Episode 32

Published on:

2nd Aug 2023

Diva In The Dirt

Ali and Maureen talk about all things Gardening and how this International Jazz Diva became a Diva in The Dirt.

About the Guest:

Meet Maureen Washington!

Welcome to my table of life! 

I am a Canadian/International Jazz and Blues Singer and newly turned Urban Homesteader. 

I went from A "Diva on the Stage" To a "Diva in the Dirt"! 

Like many people, 2020 closed many doors but yet at the same time opened up new ones. 

With the lack of performing, I jumped in with both hands and feet and learned about Gardening, Chicken Husbandry, Pressure Canning, Sourdough Bread, Cheese Making and Carpentry, and now I'm excited to share my journey with you. From gardening tips, to delicious recipes, to DIY projects, I'm here to show you that urban homesteading is accessible and achievable, no matter where you live. 

Join me as I continue to turn my urban space into a thriving permaculture oasis.

Even though the music business is back to "business", I've fallen in love with being an Urban Homesteader, and want to continue this passion. 

As an Urban Homesteader, I strive to create a sustainable and healthy lifestyle in the city.

Through my Youtube vlogs, I hope to share my journey and encourage others to explore their own self-sufficiency.

I'll be posting tips, tricks, and stories of my experiences as I continue to learn and grow as an urban homesteader!

My eventual goal is to own a piece of property to grow on a larger scale.

In the meantime, I will continue to teach my Kidults and others the different aspects of Urban Homesteading, as I'm passionate about bringing back the life skills and art of homesteading, similar to the life that our Great Grandfathers and Great Grandmothers would have had, but with modern conveniences.

Join me on my journey and be inspired to fall in love with aspects of eating natural food grown in your own garden.

The products I will be selling online and local will help to sustain my home and to help me realize my dream.

For locals in my community, I will feature a variety of Veggies and high-quality, affordable products.

My passion for excellence has driven me from the beginning, and I will continue to drive my dream into the future.

I know that every product counts, and I strive to make your entire shopping experience as rewarding and fun as possible.

Check out my store and special offers, and or get in touch with questions or requests. 

DITD: Home | maureenwashington


Urban Homesteader: Diva in the Dirt

Canadian International Jazz & Blues Singer


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No sleep. Let it sweep you off your feet.

Ali Perry-Davies:

Hi, you're listening to find your joy. If you're looking for ways to thrive rather than survive in a world that can seem rather chaotic, you're in the right place. We will be sharing stories of our own, as well as those from guests who have found ways to bring hope, healing and freedom into places where trauma has impacted them. I'm Ali, author of the art of healing trauma. And I'm here to remind you that life is sweet. Now, let's dive in and find ways to create our joy. Hi, this is Ali and find your joy. And oh my gosh, do I have a delicious treat for you today? We have the most fabulous was for so for many years and probably still jazz, International Jazz diva. And now we have Maureen Washington diva in the dirt. Welcome, marine.

Maureen Washington:

Oh, thanks for having me, Ali. I really appreciate this. You know, I,

Ali Perry-Davies:

there's so many places I want to start, I get a little excited and don't even know which one. But I think sometimes starting at the beginning might be might be a great place to start. So I you are this extravaganza of so many talents. That is I go on and I watch you and and we're I'm watching you grow things. And I'm then I'm watching your baking, then I'm watching you do canning, and now there's chickens involved. And and you don't live on 40 acres. No, I

Maureen Washington:

don't know, I live on point two of an acre. So not even. Like it's a Yeah, it's, it's a big, it is a big city lot. But you know, it's my urban farm and the boulevard in the front is quite a big space. So I can, I can do a lot of damage, a lot of growing damage out there. So

Ali Perry-Davies:

that's amazing. So So what started this, like, how did you suddenly one day go, You know what, I'm, I'm gonna do this thing.

