Windows, Pests, Moving, Water, Cooking, Knitting, We Covered It All in July

Since we’ve moved past the stage where contractors would tell us, if you don’t do some huge expensive job, your home will become unsafe, fall apart, cause severe damage, we have a lot less work going on.

Sometimes, all I want to share is the sense of peace I have when I wake to see The Mountain bathed in morning light. I was happy when a professional photographer was also captivated. You’ll have to check out his version in Window Film Revisited.

house and dry grass

 

Of course, he also took some much better photos of the workers installing the window film. Our Windows Upgrade has cut the glare dramatically. With temps in the 90s, we’re still feeling the heat around here, but just like our representative said, the haze from installation disappeared quickly.

This photo is the reverse position of the MR’s photo from The Power of Water.

grass and field

 

We have had a little rain this week, so the fields are sporting an undertone of green.

When Cocoa Picked Flowers Just for Me, I thought I was being clever creating an arrangement. Well, dogs aren’t good with details like making sure blossoms have at least a little stem. My flowers faded overnight.

After our initial trip, Sweet Miss has been getting settled in her new place. Me and Baby Girl were visiting for a few days last week, and we brought a lamp for her lightless living room, and a bike to help her get around town.

With BG’s blanket completed, she’s ready for college (check out The Tale of a Blanket and the Books that Got Me There). Not really—we haven’t bought anything for her dorm room. We have a few more weeks before she’ll find out which room she’s been assigned, but her roommate is going with a light blue color scheme. While I was worried about a third college orientation session in as many years, I did learn a lot about the place she’ll be calling home for the next few years.

BG & Blanket

I have been knitting and crocheting up a storm since finishing the dreaded blanket.  It just got to be a lot of green and yellow and white and green and yellow; you get the picture. I’ve finished two hats, a sweater, have another sweater to block, and am designing a boho top. It’s rather freeing to complete a big project.

And now let’s talk about the garden and orchard. We’ve been enjoying a lot of good food. I made cucumber soup last night that was yummy, and I don’t even like cucumbers. And this zucchini pie was delish.

corsican pie

 

 

Currants are tricky. We just don’t eat that many desserts; and currants are too tart for most anything else. Perhaps I’ll freeze them for a touch of summer this winter.

Currant bush

The July Harvest in the fruit and squash departments are going well. I have no idea what’s going on with the beans.  How do they go from looking like this?IMG_6402

 

To this? Is it Wascally Wabbits? We just don’t know.

protected beans

My sister-in-law suggested a wildlife camera. The MR says Target sells a greenhouse. Maybe it’s just not meant to be. Whatever it is has been munching on the zucchini and cucumbers, but we have enough of those to share. I’m hoping my tomatoes are safe.

And now after extolling the virtues of Getting Organized, and the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’m sure you’re thinking I’ve finished with my clothes, moved on to books, and working on all those boxes of photos. It’s summer. I’m enjoying life, visiting Sweet Miss, helping BG get ready for school, walking with my buddy, I’ll get to it.

I do really like Marie Kondo’s philosophy of letting clothes, books, and trinkets go that no longer bring you joy. Then they have a chance to be useful for someone else rather than making you feel guilty.

Well, that pretty much covers July.

In other random facts:

  • Our new neighbors are digging a well. It’s 426 feet deep and still dry.
  • Our well seems to stop working during heat waves in July. We seem to have a 50/50 chance of that happening.
  • We chased 2 hummingbirds out in June, 2 small birds in July, maybe it’ll be robins in August.

We bought a smoker on our first trip to Oregon this summer. Do you have any great smoker recipes?

 

 

The Power of Water

Saturday night, I woke to a strange noise. Did we have mice again running through the support beams overhead? No, it was just the sound of gentle rain falling. Something we haven’t heard in months.

It’s been an unusual summer around here—hot and dry. Those aren’t words used to describe the Pacific Northwest. The weathermen coin cute phrases like “June Gloom”, and “June-uary” for our highs in the 60’s overcast start of summer.  Our Fourth of July celebrations often feature warm jackets and watching the fireworks from a covered vantage point.

