Posts from the “Sustainable Life” Category

Heat wave

Posted on June 14, 2017

What do you do when the temperatures climb near triple digits several days in a row? 

Mud bathe. Have a nap. Knit a bit in pjs. Hang out the wash. And render lard, of course. I wasn’t expecting the heat wave when I ordered the meat from the local food co-op last month, and also didn’t check the weather forecast when I put the meat in the fridge to defrost last week (are there people who do that? Surely there are). But it all worked out. The house was so hot that the stove made no difference, and I do love having this type of cooking oil in the house. Especially from local animals who have led a good life. 

After a long, rainy spring the word from the fields is that the tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants are drinking in the heat now that it’s finally here. So I guess it’s time to make like a nightshade! Wishing you much sun worship these days. 

Pretty, please 

Posted on June 12, 2017

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Like a flower turning its face to the sun, I have been seeking beauty for the past six months or so. I want it. I might even say I need it, I need to have pretty things in my life. Kind of a new sensation for me since I tend to go for utilitarian style more than anything else. I don’t do decorative.

Why the shift Christine? (This said in singsong. It’s me talking to myself via the baby. I do that a lot these days.) I have no doubts — it’s because of Addie. This humble, delicious work of mothering Addie has made me feel more myself, more like I was before the migraines began close to a dozen years ago. Whole, you could say. The love that I had for my little family of Seth and Lily was complete and perfect, and then it blew out beyond what I thought possible. Like Dorothy stepping from her graytone home out into Technicolor. Except that we get to live in Oz forever. 

Then there’s also living so much on the farms this season. I’m outside every day, puttering in the dirt with a baby or two, talking to farmers, watching things grow. It’s a quieter form of love, this love of earth, but strong. 

These two factors together are a dream, or more like they fill me with dreams. They make me think there is no limit to possibility, like maybe I can astral project to a stage of perfectly tuned Steinway pianos, set before a field of flowers growing through the auditorium floor, the air awash with hummingbirds dipping and swooping and trilling their funny little songs. My fingers will fly over the keys and I’ll sing along the way I used to do when I was practicing for some high school concert — singing and playing for the pleasure of it. 

In spite of, or maybe because of this  daydream, I’ve sometimes felt a flash of annoyance when I’m rushing through chores and push aside a few scraps of PVC pipe or a measuring tape.  A small voice in the back of my mind whispers that it’s hard to find pretty when living in a construction zone. 

But is it?

Warm wood. Bright windows. Open shelving showing textures and projects and some of my favorite things. All I had to do was pause in my mad rush and look around. There is beauty in this everyday life of ours, even with the construction zone. My walls are partially open and showing our insulation, and there are forever clouds of dog hair and wool insulation sheddings on the floor. But in the right light, I can see past that. And between you and me, these windows almost always let in the right light. 

Wishing you a few moments of pause and reflection this beautiful spring morning!

Knitting again

Posted on June 8, 2017

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Maybe I spoke too soon about knitting seasonally a few posts ago. After a long hiatus, I picked up this sweater I began for myself before the baby was born. The yarn is nothing special, just a recycled cotton wool blend, and the finished product is destined for fall farm work (I think I can already see a few dog hairs in there). But my hands needed something to do in the precious few oddments of time I have while Addie naps when we’re out. It’s luxurious, having this small comfort of slow process that’s just for me. I can ease it out while I’m tired or preoccupied (did I mention she’s teething?) and still come up with something beautiful. 

Knitting works that way. I can put it down and pick it up with no break in the pattern, no worries that it’s ruined. Even without the funds or energy right now for finding fancy yarn, I still have time to make something stitch by stitch, minute by minute. My hands work on autopilot. My mind quiets. Come this fall, this sweater will be just what I’m looking for. 

The great herbalism cold and flu flow chart

Posted on March 15, 2017

I’ve been asked several times over the past few months what to do for the cold and flu.  Mostly because I’ve caught the flu twice and had a cold twice in the last few months (ah, the joys of trying to sleep while caring for a newborn), so I must have something good up my sleeve.

There are herbs that are awesome for colds and the flu!  But I’ve noticed that it does depend on what type of cold you have.  And since I was laid up again and had a lot of down time…

Cold and flu flow chart

Colds and the flu provide a low stakes way to dabble in herbs for health without spending a ton of money or getting overwhelmed.  All of these remedies are readily available at a natural foods store, pharmacy, or sometimes at your regular supermarket depending on how cool your neighborhood is.  Or you can make them yourself if you plan ahead for next season.

