31 May 2009

rhubarb

I love rhubarb. I love it in pies, crumbles, jam. I love it on ice cream, pancakes and toast. It's one of my favorite parts of the summer bounty.

In my big freecycle run this spring (where I got the perennials, raspberries and strawberries) I tried to get a rhubarb start as well. I had connected with a woman who was all ready to share, but life kept getting in the way of a rendezvous. When we were finally able to connect, we realized it was too late to do any digging, so she offered to share her fruit this summer with a plan to dig in the fall.

I got the email this week that it was ready to go. I was so excited. I went over Wednesday night with instructions to not take more then half of the plant. After knocking on the door with no response, I walked around the side of the house to find the garden. The path was made up of these really great pavers.


I love the pattern that they had laid out. I came around the corner to this beautiful arrangement of raised beds and flowers. How amazing and well kept is this?!? Our yard is completely overrun with dandelions, knap weed, thistle and other broadleaf terror after a decade or more of perpetual neglect. We are just trying to get it under control. This expansive blanket of green was almost too much. And those brick-lined beds. Wow!



And look at that gigantic rhubarb plant. It was so huge and full that even after I had taken everything I could carry, it looked like I hadn't even touched it. I can't wait to get a piece this fall and to have it come up all big and gorgeous next spring.


I also found this little rhubarb plant about ten feet behind our fenceline on the hill after a hike the other day. It has probably been a little water starved and deer munched, but it should come back strong. I am going to dig that one up as well to give us two large plants to feed my rhubarb obsession.


Finally, I wanted to leave you with this wonderful "window box" hanging on the garage wall in the garden. Isn't that a great idea? Do you think you would have to be a welder to make something like that?

22 May 2009

21 May 2009

rug for the bean's room

I really want this rug for the bean's room.

Why are rugs so freakin' expensive? Anybody got the 411 on some cute cheap rugs?

20 May 2009

wildlife update

I love our neighborhood. We are right in the middle of town, a completely 60s rambling, ranch-filled suburb, but with the open hill behind us, the wildlife has been incredible. Of course, there's the deer. I know that they could be a pain in the tookus, but they are a good reminder that we share our space with a whole lot of other creatures. Here are just a few of the wild critters we have seen around the urban homestead in the past week. (Note: my lousy camera cannot catch any of these quick little buggers, so I found other's photos to give you some visuals.)

A red tailed hawk...

(from Tilton Lane's flickr photostream)

Two guinea hens (I think)...

(from cwalker71's flickr photostream)

Three baby bunnies...

(from the Eleventh Earl of Mar's flickr photostream)

And signs of a raccoon (trash can tipped and sorted; foot prints in the garden; could be trouble for the chickens)...

(from Michael Scheltgen's flickr photostream)

19 May 2009

kitchen how tos

(from trazomfreak's flickr photostream)

I have been getting regular emails from the folks at apartment therapy since joining the cure a few months ago.

(a quick cure update: I totally tanked out at the end. I realize now that I was trying to take on too much and get the garden and coop done as well. I am slowly getting back into things and hope to paint the kitchen and living area sometime soon. )

One of the kitchn cure updates included this amazing list of how-tos that had been posted by staff and members over the past year or so. It included everything from making fresh pasta to peeling garlic to creating your own cocktail recipes to cracking an egg, one-handed.

There were so many useful things it made me swoon and reignited my desire to get into the kitchen and try some new things.

18 May 2009

a few quick things

First off, I am so excited to say that my baby officially crawls. At just under 11 months of age, she has finally decided that mobility is where its at. So yay!

(for any of you who are new here and wonder why I never post photos of the bean or even post about her very often, J is very nervous about cyber predators and kooks on the internet. sorry to everyone who wants to see what she looks like, you'll just have to imagine the cutest baby you have ever seen.)

In other internet news, I have been working on some social networking projects for work and in an effort to experiment without putting my companies info out there for the world to see, I created a few new ways for people to find or follow The Hip Homemaker. It seems a little vain to toot my horn like this, but I figure if people want to get the news through facebook, that's great with me. So, here is my new facebook page using Networked Blogs. You can follow the blog here or share it with your 154 closest friends and family. I am following several of my favorite blogs there. Also, if you have a blog, it may already be listed. All you have to do is claim it. I am also working on a flickr group that you can all join to share your homemaking goodness.

