Friday, September 26, 2008

Dream a Little Dream With Me :)

I’ve been dreaming a little dream for awhile now and I thought I would write a post about it so you can dream with me.

Currently I am trapped in a 8 – 5, M – F, I have to pay my mortgage/carpayment/buynewclothesforwork/payhalfmysalarytodaycare/eatoutbecauseIamtootiredtocook RUT!!!

It seems like everything we do costs a ton of money, and nothing we do is making us any happier. I assume that part of my discontent is the horrid state of affairs with our economy. But part of my discontent goes so much deeper.

Until 6 years ago I lived in the country. I had chickens, horses, a dog, and a huge garden. Now I am a slave to The Man and I am really unhappy with my current situation.

The mortgage industry failure has trapped me in my house. It’s hard to refinance, and equally as hard to sell right now. So, what is a country girl to do that is trapped in the city?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately…my baby has turned one without me. He has learned new words, new skills, and bonded with a mommy who is not his flesh and blood. Don’t get me wrong, my daycare is wonderful, but she isn’t me. And I miss my son. I miss his smiles and his snuggles…and I miss holding him as he falls to sleep after lunch.

Here is my dream –

Call my parents up (who are nearing retirement and are overwhelmed with their farm) and say – hey can we rent your entire upstairs (4 bedrooms/ 1500 sf)? They say yes…

So we call the neighbor who covets our yard and say hey – want to buy our house? He says - yes I’ll be right over with a check (hehe – remember this is MY dream).

Then I would call up my employer and say – thanks for 7 years of employment, but I am outta here!

We’d have to prepare the upstairs to live in since it has been uninhabited for 3 years…
We would add solar panels for water heating and perhaps radiant floor heating. We would put in a woodstove that has the capability to heat water as well to account for the multitude of cloudy days in Oregon...

Then we’d fence, put up a chicken coop, and start farming.

I’d buy goats (for brush clearing and milk), pigs, chickens and a steer. For the fiancĂ© I would buy a Donkey or a Mule since he has wanted one for as long as I can remember. I want a horse again someday too.

We’d bring our hottub and set it up to run on solar too.
I’d build an outdoor shower with nearly unlimited hot water that we could use from May to October all thanks to the sunshine. The shower water would run off and feed the gardens.

We’d put in cisterns to catch the 40 odd inches of rain that falls each year and then keep our gardens as green as can be with that free water.

I’d spend every day teaching my baby to love and respect nature.
I’d cook entire meals from items grown only our farm.
This is my dream and my bliss!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Simple Christmas

Here is the email that I just sent my family today.

Hey all,

Well, October is nearly upon us. And with that, thoughts naturally turn
towards the upcoming holidays. This year I would like to shift our
Christmas focus a little.

I think we could all benefit from spending less, and slowing down.

It sure would make this year easier and cheaper. We could spend more time
just yakking or watching Christmas movies or something rather than preparing
food or cleaning up….

  1. Gifts should be useful, simple, non-cluttering, handmade, recycled,
    repurposed, thrifted, yard-saled, bought very cheaply (not cheaply like China
    cheaply, but cheaply like something really great found on clearance!) or handed
    down (ie no new gifts to the best of our ability)
  2. Wrapping should be re-used, re-usable or non-existent
  3. Food should be simple (I was thinking a giant pot of soup and bread for
    Turkeyday & Christmas)


For me - Christmas has always been a frantic, stressful time and I always spend too much money! This year we cannot spend too much money without letting the light bill slide, so change is inevitable.

I am glad to effect change in a bunch of people too, because I know they need to save money and time too.

What are you doing this year to limit your spending or use of resources this holiday season?

I am making the following things (hopefully no-one in my family sees this hehe)....


Pillowcase Purses

Cherry Pit & tea filled heating pads

Mustard Baskets
~~Hot Crackers
~~Spicy Mustard
~~Ale & Tarragon Mustard

Mocha Mix

Coffee Mix

Dill Dip & Dressing Blend

Ranch Style Dressing Blend

Italian Seasoning Blend

Cajun Seasoning Blend

Friday, September 19, 2008

A strip club in our neighborhood? I don't think so.

