a woven life

a parenting and lifestyle blog


4 Comments

It is happening: Spring.

I’ve been reluctant to shed the winter layers. Matter of fact, here in Kansas it became abruptly warm, as in I couldn’t cope with one day wearing thermal underwear and the next (so literally) a sun hat. We had a harsh swing to warm for a few days and I had no idea how to dress my child. It’s mellowed out again, it feels more spring-y, there is a chill. I’ve coaxed myself out of  a coat most days. It’s very difficult to believe that this was the scene weeks ago:

In the name of warmish days, we’ve done some planting. How is it spring again, already?/Thank goodness it’s already spring. A dear friend suggested a barter and she sent me a wonderful stash of heirloom seeds in exchange for a little-sewn-something that looked a little like this:

Scrappy Clutch.

So planting we have been. Our community plot is sown with kale, spinach, onion, radishes, fava beans, and peas. We are also starting an herb garden in a bed in front of our house. I’m hoping to have some luck starting thyme from seed, but also in the works is calendula, cilantro, and perhaps some parsley. Oren has been enjoying trips to the garden. He has partaken in some digging, pulling up of plant markers, and much running off. Toddlers are hard to contain, this is fact.

Michael took Oren home one afternoon for a snack and I had a little under two hours (two hours) to myself to rake seed beds, sow, and water. The sun was warm , the breeze cool, the birds a euphony of calls. I had more than one silent moment of gratitude; every moment was a moment of quiet devotion. I don’t recall the last time I was solo for so long a stretch.

GardenMarch

And these are the things I am feeling so hard right now:

“Accustom yourself to continually make acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul”. -Teresa of Avila

“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood”. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Maple Flower

It is my deepest hope for you that you are encountering renewal in this season.

Yours regardless,

Nicole


2 Comments

The joy of a different day.

Yesterday was a most pleasant day. Filled with most pleasant moments. It was a day of fresh experiences. One needs to have their routine shaken up from time to time, yes? Well, shake it up baby now, yesterday was refreshing.

Oren and I had a very quick breakfast of peanut butter toast and apple sauce so that we would have time to run down to the garden before morning nap. Our melon leaves are crumbling under the presence of squash beetles; these invaders strike again. This is okay though. Michael and I do not have our fingers crossed that the four remaining melons will even come to full ripeness. They are a good 15 inches in diameter, but previous experience has taught us that our melons don’t ripen until they are much larger. We are ready to begin clearing the garden bed, and soon. We are really looking forward to planting cover crops for winter. I am thinking to use crimson clover and cornflowers as a pretty yet effective green manure. We will turn the plants under in early spring.

It seems that everyone at the garden is in our boat, ready for the season change and change of garden bed. One rather proactive gardener has already cleared a good portion of his plot. Our tomatoes are still yielding quite a bit, and we are about to embark upon chopping down our basil shrubs and making a freezer full of pesto. For your viewing pleasure:

Oren and I strolled home, with a hatful of tomatoes. After nap time, we went to one of my most treasured places in all of Lawrence, Kansas: the Social Service League. The SSL is the oldest running service organization operating in Lawrence, dating back to 1863. Proceeds from this thrift shop go back into the community to provide eye exams and glasses for children and adults, as well as other daily necessities. Have an interview? Need a suit? Can’t afford one? They got your back. It’s a great shop, stocked full of pure treasure, and operated by an enthusiastic and loveably quirky individual.  I have yet to leave this place with less than two bags of loot. I’ve never spent over four dollars at time. I can dig that.

So we did this. We thrifted. It was our first visit since the SSL moved to a temporary location while their previous building undergoes renovation. I put Doug on my back in the Ergo and off we went. I found a hardly worn pair of gray Keds. Some clothes for baby. A cowboy hat cookie cutter. A small fork for baby. A way cool winter hat. And this print:

IMG_4172

You never know what will wash up. Oh, I also purchased a photo album, you know, to start actually organizing every picture of me pregnant and of Oren since he was born because I have not done that yet. I’m behind. Oren and I then sat in the shade and ate some crackers, drank some water, took a photo for you.

IMG_4171

We came home. Papa came home. He had played a show the previous night. He needed rest. Because. Drum roll. We made new friends. And we went to their house last night. And they don’t have children. And they live around the corner. We were so pleased to be embarking on such merriment. We loaded the stroller with beer, banana bread, and roasted chick peas. And walked 2 minutes to new friend’s house. It was delightful. Michael got to geek about metal (music, not element). I got to geek about quilting. They have chickens. And cats. It is hard enough to make friends with the common ground of child-rearing between both parties. But to make friends out of shared interest, well that’s just damn lucky. It was a much needed reminder that we are not just parents and it isn’t impossible to create new ties as adults. We are so looking forward to our next meetup.

