Sunday, February 28, 2010


I've been loving some Cat Stevens all morning:

The Very Best of Cat Stevens

Where Do the Children Play?
Well I think it's fine, building jumbo planes.
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train.
Switch on summer from a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to if you want, 'cause you can get anything.

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas.
And you make them long, and you make them tough.
But they just go on and on, and it seems that you can't get off.

Oh, I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Well you've cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air.
But will you keep on building higher
'til there's no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I love Saturdays!

Happy Saturday!!!

In my opinion, Saturdays are much better than Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Sundays. I do like Friday evenings also. But Saturdays are so nice- a whole day to do what I want to do!

So thanks for celebrating this Saturday with me :) Here's the Homesteading things I've achieved so far today:
  • Master Gardener class in Monroe on House Pests. The Monroe County office was just great.. Jenny who is the Extension Agent there was so full of information and willing to share it- I love that!
  • Went out to lunch w/ Jen and Jess in downtown A2
  • Picked up a roaster chicken, 2 dozen eggs, and a smoked turkey breast from Karl Baer, my meat guy (doesn't sound too good..). I will be referencing Di's (from Life in the Prairie Box) wonderful tips on whole-chicken roasting, since I am inexperienced at this kind of thing. Thanks Di! :)
  • Stopped at Downtown Home and Garden in A2- look at the spoils of my trip! :

Got a thermometer for outside, since I don't have one. Thought it would come in handy. Also got some Burpee Sunflower seeds. Sunflowers are my favorite flower of all time. Even though they can get pretty huge and tall, it seems terrible to think about not having some in my yard. I'm thinking maybe they can kind of be a back border to the section of my garden that will have my raised-beds?

My last exciting buy was The Backyard Homestead! I usually don't buy books- I borrow a lot from the library, etc., but I've seen it's bright, warm, inviting cover for nearly a year, and I've lusted after it! I even picked it up in the bookstore, but didn't have money for it at the time. So today I did, and it came home with me! I've read the first chapter so far, and I really enjoy it. It seems like a nice overview for those looking to pursue Urban Homesteading, whether that might be just having 2 chickens in your backyard, growing some tomatoes and canning your own tomato sauce, or trying to achieve some kind of self-sufficiency!

Here's what it looks like if you're interested:

Now I am off to read, reflect, eat some dinner, and maybe to roast a chicken! Ahh!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A word on the Store --------->

As you might have noticed, my 8 followers, and un-counted lurkers (I appreciate you too, even if you won't "out" yourself haha) I have added a little Amazon store thing to my blog profile. I just wanted to explain what is was, and put it out there in the open, because I don't want to you feel pressured to to buy things from it (unless you'd like to!).

My store is a list of products that I own, have used, or come highly recommended.
What might you find in my store?
  • Gardening books
  • Cookbooks
  • Urban Homesteading books
  • Food System/Agriculture books
  • Canning supplies
  • Food DVDs
  • Other books that are un-related to gardening that I just like
*Disclaimer- I will not list anything in my store that I have not personally come in contact with, in one way or another.* I am going to add reviews to the products as well, so you can have my 2 cents on them. The way this whole thing works is that you are able to buy stuff from my store, just like you normally might on Amazon, except I get a bit of the profit. The bottom line is, if you are interested in buying any of the products I list on my store, and you were going to buy them from Amazon any way, they are the same price but some money is going to me (4%). Woo hoo!

I also thought it would be a nice way to track down some of the resources that I mention in blog. As I mention books or movies or tools that I have read/seen/used and found helpful, if they are available for purchase on Amazon, I will include a link like so in my post:

If you are not interested in buying from my store, no problem. I created it just as a little sidebar on my blog so you can essentially ignore it if you'd like.

Thanks for reading! I value the thoughts, feedback and comments you have given me, and I want you to feel comfortable and un-solicited here :)

--------Weather Update- It is still Winter. :(

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Upcoming events!

This week I have TWO Master Gardener classes instead of one- gardening overload! Thursday I have Indoor Plants, same time same place, and on Saturday I am shlepping down to the Monroe County Ex. Office to make-up the House Pests class I missed a few weeks ago. Should be a fun week, and I think those two classes will be pretty complimentary!

I'm thinking about stopping by the 6th Annual Seed Swap at Toledo Botanical Gardens while I'm down in that area- has anyone ever been to the Seed Swap before? I really don't need any specific seeds, per say, but we all know that doesn't mean I won't return with any! I will certainly take pictures, if nothing else.

