Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Vintage Christmas

 As I have been helping my mom decorate my childhood home, I longed for my own decorations. 
 I found my box of Christmas decorations, and started unpacking. 
 Lets just say that my tastes differ from my moms (and not in a bad way)
 All of my ornaments and decorations are antique, vintage treasures.
 I bought a live tree and put it on display on my windowseat.
 Added in vintage Shiny Brite ornaments and light reflectors.
I love my tree.  Although this year I don't have a house to decorate, at least my corner of the world is decorated in my style.

Spinning and Knitting

It seems lately that I have had a lot of time for spinning and knitting.  Understandably, there is an abundance of free time while not running my own household.  I don't have to get up at 5 to go milk a goat (although I miss it terribly).  I don't have after work farm chores, grocery shopping or cleaning to do.  My evenings are free to knit and spin to my hearts content.  At this point in my life I am trying to enjoy the extra free time, in hopes that soon enough I will be busy again.  I also constantly have some knitting project stuffed in my purse.  Yesterday I had to pick up a prescription at Safeway and it wasn't ready.  Right there is 10 minutes of knitting!   Yesterday was a treatment day for my mom, which meant 5 hours of knitting next to her.  At this rate I don't have time to get bored with a project because they are finished so quick.
    Right now on my wheel I am spinning up some purple fiber. I am unsure what it will want to be knitted into, but I am sure that I love the colors!  The roving is mostly a shade of dark purple, but also has hints of fuchsia, blue and pinks.  So pretty!

  On my knitting needles I am working on a scarf by Stephen West, Spectra.  I recently flew out to Maryland to visit Tim.  While there we went up to Lancaster (one of our favorite spots) and of course stopped by Lancaster Yarn Shop.  The owner Wendy had this shawl on display.  Its been on my queue (my list of projects to make on ravelry) for a long time now.  I decided to get the yarn and make it up in blues and purples... I am seeing a purple theme today.  The wedges in the scarf change colors while the edges remain in blue.  I have to do over 80 wedges and don't think I am even to 20 yet... Hopefully with all this knitting time it will fly by!
You can see my mom's feet in the background while getting treatment.
The scarf is curvy and hopefully will hang that way once all is said and done.
I hope you all enjoyed my knitting update.  I can't wait to show off the finished items.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A misperception

When one thinks of California they typically picture beaches, sun, tanned bodies in bikinis.  When one thinks of Santa Cruz, they think surfers, organic "crunchy" living, and hippies.  Heck, the Beach Boys even sang about surfing in Santa Cruz.  I grew up in this town but I don't consider it "my" town.  I left after college for a reason.  I am trying to make the most of being here (its not a bad place to be in at all!).  I am trying to see more positives than negatives.  I love driving up the coast at dawn and watching the sun on the ocean.  I love pulling out of our driveway and looking out over the entire Bay.  I am not sure if things were different when I was growing up, or if I just wasn't aware of the other side to the town.  I don't mean literally, like once you cross the railroad tracks you are on the other side.  I mean that there is a huge undercurrent culture of people that are homesteading.  Maybe because Santa Cruz is a totally modern town and very into organic everything(!) that there is a demand for locally grown products.  In Maryland what we were doing was commonplace.  Most people had huge gardens and chickens to say the least.  I had homesteading friends and a community of like minded thinkers.  I assumed when I moved back to Santa Cruz that there would be none of that.  I assumed I would be the only one who pines for chickens and goats.  I stand corrected!  Once you get on the outskirts of town, people have hobby farms.  gasp!  One of the families I babysit for have a humongous garden, chickens, bees and are interested in goats.  The mom cans, makes food from scratch and the kids think it is fun to see who can pluck a duck the fastest.  Another friend I met has a farm daycare (can we say- my dream job?) complete with sheep, alpacas, goats, a hog (or at least there was a hog) and the requisite poultry. 
  Yesterday I responded to a craigslist ad about some wool.  This is what the ad said " A wonderful, SIXTY-SIX (66) ounce coil of loose rovings from our own flock of registered Southdown Sheep; skirted, washed, carded and drawn into loose rovings, ready to spin or use for crafts, just in time for Christmas! We are offering this natural, buttery-white wool fiber at much less than our actual costs for sheering and processing, not counting raising the sheep! That's over FOUR POUNDS of fine wool! Wool processed by Morro Fleece Works of Morro Bay, California."  I was on it like a hawk on a mouse.  I went to their house and was so excited to meet more of "my people".  Not only did they have sheep, but poultry and a daycare as well!  I talked to both the Mr and Mrs and fell in love with their sheep.  Just look at the pictures and tell me how you can not love them. 
  I brought the wool home and can't wait to spin it up, and even try my had at dying!  Most of all I am excited to see that there are people here who are like me!  I still miss Maryland.  Its hard to think about not getting snow for the winter here. But at least I am not the only one who wants farm animals, or their wool!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dave Ramsey Style

