Old Becomes New

A few years back I shared with you my love of all things old:  books, clothes, music and furniture.  I love that in nourishing vintage items, we can breath life into them and make the old become new.

My husband’s grandmother recently got some new digs, and she was unable to fit all of her furniture in her new place.  I was thrilled when she asked if I could use them for something.  Yes, please.

It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some clearance fabric can do!  The only downside of this project is that now I have the itch…and I want to do oh so much more 🙂

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Joy in the Present

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Each of us has a handful of life experiences that truly changes us.  Those experiences that get deep into our veins and alter the core of our inner self and the lens through which we view the world.  I can confidently say my family and I just experienced such an event.

Over the course of the last eight days our family ventured East.  We made many, many stops and saw numerous amazing sights, but the reason for our trip was to participate in a family stay at the Knapp family’s local living school, Koviashuvik.  While on this absolutely gorgeous homestead we learned, laughed, created, and soaked up all we could from this astounding family of four who live in harmony with the earth in a way I have never before witnessed.

As I sit before this screen, I realize there is no way I can adequately express, in words, our time spent with the Knapps.  Instead, I have decided to let the photographs tell our story.  The word Koviashuvik means, “a time and place of joy in the present moment” and I invite you come along with us on our adventure to a time and place where I can say I was fully present and filled with the most wonderful sense of peace and joy.

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IMG_2896 IMG_2899 IMG_2900Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040284Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040289Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040303Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040312IMG_2905IMG_2911 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915 IMG_2917 IMG_3002Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040390IMG_2922 IMG_2925 IMG_2943Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040354Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040364

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IMG_2928Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040424Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040435Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040444Photo Credit: Ashirah KnappP1040463

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Late August In the Garden

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As summer wanes, and the expansive days of summer fade before our eyes, I am beginning to feel that same briefness in the garden.  While we still have a great deal coming out of our garden, and the tomatoes are finally beginning to come along, I feel a pull towards the space inside our home.  At this time of year, my body grows weary from all the hours spent out in the garden.  And while I still adore being in this space, I look forward to the days of nestling in with a cup of coffee, good book and some crocheting.  I often think this is why God gifted us with the seasons.  They allow us time to recharge our minds and bodies before venturing out again.

This past week in the garden has been quite bountiful.  Our second round of strawberries are still coming in the door, along with our long-awaited raspberry crop.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we have been eating them fresh off the vine, most of them never even making it over the threshold.  The lemon verbena liqueur that I mentioned a couple weeks back, is now completed and I look forward to the cocktails and baked goods we can make with this citrusy elixir.  More herbs are being dried, and beans frozen.  But perhaps our greatest delight of the week has been our apples.  As I shared before, the Japanese beetles have devoured the leaves of our apple trees.  We reached a point this week that there were more dead leaves than living and I feared if we didn’t pick our apples now we may lose them.  So pick we did.  And pie we made.  It was a great week in the garden.

In the Garden

It’s August!  This means we have entered the jungle-phase of the gardening season.  In order to move about the garden, one must weave in and out of the labyrinth of branches and vines.  And while doing so, one may come across our cat sleeping amongst the beans, or perhaps a groundhog who has found his way into our tomatoes.  (Talk about a bit of a fright when not expecting that guy.  Oh boy.)

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But amongst this tangle of vegetation there is a great deal happening, and our kitchen is finding itself brimming with our garden’s bounty.  The tomatoes have now grown taller than me (and standing at 5’11” that is saying something), and for the first time EVER we have been able to grow broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage!  We planted ever-bearing strawberries two years ago and we are now reaping the rewards of an amazing second round of these lovelies.

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A few weeks back, as I mentioned in this post, I hung some herbs to dry.  This week my girls helped to take the leaves off these dried plants, grind them by hand, and then can them for the winter months.

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Also in the herb department, our basil and lavender are just beautiful this year.  I decided to try out Ashley English’s Lavender Lemonade from her book //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1611801281&asins=1611801281&linkId=XB3HIFBW6PW65FC3&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true“>Quench (using stevia to replace the sugar) and it was delicious!  I have also been making basil-lime water infusions and it puts a whole new face on my family’s hydration needs.

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I pulled most of our carrots this week and tried my hand at lacto-fermentation.  So far, there is a lot of fermentation goodness in the form of carbon-dioxide bubbles rising to the surface of the jars when I burp them each day.  I am very excited to taste these in a few more days.

Coming up next week, I hope to share with you some of the recipes I have been working on, which feature so much of this garden goodness.  Until then, enjoy the remainder of your week!

 

August Action

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There has been a lot of action of late in our gardens.  It is truly at its peak, and despite the near 100-degree temperatures this week, we find ourselves entwined in vines of all sorts, harvesting all this fabulous veg.

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Tomatoes make an appearance at our dinner table each night, for I am not sure there is a better fresh vegetable on earth than a homegrown tomato.  Herbs are being dried each day in order to preserve them for the winter months.  Onions and beans are being diced and then destined for the freezer.  And who could forget our school garden, from which we just reached the 100 pounds donated mark!  Yup, the students of Cathedral of St. Peter School have donated 100 pounds of fresh produce to the Plant a Row for the Hungry program at our local food pantry.

So much wonderful August action in the garden right now.  I hope all of you are finding yourselves in the midst of such garden greatness as well!

Beans, Beans Everywhere

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One thing is for sure, we have a LOT of beans coming through our kitchen door these days.  So many beans in fact that there is no feasible way to eat them all.  Enter “Operation Dilly Bean.”  If you have never eaten a pickled bean, a.k.a. dilly bean, you must make it your duty to eat one this year.  A dilly bean earns a solid ranking in the top 3 list of pickled veg in my book.  Yum.