I've only been to the Toledo Botanical Gardens once or twice, but it seemed to be a really nice place. I think I went in fall, so not everything was in full bloom. Now I will be going in winter, another in-opportune time to see the best of TBG, but oh well- I'll just have to come back another day as well! Here's the info on the Seed Swap if you're thinking about swinging by! (They also have some awesome-sounding workshops scheduled!)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6th Annual Seed Swap
(Please note, the Seed Swap will be held at the Ward Pavillion, Wildwood Metropark and the workshops will be held at Toledo Botanical Garden)
Seed Swap
Saturday, February 27, 2010
12:00 - 3:00 PM

Wildwood Metropark
Ward Pavilion
5100 W. Central Ave.
Toledo, OH 43615

Free and open to the public!

Diversify your garden by exchanging seeds and learning new skills! No matter your gardening ability, you’ll enjoy the chance to interact with other gardeners, while swapping favorite seeds.

Live entertainment by the Root Cellar String Band and activities for kids!
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Saturday, February 27, 2010
at Toledo Botanical Garden

10:00 - 11:30AM From Plant to Plate: Easy, Tasty Vegetables to Grow (TBG Conference Center)
10:00 - 11:30AM All About Gourds (Children’s Ed Building)
10:00 - 11:30AM Bugs & Birds in the Garden (TBG Conference Center)
1:30 - 3:00PM A Creative Approach to Herbal Gardening (Children’s Ed Building)
1:30 - 3:00PM Troubleshooting Your Vegetable Garden (TBG Conference Center)
1:30 - 3:00PM Container Gardening (TBG Conference Center)
3:30 - 5:00PM Preserving the Harvest (Children’s Ed Building)
3:30 - 5:00PM Gourmet Vegetables for Fun & Profit (TBG Conference Center)
3:30 - 5:00PM Raising Chickens (TBG Conference Center)

 Other interesting classes coming up:

Matthaei Botanical Gardens- Ann Arbor, MI

  • Chicken Coops
    Shelter from the elements, nesting spots, and safety all need to be considered when building a coop for your home flock. Learn about chicken-coop construction with yard-hen expert Bob Dluzen. Fee: MBGNA members and U-M students $10; nonmembers $12. #10-AE-07
    Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens
    Category: Adult Education
    Date: 3/6/2010
    Time: 10 am to 12 pm
    More info: click here

     Add to Outlook calendar
  • Ann Arbor Bonsai Society
    Beginner and Intermediate Classes, Part II with Cyril Grum
    Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens
    Category: Adult Education
    Date: 3/6/2010
    Date Details: Greenhouse 5
    Time: 9 am to 12 pm
    More info: click here

     Add to Outlook calendar

  • Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers 
  • Second Tuesday of each month, with tonight’s presentation to be determined. This monthly meeting is designed for anyone interested in learning about the life of honeybees, their survivability, their habitat, how they fit into the community, and how to keep them. Please contact Richard on his cell 734- 660-8621, or email him at; or Marin ( if you have any questions. Free; drop-in.                                                                                                                 Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens                                                                                                 Category: Meetings                                                                                                                        Date: 3/9/2010                                                                                                                              Date Details: room 125                                                                                                                       Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
 Add to Outlook calendar    

Monday, February 22, 2010

False Alarm everyone....

..... it is NOT, in fact, Spring.

Pic from the library looking out onto snowland, and our old apartment, as a matter of fact! I am at the library for a bit, reading gardening books and thinking of sunnier days. I already did most of the chores and baking I needed to do yesterday- I don't have anything left to do today and I'm not sure what to do with this time! Maybe I'll wander over to the Co-op and get some ingredients for granola? Then its time to venture home. My stomach is getting all rumbly!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I got a new camera, so you get pictures of bread and kittens, and a painting I did this weekend :)

bread making for dummies (aka me)

Bread seemed so easy to make the first several times.. I started to take it for granted, and now I'm gettin' sloppy! Made some bread today and I think I heated up the milk too much- the bread hardly rose at all, but I'm pretty sure I put the right amount of yeast in.. hmm.

So I stuck it in the oven anyway, and now it looks sort of like a ciabatta loaf:

But it tasted good! Tomorrow I'm going to make another loaf so I can have bread for the whole week!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shine Shine Shine!!

Today as I walked outside this morning to hop into my car for the morning commute, I got a distinct whiff of Spring. I don't know how to explain it- it just smelled of Spring! I'm very aware of the date on the calendar today, folks, but I've been feeling all day as if it is a chilly March 25th, not a nice February 18th, and that is a great feeling! I actually took off my coat in the car today because it was getting so warm!

