Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry 2015 Christmas


Cat and Flax
Close up of Flax

Oak Leaf Lettuce

I met my family in Chicago last week and we walked through Millennium Park. We came across this incredible head. It's 39 feet tall and made of marble. I researched and it's been there since June of 2014 by an artist named Jaume Plensa. The full title is "Looking Into My Dreams, Awilda". Can't believe I missed it for more than a year. It might of been hidden by the foliage in the spring and summer. It's amazing and really really huge!

Stopped by the garden yesterday. Christmas Eve pictures

- Flax - I grew flax last year to keep the potato bugs away from the plants and it worked.  The flax looked so beautiful. I can't wait to see blooms next spring.
- Cat guarding flax - this tin cat is so old. Someone gave it to me back when I lived in Indiana and that was more then 27 years ago. I think it supposed to deter rabbits but I just think it's cute.
- Lettuce - this beautiful green color is almost everywhere. I let a few plants go to seed and missed collecting them all before they fell to the ground.  Lettuce flowers have little fluffs once they go to seed. Like a dandelion. So - the fluffs blew all over.

They drifted over the ground and there are little spots of lettuce everywhere. Since it's been so warm, we might just eat lettuce harvested on December 25th!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Little Stone Houses

Stone Houses
I've been working on little stone houses for a while now - maybe a year. I wanted to finish some of them before this years Christmas season but it didn't happen.

There about 4 in various states of construction. Stay tuned - they will be finished in 2016 and posted on Etsy.

Stay safe this season!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Winter in Illinois

This years Christmas Tree
Behind our office Building
Just a couple of pictures for today. Our Tree is really really cool. And so easy to put up and take down. Bobby's the creative one this year.

I took a walk at lunch yesterday behind the office building and came across a bridge and creek. A big brown beaver like thing was swimming and then hid away in a whole in the bank. I think it was a river muskrat or maybe an otter. I waited for a while to catch him come out of the hole but he didn't in the 15 minutes I watched. Maybe another day. I'll make it a lunch hour ritual until I can see him clearly.

Enjoy your day - it's 60 degrees here in Naperville and the windows are open in our home. AND it's December. Incredible.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What does a Garden Mean?

I went to the Naperville Community Nursing Home Last Friday to share some Holiday cookies and just to chat with the Residence. I brought the camera along and asked each resident on film, What does a Garden Mean to them.

Meeting with each resident was priceless. I received fantastic answers that made me laugh and cry. I can only share a glimpse.

I'm hoping to go back and re-film a one on one without people in the background. There was a permission issue with filming randomly. I had a full 4 minute strip put together for YouTube but again - Permission. It was my first time - you learn.

More movies to come - that was really incredible. I can't stop thinking about it. I want to film all people and just ask them "what does a garden mean to them". Then branch out to "what does a Farm mean to them".

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Snow and Cookies

First Snow so far this winter

Cookies - the Scraps

It's been a mild winter so far but I love the Birdhouse frozen and cold. The wild birds were happy we put it out again this year.

The cookies were a 7 hour process and the scraps looked better than the finished product. Bargello was the name of the pattern of the patchwork cookie. It was the most unbelievably time consuming cookie I've ever made. Each Christmas I try to bake at least one new cookie but this one didn't make it. The Scraps just rolled into this beautiful pattern.

I took them to the office and the folks were happy with my experiment.They did taste good.

I'm sticking with gingerbread men, butter cookies, and chocolate chip. Simple yet good. I might try one more but nothing as complicated.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

It's the Monday after Thanksgiving and the days just got away from me. Baking and visiting family and being lazy. Yes - I even had some lazy hours.

Happy Belated and getting ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Coming this Spring

Dinner on the Lawn
I love this concept. Dinner outside on a lawn. This spring I am hoping to implement this and share a dinner with the Residents of the Naperville Home.

The plan is to grill a bunch of whole chickens and corn on the cob. All the other sides could be salads and desserts. The home has a grill so I think this will work.

This is just one more concept I would have at the farm. Dinners on the lawn every weekend. Oh I can't wait.

Just waiting now until Spring. AND IT'S ONLY NOVEMBER :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

10 Things to Help Your Health

We can't always prevent an illness but why not make it harder to take hold?

Cancer is a scare and if by chance any of these things cause it, Why risk it?

Ten things you should do to help your health.

