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Bunching onions, sauerkraut, local lamb roast, and working in the garden….

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

Chopping up bunching onions to go in my neighbors freezer

What do all those things have in common? …. Just more “not dabbling in normal” normal.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Over at the neighbors getting things ready to plant.

Cleaning and clearing out the winter garden. the onions are starting to flower. I let a few turnips and some of the kale flower so I can collect seeds. The monster spinach is just starting to bolt, so will leave a few plants in the ground for seed saving also.

I was over at the neighbors yesterday to help clear out winter plants and get some spring things in the ground. He uses a hoe (made in the USA) that belonged to his grandmother. (my neighbor is 81 years old, so that is one old hoe that he is using.) we planted some cucumber and zucchini seeds and got a few bell pepper plants in the ground. My body is still playing catch up from being sick a year ago…. so that was all we got done. We will work out there again on Saturday. I plan to work in my garden today and hopefully get some plants in the ground. I still get out of breath, but it feels good to work out there and I need to keep pushing myself a bit to keep getting better. I have certainly come a long way, especially when i think back to march 2013 when I couldn’t even walk across the room!

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

chopping cabbage for sauerkraut

I have picked my cabbages and they are in the crock turning into fermented sauerkraut. I picked up some more local cabbage at the local swap that I go to and those are also fermenting in another second crock. A Roasted lamp shoulder

Dinner the other night was a roasted local lamb shoulder (picked it up at the swap/barter.) I had a second pan in the oven roasting sweet potatoes and onions that I also traded for.

Making a cough syrup

Making a cough syrup

I am also taking an herbal medics class. Learning a lot, and So much more to learn. It is a lot of fun. I am harvesting some wild herbs and edibles as they are popping up this spring. The lambsquarter is popping up so I am potting some up to take to plant swaps and also the month swap/barter.

So, like I said…. Life. There is a lot going on. Spring is in the air (It was 87F yesterday – I think we skipped Spring!)

What are you up to this time of year?

Sincerely, Emily

 

 

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D seems to be a hard one for me. I have been going through my photos and nothing that is remotely close to “D” is popping out. I did find a really great D in there.

My neighbor/friend that loves playing with wood made some beautiful walnut tops for the new reception area at our local Senior activity center. I have been in and out of his garage a million times while he was working on them. That walnut sure smelled good.228

I had gone with him once when he needed to see how things fit and the pieces were beautiful then, but WOW they look great finished and in place. So, this is the perfect D. D is for desk.

You can also see some other things that he has made.

So, as I am typing this… I remembered another photo I have that works.  D is for datura. This datura was a volunteer in the middle of one of the walkways in my garden. Full sun and simply beautiful! I would give it a drink when I watered the vegetables. All those blooms tells me that it was really happy there.

volunteer datura

volunteer datura

Sincerely, Emily

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I am knitting again for the Special Olympics Scarf Project. Here is a link to the information for Texas. Towards the bottom of this post I have listed a link to Colouring with Yarn. They have complied a great list of the participating states and the details. One thing that I will add -  if your state is not participating, you can still knit/crochet/loom scarves – just send them to another state!!!001

I am trying to challenge myself with some new patterns, but still keep it brainless. I am currently working on an eyelet pattern  (scarf #3), that is not so brainless. I really have to pay attention. I have typed out the pattern large enough so I can read it from a distance and I use a piece of masking tape placed under the row that I am currently working on. That helps.

my method of keeping track of where I am - a piece of masking tape.

my method of keeping track of where I am – a piece of masking tape.

Are there any knitters out there? Row 3 in the pattern above ended in “k2tog, yo, k2top yo” ….  I would still consider myself a beginner, but ending a row in a “yo” just doesn’t make sense to me, so I reversed the order to read “yo, 2ktog, yo, 2ktog.”  Is that a misprint, or can you really end a row with a “yo” (yarn over)?

I have also come up with a way to keep the scarf out of the way as it gets longer. Boy, does that help a lot! There is enough cat hair on this scarf the way it is, I certainly don’t need to add more by letting it drag on the floor. How do you keep your scarf (or large project) out of the way as you knit?

How do you keep your project out of the way?

How do you keep your project out of the way?

