In My Garden

DSC05585 DSC05580 DSC05579 DSC05576 DSC05575 DSC05574 DSC05572We are in full garden mode this week. Not much to say but soil, seeds and water. I’ll be back next week when I finally get my head out of compost! For now here are some lovely pictures for you of our morning planting rituals.

Posted in Garden | 4 Comments

Yarn Along

DSC05555I realize I’m a day late for this but garden comes first! I finally cast on the honey cowl I planned to make over a year ago. I got sidetracked by life and finally came back to it when the desire to to handicrafts finally returned. The yarn is one I bought years ago at Cameron Trading post on the Navajo reservation. The wool comes from sheep raised on the reservation and the yarn is spun and dyed there as well.  It’s not super soft, but soft enough. I look forward to the few short months of cold to wear it.

**As of this post I am actually done with the cowl and have cast on a hat for S.

I am  currently reading two books At Home by Bill Bryson  and Home Grown by Ben Hewitt. Both great books. The first is about the history of the home. Really cool things like how we came to live in houses with multiple rooms, the purpose of a drawing room and why we have lawns.  The later is a wonderful biography/ ode to unschooling. For any of you who dream of living outside the mainstream and really living the handmade life this book is for you!

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along.

Posted in Sewing and Crafts | 11 Comments

In My Garden

As many of you are wrapping up your gardens and putting them to sleep, I am just getting started. Here in the low desert we can grow things all the way into late November or December with proper care. So it’s time for the fall garden to go in.

IMG_0004DSC05561DSC05559DSC05568This summer as you know we bought our first home with a huge backyard.  That meant lots of garden space for me: over 200 sq feet of beds (plus room to walk around them). This past Saturday we had 5 cubic yards of really awesome local garden soil delivered to our backyard, plus a cubic yard of hedging rocks. Since then it’s been an everyday family effort to get the beds made and soil all arranged.

IMG_0013As of yesterday morning the garden looks like this. There is still so much work to do!

You are probably curious to know what I am putting in the garden. LOTS of things. Here we go:

  • garlic
  • onions, both yellow and red
  • kale
  • chard
  • two types of radishes
  • two types of carrots
  • peas
  • beans
  • beets
  • spinach
  • lettuce
  • rosemary
  • oregano
  • thyme

I’m sure I am forgetting things. I’m a bit late on the second tomato planting. I’ve got too much else on my mind for that.

IMG_0011 IMG_0010 DSC05556 DSC05557 DSC05558 DSC05569 DSC05570The pumpkins are doing so well. There are 5 really good size ones now. The one we call Mr. Fatty (D calls it Big Bertha) is almost ten pounds. There is corn drying in my kitchen and still zucchini to be eaten. I planted peas in a pot and they are doing well too. The tomato plants made it through the summer and are starting to flower again. We might get one more push of tomatoes before I give them a home in the compost pile. The cow peas are done, dried and shelled. Really they were just a little experiment: I planted them in the side bed that was supposed to be an experiment for my new homeowner garden, and they actually thrived. So there weren’t very many beans, just enough to make a soup with. I’ll plant again with more vigor in the proper garden space.

Moving loads of rock and soil, digging holes in compacted clay, building beds, putting up a fence, and painting really have done me a lot of good. More so than any gym membership! I must say my biceps are looking pretty strong after all this work. I shouldn’t call it work because I enjoy it. It’s like crafting on a really huge scale!

Posted in Garden | 12 Comments

Kitchen of Canning

DSC05548 DSC05547 IMG_0344

Canning, it is synonymous with the “back to the land”, “connected to your food” movement. When I first started canning it seemed scary, I mean if I messed up, well I could die. But really with all the proper precautions canning is safe and easy to do. Who doesn’t want to have 12 liters of homemade applesauce in their pantry? Checkout Ashley English’s book. I used that to learn how to can food. I still make her peach lavender butter every year.

Apple season began for us in the middle of august. Our favorite Orchard, which is only a 30 minute drive north of here, usually has ripe apples beginning in August.  We get peaches and tomatoes there too. We’ve already been to the orchard twice since apple season started. We’ll probably go back one more time too before it ends in November.

We’ve been making apple everything and canning so much applesauce. This year I decided to try out Weck Jars. They are more expensive than Ball or Kerr but I think they are higher quality. The glass seems stronger and there is no doubt about if you got a seal or not. If the little orange tab is not pointing down when you pull the jars from the water the jar did not seal. Plus, they look so beautiful! D likes that they are metric as well, being from Italy and all.

When we were in France last summer right around July all the grocery stores put their weck jars out in front of the store. It was really neat to see major grocery stores encouraging canning.

Posted in Cooking and Food | 8 Comments

Welcoming Autumn

DSC05554 DSC05552 DSC05551 DSC05550 DSC05548 DSC05547In our house the change of season is welcomed with as much importance as a birthday or winter holiday. This year we’ve added Autumn to our line-up of celebrations. For the most part the autumnal equinox falls on or around the 21st of each September. This year it’s on the 23rd. We celebrated a little early this year by putting up our nature table, spending a good portion of the weekend in the garden, and turning locally picked apples into apple sauce. We like to celebrate together as a family so rather than wait until Tuesday we celebrated while D was home on the weekend.

