Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bring on the fun

Man, oh man.

This weekend, there is Art and the Vineyard. Also known as "The Pacific Northwest's Premiere Art and Wine Festival." We have been the last few years and we've dubbed it pretty much the best weekend of the summer.

And then, the following weekend? The Oregon Country Fair. Woodstock meets Oregon forests. Hundreds of arts vendors. Homemade food. Bands worthy of rockingoutness. Time to bring out the tie dye and handmade skirts.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Goin' old school

Last night, I made jam. I hate making jam. Ok, no, I love jam, and I love making things, but I hate how much gosh-darn sugar is in jam. I had 12 cups of raspberries. How much sugar does the recipe call for? 12 cups. Gag. Unfortunately, you need the sugar in order to get it to jell. Blast! I cut back a bit on the sugar still, and I used a packet of pectin. I need to boil it again some more, but here's hoping. Yes, I stopped halfway through. I was frustrated with how runny it was. :)

I've also been pondering putting up a clothes line. No underwear (refuse!) but oh, for sweet smelling shirts. Hmm. But it's a lot of work. But it smells nice.... but it's a lot of work. Hm.

I realize that by the two things above, I could easily sound like I'm 80. Whatever.

I'm up to four adult hens now living with the younger chicks in the big coop. I have four more adult hens to go. I've been adding one adult hen per night. So far, so good. There's an obvious pecking order, but not a super mean one. Unfortunately, the baby runt red hen is really teeny. I've still had to separate her. I'm thinking of perhaps posting her on craigslist for someone who wants a small chicken in their (fenced) yard. I feel bad, but she's just languishing. She's so tiny. I'd feel ok about posting on CL because no one would eat her. She's too tiny! Like quail-sized. It makes me sad, but she just needs a nice yard to run around in by herself, which we don't have.

I need to move around our furniture for the final push in the reorganization process. Sigh.

I also need to build trellises outside, as my beans are growing at the rate of over 1.5" a day.

I need to clean the laundry room of the chicken bins, as the two adult chickens have been moved into the coop and the room now smells like chicken. Bleh.

I just want to go sit in my hammock.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy note: Anniversary!

Yesterday, B and I celebrated our FIRST anniversary. It's been a year. Craziness.
In many ways, it feels like time has gone by in a blink of an eye. But then I think about all the changes over the past year, what we've done. What we've been through. What we've accomplished. When I think of that, I'm amazed it's been only year.

Makes me wonder what will happen by the second anniversary!

Happy anniversary B. I love you so much!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Remembering Kerry L.

That's my friend Kerry. There, on the far left-hand side (that's me on the far right). The photo doesn't do him justice. His hair was usually disheveled a bit, and he was tall and fit. Strapping. 27 years old, he just graduated with a JD and a masters in late May. He probably looked a bit glowy in this photo because he had just proposed to his fiance in the days prior. But that smile. That smile was always there. Kerry was known for his smile and his friendship.
This past Thursday, Kerry committed suicide.

I find myself searching for a why, though I realize that's fruitless at this point. It's done. Final.

Moreso, I just keep thinking about things. I'm not even sure what. The sadness of this has just remained in my head over the past day and a half. Occasionally, I replay a memory, but he's just been lingering in my mind. The sadness. The "what happened, Kerry?" The "where was the exuding happiness you were known for?" The "the world is a dimmer place without you in it."

I want to know if his happiness he exuded was a facade. I want to know if there was a constant deeper sadness. I want to know if someone broke his heart, or if he had a recent terminal diagnosis. I want to know what made this vibrant, one month short of being TWENTY-EIGHT year-old decide his seemingly-wonderful life wasn't livable. Why could he not find peace?

And even if I never know the answers, it breaks my heart to know that he couldn't find any answers either.

Oh Kerry.

So, I'm not sure what I feel. Do I wish his life was miserable and this was the final straw? Or do I wish for a horrible thing to have happened that sparked this? I don't know. And really, why do I want to know his reasonings? It's not going to change anything. He'll still be gone. Are these the types of questions people ask when dealing with suicide deaths?

