My husband and I are makers of things. Give me a sewing machine and some fabric and I can make you anything you want. Pretty much My husband is the same with a pile of wood and a jigsaw. Or a pile of clay and sand for that matter. (www.coloradocob.org) Even granite and a tile saw. You get the point.
He can do anything.
This works out quite well for me.
We have a list of tasks that are underway in this teeny home of ours. Many projects lie in our future, for even when we move on to the big farm, this little homestead will serve someone else quite well. We are constantly trying to make it better and more liveable for our growing family. The kitchen is ALWAYS undergoing some change. My next kitchen will be the heart of my home. I will sleep in it. No, really.
This is our most recent undertaking:
These shelves have gone through many incarnations. They used to be this bulky hutch type thing that we tore apart when we gutted the living room. This new phase is my favorite yet, and I believe will make a huge difference in our food storage system. This was their destiny, in fact. I’m sure of it. They so perfectly fit 1/2 gallon, quart, and pint mason jars. From the living room side I can see the contents of all of our grains, beans, herbs, flours, etc. I can see how full things are and when I need to refill. From the kitchen side I plan on chalkboard painting all of the lids so I can switch them up when I need to. I’ll label them all and organize them just so, easy peasy grab and go. I am crazy excited to get going on this.
It will take awhile to empty out the drawers and cabinets of dried food and herbs that will fill the shelves, but eventually it will happen. That will open up those spaces for dishes and such. Sigh, I can almost breathe again. This is all a part of the decluttering process. It’s a welcome addition to this little place.
A big fat thank you to my awesome hubby. Bulk storage shelves~ Check.
On to the next item on the honey-do list!
Do you know those moments when something touches you so deeply that you cry? It’s usually the silent kind. Head above watery eyes that never quite spill over. A tightness in the belly that moves its way up, up, filling your heart with emotion. Making its way into the muscles of your throat. Tiptoeing into the recesses of pathways where mind meets body. That’s happened to me twice already today and it’s only 11:30.
The causes of the tears are simple things. An energy that wouldn’t necessarily measure on the Richter Scale of emotion. But that’s the beautiful thing about us humans, right? It’s the simple things that keep us. Grounded. Real. Humble. Loved.
Leelu will be 2 years old next month, and we’re working through the weaning process. She is very attached to nursing, and honestly so am I. It is a bond like no other, as I’m sure every mama could tell you. On top of recent traumatic events I’ve no doubt that this is making me a little extra sensitive. She’s with her daddy today. They took a drive to Grandma’s house, which Leelu was very excited about. She had barely opened her eyes this morning, and with just a mention of their destination, she whispered, “Shoes… on.” No telling her twice.
With my deadlines over for the festival, this “free” day will mostly be spent catching up here. I’ve got Daisy working on an editing project for bloom daisy, and we have some house cleaning and farming to do, of course. But mostly, this is where my time will be focused. If you are subscribed to this blog and your inbox is filled with Folkways this week and next, just know that things will mellow down soon. But hopefully, if you are subscribed, it means you actually enjoy reading what I write, so thanks. I appreciate you.
I’ll be catching up on some back story. There is the last half of June to record as well as the first week-ish of July. This blog serves as somewhat of a journal for our family’s story, so I need to keep up with it. In today’s ever progressing world of technology I’m sure this is where Leelu will be able to look back and see what we were doing when she was two.
I am ever happy to be here.
I am not a hoarder. At least, not so much. I’ve gotten much better at limiting my fabric intake. Much to the husband’s delight, although it is still one of our biggest space issues for sure. I do have a difficult time throwing things away though; things that I know I can use in something else. I don’t like to contribute to the landfill problem. Waste in the textile industry is HUGE. So I save my scraps. All of them. And the ones that are too small to be used for quilts or other patchwork purposes get stuffed into a bag until they are needed. Here is a happy example of why I do this:
Our new experiment this year. Like last years hugelkultur, Niko found this online, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling about this one. Especially kismet was when he went searching for straw-bales, the woman he bought them from was using them for the same thing. Plus, it’s just prettier to look at.
Teaching the finer things in life.
Leelu loves to help daddy.
My friend Sam and I have started an adventure into canning. Although she grew up in an active farming community where canning and preserving were commonplace, neither one of us had tackled the process as adults. Before we decided to make our effort teamwork, both of us had small runs with a couple jars of jam and apple butter. Excited about the process of preserving, we decided to jump in with tomatoes.
The fruit on our home tomato plants wanted to stay green this year so we opted to purchase from our local farmer’s market. I found a great booth that offered organic tomatoes at less than a dollar a pound. With a box purchased and our canning supplies at the ready, we began our journey into the wonderful (and long) world of canning!
She has a great kitchen and WAY more room than I to let our babies run around. They’re only 6 weeks apart so it is an ideal situation where mamas can chat while we work and the babies can play together. Everyone is happy. Both she and I are crafty mamas. We like to get our hands dirty and see the beautiful completion of a fine dinner or well worked project. Though we love just hanging out for coffee, we also find that it’s a great excuse to get some fun work done!
