Wednesday, September 28, 2011


It is fall.

Not that anyone around here in Southern California is planning on bringing out the mittens any time soon, but we can still be somewhat festive.

I like door wreaths and find them an easy and inexpensive way to spruce up the entrance a bit.

Being on a budget, I could not justify going out to buy any decor, so I went through my excessive assortment of fabrics and ribbons to look whether I had some things at home that may make for a nice fall wreath.

Here is what I found:

  • wire remnants
  • dried red corn from our harvest
  • about 2 yards of orange burlap
  • a spool of orange ribbon
  • a little bit of green and white checkered ribbon

Alright, let's get creative.

I twisted the burlap into a long 'snake'.

I had used burlap to make wreaths in the past and found it great for making a basis for a wreath since the material is pretty sturdy.

It comes in a variety of colors and is rather inexpensive, if you end up having to purchase it; around $3 per yard.

To make a wreath out of this burlap 'snake', I wrapped the ends around the body of the snake and then poked the ends into some 'skin' folds. Yeah, it's all nip and tuck here in California ;-).

Now you have a basis that you decorate anyway you want to.

Using wire is great because it adds more structure and you can use it to tie all sorts of decorative items to the wreath.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Monday, September 26, 2011

Growing Garlic - The Stinking Rose

Since my taste buds are heavily influenced by a fusion of Thai, French and my Mama's Cuisine, cooking without garlic is next to impossible for me.

After a bit of research, I found out that you can buy some beautiful heirloom seeds from Underground Gardens or you simple take a bulb from an organic farmer or even grab some organic garlic at your health store and divide up the cloves. For my test run, I decided to go the inexpensive route. Once, I am a bit more familiar with growing garlic, I may give these beautiful heirlooms a try.

Anywho, after dividing them up, I put them into the soil with an about 6 inch spacing, root down, sprinkled some wormi-compost around, watered it and now I am waiting to see what happens.

Apparently fall, mid October is the best time to plant, although some French and even German growers claim, you need to put them in on the shortest day of the year.

Once you see the green shoots, you are supposed to mulch it. They may or may not die back in winter.

In spring, loosen up the mulch to look for shoots and feed them with seaweed. Obviously they need to be weeded.

It takes about 8 months for garlic to be ready to harvest, so it is not a crop for impatient people.

Need more tips on how to grow it?

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tutorial - Lavender Sachets

Laah!vender Sachets
We have a lot of lavender plants, who were blooming like there was no tomorrow to the benefit of our bees, who I am expecting to have made the most amazing honey.

With lavender plants it is a bit tricky: They can grow super large in no time and in order to keep them from taking over, you need to prune them. Heavily! No, seriously!

This is great, because you can then take the flowers and hang them up to dry. Yes, we had aromatherapy in all rooms.

After drying them for quite a while, it was time to do something with these flowers.

I peeled the buds off and decided to make lavender sachets.

Laah!vender Sachets are GREAT GIFTS:

Most people use these sachets in their linen closet or sock drawer to infuse clothing with good smells and  to fight off moths. In particular in the sock drawer, lavender can also be benefitial with its antiseptic effects.

Lavender has calming effects and some people put a sachet next to their bed and it can even be used in the car for people who tend to get motion sickness.

You will need:

  • muslin 6 x 6 inches
  • thread
  • ribbon
  • couple hand fulls of dried organic lavender buds; the best variety for this purpose is Lavandula Augustofolia

Here is how I did it:

I chose unbleached muslin, because I thought why would I use some bleached material for my all organic English Lavender?!

So, I cut the muslin into 6 x 6 inch squares.

With the pretty side facing down, I folded in the top twice and stitched it.

With the pretty side facing up, I folded it in lengthwise and stitched shut the two open sides, creating a bag. Then I turned the piece inside out and filled it with the lavender buds and tied a ribbon around it.

If you do not have lavender, but still want to make sachets, there are plenty of places to buy dried lavender online by the pound, which sells at around US$15.

Of course, this was the basic version and I ended up adding some heart shaped fabric scraps to it, which you can see here.

You want one? Become a follower of this blog (click button on the right) and eMail me your mailing address to and I will post one off to you.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Saturday, September 24, 2011


This has been a lavender busy few days for me. I was cutting off lavender and hung it up to dry. Then I took the already dried bushels off to peel the buds off. What a chore and you end up smelling like a monster-lavender.

The plan is to create lavender sachets with unbleached muslin, which after purchasing I washed and it is now drying up so that I can cut the pieces to start the sewing process; a tutorial is in the making, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile my dining room table looks like a lavender explosion has hit and there are a flock of hungry birds quacking, crowing and clucking.

Thank god for a very forgiving man and dog!

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Friday, September 2, 2011


Aurelia picking tomatoes
This marks our seventh months into our homesteadying adventure and the summer comes to an end.

While we are picking the fruits of our labour, I am already thinkning about the fall and winter months to come, when we won't be enjoying the bounty of our own yard.

August 2011 was a good month for us; the much expected tomatoes and edamame were ripe and were enjoyed.

Here is the overview:

1/2 lbs Artichokes
34 lbs Tomatoes
25 lbs Zucchini
1 lbs Cucumber
Basil (I didn't bother weighing)
1 lbs Edamame (they were sooo good!)

A total of 61.5 lbs of produce!

.... and daily two duck eggs, so a total of 62 duck eggs and sunflowers and lavender!

So, what to do with all these tomatoes, you ask? Well, we gave loads of them away and I made paste, which I froze in glass containers.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis