Jordan and I have been talking constantly about time management lately. There are several big areas of our life that need better stewardship, and that’s going to a big focus for us in the coming year. For my personal home management, I have been feeling in such a rut, mostly just from being tired! I feel like my imagination has gotten too small, and I’ve just been stuck in last minute day-to-day ‘crisis mode’, getting 3 meals a day on the table and just barely getting the minimum done around the house. I don’t like that. At the turning of the new year, I knew I wanted some things to change. The first area I decided to tackle was meal planning. On a snowy, housebound day I got out a notebook, and huddled up by the stove and made a written plan. That was step one. I felt good about my plan, but I was still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of actually beginning – through past experience trying to execute big projects with unpredictable little children under foot I know all about getting in over my head!
I wanted to share one tool I’ve been using lately that has been very helpful – Trello. I heard about it on the Allie Casazza/ Purposeful Home podcast, and decided to give it a try. Trello is basically just a way to make, keep and organize lists. You can see from the screenshot above how I used it to organize my meal planning. I transferred everything from my paper brainstorming, and kept it organized so I didn’t forget what I was doing! You can see on the far left list that I had checklists of specific tasks for each category of bulk cooking prep. Very helpful! I’ve resisted for along time using a digital app to replace my paper lists, but at this point in my life I just can’t seem to keep up with all my paper, so this has really been a blessing. The version I use is free, too!
Anyway, back to the meal plan. I planned for 4 weeks of meals, and broke breakfast, lunch, and supper into groups of 4 batch meals.
4 meals Pies (1 breakfast each, healthy sweet potato or pumpkin pie)
4 meals Quiche
4 meals “Grapenuts” cold cereal (homemade)
4 meals scones + eggs
4 meals breakfast burritos
4 meals english muffin sandwiches
4 meals applesauce/raisin/pumpkin seed muffins + eggs
(The breakfasts with eggs added on I will just fry or scramble the morning we are eating them.)
4 meals chicken quesadillas
4 meals chicken curry & rice + cabbage
4 meals sandwiches (tuna, grilled cheese, ham, with salad or veggies if available)
4 meals BBQ deer roast + veggies
4 meals beans and rice (taco salad, or taco soup + cheese & sour cream)
4 meals loaded baked potatoes (bacon & cheese & sour cream) + veggies
(the added veggies would be cooked the night of – either frozen veggies or something easy like fried cabbage or raw chopped carrots and celery)
4 meals pizza
4 meals potato soup
4 meals lasagna
4 meals stir fry
4 meals stroganoff + rice & veggies
4 meals Italian wedding soup
4 lemony chicken soup
4 homemade pasta
(Also, do keep in mind that this list isn’t my ideal nutritionally, I know its quite heavy on carbs. However, this month’s plan had a great deal to do with what we already had in our pantry, and what is available to us in January/February. During other seasons I would include more fresh foods)
Many of the ‘4 meals’ on the above list can be accomplished for our size of family with one large recipe of breakfast muffins, or one large batch of soup. I realize this would look very different for a larger family with older kids!
After a local shopping trip to pick up a few key ingredients and staples I was missing (dry beans and rice, cabbage, carrots, lard, cream cheese, sour cream…) I was ready to start my cooking!
I divided up the cooking I had to do into categories that were all similar, and of course tried to do anything in batches that I could.
The first thing I did was to grate up 10 lbs of cheese – once a month I order some staples from Azure Standard, and I nearly always get a 5 lb block of cheddar and a 5 lb block of mozzarella.
Making a big batch of piecrust – enough for six pie pans. (breakfast pies and quiche)
One evening after the kids were in bed I prepped all my baking and soaking. I tried to use as many recipes as possible that would have the flour/grains be soaked in kefir overnight. I always prefer this method, but doing things last minute I had to skip this step often. It was definitely wonderful doing a big batch of soaked and baked items.
I also soaked 8 cups each of kidney beans and brown rice to be cooked, frozen, and used for various meals.
