Connecting with the outside world

Nope, haven't done much of that lately. I've been spending my mornings reading creative magazines, craft books and blogs. The rest of the day has been devoted to the garden and kitchen. The evenings are dedicated to filling a basket with knit items for my niece's baby on the way:)Reading: Where Women Create and Where Women Cook While these are not the types of magazines I've read for years (I was a devoted Victoria reader when it first began) I am now finding inspiration for my own projects by reading about these ladies and the creative spaces they have created for themselves. It is actually pushing me towards a couple of new hobbies. Yikes! Actually I have to blame both new obsessions on Tina and Kristine;) I am going to pick up embroidery (more towards crewel probably) again and I've ordered a hand sewing primer kit from Alabama Chanin. We'll see where it all leads. Gardening: On top of our main garden we have been enlarging and adding a lot of different garden spaces this summer. Several spots of wild flower spaces have been created in the meadow to bring native pollinators back. It is definitely working. And the amount of butterflies and moths flitting about is amazing. We have been creating a perennial flower bed in one garden and are awaiting a bulb order of 1200! for several lawn and garden spots. In the main garden we are having a fabulous year! The carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and basil are really the hits at the moment. I love when everything takes a turn and you don't get smothered with veg. I have been able to provide two other family households with produce though. That's pretty cool. A new kitchen garden bed is under way as well, right outside my kitchen window. We tried this a couple years ago, but the birds dug up all plants. At the beginning of August I came home from a work week away and found a darling picket fence built around the side of the house enclosing the beds. Yesterday I moved chard plants over and threw in seeds for kale, spinach, lettuces, beets and carrots. I will start moving a few essential herbs later this week. This is the one spot that will have the least amount of snow so hoping to have a full 12 months of food this year. Cooking: In the kitchen I've been making blueberry jam from our bushes. I grated in just one slightly unripe apple to the pot and half the amount of sugar (plus a little berry liquor) and came up with a terrific amount of pectin without the apple flavor. I always add lemon juice as well to any cooked fruit. I've given up on growing tomatoes up here, but was able to purchase a batch at the farmer's market last weekend for a small amount of marinara. I always miss having fresh frozen during the winter months. Pesto of course as we are having a bang up year for basil. I've been adding my lemon basil in as well for a nice flavor and freezing small batches to preserve the color. We've had a noisy goose in the group this know where this going right...I spent a couple days last week plucking, rendering and cooking the carcass into broth. Last night we ate the last bit--the liver chopped up into a wonderful ragu with some ground lamb and pork, our marinara and pesto. It was tasty over polenta with a whole wheat walnut bread. Yep, I have the sourdough starter going again. I am working on healthier bread recipes so I don't kill my diabetic husband this go around:) I comment on the goose--I roasted it with no salt or any other items at 300 (piercing the entire body with a knife to allow the fat to escape)until I felt all the fat was rendered; about 4 hours. When I took it out the meat was so tender and flavorful. It had slow roasted perfectly under the thick layer of fat. We now have a pint and a half of fat in the fridge and about 10 pints of broth. I also poached a small brined chicken in half the broth for our dinner the next night and put the bones back in the create a double poultry broth. We'll be eating some terrific soups this fall! Plus I put a bit of that broth in the ragu last night. It really was one of the best ragus I've created. Now it's off to work. I have a few prep shifts at the restaurant this week. And I am in the mood to cook! I'll add some pics to this when I have a moment. Plus once some new projects are started lots of trial and error photos will be up here.

What have you written lately?

I have been inspired by two websites recently that are geared towards giving writers prompts. Both are trying to help create a pattern of writing everyday. The first is Sarah Selecky's program. She emails out a free writing prompt every day or so. The second is Cynthia Morris's site. She sends out bits of advice to help writers get to the next step or out of slumps. Both have ecourses. Each has a slightly different style. I like them both and no I haven't used any of the prompts. For me it is a reminder that I need to get writing with my own ideas. But I have an email file with many of the prompts and emailed advice for when I do get stuck. I am not writing a lot due to the need for a private space which there has not been in abundance this week. However, we are heading home today and my personal goal for the next week is to carve out that time and space. Writing in your head is good, but it don't pay the rent. hahaI've also found a wonderful and inspiring new magazine/journal that I love. Taproot is full of stories and essays and not full of advertising or product placement. There is usually one pull out ad that is for something that coordinates with the issue. It is about people that made lifestyle changing decisions to move out of the city or to stay on the farm. It is about food, soil, family, meaningful living. I found it at our natural food store. But I'm hooked and will be subscribing. Check it out. More reading--I have re-discovered the Foxfire books. Three books that are a compilation of a magazine series created by a high school class in the mid to late 1960s. The teacher inspired them to learn by sending them out to interview their elder relatives which then led them farther and farther into the hills of Georgia. This is a photographer of a disappeared americana. Some of the stories and interviews include complete descriptions of building tools or how they spun and wove materials. Some are interviews about their way of life; how they grew up. The interviews were often recorded and were not changed at all. You hear the person's voice in the words. I found them recently as I was wondering through Powell's Books. Another reason I feel pretty lucky to live near Portland. I was shocked (happily so) to find, that when I went looking for the Foxfire link, the magazine is still in production! I am definitely going to be looking into newer issues. It is such a wonderful program for the students and really one for us as well. If you know me you know I love the old ways. Here is a wonderful chronicle of just that! Later today we head home, but for now I'll be picking up my notebook and pen.