We built a temporary structure called a sukkah on our porch this year in honor of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The holiday is a celebration of the harvest (and other religious and historical events) - the sukkah is open to the stars on top and filled with plant materials. Ours was decorated with paper chains, gourds, fruit, chestnuts, mums, fabric and drying bunches of herbs.
After we built and decorated it, we invited all of our friends to eat with us under the sukkah. Even though it rained during most of the week long holiday, we shared two fabulous dinners with friends and family. And it only took us two extra weeks to take it down!
That's all for now, I hope to post more frequently once I get a new laptop. This little setup that I have right now is driving me crazy, and I think it's time for a new computer, don't you?
Two of M's cousins had babies this summer and I had a field day deciding what to knit for them. I've been ogling the amazing baby surprise jackets that everyone seems to be knitting (especially the ones that Amanda Soule makes over at Soulemama), and decided to have a go myself. I picked up 4 skeins of Koigu for $20 (total!), so I figured if I messed up I wouldn't be doing it with expensive yarn. I picked up "Knitting Workshop" by Elizabeth Zimmerman, where the original pattern is, and struggled through the pattern. It took me about 5 months to complete (I got married in the middle so I don't feel so bad about it) and I relied heavily on the "Knitting Nuggets" tutorials from Lorilee Beltman at City Knitting in Grand Rapids, MI. And here it is!
I really enjoyed making it and I feel like there are many more in my future (oh those stripey possibilities!). At the last minute I decided to embroider my new cousin's nickname into her jacket, and use buttons from M's grandmother's sewing kit.
The other cousin got another item from "Knitting Workshop" but I haven't photographed it yet so you will have to wait, dear readers. Hopefully I will take a photo soon so I can send the gift to them before the baby outgrows it . . .
That crisp is in the air again, it's my favorite time of the year! But before we can address any fall-type things, let's do a quick recap. The last time I posted I was working with UC Green to raise funds for their fall planting. Many thanks to everyone who helped us reach our goal, we raised more than our $4K target and UC Green will have plenty of funds for their fall planting. I was also starting my brand new job at Philadelphia Parks & Recreation where I've now been working for almost 6 months! It's a wonderful learning experience and I love the work and my coworkers. What more could a girl ask for?
In the intervening months a lot of other things happened . . .
. . . We went on a wonderful honeymoon to Maine . . .
. . . I spent the 4th of July at my friend Alex's family place on a lake near Ithaca, NY . . .
. . . Alex, Katie and I joined my mom and Emmy for another Berryfest weekend . . .
. . . plus two new cousins were born (baby knitting project posts to come), M and I joined his family for a lake vacation in Maryland, and we went to my annual family reunion at the Delaware River.
A very full summer indeed. I'm finding it difficult to balance my full time job and my outside-of-work life, so the blog and my reading of other blogs has completely fallen by the wayside. But I hope to pick it up again, especially since this cool weather makes it easier to spend time sitting at my desk at the computer (which was unbearable during the summer months in our un-air-conditioned home). My posts will certainly be less frequent than in the past, but I promise to check back periodically and I hope to start reading all of your blogs again soon!
As promised, I have yet another worthy cause for you wonderful people to support. But this time it's my project I'm sharing with you! For the past few years I've been working really closely with a non-profit organization in my neighborhood called UC Green. It's a community greening organization and they do two big tree planting events in West and Southwest Philly every year (among other great programs). The executive director, Sue, who is also my neighbor and friend, asked me to help create a Kickstarter website to raise money for the Fall 2011 tree planting event. So here are the fruits of my labor (pun! . . . you'll see when you watch the video). Please share it with everyone you know and help us reach our goal of $4,000!
The other news I have to share is that as of tomorrow, I will be working for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation as their new Tree Campaign Manager! I will be organizing their city-wide tree planting efforts and I'm head over heels excited about it! My first day is tomorrow, so wish me luck!
I now have a small collection of decorations for the wedding that I commissioned from artists on Etsy. I had a great time working with the artists so I thought I'd share so you can check out their shops too!
I got these adorable little butterflies from The Gilded Bee: I've been eye-ing her stuff for a while now and finally messaged her to make a huge custom order of butterflies in approximately the colors of the wedding (the color choices were a bit brighter than I'm going for, but they are perfect in every other way).
When I ordered them I had a specific purpose in mind, but things have changed a bit since then so now I just have them for extra decoration. I'm not sure how I will use them, but it will be guaranteed to be cute. Seriously cute.
The hive reminds me of the illustrations in Winnie the Pooh books! I got three colors of ink so I plan to mix and match all over the place. These are going on the back of the table assignments, which will just be hanging from a line by the guest book. Kind of like this.
I made these lovelies on Friday with a recipe from my future mother-in-law. They're filled with strawberry rhubarb jam and blueberry preserves, yum! I doubled the recipe and stored half of the dough in the fridge so I hope to make a second batch this week (and make them smaller!).
