Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happenings and Lentil Stew

"MOM! I caught a chicken!!!"

It's been a crazy few weeks aroung here. Jonas andthe chickens got sick last week. Separate illnesses. Jonas had a flu bug, most likely from sticking a child strap from a grocery cart in his mouth. YUM! And the chickens had Coccidiosis. Which, as it turns out, is horribly gruesome. The inside of the coop looked like a bloody horror film. I hunted down some Corid (albeit for cattle, but I diluted it in their water and it worked like a charm) and now the girls are back to their old, noisy selves. Still no eggs.

The garden is winding down. Jonas and I are out there every day (per the usual) clearing things out and prepping for the winter garden.

I may (or may not, who can remember these things?) have mentioned that the Mr and I are going to be trying for another baby. Jonas is NOT happy about this and makes no bones about it. He tells me almost daily, "I do not want a new baby to come to our family. Just me!" There are different variations of this. Boy is he in for a rude awakening. But I digress. The reason I bring up the impending pregnancy is that this week I am doing a detox in preparation for it. It's going splendidly! It's not an intense detox or anything, no lemon/syrup/cayenne/water craziness going on. Just super healthy, raw stuff. Well, ok, raw food and beans. Because lets face it, beans are good for you and I'm not going to exclude them. I've been having green smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, lots of fruit, and tabbouleh and things for dinner. I'm not playing this detox hard and fast so don't judge me. I had lentil stew last night. It was WONDERFUL! So here's the recipe. Obviously I made a few changes to the recipe so it would be "detox friendly." Veg stock instead of chicken and no bacon. Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010


We finally got our crap together and our chickens are here! They are even more awesome than I ever imagined. We only have two right now. Two Rhode Island Reds from my pal Ingrid. (Thanks Ingrid!) We plan on adding one more pullet later.

Jonas named one Brownie -because it's slightly browner than the other chicken. And he named the other Ginger -because it's the name of the main chicken on Chicken Run...and he's a little bit obsessed with that movie. But the name ginger totally fits because the chicken is burnt orange in color.

This kid LOVES the chickens. I'm starting to become slightly worried that he thinks he's a chicken, at least on some level. The chickens roll in the dirt, Jonas rolls in the dirt. The chickens scratch in the compost, Jonas scratches in the compost. The other day he came inside asking for a new shirt...because his current shirt was soaked with filthy chicken water. Oh yeah. He drank it. We monitored him closely for signs of chicken induced diseases for the first few days, because I'm just a little bit paranoid. More than once I've caught Jonas chasing them around with a scrubbing brush (terrorizing is probably a better word) saying that he needed (NEEDED) to brush their hair. What am I going to do with this kid?

The chickens seem very happy. They run to us when they hear our back door open and follow us all over the garden. They finally found the compost today, after exploring the yard for several days. Chicken Heaven. Their favorite place seems to be underneath one of the green bean teepees. Go figure. And their favorite treats are the sprouted legume/grain mixture I've been giving them, and tomatoes they find on the ground.

We've had a few predator run-ins. One morning after letting the chickens out of their coop I went inside to fetch laundry to hang on the line. When I returned there was a hawk watching the chickens from our garage roof. I threw a zucchini at it and it flew away (anyone who says they're overrun with zucchini isn't thinking of ALL it's practical uses). Then THREE more hawks flew out of our neighbors trees. We haven't seen them since but SHEESH! That night a skunk sprayed our coop. The chickens were safe inside but oh my. Who knew that skunk spray smelled like fire at point blank range? Tis true. Mercifully the smell had completely dissipated by the next morning.

In other news...remember my last post, how I rambled on about the strange weather? I've since decided that this blog has magical powers because it has been 100 degrees outside EVERY DAY SINCE. What is that about?

So how are your lives lately? I was having a facebook conversation with my friend Siobhan the other day about chickens. I told her Jonas and I had spent the entire day outside watching the chickens, interspersed with bits of hanging laundry on the washline. Siobhan also has chickens and totally gets how awesome they are. "We're livin' the dream!" I think is an exact quote from that conversation. And we totally are! And while the phrase "livin' the dream" is fine I read a line on another blog today that I like even better, "life right now is dope as hell." Indeed it is.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer So Far

I've been a lame-o again. I can't even remember the last time I posted on this blog...and I lack the motivation to go and look at the previous post. Anyway. I've been extremely busy -isn't everyone?

