Everything is coming along!

Well I’ve been MIA for a year now, working on all kinds of projects but never taking the time to log in, so I figured it was time for an update! The house renovation project has been a roller coaster of emotion- some days you are up, some down. Progress moves very quickly at times, other times grinds to a complete halt. The factors involved usually boil down to who you can get to work consistently on an array of specific projects and how much money you have available to throw at them.  These factors are changing all the time. Everyone who works for us has several side jobs, obligations, and not to mention families, (haha) so it has been difficult to achieve  100% consistent progress. It can be emotionally draining when things are not moving along at a decent pace, and new problems are continually being uncovered!

before and after of some of the old German siding we found under the ugly fake wood panel siding!

 

We are approaching our move-in and I couldn’t be more excited! I will be working up some progress posts to share soon🙂

This Is The New Loneliness

I’ve been thinking about this exact thing a lot lately…

Thought Catalog

Eugenio MarongiuEugenio Marongiu

It’s a weekday evening and you’re feeling restless. You’re texting friends and you’re watching Netflix and you’re on your laptop and you’re scrolling through Tumblr or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Your attention is in ten different directions, yet there’s a tug, a tiny voice in the back of your mind. It asks: what are you distracting yourself from? You ignore. Scroll again. Click again.

You send a text: “Wanna hang tomorrow night?”

“Sure, I need to leave my apartment eventually, lol”

“L O L, me too, goddddd. Ok, let’s plan tomorrow”

Tomorrow rolls around.

“You know, can we maybe rain check on plans? I’m cozy!”

“YES, omg, I totally wanted to bail, too. PERFECT.”

Then, you two text all night. Netflix on in the background. Computer on your lap. Scroll. Click. Scroll. Click. Refresh. Scroll. Click. Text.

Wait a second. What? How is this our new normal?…

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Where Have I Been?

Well, faithful readers.. i’m sure you have been wondering where I’ve been these last few weeks, and I shall tell you. First, we took a little vacation to the beach, and second, I got a job. Now that fall is moving in I’ll be working a lot less. I’m hoping to post more with the extra downtime. I’ve never worked at a restaurant before and I really enjoy it. It also helps to be working with an awesome team. I feel like I have a second family! The work is fast paced and social, so the day usually goes by quickly. We all look out for one another and function really well as a team. I never thought I’d like it as much as I do! Not to mention, we serve up some really tasty dishes, with plenty for vegans or vegematarians.

Speaking of which… I have been trying to work out some morality issues with my diet. I saw a video of some dairy cow abuse and It really upset me. I’ve been paying these people’s paychecks? I decided I didn’t want to put another dollar into such a corrupt industry, but animal ingredients are in everything! All I’ve been eating for the last few days are beans and soup. It doesn’t help that our oven is broken right now, either >.< I wish there was an easier solution…

…But where are the tomatoes?!

This year my first garden ever gave a decent yield, of certain veggies!

The butternut squash are coming in and should be ready to pick soon.

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I had to do a little research to know when they are ready to pick. The squash should be about 8-12 inches long. The size of the squash can depend on the richness of the soil. When the stem to the fruit turns brown and looks like it is drying up, that means the plant said “OK, YOU’VE BEEN CUT OFF!” And stops sending nutrients to the fruit. You can also press your nail into the skin of the fruit, which should be pale orange. If the skin resists puncture, snip the stem. The squash can be stored for up to 3 months in a cool dark place!           DSCN8251

Here is some fat n’  juicy basil! We love making caprese salad with this fresh herb.

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Here we have some of my pepper harvest. The peppers and squash seemed to do the best this year. These were called “multicolored sweet bell pepper” by the person who harvested the seeds from her garden. I was a bit confused because they look rather homogeneous in color! I need to get down to the bottom of this! Is there anyone who may be able to help with this conundrum? I’ve been searching the web, but to no avail.

The TOMATOES, are also still green.    DSCN8249    Over half of them got the “blight” and died.  What is this blight thing? From my research, it is a fungal disease that is more prevalent in wet weather. This makes sense because the beds that I had in front of the house ALL got the blight, where the beds in back are still fine. The beds in the front get more shade and rain that pours off the house. The beds in the back get full sun all the time, and have better drainage. I really don’t want to spray the daylights out of my plants… I think that next year I will avoid blight by planting only in the back beds, crop rotation, and being informed about weather patterns. I haven’t had to water the garden for a month because we’ve had so much rain! Another precaution would be to find blight resistant varieties. Here’s a list I grabbed off of “growveg.com” that may be worth looking into!

