Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It All Went By So Fast

How is it possible that it is already getting close to November?! This summer (and Autumn?) has flown by but some how I managed to pack a whole lot into it. The camping, the traveling to and from Spokane, the farming, the school, Chicago, cooking, spending time with the family... And now I only have one weekend left of farming before we pack up for winter.

 Meaning that all of this...



And all of this... will be gone :(

The farm floods in the winter so we have to get everything off of the land and pronto. The rains have started and more and more cars are threatening to get stuck in the new mud. So this weekend we are taking down the tent and the hoop houses and saying our goodbyes. This may be a permanent goodbye as the land has changed owners and we don't know if the new land owner wants to lease from us. If they are able to stay, which I really wish they are, then it will still be goodbye for me. I am moving on in my life and finding new paths to take.

I currently have a possible job lined up that I am very excited about and if it goes through I will tell you all about it :)

The reason all of these thoughts came up was because I was thinking about the time I would have available to dedicate to this new job. I knew weekends would be booked while running the farm stand only to look at a calendar and realize that I only have one weekend left on the farm. It came as a bit of a shock.

But I am headed on to new things! Exciting things! The possibilities are endless and I can't wait to get started!

Monday, October 20, 2014

This May Not Be The End After All

These last few months I have been counting down the days until I am done with college (45 days). I have been so excited to finally be done! But sadly, that may no longer be the case.

I have been doing some bookkeeping for the farm this summer and have had a lot more fun doing it than I ever thought I would. So the thought came creeping into my mind of going into accounting. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. A consistent job, good income, I can take on as many or as few clients as I'd like... and I think it would be a lot of fun for me. (I never thought I would say that about accounting before!)

When I looked into what it would take for me to sit for and pass the CPA exam, I realized that I am going to have to go back to school. But I had a strange reaction to that... I got excited. What?! Excited about school? The one thing I have been aching to get free from for over a year? How can that be?

Part of the reason I really dislike school right now is because every class I have taken has been lecture style and I am anything but an audio learner. I cannot for the life of me sit down for an hour or two and listen to someone talk, no matter how interesting the subject matter, without dosing off.

The other part of the reason is that, I like what I am learning, but I'm not passionate about it. I am interested in everything environmental, so my major environmental studies is great, but I am passionate about farming and homesteading and working with my hands, which is not what is covered. I constantly feel like I am putting my passions aside so that I can finish school and I'm tired of that! So in 45 days, I will be out of one school and trying to find my way into another.

I have already started looking for better schools for me. One that I can learn at my own pace, without having to sit quietly in large lectures for hours. One where I can learn hands on!

Any suggestions?


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Where the Name Came From

I get a lot of questions about my blog name "Elizabeth's Forrest" because 'Forrest' is spelled wrong and my name isn't Elizabeth. I've gotten a bit worn out telling everyone separately, so here is the simple explanation of where the name came from and why I like it so much.

A few years ago my mom started selling books on Amazon. My parents had way too many books and couldn't keep hauling them around every time they moved, which is surprisingly often. She used the seller name Jane's Vineyard because my sister's name is Jane and my parents used to have a vineyard and made wine for a few years. It was a family thing and sounded lovely.

I chose my blog name in order to have one that was similar because I like the idea of having a family theme. Forrest, with that particular spelling, is a family name so it seemed natural to use it in replacing vineyard. Multiple people in my family have it as a middle name, so to keep middle names a theme I used my own middle name, Elizabeth, to proceed Forrest.

So there you go.
Jane's Vineyard, family names, nature-y feel, Forrest, middle names, Elizabeth's Forrest.
Simple, lovely, and filled with family.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

School is Throwing Me Off

I'm now a few weeks into my last quarter at school and I am completely turned about. I can't concentrate on anything properly no matter what it is, school, blogging, job searching.

I have a really bad habit that is proving very hard to break, and that is any time I have school work to do, my brain shuts down into a big pile of mush that can't be motivated or disciplined into doing anything! I can't even procrastinate well anymore! It's a real problem.

What happens is that I sit down at my computer ready to do some work and somehow, with out me realizing it, I end up on imgur looking at picture after picture, and I don't even like it. It's not like I say, 'I think I'll spend some time avoiding doing homework by doing something that I like, such as imgur.' I just end up there and think to myself 'What am I doing?! I need to stop before I hate myself anymore.' but then I don't stop and I just feel gross.

