The Homestead Weekly

The Homestead Weekly, 28 February 2021

January felt like it was 1,000 days long, but I’m a bit incredulous that we’re already at the doorstep of March. That’s typically how February goes for me, though, just because there’s almost always the first whiff of spring in the air, and I usually start to get a good jolt of motivation to do All the Things because of it.

This year was no exception, and my motivational jolt seems to have been more like a lightning bolt as I’m now throwing myself 100% into my latest dream, as you’ll see below.

Note: There are affiliate links to products mentioned below, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no extra cost to you.

In the Kitchen

Compared to last week, when I could hardly be coaxed anywhere near the kitchen, this week felt like I was finally getting back into good habits. Ironically, when we’re reaching the end of the month and having to get a bit more creative with our meals (since I do one big grocery shopping every month at the beginning of the month and buy minimal groceries the rest), I seem to be better at actually figuring out dinner and trying out new things. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Or whatever the saying is.

It also helped that our Misfits Market produce box arrived this week (it’s a subscription box we get twice a month of fresh produce that’s delivered to our door, and I feel like the price is fabulous for all you get. Plus it keeps me out of the grocery store, which saves me money since I don’t have a chance to make impulse purchases!). One thing I know about myself as an eater and as a cook is that I am definitely drawn to colorful, beautiful food, so every time my produce box comes, I just feel inspired to want to cook, so that definitely helped this week, too.

We hardly ever go out to eat, but my daughter got a free kid’s meal coupon at school to a local burger place, and since they didn’t have any gluten-free buns available (not surprising), we just had to go with the salads while we watched on with longing as our two-year-old took three bites of his juicy, non-fast-food burger and said he was done. Going gluten-free has definitely taken some of the joy out of eating out for us, but it is good on our wallet since it means we’re rarely tempted to go out anymore (usually once a month at most). So there’s that.

I think next time we go, I’m going to make a batch of homemade gluten-free hamburger buns (there’s a recipe in this favorite GF cookbook of ours) and see if they’ll use those to make our burgers. It might work, right? I’m thinking since it’s just a small locally-owned restaurant, they’d probably be willing to do that for us. We shall see.

On the Menu This Week: homemade chicken soup “gravy” over mashed potatoes (I need to post this recipe soon!), butternut squash + chicken enchilada skillet, creamy white chicken chili, homemade cheese pizza (we tried this brand of GF pizza crust mix, and it was decent, though not exceptional), garlic alfredo sauce over pasta, take-out from local hamburger drive-in

In the Garden

Do I know how to keep my dreams to a “reasonable” size? Apparently not, because this week, I 100% committed myself to trying out my flower farm dream this year. It will be small-scale (probably a dozen or so CSA bouquet subscriptions and then direct marketing bouquets through social media with the rest of what we produce), but we’re really doing it. I created an Instagram account for it, came up with a name (Dream Acre Flower Farm, which you’ll notice is a nice little play off of this blog name here), and we started sowing seeds this week. I also took about an hour and a half yesterday on my bed with my notebook and with $300 worth of seed packets spread all around me and meticulously planned out what will go in each of our five raised beds, what will go in what used to be the cow pasture (for the previous owners), and what will go in the front garden bed I’ve cleared out.

After making my last notation in my notebook, I stood up with a feeling of great satisfaction…and then a large stack of cosmos seed varieties came tumbling down, and I realized…I hadn’t put the cosmos ANYWHERE in the plans! I knew I had so many that I was thinking of giving them a full bed all to themselves, but then I ended up filling all the beds with other things. AAAAAARRRGGGGHHH. Luckily, the cow pasture area is decently large, so I just decided to cut down the amount of corn we were going to plant there and plant half of it in cosmos instead.

One thing is for sure, though—apparently the ONLY way to curb my crazy seed-buying habit is to make me sit down and actually find PLACES for all of those seeds. I no longer have a desire to buy anymore (lol), especially as I still haven’t 100% found places for everything but am instead deciding to just cram them in the perennial beds out front or into one of the 10 or so large pots we have for the porch.

We’re supposed to have an extremely warm first week of March here, so I took a chance and direct sowed some sweet pea seeds outside just to see if I can get any to grow. (I also sowed some inside that I’ll transplant out in a few weeks, which are more “guaranteed” to make it.) If any do germinate, I’ll cover them with a floating row cover as needed throughout the month until they’re more fully established. As I get more and more into the process of doing this, I realize more and more how much I didn’t (and don’t) know, and a book I found this week—Cool Flowers by Lisa Mason Ziegler—has literally changed my ENTIRE approach to how I’m going to grow my hardy annuals this year (and from now on, as it will mean that I will be planting a ton in fall to “winter over,” which is a technique I haven’t formally tried yet). It seems that every spare second I’ve had this week (and then some) has been evenly split between doing research and doing the actual work, which is how I imagine a lot of this growing season will go.

I also spent two afternoons clearing out the front bed (about a 4′ x 10′ space that the former owners were using to grow squash and pumpkins) to direct sow some hardy annuals next week, and I spent the majority of Saturday making final plans and then starting to sow the seeds indoors. Of course, the grow lights that were supposed to come yesterday haven’t arrived yet, which necessitated that I only plant things that didn’t need light to germinate. However, the rest are all labeled and ready to go as soon as we get those, so hopefully all our early spring sowing will be done this next week.