Well over a month ago I went camping for a week with a bunch of girls from our church. It was quite an experience. These were my cabin girls for the week. Sometimes they were awesome, sometimes they were downright rotten. But I loved them through it all. At the end of the week they were awarded the "Night Owl/Party Cabin" award if that gives you any idea of what the week was like.

Here's a shot of me and my pal Cous Cous (no,not her real name) waiting to go home. We were ready.

Camp was fun, but back on the homefront this has been happening every other day. Keeps me busy canning and pickling and roasting and dehydrating and freezing.

The southern california weather this summer has been the strangest I can remember. Perhaps strange is the wrong word, but "cold" doesn't exactly fit either. Anyway, it's been the coldest summer since the 1930's. While not frigid by any means it's still unseasonably cool. 70's most of the time, when it's usually in the 90's and 100's. The plants are loving it. The tomatoes haven't had a bit of blossom drop, there was a small bit of blossom drop with some pole beans but they're back to normal already.

At the beginning of the season I planted equal numbers of small red and yellow tomato plants. Red and Yellow jelly bean tomatoes and red and yellow pear tomatoes. I didn't keep track of which was which, and only planted out the strongest seedlings. I don't know what happened but EVERY SINGLE small tomato plant is yellow. Even the volunteers. Maybe they just like the weather better, or the soil, or the yellow plants are stronger by nature. Whatever happened we're up to our eyeballs in yellow jellybean and pear tomatoes. What a hardship:)

Here's a shot of our sunflowers! I have a spot of soil that is riddled with fusarium wilt. It's hard to find things to plant that are unaffected by it. Sunflowers are one of those things. So voila I planted a bunch of black oil sunflowers to feed our impending chickens. They look beautiful! This is not the best of pictures, they obviously need a good watering. So just take my word for it. Oh, and the bees LOVE them. Hooray for pollination!

Speaking of chickens... Here's the coop we broke down and purchased. I'm VERY happy with it. While the other coop we received is AWESOME, it needed some work to be chicken ready, and a run, so we just bought this, though we'll probably be keeping the other one as a place for baby chicks when the time comes. Anyway this new coop...LOVE it! Love the size and attached run and pull out tray for cleanup. While the run is small it shouldn't matter too much since we plan on free ranging the chickens and the run will only be used on specific occasions. Plus it's the perfect sized chicken tractor for our yard. The benefits are just endless. Can't wait for the chickens! Can't wait for the eggs. Can't wait for the weed and insect control. Can't wait for the MANURE! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Simple Gifts

We are truly blessed people here at the homestead. Seriously. If we want for something it appears. Almost like magic. Almost. But it's not magic, it's our kind family, or neighbors or fellow church goers.

Our washing machine gave up the ghost yesterday. Out of nowhere, it just decided it had had enough of laundry. I hear that, am I right ladies? I had to wash and wring all of the laundry that was midcycle when the washer quit. Of course it was a load of jeans. Sheesh. I have learned the hard way that women of yore had MUCH stronger hands than I. But the father in law called this afternoon and a new one will be here by friday. Amazing? I think so.

I've been thinking about teaching myself some basic piano but have been procrastinating actually doing it because, well, we don't have a piano. It's a dying art it would seem. In our church congregation I think there are two people that play. So they're stretched pretty thin when it comes to playing for meetings. As I've mentioned before I'm partially in charge of the youth in our ward. We always sing acapella in meetings because nobody plays. How sad. A few weeks ago a lovely woman in our ward came up and offered to give us her 90 year old baby grand. She's the wife of the man who gave Jonas the classical music guys. Anyway, it's the cutest piano you've ever seen. I am in LOVE with it. Now to get it to our house.

And the last blessing, that arrived just today. A CHICKEN COOP! As I said in an earlier post we've recently received the go ahead for chickens. On Friday my husband's boss, who also lives around the corner from us -and across the street from the inlaws- offered to give us his chicken coop. He built it himself and I am impressed. He and the hubs brought it down today and it is a thing of beauty to me. I took pictures but, alas, they won't load since Greg installed some sort of somethin' when he got a new camera for his birthday. Boo. But the pictures will be up soon. And you can all voice an opinion on what color I should paint it. I'm thinking yellow, but don't let that sway you.