It's like I can't procrastinate by doing something I like because then I might spend all day doing that so I get on imgur because I can tell myself I'll only be on for a few minutes, but then four hours go by and I've done nothing. Plus there's that sickening feeling of my brain turning to slush from staring at a glowing screen and not using my brain at all.

So that sucks... But I'm working really hard at not letting that get the best of me. Yesterday I woke up knowing that I had an assignment due and it was going to get done on time and be well written! So I woke up, took a nice shower, made a good breakfast and a cup of tea. I sat down at my computer and pulled up everything I needed and instead of stressing out and going back to the bad habits I then got up and walked around a bit.

When I was ready I sat back down and just read through the material. I worked 45 minutes on then 15 or so minutes off either knitting or walking or something where I wasn't at the computer. Any time I was about to get on imgur or facebook or whatnot, I just stood up and did something else for a bit. I made a delicious soup for lunch, cleaned all my vegetables from the farm, worked on my knitting project, anything that was moving around.

Then I sat back down and worked. And I really did a lot of work! I wasn't stressed, I got my assignment done early enough for me to read through and edit, and I may have even enjoyed myself.

So that is what I am going to try to do from now on, just relax, take it slow and for the love of god avoid imgur at all costs!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Knitting for EVERYONE!

Hello everyone! I have had a crazy and super fun week. I flew out to Chicago with my family to visit my cousin and attend her beautiful wedding! It was a ton of fun. Great food, great drinks, dancing, connecting with family, visiting the city of Chicago, and watching my cousin walk down the aisle at the Art Institute of Chicago… how could it not have been amazing?



I did, however, get caught up in all of the fun and not blog… oops.. I will get better with time. You know, learn time management and all that good stuff.

This time I want to share with you an awesome knitting project I just finished that I am really excited about! It’s a very simple and fast tunic tank top that looks great and can fit almost all sizes.




I love knitting projects where I see results fast. I have the tendency to get bored with projects where I feel like I am not getting anywhere, so this shirt is perfect because it uses large needles and before you know it you’re almost done!

I spent the plane ride back to Seattle knitting and when I realized I was ready to bind off we were a few minutes from the ground and I raced the plane to see if I could get it done before touching ground. (I won by 10 seconds!)

I just picked a yarn that I liked that was easy to work with and a nice color. No fancy yarns with the frills or changing in size or extra fuzz, just nice, soft, and straight forward.

Needles are size 15 US (10 mm) circle (long circle, enough to fit 96 stiches)




Cast on 48 stiches



It’s ribbed all the way down so knit one, purl one all the way to the end of the row and when you turn it around for the next row it’ll be knit, purl again (knitting the knits and purling the purls).

The pattern I used had me work 26 rows, but I think that leaves pretty big arm holes so for my next one (oh, yes I will be making more in different colors!) I will try 20 instead.

When you finish that, put a scrap piece of yarn through the holes to keep the stiches live.

That is the top half of the front. To start the top half of the back, go to the cast on edge and pick up the first twelve stiches. Then cast on 24 stiches, and pick up the last 12 stiches.

I originally made the mistake of picking up the last 12 stiches in the wrong direction so there was a little twist in the shoulder so I undid the work and started again, but now that I think of it… that might have been a cool design.

Anyway, now you’re going to do the exact same thing on the back side as you did on the front side, knit and purl each row down to 26 rows so that it continues in the ribbed pattern.

Once you have 26 rows on either side, pick up the live rows from the front side and work in a circle knitting and purling the same pattern as the top half onto the bottom half.

I just kept going until it was as long as I wanted it then binded off.

The real mistake that I made that I will make sure not to do again is that I did a regular bind off (I’m assuming it’s the regular one because it was the first one I learned and what I use for nearly everything). That bind off is not stretchy so the bottom of my shirt is stiff while the rest is really stretchy. There are a lot of different bind off options to choose from that are stretchy, so if you try something and it works, let me know! I’d love to hear what works. I will be experimenting with my next one.




Let me know how it goes!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall is Here!


I honestly don't know what happened... One day it was warm and sunny, albeit windy, but really lovely and definitely summer. Then I go to Spokane for a week and by the time I get back... BAM! Autumn.



It's cold, it's raining, starbucks is selling it's pumpkin spice lattes and there's that sweet smell of rotting leaves on the ground. No, but really, I love that smell!

