Sunday, February 28, 2010

Artsy/Craftsy/Garden Goals for the year

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I refuse. But goals are good, right? no particular order:

1. Participate in more challenge blog fun!
2. Organize my craft stuff, esp. my stamps.... I have a great idea which I found somewhere for organizing all my unmounteds on acrylic sheets. I have a special file thingy that will be perfect, I got some acrylic sheets, now I just need to start the process. More on that later.
3. Get my damn etsy store functional again. And sell some stuff!
4. Continue "Drunken Midnight Crafting" with Rabbit and invite other people to play. It's a fun way to learn new techniques, and is such a nice bonding thing. Girlfriends, wine, crafts? What's not to love.
5. I have decided not to let these bastard bed bugs chase me out of of this apartment, because I WANT that garden space. I am getting a garden journal and am planning now. I'm going to make a raised bed or two, and grow mints and tomatoes in containers, planning, planning, planning! I'll be in Maine in a few weeks which is a great time to pick up bags of seaweed for fertilizer and I am going to ask my friend Peter to start saving bunny poo for me..... build up those raised beds!

(Side note: I must give props to Emma Cooper of the Alternative Kitchen Garden podcast for inspiration. She has a blog too... here. I've been listening to the podcast for years, and just got her book and it is lovely. And she has the nicest accent in the world. (I live in Boston. I am surrounded by the most awfullest nails on chalkboard accents you can imagine on a daily basis, so a nice lilting UK accent is like candy!) Someday, perhaps, when Mish and I go visit her dad in wales and Grandparents in Liverpool, we'll do a side trip so I can meet my kind of idol. : ))

Well...I have more goals but these will be a start. I want to be on a design team someday, but that's going to take a years work and a bit of getting published. Let's consider that one long-term....

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday-Independence Days Post

1. Plant something.

Nope...didn't get any of this done...soon it will be time but not yet. I am browsing seed catalogs though, and getting ready to plan.

I am going to start making some toilet paper roll seed starters and some newspaper seed starters. Instructions for TP roll starters can be found here: Seed Starters

2. Harvest something.

Too cold and snowy/rainy...nothing to harvest. : (

3. Preserve something.

Well....I bagged up lavender that I'd dried earlier. Again, the end of winter problem.

4. Prep something.

*sigh* I just found out last week that we have bed bugs. Our building has had them for some time, it was only a matter of time. So, the prepping I've done this week has been laundry, moving furniture, vacuuming every night, steam cleaning the carpets every night, etc. Not fun, and my whole place is in absolute shambles and I can get my mind wrapped around anything more than this. : (

5. Cook something.

I've done a fair bit of cooking. Sunday I made batches and batches of seitan. I love seitan, and we eat TONS of it. Here's the recipe I use, it's from this link: Vegetarian Resource Group

Quick Homemade Gluten
(Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds or 2 to 2-1/2 cups)

This is the basic recipe for gluten.

2 cups gluten flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons lite tamari, Braggs liquid amino acids, or soy sauce
1-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)

Add garlic powder and ginger to flour and stir. Mix liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times.

Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. Let it rest another 15 minutes before proceeding.

Cut gluten into 6 to 8 pieces and stretch into thin cutlets. Simmer in broth for 30 to 60 minutes.

4 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3-4 slices ginger (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring broth to a boil. Add cutlets one at a time. Reduce heat to barely simmer when saucepan is covered. Seitan may be used, refrigerated, or frozen at this point.

Seitan is about $5 for 8 ounces in stores, and this recipe makes tons. A bag of vital wheat gluten flour is about $4 and make many, many batches.

6. Manage your reserves.

I need to get on this. My pantry is a disaster. So is everything else, so.....

7. Work on local food systems.

I got my forms for my CSA. I get my veggies from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. The shares are enormous!!! I end up sharing them with others. I get the full season share, June through early December. It works out to about $25 a week. I've been using them for 3 years and LOVE them so much. Each share is almost 10 pounds of stuff!! And the pick-ups aren't far from our house. Very nice, and I am very excited.

