Though over the years I have grown to really love and appreciate winter for its cold and dark days, there is something that will always be special and joyful about spring. This year it seems to have come a bit early for me in Omaha, but it seems only appropriate to recognize the first day of spring (though it was yesterday). And a spring day it is indeed! Warm but drizzly, with a hint of pollen in the air. What a treat, too, with the trees blooming around the city and flowers budding everywhere! Even some tulips that I planted in January have decided to make an appearance, poking their noses out of the soil in front of our house. The birds too, are singing many a songs of spring. My body is rejuvenated.
As with all changing seasons, the coming of spring gave me a kick to decorate. I feel like we all have such a unique relationship with the spaces that we live in, and for me, I am better able to relate to my space if it is an ever-changing extension of my feelings (bless my roommates, who put up with my constant rearranging, redecorating and repeating).
Cat mint I foraged from the riverbed of the Platte
A couple of months back, when Christmas had past and everyone else was ready for winter to be through, Farren and I were out and about and I spied a evergreen wreath on the curbside headed for the dump. Now if you know me, you know I won't pass up a good opportunity for free craft supplies! So we pulled on over and stuffed the wreath into the trunk and headed on our merry way. Upon bringing it home, I removed the branches and pine cones from the metal wreath hoop and fashioned a new winter wreath, which hung in our front window until only recently. When the outdoor temperatures reached 80 degrees and spruce needles covered our floor, I decided it was time for a change. Using the metal hoop we had foraged from the trash, it seemed only appropriate (spring is the time for new life!) to give our little wreath a new spring life.
I started by wrapping a portion of the metal frame with some pastel yellow scrap fabric I had lying around. Then, I wove branches that I had recently pruned from our fence-line around the remaining portion of the wreath. Because they were freshly cut, they were quite flexible and easily able to take any form I put them in. For a final touch, I made homemade flowers using coffee filters and some pink and orange paints. Super easy and the result is really lovely! I have written how to make the homemade blooms below.
I think the wreath turned out quite nice and my roommates have not taken it down yet... Other things that would work well around a spring wreath would be hollowed eggs, dried flowers or some lace. Really, anything you have lying around! Its always nice to spruce up your space, and its especially nice when doing so costs pennies. In this case, I really only paid for the coffee filters. And it was a nice project to work on outside, allowing me to enjoy the beautiful weather!
Homemade flower blooms
Coffee filters (two per bloom)
Acrylic paint, in warm colors (I used pink and orange)
A plate other supplies:
A line to hang the filters to dry
Paint brush (optional; I used my fingers!)
Something to hold the filters to the line (I used bobby pins)
Start by wetting the plate with quite a bit of water. Lay a coffee filter on the plate and add paint. I used my fingers, so about a finger-dip is plenty of paint. Spread the paint around and allow it to spread throughout the filter.
Each filter will be unique, so add more or less paint to each one for different blooms! Once the filter is painted to your liking, hang to dry. The paint will drip a little, so be sure you are not hanging them over your finest linens or your favorite shoes (unless you want to paint those too!). It only takes a couple minutes to dry if the weather is warm, so you can just keep switching out wet ones for dry ones.
Once you have as many filters painted as you'd like, you are ready to make the blooms. Start by taking one filter and bunching it in the center so the edges ruffle out, and the center is pulled together tightly. Then, place the center of the first filter at the center of the second filter and softly bunch the second filter to create a flower-like bloom. Using string, tie the two filters together!
I used the blooms on the wreath but they can also be used for other things. Consider tying them to single branches and using them in a bouquet. String some together and use them as a garland. Use them for gift wrapping! Really, anything you'd like to bring some springy fun to.
Other things that are happening in my life right now:
Big Muddy Urban Farm started our seeds!
Canning with friends!
Plants I have gleaned, are growing happily
I hope you are enjoying and celebrating the spring.
This is a pattern I concocted over the summer time, with inspiration from my friend Annie. It has been a long time coming, but after my dear friend Alicia requested it a couple of days ago, it seemed only appropriate to include it here on the blog!
Using repurposed citrus mesh bags (you know, the ones you get onions and citrus in at the grocery store!), some cotton yarn and a couple minutes, you can have a great dish scrubbie, at little cost. Its also much cheaper than buying sponges and they last a long time! A win-win-win, if you ask me.
