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Sometimes you hit the too-much point.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s just…all too much.  You feel wild.  You feel crazy.  You feel out of control, out of body, and like you just want someone to put you in a room full of glass and hand you a baseball bat.  You’re pissed at the world and its incompetence/lack of compassion/stupidity/unfairness/insert shitty attribute here.  You are awesome, goddammit–you kick ass.  Why doesn’t everyone agree on that?  Why is everything going to hell?

So I hit that point today, and when I saw that a loaf of bread had gone moldy, I went over the edge, delightfully careening out of my gourd as a steady David Bowie soundtrack played in the background.  I slammed the loaf to the ground and stomped it into disc form while screaming and crying and uttering a string of obscenities that would surprise a grand total of nobody who knows me.  I howled about wanting to burn everything to the ground.  Yes.  Yes, this was good.  I needed more. And The Boy could tell.

He took a glance around.  There was a moldy orange in our fruit bowl.  He gingerly placed it in the center of my new Breaking Shit pile.  Then he got the fuck out the way.

Freshly-squeezed O.J., anybody?

But the pièce de résistance was a gingerbread village (yes, gingerbread, as in Christmas) that was laying in a pile of things to be “handled.”  Well, fuck, I could handle that village right here and now.  Godzilla-esque fantasies flashed through my head.  I slammed the thing to the floor and went on a killing rampage, complete with imaginary screaming villagers, as The Boy watched on with what I believe was genuine childlike delight.

My little misfits, I beat the shit out of that gingerbread village.

There is a beast that lives in each of us.  Suppressing it is what gets us into trouble, and into straightjackets.  Feed the beast regularly.  Let your crazy out.  Fly your freak flag.  Start a “Breaking Shit” pile at your homestead.  And if you want, show me your Breaking Shit pile.  Bonus points if you’re in the shot actually breaking shit.  And I’ll post it on this here site.

After the carnage had passed, and The Boy and I were standing there in quiet contemplation of my streak of destruction, he sighed deeply, saying:

“Your main problem is that you’re a goddess, and you’re among men and women, and you’re trying to be one of them.  You know, that’s what Jesus tried, and I’m not sure if you know, but it didn’t really work out for him…have you read the Bible?”

I love The Boy.

Until next time, my sweet, sweet misfits: break shit.  And love yourself.

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You must read this post, titled “When I grow up I’m going to be an old woman.”

I so hope that none of you read my blog or are into natural foods or homesteading because you think this lifestyle will keep you looking 25 for life.  Instead, how about we all just strive to be like Roxanna and be the coolest old ladies we can be?  I know I’ve been fortunate enough to know a few–those special women who laugh at the notion of “aging gracefully,” wear white after Labor Day, dye their gray hair purple, talk about sex with jaw-dropping candor, and just generally have a hell of a good time, no matter what anyone else says about how they should do it.  And mourning their youth?  Fuggedaboutit!  They’re having too much fun as devil-may-care, wheelin’ and dealin’ old ladies to give two skrits HOW old they are…or what anyone else thinks about what aging SHOULD look like.

I mean, the choice seems clear to me.  You can be this:

Photo by Hamed Saber

 

Or, you know…this. 

Are you a cool-as-hell old lady?  Do you aspire to be one?  Let’s discuss!

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Hello, Greenie Beanies,

I recently got an email from another satisfied customer.  That is, someone who read and liked my regular column on Urban Homesteading, which runs in every issue of MaryJanesFarm Magazine.  Her name is Linda, and she wanted to pick my brain about urban homesteading.

Linda has been living in a rural home in California, and 2 years ago she moved into a city apartment with her adult daughter.  Linda is not used to cramped city apartments.  Linda does not like to feel cramped.

Oh, we can feel that pain, can’t we, sugar dumplings?

In any case, she’s having a hard time adjusting, and she’s finally looking for some ways to bring out her inner farmgirl.  But how to do it in the city?

