It Doesn’t Look Like Much

I had this vision, this plan, this wonderful idea. We’d cover the tennis court in vines, and I’d no longer feel guilty for never using it.

Not only would we cover all that chain-link fence in vines, we’d make them edible, so they’d be beautiful and beneficial. That’s where kiwis come in. I get all these seed catalogs in the mail and read about fabulous fruit trees and berries that will make my heart sing.

Raintree Nursery boasted a variety of kiwi vines. They grow in Russia, our little valley is a little more hospitable than Siberia. We should be good. Now these are not the fuzzy kiwis you buy at the grocery store; these are what they’ve coined “kiwi berries”. They’re smaller, and you don’t have to peel them. If you believe everything you read, they’re going to be the next big thing at all the farmer’s markets.

I’m not that gullible, but they did sound intriguing, and they could cover a lot of fence. Of course, you do need a boy and a girl, and I decided to add another variety of female just to mix things up. My idea was to cover the fence facing the house.

The MR, always logical, pointed out that the soil was bad, with the retaining wall the vines are quite far from the fence, there’s no irrigation, and the last thing we planted there died. With the recent fence issues, animals eating my onions and ripping up carrots, I decided maybe there’s room in the garden after all.

So here’s the start of my kiwi empire: one male…

And two females.

I’m hopiing the male revives after his time on the deck, otherwise we’re in trouble. But in happier news just look at the honeysuckle. It’s been awhile, but it’s finally taking off.

By the end of summer, the fence will be covered in vines, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle will fill the air as I weed my little garden.

Until then, I’ll leave you with a little found beauty. Remember when the MR had the guy come and rip out all most of the blackberries last fall? Well, around all the dead brambles, foxgloves have begun to sprout up, and you know how I feel about foxgloves.

Wildflowers make me smile.

What makes you smile?

 

 

How Did May Fair 2017?

The other day, the MR says to me, we have workers here a lot at this place… Why yes, yes we do. This is the first day in weeks that I haven’t had my daily routine accompanied by pounding. I’m enjoying the peace and quiet albeit short lived.

We started off the month checking out that noise that Wasn’t Going Away. Turns out that hum from the mechanical room in the entry wasn’t a ball bearing going out; it was pumps seizing up from rust—uggh. It was another day and lots of dollars later that we got it all fixed up. I told the MR I was glad it didn’t happen in the middle of winter, but than he replied at least we’d have noticed if it was cold outside.

While I’m still looking for a shade-loving color bowl for the front steps, it’s amazing what a difference a simple Sweep & Scrub can make. Getting rid of the cobwebs certainly makes your front door more inviting.

On gray days, and yes it’s full on spring and we’ve still had quite a few rainy, overcast days, my Striping It Orange throw keeps me smiling—there is hope. When you can’t have sun outside, a little bit color inside just might do the trick.

While the heating guys were here for a few days, it’s the deck guys that have been a constant. You see we’ve had some Rotten Luck literally. While the upper deck is mostly done, they still have the stair landing and hot tub removal on the docket. Sadly for us, they found a lot more rot than expected extending the project by a few weeks and a few dollars, so they’re taking a break for another job and will be back in mid-June to finish up. Until then, at least it’s getting closer.

When I was talking about Embracing the Crazy, the MR’s experiment with pruning, I noticed one of the smoke trees wasn’t cooperating.

Turns out getting to the soffit on the steep slope hasn’t been beneficial for that middle tree. Several of its limbs are on the ground. I’m not complaining; this is not an easy house to work on and don’t even think about getting me up on a ladder. Next year, when it’s not in the middle of the action it’ll start shooting up.

The MR went around and pruned immediately after I’d taken photos. The evergreen near the deck is starting to take shape although it still looks a little crazy.

You may have noticed the bougainvillea inside has now become the bougainvillea outside. When it starts heating up, we like to move some of the larger plants out on the deck. Now when I’m sitting on the little couch, I smell the sweet scent of lemon. And the hummingbirds vist our bougainvillea.  I bet they’ll visit the plumeria too, if it ever decides to bloom.

