Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Scandinavian mobile aaaaaand Pinterest

I've seen Pinterest emerging and growing...
I tried to hold off, because I feel I've reached my comfort level with thing that displays my innards on the intarweb.   However, when my coworker sent me the Pinterest invite twice, then followed up asking if I had joined, I had to.

I just had to!! 
For the sake of coworkerly love, I HAD TO.

As much as I've pinned a few interesting things for my own home in my "for le chateau de Holz", I've made right with the world by putting up a few things on there. 

Took two oranges and sliced them. about 1/4" thick.

Placed on the oven racks at 200 degrees. Turned the oven off every so often to keep them from truly cooking.

A few were scrapped... but the ones that worked, I tied fishing line to them, and threaded a leaf (poked a hole in leaf with toothpick).

Took a branch from outside (white pine), and tied them in a way that would make the branch horizontal. (weight/scale kind of thing)

I happened to have a teeny tiny orange from a box of Satsuma mandarins I bought, but if you don't have that I'm sure you could use a Cinnamon stick, or a bird, or anything to be the middle weight. Looks fine without a middle weight, too.

good luck!

December broccoli? That's ridic!

I walked outside to check on the side garden, aka the barren wasteland, and I saw the Atlantis Hybrid Broccoli that was still in the ground.  I had neglected to pull them out, because I knew they could handle cold weather.

However, nothing could have prepared me for...


That's just crazy! December 23rd, in Zone 5a!
Anyway, I just had to share that madness... they were just sitting there chillin' (literally) but not frozen.

Still picked some of the small flowers, and sauteed them with oil and garlic.  They were sweeter because of the cold.   This made me contemplate a whole arsenal of cold weather possibilities for next year. Maybe kale, spinach, and more broccoli or brussel sprouts. However, I'm not sure I want so many brassicas. It'd be a caterpillar paradise in the summer.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Applesuace making- apple foraging

We foraged a ton of apples from someone in the subdivision. They had a tree fully loaded with apples, and a plethora littering the ground, so I quickly surmised they weren't eating them. I picked one up on the walk home with the kids, and we tried it. It was sooooo sweet and soooooo crunchy. I can't figure out what kind of apple it is, but it's yellow and red, and it seemed to hang on past frost! I want to guess Gala.
The kids and I stopped by three times to ring the doorbell  before someone was home. The guy of European heritage said, "Take them all, please.  You can climb the tree, whatever- take them all!" HALLELUJAH! I made applesauce out it, and it was delicious. In the past, I've had to add sugar to homemade apple sauces, and I was nonplussed, but this stuff was the shit! (pardon my ...American).

It was soooo freakin good. I Didn't have to add sugar or anything.

         Momsi washing the foraged apples (she did say ewww to some, but I am glad they can see apples as they truly are in nature - imperfections, and all.)

I also googled applesauce recipes on the Internet, and found one where you put the apples in the blender, and then pour them into a pot. Therefore you only had to warm up the applesauce, or cook it for a little while. GENIUSES!
Kel  Cutting apples with me

I made sure to come back to get more apples, and to give the tree owner a jar of applesauce and some concord grapes as well.  With the future foraging visits, I will make cinnamon apples, so I hope to make a pie for him as well. I am glad to make a connection with my neighbors, and to give them back some of what they give to me.

Pumpkin Carving

Carved pumpkins with the kids, and roasted the pumpkin seeds...

My angry bird pumpkin

Dave's bear pumpkin

the kids' and our friends' pumpkins

Here's a quick and easy recipe for pumpkin seeds:

Rinse seeds, and separate from the orange flesh.

Salt to taste.  Bake on a flat cookie sheet (one layer... spread them out)  at 275 degrees.
Come back in about half an hour, and use tongs or a spoon... to stir them around.

Flatten back to single layer, and put back in the oven.
Keep them in there until desired done-ness.  Some people like them a little moister so the shells can be opened and the seed meat taken out on its own.