"Seeing Stars? You might (and not like it one bit)"

Community members organize to fight Stars Cabaret

By Jennifer Clampet The Lake Oswego Review, Sep 18, 2008 (2
Reader comments)
pictured in 2002 at his Stars Cabaret & Steak House in Beaverton, plans to
open a Stars Cabaret in Tualatin. * tag. */--> TUALATIN – Lake Grove and Tualatin-area residents have plans
to fight a new strip club no matter how stacked the odds are against them.
Busying himself with his cell phone, Claude DaCorsi looked up just long enough
to acknowledge that Stars Cabaret-Bridgeport expected contention.

What is wrong with this world when laws protect establishments like this? I firmly believe that places like this should be in a commercial area, or in a red light area as one of the readers commented below.

Our children walk through here to go to the theater or Taco Bell. Players (a fun family place) and 24 Hour Fitness are across the road.

There are two motels nearby that will certainly be the recipient of increased *hourly guests*.
Oh and there are not too many sidewalks through the River Grove area...which leads me to the fact that Stars starts serving alcohol at 11 AM. Just in time for someone to get good and drunk and run over one of our kids on the way home from school.

I hope that the threat of people videotaping the parking lot as well as picketing repeatedly, along with the huge public outcry, will deter this move by Stars.

I understand that they are a business, but they have no business where familes and children are.


***Back to your regular programming

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Edible Landscaping & Flirty Flavorful Flowers

Here is another list of plants that are part of my edible landscaping theme. Many have flowers that are beautiful and tasty. A couple I mentioned earlier, but they're really worth planting so I am repeating myself :)

  • Anise Hyssop
  • Arugula flowers
  • Basil flowers
  • Scarlet Runner beans (flowers too)
  • Bee Balm
  • Tuberous Begonia (begonia x tuberhybrida)
  • Borage
  • Broccoli (yes, flowers too)
  • Calendula
  • Chicory
  • Chives
  • Garlic Chives
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daylilies
  • Dianthus (pinks)
  • Dill
  • Elderberry
  • English Daisy
  • Garlic
  • Hibiscus
  • Hyssop
  • Johnny Jump Up
  • Lavenders
  • Sweet Marjoram
  • Mint (all)
  • Mustard
  • Nasurtium
  • Orange (currently researching if lemon blossoms are edible too)
  • Greek Oregano
  • Pansy
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Roses
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Summery Savory
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Sunflower *recipe below
  • Thyme
  • Sweet Violet
  • Sweet Woodruff
  • Yuccas
  • Zucchini
This is a list that I culled from the book "Lasagna Gardening with Herbs" by Patricia Lanza.

Sunflower 'Mock Artichokes'

Pick the Sunflowers while still in the bud stage. Clean and then boil for 2 minutes. Meanwhile bring a second pot of water to boil and transfer the Sunflowers to the fresh water (reduces bitterness). Boil until tender. Fry in a blend of olive oil and butter. You can add bread crumbs and salt if you prefer.

Disclaimer - I am by no means a leading expert on edible landscaping items, and if you poison yourself by eating the wrong thing it's your own dang fault...that's what is for. These are merely *my* suggestions :)


Sunday, September 14, 2008

That Lovin' Spoonful (or I've Fallen in Love with a Farmer and I don't even know his name)

Ahh just kidding...

But today was a day of new experiences and eye openings for me!

I have always *thought* about going to one of our many local Farmer's Markets but it was the kind of thinking that is done rhetorically and required no effort on my part. In fact, by thinking about it so often and with such fervor, somehow I had absolved myself of the need or desire to truly go to one.

Today dawned sunny, brilliant with September colors and well - I just felt like I had to find one that was open. The caveat was that I couldn't spend more than 5 minutes on the road...and it was Sunday so most Farmer's Markets had already happened yesterday.

So, I googled Farmer's Markets with my zipcode and found ONE that met the 5 minute requirement. So I grabbed the fiance, baby, sunblock and a water bottle crammed with ice and took off in the car - in quest of the most perfectly red tomatoes. (disclaimer, I know that in order for this to be an ideal situation we would have biked, but I am not risking life, limb and baby with the lunatics on our roads...that and we just have one bike!)

Honestly, had I not been so motivated to go to a Farmer's Market today, I do not think I would have even stopped. Because from the road it didn't look like much. Shows you what I know!! Hehe

After we parked, we put sunblock on the baby and grabbed his stroller. Once we walked to the sales area it was clear that I had vastly underestimated the sheer deliciousness of what I was about to experience.