And finally, on a completely unrelated note, last week I received my copy of Urban Outfitters new catalog. UO used to have some great bohemian chic outfits, some fun kitschy housewares, things I would actually buy. Now, granted, I am probably out of their demographic, but when I opened the latest catalog, I was appalled to find outfits like this, filling the pages...


All I have to say is that I regretted these fashion decisions the first time around... will not be making the same mistakes. Do your outfits from the 80s still haunt you?

17 May 2009

fishing

Today was my mama day redo and I will start off my saying this weekend was a bazillion times better then last weekend, so we were off to a good start. Yesterday I drove up through the Mission Valley to pick up a plethora of raspberry starts, strawberry plants and perennials. All for free. Thank you freecycle.

All of this bounty came from a little farm nestled in the foothills outside of Ronan. Sheila and Steve have lived there for 25 years, raising their family and managing an enourmous garden. There current spread consists of raised beds and paths covering about 1000 square feet. At one time it was more then double that size. Sheila said she used to put up 300 quarts of green beans every year. 300 quarts...can you imagine? They have an expansive raspberry patch which they jokingly curse as it migrates into the surrounding paths and beds. As I left, they made sure to tell me that if I know anyone else in need of raspberry starts, to send them their way. So, if any of you are in the neighborhood and are looking for some raspberries, leave a comment with a way to get in touch and I will pass you along to Sheila.

Of course, in my haste to get on the road, I forgot my camera, so I have no photos of the adventure. I am contemplating putting more plants all along our back fence to deter the critters and give more fruit. If I decide to go ahead with that, there may be another trip to visit Sheila and Steve this fall to partake of their frustrating bounty.

We spent the rest of yesterday with NO PLANS. I wish I could express how amazing it felt to have no where to be and nothing to do. It's been weeks since we just enjoyed each other's company, napped and hung out.

Today entailed another adventure. Fishing. I am not a hardcore fisherwoman. I defintely couldn't do it for days on end, but I love to be outside in a beautiful spot, just listening and watching the natural world. My husband's grandpa actually has a certified "secret fishing hole". He was shown the spot by a man who refused to take his own son because he was too much of a loud mouth. In the thirty years he has been going to this spot, his grandpa has only taken five people there. His two closest brothers, my husband's dad and my husband. And now me. We went for the first time two years ago and I was the first woman that his grandpa had ever brought along. I am flattered to have that spot in the ranks. He is surrounded by women he loves, but I am a different breed. I build things, take things apart, get my hands dirty, I'm not afraid of bugs or falling down or getting into the thick of things and he has always liked that. So, I got to tag along to this very special spot.

It is a beautiful place, so calm and peaceful, even with the river roaring by as the snow melts from the mountain tops. Now, as I said, I don't know a lot about fishing, but I guess most people think you can't catch fish in the high water. Its muddy and fast and a lot of people don't even go out. But that is the beauty of this spot and the reason they go back, year after year. Here, you can. The day before, they had caught 13 fish over a few hours. Today, we caught 4. I caught my first trout since I was a kid. It was way more exciting then the sucker fish I caught last time, which nobody wants. My fish actually broke the line and flopped down the rocks into the water as I was trying to pick it up to get a picture. I was so mad as it swam away. So the photo below is with one of the two that J caught. Those suckers are strong. Notice how tightly I am holding on (and ignore the lack of muscle tone in my upper arm, jeez, I'm out of shape).


And to finish off this very long, not very homemakerish post, I will show you some shots of the wildflowers and other pretty things I saw along the trail today.

(for the individual photos, you can visit my flickr photostream)

14 May 2009

fabric baby ball...back on the crafty wagon


I have been so busy with house projects and garden/chicken excitement that I haven't been doing much in the way of crafts. Last week, I picked up "Seams to Me" by Anna Maria Horner, from the local library. It is full of brightly-colored sewing projects, but the one that caught my eye was the "For Kicks Patchwork Ball". This fabric ball, based on the pattern of your everyday, ordinary soccer ball, was just too cute to resist.

