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?  
 
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