Oh, Spring. It's the best of times. It's the worst of times. On one hand: all of the wonderful, exciting things are starting! On the other hand: all of the wonderful, exciting things are starting AT THE SAME TIME. I don't mean to complain. I am thrilled we have many new projects this year:
1. We are growing garlic for the first time. They look freakishly amazing already.
2. The heirloom tomato seeds I saved last year (Cherokee Purple and Green Stripe) have sprouted into good looking seedlings. In fact, it's overwhelmed our small little seed starting mat and light setup.
3. I am going to try a different approach to my potato towers to see if I can get more yield.
4. Matt has offered up a spot for an herb garden.
5. WE GOT A RABBIT!!!!! Our first working guest.
6. Actually, make that guests, because we also got 1,000 worms.
We are leveling up and it's awesome. But it's not without pressure, which builds around all of these deadlines and there is worry that creeps in about temperamental seedlings that need potted up, and whether the hutch is going to keep the rabbit dry when it rains, and if I've chit the potatoes in time to plant them this weekend. Crap, haven't gotten the straw for the potato towers. You see what I'm sayin'...
It's the lack of space that puts this pressure on every project. For example, I only have room to start 1 or 2 extra tomato seedlings, so if they don't make it, I'm a bit screwed. But on the other hand, these are valuable lessons I will take with me to any size property. And that's why I'm sitting here right now remind myself how much I want this. And how much more I want like this...it makes all the worry float away. It helps that I'm sitting near the living room window and it's one of those perfect midwest spring nights with the window open and light rain coming down.
Anyway, let's go back to the bunny? Without further ado:
Ahh, isn't he pretty! He is a Champagne D'Argent named Donnie. And I promise that isn't his home. Just where he had to chill for a night while we finished his hutch. Because I'm awesome at timing and doing things the easy way....
No one can tell me now that I can't have livestock on a teeny, tiny, backyard plot in the city, cause I just got done feedin' it's cute little face and throwin' worms on it's poo. (Poo being the 'commodity' this particular livestock has been acquired for.)
Perhaps at this moment you think calling a backyard rabbit 'livestock' seems like a stretch? Well, I would have thought so, too, until my Farm n Fleet lady informed me I was looking in the wrong place for rabbit food. I was apparently wandering around in the 'pet rabbit' section and she directed me over to the 'livestock' section where I would find the pellet brand I was looking for...in a 40 lb bag.
So, between the feed bag, the hay, the morning chores, and all that poo, yeaaaa I'm feeling pretty goddamn homestead-y and livestock-y up in here. And it's awesome.
I will be sure to write a dedicated post about bring home bunny and the vermicomposting. But seeing as I just discovered I potted my seedlings up into the wrong soil and will have to redo them all tomorrow, I'm going to need some rest tonight...
This has been a productive summer in the way of homesteading projects! While I didn't get even close to finishing my project list, I have:
-learned how to save heirloom tomato seeds
-canned tomato sauce and tomato paste
-made tons of home and health products
-made and canned chicken broth
-tried my hand at a succession planting of lettuce and garlic
So, I'm choosing to celebrate that. **Adds 50 items to next years project list.**
Now you might be thinking 'of all the things she could share...a dusting spray recipe?' But here's the thing: I have tried for years to green my cleaning and stop buying wasteful, chemical-laden products. Those darn '1 part vinegar, 1 part water, splash of lemon' type of recipes have just never cut it for me, though.
1. I need some real life measurements.
2. I want all the familiar comforts of Pledge. I'm talking the perfect mist across the wood surface, the lemony clean smell, and the slightly polished feel of the wood. I am not so far gone that I don't still want the comforts of modern cleaning products!
So, yea, this chica is quite excited to have found even 1 homemade product that I can say with certainty I will stick to! (Actually, I have now found several, but I won't overwhelm you with all of the excitement at once. You're welcome.)
All of these ingredients are perfectly edible and the lemon essential oil provides benefits to the air and surfaces that go far beyond what Pledge ever could. Safety note, though - not all oils are created equal! I only recommend using a 100% Certified Therapeutic Grade oil. Contact me to get my recommendation and some free samples mailed straight to your door.
In a nutshell, this duster is healthier, less wasteful, dirt cheap, and readily available anytime because I keep these ingredients stocked in my home for a number of uses. I hope you like it as much as I do!
Homemade Furniture Dusting Spray
Add these in order to a 16 oz glass bottle like this one. Give a little shake and dust away! I wipe it up with one of the soft linen cloths that I use for drying dishes. Because you have a mixture of oil and water in there, you do need to shake here and there while you're cleaning. I also found this to be great on metal lamps and the glass in picture frames.
*Note: You cannot replace the lemon essential oil with lemon juice because they have different chemical properties. Lemon essential oil is cold pressed from the rind unlike juice which is squeezed from the flesh of the fruit. Shoot me a message to get a free sample in the mail. I will make sure it's enough for your first round of spray!