Totally dismissing the obvious need for a geometry brush up and some more patience and attention to detail then I usually have, I dove right in. Choosing the fabric combo was a grueling process just to begin. I decided to do a complete crazy mixture of basically monotone fabrics with smaller prints. There is a little bit of repetition, as I ran out of options in my scrap bags, but there is definitely no pattern to the color layout. The ball is just a pattern involving larger hexagons and smaller pentagons. It seemed fairly straight forward, but those angles were a little tricky. So, when you look at the picture, you can see a few puckers here and there. I think I worked it out by the end, but we'll see how the next one turns out. I also added a jingle bell in the middle for some fun for the bean!

Despite the tricky angles and crazy patch working, it was relatively quick to pull together. I plan to do a few others for baby gifts. I will share the designs as they come together. Happy Friday!

09 May 2009

peep, peep, peep

Finally today the sun decided to come out of the clouds and give us a beautiful day. Yesterday was one of the gloomiest days we have had in a long time and not good for a photo shoot with a stupid old camera. But today, it was perfect. So with out further ado, I would like you to meet the four newest and smallest members of the hip homemaker household:


The first silver-laced wyandott


The golden easter egger


The other silver-laced wyandott

The red-headed easter egger, which I think is my favorite. She is definitely the bravest of the four.

The two easter eggers will lay blue or green eggs. The silver-laced wyandottes will grow up to be big and black with silver edges on their feathers. They loved being outside and all followed me around already, which cracked me up. We also got some great shots with the bean to send to grandmas and grandpas. So, these are our girls at their teeny-tiniest. I have four more babies to look after and it has already been so much fun. Happy Mothers Day!

07 May 2009

psst...

...I have chickens... but no pic til tomorrow.

I know, I know, but stupid camera is acting up again and refuses to cooperate. But they are super cute. Probably the cutest chicks ever to peep!

Since I have you all here, I will share a few new and favorite farmish blogs. Because in case you haven't noticed, I'm a farmer in training...

Prairie Heritage Farm - this is a new venture by two great individuals that I have known personally off and on for a long time. Courtney is one of my dad's favorite "liberal" reporters, so she must be truly great!

Burbs and the Bees - this is a new to me blog that I found through flickr. She is an awesome farmer in training as well and has some crazy beekeeping photos and posts that I can't get enough of.

Enjoy and wait breathlessly for photos of tiny peepers!

06 May 2009

chickens? no, diapers.

(look at that teeny tiny bean)

Random title, I know. But it pretty much sums up today's post. It was supposed to be about the cute, fluffy chicks I picked up at the feed store today, but alas, it was not to be. I had heard a rumor that chick day was getting pretty competitive. I envisioned tossed elbows with some retiree, trying to distract the masses with my cute baby while I scooped up my 4 little layers. So, I woke up at 6 am this morning in a panic that I would somehow be late for chick day.

After getting myself out of bed at 7, I woke the bean, threw on her jacket and slippers and off we went, arriving right before 8. Wait a minute... only a few cars in the lot, no crazy line, no hustle and bustle. I walked tentatively into the store and back to the chick tanks. There were lights on over some of the tanks. Roosters...guinea hens...more roosters. Crap! Where were all the girls? You can't get yummy eggs from stupid roosters. Had the crowds already come and gone, taking the hens in a flurry? Impossible, the store didn't open until 8. I mosied back up to the front with a puzzled look on my face. One of the short stocky guys that always seem to work at ranch supply stores stopped to help me out.

"I'm here for the chicken delivery...", I say, trailing off at the end. He laughs. Out loud. Then quickly apologizes. It's not me. It just happens every Wednesday because their chick delivery has been late all season. Usually one day, sometimes two. Best to call tomorrow at 7:30 to make sure there here before I drive across town. Aaahhh... You see, I had picked up my schedule for the deliveries way back in like January and hadn't checked in since. Woops!

So, the bean and I wandered back to the tanks again, this time just to watch the teeny puff balls skitter around as she yelled and shook her arms frantically with excitement. We gathered a few supplies that we would need to get anyway and headed back home, sans poultry.

Now, because I have no chicks to show you I thought I would do a quick cloth diapering update that I have been keeping in the back of my mind for awhile now. I haven't talked about this since I started almost a year ago and I've learned a few things since then, so I wanted to share.

I'm still using the same general system that I outlined before:
  • PUL covers
  • Cloth prefolds serged to be more of a fitted
  • Snappis
  • Liners, when needed, made from serged remains of prefolds and fleece
Overall, things are working well. Every now and then we have a leak and the very occasional blow out, but not often. There was some trial and error at the beginning, especially because they just need to be changed more often then with disposibles. That and the bean was so teeny at the beginning that you had to be sure to get the covers tight around her legs. We also ended up adding 5 All-In-Ones for the days that my in-laws watch the bean. They are way easier to use, which is good for grandmas and grandpas.

