Green Crafting

November (and a little bit into December) is book month at Whipup.net

Ok Ok – I have a dream… it includes a farm and some animals and lots of kids (being good and playing nicely), rain and sunshine and vegetables, honey and fresh air, free range eggs, a pizza oven and homemade bacon. I am thus just a little bit addicted to reading books on these topics, growing my yearning toward change and a new lifestyle – somewhere green and rainy and lush – maybe with a beach – does it sound nice?

The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses By Richard A. Jones and Sharon Sweeney-Lynch. Stewart, Tabori & Chang (April 1, 2011).

Wow – beautiful book, full of amazing historic images, illustrations and posters – full of facts and history – myths and stories – bees in literature, art and ritual – the first chapter makes for incredible bedtime reading. Next everything you need to know about the honeybee- types of bees, the lifecycle, how they communicate, why they sting, where they live, man’s relationship with the bee and how to create a bee friendly garden. All super interesting stuff – and filled with amazing images of bees, bee hives, swarms, bee anatomy, as well as beautiful hand drawn illustrations – just stunning.

Next chapter is the ins and outs of keeping bees, when what how and who – everything you need to know to keep bees and harvest honey in your own garden. This section has wonderful practical advice on hive construction and where to locate it – looking after and feeding your bees and proper hygiene and safety. Again there are some amazing photos and a really informative section on what to expect in a beekeeping year. And of course how to harvest all that lovely honey and beeswax. The next to last section is all about honey and the bee byproducts (beeswax, pollen and royal jelly), including medicinal, scientific and food uses. This section begins with a really informative section on the types of honey, then goes on to make candles from beeswax through to the medicinal properties of honey. Lastly – recipes, crafts and home remedies – from honey syrups, drinks and marinades to hair products, skin creams, soaps and healthful tonics. This is probably the most thorough and interesting book on bees and beekeeping I think I have ever seen (I know I am not an expert – but this book is really fabulous).

The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals: Choose the Best Breeds for Small-Space Farming, Produce Your Own Grass-Fed Meat, Gather Fresh … Rabbits, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cattle, & Bees by Gail Damerow. Published by Storey Publishing (March 23, 2011). (Distributed in Australia through Capricorn Link)

A practical guide to raising your own animals for food and includes chapters on each of the animals covered: chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese, rabbits, bees, goats, sheep, pigs, and cows. Most of these animals except maybe for ducks, chooks and bees are really not meant for the average backyard, this book really goes beyond the basic small-space animal husbandry and is more hobby farm material than for the suburban backyard farmer. This book is not meant to be a one stop shop – rather it makes for a great general overview while you are researching your topic.

Homesteading in the 21st Century: How One Family Created a More Sustainable, Self-Sufficient, and Satisfying Life By George Nash and Jane Waterman. Published by Taunton Press (May 3, 2011) (Distributed in Australia through Capricorn Link).

Wonderfully inspiring book written by a couple with a lifetime each of experience working and living a self sufficient life. Full of not only practical farming life, but also real interesting stories and advice of farm life. It’s difficult to explain this book – it’s an eclectic mix of part how-to manual and part memoir. The advice given is so obvious heart felt and hard earned – and the writing style is real too – the voices of these farmer folk comes through real and raw – it’s wonderful. A perfect book to be reading over the next year while I think about our next step into the unknown.

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November is book month at Whipup.net

The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons By Amanda Blake Soule and Stephen Soule. Published by Roost Books (August 9, 2011).

Because I am such a big fan of Amanda Soule’s blog and have ‘known’ her online since we both started up our blogs many years ago – it’s a bit difficult for me to give an unbiased review – so I am not going to bother with that – instead I will just tell you that Amanda writes, parents, crafts and lives a beautiful, meaningful and inspiring life. I am sure it’s not easy – all those kids, homeschooling, self sufficiency, a farm and a business – but she does it with style and without complaint. Her husband Steve, who co-authored this book, has a different style of writing – almost poetic, it is so obvious that this is a family living their dream and loving each other.

Each month of the year is prefaced with an essay from both Amanda and Steve, they talk about what is happening on the farm and in the family, the seasons are very important as is the routine and rhythm of a homeschooling family with five children, lots of animals and a very crafty and creative and nature based environment. Each month is accompanied by a couple of seasonal crafts, activities or recipes. These are simple, thoughtful and nurturing, not fancy, difficult or even particularly original – it’s the way they are presented – as part of the whole picture that makes each project important.