Oh, sugar pies, YOU JUST KNOW she came to the right place!

Since I get questions like Linda’s fairly often via email or text message or Facebook nudge or secret message (seriously, people, if you have a question, ain’t no shame in postin’ it for all the guacamole-lovin’ world to see!  We won’t tease you!  And I kick jerks off my comments board, which makes “The Alchemist” the fun-lovin’, free spirited, totally tolerant, non-judgmental, warm and fuzzy, rolicking good time encouragin’, dictatorial palace of blogs.  Or something like that.).  Okay, I forgot what I was saying.

Oh, right.  Since I get questions like Linda’s fairy often, I’m going to print a piece of my response to her here.  Benefit from it, add to it, improvise, my sweet pets!

…It sounds like you’ve had to undergo quite the adjustment, you poor dear!  I was born and raised in Chicago, but have lived elsewhere–always in major cities, including Honolulu and New York.  So the crunch for space and land has always been an issue for me, and boy, do I sympathize.  I think one huge perk about city-living and small spaces is that they make you creative.  It is, of course, far easier to homestead on forty acres than it is in a 600 square foot apartment.  So you get plucky.  You get creative.  You become less wasteful and more ingenious.  You will, too!  Embrace it, and give it time, Linda.  But maybe I can help you to hurry things along….

Most of what I grow is in containers.  People have no. Idea. How. Easy. This. Is.  Really, I’m astounded at all the naysayers who will tell you vegetables can’t be grown in pots.  [Readers: remember when I showed you how easy it is?] Listen, you can grow colonnade apple trees in pots!  Almost any plant, given the proper space, soil, water, and nutrition, can be container-friendly.  A great beginner’s book I’d recommend is McGee & Stuckey’s The Bountiful Container. I’m not sure what kind of balcony space you have, but I say, load it up, girl!  A big part of urban homesteading is seeing what you can get away with.  The answer, in my experience:

a whole lot.

Think lettuce in window boxes that hang over your balcony railings.  Patio tomatoes in pots.  Strawberries in hanging baskets.  Peppers and eggplants are extremely container-friendly–mine are very productive in a mere 8-inch pot.  Zucchini are notorious for a reason–they are practically reproductive machines.  Though I’m a big fan of heirlooms, you might try the Raven Zucchini hybrid–it’s container-friendly and produces loads of fruit very quickly.  Tea gardens are a great offshoot of the herb gardening thing, and mint and chamomile do very well in confined spaces.  Make use of vertical space, too, with plants that climb.  Just be sure that your landlord is okay with all this, and that you’re following the necessary safety precautions for balcony weight limits and such.

The great thing is, I think city neighbors, while they may not know much about what you’re trying to do, are usually pretty receptive and curious.  You may have been no big deal to your far-off rural neighbors, but you’ll probably be a sensation when you cut pumpkins from a vine twirling around your fire escape.  Try to make friends with your new neighbors, if you haven’t already, and let your garden be the icebreaker if need be.  Share your produce, try not to drip water onto your neighbors below (I said “try”…it won’t always be possible), and if you make friends with people who don’t really use their space, go ahead and ask if you can put a box or two on their railing.

Remember, mushrooms are a great edible crop that you can grow indoors in low light–why not try a mushroom kit?  Several issues ago, I wrote about the process in my “Urban Homesteading” column in MaryJanesFarm Mag.  In another piece titled “Bunnies in ‘da Hood,” I wrote about raising indoor angora rabbits for their knitting fiber (they shed it naturally).  My very first article for that column was about community gardens and yard shares.  If your ambitions outstrip your land, you might try to find for-rent gardening plots nearby.  You’re likely to meet new neighbors who share your farm fantasies.  Try to cultivate online relationships, too–I like to do a little seed swapping on the forum at www.gardenweb.com.