Anyone else out there feeling blessed?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hands Down Most Awesomest Free Knit/Crochet Pattern Site EVER!

I was reading a blog post a few days ago by a woman who lives in CALIFORNIA. She was very concerned about the impending winter (uhhhh...). To the point that she couldn't enjoy the beautiful weather we are enjoying. I'm sure you are all as befuddled as I am...impending winter, it's june! Also, winter in so cal, not that terrifying...quite balmy actually. So she's probably a bit nutty. My husband probably thinks I"m a bit nutty too. Here's why. A few days ago I started crocheting something. Nothing out of the usual there. The hubs asked what I was making, and when I told him it was a sweater his response was...OOOOOOOK. He left off the "weirdo." But I knew it was implied:) But what better time to crochet (or knit) a wonderful winter sweater than while you're enjoying crappy summer television?! Also, sweaters don't crochet (or knit) up fast people! So by the time I'm done it'll be time for wearin'! Perfect.
I searched and searched and SEARCHED online for the perfect sweater pattern. Nice crochet sweater patterns are hard to find, and if I'm gonna put the effort into it, I better be flippin thrilled with it, am I right? After stumbling through lots of free sweater pattern sites I finally hit upon this beauty and I HAVE to share it with you. I don't know why I didn't find it sooner but it is heads and tails above the other free pattern sites. Seriously it makes the other free patterns look like something the cat dragged in. I practically bookmarked every project, and there are hundreds! My absolute favorites are all knit sweaters but I'm just not advanced enough in knitting yet to attempt an adult sweater. But crochet is another story. While this is my fave.
I also LOVE this little number and it's what I finally settled on (sans the buttons, I've got different buttons in mind. And it's not grayish but off white) It's great because I plan to be expecting our number two little bundle of joy come this winter and I think this sweater will accomodate that nicely.
So enjoy the site! You're welcome.

Summer Time

Sorry about the lack of posts. Summer is a time-thief. Jonas and I spend almost the entire morning in the garden these days. I LOVE that. We come in around noon so he can eat lunch. Though he's always too full of sunberries and green beans and cucumbers and tomatoes to eat anything so I don't know why I even bother.
Proof of Jonas snacking away on green beans.
The plants growing around the new citrus trees are growing taller than the trees. Is that a problem?
Lemon Cucumbers. LOVE them. Jonas and I eat them like apples, right out in the garden.
The sunflowers are all about nine feet tall! The birds in the yard love to land on the leaves and peck away at them. At first I thought grasshoppers were eating the leaves. Turns out the sparrows find them delicious. Who knew?
The long island cheese squashes (seed purchased from are coming along nicely.
We'e getting zucchini in all shapes and sizes these days. The cross pollinated volunteer zukes are all pear shaped (none pictured here). But they all taste the same so who cares?
We've been sneaking some time in at the beach also.
Jonas is completely OBSESSED with classical music. At first the hubby and I were proud, now we're just over it. He begs to listen to it ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. And when he's not listening to it he's humming a grocery store clerk. Or "meeping" it as seen on the muppet version of ode to joy. Anyway, the reason this picture is relevant is because a nice older gentleman in our ward heard that Jonas loved classical music -because we were at his house and Jonas was going on and on about beethoven and "bastian bach." So this nice man gave Jonas a set of plastic classical composer busts. Jonas calls them his "classical music guys." The Beethoven one has an angry face, per the usual. So the other day I look at Jonas who is sitting in his highchair making this face and I ask him if everything is ok, to which is replies, "I'm making my Beethoven face, mom." Duh. That kid is a crack up. Or as he says, "a crack out."

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We got the go ahead for chickens! It's like Christmas morning...if christmas morning include looking at coops online for two hours! YAY!!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Have A Family Here On Earth, They Are So Good To Me.

