Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dehydrated apple?

I am seriously pondering raiding my neighbor's apple tree (bungalow Joe... he offered). The shared tree in the back has pretty much petered out, and I need apples that are buggy-free (windfall apples are great, but you'll often have to cut out spots).

I'm thinking dried apple slices.

I have the dehydrators. I have the apples. I have peelers and corers and auto slicers. Hmmm.

Seriously pondering this. My husband, who had to empty the 40 quarts of apple and pear waste this weekend (I put it into a 62-quart tub), may not be as excited about this project. hmmm.

It's at least a few days till I go berry picking, so that's an opening of time, right?

In other news? Our fridge, which has been the Isle of Hiding Where All Expired Food Goes, has been cleaned, scrubbed, and emptied. True, now I feel like we have no food. It looks pretty bare. But then I remember that we have not gone grocery shopping because I refused to put new food into a nasty fridge.

Believe me, there is significantly greater bliss in opening the door and seeing a clean, empty fridge, than in seeing a full-of-nasty-food, gross fridge.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Much accomplished

(no news yet on the events of last week, by the by)

Much was done this past week and weekend.

I realized that the apples in the tree were falling and quickly going to waste. It's a bit of a balancing act, since the trees are shared with us and the craftsman house up front and the bungalow. Sharing sometimes means crackly interactions. So, I was careful not to immediately gobble up the apples. Once I realized they were all going to fall and rot though, I began picking.

And after picking, I began cutting and chopping. NONE OF THE APPLES HAD WORMS, so this was infinitely easier than having to wade through worms. I used only a paring knife to peel and cut, since swapping back and forth between knife and peeler takes time... and I became very fast with the paring knife.

And then it was time to add a little sugar (not much), cinnamon, and vanilla. Let sit on stove... then stick blend it a little. Results? Chunky applesauce with significant sauce in between the chunks.

I canned a few less cooked and non-blended apples. I'm calling these my "apple pie apples", since I'll be able to drain and plop them instantly into a pie.

All told?
9 pints apple pie apples canned.
42 pints apple sauce canned.

The pear tree is the same way as the apple tree. I don't want it to go to waste, but I don't want to hog it either. So, I've been taking only the windfallen fruit. It's perfect, since there is nice, cushy grass surrounding the tree, so windfallen fruit do not suffer cuts and bruises. I had to collect significantly the first day, and ever since, there have been about 7 pears a day. The ones on the tree are not ripe, but the few that are fall. This keeps me from picking the unripe ones.

I don't know precisely what uses I'll have for pears. So, I'm canning them up in the most flexible way possible: in light sugar water. This way, I'll be able to use them for whatever purpose I need.

So far, 14 pints of packed pears in sugar water. And the water is very light sugar. You have to add sugar because it helps preserve the taste, color, and texture of the pears.

Red Onions
My red onions needed to be picked. I base whether to pick onions on how their tops are doing. If they still have green stalks, I leave them in. If not, I pick them before they start to rot.

All told, I got around 50 onions, which took up two cardboard boxes when placed single layer. I sorted them out, keeping the questionable ones (about 15) from the others, and put them, single layer, in boxes in the side pantry. They are no where near the potatoes; when put together, onions and potatoes can cause each other to go bad quickly.

They are red onions (with a few white), so their shelf life is not as long as yellow onions. I'm storing them in the best possible way to keep them for a long while. But, I may have to give away and/or mow through onions. Alternatively, I may dry some, which could be a fun project.

My potatoes needed to be picked, since it was forecast to rain today and tomorrow. So far, it's true. Woke up this morning to pretty heavy rainfall. Since the potato plants were mostly dead, I knew moisture would potentially cause the potatoes to rot. So, they needed to be dug up!

It was pretty careful work. I used a small hand rake to go slowly, trying not to hurt the potatoes as I went. I did not expect there to be many yukon golds, as I've been nibbling away at them for a while now. All told though, I was very surprised! If I had to estimate, I'd say about 20 pounds of Rose Finn fingerling potatoes and 12 pounds of Yukons (if I estimate and include the ones I've eaten).

I researched the best way to store potatoes. A dry environment 45-55 degrees is best. So, I divided up the potatoes into double-sacked paper lunch bags, putting about 1.5 lbs in each. I put these on a light surface in the side shed, which stays pretty cool even if it's hot outside (no direct sunlight).

I figure that the light surface and the baggies will show me the signs of any rotting or problems quickly, and by only having 1.5 lbs per bag, if one bag goes bad, then not all the potatoes are lost.

