Last weekend we took a one-day impromptu road trip. There is a little town Southeast of Tucson called Bisbee. The town was founded in 1880 and retains most, if not all, its old charm. In its heyday it was a huge town with a railroad and even a street car. We ventured into the old hotel with its creaky wooden floors and lavish replica velvet high-back couches.
We had lunch at a wonderful little restaurant and took a walk through the small streets lined with charming wooden and brick homes. Bisbee is such a strange place it feels old world as it lacks strip malls and tract homes and is filled with a artistic/hippie community. The opposite of what many major western cities are now.
They have fabulous antique shops too, all of it mid century modern if you like that era.
Taking this mini road trip was kind of like the opening of travel season for us. Next week we are going to New Mexico, and then at the end of March to Italy. I love that we can travel whenever we like and that the girls love to travel as well. Plus now it is so easy, no one is napping, no one is breastfeeding, no one is in diapers. As long as we have snacks, water, books, and more snacks, we are good to go!
Are you dreaming of travel yet?
We’ll 2016 is here, I’ve just turned 32, and now I’m back to gardening. My garden is not bare by any means. This winter has alternated between cold and warm. This past Saturday it was 73 degrees, but next Monday we see a high of 50 with rain. It’s kind of wacky.
In any case, I’ve seeded just about everything but the summer and winter squash. In the greenhouse (and a few in my guest bedroom under grow lights) now are:
- onions (red and white)
- 3 kinds of chili
- 2 kinds of sweet peppers
- various flowers
- 4 varieties of tomatoes
- 4 varieties of basil
- many herbs
- brussel sprouts
- 2 kinds of lettuce
In the garden proper I have calendula on the verge of blooming. I just saw the first lavender bloom too. There is chard, kale, lettuce, baby carrots, radishes are sprouting, onions (somehow), garlic is sprouting up above the mulch and there are still living pepper plants! Let’s not forget the peas! I planted two packets of peas and those are beginning to climb their little fences.
Last week I had quite the scare when I walked into the chicken coop to find two of our birds were missing neck feathers. I watched the flock the whole afternoon hoping to find out who was pecking and why? Eventually I had my good friend S come over (she has goats and chickens) and she looked at them and said, “I do believe they are having an early molt.” Indeed it was true. Being a new chicken owner I didn’t think it would happen so soon. I was much relieved when I went to bed that night knowing I would wake up and those two birds would not be dead! (note: the chicken being held by S is not really being squeezed, just being rambunctious!)
I know most of you are buried under snow right now. What gardens are you dreaming of this year? Or maybe something is sprouting indoors or your greenhouses?
These days are passing quickly by. Today I’ve made another trip around the sun. I am grateful to be here breathing, laughing, loving. I have a great family and wonderful friends, both near and far.
These days are so full. My two girls have filled them up with learning and play and laughter and tears and fighting and hugging and life. I spend so much time watching them I forget to pick up the camera sometimes. But this week I did. I wanted to remember little bits.
They are so silly these two. I’m so glad they are here with me on this journey for however long it may be. For my birthday they gave me Weck jars, a cookbook, and a promise of new bras! How did they know I needed new bras? I guess they are always watching and listening.
And as my “old lady” friends say now that I am 32 I am actually in my 30’s and therefore no longer a “baby”. Finally!
Finally, my new sweater! The pattern is from Taproot, issue 11, and it’s called Barn Sweater. I love this sweater. The 3/4 sleeves are working out exactly as I’d hoped, in that they don’t get in my way when I cook, wash dishes, muck out the chicken coop, garden, or craft. This pattern was super easy to knit up… albeit I did mess up by reading the pattern wrong and had to frog 3 skeins worth of yarn. But after that it was easy. It took me only two months after that little mess up.
I highly recommend this pattern. I might knit another one someday with long sleeves for going out. Or I might not, who knows. Thanks to D for snapping these two quick pics of me with my phone.
The other day at lunch I asked my girls a question, “How many people do you think it took to make this lunch?” They looked at me slightly confused, thinking “is she crazy”? Then I began to explain that the soba noodles had to be made from two different types of flour. That flour was originally grains grown in a field with the help of sun and rain and the farmers who tended it. Then it was harvested and brought to a mill and milled by someone else, and turned into flour. That flour was bought by the company who wanted to make soba noodles. Someone made the noodles and then sold them to someone else who wanted to sell them to people like us.