4 loaves of ‘Dutch Oven Bread’
2 Batches of ‘Grapenuts’ cereal. First the dough is soaked, then baked in pans, then crumbled with a blender, then toasted. It’s absolutely delicious! We added chia seeds and raisins this time too, and stored it in half-gallon jars. This time of year it’s just fine on the pantry shelf.
The kids think it’s a real treat, since store bought cereal isn’t something we typically buy.
To cook the butternut squash and sweet potatoes for my pies, I like to chop them into large pieces, and cook them quickly in a pressure cooker or the InstantPot.)
I do two pie fillings at a time in the Blentec – no recipe, just the cooked potato or squash with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, a dash of milk, at least 2 eggs per pie, honey and molasses.
4 pies cooking at once!
Putting together English muffin breakfast sandwiches (fried egg + ham + cheese). Still perfecting the muffin recipe.
I batch cooked the sausage meat for pizzas, lasagnas, and Italian wedding soup. This is my lasagna prepping station. Tip – if you forget to buy cottage cheese (I did) you can make a simple white sauce to replace it! These lasagnas were also made with frozen kale from our last years garden – it worked great instead of spinach. Not pictured, but I also spent what felt like an entire morning chopping a mountain of onions and garlic! Seems like nearly every recipe except the breakfast ones needed those ingredients. (I cried and cried! But it definitely saved time)
I had three whole frozen chickens that I cooked in the instant pot separately, but one after the other so only had to wash the pot once. I also de-boned them all at once, so only one mess there!
Lasagnas and loaves of bread are easy to freeze, but it took a little more thinking to figure out how I wanted to store some of the other meals. Here are a few examples of my solutions:
The soup meals I froze in small bags with the basic main ingredients already cooked:
Italian wedding soup – I froze together portioned amounts of cooked sausage, onions and garlic. I already have frozen kale ready to crumble, and lots of frozen chicken bone broth. The day I want to make that meal I will pull those three things out in the morning to make sure they are thawed, then nearing supper time put them all together in a pot, bring to a boil, add pasta, and done!
Stir Fry – I froze portioned bags of filling, and portioned bags of cooked brown rice. The filling consists of shredded deer roast, carrots, onions, and garlic cooked in a sauce flavored with soy sauce and ginger. When freezing I also added a few handfuls of frozen broccoli. The day I want to cook this I will thaw the filling and rice, and warm it all up in a skillet, and also throw in some fresh chopped cabbage at the last minute.
Pizza – I baked the crusts alone on sheet pans covered in foil. When they were cool I lifted the foil and crust off the pan and transferred it to a square of cardboard. On top of the crust I laid portioned bags of sausage & shredded mozarella. I wrapped the whole bundle in foil and froze the 4 pizzas stacked. When it’s time for pizza I will pull it out a few hours ahead of time and let everything thaw. Then I will grab some sauce and olives out of the pantry, quickly top the crusts and bake just long enough to melt the cheese. :)
Not sure which is the best feeling – putting away finished meals in the freezer, or waking up to have a lovely breakfast nearly ready?
So, closing thoughts. Wish I had taken more pictures! This was just a tiny sampling of the steps. I spent nearly 5 days solid cooking, getting up early and staying up late. It was a fun and challenging project. (I will tell you I still didn’t get quite everything made – at some point I need to do a batch of tortillas for instance), but I got really close, and have a much better idea of how I want to do things next time. And I have a TON of meals in the freezer! That has been amazing.
Next month I want to try cooking for two weeks at a time. I think that would be much more doable for me at this season, and accomplish the same purpose, as long as I can keep rolling with it!
Also, I am realizing I will need a larger stock of freezer-friendly storage or baking dishes with lids. Ziploc bags and foil work great, but that is an additional expense, plus very wasteful! I would much rather have reusable dishes in future.
What about you? What are your thoughts on bulk cooking? Have you done it? If so, what sort of system do you implement? I’m all ears!
A few snippets from our winter days so far….
Early morning snuggles with Alan
Jordan working on Axe & Anvil orders
Quite often this is what our early mornings or late nights look like – packaging up orders and getting them ready to mail! Really thankful for the growth our new Axe & Anvil business has had over the last year!
Little helpers love trips to the post office – and they are so happy when there are small boxes they can carry!
