...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.


Post Holiday Post

Happy New Year 2012!
Happy New Year 2012!  I hope this shiny (and warm) new year finds you relaxed, inspired, motivated, and toasty warm.  We had a fantastic December.  Though it was hectic at times, I feel like we visited with more friends and family in one month than we had all year.  Now if we could just find a way to allocate that precious social time over the course of the 2012, we'd feel better in many ways.

The LeFort Urban Homestead is excited and bustling for all that the new year will bring--new job opportunity for Ben, creative outlets/inspiration/free time/craftiness for me, a simpler garden and a new kitchen for our family, once a week Waldorf-based childcare then preschool in the fall for V.  We'll do our best to take it one day at a time, but we're practically bursting at the seams with positive energy and laughter because we can't wait to get started.

Lemons right in your backyard!
We spent the majority of the last two weeks traveling.  In fact, between December 23-January 1, we stopped in for just 18 hours so I could work a shift at the restaurant to prepare for New Year's Eve and so we could refresh the indentations in our mattresses (the LeForts haven't sprung for "memory foam.")

We began our travels on the west coast visiting Ben's brother and his family in Los Angeles.  We enjoyed some great food, architecture, celebrity sites (but not sightings), and soaked up as much sun as we could mid-day in L.A.  I feel like I appreciated this world-class city more on this trip than ever.  I'm always fascinated by the different flora  out there, but this round I also marveled at how efficiently packed in the houses are.  Without much street profile and with lots of lush pseudo-tropical plants lining the properties, one would hardly guess that some of these homes are so spacious.  Ah, I love urbanity! On an impromptu tour of the city, I was inspired by the Art Deco architecture so prominent when this city was developed and I drooled over all the gorgeous citrus trees growing in yards.  Our accommodations at my b-i-l's and s-i-l's house exceeded our expectations, especially all the activities my sis-in-law had prepared for the kiddos each afternoon--cookie decorating and gingerbread house construction were the best.  

One nephew's masterpiece!

Just b/c I do pastries doesn't mean I know anything about
building a gingerbread house.  This was an "epic fail!"

Our holiday travels then carried us south as we visited my folks in east central Illinois for what will likely be their last Christmas in this home (plans to move across the border to a place more suitable to their current needs and lifestyle are well underway.)  We caught up with family and friends and spent a "good old-fashioned" (by my high school standards) New Year's Eve eating, playing board games, and carrying on well past the ball drop.  Overall, everyone enjoyed their homemade gifts and my parents said the family tree will be one of the first things they'll hang in their new home.  

Pickled okra my other s-i-l always brings up from Alabama
My horde!
My favorite tangible take-away from the holidays was a laundry basket full of fabric handed down from my mom.  She shops at thrift stores and rummages like I do so has quite a stock of fabric, but with moving on the horizon she was more than willing to pass along some material, patterns, and notions and I was more than willing to accept.  I'm especially excited about the T-shirt remains from a quilt my mom just made for my niece.  I've been incredibly inspired by the designs and ideas at CourtneyCourtney and can't wait to get working on some new projects.  I didn't tell Ben about this load until minutes before we packed the car.  My mom recycled a famous quote and said "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."  So true.  We managed to wedge the goods in the back seat and were off!  It was rough trying to hit the ground running and get this family back on track this past week's after nearly two weeks away, but in between those duties I ducked down to the basement  like a kid on Christmas vacation who just wants to play with his/her new toys all day.  I spent hours sorting, folding, "colorizing," and storing my new stash.  I really need to consider starting a craft business in 2012 to manage my inventory...otherwise I'll just spend my whole life looking at, organizing and reorganizing my fabric (which could also be quite fun.)

My mom's scrap basket.  What fun to dig through it!

Fabric and Fabric and Fabric!

What we finally crammed into the car

Some of my favorite vintage pieces

More vintage bits

I love these swatches! Second from the R was leftover from making curtains
for my old dollhouse!

Lay them straight
The randomness stacked in the basement

I've got big plans for these knits

Warm greens, yellows, browns
Cool Greens, Blues, and Whites

Reds, Oranges, Pinks

Holiday Calicos
Leaving you with a recipe that Vera and I tried this week.  Since I've been gluten-free, I've been searching for a yummy brownie recipe and I think I finally found "the one!"

Not the Brownies, but my dad's beautiful holiday cookies!
Chocolate Cranberry Brownies (Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)
Makes 9

3 oz. gluten-free chocolate mini chips (I used Enjoy Life Brand)
7 oz. (3 1/2 oz.) butter
1 c. granulated sugar or xylitol
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. almond flour
1/2 t. GF baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 c. ground fresh cranberries (we whizzed them in the food processor for a bit)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over low.  Add sugar/xylitol and eggs to an electric mixer and beat until pale.  Add vanilla and melted chocolate/butter and mix.  Gently mix in the almond flour, baking powder, salt until well combined.  Add nuts and cranberries and mix just until combined.  Pour/ladle into a greased 9-inch square baking pan and bake 35-40 min. or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool , cut and enjoy.  (These seem to benefit from a day in the fridge overnight to tighten them up.  I think it makes them seem more "fudgy.")

I didn't make any "resolutions" per se, but I have some small goals and big motivation for this year.  For now we are trying not to overschedule ourselves, but find time to relax, read, and become reacquainted with quality family time, which hasn't been as common as we'd have liked in the past.  Looking forward to all that's about to happen to/for our little family this year.  Wishing you the best as well!

Quietly "reading" Dick and Jane.

Finding a quiet place to curl up and look at books

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