Pole Beans
A variety of pole bean plants in our yard were producing. Not heavily, but enough to more than feed us. So, I picked a large basket and then blanched and froze them. All told, 4 ziplock baggies. I put enough in each bag to either give two people large portions or three people normal portions.

Our blackberries are not that stellar this year. They taste great, but there are just not that many in quantity. Sigh. I picked enough to barely make 3 jars of jam this weekend. A friend of a friend's has a large patch at her farm, so maybe I'll head over there. Blackberries are EVERYWHERE out here, but sometimes it's difficult to find a patch that you know has not been treated with anything. And I haven't had the time to drive out into the country to find a big patch. I want to make more jam and syrup, but we shall see what happens.

Eggs and Squash Bread
I had great plans to make squash bread (it's using a zucchini bread recipe, but using my nutty middle eastern squash instead) this weekend and freeze it, but each batch calls for 4 eggs. I sold my girls' eggs to my neighbor for her farm stand, and now my girls are being really slow on producing again. I think I'm going to change up their feed to a solid layer feed. Anyway, I was out of eggs so no bread. And, being that I have chicken, I feel pretty stupid BUYING eggs. The squash will keep. Bread will come.

I also realized that half my hens have no roosting pole. Oops! I did not realize that. I need to put up the second roosting pole later this week. I'm wondering if that's the possible reason why some of my hens have not started laying yet. Do hens NEED a roosting pole to lay? Does it somehow jumpstart their systems?

New Chicks
I broke down and bought two chicks on Thursday. They are too cute for words. They're fully feathered and about 7 weeks old. One is a white crested polish and the other is a light brahma. Like the dark brahma, the light brahma is a sweetheart. I'm wondering if this is a trait amongst brahmas? They have catapulted themselves into high ranking for me, since they are both so affectionate. The polish just looks RIDICULOUS. I have no idea how it sees anything with that huge pom pom head gear. Rocker Chick. I think she may be named Janis. Both are in a tub in the laundry room until they graduate to big girl food and can romp with the big girls.

Last but not least, I HAVE TOMATOES. Not a ton, but at least I will not go tomatoless this year. The first ones ripe were my black prince tomatoes. And yes, they were that wonderful color and almost purple inside. Rich and deliciously sweet. OH MY. Oh my oh my. Many more of my tomatoes have a glossy green sheen to them, which is supposedly the sign that they will turn colors soon. I hope! This weather (rain for the next two days) is not encouraging their growth, but we will keep our fingers crossed. Otherwise, I do have a pretty decent store of green tomato recipes to call on.

So yup! It's been pretty busy, but productive and things that needed to get done. And it kept my mind busy and off other matters, both of which are good things!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I did with my might.

My favorite poem in the world is one that my grandfather, my Opa, used to recite. I miss him horribly. He was and will forever be one of my favorite men in this world.
To this day, I can still hear his voice repeating these words:

All that you do, do with your might.
Things done in halves are not done right.
One thing at a time, and that done well,
Is a very good rule, as many can tell.

Supposedly, those were amongst the first and only words of English that his father knew. I figure, any words of wisdom from my Opa, and any words of wisdom learned from a man that survived a prisoner's camp in SIBERIA are pretty honored words to live by. Yes, there are many stories there, but I'll save those for another time.

I recalled those words this weekend as I prepared for something. I'm not happy doing things halfway or partial part. I think I owe a great deal of this to those words floating consistently through my head, ever since I can remember.

And yesterday evening, as I recalled the events of the day, I can with no reservations state that my Opa would be proud. I did with all my might.

Gosh, I miss him.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No post today

Have to get all the critters taken care of and then get myself dressed without somehow getting a strand of fur on me. I am seriously pondering renting a studio apartment so I can never have to see a lint remover again.

Off to be (hopefully) fabulous.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Winter garden

I've decided to not do a winter garden this year. I know that may sound like a cop-out, but winter gardens are a bit harder to grow in Oregon. Plus, there are a lot of things to worry about in winter, like keeping MUD out of the house and trying to somehow keep the hens' yard from looking like a mud pit.

Plus, the fall/winter is my time to work on indoor projects. You know, the ones that have been building up because of my time outside.

My husband will be proud because he realizes his wife is looking at things rationally... as in HOW MANY HOURS SHE HAS IN A DAY.

Our overwintering veggies will be in the ground, of course. My garlic has already been ordered. And, I may actually move a few beds around (gasp!) for those garlic. But no trying to grow winter veggies. Things just take TOO long, and I have other things to work on.

Spring/Summer= outdoors.
Fall/Winter= indoors.

I suppose.

