In My Garden

DSC05677 DSC05678 DSC05680 DSC05681 DSC05682 DSC05683It feels like spring again in my garden this week. The morning air has a chill to it and the days are warm. A perfect incubator for little sprouts. Everything I planted in the last two weeks has sprouted: peas, beans, onions, carrots, radishes, kale chard, broccoli rabe, cilantro, parsley, calendula and lettuce. I am really hankering for some lettuce. A fresh salad from the garden sounds really good right now.

My tomato plants, which I planted in February are having their last hurrah. They gave me lots of tomatoes early in the season then went dormant during the hottest months and now are producing fruit again. I’m a bit surprised but happy I didn’t rip out the plants a month ago when I thought they had finished producing.

Next month I’ll plant the 80 or so cloves of garlic I have stored in my fridge. We love garlic and I am sure already that it won’t be enough!


Posted in Garden | 4 Comments

F is for Forest



I’m totally the kind of parent who says, “Camping in October why not?” This week we are looking at the letter F and learning about why leaves change color so no better place to figure that out than the forest. So Sunday morning I packed up the girls and headed up the mountain.

We found ourselves at the very highest camp ground at almost 8,000 feet.  It was cold. No not “Canadian cold” but in the 50’s. We set up camp and then explored by this stream for hours. I sat and watched them play and listened to the wind sing in the trees. I let all sense of time stop. I didn’t rush them or call them out of their play until they said they were done. I wish I could let them play every day like that. They seem so at home in the wilderness.

After dinner we bundled up in hats, coats and warm pajamas watched the first stars come out then tucked ourselves into our warm sleeping bags. It was much colder than my desert bones are used too. I wish I had had wool long johns. But sleeping between to warm babes kept me all the warmer.

In the morning it was so cold my breath fogged my glasses and it made V laugh. As soon as the sun came into the canyon we were in we packed up and headed home. One day and one night but it was so well spent. And yes I did do this trip solo. D is out of town on business for a week so we  decided to be spontaneous.

Checkout my Instagram stream for some other fun pictures from our trip.

Posted in Life Learning, Life Notes | 15 Comments

Crafty Projects

DSC05609DSC05610 DSC05608DSC05606DSC05607As you all know I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time in the garden. Well, the garden is in good shape right now and I can slow down a little. Since there is not much gardening to be done at night I’ve taken up knitting and sewing again. I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on this year’s hats and scarves for the girls. S picked the pink and blue yarn with a puff ball on top. V picked the yellow yarn with added braids. Same basic hat pattern, different yarns and add-ons. I love to see their personalities come out in something as simple as a hat.

I also decided it high time to change our pillow covers. I dug through my stash and found these fall inspired fabrics. I am totally in love with the red pillow. The large rectangular one is actually a small memory foam bed pillow, and it was D’s idea and fabric pick.

Last night I finished up a pair of pajama pants for each girl. Next are Halloween costumes for our homeschooling fall festival, and then on two sweater knitting for both girls. They have very specific requests for all of that, of course.

How are your creative sides doing?

Posted in Sewing and Crafts | 25 Comments

In My Garden

DSC05605 DSC05599 DSC05596 DSC05595 DSC05592 DSC05589This week in my garden we’re seeing the beginnings of our fall garden. Hundreds of little sprouts are popping up out of the ground. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly radishes spout.  So what did we sow last week?

  • kale
  • chard
  • broccoli rabe
  • rattlesnake beans
  • three kinds of radishes
  • two kinds of carrots
  • red onions
  • white onions
  • lettuce
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • calendula
  • cone flowers
  • rosemary
  • sage

I’m still waiting for the daytime temperatures to cool off. The highs have been in the low 90’s, cooler but still too warm to plant garlic. Come the end of October and I’ll be planting at least 80 cloves of garlic. We are really lucky here that our first frost doesn’t come for a long time. We can sometimes make it to December before a frost comes.

This garden has been a lot of hard work to put together but it brings me immense joy. I put it right outside my bedroom so that I could look out on it whenever I wanted. This allows me to monitor the garden throughout the day. It’s my “zone one” space, for those of you who are into permaculture. The place that will get the utmost attention.

How are your fall gardens doing?

Posted in Garden | 5 Comments

Mud Kitchen

DSC05588DSC05587DSC05594 I can’t tell you for how long I have wanted to build the girls a mud kitchen. Probably since before they were born. I do believe that when you live in the city having as much access to the out of doors as possible is really important. A mud kitchen goes against all my lazy instincts, meaning after playing in the mud I had to do laundry, clean the floors, and bathe my children. However the benefits outweigh the cons.

So I built them a table to hold a bunch of kitchen items I bought for 50 cents or less at the thrift shop. I used leftover wood from the garden fence and some salvaged wood from a bookcase I found in the alley behind a neighbor’s house. Normally my carpentry projects are pretty ramshackle (D says my motto is “measure never, cut wherever”). However this time I really put some effort into building it properly. I measured (twice!), pre-drilled holes, and used wood screws to hold it all together.

The playspace I imagine for my girls is slowly coming together. My friend Kim has created an incredible space for her son, and that has been a big inspiration to me. There are still a few more elements like a sandbox and a some climbing apparatuses. But all things in good time.

Posted in Garden, Natural Parenting | 4 Comments

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.

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Posted in Cooking and Food | 8 Comments