Sunday, July 12, 2015

Unrealistic Suburban Homesteading Dreams and Facing Reality About My Terrible Gardening Skills

Fledgling tomato plants I purchased recently at Home Depot

I think this is the longest title I've ever written for a Lovely Living post! I'm trying to control myself this weekend and not go crazy turning my backyard into a suburban homestead. No shopping online (slapping my hands) and I should be taking care of my existing plants, yard and garden.

Canning and Preserving, at Williams-Sonoma

The problem is, I recently browsed Williams-Sonoma's masterfully photographed Agrarian section of their website. As a result, I developed all sorts of unrealistic fantasies. I remembered how my grandparents (who lived in the countryside, not the suburbs as I do) grew grapes to make fresh grape juice, grew corn, pastured horses, made jam and canned vegetables every September.

Raised Garden Beds, at Williams-Sonoma

The reality I must face is, I shop too much; I'm a horrible, neglectful gardener; and I doubt I would actually make the time on my busy calendar, in September, to can vegetables even if I had grown some. I think I'm more interested in the fantasy - and the related shopping - than the reality.

Still, I can't shake the thought of how nice it would be to be more self-sustaining, rely less on the grocery store, indulge in fresher foods and herbs in my cooking.. I don't want to raise chickens or turn into a super granola hippie or anything like that. I live in the suburbs close to the countryside, though, and several of my neighbors have sheep, beehives or keep horses. I just feel like I want to create more things, produce things, not just consume. And I have a giant back yard that gets tons of sunlight in summertime. Hrm.


  • Are you going into the workweek with clean clothes? Clean sheets? Clean bathrooms to come home to after work tomorrow?
  • Did you eat meals outside this weekend?
  • Create meal plans for the week ahead; create grocery list
  • Need to pack lunches for tomorrow for anyone in your household?
  • Do something to make your home smell nice tonight, whether it's opening a window and turning on a fan, changing the litterbox, spraying Febreze or your favorite home spray; lighting candles; or burning incense.
  • Take a look at the week ahead - What appointments do you, family members or pets have? (I'm headed to the dentist, personally).
  • Any upcoming birthdays this week? Make plans to send a gift, a card, or telephone (not just text) if possible.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Exploring Agrarian Dreams and Realities

Some of my herbs, including lavender, Provence lavender, and mint for cocktails

Tonight I'll be moving hoses around to water my lawns, watering flowers by hand, pruning and watering my container herb garden on my porch, and snipping basil to use in my dinner.

Cherry tomatoes I hope I don't kill!

Some of my other chores tonight include sweeping my front porch and walkway, sweeping the back patio and the dogs' patio, planting two flats of yellow and white flowers (getting ready for my Little House on the Prairie party that's in a couple weeks), and sadly tossing out a dead planter that used to hold pretty primroses.

What are some of your gardening-related chores tonight? if any?

LOVELY BEVERAGES: Cocktail Sugar Cubes

Here's a nifty idea to make your next casual cocktail party easier. Drop one of these Lemon or Mojito sugar cubes into a glass of alcohol, shake with ice, and strain into a glass for an easy Lemon Drop or Mojito cocktail. I'm thirsty just thinking about it. I'm also thinking it could make for a nice self-serve activity at the bar for shy guests who need to keep their hands busy.

Cocktail Sugar Cubes, from Dell Cove Spices on Etsy

LOVELY BLOGS: Playing with Flour

"An amateur baker's tales from the kitchen." Monica blogs from New Jersey, sharing sweet, savory, and chocolate recipes. Recent posts I've enjoyed include her Fudgy Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake, Lemon Chiffon Cake, Whipped Cream Cakes with Berries, and the ambitious Matcha Almond Sponge Layer Cake. I love that the recipes are well chosen to match our current season.

LOVELY BOOKS: Little House Living

With my current obsession with "suburban homesteading," my eyes were immediately drawn to this book during a recent Amazon New Releases search. It's a "Make-Your-Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life." I don't like the word "frugal" though! I prefer "practical." I guess I'm still a shopaholic. Anyway, I'm interested in the book's 130 recipes. Not all of them are for food - one of them, for example, is for eczema cream!

The book is by Merissa, the author of the Little House Living blog. It comes out in October.

Little House Living, on Amazon

LOVELY HOME: Flamenco Umbrellas

I wish I could afford one of these Flamenco patio umbrellas from Santa Barbara Umbrellas. I love how colorful and ruffly they are. Also check out the very unique looking Lilypond umbrella.

Santa Barbara Umbrellas

LOVELY HOME: Piccadilly Circus Collection

Tonight I'm enjoying browsing the Piccadilly Circus collection from one of my favorite stores, Cost Plus World Market. It's a London and British-themed collection of home decor goods, including candles, tea and a teapot, Elizabethan Garden aprons, stationery, and a cookie cutter shaped like Queen Elizabeth II's profile. Great for gift ideas for the Anglophile in your life.

Piccadilly Circus, at Cost Plus World Market

LOVELY SHOPS: Fish and Lotus

I'm not sure what I would do with one of these gorgeous paper origami lotuses, but I sure like the looks of them. Perhaps I'd scatter them along a table or the mantel during a spring tea party. One of the listings suggests these as a teacher gift. I like browsing the many different color offerings they have here.

Fish and Lotus, on Etsy


Burrata Caprese Salad (Nutmeg Nanny)

4 Minute Egg Caesar Dressing Recipe (Alexandra Cooks)

Lingue di Gatto "Cat Tongues" Cookies (An Italian In My Kitchen

Moroccan Style Salmon with Olives and Preserved Lemon (Slow Burning Passion)

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Beer Bread (The Fresh Loaf)

Staying Healthy When You are Super Busy (Savouring Simplicity)

Summer Berry Crisp (101 Cookbooks)

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