The pattern for the scrubbie is super easy: Ch = chain Dc = single crochet Slst = slip stitch Round 1: Ch 4, slst to make a loop. Round 2: Ch 3 to create first stitch then Dc 9 into loop, Slst into first stitch to close second round. Round 3: Ch 3 to create first stitch then 2 Dc into each stitch, Slst into first stitch to close third round. Round 4: Ch 3 to create first stitch then 2 Dc into each stitch, Slst into first stitch to close fourth round. Ch about 15-20 stitches and Slst into first Ch stitch to create hanging loop; tie off. Then, I fold the mesh material into a hexagon shape and stitch it around, using the middle row of stitches as my guide for where to stitch. As I go around the scrubbie, I adjust the folding of the mesh so that it is more circular. Also, use cotton yarn because it holds up nicely and doesn't get yucky. Then you can also put it in the dishwasher, microwave or laundry to clean it!
Happy cleaning! p.s. have any questions about the pattern? Leave a note and I will try to make it more clear!
Things are a brewing here in Omaha! And, Big Muddy Urban Farm endeavors comprise a majority of my daily activities these days. Lately, these endeavors have been filled with fun.
A couple weeks ago, we hosted a "secret cafe" as a fundraiser for buying raised beds at one of our growing sites. There were around 50 people who came to enjoy our four-course, sit-down, home-cooked meal! We spent the morning and afternoon cooking for the masses and at 6 pm, when people started arriving, the excitement began to build. Our menu included fresh greens, two soups, homemade pizza and tasty sweet treats. I prepared the a beer, bacon and bean soup which I have been quite fond of lately. Check out the recipe for that below! Our humble basement, that was temporarily turned into a restaurant for the night, was quickly filled:
Before the guests arrived
After! With much food and laughter
Those who waited for seating enjoyed tunes by my dear friend and fellow Big Muddy farmer Matt in the living room. We were able to raise quite a lot of funds for our raised beds and will be building soon!
Beans, beans the magical fruit!
Beer, bean and bacon soup*
5 cups of mixed beans, uncooked
1 pound of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 beers of your choice (I used a dark porter)
1/2 cup of molasses
1/4 cup of maple sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1. Soak the beans overnight, then drain, rinse and cook them. Then, rinse them and set them aside in a bowl.
2. In the same pot, cook the bacon and onions until the bacon is browned and slightly crispy. Then, add remaining ingredients (including the beans that you set aside earlier!) and enough stock to cover the beans by about an inch. Allow to stew for an hour or so, adding stock or water as necessary.
Bon appetite! Enjoy with some hearty bread!
*this recipe was modified slightly from the Earth to Table cookbook
Southpaw Bluegrass Band, and a glimpse of the tiny dancers!
Then, this past Sunday, our friend and supporter Lori planned a Hootenanny (which for those of you who don't know what that is, let me just tell you there are lots of great folk and bluegrass musicians that spend the night on and off the stage sharing their tunes! Lots of fun) to benefit Big Muddy Urban Farm and our urban farming neighbor at our site on 33rd and California, Chris, with his permaculture farm; Sweet Thyme Farm.
Both events were loads of fun, and it feels so special to have such positive community support. Thanks for your continued support and stay tuned for more updates soon.
I'm not sure how the weather is where you are, but it is in the 70s and shining today here in Omaha. So to that, I say:
It seems I have been a busy bee lately; hardly a moment to sit down. And, what might you ask, is keeping me on my toes these days? Well, I have quite the news! I have been busy working with several of my new and dear friends here in Omaha, to start a CSA (community supported agriculture) called Big Muddy Urban Farm. It seems, moreover, that I have landed in the exact right spot, surrounded by the best people possible, to nurture my soul and focus my energy. Right now, we are working to secure land and supplies and we are planning our crops so as to grow and sell 20 shares of our farm in the 2012 growing season; enough to feed 80 people for 20 weeks!
The people I am working with come from a diverse background; some having farmed before, some having only been interested in growing food on a personal level, some filmmakers about food and others just food lovers. Myself, I have grown only on a very small scale, in my parents' backyard and at the community garden plot I tended over the past two growing seasons with Jill and friends. I have been fortunate to be exposed to growing throughout my childhood, as my grandpa lives on a farm and my mom worked summers at Uriel Pharmacy as a grower. Though I am quite inexperienced in growing food, I have spent time writing and working on business plans and studying economics for the past four years; all the while interesting myself with food and growing on a text-book and experimental basis. I feel positive that while I have not grown food for a crowd before, my other skills will continue to contribute to the overall success of our group, on the foundation that exists with the others' skills and knowledge.
Surely we will encounter many struggles, and the support of our friends and families will be essential to our well-being; and is the basis for community supported agriculture. Know too, that I have been inspired by so many of you. Such inspiration has led me to this place-- and thank goodness.
Watch us grow, as the seasons change and the air gets warmer and the earth greener!