Some people like it Crisp so you can eat it whole....  up to you.   I just keep tasting them 'till they are at the crispness I want.
This year we had about 17 pumpkins.  Not all were carved, but man.. it was alot.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Silly Gourds and Pumpkins

The last two years, the girls have been in the 4-H cloverbuds of Grayslake.
I remember as a child I wanted to be in 4-H soooo badly, but I grew up in the city of Chicago.
There weren't many farm animals in the big city. Maybe alley rats?

Well, the girls helped out at the 4-H Pumpkin sale at Saddlebrook farms...

The prices were really reasonable. $1 for carvable ones,$2, $3, and $5 for the largest ones.
So we ended up with quite a haul of pumpkins to take home. I also bought half a bag of the teeniest tiniest gourds they had.

(we have like... 5 more since this picture was taken)

The girls also carved pumpkins at 4-H this month, so needless to say our neighbors have started calling us "the pumpkin house".    Around the time I got all the pumpkins, there were kids smashing pumpkins in the neighborhood, so every night I was afraid we'd wake up to find them gone, or a massacre in the street in front of us.  They were definitely on our block, but ours remained untouched.  :Phew:
I want to say it's because they knew how punk I am, and thought we were too cool to do bad things to...

but who knows!

I'll have another post up with the carved pumpkins, because as it stands right now, half are carved and half are not.  Here are some gourds with faces I drew on.  I was thinking of the little dust sprites from "spirited away".  I couldn't help myself...that one gourd looked just like my favorite yellow angry bird. The kids thought it was hilarious.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chestnut Picking

---------------the following pictures are a compilation of different visits------------------

So... for those of you who don't know, I'm Korean.
I was born here, and probably 100% american... but there are innate animal insticts that come out on occasion.   One of these insticts are finding and eating chestnuts.

As a child, I remember my parents would boil chestnuts.  Every fall, we'd have some chestnuts in the house, and for some reason, as I got older, I'd notice more and more bad ones in the pot. There were ones you cracked open to find they're fuzzy and blue.  BLEAUGH!
Or you find worms in them DOUBLE BLEAUGH! A few years ago I said, "there's GOTTA BE a better way!"  and I googled chestnut farms.   The result was a newfound knowledge in the case I ever wanted to raise my own chestnuts, and the Adkin farm in South Haven, MI.  Linda and Roy Adkin have been growing their own chestnuts, and chestnuts for the University of Michigan for many many years. 
(Pepino at Adkin Farm.)

I called him up out of the blue, and he seemed surprised.  I told him I googled him up on the internet...
He had been quoted in an article by the Univeristy of Michigan on Chestnut production.
I asked if I could go to his farm to pick chestnuts. He said OK.
So fast forward... this year is the fourth year or so that we have been going to his farm for Chestnuts.
I'd love to keep it a secret, but there's plenty of nuts.   In fact every year, I refer people there... and as a retired couple, who doesn't like to make some side money!?

The first thing I was surprised to find were, the burrs are like sea urchins. And they REALLY HURT!
Years of trial and error goes to show the correct technique is to stomp on the burrs and then pick up the nuts from the ground.   Or one could just look on the ground and pickup the nuts that are littered everywhere. It's like children picking up candy from a pinata.  Except the burrs.

The first year we got 8 pounds... 
This year we got 30+ pounds for ourselves,
and 75 pounds in CSA orders. Wooooo wee!!!

For the following weeks, we'll be eating nuts raw, baked, broiled, or microwaved.
The kids are addicted already. It's the korean Genes....

Roy was nice enough to give me a few seedlings which I've planted at my parents house (and the deer ate them)... and I have a few planted at my home... so we'll see what happens in the next few years :)

If you go after reading it on this blog, make sure to let him know that Holly sent you there
They'll get a kick out of it!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall has come again, and update on the front yard potager

It's not that cold, yet, I guess.  Being cold is always very relative around here.
At 40 degrees right now, it's freezing...

However, 40 degrees in the spring? Wahoo break out the T-shirts!

The backyard garden is dying, and needs to be pulled up. Our little Espaliered apple tree had about 30 apples on it...which is amazing considering how small the tree was. A few of the small spurs/branches had broken off due to the weight of the apples on its limbs. 