All that bed-prepping meant I made a few discoveries of some spring bulbs I didn’t know were here, which was a fun surprise. There’s still not a lot (and the tulip bulbs we planted last fall still haven’t started poking through yet), but it’s exciting to see ANYTHING green in the garden at this point.

Growing this Week: pansies (we had a few winter over from last year!), as well as the first greens of the spring bulbs poking through (definitely some daffodils and tulips, maybe an iris or two)

Sowing this Week: sweet peas (outside, experimentally), sweet peas (inside), lemon balm, lemon mint, Sugar Daddy and Green Arrow snap peas (for eating)

In the Playroom

Motherhood has felt hard and monotonous lately—potty training is never going to be my favorite, and now that the kids have experienced some days outside enjoying the spring-like weather, they seem to resent ever more the days that we’re more or less confined to the great indoors. (If we had sidewalks here, I feel like that would help us get out more because then I could feel comfortable going on walks, but since there aren’t any and since there’s still snow somewhat on the side of the road…I’m just not comfortable taking the kids on walks at this point.)

The baby has also discovered his lungs and how piercingly loud (and high!) he can scream his head off, just to get a reaction. When all the kids are making noise (either happily or unhappily), it’s enough to make my head spin, as I’m not one that does well with chaos.

There have been lots of sweet moments lately though, as there always is (if I can take a second to actually pay attention to them, at any rate). Hyrum is in a fun play stage where he’s getting a real sense of focus while he tries to figure out certain toys or activities. He’s started to play with some of his toys for really long periods of time by himself (like, half-an-hour long), just listening to the noises and trying to get all the pieces to go where they should.

Mathias has started to say, “I love you all the best” at random moments throughout the day, and always at bedtime as we tuck him in. He’s always been cuddly and affectionate, but it’s so fun to walk out to the kitchen after getting ready for the day and hear him say, “You are beautiful, mama!” and run to give me a big hug. He’s also learned to open doors for other people, so he’s almost always the one to open the front door for me when I’m lugging Hyrum out in his carseat to take Raven to school (or pick her up from school).

And Raven is turning into a card-making machine—every Valentine’s Day, she seems newly inspired to make everyone she knows (and then some) personalized cards, and this year is extra fun because she’s starting to write out words (phonetically) on her own, so we find cards for us (with a clearly recognizable “Mom” and “Dad” written on them), as well as cards for “Hirm” and “Msi,” always with “I luv u” splashed somewhere on it. Yesterday I put on the audio version of The Boxcar Children (the first one), and she LOVED it, which just made my heart so happy (Matt’s too), as it was one of our favorites from childhood.

In the Home

Saturday was a productive day for us, as we got a ton prepped for our indoor seed-sowing and as Matt was able to (finally!) get all the kitchen drawer fronts put back on (after we’d painted them white all the way back at the end of December). It’s been so nice being able to open our drawers using actual drawer handles (rather than having to dig our fingers into the sides to wiggle them out), and it just makes our kitchen feel one step closer to being finished, though we didn’t make any progress on putting in the floor.

Other than that, the house was largely neglected this week, unfortunately. Prep work for the flower farm took up so much of my time and energy, and Hyrum is officially in full-on destructo mode, which means that anything I put back tends to get pulled out within the hour and strewn alllllllll over the house. It’s amazing I haven’t broken something tripping over toys, for reals.

In the Soul

Despite some tasks wearing on me (the endless household clean-up that never seems to make a difference for long, the constant figuring out of meals, the pile-up of diapers in our garbage bin outside), I do not take for granted the great difference in feeling between winter and early spring. December and January were raw and endless, filled with isolation and constant stress due to Matt living away from us for so much of the week, especially when we had little chance to escape outside.

Now, with the fire and excitement that only comes from a new project (especially a project that I’ve been dreaming of for such a long time!), I have felt reinvigorated emotionally in many ways. True, I could definitely tell this week I wasn’t used to so much “extra” work as I was sore and exhausted from cleaning out the garden beds and prepping all the seed trays….but it’s so much fun to be excited about something, and to be excited about something just for me, you know? I mean, I hope that this flower farm will bless a lot of people outside of just me (our little family with some extra income and our kids with memorable experiences and a good sense of work ethic, our neighbors and friends and family with free bouquets, etc.), but even if I never make a penny on any of it, I know that this will be so good for ME, for MY well-being and MY soul. I always swore I wouldn’t “lose myself” when I became a mom, and I’ve had to fight so hard to retain that sense of self during these grueling days of young motherhood when I’m being pulled in so many directions constantly. This winter, I felt that I was basically forced to give up most any semblance of myself-just-as-me when I was on my own so much—I didn’t have the time to devote to my hobbies like I wanted; I didn’t have the energy or local support system to easily have regular chances for self-care.

And now that Matt is back with us and the sun is shining more and we had the opportunity financially (thanks to our tax return) and the available land to just GO FOR THIS DREAM, I’m starting to feel like the old Torrie is coming back again.

And it feels really good.

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