January begins with Amanda’s thoughts on the push and pull of inside and outside on a wintry day, she discusses the heart of the family and the projects they will do, while Steve reminisces about his childhood and the role of the father in the day’s rhythm. They make potato soup, knit a simple cowl and make icy sun catchers. In other months they watch the birds, tend the animals, make nature bags and press flowers. Later in the year they go on picnics, plant seedlings, make jam and go on walks.

Inspiring and beautiful and simple.

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Jennifer Perkins is a compulsive crafter, wife and mother living in Austin, TX. You can read more of her crafty escapades on her blog Naughty Secretary Club.

I think each time I go to a flea market my husband sits at home and dreads what I will be bringing home. There was the giant 4 foot tall panda head, the dining room chairs on wheels and once there was a grocery cart. When my husband and his green thumb heard my master plan for the shopping cart all was well on the home front.

SUPPLIES

  • Old Grocery Cart
  • Scissors
  • Potting Soil
  • Herbs
  • Coconut Husk Liners

  1. The first thing to do is cut your husk liners to fit in the baskets of your cart. Dirt will fall right through those small cracks so you have to line it.
  2. After the cart is lined fill with potting soil.
  3. All that is left to do is plant your favorite herbs. Be sure to water your cart frequently as it is like a big hanging basket and will dry out easily.
  4. Harvest your herbs to your hearts content. The nice thing about your herb garden on wheels is you can easily transport it around to catch the best sun and have the easiest access.

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Eddie blogs at Eddie’s room about her refashions, food, and other crafty pursuits. She shares the Grey Duckling brand and blog with her husband where he illustrates and she makes yarn and lace. Finally she is an editor on the Refashion Co-op and runs the Historic Crafts blog too! [busy gal!]

Thank you Kathreen for inviting me to join your ranks of guest bloggers and letting me share the word about refashioning and especially refashioning for maternity wear. I began refashioning about a year ago when I joined the Wardrobe Refashion community. Unfortunately I wasn’t a member for long before Nikki sadly decided to close down the blog (the archive is still online though). I had been emailing with a couple of fellow members for a bit to see if we could find a way of keeping the community alive when I got the idea of creating the Refashion Co-op based around the concept of having several editors working together to build a community. Currently Refashion Co-op has 12 editors from all over the world. We all work together to provide a community where our contributors and readers can share their refashion and be inspired by other’s refashions. The best thing about having so many editors is that we have 12 times the creative energy to build up the community. We somehow manage to keep track of it all by each having our own responsibilities. We are running a maternity refashion challenge to coincide with this post and we hope you will come over and join us in the refashioning fun.

But why maternity refashions? As I see it there are two reasons. I am pregnant in my 5th month and while I haven’t grown much yet there are already certain clothing items in my wardrobe I can’t fit anymore and because maternity clothes are quite expensive and with only a short wearing time. That’s the first reason. The second is the same reason that I began refashioning in the first place. I feel that there are enough new mass-produced clothes in the world already so I prefer not to add anymore. I have shopped in thrift stores for many years now and being able to refashion some of the clothes I find there means that there are a lot more fun possibilities. I also like refashioning from my own wardrobe instead of getting rid of clothes I can’t fit or don’t wear anymore.

So lets have a look at a couple of my favorite ideas for maternity refashions. First I want to talk about trousers. This is probably the first piece of clothing where you are going to need a bit of adjustment to fit into it. The big issue with trousers and being pregnant is buttons and sometimes zippers. They just sit there and gnaw into your skin and put pressure on a part of your body where the baby is already putting more than enough pressure, thank you! I tried making my own pair of maternity pants but didn’t have much luck. I will have to adjust them. You can follow my attempts at Eddie’s room. I have added a list of trouser tutorials where you can also see some more pictures of my own attempts at maternity refashion.

Next up is what to wear on your upper body once your tummy and breasts begin to grow. If you don’t wear too tight clothes to begin with you might be able to get away with using your previous clothes for a bit. But at some point this won’t do. For one thing you will stretch your old clothes and they won’t be much fun to wear once you get your figure back again. Furthermore, you might technically be able to fit your old t-shirts but may find that they unintentionally ride up. There are quite a few tutorials online for different maternity refashions of tops, shirts, tunics and dresses. A great place to start is the diy maternity blog by Megan Nielsen. She has done such a great job at collecting tutorials and ideas. Another idea is to have a look at the maternity refashion category on Refashion Co-op.