Homesteading for me goes beyond gardening.  I cook, I bake, I sew, I knit, I ferment, I pickle (I’ll be teaching pickling and fermenting workshops during MaryJanesFarm Day at this event in St. Paul in September–why not attend?!), I bake my own bread, brew beer and wine, make cheese, and am generally engaged in any nonsense I can lay hands upon.  Now The Boy and I are getting into roasting coffee.  We also subscribe to a local CSA or farm share box, which connects us to great local produce that we can’t or don’t grow ourselves (try www.localharvest.com to find one near you).  It helps to make us feel like part of a community.  We satisfy this urge by visiting our local farmers markets, too.  Perhaps you could start a weekly farmers market habit and hobnob with farmers and foodie neighbors?  These little things can help to put you in touch with a local, land-loving community that you didn’t even know existed.

…Lotsa hugs,
Gen

Well, whaddya think, my little custard tarts?  Did I just about cover it?  Did I give you any fresh inspiration?  Can you add anything to help Linda’s transition go a little more smoothly?

Duh, you totally can!  Do so in

3…

2…

1…

GO TIME!

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Winsor McCay sketching Gertie the Dinosaur at a dinner party...because everyone knows that dinnertime discussions of organic food must be accompanied by sketches of free-range dinosaurs. Duh.

Yeah, that’s right.  An arse.

An eager acquaintance who shares my interest in natural foods asked me the other day, “What do you do when you’re eating at a friend’s house?  Do you ask where the meat and vegetables came from?”

Honestly, the notion of doing so absolutely smacked me in the brain and levered my jaw wide open, that’s how appalling I found it.  Ask my host?  When I’m a guest in his or her house?  If the meat was pastured?  If the produce has pesticides on it?

The short answer is “no.”  The long answer is “Hell no.”

And I don’t spend even a moment worrying about that meal’s “larger impact,” either.  I do the best I can with my food at home.  I do the best I can with what I eat when dining out.  But in no way do I let my dedication to eating a whole, natural diet impose upon my respect for my friends.  Many of them do not eat the way I eat.  Many have never intentionally purchased a piece of organic produce even once in their entire lives.  To me, the idea of asking a host whether the meat was sourced carefully is just as uncomfortable as if one of my dinner guests were to put down his fork, give me an earnest, concerned look, and ooze, “Now, Gen, I’d really like to talk to you about Jesus.”

No.  No you don’t.

It’s that personal.  I make the food choices I make because I feel it contributes not only to my own personal health, but to the health and good of everyone.  Alienation does not contribute to the health and good of everyone.  Food snob evangelization does not make anyone better.  It just makes you look like an asshole.  It makes others uncomfortable to be around you.  It causes them to associate the whole natural food/urban farming/organic blah blah blah movement with feelings of inferiority and shame.  When you shame someone, they don’t want to listen to you.  When you make someone feel inadequate, you do not effect positive change.  This isn’t to say that you can’t talk about your lifestyle with others–of course you should.  When the time and place are proper, and if said others seem interested.  Otherwise, you’re beating a dead horse.  A grass-fed, free-range horse that belches rainbows, sure.  But a dead horse nonetheless.

Sure, I’d love it if all my friends felt the way I do about natural food.  And I’m sure they’d love it if I didn’t de-pants myself at inopportune moments.  Point is, we can’t always get what we want.

Your friends may start to cook and eat like you, eventually.  They may not.  THEY’RE STILL YOUR FRIENDS.  Chances are, that means they contribute to your happiness in some way.  Which means they’re awesome.  And they don’t deserve asshole-ery.  So when you find yourself tempted to say something about the meal they’ve so graciously served you, remember that you two have something in common.  You both long for a world where a carrot doesn’t have to be called an “organic carrot” to imply its wholesome nature.  It can just be a carrot.  A world where we can all relax, pull up to the table, and be carrots–I mean–trust that our food is what it’s supposed to be.  A world where we don’t have to talk about it.

