = 0.0625 cups (1/16 cups). Therefore, 20 tablespoons = 1 1/4 cups. So,

LAB amtH2O amt
if 1TBthen 1 1/4 C
if 2TBthen 2 1/2 C
if 3TBthen 3 3/4 C
if 4TBthen 5 C

Total volume of the last line is 84 tablespoons, or 42 fluid ounces.

I've been using this dilution in a spray bottle for various things. Being over-excited to experiment with it, I sprayed it on the soil around one recently planted commercial tomato plant, and likely got it on stem and leaves, too. Leaves soon (in a couple days, to the best of my memory) turned yellow and dry-looking. Closest leaves of nearby plants also reacted the same way. I think I proved a bit of wisdom from this Dr Redhawk post (emphasis mine):

Bryant Redhawk wrote:Stomata are located on the underside of leaves, which is were any foliar spray should be placed for the plant to efficiently take in nutrients sprayed on them, especially the waxy leaved species of plants.
That is why you should be careful about what you use as a foliar application in my opinion the risk to the plant outweighs the benefit, especially if you have built a good microbiome in your soil.

A more targeted, controlled application method (such as pouring into the soil) might have prevented this, and perhaps it would have been better not to use it at all. If anyone can add any more exact info to what happened here, I'd love to learn more. The leaves have recovered their green hue, and the plant seems to be doing okay now.

I've used it in better success for odor control in sink drains and our RV toilet, and on kitchen scraps while I waited for Phase 5 (next post) to finish. I do think I'll mix up another 4-5 cups' worth and pour into our black tank. I think that will not affect our dumping schedule, and I've been impressed with its effect on odors overall.

Life has gotten busier. Updates here are more sporadic for the time being.
5 days ago

Harmony Dybala wrote:I’m taking the risk of publishing a project in progress that is currently extremely unglamorous.

I'm so glad you risked it, and I hope the pictures keep coming, whatever happens.
It's immeasurably helpful to see the unglamorous (challenges and setbacks) alongside the wins.

I especially love seeing the system grow in complexity (predators coming in, competition)!
1 month ago
This week I met someone who is setting up their compost but hadn't heard about yet.
I completely forgot to give her the warning - oops.
I think I did a pretty good job of not exposing how deep in I am.

1 month ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:How do people get raised up thinking they are perfect and never make mistakes, get confused, or don't know everything?

Hi, Tyler - I have a perspective to share on this, based on lived experience.
It wasn't so much that I thought all that about myself (though sometimes I did), but if you didn't, then I was in big, existential trouble.
This is how I think it happened, in a nutshell: the childhood environment continually removed permission to fail, question, or be wrong.

I expect there are many possible paths. I theorize about them (ultra-critical environment, or not physically safe to make mistakes, or under constant pressure to be good at ______) but can really only speak to one.

It goes something like this:
Immerse the child in a closed, high-demand culture.
The culture teaches “self is bad” (the child believes they are bad),
sets an impossible standard (the child can only be okay/safe if they are good),
and places HUGE value on other-approval (the child is only good if others think they are good, AND the child is responsible for what others think of them),
and conformity (the culture’s definition of “good” is the only acceptable definition).
Basically, there's no room for questioning or exploratory failure.

Another example:
The child is labeled “intelligent” over and over, but nuances of intelligence are ignored (i.e, some things are easy; others will take diligence or different ways of learning). The child learns they should excel at everything (they won’t), and believes “smart” is their sole ticket to success in life (it’s not).
Again, no allowance for failure.

I can attest there doesn't have to be blatant maltreatment or neglect (I had a physically and emotionally safe upbringing), and the message doesn’t have to originate from the parents, or have malicious intent.

How criticism feels: instant fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode.
There aren’t actual thoughts, but the reaction is basically, “This contrary idea casts doubt on my rightness/goodness/worthiness. My existence is now threatened. Danger! Danger!”
Definitely irrational, and I am definitely not over-dramatizing the involuntary response.
The intensity varies. Often it's a manageable inner distraction; occasionally it's a flood and I am internally only dealing with defensiveness/panicking and unable to participate fully in the interaction.

Regarding the Margarine Effect, I think when someone's identity/security gets wrapped up in an idea, any challenge to that belief can trigger self-protection.

Being “awake” (for a few years now) is amazing. Nowadays I work on choosing versus reacting. Sometimes I can even welcome unexpected practice!
1 month ago

Christopher Weeks wrote:Sara, you inspired me to build review wikis for the other two GTS courses

Oh, thanks! They look great. I hope they get lots of exposure. I haven't started either course, but now I'll have a place to review them once I get into them.

r ranson wrote:What you did looks really good.

Thank you. Having a template gave me a big head start.

r ranson wrote:It's inspired the conversation of "what if we made a new review grid all about workshops?"  (I paraphrase)

And the reply is (again paraphrased) "do we have enough reviews of workshops to make a review grid yet?"

I need coffee as I forgot the second half of this thought.  I think it was about hearing from you on your thoughts for making a shiny new review grid or improving an old one.  Or something like that, I'm off to make coffee.  

Hope the coffee is working.

In case you're right about the second half of that thought, here are lots of words:
From a newish user standpoint, it would be amazing to go to one place to see a whole list of reviewed instructional content, one place to see reviewed YouTube (or other vid host) channels, and another for reviewed documentaries.
Because I understand a teeny, tiny bit of how much effort this forum takes just to maintain, I would be perfectly okay with things staying as they are - all the digital-type stuff in one place, regardless of purpose.

When I was learning about how to set up the wiki, I was relieved to learn that the staff would handle assigning the summary to a certain grid. I assumed the DVD/Movie/YouTube channel grid would be the best fit, but I was glad I didn't have to make that decision.

Brainstorming a bunch of questions here - please keep in mind I know nothing about how forum software works.
Could it be as simple as renaming the DVD/Film review grid to "Digital Media" review grid? Would that make it become too huge over time? Is it possible for a grid to be too-huge?
How much of a time-sink is it to extract all the pertinent threads and make a new grid? (is the benefit worth the time)
What would be the criteria for a new grid: only online courses? only instructional/how-to content? Is "instructional" always obviously distinct from "informational"? What defines "instructional"? (so you'd know exactly which threads to extract) And can you answer the "Do we have enough dedicated workshop-type threads to do this?" without that definition?
Would it make more sense to leave all the DVDs/Films/Long Videos on the grid but extract all the YouTube channels instead? Put another way: is there a different category that could be pulled out which also makes sense? or makes more sense?

I don't know if any of that is relevant to the discussion or makes sense, but those are the thoughts I thunked.
I think I've got them all.
And now my brain is tired. But that was fun!
It would be interesting to revisit my answers in 5 years to see whether/how they will have changed.
1 month ago
Deer! What if I plant enough for us all? And what if I cook up some bone sauce for the absolutely off-limits things? And, yes - tasty, tasty venison.
1 month ago