         Blight-Resistant Tomato Varieties for 2014

  • Defiant – Determinate (bush) plants produce round, medium size red fruits, rated at 70 days to maturity.
  • Iron Lady – Determinate (bush) plants produce round, medium size red fruits, rated at 75 days to maturity.
  • Jasper – Tall indeterminate (cordon) plants bear trusses of red cherry tomatoes starting 60 days after planting. An All America Selections winner and RHS Award of Merit.
  • Lemon Drop – Indeterminate (cordon) plants bear hundreds of small yellow-green tomatoes in 80 to 90 days. Open-pollinated heirloom variety, a sport of ‘Snow White’ cherry.
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry – Sprawling indeterminate (cordon) plants bear scads of tiny red cherry tomatoes starting 55 to 60 days after planting. Open-pollinated heirloom from Mexico.
  • Mountain Magic – Vigorous indeterminate (cordon) large red cherry tomatoes, rated at 75 days to maturity.
  • Mountain Merit – Determinate plants produce large red round fruits about 75 days after planting. An All-America Selection winner.
  • Mr. Stripey – Indeterminate (cordon) plants produce medium size round fruits marbled with red and yellow in about 80 days. Open pollinated heirloom.
  • Plum Regal – Determinate plants produce red plum tomatoes weighing 3 to 4 ounces each, rated at 80 days to maturity.

And why are they still green?

Well, I think there are several reasons. 1st, I planted late. 2nd, it has been cooler than years past. And 3rd, I do not have any tunnel system to compensate for cool mountain weather. What are these high tunnels and low tunnels? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words. Making-Mini-Greenhouses

“Supported by wire hoops or arches made from wire fencing and then covered with row cover and/or plastic when it’s cold to create mini-greenhouses. During winter, they provide protection from wind, hail, and most critters while speeding soil warm-up for summer crops.”

This looks very easy to make. Stay tuned for next year!

In the meantime… I’m preparing the back beds, with… carpet?

DSCN8286 Yeah! We got the idea from a landscaper friend. I am smothering the tall grass and weeds with old carpet from the farm house. The weeds and grass will be deprived of light and water and die off naturally. WHAT A CRUEL WORLD!! But it will save ME labor in the long run! Should I let the carpet rot as well? Or might the carpet have weird chemicals in it? I am a bit concerned. Any suggestions?

Well that’s all from the garden!

 

 

Holy Summer Squash, Batman!

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If you are like me, you may have a lot of squash popping up lately, and by a lot I mean more than you can handle! I hate wasting food, don’t you? Especially home grown goodness! That is why mom and I have been on a mission to “save the squash”! Here are some ideas:

  • Casseroles
  • Grilled
  • Breaded
  • Soups
  • but… juiced?!

Oh yeah! While we were busy drumming up cooked meals, we forgot about the potential for juicing squash! I’ve juiced many cucumbers in the past, but for some reason never thought about summer squash as a good candidate for juicing. So, I looked it up. ;) 

Summer squash, such as zucchini and yellow squash, are rich in vitamins, calcium and potassium. Cut off the ends, then cut to fit into the juicer. Squash is best when combined with other juices, since by itself it is rather bland.

Well, I prefer the term “mild” instead of bland.😉 We also had quite a few other fruits and vegetables that needed to be used up, so we created this healthy “hodgepodge” juice recipe!

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Ingredients:   (makes 1/2 gallon of juice!)

  • 5 small apples
  • 4 oranges
  • 3 med. summer squash
  • 3 med. cucumbers
  • 4 peaches
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup of purslane (just because we had it laying around!) 

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Now this juice was sweet and tangy and tasty! You can try different variations, but this one worked for our needs. Enjoy that squash juice!🙂

University Permaculture classes – all you need, for free!

“Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of cultivated ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape, people & appropriate technologies, providing food, shelter, energy & other needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture is a philosophy and an approach to land use which works with natural rhythms & patterns, weaving together the elements of microclimate, annual & perennial plants, animals, water & soil management, & human needs into intricately connected & productive communities.”

–Bill Mollison & Scott Pittman

This past weekend I spent some time messing around on the interwebs to find some resources about permaculture, particularly for newcomers.

I was very pleased to find a series of FREE lectures from NC state university!:

Introduction to Permaculture (click here to go!)

Each lecture is over an hour long, and I’ve already watched the first and took extensive notes. These are REAL college classes that have been recorded and made free to the public. This is absolutely what I was looking for as a complete beginner! One can even take part in the homework if desired, however a couple of texts will be necessary in order to participate.

I found a FREE PDF file BOTH texts that you can save to your computer,                           and read along with the class!:

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (click here to get it!)

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual (click here to get it!)

 

 

Back online and full of inspiration!

As if I didn’t have enough to write about with my road trip to the Rainbow gathering, Summer is in full swing and our property is bearing lots of fruit! 10525652_10101906951960036_5250377951640019285_nDSCN8004yum     10574223_10101896352546346_2100852536965397670_nDSCN7923DSCN8009

Being new to harvesting food, I have been completely in awe of the beautiful bounty we are discovering every day… Blueberries, summer apples (which are excellent baked!), blackberries, peaches, cucumbers… even an accidental beet😉 AND, the two pear trees are starting to bear some cute (yet rock hard) baby fruit😉

The bottom photo is of a load of purslane we harvested, which is considered a “weed” in the United States, but It tops the list of plants high in vitamin E and an essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Purslane provides six times more vitamin E than spinach and seven times more beta carotene than carrots. It’s also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus… and most people are just weeding it and tossing it away!!