As we were moving pots out, we moved pots in. Sweet Miss brought me sedums for Mother’s Day. Now I have Sweet Sedums & Violets on the dining room table. Her plan was to set the out on the steps, but I’m not ready to see them go just yet.

As for the Unexpected vs. Uninvited guests, the Mr has been working on that. We have a new post in place, and he has posts and straps, and netting, and big plans. I’ll keep you posted. (How many times can I use the same word in a paragraph?)

Unfortunately, something’s still getting in. I’m not sure if it’s slugs or bunnies eating the onions. Perhaps I need to throw a party for the slugs, or Cocoa needs to catch a few of the rabbits she loves to chase.

At least the weather has been nice, and we’ve been able to get outside a bit.

In other May news, Baby Girl mentioned how much she liked the flowers before noticing they were the ones we bought together; Mexico was lovely and relaxing; the MR’s new TV is incredibly thin and lightweight, so I didn’t worry about it crashing down on my head while I helped him hang it in place; the local LYS tour was great; hummingbirds are rather violent and territorial; and life is good.

Hoping May faired well for you.

 

Unexpected vs. Uninvited

Unexpected guests can be a delightful thing. You hear a random knock only to find old friends on the doorstep. Suddenly, a quiet evening has turned into a party. Or out of the blue you get a text and your headed out for an evening of dinner, and laughter, and catching up.

We’ve even invited friends for a weekend away and had them show up with some tagalongs. The more the merrier; people are always welcome.

It’s the uninvited that bring me down; the uninvited garden guests to be specific. The MR took Cocoa for her evening walk the other night and found giant slugs dessicating our newly-planted columbine. And when I went down to the check the state of our garden I found unequivocal evidence of invaders.

The first sign was random onions tossed about.

Moving along, I found carrots similarly thrown aside. Invaders, let it be known, if you’re going to tear up my vegetables, you can at least have the decency to eat them.

But I had the last laugh. Whatever has been messing with my garden appears to have had a bit of trouble exiting.

Now that the weather seems to have turned—we’ve had a run of dry, hot days—I’ll have to see if the garden has dried out enough for proper weeding. It’s just so much more fun to work outside when it’s quiet and peaceful, and I can listen to the birds. For the next few weeks, my efforts will be accompanied by the sound of hammers as work on the deck continues.

To be honest me and the MR have been playing hooky for the last few days down in Mexico. We spent a long weekend with my brother and his lovely wife at the Viceroy down in Zihuatenjo. Good food and good friends coupled with sunshine made for a lovely weekend.

But now it’s back deck repairs, garden mishaps, and real life.

How do you get rid of those uninvited guests?

And That Was April

Maybe I’ve lost my mojo. I just don’t seem to be blogging like I used to. Lately, not that much has been happening. We moved into this crazy house, fixed it up, bought a bunch of furniture, the end.

The MR received a bid the other day to fix the deck. Do we want to fix the problem bits? Do we want to fix the whole thing so it’s seamless? Do we want to pull out the hot tub that’s not working and make it into a sun deck? We still have a lot of work to do on the grounds I type as the MR is out on the John Deere mowing the fields for the first time this year.

Yesterday was a spectacularly sunny day in the midst of our rainy spring. Earlier this week, I was back down in the garden planting seedlings from the FFA sale. Cocoa didn’t seem as Carrot Crazy this time. Instead she rolled in onions. There’s a reason she’s not allowed in the garden.

They’ve filled in quite a bit in the last few weeks. I’ll have to take some garden update photos. The asparagus I was worried hadn’t survived last year’s move is recovering. But what do you do with one gargantuan piece of asparagus?

Maybe all the traveling is what throws off my schedule. One of my favorite trips this year was to The Other WA. It was a first-time for me, the MR, and his folks. And while politics may drive you crazy, the history and beauty of Washington, DC is so inspiring.

Another highlight of the month was spending time with my sweet girlies and getting some Book Love at Powell’s in Portland. I was reading about Amazon opening another brick-and-mortar store in Bellevue this fall, and the MR didn’t understand the draw for them as a company. There’s just something about a bookstore with authors speaking and stacks and stacks of books just calling you to read that promotes people’s loyalty. This could make them more relateable.

