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Showing posts from July, 2021

Pocket of Joy: Sweet Corn

It's almost sweet corn season in Michigan, and my shaggy little baby cornfield is all ears! View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jeannie Miernik (@msamiernika) I've planted corn in the back yard before and once, to be funny, in the flower bed along the front porch. This year, I got serious about replacing my suburban lawn and took a big chonk out of the front yard to plant locally developed corn and its "sister" crops sunflowers, beans, and (by surprise volunteer via compost) squash. My cornfield has some bald spots where I didn't plant deep enough and birds ate the seeds, but the stalks that grew are producing many fattening-up ears of corn! I am very excited to get out the huge pot I bought at Habitat ReStore while shopping for my kitchen renovation and put water on to boil while we pick and shuck the corn (now that's fresh) like I used to do with my grandparents when I was a kid. My family and I have always loved sweet corn s

We're Cooking Again!

Oh, wishes for real dishes to wash and lovin' on my oven! Our DIY kitchen renovation is not nearly finished, but we have finally installed flooring and hooked up our appliances--except the vent hood, which has not been delivered yet. Ooh, steamy! We can cook our own food! We can wash our own real dishes! I have never been this excited about chores. It's a chaotic mess in here without our upper shelving or real countertops, but we have lighting, plumbing, a dishwasher, an oven and range, and a pantry that is in the kitchen instead of the living room!  And I can already start to imagine my rustic cherry shelves festooned with ghost pumpkins . There are more than a half dozen of them growing on the vine that is joyfully overtaking my front yard cornfield, and I'm hoping that no little jerk of a jackalope or chupacalabaza or rude bunny, squirrel, or deer will come along and decide to take one bite of each. I haven't had the best of luck with that. The local fauna often tak

Pocket of Joy: Surprise Ghost Pumpkin

Boo!  It turns out that the volunteer squash vine in my garden this year is not producing gooseneck gourds, as I suspected. It's a ghost pumpkin! Now I remember tossing one of those in the compost after last Halloween.  There are also deer tracks in the garden, which I did not fence this time, but this spooky little bubble of joy is growing right in the center of the thick, spiny foliage, so I hope it will be left to hang in there until my daughter can carve it up this Halloween.  Happy Hot Gourd Summer!

Check Out My...

Pantry! We slapped in some fun and easy, removable wallpaper and dug around in the garage until we found this functional beauty, a commercial-grade speed rack abandoned by a former roommate long ago.  The wallpaper is also pretty old, leftover from a project in my parents' former house. Weirdly, I just saw it featured in a bookcase in an episode of Love It or List It . As seen on TV! While we renovate, we've been going through lots of old stuff in the garage, attic, and shed to donate, throw away, or, occasionally, use in the new kitchen. I've unearthed some VERY interesting and exciting treasures from deep inside the garden shed, which I hope to show off soon.  Things are getting very bog witchy around here indeed! 

Pocket of Joy: Hot Gourd Summer

The corn has grown past "knee high by the Fourth of July," and so have the sunflowers. The delicious bean plants keep trying to climb up their tall sisters' stalks, though the cute, fuzzy creatures of the neighborhood keep trimming them down. And in one very green corner of the garden, the zombie trash gourds have returned! Last year, they volunteered to take over my compost and apple wood stick piles, and this year, they popped out of the front yard garden (after I spread compost there) to say: it's time for another hot gourd summer! The Fourth of July fireworks are all used up and done; it is now legal to look forward to Halloween. Pumpkin spice girls and bog witches, rejoice with me! And pray to every curly shoot and warty bump that by the time these decorative gooseneck gourds ripen, my witchy kitchen will be finished and ready to display them on rustic cherry open shelves against shady green walls. Until then, it's a joy to let the gourd plants' broad gre

A Lightbulb Moment

All the lights are on! This weekend, my dad finished installing our kitchen cabinets as well as three pendant lights that hang above them. Hallelujah, let there be light! Now we can finally see what we're doing, giving us a boost of productivity by providing both visual access and a more pleasant work environment--which will soon become a warm, welcoming place to cook and eat and converse! This bright, warm light is a great metaphor for something else I've realized over the course my month-long home renovation staycation--which, though hard and busy, has been a clean break from my nonprofit work, my novel-writing creative work, and most of my social life too. I had an "aha" moment about illuminating the kitchen that my family has designed and built ourselves with a set of clear, warm lights that my husband and I chose together, as well as the fact that we are no longer living in other people's stuff. We're approaching 40 now, and we've finally been able t

Pocket of Joy: Heirloom Tomatoes

Among the joys of homegrown veggies and fruits, heirloom tomatoes rise the highest above their grocery store cousins. Nothing cultivated to survive mass production and shipping to supermarkets can compare to the flavor of a homegrown heirloom tomato. Heirlooms come in a startling variety of shapes, sizes, and colors with great variation in flavor and texture as well. The bright, shiny, red, smooth, uniform-looking tomatoes that show up in grocery stores have been hybridized to enhance production and durability at the expense of flavor. There isn't anything wrong with eating grocery store tomatoes in terms of health, but once you taste the sweet, brilliant complexity of an heirloom tomato, you understand right away how different and special they are. If you can't or don't wish to grow heirloom tomatoes yourself, and if you don't have green-thumbed and generous family or friends willing to invite you over for grilled bruschetta this summer (oh, the tragedy!), you can usua

No Cook Summer Snacks

We've been living without a kitchen for over a month now while we renovate, and while I miss baking and cooking, it's also a little bit nice to not have to cook. My family doesn't have a daily takeout budget (or else we'd be paying someone else to renovate our kitchen, obviously), so we've relied on my parents to share their kitchen and home-cooked meals with us in addition to setting up a makeshift pantry in our living room filled with foods that don't need to be cooked. During a hot summer, even when we have a fully functioning kitchen, it's nice to have some things on hand that don't need to be cooked with a stove or oven--or even a grill outside on scorching days. Whether or not you have a lovely kitchen that works, anyone can stay a little cooler and enjoy a little more time to relax this summer by stocking up on no-cook snacks such as... in-season fruits and veggies that can be enjoyed raw hummus, salsa, liquid nacho cheese (no judgment), or any ot

Pocket of Joy: Renovating to Love, Not to List

My mom and I have watched Love It or List It for years, and it's no surprise to us that most families choose to stay in their own, customized home rather than move into a new, blank box. The qualities that make a house a home are not the same qualities that make a marketable real estate property. Houses sell better when they are whitewashed into sterile, blank boxes where a new homeowner can come in and add their own personalized color and texture. If you're rich like the people on LIOLI , you can custom build a personalized home from scratch or personalize a market-fresh house in a short time, but even so, it's easier to stay in an already-customized house than to start over.  For regular people who aren't rich, turning a house into a home takes even more creativity, hard work, and time. But working class people certainly can create beloved homes. I've seen dream homes created from the tiniest of tiny houses in the humblest of neighborhoods, in trailer parks, in a