If you’ve been following closely, you’ll know that I recently downsized from a house back into an apartment. While I love the apartment, I can’t say I don’t occasionally miss having a little plot of land to dig in the dirt.
To fill the void, I spent a good portion of my summer digging in someone else’s dirt. A lot of it. I worked at Midnight Sun Farm this summer and got free vegetables in return. We also planted a little window garden at the apartment.
Which was really beautiful.
Until it died.
Record heat, no rain, and too many jobs were the culprit in killing the little window garden. But fear not, I managed to save the marigolds for a little while, and one of the pansy plants lives on!
Using the basil plant I got in the CSA box a few weeks back, and two geraniums I picked up at the farmer’s market last week, and the garden is back in action and looking lovely. As I write this I’m gazing out my sunny dining room windows, past my little pink geraniums toward Chicago’s far north skyline, and thinking, life is pretty good, Lauren.
There’s the mad dash from the gate. The in-fighting over the shaded spots close to the Pavilion. The pop up tables, real crystal, and vases of flowers. Everything you’ve heard about Ravinia is true. It’s at times chaotic and dripping with wealth, but the North Shore folks in khaki pants and claustrophobic lawn quickly fade away once the music kicks in. You settle into your bottle of wine, gaze up at the trees, and all your worries melt away.
For just ten bucks, you can sit in the most beautiful back yard in the tri-county area and hear some of the best musicians in the world. This particular Sunday it happened to be Idina Menzel with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Admittedly sniffly, and suprisingly crass, that bitch can sing.
Life has gotten a little overwhelming these days, and so has my cucumber patch. Back in July I planted two cute little cucumber plants, that have proceeded to take over the rock in front of them (meant to divert them from growing into the grass, the fence, the neighbor’s side of the fence, and a big lady statue that came with the house. As a result, we’ve been eating cucumbers every day since late July and making lots, and lots, and lots of pickles. Basically, friends and family can expect pickles as Solstichristmakwanzukah gifts and we will still have enough to get us through the winter.
I’d love to say that I’m thriving in the excitement of the 58 hours of work, home renovations (we plastered and painted BOTH bedrooms last weekend), and part-time freelance dance gigs. Generally speaking, I crave a busy schedule and function better when I have plenty of things to occupy my head space.
But I think last week I realized what my limits are. When you can’t find the time to go to the dentist, brush your hair, or feed your cats, maybe it’s become a bit too much.
If I’m to be my best self, all the time, I’m going to have to figure out what the balance is between busy and TOO busy.
I guess you have to experience the extremes before you can find that sweet spot where you have enough things on your plate to feel important, but also enough time and energy to putts around at home and pick cucumbers.
First, let’s point out the elephant in the room…. One Crafty Lady got herself a facelift! I’m migrating all of my miscellaneous and antiquated blogs over to one superfine megablog, and it’s all right here. Some things will be slower to join the party…. for example, Travelpod does not allow me to export my posts so I’ll be slowly, and painfully, copy-pasting them here over time. Other than that, I shall introduce you to One Crafty Lady 2.0 with some thoughts on marigolds.
Marigolds are awesome.
They are pretty, easy to grow from seed (read: don’t splurge on mini-plants at the nursery, because they are seriously that easy to grow from seed), and hearty. Another fabulous trait of the marigold is how easy it is to preserve seeds to grow next year.
You should only have to buy a seed packet of marigolds ONCE.
Or, just get some from your neighbor’s marigold plants.
Once the plant flowers and the buds dry out they should be easy to pick off of the stem. Inside that nondescript dried up flower is a magical seed pod. Just give a little tug to the dried petals, and out come the seeds.
Lots of seeds.
One pot of marigolds will yield you about 4 pots of seeds for the next year, which is why it’s ok to pluck a dried up marigold out of your neighbor’s flower pot….
Just make sure that you store those seeds in a paper envelope (not a plastic baggy) in a cool, dry place for the winter.
My co-workers asked me what I was doing for the 4th of July weekend….
Co-workers: “What are you doing for the 4th of July?”
Me: “Digging rocks out of my backyard.”
Co-workers: “Really? For five days?”
When I bought a charming little bungalow, the backyard was shrouded by a blanket of white. When the snow melted, I was greeted by stumps, fountains (seriously), underground hoses (for irrigation, duh), and lots and lots of rocks.
In the middle of the yard.
Lots of rocks.
So two solid months of rock digging led up to a very special weekend, when the last of the rocks were finally cleared out, and, in it’s place, SOD!
As a part of this transformation, I was also forced to finally address the five or so relatively big maple tree stumps in the way.
The point is, working outside in the pursuit of home improvement is hard, and I can think of few better excuses for a homemade fudgy pop.
Homemade Fudgy Pops
1/2 C. sugar
2 TB cornstarch
2 TB cocoa powder
2 1/2 C. milk
1 TB butter
1 tsp. vanilla
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and milk
Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until boiling and thick
Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla
Pour into popsicle mold and freeze until firm
* Pro-Tip: to get them out of the mold, pour a bit of running hot water over the mold to let the plastic expand and release the fudgy goodness.
This excites me with geeky giddiness – partially because I have a backyard to grow strawberries in, and partly because this one was ready to pick when I checked the patch today, which means I got to this beauty before the bunnies did.
This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.