Tonight's Master Gardener class is going to be on Vegetable Culture, and I am about as psyched about it as one could be about vegetables! I'm new to gardening, so a lot of the MG class has been very helpful knowledge that I haven't been able to put into practice yet- but I do have experience growing vegetables (although only a small amount) and I do have a big interest in growing vegetables! This is perfect timing since I just ordered my edible plants for the year- hopefully I will get some more insight on where to plant, how to plant, how to maintain, etc.

It's so sunny outside- wooo!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My spring plant order

Here's the order I placed yesterday for my plants! I plan to pick them up when they are starter sized- not fully grown, but bigger than plug-sized. I am so psyched! I'm getting 6 Flats total, plus some other loose plants. The flats are 18 2.5" x 2.5" x 3" containers:
  • 64 strawberry plants
  • Flat 1: loose-leaf Lettuces
  • Flat 2: onions (yellow/white)
  • Flat 3: 8 zucchini plants and 10 garlic bulbs
  • Flat 4: 8 roma tomato plants and 8 cherry tomato plants
  • Flat 5: 8 better bush tomato plants and 10 salad bush cucumber plants
  • Flat 6: potatoes
  • 4 basil plants, 4 cilantro plants, 2 chive plants, 2 rosemary plants, 2 jalepeno pepper plants
  • enough carrot seeds for a 4x4 bed worth of carrots
Also- the turkey from Karl Baer's farm was absolutley delicious. I got smoked turkey, and sliced it into pieces small enough for a sandwich- right now I am eating a sandwich with local munster cheese, Baer Farms smoked turkey, and my homemade bread. I will never buy the pre-packed turkey from a grocery store again. This is delish!!
I'm going to make some bread tonight. What kind should I make? Suggestions?
Although it is cold and snowy and dirty outside, we are moving towards Spring! Or at least that's what I keep telling myself..

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My first completely local homecooked meal!

This is an exciting day folks- tonight, for Valentine's day, I am loving up the earth, and making my first-ever homemade dish-with all local/homemade ingredients:


1 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 clove garlic
Scant tsp. salt
2 tsp. rosemary
Dash of pepper
1 egg
Pork chops

Mix all dry ingredients together. In separate dish, beat eggs. Add milk. Wash and drain pork chops. Dip chops in egg mixture, then in bread crumb mixture. Place in a well oiled baking pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 375 degrees. When tender, remove foil and bake until lightly browned (about 15 minutes). Any left over bread crumb mixture can be refrigerated (in Tupperware type container).

Everything is local!
  • Pork chops from local farm in lower MI
  • Rosemary from plant in my house
  • bread crumbs from bread I made at home
  • egg from Karl Baer's farm
  • local garlic
Wooo! :)

My visit to Destiny Farms

This weekend, my parents came in to town to visit from Columbus! We're very close and I love to have them visit/ visit them, so it was great that they came up! Unfortunatley we spent 2 hours looking for Athena on Friday night, so by the time we finally found her (sleeping in a box under our bed), it was too late to do much of anything. Here's the culprit (Helo on left, Athena on right):

La la so we found her and went to bed, and on Saturday a lot of fun adventures happened!

  • We picked up our 1st order from Karl Baer, meat guy :) We got 2 pork chops, a dozen eggs, some spicy italian chicken sausage, and a pound of smoked turkey breast. There were a fair amount of folks there to pick stuff up, which made me happy! Karl said he is starting a sort of meat CSA in March, and will be delievering to people's homes every two weeks, rather than going to 4 farmer's markets a week.
  • Mike, my parents, and I drove out to Destiny Farms in Brighton to meet Mike and Joni, who are the owners and farmers! Before I ordered plants for the spring, I wanted to see the place myself. They have about 3 acres that they farm on, and it was impressive use of space! They have 2 green houses, about 350 chickens, some goats, turkeys, and a sweet Golden Retriever named Anna :) I feel really good about buying Michigan-grown plants from people I know. I placed my pre-order today, and I am eagerly awaiting planting time!!!
  • We then went to IKEA, because is a trip to Metro-Detroit really complete without a trip to IKEA? I'll let you answer that :) I got to see some old co-workers (used to work there), and my parents bought some stuff. I ended up getting these cutes frames, for about $5 each, which was a pretty good price! Each year a local nonprofit, Growing Hope, puts out a calendar, with awesome locally-grown food pictures for each month. I decided to use the old pics from last year, and frame them and put them in my mudroom, which is where I'll be storing most of my put up food for the year! Here's my favorite picture, of carrots:

Cute and cheap- my two favorites! I got 5 frames total, and put 5 pictures in: carrots, raspberries, cucumbers, green onions, and strawberries

That's all for now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

curtains curtains and curtains!