Yesterday (Monday) was my first class of my last quarter and, not expecting this seemingly abrupt change in weather, I went outside with nothing more than a cardigan to keep warm. The moment I stepped out the door I realize that it is pouring down rain! I turn right around to go back inside... only to remember that I didn't grab my keys. Well, my class is close to the bus stop so no worries, I'll just wait a couple minutes in the rain to hop the bus. Oh, but wait, my bus pass is sitting on my bookshelf in my locked apartment. So I walk the full half hour to my class in the wind and rain in my summer outfit. le sigh...


selfie alert! My gray cardigan was soaked completely through

I am actually glad that I walked to be honest. It wasn't raining that hard and it's always nice to walk. Walking keeps me happy in this busy, asphalt and cement covered city.

Fall really is my favorite season. I may prefer not to get caught out in the rain all the time, but the cool weather, the constant breeze, the winter squash in everything, the sweaters, drinking tea and it not making you too hot, big fuzzy socks, curling up on the couch to watch a movie and knit or read a book because it's dark out in the evening. I love all of that. Oh, and the smell of rotting leaves... it's such a good smell.



The fall also means something special when working on a farm. It means putting things to rest, planting to over winter, collecting seeds for the spring, and preserving as much as you can for the coming months! This year, it means possibly my last month at First Light Farm before I move on to different things in my life. Where that is I have no idea.

One of the little things that I often dream about is gathering a group of friends and family during the fall to spend the whole day sitting around together, chatting, and shelling beans out around a backyard fire pit. Maybe with a mug of tea. Then finishing the day with a cookout over the fire and beers all around!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Where Life is Taking Me



I may have mentioned before that I am on the home stretch of graduating college. Just a couple more months and come Christmas I'll be on my own in the real world. I am only taking one class this quarter, have to write one paper, make one poster board and one presentation and then I'm out! Woo Hoo!!



College has been a blast, but I now know that I am not a college person. I'm glad that I have stuck it out to get a degree, but I HATE school! It's just not for me. I can't sit in lectures, and listen to someone talk for multiple hours in a row. Even if I love the subject matter and really want to learn, my brain just can't take in information that way. I also have a hard time listening to books on tape for that reason. I wasn't always that way, back in high school it seemed to go by so easily... but maybe that's just me now comparing it to college.




Anyway, what I really want to talk about is my feelings, worries and fears about being let out into the real world and needing to find my way. I'm not exactly worried about being able to find a job, I'm sure I can find work at a coffee shop or restaurant or what have you to make my way. My worry is that I'll need to work at a coffee shop or restaurant in order to make my way. I'm worried that I wont be able to make my dream a reality for the next ten years while I am saving up for it.




Part of that problem is that I don't know exactly what my dream job is. I know I want to homestead and have a farm with vegetables, an orchard, animals left and right, and a live-off-the-land mentality, but in order for that to happen I need capital to get started. But where is that going to come from? So I need a start up job. I don't think that there is anything wrong with being a barista or waiter, I just think that it would make me miserable. I am just not that kind of person. So I need to figure out what else I can do. I have heard one story after another about people, my friends, graduating college and then not being able to find a decent job for the next few years... but I want to start working on my dream now! Not in a few years!


But what is that dream? What do I actually want to do to support myself? I've thought of a few different ideas. They usually involve making things that would take some start up capital.




I've felt a lot of pressure to know what it is I want to do and to have a plan on how to get there right out of college. But the truth is, I don't know what I want and I can't know how to get to someplace if I don't know where that someplace is. One thing I do know, coming out of a school setting, is that I want time. I want to have the time to decompress, to feel free from due dates, to be able to travel at a moments notice if I want (although, I'm much more of a homebody); I want the time to explore my passions without the pressure to figure out my life right away. For once, I want to be accountable to no one but myself.

I guess we'll see come Christmas.

 (The flowers really have nothing to do with the post, I just didn't have any other pictures that I thought worked, and they're pretty)



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sustainable Preparedness Expo



I’m a little late posting this today because I usually write the day before I post it, but yesterday I was feeling terribly sick and ended up sleeping pretty much the entire day. Today I’m feeling much better though, thank goodness!

This Sunday I went to the Sustainable Preparedness Expo in Spokane, WA and it was a blast! If you don’t know what preparedness is, it’s doing what you can to be prepared for whatever the future can throw at you, everything from a nuclear war or zombie apocalypse, to losing your job or getting sick (like me yesterday). Now add being sustainable to that. So a lot of people are into growing their own food and camping and handyman fixit stuff (all the stuff that I love!).




