I am a writer, artist, community educator, homeschool advocate, auto-didact, polymath and general malcontent. You can find more of my writing at the following websites:
- Christine Shuck writer website (this includes my published books)
- The Homeschool Advocate
- The Cottage B&B
I am constantly juggling multiple priorities – homeschool, writing, art, home renovation, entrepreneurship and more. Consequently, I am NEVER bored.
To date, I have written six books, two non-fiction, four fiction. You can find them here.
When I’m not writing, I’m a negligent, laissez-faire gardener.
About The Deadly Nightshade
Now that I have the TDN website displayed on my van, I get a lot of questions about what The Deadly Nightshade is. Recently I have been asked…
Is it for people who have passed? – this was right after I explained that TDN covers gardening, cooking, crafts, DIY, self-sustainability and more. I know, I know, the word deadly throws a lot of people, but no, it isn’t about people who have passed on.
Oh, are you a florist? – Nope, I’m not a florist. And personally, I only like flowers I can eat.
Do you have a garden full of poisonous plants like Amy Stewart, that author of Wicked Plants? – No, although the deadly nightshade does occasionally pop up in the middle of my garden (and I promptly yank it out).
The name of my website/blog began when my husband (then boyfriend) moved here from California in 2003. I asked him what he wanted to grow in our garden and he grew very excited and said, “Tomatoes! Lots of tomatoes!”
So that first year we grew around 24 tomato plants. The day came when the first tomatoes were ready. I brought some inside, sliced them up, sprinkled them with lemon pepper and brought them to my husband…”Here you go!”
He looked at the plate and shook his head, “Oh no, I don’t eat raw tomatoes.”
To which my response was, “Ummm…what?!”
After that, it became a joke. Since tomatoes are a member of the Solanacae, or nightshade family (as are potatoes and eggplant), and at one time were considered poisonous, I teased him, “Are you afraid of the deadly nightshade?”
And when I began this blog, back in early 2010, I knew I had to name it The Deadly Nightshade. So there you go, the story behind the name. Read on for more info on TDN…
Self-sufficiency, green living, do-it-yourself, frugality and more. In this blog, you will find baking, crafts, art and DIY adventures in the winter months, and plenty of planting, weeding, harvesting and seasonal recipes in the warm months. I delve into organic gardening, companion planting, composting, and permaculture methods regularly, and incorporate gardening with kids, LAZY gardening, and much more.
To educate, inspire, and entertain as many people as possible through my online blogs and local community education classes.
In 2013, we moved from a suburban 1/3 acre in Belton, just 20 minutes south of Kansas City, into the heart of Historic Northeast Kansas City. Our 2013 garden consisted of approximately 850 square feet of in-ground plantings. We expanded that to around 1,000 square feet, and we purchased a 900 square foot bungalow at the end of our lots from Kansas City Land Bank for $25. We also planted nine fruit trees (plum, apple, Asian pear, and cherry).
In 2017, we bought a 1,400 square foot house directly to the east of us. We call them Cottage West (the 900 square foot bungalow) and Cottage East. You can read more about our work (it’s very slow work since we are paying for these improvements as we can afford them) at The Cottages, my website and blog that details our future rental properties.
2015 marked the first year that we participated in the Urban Farm Tour. We plan on participating again, but not for a few years. We have a LOT of work to get done first!
At present, our focus is on family – my elderly father has dementia and lives with us, and we recently became foster parents to a very cute 2-1/2-year-old little girl. I homeschool my daughter, who will be twelve, and we have a lot of yard work and renovations in front of us before we can return our focus back to our garden again.
When considering new projects, recipes and more, I usually follow three rules…
#1 – It has to be relatively simple and straightforward
#2 – It has to be healthy or better for the environment
#3 – The cheaper I can do it the better
Most of the projects/recipes/crafts you see in this blog can be accomplished with just a little knowledge. No feats of overwhelming strength or in-depth knowledge of physics or high mathematics are needed.
Each year has its goals.
- 2016 – Begin interior demo of Cottage West, install new roof and windows, rebuild interior stairs, re-do electrical and tear off old porch.
- 2017 – Acquire Cottage East, finish install of new front porch, begin back fence, purchase Airstream for future travel, plant three more fruit trees and eight fruiting bushes (currants and gooseberries!)
- 2018 – Build a back fence that would span the entire width of our property (three houses and a total of seven city lots) and stabilize Cottage East (we need to add siding and new windows).
- 2019 – Build a front fence that will span the entire width of our property and include at least four 4′ wide gates and one 10′ double gate. Finish digging out and installing the pond. Return to renovating Cottage West and preparing it to be rent ready by February 2020.
It’s hard work and it takes a lot of time, money, and plenty of sweat. But it is worth it. We have really seen our neighborhood transforming between our work and our neighbors. We are building a community to be proud of!