I was so excited about this tasty and nutritious edible that I knew I had to learn more about it and many others! Lucky for me, a friend hooked me up with some amazing folks and I was able to catch the tail end of an eco/herbal/permaculture/foraging etc etc. weekend event that just so happened to be 30 miles away from me! I was absolutely INSPIRED by some of the most informed, thoughtful, passionate, and genuine people I have had the honor to meet, ever! With all of the ideas and information I learned there, I feel my love for biology has been rekindled, and my resolve to be a kickass gardener and steward of the earth is now solidified… and this is just the tip of the iceberg! I may be jumping the gun, but I see wholeness and serenity on the horizon. I’m also feeling a profound respect for life and the complex and divine and systems within our natural world. I am so grateful for the people who take the time to notice and expound upon the intricacies and grand symbiosis that has been going on since man ever wondered “why”. Is it possible to feel so small and trivial and yet so vastly important at once? 

So, in a nutshell, I have been transformed! I feel alive, and ready to explore the avenues that have been laid before me. Sure, over half of my tomatoes have died of blight…  but it’s all just a learning experience at this point. Once I made up my mind to “learn first and succeed later”- things got a lot easier for me.🙂

Coming up… 

  1. A three part article about my trip to Utah! (with photos!)

  2. A plethora of process pictures from the farm house remodel, complete with gripes and commentary from yours truly! (or did you forget we were still doing the remodel? :p)

  3. More garden success and failure stories!

  4. What I learned at the permaculture gathering! (with my terrible paraphrasing!)

  5. And more exciting baby builder projects, like an outdoor railing and shrine structure using re-purposed materials!

Don’t miss it!  :)

 

 

Technical Difficulty!

Hey folks!

I’m back from my road trip and the Rainbow gathering! However, the internet here has been terrible as of late, so I can’t publish my epic story and photos yet! I’ve been on the phone with the ISP, got a new modem, etc. But I’m still getting intermittent service and it is VERY frustrating! I’ll be calling first thing tomorrow morning to get the issue straightened out.

Sorry y’all!😦

Epic Road Trip!!!!!!!!! *air guitar*

Howdy, yall!

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Tomorrow I will be embarking on a journey to Utah! That is where the 2014 Rainbow Family gathering is taking place! I’ve never done anything like this so I am so thrilled! (And a little scared!)

These last couple months I’ve been feeling like I needed some adventure. I’ve never really gone on any road trips without being on tour with my musician mom. An old friend (Justin) mentioned this 100% free counterculture gathering that happens each and every year in a national park. Folks like me come together to pray for peace… a lot of folks… tens of thousands of folks! There are hippies, moms, dads, kids, drifters, dogs, EVERYONE is invited, and the food is free. In fact, you don’t even have to bring money at all. Folks trade or give gifts instead of making purchases. Well when Justin told me about all this I was very much intrigued. After thinking on it for a couple weeks, I decided it was time to make my own EPIC ADVENTURE!!!!!🙂

There are a few things that worry me. My car is in good shape but I’ll be packing in over FOUR THOUSAND MILES, so I’ll need to get an oil change on the drive home. We also haven’t 100% nailed down where we will be sleeping each night en route, but we do have a few friends who are putting us up. Thanks, guys! I can’t wait to see you!

We’ve basically got 2/3 planned out and 1/3 WINGIN’ IT!🙂  But a little wingin’ is part of the fun!

Yesterday some negative information about the gathering was all over the internet. It was hard to read, mainly because there’s no turning back now!! I read that police can be hostile and there are some thieves and addicts that cause trouble, but I’m trying to keep an open mind and make up my opinions from my own personal experiences. BUT I’m bringing a whistle and pepper spray. HA.

I hope that I can meet some like minded individuals who love humanity like I do. I feel that life is too short, so we need to love and appreciate one another HERE and NOW. Go out and spread your light today! Say something nice to someone random, I guarantee you will make their day, or even week. Some folks never get any compliments, some folks are hurting or going through a rough time. It’s up to us to lookout for our fellow humans and treat each other with kindness and respect. I’m hoping that this gathering AND road trip will solidify my beliefs. AMEN!

I’ll be back in about two weeks with loads of pictures and no doubt A LOT to say!!!!! Pray for me! Thank you🙂

Campy!

Well, We installed our FIRE RING this week! The ring was donated from Ben and I believe he acquired it at Home Depot. It’s a portable jobbie, but we dragged a bunch of large rocks around it to give it that authentic camp fire feel! DSCN7473   I dug a little drainage ditch for rainwater to escape. DSCN7449 After that, I dragged some planks, cinder blocks, and a log around it for seating. DSCN7446 We are really enjoying it! Everyone needs a good old camp fire sometimes!🙂