Maureen Washington:

Well, it was, it was kind of a, you know, slightly a forced thing, I guess. Because, you know, as a jazz and blues singer and a vocal coach 2020 said, You are non essential, you don't need to work anymore. So, so I, at that point, I, I always had a few little herbs and things in pots. But it just kind of got this bug for me, you know, part of it was even the previous year was like 2018 or 2019. I have a I had a wooden deck and one of my kids, she she was walking on it and it just rotted and so a whole intent. And so it was like, Okay, we need to change the deck. And friends of mine, they they had just put in a brick, a brick deck for them themselves with brick patio. And I was like, I don't know how to do that. And they said, we'll come and help you. So for a few months in the summertime, they would they would go to work because I was working still from home as a teacher. And they would they go to work. And then they would come right here after work. bring their clothes, I would feed them dinner. And also, you know, I also traded with them with voice lessons and stuff and and we built the deck and this just became this really neat thing for me. Because growing up, we never ate out on our patio we never thought was like maybe once or twice in all my life. And so I wasn't accustomed to that. But you go to someone's house and they go, let's have drinks on the patio and you'd like yeah, let's do that. But I wouldn't do it at home. So then I started decorating my patio, it became this you know, new canvas of, of putting things up on the walls were where I was staggering things and building things and building it, you know, we've got an upper terrace and this lower patio area. And it was just like it became this beautiful oasis and I was decorating it. So then we'd be like, well I need an olive tree. Well, I need to you know, and it started at that weight. And so 2020 You know, I had these few plants and then it just kind of got this little bug where let's you know this little there's a shrub here, there's a bit of soil around it, let's plan to you know, a few radishes Let's plant a few things. And then it just kind of snowballed, you know? All like you know, I always go 2020 happened and I ended up with six kids. Five, four chickens, you know, five chickens. So I ended up with six kids, five chickens and a dog. You know, so everybody ended up you know, being at home and so we were all living in here and and we would just go in suntan like we enjoyed. It was the it was the first summer that I hadn't worked. And so we would get launchers out and we would put on some music you You know, we'd go do a little weeding than we would get, you know, our little, you know, adult beverages, and we would drink and just have a really great time. And each thing that, you know, it was just like, as it progressed, it was like, well, we could take this out of the yard, and we could build raised beds, and hey, we could build this and then oh, we're gonna build the chicken coop. So again, with my friends, my, my daughter, and my, my girlfriend, we just said, you know, we've none of us know how to build let's take this on her husband kind of over was, you know, the foreman. And, and we just built this beautiful chicken coop and that just got this ball rolling. And I went, let's buy a chop saw. And so we built our great trellis we built benches for you know, just sit around, and you know, all sorts of things like it just it just kind of, you know, you have a lot of time on your hands. And it's like, well, let's figure out how to do this. Wow.

Ali Perry-Davies:

And what I love too, is that you this was just things that you'd never even done before. You just decided, hey, apparently, I'm a builder, and I'm a do it yourselfer. And I'm a farmer, and I'm a gardener. And I love that you're really fun person to watch from a distance, you know, it's really makes my it inspires me, you inspire me. And I think you inspire a lot of people. Because I'm watching and I'm like, I had a garden. At the beginning of the isolation and all these things. I did a garden and I, I started it and I was really excited about it. And then I didn't keep it up. And so there's things that I kept up. But that wasn't one of them. But I watched you soar I watched you soar from I'm not really sure what these bugs are to giving full, full lessons on what the bugs are and what to do with them and how to handle them more organically. And it's impressive. Where did you Where did you collect the information?

Maureen Washington:

Um, a lot of it is what it is on YouTube, like, I'll just go and YouTube it. Or I'll even go and you know, just Google it, know how to do how to do you know, just go put it into Google's read about it. And sometimes I've always been a fly by the seat of your pants person. So a lot of times I like not with a building because that you know, that requires a little bit more finesse and skill. But a lot of things I just go well, I think I want to do that. And I just jump off and I try.

Ali Perry-Davies:

Right. And so, so at this point now. No, I have not been to your home. Since all of this has happened. I remember what your place looked like before. I remember what your yard looked like before. So you've got neighbors. Let's start there. You've got neighbors, your farm is growing like how is this? I'm sure if you bring them over some sourdough. They're pretty friendly about it all. But how is how is this all going with it's growing and taking over your yard?