Stop drinking Diet Soda. FOREVER!
  • Mix fresh juice with a splash of Seltzer.
  • The entire ingredient list is all chemicals. Nothing natural - Every ingredient is a chemical. It’s just bad for you and you know it. Next time you pick one up - remember - the word DIE is in diet.
Stop using store bought deodorant.
  • Mix ¼ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup baking soda - add a few drops of rosemary or lavender oil. Store in a seal-able container and dab on with a cotton pad.
  • If you are a women and shave, do not apply to freshly saved arm pits. It stings. Shave in the evening before bed - no deodorant needed before bed
Stop buying processed.
  • Cookies, frozen meals, snacks, anything with ingredients that you are not familiar with.
  • If it has a chemical in it, don’t keep eating it
Stop eating FROZEN ground beef.
  • If you are buying ground beef in packaging that isn’t showing you the meat. Don’t.
  • You do not know what is ground up with it - remember the pink slime?
  • Only buy ground beef fresh. You want to see it
Limit your fast food intake.
  • I say limit because even though I know how bad McDonald’s fries are for me, I cannot stop eating them altogether. So I go once in a while and only get a small one.
  • Don’t ever supersize. Eat as a treat – not in place of your weekly meals
Check Soap, Shampoo, Lotion Labels.
  • Look for carcinogens. Ingredients that have unfamiliar names and dyes.
  • Buy from organic distributors
  • – many 100% natural soap makers
Check your Cleaning supplies.
  • Read the Warnings on the cleaning supply labels. If they have a warning, don’t use it
  • Use Bleach and water and a little soap
  • While bleach is a powerful chemical and contains a warning, a little goes a long way and you know how much you used
  • Vinegar is a natural cleaner
Limit Plastic Bottled water.
  • Get a filtered pitcher and a glass
  • While bottled water is nice to have, what chemicals are seeping through the plastic bottles? Get a carry-around bottle and take it with you. Glass is better but read the label on your plastic
Stop Microwaving everything.
  • Watch your Microwave intake – again – Why risk it?
  • Use the stove top to reheat
  • Never heat in those throw away containers – use glass
Limit your Soda, Sport Drinks, Sugar Juice intake.
  • Stop drinking Soda everyday
  • Only drink a sport drink if you’ve actually participated in a sport
  • Squeeze your own juice or only buy 100%. Read Labels- don't drink it if contains Corn Syrup (which is big time a processed sugar).

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Garden Cleanup - Blooming Rose

Mini Rose Blooming in November!

Two More Buds!

These were all white 5 years ago - Beautiful Surprise while cleaning brush.

Butter Tub With Drain

Three Different Cup Sizes - One is a Bouillon Cup
I cleaned out the Garden yesterday and beneath the dead Zinnia's this beautiful rose plant survived the freezing weather and refuses not to bloom. AND it's November!

This was a Mini Rose plant I receive about 5 years ago for a birthday gift. I planted it and every year it blooms. It's a white rose and it took on some color this year. So beautiful.

The dish pictures are part of a multi set of "Noritake Azalea Pattern" china. Over 217 Pieces! It was a gift that Bobby brought home one day. They were in 5 stuffed to the rim boxes. I felt like a kid at Christmas opening each carefully wrapped piece. Someone loved this set of China. It was wrapped with such care.

There are so many unique and different pieces that I was amazed how detailed China was back in the 20's. A small plate with the loop - I had to look it up because I couldn't guess its use. Lemon Plate. Hmm. Another little tiny container with a mini spoon. Mustard dish. Then - there are these beautiful round bowls with three ball legs. It's a Whipping Cream bowl WITH little ladles to match. Each piece is so unique and I love the pattern. I've been hunting for China in vintage stores for years. Then - Low and Behold - Bobby brought home 5 boxes worth. Love that Man!

Thanks go to Nika who gave these to us. I can't wait to serve food for a special occasion. AND I can't wait to take them to the farm! They would be so beautiful and would be a fabulous set to serve a dinner on. "Farm to Noritake"!

My first thought was to sell some of them. Maybe keep just a full set of 12 but I can't part with any of them!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Flower Pins on Etsy

Visit my Etsy Shop before these are all sold. 25 Different flowers to choose from.

Add some spring to the winter ahead.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall Clean Up

Clematis Puffs. Each year the flowers turn into these really cool looking puffs. Horton Hears a Who comes to mind again.

The garden is close to the end for the year. I'm cleaning it up this weekend and planting garlic for next spring. Maybe I'll pick up some spring bulbs - tulips or something to add color. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Etsy Fence - on a Cake!

Look at My Fences!
Check out this Etsy Seller - She placed my fences on this really cool cake. THANK YOU for sharing.  Costal Cupcakes

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thanks to Etsy!

Going to Los Angeles! Thank you buyer.

I listed a few pair of different house shoes I created a while ago and two pair have sold. Etsy is a great site.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rush Hour Driving

Farm Fields - Pecatonica, IL
My day job requires me to go to an office. This office used to be 2 minutes by car, 15 minutes by walking from my house. For the past 9 years, my commute was minimal. Well... that as all changed.