On the other hand, our large apple tree lovingly referred to as "Biggie" by Momsi had one teeny tiny 2" apple on the end of one of it's branches.   LOL... silly nature.

We've had quite a harvest this year, looking back.   Ridiculous amounts of zucchini, robust Chinese broccoli that kept coming back for more every time we cut it, Chinese beans that grew over 10' tall on our trellises. There was more than enough food for my family, and I opened a small boutique CSA specializing in Asian vegetables.  It made enough to pay for the rain barrel and some materials.  I hope for the best with it next year.

here's an update on that front yard garden, and it's looking really well with the fall planting of baby bok choi.

A view from the front, of our middle box. Parsley, and rosemary... with chives around the edges.  Cilantro didn't really work out. Went to seed almost immediately. Neither did the Purple lettuce.
I may try purple Shiso perilla next year.

Pumpkins from the kids' 4-H pumpkin sale, and Libertyville Pumpkinfest.
The teeniest gourds I could find are sitting on the pumpkins.
We had some kids go through the neighborhood and smash up pumpkins, but not a single one of ours was touched!!  Don't know how they resisted? But thankful they did!!

A view of our back garden boxes.  Garlic is starting to come up.  Hopefully, they will live to see next year.   Marigolds, and uhmmm some red cockscombish flower in there.  I was disappointed that the carrots and beets in this box didn't do so well. Next year, I will plant some Amaranth.
A view of the corner boxes.  They filled out well with the Fall planting of Baby Bok choi. Marigold in the middle, and the edges are all green onions. To be used up throughout the winter.

A view from the sidewalk of everything

A fiew from the sidewalk dead on. 

It doesn't show that in between the boxes, and the sidewalk is a row of meadow sage/perennial salvia.  I started off with plantings of lavender, and they did not do well at ALL. It was such a disappointment :(   all the dreams I had of flowing fields of purple flowers!! The perfumes air! the dried sachels!! auuugh.  Worst is, I paid top dollar for them, and I couldn't get a refund.  Oh well :(
Currently it is full of Meadow Sage/perennial Salvia that has purple flowers, and I hope being a prarie plant it'll do extremely well with me not taking care of it.  I really lucked out, and across the street from the 4-H pumpkin sale was Mini Earth Greenhouses that was doing a $1 perennial sale.

WTF?!@ $1?!!?  ::head explodes:: I GOTTA check this out.
it was a table full of purple meadow sages, and 1 decorative grass... yeah they were all scraggly, but they are freakin' perennials.  Any self respecting gardener knows what I see is going to die back, and next year it'll be a supermodel.  Awesome... too freakin' awesome.

Another Idea for next year, There is a section of my backyard by the AC Unit that wasn't utilized. The kids don't even play there... So next year, I'm going to plant turban, acorn and Italian winter squashes there, so they can sprawl all over there, and I can have sweet winter squashes.  Hope the chipmunks never find out...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Oh man, has this blog been neglected.

I've occasionally walked by it and pretended not to notice it sitting there begging me for an update. It's gotten to the point where I'd try not to make eye contact.
However, a TON has happened since last post,and that is the reason why I haven't updated in so long. The Back, side, and front gardens produce so much, I've opened a botique CSA for asian vegetables to my closest friends...

The frontyard Potager is nowhere near where I'd hoped it'd be. For some reason, the pages upon pages I did of french royalty and their intricate geometric designs on their land.... turned into this:The seeds didn't even cooperate with me. Half failed to germinate, and all that dirt we filled into the garden boxes up and dissappered with every rainfall!! This will be a trial and error... and if anything it tells me to try harder next year. However, to abandon hope of intricate patterns, and just go for something that flows well. It may be all herbs and edible flowers in the front... We'll see. It actually doesn't look bad at all. Just Sparse. Parsley and rosemary seemed to grow EXTREMELY well. Same for Chives, and green onions.

We bought a rabbit hutch off of Craigslist, and gave it a fresh coat of paint. Our two pet hens "Watermelon" and "bully" are both clucking around in there. Last year's rooster seemed infinitely friendlier in comparison... The ladies this year are snooty, and timid. I can imagine them in their Jane Austen era dresses clucking away their disapproval. HA! That's alright. We love you just the same, ladies.

