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Archive for the ‘Routines’ Category

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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1. Weekly laundry loads are really small.
Oh, oops. Did I wear the same clothes four days in a row? Did I remember to change for sleeping? (no)

2. Bed is made
See below, “creative procrastination.”

3. Nose prints on back window
When was the last time I went outside?

4. Creative procrastination
Made a cake in the middle of a Wednesday? Check. Swept kitchen floor? Check. Extended phone call with daughter? Check.

5. Oh, you get to “leave” work at 5 p.m.?
How cute.

6. What’s a “business line?”
Is there anyone who doesn’t have my phone number?

7. Don’t open the heating bill without a strong drink in your hand
No such thing as setting the thermostat for when people are in the house. People are always in the house.

8. Starbucks is my conference room
At least they clean their toilets regularly.

9. We call it a “perk.”
Remember that drink in your hand? Yeah, I have a drink in my hand.

10. You never shop on the weekends or after 5 p.m.
That’s when all the cube farmers are there.

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Hard upon the (late) April repost of monthly planning from Jen at Unearthing This Life, here’s what to do in May (a day early)! My May will be taken up with continuing rehabbing (ish) of my house, and of course, getting the garden up and running.

Gardening:

  • Skip trimming shrubbery if you notice any nesting. Let those birds have some solitude!
  • Plant annuals if you’re safe from frosts and trim back perennials if needed in warmer zones.
  • Zone 4 and lower transplant tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits and other warm weather crops. Zone 5 and up– not til the end of the month!
  • Tidy up bulb foliage if it begins to die back.
  • Allow columbine and foxgloves to go to seed and collect some for next year.
  • Trim back blooms on roses and day lilies to promote re-blooming.
  • Keep shears and trimmers clean and available for deadheading and pruning.

Outdoors/Yard:

  • Set up and clean bird baths.
  • Clean Patio Furniture.
  • Clean grill.
  • Repair/purchase water hoses and fixtures. If appropriate, make sure water barrel systems are in good repair and have no algae buildup.
  • Make sure gutters are draining properly by watching them during a heavy rain. If there’s any overflow or tipping, you may need to have them cleaned or repaired.
  • If needed, have your air conditioner checked. Clean any debris and trim back plants to allow maximum airflow.
  • Start clearing paths to wild berries and keep them accessable until harvests are done.

Animals:

  • Consider weaning goats and sheep if necessary.
  • It may not be to late to purchase chicks and other fowl from your local farmers co-op.
  • Watch for hummingbirds to return. Be prepared with clean feeders and simple syrup (four parts water to one part sugar).
  • Bees – make sure you can locate queens and that they are laying. Check for foul brood, varroa mites, and hive beetles. Is your honey coming in yet? Do you need to feed your bees? Watch for swarming.
  • Look into stocking your ponds with fish now that the cold weather is gone.

Indoors:

  • Change air filters and adjust thermostat a few degrees to save on electricity.
  • Clean ceiling fan blades and shades.
  • Invest in a good window/box fan.
  • Get your furnace and water heater serviced
  • If you don’t already have one, prepare an emergency kit with 3 days worth of supplies and locate your safe place for severe weather.
  • Locate and organize your picnic gear – get out there and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather at a moment’s notice!

*****

What projects do you have lined up for this month?

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Our wonderful Jen at Unearthing This Life has been posting these great month-by-month planners for a few years. Just because she’s not writing here anymore doesn’t mean we stop the reposts!

I’ve been pretty productive this April– completely reconfigured the usage of my house to reflect the new reality of being in it alone. Lots of painting, moving and patching. The garden’s been a bit neglected through all this, but I’m hoping to get back on track. You can follow my garden progress at MyFolia.com/gardeners/Xan.

Here’s Jen’s April planner:

Gardening:

  • Tilling garden beds where necessary to work in compost and get rid of weed seedlings
  • Edging beds or digging the last of the new beds
  • Add supports to garden beds for plants like tomatoes, peas, gourds, roses, peonies, and beans.
  • Sowing outdoor hardy annuals
  • Sow last of the peas, potatoes, and onions. Continue starting beets, lettuces, cabbages, radishes, and carrots.
  • Planting rooted raspberry canes and strawberries
  • Hardening off and planting of vegetable seedlings
  • Plant any remaining saplings and transplants
  • Rake around fruit trees to help with invasive bugs and/or treat for them. Use treatments only after flowers are gone.
  • Questions about what to plant when? Go to Mother Earth News!

