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Stitching Away

February 21st, 2015

I’ve been meaning to make myself a few new shirt, skirts, and dresses this winter but haven’t gotten around the tackling them yet. There are all sorts of patterns pinned on my pattern pinboard and lots of fabric in my stash. Hopefully I can get a few things finished up in the next few weeks before my spare time is taken up by seed starting and other gardening chores.
sewing 1
When I was in jr high and high school I made a lot of my clothing. I didn’t use patterns or anything, I was pretty skilled at making things up as I went along. Nowadays I’m a little more structured and I have lost some of my seamstress skills since I haven’t made a piece of clothing in over 20 years.
sewing
kids_superhero_cape_red
I have sewed a lot curtains, gifts, and other home decor items in that 20 years, just no clothing. You can see a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Christmas tree skirt I made for a friend below along with the superhero cape I made for my nephew. Thankfully all of these projects have been fairly intricate and I have maintained my sewing skills fairly well.
sewing 2
I’m fairly picky about how my clothing fits, hence my decision to make a few of my own things. I know I can tweak things to get them to fit just as I like. One thing I am doing this time around is making prototype items. I have a stash of fabric that I purchased very inexpensive on sale just for this purpose. I’m making each piece out of this fabric first and then I can change the fit as needed when using my more expensive organic linen fabric. It’s also nice to be able to wash the garnet to see how that affects the final fit, though the fabric will be different in the finished piece, it helps to see how things will soften with washing. Thrifted sheets are another great source for inexpensive fabric for such projects. I will give these prototype shirts to my nieces or to a local charity. Since I got the fabric so cheap, it only costs me a few dollars to make each of these prototypes and I get the benefit of brushing up on my sewing skills while sewing extra pieces.
sewing 3
Hopefully this summer I’ll have a few new items hanging in my closet and I won’t be wearing the same five things over and over again. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing the same thing all the time, I find it really simplifies my life!

Do you like to sew? Have you ever made clothing, or would you consider making your own clothing?

Friday Favorite: Experiments

February 20th, 2015

I’m always experimenting to find better/faster/more efficient ways to do things. It’s nice when that natural drive coincides with a job. I mentioned previously that I’m writing an article for Grit magazine about small scale fodder systems. I’ve been trying different types of grain, oats, barley, wheat, rye, as well and hulled an unhealed grain to see which is best.
chicken fodder
It’s a lot of work, but fun work and needless to say the chickens have been loving every single option!

Any fun experiments going on in you garden/farm?

Starting Lettuce

February 19th, 2015

Usually I have a few planters of lettuce and greens going in the winter, this year I never got around to starting them. The day before yesterday I finally got a few seeds into a planter. I love this mix from Renee’s Garden, it produces very nicely in my long narrow planter boxes. They lettuce does very well now that the days are getting longer and we’re getting almost 12 hours of light.
Renees garden lettuce
I’ve always grown a small amount of greens during the winter. It’s worth the fun in my book, even if there isn’t that much of a harvest.
lettuce 2
lettuce in pot
In a month and a half or so I should be eating delicious homegrown lettuce. While I long to have a greenhouse for winter growing, until I do I’ll be grown herbs and greens in planter boxes tucked in front of every south facing window we have. Here’s to homegrown lettuce while there’s still snow on the ground!

Do you have any edibles growing on your windowsills?

Hard Boiled (or Steamed) Fresh Eggs

February 18th, 2015

You’ve probably heard hundreds of times how fresh eggs are difficult to peel when hard boiled. The key to easy peel fresh eggs is to steam the eggs instead of boiling. I’ve tried pretty much every method out there like salt and/or baking soda in the water and Julia Child’s method, which is quite involved. Then I read about steaming eggs, I tried it and it worked perfectly.
hard boiled eggs 1
hard boiled eggs 2
All you need to do it set up your steamer, get the water boiling, add eggs, and cook for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the eggs and how you want the yolks cooked. Remove from the steamer and plunge into ice water. They eggs should peel like a dream. These eggs were only two days old when I cooked them.
hard boiled eggs 3
Now the the only difficulty you’ll find after boiling eggs is trying to figure out what to stuff them with. On this occasion I used avocado and lime juice and sprinkled the tops with chipotle powder. Curried deviled eggs are also fabulous. There’s a jar of pickled beet juice in the fridge just waiting for hard boiled eggs as well. I love having deviled eggs in the fridge for quick healthy breakfast or snacks. Nothing beats the incredible edible egg!!!

What’s your favorite deviled egg recipe?

Observing

February 17th, 2015

Winter is a valuable time in the garden if we take the time to observe. We can see how the wind moves, where snow drifts and where the ground is blown completely bare. We can see where the snow melts first and what areas are soggy when it does.
snow drifts 1
snow drifts 2
I spend a good amount of time watching the garden this time of year. What I find most important are the snow drifts. I’m figuring out where I shouldn’t plant really tender plants and where I can. I’m figuring out where I should plant windbreaks and where I should plant tough shrubs to act as drift fences. I now know which spots thaws fist in spring and would be a fantastic spring woodland garden filled with early snowdrops, hellebores and other spring beauties. I also know where I shouldn’t plant hydrangeas.
snow drifts 3
It’s very true what they say about spending a few years observing a garden before you begin to plant and make big changes. It’s especially important to watch through a few winters to see what they bring. The longer I garden the more patient I become and the more I value time spent in observing the space around me.

Do you take the time to observe your garden in winter? Does what you see affect where/how you plant?

Seeds and Sundries
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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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