...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.


What's Me-Time?

Ready for Dance Camp
Last weekend I had the tremendous luxury of a day and a half without anyone relying on me. My husband took V to visit her grandparents in the Chicago suburbs so I was left to my own devices. The first half hour or more was spent panicking and turning in circles asking myself "what should I do first?" There have only been 3-4 nights in my daughter's entire life that I haven't been with her (no grandparents in the immediate area, otherwise I'm sure this number would be much higher by now...believe me, it's not that I haven't wanted to send her on an occasional overnight.) So what did I do with my unmommy time?  Went to the farmers' market, shopped some rummage sales and thrift stores, worked in the garden, sat in the yard and read a book, ate whatever I wanted as late or early as I wanted, sewed, stayed up late, watched a spot of TV, slept in, drank a ton of coffee, went to a movie, did some canning.  It was like "Mommy Gone Wild," right?!  Hardly, but I definitely had the chance to engage in everything I love doing and didn't feel rushed in the process.

This week V has a drop-off dance camp downtown in the mornings so I've found myself with even more free-time.  (I could get used to this.)  Honestly, it's been a great practice for BOTH of us in preparation for school this fall.  Leaving her in a room with a bunch of new people produced a little anxiety for her at first, but once I left she apparently opened up and had a great time.  Again, I spent my time doing the geeky things I love to do: went to our city's gorgeous Central Library and poked around at the used bookseller to find some craft and children's books and a couple of paperback novels for myself.  Ended my morning respite at one of my old Brady Street haunts drinking coffee and reading the library book currently in my possession.  Ah!  Felt so good to breathe.  Today it was a little of the same--coffee and reading--but I also spent some time walking along our gorgeous, sparkling lakefront and realizing I haven't spent enough time enjoying it yet this summer.  What will tomorrow morning hold?  Have always wanted to check out Fischberger's Variety so currently that tops the list.

These breathable mornings have helped me feel more relaxed in the afternoons.  I was motivated to get at a sewing project in the pile (literallly, a PILE) of patterns I've cut out and queued up to make for V for this coming school year.  This skirt was a really quick and fun project.  The fabric was a recent cast-off from my mom and the multi-style skirt pattern I got for pennies at the thrift store.  I reached a point of confusion yesterday where I thought I'd found an error in the directions--and went as far as crossing out what I viewed as a mistake--only to reinstate the step a half hour later after I'd erred, ripped out, erred again, ripped out, and finally decided that I wasn't, in fact, smarter than the pattern/designer.  Humbling.

FRONT: V's new skort or as she calls it "squirt."
Back--with adjustable elastic band--made to last.
And a peek underneath.  Can't wait to see this one styled with tights!
Interesting how zukes "sweat" like this when sliced.
The garden took a significant trimming over the weekend and now feels more aesthetically pleasing and ready for its next phase of production.  Blackberries are done.  Tomato plants are toppling over with the weight of their plump still-green orbs, zucchini production has dwindled though holds steady despite the recent identification of squash borer, and basil is pret'near coming out of my ears.  (Do I smell pesto?)  I went ahead and bought some local slicing tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday because I really wanted to make this yummy looking spread, which will make its debut on some sort of nosh-plate-dinner (an occasional quick and simple meal option around the homestead) this week.

The rest of my homegrown blackberries ended up dried.
Hope to use them this winter in homemade granola.
Also, I meant to link to this article way before now, but was delayed due to our vacation.  Apparently someone thought my interest in wringing every bit of flavor and function out of our food would make a worthwhile story.  Again, I credit Tamar Adler for her lasting inspiration.


  1. I love reading your blog, Ann. But the "pret'near" is what really got me -- that's the language of central Illinois for sure. I haven't heard that in a long, long time.

  2. My gramma and grampa here in Wisconsin actually used to say that all the time. When I lived in east central IL I never heard it, but interesting you should bring it up. I think that's what they call "vernacular." Thanks for reading.