Eat, drink, (garden, knit, quilt, think, fix, read) & be merry

A trip to the arboretum

It snowed a few weeks ago.  I assumed the first snow wouldn’t stay, because the first snow never does.  Well, it did.  The ground is now completely frozen solid (believe me, I know.  I tried to dig out the last of the carrots, leeks and beets the other day.  It didn’t happen.)  But that’s okay.  I still haven’t posted pictures from a field trip a few weeks ago to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  So, in memory of warmer days…



fall maples


Sedum (one of my favs)


Clamantis (another fav)


Witchhazel (dare I say this is another favorite?)

A plant that flowers in fall and arrests seed development until spring.  Cool.


Dahlia with Honeybees (I heart honeybees)


An Evergreen (A Hemlock, I think)


Gardenia from the greenhouse

The girly girl in me loves these so. very. much.

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Down but not out

Oy Vey!  This semester is a doozie.  I’ve either been in class 4-5 hours a day or working every day since… before Labor Day.  But let’s not think about such things.  Let us, for the sake of sanity, think about other things.  Wonderful things like…

Lard!  After some serious hunting around town I managed to track down some pure, unhydrogenated lard with no additives (and cost less than $8+/lb).  That stuff is hard to find.  But it’s worth it…

Have you ever had lard pie crusts?  Divine.  Rich, flakey, and easy to roll out.  We even made some teeny, tiny mason jar pies like this.

But lard has so many other good uses, too, including a batch of homemade soap.  I’ve made two in the past few weeks, but only one (on the left) has lard.  They’re both enriched with coconut, hemp, and cocoa oils to combat winter dryness.

Let’s think about apple picking…

and canning…

and freezing lots of produce.

Let’s think about knitting…

and knitting (this color show a brown hat.  It’s actually a lovely green)…

a wee bit of crochet.  I think I’ve been using the knitting needles for stress relief.  Fortunately, no one has been hurt.  Yet.

Let’s think about harvesting…

bok choi…


winter squash…

sweet potatoes (!!!)….

and watermelons.

While thinking about winter, I bound a piece of wool for a nice winter blanket.  It’s already in heavy rotation around here.

I made some spore prints to verify that our Garden Giant mushrooms were actually what I thought they were.  All tests checked out and we ate them right up.  Yummy!  We’d eat more but the squirrels keep digging up the mushroom bed to plant their fall harvests.

We took a little trip to visit P’s grandma for her 80th birthday party.  Fun was had by all.  These bottles were in the restaurant and, thinking they were silly things, we picked them up for a photo.  They were made of glass and filled with liquid.  SO HEAVY!  But hilarious nonetheless.

I’ve even found a few minutes to enjoy the late fall garden

Sunflower Heliopsis


Jacob’s Ladder

and some lovely roses.  As a side note, this rose plant came to me free last year because it was so poorly pruned and heavily diseased.  A little TLC this year and I’ve been richly rewarded.

And, sadly, now it’s time to think about homework.

*I was super geeked out to find rhizobia nodules on the roots of the soybeans.  If you’re wondering, it a bacteria that lives in symbiosis with legumes (beans/peas/etc) and allows the plant to get its’ nitrogen needs from the air rather than the soil.  A huge advantage and much exploited in organic farming.

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Four more days

until I’m on spring break!

No wet t-shirt contests for me, though.  I’ve got plans to make more soap, set up the seed-starting area, go on some bike rides, make a cover for our wool comforter, learn to use the new snap press, clean up the yard, get ahead on homework, and read a few fun books.  Good times.  Can’t wait!

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Where Have I Been?

I’ve been doing this:

Attempting to understand things like this:

“All conifers are woody perennial plants with lateral meristems and secondary growth. The vascular cambium is active early in seedling growth, and just as you learned with angiosperms, produces the secondary xylem and phloem. Secondary xylem in conifers is primarily made up of tracheids and ray parenchyma, and contains no vessels. Some tracheids have thicker walls and are more important for physical support than for water transport. Phloem consists primarily of sieve cells and parenchyma. As in woody angiosperms, the epidermis of the stem is replaced by a periderm.”

Fortunately, things are going pretty darn well.  I can understand it, now I just need to remember it.  

I have a mental list a mile long when I finish up with finals on Monday night.  Making soap, chalkboards, photofinishing, truffle making, quilting, family events, and perhaps some late Christmas cards.  Only 54 hours to go… not that I’m counting or anything…

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It’s December

and I’m slowing down.  I can feel it, the deeper breaths, the moments when I can’t think of anything I have to do, the permission I’m giving myself to take some moments for me.  It’s surprised me these past few days, but it’s real.  The feeling keeps coming back.

It’s December.  Finals are right around the corner, the holidays are creeping up fast, and I feel like life should be moving at a million miles a minute.

But it’s not.  And I love it.

All (well, most) of my lab reports are done, most papers are written, all quizzes complete.  I just have finals left, and I feel pretty prepared as I’ve studied very well all semester.  We’re finally in a house of our very own and we’re not stuck in the hurry-up-and-wait world of foreclosure sales.  My niece is healthy and she’s home.  I’m not working much and I’m not submerged under the cold-weather coffee rush or office politics.  The economy is slow and there isn’t much bike work.  I miss my dad, but the grief is more familiar and less debilitating.  I miss my grandma, miss knowing she’s there on Lake Al*ice, watching her birds and doing crosswords.  But for both of them I’m grateful they aren’t worrying anymore, and I’m thankful I don’t have to worry about them, either.  I’d love to have them back and worry about them but since I can’t I’m going to enjoy the lighter load.  There has been so much to get through this past year, but I finally feel like I’ve broken through to the other side.  It feels so good.

My birthday is next week and I’ll be 28.  I don’t feel one way or the other about it, really.  I feel 28, a young 28.  I feel grounded, yet full of possibility.  I love the loftiness of school, the headiness, the dreams, and the assuredness of the young people around me.  Sure, the giggling girls and punk-ass boys drive me a little crazy (especially during “group work”) but schools are full of dreamers and expansive ideas and I, with my level-head and logic, need that sometimes.

All the loss of the past year brings the fullness of the present into brilliant relief – The wonderful people around me feel more temporary than ever, but that brings out a gratefulness, a need to enjoy the wonder of my own little life.

In the movie Shadowlands (one of my all-time favorites) the point is made that the loss of the future is part of what makes what we have right now so wonderful.  And this year that’s more real to me than ever.

The Middle

When I think of the bygone days

I think of how evening follows morn;

so many I loved were not yet dead,

so many I love were not  yet born.

– Ogden Nash

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