I've been somewhat discombobulated case you hadn't noticed. But nothing too dramatic, or even remotely dramatic. Today I just felt, lucky. Or blessed if you prefer. Could I have a better life? I think not. Seriously, I am livin' the dream. I spend my days with Jonas, coloring, making bread, hanging the wash, staking the tomatoes. Greg did all of the laundry over the three day weekend, without being asked or even hinted at. My Jonas asks me every day to plant seeds with him in the garden. He says, "Mom I like your pretty pretty dress." He will make some woman very happy someday. The Mr tells me, "you look really nice." He already makes this woman very happy.
Jonas's favorite song at the moment is Families Can Be Together Forever which I sang to him once at bedtime and he's begged for ever since. He already knows both verses, and belts them out while grocery shopping. Jonas has started demanding what he calls, "being a family." This consists of the three of us either hugging or snuggling really close. He asks for it at least once a day and we love it. "Mom, let's be a family on the couch!" Who could say no to that?

The garden is booming, our home is filled with love, we're planning to add more love and some chickens. With all of this a happy ending seems redundant.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everybody Wants Some (You Want Some Too) Cue The Dancing Hamburgers...Bad Better Off Dead Reference...

The theme of this week is: everybody wants a piece! I said this to my friend Nikol on sunday when she asked why I was half an hour late to Sunday School. Walking from the chapel to Sunday School I was stopped 5 times! I'm very in demand, in case you haven't heard. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been stopped 5 times on their way to Sunday School, or anywhere else for that matter. In addition to working with the teenage girls at church I was also recently asked to co-head a community garden for our church congregation. And I was informed on Sunday that I am a member of the activities committee by default since I work with the youth, shoulda read that fine print. Anyway, my house is a wreck because it seems like every waking moment is spent doing and planning and going to meetings and such things. I'm not complaining, just busy and excited about new things that are happening, especially that community garden! Still, the housework suffers. This morning I succumbed to the messy house and stopped begging Jonas to pick up the dominoes, and watched The Jane Austen Book Club while I made train tracks out of dominoes with Jonas, who, I might add, has actual train tracks but obviously prefers dominoes. My life can't be too busy if I can watch a movie on a thursday morning. Right? Actually I did run on the treadmill for 20 minutes during the movie, and we ate breakfast, so it wasn't a total waste.
I was in a meeting a few weeks ago, regarding working with the youth in our church and one thing that was said struck me, "some things matter and some things don't." Yep. This is my justification for not vaccuming all week. That's right. All. Week.
Aaaaaand, the phone just rang, I've been asked to go camping for a week in July with a million teenage girls. When you're hot, you're hot.

How's your week going?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I've been making our bread for almost two years! I still can't believe it's been that long. Anyway, I've learned a lot about making bread in the past two years, please benefit from my experience.

First and foremost, there is no such thing as good, homemade, entirely whole wheat bread. It can't be done. I don't care what you say about hard white wheat versus hard red wheat, etc. etc. It can't be done. It can't I say! I've tried damn near everything I can think of (and then some) and every single time it ceases to rise and I am left with a bread brick.

That being said, all white bread is not good for you, and as my good friend Ingrid points out, it's disgusting when it sticks to the roof of your superglue. Indeed. So, here's how I make bread, works like a charm every time:

Dissolve 1 Tablespoon of yeast in a quarter cup of hot water. I used to use a candy thermometer to test the water, until I realized it's not life and death, just feel the water with your hand, it should be warm enough to dissolve the yeast but not so hot that it'll kill it. I've never had yeast die on me so don't fret.

When the yeast is dissolved add two cups of lukewarm water or milk. I usually use water, unless I'm feeling fancy, it's so hard to get the milk temp just right. And by "so hard" I mean, It requires an extra dish...and dishes have to be washed (sometimes BY HAND! can you believe such cruelties exist? I've been washing by hand all week, it takes forever. The new dishwasher was installed today! HOLLA! It is a thing of beauty, but I digress.)

Add two tablespoons sugar or agave, or honey or molasses or whatever sweetener/yeast food you desire. Add two teaspoons salt, to keep the yeast in check.

