Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Slow Living - May

I'll be joining up with Slow Living Essentials with this month's slow living post.  It's a very interesting series if anyone wants to come along for the ride.

 Nourish:  Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

I think I have finally "mastered" the english muffin.  It took a few tries to get it right, but I found a recipe for english muffin bread in "The Complete Guide to Country Cooking" that I quite liked...tried it in the muffin rings, and voila, the best one so far.  So, no more store bought english muffins.  Now I just need to figure out how to make a version with part whole wheat instead of all white flour.  Next month...bagels.

 Prepare:Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.

 This year, my area was hit with a very big frost after a very long warm spell.  All of the fruit trees were badly affected.  In fact, it is predicted that Ontario lost 90% of its tree fruits for the year.  So, I went to the market, bought two half-bushels of apples and made (and canned) apple sauce while there were still apples to be had.

My biggest pot, which covers two burners, filled to the brim makes 5 quart jars with applesauce.  So, two nights of work, two trips to the market and I got 10 quart jars of apple sauce for the fall.  I will be doling it out sparingly!
I have also bought a pressure canner to try out new ways to preserve food (I don't like having to trust it all to the freezer for the winter).  I have visions of my bounty all prepared in the pantry...we will see how that plays out.

Reduce:  Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

 With the nicer weather, this month I walked/biked to work 13 out of 22 days.  I can do better than that...and I will, next month.

Green: Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

Kinda don't know what to say here...I always try to "live green".  Right now, I am focusing on eating locally as much as possible, but there are some things I just can't get here.

Grow: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. 
I love that these pea blossoms look like bonnets.

  This category I am doing quite well in this month...'tis the season though.  I have pulled out a few "ornamentals" that were given to me through the years (when we first moved, I would plunk in just about anything that was free, just to improve the yard a bit) and replaced them with edibles.  I have added 3 blueberry bushes (one still in the pot because I have to move 4 other plants to get it where I want it), an elderberry, 2 haskap berries, and oodles and oodles of vegetables.  The new strawberry bed is added (one handful harvested last night).
 N has chosen some peanuts to plant, and popcorn.  Those were his particular picks this year.

I have chosen pak choy to try (it was delicious...I hope to buy some more seeds today for a fall planting later) and brussel sprouts...I have never tried growing those.  We are also going to taste cardoons, sunchokes and haskaps and elderberries for the first time ever.

I will update a full list of veggies on the 15th when I do the next installment of eat what you grow/grow what you eat challenge (and also here).  I thought I would update what I have been eating on this post, but it will be long enough as it is...I will try to do it in the next couple of days so it is not all at once.
Here is today's beautiful harvest.  Two kinds of kale and some strawberries.

Create:  To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

This month has been a little short on the creating unless you count the new garden beds.  I have completed one hat, one abomination of a skirt I shared on Tuesday's post, a part of a knit bunny, and a few other small things.  My favourite this month was the yarn I spun and dyed at home using spent frozen daffodil heads.
 Daffodil heads
 Yarn soaked in alum
Finished product.  I especially like the pale green.  I tried very hard for a whole summer to make green, so I was thrilled with this one. (It had a copper afterbath).

Discover:   Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

I have been reading plenty of books from the library on urban farming, urban homesteading, canning, and that kind of thing which I usually share on yarn along.  I think for next month I might try to keep a list.  A month is a lot to cover all at once.  I will say that tonight I started "Uncommon Fruits Worthy Of Attention" by Lee Reich and it is making me want to source out a bunch of really unusual things.  That's kinda how I roll over here.

Enhance:  Community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group.

Ok, here is a tough one.  Community.  I am kind of a home body.  I tend to focus on our house, our yard, our family.  This month, we attended an art show at the boys' school where they made projects out of recycled/repurposed materials (the boys were even in the local paper for it)
This was N's project that he worked on at home...his initials are now up in his room (he used 4 generations of buttons for this).

