The last update was in 2019, and now it’s 2023. Still summer though! I guess summer makes sense for putting in a new post. There are (usually) fewer things to keep track of and worry about. And late summer also tends to be a transition time.
And wow, have there been a lot of changes between 2019 and now. Some were already in progress, some were surprises (I’m looking at you, the MANY world changing events of 2020…), but it is definitely, completely, absolutely, a whole new world. And not one I would have been able to predict. And the changes are likely to keep right on rolling! So in order to have my own sense of that, and what I’m doing and where I’m going and what I plan to do with and about all of this, writing updates on my blog seems like one good thing to add back to my life.
Of course the world of the Internet has changed too. So, how to format my blog, how much to let it connect (or not) to the outside world is an open question. But for now, it’s here, and I’m here, and having a place to talk that is mine is nice.
My projects are pretty similar by theme, though a lot of the details have changed!
For one I’m now back in the Upper Midwest instead of the Mid-Atlantic which is a big change, for another given my health constraints and the choices the world at large has made, I am basically at home all the time now, with all the pros and cons that entails, and only see my family in terms of in person stuff. At least I love my family a lot and my home is a place I love and it’s surrounded by trees, so that helps.
It’s been a tough summer for gardening! First we had a cold wet spring and now we have a hot and super dry summer. Lots of soaker hoses have been deployed as a results. There are some happy spots though.
In the front ‘kitchen garden’ our slicing and cherry tomatoes are doing great! So that’s a big improvement! Next year I’m going to run a row of basil down the front of that bed. The lettuce and radishes kind of worked and kind of didn’t. Mostly because of the weather, and the wildfire smoke, and so on…. I am going to do some fall planting there though. Probably radishes and some cold weather greens.
And in front of the ‘kitchen garden’ (which is 3 3’x5′ raised beds) things are doing pretty good too. I planted a rugosa rose there last year and it’s growing! Also my tiny baby coneflowers have bloomed some, so hopefully they keep expanding! My herbs, the sage, lavender and our original chives plant (carried all the way from Maryland in the car!) are all looking good.
Some of the existing landscaping plants are having a tough time with the weather. I’m hoping to replace the ones that don’t like the weather with some native flowers and grasses: asters, coneflowers, rudbeckia, prairie blazing star for flowers and some native grasses. That’s a next year plan though…
The other goal is to make some space for the cold frames in front of the porch. I’m hoping to use the moveable cold frames there this fall/winter and then if it works well build permanent ones next spring/summer. I have to move some landscaping plants and probably add some compost to plant this fall (the soil is rock hard with the current weather). I want to see how long I can keep things like parsley and mustard greens and cold weather lettuce and carrots going in there.
The other garden on the opposite side of the porch is my garden. It has my rocking chair and a table and my bird feeder and a bird bath. It has most of our herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, lavender, mint, tarragon, catnip, etc) and some coneflowers, grasses, coreopsis and a rose bush that was a present from P and the kids. It’s surrounded by my northern cherry bushes (romeo, juliet and jubilee) and some older lilac bushes.
Eventually I want it to be full of herbs, and flowers and native plants that birds like so it’s a sanctuary kind of place, for me and the birds.
I’m planning to make the space in front of it into a second garden for the more well behaved heat loving vegetables, specifically peppers and hopefully some salad ingredients (colorful lettuce, cucumber vines, etc). That will make an arc with longer narrower raised beds without sides (layers of sticks and leaves topped with compost). This will all be behind the deer fence!
And then around that will be a wide border of native flowers and grasses, this time a pollinator mix, which I think will look really cool.
The other bit in the front is a landscaping spot that buckthorn tried to consume and the deer have also tried to eat. It’s really shaded so the plan is to fence it and then plant deer resistant shade plants (ferns, spring plants, some grasses) and let them get established, plus some smaller trees like hazelnuts and witch hazel.
To the side is the two big apple trees, the baby apple and hazel nuts and the giant logs from my old tree (it came down when I was a teenager but it was huge and so it’s sort of like a log based art piece). I want to plant hazel nuts, wild strawberries and some fun plants there to make it a fun spot to be.
The back landscaping garden by the patio I’m hoping to add more flowers and berries (strawberries, blueberries, currants, cranberries, blackberries).
The orchard needs a few peach trees yet and some pollinator plants but it’s off to a good start now that the deer can’t ‘prune’ the trees.
The way back garden for the big vegetables is all in place but my plans got derailed by the smoke and the weather. It’s still producing good vegetables if not as many as I hoped though! I want this one to be surrounded by flowers (native and annuals) and have all the bulk vegetables (squash, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, canning tomatoes, etc.).
Sewing has happened a little! H has her Christmas stocking. And I have fabric to make the kids fun shirts and me a dress and Christmas presents for H (a soft book and a blanket). Just have to find the time.
I did get the patterns for the shirts cut out at least and I’m using a favorite dress pattern so I’m inching towards actual sewing…
I really want to sew clothes again. Buying clothes is even worse than it used to be and I’d rather sew my own.
Since knitting can happen while other things are going on and even when I’m tired (as long as the arthritis doesn’t get my fingers!) there’s been a decent amount of knitting!
I’ve got W’s sweater for this year all done and I’ve got a bunch done on small P’s too.
After I finish those I want to make hats and mittens for my parents, P and the kids for Christmas.