But I’ve heard enough stories to know that I don’t speak for everyone on this front.  So I’d like to hear from you–do you think it’s rude to popularize your foodie beliefs at your friend’s dinner table, or do you take the “loud and proud” approach?  How do you think victims of food snobbery should respond when confronted?

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Photo by Infrogmation (talk) of New Orleans

You know how people always say, “Ohh, don’t use Twitter and Facebook to tell people what you had for breakfast!  That’s, like, sooo the wrong way to use the Internets!”?

Well, they do.

Anyway, whenever it happens, it makes me cringe.  That’s because I’m a food voyeur.  I WANT to know what you had for breakfast.  I also wanna know what you had for lunch, dinner, elevenses, high tea, clandestine snack time, and midnight munchfest.  And hell, I’ll go a step further.  I wanna know what’s in your fridge, too.

I’m not that houseguest who prowls through your medicine cabinet.  Couldn’t care less.  But I will stand in the kitchen having cocktails and laughing and chatting with everyone else while the little person in my head goes, “WHAT’S IN THE FRIDGE, OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!”  Could it be…camembert cheeese?  A big bowl of citrus fruits?  Craft beer, or the cheap stuff?  A log of salami?  A body?  And what do they keep in the pantry?

Well, you shouldn’t dish it out if you can’t take it, right?

So I’ll let you in on the things that are always in my fridge and pantry, even when we haven’t shopped in a while.

In Team Frigidaire’s Corner, we have:

*Hard-boiled eggs (Great for an on-the-go breakfast for The Boy, or a healthy snack for me.  Ladies, eggs are the original 100-calorie pack…except they’re only 70 calories!  Eat real food.  Seriously.)

*Whole milk plain yogurt (A light lunch these days looks like a bowl of this yogurt, several hefty BAMS of Saigon Cassia Cinnamon from The Spice House, a handful of sliced almonds, and a handful of golden raisins.  Stir and nom.)

*Lacto-fermented produce (Right now we’ve got pickled crocks of red cabbage sauerkraut, garlic dill carrots, garlic basil tomatoes, cuke spears and slices, chow chow relish, jalapenos, hot-and-sour sesame cabbage, kim chi, and whole clementines floating in probiotic caramel syrup)

*Sourdough starter

*Cheeeeeeese (at a minimum, we’ve got grated pecorino romano, yogurt cheese, and often a hard, aged cheddar of sorts)

*Organic peanut-and-salt-only peanut butter

*Whey (for more lacto-fermenting, my friends)

*Lemons (salad dressing, soup brightening, beverage-enhancing…lemons do it all!)

*Grass-fed butter in one-pound blocks

*The Boy’s Homebrewed Beer (at the moment it’s one keg each of Wit and Red Rye IPA)

*A tub of miso paste

*Scanmask beneficial nematodes (What?  They’re for my plants.  You’re SUPPOSED to keep them in the fridge.  What?)

And over on Team Pantry, we’ve got:

*Assorted nuts (at the moment, it’s slivered almonds, whole almonds, chopped pecans, and walnut halves–all of them raw)

*Dried fruits (always raisins, at least the golden ones, but usually both)

*Bananas (I went through a phase once where I ate three bananas a day.  It lasted years.  I have no legitimate defense.  I still eat one just about every day.)

*Chocolate….lots of it, in various forms.  (I rarely go a night without having some, and I always keep a large, high-quality block of 72% around for shaving, chipping, chunking, and OH YEAH MAJOR NOMMING OM NOM NOM…)

*Canned tuna and/or salmon and/or anchovies (You can do just about anything with tinned fish, am I right?  I SAID, AM I RIGHT??  Thank you.)

*Coconut milk (Being lactose-intolerant, I feel that this one is pretty important, y’all.  Soups, dairy substitute, curry base, ice “cream”…)

*Seaweed (the roasted and salted kind is great for snacking, provides an iodine boost if you don’t use iodized salt, and can be thrown into some miso broth in a pinch with a poached egg for some awesome soup…yes, this is as close to ramen packets as I will probably ever get.)

