Spring Approaching

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This is my latest baked bean batch.  I've been working on developing a good vegetarian baked bean dish for ages.  I'm closer now than I've ever been.  Philip and my mother loved this version.  It's almost ready to share.



A lot has been going on around my farmhouse.  We still don't know if the bank will refinance and we're at nine months of not knowing now.  My campaign to unload a lot of junk was going well (did I already mention I got rid of 6 boxes of craft stuff from my office alone?) and then my mother moved in with us permanently. 

Her moving in was a decision we reached mutually for a lot of different reasons.  The number one reason is that she couldn't afford to live in Portland any more.  She loves it there but it's just too expensive.  Another reason is that if the bank refinances our loan she can contribute to our mortgage.

The less official reasons are that her health isn't great and neither of us wanted her to be so far away that if anything happened I wouldn't be able to help out.  She's had bronchitis for a month and has been experiencing vertigo and has been ordered by her doctor not to drive.  So now she's on a leave of absence from work. 

The minute she moved in it's been complete chaos.  Not because of her.  My mom is pretty easy to live with now, something I never thought I'd say ten years ago, and she has a magic way of arranging and organizing things that I was not blessed with.  So she moves in and suddenly we have an amazing living room.  No dead space.  It's wonderful!  What's chaotic is how we've all been getting sick for a month and the pet situation is complicated and extremely stressful.

We love pets.  We are all animal people.  By animal people I mean to say that we aren't people who feel life is complete without animals being part of our family.  My mom arrived with two cats and two huge dogs.  My dog who has never chased her own kitties is suddenly responding to a cat-hunt vibe with the youngest of my mother's two dogs (a big boy named Angus) and our cat Penny is really upset and is now peeing on things. 

Angus is really the apex of all the trouble.  He can reach anything at all and is constantly chewing on whatever he can get his maw around.  Any boots or shoes left around are decimated in minutes.  He'll eat everything in the kitchen.  I roasted a very expensive baking sheet of organic fennel and turned my back for less than three minutes and he had licked over it all and already eaten half of them.

On the plus side my mom got our dishwasher fixed.  I don't mind hand washing dishes but I confess that it gets overwhelming doing dishes here and never more so than with one more person living here.  Not only did she get our dishwasher fixed (it's been broken for over a year) she actually cleans the kitchen every couple of days! 

Stitch and Boots is meant to be my homesteading blog but lately I realize it's mostly been my cooking blog.   I am not going to officially change the focus because I keep hoping to do some other household projects to share here.  I'm using this place as my flame of hope, if you don't mind me saying such a silly thing.  I have not really done any garden planning for a year while writing my novel and working and trying very hard to hold everything together with thin threads. 

I was reinspired the other day by a talk I had with my Kung Fu teacher and a couple of other students at our school about GMOs and though our talk was angry (not with each other- with the situation of not being able to keep GMOs from our own diet due to no labeling and contamination of non-GMO crops by a growing number of GMO crops) out of the anger I remembered something fundamental: growing your own food matters.  Growing my own food matters. 

Even though I might have to leave this house mid-season, it's also true that I might be here (in limbo) for as long as another year and in that time I can grow at least two crops in my garden.  I already have the beds, they just have to be cleared of quack grass ("just" is not doing justice to the problem- remember I broke a shovel on that stuff?!).  So I talked to my mother who is largely responsible for having given me a passion for gardening in the first place and she's going to help me.  We're going to do a small vegetable garden. 

It will be an act of good faith that we'll hopefully still be here a year from now.  Two years from now.  A decade from now.

She has requested one whole bed for her own experimentation with square foot gardening.

There is nothing more important than for all of us with yards and balconies to grow open pollinated food.  With all my house and life turmoil I lost sight of that.  I'm watching the spring bulbs surface and though I'm sad to see winter winding down I am feeling the excitement of spring and all the new growth it brings with it.  I'm excited to clean out the dead growth from my strawberries and let the new leaves up into the light.  Snow watch 2011 is over. 

It's time to plan the only part of my future I can be sure of which is that no matter where I live I will always grow food.  It's the best offering of hope I can make.  It's the grandest gesture of love I can share.

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I have been thinking about the garden again also...cleaning out the beds and building some new ones. Where and how do you come by non-GMO seeds. I really want to get the compost bins ready also. So much to do...so little time when I also want to sew...
I have been reading a blog called Survival Mom and she has really gotten me thinkng about how much food we need to have stored and the abilities we need to have to know how to can and garden...the grands and I will be spending lots of time in the gardens this summer and teaching them the importance of growing and eating what you grow.

All open pollinated seeds are non GMO so any heirloom varieties are safe. You can also check with different seed companies and only buy seeds from those that have taken the safe seed pledge. You can usually find this in the beginning of the catalogs. For our region your best resource for safe seeds adapted to our climate are from Territorial Seeds or from Nichol's Nursery. Both have taken the safe seed pledge.

I also like to buy from Seeds of Change sometimes but they're in the southwest so less ideal.

What a great lesson to teach the grands! My mom taught me the same when I was a kid. She always grew food in our garden along with the flowers and other ornamentals (like dogwood). So I grew up knowing that the best food is the food we grow ourselves and also that food takes work to grow (I was made to do a lot of weeding!).

You already know how to can! You're ahead of the game. You even can meat! By the way- I finished the marionberry jam and I just have to say thank you again- I was so sad to get to the bottom of the jar!

I haven't forgotten that I owe you the recipe for the pickled jalapenos so you can make them for John. You may have to wait until summer so I can make them again and take more careful notes. You won't need it until then anyway. So that's on my list.

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