I have given away some plants to coworkers to help them get their gardens started.  There is also a new community garden going in across the street at the "church" /rec center/boxing club/homeless shelter/food bank.  I walked over there and asked if they could use some gooseberry bushes - to which they said "ooh, absolutely, yes please" so I walked back across the street, dug them up, brought them over, and let them know that since the roots were exposed they would need water as soon as possible (they had the sprinkler going) and came back home to continue working on mine.  They were planting all gooseberries did not get planted and died.  I wish they would have told me they didn't want them...I could have shared them with someone else instead of having them just die.  There are a few other community gardens going in around town that could have used them.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and I also helped at a track and field meet at the boys' school.  S will be going on to the district one in the 800, 1500, and long jump.  N may or may not be going for the 100 or 200...he won his heat, but I still don't know if he won the whole age group or not.

Enjoy:   Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

After posting last month, I thought this is where I would focus.  I wanted to do something each day just for the enjoyment of it.  We have gone for walks, bike rides, drank hot chocolate, and mint iced tea with plenty of sugar, gone to visit some beautiful alpacas, spent hours in the garden, cut flowers just because they are pretty, and the boys have been spending time with friends.  Oh, and reading.  Lots and lots of pleasure reading.
 Sweet William - with the stems cut short.

I look forward to reading the other posts.  I truly enjoyed it last month.

Less knitting, more reading

Today is Yarn Along over at small things and as usual, I am joining in even though the knitting is sparse.
I have finally finished knitting slipper #2 for S's birthday.  I just need to sew up the seams, add the crocheted border and add the Argos symbol.  Even though there is not much to show, I wanted to come along today to share this book.  Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.  I am seriously enjoying this book.  She gardens in an abandoned city lot next to her apartment in what she calls the ghetto in Oakland.  But she doesn't just garden...she farms.  She shares her experiences with chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbit, and finally pigs.  All of her experiences.  Even figuring out how to "harvest" her animals.  It's not for the squeamish or for reading while eating your lunch in some parts, but I figure if you are going to eat meat (which I do) then you have to face it.  Plus, I am trying to convince my husband that we could raise some birds for eggs and meat, so I will (hopefully) need to figure out how to "harvest" them too, if that is actually going to happen.

Incidentally, our city code says that we may raise miniature chickens or bantem chickens but no other chickens,  (no ducks, no quinea hens, no turkeys) and only if they are housed in indoor cages with no outdoor pens or runs.  I do not understand that at all!  What would be the point.  Having said that, someone on our street has recently acquired some chickens, which do in fact have an outdoor run.  The city told me on the phone that they only will come look if someone lodges a complaint (I was asking about the rules for quail --- to be determined, as they are on neither the "allowed" list nor the "prohibited" list).  Lucky for the guy on our street who has a great relationship with his neighbours.  Not so lucky for me, but that is another story entirely.

Anyways...I'm off to the farmers market again (we now have TWO markets for the summer, one on Wednesdays and Saturday, and one on Sundays) to see if I can't find another little something to fit in between by newly acquired blueberry bushes until they fill in a little bit.

Have a great day.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Done and then not done.

A short while ago, someone (I think from Tuesday's Keep Calm Craft on, but possibly from Thursday's Needle and thREAD) posted about their sewing project keeping them humble.  That post could be an ode to my latest sewing project.
This monstrosity is the skirt I have spent about 6 hours on already.
It has a few redeeming qualities:
I do quite like the back.  I made it puffier back there to "give me some curves".
I am quite smitten with the ruffle (which incidentally is the size that it is because that is EXACTLY how much material I had of that particular colour).

Here are the not so redeeming qualities: 
I really wanted to use this yellow fabric to make a skirt.  It arrived in a package of fabric my grandmother wanted me to have before she passed away.  BUT, it is too thin for a skirt, so I thought I would line it with some white fabric I had. Mistake #1.  
It looked way better in my head.  I had issues with the white in the front, so I cut it in an arch to kind of mimic the shape at the front.  Mistake #2.
I tried to "fix" the arch by lining the edge with bias tape that matches the roses in the fabric.  Mistake #3.
I really wanted a wrap around skirt.  Mistake #4.  It just isn't sitting right.

So, I am going to try to save it.
I am going to cut off the last panel - the part that wraps around, put a zipper in (somehow hiding it cleverly of course...ha!), rip out the lining and figure out something else as I truly think it is the lining that is making it all wonky...but I think the only lining I have left is beige and this is a total stash busting skirt so I really don't want to go buy some lining for a skirt that is on it's last chance.