There were different speakers going on all day and then a bunch of vendors selling all kinds of fun things. I went to a bunch of the talks including one on making money with webinars, a family plan for food self-sufficiency, an essential oils first aid kit, and more. Some of the talks were really great! Like the webinar one, even if I never do a webinar he was just an excellent speaker, was interesting and engaging the whole time. But if I ever decide to do a webinar, I know what to do!




The speakers that I liked best were the ones that were as realistic as possible. My favorite talk was called Planning Considerations for Sustainable Preparedness. He talked about how to make your own personal plan for whatever might happen, big or small, whether you are at home or out and about, whether it will last a moment or years (even if it doesn’t happen at all). For example, keeping some kind of knife on you at all times is a good idea because you never know when you might be attacked or stranded in the wilderness, or much more likely need to open a box or cut off an annoying tag in the back of your pants. It’s not that you need to do these things because something terrible is going to happen, but because it can just be a good idea for everyday things and then if something very unlikely does happen, you’re already prepared.




When I was in high school, the power to my family’s house went out for days due to a wind storm that took down power lines left and right. All the food in the fridge went bad, we couldn’t leave the neighborhood (downed trees blocking every road) we didn’t have lights… It was a good thing that we had a gas stove or else we wouldn’t be able to cook either. Our neighbors next door were much more prepared than we were. They had a backup generator so besides the noise, they hardly knew the power was out at all.




The speakers that I did not like as much were the ones that were trying to get you to buy their stuff by making people afraid that a nuclear holocaust is about to happen. One told us that we had only a couple years and by then we need to have an underground bunker in each of our basements with enough food to last a year because all hell is going to break lose! The world as we know it is coming to an end! Buy my book or else you won’t have the knowledge to survive! You will DIE!!



I don’t buy it. Not that I’m saying there’s no way that all hell could break lose, I just don’t know. But if you’re prepared for the little stuff, the stuff that is likely to happen to you in the next year, then you’ll be much better prepared for the big stuff. The biggest thing to do to help you be prepared for whatever life throws at you is to get completely out of debt and live within your means. Which I think is good advice for everyone.




The only thing I bought at the expo was a little do-hicky that makes clamps really fast. It’s good for wilderness preparedness because you can easily make crutches or spears, but I was thinking I really could have used it all summer at the farm when I was doing repairs. I am going to fix all the signs!




Friday, September 19, 2014

Sleepless in Seattle


"You know what a really good idea is? To blog about something that I don't do in order to force myself to do it!" was what I told myself two weeks ago. It didn't work. I often do things like this, try to work myself into a corner so that I have to do something that I do want to, but am not particularly excited or enthusiastic about. I am referring to my 'read every week and blog about it' statement.

A couple problems came up, the first being that it was difficult finding the time to do the reading  which is why I don't read as much as I'd like to in the first place. The second being that when I did read, there wasn't a whole lot that I cared to say about it, so I wanted to pick a new book but could't find enough time to get into that too... so it all came crashing down.

Part of the reason that I wanted to do that was so that I wouldn't run out of things to say in the first week or two of blogging but as it turns out, I have a lot of topics that I can't wait to cover.




Since I recently posted about my experience on the farm this summer, I want to follow up with what it has been like returning to the city life... So far, not great. I mean, I love being able to see my friends and hang out more often but I am anything but a city-go-er.


Me cooking at my trailer :)


The first day back was a not-so-warm welcome. I had all my things in my car as I pulled up to my new apartment ready to meet my new roommate and pretty excited about the prospect of having a shower in the comfort of my own place. I walk up with my first box of things and I am told that the management hasn't come to clean the carpets yet so I can move in but I can't put anything on carpet. They're also cleaning the kitchen and bathroom so I can't put anything in there. The only spot this leaves is the 25sq ft balcony that's covered in pine needles and dirt. They also have no idea when they are going to be able to come by so I might just have to wait until tomorrow.




Well they did come by that day but then the carpet was wet so I didn't want to put my bed down for fear of keeping it damp and attracting mold. So my first night back in Seattle and I couldn't sleep on my bed. I ended up staying at a friend's place which was thankfully a block away. Except, they live right next to a loud bar on a main street so the whole night I was woken up by music and drunken yelling. The street lamp glaring into the window didn't help either. I didn't get much sleep, needless to say. On top of that I had to move my car in the morning because no place nearby allows all day parking, so anywhere that allows night parking doesn't allow morning and vice-versa.

