Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: June 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

Kitchen Tip: Brown Bag Cooling Racks

I have a little kitchen tip for you today!

Since we live in a small apartment, space is at a premium and we don’t have room for needless kitchenware. And so, among many other things, we don’t own wire cooling racks. If I need a cooling rack, I improvise.

For cookies, I use what my depression-era grandmother used — a cut-up brown paper grocery bag. Just cut it up and lay it on the countertop, transfer your cookies onto it, and fold it up when you’re done…and use it again and again! It hardly takes up any room, and I get to think of my grandma — and bygone days in general — every time I use it.


What’s one way you improvise in the kitchen?


Gratitude Sunday * June 26, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– Accomplishing a lot this week. It was a very busy week…too busy actually. (When I look at last week’s Gratitude Sunday pictures, they seem like ages ago!!) But once I got everything done, it felt great!

– Looking forward to a (hopefully) much quieter week ahead. I still don’t feel very well, unforch, and my body’s telling me that some downtime would be a very good idea.

– A wonderfully lazy weekend. Lying around, napping, catching up on reading, just hanging out.

– Getting all the lettuce harvested in the garden. The weather’s been quickly getting hot (it’s 94 degrees as I write this) and the lettuce was starting to bolt. I was really feeling the pressure to get it all picked and washed and bagged before it got too bitter, and I finally did that on Friday. It took about 4 hours! It was very aphid-y, as it always is once the weather gets hot, so washing took forever! It wasn’t a fun job, and it was hot, and I hate aphids, and I didn’t feel well, and there wasn’t even anything good on NPR to listen to on my little green radio…but once I got that huge task completed, I got my heart back into the right place and was able to look at it all in gratitude and joy and be thankful that the garden gave us SUCH an amazing bounty of “health on a stem”!

I took a picture of all the bagged-and-compacted lettuce leaves in my parents’ refrigerator!

– Finally finishing a project this week that had been lingering in a pile around our house for almost THREE years!

– Catalpa blossoms right outside our 3rd-story kitchen window, and their scent wafting in on the evening breeze.

– Baking some incredibly delicious cookies in my solar oven, using coconut cream concentrate instead of almonds in this recipe.

– Waking up from a dream and being so thankful to be here, now, in this present reality. I had dreampt that my best friend Sonja was in the hospital dying again. In real life, Sonja died 7 years ago…and I was so thankful that it wasn’t all happening again, and that a person can only die once for goodness sake! Thankful, in general, that we don’t have to go through that awful grief more than once per person. Shew! Dreams can seem so real can’t they, and sometimes that’s a nice thing and sometimes it’s not!

– Got so much garden work accomplished on Friday.

– My wonderful family!

– Getting my moneymaking work done Thursday night, so I could spend all day Friday in the garden. It was a work-heavy week, and I was glad to get it done. And of course, feeling eternally grateful to be able to work from home and set my own schedule! Priceless. Here’s a picture of my “home office” for you. Hah! I guess we kind of live like college students, and don’t…er…really have much furniture. That’s the “couch” you see there. 😉

– Hanging out & reading amidst the flowers at the local botanic gardens with F. after work on Thursday. I loved that!! I loved having him there with me. 🙂

– Savoring an incredible, quintessentially balmy summer evening last night…birds singing, sprinklers going, people out walking, kids playing, the smell of backyard BBQs. I went outside with some tea and read my Sunset magazine on the front step until past dusk. Heaven!!! I could do without the heat of midday, but boy, those summer mornings and evenings are just incredible. They really feed my soul right now!

– After it got too dark to read outside, coming inside and watching a movie with my Hubby (Chinatown, from 1974).

– Not getting the Sunday Night Blues anymore, and actually looking forward to Monday mornings since I no longer have a job to go to! YAY!

– Taryn’s Wooly Moss Roots blog. I love her blog so much!

– Starting a new batch of kombucha, this time with jasmine green tea. I haven’t made any lately and I’m looking forward to drinking it again!

– On our walk to the store this morning, harvesting Lambsquarters to add to my green smoothie today. I *love* harvesting wild foods.

– Seeing pink flowers! I’m craving pink this year. Nature produces the most incredible shades of pink!


What are you grateful for this week? Leave a comment!


Gratitude Sunday * June 19, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– Relaxing by the open window, watching a thunderstorm roll in.

– Remembering, over and over, that I don’t have to get up and go to work in the morning!

– Noticing little coincidences & synchronicities in my life again. They appear when I’m in my flow & on my path, and disappear when I’m not. I hadn’t seen them in so long (during the time I was unhappy in my job & knowing that I should quit), that I’d almost forgotten about them! It’s fun to see them again — they always feel like confirmation that I’m right on track…right where I’m supposed to be.

– Though still extremely busy, I’m feeling a lot more balance in my life, and almost zero stress.(!)

– Discovering that doing contract work from home is really my thing. I’m in charge of my time! What a concept!

– Being home during the day to enjoy SUMMER!

– Eating heaps of beautiful garden lettuce, and stuffing it into body-nourishing green smoothies.

– Going to the Gay Pride parade with my Hubby…it was so fun! The vibe was neat — a huge gathering of open-minded folks, where everyone could be whoever they were and everyone was totally OK with that. Families were there, with toddlers yelling “Happy Pwide Day!”


– The most wonderful day hanging out one-on-one with my dad, going to one of our favorite nature-places. He is such a great dad; I really cherish him. And it was so special to have some one-on-one time together out in nature. We both absolutely loved it!

I packed a picnic for us of Spanakopita, Moroccan Carrot Salad, grapes, and Finnish Cardamom Cupcakes (recipe coming soon). Yum! We ate lunch in a gazebo out on a lake, reachable by the boardwalk above.


What about you? What have you been grateful for this week? Leave a comment!


Easy Greek Spanakopita

Spanakopita is one of my favorite things to eat. It’s a very easy dish to put together, and everyone loves it!


1 pound (or more!) fresh spinach (feel free to substitute some of the spinach with chard, kale, turnip greens, or arugula) OR, frozen spinach — maybe a 10 oz. package? Maybe more? It doesn’t have to be exact.

5 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup fresh dill (chopped and then measured)

3 green onions, chopped

2 eggs

salt/pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil

phyllo dough (thawed overnight in the fridge)

1. Steam spinach till it wilts. Run under cold water to stop cooking process. Squeeze spinach and drain. Chop the cooked spinach into small pieces.

2. Mix spinach, feta, dill, green onions, eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Brush the bottom of an 8×8 pan with olive oil (9×13 also works). Brush the top of a sheet of phyllo with oil and place in pan. Fold phyllo over to fit in pan. Repeat until you have 6-8 layers of phyllo (more or less, depending on how thick you want the crust).

4. Spread the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo crust.


5. Brush the top of a sheet of phyllo with oil and place on top of spinach. Repeat till you have 6-8 layers, or however many layers you’d like. Finish by brushing the top layer of phyllo with oil.

6. Cut your unbaked spanakopita into squares or triangles with a sharp knife.

7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until golden brown on top, about 30-50 minutes.


A Few Words of Wisdom

I was flipping through my journal yesterday and came across these words of wisdom that I had written down; I don’t remember where or who they came from, but I liked them:

Over the course of your life, there will be many-a-thing that you wish you would’ve done, or could’ve done…but if you didn’t wish hard enough to actually do it, let that be okay.

And if it’s not okay, then get up and do it!


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