**I like keeping the recipe right on the bottle so that I don't have to get on my computer to look it up every time I'm out. I use Avery Labels 22806, but you might consider a waterproof label instead.
Thanks for reading! See all of my (very beginner) homesteading experiences here.
Today I joyously awoke to 48 hours stretched in front of me and not a single plan contained within them. Yay for Labor Day weekend! But it's not relaxation I seek on this working mans holiday.
It's too much coffee and too much screen time and pointless list-making and strange photography. It's feverishly working on all my creative projects that sit burning for attention in the back of my mind all week. It's learning how to use a new tool that I've acquired. It's writing to you.
What can I say, this is my happy place. You don't chose it. (Well, you do over time and lots of other decisions made.) But I am a creator and I can say with absolute certainty that this is the home of my creative process. The only way for me to do anything I am proud of is to have hours to dig in and complete quiet and all of my tools around me.
Can you imagine what a relief it is to know that?! When you know what your happy place is, you can access it as needed. This gives me the confidence to take on new projects. No more asking myself if I can really do as good the next time. I know when I have these conditions, the work will come naturally.
Besides trusting yourself, knowing your happy place is also what makes your clients trust you. My clients know that I have passionately pursued education and experience in digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and creative arts. And that I can spend obnoxiously long periods of time in front of a computer getting a website just.right. That's why they trust me. They can clearly see that I'm not doing this work to just take home a paycheck. They know that I choose this work every day on TOP of my full time job and family and other obligations.
Do you know what conditions have to exist for you to do your best work? If you're struggling to answer this, just look at the work you are most proud of and ask yourself when and how it was done. But remember, this isn't about having PERFECT conditions, it's about knowing the minimum requirements of good work. Trust me, I would love to have a dedicated studio and be doing this full time. But there is a much simpler concept at the root of that.
I hope you have a lovely Labor Day Weekend and have some time to think about what makes you happy :D
(cont'd from A Girls Weekend in the San Fransisco Bay Area)
I know it's going to be a good day when breakfast is champagne and a cheese tray. After our indulgent evening at Ad Hoc we took our time laying around, munching, and (eventually) getting ready before heading out for wine tasting. Driving through Napa was incredible. In fact just thinking about it is making me ache for a trip somewhere so beautiful and lush.
Our first visit was Stags Leap (Robert Sinskey Vineyard). We ordered our tasting on the back patio and soaked up some sun. One of the nice things about this winery is the plate of small bites that come paired with your flight. Because clearly we can't go anywhere without eating...
Next we hit up Mumm Napa. This was a very different and lively experience compared to Stags Leap. We were in line behind this group of girls celebrating a bachelorette party. How sweet are they?!
A view to die for:
This is where things get foodie yet again. Sarah warned me I was going to be obsessed with Farmstead/Long Meadow Ranch, but I still wasn't prepared for how much. Our visit started inside the General Store. Cookbooks and canning supplies and a million other things that I desperately wanted to bring home. I settled for a few little Weck jars that I totally could order online but never do. They also let us sneak in an olive oil tasting before they closed. Confession: sipping straight olive oil is not something my palate is sophisticated enough for quite yet…
Next we moved over to the restaurant. It's housed in an old barn and their menu is farm-to-table mostly sourced from their own farms. We opted for the outside seating - comfy lounge chairs and plenty of space. I was also thrilled to finally see beer on a menu! We ordered a few appetizers and, as I've become accustomed to when I'm with Sarah, were treated to several more we didn't.
Grilled artichokes, steak tartare, kale salad, and oysters all before our actual dinner came. Then crab, shrimp, and salmon…all of the seafood was had.
Once it got dark, they lit the fire next to us and we stayed for a while talking and drinking. I think dessert may have been involved. An absolutely perfect dinner! Though I think I said the same about our dinner the previous night at Ad Hoc...
It was getting late, but Sarah really wanted us to see the actual town of St. Helena so we stopped into an upscale bar called Goose and Gander. We had some interesting cocktails and did a little late night window shopping before heading back to American Canyon.
Man, our lettuce was delicious this year! Black Seeded Simpson is a large leaf, bright green variety and it stayed very well in a container in the fridge. I could rinse it in cold water, roll it up in a tea towel and throw it in the fridge for a few hours, by which time it was crisp and drained and ready to go into a glass or plastic storage container for the week.
Sadly, it doesn't keep producing forever. After many hot days in a row and you pretending you don't see your lettuce getting taller and taller, you come home and that lettuce is about knee high.
Knee high by the Fourth of July, right?!
Wrong. That's corn, so stop fooling yourself. No, your lettuce has bolted and will start tasting oh so bitter. But don't be so sad, now it's time for the gift of heirloom seeds!