Maureen Washington:

Well, the one, the one really good thing is for my neighbors over to my left here. There is a dry pipe between us. So there's space, then. And that driveway leads up to neighbors up above. So again, there is space, and then the neighbors that are directly behind me. Their garage is on my backyard. back fence. Yeah, and then my neighbors over on this side. There's enough distance. So my concern was the chickens. And so yes, especially with these neighbors because the chickens are on this side. You know, you just would you like some eggs. Here's some I got a half a dozen eggs for Yeah, you know, exactly. You do a little bit of that. But you know, for the most part, nobody has said anything again, I think they're just like, you know, it's like the tagline from my, from all my videos and always like what do you do? And today Maureen and, and there was actually a woman who's walked by a few times that you know, she doesn't quite live in the area, but she ends up walking to the grocery store over here and and she she says when I walked by, and she doesn't know my tagline she goes, What is she doing today? You know? Yeah. And it was like, well, there you go, that you know, my tagline, you know, works out well for my videos. And because just there's always something it's always changing, or the things are growing. It's like, first there is just like, you know, death and sorrow out there with all the you know, like in the spring you just like oh, it looks awful. And then all of a sudden, pow you got all these little starts and then four weeks later, you have full on you know, beautiful greenery. And for the most part I think people are just, they just look in awe they like Look at all this row. Yes. And so it's hard to go. We don't like seeing all those woodchips, we don't like seeing all that mess. And you know, and actually, my daughter and I were sitting out on the benches in our mid yard and there was a woman that was walking by with her husband, and you know, and she used a bit of profanity on, you know, what a, you know, that looks like, and my daughter was like, That was rude. And I said, you know, she'll walk by again, just give it three months, she'll walk by and go, Wow, well, yes,

Ali Perry-Davies:

exactly. That's exactly what's going to happen. And I think we're all saying, Wow, because, you know, when, when you, like I said, when you first started, well, we were all doing that, you know, really, you know, the first year, whatever we started doing, we started trying a whole bunch of different things. And then to watch you progress. And watch, I remember your first little chicken coop. And then it's sort of grown and now they're little places grown. And now I see that they basically own the yard and probably by now. I mean, it's a beautiful thing. So where did you know? Did you already do the breads and the canning? Did all that just blossom out of this do?

Maureen Washington:

Yeah, the Well, the main thing is, is, you know, I think why I kept doing it, you know, it's kind of it's just that, you know, it was feeding my family and feeding my family. really nutritious, good food. You know, I would, you know, we eat a lot of Caesar salad, we make like a fresh scratch, you know, add the anchovies every and that gets very methodically made, and it's absolutely delicious. And it takes three heads of Romaine for us for our dinner, like is there is seven of us, right? Yes. And then if we have company, you know, it, just you know, and there was one day, we didn't have any Romaine. I wasn't growing it yet. And so one of the one of my adults, they went out to one of the stores and they go, they're wilted. And they're $7 Each, you go $21 For lettuce for my family. No, thanks. And so when I plant I plant strategically with my, with my romaine, like, even though it's really hot, I just finished with the romaine and I just, you know, pulled out I think about four pounds of lettuce, like my last my romaine, have one of the, one of my, my patches of it, I planted in between my tomatoes. So as the sun hits up and gets hotter in, at this point of the year, my tomatoes are protecting it. So I get beautiful, beautiful, crisp Romaine. And, and so that's kind of where it went. And then when you get an overabundance of things, because you know, things like zucchinis you can't, you can't eat 25 Zucchini, so what do you do? You can, so I purchased a pressure canner. And, and we just kind of moved into that we did you know, we would do the pickles and, and whatnot. And that just opens up this whole world of if I if I make myself, you know, 20 jars of pickles for the entire year. I'm not buying any more pickles. That's right. And the and I know, I know where these pickles came from. I know how they were produced. I know that there's no chemicals in them. So it's it became this thing where it's like, I would rather eat the food that I'm growing. I'd rather eat things that I know have no pesticides in them. They have no GMOs. And the sourdough bread came later. Because sourdough bread is freaking hard. Well, it's actually it's not. But when you go to read about it, like I would go to the Googles, and I would read about and I'd start like, you know, um, and you know, and it's like, the hydration and the doctor to detail and I went, I don't understand. So I bring in a kidult to go okay, this is my smart, my smart went over my my own brain, and it's like, here come and read this and she'd read it. She goes, No, I don't know, ma'am. I don't know. And so I avoided doing the sourdough bread. Right. But then I, I came across Joshua Wiseman, and when I say that name to my kids, I go, Oh, I know him. And I'm like, well, where have I been? And I watched his, his procedure on making advanced sourdough bread and it was like, Well, that makes sense. I can do and so I printed off his recipe went through it. You know, it wasn't the best looking bread to start. You know, it took me some time and technique to figure out how to just, you know, it's like, for the most part for here where we live. We have a lot of Um, we have a very damp climate. So all I needed to do was just adjust the water as soon as I was putting less water and I had beautiful, beautiful loaves. Oh, and that makes sense.

