...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.



I'm back!  (Let's see if I remember how to do this.)

I've had just over a 2-month lapse in posting.  Where have I been?  Did I fall off the face of the Earth?  Not quite.  What have I been doing?  Lots.

As I alluded to in my previous post I've been juggling various aspects of life: parenting, gardening, preparing healthy food, travel, freelance work, friend time, and me time.  The summer was loaded with fun and also a lot of work.  I just didn't find time to keep all the balls in the air AND journal about it.

The biggest (as in, most time consuming) thing that happened this summer was that I spent (and continue to spend...as the growing season goes on) hours and hours at a private preserving gig for a client who has a 17th century hobby farm in Ozaukee County.  I was fortunate to spend time every couple of weeks at this Monticello-like homestead harvesting vegetables, checking in with the livestock (doves, hens, bees, geese), and enjoying the beauty of the place then bringing all the produce home to preserve for him. (Getting to work out of my own kitchen is fantastic.)  So I've been doing a TON of preserving this year, but just not for myself.  I'm still managing to put up the bare essentials: jams, tomato puree, dilly beans, applesauce but come winter I'm sure we'll be missing the plethora of home-canned options in our pantry.

We also spent loads of time this summer doing fun things like concerts in the park, the zoo, playgrounds, bike rides, and other outdoor activities.  My daughter took up violin lessons and ballet so that's been on our regular schedule.

Where do I stand right now? At this point in time my urban homestead is looking sorely neglected.  It was an amazing year for fruit and we picked and put up lots of cherries and blackberries, but I was never able to stake my tomatoes, keep up with picking beans, manage the deadheading of flowers, or eat all the greens in our garden before they bolted.  When I planned/planted my garden last spring I had no idea how much time this incredible freelance opportunity would require so I powered ahead and ordered seeds, started seeds, planted seedlings, planted, planted, planted.  It's been more than I could handle and at this point I welcome colder weather when I can put it to rest.  As far as I can tell I'll be doing this freelance work again next year (it's proven be be very flexible and sustainable) so I will have to scale back on things at the homestead.  But at least it offers me a starting point.  I've been reigned in and I'm okay with that.

I'm continually asking myself  "where do I go from here?"  Along with the aforementioned activities I've been having fun giving our daughter all sorts of experiences.  We love to go to musical events and theatre together and that plan continues well into next spring.  I've also been trying my best to keep up with world events and politics and industry trends and parenting ideas and since we got rid of our TV in June I've had to find other avenues for doing so (never so thankful for PBS live streaming online and other remarkable news sources/blogs.)  I've settled into a good groove and am now devouring information as fast as I can.  I feel more in tune to the world than I have in 10 years.  But that also takes time.

I've given myself plenty of guilt the past couple of months for not living up to the standards and goals I originally outlined for myself (and it's taken a lot of admit that.)  But I like where I am right now in terms of family time, experiences, my opportunities to cook/preserve, the time I have with friends, and me time so I'll go with it.

This summer was incredibly pivotal in that regard.  I began to identify the shape I want my life to take.  I continue to consider how and where my blog will go, but in time I know I'll figure that out too.

I certainly haven't abandoned any ideas and values I hold about sustainability, but that's just it.  I have to make this all sustainable for it to grow and thrive.  We're at a stage in our daughter's life, as parents, in our "careers," where the universe is telling us that this shift (even temporarily) is okay.

Some day soon I may get back to posting recipes and photos and gardening/homesteading ideas, but for now I am taking a small step back and breathing and shifting gears a bit.  If nothing else, just to see what it feels like.  I figure as long as I can still do that while cooking healthy food for my family and satisfying my needs for growing things and crafting a little every now and then, I'm okay.

It's a process.

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