I moved my car and went back to my place. The carpet was dry enough so I put down my bed and went back to sleep. Or, I tried. As you see, next door to my new place is a huge construction site, where, even with the windows closed, the machines make way too much noise to ever get any shut eye.


Doesn't my new room look so cozy? That was the first day, it's actually a little better now, but not by too much...

That was all just bad fortune on my first night back, and I knew it wouldn't stay that way, but a few things are permanent in the city. Like the lack of nature anywhere except tiny pockets; the constant noise of drivers and people talking and trucks backing up and sirens blaring; the need for me to wear shoes again; the pavement that covers everything. These are the things that really get to me. I need silence every once in a while, I need to feel surrounded by nature, and I love feeling grounded through my feet.




But I try to keep my head up. I wont be here for too long, so while I am I want to make the best of it. Good things about the city include: Friends and bars are always within walking distance, and often in the same location. There is always something new to try. I can always find something to do. I can eat all the thai and korean food!! Chipotle. If I need to go somewhere I can usually walk. It fuels my desire to homestead in the future.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What To Do With a Million and One Zucchinis: Garlic Spread


Something that I learned this summer, is that it takes very few squash plants to make a whole LOT of squash. When they grow, boy do they grow!


This picture is a small amount of the squash we have gotten this summer. We have yellow zucchini, patty pan, and picco squash. It doesn't take too many nights of sauteed squash before getting tired of it. So in order to actually use all of this and not let it go to waste, I have been asking around for some good recipes.  

Since I have been swimming in squash (like could literally fill a bathtub, possibly to the point of overflowing) I was looking for one that used up a lot of squash but wouldn't give me enough food for three meals a day for a week. This was actually quite a bit easier than I thought. 

The winner?

Garlic Squash Spread.




Part of the reason I like the recipe so much is because it's so simple! The other part is because it is SO delicious!!




So far I have eaten it on chips, in lasagna and on burgers! It is amazing no matter how you eat it. Plus it's totally vegan and gluten free! So a perfect dish for pot lucks or dinners where people may have different diet preferences :)



Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs summer squash roughly chopped (I left the skin on to give it more to chew on but if you want it creamier think about peeling the squash)
  • 2 tbs butter (I guess I just used vegan butter to make it vegan, but it does not have to be vegan)
  • 2 tbs olive oil (or more, you know, whatever. I wasn't exactly low-fat on this one)
  • 7 cloves of garlic (I used 10, which I loved but my dad suggested I use tad less, he's crazy but I'll let you make your own choices)
  • Thyme, ten good shakes of the spice bottle or four sprigs
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste



Instructions:

  • Melt butter in a medium to large pot (one that will fit all the squash) over med-low heat.
  • Crush garlic and add to the butter stirring it together well.
  •  Add the squash a little bit at a time stirring as you go to coat in the garlic butter. Don't worry about coating thoroughly, it's no big deal. Also it is okay if the pot isn't big enough to let you really stir the squash, it will cook down a lot so you will have plenty of room soon.
  • Pour the olive oil over the squash.
  • Add salt now to help bring the liquid out of the squash and let it cook down a bit.
  • Bring heat to med once you can stir the squash more easily making sure that it isn't burning on the bottom. This will bring the water out a bit faster. If it does begin to stick or burn, bring the heat back down and add a splash of water or white wine. Maybe just add the white wine any way. Definitely add some wine.
  • Once it's really watery add the thyme and pepper. Bring heat back down to a simmer.
  • Then bring your computer over to the couch and sit down for a while and read some of my other blogs, checking the squash occasionally to stir.
  • You're waiting for the water to boil off enough to where you have the perfect spread consistency. I doubled the recipe and it seemed to take FOREVER! but I just sat back with my computer, and some knitting and relaxed as the house filled up with the amazing smell of garlic. 
  • Once you think it's go the right spreadability, just take it off the heat, let it cool down and proceed to gobble it all up at once!!!




Crazy good. My family scared me and told me they had eaten it all while I was talking on the phone in the other room. Thank goodness they were kidding! But now I have a kitchen all my own so I wont have to visit every time I want to cook.


