Monthly Archives: June 2012

~reading~ Equal Parts Terrified & Excited

When I was visiting friends in the city we were talking about books and I mentioned all I ever read anymore are books about farming and food. This isn’t 100% true, but pretty close.

A couple weeks ago I breezed through a book on microgreens in just two days; on my night stand is a book about garlic, in my living room there are books about bees, farming and cooking; on my couch is The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman.

Yesterday I told a friend/coworker that the more I read the more I feel like I just don’t know anything. Also, not 100% true, but sometimes it feels that way.

I want to start “farming” this fall. I put it in quotes because I certainly won’t feel like a farmer. I think that would take years, to be quite honest. I just want to put something in the ground. Much like having a kid, I feel like there’s never a good time to do any of this, but if I just do it, I have propelled myself forward.

I’m trying to also be frugal, but wincing at the costs of some of the things I will probably really need. I need to start very slow, as I am certain many mistakes will be made along the way.

In the meantime, I’m reading everything I can fit into an already busy schedule that relates to what I want to do.

It’s awfully weird to know that within the next year I get to begin doing something I’ve wanted for some time, while also knowing I will have days where I cry my eyes out with frustration and exhaustion. It’s also weird knowing you will have failures, but have no idea yet what they will be.

A friend of mine in college used to say that I’m like a cat…I always land on my feet. I really really hope that it still holds true.

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~happy home~ Operation Grocery Budget Reduction, The Sequel

A few months ago I reduced my grocery budget for the month to $200. I used to aim for $400, but even then, I usually went over. I’ve been really good about sticking to budget though.

I’m a not a stickler with the budget, I just try to keep a running tally in my head during the month and if I go over by $10 I’m not going to freak out about it. Planning out meals and reducing impulse buying has helped keep me in check.

I think I’m going to try to reduce it even more though!

Chris leaves Sunday for 5 weeks (at the halfway point we are going to go visit him) so I’m not going to be making regular dinners. Jack doesn’t like meat or cheese (for the most part) so I don’t think I’ll be getting any of that. That’ll save money right there.

I also have so much food in this house. I’m not complaining, but I need to start eating through my stockpile. This week I plan on going through all of my cabinets and organizing everything. I’m going to plan out meals and snacks from that.

I’m also back to juicing more. I think a lot of the produce I get from working for the farm will go into juicing, and I’ll probably get some more at the store too. I’m going to see if I can reduce my shopping to fruits, veggies, raw milk, tortilla chips (Jack and I are truly addicted to them), and wine.

My goal is no more than $30/week. I may even take out cash for the whole month to really reign myself in. I’m going to try to put the difference away for when we go to visit Chris, since we’ll be eating out a lot.

Can I do it? Keep your fingers crossed! I’m going to start with this week coming up and I’ll be updating on my progress.

In a Jam & I Painted a Chicken

Spooning in the jam.

Today I get to mention my friend Jillian twice. For starters, she also recently made the toaster pastries I’ll be talking about, and her combos not only look delicious but they are allergy safe.

At the April Food Swap I got to meet Alana Chernila and snagged myself a copy of her book The Homemade Pantry. Pretty much anyone who ever cooks food for themselves should own this book. The very next day I made the toaster pastries that are pictured on the cover, and knew it wouldn’t be long before I made them again.

Several half-used jars of homemade jam were piling up in my fridge. I wanted a way to use them all up before they went bad, plus I was overdue for some bulk snack making. I promptly made up a double batch of Alana’s crust and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

Ready to bake!

When I woke up I got to rolling. I really love her crust. It’s so easy to use because it’s never crumbly and it isn’t prone to ripping apart from itself. If you fear homemade crust, get the book and use this recipe.

In the end I made 18 toaster pastries. The flavors are blueberry cherry balsamic, raspberry balsamic, and strawberry/raspberry/rhubarb. I left 6 out and packaged the rest to be put into the freezer.

The finished product.

Later in the day Jack decided he wanted to paint. I’ve wanted to paint for some time as well so we headed out to get a few supplies. When we got home we set everything up and then just painted whatever felt right at the time. His is a chaotic scene of animals and fictitious creatures, and mine is a chicken.

creative genius

We are now officially participating in Jillian’s Artful Summer! I will continue to post about our journey with art during this season.

