Life, Love, and Ruminations on Boredom

Angie is visiting her parents in Texas for the next two weeks, so Caesar and I are holding down the fort. This annual trip usually takes place in June, when the garden is just getting started, but our favorite little human came to visit us then and the trip was delayed. So now, the garden is in full swing and Caesar and I are ever-so-diligently trying to keep up. Okay, truthfully, Caesar is no help at all. This is how he spends most of his time now:

He very much enjoys the $6 patio rug we “stole” at a yard sale earlier this year. (It retails for more than $200 at World Market. Yay, us!)

Anyway, it has only been a few days since Angie left, but they have been busy ones. The tomatoes have been coming off like hotcakes (and so have the field peas!).

Saturday’s tomato and pea harvest. Remember, we only have about 20 sq. feet of garden space.

I spent most of Monday washing, peeling, and cooking tomatoes to can or freeze – which meant that I also had to organize and inventory the freezer.

Almost full!

Yes, there are plastic things in the freezer. We have a “use it until it dies before recycling it” policy here, and most of these plastic things are older than Caesar. (Okay, maybe not that old. He’ll be 17 next month.)

Aside from preserving the harvest of our little garden, I’ve been watching our first ever watermelon grow. This is Angie’s baby. She saved the seeds from a late summer melon last year and convinced my mom to let us put it in the sunniest spot available – right next to the house.

And if that wasn’t busy enough, I’ve been working on crafts for the winter craft show, I picked up a new grant writing gig, and I started relearning the ins and outs of video editing for YouTube.

Now, make no mistake, I’m in no way glorifying busyness for the sake of simply being busy. I’ve taken some time to read and relax with Caesar on the patio too, but the truth of the matter is, I miss my person and staying busy helps tremendously with that.

You might think that two people who spend ever single day together would relish a break. Not us. In nearly a decade, we’ve not run out of things to say to one another. Our [crazy] ideas and adventures provide a steady stream of learning and growing experiences and we truly enjoy doing things together. When either of us is away, we miss the heck out of one another and get an insane amount of projects done at the same time. When I was in NC last fall, Angie took woodworking to a whole new level and even painted my mom’s kitchen!

Our life is never boring, that’s for sure. Speaking of which…

My uncle (yes, this one) is coming to visit my mom this weekend and bringing his kids (age 12 and 14). Right now, they are at the beach, enjoying the last bits of summer before heading back to school. Okay, that last part is a complete lie – not just a half-truth or an exaggeration. They are indeed at the beach but they are not enjoying anything. They are BORED. These kids haven’t left the hotel room except to go eat. My uncle spent $2,100 to stay in a resort right on the beach; and one day in, they are already BORED. They haven’t been to the pool, walked the boardwalk, taken a ride on the giant ferris wheel, enjoyed an ice cream cone, or picked up a single sea shell. My mom says they may even leave early to come here.

I mention this because I have a feeling that even though I’m not a child, I’m going to be expected to entertain them, and that’s just not going to happen. I have zero patience for bored young people, especially ones that have access to a plethora of things to do and deliberately choose not to do them.  And no patience for parents who think their middle-school age children can’t walk a boardwalk by themselves (or go out in their own yard) for fear they will be abducted. My grandmother (the same one who raised my uncle) used to tell me (repeatedly) that if someone were to abduct me, they would bring me back in a hot minute once they saw how much trouble I was. She was joking, of course, but the real message was this – go play, nothing is going to happen. She, along with my parents, taught me not to talk to strangers or get in cars or help find lost puppies; all the while instilling confidence in me instead of fear.

Yes, sometimes bad things do happen and real children disappear but in reality the likelihood of a child being abducted is 1 in 300,000. They are 100 times more likely to get struck by lightning. Yet, neither is a good enough reason to make your children so afraid to go outside that they miss out on the beauty of the world in which they live. I’m not sure how my cousins will fair on their visit to TN if they are already bored at the beach, but we shall see.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject of safety vs. independence when raising children. Or your thoughts on life, love, gardening, or any other topic for that matter 🙂


Cover photo: Our niece (circa the summer of 2008) during our 6-week adventure in Colorado. She turned 21 this week and is still one of the most independent, free-spirited, fun-loving folks I know. Happy Birthday!! 

Home(steading) Is Where The Heart Is

I’m not sure if apartment-steading is a word or not but I decided midway through putting a patch on a tiny pair of children’s undies (for the 2nd time in a week) that if it isn’t, it should be.

According to the great source of all knowledge (Wikipedia) homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale”.

I’d say that sounds a bit like us. We are always striving for greater self-sufficiency. Home haircut, anyone??

Giving Mom a trim at “Outdoor Clips”

We grow and forage some of our own food (or source it from our friends with farms). We picked 38 pounds of peaches just this weekend.

We can and freeze food for winter. See…we even canned the peaches.

And craftwork -well, we did an abundance of that when our little visitor was here.

We just happen to do all these things from an apartment. So apartment-steading, that’s my new word for today.

Seriously though, Angie and I watched a video on Youtube a few days ago about a couple that had just bought a 5-acre homestead. In the video they talked about how they had practiced their homesteading skills for years before making the leap. As we sliced up 11 pounds of cucumbers to make pickles on Sunday, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are we practicing for the day when we move to an actual piece of land? Is that what our future looks like?”

I don’t know. The thought of walking out the door and seeing a chicken instead of our annoying (and sometimes naked) neighbor does have it’s appeal. But so does not owing anyone, and right now, buying land would require debt. So we’re okay with the apartment and our efforts toward self-sustainability here, for now. Besides, we’re only limited by our imagination.

Why can’t we experiment with solar power from our patio? Or grow an entire garden from the trellis? Or start burning wood for heat? We have an actual fireplace for Pete’s sake!

Don’t have land either? What’s stopping you from honing your homesteading skills? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Learn to cook from scratch. This is probably the best home or apartment-steading skill you can add to your repertoire.
  • Grow something, even if it’s just an herb on the windowsill.
  • Join a community garden or find a friend or family member willing to let you put a small garden in their yard.
  • Make friends with your local farmers. Not only will you have access to fresh produce, you are likely to get better deals (and sometimes even freebies).
  • Learn how to can. Up until a few years ago, we didn’t know much about canning but I promise you, if we can can, you can too!)
  • Learn to sew. Even if you’re just patching a sock, that’s one less sock you have to replace.
  • Make your own cleaning and laundry supplies.
  • Practice fixing things on your own. You can always call the repairman if it doesn’t work out.
  • Barter with your friends or neighbors.

Are you an apartment-steader? Or an urban homesteader with a small yard? What homesteading skills do you practice?