Friday, September 12, 2014

Composting; Step One: The Bin

For weeks I have been searching for free pallets to build a cubic yard compost bin.  My Dad and Sue hit the jackpot!  The delivered about a dozen old pallets to our house the other day!

The next morning I got to work.  Recently, I have been watching a great web series by the folks at Garden Fork.  They have an awesome video on building a compost bin from old pallets that I have been eager to get into.  Everyone interested in these bins should watch their video.

I had to improvise a bit as I went but it was very easy.  It cost me a few hours labor, some screws, hinges, and a latch.  That is it.

Step 1: get your materials.  Find your pallets.  I used pallets that have already seen their best years so perfect pallets are not needed.  Get your drill, some scrap wood, screws, hinges, latch, and some gloves.

Step 2: set your pallets up on a relatively flat area of ground.  Then stand them up against each other so you can eyeball where your screws are going to go, which side will be your door/front.

Step 3: screw it together.  I did not use and extra brackets or anything.  I just screwed the pallets into themselves.  I had to use two pieces of scrap wood from a broken piece of pallet to make sure it was secure.

Step 4: attach the hinges.  For my, this was the tricky part.  You want to make sure your door side it off the ground by about an inch so that you can get it open and closed easily.  Then make sure the hinges are level and screw them in.

Step 5: install the latch.  This actually seemed like an optional step since my door seemed to stay closed fairly well without it but down the road I may be happy I have the latch.

That is it.  It was an easy task and I didn't even get a splinter (thanks to my gloves)!  Now we have a great use for food that begins to turn as well as a great place to put all the veggie scraps after Kaleigh and I make our special broth!

Check out the outstanding video that I used to help me build this great bin here:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Paid off the new house!

This past Tuesday, Ashley and I paid off the new house.  We never even had to make a mortgage payment.  We had considered keeping a mortgage and doing more of the work we wanted to do with the house but the mortgage company, Mortgage Network, dropped the ball at every turn and could no longer make good on their commitment to pay out the moneys due.  Fortunately, we were in the unique position to simply pay the mortgage off and pay the contractor out of pocket for the new roof, siding, spetic, etc. Never use Mortgage Network.  As my niece would say "Nevah Evah!".

On the plus side, we are now mortgage free and neither of us has a car note!  We are in a great position for years to come and despite the headache, it feels great to have the debt gone.  It is a proud moment in our lives.  I am only 34 and own my home free and clear.

This past week or so has had a number of memorable Maine firsts.  Kaleigh began her first day of 2nd grade!  She is already making friends, it amazes me how quickly children her age make friends.  Ashley also started her first day off work.  She seems to really enjoy the hospital she works at which is great!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trip to the lake

My oldest sister, once a year, rents a cabin on Belgrade Lake in Oakland Maine.  Fortunately, this year, it was shortly after we moved so we were able to go visit her, the kid and her family.

We spent some quality time doing dinner after swimming.  There was a floating dock Kaleigh and her cousins really enjoyed until they got rained out.

We also played a brutal game with fake swords in the woods.  It reminded me a bit of my first time playing laser tag.  There is no other feeling like shooting and stabbing children only to have them get up and so I can do it again!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blackfly Ball!

I am still trying to catch the blog world up on my recent move to Maine.  We have done a lot of fun things and trying to capture them all is an enjoyable but time consuming task.

Shortly after Ashley's birthday, we headed to the Blackfly Ball in Machias Maine.  The Ball is hosted by the Beehive Collective which does radical artwork in larger than life fashion.  It is extremely impressive work that everyone should check out if they have the chance.

We traveled the distance to Machias mainly to see a band that Ashley, Kaleigh and I all enjoy, Blackbird Raum.  They are a folk/punk band from the west coast with some great politics and an amazing stage presence.

It turned out to be a late night with a nearly 3 hour drive home after a show that ended at midnight but it was well worth the time.  We all had a great day!  I hope next years Ball is as good as this years was.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ashley turned 28!

We have been working really hard on getting the house straighten out and trying to balance having fun.  Shortly after the girls arrival, Ashley was able to celebrate her birthday!  She went on a whale watching cruise, it was something she had always wanted to do.  She had a great time.

