Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doing It On My Own:

For a long time now (although I didn't quite understand it when I was younger) I've felt that DIY has become a lost art. Women even two generations ago did everything themselves! They cooked, they grew crops, they tended farms, they sewed their own clothes for themselves and their families, they knitted, they crocheted, they canned their own goods. I want to be that! I want to be the person that can do it all myself! I want to be able to take care of family. My mom can cook, boy can she cook, and thank god for that because I like to eat! Haha! Thankfully that got passed down to me, because I too am good at it and boy do I love to cook and bake! The only problem is finding time or being able to afford the many items to make them all! 

Growing up I was pretty crafty, and so was my mom, but more in the sense of cute cards, scrapbooking, painting, drawing, etc..Unfortunately, she didn't really know how to crochet or knit or anything of that nature, so I never learned how. I had a great aunt that would sew, and crochet and knit, and french braid until the cows came home, but unfortunately, by the time I grew a great interest in it, we'd lost her. :( 

Luckily though, my mother in law knew how and was willing to teach me! So now I crochet, and I absolutely love it! It's something that gives me a break and relaxes me. And I love that I can always look back and go "hey! I made that!" It's a great feeling to see your end product! Since I've learned, I've done potholders, lord knows how many hats and scarves, leg warmers, a blanket, etc., but my most recent items that I've been working on are market bags! Below is the first one I made, but it was a little smaller than I'd like, so I started on a second one that is currently about 2/3 of the way complete, but I'm really happy with it! 

Why market bags, you ask? Good question! Growing up, I never would have ever thought I'd ever hear myself say this, but I want a farm! Or if not a farm, a decent bit of land. I want so badly to be able to grow my own produce and herbs! We eat so many fruits and vegetables, and I would love to be able to grow my own, not only for the fun and being able to see it all grow and know that I did it, but to save money on food as well as the ease of just having it when you need it! Unfortunately, I'm a ways away from being able to purchase that kind of property and our yard here is a little on the smaller side, but I've decided that I am going to try and work with what I've got and see if I can get some things going here! So with the help of my friend, Carrie, I now have some basil, roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, but have also started some on my own to keep in the kitchen! As of two days ago, I now have more basil, chives, and cabbage (or the seeds to them anyway). But I am hopeful that they will grow and am excited to share the progress as it goes!

In the meantime, while I wait for my own produce to grow, I have decided that I really enjoy going to the local farmer's market! I love keeping it local and knowing where my food is coming from and knowing that it's fresh! I've been dying to get out to the strawberry fields the next town over, but sadly they seem to always be all picked out by the time I'd be up and ready to go. Unfortunately, our town's farmer's market is super disappointing. I drove with my friends out to Orlando to check out theirs and while it was much bigger and better, it was also slightly disappointing as there was only 1 fruit/veggie vedor, 2 bread vendors, 1 cheese vendor..I don't know, I just figured there would be more fruits/veggies to choose from. I did however find some wonderful dips that will go great with some pita chips! So now, the place I like to attend is a new thing that they've got going on through April on Thursdays at UCF called Produce on the Patio! It's smaller, but nice, and a bonus is that I get to stop in and see my husband! Tomorrow I will be returning for my second time in hopes of finding some good strawberries and tomatoes. 

Naturally, after going to the farmer's market, and wanting to grow my own crops, I also want to make my own foods! I've been trying my hand at homemade breads with my beautiful mixer that I got at Christmas but have not had much success with any of the breads that I've tried that require yeast yet. :( But then I got to thinking, and decided that even if I can't have my own farm, I can still make yummies and can them! So I decided to try my hand at a strawberry apple jelly, and OHMYGOD is it delicious! I am soooo happy at how it turned out! I was able to fill 5 jars full! 

My intentions had been to keep one, give one to my friend Carrie, one to my parents, one to my brother and his girlfriend, one to my in laws, one to my sil and her family, and one to my husband's aunt. Well the first problem is that it only made 5 jars. The second problem is that it came out so much better than I'd imagined it would and we have been eating it like crazy on some yummy cream cheese bagels every morning. Even my sister said today "I don't even like jelly, but that is the bomb diggity!" and so she stole my brother's as well. So needless to say, I am  heading back to find more strawberries so that I can whip up another batch and pass some on to the others that I'd initially wanted to give some to! 

I also have two other things on my list to try next to can, and that is my yummy homemade pasta sauce, and a tomato bruschetta! Mmm! Just thinking about it makes me hungry. Tonight I made up a double batch of baked penne (penne, fire roasted garlic tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, mozzarella cheese, philadelphia italian herb sauce, black olives and chicken) and boy was it good! 

So I'm not quite exactly where I hope to be, but am trying to do what I can with what I have, and so far I think I'm off to a pretty good start and it feels great!

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