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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jen Sews!

(I didn't forget about the blog, I swear.  Life has just been a crazy mess lately and there hasn't been anything homesteady to write about.)

My oldest has to have surgery next week.  It isn't a major issue, and the problem shouldn't recur, but life on the homestead is definitely shaken up and turned around this month.  And since hospital bills are going to be a major blow to our tiny budget, we are tightening our belts.  Which somehow lead me to a new project this afternoon.

My son has a very special stuffed dog that he loves and depends on.  Doggie is going to the hospital with us next week, and I thought it might make my son feel better if Doggie was also in a hospital gown.  However, a certain company that makes clothes for these types of toys is on the pricey side. So, in the spirit of our new lifestyle, I decided to sew it myself!

Caveat: I am not the world's best seamstress. 

I started with an old, unused pillowcase and cut out a basic pattern.  I even measured Doggie first!  I hemmed the edges before joining the pieces.

Then I matched up the edges to be joined.

Then I sewed it all together and added the ribbons to tie it in the back.  The ribbons were by far the hardest part.  But the finished product looked pretty good!

Until I tried to put it on the dog!  Remember when I proudly said that I measured the dog?  Well, I guess I didn't allow for the hemming!  (Remember my caveat?  I tell the truth!)

So the sleeves are a little tight on old Doggie, but it otherwise fits.  And it was free!

And look at that happy face!  I hope this will make surgery a little easier for my little man.


My idiotic sewing machine decided to break (again) when I tried to make a matching surgical mask.  It is something to do with the bobbin tension, I know that much.  I just had the machine cleaned and adjusted before we moved, so I think it is at the end of its rope.  I know I am at the end of mine, and I don't think using it is good for my blood pressure anymore!  Would someone call Santa and request a new one for me?  Maybe one of these?  ('k thanks)

PPS, I have no clue what is up with the spacing on this post, but I am giving up trying to fix it.  Please pardon the huge amounts of white space.  I blame my sewing machine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Zombie Garden

Didn't I write a eulogy?

Didn't the medical examiner (me) declare the garden dead?

Well then, what is THIS?

"Why, Jen," you say, "that looks like a sprightly young cabbage.  As does that, that and that."

And what do I say?


The whole garden is infested with zombie vegetables!  It is the only explanation.  We seem to have baby carrot, turnip, spinach, chard, and a few broccoli coming up, in addition to the cabbage.  And we know this can't be possible because it was dead, dead, dead!

They won't have time to grow large, but don't tell them.  Poor baby zombie veggies.

PS, I updated yesterday's post with pictures,  Take a look.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something Fruity

Man, when I get to work, I get to work!  But not alone.  No, the work of this homestead is nothing if not a family effort.

So that big birthday has come and gone, as has mopey-Jen (we all hope), and now we are fast approaching Thanksgiving.  And the end of the growing season.  But we have been so industrious here in the last few weeks.  Here are the highlights.

I received a Meyer lemon tree from my lovely mother-in-law as a birthday present.  Since we live on the east coast, it is happily growing indoors, under a grow light.  And I am dreaming happy, lemon-scented dreams.

My mother and step-father visited this weekend and gave us some housewarming gifts - namely, fruit trees.  Even better (and that was pretty darn awesome), they helped plant them!  Pops and the 7-year-old dug holes and mixed soil, and generally bonded.  All I had to do was choose the spots and place the trees the way I wanted.  So our homestead now has two Japanese plums:

a Ruby Queen 

and a Santa Rosa, 

and a peach tree:

a Gloria.  

Those are in addition to the two apple and two pears that were already growing when we moved here.  The new trees are old enough that they should fruit some next year, which makes it even more exciting.

The orchard is becoming a reality!

Mom also planted 155 flower bulbs in about an hour (a new world record, I would think), so the homestead will be productive, and pretty!  Meanwhile, I planted some bulbs of my own.  Garlic bulbs!  I am trying both a softneck and a hardneck variety to see which we like best, and which grows best in our soil.  I also planted four generic cloves from the grocery store, since I had a little more space.  All in all, we have 28 cloves of garlic slumbering in their bed.  Berty, if you are keeping track of the elephants, is all tucked in for the winter.

My aunt also sent some plants down from her farm in Northern Virginia, so those finally went in the ground yesterday and today.  In addition to some forsythia, lilac, daisies, and phlox, we also now have

strawberry plugs!  

So the elephant Flirty has given over her non-productive bed of kale to strawberries.  May we have better luck in the spring.

All in all, I am feeling that old warhorse Hope rise up again.  I guess it really does spring eternal.  But of course, hope is essential when you commit to a new project or way of life.  Without the hope, there is no point.

I am still waiting for some new plants to arrive from The Arbor Day Foundation.  Updates on that when I get those in the ground.

I just love spending time outside in the fall.  It makes me feel, well, hopeful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Homestead Envy

It has been a somewhat rocky year for us, but nothing catastrophic (thank heaven).  I guess I feel like the struggle has been a little harder, a little sneakier, a little more complicated than in past years.  Everyone has years like this, especially when you undertake a big life change.  Moving to Virginia, to the country is a big life change.  I sometimes forget that.

I have big dreams for our little plot of land, but they are long-term dreams.  To be honest, though, in my head they are now-now-now dreams.  Instant gratification, instant productivity, instant reward.  Reality is a bit of a let down (just ask the first teenager you see after reading this!).

After realizing a rather major budgeting mistake that is going to set us back a ways (I am not a math wizard, it turns out), I have been seeking inspiration.  But, true to form, what I have ended up with is homestead envy!

Check out this amazing family who turned 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles into a productive homestead.  Path To Freedom  Serious envy, but their site has room for some serious enlightenment, too.  See, they did the work, continue to do the work.  They don't just sit around and mope (like I might have been doing lately).

So I am going to continue to walk my own personal Path to Freedom, do the work, and visualize the reward.  And I am going to keep some perspective.