Homesteading, Updates

June Update

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you are doing well during this time. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. The last I had written anything I had halted jam production and got some chickens. Since then, I’ve made some big changes, in a good way. Check out my little video for the update.

If you don’t feel like watching…

I’ve moved! My partner and I have moved into an adorable little cabin in the Texas Hill Country that sits on seven acres, has a fenced-in run for our girls, and a workshop. We’ve been insanely busy nesting and setting up shop. Since we’ve moved in, there has been chicken coop constructing, unpacking, bee and butterfly garden building, and vegetable garden planning. Did I mention there’s space for all our fruit trees and more? 

With all of the things going on, I’ve been trying to focus on all of the things I am grateful for and taking time to think about the direction I want made by laura lee to go towards. It is my hope that once our garden is up and running and producing enough food for us that I can begin making jams and pickles from food items solely from the Homestead. It will take time but very doable. 

I will be posting more regularly now that we are settled and have internet. I’m looking forward to sharing with you all things made by me, Laura Lee. I hope you are all doing well, safe, and healthy. Thank you for your continued support. 

       XOXO

    Laura Lee

Garden, Homesteading, Updates

Meet My Babies

I would like to take the time to formally introduce you to my new babies. My chicken babies, that is. Three weeks ago, ten little chicks from the New Braunfels Feed Supply Store made their way back to the homestead. The line of people at the store was out the front door at 7:30 AM. I guess Texans want the chicks!

The first thing everyone asks is, “Are they for eggs or eating?” These girls are for their eggs, just their eggs. In fact, we strategically picked the breeds for their laying ability.

  • Red Sex Links
  • Gold Sex Links
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Black Sex Links
  • Polish Crested

Ok, the Polish Gal is more for show with her feather tufted cap, but the others are going to be good layers.

When we first brought the girls home, they were little balls of downy fluff. Three and a half weeks in, their feathers are pushing through, they are getting gangly and awkward, just like a teenager.  Their personalities are evolving and their curiosity is exciting. I’ve never raised chickens from just two days old and this is proving to be a learning experience. Forming a bond with them has been quite rewarding as well. While you may not think a little chicken can bond with a human, they certainly know who we are. Rosie always runs to my hand first and Vicky always to her daddy.

This is just the beginning of our chicken story and I’m looking forward to sharing more of our journey as we learn, raise, and collect eggs from our girls.

12 Day of Crafting, Embroidery, Updates

Keeping It Crafty

I thought about naming this blog post “Keeping it Crafty During COVID19” but honestly, I think I’m a little burnt out on seeing it COVID-19 in my newsfeed.  While I’m fully aware that this won’t be over anytime soon, I’ve got my ways of coping that don’t involve being glued to a computer screen.  For me, I do best when I stay busy.

I’m using this social distancing and self-isolation as a time to get work done, self reflect and really tackle that “someday I’ll do this” to-do list that I have been putting off for… forever.

This past weekend in the life of a crafter:

  1. Organized my craft shelf
  2. Prepped 20+ towels for embroidery
  3. Revived the “Can’t Touch This” Cactus Pattern
  4. Began embroidering a new patter: “The Lone Star State” Towel

Upcoming Projects:

  • Redoing taxes from previous years (yea, I know I’m torturing myself, but it’ll be worth it)
  • Doing this year’s taxes
  • Overhauling madebylauralee.com (if it’s the last thing I do, damn it!)
  • Somehow connecting with a few remaining Kickstarter Contributors that have not responded to any emails, updates, etc. to get them their incentives so I can sleep at night!

Other things I’ve been working on are making sure I keep my days are as structured as possible. For example, from 6 am to 7am, I enjoy my coffee, from 7-8 am I go for a walk and stretch, 9 am-3 PM it’s time for work.  I’m also making it a goal to reach out to one person that I haven’t spoken to in a while and actually call them!

These next few weeks will certainly be different, but we will get through!  Happy Self-Isolation, y’all!

 

DIY, Fermenting, Food, Recipes, Updates

Fermentation Friday

I think it’s been a whirlwind of a week, just the last few days even. As you may have read on my last blog post or the made by laura lee newsletter, I am suspending food production for the next few weeks.  For the time being, I will not be experimenting with fermented foods either.

It breaks my heart.  Really.  Why am I not experimenting as well as not selling?

I feel like holding off is the best-case scenario on selling jams, jellies, and sauerkrauts are the safest thing possible.  Despite being clean and sanitary beyond normal expectations, I’m a small business and I want to do what’s best for my customers, my own health, and the bigger picture. As far as playing with fermented foods, it’s too dang hard to get my hands on large amounts of produce to ferment.  The stores have been baren and farmers’ markets canceled.

