Denver County Fair

Handmade dress -- amazing

so, so great

handmade clothing entries

The first ever Denver County Fair was fabulous — and not just because Fancy Tiger was a sponsor. But let’s be honest — this didn’t hurt. There was an entire wing of the fair dedicated to arts and crafts. I fell in love with the dress above that someone obviously spent a ton of time creating. The detail was spectacular — tiny hand embroidered buttons, the lining, the piping around the arms… Ah! Such great seamstress work and so far beyond my abilities, I examined the dress inch by inch.

I’ve decided it is time to start taking some classes at Fancy Tiger. I have so much to learn in handicraft; being able to read a pattern, finishing edges, knitting a sweater to size, etc. It was exciting to meet women who were equally excited about the same antiquated homesteading hobbies. But there they were — the Denver Handmade Alliance — my tribe.

my people

But then! Then I wandered into the hippie wing of the fair. An entire section was dedicated to green living, including some very well intentioned and completely wonderful folk who’ve created the Clothespin Brigade. Their “ten reasons to pin not spin:”

1. Saves up to 10% of residential energy

2. Non-polluting

3. Uses solar and wind power, not fossil fuels

4. Clothes last longer

5. Sunshine bleaches and disinfects naturally

6. Avoids fires. Dryers cause 17,700 fires in the US annually

7. Burns calories (I guess hanging the wash?)

8. Is relaxing and makes you feel good (ah, the self-satisfactory feeling of smug do-gooding)

9. Builds community — say hi to your neighbor (actually, I avoid my neighbors when hanging my line, but to each his own)

10. Join others in “right to dry”

Seriously — these are my people — freakishly happy about environmentalism and community, one little bit at the time. When was the last time you heard of someone sacrificing their weekend to sit at a booth at a fair to express his/her interest in encouraging others to be more environmentally friendly?

Yeah. I love them. Of course, one of the big perks of the current giant Heirloom Homestead backyard is the laundry line. I use it regularly, especially when drying my freak flag.

baby llama-like animal

And then of course, the warm and cuddly animals. They did not disappoint. There were so many cute little guys!

Giant rabbit

A few more sights from a great day a the fair:



such a great quilt


Love these

Happiness is attending a community event like this and walking away feeling like your values and interests were nurtured. I came home with literature on vermiculture, food preservation, backyard poultry and Slow Food Denver.




Hunger in America

Have you read The Hunger Games trilogy? If not, do. It is incredibly creative, entertaining reading that I thoroughly enjoyed. That’s right. I just said I enjoyed a series of books that were mass produced and loved. In fact, as far as Summer 2011 books go, these are at the top of my recommendation list.

It’s crazy. Literary times, they be a changin’.

Speaking of hunger, I have been hanging around a local food bank lately helping out where I can. This week, I spent a couple hours taking portraits of recipients and food, to later be used in marketing materials. A few things I’ve learned, for those who’d consider giving to a food bank:

1. Did you know food banks have incredible buying power? That for $1 donated, they can buy 10 pounds of food on the commodity markets? So, if you are interested in donating, instead of going to the grocery, consider instead writing a check.

2. There are non-grocery related items food banks always need — like grocery bags and totes. They can also use toiletries. Not all food banks distribute these, but the ones here in Denver are always asking for toilet paper and small bottles of shampoo and soap too.

3. Pets need food too. Many American families now visiting food banks were otherwise employed and doing just fine a few months ago. Their pets, in turn, were also eating well. Now with the worst unemployment since World War II, pets are among all family members feeling the pinch. Dog and cat food is in great need.

Otherwise, volunteering with these folks is one of the most humbling, gratifying times of my life. I’m getting way more out of it than I’m able to give. Finding such an organization I can work for makes me feel a part of this Denver community.




A wee pepper from the Colorado garden. There are lots of squash blossoms, but no other fruits from this tiny garden’s labor as of yet.



Baby Dictator

A friend sent me this photo of her new adorable baby boy’s favorite way to sleep.

Needless to say, I think he’s got a future in African leadership.



Lettuce Turnip the Beet

When I saw these prints on Etsy, I knew this was the perfect project for Colleen’s pending visit. I needed a birthday gift, and I wanted a craft we could work on together. Of course she’d know how to take some basic frames, add a dash of fabric and turn the prints into art:

Colleen's birthday gift


With her handiwork

Colleen's visit

Like peas and carrots, this friendship.



The Heirloom Homestead was hopping last week with house guests. (Say that five times fast.) Adam and Kim came through on their way to Wyoming. And my dear friend Colleen dropped by for a weekend retreat in the Rockies.

We didn’t have any fun. Ahem.

Sherpa House

Sherpa House

Or eat any food…

Sherpa House


Sherpa House

Root Down

Root Down

Root Down

Root Down

Root Down

Root Down

Root Down

Yet another post about food and friends. I know — this space is starting to resemble that incredibly tacky “Weekend Photos!” socialite section from the newspaper everyone looks at but no one feels good about. There hasn’t been much travel (although I am writing this from New Orleans), crafting or other homesteading activity lately. I’ve been too busy enjoying friends and being charmed by my new city.