With the Special Olympics Scarf Project you can knit, crochet or loom your scarves… what ever works for you. I can really crank out a crocheted scarf, but then my right hand is done in for several weeks… so I do the knitting. I have noticed with knitting this year, I am now feeling it in my hands also…. just can’t win. So I do a little at a time instead of an hour – that helps.

Here are some of the specifics for the scarves. Dimensions are:

  • 54-60 inches long
  • 6 to 7 inches wide
  • Pack scarves individually in zip-bags for mailing
  • The notes to the athletes are great, so by all means include those, we just ask you please not attach them to the scarves themselves.

Scarves can be made in any pattern and can be knitted, loomed or crocheted.
Please wash the scarf before sending it, especially if you smoke or have pets.

Click on the link to Colouring with Yard below for a list of the participating states.  some other states that are participating. If you do not see your state, pick another state, go pick up some yarn and start knitting. You can knit for any state that you want, as long as you are using the colored yarn for that state.

Colouring with Yarn has a great post showing the details for:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

Here are a few posts about the past scarves that I sent:

Do you knit (or crochet) for a cause? Tell us about it. Share links in your comment.

Sincerely, Emily

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This week, we’re inspired by the leaders of natural and local, be it gardens or food.

***

This week I (Sincerely, Emily) arranged a field trip for the local garden club that I am in. We went to The Natural Gardener in Austin, TX owned by John Dromgoole (has been doing an organic radio show for 30 years.) The nursery was wonderful and celebrates 30 years this year. Then we headed to lunch at a local restaurant called Jack Allen’s Kitchen. They work with local farmers to use local and seasonal food in some of the dishes.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast, Portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke gratin and goat cheese drizzle

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast, Portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke gratin and goat cheese drizzle

It was a great day. Local Nursery. Local Restaurant (serving some local food!) Good Friends.

***

As local as it gets. The last tomato harvest.

Green peppers

October harvest

What have you been up to this week?

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I went to my first swap this past April. I had heard of swaps but didn’t find one in my area until a friend found this one on a MeetUp page and told me about it.

Swap July 2013

Swap July 2013

The organizer set up a few guidelines and the rest is history. She holds it once a month.

There were a few guidelines to follow:

  • No money was allowed – this is all about the trade and bartering with what you have for what you want/need.
  • Items should be sustainably-minded. Something you have grown in your garden, something you conned/cooked/brewed/baked/preserved/dried, etc. Something your animals made (goat milk, hen eggs, lamb wool, etc.) Something you sewed/knitted/re-purposed, etc. Items to do with sustainable interests are also good (Mother Earth News magazines, cookbooks, cooking/camping gear, etc)
  • The items you should leave at home: this is not a garage sale, items should be about sustainability. Leave the knick-knacks at home.

Once we set up, we were allowed 15 minutes to walk around and check out the items other people brought so we could see what we were interested in.

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Each month I have been posting about the swap over on my personal blog. About a month ago I realized that I hadn’t posted about the July swap and I thought it would be a good topic to post here. I have known the swap and barter system is out there and alive, and I realize that there may be others out there that are interested, but don’t know were to look or even how to get started.

Here are the other swap posts I have done”

Here are a few places to look to find swaps in your area: Note: I will add additional information to this post as I find it or as people comment. (updated 19 Sept 2013)

Would you go to a swap if you had one in your area?
Are you participating in a swap in your area?

Please use the comments to let others know about how to find a swap. If you out there participating in a swap, please comment with the general area you are in and add a link to the swap information.

Sincerely, Emily

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I am a member of the San Antonio Herb Society and we do several outreach events each year where we work at educating people about herbs. The display we have is called Everyday Herbs and it is made up of many examples of boxed and packaged foods that you can buy in your grocery store that contain herbs. Along with those boxes and packages we have pots of each herb to show people what that herb looks like before it is added to those foods, and educating them how herbs are a part of their everyday life. We also focus on 12 basic herbs that grow well in our area.

Herb Market 2012 006

Last year three of us worked at freshening up the display and finding more healthy and organic examples to use in our display. We used to use these neat ceramic plant marks, but they were so heavy that the 4″ potted herbs would end up falling over a lot of the time so we decided to take a normal terracotta/clay pot and use blackboard paint on them and use a white marker (to look like chalk) and write the herb on each pot. Those pots would make a nice strong and steady base to place the 4″ potted herbs in and help them remain upright throughout the day.

