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

Month: July 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Quiet Summer Night at Our House

I took this video tonight…the beautiful clouds against the sky drew me to the bedroom window with my camera.

Just a quiet Sunday summer night with crickets. The traffic’s not quiet, exactly, but it’s lighter than usual. And it’s hot out still, 85° and it’s past 9:30pm. The crickets are going fast! After an oven-like day, this is the time to be out and about!

Hope your night is peaceful…

Gratitude Sunday * July 31, 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:

– A lull in my moneymaking work, coming at just the right time.

– Feeling more stable after a very rocky, up-and-down week filled with fears and hopes for the future.

– Having the time for plentiful reading, thinking, and journaling. While I was working full time, I used to ache so deeply for time to do these things. I now have that time. And after feeling like a trapped animal for most of my life, doing things I hated against my heart’s desires, this is a major triumph! Creating, slowly, the life one dreams of is so…satisfying (and scary and liberating and many other things too, but very very satisfying). I’m enjoying every second of this freedom…

– First garden tomato! (Finally!!) A “Pink Beauty” heirloom, and really delicious!

– Having my latest batch of kombucha turn out perfectly!

– Getting up early and reading outside in my “stair garden” on these incredible summer mornings. The stairs outside our door are the only (somewhat) private outdoor space we have. I have a huge need for private outdoor space, and what my heart yearns for and what we have are so vastly and laughably different, but at least I have those stairs! In an apartment building, I’d have nothing!

– So grateful that at my parents’ house, there is private outdoor space!!!

– My trial loaf of “artisan bread” baked in my dutch oven turned out amazingly well!

– Purging belongings which I no longer connect with and no longer need. It’s a long process, and one I’ve done over and over…each time letting go of a little more. I wish it were quicker and easier, but it’s a job filled with lots of emotion and difficult decisions. However, my desire to pare down is strong, and seeing the giveaway box fill with things gives me inspiration to keep going. Thinking about the new life I’m about to give my things helps ease any feelings of loss!

– The most perfect summer night last night, I’ll never forget it.

– Going on a picnic with my parents last night to the local botanic gardens, and eating my mom’s amazing dinner (Northwoods grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, salad, my ‘artisan bread,’ and fresh papaya and strawberries for dessert!!). The place we were going to sit had just finished up with a wedding reception, and my dad asked if we could sit there. The bartender said sure, and so we put our own table cloth on one of the tables and ate amidst the most beautiful setting! Like our own private reception on the most perfect summer’s night. What a treat!

– Last night at 10:30, sitting out in the stair garden in the balmy night, with candles.

– That I have the money to buy the things I want from the store. This week I bought… organic butter lettuce, milk, hearts of palm, kombucha (my homemade batch wasn’t quite ready yet), organic blackberries, plums, and nectarines, and two fun treats after this challenging week — raspberry sorbet, and dulce de leche from Argentina (which I guess I didn’t get enough of while we were there!).

– The past couple of days, having enough energy to do what I wanted to do. I have such a new appreciation for this!

– A nice day at home today, doing domestic things like making kale chips and cookies, doing laundry, addressing piles in the living room, and just hanging out with my Hubby.

– The new window air conditioning unit our landlord installed in our apartment!!! It’s so luxurious to have air conditioning.

– Support from loved ones!!!!


What blessings have you appreciated throughout your week? Leave a comment!



Mint Water: The Simplest + Most Refreshing Drink of Summer

I’m in love with mint water. It’s the very easiest thing to whip up, with the most cooling and refreshing taste I can think of.

All you need is fresh mint — out your back door, down at the far corner of the yard where you planted it once and now there’s enough to make mint water for everyone in your state. Pick a long sprig or two of it.

Whack ’em against your hand to dislodge any little crawlies. Rinse them off too, if you like.

Pour a glass of water, add ice, crush the mint sprigs in your fist, and submerge them into the water.

When the water gets low, top it up. If you have nice strong mint, it’ll last you through many glasses.

I love this stuff!


Gratitude Sunday * July 24, 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:

– Feeling so glad that this 7-year marker of Sonja’s death was the easiest one yet. Feeling the scar fading and smoothing over. Remembering the sweetness of our friendship without being clouded by pain and grief.