Wish me luck.  And you are welcome...I will gladly share my dismal failures any old day to make you all feel like super heroes.  It may be a while before I share the finished product because I may hide it store it in my fabric box for a little bit while I work on something fresh to make me feel good (motivated) enough to get back to it.

Tuesday I will be linking up with Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On and In the Heart of my Home for Needle and thREAD, just to keep it real.

Now, if you will excuse me, I just got back from the library where I discovered a whole second gardening section that I didn't know existed so I have some reading to do.  I have picked up "Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention" (now doesn't that sound right up my alley???) and "Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer" to get me started (along with some fiction of course).  I will let you know what I think of them shortly.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

An honest to goodness finished object.

I am finally finished my hat for N it's for next fall, but since I started it months ago, I felt I really did need to just finish it already.

It's on my head in the picture, but I really think it will fit him quite well.  And it is made specifically to go with his beautiful bright blue eyes.  And even though it is just a plain old stockinette stitch hat, it is his first item made with mama made yarn, so I think he will really like it.  He just loves wool hats!  I wonder where he gets that from?

I didn't get to much knitting this (long) weekend because I spent Saturday and Monday in the garden, and on Sunday we went to an alpaca open house 45 minutes from our house.

I let N use my camera because I wanted his perspective on these little guys.  He is totally in love with alpacas and has been asking for weeks when the open house was going to be.  These are some of his pictures.

The baby is only a week and a half old...N was so excited to see it.  
PS: the skinny one kinda freaks me out!

On the reading front...I do believe I owe my readers some information.  On my last post, I was pretty darn excited that I finally was able to dye some wool green using a plant from my garden.  I must explain that the suggestion to use daffodil heads did not originate from me.  It is from the book "Spectrum: Dye Plants of Ontario" compiled by the Burr House spinners and weavers guild (I have to wonder at a book that specialized, know what I mean?).  The reason I was excited however, is because the summer I spent trying to get green, I was using this book and using plants they had tried and never did manage to get green.  It's strange and unpredictable dyeing with plant dyes (I find) because so much of it depends on the plant itself.  How old or young it is, if there are a lot of blossoms or a few, are the blossoms fresh or spent, etc etc.  I think that is what makes it so interesting.  You just don't know what you are going to get.

Oh, and at the open house...I managed to limit myself to a pound and a half of raw wool...some beautiful chocolate brown, some grey/black, and some off white.  Once I wash it, and play with it, I am sure it will make it's debut...and the hosts were generous enough to give N a full crammed bag of fleece from the legs (that they were just going to throw out if you can believe it) so that he can do some more felting.  We weighed it when we got home and they gave him 2 full pounds.  He is pretty pumped to start playing but the poor thing has to wait until I get the right soap to wash it.  I had to wonder...67 alpacas x 4 legs equals a lot a lot a lot of thrown out fleece.

I will be linking up with small things for yarn along as usual on Wednesdays.  Always some lovely things to see there if you want to come join us.

Friday, 18 May 2012

I did it, I finally did it!

A few years back I was dyeing wool with plants that grow in my yard in the search for green.  I made everything but green.  But last night...I did it.  I finally made green!

So, without further ado...
The bad news is, my camera cannot capture the colour, but trust me...the one on the right is a beautiful green and the one on the left is a lovely pale yellow...both with frozen daffodil heads (with alum) and the green one had a copper afterbath.  Hopefully once knit into a project the colours will come out better on the camera.
Stay tuned.  Who am I kidding, these won't be a project until the fall because I really need to finish all my current projects before casting on some more.

Edited to add the basic steps:   I pretreated the wool with alum (3/4 oz for the 4 oz of wool), boiled a large ziploc bag of frozen spent daffodil heads in a pot of water (maybe 3 liters or so) for 30 minutes, added the wool and kept it hot but not boiling for 30 minutes (at this point it was yellow) and then put it straight into a hot pot of water that had copper in it (maybe a teaspoon or two...I forget), and magically, I got green.