What a loss. The world is much dimmer. He had such life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The ridiculous woman with tomatoes up to her eyebrows

Yesterday, I did the dirty (work). I hauled the soil, which had been in unsightly piles on my driveway, into the backyard to this patch (see below). I'd already picked most of the weeds in the area, and the tall weeds are set to be weedwacked by my husband this weekend.

After hauling the dirt and making nice raised rows, I planted my tomatoes. I had purchased two (they were $1 each, I couldn't say no), but the rest were from seed.

While starting my tomatoes from seed is work in mid-spring, the benefits are reaped now. I have FIFTY-TWO TOMATO PLANTS.

Good Gosh. FIFTY-TWO. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Toss out the "extra" plants? Um, no, I don't think so. Especially in Oregon, when tomatoes sometimes are but sometimes are not prolific. And especially since they're being put in the ground in late June (may not have a great growing season).

But still. FIFTY-TWO. I could label each plant by an alphabetic letter, and I'd work through the alphabet TWICE. Insanity. (As a note, I kinda want to do that, just so I can have a plant labeled "ZZ."

A few were looking a bit droopy after transplanting yesterday, so, after hand-watering each plant well, I set the sprinkler out there to gently water for about an hour. I did it again for about 15 minutes this morning. When I let the dog out a few minutes later, I finally ventured over to see how the droopy plants were doing. Verdict? FIFTY-TWO alert, happy, growing tomato plants.

Part of me asks myself: What have I done?! But really, tomatoes, for me, epitomize summer. They say that the olfactory (your nose) memories are the strongest, and when it comes to tomatoes, I agree. There is NOTHING like the smell of a tomato plant and a fresh-picked tomato. It reminds me of summer. And of happiness.

Speaking of happiness, the blueberries are right behind the tomatoes. And look at those pops of blue!

Yesserrie, we have blueberries. It is very difficult to wait until they are 100% ripe. They taste pretty darn good with a teeny bit of green (the blue ones in this photo are about 3 days away from "ripe" picking, but they taste yummy now too).

And, I'm also pleased to report that ALL OF MY OTHER SEEDS are sprouting. Every type of plant I planted has at least 70% of the seeds coming up.

My yin yang beans are slowing coming up (they were slow to arrive, for some reason). They are on the left side of the box, below.

In the middle of the box, there are my sunburst squash. With vines for beans going up and over each side of the box, I have room for squash down the center of the box.

And, on the far right side of the box, there are my green, yellow, and purple pole beans!

On the right side of this box, my triofono violetto beans (purple pole beans) are poking up.

And my eggplants are doing well also! They're the bottom two plants here.

I have also added to my pepper pack. There are three gypsy peppers, one chocolate bell pepper, and one Anaheim chili plant.

I decided to break down a while back and I bought two pumpkin plants, good for baking and making into pie filling (or any other cooking pumpkin recipes). I say "broke down" because we have a place where we can buy this type of pumpkin for 25-50 cents apiece. But, I'm planning on the peas not being around for too much longer, which means I can train the pumpkin vines to go into where the peas are. Might as well use the space, right? I may end up getting one more plant, for that purpose. Either a butternut or another pumpkin.

My cucumbers are almost complete. I need 2-3 more plants, preferably lemon cucumbers. I need to also see if it's possible to freeze tzatziki sauce. That would solve the possible influx of cucumbers I may have. But, I can always make pickles!

My find of the day yesterday? SIX GROUND CHERRY PLANTS. Just when I had given up on having any this year. Oh my. Oh my oh my. I literally squealed in the nursery. They are all healthy, and I am so excited. I should note that all my plants were labeled as $2 apiece, but I had a buy one get one gift certificate, so they became $1 apiece. In my mind, at least.
And, to add to my excitement, my YARD LONG BLACK SEEDED BEANS are coming up. I've wanted to grow these for a while, so this is super-exciting.

On the right side of this bed, my rattlesnake and purple pole beans are also coming up! They're doing REALLY well, actually.

And, in between my two rhubarb plants, my additional bed of sunburst squash are doing well too. In fact, I was able to thin them out (I put two seeds in a few holes, and then had 100% germination and had to thin), and move them to another spot successfully!

On the right side of this bed, my scarlett runner beans are coming in full force. They are near the deck so (hopefully) we will have great views of the red flowers.