Sooo ever since we first saw our house (even before it was officially our house), I had big plans for it! I ran across a very similar living room to ours in Metropolitan Home magazine (was from a 2005 edition), and I have tried to replicate this look in our home, with a twist.

Here are the inspiration pics, with pics of house after each. What I liked about this room was the light, warmth, and color, plus the modern/natural vibe:


Our interpretation:



Our interpretation:

Anyway, my fireplace wall turned out a bit more pink than in the idea picture (Earthenware- FreshAire paint) and my other walls are more of a light brown then they are green like in the idea pic (mine are Aviary Nest- FreshAire paint), but I think I got the warmth that I wanted, definitely. Other difference is I have a window with three glass panes, and the idea pic window only has two, so I had to get three curtains which gives my room a different look. At any rate- I am proud of our hard work!

I spent a lot of today hanging up the curtains that I bought months ago from JC Penney that were waiting on curtain rods. Here's some curtain pics:


office part 2

If you can remember, the office used to look like this and this. I really liked the look of the plain window without curtains but it is *scuse my language* fucking cold in this house sometimes, especially in the office and the living room. I can deal with pulled-back curtains much better than I can deal with a $300 heating bill three months in a row.
Owning a home has been a lot of work so far! But it's nice when your home starts to look like you imagined it looking!

Garden plan part 2 (of many) :)

So here's the new and improved plan :) My mom looked it over and was laughing for about 5 minutes straight because I wanted to plant 48 tomato plants, 1 per quare foot. Hey, you can never fault me for lack of ambition! Here's a revised, more acurate plan:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Holy garden plan, batman!

           Lycan-Fry Garden Plan 2010!!!

As you see, the main theme in planting this year is "TOMATOES!". I want to have enough to eat fresh (love love love fresh tomatoes), and a lot left over to can as well- I'm going to get Romas, and some type of cherry I think. Also some zucchini, strawberries, onions, potatoes, lettuce, garlic, and carrots, along with some herbs for an herb garden as well! Let's just ignore the fact that right now, these raised-bed gardens are not yet built.. :)

I'm looking into buying all my starter plants from Destiny Farms in Brighton, MI. I called and spoke with Mike there today- they seem to have pretty good deals on flats of 18 3" container plants, but I don't know.. maybe I could get a better deal on a flat of starters? At any rate- very excited! If you garden in lower MI, check them out- they have some deals if you get your order in before Feb 15th!. Also they build chicken coops and raise chicks that you can buy for nesting or for eventual eating. When Mike let's me take over the yard and turn it into a farm, I will be getting chickens... whenever that might be. I'm going to take a trip up to Destiny Farms this weekend to check things out- I'll report back once I see it for myself!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Adventures in bread-making!

Today I was struck with the sudden urge to make bread. I guess this just stemmed from the fact that I love bread, and I also got inspired while reading, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". In Barbara Kingsolver's family, her partner Steven Hopp makes all the bread that the family comsumes. I think it would be really rewarding to make all of the bread that you eat- it's such a staple in the American diet- sandwiches, on the side with soup or salad.. and it's also delicious!

I began my bread adventures with King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour. We have local flour at the Co-op but I wanted to use King Arthur because it had a bread recipe on the back, which I needed, since I was doing some impulse baking! I also got some dry active yeast (yeast is intimidating if you've never baked bread before!), some of Kroger's organic milk, and I had all the rest of the stuff at home. Here's the original recipe I followed:

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread (from King Arthur Flour)
1 and 1/4 cup milk
2 Tlbs butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup rolled oats
1 packet dry active yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
mmm... yeasty.
Manual Method: In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Knead the dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and allow it to rest for 1 hour; it'll become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into a log. Place the dough in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan (with an acrylic dough cover, or with lightly greased plastic wrap), and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf.


