macnamania

July 25, 2014

Introducing Building Earth the website

Yo dudes. I wanted to let you all know that I’m moving my building earth posts over to buildingearth.net. I plan to continue posting over there twice a week about all things green building and green lifestyle. You should definitely check it out it those topics interest you. I’m still getting some of the previous building earth posts moved over and prettied-up, but I’ll be posting new content there starting Tuesday.

And you should totally like the building earth page on facebook to keep up to date on everything going on over there!

I’ll still be posting here at macnamania, but it’ll probably be back to the kind of erratic once a week or so until I get more of a rhythm worked out. Macnamania will continue/go back to being a blog about everything I’m doing – gardens, knitting, crossfit, triathlons, books, travels. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

Hope you enjoy the shift! </shameless self promotion>

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July 22, 2014

Some food for thought

Just a quick video to spark those creative juices this afternoon.

 

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July 18, 2014

A midsummer strawberry and kale salad

We’ve been very busy in the macnamania household with family visiting, project working, and just general adjustment to life with a first year resident. At the end of the past few days I think all three of us have been exhausted. But we’re getting by pretty well, and doing our best to enjoy the summer.

We’ve been eating a lot of kale salad. Seriously. All the kale salad. I’m kind of obsessed. And so I thought I’d share our most recent fave. And it’s an easy peasy way to enjoy all that summer produce out there.

strawberry and kale salad

Strawberry and Kale Salad

Serves two people who are serious about their kale salads

1 bunch kale (any kind will do, choose your current fave)
10 -12 strawberries
1-2 oz extra-sharp white cheddar (we do live in WI now, afterall)
a handful (1/4 cup maybe)l of slivered almonds (whole or sliced would work fine too)
 
strawberry and kale salad

De-stem and chop the kale. I like to chop my kale in thin strips. Chewing raw kale works your jaw muscles, so smaller pieces is a bit easier to manage. Drizzle chopped kale with balsamic vinaigrette (see below) and massage dressing into the kale leaves with your fingers. Yes it’s messy, yes it’s worth it.

Dice the strawberries and add to kale. Grate the cheese, or I like to cut it into 1/4″ cubes and toss it into the bowl. Toast the almonds until they are starting to brown. Let the almonds cool for a couple minutes before adding to the salad. Mix well. Add more balsamic vinaigrette if needed. Eat.

The Only Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe You’ll Ever Need 

makes 1.5 cups of dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of your favorite brown mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed or very very finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
 
balsamic vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake well to mix. Taste, if it’s at all “meh” add more salt, mix and taste again. The salt is the key to making all the flavors meld together. It will go from tasting like balsamic vinegar to tasting like salad dressing with the addition of a bit more salt.

Fun fact: the mustard acts as an emulsifier, so it holds the oil and vinegar mixture together.

I keep a jar of this stuff in my fridge pretty much all the time. It keeps well and it’s good on pretty much every salad ever.

Note that olive oil has a pretty high solidification temperature, so it will start to get thick in the refrigerator. Take it out a little bit before you are going to dress a salad so that it can melt back into the dressing. Or swirl the jar under a warm running faucet to melt quicker.

You’re welcome. ;)

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July 11, 2014

Building Earth: Passive Cooling

There are a number of simple ways you can use passive design to keep your already constructed building cooler during the hot summer months, as well as some really cool building techniques that can be incorporated into construction to keep a building cool.  Today I’m going to cover the simple, already constructed building methods.

Awnings

Passive heating is all about trapping the heat from the sun inside your building. Likewise, passive cooling is about keeping that heat out. In the posts about passive lighting and passive heating, I talked about how important southern facing windows are to letting light and heat into a building, but what do you do with those windows during the summer? Using an awning on your southern windows can be a great solution. The angle of the awning will keep out the harsher rays of the sun in the summer, and in the winter, when the sun is angled lower in the sky, the light and heat will still be able to come in under the awning.

awning for passive cooling

Galien Ice Cream Parlor” by Kevin Dooley CC BY

Shade Trees

Planting a deciduous shade tree in your southern yard can help keep your home or building cool as well. In the summer months, the leafy tree will provide shade for your southern windows, and if the tree is tall enough, for the roof as well.  In the winter, the tree will drop its leaves and let the light and heat pass through.

Curtains

Using thick curtains on southern and western facing window during the day can also keep keep a room or building cool by keeping the sun out, in the evening when the harshness of the rays have lessened, you can open the curtains again to let in the light.

Air Flow

Get that air moving. Open up windows on all sides of the building, and keep interior doors open as well to help allow the air to pass through the building.

Next week I’ll get into some of the ways that we can use construction to help get the air moving, and keep it cool in the first place.

Are you looking for an introduction to passive design? You can find it here.

Oh, hey, Building Earth has a facebook page now.  Keep up to date on posts and other interesting green news by liking us!

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July 7, 2014

Building Earth: Passive heating do-it-now

Ok, maybe you don’t have any big renovations planned for your home, but you still want to make your living space more heat energy efficient. Let’s go back to the second goal in passive heating:  Seal up your building so the heat doesn’t escape. Here are some simple things you can do to seal up your home and keep it warm without burning so much gas this winter.

Caulk

The thing about warm air is that it can escape through really tiny holes and cracks, so we want to do our best to fill them all in. Start by checking your windows, where the frame of the window comes in contact with the wooden sill. Is it sealed? If not, use caulk all the way around to fill in and block any potential leaks. Now look at the junction between the glass and the window frame and do the same. You can find clear caulk especially made for windows for this project

seal windows for better passive heating

Front Window” by liz west CC BY // modified

Window Plastic

To add an extra layer of sealant, (or if you live in an apartment and can’t get permission to caulk your windows,) go with the old standby of window plastic. Wipe down the sill well, and make sure it is dry before putting down the double sided tape to help ensure a good seal.

Weather Stripping

Doors are the other prime leak location. Especially older wooden doors whose wood has begun to weather and warp. You can help stop up those possible leaks by putting weather stripping on the edges of the door. A draft guard along the bottom edge works well to block leaks too. Make sure you measure your door and the gaps between the door and the jam to ensure you get the appropriate size weather stripping and draft guard. You want the weather stripping to be slightly thicker than the gap it is filling to get a good seal. So there you have it, three simple ways to make your house better at passive heating. The great news is, these three things can also help keep your house cool during the summer as well. And we’ll have more on that coming up.

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you looking for an introduction to passive design? You can find it here.

Oh, hey, Building Earth has a facebook page now.  Keep up to date on posts and other interesting green news by liking us!

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