Anyone else have amazing squash recipes? Or any recipes? I'm not that picky when it comes to food and cooking.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Forest Feast


I am trying something new. On Fridays post about a book that I have been reading as kind of like a book club type thing. I am just going to see how it goes and if you guys like it, great and if not, I'll just move on to something else. Unless I love it, in which case I'll add a new day for more other stuff and keep my book club for just me :)

So the book I am starting off with is actually a cook book, and it's not from my shelf... I was all excited to start pulling books from my neglected shelf and start reading, but then I realized that I am in the middle of moving and all my books are still at the farm and I did not think ahead enough. So this book belongs to my sister but I love it!




The name is The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson. It is a cook book with a bunch of really simple recipes that look amazing and gourmet! Most of them have less than a handful of ingredients and very easy cooking instructions. Often the instructions are just to throw all the ingredients together and serve.




Those are all great things about the book but what I really love about it, what makes it really exceptional to me, is that all of these recipes could be made from complete scratch on a farm or homestead. It takes beautiful fresh ingredients, most of which you can grow right in your garden! Some recipes take cheese (like the Watermelon Salad with fresh mozzarella) but I dream of someday raising cows and goats and making fresh cheese of my own. A few take bread or maybe a tortilla, but that is all (relatively) easily made at home too. The eggs are easy if you have chickens (which I want too!). Beyond salt and oil, she really doesn't use anything that can't be very easily made or grown by yourself.





The recipes include delicious appetizers, fun drinks, beautiful salads, enticing entrees and more!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, even if you never want to grow food or raise animals. You can be involved as much or as little in the process as you want. Everything in it that I have tried so far has been amazing so, if no other reason does it for you, there is always that.

What are your favorite cookbooks?
Is there a kind of cook book you want but haven't been able to find?

p.s. I feel super weird taking bad pictures of someone else's awesome photography...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Camping out... all summer long!



Hey everyone! I’m back. Who knew this summer would be so crazy that I would totally fall apart with blogging? Not that I was every really on top of it… But I have a schedule now! And I am going to keep to it! Here’s the plan:
Tuesdays are going to be my life and thoughts and nature-y things, and Fridays are going to be something a little different.
You see, I always have a stack of books on my bookshelf that I collect for one reason or another, but don’t get around to reading. Either I get too busy with school, or I got them for school and so neglected to read them out of principle. Even the school books are really quite interesting and worth some thought and attention. So, I am going to start a little book club. Each month I am going to pick one book from either my bookshelf or one that you guys recommend and every Friday I will blog about part of it as I go along reading and ask you guys a couple of questions. If it totally sucks though (as I’m sure some of the school books will) then I’ll just pop down to the next book on the list.



As you may have noticed, today is Tuesday! And so it begins with my thoughts and life and stuff.
What I wanted to talk with you guys about is my experience this summer. I have mentioned a few times that I have been living in a pop-up tent trailer with no running water or electricity. Which, at the time, sounded really nice to me! Being out in the wilderness and quiet while experiencing what it takes to be self-sufficient (to some extent) and eating what I grew at the farm. Well it definitely had a lot of benefits! It was beautiful and peaceful and a huge learning experience all together. It was, however, more difficult than I anticipated. I just didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.
One of the biggest things was the sink. It was a tiny trailer sink. Probably about one cubical foot or a little less. Oh, and no running water. So if I ever wanted to do my dishes, I had to take my tiny pot and heat up a little bit of water to wash my dished over a tiny sink and then rinse them off with the cold water from my 2 gallon water tank that I had to balance on the tiny bit of counter between me and my tiny sink. And that all drained into a 2 gallon bucket that I would then have to carry over to the porta-potty to dump out so that it didn’t go on the ground (no holding tank). So I had to be very careful about how much water I was using. Dishes were the worst.  Although, I do now feel that I will be very good at controlling my water usage. You become very aware of how much water you’re using when you have to carry all of it in and out. It is unbelievable how much water it takes to do a proper load of laundry.



That leads me to my second difficulty, which was laundry. At first I was excited to do laundry. I saw this cool bucket idea on Pinterest where you take a five gallon bucket and a plunger. You cut holes in the rubber of the plunger, fill the bucket with clothes, water and detergent and then use the plunger as the agitator. It’s just like a man-powered washing machine! I build my own clothes line to go with it and it was beautiful! I was all set to go. So I did my laundry. I had to go get more water because I was silly enough to think that I could wash with one bucket of water and rinse with another. Really it’s another three to rinse. I also didn’t realize that to do it that way, you have to agitate that thing for hours!! So my first load went in smelling bad and came out smelling bad… I took a weekend trip to my parents’ place to do a load there…
Those were a few good lessons. Have a better plan for waste water than a two gallon bucket, get a big tub for dishes, and either wait until you have hours to kill before doing laundry, or just visit someone with a machine. But that said, it was a wonderful experience that I am very glad to have done and may even do it again sometime… just with a little more forethought.