For our nature table I made some fun fallish peg doll gnomes, found a nice branch from the backyard and I also played around with our jigsaw and dremel to create this lovely fall colored tree. I’m really happy about the tree. The girls have loved playing at the table and rearranging pieces. My hope is that over the next three months we will gather other nature toys to add to our table such as leaves, small pumpkins and gourds, and maybe some hand made crafts like that owl. I plan to use the branch as our gratitude tree for the month of November. For now it will get some painted leaves and maybe a few more nature art creatures.

Autumn is such  a rich time of exploration in nature. From the change in light to the change in color of the leaves every day of autumn seems precious. If you stay inside even one day you might miss something. If you are looking for inspiration I have a neat Pinterest board about autumn craftiness.

Posted in Life Learning, Natural Parenting | 11 Comments

Pumpkin Perseverance

DSC05535If you’ve never gardened before you might not realize it, but gardening is a whole lot like your own personal therapist, or shall I say life coach. It takes everything you thought you knew about plants and throws it right out the window. It makes you evaluate yourself all the time. Gardening comes with so many highs, the first sprouts, the first little tiny tomato, flowers and bees and butterflies. It also comes with a lot of lows, like the loss of an entire crop of kale to unchecked cabbage moth larva, early blight in tomatoes or a curious and hungry puppy.

I’ve had a lot of insects come in and eat my plants. It was sad but not devastating. However a few weeks ago I lost three pumpkins the size of the two in the background to our cute dog Lily. I was livid with anger because I had been waiting to so long for fruit to finally set. The weather was so hot and it was killing off all the female blossoms before they could set fruit. Every morning I would go out diligently in the wee hours of the morning when it was still cool and hand pollinate the female flowers because we have very few bees. After much disappointment those three pumpkins finally set. Then a few days later they were gone, having been chomped to bits by the dog.

I lost it. I raised my hands to the sky and yelled out a series of profanities which scared the girls. I then fell to the ground and cried. So much effort all gone and the darn dog didn’t even eat the pumpkins, just chewed them up. I yelled and stomped my feet and said to D in a not so nice voice “You build me a fence or I will give the dog up for adoption.”

I then went and pouted in my room. After a half hour I came to realize something: growing my own food is more than just a hobby: it’s part of who I am. I felt like this dog had personally attacked me. I also realized how silly it is to be mad at a creature that has no advanced planning skills; she just smelled something good and wanted a snack.

So the next day I went to the local hardware store and bought a lot of lumber and pre-cut pickets. Over the next two weeks I worked everyday to put up a fence. In that time the weather was cool and rainy and -guess what?- four pumpkins set fruit and started to swell and grow. With those fruits my confidence started to grow again too. I forgave the dog and kept building the fence. This weekend we finished the fence. Now my worries can go back to bugs and the weather.

The biggest thing I learned from all this was perseverance. Do not be deterred by setbacks even if they make you mad enough to see red and cry. Just wipe your eyes, stomp your feet if you need to, and keep gardening.

Posted in Garden | 9 Comments

The Summit

DSC05519There is nothing like being on the summit of mountain and looking down over the town you live in and practically into another country. Out past those mountains in the distance is Mexico.

Wishing you all an adventurous weekend!

Posted in Travels | 8 Comments

In My Garden

DSC05512 DSC05509 DSC05507 DSC05505 DSC05499 DSC05513DSC05518Not too much has changed this week with the veggies other than I now have three pumpkins that are growing and thriving along with a butternut squash. The sunflowers have opened and are attracting the first of the bees! The corn is still growing and the beans have been left to dry on the vines. I planted calendula which is sprouting nicely after the three days of heavy rains we had.

The fence is almost complete. Three more sections, a gate and a coat of paint! This fence has really transformed the yard from something barren to a cozy garden in the works. I love being out there. Now if only the mosquitoes would go away!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Life learning, homeschooling, unschooling…..

IMG_20140902_092227At our homeschool group last week we introduced ourselves to the new people in the group and said what we liked about homeschooling. It pretty much boiled down to freedom to learn, which I believe is a really powerful thing: allowing your children the freedom to learn in the way the suits their personality and interests.

My mother in-law asks us every weekend if is S going to school and we reply “not now”. It’s always an awkward conversation but one D skillfully deals with. In Italy homeschool is essentially unheard of, so it’s a strange concept for my in-laws to deal with. That’s okay though, Italian school are pretty amazing.

If you asked me to tell you what kind of homeschoolers we are, I can’t really tell you. We do a morning lesson because S likes the structure and has asked to learn how to write. She learned the whole alphabet last year because she wanted to learn how to write then too. Now she is working on perfecting her letters so they look just perfect. We recently started looking at mixing vowels and consonants to try and make words. She wants to write and she does all the time but most of her words are a mixture of consonants and so she gets frustrated. So our project work right now is all about letters and how they form words.

We draw daily, make bread, take nature walks, spend hours a day reading, do chores together and have lots of play time.

On any given day you might find us drawing from nature or making books and writing stories, baking or cooking to learn about numbers and measurements, watching YouTube videos about the International Space Station and learning about the solar system. Learning here at home is oh so much fun. And we do all in our pj’s sometimes!

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Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments