Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Holiday Scramble

Tomorrow, I leave with my kids for my mother's farm in Eastern Oregon. Today, I am a packing, cleaning, clutter-busting machine. And tonight, I will attend my son's very first ever play. He has been cast in the role of Elf #4. So my plan to have everything done before my departure is slowly crashing to the ground. As I clean up around my house, though, I'm finding wonderful little bits of holiday cheer that remind me of the reason for the season: family, togetherness, and hope. I'm signing off for the week, but I will be back to the blog on Tuesday. In the meantime, be well and enjoy these last days before Christmas!

My son thought the manger scene needed a new character.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bathroom Remodel | Week 4

Hello dear readers! We're at the beginning of week 4 of our bathroom remodel. I'm so pleased with the work that has been done thus far. Today, the shower is being tiled with white subway tile. Once the tile is in place, we (meaning our contract team) can install our vanity, countertops and fixtures! I can't tell you what relief I feel from knowing that this bathroom will soon be up to wheelchair use standards. Here are the latest photos of the bathroom space with some "before" photos.

Here are the "before" photos:

The floor and shower tile is all white and the vanity is a beautiful walnut. Below is a sample of our countertop with some paint samples I'm considering for the walls. 

So that's the latest from our bathroom remodel. 
The next time I report back on the blog about this remodel will be when it's finished to stay tuned!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Radical Homemaking | Creating Community

It's Monday! Time for our weekly installment of Radical Homemaking. Interested in learning more about what that means, check out THIS post and THIS post. 

A quick re-cap for those of you who are new readers. I am in the process of transitioning our home life from one that is mostly centered around consuming (water, electricity, groceries, technology, services, etc.) to one that centers around creating and producing. I am inspired by the idea that we don’t have to rely on nameless, faceless corporations to feed, clothe, shelter and entertain us while they treat their employees poorly and poison the environment. So yes, less spending and more making. This involves, but is not limited to vegetable gardening, composting, back yard chickens, debt reduction, home cooking and DIY home improvement. We are doing this mostly for economic, health and environmental reasons, but it's also a ton of fun!

Art by Phoebe Wahl

One of the key ingredients to being a successful radical homemaker is to nourish a community whose goals are aligned with yours. As you can imagine, this is one of the more difficult aspects of radical homemaking. I live in Dallas, TX where everyone has their own big house and their own big car and their own big freeway lane and there isn't much room for deep community interaction. But this doesn't mean that its impossible. I have already found a slew of neighbors with backyard gardens, laundry lines, bread in the oven and chickens in the corner of the yard.

In an effort to widen this community, to reach out and create a forum for radical homemakers in the Dallas / Fort Worth Area, I've started a Facebook group: Radical Homemakers of DFW. This is a place where Dallas Area men and women can connect with other families on the same path. Urban farmers and rural homesteaders alike can share resources and radical homemaking tips. We can pose questions and find answers together. Who knows, we might even start a co-op, host farm tours, attend local homesteading classes. The first step, though, is to find each other.

So please, if you are in the DFW area and interested in being a part of this group, please join. Whether you're casting around for information on how to begin or you're a seasoned off-the-grid homesteader. We want to hear from you!

New Facebook Group:

Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, has a wonderful map on her blog with a national list of similar online communities. If you see one in your area, by all means join and participate HERE

Interested in starting a group in your own neck of the woods?  Please contact Shannon and she will post your new group on the map at her website. Once you're on the map, other like minded folks can find you! Once you have at least five members, Shannon will send you a welcome kit that includes her books to use as giveaways! She will also put you on the promotional list for copies of any future releases. How cool is that? Free books from Shannon Hayes as long as your group remains active! Finding your tribe will take some time, but it will be well worth the effort!

Friday, December 12, 2014

DIY Flour Sack Roll

This year, I've been making a handful of gifts for family and friends. Nothing spectacular, mind you, just some upcycled materials re-fashioned into something useful. One of my favorite projects is a brush or crayon roll. It can be filled with markers, pencils, paint brushes, make-up brushes, knitting needles, crochet hooks, screw drivers, or silverware!

This year, I've been using vintage flour sacks to make my brush rolls. The nubby texture is beautiful. I tie my rolls with ribbon or hemp twine. I don't have a pattern, although there are lots available. Instead, I free-hand the rows of stitches on the sewing machine.

What hand made goodies are you making and baking this year for the holidays?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bohemian History | Krazy Kat Klub

Every once in a while I run into a little bit of unknown history about bohemian culture in the USA. It's always such a delight to get a glimpse into the counter cultures of yore. The Krazy Kat Klub, a bohemian speakeasy and night club near Thomas Circle in Washington DC, was in operation during the early part of the 20th Century. At the helm of this boho lair was Cleon Throckmorton, a portraitist and theater scene designer who encouraged all sorts of drinking, smoking, art and shenanigans.

In 1919, a reporter for the Washington Post described the Krazy Kat Klub as being “something like a Greenwich Village coffee house”, featuring “gaudy pictures created by futurists and impressionists.” It was also mentioned in the published diary of Washington, D.C. resident Jeb Alexander, who described the club as a “Bohemian joint in an old stable up near Thomas Circle - a gathering place for artists, musicians, atheists and professors.” Sounds like my kind of place!

The big feature of the Krazy Kat Klub was a tree house built in the center of an outdoor courtyard. Visitors could climb into the treehouse, have a smoke and order drinks. Here are some photos of the Krazy Kat Klub and it's clientele below. Notice the sign above the door that says, "All soap abandon ye who enter here!"

All photos via Shorpy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review | Charles Dowding's VEG Journal

After placing my order with Seed Saver's Exchange last week, I was thrilled to find Charles Dowdings' VEG Journal: Expert no-dig advice, month by month in my mailbox for review from Frances Lincoln Publishing.

The book uses the seasonal checklists, advice and hard-won experience of the Uk's best-known no-dig gardener to plan a year's veg growing. The information is based on the author's successful Charles Dowding Vegetable Course, updated and arranged in a useful monthly journal so that no activity is overlooked and readers can follow his mantra of 'a little and often'.

The journal, which is filled with lush photos, explains how to plan a veg garden, construct a raised bed, sow seed indoors and outdoors in spring, grow on young crops, protect plants from the weather and from pests through the season until you can celebrate the joy of harvesting. The information is organized monthly from January to December, with key crops, activities and essential reminders.

The book is organized in monthly sections, providing simple steps and seasonal checklists to plan a year of vegetable growing that you’ll want to refer to time and time again. Filled with expert advice and planting tips throughout, the book offers detailed information on growing vegetables, herbs and salad leaves, monthly jobs and key dates for sowing and harvesting, tackling weeds and pests, and making sweet-smelling compost (I'm totally going to be using this info).

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and feel that it will be come an essential gardening companion during the next growing season and beyond. I'll be referring to it again and again. The best part is that the VEG Journal is suitable for the absolute beginner (me) while still illuminating for the experienced veg grower. If you're hoping to get the most out of your vegetable garden, this book should be in your library.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My Art Prints on Sale at Society6


Still need to finish your Christmas shopping? 
All of my art prints at Society6 are $5 off with FREE world wide shipping until December 14th! 
Use the link below for your shopping and get your discount.

Also today only, Society6 is offering $10 off all of my framed prints and canvases!