Instead, the temperatures have skyrocketed into the 80’s and 90’s, and we haven’t had measurable rainfall in months. Last week, the MR took a photo that captures the power of water.

grass and field

 

We’ve been watering the small lawn we put in back in June and leaving the rest on its own. Watering that lawn has come at a price. The first day, the sprinklers were run constantly, the well was drained, a pipe burst, and the well guy was called. Overheating the pump damaged it, so a few weeks later, we were again without water. The motor had just seized up, so it was a fairly easy fix.

And then when me and Baby Girl were I were in Oregon for four days last week, the well pressure pump went out entirely. The MR woke up to no water, so he called the well guy once again. That would be the second time since we moved in that we’ve replaced that pump. The new one will no longer keep running once the well is dry, so let’s hope it’ll last a little longer.

Me and BG were visiting Sweet Miss and spending a few days on her college campus getting set up for fall.

BG at School

 

 

After a few days, BG had made new friends, and I felt more comfortable and confident about her education and her home for the next few years.

As we were coming down the driveway, we were both surprised to see that the trees are dropping their leaves already. It’s been very dry, and they’re stressed from the lack of water.

Friday, I shared our bunny woes. The protected bean photo was after a few days of the plants surrounded in mesh. Here’s what they look like now.

protected beans

 

There’s just nothing left. At least the marigolds seem to have enjoyed all the extra fertilizer I put down to give my beans a little boost.

Beans

 

It’s so frustrating to have lovely plants ripped to pieces. We’ve given up on beans for this year, but it’s not too late to try for beets and spinach.

Yesterday, I dragged Baby Girl to a local family farm, First Light, that let’s you pick what you want.  We had an interesting talk with the owner. Local farmers have been suffering from the lack rain. Most small farms aren’t set up with irrigation since the water table sits at around eight inches. This summer it’s dropped to more than 14, and crops are hurting. Some farms have stopped setting up at farmer’s markets, since they’re barely able to meet their CSA agreements.

I’m thankful for the rain, and for the sweet farmer who let me borrow a jacket when the rain started in earnest. We were able to pick all these beautiful vegetables in a matter of minutes.  I can see the farm as I type this up. It’s quite close as the crow flies, but I’m not a crow, and we have the matter of a river to cross. If it wasn’t for that, I’d be there any time I wanted vegetables for dinner.

farm vegetables

 

Things have progressed a lot in the last few years, so I don’t want to leave you with the idea that our gardening is a total bust. The MR put in sprinklers in the garden and drip lines in the orchard, so we haven’t felt the stress of no rain. The fruit trees and bushes are doing well.

I noticed a few apples had fallen; I think they’re ready. Me and the MR ate some with cheese and crackers last night, and they were quite tasty.  The zucchini, cucumbers, and berries also continue to produce. I have high hopes for the tomatoes that are heavy with fruit.

produce in basket

 

And let’s talk about the grapes for a moment. Last year, the birds ate all our grapes. This year, the MR’s enclosure of netting has kept them away from the berries, and the grapes look amazing.

grape vines 2

 

What will we do with these grapes? I have no idea, but we have the satisfaction of growing them ourselves.

We’re highlighting our successes here.

Dry weather got you down? How’s your garden growing?

 

 

 

 

Wascally Wabbits

I’m feeling a bit like Elmer Fudd out to get Bugs Bunny. Something is eating it’s way through my garden, and it’s not me. 

The broccoli heads are disappearing. 

  
And let’s not even talk about the bush beans. They were lush, and covered in blossoms, and then this. 

  
I found them knocked down with leaves torn off and blossoms missing. 

The MR beefed up the gate with extra wire. 


I cobbled together another surround with tomato cages and netting. 

  

But the bean plants continue to disappear before my eyes. I guess I’ll be heading to the u-pick farm for my fresh beans. 

Over in the orchard, the blueberry and currant harvest is winding down. We’re still waiting on the plumcots. They were supposed to ripen in late June, but they’re still hard as a rock. 

I looked up the variety online, and the color is totally wrong. We’re thinking the tree was mismarked. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Even after I thinned the apples earlier this spring, they are weighing down the branches. We’re looking forward to a banner harvest. 

The MR pounded in some stakes and wired up the branches. We’re hoping this will keep them from breaking before the apples are ready. 

  
One apple fell off during the project. It wasn’t really dry tasting, but we’re waiting a few more weeks to sweeten them up. 

At least the bunnies are leaving the orchard alone. 

