Friday, August 26, 2016

Sundry Updates

Oh, my dear new reader! I get you interested and then seem to take the summer off from this little blog.

What have we been doing on our village homestead? Not enough sewing! And I have supplies for soap tucked away in the dining room buffet but haven’t gotten to use them yet. We’ve done some traveling to visit with family and we’ve dedicated some time to our social club. And, following the resignation of our village association president, I find myself the highest elected official in our small community. So, we’ve been busy!

So, what has been happening at our village homestead?
  • Herbs are being dried and packaged for the winter.
  • Tomatoes are being turned into ketchup and tomato base sauce.
  • Sourdough bread is getting baked.
  • Water kefir is being brewed.
  • Sour cream and yogurt is fermented.
  • Homemade treats are getting made (key lime frozen pops and banana pudding pops!).
  • Cucumbers are becoming pickles.
  • Peppers are finding themselves pickled, dried and blended into hot sauce.
  • Garlic and onions have been pulled from the garden and cured.
  • Gardening is constant – watering, tying up, harvesting, picking, weeding.
  • Finding new ways to terrify the groundhog away from my summer squash. Hollering “Hey! Critter!” out the kitchen window is effective – and very amusing to the husband.
We’ve had some gardening failures, though. Deer ate all of our bush beans. The strawberries didn’t survive the hot Maryland summer and I’ll have to replant them next spring. The parsley just hasn’t grown the way I’d like it to so there won’t be enough for drying. Grass seeds from the mower were blown into the lettuce bed and now I’ve lost that bed to a small lawn. The asparagus we planted this spring never took and we’ve had a garden bed lay empty all summer.

Canning jars have taken over my kitchen countertop. We’ve manage to get strawberry jam put up this spring with bright, fresh berries from our favorite local farm. The abundant cherry and grape tomatoes are becoming jars of homemade ketchup, or joining the Roma tomatoes  to become tomato base sauce – an unseasoned thin sauce that I can use later to make chili, or soup or pasta sauce. Vegetables from the garden and the local farm are starting to fill up our freezer and the dehydrator is running constantly, with either fresh herbs or tomato slices on its trays. And pickles and pickle jars are crowding everything else out of the way.

Seriously, pickles. And now I’m eyeing up fresh, deep red beets to be pickled for the winter.

In the meantime, the husband helped me find a beautiful antique desk chair for my sewing corner. Made by an Ohio office furniture manufacturer in the 1910s, it’s a nice addition to my treadle sewing machines. I’m looking forward to sitting there to work on my sewing projects this fall. And while I’m daydreaming about the new quilt to piece with reproduction fabrics (and maybe a twin with tropical fabrics?) and the completed quilt top that I’ll be putting in a hoop soon, I’ve been using a sock loom for the first time and just completed a pair of (imperfect) blue and white socks.

In all of this busyness, I had a moment that caused me to pause in my plan: A plastic pin on my sock knitting loom broke. As I hunted Amazon and Joanne Fabrics websites to replace the loom, I found different types and sizes of sock looms. I could buy sock knitting looms and hat looms and this really nifty and complicated blanket knitting loom! Oh, and the joy of yarns! And maybe a new knitting tool. There could be socks! And hats! And blankets! And scarves! And fingerless gloves! And… And…And!

And in my excitement, my professional sense walked over, poured a cup of coffee and calmly said, “What are you doing?”

What am I doing with St. Denis Sundries? I have great ideas of a homestead crafting business in a 100 lovely directions. That was just not going to work.

So, ordering one sock loom to replace the broken one, I closed out the pages and considered some old advice. To do a few things, do them well, and keep your focus on that. Quantity is the enemy of quality. I can either do one type of sock to add to my repertoire, or I can only make knitted things.

This also means I can make soap but not candles. I don’t need two collections of supplies filling up the buffet cabinet.

Sewing is what I enjoy but I should keep the Sundries collection to bags and the occasional toy. I don’t need to be sewing ALL THE THINGS as I originally planned.

What can you expect to see from me?
  • Homesteading crafts. There will be soap adventures. We’ll dry some herbs. There will be canned foods in beautiful mason jars. I’ll make stuff as the mood arises.
  • Gardening. We’re planning on expanding the garden next spring so you’ll hear plenty of this.
  • Sewing bags, toys and quilts. Because denim bags are St. Denis Sundries’ foundational products.
  • Sock knitting. Because after a lifetime of trying to knit, I finally found something I can do with yarn.
  • Adventures in village homesteading. Follow along as I try to answer the question: Can I have chickens in the backyard?
So, stay tuned my dear reader. I promise, there is a blog on homemade ketchup coming up.