I tried to occupy myself with other things. A new book came out that I had been looking forward to: The Permaculture City by Toby Hemingway of Gaia's Garden fame. I thought this book would be perfect for me. It was a permaculture book geared toward people living in cities and suburbs. Instead, I felt like it was one big guilt trip. Do you shop at Costco? How embarrassing! (Actually, I like how they treat their employees, thank you.) If I was a good permaculturist, I would be swapping fruits and vegis with my neighbors. (Nice idea, but none of them grow enough produce to trade. Me neither for that matter.) Yuck. This didn't make me feel any better. It just made me mad. I was trying every day to make a difference, but according to this book, it wasn't anywhere near good enough.
As fall came closer, I tried to buck up and start anew. I decided that I would start all my fall plants from seed inside under grow lights. I would pick the perfect variety for my area! They would be disease resistant! It would be great! Even better, I would use this great technique from Pinterest that enables you to Turn a Soda Bottle into a Worry Free Self-Watering Planter. Uh, guess what? Even here in Arizona, the most arid place on earth, those self-watering planters turned into mold-growing messes. Ug.
For those of you who don't know, Erica Strauss is a super awesome blogger at Northwest Edible Life. She's got about 5 gazillion readers, and for good reason. Erica knows her stuff. She's an urban homesteading diva who approaches life with humility, zest, and humor. And she's brought all of that to this book.
What can I say? It's a great book. Erica will teach you to make basics around the kitchen, like mayonnaise, tortillas, and yogurt. She'll show you how to cook delicacies like roasted salmon with yogurt-herb crust. She'll guide the way while you make your own honey-rosemary hair wash, peppermint tooth powder, or oil-based moisturizer. She'll even have you considering DIY laundry detergent and oven cleaner. But the recipes, however useful, are not what I love best.
What I love about Erica's blog, and now her book, is that she's so darn encouraging. Sure she's an urban homesteading diva now, but she used to buy chemical cleaners by the truckload. How did she think to create an eco-friendly DIY carpet freshner? Her three year old son "inspired" her one day by grinding a whole bulk container of cinnamon into the rug when she wasn't looking. Has she always canned local fruits? Heck no! Her first canning experience involved a non-organic Costco pineapple and a lot of clean-up from the burning. In other words, she's learning as she goes, just like the rest of us. No judgment here.
When you read Erica's book, you benefit from her years of experimenting. She's been through the wringer and has lived to tell. So you can follow her recipes and tips if you want, and just benefit from her experience. Or, if you're feeling really brave, you can follow her example and do some experimenting of your own. She's got lots of great information in there that you can use if you're feeling feisty and want to splash out and do something new. Why not?
And with that in mind, I think I'll dust myself off from a hard summer, and try again. If Erica can do it, so can I.