In other news, I have a big job thing going on tomorrow. Please send positive thoughts towards the grand ol' state of Oregon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fantastic green building

While looking for something else today, I spotted this image online:
It's the green roof of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. I think it's fantastic. The lawn serves as a green space, but also cools and insulates the building. It's supposedly the art building too, which I think is a pretty appropriate building to house budding artists. Inspirational.

Though, you could get some pretty mean speed if you rolled down that one side....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wine bottling at Abacela

A while back, I put myself on a "to call" list for helping out at a vineyard. This particular vineyard is an hour and a half south, but it's one of our FAVORITES, so it was well worth any driving effort.

There was a bottling opportunity for yesterday (their 2008 Syrah), and I got a slot!
I traded off between filling bottles with nitrogen gas (to keep the wine from being exposed to oxygen during bottling) and unloading empty bottles off of pallets for filling. I also got to help bottle some magnums and learn how the various machinery worked. I worked from 9am to 3pm, with a half hour lunch.

We all sat down at the table after bottling and enjoyed a bottle of the 08 Syrah. Now that was darn good, even though the bottle was going through some bottling shock (the wine usually simmers down after a while in the bottle).

And, I discovered I have a good nose for wine! Someone at the winery had a scent set. It's about 28 bottles of various specific scents, and you have to identify what you're smelling. "lemon", "bell pepper", "licorice", and "clove" went around the table, and I guessed right! Pretty exciting. Though, bell pepper was difficult. It reminded me of lettuce... which, in real life, it DOES sort of smell like crunched lettuce. Fun nonetheless.

Now, I did not really understand how I would be paid. I figured that if I came away with a bottle of the 08 Syrah and some experience, that would be a good day. And I did get a bottle. Then, I was told I had to go fill out a timesheet. HUH? I guess for records?

Then, I found out that they would pay me a certain amount per hour in cash, OR that would be doubled and I could spend it on wine.

Um, I was already told to come home with Abacela wine, so wine, yes please!

So, in the end, I got over $120 worth of free wine. Fan freakin' fantastic!

I splurged a little bit. B and I normally buy $20 and under wine, with the occasional exception. Since this was "free wine", I opted to get a very pricey bottle of Tempranillo (triple gold ribbon winner) and an semi-pricey bottle of 2006 (great year for reds here in Oregon) bottle of Syrah. I got a couple other not as expensive bottles.

I figure that if I get this job (long interview on Tuesday, with presentations, etc), that bottle of Tempranillo will be cracked open in celebration.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guess who?

Guess who bottled 4320 bottles of wine today?

The same person currently wondering what those previously-unused back muscles in her back are that she now notices quite keenly.

Yes, me.

More details to come.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meant to be?

Well, I just found out this morning that the house that B and I have had our eyes on has a pending sale and is set to close next week.

I have mixed feelings.

We've looked at this house wistfully now for the past six months. It's been our "ooh, if we could!" house, and it was slowly coming more into possible reach.


It all felt a bit much. Though we've looked at hundreds of houses online and identified the neighborhoods we like, to like one house and not have looked (in person) at others seemed a bit hasty.

So I'm setting my foot down. No more house falling-in-love-with activities until the ducklings are in a row.

I say that's my rule, but who wants to throw out odds that I'll bust it?

The drudgery of making

When you plant your plants, build your beds, tend the soil, and nurture seedlings in the late winter/spring, all that goes through your mind is:

"Gosh, I can't wait until I'm working WITH the products of my labor."


Now that I have the products of that labor, I'm dragging my feet yet again. This is ridiculous. There should NOT be a drudgery of making things with the produce I've created. But I'm just so beat from OTHER projects that I drag my heels.

I really shouldn't.

So here's what needs to get done... for all the world to see (world being me and maybe a few readers?). Updates will occur. Maybe this will get me off my ever-growing behind.

  • Dig up all my fingerling potatoes. Store properly.
  • Dig up all my yukon gold potatoes. Store properly.
  • Trim/snip the roots off my garlics that are currently hanging in a big clump in the kitchen rafters. I love that my husband did this for me... but I may need to make that big clump into several smaller clumps. I'm worried about mold.
  • Make apple sauce, a LOT OF IT.
  • Make apple butter
  • Make dried apples.
  • Dig up the onions that are ready.
  • Pick and freeze some green beans.
  • Make more blackberry jam.
  • Make blackberry sauce.
  • Decide if I want to try making blackberry wine this year.
  • Make squash bread with some of my squash and freeze it.
  • Pick, wash, and freeze broccoli.
  • Figure out what I want to do with my peppers
  • Check on the pears and do fun things with them if they're ready.
So yes, there's my list. The apples, onions, and potatoes are at the top of my list as far as immediacy. Updates to come. I've decided these projects (most of them) take precedence over the perfect finishing of the shed project. The shed can wait, whereas produce will rot. So, produce here I come!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yesterday was a great day.