Overall, I think my first loaf turned out surprisingly well! It didn't burn, it wasn't under done, and it had a perfect, quinticential bread shape. Mike even commented,  "I'm impressed that you let the bread rise for all that time, instead of sticking it in the oven after 20 minutes. Good job!" I'm glad that following the directions is an impressive feat for me. :)

I decided to make a second loaf and freeze it, since I was on a bread making kick, and I was eating the whole first loaf immediatlety haha. I used the same recipe as above, but with a little twist of my own-

Olive Oil and Rosemary Bread
1 and 1/4 cup milk
3 Tlbs Olive Oil
4 Tlbs Rosemary
4 Tlbs McCormick Italian Spice grinder (or any Italian spice blend)
3 tablespoons honey
1 packet dry active yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Bread Flour

Obviously, this is a very similar bread, but it was a vague attempt at Olive Oil and Rosemary. It also turned out pretty good! I would have added a bit more olive oil and a bit more Rosemary next time, but it was pretty delish. I froze this second loaf because I didn't want to each 8 servings of bread in one day. Well.. I did want to, actually, but I shouldn't.
My mom had offered to give me her Bread Machine, but I don't think I really need it- making bread by hand took a bit of time, but it was rewarding, and not at all as tough as I thought it would be.
Another Homesteading skill= accomplished!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Next Saturday, I will be the proud consumer of locally-grown meat! 2 lbs. of turkey breast, 6 pork chops, and a dozen eggs. A small, humble order but it feels good. I got a hold of Karl Baer, a local farmer (from Adrian, MI) and he was really friendly and informative.

He walked me through the order, haha, because I am incompetent- when you buy meat from the supermarket, you get it all chopped up where you can't even really tell it was ever alive, and you don't have to mess with technicality. I didn't even know how to go about ordering from him. The conversation went something like this:

Arika- "Hey... can I have some turkey?"

Karl- "Sure, what type? We have smoked turkey breast by the pound, fresh turkey breast by the pound, turkey sausage, spicy turkey sausage, turkey burger, turkey wings, turkey thighs, turkey carcasses etc. etc. etc..."

Arika- "Hey... can I have some turkey?"

Anyway, he was understanding and chatty, which I appreciated. He's at the Ypsi FM every other Saturday, including next Saturday, which is when I will be picking up my first order! He also had whole roaster chickens, but I don't think I can handle that. I did make chicken noodle soup last year from the Moosewood cookbook, with a whole chicken that cooked over-night. Maybe I will have a soup making party and do that soon. Anyone up for an all-night chicken-cooking sleepover?

Who could resist that invitation?

I don't think a former vegetarian has ever been this excited about meat before. I'm missing my Master Gardener class tonight because I have a meeting, which is a little disapointing, but a fact of life. Sometimes, you have meetings. I'll have to shlep down to Monroe in 2 weeks to take the class I'll be missing at their MSU-Ex. office. Oh well- I'll get to see another MSU-Ex office and meet some new folks- that will be an adventure!

Here's to hoping it doesn't snow too much this weekend. My ground is frozen and I can't dig in to get my soil sample! Come on Mother Nature.. can you warm up just a teeny bit?

Monday, February 1, 2010

MEAT and lead poisioning (what a nice combo!)

So after my last post on food goals, I got some helpful info from several folks, including Chelsea, Ashes, Di, and Liz!

As far as locally-raised meat goes, Ashes mentioned that she buys from Karl Baer, who sells @ the Ypsi FM during the summer and evidently still sells out here every other weekend! I tracked down his phone number, and I'm going to call him and find out some more info! I also looked up some farms on Local Harvest (great site, by the way) and found a few more meat/animal product farmers. Haven't checked them out extensivley but I will be excited to:

Imagine Cattle Company- Belleville, MI

Mira's Egg Farm- Ann Arbor, MI

Firesign Farm- Whitmore Lake, MI

Casa Del Pollo Contento- Dexter, MI
Also, thanks Liz for the article about lead and Urban Gardening! I will definitely have my soil tested, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that you could still grow things in raised-bed gardens, if you line them with lanscaping fabic that helps block the lead from being absorbed. It also said you could treat your soil with lime, but I don't want to raise the pH any higher than it already is- that could affect the types of plants I'm able to grow successfully. Plus I think Michigan already has a pH of 7ish, which is supposed to mitigate lead absorption.
So while I still want to get our soil tested to make sure, it seems like I will be able to grow something, in some way, as long as I am up for pitching in a little extra bit of money-good to know :)
I was reading some interesting books I got from the library on vegetable gardening. One topic I am interested in learning more about is root cellars. I think my mudroom is cold enough that it could totally store some root vegetables for a few months- Ashes and Sara and I had apples in there for at least a month or two and they were totally good!
Hmm.. so many exciting things to think about! :) Thanks for all the input- it's great to be able to share information with fellow foodies and hippies.