In Praise of Carrots

Mmm, carrot love. Carrots are my favorite vegetable to eat. They are also my favorite vegetable to grow. With just some nice loose soil and regular watering you get these beauties. Nuggets of yumminess. Just as good raw right out of the ground as they are roasted. The greens are tasty in salad or soup - or as a treat for the bunny. My favorite thing about growing them aside from eating them is pulling one out of the soil  - how they just slide right out all gorgeous and golden like buried treasure. AND, you can leave them in the ground until you're ready to eat them. No worries about them over-ripening really all summer!


I've turned my laundry green!

Copeland House finally has a laundry line! I've been procrastinating installing a line for about a year now waiting for just the right design. For less than $20 today I found a retractable line that took about 1/2 hour to install. So worth it!
Of course if you have a line, you have to have a laundry pin bag. So in about 20 minutes I put together this little sock monkey oilcloth bag. 

Why use a laundry line when you have a machine dryer? Here's why I chose to (not to mention it's been way too hot for us to run our dryer):

[These are excerpted from "People Power"]

-Static electricity and shrinkage are no longer an issue.
-Clothing hung on clotheslines last longer (all the lint that collects in our dryer is actually your clothing breaking down) and smell fresher.
-When clothes are thrown in a dryer, zippers cause tearing and snags. By hanging your clothes outside you can completely avoid this problem.
-By driving half of your wash loads on a clothesline, the average family can save 720 pounds of cabon dioxide in a year.
-Save on your utility bill by not running the dryer! Did you know that electric dryers are among the top energy-users in a home?
- Save on laundry products too! Since the sun is a natural lightener you do not need to buy bleach and since electricity creates static cling you do not need to buy dryer sheets.


Bean Belly

Bean harvest in my t-shirt! We're calling it my bean baby. I've picked about this much each day from our little 4x4 box that also has carrots and did have greens and radishes too! Half will go to the neighbor - I got a bag full of new potatoes from her garden. Our shared garden has given us cucumbers, zucchini, and now the tomatoes are getting ripe! Yay!


Oh Look Winter Gardening Time!

I know, it's supposed to be 100 degrees out on Wednesday - crazy hot for the Willamette Valley - and I'm talking about winter gardening! Now's the time to plant though according to Territorial Seeds' Winter Gardening chart. Cool season crops often like warm soil for seed germination even though the plants themselves like cooler weather for production. I need to get my butt in gear is what it means!!

Can't see this well? Click here for the link.


Going Green in Style

So I found these food storage "devices" on Pinterest this evening and I can't help but share them. They aren't 100% practical, but I LOVE the concept. Kinda a big "whatever" too to folks who think "green" means dumpy... Just lovely

Food Storage Without the Fridge


Garden Repast

So I took a solo camping trip over the last two nights/three days. It's something I've always wanted to do and the time was just right. Me and the dog.

Since it was just me, I decided this would be a nice time to have a little cleansing diet so to speak. No meat, diary or processed sugar. I raided the garden before the trip and got a little creative at the campsite. When it's just you and there is nothing else to do, it's amazing what you can come up with. Honestly, I'd also done a quick search online for vegan-type camping food and didn't come up with any real individual serving meals. So, here's my contribution:

Garden fresh green bean saute (with olive oil, onion, garlic powder) served with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and homegrown parsley. All over a bed of quinoa. And a salad of tomatoes and avocado with olive oil and zatar.

Oh yeah, and this was my entire kitchen - so it doesn't take much!



Well, the garden is going strong. Cheryl picked a bunch of cucumbers yesterday so I made a couple of jars of refrigerator pickles for us. They are bread and butter pickles and are supposed to take 3 days to be ready to eat. I used an old pickle jar for our batch.

We also had some lovely quinoa tabbouleh with garden fresh garlic, parsley and cherry tomatoes. Lastly, falafel with yogurt cucumber sauce.

Oh and the green beans grew over night ready to pick!


How Does Our Garden Grow?