After the cruise, we went to a local Thai restaurant in Hallowell for her birthday dinner.  I made her a cookie cake for dessert.  It was a low key birthday but we have been pretty busy.

My computer is on its way out.  Sadly, this is a bad time for it to happen because it is hard to rationalize buying a new PC when we also need more insulation for the coming Maine winter.  I have been trying my best to get by with it.  It has been reformatted and it is somewhat improved.  I am trying to use a new photo editing program as well.  New software takes some getting used to and going through all the photos I have taken since the move is going to require some serious time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Biggest News Evah!

This post comes with some big exciting news.  Ashley, Kaleigh and myself have been working on a big project for about 10 months and it is finally time to reveal the big news.  We have uprooted our family and moved to Maine!

It has been an ongoing work since December of 2013 and we all finally made it.  It has been an adventure and is going to be quite an adjustment for the girls (I grew up in Maine).  We bought a house and some land with the intention of growing food and having a more leisurely life while offering Kaleigh a better school system, a safer place to live and a new life style.

One month ago, I quit my jobby job.  We packed the house, then a massive truck and I towed it all to Maine.  What should have been a 19 hour drive took me 28 hours.  I completed it in two days and still got the entire truck unpacked with the help of friends and family who met me at the house in Maine.

Ashley and Kaleigh joined me about a week later and we have been settling in ever since.  We have been swapping off work days with fun days.  The house is a fixer-upper and we have been working diligently while still getting in sufficient beach time.

We have a lot of projects we are going to be working on that we will be noted as we start/finish/progress through them.  In the meantime, we are just enjoying the last of the Maine summer.

Additionally, I decided to change the name of this blog.  It has been a long time and far over-due but I am now The Maine Vegan.  The blog will still contain the same type of content but I wanted to associate myself with our new community and celebrate the new life the girls and I are creating for ourselves.

Monday, July 21, 2014


I have been craving some Thai basil recently.  Kaleigh does not have much exposure to Thai food but has shown an affinity for most Asian cuisines so we thought we would try a green curry.

I deep fried some tofu, made a nice curry with Thai chilies, Thai basil and spices.  We dropped in some veggies and poured it over some rice noodles and had a great meal.

Kaleigh loved it.  She even took a spoon and got every drop of curry sauce from her bowl.  Ashley took some to work with her and shared with a co-worker and they thought it came from a restaurant.  Maybe this dish will be in the regular rotation!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Deep Fry Friday: Wasn't Me!

Ashley has wanted to make vegan jalapeno poppers for weeks now.  I have never had a jalapeno popper in my life, vegan or not.  Frankly, I did not understand how they were not too hot to eat.  I could not wrap my head around the idea of eating a whole jalapeno pepper.

Ashley wanted to force the issue.  She got a bag of jalapenos at the farmers market and her own mixture to make a cheezy filling.She went to work.  When they came out of the deep fryer, they looked phenomenal.

I was still a little skeptical until I bit into my first one and the temperature was quite a mild taste.  They were great.  I have never been much for cheese, vegan or prior, but these were awesome.  Ashley did a great job, maybe I will have her teach me how to make them!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Blueberry Basil Cheesecake

As I have said before, I am not a good baker.  However, I do have a few baked good I am decent with.  One of those items is vegan cheesecake.  It has been a long time since I have made a cheesecake but Ashley and Kaleigh thought they might want one.

Since it is blueberry season, I opted for a seasonal cheesecake.  Blueberry Basil cheesecake.  It turned out really well.  The flavor is excellent.  The basil is subtle but noticeable while complimenting the blueberries nicely.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Deep Fry Friday; Part 2: Falafel

As we continue to play around with the deep frier, we had to try falafel!  Falafel has been a favorite food of mine for a long time.  The deep frier made it incredibly easy to make.  We did not use the traditional pita bread we just dropped them into some wraps.

These were great fresh out of the fryer as well as the following day.  They held together extremely well which is something I had occasionally struggled with when pan frying them.  Topped with some cucumber tahini sauce and they were a great deep fried dinner!