Update on Xavier, 9.24.16

September 24, 2016

Seems like people like to see what’s going on with my avocado tree, Xavier.  Here he is, September 24, 2016. I didn’t see buds this year, but he seems healthy and strong. I know we are going to see major leaf drop this fall, like we always do!

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Pruning your avocado tree?

January 31, 2016

Hi folks!  Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted here.  I hope I remember how to use WordPress (I’m kind of a Tumblr person now).  Anyway, I’ve received so many comments and questions about how to care for avocado trees, that I wanted to post the results of how extreme trimming of my tree Xavier went last year.

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This is how Xavier looked on January 13, 2015, right before I pruned him.

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This is how extreme the pruning was.

Xavier always looks kind of bad in the winter time.  I live in a cold climate, and my home gets very chilly.  There is always a lot of leaf drop when it gets cold, but last winter, I felt like Xavier was getting really unhealthy and needed to “start over.”

I am not an expert on plants or anything, but I have had great luck with Xavier and many of the plants I have, so I decided to give it a try.  I was careful to prune with my clean Felco Pruning Shears to make good cuts.  (I clean the shears with rubbing alcohol after every trim – I can’t tell you whether that’s a good thing for the shears or not – only Felco knows for sure, but that’s what I do.)  I didn’t water him very much at all during this time before the leaves grew back, because I felt he was dormant.

It took many weeks for leaves to grow back, but they grew back abundantly, just as when Xavier was healthiest!

I am proud to report that Xavier looks great.  I just took this photo today (January 31, 2016).  You can see Xavier is a lot healthier this winter than he was last winter.  Sure, there are some brown leaves, and there’s been a bit of seasonal leaf-drop, but still!  Just look at my guy here!  I didn’t add any fertilizer or compost this year, either.  Just water!

2016_01_31 IMG_2352 xavier the avocado tree

Xavier on January 31, 2016.  Looking good!  (I’ve got to lose that Diamond Armor Minecraft mask I made for my son for Halloween years ago!  JEEZ!)

 

Other avocado tree-related posts of mine:

How to grow an avocado tree from seed

Should I prune my avocado tree?

 

 

 


What kettle do you use?

November 17, 2014

What kind of kettle do you use? I think we’re v. similar in terms of doing a ton of research & trying lots of things out to find the best solution to a problem, and I’m currently in the process of doing this for a kettle, and would love your opinion. Bonus points if you know anything about electric kettles…

My favorite kettle.

My favorite kettle.

I use this kettle – the Jenaer brand (now called TrendGlas) all-glass kettle.  I have used this kettle for at least 10 years (I think I’m on my second one – I broke one, but they don’t break easily).  The glass ball at the top does not last at all – it will break off sooner or later, but there is a metal thing inside of it, so even after the glass ball breaks, you can still lift the lid with that metal thing, though I need to use a small towel or an oven pad when the water is boiling.  (You can slightly see the metal nub at the top of my kettle with the glass broken off in the photo that goes along with this post.)

I absolutely LOVE this kettle and would definitely buy another one if I break this one.  I love the way it looks, I love that it’s glass, it’s easy to clean (and more importantly, easy to tell when it’s dirty).  I highly recommend it.

Two quick caveats about this kettle: 1. you have to hold the lid or take it off if you pour a lot of water out of it, or you have a low water level.  This seems like common sense to me, but in reading reviews, apparently, some people were surprised by this.  2. I believe my kettle was made in Germany.  It was called Jenaer when I bought it, and the company has changed over/changed its name/is somehow different, and I think this kettle is made in China.  It is definitely the same, exact style of kettle I have, but I don’t know if any quality changes have occurred.  I have purchased TrendGlas (the new company) products within the past few years and I’ve been happy with them (the glass tea mug I use is TrendGlas – I have posted it a bunch of times, here is one such post).

Prior to finding this kettle, I used a kettle very similar to this one (forget the exact brand), which is less than half the price of the one above, and still works perfectly well.

In case you’re wondering, I use my kettle on a gas stove, and the glass sits directly on the cast iron trivets.  (I think I’ve taken enough photos of my stove for you to get a few views of it.)

I will never buy a kettle for myself that is not all glass.  And, I will never, ever heat up water in plastic (I had a terrible, seemingly unsolvable health problem for years which turned out to be due to heating drinking water up in plastic, and it was completely cleared up once I stopped doing that).  So, if any electric kettles that you are looking into have the water held in plastic, or the hot water going through plastic, I would say in big, big letters AVOID!

