Mountaineers Books BLOG

All the tid-bits and overall awesomeness surrounding our authors rounded up in one place.
It is the opinion of this blo— NO, PUT DOWN THAT BUCKET OF PAINT!

When we say “green,” we mean the kind that’s earth-hugging, eco-conscious, and earth-friendly. Considering that 40 percent of the energy we use worldwide is in our buildings, making our homes green can be a big difference-maker — both for the environment AND for your savings.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle into turning your home into a lean, green, and efficient machine is costs. But consider some of the “low hanging fruit” options of greenifying your home. You’d be surprised at how much you can do in just a Saturday afternoon!

1. Get stuffy in your home. On average, much of the energy spent in your home is in heating/cooling. Check for leaky windows; if you live in an apartment in the city like me, where I’m not exactly allowed to tear apart walls, taping up the window edges is a 5 minute job that you can do. Bigger tasks, like like plugging away draft leaks, insulating your attic, and/or switching in storm windows, can save some serious money AND energy.

2. Drapes and blinds offer different energy-saving benefits. Choosing the right shades for your windows can be surprisingly helpful, depending on where you live. Blinds, for instance, aren’t as good at heat loss in winter months, but they are very versatile for ventilation during the hot summer months.

The secret is knowing when to open and close them. Close the drapes on windows that receive direct sunlight to deflect the heat to keep cool during the summer. During the winter, close the drapes that don’t receive direct sunlight to stay cool. To get the most out of your shades, have them installed as close to the glass as possible.

Maybe in the future, robots will be dedicated to keeping your utility bills low. For now, go with drapes.

3. Okay, back up to that bucket of paint. If you are thinking of painting your humble adobe, go with latex over oil-based paints for their lower volatile organic compound (VOC) numbers. The main thing here is to keep air-pollutants low, though be mindful still of biocide and fungicides in your paints.

To milk the most out of your paint, go with milk! Milk-based paints is effective in lowering the amount of pollutants you’ll be breathing, but it also lets the material beneath breathe (to reduce mold and rot) while also act as a natural insect repellent.

4. The best way to green your lawn is to green your lawn. Forget the stuff that promises to kill weeds by poisoning it. For the same amount of time and effort (and much less money) you spend spraying chemicals, you can just pull out the weeds. Why, you’d might even consider this organic farming.

Now, for the fringe weeders, there is the option of using fire to kill weeds with heat instead of poison. Some hardware stores sell torches for this purpose. Personally, I’m terrified at the thought, but it is a more eco-friendly option. Just be careful about it, as it is essentially setting fire to your own— you know what, never mind. I’m striking out this entire section.

5. When it comes to cleaning your home, skip the chemicals. You can achieve the same shine with distilled white vinegar; air-out that smell with baking soda; and soap up that scum with, well, soap made from plant oils. And when in doubt, water is the universal solvent in many green cleaners, and it’s pretty hard to get any greener than clean water.

Adapted from Your Green Adobe by Tara Rae Miner
Don’t need two tickets to come here
One of the occupational hazards in outdoor publishing is succumbing to a rarely diagnosed disease known as “Mustgetaway Fromtheofficeandexperiencenaturemyselfiania” (editor’s note: need to fact check this disease).

The most recent victim, now in recovery, was Mary Metz, Senior Editor at Mountaineers Books. One day she was seemingly contentedly checking final page proofs for Simone Moro’s The Call of the Ice and corrections for the second edition of Rock Climbing by Craig Luebben and Topher Donahue; and the next she was pretending to kick steps up to Panorama Point and glissading down snowfields on Mount Rainier, the “Paradise” section of Day Hiking Mount Rainier by Dan Nelson and Alan Bauer tucked into her pack.

Marmots. There will be marmots.

While Mary seems to be returning to normal—even expressing delight at seeing advance copies of The North Cascades—she hasn’t stopped talking about marmots, wildflowers, and those views.

In the medical opinion of this blog post author, maybe you should take care of your knees. For hikers and climbers — for anyone who is active, really — it’s the joint that scores the most points. So in the interest of preserving those ligaments, here’s a few quick tips to keep those knees pleased.

Actually, wait, hold on, time out. Before we start, always remember to talk to your doctors if you are experiencing some red flag warnings. Joint swelling, buckling, chronic pain… these are signs that your doctor should
be looking at.

There, all settled? Great!

1. Remember that song, “the thigh bone is connected to your… hip bone.” I admit, that song was not as helpful during Anatomy 101 as I hoped. However, the underlying wisdom of this particular novelty song is that often times, the location of a nagging pain can be very far from from what is causing it.

Your feet, and how you walk, can greatly effect your knee (and hips, and back). A good gait can be the difference maker in pursuing life-long passions and grumbling every time it rains. In this case, learning to walk (properly) before you run is a lot deeper than you might realize.