So, let’s take a moment to celebrate all the beautiful and delicious veggies that I have been able to transform into probiotic filled food! Sauerkrauts, kimchis, and ginger, oh my! Below is the list with links you can revisit.  Thank you so much for your interest in this and I’m looking forward to when I can get back to it!  Until then… what should the next Friday blog be? I like this whole themed thing!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Canning, Updates

PSA: Canning & COVID-19

Good morning.  I realize the title doesn’t exactly lend itself to the happiest of morning vibes, but one worth making a quick announcement about.  While everyone’s news feeds are filled with talk of Coronavirus, toilet paper, and quarantine, I’ve been wondering what my best course of action is. Many gigs and events are getting canceled or rescheduled, and I just found out yesterday that my biggest art fair of the year has been canceled due to the virus.

As someone with a compromised immune system, I’m grateful for all the precautions that are being taken.  I’m sure others and the elderly would agree. That being said, moving forward I will be suspending all jam, jelly, and fermented food sales until further notice. As a small business that operates under the Cottage Food Laws, I always operate under the cleanest of conditions, but due to my concern about others’ health and immune system, I will be holding off food production for a while.  Due to the information available about the virus’s life span on plastic, etc. I don’t want to take any chances of passing it on.

Growing up, I was taught two rules:

  1. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
  2. Better safe than sorry.

That being said, I am most definitely taking a financial hit with the cancelation of craft fairs and suspending food production for the time being.  I see an outpouring of support for all local businesses, artists and musicians at the moment, which makes me incredibly happy.   In the next two weeks, I will have new embroidery work on the website and be taking on any custom work, so if you’ve been thinking of a great birthday present for your Auntie Joan… now’s the time!

Thank you again for your support.  Stay healthy, friends… and share the TP!

 

Embroidery, Story, Updates

Blossoms & The Bees

I know I always go over the top with “spring is here” posts, but I really can’t help it. Spring is my favorite season.  I cannot tell you how much joy tiny blossoms on grey branches brings me. This year, my excitement is amplified!

Last month, or maybe it was January, my partner and I took a class at Natural Gardener on fruit trees and pruning. Not only did I walk away with notes and a giant list of fruit trees and blackberry varieties I will have to get someday, but we were also fortunate enough to take home some pomegranate cuttings. Of course, it spurred a full-on cutting frenzy.

For those of you not familiar with cuttings, it’s when you take a small piece of a plant stem and plant it in soil and nurture it until it grows roots.  Well, little did we know that our pomegranate, peach and pear cuttings (taken later) were going to do so well!  They have leaves and the pear cuttings are even blossoming.  That weekend we took started cuttings from my mint plant as well, which is growing like a weed.

With the blossoms and warmer weather comes the bees. The soothing buzzing happens every afternoon around this hummingbird feeder.  Hopefully, they will begin to swarm soon and make a home in our new bee boxes. (More on that later). Rest assured these blossoms and the bees are giving me plenty of new embroidery ideas!

Garden, Story, Updates

Mother Earth News Recap

Good morning, happy Monday! I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend.  I’m slowly on the mend, just feeling really running down, but at least my cough has subsided.  As I’m coming back around to feeling better, I realized I hadn’t shared too much about the Mother Earth News Conference that I was so excited about.

While Belton isn’t exactly a the thriving metropolis that you dream about spending a weekend away in, it sure had it’s gems. Saturday morning before the conference, we discovered a charming little coffee shop, Arusha Coffee, where we spent the bulk of time caffeinating when not at the conference.  Ample time was also spent day dreaming about future homestead plans, the idea for another new book, and more.

I digress…. the conference though was fun and educational.  Not all the speakers were as captivating as others, here are the highlights:

Texas Food Laws – there has been a major update on some of the Texas Cottage Laws for food makers like myself and I am happy to announce that I will be able to start selling some of my fermented goodies very soon.

Homestead Air B&B – while I don’t have a homestead geared up for a bed and breakfast, it’s nice to know that there are easy options out there when I am ready to go.

Other workshops and lectures I attended were Ladies in Homesteading, Growing Mushrooms, Homesteading Laws in Texas, Gardening in Small Spaces, and Companion Gardening, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to next years conference already!

Embroidery, Updates

Embroidery Festivities

I realized it’s been some time since I’ve posted anything from the Embroidery Department.  I didn’t want you think I had been neglecting it, as that certainly has not been the case.  In fact, I’ve been quite busy in preparation for the Annual Starving Artist Fair in San Antonio hosted by the Little Church of La Villita.

