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December 20, 2014
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DIY

Do-it-yourself (DIY) solar systems are starting to pop up across northeast Pennsylvania, after a series of free public forums hosted by the non-profit group Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS). SEEDS held a series of three workshops in April 2013, plus another session over two evenings in June this year. More than 40 people attended each session to learn how to self-install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on their homes.

The joy of seed saving

Gardeners and small farmers are the guardians of disappearing seed varieties. We have the ultimate freedom to decide what to grow in our gardens. Whereas commercial growers need to give consideration to yield, mechanical harvest and transport, we can select our varieties based on excellent taste, tenderness and eye appeal.  Read more

The green, green grass of home; Sowing, growing & eating asparagus

After enduring a punishing winter, there is nothing more welcome than the first signs of spring poking up from the impossibly barren earth. Out in nature, knotweed, ferns and nettles are among the first things to appear. In my garden, it is the incipient tender green of sorrel, rhubarb and angelica. This year, I hope to be adding asparagus to that list, because we planted a patch last spring.  Read more

Diggin’ the seeds

In some years, the weather is warm enough in March that the fence around my garden can be inspected and repaired in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season. But this year, with snow still piled high, the garden gate has not even been opened yet, so garden activities thus far have been limited to starting seeds indoors.

The biggest challenge with starting seeds indoors is getting enough light to the seedlings once they emerge. A bright sunny window will sometimes do, but most windows aren’t sunny enough for a long enough time, and space in front of them is limited.  Read more

Spring clean your closet

Spring is the season of renewal and birth. It is a time when we get a fresh start in our lives, and the ever-popular phrase “spring cleaning” enters our vernacular (and hopefully our activity). If you’re anything like me, you often throw things into your closet without really paying any attention; it’s the ideal throw-stuff-in-and-shut-the-door kind of space. You might find yourself looking at your closet and shaking your head or averting your eyes from the horror. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s time to tackle that project and spring clean your closet.  Read more

The Great Pumpkin

Nature’s timing is flawless. As if on cue, the winter squash and pumpkins appear just as the onslaught of zucchini starts to ebb. And they’re here to stay, their stout curves and painterly colors a pleasure to behold throughout the winter. Every year I stock up on the many varieties grown by Alice and Neil Fitzgerald of River Brook Farm in Cochecton, NY including international heirlooms like the brilliant orange Hubbard, the voluptuous Musque de Provence and the charmingly bumpy Marina di Chioggia. These all have a dense, creamy flesh that is equally delicious roasted, fried (pumpkin tempura!) or stewed.  Read more

The homestead flock

Like any new parents, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Standing in the post office, the incessant, frantic peeping coming from the box, which seemed way too small to contain 50 baby chicks, suggested that our free-wheeling, home-after-dusk days were over. Like many beginning “neo-homesteaders” these days, we began our foray into livestock husbandry with that seemingly fool-proof barnyard staple—Gallus gallus domesticus—the chicken.  Read more

How to kill weeds without herbicides

At this point in the growing season just about everyone who grows a garden or tends a flower bed has a common nemesis: the common garden weed. Of course, this common weed is not just one measly pest. Instead, it is a compilation of many different plants that all want the same thing: to invade our space. There is dandelion, sow thistle, carpet weed and crabgrass to name a few of the more intrusive varieties. While we all wish that our gardens were tame and beautiful from all angles, we must realize that this is the way it works. Growing a garden means you will be growing weeds as well.  Read more

The ‘tiny house movement’ 101

The Tiny House Movement, sometimes called the Small House Movement, started out as much a social movement as an architectural one, and now it’s gaining even more attention for its low-cost housing options during tough economic times.

Do the math. You can buy a ready-made tiny house—I found estimates online ranging from $40,000 to $60,000—or you can purchase plans on the Internet to build your very own tiny house, usually for under $25,000. If you can forage building materials, you could do it for even less.  Read more

Living the simple life; A house built for one

An interview with “J” by ISABEL BRAVERMAN

“Imagine no possessions; I wonder if you can”

A house that is 10 by 12 feet sits on a piece of land near the Delaware River. Could you do it? Could you live in such a tiny house? That is what J is doing, living in a small dwelling that she renovated and moved on to her land. With the house she moved all her belongings, and soon realized that in order to live in a tiny house you have to downsize.  Read more

Those little touches

Entering into adulthood means many things, but one thing really stands out—your friends start to get married. That being the case, in the past few months I’ve been to two weddings. The first was in late August and was for my good friend and neighbor Raye Levine (I was also a bridesmaid). The second, in October, was my boyfriend’s sister, Megan Gorzynski.  Read more

Affordable elegance

But in these tough economic times, not everyone wants to spend that kind of money for what is—after all—just one day in the life of a couple that’s embarking on a lifetime together. So, how do a bride and groom have both fun and elegance on their special day without breaking the bank?  Read more