One of the last harvests of collard greens – sadly the last cold spell finished them off. Can’t wait to plant more soon! I sure miss the abundance of fresh veggies this time of year!
Jordan made these amazing cookies one evening – chocolate hazelnut!
Before Christmas we hosted a pie supper – we had a big turnout and a lovely evening – with lots of pie!
The house was full!
Baby naps are especially snuggly in winter. Makes me sleepy just looking at Elsie!
We finished off many winter evenings reading out loud. One of my favorite things!
In 2017 I continued to make it a point to read in my spare moments. Looking back at my reading journal – a simple notebook where I write down a title once finished with any short thoughts – it looks like I finished 16 books last year. Not an amazing number, but at least it is something! I’ll highlight a few of the books that really stood out to me:
- Song of the Cardinal by Gene Stratton Porter – You’ve probably heard me rave about my favorite novels by Mrs. Porter before! (If you’ve never read Laddie or Girl of the Limberlost – go get them now! Trust me.) This short novel was new to me, very much about the world of the forest, with some human interaction tied in. Made me want to run out into the woods, pay attention to the birds, and praise God! :)
- The World of Jane Austen by Deirdre LeFaye – So, so good. Definitely a keeper. A very enjoyable and informative no-nonsense read about the historical setting of 18th-19th century England. Very good background if you enjoy the Jane Austen novels.
- Comfortable Troubles by Elizabeth Prentiss – very good, deep thoughts and encouragements woven into a thoughtful narrative. This reprinted Victorian novel is definitely worth reading, especially if you are a mother or daughter whose work is caring for others at home.
- Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne – A familiar setting – the Texas panhandle, where I grew up, and very interesting, but also very painful to read. I was very ready to be done with this book by the time I finished it. Lots of very interesting, enlightening detail, I felt it really fleshed out a lot of history I already know, and I had lots of ‘aha’ moments connecting dots in my mind to other former history studies and books. Not for young readers. Quite graphic. Also I found at least two instances of quite blatant false historical information, and the whole book had an obvious anti-Christian bias. However, this book will definitely stick in my mind for a long time, and gave me a lot to think about, especially as relates to the plight of early settlers.
- Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge – My first try at a novel by this author. Bizarre, aggravating but amazingly thought provoking. The life long narrative of two very different sisters who love the same man. This crazy story kept surprising me and making me rather angry! I basically stayed mad at most of the characters through the entire book. However, since finishing I have realized it really gave me a lot to chew on about motives in marriage, laying ones life down for another, and how small choices can affect the rest of your life. I am curious to know if the author built in the seeming allegories and marriage lessons, or if I am just imagining them. Anyway, not sure this will be a re-read, but I sure won’t forget it!
- The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt – SO GOOD. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I suppose it’s actually written for teens, but anyone who enjoys a good Medieval adventure story would love this. It was clean, page-turning (I couldn’t put it down) and believable – I highly recommend! (if you have reading age kids, they would love it too! It would make a fabulous read-aloud)
- The Life-Giving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson – this book did not disappoint. So much inspiration for creating and thriving within your home and family.
- Emma by Jane Austen – Jordan and I read this out loud to each other over the last few months, it was so enjoyable. I’d read it before, but not for years, so it was great fun going over it again and hearing Jordan’s thoughts as we went along. I included this book just to say – if you and your spouse have never read out loud together, you should! It’s seriously my favorite thing! Right now we are trying to decide what our next read aloud together should be.
Excited to see what the coming reading year will bring. I have many books already started that I want to finish, plus a lot more on my ‘want to read’ list. Below is a sampling of some of the ones on my wish list (if you have any recommendations for me, please do share in the comments!)
House tour time again! We don’t really have any big progress to show off, but a number of little things that have made this winter more cozy.
The most visible change would be our new living room arrangement. If you remember, before we had a stack of dry lumber stored along the long wall behind the couch. (we don’t yet have an outbuilding big enough for lumber storage) This really limited space and what we could do with arranging the furniture. However, when we brought the Christmas tree in, to make room for it, Jordan decided to move the lumber stack up stairs to our room – which I was reluctant about at first, but now I am really enjoying our new ‘bookshelf’!