Ali Perry-Davies:

Mm hmm. So, so basically, I mean, what kind of started out of necessity, or to fill time, basically. And then, and then you realize, oh, right, money, food costs money, and I don't have much coming in right now. And doing all that then this sort of blossom, but what I love about your videos is there, you know, and to tag on to my, the find your joy part is, but they're joyful, like all of your videos are. They're joyful. You just have this beautiful way about you this energy that comes out. So the same Maureen that held us captive, when you were singing. That's the same weariness and with the same passion and the same finesse and excellence is so

Maureen Washington:

large, I want to cry because it's like, wow, oh, you know, I don't I you know, I don't you know, it's just me, right? It's just Yes. It's touching people like that. Yeah,

Ali Perry-Davies:

it really does. It does. And that's a gift. That's something that you carry, right. There's a, there's a way. There's, there's what we do, and how we do it. And then there's just a way or, you know, whatever one wants to call it a spirit of presence, the way that you do what you do. And it's lonely, and I was thinking to? Well, first, I'll tell you my short little pickle story. When I found my mom's pickle recipe for her bread and butter pickles. And we were making them last year, I was so excited to make a bunch of give them to my brother's because mom's passed. And it's just, you know, it's one of those ones like memory. Yes, I found this thing and I can give this to them. And so I find it I get down to the sugar part. Right. And mom was making these like, since the 60s, right. So I, I said to David, I can't put all that sugar in here. And he looks at me straight. He goes, Look, you go make your healthy ones. But if you don't put you there not those pickles are not going to be mom's pickles if you don't do that. Right. So that's my little pickle story. So I canning is I feel close to my mum, when are you counting? Because we did that together? And it's just, it's a lovely, it's a lovely. Well, the thought about being self sustaining? Yes. is I think a lot of us. We became so aware of that. Yes. Over the last three years. Yes. If we didn't want to have a farm and have a garden and raise our own livestock before. Everybody's thinking about it. Absolutely. Yeah.

Maureen Washington:

Yeah. And that that is part of it is that it was becoming more self sustainable. Because, you know, when everything was going on, it was like, I don't know what's going to happen. And I have a lot of people in, in my home. Like they're, they're all adults, like I call them kidults. And you know, but they're here. And so me being the matriarch, I have a big provision to give them or to, you know, provide for them. But but one of the things that was, that's even more important was that teaching them how to can teaching them how to make breads. Yes, because we've lost that art. My mum never did pressure canning, nor did her mother, but her grandmother did. Did pressure canning. Like my mum, she remember she goes oh, you know, the canned chicken that she would make was absolutely fantastic. And you know, but my grandmother only did like jams, jellies, fruits and things like that same as my mother. And so you go we just moved that's two generations that don't know how to be self sufficient. And so it was like teaching my kids these types of things to know how to make the bread to know how to can and you know, I've got an apartment on the side of my house and my daughter and son in law live in it and you know, we got we ended up getting a whole bunch of peaches from from the Okanagan, and their little kitchen. They had they were canning up bourbon peaches and all sorts of things. So we there was a big, you know, kind of machine going on in our home here. But one of the things with my my videos like when I first started because I am not a gardener at all like I my mom and my sister they both had beautiful gardens my mum was lots of vegetables, all ones growing up, and you know, and I was in a stressful place or whatever, my mom would go go out the garden. It's so therapeutic and, and he just so and I was like, no and I and all my life. It's my I love gardening, I loathe gardening, I don't like how my fingers feel. I don't like the bugs getting in my hair, none of that. And so when I started making my little, I just my videos, it was just putting them on Facebook. But my videos were from my mom. That's what my videos are. Yeah, so it was like, she's up up north, and so she can't be a part of my life. And so this was because, you know, I talked to my mom every night on the phone, before back. And so you go, Okay, what did you do? Well, I did this and this and this. I'm like, Well, what, where was that? And? And so it was like, you know, what, if I videotape it, yeah, I know her. And so she can see what I'm doing. But I just made it into I just had a little Facebook group of people, you know, they go, you're not singing? Are you okay? Like, you know, it's like, how was it? I said, No, I'm great. And farming. I'm a farmer, and the farmer grow. And so if a person approached me about, like, you know, how are you handling not being able to perform, that's fine. And, you know, there's no pressure, you know, and so I would have them in my little group. And then eventually, I did move those videos and moved out to YouTube to you know, go and play with the big boys kind of thing. The videos were, were to have my mom be a part of my life.

