Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ebay and Blackberry

Sold on Ebay. $.99 - that's what I listed it at and that's what it sold for. 99 cents.

I was cleaning out the spare room and thought I would list a few things on Ebay. This was a paper mache Santa I made years ago. Just a dust collector but someone bought it out of Georgia. Thank you for that.

On Monday after Christmas, I went to the garden for a few hours and cut down the blackberry bushes that have overgrown. Now, that was a job. I enjoyed it but it wasn't as easy as I thought. Each one of the long long branches had a million thorns. They would whip around each time I snipped or tried to move them. The area had never been pruned so the blackberry bushes were all one huge mass. I created two paths and pruned down all of the green shoots. Once I was finished, I had tiny scratches all over my legs and hands. I wore gloves and heavy jeans but those were some sharp thorns.

I'm smiling thinking about it. I would rather spend the day pruning then commuting.

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Winter Garden

Winter - Garlic under Straw

Merry Christmas! I walked over to the garden this morning and took a few pictures. No snow so a lot of green still left. Weeds and chamomile sprouted up all over.

Enjoy your Holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Indoor Garden

Cabbage, Red Chard and a close up of the broccoli.

Indoor Gardening. I started my own micro greens this fall and they are delicious. I snip off the leaves when I need them and toss them into a salad or on a sandwich. They take only days to sprout and in a couple of weeks, you eat them! Very Easy. Get a small container, some organic soil, sprinkle of seeds, water and a piece of plastic wrap for germination. Sunny location and ta da. Greens!

Sage and Basil

Herbs in a large pot. I thought I'd make a mixture. Sage, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and I had some caraway seeds I tossed in. These two were the first to pop out. So Fresh and green. Incredible colors.

On another note, I meant to comment on my cookie donation to Garfield Farm. I drove out and dropped off some butter cookies and Carmel corn. They were setting up for their two day event of cooking and grilling the 1874 way. I only met a few folks but I think I was an outsider and while they appreciated the goodies, they weren't too sure about me. I wanted to learn about farming but they are into teaching how folks lived at that time. Reenacted events - not farming they way I think. Anyway. I got chased by the numerous geese walking around then went home. Beautiful place but not a farm.

Christmas is in a few days. Happy Holidays to everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Etsy Sales

YEA! I made another sale. I really liked these two. They are on their way to Atlanta. Happy travels.

I got up this morning dreading work detail - I've been off for the past 4 days - the last of 2011 vacation days - and received a nice email notification that something sold. It's like a present and makes for a wonderful day. I've been buying from Etsy members for a few years now. Started with soap which then inspired me to make my own. I've bought ceramics and gifts for difficult people. It's a nice way to shop. It also supports people that are trying to make it on there own. You're not supporting a multi corporation. You are supporting the one person (or family)that made it. Just makes sense to me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Etsy Additions

Added to my Etsy page. The little Chinese inspired pin cushion is the cutest. I started it sometime early this year and thought I'd finish it and put it up for sale. I've always liked the little pin cushions you see in China town.
The strawberries are 6 in a basket.
Check out the site. Some cute little things for sale. and type in dykes4000 in the "Shop Search"

Since it's almost winter here in Chicago Land - farm tours are on hold so I'm in my sewing room trying to create cute things.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Etsy Sales December

I made another sale! Yes - Etsy is on a roll.

This is a felted tree picture that I made. My sister bought it and didn't know it was from me until she purchased it. Isn't that cool? Something she liked and then yo and behold, her sister was the seller. Cool.

Off to Garfield Farm to donate some baked goods for there year end get together. I'll post more about the farm later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Omi's Shed

My Omi back in 1930's?
My Grandmother had this incredible garden in her back yard. I think this was the shed before it was built. It kind of looks like an island bar in the tropics. Just thinking about my Omi and Germany.

The weather in Chicagoland is rainy and gray. Thanksgiving is right around the corner but we haven't had any snow yet.

I'm searching the web pages for farm activities and found a seminar in La Cross, Wisconsin in February. I'm so antsy to learn all I can but with winter coming, gardening and farming is kind of on hold.

