Community

Stop Swallowing Watermelon Seeds and Other Goals for 2011

I may look like this soon.

So twelve weeks (plus or minus a bit) ago, I swallowed a watermelon seed.  This Friday we should be able to hear the heartbeat.  Yep, you read that right.  We are knocked up with number three here.

I was going to post those pictures that women take showing their growing belly, and I thought it’d be fun to take one every few weeks or so, so you could all see the progress.  But then my higher reasoning kicked in and said – Uh, it’s just not as cute the third time, and really does everyone want to see that, and most importantly, do you really think you can handle that type of commitment and level of laughter?

So you get my artistic rendering here instead.

We are excited, and well into the figuring-out-where-exactly-we’re-going-to-put-another-one phase.  We are planning another home birth, and despite everyone’s urging, we will be perfectly happy with another boy.  Three was not exactly planned, so it’s not like we were going for a girl or anything.  We’re fine either way, though our families are clearly already dreaming in pink.

On another note, as of last week, we no longer have Josie.  This was an excruciatingly hard decision for us, quite painful, and I will probably blog all about it at some point, but I’m just not ready yet.  She’s been missed terribly already and even typing these few lame sentences gets me choked up, so that’s all I have to say about it right now.

Besides giving birth this year, I do have a few other goals.  I’m not really the resolution type, but there are a couple of things I want to do different or better.  You probably thought things were crazy enough as it was around here (I know I did!), but it’s one of my goals this year to blog more frequently.  I joined wordpress.com’s Post-A-Week challenge, and even found myself a blogging buddy.  So look for more updates more often – baby ones included here on the blog.

We’ve been discussing a community type of gardening arrangement with our neighbor and a few friends this summer, and we’ve done some prep work and ordered seed catalogs.  This is a big project and I plan to tell you all about it this year.  I’m very excited!

It’s also a goal of mine to get our back yard patio completed.  We started collecting sandstone flags for it last summer.  We have a way to go, but I’d like to see it done before baby comes.

There are some other things too, but this first trimester thing has me worn out and nap time is looking pretty prime right now.  In all, I’m looking forward to 2011.  A lot of changes this year already, and I’m sure many more.  But I hope they will all be good, even if they’re not all easy.

Until next week (if not sooner)!

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Categories: Childbirth, Community | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Free the Chickens!

As promised, here is the video that we participated in making to help get Denver’s laws changed to allow chickens.  Sadly the editor misspelled our name, but I think the point is still there.  ;)  Please share with your friends to help raise awareness on this issue.

To learn more about how you can help, go to www.freethechickens.com

Categories: Chickens, Community, Food, Simple Living, Sustainability, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Inaugural Chicken Coop Tour

This weekend is a kick-off for the first annual Denver Botanic Gardens/Denver Urban Homesteading Chicken Coop Tour.  Think Parade of Homes, but for chicken coops.  There are 15 coops throughout Denver and the metro area participating in the tour.  We are coop number seven.

We are so excited to be participating.  By “we” of course I mean me and the chickens, since Rick is not really excited about 100 + people tromping through our yard and garden to see the digs.  ;)  But it’s all in the name of raising awareness about urban agriculture.  And besides that, they wrote some nice stuff about us on the tour map…

“A coop from original design by Anisa, five chickens, bees, and a gorgeous front yard garden that the family has had for the last seven years is what makes this site a perfect example of backyard agriculture and livestock keeping.  Little Henry will show with pride his tomato plants, chickens and eggs.”

Seriously!?!?  How cool is that!  There has been a bit of media promoting the tour in the last few days.  Check out the piece FOX 31 did about the tour.  James Bertini with Denver Urban Homesteading is featured in the story.

ABC 7 News also reported on the tour, as well as making it into the Denver Post’s September 29th Food Calendar.  The WestWord comic section even poked a bit of fun at us.

Tho tour is tomorrow, October 2nd, from 11am to 4pm.  Maps can be purchased in person at the Botanic Gardens for $20 per group of four.  There is still time to purchase a map for the tour.  Contact Denver Botanic Gardens or Denver Urban Homesteading for details!

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Food, Sustainability | 6 Comments

Independence Days – Week 11

This week was much better than some of the previous weeks.  Turns out that getting some exercise (endorphins) and spending some time outside in the sun (vitamin D) can do wonders for the mood, body, mind and spirit.  The beginning of the week was actually a little rough (it was all cloudy and overcast) but the weekend made up for it nicely, with the sunshine and the gardening!  Also it helps that I was able to see friends more this week as well.

Here’s a picture of the bulk storage I mentioned in last week’s update.  And here’s what we were up to this week:

Plant something – watermelon, pumpkins, spinach, basil, more tomatoes, marigolds, turnips… um also some grass seed where we’re trying to patch up the damaged back lawn.  We don’t have a lot of grass back there, but what little there is has been burned by Josie over the winter.  We’re hoping it will recover a bit.

Harvest something – eggs, lettuce, spinach

Preserve something – um – nothing, and I actually have to take back last week’s asparagus (it was on Rick’s docket to-do, but we ended up eating it all instead!).

Waste Not – compost and recycling, reused some scrap boards in the garden.  Also decided that we’ve been silly not giving the grass clippings to the chickens, so they got two bags full on Sunday.  It’s been raining a lot, and the grass had grown like crazy – lucky birds loved it!

Want Not – made an impromptu garden plot in the back yard – with a raised bed.  We used our own compost – finally – in this bed, and Rick made it out of some left-over scrap lumber.  I really love how it looks.  It has tomatoes (for me and H to snack (or as Rick would say, “graze”) on, basil, and carrots.  Plus some marigolds.  This is pretty much H’s little plot.  Especially since it’s in the back yard, and he loves carrots and tomatoes.  And the raised bed is nice, so he knows where he can’t step.  Plus he picked out the marigolds all by himself.

Build Community Food Systems – gave some extra tomato plants to the neighbors, had another neighbor’s five-year old daughter help us plant in the back yard.  It was so cute and fun and I got some great snapshots of her and H. (Stay tuned for the pictures – will try to get them posted this week).

Eat the Food – mmm…. spinach and lettuce from the volunteer plants has been delish.   Opened the last jar of pumpkin butter.  Rick magically found more tomatoes (I swear I don’t know how he keeps doing this?!?!!) in the freezer so we’ve been enjoying those.  Bacon and ham steaks (ham and eggs fried rice!) and eggs, of course.  Also another batch of hummus. Finished the last of the antelope burger and some kale in some tasty Italian wedding soup (or our own rustic version at least)!  For that we used the recipe in this post, but we substituted antelope for turkey, kale for escarole and our tomatoes from the freezer for the canned (a common substitution in our house).

Categories: Chickens, Community, Food, Garden, Independence Days | 3 Comments

Mad House and Independence Catch Up

Is that February I see?  The first month of 2010 has FLOWN by!  We’ve had a hard time catching up since the holidays (as evidenced by my absence from the blog), but we’re looking at a few clear weekends, then a trip to the Tucson area to visit friends, and then a (hopefully) nice relaxing break from the hustle and bustle!

So in the last month, I completed my student teaching for my childbirth education certification, worked on the test, nearly finished the reading, and scheduled my last required observation.  I picked a business name (stay tuned for it, complete with links), and bartered a web design.  Yay!

Additionally, E is now up to six teeth, we had several dinners with friends, a game night or two, bartered hunting for mechanical work on the truck (hallelujah!), had to post bail to get Josie out of doggie jail (she made a break for Hampden and got picked up), and held a Mad Tea Party for Rick’s and my un-birthday!  The last was so fun, and I made an amazing hat thanks to a great tutorial, and a little friendly encouragement.

It’s been 37 weeks since I started tracking our family with the Independence Days project.  I use the term ‘tracking’ loosely, however, since I have not really kept good track for the last ten or twelve weeks.  This is what I can say for sure, from my memory.  Every day we collect three eggs from our five hens.  Pretty good since it is the dead of winter and we don’t give them a heat lamp or anything.

We have not planted or harvested any veggies whatsoever, but Rick did go make hamburger and sausage with his uncle and grandpa.  We used all the lard from the hogs (this years and last years) for this.  So we added about 30 pounds of ground meat to the freezer.  We also found pints of blackberries on sale for 77 cents each once, and bought like 20 and frozen them.  We should have bought more though, since we’ve eaten them all already (Rick went on a smoothie kick last month).

As I mentioned above, we bartered hunting for mechanics – and I say this totally falls under building community food systems.  Our friend is a mechanic and replaced the belts and water pump on the 4 Runner for us, with the promise that Rick would teach him and his family to hunt this year.  He saved us over $900!  I say we really got the better end of the deal in some ways because Rick loves hunting so much, and he is very happy for another reason to spend more time outdoors doing it.

We have surely been eating the food as well around here.  Most weeks all we buy at the store is dairy, bread, rice or beans, flour and sugar, coffee, peanut butter, maple syrup, and sometimes eggs to supplement what we’ve got from the hens.  And bananas, as I think Henry is addicted.  We’ve been eating veggies and meat from the freezer, our peaches, pickles and jams, frozen fruit – delish!

We’ve been talking about the garden a lot the last week or so.  I think that the sun coming up at 7:00am again is making us think Spring is around the corner.  We received the Baker Creek heirloom seed catalog in December, and have since been lustfully drooling over every page and variety since.

Alas – my writing time is up today – E is, shall we say, requesting – my presence.

More to come soon.

Categories: Chickens, Childbirth, Community, Hunting, Independence Days | 6 Comments

Honey-Pumpkin Butter

My sweet friend Annie shared this recipe with me.  I made it this week with the “damaged” pie pumpkins that were not good enough for the shares at the farm.  It is oh-so-good, and perfect for the fall.  Rick and Henry are hooked.  I have a feeling I’ll be making more of this!