Linking up with Wisdom begins in wonder for Fiber Arts Friday because I can't wait to share this,
and also with Natural Suburbia for Creative Friday, because come's daffodils.
                     Wildcraft Wednesday at the self sufficient homeacre

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A bit at a time...

I need a new summer wardrobe....quite badly.  But here's the thing - I hate shopping!  I'm all right to go get some shirts and stuff at the Goodwill, but regular shopping, when I need something is akin to torture for me.    You see, I think I am quite disproportionately built.  Clothes.Never.Fit!  I am not exaggerating.   I mean if you try on about 60 dresses in your size and nothing actually fits the way it is intended, you kinda start to feel like maybe there is something wrong, you know?!? So, even though I need some new clothes, very little can get me motivated to get my butt out there and do something about it.
But...I do have a sewing machine...and heaps of fabric that I figure I can make some decent skirts from.  So I have cut out a few different fabrics to make some.  I made one last year using a skirt panel from NEWLOOK pattern #6496 as a guide and quite liked how it turned out...and since I have a problem with pattern pieces fitting too, I thought I would just use the same pattern but modify each skirt so that each one looks different.

So, above you see the fabric for two of the skirts, cut and serged.  I still need to go back over the seams with the sewing machine because the fabric wants to pull apart for some reason.  I don't think my tension was right, but the seams are serged so I have that step done (backwards).
Hopefully before too long, you will see the finished projects.  It is mid May after all, so I can't wear my corduroy pants too much longer without attracting "looks" (although, side note: I was still wearing my hat today because it is a mere 9 degrees).

The books:
I really really wanted to like "the urban homestead".  I thought it would be right up my alley.  I don't know who this book is written for, but I found the beginning to be so basic I think it would have to be a very very beginner...but then there are chapters in there for people who have an established homestead and are looking to add advanced for where I am sitting right now.  I will say that the chapter on chickens was very informative, but I had to put it down for a break because it is so full of mistakes!  Easy mistakes, like spelling errors, and words missing, and things that generally make me wonder how the editor got paid.  Things like writing DYI instead of DIY.  Things that drive me nutty.  I found 6 or so in the first couple of chapters and it is ruining the book for me.
So it is on the back burner.  I will go back to it, but not for a week or so.  In the meantime, I am reading The Silent fiction pick this week, and so far it is very very good.  I plan on reading plenty more of it tonight.

I will be linking up with In the heart of my home for Needle and thREAD tomorrow.

And also, if you are so inclined...go check out Kathryn's Brain...she has added me to the recipients of the Liebster Blog Award.  Woot woot!  Thanks Kathryn.  And if anyone who knows me personally could do me a favour... check out her profile picture while you are there.  Do you think I can get my hair to do that?  I think hers is gorgeous.  Maybe I should have V go to that link and see if she can do it for me.  What do you think?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Eat what you grow/Grow what you eat

Here we go... as promised, today is the official launch of my challenge.  For one year, I am going to try to eat something I grew myself every single day.  A little, or a doesn't really matter.  It's more of a journey to see just what we can grow and preserve here in our city garden.

Wanna come along?
So far, the main crops are rhubarb and green onions.  I had enough rhubarb to make Jamie Oliver's recipe called "My favorite hot and sour rhubarb and crispy pork with noodles" from Jamie at Home.

I also thought I would share what I have done to get ready for my challenge so far.

1.  I have bought a pressure canner.  I have used a boiling water canning pot for years for salsa, pickles, pears, that kind of thing, but I thought I would branch out a bit and try some new things.
Note for my Canadian readers:  The only pressure canner I could find around here was from Home Hardware (for more than I wanted to pay) but then after I bought it, and opened it, and washed it, I found one for $20.00 less at Canadian isn't in their on-line catalogue but it was in the store.

2.  I have pulled out a few books from my shelves...The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer,  "the cook's garden" a compilation from Canadian Gardening Magazine, and I have purchased "Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning" to try out a few new things.

