Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Fast, Cheap, and Good!

It's Christmas Eve as I write this.  The presents have been purchased and wrapped, the cards have been sent, and I am enjoying my annual Christmas Eve tradition of enjoying a cup of Bailey's and coffee while I write.  For a few moments, the world seems peaceful.

And so I'd like to take this quiet moment to wish all my FC&G readers a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.

This blog will resume publication the week of January 3.  And keep an eye out -- my first New Year's resolution is the publication of a Fast, Cheap, and Good book, filled with your favorite tips and projects, updated and expanded.  Stay tuned!

My best and my thanks to all of you for another fabulous year.
Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Shameless Self-Promotion: Hilltop Communications Adds Publishing Imprint

Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion!

My company, Hilltop Communications, has just become a publishing imprint in addition to my writing, speaking, and consulting endeavors!

My first book is Lecture is Not Dead: Ten Tips for Delivering Dynamic Lectures in the College Classroom.  In this short book, I identify ten ways to make your college lecture or professional speech more dynamic and engaging to your audience.  I also include three habits to avoid and a number of discussion questions, making this ideal for faculty development seminars and training programs.

The official Amazon description:

"The lecture as a teaching tool has worked for centuries because, at heart, it is about human interaction, the most powerful, attention-grabbing tool for interaction at anyone’s disposal. The presence of a live, active, engaged human being who is an expert in his or her field will do more to ignite the passions of a group of students than will any canned multimedia presentation. This book will show you how to infuse passion and interest into your lectures and keep your students awake and engaged."

You can purchase the book here, or you can contact me directly for volume purchases or to arrange remote or in-person training based on this book.

Thank you for taking the time to read!  I now take you back to your regularly-scheduled frugality and sustainability!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Growing Ginger

Herbs and spices are some of the most expensive things you can buy at the grocery, especially if you want organic.  And the price is definitely impacted by distribution costs; I nearly fainted in the grocery store in Key West when I had to pay $9 for a jar of organic bay leaves.

Fresh ginger is another of these expensive items.  It is fairly reasonable here in Ohio, but at the southernmost tip of the United States, it is quite expensive.  This makes it a great option to grow.

To grow fresh ginger, simply take a nub of your existing ginger "hand."  You will know if it is viable if it is starting to sprout while on your counter, like that little bit with the green tip in the bottom center of the photo.  Take a nub about two inches long, so you have some root to start with.

Plant the ginger in a deep pot under a shallow layer of dirt, and keep heaping dirt in as the plant sprouts, kind of like you do with potatoes.  When the pot is full, just let the lovely foliage grow and the rhizome under the soil make more ginger for you.  Since the plant looks fairly tropical, it makes a nice addition to your window sill.

Ginger takes a long time to grow.  What you see in the photo is eight months' worth of ginger growth across several pots; I planted in April and just harvested last week.  But, since ginger is a container plant, it isn't taking up any garden space or obeying the seasons.

Ginger seems to like a fairly warm climate, so put it in a warm window or outside during summer.  Water regularly, and you will have fresh ginger on occasion that you don't have to buy.

The Analysis

Fast:  Not at all.  Ginger is terribly slow-growing, so it is an exercise in patience.

Cheap:  I harvested three ounces of ginger from my pots; not a lot, but certainly enough for a batch of homemade ginger ale!

Good:  Organic, home grown, and free.  My kind of project.
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Thursday, December 4, 2014

How Much Does a Garden Grow: November 2014

Ah, winter.  I just had a conversation with a good friend yesterday about how the garden is now asleep, doing its job of preparing itself for the next growing season.

It doesn't mean I'm not sad to have a diminished harvest for a few months.

November brought us the last of the tomatoes and peppers, both carefully sheltered in the sunroom until they gave their last fruits.  One volunteer tomato and the Red Pear tomatoes were the last to still be productive.

We also had a handful of kale and carrots come in.  The kale is finally finished, but this was actually my spring planting; it lasted all summer long.  I will have to start some more very soon.

So, we are down to just some garlic and ginger growing in pots.  I really need to make time to see what other winter crops I can start in the sunroom, but in the meantime, our tallies stand as follows:

Cumulative Totals
Total Ounces Harvest: 2,566.5
Pounds: 160/4063

Total Value of Harvest: $621.79
Expenditures: -286.13

Total: $335.66
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