We now work in a high rise in a new-to-me suburb. The commute is now 45 minutes in the morning and one hour in the evening. The location of said new office has got to be in the most congested suburb I've ever been through. Every morning AND every evening, there is a fender-bender. I am not exaggerating. EVERYDAY!

Someone has either run into the back of someone, or turned into someone or crashed into something. A tow truck must stand by and watch because they sweep in, clean up the mess pretty quick. It blows my mind that there is a crash every single day during both rush hours. AND I probably only witness one of the 100's that happen. (Well, I don't witness them - just the aftermath).

It hasn't even started to snow yet. I can't imagine what will happen to this 13 mile stretch once the weather turns. I bet I'll see a lot more fender benders and maybe cars in the ditches. Slow and steady - that's my drive motto.

I listen to the radio as I get ready each morning and listen to the traffic update. This was never a concern in the past but now, I wait to hear if any of my routes are in trouble.

So - to combat my driving stresses, I listen to WXRT which thankfully has commercial free music each evening for the drive home and I in-vision the photo above.

It is what it is until I find the farm. I would love to see the above each day as my commute. One day - It will happen.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Make Money on a Farm

Wisconsin Dairy Farm
Before we start a farm - we have to think "How will it make Money?"

I'd think that's pretty important. So - below is a list of things we can do and sell to make money.
It's in a random order as they have come to me over the years.
  • Seeds 
  • Photos and post cards of the farm and activities
  • Tee Shirts
  • Honey
  • Dried Herbs
  • Tours - bird watching, flower gardens, hiking trails
  • Herbs in pots
  • CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream - oh so many avenues if you have a cow
  • Chickens, eggs, baby chicks
  • Grains - for animal feed or flour
  •  Manure - if you have animals, you will have this. 
  • Fish
  • Weddings, birthday parties, showers, bridal or baby
  • Cross Country ski trails
  • Educational classes, preserving, baking, growing food, caring for livestock
This is just a start. I have a note book I keep close and as the ideas come to me, I just add them. It is endless and multi-faceted way to earn a living on the farm.

Thanks for reading and your support.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Learning the Farm Business

A  Farm in  Jo Daviess County

I thought I would share a list of what I've done these past years to prepare me for farming.  I just wanted to lay it out and to also show myself - Do I have what it takes to run a farm? 

I'll never stop learning or volunteering. 

Garden/Farm Ventures:

            Kautz Family Farm
            2014 – Present
Kautz Farm organic garden & kitchen.
Assisting in the Kautz vision of organically grown food and beverage breakout brand.
Managing and forming the structure of buyers from local restaurants. Spreading the word on naturally grown and supporting the feeding of the less fortunate.

Community Nursing Home
2009 – Present
Acre Garden Plot - Grow vegetables and flowers
Fundraising and obtain donations yearly
Farmers Market with excess - all proceeds go to the residents

             Downers Grove Park District           
 8 workshops                   Canning and Preserves

Naperville West Street Park District Community Garden
2004 – 2008
2006 - Winner - 2nd Place Flower Division


Member of CRAFT – (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) IL/WI Area
           Farms work/learn workshops
Member of MOSES – Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service
Member of The Livestock Conservancy
Member of Seed Savers

Food Education
College of DuPage
ServSafe Food Safety Manager Certificate
December 2014 – March 2015

The University of Illinois Extension Program
“Growing a New Generation of Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Farmers”
University of Illinois Extension Office, St. Charles, IL
December 2013 – November 2014

Class included this list and oh so much more! I wish I could take it over again!
•land acquisition and transfer                        
•cover crops and tillage
•business planning                                       
•variety evaluations
•legal issues                                                 
•pest and disease scouting
•integrated pest management
•pesticide application
•farm safety                                                
•pruning and thinning
•food safety                                                
•postharvest handling
•Farm to School                                         
•harvest practices
•equipment operation & safety                     
•visits to established produce farms
•conventional and organic production methods
•transplant production                                  
•high tunnel construction and operation         
•access to incubator plots
•discussions with experienced farmers           
•soils and soil testing 

Farm Events/Workshops/Share Labor 

Hoop Houses Installation                              
Farm Machinery
Mint Creek Farm Tour/Dinner                       
Garlic Planting - Acres of it!
Celery Harvest and Preparation                    
Chicken Raising
Chicken Butchering and processing                
Draft Horse – No Tractors
Butcher Beef and processing         
Organic Grain
Goat Keeping                                               
Goat Milking
Cheese Making                                              
Organic Vegetables
USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Know Your Food Bill

Some extra things I thought of that makes me think of my sustainable practices.
Grew and processed Rye grass – 14 pounds ground into flour used to bake Cinnamon rolls for Residents
Tomatoes – processed into Sauce, ketchup, salsa

Canned and preserved food -  pickles, pickled beets, pickled hot peppers, spaghetti sauce, whole tomatoes and various jellies, including a crab apple jelly.