Here's an updated look at the shared garden beds! This is the garden we started with our next door neighbors. The lettuces are getting ready to eat, the broccoli is HUGE and the squashes are taking off. Cosmos, nasturtiums and marigolds pepper each bed to attract the pollinators. Baby garlic and green onions are stationed throughout the beds to detract pests. A second crop of lettuce has been planted to take the place of the mature when we collect it.


Little Garden

Babies in our newest raised bed - slowly replacing all the grass : )

Strong little green bean, just pushed through the dirt!

Radish forest, just a few days old.

Mixed greens to be shaded by green bean canopy.

And progress continues on the shed.


Roof Trusses

And work continues on my special shed! Kalvin and Jovi got the door opening framed yesterday while I took a mid-term test and sat through 2 hours of anatomy and physiology lecture. Today the three of us got through most of the roof trusses. The cross beam is new too - the idea being that we will have storage on the right half of the ceiling and then an open ceiling on the left (window side).

One of our new garden beds in the foreground  (green beans, garlic and carrots so far - planted radishes and lettuce today too)


Beeing Green

I've been looking for quick projects that can give me a break from studying and work. We also have a bit of left over odds and ends from the framing of my "shed" I'd like to figure out how to repurpose. (Yeah, that's my new work lately!) A few years back, up in B'ham, I saw these neat cylinder-filled canisters for sale in the local book store. Turns out they were bee homes, meant to attract mason bees to urban yards, providing shelter for the bees and pollinators for your garden and flower beds. So, today I decided to make my own bee home! This will eventually likely be attached to the side of my "shed", but for now I've just propped it on a fence 2x4. Not the prettiest, neatest drill holes ever, but it was a quick feel-good project. I'll let you know how it works out - if I get any bees. 


A Room of One's Own

So, the wife loves me. What's even cooler, is that her little brother loves me too. He, and his family spent this past weekend helping to build me a little room of my own. All this while I mostly studied or was in class! It's officially to be known as "the shed", you could also call it my woman cave. It's a 10x20 structure with a mix of repurposed and new materials. Here's the skinny on what it will include in the end:

  • Leftover flooring from my in-law's house
  • Leftover 3-tab shingles for the roofing from a friend's house
  • Recycled windows from the Rebuilding Center
  • We are looking for shingles on Craig's List leftover from someone else's project... 
  • I'm also looking for some good solar lighting options
  • Rainwater catchment - not sure if we will just water the adjacent garden beds with it or hook up a gray water faucet for projects in the shed itself. 
  • We were toying around with a green roof for part of it, but I don't think this is the best idea with the shed being entirely under very large cedar trees completely shading it and shedding acidic branches constantly. 
  • I plan to make several hook racks out of the larger branches we had to trim from the closest cedar tree. 
That's it to start. Would love feedback, ideas, tips! 
Here's some pictures of the process. 

Kalvin and our nephew Cade have their handprints added!


Are We Really Urban "Homesteaders"?

There are so many new exciting books and blogs out there with folks doing amazing things on their little bits of property or with vacant lots. It has been really easy for me lately to feel like we are failing as "homesteaders" and that I haven't earned that title. What with two bad summers in a row leaving us with a terrible garden and me being almost too busy to even prepare a homemade dinner or finish a project, it's been hard to continue this blog. Honestly, I can't even blame the failed garden completely on the weather. It's been largely due to the fact that I have been slow to realize that fall prep is the only way to go in the Northwest in particular.

I've also been taking classes on top of my regular full-time job. With most of my free-time eaten up in homework I've found it hard to eat whole foods, resorting to frozen pre-prepared Costco meals and eating out.

Big change is afoot for us soon though, I'm leaving my job of 7 and a half years and starting back at school full-time. My last day at work is July 31st. I'll have all of August off and then I'll start the Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine program at the National College of Natural Medicine in September. This is exciting change for me and scary at the same time.

The change has forced me to put homesteading activities on the back burner while I cram in what I need to do to make this change actually happen. It also makes me realize that a lot of our homesteading projects have relied upon two incomes. It's so much easier to work on the property when you can easily go buy what you need.

Homesteading should though make our finances easier if we are doing it correctly. We should save money by having our own garden and repurposing materials! So, I'm excited for what this new endeavor and change will bring to our practices.