Honey-Pumpkin Butter
     Makes 1 1/4- 1 1/2 cups
Pumpkin Butter on Toast2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in saucepan and simmer over low heat 35-40 minutes, until thick (like stiff apple butter).  Stir frequently, or it will burn.
Or, put all ingredients in a big pot in a 300 degree oven, where you have to stir much less frequently (just skim off the top if it carmelizes)– takes longer, but requires less watching.  Plus, your oven is already hot from cooking your pumpkins into puree.
Now put it in hot, sterilized jars and process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath.  (Or you can invert if you prefer, but this I put in the BW bath.)

Edited to add that although I’ve never had problems with this recipe, I’ve discovered that canning pumpkin butter for long term storage is not recommended in either a boiling water bath or pressure cannner.  I love this recipe and have shared the results with friends and family, but please use at your own risk as I’m not a food scientist!  Also if you’d prefer not to can it, it’s good enough to eat right away and store in the fridge!  Yum! ;)

Categories: Community, Food, Recipes | 3 Comments

Community and Independence Days – Week 16

PreservesSo this week was very productive as well.  My friend, Julie, came over and I showed her how to can (with my limited experience this year).  We made a batch of pickled beets (which smelled amazing!) and a batch of cucumber dills, all in two and a half hours while our kids played.  Oh – and we made lunch and all sat down together to eat it as well.  We were both amazed at how much we got done when doing it together, and how we weren’t even exhausted!  Wow!  I wish we had a community! 

Heirloom Romas, the mail & Health Kick hybrids under neath a Black Krim, two Cherokee Purples and three Lemon BoysWe talked about how long ago, women didn’t have the option to send kiddos off to preschool or day care – but they didn’t need that option… they had friends and family close by to help them.  And getting those chores done was fun and easy (or at least easier) with someone else there.  And the kids were entertained and had extra eyes and hands to watch them.  *sigh*  I want community!  Hippie commune, here I come!  ;)  Ok, maybe not, but it wouldn’t be all bad.

So this week’s accomplishments:

Plant Something –  none

Harvest Something–  picked 180+ pounds of peaches on Saturday with our friends, plus a box of tomatoes.

Preserve Something –  It’s the ‘P’ week.  Monday I made pickles, pepper jelly pesto and pickled peppers, and Sunday we of course processed peaches… froze most, but plan to can/jam more this week.  Also froze those Roma tomatoes… I wanted to make a sauce and/or can them, but they were ready on Friday, and I didn’t have time before we left for Palisade.  So they were simply frozen instead. 

Waste Not – nothing to add this week.

Want Not/Prep & Storage - made some gifts for Christmas time

Build Community Food Systems – Signed up for a composting class in September, made pickled beets with my friend Julie,  bartered a melon for some jalapenos.

Eat the Food – Fire & Ice Salsa!Fire & Ice Salsa

3 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped green onion
1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

After chopping, drain excess juice from watermelon in a colander.  Combine melon in a large bowl with green pepper, lime juice, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno and garlic salt; mix well.  Refridgerate 3 hours. Serve with corn or potato chips, or, like Rick, add it with shredded roasted chicken, avacado, and extra onions to warmed corn tortillas for Fire & Ice Chicken Tacos!  Thanks Mom, for the recipe!

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Community, Food, Independence Days, Recipes | 4 Comments

Green Chile & Zucchini Quiche

I had to share this recipe for the best quiche ever!  My good friend, Genny, made two for our family for E’s birth, and she got the recipe from someone who made the quiche for her home birth a few months before that.

It was perfect to eat during or after a birth, since it’s high in protein and easily made from frozen (just reheat in the oven)!  And I thought it was perfect for summer too, since it is a creative and tasty use of summer’s most over abundant food: zucchini!

We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to use vegetables from the farm, or grown in our garden… the squash, onions, garlic, chiles AND eggs!  Rick and I both loved the quiches Genny brought us, and the ones I’ve made since Emmett’s birth as well!  We can’t wait to share it with our friends!

The original recipe calls for a crust made with crackers, but Genny used a premade whole wheat crust, and I loved it, so that’s what I used too.  Here’s the recipe:

Green Chile & Zucchini Quiche

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 pound freshly grated Monterey jack cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup whole-milk cottage cheese
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained (I substituted chiles from our freezer)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Grate the zucchini, preferably using the grating attachment of a food processor. Toss the zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain in a colander for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat until hot. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini well with your hands to remove excess moisture. Add the zucchini to the onion and cook over high heat for 3 minutes.

Stir together the flour, the baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs until thick and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the Monterey jack and cottage cheeses, the flour mixture, and remaining melted butter to the eggs and beat well. Stir in the zucchini mixture and chiles and pour the mixture into the crust. Bake the quiche in the center of the oven until the top is puffed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside at room temperature 5 minutes, cut into wedges, and serve. 

Categories: Childbirth, Community, Food, Recipes | 1 Comment

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