homemaking


I write the title of this post not as a Maxwell house accomplishment, but as a struggling child of God who wants to fulfill this command, but isn’t sure how to do it while juggling little boys. Any tips? What does this look like apart from just inviting others over for a meal? A friend of mine will often share food with others in the neighborhood. I like that idea, but fail to remember it when a surplus is available. I wish I would have remembered this idea when I was stuck with a yummy cheesecake last week and single-handedly devoured it in 48 hrs.

We all know those families who are experts in this area. We feel welcomed into their home, and the atmosphere is relaxed and inviting even if the mantle is a bit dusty (not that I looked) or the bathroom counter has an errant splash of toothpaste remaining. This is much preferable to the picture that I usually display, of a hostess running around finishing preparations like a chicken sans cabeza, and often missing a chunk of the meal to feed a tired baby.

Growing up my parents were ALWAYS inviting people over for meals on Sunday, and throughout the week. My Mom is an amazing hostess, and I love having that legacy and example to follow. If only I could figure out what that level hospitality looks like for me right now, in this stage of life.

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Inspired by a recent late night with a sick toddler. The more nights like this we experience, the more I am thankful for the easy, efficient teamwork that occurs between Kevin and I during these times. Married life certainly isn’t always rosy and cozy, but when we do work as a team (rather than as opposition) it is worth noting. Praise God, from whom all things good are come.

We serve together.

Cleaning vomit past midnight.

A well-oiled machine.

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Here’s Mr. Pukey sans gastric distress.

I read this article from a mom of 8 boys today and enjoyed her words of wisdom. With our fourth son due in 6 short weeks, I have happily avoided many of the hurtful comments that other moms of single genders have endured. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I tend to be a bit of a homebody (less time to interact with strangers), and the people I do see tend to generally be kind and thoughtful. The interesting difference between myself and the author of the above article (other than the fact that she’s expecting her eighth boy) is that I DON’T WANT a girl. When I’m asked “Will you try for a girl?” or “Were you hoping for a girl?” I usually respond that my husband would like a daughter, which is true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-girls or anything, I just don’t feel like there’s something missing by not experiencing the difference of parenting a female. Since even before we had children, I’ve wanted boys. I’d happily welcome the experience of parenting a daughter, and I’d like for that desire of my husband’s to be fulfilled, but I am honestly perfectly content without the experience. Perhaps this oddity is due to my former “girls-are-scary-combatants-who-need-to-be-contended-with-as-we-trample-each-other-while-clawing-at-our-goals” mentality of high school. Perhaps not 🙂 Image

The carrots are still sleeping, but most everything else has been pulled from the garden. The perennials are drying out (eeeek, I forget I’m still supposed to water for a bit) in the rainless fall. The multi-colored leaves are covering the lawn, ready for hubby to transplant them to their very own carbon pile for next year’s compost. This was a good gardening year, minus the small cabbages and pest-eaten beets. I feel as though I am running a collegiate experimental garden rather than a traditional kitchen garden. My experiment? The lazy woman’s garden. The goal is to achieve a garden where I can till in some compost in the spring, toss in a few seeds, and wait for the bounty to arrive. This year I added less compost and fish meal than I should have, and we still had success growing everything from seed. Not all of the cabbages were large enough to harvest, but I think I can get the seeds in a bit earlier next year and bulk up the nutritional value of the soil for a better yield. Note: the lazy woman’s garden only works if you’re already a fan of storage-type crops, those that do well in cool weather. I’d love to have an even less work-intensive garden in the form of more edible perennials, but that will come someday.

Are you ready for frozen ground? I’m not. Here is the Cooperative Extension Service’s Fall Gardening Checklist. It would be nice to actually get all of those items checked off this year.

Our organic buying club, Wolf Lake Wellness, has gone belly up. Boo hoo! The only good part is that I have one less obligation (picking up the produce every two weeks). I have a deep fear of over-commitment, and even something as mundane as showing up every other wednesday at 4pm to pick up produce feels too much like a life-long requirement.

That being said, here are some good local bloggers that post Alaska specific grocery deals and what not. I don’t think I’ll be chasing deals or cutting hours worth of coupons for a while, but I imagine someone out there will benefit from these ladies’ expertise.

The first seed catalog arrived in the mail this past week, from Fedco. The timing of these catalogs is always perfect, as December is far enough away from September that I’ve recovered from the end of year gardening rush and am ready to once again commence planning the following year’s garden. I’m also experimenting growing some lettuce and kale in containers in the windowsill. These were originally put in an Eastern facing window (most kid inaccesible) but have since been moved onto a sill that receives southern exposure. All 5 whopping hours of exposure. As you can guess, these little plants look super wimpy and chlorotic. Next winter I think I’ll wait until after the winter solstice to plant them.

Winter is also a good time to peruse local Gardening blogs to see fellow Alaskan’s successes and failures. Here are some of my local favorites:

And now, a photo because blogs are supposed to have photos, and I didn’t have the heart to snap a picture of my spindly little winter seedlings:

Because today this little dude is 10 months old, and I need a reminder of how small and immobile he once was 😉

Slugs and rain included, this was by far the most productive gardening season at Maxwell House. Why? This success is by no fault of my own olive drab thumbs, I assure you. Two words: healthy soil. Additions to our lifeless dirt included fall leaf amendment (everyone thought I was crazy but it rawked the house garden come springtime), spring compost, and fish fertilizer (advice curtesy of Mr. JB who really DOES have a green thumb).

In a nutshell; I spent four years depleting soil that didn’t have much nutrients to begin with, and my garden was looking more terrible with each passing year. In one year, with a healthy dose of once-per-year amendments, I’ve seen crazy good results.

Though the pumpkins were itsy bitsy, and the green beans yielded an average of one lousy bean per plant, the carrots, lettuce (pre-slugs), squash, and kale did great. Kale was the real king of the garden this year. I enjoyed the spring spinach, but the season is so short for its cold-loving self. The kale (from seed) came on early, and is still now producing spectacularly. I was even more excited when google enlightened me on the storing options of kale: freezing, drying, and canning. This year I’ve been drying the plants, and I love that I only have to run the dehydrator a few hours to get the leaves perfectly crisp and storable. Now the challenge is to actually remember to use these sweet bits in soups this winter 🙂

Here is this year’s list of garden winners and losers (dontcha like how I make it sound as if this is a list I’ve been posting here every year, rather than this being its inaugural writing?)

Winners:

  • Kale
  • Mixed lettuce (pre-slugs)
  • Crookneck squash
  • Carrots (scarlet nantes)
  • Broccoli (Green Goliath?)

Losers:

  • Green Beans
  • Patty Pan squash (they seemed great in the beginning, but they just took up too much space)
  • Munchkin Broccoli (I know I loved you last year Munchkin, but this year you just annoyed me)

I’d like to start getting serious about planting species of veggies that are truly suited for this area. I’ve played around with tomatoes and some veggies that do OK here, but now I’m interested in understanding which veggies will provide the most food for the least amount of work. If I were a colonist, and my family were dependent on this garden, which varieties would I be choosing? Next year I want to try beets, turnips, onions, and garbage-can potatoes. We’ll likely put in more carrots and Kale. I’m really excited to see how beets fare in the garden.

What about you? What varieties worked well for you this year?

Here’s an interesting link for possible perennial veggie varieties (yay for perennials!): PerennialVegetables.org’s cold-hardy list

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