Of course, this doesn’t include our very generous assortment of specialty spices, oils, sauces, flours, sugars, grains, blah blah blah.  I figure those are a given.  And every Friday we get a CSA box delivered with more goodies.

Well, how’d I do?  More boring than you thought?  Anything shocking?  I have quite a few living things in my fridge, don’t I?  I also have quite a few DEAD things MWAHAHAHAHHA!

Okay, now fair’s fair.  Feed my obsession and tell me what YOU always keep on hand.

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We’re collecting mushrooms.  Check out that impressive oyster mushroom.

And this gorgeous, huge shiitake.  Looks sorta like a rock, doesn’t it?  But cuter.  So more like a pet rock.  Which would mean…yes.  I’ve now officially eaten a pet.  Honestly, though, you saw that coming.

Trying to make pizza pot pies a la Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders, a fab little cash-only pizza place right here in Chi-town.

Don’t worry, we baked them!  (If you’re considering trying this yourselves, I highly recommend greasing the rims of the bowls.  Then it’ll be all the more dramatic when you flip it upside down onto a plate and tuck in with a fork and steak knife.  (Dramatic as opposed to pathetic, i.e. scratching and chipping and scraping off little shards of crust, not that that happened.)

Receiving fabuloso CSA shipments, as always.  And desperately hoping that tomorrow’s delivery will still go through, despite the avalanche that buried Chicago this week.  What you see in the picture, clockwise from bottom left, is a humongo  purple turnip (got cubed up and roasted under a chicken), cremini mushrooms (got thrown into the pizza pot pies), carrots (chopped into chicken soup made from the leftover chicken carcass and meat), apples (eaten as is), yellow onions (soup, etc.), potatoes (chicken soup), chard (Italian sausage, chard, and white bean soup–we’re eating a lotta soup, kay JUST GET OFF MY BACK), bananas (Gen’s breakfasts), mandarin oranges (eaten fresh and juiced, with some leftover to make a citrus poppyseed loaf), frozen peas (tuna salad and, drumroll, soup).

Eating more wonderful The Boy breakfasts.  That’s a buttered English muffin, a sliced up blood orange, and a fried egg over some potato and onion hash.  Life.  Is.  Good.

And a bunch of other things not documented in photo form (thankfully, as our current abode lacks the luscious natural light our last place had).  Like frenzied seed swapping via online exchanges, shoveling (not as frenzied…that sounds dangerous), ordering next week’s CSA/groceries whilst in a frenzy, listening to The Boy’s Homebrewed Altibier bubbling away (in a frenzied manner), pondering our collapsed closet (ruh roh), and trying to get The Boy to stay home like all the other snowbound peeps in this city.  Frenziedly.  As you know if you follow me on Twitter, that attempt was met with limited success.

Tonight we’ll be eating hot corned beef sandwiches with the mustard-y green tomato chow chow I put up at summer’s end.  Except mine will be more like a chow chow sandwich with hot corned beef.  Mmm…chow chow.

What’s goin’ on ’round your homestead?  What are you eating that you put up last summer?  What do you wish you’d canned/frozen more of, and what are you forcing down your throat with the aid of a canning funnel while swearing to never make again?

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Those of you who follow my writing career (All of you, right?  RIGHT?!) know that I’ve written quite a bit on the topic of urban homesteading.  And if you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you know that a big part of urban homesteading is creative food-growing.

But let’s be real for a moment.

It’s time to face facts.  For most of us in this fine country, the garden is loooong gone (::weeping sounds::).  But homesteading isn’t just about growing.  It’s about self-sufficiency.  In some circles, it’s about returning to the “old ways” of doing things.  It includes making many of your own goods, cooking and preserving a bit more from scratch than just about anyone you know, and making do with whatever you can re-purpose.  And truth be told, there’s still plenty you can do to keep the misfitty mojo flowing.