The chickens have gone from this:

to this:

Time flies!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Front yard garden..finally Started Edible landscaping to french potager.

I asked my friend Tony "so whatcha doing on saturday?"
"Digging up your lawn." Tony answered.  He knows me all too well.

A team of seven adults took on my front lawn on Saturday 4/9/2011.
After a hearty breakfast of home-made Bacon waffles, we headed outside.

we started to removed the sod, and very early into the day my neighbor came out and voiced her disapproval. I love her to pieces, but it's a shame she cannot love me for who I am. An urban homesteader with a streak for edible landscaping!
She said "You're not digging up my lawn, are you?! Do you know where the property line is?"
I put my finger in a pipe in the ground. That was the end of the property line.
She asked me if I was sure, and I nodded yes, because there's another pipe on the other side of my house to show the other property line. I told her I gave her 8" of margin, too. But the truth was, I gave her 3 feet of margin.  ...le sigh. c'est la vie. I even kept the rows sodded because I thought she'd appreciate it more. Maybe in a year or two I'll go with the original plan of pea gravel so it'll be an authentic french potager.

We were able to put in the lavender, and the red mulch, so towards the end, it came together Very nicely. :)

Happy with the results! Half of the yard done... the other half for another day.
I am SOOOOO Sore, but it was well worth it.

People slowed down as they drove by yesterday.  I can't tell if the look they were giving was good or bad. Today I notice people walking by and stopping in front to look at it... also can't tell if it's a good or bad look, but I love it.

This took two years to research. Special thanks to:
Shawna Coronado owner of the Casual Gardener Company for advice
Fritz Haeg author of edible Estates who I also emailed and received advice
Pamela Yokoyama from four seasons landscaping who helped with my mockup/design
The Mundelein building dept/Village who told me I have the green light to do this.
My friends/labor team :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ranier Cherry Tree, and front yard Revisions

The hubby (he's a total sweetheard) got me a surprise the other day, and it was a Ranier Cherry tree... to replace the one that was killed by the neighbor's RoundUp. Long Story short, the neighbor used roundUp on alot of his lawn close to us, then we had a big rainstorm, and we're downhill... so it ended up killing 3 of the trees I ordered from a mail order catalog. When I tried to replace the Ranier cherry tree, they told me they no longer sold that type of cherry.

So this was a nice surprise, but with a heavy heart, I'm looking around my backyard and I don't think I have any room for it... or the chestnut trees that I acquired from a farmer in Michigan.

So many wants... so little room.

Regarding the front lawn: Saw this post from Shawna Coronado's blog, and it may be a good answer to the patch of grass in the frontyard. Especially because I did want a sitting area. My neighbor's maple tree is going to be difficult to deal with, so I already know the triangles of my plan will have to be raised beds. The floating patio is excellent so I wont have to disturb her tree more than necessary.

In other news, The weather is finally warming up to the point where I can start digging soon, and not feel like I am compacting the earth below my feet. Tonight when I get home from work, I will be working on the side garden. We bought some Garden soil, and Organic Humus/Manure so that will all be tilled in, and we will put our Sugar Snap Peas in :) !!! FINALLY!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Starting the front lawn conversion.

To brace my neighbor about my intentions, I've dropped subtle hints such as:
"Yeah I'm going to remove my whole lawn and get rid of this grass."

I've said it since I've moved in, and a few times last summer.
So after two years of much contemplation, sketching, and seed catalog fapping, I used today's good weather as an excuse to mark up the front lawn. Armed with twigs, and some generously donated kite string from a neighbor down the block, I proceeded to mark the front yard.

In the midst of my marking, my neighbor comes out the front door and asks:
"May I ask what you think you're doing?"

Well... Wow.. how to answer a venomous poison filled question such as that?
"I'm trying to mark up the lawn, so I know the exact parts to remove."