During my trip to Oregon, I was also able to meet lots of Baby Girl’s friends and tour Sweet Miss’ new apartment in the city.

BG is looking for summer travel clothes, so we did a lot of shopping mostly for her but a little for me. That worked out for the house,too, since I was into Making My Own Sunshine with some lovely fake flowers.

It’s May now; I know the real ones are coming. Blossoms cover the apple trees, and my garden is calling between rain squalls. At least when it’s raining, I don’t feel guilty staying inside and knitting or crocheting. I designed these flowers for Quintessential Knits here in town, and kits will be available soon in case you’re needing a dose of sunshine.

Hope your May Day was filled with peace and joy and flowers.

And the best news of all may not have made it into the blog.  Sweet Miss is marrying The Fella, and we’re pleased as punch. God is good. Life is good. Hug someone you love. 


 

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Carrot Crazy

Me and Cocoa went out to check on the garden the other day. I had a bin full of warm castings and some onion sets demanding my attention.

Now I don’t usually let the dog in the garden. She’s been known to dig big holes in the dirt and roll around. But I figured it was cool enough that she wouldn’t be tempted and besides, the garden was just full of debris from last year—tomato vines and broccoli skeletons.


The two of us were in for a bit of a surprise. The carrots I’d tried to coax into sprouting last summer made a come back over the winter.


It took a little weeding, but before long we’re going to have a harvest.

 

I wasn’t the only one to notice our bounty. One of Cocoa’s favorite foods is carrots. When she hears me peeling vegetables, she comes a running looking for a hand out certain it’s carrots. She’d eat the whole pile of peels if I let her.

So when she came upon that line of carrots, Cocoa lowered her nose and started sniffing. I shewed her away before she could do any damage. The gate is securely fastened to keep the harvest safe. When she looks at me with those big brown eyes, I’m sure she’ll get her share eventually.

What’s in your garden?

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Saving the Harvest

While our garden and orchard have been hit and miss due to the cool summer, animal intrusion, and redoing of the beds, we did enjoy a ton of broccoli, some really nice onions, and a few beets.

As you may remember, I can only eat so much broccoli. Come winter, I usually heat up corn, peas, or green beans and call it good when it comes to a side dish. I was thinking I should really make more of an effort in that department, and since I was tired of broccoli, I thought maybe pickled broccoli would be the answer. I know, my family doesn’t really eat pickles, but this is broccoli not cucumbers, so maybe it would be OK.

It all started when a few weeks ago, me and the MR went shopping with my dad; and on the way home, we stopped at a local farm and picked a couple baskets of tomatoes. No, we don’t love tomatoes that much either, but Sweet Miss complimented my Smokey Tomato Jam (or rather Putting Up with Erin’s Smokey Tomato Jam), so of course I had to make some for her October care package.

And since I was there, and I’d really liked the jam, I decided to check out what other recipes Erin had on her blog. That’s when I came across Pepper Pickled Broccoli, Beet, Carrot, and Apple Slaw, and Roasted Onion and Sage Jam. Have I mentioned that we have a banner crop of sage, too?

Now, I’m not sure how they all turned out. The onion jam was quite lovely on a cracker with a touch of cream cheese, and I can imagine it would make a wonderful glaze over a pork roast. The pickled broccoli and the beet slaw are supposed to hang around for three weeks or so before we try them out. You want all those flavors to meld, so I’ve been practicing patience. I’m just excited to have a ready supply of beets that I can eat in moderation; the MR chooses to abstain.

I really like tomato jam spread on a grilled cheese sandwich with all that gooey cheese. I have pretty fancy tastes as you can see.

All my jars have been sitting on the counter, but soon they’ll be adding some color and beauty to the pantry and a dose of flavor to our winter menus.canned-goods

Any favorite recipes for your fall harvest? Do you have a canning web site you like to use?

(Sadly, my links are on the blink, so Putting Up with Erin is the blog where I found these amazing recipes. Google Smokey Tomato Jam, and you’ll end up in the right spot.)