Our walk home was memorable. So much so. A storm came out of nowhere last night, the radio promised us it wouldn’t be heading our way. And while we were on the other side of the block from home, we weren’t prepared for a walk home in rain. But that is what we did. We thought we hit a pause in the down pour. No less than three side-walk squares on our way, the skies opened. The scene unfolds: I was carrying Doug, his stroller being drenched.  I wrapped the tea towel used to transport the banana bread around his shoulders like a cape. Michael is pushing the stroller. Both of use are soggying our leather and cork sandals. Oren is laughing like a mad man. Water is pouring down our faces. We round the corner and head into the alley. The sky rips further and suddenly the rain is torrential. Oren stops laughing and begins whimpering. I am giddy and laughing. I make it to the porch, dripping, Michael leaves the stroller in the rain. When was the last time you ran home in the rain? Not a common occurrence for me.

Oren was desperate for bed. I dried him. He whimpered. Cold little thing. He was relieved that his night time routine still existed, he seemed to become uneasy around 6pm when he found himself tired and in a strange environment. I’ve never witnessed him so content to be getting into pajamas. Down he went, out like a light. Michael and I had breakfast for dinner. Him, a fried egg. Me, a hot bowl of cream of wheat. We crashed. Drank tea. Watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the first forty minutes. So cozy. So ideal. It thundered and rumbled.

We made it home with these beauties safely intact:

A dozen eggs from the dutiful chickens our new friends keep. Such dark yellow creamy yolks. So satisfying.

What could make such a day even more fulfilling? This sight:

IMG_4169

Autumn officially begins this weekend. This is my season. I spotted this tree on our walk from the garden yesterday AM. I began to explain chlorophyll B to Dougie before stopping myself. Seriously, self? He is one. I instead told him that yellow leaves meant the seasons were changing. A good sign indeed. He was all, mmmhm, yeah, I’m ready for milk, yo.

I wish I could tell you that such a fulfilling day was topped off with a full night of uninterrupted sleep. But this is the stuff of fairy tales. Between Oren coming to snuggle (nurse) at 3am, and being unable to get myself back to sleep, creepily day dreaming about how awesome our new friendship with our neighbors is going to be, I’ve effectively been awake for seven hours already, at 10am.

Another day of many plans. A lot of chores to accomplish. I will be mindful to take a moment to sit and meditate. Maybe Oren will even climb into my lap and enjoy a silent moment with me. If we are going to be honest though, he will either be tearing the house down or slapping my chest and signing for milk while I practice my ujjayi breath.

Beams of rainbow rays shooting out of my love cannon,

Nicole


Leave a comment

This morning:

It has been rain for days around here. And chill. To be honest, it was really wonderful to put an extra layer on. I was so fooled by the weather two days ago that I had to sew some upcycled pumpkin orange sweater pants for the bub this fall. Upon waking today and seeing that the house was filled with strange light (sunlight), our family bounded at the opportunity for a garden visit. All of the rain sure has been appreciated. We will have to treat our tomatoes for blight again, since soil has been splashed onto the leaves and stems of the plant. Some morning surprises from the garden.

Alas! The melons are in! We have no way of knowing how many we have without tromping through the brambled jungle that is melon patch. On the periphery we have counted four. There are surely more lurking. I can almost hear them. We will eventually have to go in, seeking out their numbers in order to “throne” them. One gardening book we keep coming back to for advice recommends placing the melons on miscellaneous items to get them off the ground. So we shall.

We are going to have tomatoes coming out of our ears, if the gods see fit that no creature consumes them first. I will sleep in a folding chair under a mosquito net to protect them from the dark forces of rodentry. The zucchini is doing so so very well. We are pleasantly surprised. Two more large zuch’s almost ready to be picked, and numerous newly sprouted babies. The tomato plants are constantly threatening to topple. Next year we will definitely be rigging our own supports, or just purchasing heavy duty and huge cages. The tiny cages we invested in are the laughing stock of our tomatoes. They taunt the thin metal supports. We’ve made due with sticks and twine. It is working, so far.

I’m not sure if it is kosher for me to post photos of our neighbor’s plots. But some of them are yielding such lovely crop that I simply can not resist. So in the name of recognizing that this me be a faux pas, I will carry forth.

In other life updates, yesterday I created some puree for dingo. Now, the man has been on finger foods for quite some time. He even used a fork today for the first time! He gleefully ate peaches after I skewered them. However, since being sick he’s not been too interested in eating anything but toast, yogurt, and scrambled eggs. So, we backtracked to some purees to sneak vegetation back into his system. I’m going to foolishly label this concoction “Seaweed Pesto”.  IMG_3578

I pureed a half sheet of dried Nori, steamed broccoli, green peas, one banana, and some strawberries for good measure. I used the reserve steaming water from the broccoli as my liquid. The flavor? Not bad. It tastes sweet, and well, green. Quite a bit like spirulina, I dare say. I’ve been spreading it on toast and mixing it into yogurt. The little gentleman gobbles it right down, despite having recently acquired a disdain for soggy breads.