And it is extremely essential to keep the misfitty mojo flowing.  You know how you keep the water tap dripping ever so slightly in some parts of the country (MINE!) to keep the pipes from freezing up and becoming useless?  Yeah, it’s kinda like that.  This has been a public service announcement from your Bad Mama Genny.

Here are some of the things I’m working on.  Why not try a few yourself?

1. Prepare the garden beds and containers for next year.  So all the dead plants have been pulled and you spend entire mornings looking at those barren containers/patches of earth and sobbing your little heart out (No?  You don’t?  Uh, me either!…).  Let’s get it started for next year!  Why not try your hand at lasagna gardening?  You’ll be layering moistened “brown” and “green” layers of compostable materials and topping the whole thing with finished compost or rich soil.  Then you just keep the whole thing moist and let nature do its work.  Come springtime–voila–beautiful, black gold ideal for planting.

2.  Make some countertop kefir!  Get started with this lady –she REALLY knows her stuff.

3.  Why not grow mushrooms in a cool, dark corner of your little homestead?  This winter I’ll be growing shiitakes and oyster mushrooms!  Then I’ll be trying this OMG recipe for Creamy, Buttery, Chive-y Caviar-Like Mushrooms or, heck, even this Mushroom, Jalapeño, and Cilantro Salsa.

4.  Make some homebrew, dudes!  Right now The Boy’s got Bourbon Pecan Pie Ale and Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie Ale on tap in the old refrigerator he converted to a kegerator.  Now or soon-to-be bubbling away in our fermentation room:  Hard Apple Cider, Whiskey-Spiked Christmas Porter, and Ye Olde English Bitter.  We’re also considering putting up some mead made with local, raw honey.  (Have you ever eaten raw honey?  Ohmygoodnessgracious, you haven’t?!  GO.  DO.)

5. Cure some meat!  Why not try your hand at duck breast prosciutto or even–gasp!–an entire ham?

6.  Churn your own butter!  Simply leave some heavy cream on the counter for 12 hours to sour, pour it into a jar that’s big enough to still be 2/3 empty, and shake!  It’ll get super thick and heavy and then…BAM!  A hunk of butter sitting in a pool of buttermilk!  Press the resulting butter with a wet wooden spoon to squeeze out all the buttermilk, wash it under cold water ’til it runs clear, press it again, and then mix with a bit of fine-grain salt.  The Boy, The Brother, and I did this one recent Saturday night (shut up) and the fun was off the hook.  I think The Guys really liked flexing their muscles, and we all liked spoiling our appetites with fresh-baked bread slathered with soft, just-churned butter.  Not sure what to do with the leftover buttermilk?  I’m judging you right now, because if you don’t think of biscuits and pancakes immediately upon acquiring buttermilk, you must not be “ONE OF US”…

::heavy breathing::

–Alright, so that was unsettling and I promise not to do it again.  For at least a few days.  Or more like, 12 hours.  6 hours.  3?  ::heavy breathing::  Okay, well, guess you’ll have to take the BMG just as I am.

What was I saying?

Oh, yes, you can freeze buttermilk.  Just do it in small increments (1/2 or 1 cup) so you can take out just what you need for your recipe.

7.  Make cheese!  You may remember my ricotta recipe , but you can also experiment with mozzarella, farmer’s cheese, kefir cheese, or even some homemade cheddar!

8.  Ferment some sauerkraut, the natural way.

9.  Got a bin of green tomatoes on hand?  Use them for making relish, or let them turn red and cook up a batch of this Sweet & Savory Tomato Jam. (The tomato jam is delicious, but I prefer mine a little less sweet.  If you do, too, and you’re not planning on canning it, I’d halve the sugar.)

