...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.


Home for the Holiday

Yesterday I finally got busy planning my Thanksgiving dinner menu.  As you've heard me say before, I LOVE preparing the Thanksgiving meal.  The celebration will begin late next week when I pick up our Thanksgiving CSA share via Wellspring.  We are not season subscribers to their community-supported farm, but for the past three seasons or so, we've purchased their Thanksgiving share, which is even more AMAZING than the photo on their website shows.  It's worth every penny and this gorgeous box of certified organic vegetables usually seals the deal for my freezer, cellar rack, and pantry every fall.  Not to mention, at pickup time it allows me to connect with farmer Jeff for the one time each year that we meet.  So without further ado, order your share today.  Only a dozen or so remain!  Following the retrieval of that big box of love, which will take me a couple of days to sort, store, or minimally process, I will collect our heritage turkey via JenEhr Family Farm at the West Allis Farmers' Market next Saturday.  I pre-ordered in early September, but there's a chance you can still secure a certified organic bird if you contact them pronto!  A few days later I will spend another couple of days brining that lovely animal in a 5-gallon bucket in our garage.  Usually the weather cooperates and is nice and cold so that I don't have to worry about storing this tasty thing in my fridge for too long.  It's been unseasonably warm lately, which many people have enjoyed--and I have too as I've continued to harvest from my garden, but I don't have a second fridge for this tom so outdoors is the only option (just like Gramma Lucille used to do.)  I will likely start gathering tablecloths, napkins, table decor, dinner music, and serving dishes the week of the event.  Then my in-laws will roll into town on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (TBD).  I'll be cooking Wednesday night and well into the day on Thursday.  We'll hopefully have a leisurely day on Thanksgiving and a sloooow early evening meal.  This is just the proposal, of course.  We'll keep it loose.  At any rate, I am hoping to get some recipes posted before the holidays this year.  We'll see what happens.

The Big Snow CoverToday Vera and I read The Big Snow, a classic and Caldecott Medal winner.  It follows all the woodland animals as they stock their larders for cold weather and prepare to hibernate before a huge snowstorm.  Reminded me of our own adventures in local food storage and made me think--at least for a split second--bring on the SNOW!  I know we'll be reading this treasured book a few more times before the depths of the cold weather around here.  And I'm hoping I feel just as happy about the weather in January.

Scrap yarn that Vera picked out
In crafting news, it felt good to finish a knitting project on Sunday night.  After a close friend's wedding celebration on Saturday, it was nice to have a very slow Sunday where I could sit and knit as I listened to the football game.  As it turns out, I've been making a new winter cap for Vera each year and completed this one just in time for the weather to become a little more brisk.  I was thinking of wrapping it and putting it under the tree in December, but she watched me make the whole thing so hiding it would have generated more questions of "what happened to that hat you were making for me..." (and similar inquiries) than surprise and joy the day of gift opening.  I have two of six holiday craft projects underway and am determined to keep them in motion even if it means sewing just one or two seams in the evening before bed.  I began cutting out doll clothes from some brand-new patterns my aunt handed down along with a 15" baby doll (fingers crossed this is the closest we'll get to an American Girl).  After my aunt had purchased this doll and the patterns over a decade ago, my cousin's daughters specifically requested not be given any dolls.  So this baby has been sitting untouched and unloved since.  Vera was glad to scoop it up and adopt her, so to speak.  She's named her "Alice."  But Alice needs a wardrobe.  I'm doing my best to craft the essentials for the holidays--like a warm winter coat so this baby doesn't freeze.  It's a great way to use many of the small pieces of calicos and other remnants I have in my fabric cabinet, not to mention these little outfits sew up fast.  Reminds me of childhood when I would cut out Barbie doll clothes from patterns faster than my mom could sew them.  Some might call it cruel, but I call it practical that two or three doll outfits are all I plan to give Vera for the holidays.  Ben may pick out some building blocks to add to her collection.  We are truly determined not to let these celebrations turn into mainstream mall madness.  My theory is that it will cultivate appreciation and control, at least.  I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you keep the winter holidays (or any holidays) meaningful, low-key, and without all the credit card debt.  Here's to enjoying the season for all it truly should be.  Cheers!

Mine looks NOTHING like the pattern online.  Why???
I took the liberty of adding the I-cord "tassle" on top
Reading with Daddy, she wouldn't take it off!


  1. Cute as a button! I don't know why the hat would look so different from the pattern, but it is lovely none-the-less!