Sunny and warm. My tomatoes are soaking up those rays. Maybe they'll be right by the end of summer.

I finished the apricot jam that has been waiting around for me to finish, 28 jars. and the strawberry syrup/sauce, 8 jars.

I found out I have a second interview for the job I want next week. Yes, emphasis on the great day on this one. Truly.

My neighbor gave me about 40 pounds of fresh basil.

My potatoes are ready.

My hens are laying again.

My rooster forgot how to crow. He figured out how this weekend. But he's only crowed about 10 times since then. His time is limited if the crowing either becomes more frequent or inappropriate hours.

You could not wipe the smile off my face. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Shed, Part I

This is our shed. We call it a shed because it's approximately the size of a shed, and it's outdoors. But it's not a stand-alone shed. It's attached to our house. We can't access it from the house (that outdoor door is the only entrance). It's approximately 6x4.

And this, I'm extremely ashamed to say, was the status of the shed as of Sunday morning.
I know. Extremely and utterly PITIFUL. DISGUSTINGLY pitiful.

In our defense, we did move into the house in December. In a cold snap where it was approximately 10 degrees. Cold. Things were pretty much thrown in here, and that prompted additional things later on to just be thrown in too.

But really, the shed was not that impressive. Cobweb-y. Dusty.

It had this dilapidated, nasty rusty old shelving unit in it and unfinished, dusty walls.

See, pressboard walls, and believe me, they were FILTHY.

And a closeup shot of the nasty shelving unit. This is also the only corner of the shed that had any sign of any water damage. Nothing major, but I suspect this corner gets a little moisture. So, I noted it to myself that nothing that couldn't get wet would go there.

Nasty shelving unit. It's gross, trust me.

I had a gallon of exterior white paint, semi-gloss, which I slapped onto the walls. I wanted to make sure a) the walls looked cleaner, and b) the walls were a bit more protected. Also, this way, we can easily notice if there are any water leaks or new bugs. The pressboard took a few coats. This is after coat #1.

Then, I took our two garage shelving units my folks gave us when we lived in Salem. Each of them should be 6' tall and have five shelves. I decided to make one 6' tall and give it seven shelves, and then put one in the laundry room with three shelves, but only make it half height (which will fit better in the laundry room).

The result? I have a pantry! We're going to be putting all our non-perishable, canned goods down here.

And, that nasty shelving unit? I painted it with some salmon-colored paint I had, and put it in the corner. The hope is that the top part will be for gardening things, but that we will be able to buy a number of plastic boxes and organizational implements and put all our TOOL things on here too.

B's crash pad for bouldering fits well in the corner. The unit is far far far from being finished yet, but you get the idea.

Blurry photo of my new "pantry."

So, the project is still in the continuing on phase, but it's FAR better than what we had before. The shelves are perfect height for storing things. Eventually, I'd like to put some post-its on the outside so I can easily spot what is stored where... but we'll see about that. I also want to get some tap-it battery lights so I can have light down there when needed. There is no power out here, so battery it has to be.

I also need to better store our Christmas decorations. I want to put them in a two plastic tubs and then put them out here, stacked in the one (non moist) corner. There is easily enough space.

It's pretty nifty what a little bit of time, some paint, and some patience will create!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wine was had, and it was good, but...

More fun were the seeing friends and chasing a naked 2 1/2 year old in the backyard.

Pool! Sandbox! Dinosaurs! Sandwich! Dog!

I finally sat down and put my feet up on the back deck coffee table, and here comes the boy, staring me down. Suddenly, caught in between Auntie Jess's ankles! Ridiculous fun! Ack, and her dress has layers (she had leggings on, so no inappropriateness).

So. Much. Fun.

Nothing like ignoring the fact that the 2.5 year old you're holding is a) naked, and b) could pee on you at any second (potty training in progress), but c), it's far more important than a or b to review his knowledge of colors. "What's that?" he must have said 50 times.

Lovely. Ovaries are not crying tonight. I like being an auntie. It means I get to hang a 2.5 year old upside down, dunk him in the kiddie pool, hear shrieks of joy, and then hand them over to the parental folks for bedtime and diaper changes.

Ya, and then Auntie Jess had wine.

Quite right, yes, quite right.