Add 1 cup wheat bran, 1 cup flax seed meal, and 1 cup white flour, stir until it's smoothish. Add 1 more cup white flour and stir it for five minutes or so until it becomes stretchy and the gluten begins to develop. Contrary to what many believe yeast is not entirely responsible for the bread rising A LOT depends on the gluten in the bread, stirring at this point and kneading later develop the gluten and will give you a loftier, prettier loaf.

Add another cup white flour (or wheat flour if you want) and dump the contents of the bowl out onto a floured surface, knead in the remaining 1-2 cups flour, it's not exact just knead flour in until it's not so sticky, if you fear the dough is getting too stiff with flour but still is quite sticky then stop adding flour and use a little oil on your hands to knead the dough. This works brilliantly. Some people suggest that 20 minutes of kneading time is ideal, others say it's impossible to over-knead bread and that the longer you knead the better. Just knead the dough until it's smooth, if you have time (and desire) beyond that to keep kneading, go for it, otherwise move on.

Grease the mixing bowl (or don't. The world won't end if you don't) and put the dough back in to rise, cover the bowl with a wet cloth. The wet cloth is somewhat important because sometimes dough can form a thin crust type surface that inhibits the rising. After it's doubled in size (like a half hour to an hour) divide the dough in half and form it into log shapes, let it rise for another hour or so in greased loaf pans, when they're almost bread loaf size bake them, they'll rise a little more as they bake. Bake at 375 for 30ish minutes. They're done when you tap on the top and it sounds hollow. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's About Time

So, sorry the blog has been super lame lately but, well, these things happen. I would tell you that I lost the camera, and felt hesitant to publish pictureless posts (because that's the truth) but honestly how many times have I used that excuse? It's startin' to look a little thin. Anyway, found the camera! Things in the garden have been keeping me on my toes. Also I helped my BFF Nikol put in her very first garden, exciting stuff. And I was put in charge of a gardening bulletin board display at church. It's been a month for gardening, to say the least. We're beginning to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor, we had zucchini orzo for dinner last night, and jonas and I have been eating the first few strawberries and green (or purple) beans right off the plants. Can't wait til everything's coming full force. I broke down and bought a harvesting bucket (at target for like 2 bucks, you can't beat that) because the kitchen collanders we used last year were less than ideal. Now we eagerly await things to fill them with.

Here's our avocado tree that was started from a pit YEARS ago. Who thought things would turn out so well? Finally it's in the ground!
What a face!
Our herb garden in the works, I'm really pleased with the way it's starting to fill in. You can see the raspberries in the background. They've certainly taken off this year, 20 new plants at last count, and all from last years 1 plant!
Check out the size of this chard root. I finally dug up the super chard about a month or so ago. It was a sad day.
Our newest cleared spot. Eventhough it's halfway into May I have just gotten around to weeding and mulching this bed. Honestly it's not my favorite, eventhough it gets the most sun of anywhere else in the yard, a large chunk of it is riddled with fusarium wilt. Life's just not fair. But the tangerine tree is coming right along, as you can see all of the weeds went toward mulching said tree.
I'm staying my hand and allowing the lettuces to go to seed...hence I'll have seed for next year.
This is one section of our square foot garden, shown here are Sunberries, Sunflower, corn, beans and alyssum.
Here's our square foot garden from afar. It is a thng of beauty. I keep saying to my husband: LOOK HOW PRETTY OUR GARDEN IS! I just can't believe it, after living here for 4 years we're finally cookin' in the gardening department.
Our pitiful little three sister's garden. The soil in this area hasn't been worked as much as other areas of the yard. It sorely needs some mulch, maybe I'll get to that tomorrow.
A row of tomatoes, including: brandywine, beefsteak, yellow pear, jelly bean, speckled roman and other random heirloom varieties. I took this picture a few days ago and already the plants are much bigger. I dug a few out today and transfered them to my mother-in-law's garden. They were just too crowded.
Jonas kept saying "picture me by the strawberries, Mom! Picture me by the strawberries!" The kid loves his strawberries, and his awesome sesame street underpants...perfect for swimmin'!

Hope all is well at your homesteads!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Anything Not Pertaining to Elephants is Irrelephant

I should really be cleaning the kitchen...or the bathrooms...or the living room...or folding the laundry...