So, that had an avalanche effect, and we spent about two days rearranging and deep cleaning the room – so refreshing! It’s amazing what a little change can do sometimes. We also had room to bring an extra rocking chair down from the attic, and bring a cedar chest downstairs for a coffee table.
A nook which we jokingly call our ‘momma and poppa bear chairs’.
Not too much has changed in the kitchen, although Jordan did get some more plumbing completed under the house, which brings us closer to running hot water! Exciting! Also, more skillet hooks, can’t ever have enough of those!
In this picture we were getting ready for a ‘pie supper’ get together we were hosting – normally the table with the green cloth sits more in the middle of the room for my main cooking work space.
I’m so excited about this update – a hanging lamp over the dining room table! This is a vintage lamp that we bought for $5.00 at a yard sale last year. Finally got it rewired and installed above the table – and it’s been so delightful having that nice overhead light at one of our main project spaces! Good lighting makes such a difference on these dark winter days.
The kid’s room.
The sewing room.
Our bedroom – notice our new ‘bookshelf’! It’s really coming in handy. I’m going to be almost sad when we have to use the wood to finish the wall paneling. (haha – almost.:)
We ended up with an extra set of copper twinkle lights after Christmas decorating, so they came to live in our room and give us a nice soft nightlight. I like the cheeriness of it!
What progress will be made in 2018? Hmmm…I’m hoping for a summer kitchen, finishing and painting the inside paneling….finished kitchen cabinets, and maybe a door or two! But,that’s an awfully big wish list, so we shall see! Jordan also must really build a barn/shop soon too, which will be quite the project!
I am so thankful for where we are now – when I look back on how far we’ve come since moving in to our log house, it’s amazing! At first we had no water at all (running or otherwise, haha) except for the creek, no bathroom, no stove, no sink or tub….and only one somewhat livable room! Compared to then, we are so comfortable now, and will just keep plugging away at all the finishing touches.
Christmastime seemed like such a whirlwind this year in some ways – but looking back on the month I am also pleased that we took time to do a little planning a the beginning of the month ad carved out many days for seasonal work and fun with the kids. I think we all made many good memories together, and I am glad for that.
The first thing we did that really marked the beginning of the Christmas season for us was to find our Christmas tree. We always cut down our own, and this year was no different. Marian and Alan were very excited! They also got to pick out a ‘baby’ tree to put in their own room for a festive nightlight.
Alan got to carry their own little tree back to the pickup, which pleased him enormously.
One of our traditions is that we make our tree decorations each year from found items in our house and woods.
Over the next few days we slowly added ornaments and decorations to the tree, and got out our small bag of Christmas decorations that are saved year to year – stockings and a couple of lacy banners.
Our tree is always a bit different year to year, but this time our ornaments were – gold painted pine cones and sweet gum balls that the kids collected from the woods, paper snowflakes, dried orange slices, and small cinnamon dough ornaments the kids made themselves with my smallest cookie cutters. And of course, our favorite little copper wire twinkle lights.
During the weeks before Christmas, we had several days devoted to baking. Cranberry-shortbread cheesecake, Russian teacakes, peanut butter fudge, and of course, gingerbread.
The day we made the gingerbread was the kid’s favorite – I cut them each out a little gingerbread person – and they got to decorate them how they wanted. I told them they could either eat them right away or save them for Christmas day.
We made a small gingerbread house, and still had lots of dough and icing leftover for a batch of cookies!
The kids both decided to eat their gingerbread people right away – Alan with no regrets, but Marian ate the bottom half of her gingerbread girl, and then started to cry. (she was sad, because she decided she actually wanted to save it for Christmas day – so she saved the last half with the rest of the cookies!)
Our rather sad little gingerbread house. Some day I want to do some really fun, more elaborate houses, but for right now, with three little munchkins all ‘helping’ me, I am definitely keeping it simple!