Herb Market 2012 002

This is a really simple way to label your potted plants. We used two different pots shapes and sizes to give the display some variety. The blackboard (chalkboard paint) paint in permanent and the white marker we used it also. We will be using these pots over and over again, so it was important that they would hold up. You could also use regular chalk, but just remember that it would wash off in the rain.

We only did the 12 basic herbs that grow well in the San Antonio area to keep the focus on what herbs are easy for people to start with if they were interested in growing herbs. The pots turned out great and the display turned out well.

The pots have really freshened up the display. This is an ongoing display as we continue to to switch out the older boxed foods with examples of more organic and healthy options.

Do you have a creative way to label your potted plants?

Sincerely, Emily

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I must admit, i’m a bargain shopper and hate going to stores in person. I love Amazon, Zappos, Mod Cloth and all those lovely online storefronts. They are not exactly local, however so this week i thought i’d feature some of my favorite, LOCAL small businesses here in the Corvallis area and a few back in Austin where i hailed from prior to moving back to Oregon. In this list you’ll find farms, artisans, boutiques and supply stores, including some opportunities for shopping online AND shopping local:

Corvallis/Philomath/Willamette Valley, OR:

Stash: Knitters, spinners, crochetists  and otherwise crafty folks can find tons of supplies and inspiration at this great, new yarn shop in downtown Corvallis. Nestled in a line of other sweet shops on 3rd street, Stash is a real gem and the shop’s owner, Sonia is even shinier. Stop in and stock up on tons of stash-worthy yarns, roving, patterns and more! Stash also hosts a Stitch Night every Wednesday and a “Sit and Spin” on occasion. You can find Stash online and on Facebook.

Bellwether Wool Co: More on the fiber trend, Bellwether is MY go to supplier of batting, roving and all things fiber. The two farm company (Blakesley Creek Farm and Dayspring Farm) carries many varieties of fiber, most containing a large percentage of fiber grown by each farm, in natural to wildly dyed colors. You can find their roving at Stash and online. They’re also on Facebook.

Gathering Together Farm: Just down the road from my apartment is Gathering Together Farm. GTF has been instrumental in the local organic food movement including seed preservation and community awareness. GTF’s produce can be purchased at their farm stand, in local markets and via a CSA. If you have a chance to get your hands on their Delicata squash when it comes in season, do it! It’s the most delicious squash i’ve ever eaten. GTF is online and on Facebook.

Furniture Restoration Center of Oregon: Local craftsman, Steve Larson and his wife, Janice have been in business in downtown Philomath for 31 years. Their eye for detail and experience with wood and fine furniture has made them relied upon service providers in our small community and beyond. If you mention the FRC to anyone, they’ll immediately tell you what nice people Steve and Janice are and about how they ‘saved’ some old armoir or headboard of theirs years ago. Along with their restoration work, FRC has a small retail space with restoration supplies, hardware and even antique furniture. Stop in the next time you drive through Philomath: they’re right on Main Street at 13th St. FRC is also online and on Facebook.

Austin, TX:

Son of a Sailor: William Knopp and Jessica Tata revel in playful creation and collaboration. William is a graphic designer by trade, but has made stops along the way in the Navy, the oil fields of West Texas, and pilgrimages around the world. Jessica fancies herself a creative marketing professional with a background in art galleries and museums, photographing the world around her as she goes. Based in Austin, Texas, both continue to explore space and form through jewelry as just one of their creative outlets. Son of a Sailor is featured at Pocket Pause today as my “Friday Favorite,” read more.

Schatzelein:  Schatzelein’s mission is to bring artistically designed, thoughtfully hand-crafted, and strategically priced designer jewelry and accessories to the men and women of Austin. Owner Christine Fail personally selects designers from around the world and ensures that each piece is handcrafted by artisans in the highest quality materials, with the utmost attention to detail. Schatzelein also maintains that you do not have to sacrifice your values for affordability and always strives to have beautifully crafted pieces for every budget. You can find Schatzelein online, on Facebook and on South 1st street in Austin.

