The Ever Changing Garden

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The peas have sprouted. They are reaching toward their strings.

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In a week of heat the arugula flowered. Some of it I am letting go to seed so it will drop its seed and reseed. Others I have pulled and replanted their habitations with new greens. All of the flowered arugula plants were beautiful.

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The parsley is huge. It is prolific. It goes in soups, in stews. It goes into my mouth when I am wandering the garden.

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It is a changing garden this time of year. Many of our winter greens flowered over the last few weeks. If I was a more savvy gardener I would have seen it coming and harvested and frozen all of their leaves. But I cannot help it; I think of them as beings. I cannot strip them bare…

Our Lady the Collard Green, who we brought with us from our old house a year and a half ago, decided to bolt. She is lovely, as always. I will miss her.

And in go the new plantings, seeds and starts. In go new hopes and dreams of the garden still to come; of my spring garden, my summer garden.

Here we go, as we round the bend from the spring equinox. Let the gardening continue. May growth flourish.

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The Sleeping Child

I share a bed with my husband and our toddler. Last night she slept until 5, when I woke, then she fell back to sleep. Nights like this give me vitality for my early wakings and the day that follows. But many nights she wakes 3-5 times a night, needing a bit of my effort and energy to fall asleep once more.

At two and half years of age she still nursing, not by some great plan of my own, but because I am not quite sure how to stop. It takes so much energy to divert her from nursing, so going with it is just easier on me. Or is it? I am ready for solid nights of sleep. I am ready to call my breasts my own again.

Everyone in our house has slightly different schedules. My step step son sometimes settles down to sleep just hours before my husband and I wake. We also have the amazing knack of choosing homes where you have to walk through our bedroom to reach the bathroom. And our bedroom door doesn’t close or open without a small squeak, or a low and solid ‘pop.’

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So how do I transition from fearing the creaky door, the loud breakfast making noises, the night time chatter, to enjoying life while my little one sleeps?

We will see, my friends. I have been relying largely on life’s changing stages, which occur with or without our input. Baby to toddler, toddler to small child. Teenager to adult. Life moves us along our path. I just need to walk this path now holding my toddler’s hand, not nursing her. So I may have more morning solitude. More yoga. More deep breaths.

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Wish me luck.

Posted in compromise, Family, parenting, struggles, toddler | 3 Comments

Times I Questioned My Sanity

Late this summer I grabbed two big bags of peaches from produce department. ‘I’m gonna make jam,’ I announced to my stepdaughter.

Those peaches sat in my fridge, mocking me, for what seemed like a long time. I had so much to do; I was up to my canning eyeballs.

Finally it happened, batch by batch, bag by bag. I canned those peaches. Jammed the heck out of them, as tired as I was. And fully questioned whether it was worth it, or whether I may have stepped over the edge.

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Now, in March, my daughter yells ‘I want PEACH one!’

It is obvious. It was worth it.

Posted in canning, preserving, thrifty | Leave a comment

Finding Community

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It has been a struggle for me to find my folks here in Portland, OR. Almost 8 years I have been here, and only in this past year have I felt that I had enough quality friends to sustain me. But it has happened. My circle is full. Full enough for me to relax. I have friends here that I have known forever from Michigan. I have newish Portland friends who share my interests of urban homesteading, food preservation, and raising kids naturally. I have enough.

I stayed with it out here. I did not run away. I did not choose somewhere new. I stayed. And now, things have come full circle. I am settled. I am married. I am mother. And I have friends. Real friends. Thank Goodness. I am a lucky woman. Goodnight.

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Making Do

These have been lean times. My role is to feed the family, whether in times of plenty or no. I had to get mighty creative this last month to make those meals appear on the table. Although this can be hard, it can also make me proud of my creativity and resourcefulness.

Many mornings saw fresh scones or biscuits offered with eggs, in place of toast. Eggs were bought with change from my friendly local egg neighbor, or gathered here from the hen house. I made homemade bread several times as well.

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I bought a few ingredients from the store each week, which I used to round out the bulk food we had at home. Mostly I bought produce and dairy products: milk, cheese, butter, 1/2&1/2 and yogurt. In bulk here we had half a chest freezer full of pasture raised meat, much whole wheat flour and white flour, oats, homemade jam and homemade pickles in the pantry, and frozen corn, zucchini, green beans, blueberries and raspberries in the freezer.

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I was able to come up with a remarkable number of different meals, treats and snacks using combinations of these foods.

We also have greens harvesting from the garden, as well as some fresh herbs. We have kale, collard greens and swiss chard for cooking, and arugula and swiss chard for salad. We have an abundance of parsley, and also fresh mint and chives and green onions.

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I was struck by the amount of food security a household has if they have food stored away. It may seem obvious, but I didn’t fully realize how important this was until we truly needed that food. Then I became increasing thankful for our bulk food purchases. They are better environmentally because there is less packaging involved, and they are better economically, because you pay less when you buy in bulk. And if you come to a time when you need food – there it is. And boy is it beautiful.

Posted in baking, bread, canning, chickens, compromise, cooking, harvest, pantry, preserving, simplifying, struggles, thrifty, turning waste into want | 4 Comments

February 14th, 2015

Happy Valentines Day Everybody

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Scones At Home

We have been making scones at home on a regular basis for months now.

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Although scones seem a bit fancy, they are actually quite quick and easy and use mostly bulk ingredients that we always have on hand: flour, a bit of sugar, baking soda, cold butter, salt, eggs and milk or cream. We add a handful of dried fruit or chocolate chips or frozen berries; whatever we have around. Plain scones have actually become my favorite. You can taste their simple, satisfying flavor more clearly with nothing else to distract you.

Here are some photos of scones we’ve made at home this fall and winter:

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Chocolate chip scones.

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Yum! Plain cream scones.

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Dried cherry scones.

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And yes, River helps me make many batches of scones. She dumps and sifts all the ingredients. I mix, since the recipe call for barely combining the ingredients. I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to just scoop the mixture out of the bowl and onto the ungreased baking sheet. This process is so simple that I sometimes rise early and make these before my family awakes, especially if we are out of bread for morning toast. But don’t worry, you don’t have to feel pressured to make homemade scones each morning. They can be a special treat for your family. Just don’t fear the scone – you can do it!

Posted in baking, Family, home, kitchen, parenting, simplifying, thrifty, toddler | 1 Comment