Ali Perry-Davies:

Ah, I love that I have all the things that go south with social media, the staying connected thing. That's absolutely is, is so is so beautiful. And I love that and that's an that's another thing is your relationship with your mom is so beautiful. And that's another thing that people are watching, right, like, you're a lovely book to read. And, and, and so there's, there's, there's, there's, there's lots going on there. But you know, we're coming kind of close to the end of the time right now. And I would like to invite you to do a part two, if you have space for that. I would love to Yay. Okay, well, that's awesome. So this is Ali and find your joy. And we are going to have a part two with the fabulous Diva and the dirt herself, Maureen Washington. Thank you all so much for tuning in. We'll well we're gonna see you in like two minutes. But it'll be next week are you thanks for joining us and do remember that you are loved.

Ali Perry-Davies:

Thanks so much for joining me today. If you found a piece of your joy in this episode, I would love to hear about what came up for you so that we can continue to grow the impact of this show. Thanks again. See you soon and remember find your joy.

Show artwork for Find Your Joy

About the Podcast

Find Your Joy
Alison Perry-Davies’s belief is that wherever we come from, we have all known some level of pain, loss and trauma, these things do not need to define us. She doesn’t ignore that these things have happened; however, she decided this is not the way her story ends. Using integrated creative therapies along with sound and vibrational therapies she continues to explore and share complimentary healing modalities.

In this podcast she shares her story as well as having many other people sharing their stories about ways that they have found their healing and their way to find joy. Some of the guests will include authors, artists, painters, singers, songwriters, musicians, doctors, healers of different modalities, people who love to organize people who love to build things, people who find ways of raising dogs and kids and, you know, it really doesn't matter exactly what it is. It's all about finding our joy, and finding a way to make life work.

About your host

Profile picture for Alison Perry-Davies

Alison Perry-Davies

Alison Perry-Davies (Ali) is intentional about Finding Joy in her life

Sustaining a brain injury, diagnosed with PTSD and a raising a daughter with a variety of challenges, Ali decided there had to be more to life than what she was experiencing and began her journey to find more joy.

Ali’s belief is that wherever we come from, we have all known some level of pain, loss and trauma, these things do not need to define us. She doesn’t ignore that these things have happened; however, she decided this is not the way her story ends. Using integrated creative therapies along with sound and vibrational therapies she continues to explore and share complimentary healing modalities.

Ali hosts the podcast, Find Your Joy. She is also a co-author in 2 WOW (Woman Of Worth) Books as well as a Family Tree series book on Mother Son relationships. She went on to write her own book,
“The Art of Healing Trauma; Finding Joy through Creativity, Spirituality and Forgiveness” which went to number one best seller in seven categories on Amazon.

A motivational speaker, singer/songwriter, poet, blogger and author, Ali also shares her thoughts and ideas through her blog and website at aliwayart.com

Ali continues to use humour and compassion to invite, inspire and encourage others to Find Their Joy.