How’s your garden doing? 

Let’s Get Organized

It all started with a pair of shoes. Remember when I went away for the weekend, and the MR left for work, and Baby Girl had to get herself off to school? The dogs had all of 15 minutes to behave. But will dogs behave? No.

Chewed Up Shoes

Cocoa chewed up my slippers and ate my shoes. That’s when I out-smarted her by putting my shoes in boxes and back in the built-in shelves.

Open Doorway

 

Over time, I gathered a few more boxes, and before you know it, I didn’t remember I had any of those shoes. Cocoa was no longer chewing them up, but I wasn’t wearing them either.

Flash forward to this spring when I picked up some shoe bins at Walmart, and some labels online. My shoes held a fashion show, I took pictures, printed off labels, and we were good to go. Unfortunately, the bins stuck out too far, and I couldn’t see the pictures, and I didn’t like the way they looked. So I just up and moved them to the other closet.

Shoes

I liked my new shoe boxes so well, that I went back for a few more. They were out of stock, but Fred Meyer had similar boxes and some larger “boot” boxes, as well.

Boots

These are a little bigger than I wanted, so I haven’t added the labels just yet. The shelves are a bit high, and we didn’t have anything on them before, so maybe it’s just fine.

Now I had the organizing bug, and when I was looking through the list of new online books at my library, I came across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book sounded intriguing, so immediately, I downloaded it. I’ve read more than my share of organizing/tidying books and wondered if this could be as dynamic as the title proclaimed.

Kondo talks about how reorganizing your home causes dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. I laughed when I read “Tidy a little a day, you’ll be tidying forever”. I’ve tried that. My cupboards are full, I’m carrying the weight of a lot of junk. Tidying a little every day doesn’t help me get ahead.

Her basic premise is to keep only what you love, what brings you joy, and then put it away. She suggested starting with clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and lastly mementos. I’m still part way through my clothes. You’ll notice I didn’t say the MR’s clothes or Baby Girl’s clothes.

“To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.”

Instead of backwards hangars, or asking yourself if you’ve worn something lately, she advises getting rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. So I’m guessing that those clothes that make you feel old, fat, or frumpy should go. I’ve donated three trash bags full already, and my closet is so empty.

walk-through closet 2

 

I was able to put all my jackets and tops on one row and bring in my pants and skirts.

One of Kondo’s epiphanies is that people are storing their clothes wrong. By storing them on their sides (usually in drawers), they can breathe, get less wrinkled, and are easier to access. I have found a favorite t-shirt at the bottom of a stack looking squished and lifeless. tshirts tanks and shorts

Paring down my number of sweatshirts, I was able to bring in my t-shirts and shorts, and have easy access to everything.

Another unusual idea was rolling your socks like sushi rather than rolling or folding them. I know I said I wasn’t messing with the MR’s stuff, but I used to have agnst about stuffing all the clean socks in one tiny drawer. Now his socks are organized by color and size, and I always have room for a few more.

Socks from above

 

He isn’t 100% won over on this change. But sometimes you have to appease your crazy wife.

Remember my new shoe bins? Look at that closet now.

Empty closet

I got rid of the wrap dress that looked so chic but wouldn’t wrap around me. Sometimes you make a mistake and just have to let it go.

You may have noticed, I’ve taken Kondo’s advice to arrange your clothes so that they rise to the right, from heavy to light, both in weight and color. It’s sounds a little hokey to me, but why not give it a try? I’ve been organizing by color for years.

All this purging has eliminated the need to store out of season clothes. When I packed things up, often I’d forget to unpack them—especially when we had a particularly cool rainy spring and summer.

As I said before, I haven’t finished all my clothes. I still need to take a look at my jeans, my workout gear, scarves, jewelry and sweaters. Sweaters will definitely be a challenge. Kondo says to dump everything out on the floor and then pick it up, touch it, and you’ll know if you want to keep it.

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

I’m a little fearful of tackling the books; we have a lot; and I don’t want to dump them all on the floor. Perhaps that’s why I like that she calls tidying a special occasion. Something you should dress for and not to be performed every day.

“I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.”

I think I’d add the people I love, too. Either way, I’m working on it.

Any tidying advice you’d like to share? 