Many days throughout the countdown to Christmas, either Jordan or I would read, or tell in our own words the history of the birth of King Jesus. I felt this was the first year Marian and Alan really grasped the reality and importance of the story – and really seemed to make a connection to why it is so important. They were quite fascinated by each facet of the people involved in the birth of Jesus. I think the shepherds may have been their favorite this year. It did me so much good to dwell on those first chapters of Matthew and Luke this December as well.
The tired crew of gingerbread bakers.
Another tradition we have created is to make a fun, full day in the big town a few days before Christmas. This gives us a chance to go to some fun shops, get any last minute items, shop for stocking goodies, and see Christmas lights when it gets dark.
This year we went to a couple of antique stores mostly just for the fun of looking! We love gathering ideas for things we want to make by looking at original examples.
After that we went to various grocery stores looking for maple sugar. (The kids LOVE having maple sugar candy in their stockings, and I had tried to order it online twice, and it was always out of stock from my usual place) Jordan and I took turns shopping/and staying in the car with the kids in one organic grocery store, buying surprise stocking edibles for each other and the kids. This gave the kids a chance to have a nap in the car, and just some quiet time.
The last thing to do (with eggnog and cookies in hand, of course) is to find a couple of fabulous neighborhoods and see some beautiful light displays while listening to Christmas carols! It was wonderful – and the kids actually stayed awake for it this year! haha.
Meanwhile back at the house, presents have been mysteriously accumulating under the tree. The poor packages looked pretty bedraggled by the time Christmas day finally arrived – the kids had stacked, carried, handled, and hid them so many times!
Christmas Eve! The kids were so elated when it finally arrived. This year it fell on a Sunday which meant we were at church most of the day enjoying a beautiful Christmas service, and fellowship of good friends. We didn’t make it home until early evening, and we immediately had to quickly begin preparing for our Christmas Eve traditions! I warmed up leftovers for supper, and made some eggnog that I put away to chill. We washed dishes, spiffed the house, got in firewood, and made everything comfy and cozy. When supper was eaten we gathered in the sitting room. The kids each get to open one present on Christmas Eve – this year they each got new comfy pajamas (I’d stayed up late getting everything finished the night before – and Jordan was such a dear, staying up with me until 2:30am to read out loud to me to make the work go faster!)
Marian was so pleased with her new soft pink cotton gown and robe trimmed with lace. (made from a thrifted women’s knit dress and matching jacket)
Alan got a soft flannel night shirt (made from a men’s flannel shirt) – that he really loved! I was afraid he would be less than thrilled to receive a clothing item (you know how boys are…) but he really seemed to love it! It helped that Marian was so excited about her new pj’s.
We could only get silly pictures that night! Everyone was too excited to be still!
Elsie also got a little matching gown, but she was so tired and frazzled we couldn’t get one good picture of her – and she soon went to bed.
After gifts had been opened, we snuggled down on the couch and watched ‘The Nativity Story’ and sipped eggnog. It’s become our tradition to watch this movie on Christmas Eve – it’s such a beautiful reminder and visual for the children.
Then it was time to tuck the little ones into bed – and time for Jordan and I to get to work! We were so tired, but had several things we needed to finish up. My ideal would be to have everything prepared ahead of time so that the days surround Christmas can be completely relaxed and unhurried. But this year we were put behind by a week of sickness, so another late night it was!
I finished sewing a princess dress for Marian, washed the rest of the dishes, finished house cleaning, and Jordan and I filled the stockings to bursting. By this time it was 1:00 am – we made a last cup of tea, Jordan loaded up the stove for the night and we headed off to bed.
Thankfully the kids slept in the next morning, so we all got a decent amount of sleep! We got the stove warmed up and then let them come down stairs.
They opened their stockings first – they were so thrilled with each little thing!
Next were presents, both from us, and ones they had picked for each other. (we don’t do Santa) Elsie was very excited because everyone else was excited! Marian and Alan were both enormously pleased and started right in with their imaginative games – their favorite things were knight, dragon, and princess figures. (some found on ebay) Hours and hours of storytelling games have already been gotten from them!
After that we ate a quick breakfast, and laid out goodies for company that was arriving at lunch time.
Marian and her best friend Ruby in their new dress up dresses!
We spent the rest of the day in feasting and fellowship – Merry Christmas!