I check farms for sale almost everyday and there are some beautiful properties all over. Can't wait.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Garden Plot Empty

No pictures to upload today. I need to download new ones.

The garden plot is empty. The only thing remaining are 3 brussel sprout plants with lots of tiny sprouts. I've been picking them and the past two meals, they tasted a little bitter. I think that's it for them. They never grew very large and the bitter flavor isn't right. Maybe something in the soil has contaminated them. Not sure. Last year they were delicious.

I met with the residents of the Community Nursing Home this past Saturday and baked Carrot Cake cupcakes (last of the garden carrots) and a bread pudding with Whiskey sauce. That was some good stuff. The sauce I mean. The attendance was almost all ladies with only one gentleman and they had a great time. I asked them all what flowers they would like to see next year and all said Roses. Well... I don't have the space but maybe I can find a climber to place on the trellis. One of the residents, named Barbara ( I like other Barbara's) was raised on a farm in her youth and had over 1,000 chickens. She had some stories. I can talk to them all day long.

Future plans for next year is that I'm going to enlarge the plot and plant a field of multi-colored sunflowers. Not the tall ones, the shorter cuttable flowers. And Wheat as my previous post mentions. Wheat - just a small few rows. Grind and bake some bread.

I've also been reading about Sugar Maple Trees. You tap them in the winter and have syrup. Our Condo complex has quite a few so I need to drill a hole, place a bucket and wait. Oh yes - and ask for permission. Ha Ha

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Garden late fall

Zinnia's in November! Saturday I took down all the tall stalks of the multi colored zinnias and cleaned up the plot. Some of the stalks were over 6 feet high. The small orange patch is still too beautiful to tear out.

A week ago, I dragged Bobby to a farm learning day at the Heritage Prairie Farm in La Fox, IL. An organization called Craft puts on learning days throughout the area and this was the last one for this year.

They needed help moving a hoop house. The day was beautiful. About 10 people came and everyone brought a dish to share. A young man named Gregory made incredible Sushi rolls - now, I'm not a sushi fan - especially some raw fish thing in the middle of the Midwest - BUT his were 100% vegetable and incredible. Sunflower paste with carrots and celery rolled in a seaweed leaf. I know it doesn't sound good but wow! It was.

Everyone was so nice and interesting to listen and talk to. I picked up tips from a farmer in Rockford and from the tour guide. Just one of the best days! I can't wait to go on another. Have to wait until spring now. In the meantime, I've been reading Joel Salatin's book and learning a lot about setting up a sustainable farm. I'm totally consumed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Etsy Sales

TWO SALES! Yes - I sold a veggie scrubber and a catnip mouse! Shop is open and selling. I'm one happy camper. The farm fund is growing.

Hannelore and Jerry - I pilfered this photo from my Brothers facebook page. Isn't she cute? My sweet Mom. I like it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Leaf Compost

I spent a few hours yesterday spreading newspapers then leaves which I raked up from all around the nursing home. About 7 wheelbarrows full. It looked so nice and even and I though I was on to something. Lot of work but the weather was nice and I finished a quarter of the plot.

Well... Today I walked past early in the morning and everything was gone. Wind had blown all the leaves away and the newspapers were hanging on the fence. Every inch was gone. The weather said it was windy so my mistake. I just laughed. I mean, what can you do?

I need to go over this afternoon and find all the newspaper sheets and try something else. I thought the ground was wet enough to stick but I was wrong. Oh well. Learned a lesson. Don't spread leaves on a windy day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Carrots! Big old carrots.
They were in the ground a little too long but I cooked one of the medium sized ones and it tasted great.

Heading to the plot today. I read about newspaper and leaf mulch so I plan on covering as much as I can for the winter. Weather is still very beautiful but the big winter is close.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Omi's Chickens

1930's photo of my grandma and her chickens. I go through the pictures every now and then and another one jumps out at me.

Bobby and I went on two more farm tours this past weekend. The weather was just perfect and the farms were too. I'll write more later.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Garden and Harvest

The garden is about to be tilled under but the flowers are still so pretty. Waiting on the brussel sprouts to grow. Right now they are the size of peas. The Zinnias and Marigolds are still in a full bloom with tons of buds for more.

