Posts Tagged With: personal projects

Watercolor Whimsy

This morning I woke up at 7:30 and went for a long walk around town.  I put out a friend’s recycling, got a mocha at the co-op, ran a couple errands, talked to several people who were out shoveling about how warm 15 degrees feels after the bitter cold we’ve been having, and made it back to my house around 9.  After a delicious breakfast and catching up on the news I decided to get artsy.  Thus, Beatrice XIV was born.  In my free time over the last couple months I have been practicing drawing and using watercolors.  While I am not very good (yet) at drawing things that are in front of me or drawing from pictures, I think the things that come out of my imagination are pretty fun.  It is noon and I feel like I have been incredibly productive today.  Being busy really works for me.  Now that I am working 3 jobs, I find that I am making much better use of my free time.  Time for lunch, more errands, work, and a meeting. Huzzah!

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Make Your Own Hot Sauce!

Our homemade, fermented hot sauce

Our homemade, fermented hot sauce. Made by Jamie

Hot peppers did really excellently in our part of the country this year and we are now left with a ton.  We had pickled and frozen some and decided to make hot sauce as well!  Traditionally hot sauce (and ketchups, relishes, etc) were all fermented instead of being vinegary like they are today.  Making hot sauce is super easy!

Fermented Hot Sauce Recipe

  • Pick and de-stem a whole lot of ripe hot peppers.
  • Put in a blender or food processor and chop them up until you can’t anymore.
  • Pour into a clean jar
  • Mix in a couple teaspoons of pickling salt.
  • Cover with a cloth or not screwed on plastic lid
  • Let rest and ferment for a couple weeks.
  • Enjoy.

That’s it!  That’s all we did!  After a day it started frothing and bubbling a way.  Later if you want to you can strain it for a liquidy sauce like one you would buy at the store.  We chose to keep ours chunky though and boy oh boy is it hot.

Just remember to use proper protection when you are dealing with hot peppers.  Jamie wore gloves, safety goggles, and a bandana over his mouth during processing day.  Just the smell in the house alone intensely spicy.  I recommend keeping a window open.

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We need a new home!


Move out day from the cabin is fast approaching and Jamie and I really need a new place to live!  We are looking for house or cabin or really anything decent near or outside of Viroqua.  I’d love to be able to bike into town– with the new bike trail that means Westby is also a possibility! We would like to have enough space to grow lots of veggies and raise a couple of chickens.  Ideally we would also be able to hold a couple Driftless Folk School classes there but we are not attached to that anymore because we really just need to find a place!  Please keep us in mind with ideas of any kind!

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Biodynamics gathering afterthoughts

This weekend Jamie and I went to the North Central Biodynamics Gathering and since then my mind has been buzzing with dreams for the future.  The gathering itself was really interesting.  I got to hang out with a Warren Wilson person I hadn’t seen since graduation and there was a lot of good food for thought– and my tummy.  Biodynamics is still quite mystical to me.  I don’t fully understand what it is or how it works and the gathering definitely wasn’t set up to explain any of that– it was more philosophical.  In California I used Biodynamic preps for compost starter and compost tea but until I do some serious research it is going to be  mystery.  Below is a picture of me stirring some compost starter and water in summer 2010.  I affectionately called it poop soup.  It made our compost piles shrink a lot faster than the piles we didn’t add it to.  Magic!  One thing I did like about the gathering was listening to Craig Holdredge speak about Goetheian observation and how we can relate it to agriculture.

Going to gatherings and conferences like this one always leave me wanting more.  I love  the community feel and all the gained friends and connections. Jamie and I are currently on the look out for some land and a house to rent so that we can grow a whole bunch of food, raise chickens, and hold folk school classes. We have both done a bunch of farm, garden, and homestead like internships and apprenticeships and we know we don’t want another one but finding a decent place that is affordable is tricky.  Plus since I don’t drive I would prefer to be within biking distance to town.  Living in town generally means more expensive house with less land but close to all the action and community activities.  Living out of town means more land, possibly less expensive, less towny noise, and most likely transportation issues.  I dream of having a tiny  CSA or at least a farmers market booth but is that a dream for this year?  Do we have enough money?  I feel an urgency when I think about all this. And not just because I have to move out of my cabin soon.  It just feels like the time is now and I am ready. Anyone out there in internet land know of a good place in or around Viroqua?


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Happy August!

Growing out of some old compost are a ton of volunteer squashes.  To celebrate the beginning of August I harvested a pumpkin and made a special Jack-o-lantern!

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New Catalogue!

Life here is all about learning and this week I decided to take my skills to a place where I didn’t think I would go with the folk school—the computer.  After a very full 8 hour day working on the new catalog with the rest of the work/studys I decided that I would step up and volunteer to finish the project of my own.  At some point it just felt silly to have everyone working on it when we only had one computer with the design program. 60+ work hours later, the catalog is finally finished and I can breathe easy.  In creating the catalog I learned two valuable skills that I can honestly say I didn’t have before starting the project—using a Mac and using InDesign.  Through this process I have learned that I am way more of a perfectionist than I ever claim to be, I am capable of living on little sleep and lots of caffeine even without the college environment, La Crosse is a great place to get stuff done, and I have a great support system here.  Mad props to the other work/studys and several board members for calling around and gathering/creating sweet artwork.   Even more gratitude and awe goes out to Jacob for compiling and writing all the class descriptions and teacher bios.  Also props to Jamie for designing a beautiful cover, finding lots of great artwork, doing the final touches and supporting me like no other.

You can find the new catalog here.


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Pickling– more photos!

Since taking the class I have become decently obsessed with pickling and canning.  I have pickled garlic scapes, green beans, and beets so far.  I love it. It’s easy and fun and makes for a nutritious snack later on. Here are some pictures:

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I have always really liked store-bought kombucha but always had pretty funky luck with kombucha made by my friends so I decided to make some on my own starting with a bottle of store bought.  I followed these instructions and so far it seems to be growing wonderfully.  It’s going rather slowly, probably because the cabinet where I am keeping it isn’t very warm, but each day it looks a little bit better!  I can’t wait until it’s ready to drink!

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