– Housesitting for a night at my parents’ house. Sitting outside on the grass next to my vegetable garden at 6:30 on this quiet Sunday morning. Feeling the cool, fresh newness of the morning…and just being outside in a private yard.

Feeling a very deep soul need to have that experience be a part of each and every day…feeling such an intense, ever-increasing desire to make that happen by getting our own land and finally doing this dream of ours. But I also feel a deep sadness that doing our dream will mean uprooting and letting go of and moving away from the house I grew up in, letting go of my beloved gardens, and of the comforting and familiar neighborhood surroundings. I feel so groundless at the moment…both needing to stay and needing to go. It’s a feeling that just kinda makes me want to cry.

It also reminds me of the quote by Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Just waiting for some clarity on this issue. It’s one that’s been front and center this past week especially, and I’ve been feeling quite down about it.

(Know anyone who’s selling their acreage?? Maybe with a house on it…some fruit trees…room for gardens……..EDIT: And somewhere near the ocean!!) 😉

– Getting through this week. In addition to the above, it’s been a really difficult week physically since I’ve been feeling very poorly. Hoping for a change & some clarity with that issue as well.

– And phew, after all THAT… just remembering to raise my vibration, get out of the doldrums, and see the JOY instead of the fear! Remembering that it will all work out, and that usually the fear of the change is so much worse than the change itself. And also, remembering that my life is charmed. It always has been, why would it suddenly cease to be so? Everything will work out, in ways more magical than I can imagine.

– Remembering, too, to take small steps. Small changes, spread over time. As a baby, I walked before I crawled…and now, still, I forget to pace myself, and then end up getting really overwhelmed. I have to, uh, not do that.

…and here are some other gratitudes from my week…

– Marveling at my garden’s busy, busy airspace, full of beneficial bugs doing their beneficial thing!

– Being home. Glorious home.

– Sitting outside in my “stair garden” in the mornings and reading my Mother Earth News.

– Hearing the first crickets and cicadas of summer.

– Eating watermelon with my 81-year-old neighbor Margaret on her back porch, in yesterday’s perfect summer evening. Relaxing and talking till it got dark.

– My Hubby. His courage to stand up and fight against something that’s not right. His courage to rock the boat when no one else will. And also hoping the stress of that will ease up for him…

– Visiting with my mom and dad tonight; hearing about their little getaway…and being so grateful to have them close by.

– Hanging out with my cat this weekend! We share a very special bond…

Knowing that the most important thing in life is the people. Everything else is pretty much just details.

Baby celery from my garden

Hawk moth -- so artsy!


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


Dashboard Croutons & Other Car Cookery Ideas

Up here in our little 3rd floor attic Homestead In The Sky, the summers are sweltering. We forgo almost all oven use during these months, relying instead on the solar oven or the stovetop (see my Baking Cookies on the Stove post). Or, sometimes, the car. Actually we don’t have a car anymore — the old ’71 Jeepster finally reached a point where putting more money into it wouldn’t make sense. (Don’t worry, we gave it to someone who could completely appreciate it and at least part it out.) The last year we had it, it wasn’t running — but it served as a really handy oven during the summer months.

I made croutons that turned out great. They made the car smell really good too.

To cook things in your car, just park it in a sunny place where the interior will get nice n’ hot. Slide your cookie sheet of croutons (or whatever else) onto your dashboard or back seat, and check on it every now and then. This is a very fun way to cook!

The back seat works, too...


Need to dehydrate some food? Use the car! Cook something at low heat? Use the car!

Making fruit leather? The car! Roasting pumpkin seeds? Car!

Bet those kale chips would even work in the car, too.

If you go to work and park in a hot parking lot, put your lunch container on the dashboard in the morning, and it’ll be warm for you at lunchtime.

Another thing I like to do is make crackers out of sprouted grain tortillas, like these:

Cut them up and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake in your car till very lightly browned and crunchy (or in an oven or solar oven at about 250°). Be careful that they don’t get too brown or else they won’t taste as good.


I bet there are so many other fun car-cooking ideas out there too — do you have any to share??


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