Over the next two months you may not hear much from me as I finish work and Anatomy/Physiology and Physics. Oh, and Kalvin is graduating next month and turning 18! I'm excited to share with you though the journey our little homestead will take - the nitty and the gritty - this fall. I promise to post all about our REAL journey into how an average gal and her family continue on the path to sustainability and practicality. Cause let's face it, in this economy there's an exciting chance to bring back some common sense!


Community Garden

Well, we finally did it! We got together with the neighbors this weekend and built seven "new" garden beds. The beds are located in an empty lot next to their house. The wood for the majority of the beds was repurposed deck boards from our old back deck! Now next weekend is dirt hauling time. Jovi, Kalvin and George did most of the work on the actual frames.


Bleeding Hearts

Spring is definitely here even if we have the occasional, super odd snow. Just look at this forest of bleeding hearts that have popped up. I cleared out all of the beds today, raking away the winter coats of fall leaves. For a brief time though you could see three seasons at once: fall leaves, winter decay, and tiny spring shoots.


Craft Night

Well, we've decided to have a family craft night now and then. We couldn't find the fabric that Kalvin wants to make his project with and Jovi's project is a surprise for her sister next weekend. I made dinner this evening so I didn't get to start my project, but you can have a sneak peek. Here's the fabric for my project (a yoga matt holder to be).


We've had the most unusual winter in the 20-some years that I have lived in the Northwest! So much sunshine. There have been some cold days and I know folks who ski or snowboard aren't super happy with the lack of snowfall. You won't hear a complaint out of me. It simply feels like spring is around the corner. There are bulbs that agree with me.


Crafty Night

So, this isn't really about something super recycled or from my garden etc., but I am pretty happy with this and wanted to share. I have a friend who I'm co-hosting a baby shower for tomorrow and this evening I wrapped all the presents. Her colors are pink, black and white.  I couldn't find any wrapping paper to match. So I improvised! I found plain pink paper at the dollar store, along with some bows and black posterboard.


Extra sticky beads I had laying around.

Bead embellishment to pull in store bought bag.
Finished Product!

Final touch


Build Gardens!

If you live in the Portland area, Growing Gardens of Portland is having a garden bed challenge. Similar to other fundraising events, you can captain a team to raise funds to build garden beds for low income people. The best part is that you also get to help build the bed AND the funds go directly toward helping families in need. OK, even better, it's a "pay it forward" model in that your one-time help continues to assist a family well into the future! What more could you ask for in a service project?? Community building, direct service, hands on experience, teambuilding, gardening, fun for foodies...!!!

Don't want to participate in something so multi-faceted but you'd love hands-on dirt work? Come join us at Ronald McDonald House on the same day for a day of yard work! Ask to speak to someone about "Weed and Feed."

Create a team & fight hunger for GROWINGGARDENS
Are you looking for a fun way to make a positive impact in the community? Consider becoming a Team Captain & form a garden building team for GROWINGGARDENS Dawn of the Bed! No prior garden experience necessary.
GROWINGGARDENS digs at the root of hunger in Portland by installing raised garden beds at the homes of low-income households. Three years of support including seeds, plants, tools, compost & worm bins and education from volunteer mentors and workshops assure the success of our Home Gardeners.
Dawn of the Bed is a day to build garden beds with the support of volunteer teams who will build the gardens and raise financial pledges for the cause.
  • Sign up with GROWINGGARDENS as a team captain.
  • Attend an orientation Tuesday, February 21 - 6-7:30pm
  • Recruit 4-8 friends, co-workers or family members to join your team.
  • As a team raise $600 or more which covers the cost to build a garden & provide support to 1 low-income household. (A prize will be awarded to the team that raises the most money)
  • Gather shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows and other tools for the day of the event.
  • Build the garden on the Dawn of the Bed day- Saturday, May 5 - 10am-3pm.
  • Celebrate with the other teams & GROWINGGARDENS staff at a post-garden building celebration.
For more information or to sign up contact Rodney Bender at 503-284-8420 or rodney@growing-gardens.org.