I harvested the onions and they were out hanging on the balcony. Sweet onions and Red. I've been cooking with them already and they are really tasty. The Lima beans are delicious too. Only 2 - 3 beans in a pod. Yum!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I just heard an incredible tale on NPR at lunch. This Chinese student here in Lake Forest is putting together a CSA program for her home town in China. She has put together a website so folks can meet the farmers. Her goal is to educate her people on organic and help the farmers in the meantime. She is creating a network that would assist the Farmers in selling their food and the consumer on eating organic. What touched me most is the fact that people are worrying about food. Her town had over 8 million citizens so I'm sure food is scarce but it made me think.

That will happen in the US if we don't keep Farms in business. Big Agri farms with the loads of chemically laden food will be the only thing left to eat. Then Cancer will increase. It scares me. I have my little garden plot and we eat fresh produce in the summer months but we are still eating meat from who knows where full of who knows what. I am worried.

I researched ways to fund raise and next year the fun begins. Bake sales, more craft items and an event that would bring people together. Research is my goal for 2012. A Farm is a must. I have to start one. NOW!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

German Family

My German Family. Here are my roots. This picture is probably 1936-38. Maybe sooner. My grandmother, her sister and brothers are taking a break from the fields.

I got back from a week in Germany visiting my relatives. My Aunt Marga and Uncle Alfred celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and everyone was invited. They put together this incredible slide show with old pictures. History at its finest.


Monday, August 29, 2011


Zinnia's - they have to be my favorite garden flowers. You drop the seeds, sprinkle some loose soil, water and forget about them. They are almost 5 feet tall right now. They boarder my garden plot and look just amazing. They bloom all summer long and have enough to share bouquet after bouquet. I also plant marigold from seed. I like flowers that have extremely low maintenance. If you forget to water or the weather isn't cooperating, they don't mind.

Beautiful weather in Chicagoland today. High was about 79 and it's just about as perfect as it can get.

Farm visits are going to continue next month. Keep checking back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Onions! They are getting so big. The green tops are now almost all brown and should be ready to pick any day now. I read to place them in pantyhose then dry them that way. Sounds easy but I don't have a garage so they will be in my spare bedroom. HA HA - which I'm sure will smell like onions for awhile.

Friday I'm planning on a major garden cleaning. Need to get rid of all the overgrown plants and clean it up. Still have a lot of tomatoes but almost everything is finished. I want to plant Winter Wheat that will come up in the spring. Just a few rows. I should have room to produce a bag of flour. I read a book that the man said "I Grow Pancakes". Nice. We'll see.

Thank you.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mice on Etsy

Catnip Mice - now on Etsy.
Willow loves these little guys. They are cotton tees that are stuffed full of 100% organic catnip grown in the garden. The strong smell drives her crazy. She dragged the prototype all over the house.

I'm adding some more wonderful things for the house on the shop later today. Stop by anytime.

Etsy is Open

My Etsy Shop is OPEN!

I am adding things each day. So far I have 4 items. Click here to access my page.

I'm so excited. I opened my Etsy account in 2007 - around Christmas time. I made a few Santa Elves to test the site. I think my photos were poor and descriptions hasty. No nibbles. Which is fine. My friends received some cute felted elves for Christmas.

This time around, I'm going to sell something. I have a purpose for my shop now. The Farm. All sales go into the account.

One last thing - we cancelled the goat farm tour. Thursday I emailed the farm. She was a sweetie. I can't wait to see the place. But I thought I'd give Bobby a break from too many tours. Good thing too as Saturday was rainy and nasty weather for a farm tour.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ottawa Review

Farmstand! How cute is that?

My evaluation of the Ottawa Sustainable farm is that it was a little messy. The farm had 85+ acres. Most was pasture that was not currently in use. Just blank acres that I just about cried cause nothing was growing. I guess the 7 cows they had could feed and the chickens in their little "Free Range" cages could but it was missing something. Why not grow corn or wheat? They were currently selling Chicken and eggs. Taking the broilers to a butcher and then selling them on a CSA program BUT they didn't have any pigs and I'm not sure on the cows. Maybe they too were sent to a butcher. Little confusing.