This past Sunday found me hovering over the kitchen island chopping beans and breathing in vinegar fumes, with visions of dilly beans dancing in my head.  The past few years I used a dilly bean recipe from this book, but this year I decided to mix things up a bit and try something new.  I used the basic pickling recipe from this cookbook, and based on how great Miss English’s other recipes are, I’m sure this one will not disappoint.

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“Oh, Jam? I Love Jam!”

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I think I love jam just as much as I love Friends…and what could be better than an entire Friends episode dedicated to jam?  Love it!  That’s why all afternoon, as my four year old and I worked in our strawberry-coated kitchen, I couldn’t help but hear Joey’s voice in my head repeating, “Oh, jam?  I love jam?”

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Yesterday, while my oldest was away at camp, my tiny sous chef and I worked with Pomona’s Universal Pectin, a wonderful low-sugar pectin (as we did in this post as well), and ended up with some absolutely fabulous results.  When making jam last year, we used the low-sugar recipe options included with the Pomona’s Pectin.  This year, we tried out two no-sugar options, taste tested them this morning, and yummy…delicious!

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The first recipe we tried was simply the cooked strawberry jam recipe included inside the Pomona’s box.  We used the honey sweetening option and it is delicious.  The second recipe we tried is from the latest issue of Taproot.  And oh boy, let me tell you, this recipe is amazing!  It is a strawberry-maple with vanilla jam recipe, specifically designed for Pomona’s Pectin.  And the best part about this fabulous recipe is the only sweetener is maple syrup.

Happy jam-making season all!

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Corn Sausage Chowder

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It seems that this is going to be a recipe-type week here at Making of a Home.  As we inch closer to the growing season, we have been eating lots of food from our larder, to make space for this year’s bounty.  Last night I grabbed bell peppers, sweet corn and chicken stock from our deep freeze and came up with this recipe from those ingredients.  This is a hearty soup that will put some meat on your bones during these damp, April-shower-filled days.

In a stock pot, heat 1/2 stick butter and 2 tablespoons flour over medium heat to make a roux.  Stirring constantly, heat this mixture until it turns a rich caramel color.

Add 1 diced red pepper, 1 diced green pepper, and 1 diced yellow onion to the roux mixture.  Cook the vegetables until the onions become translucent.  Be sure to stir often, scraping all of the roux-goodness from the bottom of the pan while you stir.

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While the veggies are cooking, cook 2 pounds ground sausage in a skillet.  Once cooked, set aside.

Add 1 quart chicken stock, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup cream, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 pepper to the vegetable mixture.  Simmer, with the lid on, for 20 minutes.

Add the kernels from 4 ears of sweet corn, the cooked sausage from earlier, and 8 ounces shredded Monterey jack cheese.  Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour.

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Garnish the chowder with a dollop of sour cream if you desire.  Enjoy!

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*A note about all my recipes:  I use all organic ingredients, local when available.  I use non-homogenized milk, and all of the dairy we use is from animals raised on pasture. I also use oils that are non-GMO verified.  All our meat is raised locally on organic feed, and our beef is grass-fed, grass-finished.  All our spices and cane sugar are fair-trade certified and purchased through a cooperative.

What do you eat in February?

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Local watermelon.  As strange as that may sound, yes, for dinner last night we feasted on local watermelon we put by way back in early September, and let me tell you…It was delicious!

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle several years ago, I longed for the days of  “looking at all [those] jars in the pantry [giving] me a happy, connected feeling, as if I had roots growing right through the soles of my shoes into the dirt” that Barbara Kingsolver so eloquently describes in her amazing piece of writing.  And today, many years later, I truly believe I can confidently make that statement with my head held high.  We have established food security for our family.

Our dinner last night was a reminder of this.  With a lovely beef roast from a local grass-fed cow that was processed in October; green beans hand-picked by two adorable Fagan gals, bread and butter pickles made with cucumbers from one of my favorite farmers, pickled beets featuring the dazzling brilliancy of the Chioggia beets pulled from our very own dirt in the backyard, and who could forget that locally grown watermelon frozen in a bit of water and local honey.  Every element on our plate last night came from a place I know and from people whom I trust.

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All of those hours spent hovering over the hot stove, in the sweltering heat of this past summer, seemed worth it when all I had to do was head to my basement last night, grab some meat and veggies from our freezer and a few jars off the pantry shelf.  Since beginning our journey toward sustainability, I am filled with an extreme sense of gratitude that I never thought possible.  It seeps into every one of my pores and I can feel it in every fiber of my being.  The Earth has provided us with so much, and by harnessing these gifts in a conscientious manner, we have been able to provide food for our family, even in the dead of winter.  God is good.

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A Year In Review

It is hard to believe that this blustery day in February marks the one year anniversary of Making of a Home.  Thank you so much to all of you who have been following my musings over the course of the last year!  I am deeply grateful for each of you.

Today I would like to share with you some of my favorite (and your favorite) posts from this past year.  Thank you again, and be on the look out for some new and exciting changes and additions to Making of a Home over the course of the next year.

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Chocolate Anyone?

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Inspiration

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Laundry Day

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Upstream

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Let Them Read

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Rhubarb Goodness

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Spring Soup

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It’s In My Blood

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Pastaless Lasagna 

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Fuasa—Italian Easter Bread

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Generational Wealth

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Farm Fresh

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Ode to the Strawberry

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Retreat

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Grandma Dit’s Carrot Cake

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Canning Day

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New Chapter

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Suburban Homestead

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Walk with Us

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Thanksgiving 2012

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Musings