I’m thrifty by nature and nurture. My mother is a bargain hunter of the old school, and no Christmas present was complete without the game of “guess how much I paid for that!” Add to that a fascination with voluntary simplicity and a tree-hugger’s contempt of mindless consumption, and I am primed to be very deliberate with my money.
Here’s the secret, though. Thrift is not about denial. Thrift is about enjoying what you have and deciding what’s important to you. Thrift comes from the root “to thrive.”
And you know where I thrive? Thrift stores.
Ask any of my friends and family, and they’ll tell you that I am the patron saint of thrift stores. I have no horror of second-hand goods. If it can be washed in hot water or hosed down with Lysol, I’ll take it home.
I have seen Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” (conservatively) 150 times. I love how the general tears up at the end (“We’ll Follow the Old Man”), and the ironic brilliance of “Love You Done Me Wrong” (here’s a tip, honey, stop choosing the incredibly gay men who are your backup dancers for the number), and of course “Sisters” (a stock number for talent shows for years; my mom and her best friend do a particularly splendid version). But one of my very favorite numbers that Berlin ever wrote is the sweet, simple “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.”
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
The last few months have been tough here at the Farmstead. October was full of worry, uncertainty, and grief, both for our sweet Lou and for the end of a cherished relationship. I have spent a few weeks sick and traveling, and the house is a mess. The laundry is piled up, the fridge is empty, and I’d really like to spend a week sleeping and cleaning this joint up, but my entire upcoming week is booked solid. I have had a series of what Anne of Green Gables called “Jonah days.”
You may know that the internet is going on strike on January 18. Some of the biggest sites in the world are shutting down for the day to protest internet censorship. The Stop Online Piracy Act gives corporations the power to shut down web sites that contain content they claim is theirs. It’s the same technology that allows Iran and China to block web sites.
Think that sucks? So do I. If I were more blog-savvy, I’d be able to make my blog redirect to the SOPA Strike website. But since I’m a gardener, not a programmer, I’ll put the link here for you to check out.
A free internet is crucial to innovation and democracy. Don’t let corporations and the government take it away from us.
Tags: activism, web
Picking What to Plant: Garden Planning for Beginners
February 19, 11:00 a.m.
Never planted a garden before? We’ll hit the highlights of starting your vegetable garden, including the difference between cool- and warm-season veggies, and whether to plant seeds or buy transplants.
$10 for one-hour class
Shopping for Seeds
February 26, 11:00 a.m.
Want to make sure you buy seeds that will flourish in your garden? We’ll discuss some of my favorite seed sources, the difference between heirloom and hybrid seeds, and how to store seeds so they stay good for several seasons. By the time you leave, you’ll know exactly how to assemble your shopping list.
$10 for one-hour class
February 22, 23, and 24
6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
$25 per night or $60 for all three nights
Do you love the idea of growing your own vegetables, picking strawberries from your front yard, or collecting eggs from your own hens? Even if you’ve never planted a garden before, the Homesteading University program will give you the resources to start planning your own organic garden and urban homestead.
Homesteading University covers six topics in three nights. These classes are designed to work as a unit, giving you the basics to start your homesteading adventure.
Tuesday, February 22, 6:30
- The Gardener’s Toolbox: Basics of sun and wind exposure, necessary tools, the garden year, and planning your garden’s layout.
- Breaking Ground: Composting and soil basics, using raised vs. conventional beds, organic fertilizers, and the wonders of mulch.
Wednesday, February 23, 6:30 p.m.
- Vegetables: Cool-season vs. warm-season vegetables, transplants vs. seeds, succession sowing, rotation, trellising techniques, and great veggies for beginners.
- Herbs: The most popular cooking herbs and their cultivation, herbs for other purposes, and harvesting and storing.
Thursday, February 24, 6:30 p.m.
- Fruits: Edible landscaping, fruits for the urban farmstead, and cultivating strawberries, blueberries, bramble fruits, and tree fruits in limited space.
- Chickens: The role of livestock on the urban homestead, picking a breed, basic chicken anatomy, feed and housing, egg collection and storage, and converting bedding to compost.