My croockneck squash are popping up. YUM.

My eastern delight squash is also doing really well (see right side of this bed).

And, finally, my okra are coming up!!! I got clemson spineless okra, so here's hoping they are good.

And remember, in addition to the above there are:
Lettuce, spinach, basil, arugula, cauliflower, yellow/white/red sweet onions, walla walla onions, red onions, fingerling potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, 4 types of carrots, broccoli, 3 types of peas, garlic, chives, rosemary, mint, sage, oregano, plums, apples, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, cornelian cherries, jostaberries, red currants, and cherries.

I love summer. And I still have more to plant.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello lovelies!

While walking in the backyard to check on the chickens yesterday, I decided to check out the cherry tree in the far back. And by far back, I mean in the FAR BACK, as in behind and to the far left of the backyard chickens. Not visible in the photo below, but this should give you an example of the wildness of the far backyard.

The tree, previously, had bitter small cherries. Either it was a bitter, small cherry tree, or they were not meant to be eaten as yellow/pink/red cherries.

Yesterday? I discovered nearly BLACK cherries. I ate one. Oh my. Hello lovelies. Yes, we now have edible, sweet, backyard cherries.

B is not a huge fan of cherries. I know... what is wrong with him?! But I'm ok with this because it means more cherries for me! But, being the sweet sweet wife (he does read the blog), I know he does like cherries if they are dried.

So, I intend on picking as many as possible, pitting them (I have a pitter), and then sticking them in the dehydrator to make raisin/craisin-sort of dried cherries.


I should also note that yesterday? My seedlings that sprouted more than doubled in number, and they are growing rampantly. RAMPANTLY. We're talking 1+" per day. It is so exciting to come home after work. How much have they grown!? Pretty nuts, I tell ya.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hammock and garden update!

At last, yesterday, the hammock was hung. No further head injuries.

More hammock goodness. Note the stump/magazine rack by the hammock. :) And the huge pile of firewood (to be stacked...) behind the hammock.


And, oddly, rhubarb sprouts. They're not usually summer plants. More spring....

The peas have gone nuts. They're over 7' tall.

I'm particularly excited about the shelling peas (the type you eat the peas, not the shell). They're coming in nicely. I am patiently waiting for those peas to plump....
Here's an example of a shelling pea. Looks a lot like a string bean, doesn't it?

The weather is what my sweet potatoes wanted! They're finally beginning to put on some more leaves.

The broccoli is beginning to come in.

Um... I have a lot of lettuce. I'm thinking about making pizza tonight and putting a raspberry/feta dressing salad smack dab on top of the cooked pizza. Pizza and salad, on one plate.

The onions are bulbing so much that the ground is cracking. The bulbs shouldn't be huge (especially given the late planting date and the funky summer, but it's still onion success!!!)

So that's the status update. After work today, I'm hoping to haul some dirt and plant more squash AND.... MY TOMATOES!!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lump on my noggin.

Yesterday's tale of the darn hammock has ended as well as it can: a sore head and a nice bump on my head.

Yes, I was stupid. Ok, maybe not. That "throw the rock up and over the branch" trick has worked well in the past. I just decided I didn't want THAT branch, which meant a redo, which pulled the rock out of the rope as I was pulling the rope down. Dammit!

Add to it that I was already having a SUCKY evening. Things hadn't gone as I had hoped/planned, and I was in a pretty lousy mood. Which is possibly why I got up the gumption to put out the hammock. Hard to be mad when lying in a hammock.

But, in other news... you know, now that I will live without substantial brain damage and all...

My peas are still producing like mad. Normally, by now, they have petered out. Not this year! Granted, the hot weather crops are SLOW, but we'll just ignore that while snacking on sweet peas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, ok? I should say "I'll", as my crazy, nut-brained husband has decided not to eat much of anything from the yard. The man has a loathing for lettuce. And peas. We'll see what else as other things become ripe.

BUT, this morning, I found SPROUTS! FOR MY SQUASH! I think a few bean sprouts too! This is exciting. I am very very hopeful. Perhaps this crazy summer will be ok for some of my heat-loving plants after all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to NOT hang a hammock AND get a concussion

Do not throw a rock with rope tied to it over a branch. It may actually go over the branch and hit you on the head.