I went on to explain about the fermented soy sauce, broccoli, chard, and sesame seeds. That lead to lots of other questions about the table we were eating at or the chopsticks we were using. What it all boiled down to this that a lot people were involved in the making of our lunch.
I’ve been reading a lot about mindfulness and I thought that asking that question might be a fun way to introduce the girls to the idea of connection.
Tell me where did your last meal come from?
Well I took an unexpected blog break. We have been so busy in the last two weeks. It wasn’t really a stressful busy but rather a filled with friends and laughter and so much good for you food kind of busy. The really good kind of busy where the day ends and your heart is full.
As I think back on this year and the past three years since we returned from France I feel so blessed at the life that we have cultivated. It’s feeling pretty darn sweet. We’ve got a comfortable home, a garden and chickens that feed us, healthy children, a happy marriage, and a tight community of like minded couples with children.
With all that is happening around the world both good and bad, I’m taking time each day to be grateful for all that has come to me.
I like New Year’s lists. Not resolution lists, but you know bucket lists. This year I’m going to try a few new things:
- learn to dye with natural dyes
- knit a pair of socks
- finish that homesteading/foodie story I’ve been writing for two years
- try growing potatoes
- try to update my clothing with more me-made clothing
- learn to make one really good gluten free baked good
Is there anything new you want to try this year?
For the past 5 years we have done a special thing for the week before the winter Solstice. We turn off the light and don’t turn them back on again until after the bonfire on Solstice Eve. We use candles (and an oil lantern) in the evening (and in the morning if it’s not light enough). This also means no TV and minimal computer time for me, which is good.
Each year I make candles with the girls the day before we turn out the lights. This year they were able to help for real and dipped two pillar candles each.
Why do we do this? To get a better since of how dark this time of year really is, and just how dark the dark can be. And it’s so relaxing at night, it really lowers the energy level before you got to bed.
Try cooking and eating and getting ready for bed by candles light just one night this week. You’ll love how slow and easy things are.
This past week I feel as though I only stepped out of the kitchen to sleep or go to the bathroom. For me food is love and feeding the people I love with highest quality food is really important. This often requires a lot of time in the kitchen.
This week among other things I made tortellini from scratch, including the ricotta inside. I made sourdough bread, five loaves of panettone, and enough polenta for 18 people.
On Saturday I held a polentata which is essentially a polenta party. Everyone old enough to stand at the stove without a stool helped stir, and each family brought a dish to go on top. My house was brimming with love and friendship that night.
The holiday season is one of my favorites because so many dishes are made that have specific memories attached to them. Most of mine are Italian. What dishes do you make to help you remember people or places this time of year?
I’d like to mention first that I am over on Instagram much more these days than I am here. I find myself more and more, simply moving away from most of the social media I used to use. There is a real simplistic beauty in posting just a few words or simply a photograph. If you feel like you miss the activity in this space hop on over there. I think most of you are there anyway.
The nights are getting very chilly here in the desert. I woke Monday morning to a low of 29F! The weather app told me it would be 35 so I didn’t cover everything. I lost only two plants, the butternut squash which was already done anyway and the basil in the greenhouse. So strange as the basil outside was fine.
Despite the chilly nights and cool days we still get a lot of sun, which allows the plants to keep on growing. I’ve still got flowers and fruit on my chili plants, two tomato plants that are still going strong, green beans and lettuce, chard and lots of herbs. The carrots I planted are coming along nicely, one patch of garlic has sprouted already (planted a smidge too early in November). Still waiting on beets and peas and more carrots.
We’ve been getting 4 eggs a day from our chickens. Pretty good considering the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are dropping. We’ve been eating omelettes every Saturday filled with just home grown ingredients minus the butter and salt. Eggs, chard, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil and garlic chives. Yumm!
In the greenhouse I seeded a variety of lettuce and it’s just now sprouted. There is bok choy for our weekly stir fry and I moved the pineapple plant in there as well. Come winter solstice I will seed all the tomato plants along with peppers and other summer things. March 15 is recommended planting date around here!
For now we are taking each day slow. Solstice is almost upon us and as the days grow shorter I find myself wanting to slow down as much as I can.
Welcome December, go slowly please!