In the Orchard

 
Since we visited the garden in our last post, I thought the orchard deserved equal time.

It’s been five years since the first batch of trees was planted, and we’ve had some hits and misses. The plumcot is a big zero in the fruit department this year. It’s one of the few trees that’s escaped leaf curl and deer damage, but it’s not producing.

It’s supposed to be self-fertile, but maybe it needs a friend. The new nectarines that replaced the dead nectarine tree are also a hit and a miss. One died, and the other is starting to take off.

The liberty apple is covered in fruit—I forgot to thin it this year, so the apples are a little too thick. The MR has braced the branches, and the mature fruit will just wind up a little under-sized. And our Chehalis tree has a couple apples as well. I think apples are a success.

 Pears are a big nothing just like the plumcot. We have a comice tree and a rescue tree. They’re supposed to cross-pollinate, but seem to be having issues. A deer did knock down half of the rescue pear early on, so it’s been playing catch up. Maybe it’s time to add another pear to boost pollination.

That’s what we did a few years back with the plums, and we immediately saw a difference. While the young weeping Santa Rosa has yet to produce any fruit. The Shiro is going to yield quite a few this year.

 I used a filter on the picture of these light green/turning yellow plums amongst light green leaves, so you could see them a little better. We do not live in a strange psychedelic world. 

And just look at the beauty plums coming on. I’m so glad the tree has recovered from its deer mauling last year. The ripened plums will be bright magenta soon.

Me and the  MR have been trying to ensure that the deer stay out of the orchard. Earlier in the spring he extended the fence posts using old galvanized pipe we pulled out during some well work and then adding more netting. Now that the fruit is oncoming on, I soaked more jute twine in patchouli and tied it near the fruit and along the fence. 

With the new high fence and the bad smell, maybe the deer will stay away. Cross your fingers; were hoping to enjoy some plums this year. 

Do you have fruit trees in your yard? Any local farms as a great source of produce?

Currant Events

When the girls were in middle school, I’d be packing lunches or making dinner only to notice one or the other cutting up my newspaper. To my surprised “what are you doing?” They’d say it was for current events.

We’re enjoying a different kind of currant events around here. It is one banner crop this year.

We have three blueberry bushes that are all different varieties and ripen at all different times. The three currant bushes on the otherhand all ripen at once. And boy are there a lot of them.

The deck worker was askingwhat I was picking. They’re so red; he was hoping they were raspberries that he saw across the yard under all that netting. He hadn’t heard of currants, so I left him a few clusters. They’re an acquired taste he told me later.

They are quite tart and full of seeds, but I’m always happy when currant season arrives—I like a challenge. We make our favorite Braised Mediterannean Chicken and of course the raspberry-currant popsicles, but I have to new recipes, too.

So I’ve been searching through Yummly and Pinterest and have quite a few things in the works:

Little Big H’s Red Currant Blueberry Yoghurt Popsicles look amazing and would help use uptwo things I have in abundance.

Me and the MR enjoyed Hungry Shots’ Red Currant Banana Orange Smoothie with breakfast the other morning. The pulp from the fresh-squeezed OJ helped obscure all the seeds. And the sweet bananas off-set the tang.

The Ricotta Pancakes with Red Currants from Dare to Cook were good but not amazing. You have to get past all the seeds.

Red Currant Curd from Kleine Chaos Küchen was so good, but I’m a sucker for lemon curd so it was an easy sell.

Then there’s the Red Currant-Strawberry Oat Thyme Crisp from Our Four ForksRed Currant Popsicles from Hungry Shots, and so many more.

This week we tried Oat Cake with Currants from Everyday Flavours. Sometimes you have to try a recipe just because of the language. Google translate has its issues. When it started talking about the reaction furnace I was in. But who can resist, butter, eggs, and fruit? A little sweet, a little tart—I’d say it’s good enough to eat.

Any currant recipes to share?

Turn to Sweet Red Gems for our favorite popsicle and chicken recipes featuring currants.

 

A Look Back at March 2017

Waking to the sound of rain, sometimes I wonder if spring will ever come. With the weather we’ve been having lately, it seems to have abandoned us even though the calendar says otherwise.

Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised to see a hummingbird seated on this shepherd’s crook as I passed through our bedroom the other day. He seemed to be chiding me for not having the feeder out when he was here for a visit. Soon my friend, I will sit out in the mornings, drinking my coffee, and laughing at your antics, but I won’t do that in the pouring rain.

Me and the MR enjoyed a breath of Spring Inspiration at the Seattle Home and Garden Show. The air was heavily scented with flowers, and I can’t wait to put our outdoor seating to use.

Sadly, this is not our outdoor seating–just inspiration. But a girl can dream.

Daffodils greet us with their bright cheery heads, and hyacinths are just beginning to open. On the one sunny day last week, I spent a few hours working in the garden. All this rain can’t last forever.

Maybe it’s a good thing we’ve been stuck indoors. Otherwise, we might not have noticed that certain scent that proved Life is Messy. The sink is no longer in the entry, all the holes have been filled, textured, and painted, and the exterminator gave me hope when he told me it’s only mice—that’s still not my favorite thing.

I may not be Saving the Planet, but I’m trying to make little changes that decrease my footprint. Earth Day’s coming up; it’s time to step up my game. I don’t want to leave a mess for future generations.

 

I shared with you our banner Citrus Harvest—three whole lemons this year. That’s a 50 percent increase in yield. I was feeling pretty good till we visited the MR’s cousins down in the LA-area, and their friend had trees dripping with lemons, clementines, and grapefruit. I’m just going to be content with what I have. The whole family got to enjoy the fruits of our labors with a yummy lemon pie; it was even full-sized this year. We’re getting there.

And finally, the new carpet came. It’s beautiful, soft, squishy-between-my-toes, wonderful. If you haven’t noticed, I’m rather in love. Now I promised a photo of the guest room—the one with the biggest change going from dark emerald to a lovely morning mist. This will not disappoint.

OK, maybe you’re not oohing and aahing as much as I’d like, but let’s go back a ways. Remember when it was a catch-all sewing/storage/mess?

Like those old ads from the ’70s “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

And sometimes this monthly recap is all about the stuff that didn’t make it in the blog. Like having both girls home for a few days is awesome and exhausting. Baby Girl turned 20, and Sweet Miss is planning a big move and had an exciting job interview. Me and the MR chased the sunshine to California. While it was in the 90’s the week before we arrived, the 70’s felt warm to us. And we explored most of the beach at Santa Monica before it started raining.

All and all, life is good even with holes in the wall, rain, and mice.

How was your March?

 

 

 

 

 

February Flew By

Last month started with the MR’s birthday, and a visit from our sweet girls and ended with a quick trip to Oregon to see them in turn. Two visits with our kids in a month is rather delightful.

Sandwiched between those was a lot of rain, a lot of snow, and a lot of crazy. In Winter Wonderland I shared the joys of snow outside and a cozy fire inside which led to questions and a whole blog on the History of Our Fireplace. It’s gone through a lot of changes over the past five years. Remember the conversation pit and the green carpet?

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When a Tree Falls in the Woods, I asked that it stay off our driveway. Me and the MR worked up a sweat clearing branches, small trees, limbs, and debris from our only way out.

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Of course that wasn’t the end of travel woes. All the snow and rain—it’s been the wettest February on record in Seattle since 1961—caused part of the road up our hill to collapse into a steep ravine. (Check out Winter Storms & Prepping for Spring.) They are working on it, but for now we have another one lane road to navigate on the way home.

With the power out, no TV, trapped at home, that gave me lots of time to knit, right? What should have been a good thing turned into trouble when hand-dyed shade variations showed up in a big way on my fingering-weight cardigan edged in lace. I’m still mourning the loss or maybe pouting is a better word for it. This is one time when Following the Rules would have paid off in a big way.

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On the positive side, How’s That for Color? featured our picks for new carpet in three of the bedrooms. Baby Girl has a ton of stuff, so her bedroom will have to wait until she totally moves out. One of our color choices is in production and should be available in mid-March, so we’ve had the rooms measured, made a down payment, and are just waiting a few weeks to schedule installation.

