After the rain

We’ve had some lovely refreshing rain here lately, and all our plants are looking so invigorated (as are we). Is there anything nicer than stepping out after a rain and breathing in all the fresh smells of earth and grass?

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We have a huge mango tree that provides delicious shade and, hopefully, will bear fruit this season.

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My big, beautifully propagating aloe plant.

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And flowers that are finally beginning to show some color.

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A winter garden

Our new little garden-in-progress is starting to reward us with its first seedlings just poking out of the earth:

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Tomatoes.

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Beans.

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Squash.

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Mustard greens – the latter actually sprouted from seeds I pulled off the spice shelf and stuck in as an experiment!

So far we’ve had pleasant mild weather with rain from time to time, and there are usually no frosts around these parts, so hopefully we’ll be able to grow some food this winter.

Little projects for a little winter

After a hot, dry spell, we’re finally enjoying some cool weather and lovely refreshing rains, which means it’s time to whip out the teapot, candles and yarn… while the weather lasts.

I’ve made these lovely crocheted booties in newborn size before, and was (sorry for the pun) hooked. They were so quick, simple to make and comfy that I ditched every other pattern I’ve used before. Now I’m trying to make some in a bigger size for kids who prefer warm thick socks to slippers around the house. I’ll let you know how it works out.

 

Progress!

Remember this?

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Last week, we rented a tractor, carried away a ton of debris such as old moldy mattresses, concrete rubble and rusty poles, plowed under the weed jungle, handpicked another mound of smaller scale litter (old plastic bottles, beer cans, ancient shoes), and started preparing the space for our future garden.

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The place now looks like this. There is still a slab of concrete in the middle that was too difficult to remove, but we figure we can use it as a foundation for a chicken coop or a greenhouse.

I’ve already marked some beds and planted beans, squash, and peppers. I know it’s unorthodox to plant at the end of October, but I figure there are plenty of places where the summer is about as warm as our winter, and people still report being able to grow tomatoes and peppers there, so what have we got to lose? One thing is certain – outdoor work is a lot pleasanter in winter around these parts.

Stay tuned for more news about us and our work to make the most of this little urban homestead-in-progress.

Puttering around

Once in a while, my phone puts together these little videos for me, and the one above is a pretty good representation of what we’ve been up to in the previous week: puttering around the yard, doing paper art, and hair art.

There is still a lot to do, but now that the big unpacking frenzy is more or less behind us, I have more time to devote to something I’ve been itching to do: working on the small abandoned plot of land next to our yard. This week, I’ve moved whatever junk I could lift, raked huge mounds of fallen leaves, and did some digging to break up solid clods of dirt and let the ground breathe.

We were promised some major rainfall today and tomorrow, so hopefully after that the ground will be nice and soft. I’m then going to get to some planting. This will be rather an experiment, because it’s our first winter here – it’s supposed to be very mild around here, without even any frosts, so hopefully many things can be grown year round.

I will let you know how we progress.

Clutter: the perennial problem

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A few short months after we were married, I already saw the clutter beginning to accumulate. It has the most sinister ways to creep in. Old newspapers and bills, empty plastic bags, a few items that were lovingly given to us, but are of little use… it takes a time to sort through it all!

In addition, I soon discovered a slight difference of attitudes between my husband and myself when it comes to stuff. I see anything that isn’t useful or beautiful as superfluous, and will gladly throw or give it away. My husband will stick to anything he thinks we might ever use, someday, somehow In a house with very little storage space, this usually means piles of clutter.

Here’s what happened one night shortly after we were married. My husband came from work, holding two unrecognizable metal objects in his hands.

“Aren’t they nice?”  he asked enthusiastically.
“What are these?”
“Well, I don’t actually know. But aren’t they cool?”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I have a creative and resourceful husband who can take what others would label as “junk”, make a few tweaks here and there, and produce excellent and useful items. Our very first living room table was found abandoned on the curb, and restored just a few days before our wedding.

Most of our furniture was either found and repaired, or we got it used. It saved us a good deal of money, and is very useful. However, we also have much (too much, in my opinion) stuff that gathers dust on our shelves, taking up limited storage space. Not that I think having more storage space is a solution! Rather, it tempts you to hoard more and more stuff if you have such a tendency.

All our house moves were seen by me as opportunities to get rid of unnecessary clutter. Moving is the perfect time to do that, because you are forced to go through all your things and decide what is important enough to be wrapped, put into a box, and taken with you to your new home. Often, you will find things you even forgot you had – and ironically, even though you hadn’t used them for years and didn’t miss them at all, once you see them you are unable to say goodbye.

There is a certain box that has been sitting with us, unpacked, through two house moves. I figure that if we could live without thinking about its contents for four years, we aren’t likely to ever need it. My husband begs to differ. I have learned to let some things slide, however.

I think that once in a while, I will just pretend we are moving again, and simply let go. Let go of unnecessary items and simplify our life. It feels good.

New homestead, new goals

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Now that things are a little less messy and a little more settled around here, we can start working, bit by bit, on new projects, which can be summed up this way: it is possible to live sustainably anywhere; it is possible to homestead anywhere. Simple living, making things from scratch, recycling, reduced consumerism, foraging and growing food are practices that can be implemented by anyone.

Read more in my latest Mother Earth News post:

“I knew that homesteading and sustainability are not just for those who can do remote off-grid living. It’s more about mindset than circumstances. And so I started to look into urban homesteading, and discovered inspiring examples of food production people have managed in tiny spaces. Container gardening, vertical gardening, urban chickens, community plots and other cool projects made me ashamed of doing so little with what we have had until now. Rather than needing more land, it transpired, we just needed to make better use of it!”