...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


The Buzz

Some top bar hives are hung from trees to avoid ants.
Top Bar Hive
On Monday night I began my series of beekeeping classes at the Urban Ecology Center.  Three sessions of Beekeeping Basics will get me a certificate to get me on my way to keeping bees at our urban homestead.  The class is taught by Beepods owners Charlie and Jesse who promote top bar hives, a horizontal and much more ergonomically correct method of keeping bees that has been around in some way shape or form for thousands of years, versus the "modern" vertically challenging Langstroth hives.  So far we've learned about who is in the hive and what those busy critters are doing.  There's more to come on setting up our hives, caring for the bees, and extracting the wonderful honey.  I may not know
Langstroth Hive
much about beekeeping yet, but one thing I have decided is that although I'm taking these courses this season, I plan to wait until next year to set up my hive and order bees.  I constantly struggle with my voracious appetite to learn more about everything on Earth--especially in the food, garden, and crafting realms--while striving to S L O W down in the process.  No small feat.  I'm hoping to focus on my fruit and vegetable growing again this year, perhaps adding a few more trellises for vertical growing, while cultivating Vera's curiosity for digging and picking as well.  She MIGHT  be able to have a small plot of her own this year to throw some seeds in the ground and watch them grow into plants.

Valentine's for Daddy
"Antique" craft ideas
Besides thinking about bees this week, I've been thinking about my two sweethearts and Valentine's Day.  Cabin fever has definitely set in so I'm constantly trying to rack my brain to think of new activities to keep me and Vera stimulated.  This week we made valentines for daddy.  Well, mommy may have dominated this craft session--parenthood for me is a constant process of learning to abandon the perfectionist of my past.  I should have let Vera go a little crazier with the glue sticks and paper, but like I said, it's a "process" for me.  I found this craft idea on a vintage ring of craft/activity cards I remember from childhood.  In fact, the copyright date is 1978, the year of my birth.  Thumbing through the cards brought back memories of projects and songs we loved as kids.  I thank my mom for parting with this piece of nostalgia.  I've also been knitting a fair amount these days.  I have a large project going--a knit dress for Vera--that has kept me quite involved though as I'm close to finishing I feel my attention span waning.  So I've started a couple other small projects to pick up easily in between sections of the dress.  I found these amazing spools of fiber at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore months ago as I was poking around, likely looking for odds and ends to convert into garden equipment.  I don't know what kind of fiber this is, but it's very strong and has some interesting specks of color intertwined
though it's mostly a purplish gray.  As I was winding it into a ball the other day I noticed splashes of turquoise and pink.  I am using it to make a market bag for use this summer at the Farmers' Market.  I'm also working my way through a big jar of random sock yarn that's been adding up.  Vera is, no doubt, growing quickly and socks are a guaranteed need in the future so I figure I will make as many pairs as I can with my stash of fingerweight yarn.
What is it?
Interesting Spool

I'm always looking for inspiration and finding it in the endless number of craft blogs on the web.  Lately I've been checking out Let's Go Fly a KiteBetween the LinesMade by Rae, and Maker Mama.  The public library is also an eden for me; our breakfast table constantly has a stack of borrowed books I'm in the process of paging through or marking with scrap paper.  Ah!  Is there a book out there about how to find more time?  Probably, but I have yet to open it.  I stumbled upon a delicious book on a craft blog the other day. Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin is like nothing I've seen before.  There's definitely a Martha Stewart quality to the setup of her displays and photos, but with more of a wabi-sabi style.  And of course I love that she upcycles materials into new, beautiful, and functional goods.  This book uses knit T-shirts for many of its projects from embellishing sundresses and weaving a chair seat to making a decorative topper for gifting your homemade preserves. This is why I find the internet so fascinating--from the moment in my freshman year of college that I discovered its capabilities and said, "you mean, I can look up ANYTHING?!"--if you can dream it, you can look it up.  Stumbling upon these virtual goodies and cross-referencing others on various blogs is exciting to me, as well as thinking up a strange recipe then punching my piece meal idea into a search engine to see if anyone else has already thought of it and can give me a lead.  The internet is my oyster.  **But let us not forget to continue making personal connections with our friends and neighbors to share real conversation, actual cups of tea, and tangible final craft projects.

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