We celebrated the 1st birthday of our littlest girl – how did that happen so fast?
(She had a peach topped cheesecake because one of her many nicknames has been the ‘Peach Cheescake’…)
She went from being the snuggliest, happiest and most content little pink newborn baby, to a spunky, opinionated little toddler who is walking (running?) here and there all day and interested in everything, and not afraid to demand what she wants – mostly kinds of food she’s not supposed to eat yet!
From the first she has been a definite Daddy’s girl, and it only keeps getting more obvious. She absolutely loves spending time with Jordan! I think the only time she sits still is when she is in his lap – then basically her favorite thing is a rocking chair with Dad.
We couldn’t imagine our family without our funny little Elsie!
Marian and Alan both love their sister so much, and its fun to see all three of them playing together now.
Happy Birthday, Elsie!!
If you ever were a reader of my old blog, Story of a Seamstress, you know that I used to do custom sewing commissions full time before I married. In my current season with a busy homestead and 3 young kiddos, its rare now that I will take a commission, but I still do on occasion. Earlier this year a lovely lady asked for a historical reproduction of a white sheer bodice from the 1860s. It was a delightful project.
The picture above is the original bodice my client wanted to reproduce. (this picture came from a defunct ebay listing) Notice the separate underbodice/lining with buttonholes and lace trim. We couldn’t see this bodice in great detail from the pictures, so I had to make a few guesses about construction, but over all I am very happy with the result.
My reproduction was made from white sheer cotton voile, and has a half-lining of cotton muslin. The lining buttons closed, and then the bodice closes invisibly over the top with hook-and-eyes.
When incorporated into a period outfit the white bodice will appear similar to the original images shown below:
A fashionable outfit with a fine silk, wool, or sheer fabric skirt and accessorized with a belt, or silk ‘waist’, and a collar, brooch or ribbon at the neck.
If you do any research on this look online, you might variously hear this type of bodice called a ‘Garabaldi blouse’, ‘white blouse’ or ‘white waist’. Looking at originial sources, it seems to be the white bodice and contrasting skirt look was an 1860s fashion fad mainly followed by wealthy younger women.
You can see the fabric is quite sheer above the lining allowing the upper shoulders to be very cool and breezy for those hot summer months!
All buttonholes hand done.
Sleeves very full and a nice fitted back.
Lace and buttonhole detail on lining.
Below: more inner construction details for any interested seamstresses! :)
Over the winter and spring Jordan has made a lot of progress on our kitchen! I am so excited about it. The kitchen has long been one of the most unfinished spaces in our house, and its exciting to see it getting a face lift!
The first big change was when Jordan found and purchased a used Kitchen Queen woodstove. We’d been on the lookout for a cookstove big enough to also heat the house, and this one is perfect! My small antique woodstove will have an eventual home in the summer kichen and be used during hot weather. Installing that was a big project! He insulated he wall behind and put the tin barn metal heat shield and stovepipe vent, installed all new stovepipe and made braces for the outside, then made a copper covered heat shield and platform for underneath the stove. Lots of work!
The window over the sink was taken out and completed re-glazed and the inside painted white. While it was out, Jordan chinked the two walls in the kitchen, and when the window went back in, it was the first in he house to have it’s proper trim installed as well! The trim will be painted white too.
The sink cabinet he built (still needs doors) and installed our sink and our real plumbing! (no hot water yet) The vintage enamel sink we bough at the local ‘Octoberfest’ sale last year for $25. I am really loving the progress! Read on to see what’s next….
Eventually the wall behind the sink will be our cabinets – there will be a larger cabinet and counter to the left of the sink which will be my ‘baking station’, and to the right of the sink will be a narrow cabinet with a space for a ‘coffee station’. The wall will be covered with a combination of open shelves and small cabinets, and there will be a hanging light fixture over the sink. The picture below is very inspiring to us, and the feel of our cabinets will be similar:
Picture credit David T. Smith
The color of the cabinets and shelves will be milk painted a distressed and muted aqua/sky blue, much like the antique cabinet below. Picture credit Garth’s Auctions
To the right of the sink, there will be a plate rack and cup hooks incorporated somewhere above the ‘coffee station’.