No joke.

Sitting on the couch right now with a damn bag of frozen edamame peas on my head and an egg-sized knot forming.


Bathroom, finished.

I told you about the bathroom fixing up. And the house too.... but that's for another post. Well, I have "during" photos. And, if you look through the mess, you can see the bare bones with which we started.

When we do projects things typically go from their starting point to disaster zone before things slowly get picked apart. By picked apart, I mean analyzed. Things go in one of a few categories: 1) goodwill, 2) trash, 3) organize and keep. The trash and goodwill are easy categories. The organize and keep takes some thinking. We did not just want to cram things back in drawers.

So, here is the pile of garbage slowly getting picked apart. This is the "dump drawers out and sift method." I don't suggest it. It leads to insanity. And, I'm very ashamed of this photo. It was only momentarily like this. I swear to goodness.

The bathroom has one teeny window; to the right and upwards of the toilet. It's great for helping ventilation.
We'd already put a long shelf above the door-- good for storage, but you don't really notice the shelf, which is good for a small bathroom. I wasn't too happy about the organization OF the shelf, which is also what prompted the dump and sort.
And, the forever-present Maddie, wondering what the heck the stupid humans are up to.

And so, on to the finished product. Thank goodness, because I know you're probably scarred at this point from the dump and sort photo. Me too.

First off, I painted a wall. It's the wall behind the toilet and behind the mirror/sink. I didn't want to go my typical bright color, mostly because it's a small bathroom and it'd be overwhelming (I've made that mistake before in other bathrooms). So... gasp... I went with a nice tan. But, I mixed it with a darker tan, so I got some nice colors as I painted it on. It's not super noticeable, but I like it. Just a bit of a pop, and that's all I wanted.

I made these two frames to go behind the toilet. They read "As I breathe in, I am calm" and "As I breathe out, I am peaceful." These may be changed, but they are good for now.

The layout of the bathroom... in a horribly overexposed, blurry photo. I pretty much, I took out and sold the stand that went up and over the toilet. It made the whole place seem small. I cut shelves I already had into three smaller square shelves, and I painted them black. The bottom shelf has magazines (I took out our old rack), the middle shelf has a picture and a little glass birdie, and the top shelf has a plant and a candle. I did a treatment to the mirror and the clock. The clock may be changed (can't decide if it's a bit too matchy-matchy), but it's there for now. There's also a bamboo mat on the countertop, as well as some travertine tiles around the one size.

Closer-up view of the shelves. Are they ABSOLUTELY PERFECT? No. But honestly, it looks pretty nice. And, it's a rental. We're not going to spend $20 apiece for nicer shelves which may be useless when we move.

Before, we had no hand-towel rack. I've changed that and moved the rack to above the large towel rack.
The photo that was above the towel rack has been moved to above the light switches. Note that we were pretty careful about what type of photos we have in the bathroom. The bathroom often causes warping, what with all the steam and temperature changes. So, we have either plastic or wood or rock in the bathroom, for that reason. The exceptions are the two frames with that saying on them. But, those are pretty cheap frames, and we'll just keep an eye on them (they're also near the window, so we're not as worried).

We sorted some of the things we're keeping into bins. They're plastic bins, so no harboring mold or anything in the bathroom. But, they were ugly clear plastic, so I painted the bins green, and painted their lids black.

We kept the shower curtain, but got a new liner for inside.

We kept our old mats, but we cleaned them and changed their orientation.

There's a nice bamboo mat next to the sink, an incense box, and then some tile around the other side. We'll have to keep an eye on the mat to make sure it does not get moist and yucky underneath.
The bathroom mirror (which needs to be cleaned) had travertine tile put around the outside. We used poster putty, so it's easily removable. The tile we got for $2 (total) for 2 sheets at the recycling place.

So, that's it! Our redone bathroom. We like it, and it's a lot more organized than before.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The cat tale.

It's not a long story. And yes, it is father's day, but my father appreciates ridiculous stories of frustration as much as the next person.

There I am. I've decided to go to sleep after a long day running around and cleaning and organizing... and and and. Exhausted.

