Independence Days: Mountain Bike Races and Snow in the Mountains

Yesterday was another rainy day here in San Diego. After two years of drought, all this rain is a pleasant change. The vegetables are thriving and I only need to hand water the seedlings. I expect our water usage has gone down this year since we haven’t needed to use the drip watering system for at least 6 weeks.

Today has been a beautiful sunny one, so we headed inland to watch the first stage of the US Cup Mountain Bike Race series. Brendan used to race mountain bikes in Australia, but these days he’s just happy to watch and cheer on the one Aussie in the race. Afterwards, we drove up into the mountains to see if there was still some snow remaining. Snow is not common here, so I was keen to experience it before it melted. I needn’t have worried because there is still an inch or two coating the ground. Just enough to give everything a lovely white coating and give the local kids an opportunity make snow-men in Southern California, but not too much that we couldn’t hike through it.

Ok…onto this weeks roundup of Independence Days activities based on my post on self-sufficiency, independence and lifestyle planning.


  • After yet another massive earthquake this weekend (this time in Chile), I’ve done some more work on my short term preparedness planning. I’ll post more on that later this week.
  • I’ve finished week 7 of my exercise program and I’m feeling strong. I think I hit the wall during week 6 because I injured myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t get back into it again, but this week has been fine. One more week until the routine changes again.
  • Yesterday we were talking to our friends in Alaska about visiting them in the summer. Alaska is a beautiful place, and this trip will be the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time in the outdoors. I had better get a move on to get fit enough to go backpacking while we are up there (not to mention kayaking and maybe even mountain-biking). Can’t wait!

Getting Off the Economic Grid

  • Brendan’s all set up now for operating his home-based bicycle repair business. He’s just finished overhauling two bikes for his first customers and has been handing out business cards all over town. Hopefully he’ll get some more clientele soon, but even if he doesn’t it’s been a good learning experience for him. It’s good to know we now have a barter-able skill at our disposal.

Grow some food

  • Plenty of greens this week. The snow peas are coming thick and fast and are oh-so-delicious. I’ve planted four more seedlings so we’ll hopefully have a constant supply for the next few months.
  • We can’t keep up with the Collards. I’m almost to the point of offloading some of them onto the neighbours. It’s the same problem I had with squash in the summer, but at least I could freeze them. Anyone know how to preserve collards, or do we just keep eating them until we are completely fed up?
  • Our oranges are ripe and delicious. I’m tempted to try some more orange preserves. The marmalade I tried last year was a bit tangy for us, but we are nearly out of relish. I wonder if there is such a thing as orange relish? I made some from our apples last year and we loved it. Why not oranges? Hmmm…I might go search the internet.

Reducing Energy Dependence

  • This weekend I’m trying something new in the laundry: Strip washing. It sounds saucy, but it’s not. It’s simply a technique used to rid clothes of any unwanted odors. After washing only in cold water, some of our gym clothes were a little on the nose, so today I’ve been washing in hot water with no detergent – repeatedly – until no suds are visible. Apparently it removes oil and detergent residue from clothes and does a great job of freshening them up. I’m about to hang the clothes out so the verdict will be in next week I guess. If we can revive these clothes then we won’t have to buy new ones.

Photo by: Temari 09


  1. Hi there –
    collards are actually quite easy to preserve. They are one of my favorite greens so I have a little experience. Take whole leaves and blanch them quickly in vigorously boiling water. Plunge into ice water and when cool, roll tightly and use a chef knife to cut into ribbons. Pack the ribbons into gallon ziploc bags and freeze. These will work best in soups, but also will work well in stir fries or risottos.
    Just found your blog and l;ove it. I look forward to reading more soon.

  2. Mia,
    You’re a rockstar.

    FYI, Brendan’s bicycle biz is a dead link, and I’m sort of interested in hearing more about that. You got advice on terrace gardening in Manhattan? Last year I think we were way too ambitious and tried too many things. This season, I’m thinking of scaling back and focusing on 2-3 items — mostly herbs that can be dried, used, and traded.

    We pinned down the CSA for this season which is like having money in the bank plus first rights to next year’s shares.

    Apartment gardening is very nearly overlooked, yet seems like an important niche. I see stuff on rooftop gardening, but what about the poor bastards who get 3 hours of passing light in some window hangers? I think it’s an important niche that goes almost unmentioned. What do you think?

  3. Thanks Tommy. I fixed that link for Brendan’s business:

    Congrats on getting into a CSA. The one I wanted to get into is oversubscribed and there’s a waiting list. I probably won’t get in before we head back to Australia. I guess it’s good to see that the CSA’s here in Southern California are doing well.

    I agree with starting to grow just a few food variety’s and then expand from there. I quickly learned what took too much time and space for the harvest we got. Cayenne Pepper has been my favourite. Easy to grow. Compact plants. Huge harvest. Easy to dry and store. So many uses. Basil is also great. Grows like a weed, but it gets quite big. Broccoli and carrots have been a waste of my time.

    Hmmm…apartment gardening. While I haven’t done it, I’d like to think it’s very possible. We have quite a small courtyard and in winter half of it gets no direct sun at all and I’ve still been able to grow things there. This is SoCal though, so obviously we can grow all year round here.

    I’ve just had to experiment with what doesn’t need too much sun. The beets have done well, but I’m not sure how they’d go in a window container. Lettuce and spinach are both easy and would do well in containers. The garlic is also thriving with no sun. Steer clear of anything sun loving like tomatoes and peppers. Some herbs would probably do well. Perhaps you could ask a nursery or just buy some seeds and experiment. I found very little information on the internet about what grows in shade, so I just found varieties which didn’t need lots of full-sun and gave them a go. Good Luck.

  4. So many projects, and I’m quite envious of your all your greens, including your abundant collards though I’m not sure I know what they are:)!. In Sicily – the main orange producer in this country – oranges are also served as side salads. It seems odd at first, but it’s a surprisingly good and fresh dish. Just slice your orange in thin rounds, quarter them, drizzle a little olive oil over, add salt and hot pepper flakes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s