The late summer Strawberries sang a chorus to me when I walked by. The hot sun had warmed them and released their potent fragrance. The apples were blushing shyly when I brushed their cheeks. The blackberries nearly lept from their boxes into my fingers. Oh and the mountains of tomatoes were more than my senses could stand.

We spent 45$ and had a kiddie sized wagon full of produce. I thought I would do a price check for you....

Green Beans $1.65/#
Fuji Apples .99/#
Japanese Eggplant $1 ea
Strawberries $13 for a half flat
Watermelon (seedless from Hermiston, OR) .39/#
Swiss Chard $1.25 a bunch
Green Onions 2 bunches for $1
Yellow Pear Tomatoes $2.50/ pint
Blackberries $2.25 - $3/ pint depending on which booth you were at
Purple Cauliflower $1.25/#
Zucchini 3 for $1
Beets .99/bunch
Kohlrabi 3 for $1
Carrots .75/#
Lettuce $1 each
Herbs all $1 a bunch
Corn 3 for $1
Cantaloupe $1 ish a pound - they were tres gourmet ones
Heirloom Tomatoes $1.50/#

It was a fantastic experience and one we will have each week from now until they close for the season. I can't believe it took me so long to go!

It was neat because most of the smaller farms had signs stating their organicness (is that a word? heh). And their prices were the same as the bigger guys who were clearly not as organic(ness).

I sent my fiance back to buy some Strawberries before they close at 2 today! We are going to freeze them for winter. MMMM

It was neat to see how I could still save money and get to buy the most fresh, local, mostly organic product available. Oh and even better - reduce my carbon footprint to a smidgen...well at least for today.

If you do not go to your local FM regularly - get thee to one asap!!

I'll post pics shortly.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Garden Update, Extending the Harvest and *oh deer* a new garden friend

Today I harvested 2 Scarlett Runner beans, about 10#s of Patty Pan squash, 10 or so fat, sunny colored Lemon Cucumbers, a handful of Cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of misc. herbs. My 3 volunteer Swiss Chard plants need a trim too.

The seeds that I planted a couple of weeks ago (Kale, Swiss Chard, Parsley, Cilantro, strange lettuce blends etc) are all up and going nuts.
It's still in the 80s here most days so the fall garden is as happy as a lark.

My plan is to get the artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, beets etc etc all in tomorrow. I'm probably nuts, but what the heck.

Next year I resolve to weigh my harvest, but with the success of the potatoes and summer squash so far this year we have to be near 50#. We also have a ton of unharvested red potatoes still in the ground. Also some Artichokes coming on. A loaded Cayenne pepper, some more summer squash, more cucumbers, and all those lusciously loaded tomato plants. Add to that all the winter plants and we are sitting pretty right about now.

I love how each day is a learning experience with mental notes made (ie space tomatoes further apart) for next year on so many things that I will barely be able to remember all of them!

Next up will also be a tunnel for the will break my heart if the rain destroys those beauties.

How's your 4 season garden coming along?

PS I forgot the *deer* part - we have a new guest who is eating the tips of my tomatoes and deleafing my beans. She's been by a few other times, but now she is starting to take bigger bites. GRR!!


Interestingly enough, I have added *ecoguilt* to my repertoire.

I feel guilty when I forget my cloth shopping tote.
I feel guilty when I leave a light on.
I feel guilty when we drive somewhere out of the way to go to dinner (last night).
I feel guilty when I buy something with excess packaging.
I feel guilty when I turn on the clothes dryer.
I feel guilty when the cold water runs down the drain as I wait for the hot water to start.
I feel guilty because I use disposable diapers, when I really want to use cloth, but I just don't have the bandwidth to add one more chore to my overfull days.
I feel guilty about nearly everything these days.

I do so many things already to be a good steward of the earth...

I never litter.
I use mostly organic cleansers in my house.
We are 100% organic in our yards and gardens.
We limit just about everything in our lives to some degree in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle...and....

It's not a lot of fun sometimes...

To some degree, guilt is a good thing. It is that little voice in your head asking why you need to do this, or that. But lately, I've been feeling like *ecoguilt* has taken over my life.

