Saturday, September 29, 2012

Audrey done!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shades of green

I am sorry if I am just preaching to the choir for anyone who would be looking at my blog, but I am still frequently floored by people who are otherwise concerned about our environment but who are using toxic chemicals on a daily basis.
For instance, I have a lovely neighbor who eats organic foods and buys organic cotton clothing, and wouldn't dream of using an Roundup, but pours toxic fertilizers on her lawn on a regular basis.
This morning I saw here dousing her front yard with a spray can full of the stuff  
"Oh it's just Miracle Grow"  she smiled innocently at me.  "I put the dogs in the house for a few days."  Really?  Is that what we want to put on our yards?  For a green lawn no less?

Here are some facts about Scotts Miracle Grow (not to mention the 12 million dollar law suit they have just been slapped with for selling poisonous bird feed)

Miracle-Gro is a synthetic fertilizer that contains ammonium phosphate and several other chemicals that can be toxic to your soil and plants. It is prohibited from use in certified-organic farming.

Long-term studies at the University of Wisconsin have shown that acidic chemical fertilizers are causing serious, permanent damage to our soils
. Usually these fertilizers are also highly soluble, so they leach away and pollute our water systems, too!

This isn't just specific to Scott's products, all non organic fertilizers reek havoc on our soil.

Chemical factory
• Chemical fertilizers do not contain any trace minerals/micro nutrients. After a few years the soil has been depleted from those elements. Overtime those elements are not contained in the fruits or in the vegetables anymore diminishing their quality.
• Chemical fertilizers are used together with chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Use of chemicals have a negative impact on the soil, the water as well as the crop as the vegetables, for instance, still contain chemical traces which are then absorbed upon eating
• Chemical fertilizers kill microorganisms which in turn will make the soil useless where nothing can grow
• Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are responsible for water contamination. For excessive enrichment of ponds, rivers and lakes is due to an overuse of chemical fertilizers (see eutrophy)
• Usage of chemical fertilizers have a long term effect on the plants, the soil, the environment and you.

The advantages of organic fertilizers are so numerous I won't get into boring details and they are available everywhere, but one of the best ways to keep your soil fertile is to encourage earthworms! 
But that's for a whole other post... 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

One seed at a time...

This weekend was the Denver Botanic Gardens' Urban Homesteading Tour and I was lucky enough to be part of it.  Denver has amazed me with it's homegrown, eat local, and urban homesteading movement, and Saturday as the groups of people filed through our small city garden, I got to meet and talk with them firsthand.  I met so many people who were planning on or who already embarked on the age old practice of growing their own food or raising chickens or keeping bees.  I met people who various reasons could not start their own gardens but wanted to be apart of this incredible movement all the same.    
People from all walks of life who see a need for a change in our current food production system and are taking steps to make that change happen one seed at a time.

Truthfully I didn't take any pictures Saturday since I was so busy showing people around.  I was also coming off a night shift and had only slept a few hours so I was dazed.  One of the sponsors of the tour, The Lazy Homesteader, came and did take some pictures.  
She has a great blog  at
In the morning before people arrived, I made a meager attempt to cut back fallen sunflowers, pick dead leaves and clean out any fresh poop from the chicken coop. Then I put out a basket of eggs, jams and applesauce I had canned this year for viewing, and honey and beeswax lotions for sampling.  I have to say, the honey went over well.   

I picked herbs and set out the dehydrator to dry them, I also brought out seeds that I had saved.

Add caption

My favorite chickens ever, a docile black Java and Delaware

Friday, September 14, 2012

Audrey In Pink

I have been knitting madly on my Audrey in Undst sweater,  I just finished the sleeves which are made by picking up stitches around the arm and then adding short rows.  Now I am putting on the button bands.  I love this construction, but sadly made it too small.  I never get gauge and then I try and adjust the pattern.  I don't think it worked in this case, but I still love the sweater and plan on squeezing into it if it kills me!  I plan on making it in brown too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spinning out of control

After months of focusing on planting and growing, harvesting and then preparing food from the garden, I am ready to be done.  With the shorter hours of daylight and slightly cooler night temperatures, the vegetables are beginning to die back.  I am harvesting the last of the tomatoes, peppers and zucchinis and the pumpkins are all round, ripe and ready for picking.  It's time to turn my attention to my other obsession.
Knitting!  And now spinning....

I recently took a class at the Fancy Tiger in Denver, a drop spindle class.  I knew I would be smitten and I am.  The feel and smell of that sheepy fiber, the way it slips through your fingers, magically transforming into one of my favorite things, yarn!
The drop spindle is so beautiful and basic.  Just a smooth piece of wood

I love the fact that is has been used for centuries, that it has a long history and that is so streamlined.  I also love how rustic the spun yarn looks.  Right now I guess I don't want the yarn to look perfect, like machine-spun yarn.  I am sure that that would have it's benefits too, but I like the look of unevenly spun yarn for some projects,  And the price was right.
Two ounces of fiber and the lovely Ashford drop spindle were included in the class for just $35.00!  It was well worth the money, and Jamie was a wonderful teacher.  
After class I purchases 2 more ounces of this:

Blue Face Leicester

Which came from him, isn't he cute?  I will call the Fancy Tiger to see if he was a Canadian sheep, American or is imported from England.I just read where they have recently introduced this breed in the US.  I love this wool!

washed and dried
My photography does not do this beautiful little skein justice.  I want to sleep with it is is so scrumptious

Friday, September 7, 2012

Coming soon.....

worm compost
Happily, this year we will participate in The Denver Botanic Gardens Homesteading Tour. 

Last year we were on the Denver Botanic Gardens tour of the chicken coops and we loved loved it.  It was wonderful sharing ideas with like-minded folks.  We met many people who already had gardens, some had chickens or goats, and some who were interested in starting the process and wanted to get some ideas.  Since this whole homesteading movement is so dear to my heart, and I love spreading the word about how gratifying it can be, this is the perfect venue!
Homesteading is so much more than just having a garden.  To me, it's about trying to become more sustainable and more self-sufficient, and about connecting to our seasons, to our land and to our ancestors.  
Its about growing food, and then preparing or canning, drying or storing that food.  Its about composting, or seed saving, raising animals for food or fiber.  It's about handmade.
There is still time to apply if you want to share your way of homesteading.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Apples Galore

My mother-in-law, who lives just a few blocks away has one of the most majestic apple trees in the neighborhood.  It must be over 20 years old, and my mother-in-law admits it was the reason she bought the house.  It's the perfect climbing tree for the kids and even sports a tree swing. What's not to love about it? 

I will tell you what's not to love.  The hundreds of apples that fall from the tree daily and immediately begin to rot and turn to mush.  The man from the city who gives you a warning that if you don't clean up the apples you will get fined. 
So we have spent many a day helping our Granny out, picking up rotting apples, only to have them replaced with new fallen apples next day.  The upside is that we have gotten to pick lots of fresh apples too.  Not a bad deal.

     Martha Stewart's pie crust Pate Brisee with Bobby Flay's Apple Pie recipe. Although it was much easier, I don't I don't like this recipe as much as the recipe that sautes the apples in a little butter first.and reduces the juices. 
After so many pies this summer, I really am enjoying a good apple crumble more.  Cook's Illustrated has a great crumble recipe.