Last weekend I attended a double baby shower. One of the women was having a boy and the other a girl. Since last week I also had to finish up easter projects I needed something quick to make for a gift. After searching and searching on google for a stuffed animal tutorial I came up with these myself. Pretty cut and dry, two elephant shaped pieces, sewn, stuffed, embroidered. The best part is they cost next to nothing to make! The gray fleece was found in a Joann's remnant bin forever ago and both pink fabrics are from thrift store sheets. I'd like to make more to put up in my etsy shop (it would be great to finally get SOMETHING in there) but have yet to find the time, the garden is quite demanding this time of year. There are 9 pregnant women in my church congregation all due by october, so there are quite a few baby showers coming up, I better get crackin' on the baby gifts. My bff Nikol and I are the only young, unpregnant women left in the ward. I swear if one more person tells me it's my "turn" to get pregnant I will punch them in the face. Seriously, right in the face. But I digress. Here are more elephant pictures.

As I said in an earlier post, there are potatoes cropping up EVERYWHERE. I've been pulling them out all week and on tuesday I got a pleasant surprise. These!
Potatoes under a potato plant, who would have thought? We had them in a chickenless chicken soup...since we're all sick at our house. I'll admit it's a pretty measly harvest, but let me remind you that none of these potato plants were planted intentionally. They all came from the compost. Next year I'll purposefully plant them in the compost and anticipate a heathy harvest, since I know they love growing there.

Here's a rambling story about garden promises I've made myself...and broken. Remember the chard that never stops giving that has actually stopped giving to go to seed? I'm sure you do, I never shut up about it. It was actually a sad, runty little chard to begin with. I was actually going to pull it out to make room for more zucchini last year but decided to leave it alone, mostly because after spreading a truckload of mulch I lacked the motivation to bend down and pull it out. And look what came of it! See, sometimes laziness really pays off! But that is not the point of this story. After seeing the chard take off I vowed to never pull out a productive food plant, no matter how small, if it's still producing leave it be. The same goes for volunteer plants, oh how I love them, they always produce more food than puposefully planted ones. Well obviously I've broken my promise to myself in pulling out all of the potatoes, and yes I regret it. Who knows the bounty I could have harvested if I had left them alone. I've learned my lesson...again...and this time the hard, potato-less way. Don't make the same mistakes I do. Anyone else have fun volunteer or victorious underdog plant stories?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goings On

Well the Spring garden seems to be wrapping things up slowly but surely.

Here's what we reaped from half a square foot of carrots. The other half of the square foot was just as bountiful and the other square feet lived up to the standard.

We didn't freeze any carrots because Jonas promptly ate them. The day we harvested them Jonas ate 8 big carrots and a string cheese for lunch. Lunch of champions.

Why has the chard grown so tall? And stopped making leaves lower down?

Here's why, because it's going to seed. Dun Dun DUN! I'm very sad about this. In mourning even. This trusty little plant (big plant) has fed us almost every day this past year. You just can't beat that.

But fear not, the little chards are coming right along and will be keeping us well stocked in no time.

Potatoes are springing up EVERYWHERE this spring and it is quite inconvenient. This was supposed to be a grow heap for squashes and melons, but squashes and melons are not good companion plants for potatoes and I can't get the dang things to go away, no matter how many times I hack them to the ground. So it will be a grow heap for potatoes and tomatoes instead.

Here are the fava beans. I'm not quite sure what they are doing. They've been making blossoms for about a month, but not a bean in sight. What is that about? They're lucky they're a nitrogen fixer or I'd have pulled them out long ago to make space for a tomato or two.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Humus In A Hurry

No, not hummus...Humus! Humus is the long lasting remnant of decaying organic material. It improves soil structure and increases water retention. Gardens LOVE humus. I actually read a blog once where a woman was so desperate for humus in her soil that she put a bunch of compostables through her kitchen blender. Yikes! Here's a way to get rid of weeds (and their seeds) and make wonderful garden humus in a hurry (and by hurry I mean two weeks...this is sans blender, people).