Hey, speaking of walking…

2. Don’t “walk it off” when it comes to discomfort in the knees. If nothing else, further exertion in an injured area is just going to make things worse, and doubly so for knees.

Always remember to rest. The first lesson any gym rat will tell you is that your body recovers/builds muscle when you rest. So if you are feeling an ache, sit back and prop your feet up — literally, as keeping your knees elevated above your heart is also a good way to rest your knees.

3. If the shoe fits… wait, does it? The right shoe can be one of the best investments for your body if you are serious about your outdoor passions. Trail-hikers can do well with light, low-top shoes, while backpackers will find high-tops to provide better ankle support for uphill climbs and muddy trails.

Mountaineers (hey, that’s us!) often wear heavy, stiff shoes, designed more for attaching essential equipment to scale rocks than for skipping along merrily.

4. While we would love to run around outside for a living, some/most of us have to deal with sitting around the office. A small tip to save up those knees for weekend jaunts is to sit in a chair that puts your hips slightly higher or equal height than your knees, and allow you to keep your feet flat on the floor.

Though, to be fair, as of the time of this writing, the author of this particular blog post is crumpled on his chair, legs twisted and bent into a fake yoga pose called “the salty pretzel.”

5. And speaking of stretches, there are some exercises to avoid if you have knee pain. You may prefer a slow, pose-heavy Yoga routine over quick, kinetic exercises (like Hot Yoga) if you have knee joints issues. Not all classes are the same, and before embarking on anything new, it’s always a good idea to ease yourself into the program.

Adapted from The Healthy Knees Book, by Astrid Pujari, M.D., and Nancy Schtaz Alton

Okay, so. First off: No. NOT what you are thinking.

Now that that’s out of the way, why yes, the title of this post is exactly what it means — some of those weeds that you see growing everywhere is, in fact, edible! And we are not talking about a crazy, “look-at-me!” stunt you do in fourth grade either. We are talking about nutritious, delicious, and downright fancy recipes here!

As always when you are foraging plants: ALWAYS check to see if your body can handle these plants before gorging on them. And if you aren’t sure what you picked is poisonous or not, remember the age-old trick of not eating it.

Hey, speaking of poisons and passed-down aphorisms…

1. Flavor is not a good indicator of plant safety. For instance, yew berries are quite sweet and juicy, but their seeds can be fatal if ingested. There’s a reason yew berries are also called “death berries” (side note: what a great name for a band!)

Yew Berries. DO NOT EAT THIS

It’s a good idea to not go by those old “tricks” such as “if a bird eats it, it’s safe” or “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” And if you think “oh, I’ll just taste it with my tongue and spit it out” is a good idea, might I introduce you to the petty spurge, a plant whose sap is so irritating that it’s used to remove warts. Still want to put THAT in your mouth?

2. For a less skin-burningly plant, a good choice would be cat ears. Often mistaken for a type of dandelion (parts of which are also edible), cat ears tend to be less bitter, as nutritious, and also smarter — cat ears has “learned” to grow lower than dandelions to avoid mower blades. Some places in Europe serve cat ears with garlic and olive oil.

3. For those who feel like they need a change of fortune, why not try some white clover? Bees love them, and many farmers grow white clovers in hopes of producing clover honey.

Careful, don’t step on bees in a clover field!

Clovers are amazingly versatile, and not just as food: It’s perennial, tolerates and improves soils, hardy against cold, frost, and droughts, and as if that’s not enough, it emits a wonderful scent to boot. And oh yeah, the entire plant is edible and nutritious!

High in protein for a plant, you can try younger leaves in a salad. For the older leaves, try it in your baking for vanilla-esque goods.

4. For something a little fruity, give Sweet Briar Rose a try. A weed related to the apple family, and their leaves, flowers, and hips are all edible. The hips, again being related to the apple family, can grow as big as crab apples — how’s that for a big, giant, weed?

A good use of rose hips are to use them in baked goods, where they can provide a fruity, spicy flavor. Now if you’d just stop giggling when I say these are some great weed brownies.

5. And it goes without saying, you can eat dandelions. Often the gateway weed (yes, puns. Wait for it…) for budding weed-foragers (…there!), dandelions are probably the most common weed found in North America.

Look, someone left a salad in the middle of the field

In North America, some people make dandelion wine; in Belgium, some make dandelion ale. And dried, ground dandelion root makes a pretty good coffee substitute.

Best of all, it’s very safe plant to eat. Though, as always, every body handles things differently, there’s really no major poisonous look-a-likes to dandelions; the closest may be the cats ears covered above, and those are pretty delicious in their own right.

So there you are! The next time an HOA complains about you letting your weeds grow out of control, you can say you are growing a farm!

Adapted from The Front Yard Forager by Melany Vorass Herrera