Sometimes, you have to cave in.

All the best intentions to finish the shed project today....

All the best intentions to clean the house today...

All the best intentions to make applesauce today...

And all the best intentions to continue my healthy eating kick today...

Are dashed when one of your best friends calls up at 9am saying "Hey, I have a ton of half-full wine bottles that need consuming today. Help me."

I caved. The fun begins at 4:30.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Shed.

We have a small, 4x6 shed attached to our house. I'm estimating the dimensions... it's probably more like 4x5. In other words, it's small.

But it's still 20ish square feet of space that is currently NOT BEING USED WELL.

Specifically, it's home to a bunch of stuff we have NOT accessed since December. Know what that means? We probably don't need that stuff (with the exception of canning jars, which I have needed and taken some out).

It's a pretty dank place. It stays dry, but it's just cobweb-y and dusty.



I'm going to empty that sucker shed out, dust and clean like mad, and then paint everything white inside. Then, I want to put up shelves. Unlike our house, where there's nary a wall stud to be found (no joke), the walls in the shed are wood. Heh! let the shelf hanging begin.

Yes, this is another project where we will not be able to recoup the cost. There is no point in taking these shelves with us. But, here's my plan.

I already have a gallon of white paint from another project. We need the space, but not so much that we will cram stuff into the shed. The shed has a lock, but not a great one, so we're limited to putting things of limited value into the shed. So, 1/3 to 1/2 will be gardening things, and 2/3-1/2 will be food things.

The plan is for the food side to eventually bear some resemblance to this (thanks HDTV for the image):

This will also make things a LOT easier come the holidays, when we need to constantly be pulling from the jams and sauces for presents. Last year, we had them all in a few big tubs, and, let me tell you, it was chaotic.

Granted, the shelving will be much more simplistic, but you get the idea. There already is a rickety shelving unit in the shed, so I'm hoping it's clean-up-able and POSSIBLY paintable.

Plus, it's nice for our own purposes. We'll easily be able to spot what we have and don't have. Right now, a substantial amount of the 10+ cans that I have from last year are stuck in the corner part of our L-shaped kitchen. You can only access them by sitting on the floor and REACHING into the depths of the unfinished cabinet area. Bleh. I think I have 2 rhubarb cans, 6 tomato cans, a mincemeat and mayyybe something else, but I really don't know. Why? Because no one can see it.

Though, I should also note that it's supposed to be in the mid-90s this weekend.

But it needs to get done. Everything is connected.

  • Cleaning up the shed= I can get the other shelving unit in the shed to put in the laundry room.
  • Putting the shelving unit in the laundry room means I can finish cleaning the laundry room.
  • Cleaning the laundry room means I can take out the bags of craft supplies currently cluttering the house.
  • Cleaning the laundry room also means I can wrap up and move the grafonola, currently dusty and residing on our kitchen table (It had been on the bookshelf that we sold yesterday).
  • AND, it means that the canned goods I have made and will make this year will have a home.
And yes, maybe things will change and maybe we'll only be in this house another 6 months. But this weekend should even make moving easier. We'll be moving out of clean, organized spaces. Much nicer than moving nasty, organized spaces.

Plus, I want to get the shed done before fall. I think it stays pretty dry in there, but because we had it so piled up with junk, I'm not 100% sure. The paint and the cleaning will help me identify any problems.

So, here we go. Organizing, cleaning and painting in 90+ degree heat. Woot.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

To dos.

Busy night last night! I posted our expedit bookshelf on craigslist around 8:45, and it sold at 9:30. For a decent price too, I must say!

But that means that the already-half-emptied bookshelf had to be completely emptied, and in about 30 minutes.


But, thanks to the nook for storage upstairs by our bed, it was easily done. Still to find a home though is our grafonola. Don't worry, we're not getting rid of it. But, I'm tempted to wrap it up tight and put it in storage. Why? Because it's not getting used enough in our small space to justify the dust getting on it. I LOVE it, dearly, but we really do need a much better set-up for it.

I'm thinking of taking the shelves my parents bought (similar to these: shelves) got us and putting them in the laundry room, but half height. So, we'd have 3-4' shelves, not 6' shelves. Then, I'd have ample space for things like my canning jars underneath, and then bigger things like spare towels and the grafonola underneath.


What else is on my to-do?

Well, we have these suckers on the tree outside:
And they are just begging to be made into:
Yup, applesauce. I have so many quart jars just WAITING to be used. I love homemade applesauce. Chunky applesauce with vanilla and cinnamon. YUMMMMMM. But cutting the apples and peeling and and and... well, it all takes time. There's also yummy apple butter to be made.