Hamantashen by Helen Mann
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 T. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter and sugar together and add the egg. Mix flour and baking powder. Add half of the flour mixture, juice and vanilla to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add remaining flour mixture. Work in well and form into 2 balls of dough. Chill several hours or over-night. (Keeps well in fridge for a week).
Flour surface very well. Roll dough to desired thickness. Cut into rounds. Fill with desired filling (prunes or poppy seeds are traditional) and form into triangles by pinching up 3 corners of the circle. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until delicately brown.
Yield: 3 dozen hamantashen
That incredible orange color is due to fresh eggs from Aunt E's chickens!
Thanks to everyone who helped Duffy fund his beekeeping project, he raised 141% of his goal!
This means that we will have TWELVE more beehives at The Woodlands, plus one at The Walnut Hill Farm AND a group of high school students learning how to keep bees and sell honey with us at the farmer's market! It's all very exciting.
Also exciting is Nic's novel that he finished and is getting ready to self publish! It's about the urban homesteading movement, and there's a character in there based on little old me. Read more about it here. Here's his Kickstarter page where he's raising the money to publish the novel. In return for donating you can get a signed copy of the novel, a ticket to the book release party where cool local Philly musicians will be playing, and even a secondary character named after you!
Thanks to everyone who has already donated to these causes and helped move us all forward towards a more sustainable, creative, and well compensated future!
(I'm also working on a Kickstarter page to help fundraise for UC Green, the wonderful organization that is Philly Rooted's fiscal sponsor and all-around chearleader. Look out for that in April.)
We sent the invites and are now receiving RSVPs in mass quantities (fourteen of them came back in the mail today!). My wonderful friend Nicole from Blue Bicicletta designed the invites for us and I couldn't be more happy with them.
. . . that someone trademarked the phrase "Urban Homestead" and they are making people change the names of their previously published blogs and books that contain that phrase? They even sent out a couple would-be "cease and desist" letters. That's absurd. Read more here, here, and here. People are pissed, as well they should be. That's like saying that you've trademarked the words "Community Garden" or "Urban Farm." Ridiculous. Follow the links to other people's well thought out blog posts on the topic.
The past few days have been the most soft, sunny, breezy, wonderful days ever! Yesterday I walked all the way home from my babysitting job in Center City (over 35 long blocks), just to get my fill of the weather. And today I've already spent some nice quality time on the porch with my beloved, just soaking in the sun.
I also took a few minutes on the porch to read an issue of Alimentum: The Literature of Food that my friend Nicole sent me (she was asked to contribute illustrations to this issue and they are adorable), along with one of the collagraphs that she's been working on! I'm so excited, this literary journal focuses on mixing fiction, non-fiction and poetry with food. Sounds perfect for a gardener who's antsy to get outside already. And the collagraph Nicole sent was absolutely perfect for today. It's called "Beam." :)
I also found out that the journal Poetry that I subscribe to (that Jaja subscribed me to as a gift) is giving away a limited number of free copies of their April 2011 issue to reading groups that request them. It's their way of helping everyone celebrate National Poetry Month (April)! So contact them by February 20th in order to get your copies: poetryfoundation.org/npm.
That's the name of this gorgeous hand dyed sport weight sock yarn I bought at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture conference last weekend! It's from Steam Valley Fiber, in Trout Run, PA, and I can't wait to knit it into socks!
The conference was great fun and a wonderful place for networking. But the best choice I made was to go to the workshop "Dual Purpose Sheep: Meat and Wool" where I learned all about how to raise sheep for wool. Not that I'm going to, but it was really interesting to learn about yarn from that perspective.
The teachers of the workshop, Marie and Stephen Minnich of Marushka Farms, were wonderful and they brought lots of wool in various stages of processing from their own CVM/Romeldale and Icelandic sheep.
Up until this workshop I had been very good about not spending money at the yarn vendors that had come to the conference, but afterward I totally succumbed and got my Tiger's Eye from this gorgeous vendor.
Leslie, a gardener at The Woodlands Community Garden
My friend Duffy, who keeps bees at The Woodlands Community Garden, has come up with a great new youth beekeeping and CSA (Community Supported Apiary) program and he needs our help! He made a Kickstarter to raise money for the program, here. Basically, he wants to teach high school youth in our neighborhood about beekeeping and start at least ten new apiaries in The Woodlands. In return for support, you can get 1.5 lbs of honey from the hives, an selection of herbs from The Walnut Hill Community Farm, and more!
You might remember Duffy from when he came to speak about bees at The Woodlands back in the fall of 2009 when he was trying get the board of The Woodlands to approve the hives. He's also the friend who is making us the honeycomb hearts to top our wedding cake!
The two existing hives at The Woodlands Community Garden
I posted here about a community garden that was trying to raise money on Kickstarter to save their land from development a while back and they made 104% of their goal, so I have my fingers crossed for Duffy!
There's also a movement to get the EPA to ban the pesticide that's been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder. Check that out here.
I am a tree planter, community garden organizer, environmental educator, casual crafter, eater, and traveler. I started this blog while working towards my master's degree in Environmental Horticulture at UC Davis and now I'm in West Philadelphia, saving the world one tree at a time.