3.  I have expanded my garden a little bit more and am trying a few new things I have never grown.

4.  So far I have planted, among other things:
Brussel Sprouts
Peas...pea shoots will be in salads shortly.
Pak choy...almost ready to eat.  I believe some time this week it will hit our plates.
The herb bed is coming along nicely...
as is the new strawberry patch.
I have also planted carrots, potatoes, leeks, radishes, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, peanuts, lettuce...not a lot of each as several are new trials, but enough to see how they do in my yard.  I will be picking up my jalapeno seedlings from the market on Wednesday, and I get my tomato seedlings in just under two weeks.

5.  I have already harvested my first cuttings of mint and oregano to dry for use in the winter.  If you are just starting out, I would highly recommend herbs as a jumping off point.  The flavours are fantastic.  I can get pots of herbs at the farmer's market for $1.25 so you can start out with a very small investment.  They are super easy to preserve ( I have just hung the mint and oregano in small bundles in my dining room.  When fully dry, I crush them a bit and put them in glass jars and they last me through the winter).  Chances are, you will get enough harvest to share with a friend or neighbour, so if space is limited, you could each grow a few different herbs and share your harvest.  I have also pulled out an old screen with a wooden frame that I use for herbs that I have cut too short to bundle up.  

6.  I still have several jars of last year's home grown salsa in the pantry, as well as a couple bags of berries in the freezer.  Hopefully they will last until the fresh berries start coming in...

For a few things it won't be too much longer!

Next month, on the 15th, I hope to share what we have been eating as well as what we are preserving.

Now, for all of you joining along:  what are you growing?  what are you eating?  what are you preserving?  what are you planning?  Leave a comment with your link and if you would be so kind as to leave a link on your blog so other people can join the party.  If you don't have a blog post to share, please leave a comment   as well, with your details.

This is my crafting lately...

I have been spending an aweful lot of time trying to outsmart the critters in our yard.  This is my last ditch attempt to beat the cats at their game.  Every single catnip plant I have planted has been eaten right down to the ground.  Overnight.  So this time, I hammered in some sticks, put some bird netting around it and then put rocks and bricks all around the openings at the bottom.  I haven't the heart yet to go out and see if it worked overnight or not...I will see on my way to get my bike this morning.

I have also been crafting a new strawberry patch.  This has become my biggest job and is quite slow going right now because of all the roots.  In the middle there is a cherry tree we planted last year in the hole left behind from an old maple that had to be cut down...once the stump rotted out, the boys dug it out and made me a hole for this tree.  The problem is that all around it, there are still odds and ends of roots...right near the surface so removing the sod is taking a while.  I only managed to dig up enough to move 18 strawberries over the weekend, but it is now about 85% complete.

Linking up with Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On

Tuesday is also the "launch" of my eat what you grow challenge.  There will be updates on what I have so far, what I am doing to prepare, and of course, everyone is welcome to share/comment/leave a link.  Won't you come back and join us?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Not much progress

As usual on a Tuesday night, I write my post for Wednesday's yarn along...
not much progress this week, as we have had beautiful weather (translate:  I spent most of the weekend outside, and came in at night much too tired to even knit) and we have had company.
 This is how far I am on the rabbit I shared last week ( it's over here and it's free ).  I no longer think mine looks like a goat in this I think it looks like a dog.  I agree with the comments last week though - once it is stuffed and I have added the face, I think it will look just fine.
 This is how far I am on N's hat for next looks lumpy on my head because for once my hair was not in a ponytail...(side note: N was very upset Sunday because he accidentally felted this year's hat in the washing machine and he doesn't know I have already started this one, but he did ask whatever happened to that "cool tie-dyed yarn" that I was spinning. hee hee hee - the green stripes are a merino/silk blend that I bought, but the rest is handspun)
 ...almost done, see?  It's a tricky one because I have been taking it to work for lunch time but since I have been biking I don't like bringing it back and forth, so progress has halted.  This is me trying to sneak a picture of it in the bathroom mirror while N finishes his bedtime snack. (side note: it is so soft and squishy I do believe I need one too)
And now...this is where I get into trouble.  Last week, a fellow yarn-alonger (homesprout) shared a tunic she was working on, and I clicked the link, and I found the book (Modern Top-Down Knitting) and I ordered said book, and I want to make about 12 projects RIGHT NOW!  And I am constantly checking out the zero mile diet  while I start planting a few things in my garden...and yes, if you are wondering, I am in fact quite envious of all of you that are already eating whole meals from your garden.  For the next few weeks, all we get to enjoy are herbs, green onions, rhubarb, and maybe, just maybe, in a week or two, some baby bok choy.  Preserving Food without canning or freezing arrived with the knitting book (combined them for free shipping YIPPEE.) and the next four are just less than half of what I brought home from the library last night.  I'll let you know how they turn out, but the urban homestead sounds promising as it is for city gardeners like myself.  (Although, if you stand in just the right spot in my backyard, it is starting to look like a little farm, and that makes me very happy indeed).