There will also be a work station in the middle, sort of a large island with a space underneath for firewood storage.
It’s been so fun to see our ‘real’ kitchen finally coming together!
If you are interested to see lots more of my farmhouse kitchen inspiration – be sure to visit my Pinterest board on the subject!
The gardening is growing so fast these pictures I took just a few days ago are already outdated! Every time I walk out to the garden I feel like the plants have doubled again in size! You can’t see them in this picture, but we also have our tomatoes coming along nicely now and staked up.
Last week we harvested all that was left of our cauliflower, as it was all ready at once.
This was the biggest head.
My biggest basket was full. We stored all but one in the fridge, and that one got included in supper –
A rather delicious stir-fry.
Romaine Lettuce and Dill growing together. We’ve gotten so many salads off our 3 varieties of lettuce we have planted. The kids like to go out and snack on lettuce, and on occasion have nearly killed a few of the plants by eating off too many leaves!
Speaking of, they also nearly destroyed the poor basil plants (in the right hand pot) last week. I asked them to go out and pick A FEW basil leaves for seasoning the dish I was making. When I checked on them, both plants had no leaves, and Alan was holding one uprooted plant in his hand. Thankfully we were able to replant quickly and they both seem to be recovering. The other sad plants in the chips are eggplants. The flea beetles are really hindering their growth, but I’m hoping once they get their roots established enough they will be able to produce anyway. (that’s what happened last year, so…)
I planted a few Sweet Meat Squash seeds in egg cartons that recently got transplanted out to an empty place in the garden. Hoping they do well.
This is our Swiss Chard, also seedlings of Okra beginning to get a few leaves.
And this – this is our Kale patch. Before I harvested 5 stuffed gallon bags for the freezer.
And this is the Kale patch afterwards…though its already growing back so fast.
Recently we added potatoes. This method may look a little strange, but works very well. First you lay down newspaper (or in our case, ripped apart feedsacks) and space the cut up seed potatoes over the top. Then thickly cover it all with hay. We actually covered ours with fresh grass cut with Jordan’s scythe, and it dried out very quickly.
After a few weeks the potato sprouts begin to push up through the hay, then before long it looks like this:
When we get ready to harvest potatoes in the fall, we just push aside the straw and pick them up!
I’ll leave you with this picture of collard greens and fresh eggs that were in the process of migrating into the house.
I’m sure I’ll have more thrilling garden news for you soon!
Most of last year our ‘guest room’ as it was then was filled with dry lumber were were storing for finishing the attic floor and the upstairs walls. Last fall when we put in the attic floor and did more work on the upstairs walls, we were able to move the stack out of the spare bedroom, and it finally became – the kids room! Marian and Alan had been sharing a crib in our bedroom, and it was high time they had their own space! They were pretty excited. It has been fun fixing up the space even though it’s not a finished room yet.
Right now I am keeping their clothes in this antique steamer trunk. It works famously!
Their beds are two crib mattresses, we keep them stacked during the day to be out of the way, and then at night they can each have their own bed. We have a small antique iron bed that Jordan is in the process of restoring – when that is finished it will be Marian’s bed, and Alan will have a trundle bed.
This is one of their favorite imagination areas – the play kitchen. Jordan made the wooden hutch for Marian for Christmas 2 years ago, and my parents found the other piece in an antique store and fixed it up to look like a woodstove.
Marian at her ‘sewing machine’.
Lots and lots of books stored here and there. I am looking forward to having some floor to ceiling built-in shelving in the corner between the windows one day!
The curtain behind their closet is covering a space where a second window will be. I strung tiny twinkle lights around it to give them a nightlight.
In the corner I have baskets for their various toy categories – wooden blocks, toy animals, baby doll things, and Alan’s basket of special toys (guns, hammers, tractors).
That’s their room! It becomes a wreck nearly every day, but being such a small space it’s also really quick to clean it up again in the evening when I’m putting them to bed. We’ve all been enjoying having the toys contained and having a nice space for the kids to play and sleep. I have lots more plans for this room as we continue to finish out the house!