In Need of Nature

Bridge over Battenkill

When I was younger I didn’t care much for anywhere rural. I didn’t always live in huge cities, but being somewhere really dark and removed from a town made me freaked out at night. My parents had a small cabin in northern Arizona and I would only ever go when I could bring a friend to keep my mind off the creepy woods.

My parents took me into nature, we went camping and fishing, and I really did enjoy it, but I never thought I’d want to spend considerable time there. As soon as I could live on my own I went straight to NYC!

I’m pretty sure “jubilarian” is not a real word.

Last weekend I went to my college reunion. I only live 3 hours from the city, and I’ve been back several times. But for some reason, this time was different.

As soon as I got to the George Washington Bridge I knew something felt different. I felt a little claustrophobic and quite annoyed. I started thinking how if anything really bad happened, people would never be able to get out, there’s just too many people there. (Sorry, the Girl Scout in me thinks of weird stuff like that.)

Walking through neighborhoods I kept thinking, “These people have no gardens, or lawns, and they have tiny kitchens, and how can they store all the food they put up in these tiny apartments??” (Clearly, I’ve started to lose my mind a little!)

The city really does have so much amazing stuff to see and great places to eat and I’m glad I live close enough to return regularly, but I honestly couldn’t wait to get back to seeing wide open spaces. I knew I’d miss my friends, but I just had to see some nature.

No driving faster than you can walk!

Once I crossed back onto the Palisades Parkway I instantly felt better. You could see trees and grass and beautiful views for miles. I was so thankful.

Then this week we spent a whole day in a more rural part of our area going on two field trips. Jack got to play by the water, we saw an old covered bridge, we saw beautiful green hills, and baby cows.

There are historic markers like this all over our area, I love reading them.

Today Jack played in the mud with a friend at the market while I worked. He was filthy and happy and I loved it. I’m not saying that in Brooklyn there aren’t parks or mud puddles or edibles growing on stoops, it’s just that I need those things on a much greater scale now.

Although many parts of my personality remain the same, I’m glad some parts have changed. I’m glad Jack gets to live where we do, and selfishly I’m really glad to live here too. I’m glad that no more than 10 minutes away I’m right in the midst of farms.

Nature is truly my Xanax.

DIY Mason Jar Lids for Straws

The lid of my super fantastic mason jar drinking glass.

Summer cocktail season is officially on now and these are perfect vessels for them. They are pretty awesome for iced coffee, smoothies, and lemonade too.

I had seen these lids on etsy and Chris couldn’t fathom that I would pay for these so he decided to make them for me for Mother’s Day. No matter how cheap and easy these were, they made for a seriously awesome gift.

Chris said you basically have to get your straws first, and reverse engineer back from that. I got a package of BPA-free straws (and the ever-important scrub brush to clean inside them) from this woman on ebay and she shipped them super fast.

One of the nice things about these straws is that they have this part at the bottom that sticks out just enough so that your straw can’t completely fall out of the hole on top.

So you’ll get your straws and then you need to go to a hardware store and look for rubber grommets. Make sure you ask specifically for grommets (not washers) and they will probably be loose in bins. Bring in your straw and test out sizes until you see which one fits the best.

Then you need to see which drill bit fits the external diameter of the grommet size you chose. Chris said that on the inside of the bin where you get the grommets from it’s listed right there. Easy enough so far, right?

Take your canning jar lid put two clamps on it, across from each other. Now anchor these to something secure. You don’t want it slipping or moving while you try to drill the hole through it.

Drill the holes and very carefully wipe away any dust from drilling. The inside of the hole will be sharp! Pop the grommets in, slide in your straws, screw on the lids and you are ready for beverage time!

Use different volume mason jars to have an assortment for kids and grownups.

Although they are not 100% leak proof, they do a pretty decent job. These would be really great as gifts or incredibly fun party favors. You could even take Sharpie markers and write each guest’s name on the front.

So now go and make these and share your pics on my Facebook please!