We enjoyed the tour but again, it was messy. Over 500 chickens - the egg layers - had free range of EVERYTHING. They were in the truck bed, all over the house yard, in the drive way - just everywhere. Because they had unlimited access - they pecked the yard clean. I mean clean. Down to the dirt. Now, I have never had my own chickens but others I have seen, have the chickens at least confined to a fenced off area so the house yard at least looks neat and tidy. My thoughts are that if you are giving tours, shouldn't your entrance look inviting? Shouldn't you plant maybe a pot of flowers? Maybe that's just me. I clean my house before company comes over.

None the less. I learned about "Free Range Chickens". Those that were sold for meat were held in large cages. Not over crowded and yes, they had access to grass but they were kept inside to keep the muscles tender. Are we all eating chickens with weak muscles? I guess I never knew that. Hmmm. What would the happy hen that was a layer taste like? Too tuff from exercise? That's why I want a Farm. I want to taste a happy hen. Not one that's in a cage. Even if they are outside, does a large open air cage constitute Free Range? Not sure.

Money for the farm is my main project now. I'm working on the donation site. I should be able to add it to my site soon. Also maybe a fundraiser. I'm even thinking about a reality show. Wouldn't that be a hoot? The whole process on maybe the Discovery Channel. Thinking about it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cedar Valley Sustainable

We drove to Ottawa yesterday to visit a sustainable farm. The day was beautiful and the country side breathtaking with farms dotting the landscape.

I'll post my evaluations later.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


August! Wow what a fast summer. One more month.

We have two farm tours this month. One in Ottawa, IL at a full CSA and another at a meat goat farm. We've also applied to work part-time up the road at the vegetable farm but he hasn't called yet.

Moving along.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Community Nursing Garden

Some snap shots of the 3rd year of the Community Nursing Home Garden. Wow! It's getting large! I picked green beans for dinner and a few small zucchini were ready. You have to watch them as they can grow as long as your leg! Last year one was hidden between the leaves and I didn't catch it until it was too large. So I made Zucchini cake. Not Bread but cake. It was delicious. It probably would of made a hundred cakes as it was that large. I should of weighted it.

Working on my Farm Plan. Bobby and I will have a farm soon and will be asking for help. Stay tuned.

Enjoy your summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Visit to an Organic Farm

Bobby and I drove up to Grayslake Sunday and spend 4 hours touring a lovely 45 acre Organic Farm. 12-15 acres were used to grow vegetables for their CSA. Nice couple and gave us a tour first of their equipment, tractors, tillers and many different implements. Then a tour on a flat bed trailer through their acres. I think there were over 40 people and it was an enjoyable day. Chickens were scattered through out and it was great watching them. A nice working farm.

CSA's are a lot of work as they had over 400 customers. So that means when they are picking the produce and packing it, and they have to do it 400 times. It's something to think about when we plan the type of farm we want. The options are endless. Agri Tourism, road side stand, farmers markets, CSA, animals, etc... the list is huge. We have a couple of years to get it all together. But I think I got Bobby excited as he was looking up farms on the computer today at lunch. I gave him the farming bug.

Next month we are visiting another one in Ottawa. This one has a CSA which includes meat.

Posting as I can. I hope my rambling makes sense. I read over my past posts and I do change tunes a lot. One day shoes the next I'm knitting. But know this. It's all preparing us for the Farm life. Sustainable and self sufficient. And I will document the process.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I think this is the one. Not sure if it will be available next year but this is the type of farm we want to buy. It has a stream running through for constant water, enough pasture to feed the animals, out buildings already in place eliminating the building needs and it's just plain cute as anything. It has that feeling. Again, it might not be available next year but it's going on the blog.

It's started. The Farm Account. I've set up an account just for the farm. I am focused to make this happen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finding a Farm

Ok - I am now totally obsessed in finding a farm and the way to obtain it. Where, when and how are the three words that keep coming into my mind.

Where? It must be close to people because they need to visit it. When? It must be soon as I'm not getting any older and How? How am I going to finance the whole venture? I should put the HOW first, right?

I have some ideas and need to just keep trudging along until it falls into place.