There’s also a pattern for a wool blanket with holiday color work patterns I really want to knit but I think I have more than enough to keep me busy. Someday!
I should also knit myself more sweaters, this is the Upper Midwest, sweaters are needed!
So food preservation is a long term hobby and one that can be a challenge with three tiny people, but an increasingly useful and important one these days!
I’ve got pecans I ordered from a pecan farm in the freezer. Canning jars are pretty great for freezing dry stuff like nuts! And I found a place that sells buckwheat flour here too. It turns out fresh is pretty nice when it comes to buckwheat flour. Maybe I can grow my own someday…
We’ve also frozen our years supply of blueberries! All 70 qts of them (would have been 72 but have to save a few to eat fresh… 😀 ).
Plus we got our 10 chickens from the farm north of us, probably should have gotten 15, but this year the chickens were small and last year they were huge. Next year we’ll get more, and maybe they’ll be huge and then I’ll have all the chicken I could ever want. 🙂
Next up from the bulk farm order is beef and then the pig. Doing our meat buying this way has been nice (and beats the grocery prices overall!). Also it’s kind of terrifying how much meat (flavor, texture, all the rest) has changed since childhood, just wow. Going to be exciting figuring out how to fit a year’s supply in the freezer as the kids get bigger, but I like this method.
Oh and we froze peas, need to remember to count how many and write it down.
Corn is in progress (buy some fresh corn, cook some corn, cut off and freeze what we don’t eat with dinner).
Tomatoes will hopefully be canning. Lots and lots of canning. Probably from the farm (different farm, this one to the west of us) because between the cold spring and the super dry summer my paste tomatoes are alive and have produced but 50 lb of canning tomatoes it is not. At least the slicers and some of the cherry tomatoes in front are at least making nice fresh eating tomatoes! So that’s something!
We’re also going to buy a 50 lb sack of onions and one of potatoes. We’ve done that the last two years and it’s awesome. Doesn’t last us to the next year on potatoes but it came really close on onions! Garlic is producing super nicely so I’m really hopefully we’ll have plenty of our own garlic. Some is getting run through the dehydrator (it’s mostly hardneck so only lasts so long) and some is getting replanted (got to adapt our own types 🙂 ). But there’s still a lot. Plus all the occasional missed ones that will come up next year. I think my onion production this year also falls under “fresh eating”. Sigh.
I’m also hoping to bulk buy winter squash and stick it in the basement too. This will be a first try. Hopefully it works nice! (didn’t even plant my squash seeds this year it was so dry…)
Other than that, going to need to buy basil to freeze pesto. There’s some basil out there, but yeah, not much better than the tomato situation. The weather has not been great.
Oh, and apples, need to make applesauce, and then probably can it? The apple tree(s) have lots of apples, and there are a bunch orchards here. So probably some of each. We have 3 trees, 2 older ones and a baby tree. The older trees are a bit shaded so production varies… And the baby is a baby tree so no apples yet.
I really want to write again. This is more of a wish than a likely thing I can do right now given the number of other goals! I am reading again though and that is something that makes me happy. Being back where I have access to my favorite library helps! It’s a mix of science fiction, non-fiction and essays and things.
I’ve found a lot of great new books and learned some fun things so far.
My most recent books have been reading Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and the Muderbot series by Martha Wells. Hard to go wrong with excellent science fiction. 🙂
And another example of things that are still on the list, house projects! We’ve made a lot of progress since moving, and this post-moving organizing has been faster and better than last time, which is a relief, but I’m still going to be glad when it’s done. Like last time, having a baby adds to the challenge, but being determined helps!
We’ve got most of the rooms set up now and the basement is almost all sorted out which is nice. Our next projects are setting up the little lean to greenhouse and making a shelf in the living room for books and movies (because all rooms should have shelves of books and fun things!).
It’s neat living in the house I grew up in. It’s layers of home, home from when I was small, home now with my family, it’s a good feeling.
The first holiday to work on right now is Halloween costumes. H will be a witch, W will be a ninja and P will be a Frankenstein monster. H has a little black dress and I’m making her a purple felt hat. W has a black sweatshirt and sweatpants and a purple silk scarf and I’m making him a bandoleer for ninja swords we can make out of tinfoil. P has a green PJ shirt and pants and bigger shorts and jacket to wear over them. And I’m making him a green hat with black ‘hair’ for his Frankenstein outfit.
We are going to knock on our neighbor’s door for trick-or-treat, plus do our Great Pumpkin scavenger hunt and visit their grandparents. Which is hopefully the right balance for Halloween.
Thanksgiving we’re going to have a week of family time. We’re going to cook a bunch of food on Wednesday, some for us and some to share. Then we’ll have Thanksgiving with my parents and then we’ll have our own Leftover Party on Friday with movies and board games and lots of food too. (And of course Die Hard 2 after the kids are asleep… 🙂 )
And I have plans for Christmas, this year’s goals are a trip to a Christmas tree farm (I’m going to find us a new one this year!) and a night time drive to look at the lights. And decorating together and lots of stories to read. The kids will make cookies with their grandparents (sometimes not being able to be around sugar and flour courtesy of the autoimmune things is really hard). And maybe we can make me safe cookies too. I’m hoping for making stollen I can have too, fingers crossed.
I have things to sew for Christmas for Helen, I want to make her quilt and soft book.
I like fall and winter holidays. There are lots of good ones to plan for.
There, that’s a list of fun things to work on and look forward to.