Now, if anyone can help me out...what, oh what, do I do with all of my parsley?  I know I can freeze it, but other than soups, where will I use it up?  PS: my husband doesn't like parsley (he says) so I have to hide it.

Tomorrow, of course, I link up with Ginny from small things for yarn along.

Bits and pieces

Just thought I would pop in with some bits and pieces and to say hello.

 N has finished his project for the art show...horrible picture, I will take a better one at the actual art show (they were to create art using repurposed, recycled materials...his has 3 generations of buttons on it...4 if any actually came from his clothes)
S is sporting an awesome new hairdo.  I am loving it right now...he is just so cute with it...and I have to say, his new do has even changed his attitude.  Granted, it's only day 2 and it kind of started as a joke, but we will see what happens.
If anyone out there has the book "Quinoa 365"...please make the chocolate cake.  It is delicious.  It is tied for first for the best tasting chocolate cake I have ever eaten, plus it has quinoa in it, so it's healthier than the other one I like so now it edges out the competition.  I have made it twice in a month...once to taste it, once for company, and I will be making it again and again.  Cuz it's gardening season so we need to eat extra calories for the ones we burn in the garden, right?  Please say yes.  And it has quinoa, so I can sneak some protein into N.  Win win win.

I wish you all a great day.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

A Challenge---want to play along?

On my last post, I mentioned I would be setting forth a challenge.  This is a challenge for myself, but I more than welcome anyone who wants to come out to play with me.

So here we go...I am going to try my hardest to eat something I grew myself every day for a year.  Now, I know that there are many out there who are darn near self sufficient, and this might seem like a no brainer for many of them...and in the summer, we do eat from our garden a lot...but I want to see just how much actually comes out of our city yard.
Here are my self imposed rules.
I am going to start May 15th just because I have to pick a date.  I have noticed that we have actually been doing it already all month so far but I just want an official starting date.
I will update (hopefully) every 15th of the month with progress and will welcome any comments, suggestions, stories, links, etc.
Any thing consumed will count...even a cup of mint tea.
If all the produce we eat one day comes from the yard, it does not accumulate if we don't eat anything from the yard the next day.
If anybody eats something from the yard, it will count...the boys each ate a rhubarb stalk today, but I did if my challenge had officially started, I would check today as a successful day.

Now, I invite everybody to come along for the ride, on any level they see fit.

If you have a garden, try growing something new.
If you have a little patch of herbs, try drying a few for tea through the winter.
If you already preserve, perhaps you might try something new.
If you don't have a garden...maybe grow a pot of lettuce, or a pot of strawberries on your balcony.

Let's just see if we can motivate each other and learn something new.

In preparation of my challenge, I have been reading a few books on preserving and have ordered one of them  (this is the book I ordered), and I have bought a few plants from our farmers market this past Saturday.
 I have found cardoons at the market which I hadn't heard of until this past week.  I will update once I know what they taste like and what I can do with them.  I bought 2 to try them out.
The Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) which I have been looking for for a couple of years...I found some at our nursery and this one has decided to finally peek it's head out of the ground...the other two are still waiting.
In order to clear out more growing space in my veggie patch (in the back behind the bales of straw and right by the compost) I have am digging a new garden bed which is being planted with the strawberries that are currently in the veggie patch.  I think I might have enough strawberries this year to freeze what I normally freeze and maybe make my first ever strawberry jam.

So, what do you think...want to come along for the ride?  I will welcome any and all comments and if there is enough interest, I might even try to figure out one of those mister linky's.

I'll be linking this one up with Homestead Revival for Barn Hop