Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Laundry on the Line

One of my favorite ways to save money is hanging my laundry instead of using the dryer.   It's like a meditation.  I take the clothes wet and warm from the washer and go out to the great outdoors and hang them out to be dried and sterilized by the sun.   My homemade laundry detergent has no odor so when I bring the laundry inside it smells like the outside.  It reminds me of what my clothes smelled like when I was a child.

People complain that line-dried clothes are stiff.   Not so, stiffness comes from leftover soap in the clothing that is broken down by the tumbling in the dryer.  On the line, no such breakdown occurs.   The way to combat that stiffness is to make your own laundry soap and don't use more than necessary.   I am working on towels and I will let you know how I did it when I get soft towels from off the line.

Now, I'm gonna just lay here between the lines of clothes and enjoy the moisture and coolness on a hot day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Many years ago, I met my husbands Aunt.  She lived about an hour away from us so we did not see each other all that often, but we did go to see her regularly.   She was already an older woman when we met but she was an avid quilter.  Unfortunately, her eyesight was becoming a problem for her quilting.  When we left her house that first time, she asked me if I quilted.  I told her my mother had quilted when she was alive and that I wanted to very much. She gave me a finished quilt top and some finished squares to "help me get started" and I promised her I would quilt them up. 

It's been a few years (don't ask me how many) but I finally broke out those squares and decided to finish them.  There were only six so I had to take some of the material in my stash to put between the squares in order to get a decent sized quilt.  I added backing and fill and tried to learn to quilt. 

 I started with machine quilting, but I had very intricate designs drawn on the face of the quilt and it became unworkable to machine quilt it.  I knew I couldn't hand quilt so I put the quilt away, for a loooooong time.  
Finally, this winter, I decided to clean out my sewing room to begin working in there again.  During that massive clean-out I came across the half finished quilt and felt a bit guilty.  My hubby's aunt was gone and still my promise to her was unfulfilled.   The quilt made with the squares was unfinished, and the finished quilt top she gave me was folded up in a drawer.  I decided to do a little reading about hand quilting and with that and a lot of youtube videos I finally got the courage to try it. Not one to finish anything, I started with the unbacked quilt top.  I had lots of fill that I had gotten at a garage sale so that wasn't a problem.  Then I went through my fabric stash and took out all the colors that went with the quilt top. I sewed them together and viola, I had a backing.   I started by setting up my mother's quilt frame and I sat there every day watching the children play football in the street in front of the house, quilting away.   In time my stitches got better and I didn't even notice.  Finally I had enough done that the quilt would stay together without a frame.  So, I got a big hoop and moved to the livingroom where the fire is.  That quilt is still in the works but I realized that I could actually finish the small quilt that had taken me sooooo long to get the courage to do.  So, here it is, my handed-down, learn-how-to, part-machine-quilted, part-hand-quilted,slightly-unfinished- first-quilt

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I have asparagus!  I planted them a month or so ago and nothing happened...absolutely nothing.   I watched....I waited....I looked again....nothing.   So I quit watching.  I weeded the strawberry patch instead.  The blackberries were taking over the Strawberries so I worked really hard on them and cleaned them out.  I'm now waiting for that first green strawberry to turn red.  Hurry, hurry, hurry.   So yesterday I went back to the asparagus patch to water it  (The rains have finally stopped) and lo and behold, there were little green shoots coming up from 3 of the crowns that I thought had died in the ground.   Yea!  We can't harvest until next spring but now I know they are coming.

The lettuce is also starting to produce...by next Friday I'll have enough for our first salad of the year.   The tomatoes are in the ground and the potatoes are busy growing vines.   I love how some accidents actually make things better.   I planted my potatoes and a week later (before the vines were really noticeable) My son rototilled his plots.  Then, like a good son, he did mine too....not knowing or seeing my already planted potatoes.   He kicked them up and cut them up during the process and didn't notice a thing.   I was sure the crop was a goner but a week later I went out there and the crazy potatoes were growing!   I'm sure I only planted 6 but there were the beginnings of 9 vines poking out of the ground.   At this date I have at least 20 different potato plants taking off like hotcakes!  

I planted an apple tree about 2 months ago and it's not happy.   All the apple trees on the block have bloomed but my little tree is just sitting there dormant.  It's alive.   I snapped a small twig and inside it's green.  But I guess it's not ready to wake up for a productive spring.  Not a leaf in sight.  Sigh.

The ever blooming but never producing avocado tree is blooming again.  I'm waiting for the blooms to open so that I can take my paintbrush to the blooms.   It's supposed to be a self-pollinator but it never produces fruit.  I'm believing that it may be a victim of the sad bee population in Calif.   So, i'm gonna try the paintbrush tactic.  Like so many things in farming, it's a "we'll see" thing.  