A note on how to use this chart: Don’t use it if you’re pregnant, lactating, have food allergies, thyroid issues, or you’re a kid younger than age 12.  Everyone should consult their doctor before taking herbs, especially if nervous about how they’ll affect you.  But I feel pretty comfortable with these remedies as they’re gentle, and I’ve recommended all of them to my family and friends.  And they work!  Better than cold medicines! Huzzah!  My favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals for the teas, Sambucol for the elderberry syrup, and homemade for fire cider (non-affiliate links).

If you’re so inclined, I’ve turned the Cold and flu flow chart into a PDF so you can print it out and stash it in your medicine cupboard.  Please use and enjoy!

Like this print-out? Click here for other offerings by Earth Morning



Seed season

Posted on March 6, 2017

We went to a greenhouse skinning operation about a week ago, full of farmers helping the farmers of Upswing, owned by Brittany and Kevin, as they venture into their first season on new land.  As always, when farm folk get together talk turns to joking about how many turnips are left in the root cellar (tons!), telling how strange it is to write yet another yearly post about CSA sign-up day, lamenting the dearth of experienced farm help, and sharing how unprepared they are for March 1, the date to seed onions in flats in greenhouses. Across Massachusetts, farmers are sowing seeds in plastic trays with 98 cells and heating their greenhouses through what is hopefully the last cold spell so they can have spring onions.  Next come brassicas and peas and…

At long last love has arrived

Posted on February 14, 2017

We had a baby at the end of December.  And she is the best. Hot damn I love this kid.  It’s Valentine’s Day, so let me express my love.  It’s been almost two months and we are ridiculously happy with our little pumpkinseed.  Life is very different in its surface details.  We spend most of our time caring for a tiny human instead of building a tiny house.  A good day is one in which I get the dishes done and a load of laundry.  Our budget for sundries has gone up as we purchase disposable diapers (until we get a sink in, I keep telling myself) and one-handed snacks. Still, Seth and I are both us, but more so.  I like to think we’re distilling…

Inwards and Outwards

Posted on August 7, 2016

There has been a division in our life lately.  A natural division for us, I think.  It started in March when we learned that we are expecting our first baby this December, and culminated at the end of last month when some very kind folks moved our tiny house to their property so we can finish building. The division is this: Seth is focusing on the outward, aka the house, the house, the house.  It’s a big task!  Especially if we’re going to finish it in time for this baby we’re brewing.  And I’m focusing on the inwards, which (thankfully) means resting, researching house details, and daydreaming over things to sew. It’s one of the more ancient divisions: woman inside, man out.  It feels very Laura Ingalls…

Shilling hat

Posted on November 22, 2015

Shilling is a hat that knits up in worsted weight yarn.  It is available for both flat knitters and knitters in the round, and while a beginner could knit it, advanced knitters won’t find it boring with its cables and pattern changes. The hat is knit on US size 4 and 6 (UK size 3.5 and 4) needles, and is sized for babies through adults. I knit this hat for Seth, who picked the beautiful heathery rust color from the Cascade 220 Heathers line.  However once it was done, I decided I didn’t want to part with it!  So this hat stays with me and is  a staple of my winter wardrobe. Click here to download the pattern PDF.  Click here for the Ravelry…

Introducing Earth Morning v.2.0

Posted on October 18, 2014

  We decided to give up our garden plot at the community garden.  It was complicated this year with just the one car and Seth’s farm job, and I can’t imagine that will get any easier as we add a house-building to the list of factors. However, just as we decided this we came across a new apartment that fits us very well.  It’s smaller than our old place (just 2 rooms!) to help in our downsizing process, it’s on a quiet street which is better for my head, it has a backyard for the dog, and — wonder of wonders — it has a garden plot with a landlord who would like us to turn it into something beautiful. Moving?  Bah. Who cares about lifting things…

Dirigible Plums and Snargaluff Pods

Posted on October 6, 2014

Calendula.  It’s a gateway drug, I tell you.  I grew some in the garden this year as my first foray into flowers, and because I had a vague idea that I could make soap this winter.  Springtime is full of optimists.  What was I thinking?  I’m not going to make soap.  There are lots of good soapmakers already, and I’ve got a tiny house to build.  But hot damn, my calendula plant produced dozens and dozens of flowers over its lifespan, and this last bit of warm weather has lengthened its staying power. So here I am, drying out the flower heads thanks to a compulsive need to preserve as many garden products as possible.  Then it occurs to me that I have to do…