That first 26 lb box took us almost 8 hours. Needless to say, it was a learning process. Of course we’re also taking into fact that we both have 14 month old toddlers running at our feet who need attention, which we’re happy to give. So who knows how the time would work out if we had only the canning to do. The water bath itself took up to 55 minutes per process. It didn’t matter though. Time passed smoothly and we had a great time. We got 12 pint jars of diced tomatoes out of that first attempt. We lost over half our weight from beginning to end.
Our second go round was a bit more productive and much quicker. The farmer said the tomatoes were twos, which I guess means, ‘ripe and ready to eat’. So instead of being able to wait a few days for our normal weekly date, we had to process them that very day. After some advice from Sam’s mama, we decided this time to go with stewed rather than diced. We lost much less meat that way, and the whole peel and prepare work took less than half the time! We ended up with 14 jars.
We are giddy with excitement. Next on the list is beans, and then applesauce. We may become canning junkies. Not a bad habit to start, I’d say.
*photos by Samantha DeNaray
Photo from Colo Spgs Urban Homesteaders Meetup Group
Allison and Ed Buckley have gifted the Westside with our very own Homestead Supply Store! They had their grand opening on Friday the 21st and I was just SO excited to have something of this nature in my neighborhood. It really proves that positive change is happening, folks. They offer chicken and other small livestock feed for all of us backyard farmers and urban homesteaders, lots of books on the subjects, canning, cheese, and soap making supplies and much, much more. Niko put our name in their give away for the grand opening and we won! I’ve never won. I may have even shouted with joy when he told me. (The dork in me.) We won a 7.5L Harsh Gartopf fermenting crock! A super big deal. Niko’s gonna make some pickles for our first experiment. Yay!
So go see Allison and get your farmer on. Tell ‘em we sent ya. They’re located at 1501 West Colorado Avenue. Here’s a link to their facebook page.
Niko and I enjoyed a date night on Thursday. It was wonderful. It’s been awhile since I’ve just been able to sit with my husband. When we went to hear Joel Salatin speak that was definitely nice, but this time we got to listen to each other for awhile. So necessary. We’re going to attempt date night once a month. Fingers crossed.
After visiting a local restaurant we took a long and lingering walk back home through our west-side neighborhood. I’m so grateful for walking. We miss so much riding in cars all the time, even bikes. Walking is such quiet reflection and observance. It was fun and inspirational to see what everyone was doing in their gardens, and amazing to discover homes and streets that we may not have tread on before. Even though I miss living in Manitou, and also long for the day when we have expansive open land to farm and roam, I give thanks that my feet are presently planted in a west-side neighborhood in Colorado Springs. If you lived in this part of the city, you’d probably be thankful too.
We got back from our date around 9. While I relieved Daze of her babysitting duties, Niko took to the garden by the dim light of a waning moon, mending beds that have been overrun by aphids. We’ve seen quite the loss from those pests. It’s been very discouraging. We’re not giving up, of course, we’ve just had to improvise. Since losing many of our own starts, we had to resort to purchasing plants from our local Garden Center. We’ll need to be extra diligent to make sure they stay healthy, even putting some of them into pots for the greenhouse, hoping to extend their season a little longer and offer a bit more protection. Something has already dug up one of my Lavender plants. Probably Benjamin pissed off that I blocked him from the catnip.
Much of our gardening waits until the twilight hour, often (for Niko) lasting well close to midnight. It’s just too bloody hot to be outside in the heat of the day. It’s alright though. It’s a nice way to wind down, with your hands dug deep into the earth.
they’re good for your heart.
It’s been quite the week and I have much to do. The good news is I’m relaxed about it all. The last few weeks I’ve been stressing a deadline for a festival we were doing. Now with that behind us, I can reset my focus. I’m sorry to say my family has not seen a home cooked meal of late. But Herbfest was good. We made some connections and have begun to put ourselves out there. Niko did a cob presentation that stirred up some excitement. I wish I could have seen it (I was manning the booth). It was a nice little family affair though. Leelu was an excellent advertiser for my slings and Daze was good company.
Herbfest photo courtesy of Ayla's Photography
This week is dedicated to getting the yard in order. Garden plans and planting. A few more truck loads of composted manure for raised beds and LOTS of weeding. Joel Salatin warns that if you can’t make it happen in your backyard than you don’t have much chance making it happen on acreage. I’m up and inspired for the challenge.
Next on the agenda is reclaiming the house. It. Is. A. Mess. Time to sort and release. Organize the chaos. Cleanse and purge. And oh the joy of breathing again. I can’t wait.
And finally (and most importantly) food is on the menu. It’s time to slow down and simplify the plate. I’ve been thinking about this for so long now. I go through short bursts of goodness but it’s time to make it permanent. We need to edify our landscape. Figure out canning and preserving. Invest in long term grains and spices. Whole. Foods. Get rid of packaging. Eliminate waste. We’re tired of it. I’m craving a return to wholeness for my family.
Meals are tricky around here. I’m a planner. And if I don’t have a plan we usually resort to “healthy” processed crap food. That’s exactly what I don’t want to happen. So now that deadlines are behind me and I’m not so scattered, it’s time to make a plan. And as part of sticking to that plan and holding myself accountable, I’ll be posting my menu once a week with at least one full recipe from said menu.
Here’s to good food, supporting a local community, and nourishing a happy family.
It’s on, folks.