Lastly, electric kettles confuse me.  I just don’t understand their purpose, except if a hot stove would be a safety hazard (like for a very elderly person, or in a dorm room or something).  Yes, they heat up stuff quickly, but not THAT much quicker than a stove would.  And, plus, I use my kettle mostly to make tea, and tea is a process.  It is a lovely ritual to make tea.  And, waiting for the water to boil, and to cool slightly, and to see those bubbles, well, it’s all part of the process, and I love it.  So, I am biased against electric kettles for these reasons.  It does not mean they are bad.

In fact, I can see the utility of having an electric kettle, especially if you have an electric stove, because an electric kettle would be MUCH more efficient, electricity-wise, as well as quicker.  This electric kettle seems nice, and it’s glass, but I would never pour the water through that plastic lid on top, and I’d never filter hot water (as it recommends in the description – BTW – I love that it’s referred to as a “high class glass designed electric” kettle).  You should never filter hot water to begin with (it should be filtered before it goes into the pot), and never pour hot drinking water through plastic (see above).

I know you wanted a simple answer, but simple is not my thing.  Neither is “concise,” whatever the hell that means.


Alert: Casabella Online Coupon

July 4, 2014

2017 UPDATE: If you’re looking for replacement brushes to the Casabella Smart Scrub Bottle Brush, here is a link to show how you can get a brush that fits, now that Casabella has discontinued their own refills! Also, I don’t order from Casabella anymore (I have no need) since they discontinued these brushes, but I think you should try the coupon code THANKS2017 or whatever future year, to see if they’re just updating the same coupon code. Can’t hurt, right?!

Hey.  Save $5 off your next order at Casabella.com – use code THANKS2014 – expires 12/31/14.  I just got this card enclosed in an order from them, and I’m probably not going to order from them again this year.  (But in case I do, it’s at least archived here – I hate to keep paper!)

And, in case you’ve forgotten, my favorite Casabella product is the Casabella Glass cleaning cloth – I wrote a post (warning – I drop the Fbomb in the post due to cleaning-related exuberance) about it in early 2010 because I loved it so much, and I still have the same two cloths I started with – they still work perfectly, and I see no need to replace them any time soon.  DUDE – that is almost 4 years of cleaning glass and mirrors with NOTHING other than WATER and less effort it would take to use paper towels/newspaper.


Shredfest NYC – this Sunday – May 18th, 2014!

May 12, 2014

Every year, thoughts of the NYC Shredfest put a spring in my step and a song in my heart!

As usual, I’ll be at Union Square, shredding the (approximate) metric ton of love letters, fan mail, and top-secret blueprints I’ve amassed this year as a result of being awesome.

Here is the schedule.  Get there early.  Once that truck is filled, it’s gone!


How much alcohol should I buy for my party?

December 4, 2013

I just saw this info in the back of the Chelsea Wine Vault (which is in Chelsea Market-it’s a great wine shop, btw) 2013 Holiday Gift Guide and I thought it was Stuff You Need To Know:

How much should I buy?

If I am coming to your party, you can buy a maximum of two drinks for me, because I usually only have one (sometimes none), but two is pretty much my max. Just saying.

In NYC, no one drives to a party (no one I know, anyway), so it’s usually not an issue , but if you’re having a party with alcohol where people are driving, you should have really compelling non-alcoholic drinks.  If you end up with too much red wine, you can make Tom Colicchio’s short ribs recipe.  It’s really good and it uses a whole bottle of red wine!  If you’ve got too much vodka left over, you can use it in pie crust, but that doesn’t use up much vodka.


Best Ladder?

November 7, 2013

Me on my brand new ladder.

Me on my brand new ladder. Look at me, being so stable on uneven surfaces!  My life is pretty much sunshine and rainbows now!

People, I’ve found the greatest ladder on the planet.  It’s the Select Step 5-8 foot ladder by Little Giant.  (<–I’m trying out the Amazon affiliate program.  The cost is the same no matter how you buy this product, but buying it through my link will give me 4% (I think) – after 4 years of writing this blog, I’m finally wondering what it would like to make a few dollars.)

It’s a little heavy (32 lbs with the amazing “Air deck workstation” that I am not using in the picture, but comes with the ladder I linked to, and adds additional hand railing and a nicely designed work surface), but it’s super stable, each leg telescopes individually for different heights (for use on stairs, window sills, etc.), and it’s compact (61″ high, 28″ wide at base, 14.5″ wide at top, and around 9″ deep at it’s thickest — when it’s all folded).  Look at this demonstration video and be awed by this feat of household repair engineering:

 


Coffee maker?

September 10, 2013

My very good friend W just sent me an email that said

Any recommendations for a coffee maker? I only drink it 3x a week or so (always just 1 cup), so I don’t need any massive device. Something cheap that can be cleaned easily that I can make decent coffee in.   I feel as though you will get carried away and write a 7 page report on this.