Yard Farm Austin: Do you want to grow your own food but are afraid your black thumb may foil your plans? Have Zach bring his team to your Austin area home to plan, install, plant and even maintain an edible and beautiful garden for you. Transform your yard into a yard FARM. Find Yard Farm online and on Facebook.

Along with these favorite shops, i also love Emily’s recent suggestion about using the ‘local’ search tool on Etsy. It is really great and i recently purchased some super awesome labels for my Fiber Friends from a gal just down in Oakridge. I also happen to know a swell artisanal soap maker right here in Philomath, hint hint (check out GoNudeSoap.com to buy my soap!). No shameless self promotion for me! haha.

Do you shop locally? Have a favorite shop or small business? Share your favorites with us!

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Chicago’s motto is Urbs in horto:  City in a garden.

And flowers are nice. I love the gardens that our city has shoe-horned into every nook and cranny. I love that they give away a million tulip bulbs every year after the bloom is done. I love our world-class park system.

But imagine a city that remembers that gardens do not mean flowers alone. Imagine a city that integrates food production within the existing urban fabric. Cafe lined streets on which restaurants grow the food that they serve to patrons. Homes with window boxes filled with Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes instead of petunias and ivy. Office buildings that eschew tulip beds on favor of tomato-filled planters, where employees pick their lunch, instead of picking up their lunch. Imagine city governments that rewrite codes to make it easy for unused land to be used for temporary community gardens. Imagine suburban city councils and home owners associations that see the beauty in an eggplant and let people plant them wherever the sun is, be it front yard or back.

Imagine Urbs in villam. City in a farm.

Today, people in urban areas don’t know how to grow food, but during WW2 Chicagoans started 500 community gardens & 75,000 home gardens. They harvested more than 2,000,000 POUNDS of food and led the nation in the Victory Gardens movement. What if we reached  back into our past to do it again—to make home and community gardening the norm. What if we created an attitude that could lead to edible plantings in every sunny yard, park, store window, work place, and empty lot in the city, private and public.

Urban dwellers in particular, and all Americans–urban, suburban, rural–cannot keep relying on remote, even overseas, sources for our food. It costs too much in personal, economic and planetary health. It divides us from our very DNA, which evolved for us to be farmers and gatherers. Urbs in villam has planters full of tulips down one side of the street, and planters full of tomatoes down the other. By seizing opportunities like the economic crisis that halted construction, leaving lots empty, we can integrate food production into spaces that we already have.

The key is to educate our citizens about how easy it can be to grow our own food, where we live and eat it.

What is your community doing to bring food production home?

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No doubt you’ve realized by my lack of posts that it’s been a really busy spring at Chiot’s Run. It would be nice if blogging was my full-time job and I could do it all day, but alas, I’ve got bills to pay just like you all do. In case you don’t read my daily blog, here’s an update: This spring has been especially busy since we’re getting the cottage and gardens ready to put them on the market. We’ve made one exploratory trip up to Maine looking at houses, we even put an offer on one, but that didn’t work out. Yep, we’re planning a move to Maine. Why? Because it seems like the right time and they have a great local food network. And WHY NOT?

Now that the Dark Days are over (was that challenge a little too long for everyone else like it was for me?), I’m excited to talk a little about non-local food. I’ve never wanted to be a 100% local eating gal, I like tropical food too much. You see I grew up in South America, right on the equator, so the foods of my youth were mangos, papayas, avocados, citrus and all things tropical. We had a banana plant in the front garden and a big papaya tree in the back. I’ll choose a mango over an apple any day, hands down! These things will always hold a special place in my diet and I will never give them up simply because I live in the North. About 95% of my diet is local, much of that homegrown, the remaining 5% is tropical. That being said, I’m not running out to my nearest grocery store to pick up a mango when I want it. I’m searching the internet to find small organic farms that sell through LocalHarvest or on their own websites.

My most recent score was a box filled with beautiful avocados and another filled with blood oranges. They were both from Trethowan Organic Farm in Rainbow, California. We’ve been enjoying avocados with every meal, even breakfast. If you’ve never have a fried egg smothered in fresh guacamole you haven’t lived! Who can resist a quick snack of a half an avocado dusted with sea salt & freshly ground pepper. It’ll keep you full until the cows come home, or at least until the dinner bell rings!