Living as a single girl is tough.  Starting over from scratch is tough.  Its especially tough when it comes to finances.  Right now I am living at home and working odd jobs.  My income is unpredictable and I hope to remedy this soon.  I like regiments.  I like planning and budgeting.  It is tough to not be able to budget right now.  Please don't get me wrong, I am not spending all my money simply because I don't have bills.  Before buying our house, Tim and I had paid down all our debt and gone to a cash only system.  It worked great- because I knew what each bill would be and I could plan for it.  While I am blessed to be able to live with my parents, I have to remember to be careful with the income I do get.  I am wanting to go back on a cash diet as I am terrified of getting back into credit card debt.  My goal is to come up with a Dave Ramsey style budget system that I can tweak to my unique situation.  On Saturday I am taking my truck in for brake work.  I hope to pay cash for this repair and any future repairs.  Once I come up with a system I will post it so that I can be held accountable.  For those of you unfamiliar with Dave Ramsey, I highly recommend his book and classes. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Around my room

Since I am living back with my parents, my room has become a house in its own. I thought I would share some images from my current "home"
the "living room"
the "office"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Christmas Knitting


I was just introduced to Instagram by my sister.  Apparently I am late hopping on the band wagon, but hopefully I will have no trouble catchin up.  I thought I would share some images from my first trial run.  
Flowers from yesterdays Farmers Market.  

Alpaca and Sheep from Peaceful Valley Farm.  Aren't they just the cutest?
Antique yo-yo mini quilt from my personal collection of antiques
Super sweet Mama Pig from the Santa Cruz County Fair

Monday, September 17, 2012

Going Gluten Free

For the past five years or so (maybe even longer) I have been having horrible stomach issues. The Army doctors put me on all sorts of acid reflux meds. When those didn't work they had me try multiple brands of acid relief pills. Those still didn't work. A couple years ago while living in Maryland I had to go to the ER for unbearable back and stomach pain. With one guess the doctors there figured out that I had a rotten gallbladder. It needed to come out. stat! They removed it and although it did relieve my pain, I started noticing horrible cramping (way worse than period cramping) after I would eat. I couldnt figure out what was causing the cramps. They didn't appear only when I ate fried food, or any specific item- so I thought. I would have bad cramps if we ate at home or went out. If we had spaghetti or cereal. It was extremely frustrating, but I thought it was just a byproduct of not having my gallbladder anymore. Since moving in with my parents we have discovered (what I think) is the issue. Wheat. When my dad was young he was allergic to wheat and couldn't eat it. I am thinking I have always had an intolerance to it. According to my research, if a person who has a gluten (wheat) intolerance has any sort of major surgery (gallbladder definitely qualifies) the symptoms can be magnified after recovery. Which would explain why I have only noticed the horrible cramps since my gallbladder surgery. This year my dad (who had grown out of his gluten allergy) has gone back on the gluten free diet. He motioned for me to join him, and figuring I had nothing to lose except pain, I accepted. Its been over a month that I have been gluten free and let me tell you- no cramps! none! The other day I got a bit relaxed and had a cookie thinking there was minimal flour and I wouldn't be able to tell. wrong! Lets just say that I wont be having a cookie for a while again. I am looking forward to starting this gluten free plan in hopes that I will feel better. Already I have more energy than I can ever remember. I feel that so many of my medical complaints over the past 5 years are explained in the gluten intolerance. According to "Gluten intolerance can sometimes manifest as unexplained infertility". Why was this not presented when all the infertility specialists couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting pregnant. I was so tired of "everything looks great" or "we don't know why you can't get pregnant". According to the book The Wheat Belly (which I am currently reading) a symptom of gluten intolerance is "incapacitating cramps" yes! I had been describing my cramps as so bad that if you are driving you need to grip the wheel of the car and hold on. Or if you are walking you need to stop and hold on until the cramps are gong. incapacitating indeed. With so many life changing events going on right now, it is nice to have hope. Hopefully I will not get burnt out trying to find gluten free foods. Hopefully I will be seeing even more benefits than I can see now. I am not sure how it will effect the blog, but I look forward to sharing gluten free successes (and failures) with you. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How do I begin?

I have been debating whether or not to continue the blog. Whether or not to write this post. Whether or not to share whats been going on "behind the scenes". I have come up with a compromise- the blog must go on. However to protect both parties involved I will not divulge much details except to say this... Victory Garden Farm will be taking a very different twist. Tim and I have split up and for the time being I am staying with my parents in California. Tim has moved off the farm and into an apartment in the town we lived in. This separation did not come easily, or without deep thought and prayers. I am scared s***less to think about the future alone. I take comfort knowing God has a plan for me that is way better than any plan I thought I had. It is extremely hard not to have Tim here, or the farm. I miss farm life something fierce and trust that God willing I will someday have a farm again. In the meantime, I am setting up life back where I grew up. I am living in my old childhood bedroom again. While I am extremely thankful for all the support my parents have given me, it is hard not to compare this life to "before". There are no more chickens. no goats. no roosters waking me up in the morning. Instead there is the gorgeous ocean. and family. and love. Just because I have moved back to California does not mean my hopes and dreams have changed. They just need to be molded into new dreams. Yesterday my grandma and I took a jam canning class together. Today I settled into a bubble bath with the newest issue of Mother Earth News. Last week I got to farm sit for a friend. Victory Garden Farm will be alive again, even if only as a dream for now. It is my hope to update you on what I am doing in the urban setting. I have been tackling a lot of canning and will write a post on that adventure soon. I might be posting a little less often until I get back on my feet. But rest assured I will survive and be back online soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More Craftyness

