Week 30: July 30, 2021
Weekly Tea Date with Mom ~
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a standing weekly tea date with my mom.☕️🫖 Since we live in the mountains far from town, I save up my errands for one day a week and that day is Thursday.
I’m not sure who looks forward to our weekly tea date more: Mom or me. Or possibly my stepdad, Rolly. We catch up on family news over a cup of tea chosen from Mom’s wooden tea chest. It is a special time and Rolly after a while retreats to his office to take care of business, giving Mom and me undivided time together.
This week I brought a surprise….
My Mom is of German-from-Russia ethnic heritage and learned to speak German at home; English in school. She has amazing true family stories of pioneer days on a prairie farm in North Dakota. I did not know they were amazing until I was grown, but that’s a story for anther day. 😉
Back to the surprise…
I found a set of rare and very special books written about pioneer days in the place my mom grew up!
Women Behind the Plow by Sue B. (Kaseman) Balcom
Ewiger Saatz by Sue B. (Kaseman) Balcom
We had great fun poring over the oversized pages, reading pioneer stories of grit and determination that included farming with horses, butchering and sausage-making days, large families and large gardens, plagues of locusts, traditional Germans-from-Russia wedding customs, and vintage pioneer recipes from the early and mi-1900’s.
We perused the books’ many photos for familiar faces. Mom spotted a relative, several neighbors, and fellow church members, along with a picture of her favorite teacher’s sister. Miss Ella Ehman presided over a one-room school and lived at the farm with Mom’s family.
Mom was a bright little girl who started school in the second grade at age 5. Only recently did I do the math: Mom graduated from high school at age 16! No wonder she looked so young in her Homecoming photo!
In the Garden ~
The fifth and last week of July was another hot one. This is the hottest July in my memory, but thankfully we received a little rain this week in the form of a morning shower. I can’t tell you how much rain, because the prolific Virginia creeper vines have obliterated the rain gauge’s location. Oops!
It was enough to wash the dust from the trees, plants, and flowers! The air smells sweet and intoxicatingly fresh now. Just breathing is a pleasure.
The garden is happily producing and we are happily eating.
I am preserving bits and pieces here and there by dehydrating. The temperature in the house is too warm for starting vegetable ferments; temps over 80F (27c) favor the wrong bacteria. And I don’t have enough of any one thing to can yet. But small deposits in the pantry add up over a season!
Cucumbers, summer squash, kale, strawberries, and culinary and medicinal herbs are keeping me busy.
I wonder what this little fellow’s name is! Have you ever seen so small a frog or toad? I at first thought it was a grasshopper!
Three more fun garden shots for you!
Decluttering the Kitchen ~
In the meantime, I am decluttering the kitchen in preparation for canning season. There are few things more frustrating than trying to cook or preserve in a kitchen that feels crowded. I need to know where my tools and utensils are, I need elbow room for chopping vegetables, and I need counter space free for jars to cool. I need mental space just as much. Can you relate?
Like you, I don’t have a whole day or three or ten to sort, purge, and organize my kitchen; instead, I am tackling it in 15-minute increments, one drawer or cupboard a day. I’m making headway and it feels SO GOOD.
If breaking free of clutter in doable 15-minute bites sounds intriguing to you, I invite you to check out a great resource that has helped me, Clutter Free Academy, available both as a book and an online course: https://clutterfreeacademy.mykajabi.com/store/CHbEajLY
I had plans to sew curtains from scratch, but the price of materials was well over $300. After waiting fruitlessly for a sale on material, I decided to buy some ready-made and modify for my purposes. Cost: $39.99 + two hours time. It is important to consider the cost of our time when we work on or in our homes. Time is one of our most valuable commodities.
Wood Shed Progress ~
Sequestering all the time he can spare from regular tasks and chores, Sam is making serious headway on the “new” wood shed. You will recall that Sam dismantled the nearly 100-year-old wood shed that was falling down, reserving the materials for building a new one. You can see what the original wood shed looked like here: https://chocolateboxcottage.tv/cottage-diary/musings-from-a-homestead-kitchen/
I am happy to report that Sam is making good on his goal of building entirely with reclaimed materials. Even the nails are being reused!
It is a thrill to watch the wood shed take shape under Sam’s skilled and hardworking hands. He has a vision and is working hard to bring it to reality. If it looks like the wood shed has always been here when it is finished, Sam will consider it a success.
About Our Water… ~
We count ourselves extremely blessed to draw water from a natural spring for drinking water and a local ditch for outdoor faucets that water the yard, garden, and fruit trees. The spring water is incredibly tasty and pure and the ditch water is reliable. They both have their occasional challenges, as you can see from the pictures above.
And so this moth and I bid you farewell for another week! (If you happen to be able to identify it, I would be more than pleased.)