Neighbor: "Well, will you be replanting it with Grass??" This is probably the second hint that she does not approve.

me: "Well, it will be replanted with veggies, fruits, edible flowers, some shrubs...I'm trying to do some edible landscaping"

At this point, I am surprised that she abruptly turns around and goes into her house. I feel just as angry as her, but I answered everything very calmly and informatively. Oddly enough after she went in her house, I felt bad and thought to myself maybe I shouldn't be ripping up my front lawn. But that was only a fleeting one second, because when it comes down to it. This is my lawn!!!!!!!!!!
We (our family) loves our neighbors. We shovel snows, and give flowers and extra veggies. I don't have any animosity against her, but she definitely loves her lawn.

I kept on outlining the front yard, and then I used the edger to go and mark the outlines into the ground. A very productive day to say the least. I'll wait until the ground is thoroughly defrosted to finish it up.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Final Design and Implementation

After two years and countless revisions, I think we're finally ready to break ground.
I found a way to marry the two designs from a few days ago. It's a combination of:
"The Ultimate Garden Designer" by Tim Newbury
"Gaia's Garden - a home scale guide to permaculture" by Toby Hemenway
and my local friend Shawna Coronado's design. I'm glad she's a local gardener that I can bounce ideas off of... :)
Each ray of the sun will remain grass for the first year, but the in between will be filled with new soil and vegetables. The border will be lavenders and edible flowers... and Blueberry Bushes (that are only 8" tall right now, but I'm allotting each of them a 3' circumference).

So today I'm going to start with stakes and strings... and informing my labor team that we're starting soon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Snow dragon of Snowmageddon

I don't know how I managed to forget to post this!

But there was a crazy blizzard a few weeks ago of biblical proportions!
I believe it was 3 or 4 feet of snow, and basically at 7pm my village gave up on plowing subdivisions, so if you weren't home by then you most likely weren't going to be home.

Well after my husband and I took 2 hours to shovel our very short driveway, the kids pretty much played in the snow all day.

I went out about an hour or two before sunset and told him I'll make him a snow dragon.
Especially since the next day was Chinese new year! Although a friend of mine did point out that it was the year of the rabbit... but NO MATTER! What's a chinese new year without a dragon!! So my husband was like "have fun, see ya".

About an hour into it, I asked him to come out and help color the dragon.
He had to pick his jaw up off the ground because I completely failed to mention that it might be scale 1:1 Hey it wouldn't be awesome unless you could sit on the back!

Forming it's body and spraying with a bottle of water and food coloring

From the back (standing in the street)

His eye was a small ball with a GE Logo on it but it worked perfectly!

One hand up in the air like the rodeo riders! YEEEE HAWWW

I'm the unassuming one in my pajamas

In hindsight, a fishing buddy pointed out that if I had sprayed KOOLAID or JELLO instead of water and food coloring, that this would truly be an edible landscaping project for the winter!!! :) Hrmmmmm Tempting. Very tempting, but it'd be hard to tell if you'd really want to eat that patch of snow or not. And whose to say the yellow snow was really the lemonade flavor and not dog pee!?

But I might definitely keep that in mind. It'd be cool to taste it on the first day.

Updates while it's Gray as balls outside.

I apologize that I've been so lazy on the upkeep of this place.
I know those dishes shoulda been done, and the floor looks like it's in need of some sweeping, and vacuuming. But I look at the mess everywhere and sigh and flop over on the couch instead. C'est la Vie....

So lately, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the front yard.
I have two designs... one that's very functional-basically a Garden, and the other which is nicely stylish-true to the meaning of Landscape design.

LAYOUT 1 (horizontal)

LAYOUT2 (Vertical)

And these are the only layouts that are in the computer. There's maybe 10 more that weren't uploaded.

At this point, I can't tell whether I'm craving more maintenance and more veggies, or less maintenance and more fruit bushes. ::scratches head:: yarg.
But I have been thinking that I should be able to get enough blueberries that I no longer have to drive 3 hours to the nearest U-Pick blueberry place.
And that if I'm going to put in strawberries, I might as well put in enough so I don't have to pay/drive to the U-Pick place for that either.

On that note, I've noticed that celery which used to range from 88 cents-$1.00 is not some obscene amount like 2.99 I believe it was blamed on the weather and gas prices, but it was a sober reminder to me that I could either grow it myself, or part with hard earned money for it.