And here are the cozy pumpkin pants for fall.

IMG_3571

Is there anything softer than slightly felted wool? Bring on the fall. I am so ready. A bit of a hint: I am crafting something to (possibly) give-away soon. Very soon. Stay posted.

Good day, reader.


Leave a comment

Zucchini feet and fever dreams.

The baby grub is sick. For the first time. He made it almost a whole year without so much as a sniffle. He’s been running a fever for days. At times it crept so high as to cause absolute panic. We called the doctor three times yesterday. After another rough day today and a visit to the doc’s, we’ve decided on something viral. Poor fellow. All hot bodied and lethargic. Sleepy around the clock. So much so, that for the first time (e.v.e.r.) he laid down on the floor and put himself to sleep for a nap. How can I make this part of this illness stay?

Anywho, we’ve made it ’round the bend. He ate most of the beans from my bowl for dinner. He even spent enough time between fever spikes for us to run down to the garden. So this post, I suppose, is regarding the garden and the parenting. Speaking of which, I never thought we’d given Oren juice so soon. And despite these past few days being a straight nurse-a-thon, we were desperate to pump him full of fluids. So. Pricey, low sugar, vegetable blend hoighty-toity “apple harvest” apple juice, it was. Desperate times call for juice. And the Magic School Bus, which we watched.

Ogie-Bogue, feeling better, heading to the garden.

Ogie-Bogue, feeling better, heading to the garden.

Since we started gardening, not a single trip to the plots has found me without shrieks of excitement. It is such a mood lifter to go be with the plants, tend them, collect their fruits. Our Lemon Boy tomato plant has no fewer than 14 tomatoes. Our other tomato plant has around 10 fruits. We pulled another zucchini off the plant and the melons are still trying to tear down the house next door, they sprawl so quickly and with such ferocity. Also, a butterfly, flowering basil, and beans.

Aside from these things, I’ve been knitting washcloths. Guys, I could knit a thousand washcloths, if only the pattern didn’t have it out for me. Yes, I’m here to admit that a 3×3 rib knit is causing me to pull my hair out. Somehow, stitches get added, the pattern gets off, I can’t tell what is what. I’ve ripped the stitches off the hook and started over three times. I’ve just decided that this current cloth is for us to keep in our home. I can devote serious concentration to others at a further date. But really, how much concentration can rib knit require? I should just stick to my “free form” bastardized knitting. It works for me. Blankets and scarves forever.

Bonus: Sauerkraut.IMG_3528

As I’m sure you can guess, the instructions for this kraut are such: throw some cabbage in brine. Let it sit. Make sure no cabbage is touching air, that it is all sufficiently brine-covered. That is as tutorial-ish as that is going to get.

I appreciate that you are reading this. So. Much. I just had to check in with you.

 

 


Leave a comment

More about turnips.

I hope your weekend was well, I’ve been informed it is Monday. The turnips continue to flood into our home. We pulled three more today (monstrous!). Michael had a hard time getting home wearing the baby on his front and hauling this mass of vegetables. The turnips themselves are softball sized. Impressive. But then there is the conundrum of what to do with all of the perfectly edible and potently nutritious greens (I mean, vitamins A,C,E,K, Folate, Calcium…). We have roughly 4 pounds of turnip greens in house right now. Thankfully, they are storing very well in our fridge’s crisper. While we are big fans of sauteed greens (bacon grease and peanuts, mmmm), my favorite method for consuming any kind of hearty green is to bake them.

I bring you, a review of “turnip chips”. All in all, baked turnip greens have a very flaky texture that is rather addicting. The flavor is slightly astringent. I was not so convinced by the internet that turnip foliage was edible, because upon tearing into pieces and massaging with oil, one encounters numerous small spines.

Image

But I assure you, upon cooking, these pokies magically disappear. Overall, baked turnip greens make for a salty and undeniably satisfying snack. But in the world of baked greens, kale is champion. The texture of the leaves holds out better to baking. So. You’ve got some greens gettin’ sad in your crisper? Ensure they’re clean and super dry. Give ’em a rub down in some olive oil. Salt them lightly. This is the important part: ensure that when you place them on a baking sheet, you do so in one layer. Guaranteed crisp. I find that turnip greens need less time in the oven than kale, about 10-15 minutes at 250ish degrees.

Image

Image

Even the baby loves them.

Time to kick back, drink a glass of red, and listen to those cicadas. Happy summer, indeed.