Why can't I bike to work? Excuse.
Why can't I buy 100% local, organic whatever.... Excuse.
Why can't I cloth diaper? Excuse!
Why do I need to eat out tonight after I just finished a 14 hour day? Excuse!
Why can't I bake my own bread, or cook more veggies? Excuse!! Excuse!!
We insulated under our floors a couple of weeks ago and had to use the pink stuff because we couldn't afford denim. Guilt!
Etc etc etc etc ETC!!!!

I am starting to believe that there needs to be a healthy balance of ecominded choices and actually enjoying life. I'm running out of energy these days trying to keep up with my busy life AND my commitment to the environment.

We work hard and, I believe, deserve to reap the rewards of our labors.

I still want that flat panel TV for the living room. I haven't bought it yet, but I'm not certain that I still won't.

Why can't you have an HDTV *and* an outdoor solar shower?
Why can't you have a nice car *and* garden organically?
Do they cancel each other out? I don't know.

I ramble.

But you get the point.

Ecoguilt is threatening to take over my life and I am not sure I like it.

Edited to add the following - I guess I am just looking for a balance between living a reasonable life and the environment. That is all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We do not imply these products are fit for food products, or for any particular use.

I read this "As always you should test your product with the packaging to ensure product compatibility. We do not imply these products are fit for food products, or for any particular use." on a website that was selling jam jars.

Sounds a wee bit ominous to me, and Very Doubtful that I would want to can up my beloved summer crops into one of these babies.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Craziest Waste of Gas Imaginable!!

I had to do a double take when I saw this example of American laziness!!

I was driving to work yesterday morning and, unfortunately, following a school bus. It was a glorious September morning in Oregon, read 60*, bright blue skies, and just plain nice out.

My drive takes me through a rural area where the driveways are about 400 - 500 feet long. The bus was stopping periodically at driveways, and I was kind of zoning out...when all of the sudden I noticed a child get out of a car that was parked at the end of the driveway and get onto the bus. Once she was safely on her way the mom backed the car up the long driveway...

Keep in mind how nice the weather was...and gas prices etc...

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt so I told myself maybe she had a broken leg or something so she had to drive down her driveway.

Fast forward about half a mile later - when the exact same thing played itself out in front of my very eyes.

I don't get it! It was so nice out. It will start raining soon and any opportunity to walk with your child will be gone.

Both sets of parents never got out of their cars nor did they even have the windows down...they were sitting there in their closed up, idling cars in the sunshine waiting for a bus.

Is it just me, or is there something desperately wrong with this picture?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

APM - Alternative Pest Management Part 1

Somewhere a long time ago, I read that the shortage of Hummingbirds was because of pesticides. At my old place (about 75 miles east of here) I counted11 Hummingbirds at one time all vying for a spot on the feeder. I have seen 1 a year here in the Willamette Valley! The difference is terrible, and I really miss those little zoomers.

According to Jonathan Ya'akobi at Dry Climate Gardening, a pair of nesting birds can eat 75 pounds (POUNDS!!) of bugs in a year. This includes aphids, insect eggs and caterpillars.

I've been actively researching plants that attract birds (bees, butterflies and beneficial insects) and are still part of my edible landscaping plan.

To attract and keep the beneficial critters a few things are needed - food, water, shelter and no pesticides.


Dill (food for Black Swallowtail caterpillars)
Fennel (food for Black Swallowtail caterpillars)
Parsley (food for Black Swallowtail caterpillars)
Anise Hyssop
Pineapple Sage
Crab Apples (Crab Apple Jelly anyone?)
Hazelnuts/ Filberts

I also located this LIST online that has some great suggestions for attracting birds.

The folks at EarthEasy have plenty of suggestions how to control pests by attracting beneficial insects too!


Evergreen shrubs and trees (leaves or needles or both!) to protect them from predators and the elements.


Birds love water that drips so a tiny fountain is sure to attract them.
A birdbath is great too.

Butterflies like a little muddy place that they can sip tiny amounts of water from. Think 'marsh garden'.

I don't know about you, but I would much rather lose a berry or two to a flock of birds than sit on a chemical soaked lawn.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What is this plant in my garden?

It's about 3 1/2 feet tall, has leaves that are over a foot long and grows on a very fleshy stem. The top has 3 sections of flowers just like the one pictured.

Any idea what it is?