Monday, April 16, 2012


You know what life does to you right?  Well it did it to me.   This is an apology post to everyone who is a follower of mine that hasn't heard a thing from me for a year! Yes, it's been a whole year since I've written a post.
     So, to let you know where I am in my "Journey into Self-Sufficiency":  We are still in the city on our small plot.  We have, however, paid off all our bills except the house.  We are now working on that.  I put up 15 Quarts of tomatoes last summer, made blackberry cordial and collected 25 winter squash.   We have started a room for storing our goodies and I am working on making more and more stuff ourselves.
     Last summer I found out that I am allergic to Gluten and my whole way of cooking and baking had to change.  It's been a long road to health but I'm slowly trudging there.
   So, I'm back on board for a while.   Let's hope I can keep my wits about me and post my daily do's for all to see.  I'm off to work on my quilt now....I'll show that tomorrow!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wild eating

     The weather is finally conducive to gardening!  I am out in the garden in full force.  Picked the new growth off the catnip and washed it up real good.  I'm in the process of drying it for my herbal medicine stash.  It makes a great stomach relaxer and helps sleep when it is drank as a tea.  
     I also found oxalis in the yard while cleaning up a wild area.   I will be making some of that into skin ointment tomorrow.  I have eczema on my right leg and the dandelion root won't be pickable until the fall for my ointment.  Apparently, oxalis leaves will make a nice ointment for it too.  I will be trying it.
     Another thing I learned about oxalis is that the flowers will make a nice yellow dye.  I will try some of that tomorrow and then I will dry some flowers and see how well they make a yellow dye.  If the dried flowers make as nice a dye as the fresh ones I will dry a whole SLEW of them! My yard is Full of oxalis.
    I also will be drying dandelion leaves and flowers and picking miners lettuce in the next few days.  I have read that miners lettuce makes the BEST salad but alas, i have never tasted it.  I have tons of that growing in the backyard also.  I will post pictures tomorrow.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Potato Leek Soup

The leeks have finally made it to the farmers market here in Northern California.  I didn't get to go to the market on Saturday due to a severely sprained ankle but hubby went and one of the things he brought home was 2 leeks.   Here is my recipe for the potato leek soup that I made Saturday night.
     Scrub 4 red potatoes really well and cut up into bite sized pieces leaving the skin on (any potato can be used but if you use a thick skinned Idaho potato you should peel it)   put into water to cover and boil until pieces are tender.
     While potatoes are boiling, cut 2 leeks in half the long way and soak in a cold water bath to help any dirt and sand to settle.   While leeks are soaking mince 3 cloves of garlic and chop 1/2 of a white or yellow onion.  Set aside.  Wash leeks carefully being sure to get all sand and dirt out from between the pieces.  Thinly slice the whites and the greens.  Get out a large frying pan and heat with a couple tablespoons of cooking oil.  Saute the leeks, onions and garlic together, stirring continuously until they are just cooked through. 
    Drain the potatoes and add the leek, onion, garlic mixture to the soup pot.  Add I box chicken (or if you are vegetarian, vegetable) broth and heat.  When warm add 1 cup milk to the mixture.  Season with a pinch of cumin, a tsp or more of white pepper and salt to taste.  I always add  1/2 cup cream to the pot at this point and heat just until hot.   Serve with hot homemade bread.

Another setback

      Yes! I've had another setback.  Last Wednesday, while rehearsing for the show I'm in, I rolled my ankle and sprained it really bad.  It's been 5 days and I am finally up and walking with a brace.  But, no major work has been done since it happened. 
     I have to say that my dear, darling husband is now talking self-sufficiency and emergency prepardness.  I'm not sure how that happened but I'm really happy we are slowing getting to be on the same page. 
     I have been planting seeds in the windowsill and hubby brought home leeks from the farmers market for the first time this week.  I made potato leek soup with them and red potatoes.   Along with some homemade bread, we were in heaven.  Looking forward to next weeks market just so I can do it again.
     We are still using the grocery store for a few things.   I keep having to remind myself to take baby steps.  I haven't learned to make pasta yet.   I haven't figured out the flour, sugar, baking powder things yet either.  So, off to the supermarket we go for staples.  
     It looks like the incessent rain has finally stopped and I will be able to line-dry my clothes again.  I have been waiting for that. 
     I will be out in the garden today to see what has happened in the last 5 days and to transplant a few sunflowers that have finally grown tall enough to be set out.  I'll update later.