What has camping (or lack thereof) thought you?  

Monday, July 14, 2014

I'll Get It Right Next Year (I Say Every Year)



The other day, my sister, Jane (from Pursuit of Poppiness), read aloud my entire families zodiac signs and what they mean (according to which, my mother has no real personality traits other than being a true sexy beast, which she was quite dismayed to hear, while I was not prepared). When she got to mine, Virgo, it went on and on about how organized we are. It is rare to find a disorganized Virgo. Well, you may have noticed from my sporadic posts that I do not live up to that standard, although I do dream about it. I guess it's the little bit of Leo in me that wont let me organize my life, but I really want to be organized and I often think of ways that I could try to organize my life and everything in it better. It is just the living up to it that's difficult.

Since I have been gardening a lot lately (it comes with the territory when working on a farm) I have been doing a lot of thinking of the things I would really like to do in the future to keep an organized garden. I thought I would share them with you because I think they are rather brilliant ideas and would very much like to get your input.

Making a Calendar:

I actually did this early on this season for the farm but I don't think they are using it. I could have done a better job and the real trick is to do it before ordering seeds so as a project during winter holidays would be what I would like to do. This calendar would include the last frost date for the region and monthly weather averages so you would know what to expect all the time. Every year is different but that way you can be a little more prepared for what is likely to happen. The most important thing to put on the calendar is planting dates. You can either have what to do each month, each week, or (if you can keep up with it), each day. Have a column for sowing outdoors and indoors. With a calendar you can decide how many successions of plantings you want and then can divide up your seeds accordingly. Kale is one plant that can pretty much grow year-round here, so if you wanted you could plant some in the early spring, again in the late spring and then late summer early fall. It can also be started either indoor or out but that will depend on when you want to start it so having a calendar makes you think of all these things ahead of time so you know what to do and when.

Ordering Seeds:

Now that you have a calendar you know when you want to begin planting. You'll need to have all your seeds by that time so making a shopping list of all the seeds you want early on can make things go so much easier. I try to keep some kind of notebook on me pretty much all the time and it has many different kinds of lists in it: to do lists, shopping lists, lists of books I want to read and books I want to write, what to look up on the internet, projects I want to try... everything! One of my lists is a growing list. I put all the plants that I want to try the following year. Maybe I see something fun at the farmers market, or over have a conversation with someone about what they grow, or read some article about the healthiest and tastiest plant ever! Then I want to try to grow it so I just add it to the list. That way, come winter I know what to order.
I also think that it's a good idea to order seeds from a few different companies. They're all going to have slightly different varieties and maybe some different plants, but that also gives you the chance to see whose seeds do better in your soil.

Other Materials:

Now you have an awesome calendar and all your seeds! But before planting there are a few more things that need to be done if you want to have a truly organized garden. This is also where I fall apart. Labels! Like the little plastic white ones that stick in the ground or in starter pots. If you're planting for the first time and don't know what things are going to look like when they are growing, labels are a life saver. If you're going to be planting for multiple years, labels let you know what worked and what didn't, what you liked and what you disliked.
What I really want to try is to make a master list of all the seeds I bought, their variety and where I bought them from along with labels that go where they are planted. Then when they grow I can make notes for each one telling myself what I should definitely buy again and what I should avoid. See how organized I want to be?!
I like the idea of having generic labels to go in the ground, they'll just say Kale, or Tomatoes, instead of the variety because then they can be fancy ones that are reused every year, and the varieties will be listed on a map. Which brings me to my next organized garden idea...

Maps:

I love the idea of making a garden map that has everything being grown on it, then you can write down what varieties you have where. I tried to do a little one for my garden this year but my map was done too poorly without proper spacing and that just did not work out very well... I didn't have a plan and things were all wonky looking and over crowded. It's good to have a plan ahead of time. If you know what all your seeds are then you can assign each seed a number or letter and then make a key and only write the letter on the map instead of trying to write everything out. You can also section off areas to make it more organized.

I have more ideas and thoughts on the matter but this post is getting long and taking way too much time to write, so I'll leave it at this for now and put more up later.