I'm also considering finding a local buying club, but right now have spent so much on the bug war my funds are kind of beyond depleted. : (

Well...that's my Independence Days for this week. More next Friday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here's some of what I've been up to lately....

Long time, no post!!! Here are some of the crafty things I've been up to lately.....these pictures were taken by a swap partner on craftster, I forgot to photograph them before I mailed them!

Resin Bottle Cap Magnets! A fun way to use up bits of paper, and recycle/upcycle bottle caps. VERY easy and fun!

Felted dryer balls. I used some of the techniques here: Felted Dryer Balls
I used roving, rather than yarn, but I love how they came out. My swap partner said they cut her drying time by 20 minutes.... now I need to make some for me!

And my favorite, funnest project...felted soaps. I love how they came out, it was a super fun craft and I made bunches. I think I'll make them for Christmas presents this year.
I used a bunch of pages for inspiration, but here's a link to one I like: Felted Soap

That's it for now. Whew!! Finally got a post up!!! Look for my Independence Days post tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Independence Days

Well, I first heard about this challenge this week and I am so intrigued. I'm going to give it a try, and will try to post updates every Friday. The link to the concept is here: Independence Days.

These are the challenges each week:

1. Plant something. Obviously, those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere and having spring are doing this anyway. But the idea that you should plant all week and all year is a good reminder to those of us who sometimes don’t get our fall gardens or our succession plantings done regularly. Remember, that beet you harvested left a space – maybe for the next one to get bigger, but maybe for a bit of arugula or a fall crop of peas, or a cover crop to enrich the soil. Independence is the bounty of a single seed that creates an abundance of zucchini, and enough seeds to plant your own garden and your neighbor’s.

2. Harvest something. From the very first nettles and dandelions to the last leeks and parsnips I drag out of the frozen ground, harvest something from the garden or the wild every day you can. I can’t think of a better way to be aware of the bounty around you to realize that there’s something – even if it is dandelions for tea or wild garlic for a salad – to be had every single day. Independence is really appreciating and using the bounty that we have.

3. Preserve something. Sometimes this will be a big project, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t take long to slice a couple of tomatoes and set them on a screen in the sun, or to hang up a bunch of sage for winter. And it adds up fast. The time you spend now is time you don’t have to spend hauling to the store and cooking later. Independence is eating our own, and cutting the ties we have to agribusiness.

4. Prep something. Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket. Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal. Sort out and inventory your pantry. Make a list of tools you need. Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does. Fix your bike. Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it. Plan for next year’s edible landscaping. Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you – or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill. Independence is being ready for whatever comes.

5. Cook something. Try and new recipe, or an old one with a new ingredient. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with all that stuff you are growing or making. So experiment now. Can you make a whole meal in your solar oven? How are stir-fried pea shoots? Stuffed squash blossoms? Wild morels in pasta? Independence is being able to eat and enjoy what is given to us.

6. Manage your reserves. Check those apples and take out the ones starting to go bad and make sauce with it. Label those cans. Clean out the freezer. Ration the pickles, so you’ll have enough to last to next season. Use up those lentils before you take the next ones out of the bag. Find some use for that can of whatever it is that’s been in the pantry forever. Sort out what you can donate, and give it to the food pantry. Make sure the squash are holding out. Independence means not wasting the bounty we have.

7. Work on local food systems. This could be as simple as buying something you don’t grow or make from a local grower, or finding a new local source. It could be as complex as starting a coop or a farmer’s market, creating a CSA or a bulk store. You might give seeds or plants or divisions to a neighbor, or solicit donations for your food pantry. Maybe you’ll start a guerrilla garden or help a homeschool coop incubate some chicks. Maybe you’ll invite people over to your garden, or your neighbors in for a homegrown meal, or sing the praises of your local CSA. Maybe you can get your town to plant fruit or nut producing street trees or get a manual water pump or a garden put in at your local school. Whatever it is, our Independence days come when our neighbors and the people we love are food secure too.

Since it is mid-February, it may be a bit early for me to start planting things...we'll see. So, I will begin today! Look my post post next week on my updates!!!