I may get carried away on this, because it’s my nature to get carried away, but
  1. I don’t drink coffee, neither does my husband.
  2. I have a Tassimo, which guests seem to love (for some crazy reason the company sent me one for free), but I think is super toxic (don’t put steaming water through plastic – bad things happen).
  3. I did a lot of research on coffee, because I helped a relative try to improve her health.
The best thing for you is to cold brew organic coffee (put grounds in cold water overnight and brew strongly and then add hot water to that strained liquid in the morning – google for exact instuctions, as I’ve never done it).  It will be have around 60% less acidity and you will reduce your toxin level tremendously by going organic (coffee is one of the most pesticide-heavy consumable crops there is – I say “consumable” because cotton is so much worse!).
If you don’t want to brew it yourself, the coffee brand I bought for my relative because I found it to be very high quality was Kickstand coffee, and you might be able to find a coupon online.  It’s organic, it’s cold-pressed, and it comes in a glass bottle.
Ok, you didn’t ask about any of that, you asked about a coffee maker, so I will say this:
I can’t recommend a brand, but go for anything glass (no plastic, no single-use), and if you use a filter, use a stainless steel filter with no plastic, or VERY carefully selected unbleached paper filters.  Most tea bags and coffee filters are highly toxic because of the plastics they use to reinforce the fibers to make them tear-resistant, and because of the plastics and other materials used to seal the sides (if applicable).  Just google “toxic teabag” and “toxic coffee filter” for more info.

Alert: Mattress Sale!

April 24, 2013

I apologize for the conceptual bankruptcy I am demonstrating this month by only posting alerts instead of the fascinating and incisively witty (humor me) blog posts to which you have been accustomed.  But Lifekind is having a 40% off sale on some of their mattresses, and as you can see, I absolutely love their stuff, and highly recommend their mattresses.  They are NOT CHEAP, but they are the REAL DEAL in organic mattresses.  No artificial flame retardant (which is carcinogenic, BTW) – they achieve compliance with flame retardant standards through natural materials like wool, cotton and natural latex.  Read up on this, and school yourself, fool.  Their customer service is incredible, their products are high quality, and they do the right thing for the environment.  And, I have never received anything from them (no discount, no perk, no anything) in return for reviewing them or saying anything about them.  I just love them.  I’ve been a customer for probably 10 years now and I cannot say enough good things.  If you are in the market for a mattress, now is the time.  Sale goes until Friday, 4/26/13.


Should I prune my avocado tree?

March 25, 2013

Avocado tree ready for pruning.

Avocado tree ready for pruning.

Yes.  You should.  I have never had a successful tree past 24″ if I didn’t cut back the tree to encourage multiple branches and a thicker stem.  However, I wouldn’t do it now (in the spring, when buds are forming and new growth is happening).  You may be tempted now, but don’t do it.  Put it on your calendar for the late summer or early fall, or whenever you can really see that the growth has slowed.  I pruned this tree in July.  (I tend to see the most growth on my avocado trees from March – June.)  If there is a compelling reason to do it now, such as the plant is dying, or it’s very tall, but very weak and thin, then use your judgement.

Start with a clean, sharp pruner.  I use a Felco Model2.  Not exactly cheap, but it does a great job.  I’ve had mine for 10+ years now, and it’s still going strong.

Getting ready to prune the avocado tree.

Getting ready to prune the avocado tree.

Prune the tree in such a way to leave many leaves, but prune enough above a leaf so that there are budding areas around the stem.

Leave some leaves on the plant, and cut far enough above a leaf stem so you're not too close to the budding areas between the leaf stem and the main stem.

Leave some leaves on the plant, and cut far enough above a leaf stem so you’re not too close to the budding areas between the leaf stem and the main stem.

Post pruning

This is what the tree looked like post-pruning.

 

New growth, new branches.

In a few weeks, you should see healthy new branches developing!

I really should have put this post out in the late summer, but I just couldn’t wait.  My big guy, Xavier, is in bloom, and I got my mind on my ‘cados and my ‘cados on my mind! (Xavier is not the plant in the pictures above, and as beautiful as his blooms are, I haven’t seen signs of a fruit yet — he is around 5 or so years old, I think.)  Due to a recent move, I got rid of a lot of plants (gave away or composted/otherwise disposed of, depending on the health of the plant, but I just pruned a few feet off Xavier to help him through the move), but Xavier is a true keeper!

Spring 2013 avocado blooms!

Xavier in bloom!

More blooms to come!

More blooms to come!

ALSO SEE:  How to grow an avocado tree from seed and How do you grow a mango tree


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