10.  Tell me you went apple picking.  I go every year–just wouldn’t be fall without it.  And it just so happens to be the way you and I got to know each other.  Did you know that pectin, that stuff that sets jams, jellies, and preserves, occurs naturally in the peels, stems, cores, and seeds of apples?  Recently I froze my harvest with a dry-pack method and SAVED THE PEELS AND CORES to make a beautiful pink apple jelly!  Everything else went into my sugar-free pink applesauce. 

11.  Scoop up the last of the tomatillos from the market and make some salsa verde to freeze.

12.  Roast some winter squash and freeze it in 1 cup increments for pies and muffins!  I seem to be doing this weekly, as I just haven’t met a punkin I didn’t like.  So you probably know the typical method for roasting pumpkins: chop ’em in half, scoop out the seeds, roast in a 425 oven face-down until they’re super soft, food-process the pulp.  But how about putting that slow-cooker to work?  Put the halves (or quarters, or eighths…you may have to cut them down to fit) into the stoneware, add a splash of water, cover, and slow cook on high until tender.  Save the seeds…

13.  And then roast those seeds!  Rinse ’em off, toss them with a bit of olive oil and sea salt, and roast at 375 until they’re toasty and crunchy, stirring occasionally.  When they’re done, eat ’em as they are, sprinkle a handful outside for the squirrels to enjoy (yes, I AM that much of a softie, but only when they’ve STAYED THE EFF AWAY from my garden), or turn them into brittle candy!

14.  Eat your greens.  At this point, your fresh produce consumption has already dropped, and you need to compensate by boosting your diet with nutrient-rich food.  Enter kale, chard, and the multitude of other cold-weather greens that are now sweeter and more tender thanks to a little frosty weather!  Try this raw kale salad–I  actually like it better without the bread crumbs–or make this delicious Chorizo, Chickpea, & Sweet Potato Soup (I added kale).

15. Try your hand at homemade laundry detergent.  You’ll feel like a frugalista.  Did I just say “frugalista”?  Excuse me while I go kill myself.

16.  Knit something!  The 6-Hour Afghan (free pattern at Lion Brand’s website; you’ll just have to register as a member.  Search “6 hour afghan”.) makes an awesome gift (for someone who will appreciate it!  Remember, non-knitters have a limited capacity to understand all the time, money, and effort that goes into knitted projects!).  It’s also easy enough for a beginner to tackle, and comes together so satisfyingly fast, you probably won’t even abandon it halfway through!  Not that anybody I know regularly abandons knitting projects halfway through…

Anyhoo, when I was new to knitting, I churned out two of these babies–shades of purple for Mom, shades of pink for Aunt Pat–and true to the claims, each took less than 6 hours.

17. Research some breeds of miniature livestock and plan for the day when your urban homestead has a wee bit of land to play with.  Don’t you just LOVE the idea of a miniature jersey cow wandering around your backyard, grazing on your lawn, mooing every now and then for a milking?  I bet your neighbors would think you’re just the bee’s knees!*

*Your neighbors will probably not think you are the bee’s knees, they will probably try to gas you in your sleep, and also, I just said “the bee’s knees.”  The bee’s knees.  There, did it again.*

18.  Check out some chicken coop building plans if you fancy a d.i.y project, or consider asking for one of these for Christmas!  Then plan your flock on this fantastic site.

19.  Review your garden notes from this year (you did make those, right?) or sit down to pen your observations, hopes, and plans for next year’s plot while it’s all still fresh in your mind.  Nothing like dreamin’ bout Heirloom Tomatoes (you must read this book!) to get you through those cold, lonely nights.  Also, The Boy is good for that but you can’t have him ’cause he’s mine and stuff.  Get your own The Boy.

20.  Start a countertop sprout farm!  No soil, light, or hard labor necessary!  Of course, you do run the risk of pining after some seriously kiff sprouting equipment.

Those are just a few of the projects we’re involved with this year–what are you up to?  Will you be trying any of these?  Have any suggestions of your own?

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