It took a stupid long time to find proper information about saving seeds from lettuce. And when I did find it, I excitedly told Matt the process. The extremely tall lettuce shoots will put up buds eventually! And flowers will open up and self-pollinate! Then they will close and the seeds will be ready!
He was honestly baffled that I didn't know this all along.
In hindsight it makes sense. Sure, with a tomato plant there is a bud and then the flower and then the tomato, and ultimately the seed inside. But lettuce just seemed like a totally different thing! For some reason it just didn't translate naturally in my head.
Now, how to actually harvest these seeds from the mature flower seems to be one of those wishy washy 'whatever feels right to you' kind of things.
One of the things that makes it especially difficult is that you will have seed heads in all different stages on the same plant. (Another difficult thing is that a deer may come by and eat the flowers off your lettuce shoots. But, I digress.)
Anyway, I have been waiting until there are a bunch that look like the one all the way to the right in the photo above, then snipping them off into bowl. Once I get inside my house, I sit down and spend some time grabbing the whispy white parts that are attached to seeds and yanking 'em out to place in another dish.
When it seems to be all done, I will look for some packets to store them in. My gut tells me this is probably the hard way to do things...so if you should happen to find someone with a better idea, please be sure to let me know.
It will take a little time for the seeds to be ready. So, I am going to use the seeds I already had for a fall planting and use these next year. I've heard they can be good for up to 5 years and there are so many they might just last that long!
This is my first attempt at seed saving and I just wanted to share that it is not as hard as it seems :) As always, TIPS AND KNOWLEDGE WELCOME! And you can see all of my beginner homesteading experiences here.
I have a thing about posting here at least once a month. It's because I LOVE that I have this place to process my life by sharing in a deliberate way, and know that if I let it go longer than a month without posting, I will let it go altogether.
Which brings me to eeeking out this post here on the last day of July. Which brings me to looking at what I have done this month that is worth writing about...and realizing that I have a LOT to be thankful for right now.
See?! That's why we write. A momentary pause to be thankful instead of just cruising into August.
My grandparents were in a bad car accident last month in Florida that scared the bejesus out of all of us. We had a family reunion scheduled this month in Dubuque, Iowa (the first in a very long time) and it was a sweet reunion to have them there with us, as well as family from the QC, St.Louis, and Colorado. We also had Matt's family in town in from Oklahoma and were able to get a lot more quality family time in than usual. Yay for flexible jobs.
I celebrated my 1 year anniversary as the Director of Marketing at River Music Experience. A job that challenges and inspires me and is a whole lot of fun. I get to promote some of my favorite bands, build an organization/community, and help the kiddies all at the same time. It also provides me the flexibility to pursue my 'side careers' in digital design and wellness.
Whoa! Truly too many fun things to list here. Beer tastings, float trip, 2 rad music festivals, fireworks, and of course, friends. What more can I ask for?
I also did some yoga, started bellydance classes and attended two art events. I need to remember to do these kinds of things because they bring me a lot of balance and inspiration.
I am up and rolling with my kombucha brewing, learned how to roast a whole chicken, and the garden is poppin off with cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapeno, and basil right now. Happiness is homegrown veggies!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer :))
Torrential rain is one of the biblical signs of End Times, is it not? The rain literally has not stopped here (I'm talking 6-8 inches in the last week I think) so I have no other option than to believe it is heaven's floodgates that have opened up. Of course, there are the plants that seem to be loving that AND the fact that I have barely had to water. But, it has certainly created it's challenges. Like the fungus Septoria Leaf Spot splashing up onto my tomatoes and peppers and having ideal wet conditions to take hold. I'm trying to focus on the positive, which is that I learned something new. I will be able to spot it much quicker in the future and perhaps take some preventative steps before planting next year.
ANYWAY. Being that it is properly summer now, let's see how things are looking!
Check out all that rockstar lettuce. I've been giving it away by the bagful because we can't possibly eat it all. It's been a wonderful problem to have. Below, cucumbers are really starting to take off. In the beginning it's cute how they reach out their little tendril arms to grab hold of something and climb. This will not be so cute in a couple of months when they are strong and scary and trying to choke hold my tomatoes...me...the mailman. Seriously, they take over.
Ahhhh! Fruit has set! Happy dance! Below, all these blossoms mean much more to come. Woot woot.
I tuck the stalks back inside the cage daily, but some renegades keep making their way back out. Below, basil is tasting delicious. Last year I tried a couple different ways of freezing it and preferred to chop it up and freeze it in water cubes (instead of oil), so I have begun doing that. And I'm excited about some of my onions starting to look big and strong.
Hello, there! My name is Nikki Jones and this is a place for me to write about my travels, my urban homesteading adventures, and whatever else my little heart desires at a given moment. Like many personal-blog bloggers, there are times I write daily and long streteches I'm not inspired to write at all. And that's ok! At any rate, I'm glad you're here.