This said, I’m keenly aware of the juxtaposition of complaining about hunger and inequality in one post, and being a gluttonous party girl in the next. What? I’m complicated. I am hauling my chubby ass down to the food bank later this week to begin a new round of volunteering. And I’m likely to eat too much afterward. So, hang in there. More meaningful posts to come, and one can pray, more balance too.

And if you don’t like contradiction? Well. I’m fresh out of perfection.

Off to find Cafe du Monde,



Grill, Sip, Laugh

My first Colorado BBQ — thanks to my brother, who purchased the grill as a housewarming gift:

Table is set



Summer BBQ -- Colorado style


Kim's gorgeous hair



7 minute cupcakes

Birthday’s celebrated: 1

Long-time interweb friends finally met in person: 1 (Colleen! Wahooo!)

Bowls of “back up guacamole made just in case”: 2

Pending wedding celebrated: 1

Dogs present: 4

Rounds of margaritas: plenty

Yesterday felt like a scene from some country magazine feature — where folks show up with a bowl of something from their garden and a dog to run around in the yard. In other news, I’m home.



Rough Seas, Carry Me

July 20, 2011

Adam and Kim are in town for a bit of rest before their wedding early next month. Don’t tell Wills and Kate, but I’m pretty sure the Wright wedding is set to be the event of the decade. Friends from far and wide are attending the Wyoming bash, which is set to include: Western night, brewery night and a panty party.

(Alas, boys. The panty party apparently has something to do with a day-before impromptu lingerie shower for the bride, not a pillow fight among the bridesmaids. That said, there are some gorgeous girls in this wedding, and the Pink African, the groom’s scoundrel brother and even more of a scoundrel cousin will be standing on the other side of the aisle. Any wagers on the trouble to be had?)

July 20, 2011

Anyway! Adam and Kim are in town! And I haven’t ever been happier. I miss these two so much that their conversations about soon relocating to Denver make me want to spin in the backyard like a dervish. I showed off those mad spinning, dancing and clapping until my hands hurt skills last night with the engaged pair at the Blind Pilot/Josh Ritter concert in Boulder.

If you’ve never heard of these bands, here are two of my favorites they performed last night with brilliance:

Three Rounds and a Sound


Sir Galahad

Ritter embodies everything I love about folk music — great storytelling, enthusiasm, amazing guitar and a gorgeous smile. His lyrics ring true. These are among my favorites:

I had a dream last night
I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above
Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark
Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam
The drifters who’d gone under

Time, love
Time, love
Time, love
It’s only a change of time

I had a dream last night
And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships
Leviathan and Lonely
I was thirsty so I drank
And though it was salt water
There was something ’bout the way
It tasted so familiar

The black clouds I’m hanging
This anchor I’m dragging
The sails of memory rip open in silence
We cut through the lowlands
All hands through the saltlands
The white caps of memory
Confusing and violent

I had a dream last night
And when I opened my eyes
Your shoulder blade, your spine
Were shorelines in the moon light
New worlds for the weary
New lands for the living
I could make it if I tried
I closed my eyes I kept on swimming

(rough seas, they carry me wherever I go)

July 20, 2011

I’ve been officially ordained on the interwebs and will be marrying these two. Such an humbling honor to be a part of their ceremony — one I don’t take lightly. Thankfully I’m fairly certain, in times of rough and calm seas, they’ll always carry each other.


Jan’s Garden

Jan's garden

My friends Steve and Jan live on a couple acres near Denver and have the most impressive gardens I’ve ever seen. Jan can grow just about anything, while Steve uses his carpentry skills for good. Arbors, raises beds, handmade bee hives, a pond, etc. It is truly a gorgeous place to spend time.

Jan's garden



To be pumpkins

Jan's garden

Fin + Jan

When I mentioned to Finny that Jan had bees, she said she’d be more than happy to do just that — spend a few hours wandering the garden with Jan. Jan, in turn, was delighted to have someone so incredibly interested in her passions: gardening, canning and bee keeping.

Jan's freezer, from the garden

Jan’s pantry is unbelievable. She cans dozens of things — soups, jam, sauces, purees — so they can eat fresh year round.

table grapes

She also has gobs of fresh fruit they grow, including grapes, cherries and apples.

Finny + Jan

But let’s be honest — really this was all about the bees. Finny’s new hives have her exceptionally interested in seeing how others tend bees. Jan is just getting going in bee keeping too. She and Steve have 4 hives they’ve built for colonies they either rescued from old buildings or excavated from their own.

the gardenJan's hives

Jan's comb

Jan's honey

And in turn, they have more honey than they know what to do with. We had a honey tasting; she offered us three different versions. One was standard hone, while another was a dark, brandy like honey that is a byproduct. My favorite was the honey mixed with bee pollen. It was earthy, savory and simply heavenly.

Watching these two gab endlessly for a couple hours about their favorite new past time was a kick. They were instant friends. It was, one could say, a sweet way to spend an afternoon.