Fresh strawberries, sugar cravings, and mothering through the strangest divorce.

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Today I harvested my first strawberry out of my garden. I didn’t even wash it. It was a little dusty, very tart, and tiny.
It was magnificent.

I have three squarefoot beds that are divided into sixteen squares each. Two of them have plants- one of them has thirteen squares full, the other isn’t divided and only has four plants. I have Egyptian Walking Onions (google them, they’re really neat), strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and one birdhouse gourd plant. In another bed, I have bee balm (monarda fistulosa, I think), comfrey (symphytum officinalis), horehound (marrubium… marribum? Hm.) and sage (salvia officinalis).

Hells yes, I just did all those Latin names from memory. I am rocking the herbs today.

I’ve also got pots out there- roman chamomile, lemon verbena, variegated meadowsweet, kentucky mint (whatever that means), more tomatoes, a volunteer cabbage that came up in my compost, three types of peas, basil, and elfin thyme. I’m going to be using that thyme to make a faerie garden, complete with little offering table for the little ones who drop by.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get past this desperate need for sweets I seem to have developed. I am desperately craving sugars, both physically and psychologically.

I… am not sure how I’m going to kick this one. We’ll have to see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m learning how to mother through my own confusing days. My husband of ten years asked me for a divorce several months ago, and at first there was much with the tears and denial, but after some consideration I’ve found that the idea actually seems to be a relief, rather than a torment. We’ve been so changed by our marriage, a lot of it for the better, and we’ve sort of… drifted apart, in different directions in life. We’re quite good friends, dedicated parents, and dedicated to each other- just not as lovers and spouses.

I’ve changed my faith over the years, while he’s remained the same. Or, not the same, but you get the idea. Our interests and friends have diverged, and our expectations of each other are not fulfilled in the other person. So, before we grow to resent each other and let that rot inside us, we’re choosing at our ten year anniversary mark to have a parting of ways, a releasing of vows ceremony to separate in the eyes of the God before whom we were married.

The legal stuff will have to wait for a more opportune time, since things are a little nutters here at the moment.

In the meantime, we’re learning to parent with respect to each other’s life decisions and faiths, and finding that we are better parents now than we were when we were still trying to sort out our differences.

What a strange world, huh?

 

At least I have a strawberry.

 

Independence Days Challenge

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So, here’s a little bit about the Independence Days Challenge. Go forth, read about it, and see if you want to challenge yourself!

Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so I try and plant something every day from February into September.

Plant something: Peas and tomatoes!

Harvest something: Everything counts – from the milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to 50 bushels of tomatoes – it all counts.

Harvest something:  Dandelion and other spring greens

Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season.

Preserve something: Nothing

Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count.

Waste Not: Composting food scraps.

Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term.

Want Not:  Saved bottles and filled them with water into the basement for emergencies. Acquired free jars for storage.

Eat the Food: Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage!

Eat the Food:  Ate harvested greens, lemon balm tips. Eating old food out of pantry.

Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

Build Community Food Systems: Offered to trade food for lumber for garden beds.

Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as making shoes. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff.

Skill Up:  Still taking preservation class, reading book on canning, learning to organize kitchen

Independence Days Challenge

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So, here’s a little bit about the Independence Days Challenge. Go forth, read about it, and see if you want to challenge yourself!

Plant something: A lot of us were trained to think of planting as done once a year, but if you start seeds, do season extension and succession plant, you’ll get much, much more out of your garden, so I try and plant something every day from February into September.

Plant something: Bought seeds and pots. No planting yet. Looking for lumber for the garden beds!

Harvest something: Everything counts – from the milk and eggs you get from your animals to the first dandelions from your yard to 50 bushels of tomatoes – it all counts.

Harvest something:  Basil and lemon balm tips.

Preserve something: Again, I find preserving is most productive if I try and do a little every day that there is anything, from the first dried raspberry leaves and jarred rhubarb to the last squashes at the end of the season.

Preserve something: Spaghetti sauce with basil, lemon balm tincture

Waste not: Reducing food waste, composting everything or feeding it to animals, reducing your use of disposables and creation of garbage, reusing things that would otherwise go to waste, making sure your preserved and stored foods are kept in good shape – all of these count.

Waste Not: Composting food scraps.

Want Not: Adding to your food storage or stash of goods for emergencies, building up resources that will be useful in the long term.

Want Not:  Saved bottles and filled them with water into the basement for emergencies.

Eat the Food: Making full and good use of what you have, making sure that you are getting everything you can from your food, trying new recipes and new cooking ideas, eating out of your storage!

Eat the Food:  Eating leftovers repurposed?

Build community food systems: What have you done to help other people have better food access or to make your local food system more resilient?

Build Community Food Systems: Nothing.

Skill up: What did you learn this week that will help you in the future – could be as simple as fixing the faucet or as hard as building a shed, as simple as a new way of keeping records or as complicated as making shoes. Whatever you are learning, you get a merit badge for it – this is important stuff.

Skill Up:  Taking Sharon’s class on preserving.

 

 

Food Preservation: Adventures!

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I recently enrolled into a class for food preservation, given by the amazing Sharon over at Chatelaine’s Keys. She’s offering this class to teach how to put by food as part of an emergency preparedness class, and I’m really excited! I’ve been desperate to learn to can, since a lot of my favorite recipes I choose to make in larger batches, and my freezer is small and full of other people’s food. I’ve been really desperate to be able to can up a lot of my ingredients (like the cream of mushroom soup linked up there, and it’s inevitable cream of chicken companion) so that instead of having to thaw freezer bags filled with goop, I can just pop a can and mix, and voila! Food! Soups, beans, chili, meats, stews, fruits, veggies, jams… I’m so excited to learn how to do this. She covers water bath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, freezing, salting, storing with honeys and sugars… the list is long and full of brilliance!

So excited!

Reflect: Maybe this wasn’t wise.

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As I go through this time, I begin to wonder if reflect was a wise choice.

I read the blogs of joyful women, and I reflect on beauty and other good things… but it’s hard to reflect positives when you are around angry people.

Quick to temper, negative, disapproving people surround my day to day- and many of them are family, so avoiding them is not an option.

I’m not quitting- but this is shaping up to be harder than expected.

Valentines Day: It’s not about you.

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Today’s holiday is one that causes a lot of griping, especially among single folks. I hear it called ‘Singles Awareness Day’ and other much less flattering names. I hear my single friends, especially those who don’t want to be single, grumbling about how it’s just a day for stores to get money and to make them feel bad for being single, and how dare society promote this day of couples when there’s all these single folks around.

Guess what? Valentines Day? It’s not about you.

St. Valentine defied the edicts of the Church to continue to perform marriage rites for young couples, even after they had been forbidden.

So this day is about love and about the freedom to choose your path in love.

Don’t bitch about being single. Appreciate the fact that you have the right to marry who you choose, when you choose, and celebrate the love you’ve had, the love you will have, and the love that others have around you. Celebrate your own love for yourself!

 

First Herbal Craft of 2012

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(As always, links are underlined. CLICK!)

Today, seven weeks after I should have made it, I started a lemon balm tincture.
I say seven weeks because it takes six weeks to make and a week ago I could have really used it’s citrusy antiviral power for this bug.

But, its now made, from organic Melissa officinalis that was grown from seed by a friend of mine at Williamson Farms. 100 proof vodka finishes it up, and just in time for March’s cold and flu season I should have a lovely tincture.

Also made a nice big batch of Mama Thrifty’s non toxic cream of mushroom soup, and a batch of cream of chicken.

Good day. Tomorrow will be too- free homeschool books and more cooking.

See you then!