My mom also made some really good dried apples. Here I am, having dehydrators, and I AM NOT USING THEM! Eeek. Well, hopefully on Sunday.

Saturday will be spent at two places. It's an early rise to wait in line for the REI Scratch and Dent Sale. An amazing experience if you've never been. We're on the lookout for a doggie life vest and bike gear. And shoes, of course, because their shoes are always amazing. Maybe a better camp sleeping pad for me. It all depends on what they have.

Saturday afternoon/evening, we're at a volunteer thing for a local group that helps disabled children. I'm volunteering, but B scored a ticket to enjoy himself (and keep the husband of the coordinator happy). It should last into the evening.

But Sunday? Sunday is free.

Also to do? Pick blackberries. They are finally coming into season in decent numbers. I've already put up about 10 jars of jam, but you have to consider the fact that I'm sending much of that number to Ohio to Bob's parents. And, I give away as presents a substantial amount of my jammed up items.

So, I need to make, I figure about 2-3 dozen more jars of blackberry jam. It's the final jam item of the year-- raspberries and strawberries are done except for a small amount of everbearings (and those don't have enough to make substantial amounts).

That reminds me... I have a pot of apricot and a pot of strawberry jam in my fridge that need to be heated up and jarred and sealed. Crud!

My garlic still needs to be dug. It's about half done, but I hurt my knee 2 weeks ago and hopping on a shovel was out of the question.

And I should make note that my living room is in chaos. I bought a retro couch yesterday, but B and I ended up deciding that it was best to keep the old loveseat and bring back in our knock-off Eames lounger (currently in storage at a friend's house). So, now not only do I have the mess of a bookshelf having been unloaded and a grafonola to store, but I have a loveseat and a couch in my living room. NOT MUCH SPACE, let me tell you.

Luckily, I posted the couch on craigslist this morning, and there are several bites. Hopefully, by this evening, we'll have one loveseat, a clean living room, and mayyyybe some jam made.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Craigslist Etiquette

1) If you list an item, contact potential buyers in the order they responded. First to respond= first to get an email. Also, do not make multiple appointments for possible buyers to see your item. This only screws over the ones who come after an appointment when the buyer bought your item.

2) If you sell your item, contact the folks who emailed inquiries to let them know. You know, in case your item was so unbelievably awesome that they're waiting by their computers with baited breath for you to respond.

3) Do not give a time frame for availability and then email that to ALL interested buyers. It creates heart-pounding, unnecessary, UNFAIR stampede on the item.

4) Include pictures in your posting.

5) If an item is dog-chewed, cat-scratched, baby-peed, teenager-vomited, water-stained, food-ridden, or infested with gosh-knows-what, the price needs to be considerably less than what you think it is worth.

6) If you make an appointment with a seller, keep that appointment. And arrive on time.

7) Prices may be negotiable, but don't be stupid. Don't offer $5 for something that's posted for $100. Seriously.

8) Don't sell things out from under a buyer. If I make an appointment at 3pm, I'm going to assume that you don't have an appointment for 2pm. If you do, PLEASE TELL ME when I make the appointment. Making another appointment is still not good behavior, but tellingme is far better than me arriving to find the item SOLD.

9) No, I cannot hold the piece for you. For five days. While you consult your cat as to whether she likes microfiber. No, I do not have the item in another color, or another height or another fabric. What do you think I am, a department store?

10) When responding to an ad, don't respond just with "want." That's dumb. You may be first to email, but I'll bust rule #1 and go to someone with the dignity (and smarts) to type a full sentence, at least.

All I want is oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Why is it that when you're trying to eat better and work out etc, you suddenly have the desire to eat the bad stuff?

For me, it's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Specifically, the dough.

I really do need a full time job to keep me away from the temptations of my kitchen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To couch or not to couch?

B and I are thinking of getting a couch.

For most people, this is not news. For two people living in a teeny cottage, this is outrageous.

Getting a couch will mean a number of things. I swear, we live in a giant tetris game.

1) we will have to sell the old loveseat.
2) we will have to condense down the big bookshelf and sell that.
3) we will have to buy a new bookshelf (small) for some of the old bookshelf items.
4) we will have to organize the laundry room, which means that...
5) we will have to organize the side storage shed, so that we can partially utilize it, and also so we can find the two storage shelf unit thingies we want to use for organizing the laundry room.