Outdoor house and yard Chores:

  • Clean up fallen branches and sticks, nuts, and leaves.
  • Hang bird/butterfly/bat-houses. If you’re not a beekeeper consider hanging a mason bee box. Set up bird baths and drinking holes for beneficial critters like bees.
  • Tidy up gutters and look for winter damage.
  • Bring out water hoses and setting up water barrels.
  • Repair screens check caulking/insulation around windows and repair if necessary.
  • MORELS!

Animals:

  • Purchase/raise chicks
  • Consider any expansions and rotations for this seasons’ critters.
  • Repair fencing.
  • Add supers to beehives. Check brood.

Indoors:

  • Wash windows and curtains.
  • Organize and collect glass canning jars.
  • Clean out freezers and storage for this year’s crops.
  • Plan simple, yet filling meals for lots of energy.

What will you be working on this month?

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No New Year’s resolutions around here. I really liked Xan’s post the other day and I enjoyed reading Annie Rie’s post Six at Sixty. I have accomplished many things over the past year and will continue to make my lists and continue to check items off those endless lists. I much prefer my to-do lists to resolutions.

cabbage Dec 2012

Am I going to start a New Year’s list? Heck no, my other lists are still way too long! There are times I feel like I have been sitting around and I wonder if I have accomplished anything, but when I start to think about the things I have done and the things I have accomplished I lighten up a bit. Not all things are huge and noticeable.

I am happy to have the opportunity to explore new things, plant more vegetables, walk next door to visit the neighbors, and be involved in some local community things. I am grateful for my husband and my family, and the time we have had together and the memories that go along with living our lives. I look forward to more exploring, more veggies in the back yard, more visits with the neighbors. I look forward to more memories and time spent with family (and friends.)

Tomorrow is a new day. I look forward to many new days in this New Year. I hope you do to.

Sincerely, Emily

 

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I become very aware of how comfortable I am in my own little world when I travel. Everything changes. I have always liked to travel, but I notice with our lifestyle changes and the foods we are eating over the past few years, there is so much more to it now.

Spring just seemed to come really early, and I know many of you can relate to the hustle and bustle of getting your gardens ready and spending a lot of time outside. I am preaching to the choir there. When my mom called to say she was going to have a partial knee replacement in 2 weeks, all my plans changed and I needed to leave. My head started to spin with all the things I needed to do at home before I left. I was going to be with her, there was no question about that and for the most part I can roll with these sudden changes. This time it just took a bit more preparation and planning to get the garden planted.

Only when I physically arrived in Southwest Florida did I start to think about local food. My mom wanted to take me a place called Food & Thought, but it would have to wait until she was well enough to be able to leave the condo after the surgery. This trip wasn’t about me and my eating habits, it was all about my mom and her needs. This wasn’t a vacation for me, I wasn’t going to be walking on the beach or laying by the pool reading a book or even hopping in the car to scope out local food stores.

While mom was in surgery (having this pretty cool robotic procedure that actually only takes a little over an hour and is done as an outpatient) we were going be doing a lot of sitting. My step-dad and I ran out to Temple Citrus to pick up fruits and veggies. Well, we forgot to bring the cooler (too hot that day to leave veggies in the car) with us when we all loaded up to go to the hospital so we would be limited to picking up oranges and grapefruit and after that the shopping wasn’t up to me.

Temple Citrus brings back many childhood memories of visiting Gramps in Hollywood, FL and picking fresh oranges and grapefruit to squeeze for juice. Gramps planted special trees for my brother and I. We each had our own orange and our own grapefruit trees.  There were also avocado and kumquat, and if we had a little too much sun, there was aloe that we would snip.  When my parents decided to buy a place on the west coast of Florida we would stop at places like Temple Citrus to get our citrus fill. They have their own citrus orchards and farms for some of the veggies and there are always samples that you can taste to help you decided which oranges or grapefruits you wanted to buy.

Both of my parents spend a lot of time volunteering at the Naples Botanical Garden and the week I arrived each of the volunteers was given a huge onion straight from the vegetable gardens there. The vegetables grown there are donated to a local food shelf. My mom has met wonderful friends through volunteering there and she had several starfruit from a friend’s tree along with another huge papaya. That is a good start to eating local.