It's about midnight.

B is gone. He's at a conference. So, I'm alone. Obviously, me being alone is a good time for Frankie the brat cat to frick around.

I'm about 90% asleep. I hear the scritch scritch noise that Frankie makes when he climbs the ladder into the loft.

Is he there to sleep under the bed?



Now, obviously, if he had to puke (because of feeling sick) he'd have done it downstairs. Climbing the loft ladder is nothing you want to be doing when you're not feeling well.

So, this was a voluntary vomiting. Just to be a frickin screwball cat and seriously mess with me.

I've said before that this cat knows how to mess with me and push my buttons. Let us consider this a very good exhibit of what I was talking about.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

That frickin cat

Let's just say that brat cat Frankie is REALLY lucky that I did not tie him up in the yard, leaving him to fend for himself against the nighttime sluggies.

Ok, I would not do that.

But anger toward that cat is totally rampant right now.

More on this tale later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The challenges of renting

Occasionally, I'm reminded of how darn hard it is to rent.

I was reminded yesterday, with our bathroom.

Our bathroom, which is very teeny, consists of:
  • tanish linoelum (which, I must add, ALWAYS looks dirty, even if it's not)
  • oak-colored cabinet and drawers (this is what the sink sits on)
  • bluish countertop. It's something that is softer than formica, but not wood.
  • off-centered mirrored medicine cabinet above the sink. Yes, off-centered. It'd be much easier to work with if it was centered....
  • oak-colored 5-bulb line of vanity lights.
Ok, this isn't BAD as far as bathrooms go. But to make it "nicer" is challenging, since we RENT. One redeeming quality is the toilet. At least that's nice, white porcelain with a curved lid (no crazy-colored cheap monstrosity).

But, you can't rip the medicine cabinet out and center it. You can't put in new flooring. You can't put in a new countertop.

Ahh, the challenges of renting. Make it nice, but make it removable.

I've long read and admired But sometimes, I see these apartments. They're small, yes, BUT, they are well-laid out (which is somewhat of a rarity), and they obviously either own or have lenient landlords. Paint! Construction! Renovation! It's all fine and dandy, but what about the rest of us? Those of us with fugly shag carpeting and linoleum that looks dirty? And kitchen shelves that are dying to be painted and updated. And light fixtures you don't DARE leave on while you're away due to questionable wiring?

What about those people?

All of a sudden, the perfection seen online is much more difficult to obtain. I think they need to do a category, entitled something like "apartments that are poorly laid out with strict landlords." Then, we would see massive creativity.

Now, I'm not saying I'm a genius when it comes to renovations. I'm not. There's a reason why our house is cluttered oftentimes-- we are not the best at figuring out what works. But, I am pretty darn good at getting rental deposits back. So, perhaps as I'm figure out a) what I like online and b) what works, I can maybe mesh that with getting rental deposit back.

Before and after pictures of the bathroom are to come. How bad is it in there right now? Well, let's put it this way: I did not shower this morning... because I could not get to the tub.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

While the cat's away, the mouse will play...

B being the cat and me being that mouse.

Bwaaa haaa haaa (evil laugh).

B is away, starting this afternoon, at a conference. It'll be over on Saturday afternoon.

This means just one thing: Wife redecorate time.

It shouldn't come as a big surprise. The house is in chaos mode right now anyway, with 50 billion projects halfway (or less) through completion. The final goal? A better functioning household. But right now--- chaos.

But of course, since he's not actually going to be here during a chunk of it, this means tabula rasa for me. We've talked about the big stuff, so at least he won't be surprised to see every piece of furniture moved around. But the little things... well, here's hoping it all goes off without a hitch.

I'd put up "before" pictures, but, quite frankly, I'm ashamed of them. I figure things will be much better if I have lovely "after" pictures to accompany the heinous "befores". Ok, not heinous... just unorganized. It also doesn't help that I took the photos after I had been in destructo mode, so the "before" photos are truly ghastly in their unorganization.

In other news.... I'm applying for another job, and I'm pulling out all the stops. Here's hoping. Please send some karma my way. I really want it. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't, but dang, it would be awesome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Someone came over yesterday to buy a rug (yes she bought it. Woot!). She commented: "wow, this place is amazing! It's like living in a treehouse."

