A Winter Hat


From the new blog, where I’ll be telling the story of our homestead as we make our move to Oregon, here’s a little project I managed to accomplish, just in time for some chilly weather. Follow Little Fall Creek to see what we’re making, cooking, or brewing next!

Originally posted on Little Fall Creek:

The cooler weather has begun to move in, and in spite of my little one’s resistance to wearing anything resembling a hat, I knew it would eventually become imperative that her nearly bald little head have some insulation.

I haven’t picked up knitting needles or a crochet hook since before her birth– the longest interlude I’ve taken from crafting, ever. I miss such projects desperately, but so often my hands are full with things more pressing (like a squirming toddler). But with an rising urgency to get her Christmas stocking underway– I feel terribly guilty that it wasn’t done last year– I needed to get back on the creative horse.

So I grabbed a few balls of yarn for our last three-hour drive over to my mom’s house and crocheted a little beanie. It’s not my finest workmanship, but she makes it look good. If I’d taken more time I…

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The Move! And a Question for You

The Creek

I can finally write the words that have been poised for announcement for some time now. I’ve written about the dream, the seeming impossibility. The life change that seemed to live in a future that would never approach. And yet, almost suddenly, it is upon us.

We found our homestead to be, 600 miles north. Thirteen heavenly acres with a bridge and a creek, a pasture, a forest, and a sweet Little House.

And it will be the beginning.

As part of this new path, which will be inevitably littered with bumps and twists, fear and bliss, I’ve decided to reroute into a story all its own. A story as it unfolds of Little Fall Creek.

This blog, This Mom Gig, has been a grab bag, disjointed at times, because that’s life, and this is about life. Little Fall Creek will be about the homestead: more winemaking, recipes, crafts, nature, and building a new life.

Let me tell you how we’ve come as far as we have, and where we hope to go from here.

And tell me, if you would: what content do you most enjoy? The homestead? Cooking? Photos? Challenges or anecdotes of motherhood?  What would you want to hear?

Fall, Tomorrow, Maybe

Today might be the last hot day of the year. The daylight will already be waning when I leave the office, and the air will be swimming in the high 80s, thick and yellow.

But tomorrow, perhaps, the fall will seep in. It’s supposed to rain– what a novelty. We’ve been here in the Central Valley of California a bit over three years, during which it’s rained 18.12 inches in total by official record, far surpassing what I would have estimated. I can recall only a small handful of smatterings, typically lasting a matter of minutes.

Tomorrow the temperature is expected to plunge and supposed to last. The first day of cool weather and the last day before burn restrictions come into effect and bar fires.

So tomorrow may be a singularly perfect Friday: chili on the stove, fire in the fireplace, rain on the roof. Pajamas early, and pumpkin wine beginning to ferment.

And outside in the town, come to think of it, children will be out in the rare weather knocking on other people’s doors for candy.

One of the last fires of last spring…

The Last Saturday Morning


There will be more Saturdays. More long nights of teething, more dawns taken with her in my arms, her flexing, turning, patting my breast. There will be more frustration, and more relief.

There will be more moments that ring out– ah ha! Remember this! Cherish this! Make a note in your memory!

But in memory, it will be faded and only a note, scribbled and abbreviated. It will omit the purr of her breath against my skin, the tickle of her fingers as they move in half-sleep.  It will miss the richness of now, of the last morning of exactly this.



I bottled the plum wine last night. The airlock on the carboy had stopped bubbling over the last couple of weeks, so the yeast had clearly eaten up all the sugars and I decided it was ready to bottle.

I’ve been saving screw-cap wine bottles for some time, and I had one gallon Carlo Rossi bottle that had been gathering dust in the back bedroom (who drank a gallon of Carlo Rossi?). I soaked them all in sanitizer water and scraped off their labels, which took far longer than expected. My one-year-old was on my back in the Ergo carrier all the while.

Syphoning would have been easier with a second adult present. I struggled to keep the carboy end of the tube below the surface and above the sediment while watching the bottle end to prevent it from over-filling. But I pulled it off with limited spills, and was swimming with self-satisfaction and a startlingly solid buzz at the end of it– I had to sample my product, after all.

My little experiment yielded 1 case plus 1 gallon (plus 1 glass).

I’m sure it will benefit from a couple of months in the bottles, but as of now, I’m pleased to report that the wine is golden, quite clear, and pleasant tasting. The alcohol is not bashful in the scent, but it’s not biting. Rather, it seems effervescent, like champagne bubbles that tickle your nose as you sip. The flavor is mildly sweet and slightly tart, like a granny smith apple.

I didn’t measure the brix before fermenting, so I do not know the alcohol content, but I would judge it is, perhaps substantially, above standard grape wines.

Overall, I’m exceedingly pleased. Next, tomorrow: rosehip wine.

This week I canned several quarts of apple sauce and apple chutney from the bags of apples I made everyone pick on my daughter’s birthday at my mom’s in Sebastopol. I also made several bottles of fiery hot sauce from peppers we picked at a local garden.

And most excitingly, I caught the rooster. The one I’ve had it out for since last year. The last of the clutch of tyrants. My knees look like an eight-year-old’s, with scrapes and bruises, but it was worth it.

Work has been intense lately, but my projects at home have felt good. Which helps.

Writing in the Shower

I’ve been writing a lot. Not blogging much, obviously, but the long kind of writing. The kind you’re not supposed to call what it’s going to be until it is what it will become.

There’s only so much creative energy, and time (oh, time) to go around.

At any rate, it feels slow-going, because it’s a piecemeal process. Most it goes like this: I set my alarm for 5. Sometimes I’m already awake nursing the baby. Other times she wakes up to my alarm or when I try to get up, and then I have to stay in bed and nurse her. Her sleep has become more touch-and-go as she teeths or when she went to bed earlier, like she has been.

I sneak into the kitchen, make coffee as quickly as possible, leaving the bag of beans open and the grinder plugged in, because every second is a second that I can be writing before the baby is awake.

Then I sit on the couch and write, pausing to tiptoe into the bedroom when she stirs, trying to keep her down.

Mornings like today, she just won’t quit, and I let her lay on my lap to nurse while I type with one hand. This keeps her drowsy, and I made remarkable progress despite my contorted back and neck. A small price to pay. Of course, by the time I need to start getting ready for work, she’s back down for real, dead asleep, and I lay her in the Rock N’ Play.

With any momentum of train of thought, I keep writing in the shower, mentally noting outline ideas, robust sentences, and race to the computer naked to type them out.

Other mornings, of course, she stays out like a light and I can’t squeeze a single inspired word from my keyboard.

Weekends have been mostly canning peach-bourbon preserves, roasting a goose, dressing rabbits and chickens and starting rose hip wine (that’s next).  And this weekend will be fruitless in the writing department because it’s my daughters first birthday, which means a trip to Nunu’s and a big party. My husband and I will spend all day Saturday preparing carnitas and enchiladas and salsas and refried beans. Sunday will be a riot, full of friends and family and frosting-faced photo-ops. It will be awesome.

But then Monday comes and no matter how much food and fun memories I have to look back on, I tend to have a bit of anxiety that I’m somehow behind. When my only writing has been the shower, not penned out afterward, lost down the drain.

Highs and lows from life on and off our baby-brightened homestead


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