I’m also enjoying the last of the Rio Red grapefruit that I got from G & S Groves in TX. This year I joined their fruit of the month club. As a result I’ve been enjoying a grapefruit every day, some mornings I even bake them. If you’ve never had baked grapefruit you’re missing out. Here’s how I do it.

We can feed our hunger for connection by eating seasonally and also by buying directly from small farmers at the farmer’s market. Forming relationships with the people who grow our food, and taking up opportunities to visit their farms, is a healing practice. It is important for the farmers as well. The majority of small farmers are not in it for the money – farming is no longer lucrative. They do it because they have a love of independence, because they love working with the land, and often because they believe in building a food system that is based on relationship. They get immense satisfaction when their customers take an interest in their farming practices and in how and why they grow their produce.

Jessica Prentice – Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection


Even if you do enjoy things that aren’t local, I’d like to encourage you to still find them as seasonally and as sustainably as possible. Not only will you be enjoying the healthiest product you can have, you’ll be building a rich network of small farms around the country. You’ll be helping a small farm survive to provide food to it’s own immediate community.

If you had to choose one non-local fruit or vegetable as your favorite which would it be? Have you found a small sustainable source for this item?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping and more; Eat Outside the Bag blogging about all things food & cooking; Your Day Magazine and you can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.

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There are steps to creating a sustainable life.

In our society the realities of sustainability run up against the national character. Rigid self-sufficiency and individualism are the holy grail; in the words of Maxwell Anderson, how you can tell an American is that you cannot tell him what to do, even when it’s in his own best interest. In the current political insanity, any suggestion that we try to save our common heritage–like, for instance, the air–through sensible regulation, is excoriated as “removing choice.”

Enter the idea of the commons–those things that we own together, starting with the air, but also the water, the language, the creative works of humanity.

What I’ve discovered through the creation of the Peterson Garden Project, is that for many sustainable initiatives that revolve around community action, we lack a language. The language of communal action has been removed from the dialog, or vilified as “communist” or “socialist.” But some things, even most things cannot be done alone. The old saying that ‘your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” needs to be understood again to extend to our food and our health.

A new language does exist, in the old language, through the concept of the commons. What we hold together. What we all must use, but also spare, share, and save. Where our right to swing our so-called individual rights ends at the epidemic asthma in the inner cities because of pollutants, or the loss of aquifers because private owners have drained the wetlands that used to belong to all of us. We’ve allowed private bank accounts to be the fist, but haven’t stopped their swing at our collective nose.

Last week was the annual Good Fest Festival in Chicago (formerly the Family Farmed Fest), a really wonderful trade show all about restoring local, sustainable food systems to the urban landscape.  The exhibitors are all local farmers and food makers. It’s where I first learned how to change my diet to nearly 100% local food.

This year my friend LaManda Joy of The Yarden, founder of The Peterson Garden Project, was on the panel “Growing A Good Food Community”, about building urban communities through gardening and creating gardens by building urban communities. The interesting thing was that her fellow panelists were my old high school friend Jay Walljasper and Julie Ristau of On The Commons.

The panel, moderated by Megan Larmer of Slow Food Chicago, was beautifully constructed around the steps we need to take back collective ownership, working in a very American way, through individual action.

It starts, as I say, with the language. Jay talked about first, the need to start thinking again about the commons, and also laid out a basic way to think about the commons again. As important, he talked about how language can lead this new, old way of thinking, focusing right in on the difficulties I have had getting funders in particular to understand that what we’re doing is not a farm with a single owner or board, but collective action for individual benefit.

But it cannot stop with the language; only talking only works for academics. Enter Julie Riskau, founder and former publisher of the Utne Reader and current spokeperson for On The Commons. Julie talked about turning language into policy initiatives of the sort that lead to intelligent municipal ordinances which, for instance, stop creating criminals of people who put their edible gardens in their front yards because that is where the sun is.

But policy is only effective with an army of individuals putting it to work at street level. Which is where LaManda Joy and her Pop-up Victory Gardens come in, as well as the many other community gardening, and community preserving, and farmers markets, local school councils, in fact all of the community-based efforts that will save our cities and towns.

We need to restore the language, so we can affect the law, so we can own the activities that will make our communities livable.

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