This weekend Hubby is working and I am still trying to spruce up the house (on the cheap). Today I decided to make a new desk. I didn't want to just buy something off craigslist this time. I wanted it to be more personal and customized. I had an idea in my head and went off to find salvaged materials, or cheap ones at Lowes. I thought I wanted spindle legs (like on a farm table) but I fell in love with an old pair of sawhorses. I threw them in the back of the Cruiser and headed to Lowes. There I bought 4 planks of wood (at $6 each, not bad) and some antique wood stain. Once home I painted the saw horses white, and stained the basic wood boards. I found an antique office chair in the basement that I had started fixing up last year. I painted and stained it to match. Everything is drying in the driveway now. I hope it turns out how I have it pictured in my head.... Check out where things stand now.

Well, what do you think?

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Screen Door

We just finished putting the door up. Hubby walked in from work and poor guy didn't even get a chance to change before I made him hang the door. Yay! I am thrilled! I might change out the curtain, and we will add more hardware this weekend. I followed this tutorial to make ours. What do you think?

On sprucing up the kitchen

We have been working on making a screen door for the pantry. Ill post the details when its done, but here are some in progress shots. Hope it all comes together!

A while back we painted the fridge with chalkboard paint. I found bistro chalk pens online and just got them in the mail. How cool are they? Instead of the clumsy normal chalk, they are smooth and precise. Perfect for the fridge!

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Potential Sad Story

This afternoon I went out to check for eggs and am glad I did.  Whenever I check for eggs, I also inspect the flock.  Is everyone ok?  Is there water?  Do the mama hens have all their babies? Today the answer to 2 of the 3 was no.  Over the weekend we bought a Blue Cochin Banty hen with 3 chicks.  She is a gorgeous show chicken and I am a huge fan of letting the hens raise the chicks over hatchery chicks.   Today she was out clucking with one chick.  one?  where were the other two?  I looked in the coop.  I looked in the nest boxes.  I looked in the yard.  I figured some predator must have got them (hubby did think he saw a fox last week) since they are so little.  I was just about to count them as dead and go on to refill the water pool.  Thats when I noticed two little masses in the water.  Thinking they were dead chicks, drowned in the water I did not get my hopes up.  When I bent down for further inspection I realized they were alive!  Cold shivering with not much of their heads above water, but alive nonetheless. I quickly scooped them up and placed them on the ground.  I waited for Mama Hen to come get them but she seemed confused.  Should she stay with the one healthy chick or come investigate the two she thought were goners too.  Usually chickens communicate to the chicks with a different cluck than their normal cluck.  The chicks peep back as if they are sound waves bouncing off walls.  Back and forth they cluck and peep ensuring that they are never far apart.  I can only imagine Mama Hen's despair when she only had one chick peeping back instead of three.  No telling how long the two chicks were in the water pool (the "pool" is a rubbermaid under the bed container with a 3 inch lip) and not answering back to her clucks.  I wonder if the chicks knew they would be rescued.  There was no way they could get out on their own, and there was nothing Mama Hen could do.  Unlike a mama cat who can pick up her young, a mama chicken is helpless.  She can only cluck and wait for peeps to answer.  After a while the Mama Hen still didn't come rescue her chicks.  I moved a dog crate from the barn into the coop, filled it with straw and added the two wet babies as well as the healthy baby.  Mama Hen went right in.  I will check in a while to make sure the two chicks are dry and mama is attending to them.  If not it looks like we will be back to chick feed and heat lamps.  No matter what, I am thankful they didn't drown, or get eaten by a predator.  This story could have had a different outcome all together.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Watch out...she's got the camera!

Just in case you are wanting even more lovely pictures...
Beehive with top feeder

Hard to see, but there are two bees drinking and one flying in the left corner.  This water tub has rock "landing spots" for the bees so they don't drown.  Bees need some sort of water source nearby.  

Peas still in the shell

I only picked the largest ones

7 peas in a pod?

So much work for a serving of peas...

The empty shells will go to the chickens


I don't even want to know how much we would have to grow to can enough to put away for winter.  These barely filled a small mason jar, and we will eat these fresh.

Had to buy this considering our farm name...

Beans and Pea Shells