Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Amber Westfall
  • Female
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • Canada
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  • Heather Flansworth
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What kind of HOMEGROWN are you?
Dirt Under My Fingernails City Slicker
A bit about me:
Since the beginning of the year I have planted and tended to a garden. I ate and preserved the harvest and shared some with friends. I connected with other gardeners who freely shared their bounty with me.

I learned that many of the plants that people call weeds are wonderful sources of free and nutritious food. Many of these plants and more are medicine. I now make my own medicine. Significant sections of my home have the look of an herbwyfe's apothecary. This gladdens my heart.

I make friends with anaerobic beasties, invite them into my home and ask them to stay awhile. They get real intimate with milk, cabbage and cukes and the resulting transformation is nothing short of alchemy.

I collect all manner of glass jars. Mason, pint, quart, corked, brown, blue, tall and short. I have a thing for cool stone crocks, simple hand tools and aprons.

I have a well stocked pantry, medicine chest, water supplies. My cupboards are filled with local goodies, homemade jams, pickled beets, dried beans. Squashes lurk amongst fruit butters and piles of books.

I have neatly stacked linens and cloth. Napkins, lacy handkerchiefs, scarves for gift wrapping. Wool blankets, cozy throws. Rags, pee wipes.

My craft section has grown. I have baskets of thrifted yarn, crochet cotton, my great grandmother's crochet hooks, embroidery hoops, ribbons, buttons, baubles and beads.

I look around and see that so much of the stuff of my life has been handed down, salvaged from the trash or purchased from yard sales, thrift shops, community stores and church bazaars. My place is small but if you came to visit me I could take you on a tour that would last for hours as I recounted the story that comes with many of the pieces that make up my home. Nearly everything has a history and tale to tell, much longer than your average trip from the foreign factory to cargo ship to big box store to trunk of car and the ride home.

All together it makes for a rather mismatched and quirky sort of place. My tastes run eclectic and my sense of aesthetics and lifestyle habits certainly aren't for everyone. But that's ok, because I'm doing much of this for me out of sheer pleasure and soul biggering joy and that suits me just fine. And when I come home, I enter into a cozy world, a haven well used and much loved and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Currently reading:
Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front by Sharon Astyk
Currently listening to:
Anything under the Last.fm tag 'new weird America'
My latest DIY project:
Just finished a batch of sauerkraut, gonna try a batch of Sauerruben.

Amber Westfall's Blog

Calendula officinalis

"The yellow leaves of the flowers are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against winter to put into broths, physicall potions and for divers other purposes, in such quantity that in some Grocers or Spicesellers are to be found barrels filled with them and retailed by the penny or less, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigold." ~The Countrie Farme

I grew and dried a lot of…


Posted on February 18, 2011 at 12:10pm — 6 Comments

Winter Sown

Last night, with a glass of wine and a soundtrack that included this bit of dreamy, awesomeness, I winter sowed some seeds.

I started with just a few flats last year. Only the chamomile did really well. This year I'm trying again, sticking mostly to self-sowing natives and other hardy perennials that are well adapted to the climate, naturally drop… Continue

Posted on January 29, 2011 at 4:14pm — 5 Comments

DIY Herbal Pastilles

When I read this article on herbal pastilles a couple of months ago, I just knew I had to try making my own. I have to admit to coveting the suribachi that the author uses and I was thrilled to receive my own as a Christmas gift from the ADG! It's so pretty and works amazingly well for powdering herbs. I think it's the best mortar and pestle I've ever used.

Last night I… Continue

Posted on January 13, 2011 at 3:45pm

Pantry Love

I desperately needed more pantry space, and my boss who is preparing to downsize to a smaller home, had two shelving units to get rid of. Thus the Unstuffed Pantry has come to be!

I'm ridiculously happy about the whole thing and after I had filled and artfully arranged the shelves the other night, I spent a long time just sitting and looking at this new edition to my… Continue

Posted on April 7, 2010 at 12:19pm — 2 Comments

Comment Wall (1 comment)

At 12:59am on March 26, 2010, Heather Flansworth said…
That's so awesome, I'm so glad you showed me! The community gardens here are actually one of the reasons I moved to this neighborhood, and it's so funny, because I've kept thinking, "I need to make a map or something so I know where they all are," because there are tons of little ones and I never remember where things are that I come across while walking the dog. I can't wait to see what they're going to do with this and how they're going to involve the community!

Also: I love having a blog buddy! Your blog is so awesome and I was so sad when you posted that you were going to write less, but I get why. Planting season is starting! There's so much to do! I feel like I keep obsessively drawing out garden charts and re-reading books I stole from my parents and grandpa, and that's with me having basically stairs, a fire escape, and a 5' by 13' patch of lead-soaked grass to work with. I don't know how everyone with actual yards does it!

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