My parents mostly eat real wholesome food. There are some back up cans of soup and baked beans in the pantry, but for the most part they eat foods I can enjoy. Lots of salad and vegetables. My step-dad makes the bread. One of the neighbors makes different jams. Many of their friends have been delivering food and treats and flowers to wish my mom a speedy recovery. We have enjoyed homemade oatmeal scones with homemade star fruit and mango jam. We have enjoyed homemade raspberry coffee cakes – the raspberries are from my step-dad’s garden up in Minnesota. Homemade chicken and barley soup. Homemade vegetable soup. We did not go hungry. A beautiful Easter Lily kept us company on the lanai and another bouquet of stargazer lilies and blue irises kept us company on the dining room table. Another friend gave my mom a beautiful tea cup with gladiolas on it and a fresh orchid bloom from one of her plants

My mom is doing really well, I even let her go on a walk done the sidewalk on her own today without me on Tuesday! She has been calling me Mother Superior; I am not sure it is entirely a compliment. It is hard to keep an active 80 year old tied down long. She wants to get back to tennis and swimming in the surf.

Sincerely, Emily

P.S. We left the house for the first time yesterday and went to the Naples Botanical Garden. We also stopped at Food & Thought and I ran inside and bought a few things. What a great store. All organic. If they don’t grow it themselves, they try to get it as local as they can. If they can’t get it local it is all organic and US grown or produced.

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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May collage

So many of us are working our way toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. With that in mind we wanted to share some general guidelines of what to plan for on a monthly basis. Whether you’re a gardener, a beekeeper, a forager, or you keep animals, hopefully our monthly guides will help you plan ahead for the month. Depending on your exact climate you may find you need to adjust your schedule plus or minus two weeks or more.

Gardening:

  • Skip trimming shrubbery if you notice any nesting. Let those birds have some solitude!
  • Plant annuals if you’re safe from frosts and trim back perennials if needed in warmer zones. Better yet, plant NATIVES!
  • Continue to transplant tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits and other warm weather crops.
  • Tidy up bulb foliage if it begins to die back.
  • Allow columbine, foxgloves, and other self-seeders to go to seed and collect some for next year.
  • Trim back blooms on roses and day lilies to promote re-blooming.
  • Keep shears and trimmers clean and available for deadheading and pruning. Use rubbing alcohol to sterilize and linseed oil to grease joints/keep from rusting.
  • Give your (cold) compost a good turn, and start turning it at least once every two weeks to keep it active.

Outdoors/Yard:

  • Set up and clean bird baths.
  • Clean Patio Furniture with baking soda and water or castille soap.
  • Clean grill.
  • Repair/purchase water hoses and fixtures. If appropriate, make sure water barrel systems are in good repair and have no algae buildup.
  • Make sure gutters are draining properly by watching them during a heavy rain. If there’s any overflow or tipping, you may need to have them cleaned or repaired.
  • If needed, have your air conditioner checked. Clean any debris and trim back plants to allow maximum airflow.
  • Start clearing paths to wild berries and keep them accessible until harvests are done.

Animals:

  • Consider weaning goats and sheep if necessary.
  • It may not be to late to purchase chicks and other fowl from your local farmers co-op.
  • Watch for hummingbirds to return. Be prepared with clean feeders and simple syrup (four parts water to one part sugar).
  • Bees – make sure you can locate queens and that they are laying. Check for foul brood, varroa mites, and hive beetles. Is your honey coming in yet? Do you need to feed your bees? Watch for swarming.
  • Look into stocking your ponds with fish now that the cold weather is gone.

Indoors:

  • Change air filters and adjust thermostat a few degrees to save on electricity.
  • Clean ceiling fan blades and shades.
  • Invest in a good window/box fan.
  • If you don’t already have one, prepare an emergency kit with 3 days worth of supplies and locate your safe place for severe weather.
  • Locate and organize your picnic gear – get out there and enjoy the beautiful Spring weather at a moment’s notice!
  • Keep an eye on our blog for ideas for REAL spring cleaning advice and cleaning recipes.

Misc.:

  • It may not be too late in the season to find a local CSA or raw milk share if it’s legal in your state.
  • If you haven’t already done so, start planning those summer vacations or projects!
  • Thinking farther into the future? Start stocking up on canning jars, lids, and baskets for holiday gifts.

*****

What projects do you have lined up for this month?

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