...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.


Summer Break

The countdown has begun for our official summer vacation. We'll be with my extended family (14 people total!) in Myrtle Beach, SC in no time. We decided to make the 18-hour drive over the course of two days so I've been mentally and physically preparing for this journey for some time.  When we were kids my mom often made us a new outfit or two for a special summer vacation. I finished Vera's hot air balloon top a couple of weeks ago, but really wanted to make something for myself as well. I don't know that I was truly needing to finish it specifically for the trip, but it certainly gave me a deadline and therefore motivation to sew away. And what with this hot weather, it's been great to enjoy the coolness of the basement during afternoons this week.

I found this fabric at the thrift store over the winter. It's not often that I am able to pick up this much yardage secondhand. The design is funky--slightly tribal, slightly 80s, and totally drew me. I had the idea to make it into a long summer dress right away. The pattern was one of the rare new patterns I've picked up in the last several years, but purchased during the fabric store's regular $1 pattern days. So, once again, aside from my sweat equity, the materials cost me very little.

Can't believe the yardage I found!
I thought I'd finish this dress last night so I could move forward with my trip-planning today during the little one's nap time, but after getting as far as I could before the zipper installation last night, I decided to call it quits. I know my history with zippers and didn't want the night to end that way.  Boy, am I glad I made that choice. I returned to the project today with a clear head and after one frustrating attempt at putting in the zipper--and busting it (and the needle's tip) when my needle went off track--I decided it was time to channel my master seamstress mother. Last fall she sent me a handmade zipper installation guide. She basically went step by step on how to install a real zipper and put each tangible step into a three-ring folder and sent it to me. This was a lifesaver again today and I felt like my mom was doing some sort of "sewing Reiki" across the miles. I can't wait for her to see me wear my new dress (maybe on my birthday next week). I usually avoid stripes and plaids like the plague when sewing garments because I know the limits of my patience when it comes to lining things up at the seams. But I was set on using this fabric so I went for it. I was pretty happy with the result. It's not perfect, but I still think it's better than something store-bought. My first thought was that my mom will notice right away, but even if she does she'll likely be excited as usual that I've continued to find time to sew, especially for myself.

If only I could plan to fill this top out like the "model."
It was a tricky pattern at times.  Whew, glad it's over.
This week has also been about cleaning out the fridge.  I came up with broccoli, black beans, winter squash (that had been cellared and we finally cut into it this week), vegetable stock, and preserved lemons that I thought would make a good soup last night (it turned out fair.)  I had some broccoli stalk ends that would otherwise be super tough so I boiled them in some preserved lemon juice then turned them into broccoli basil pesto.  Once again, nothing goes to waste.

Broccoli Basil Pesto
Serves 3-4

I've been using this pesto in wraps, on bagels (with cream cheese, avocado, and sprouts), and will likely dip some raw veggies in it by week's end.

1 c. chopped broccoli florets (or leftover stems), cooked in preserved lemon juice (optional) or steamed
2 T. vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 c. tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 T. toasted pine nuts or almonds
1-2 T. grated Parmesan
Pinch salt and pepper

Put all ingredients into food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust seasoning as needed.  Refrigerate or freeze in portions.

I'm hoping that everyone's finally getting a wee bit of rain this summer.  We've had slightly more balance between heat and wetness lately.  Enough to keep the rain barrels full, but I know there are many farmers outside of our region of the state who are struggling to make this season productive.  It breaks my heart.  I try to remain positive on the homefront at least.  Lack of rain has kept mosquitoes down and the insect pressure of our garden has been slightly less...although it's just in time for the rain to bring humidity to support powdery mildew among other diseases that may eventually do in my summer squash.  Hoping this season won't be a total wash.


  1. I love this dress. You are so talented, Annie!

  2. Thanks Alysha! I wish I had more time to sew!