But, we're growing incredibly tired of a loveseat. If B wants to lie down, it means I'm stuck with a teeny bottom space, and vice versa is true too. Though sticking the couch in the corner of the living room has been the best set-up thus far (there have been 2 other set-ups as we've tried to make things work), we need the couch to be more centered on the wall so that we don't cram outselves into a corner (which is what we do now). Centering means selling the bookshelf, and getting rid of the bookshelf means we might as well upgrade to a couch.

Still... will it be a new couch? Probably not. It will get a LOT of wear and tear, so something for a lesser price would be much nicer. And, we don't know if it will fit (physically and ascetically) in our next home. So why spend the bit bucks on a new couch?

Though, I do swoon after a new couch. But I'll save that desire for when it will not be sat on almost 24-7 between the furry beasts and the humans.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Waiting Game.... And Goldie in the Shop.

I've written other posts about waiting, so this is not going to be another of the same.... Except to say I certainly hope good things come to those who wait!

This weekend, we finished up our fourth and final weekend of family in town. My folks came in on Thursday and left on Saturday.

And on Sunday? B and I did absolutely nothing. NOTHING. Nothing.

Well, maybe it just seemed that way. We did laze around. B felt like reorganizing and so he cleaned up the kitchen (bliss!). And, I did arrange for Goldie, my Toyota Camry, to be towed.

Yes, towed.

She overheated on Saturday. After poking around under the hood and thinking about various fluid levels last time I checked them, I suspected I had a fissure in my radiator. This morning, that was confirmed.

Good times.

Good news is that it should not be too pricey. A new radiator for my year of Camry runs about $100-$120, and I have a good mechanic. The bad thing is that I need to also have the timing belt replaced (my prerogative... it doesn't NEED to, but it SHOULD, mileage-wise). That might be a bit more pricey.

Thing is, when you are dealing with a 13-year old car, with 163,000 miles, any problem with it is cause for panic attacks. It's just not worth spending over a certain amount on the car. I feel like every mechanic trip for Goldie is a stomach-punch of worry. Will this be the final one?

This time: No (unless some surprise is given out).

And really, the amount worth spending does go somewhat up if multiple things are being done. Timing belt. Radiator. Hoses. The radiator? It's the original one. The timing belt? Has to be replaced every 60,000 anyway. If we get up closer to the painful figure of Goldie demise, it's much more reasonable to not sell her if these are NORMAL MAINTENANCE things to be done.

So, Goldie has likely escaped again. Camrys are good little cars, so long as you treat them well.

That was our weekend. Family on Saturday morning, then errands, then car breaking down. Walk home and off to B's work event.

And then off to be with friends and partake in a cocktail to help cool off after the car issue earlier in the day. Lovely. And much deserved. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hoofin' it when the car breaks down.

Goldie is abandoned. Goldie, by the way, is my Toyota Camry.

B and I were running errands today. We get back in the car after a quick stop and we hear a gurgly noise. Huh? I turn the car on (it'd only been off about 5 minutes), and the temperature gauge goes immediately to red hot.

Insert expletives.

We wandered around, wasting over an hour. Went to car. Car seems normal... for about 2 miles. Then red hot. Stop car, park in a lot, glad we did because "check engine" light just came on and a teeny steam (not smoke) coming from car.

Insert expletives.

Have to get to B's work function thing, so we hoof it home rather than call a tow truck. Approximately 2 miles, so not far, but seems farther in non-walking gear and a long sundress.... and a freaked out mental state as to the condition of one's car.

But, the walk gave me clarity:

I was told a few weeks ago that my coolant was not 100% full. I should have taken this as a head's up-- whyyyy was the tank not full? More than likely, there's a crack in the tank, which has gradually been leaking out coolant (which is why I did not see any on the ground-- gradually). The gurgly noise was likely from air in the tubes. The steam: from the radiator.


Good news is that if I'm correct, my camry repairs won't be too much. It may be a tad higher because it's an import car with supposedly a belt attached to the significant parts here, so that may make the labor more expensive.

We hope.

I'm taking Goldie to a highly recommended mechanic. Everything I've heard about them is good, their storefront is not fancy schmancy, and they're supposedly very personable and educated (and want to educate you). Hopefully, they can take care of business on Monday. We will see... it's summer in Oregon.

But, we live in bikeable limits, easily. We still have B's car. So we're fine if there's a little bit of a wait (which is why we're having the car towed home tomorrow rather than to the mechanic's... it needs to leave the lot, but we don't know if the mechanic's is an ok place just yet).

Still, that stressed-out walk home? There were tears. And you don't catch me that often to that level of frustration.

Much better now, and so will be the car.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Exciting things abound!

Another list today, as I'm quite short on time. This time, much more positive.