In some way I need to marry the two. Form and Function.
Not to mention my neighbor who loves her lawn might have an aneurysm and claim I'm bringing the property values down. Y'see... this is where me being a peacekeeper gets hard.
Fruits? Veggies? Low maintenance? High maintenance? Where's the sun? Can't plant high stuff there and shade everything out! how can I do this but not be the village eyesore? How can I Maximize my produce and fruit so my property pays me in groceries. the words swirl around and around my head like that simpsons episode:

I figure after all the thought and contemplation, it'll just somehow be a merger between the above 2 designs :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The seed catalogs cometh.

It is the time of year where the seed catalogs start jamming my mailbox. Companies I've never heard of, and I don't know how they found me, but here they are... Gurneys, Burgess, Field's, and Territorial

In the past, I had been a big fan of the burpee seed catalog. Big vivid colors. Juicy melons... Hot tomatoes, long hard zucchinis. I fantasize everything I would be doing to those models in the photos. My husband grumbles about the amount of time I'm spending looking at them at night instead of sleeping. Wait wait.. Yes, I'm talking about a seed catalog, here! But seriously, it becomes the equivalent of porn for the next few months.

This has happened consistently every winter for the last three years. Since burpee has changed their formatting to look more modern, My eyes have wandered off to the GURNEY's catalog. Ohh so big, and so full of pictures.

After a couple weeks-months of fantasizing, I will eventually snap out of it and realize I need to figure out what I want to grow STAT. Not only that, I need to plan where it's all going to go. So I've been drawing, and refining over and over how I plan to have my garden layouts. I must consider not only the sun's direction, but the height of the veggies, and wait.. did I plant that there last year? Can't do it there again... This is the year to do big things! Make a front yard garden, and maybe a small water garden. If anything maybe the watergarden will be for next year.

But for now, I spend my night warmed up with fantasies of bumper harvests.
I'm sure all of you are going through the same :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making Laundry Soap

I recently am all out of laundry soap, and had heard some families make laundry soap.
I googled it, and came upon this guy's blog.. I read stuff from him before.

So apparently with $10 worth of materials you can make 4 gallons of laundry soap in a home depot bucket.
Plus, you only use 1 cup of the washing soda, and 1/2 cup of the that stuff can last for future batches.

Anyone ever made laundry soap before?

Well, I finally did it. Got the "20 mule team borax" and "washing soda" at Jewel-Osco (of all places) because they didn't sell it near anywhere else. Walmart, Target, home depot and menards didn't have it.

I used a bar of Ivory Soap, because I thought the whole "so pure it floats" will make it ok for my kids and I who get the winter dry skin.
My husband took the Paint mixer attachment onto the power drill, and mixed everything up in a 3/4 gallon food-grade bucket we got from a restaurant owner friend. I have to say, it's been a few weeks we've been using it, and although it doesn't "suds up" like the other soaps, it cleans just as well.

I will upload a few pix I took of ths finished product. I used 1 cup of the washing soda, and 1/2 cup of borax, so I still have tons left in the box to make at least 10 more batches of this.

What the soap look slike. The website said "chunky looking things" are to be expected. It is the Ivory re-coagulating.

A couple days after that, I know my husband has come a long way because when we ran out of dryer sheets he asked "IS there a recipe on how to make dryer sheets?" Sure enough there are tons on the internet. It's basically Fabric softener and water. So I took all those baby washclothes we've had lying around and put them in a tub of fabric softener with a little water added to it. Everytime we put the clothes in the dryer, I lightly wring a baby washcloth and throw it into the dryer. Babycloths in a tub of fabric softener and water.

$8.00 for bottle of fabric softener that is Huuuge. $4 for the borax and $3 for the Washing soda.
When I called the Arm+Hammer company to ask where I can buy washing soda, they offered to sell it to me for $2.50 plus free shipping.
I would have jumped at that deal if not for the fact that I had piles of laundry that needed to be done NOW.
But I did ask them to send me out a coupon, which arrived yesterday for $1.00 off my next purchase of washing soda.

The finished products in their respective containers

The Raw ingredients Look to last us over a year for sure!