For me, The Best Part of Winter is getting up before the sun. I could probably do it during the summer, but 4 am comes awfully early. I love watching the everchanging sky in the mornings.

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With more snow this week, enough to delay schools but not enough to keep us trapped at home, I did notice how pretty the front doors are with their mountains backlit with real snow.

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Cocoa agrees with me, of course.

For March, I’m hoping for fewer storms and a better attitude. While there’s nothing I can do about the first, I’m working on the second.

How was your February?

 

Winter Storms & Prepping for Spring

The snow and rain this past month has brought its share of headaches. 

The MR spent a few days straightening posts and redoing the netting over the orchard. The weight of the snow had caused it to collapse. 


We got by with just a few broken branches. Taking a closer look, the MR noticed that the critters who tore up our grapes last fall had also damaged the vines. He took the opportunity to remove the bottom wire of the grape trellis, so the grapes wouldn’t hang on the ground. 

Although it snowed every day last week, it was sunny by afternoon. So the MR did some careful pruning to the fruit trees and bushes, fertilized the trees, and applied a dormant spray. The orchard is ready for spring. 

He also began work on a French drain for a low spot in the driveway which sports a puddle half the year. In his preliminary digging he came across a large rock just shy of 12-inches deep. After a lot of hard work, he decided a 10-inch drain would be the better choice; it’s on order. 

The big news isn’t on our property; it’s on the one road leading to the 60-plus homes on our hill. With the heavy rains this month, the road began collapsing into a deep ravine. I did mention that this is the ONE and only road leading up the hill, right?



The county has added some drainage, filled in, and paved over the uphill shoulder. During the week, they posted half hour waits, and this past weekend it was one hour waits to get through the construction zone. 


I’m hoping we’re safe for the moment and thankful that no one has been hurt. Over the weekend, the county was taking core samples. Maybe they’ll show that our hillside is going to stay put. 

Any storms headed your way? How are you preparing for spring?

The Flurries of January 2017

When I started this blog five years ago, I had two girls in high school busy with sports, friends, and activities. Sweet Miss was getting ready to graduate. Now the girls are in gone to school and jobs in Oregon, and the MR has started a consulting business where he can pick and choose his hours.

Suddenly, our ties to home are much fewer, and we’ve been totally taking advantage of it. Just look back at the month: On the Road AgainFirst Stop MiamiRelaxing on Turks and Caicos, and The Beauty of Zihuatanejo. The first three posts share highlights of our recent trip, and the the last shares our trip to Mexico with the girls just before Christmas.

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Each of these places had their own beauty and charm. I promised to share a photo of the stingrays we swam with. These were fun to watch from afar after I got over my initial fear.stingray

All this traveling means, I have to plan ahead to get the blog out, so I’ve been using the “Wordless Wednesday” model here and there. I shared Our Citrus Grove and Winter Blooms recently. The tiny calamondin lime, which isn’t even a lime, but a hybrid of a mandarin orange and the kumquat, and the lemon tree make up our stunted, indoor grove. I cut up one of the limes to add to a salad—it was way too tart. The three lemons on our “tree” are ripening and will soon be part of a lemon pie. It’s our little eating hyper-local experiment.

We’ve added another bloom to the winter beauty from a plant the MR’s grandmother grew. Does anyone know what this is? The branches hang down, and the clusters of white, star-shaped flowers face down as well.

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The blooms are even prettier when viewed from below. Maybe I showed move the plant to a bookcase, so we can see these sweet flowers at their best.

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When I am home, I have time to get involved in some local groups. The Knitters and Crocheters of Duvall meet Tuesdays at Quintessential Knits, and they’ve joined up with the Duvall Bag Ladies to make sleeping mats for the homeless. I hope they add some comfort to these people’s lives.

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And finally, I took time to Learn Something New. Brioche is a challenging knitting technique with very cool results. I hope Baby Girl is enjoying her cozy cowl. I hear snow and ice is headed towards Oregon again this week and alpaca is soft and warm.

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I have a few sewing projects, and we’re talking carpet again, so I may have some home-centered posts for February. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods?

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

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I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

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Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

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The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

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One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

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It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

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See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

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Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?