No, our house is not 40' up in the air. But the comment got me thinking. It IS sort of like a treehouse.

It's small and cozy.

It's a little rustic (though we're working on that).

There are rafters.

You only see green out the windows, our you see the deck. And, a few of the windows are actually pretty high up outside, so you feel like you're higher up than you are.

Heck, if she thinks we live in a treehouse, I'm down with that. I'm just happy she liked the place, especially given the chaotic state it was in when she was there!

Chaotic state explanation. We're pretty much moving around every piece of furniture we own. Granted, that's not a super-lengthy list. But, we figured out what was and wasn't working, and we're re-vamping. And organizing. And donating. And dumping. And selling.

Photos to come. Hopefully soon, because I'm getting tired of chaos.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seeds (finally) planted

Yesterday, I forced myself to plant. The weather is sunny, and it looks like my seeds won't get washed away!

Mostly, I planted beans and squash. I will plant some more squash in about a week, that way at least a few are offset a bit and I won't have squash overload. So, here's what I planted. We'll see what comes up.

Yin Yang beans! I these were just fabulous. They are beans you dry, and then you use them in soup or whatever. The beans lose their neat markings once they're cooked, but really, you EAT them soonafter, so I'm fine with that. If these work out, I think they would be really neat to give to some friends. Plus, I'm a huge fan of having much stock on hand for cooking. Dried beans are glorious.
Next up, in no particular order: Trionfo Violetto: Violet pole beans. Like the yin yang, they usually lose their purpleness when they are cooked. But oh, what a sight in the yard! I'm only growing pole beans, by the way. They are much more dramatic, more prolific, and they produce better-tasting beans. And, you know me-- any excuse to build trellises.

I think I planted some of these in a variety pack. I think. If I didn't maybe I will. They are just too cool. I might be thinking of my yard-long beans (below) though.
In addition to beans and squash, I also planted a few okra. Yes, they're slimy, but they are soooooo good fried or in gumbo. I figured "why not?"

Of course-- had to plant yellow beans.
And green beans.
Ahh, here are my yard-long beans. I REALLY REALLY hope these turn out. I kind of want to plant some in a place where they'll go over the pergola. Thoughts? I just think that'd be awesome. But then, in late summer, we'd be left with no plants over the pergola. Maybe next year. This year, I'm on the hunt for some good vines that will come back next year.
But yes, they are REALLY LONG, and you can twist them like that. How nifty is that? And, they have black seeds. YUM!
Sunburst patty pan squash was planted. LOVE the saucer squash. Oh my gosh. I don't know if I'll plant any traditional zucchini this year. You can always get that at the farmer's market... but this stuff... you can't! At least, not cheaply. Hmm... Maybe one or two zucchini. I do love squash.
Scarlett runner beans were also planted. They're great to eat, but their flowers are also simply gorgeous!

And crookneck squash. I picked up a bunch of 2-3" long crooknecks the other day at the farmer's market. Oh my gosh! So delicious. I can't wait to have these in our yard.
These are called "eastern delight." They're soft-sided, and they're supposed to taste a little nuttier. Worth a shot, I say.

In the beds that have vines, I'm planting vines along the sides of the bed. The idea is that I'll build trellises up and over the walkway into the next bed. The beds either have squashes down the middle of the bed (and vine plants on either side) or vine plants on one side and squashes on the other. I'm hoping this trellis idea works out. I really like the idea of having tunnels/canopies of vine plants to walk through. Plus, I'll paint the trellises, which will add some more pops of color!

To do still:

* Buy more cucumbers. With the weather, these just did not get started as I had hoped.
* Fix up the tomato area and possibly buy more tomatoes.
* Fix up the back area and plant melons and winter squash!
* Buy 3-4 more pepper plants. I only have one right now.
* Get bushes planted so that way the two beds are cleared for planting.
* Get the weed eater fixed up so B can massacre weeds. (it arrived yesterday!)
* Plant pergola baskets
* Get patio set fixed up (this needs to be done by the time B's family visits in July).

Oh, there is more to do, but for now.... that's the immediate list.