 

 

 

 

 

Window Film Revisited

You know how you wait, and wait, and wait for photos from a professional to arrive, so you can upload a post on your new window films? Wait—I guess that’s just me.

Well, I waited for over two weeks, and then when I couldn’t wait anymore, I posted to my blog about the new window films with less than stellar pictures; because after all, they’d hired a professional who had promised to share his photos with me.  And then, a few short hours after I posted, the fellow sent me his wonderful pictures.

It’s fun to see your home from a different perspective. So even though it’s been done before, let’s take another look at window films.

The team did a great job of thoroughly cleaning the windows before applying the film.

Cleaning Windows

 

 

Then the film was carefully rolled into place.

Rolling on the film

 

All the edges were smoothed down.

Working on upper window

 

Have I mentioned that we have a lot of windows? I’m just glad I didn’t have to climb that scaffolding.

Scaffolding and workers

 

In this photo, you can just see scaffolding and ladders set up inside. house and yard

 

You get such a different view when you move down the slope to the tennis court.

House and tennis court

Look closely at the windows and you can see the color variation between the ones that already have film and those that are in the process.

house and dry grass

 

I don’t think these have anything to do with window films, but I like how Ben from Marketeering Group.com was captivated by Mt. Rainier, just like me.Mt RainierAnd take a look at the lovely reflection of the landscape on the master suite’s windows. It’s our one small patch of green.

Master window reflection

The MR found a bird’s nest in the top of the poodle pine. When he’s out on the little bench reading, an angry bird tick-tick-ticks at him. Perhaps he’s too close to home.

Thank you Ben for sharing your pictures with us. It’s always fun to see your home through someone else’s eyes.

And now I’ll leave you with a teaser for later this week:  Are your socks rolled like sushi?

July Harvest

I had friends over the other day. Wow, you have tomatoes already, one commented as she was looking around.

Our little cherry tomatoes on the deck have been producing for about a month. We don’t have tons of them. I’m not sure if it’s still early, or if I’ve been stingy with the fertilizer. We also have the added bonus of having the plants wrapped in dark netting to keep the dogs from digging up the worm castings and fertlizer and littering the deck with dirt.

We’re eating a handful of tomatoes every few nights—it’s all good.

Besides tomatoes, we’ve been enjoying an amazing crop of blueberries and currants.

Currant bush

All that netting the MR put up surrounding the berry bushes and grape vines has certainly made a difference. I made blueberry muffins and currant cakes for my friends’ visit.

Me and Baby Girl have also been enjoying blueberries in our morning yogurt, and the MR has developed a taste for currant popsicles with raspberry puree.  Two of the ladies who stopped by mentioned having currants in their yards, and wondering what to do with them.

I made some ruby red raspberry currant jelly last week. It’s a beautiful color. I was being smart and using the juicer attachment for the KitchenAid mixer that the MR bought me for Christmas. Now, raspberries and currants have a lot of seeds, so when the waste output started looking kind of loose, I decided to run the waste through a second time.

That was not my best decision. The mixer made a funny sound, and before I could turn it off, exploded in beautiful red all over my white cabinets.

mess

Well, it wasn’t actually an explosion, the attachment just blew off the end and red juice flew everywhere. I think I’ll learn to live with a little wasted juice, or perhaps clean out the attachment between runs.

Friends had leftover smoked salmon from their Fourth of July celebration, I offered some of our bounty in return. They took some cucumbers, but before the week was out, I had four more giant cucumbers, one huge and two small zucchinis, and one forelorn plum.

zuch cucs plum

 

 

 

The little guys were a perfect substition for mushrooms in a tasty smoked salmon fettucine. The other night, me and the MR enjoyed Corsican pie with zucchini blossoms (a recipe from one of my new cookbooks). It was fabulous to look at as well as to eat.

corsican pie

Cucumber and avocado salad are slated for the menu tonight; perhaps it’s also time for some zucchini bread. Baby Girl has a thing for that; I guess I’ll be looking for a gluten-free recipe.

After one lonely plum last week, I was excited to pick these pretty yellow ones a few days ago. The birds had started sampling them, but we wound up with just over a pound. Last year, we harvested one and a half plums, not pounds (sharing with the birds again), so I’m happy with our huge upswing in production.

yellow plums 2

These little gems are pretty and tasty, too.