About this time each year the weeds are going crazy. I just can't pull them all before they go to seed. Observe: And of course just throwing seedy weeds into the compost pile would leave their seeds unscathed and prepared to sprout in next year's garden. I know there are those out there who feel my pain. Here's what you do. Put all of your weeds into a bucket. I usually tote a bucket around with me while weeding and when it's full move onto the next step. The next step is filling the bucket with water and covering it. At first it will look like this: Cover it with whatever you want, this step is to essentially keep mosquitoes from spawning. I even used a pizza box once with a brick on top. I like to keep things classy. Leave your bucket to rot (lovely) for two weeks. Here's what it looks like at the end of one week: At the end of two weeks it should be good and black and ready to be poured into a compost pile or garden bed or lawn or whatever. Be warned, it smells like death. Seriously. But in the end you'll live through it, it'll kill all of the weed seeds and your soil will be all the better for it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

i have the best friends ever

The re-posting begins. So as stated in the previous post I was a dummy and erased a TON of blog posts. But I have the best BFF ever. She painstakingly (and time consumingly) copied all of the missing blog posts from her google reader into an email for me...without being asked!!! Couldn't you just cry from joy? No? Well I could. I'll start re-posting things soon -as in, immediately after this post if the wee one keeps sleepin- I appologize in advance to you followers for inundating you with previously read material. Bear with me. And a million thanks again Nikol, surely this will pass into legend.

And, I am twice blessed because my friend Ingrid's husband Richard left me 4 trash cans full of good black compost.

Make that thrice blessed, my husband and father-in-law got me a nice truck bed full of compost from a place up the street.

I'm in heaven. I told my husband it's like Christmas morning. And it totally is.

Yesterday I traded a large bowl of lettuce and 9 tomato seedlings with the aforementioned BFF Nikol in exchange for three large bags of oranges. How lovely. We had orange juice with breakfast. Nothing beats the feeling of growing your own food, or raising it, or swapping it. The wee one is waking. Look forward to post flashbacks soon:). It's probably best I go, dinner don't make itself, am I right? :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Life Lately

Sorry the blog has been somewhat devoid of pictures lately. I (or was it the Mr.) have lost the camera charger...and the camera is there you go.

Things are going great at our house! I'm busy making these for jonas's easter basket, and also a set of these
Now when I say a set I mean, I'm not making any of the whole-egg kind, but crocheting 6 of the egg-opens-to-reveal-baby-chick variety. I'm making 6 chicks in 3 colors, ergo 2 chicks of each color, it can be a matching game of sorts for the wee one. He's been begging for the eggs crochet (what a weirdo) ever since I bought this book and I figured what better time than easter? Anyone else making anything cute for easter? Please share!

Eating mostly meatless at our house is going swimmingly! I've been very, very bad about posting meatless recipes on the blog so here's one to begin making up for that.

Last night we had Black Bean Cakes. Which don't sound great but really are. Any time you combine the words "bean" and "cake"'s a dangerous road, but I promise they're great, and super healthy. We tell Jonas they're hamburgers and he usually eats them. But last night he wanted nothing to do with them...but that may be because he was forced to eat it in the car on the way to my sister's house for easter egg dying. I was running a bit behind yesterday. But I digress. I don't remember where I originally got this recipe but I've made a few adjustments to it anyway.

You'll need:
2 Tablespoons oil
4 chopped scallions
6 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tablespoon of ground cumin
2 Cans of black beans rinsed and drained
1 Large sweet potato peeled and grated (about 2 cups)
1 large egg, beaten
Half a cup of dried bread crumbs or (my fave) rolled oats pulsed through a processor until bread crumb consistency.

Sour cream, lime wedges and cilantro for serving.

Heat your broiler. In a skillet heat 1 Tbsp oil and add the garlic, cumin and scallions, if you want spicy bean cakes add a chopped jalapeno as well. Cook 30 seconds to a minute and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the beans and mash it all together using a potato masher. Leave about a quarter of the beans whole. fold in remaining ingredients, use the final tablespoon of oil to grease a cookie sheet. Divide the stuff into eight equal parts, form them into patties and broil them 4 inches from the heat. 8-10 minutes on one side, flip, 2-3 minutes on last side. Serve with serving stuff:) They look like this. Only better...and not so dry.