I hope this has inspired you to get into refashioning whether you are pregnant or not.

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Rohan Anderson is a Ballarat based Dad, Husband and self confessed modern Hunter Gatherer. He’s often found pottering in his vegetable garden, in the kitchen or out embracing the food that nature provides. His blog ‘Whole Larder Love‘ documents his approach to food, fun and life in general.

Waste not

A few unseasonably warm days at the end of winter has me thinking about the spring plantings. Actually I turn into a pubescent schoolboy, giggling with joy when I asked that cute girl out to the blue light disco. Man I’m old. Sure you can grow some veg during winter, but it’s the warm season that floats my boat. So much garden action, and less reliance on the evil supermarkets for fresh produce.

One of the keys to having a veg patch that will provide enough produce for a family is planning. ‘Be prepared’ was the mantra drilled into me when I was a Cub; yes I was a total cutie in that uniform. If you want pictorial evidence email me at (supercute@scoutboy.com.au).

Being ready for the onset of spring is something I diligently take care of every year. A few years ago I purchased one of those cheap little hot houses from the hardware store, all of $30 and worth every penny. I have to mend it with new clear plastic each year but the frame size is good, perfect for the urban farmer.

Raising seedlings makes more sense to me than buying a punnet of seedlings for around $4, especially when you are growing a lot of veg it can become quite a fiscal commitment, one of which our family, on a single income, couldn’t afford. It’s not that I’m a super tight arse but it just makes sense to find a cheaper alternative. Okay so I’m a bit of a tight arse.

We raise our own seedlings; with a packet of seeds costing only a few bucks which goes a great deal further than buying trolleys full of punnets at your garden centre. Take carrots for example, in a punnet you get 6-8 individual carrot plants for $4, where as a jumbo pack of seeds for the same price can grow you a 100 individual carrots. So why on earth do people insist on buying punnets of seedlings? Well usually it’s a combination of poor planning, laziness or limited knowledge of how to raise your own seedlings. It’s super easy guys, like opening that crisp cold beer on a stinking hot summer day. Easy.

Making the effort will you save a heap of doe, but the satisfaction you get from raising a plant from the beginning to end is something we don’t get from most of our everyday lives. That’s one thing I believe is fundamentally flawed in our society, we don’t get to see much physical evidence of a job well done. You go to work, sit in front of a computer, make a few phone calls and go home. Sure you’ve done ‘something’ but the satisfaction isn’t immediately obvious. With gardening you can physically see something rise from the soil and grow into a tangible object you can put on your plate. You know its origins, you know no chemicals were used and the flavour will blow you away so much you may need to change your knickers. I remember tasting my first homegrown garlic many years ago and was astonished by the rich peppery flavour. A change of knickers ensued.

Gardening doesn’t require super specialised equipment, or rules… I hate rules. Like everything in life simplify the process and leave room to enjoy yourself. I tend to recycle items that would otherwise be destined for the bin, like toilet paper rolls and food tins. There are a few advantages of utilising both.

The toilet paper roll is normally bound for ground fill where they would rot without purpose, but using them for seedlings gives them one last purpose. There is also another great advantage – from a gardening perspective – for the seedling to be planted directly into the garden still in the roll, the roll will eventually rot down while at the same time providing some support for the delicate root system of the seedling. When you plant from a punnet you disturb the root system no matter how careful you are. If there is a lot of disturbance the growth of the plant can be set back a few weeks while it recovers. With toilet rolls there is no (minimal) root disturbance, allowing the fresh seedling to thrive once it’s planted.

Saying that though I also like to use old food tins to raise individual seedlings. A generous root system develops and they make ace gifts for your family and friends, especially when you plant a tomato in an Italian tomato tin… oh the irony. With the tins – I bang in a few drainage holes with a hammer and nail underneath – otherwise they can get waterlogged.

It’s a simple process. Choose your seeds; fill the chosen container with seed raising mix, pop in your seeds and top with more seed raising mix and water. Continue to water each day and in a few weeks depending on the seed type little plants will pop up, at this point you will need to change your undies due to the level of excitement.

I always tend to grow more than I need, and the excess I give away to anyone interested, in the hope of getting someone else interested in becoming one step closer to self sufficiency. Now that totally rocks.

Now finish up the gardening session with one of these…

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