  • My parents are in town! These are the same people who kidnapped my dog and took her on an aviation-themed photo shoot the last time I saw them. No joke. Fun abounds!
  • My mom ate herself silly on berries and lemon cucumbers (she'd never had them) yesterday in my yard. I cannot tell you how happy this made me.
  • My dad and I got coffee at the best coffee place this morning. Mmmm.
  • I'm still awaiting some job news. I'm very hopeful, and no news still means the potential for good news.
  • Big project at work this week, but lots of diligence on it this week means I can leave a bit early for some family time today.
  • My father is a genius when it comes to analyzing quality of houses. I wish he had an information download button. I thought I was decent, but he notices some pretty crazy things.
  • Bought way too much meat, kinda accidentally, yesterday. Such things happen when you're trying really hard to not let someone else pay and so you don't review what exactly you bought. So now, instead of 4-8oz prime rib steaks, I have 4-1.3lb steaks. Um...
  • Warm weather. Warm weather is loved by tomatoes.
  • Saturday market tomorrow!
  • My house is clean. This alone could be this entire post for exciting news.
  • I bought more oats. Hopefully, my hens will stop their stupid egg protest now that I'm switching them back to this. I tried to switch to wheat again this week, but only getting 1-2 eggs a day will not hack it, girls. Good thing? Oats are $8/50-lb bag, whereas Wheat is $15/50-lb bag. Way to stay on a budget, ladies.
And that's all for right now!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Not really feeling like writing or updates today.

My parents come this afternoon, and our place is a mess.

My leg hurts.

An onion went rotten on top the freezer and made a mess.

The onion and the compost bucket have suddenly produced fruit flies (this time of year, they come in record speed. .5 seconds of leaving anything out).

My hens are grumpy that I changed their feed. 1-2 eggs every day this week.

Have to find the dog's ear medication because one ear is red.

All animals need their flea treatments.

My laundry room smells like chicks.

I wanted to make bread yesterday, and I totally forgot.

My bathroom needs to be scrubbed.

Walked into about 6 spiderwebs this morning. No joke.

Maddie chewed my pink shoe last night.

Yup, one of those days.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garden updates!

Many many photos....

First up, my seemingly-abandoned garlic patch. Well, I kind of had to since I couldn't water the patch for a while before harvest!
Yesterday, I tried to pull up my first garlic. I say "try" because the stalk broke off. I had to dig it out. Why? Because the garlic head was too big!! Woo!

And let me tell you, it smells AMAZING. And tastes amazing!

German red garlic. Mmmm.

In another part of the yard, the Georgia Jet Sweet Potatoes are finally taking off!

My purple runner beans are climbing steadily.
And oh, the purple flowers are so pretty!

My scarlet runner beans are also climbing steadily.

And, true to their name, they are producing scarlet flowers!

My saucer squash plants are producing blooms!
And they have substantial leaf cover.

My Middle Eastern Heirloom Hybrid Squash is pretty much edible size!

My ground cherries have really spread out, and they are slowly producing fruit!

Those little tomatillo things will turn yellow and, inside the husk, there are sweet yellow cherry-type fruit.

My trifono violetto (my purple pole bean)

My long cucumbers!
My lemon cucumbers!
My yin yang beans... I thought they were pole habitat, but I'm now thinking they are bush.

But, look at the baby beans on them!!!

My multi-pole beans-- yellow, purple, and green.

And they produce white flowers.

My yard-long rattlesnake beans. They may not end up producing much, as they ended up having their box partially shady. The tree above them grew and really filled in with leaves. Oh well. Lesson learned for this box.

Carrots-- red, orange, bulb, purple, and yellow!

Basil-- after 3 pickings yesterday. Still a lot of good stuff.
One of my larger onions. The thing is 4-5" in diameter!

Tomatillo plants-- purple and green.

Baby tomatillo. The plant will form the husk first and then the fruit will grow inside.

Peppers! Look at those two anaheim chilies!

Pumpkin vines.

Baby pumpkin! I didn't plant too many pumpkins because we know where to get cooking pumpkins cheaply.

Tomatoes! It looks overgrown, but it's actually more orderly than it looks.

See? There are rows.

And, there are baby tomatoes! I really hope we get good harvests. We're so far behind this year...

Yummy everbearing raspberries. Mmm.

Apples in the tree!

Fingerling potatoes!

Crazy ginormous rhubarb... in August. Crazy, I know.

Another rhubarb shot (different plant)

Everbearing strawberries!

And that, right now, is the garden. There are also some more plants here and there, but that is the big picture look. :)