I start preparing for this two-day event the first of the year.  I have restocked my inventory of “I Heart Texas” Towels from the Christmas rush (thanks to the Austin 360 article) I am beginning to stock “Yellow Rose of Texas” Towels as well.  This year, I am excited to announce a new design of “Our Lady Guadalupe.” I’m envisioning this towel will come to life with vibrant colors.

It’s funny… I don’t think the majority of people realize all the work that goes into just one towel. People only think about the time it takes to stitch the design, which can sometimes take hours on its’ own.  I wash and dry all my towels before I embroider them, then there is time to create the patterns, transfer the design to the towel, stitching them, then washing, drying, and ironing again… It takes hours, even days to make just one towel. That is why hand embroidery is considered a lost art.

I, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoy the time it takes to produce one of these works of art.  Enjoyment through every stitch.  I will have the “Our Lady of Guadalupe” will be in the shop soon! Keep a look out… of course, I’ll probably post a blog when she’s ready.

Book of the Month, Story, Updates

Goals vs. Resolutions

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result involving intention setting, planning, preparing, and taking realistic action.

New Year, new goals, and, of course, new resolutions. Have any of you already given up? Usually, by this point, my resolutions have been cast to the wind. This year, I’m trying something new… no resolutions. I’m not going to try and eat better or lose weight or save money, basically, tell myself I’m going to all these things and then be upset six months later that I haven’t done it. So, I will tell you the changes I’ve already made in what I’m doing and plans my goals by the end of the month. 

Change 1

I sit at a desk for the majority of my week, whether it’s for my own business or someone else’s. I’ve already begun making a more concerted effort to hit 10K steps a day. I know it’s what you’re supposed to be doing, but I haven’t. In the first five days of 2020, I lost three pounds without trying. 

Change 2

This one I didn’t even mean to happen, but it has.  I’ve started reading more. That’s right, halfway through January and I’ve already completed two books. I feel engaged, my brain is working, and more importantly, I feel inspired. 

Change 3

Reinvesting in my dreams. Sounds strange, right? As someone that sells jams, embroidered towels and refinished furniture, you’d think I’d be pretty invested with these time-intensive labors of love. Well, I am certainly invested. But, sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and with 2019, I did exactly that. 

Since the start of 2020, I have been actively, and I mean very actively, taking the time to make sure that everything that I do outside of my work for other people is specifically geared towards made by laura lee and its, and my, future. From consciously asking myself, “Does this get me closer to my goal?” Or “Is this worth the time and energy of investing in?”  Let me tell you, the last couple of weeks have been very different. 

Now, while I’m not rolling in the dough just yet, I believe the small monthly goals I have set for my business over the next 12-months will get me there. My goals are quantitative and insanely, type-A specific. I’ve learned that this type of specificity is crucial in accomplishing goals. With that, I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you this next year. 

Let’s go get ‘em!

Brand, Canning, DIY, Mixed Media, Recipes, Updates

Pickles & Press

What a whirlwind of a week it’s been… Well, I guess almost two since my last post! I’ve since been an embroidery machine as made by laura lee was featured in the Austin 360 (by the Austin American Statesman) Holiday Foodie Gift Guide! This is the biggest bit of press that my little handmade business and blog has received yet.

In between embroidering Texas Towels, I took breaks by baking banana bread and pecan pie as well as whipping a quick batch of refrigerator pickles. I love having pickles around as a cool, crips snack or a great addition to a cheese plate or sandwich.  Here’s a quick and easy recipe for you!  Oh yea, these are a little zingy!

Quick Zingy Fridge Pickles

  • 2 32-ounce mason jars
  • 3 cups of cider vinegar
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cucumbers, washed & sliced
  • 6-10 small sweet peppers, washes, quartered, and seeds removed (you can use bell peppers instead)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Version 2

  1. Clean and prep cucumbers, peppers, onions, and garlic
  2. Stuff clean mason jars with cucumbers, peppers, and onions
  3. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, garlic, salt, sugar, and spices then bring to a boil
  4. When vinegar mixture has come to a rolling boil, place mason jars in the sink and pour the mixture into mason jars
  5. Place lids on the jars and wipe down outside of any spills
  6. While cooling, place jars on a towel on the counter (towel acts as a buffer so the hot glass does not cool too quickly and shatter). Leave jars out until room temperature
  7. Place jars in the fridge.  Pickles will be ready in a day or two
  8. Enjoy!