The warm weather has been a boon to the berry harvest and the ripening of the fruit trees early, but it’s been too much for the lettuce. All of the plants have bolted, so I cut them back. In a few weeks, I should have more greens for summer salads.

While I was down in the garden, I noticed something had been breaking the bean plants. That seemed odd. Then I checked on the zucchini plant in the raised bed. Something’s definitely been chewing on this squash.

teeth marks 2

I thought this was an “8-ball” zucchini plant. It looks more like a torpedo.

Those look like teeth marks to me. We saw a raccoon run across the fairway while golfing the other day, maybe we’ve had a visitor in the garden. Whatever it is, it’s been chewing on the carrot tops and pulled up my sole beet plant.

Mowed down carrots

Oh the joys of gardening. It’s one step forward and two steps back. We’re lucky to have two farmers markets, farm stands, and local u-picks all within a few miles.

If things don’t turn around, I’ll just have to buy my beets this year.

How’s you’re garden growing? What are you making with the summer bounty?

 

 

 

 

 

The Tale of a Blanket and the Books that Got Me There

When your youngest is graduating from high school, it can get a person to thinking.

Baby Girl loves wrapping up in a blanket, settling down with a good book or watching a show. Wouldn’t it be special if I made her a blanket in her school colors? Every time she snuggled down in it, she’d think of home and feel loved.

I’ve been knitting hex-puffs for Tiny Owl Knits “The Beekeeper’s Quilt” for a couple years now. Some of them are yellow and green, I could toss in some beige or white, I must be half way done with a blanket already. Then I pulled out my stash of puffs—they were all wrong. The greens were muddy, the variegated yarn just looked off.

So back in April, I got busy. Remember my trip to Oregon State for Mom’s Weekend with Sweet Miss? Well, I knitted four hours up, and four hours down. I knitted while I caught up on shows, I knitted out on the deck, I knitted on car rides—it was non-stop.

BG’s graduation party came and went. The MR came through with a laptop for BG, and still I pressed on making hex-puffs. It was another road-trip to Oregon with the MR, helping Sweet Miss set up her place, that finally put me over the 200 mark.

I wasn’t sure how many I needed, but I knew I was done making green, yellow, and white hex-puffs. The coffee table was the perfect place to lay out my lovelies, and make sure all those random puffs made a pleasing whole.

piecing the blanket

 

Then it was just a matter of tying all those corners together and weaving in the ends. I’m rather pleased with how it all turned out.

Finished

 

Our little duck looks happy, too.

BG & Blanket

 

Next time, I’ll arrange the puffs on the dining room table, so I don’t have to bend over quite so much. And I’ll give myself plenty of time, so I don’t grow weary or resentful from making puff, after puff, after puff.

What keeps me sane making all those little hexagons? I’ve been enjoying some great audiobooks. I download them from the library, and listen as I knit.

So far this summer, I’ve listened to:

Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colon
The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Add in a few self-help books and silly mysteries, and I finished a lot of knitting.

Lately, I’ve gotten excited about cookbooks. Baby Girl has been gluten-free/gluten-light for a few years now. I totally hate buying a loaf of bread for over $6 and having it taste just OK. During the brown bag, school lunch season, I was making bread on a regular basis. Some of it was good, some-pretty good, some of it was just plain weird.

Good bread is an issue when you’re gluten-free. Perhaps it’s best to just give it up all together. That’s why I was so intrigued by Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread by Nicole Hunn. She uses whey protein isolate to replace the structure gluten usually gives. I’ve only made one loaf, but it was amazing.

(Actually, I was making one loaf, was called away to dinner with friends, forgot the whey protein powder when I came back the next day, and the first loaf was a hard as a rock lump; but the next one was amazing. You know what I mean.)

Then this last weekend, I headed over to Molbak’s (a local nursery) for a talk on using herbs in your cooking. Our herb garden has been doing so well, it seemed like I should be amping up the herbs in my recipes.

Somehow I ended up with two new books highlighting herbs and fresh vegetables. I picked up the speaker, Willi Galloway’s, cookbook/gardening guide Grow Cook Eat, and another book she recommended Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Cookbooks

 

I have wonderful plans for a zucchini blossom tart. Who knew vegetables could look so beautiful? Meatless Mondays are getting a major boost.

What have you been crafting lately? What’s on your summer reading list?