Here are a few tips I've picked up that have made things go more smoothly. First, laundry tips:
  • Pre-wash. Run things through a quick pre-wash with no soap just to get that first layer of poopy off. Just cold water, nothing fancy.
  • Use Bac-Out and Borax in with your detergent. Borax helps with stains and Bac-Out really helps with the smell. I forgot to use the bac-out once and I ended up having to pull them all out of the dryer and rewash them because they smelled like ammonia.
  • Do an extra rinse with vinegar. If your baby has sensitive skin, like the bean, it will put a big damper on diaper rash by getting any lasting soap residue off the diapers.
  • Oh, and don't forget, no dryer sheets. Puts a film on the diapers that makes them less absorbent.
Now, a few random diapering things:
  • If you use cloth wipes, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the water in your spray bottle. This will add a bit of antiseptic help to your spray.
  • You should also spray your used covers with the lavender water before you hang them to dry. It will kill the germs and the smell.
  • If you have a kid who is prone to diaper rash, keep a bottle of regular old liquid antacid on your changing table. If the rash appears, pour a little antacid on a cotton ball or cloth wipe and dab it on the rash. This will off set the acid in the pee and help clear up the rash faster. You can alternate this with a cream if you want.
Oh, one last thing. I have about 4 different types of cloth diaper covers and I would highly recommend the Imse Vimse brand. Originally, I thought the bummies were the cat's meow and they are still pretty darn good, but I think the Imses are just a little bit superior. They seem to be more leak resistant, with a better fit around the legs. Yes. Me likey.

So, no cute fluffy chicks, but hopefully some good info. And maybe there will be chicks tomorrow...

05 May 2009

here comes trouble

So, one of my favorite things about our new house is the open hill behind us and the wildlife that resides there. I have been completely realistic about the possibility that the deer may attempt to invade my garden, but they have always kept their distance. Until today. They are not yet in the yard, but check out the 3 boys hanging out just beyond our fence line today.


While it was quite fun and exciting to see them so close it does not bode well for small veggies. Not good at all.

04 May 2009

the garden plot

Last Thursday night after putting the bean to bed, I frantically raced around my back yard: measuring, cutting wire, putting up my garden fencing and then poking little seeds into the ground. I knew the weekend would be useless with a trip out of town and I didn't want to put it off another week. I want to see little veggie sprouts, dang it!

( the garden sketch)

So after a quick plotting of the garden and hoping I didn't forget anything, I put those little seeds to bed and thus began garden 2009. Here is a quick drawing of the plot. Not totally to scale, but you will get the idea. I still need to pick up some sunflower seeds and starts for garlic, herbs, broccoli and maybe some peppers. My wonderful coworker brought me 10 of her various heirloom tomato starts today and those will be coming home tomorrow to bask in the sunlight on our kitchen table. I am so excited for summer and the bounty (fingers crossed) that's to come!

ETA: you can see a bigger version of the drawing here on flickr.

01 May 2009

our weekend rendevous

I promised these earlier. Sorry for the delay, but here they are. Last weekend was my beautiful friend Leona's 30th birthday. Her husband planned a surprise gathering with all her favorite people. We spent a few weeks trying to find a place that would hold our families and we were struggling to find a big enough spot that didn't cost an outrageous amount. In steps one of my favorite people of all time, Jessica. Jessica grew up in Jackson Hole, rubbing elbows with rich and famous. She said her mom's good friends had a house outside of Bozeman they didn't use. We could have the place for free for the weekend. We all expected a rustic but comfortable cabin in the mountains. Something our kids could run through and a place we could all spread out in. So imagine our pleasant and awestruck surprise when this is what we drove up to:


This is just one house on the 300 acre ranch where horses roam the fields and the river really does run through it. 6 bedrooms, all with their own bathroom, 3 living rooms, a den, sunroom, huge country kitchen and lots of space for kids to run and play. It was a dream. Here are some photos of the house and the people I love having fun:



















Oh, and the GIANT rattlesnake the ranch hand killed while we were there... in the spot we had hiked through a few hours earlier. Creepy!