How do you keep your garden organized? Or do you like it better not being organized?


Saturday, June 28, 2014

My New Clothes Line And So Can You


I have recently moved in to my trailer at the farm and it has been wonderful!! It is not completely set up yet, I'm waiting for a few things in the mail, so once it's all put together I'll take a bunch of pictures and take you through a tour :)

Just a day ago I made myself a clothesline so that I could, you know, do laundry. I just did a little research on the interwebs and then went for it! I thought I would take you through what I did step by step so that you can make one too. This is my first 'how to' and I didn't really plan ahead so I don't have any pictures of the building process, but I'll do my best to make it as clear as possible.

I made a T post clothesline with supports.

What You Will Need: I really just winged it, but it all turned out great so all is well :)
Two 10" 4x4
One 10" 2x4
One 10" 2x2
8 long nails, 2 1/2' or longer
16 shorter nails, 1 1/2' or 2'
8 medium hook screws (Again with the not planning ahead, I don't know the exact size I used but they were not small flimsy and they were not huge industrial)

Tools:
Saw
Hammer
Rod-like-tool for tightening hooks (I had a screwdriver handy but any strong tool that can fit through the hook hole will work)

Step One:
First you want to cut all the wood pieces. The 4x4's don't get cut so you can just put those to the side for now. The 2x4 gets cut in half at the 5" mark. I did not have a measuring tape handy so I took the clothesline sting, laid it along the board and measured the board with that marking the spot where the board ended. I then folded the sting in half and marked the string at the half way crease and then used that to mark the half way point on the board.

I also don't have a place to saw things, so I put one end of the board being cut on top of the 2 4x4s stacked to get the sawing point off the ground.

The 2x2s get cut into 4ths, at the 2"6' mark, the 5" mark, and the 7"6' mark. Now your four 2x2 pieces get cut again. Each corner needs to be cut off at a 45 degree angle so that they can support a 90 degree corner.



Of course I didn't have any tool for making perfect angles, so I took a piece of thick paper/thin cardboard that was a square and folded it in half to make a triangle and used that to mark out the 45 degrees on either side of the boards. I drew on all four sides of the board so that I would have multiple lines to follow during sawing. 

Step Two:

Now that you have all the sawing done you can put it together! (see how fast this is going?)

First you want to make the 'T' and to do that you need to mark the middle of the top of the 4x4 and the middle on the length of the 2x4 so that when you nail them together one side of the T isn't longer than the other and it wont be pulled off balance when you have heavy sheets on there. 

You want to lay them down on a flat surface so they line up perfectly and line up your two marks. I put four nails in the top and that seemed to work well. You want to start with two nails on the diagonal, one on the top right followed by one on the bottom left.

Do that with both posts so you have two 'T's.

It's starting to look like a real clothes line now! I have seen some clothes lines that just left it at this and have had success with it, but I wanted to make sure it was more stable. That and I like the look of the supports.

To nail the supports on I stood the T on it's side so it looked like it was a side plank champ. It is easy for the top to wiggle out of it's 90 degree by a smidge so double check that everything is nailed on tight. Take your time placing the support so that one side is against the top and one is against the middle post. This is where you want to use the smaller nails since where you will be nailing will be relatively thin and bigger nails could easily crack the 2x2s in half. There will be four nails in each support so you want to do that diagonal thing again (I'm not really sure why to do the diagonal thing but I heard it from someone who knows a thing or two about building so I have just done it ever since and everything has worked out great) starting with the bottom right nailing the support to the 4x4 and then moving to the top left nailing it to the 2x4. Then finish off the bottom left and top right.

Flip the T to the other side and repeat. Pretty soon you'll have two T's with supports. How easy was that?!


The only thing left to do is put the screws in!

Step Three:

Put the screws in! I put four on each post for no real reason other than that sounded good to me. One went over each support.


The other two I put half way between the middle and the first hook. This way I either have two sides that are a bit separated for whatever reason, or if I decide that I need five lines, there's a spot right in the middle with proper spacing on either side that I can add another.


That only took three steps and you have a clothes line!


Now all you need to do is find the perfect spot to put it, dig some holes a couple feet deep and pack your posts in. That is my goal for today to finish, but it's been raining so it's not like I could dry much on them now anyway.

Sorry for the lack of pictures really showing the steps, I'll be sure to document my next adventure in building more thoroughly.

Tell me how your clothesline went, or what you did differently, I'd love to hear!




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