We are visiting a couple of running farms in July and August and I'll ask a ton of questions. One is a CSA and the other has lots of animals. Both are two different ways of farming and it's a start to my research. The Fundamentals of Farming the State provided helped a lot but I need to visit an actual farm. Poor Bobby. I'm dragging him along with me. He was born a City boy but hang with me and you will be a farmer. HA HA

More to follow - I'm hoping to document the process.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Love this farm - I know it's somewhere in the Alps with a vineyard but it is so beautiful.
I took a Farming 101 workshop this past Saturday. I learned a few things and the speaker on Marketing was very informative. Lots of options. CSA or Agritourism. Or just grow and sell. I know it's in the cards and hope to have a farm in the next 3 years. Research and money. Need to find some funding. I hope to not have to keep the day job but I don't think that will happen. Of course unless we find something too far away. :)

That's all - Farming on the brain today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just Soap

Label for my soap! Love this drawing. Sorry - I had to add the Copy protected. It covers up something as well. It was a tiny soap package from a French hotel many many years ago. Can't believe I saved it.

I have been making soap each weekend. Real soap. One batch with Lard - rendered from fat I bought from the butcher. One batch with just oils. I am making a Castile Olive next. Apparently the trace takes forever with just olive oil. We'll see - Lots of stirring on the balcony.

No chemicals except for the NaOH (or Lye). Just can't make it without. One of these days I'll make lye from scratch. Apparently, you take wood ash - like from a fire pit and place it in water. The next day, the water which has soaked in your ashes, is the lye. Hmmmm... sounds too simple. You can't use coal or any kind of fire ash other than straight wood. I'm very curious on how it would work. More research is needed. In the meantime, I bought some Lye and it works beautifully.

Stay tuned. The Chamomile Tangerine soap will be ready in four weeks.


Summer is here! Full force. It's 5am and already warm and humid. Pictures to post soon. I need to take the camera to the garden.

I am reading everything I can on farming. I even signed us up for a workshop this Saturday called "Farming Fundamentals". The Illinois County Farm Bureau puts this together and it's the start of my research on obtaining a farm. I'm not sure what I'm getting into but it's worth it. It gives me a purpose. A goal.

This is a what my German Omi's back yard looked like. A small yard but Lots vegetables.

Many great stories out about city to country people. I think I was born to farm. It must be my German/Italian genes. My German relatives each had mini farms in Aschaffenburg. Chickens, pigs and lots of vegetables. The Sicilian side probably did too.

All I have to post this morning. More to follow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Spring is finally here. Everything is green and lush. I planted all the seeds in the garden Monday. Now it's in Mother Natures hands.

The forecast shows just rain and warm weather ahead so perfect growing conditions.

Beautiful world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Showers

It's been raining for weeks now. I like a good rainy day but this has been going on too long. It's nice for a sleepy Sunday morning but then please stop and show some sun.

Last Saturday I was able to plant lettuce, spinach, peas, carrots and radishes. I need to wait though until no chance of frost for the rest. Last year I planted all of the Zinnia seeds too early and once the little plants popped up, a frost came through and half died so this year, I am waiting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Twisted Sticks

I made these twisty ties for myself and also as a cat toy. So I thought they might be something to sell. "Things for the Home" or something like that. So I made about 70 of them. I haven't done anything with them yet. I had to hide them because Willow loves to play with them and drags them all over the house. I gave her two of them so she wouldn't bother the other ones.

They are cloth covered wire and I use them for sealing bags or tying up a ponytail. Lots of things.

I'll list them for sale one of these days.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ground Hog Day Blizzard

This was last Wednesday Morning (Feb 2, 2011). I went out to check on the snow. I wanted to see if it was a snow day or if I needed to figure out how to get to work. It was to my knees and still coming down. The roads hadn't been totally cleared but it looked like a possibility that I would need to drive in. But the email came in from my boss that we were not to venture in. I was relieved as I do not like driving in bad weather.

Later that day, I shoveled out my car. The pile of snow behind it was as much as another Mini. It took me 2 1/2 hours to dig out. No kidding. It was a beautiful afternoon though. The sun was shining and all of my neighbors came out to help each other.