Next. My girls and I have finally gotten book club up and running again! This will make my goal of reading one book a month much easier. For this coming month we're reading Assassination Vacation By Sarah Vowell. In which the author travels to various presidential assassination sites and writes about it with wit and somewhat tongue-in-cheek humor.

Next month we're doubling up and reading both The Backyard Homestead and Made From Scratch both of which I LOVE and am very passionate about.

The garden is going great. We continue to eat from it daily and I cannot wait for the summer stuff to begin producing...have I said that yet? From the 3 brambles planted last year we now have 15 brambles and counting! The raspberry and boysenberry are spreading like wildfire...though I cannot say the same for the blackberry, it's just not pulling it's weight. The herb garden started last year is really starting to take off, and that side of the yard is looking much improved. Once again I'll be growing more tomatoes than I originally planned for. I should not be allowed to look at seed catalogues. I started like 8 different varieties and just can't stand watching all of the little seedlings go to waste. I'm trying to foist them off onto friends...still it should be a bounteous summer.


I am very angry. Here is why. I went to clean out my drafts that have been hanging around forever and ended up deleting like the last 6 months of posts. Including the one I just spent an hour or so putting together. I'm going outside.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What is Edible Forest Gardening? (and making small changes)

This post is inspired by Nikol's comment which asks if edible forest garening is like having an orchard. Good question. The answer is, kind of, only much, much better.

When planning an edible forest garden you basically copy the format found in nature, specifically in the forest. If you walk through a forest you'll see that it's not just trees, but trees and shrubs and vines and ground level plants. Many niches are filled. In an edible forest garden you have all of these components and they either produce food or provide some other positive contribution to the garden (like fix nitrogen into the soil, or attract and house beneficial insects/birds). For example, in the edible forest garden I'm planning we have citrus trees, then various berry shrubs planted around them, followed by lower growing plants like flowers, vegetables, and strawberries. It takes some time and consideration when planning such a garden, but once the garden is put in place it takes very little time to keep it running. Think about it, with most space filled, there will be very little room for weeds!
My husband was skeptical of this gardening strategy at first, since it would appear that many of the plants are required to grow in the shade. But, remember in an edible forest garden you copy nature's format, planting shrubs in sunny openings and lower growing plants around the edges. I'm blessed as far as edible forest gardening goes since I live in southern california and inadequate sunshine is the least of my worries. In fact I've been planning one section of my garden so that it will create shade for my poor blackberry bushes. The truth is plants are much hardier than we give them credit for. They actually want to grow if you can believe that.

If this is insufficient explanation of edible forest gardening then either shoot me a comment or check out the book. There are two volumes by the way and, as much as I love the first volume, the second sounds even better.

In other news: can I just say that if you aren't washing your hair with baking soda by now you should be. It is AMAZING, I just can't say enough good stuff about it. My hair feels like it did when I was a young'un. And it's only been a little over a week. I've had a few conversations with people lately that have left me a little baffled. When I tell them I use baking soda to wash my hair they seem to think I'm plum crazy. Even when I give them the facts, they still think I'm crazy. And I can see their point, using copious amounts of chemicals does seem the smarter option. Well, live and let live.

On a somewhat related note: I was reading a raw food book about a month ago and something I read in it has stuck with me. I can't remember the exact wording but basically what the author said was that with each small, positive change she has made she notices significant improvements in her health and the way she feels. And she wasn't just talking about eating raw food, it could be any small change that you make for the better. Using natural cleaners, being more active, eating healthier, etc. I've made two small changes this year and the effects have been dramatic. One of the small changes was the baking soda thing (and I'm sure you're all sick to death from hearing about that) The other small change was green smoothies. Jonas and I started eating green smoothies every morning for breakfast, care of the embarassment of green riches our chard plant provides. If you are unfamiliar with green smoothies here's the recipe: 2 cups of greens, fruit, water (or liquid of choice), blend it, consume. Don't worry, they taste great. And if your's does not taste great, add a banana you'll be fine.

Now Jonas and I, of course, miss some days. Every once in awhile I dont feel like going out into the garden at 6am to pick chard (like when it's pouring rain) so we have cheerios instead. But we have them most days. And I feel great. I assume Jonas feels great also, but he's a kid, he always feels great.

Just something to think about.