Monthly Archives: June 2011

New Starts in the Flower Garden

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I have finally been able to find little bits of time to get outside with my gardening gloves on and clippers in hand. I do love to prune! While I do admire lush, overgrown spaces, I also have a love of cutting things back and making them nice and tidy. I walked around for the first few weeks a little overwhelmed, I mean where do you even start when you have two acres to care for? I figured the best place to start was the first place I usually walk outside, the back door.
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With a baby tied on my back (I made this carrier four years ago and love it!), I clipped and clipped away and would you know, there is edging down there!
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When we first had our offer accepted on this house I started going around our old yard taking cuttings of plants I would miss and put them into little six packs full of potting mix. I had never been successful at propagating cuttings before, mostly because I did as the books told me, I did it in fall, used root starter and covered the pot with a plastic bag. Super fussy. And it never worked for me. Instead, at the advice of a sage gardening friend, I put the cuttings straight into soil, watered them and almost forgot about them. And wouldn’t you know, success! Always trust the advice of actual gardeners! These cuttings are lemon verbena, which I love. Lemon verbena makes the best iced tea and is great for drying and adding to sachets in winter. I’ve also made oil infusions with it for soap too. Before I only had one plant, now I’m tucking four plants into this spot.
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Last of the blooming columbine by the pump house.
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I’m not sure if the original intention for this spot was a small meadow or if the Mexican Evening Primrose, yarrow, and Shasta Daisies just sort of spread and took over. But I love that it is like a meadow and I’m going with it!
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I hope you all have a great fourth of July!

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Berries into Jam

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The berries are starting to slowly ripen. Before we had two small patches of blackberries growing in our yard, now we have rows upon rows of different types of berries. Now that summer vacation is here, these berries have come in handy. Since we are now working on a ‘just moved’ budget, this summer is a frugal one. No day camps or special classes, no swim passes, none of that fancy stuff for the boys this summer. Instead I have been trying my best to fill our days with both directing them towards working/playing on their own (so I can get a few things done) and doing things together. This is where the berries come into play.
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Sending little boys outside to pick berries can kill a good hour. Between what they eat, the competition to pick the more than the other, running between berry patch to berry patch they have a grand time and I get a little quiet time.
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Fueled by six years of hearing Jamberry over and over again (such a great book!) our oldest asked if we could make jam with this little bowlful. Well, hmm, sure, why not?
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I’m sure our quickie version would make jam enthusiasts raise their eyebrows, but under the time constraints of a four year old’s attention span and the last few minutes of a baby’s nap and we made a very fast, tiny batch of jam. Which fit on exactly four pieces of toast. A perfect morning snack. And a great start to summer.
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(to make our super fast jam, we put about a cup of mixed berries with a tablespoon of water and two tablespoons of sugar. we stirred and smashed and let it simmer down until it coated the back of a spoon. about five minutes. let cool and serve on toast!)

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Filed under in the kitchen

Inspiring Food & Inspiring Links

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This has been a frequent dinner of ours recently. We are still in possession of our old Sonoma garden, so when we go over there to spruce it up for showing and open houses, we dig up a few potatoes and cut off a few artichokes. Sometimes artichokes from our new garden get added. I steam them all together in one pot. An easy dinner when you are wiped out from a day of unpacking and chicken coop building (more on that another day).
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Within hours of finding out from very reliable sources that we do indeed have rhubarb on our hands, it was cut and baked into a pie with some local strawberries. It was divine! Were the temperatures not going to be soaring tomorrow, I would make another one right away.
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When visiting the Saturday farmers market at the Community Center (if you live locally, stop by this summer and pick up a bottle of olive oil, profits go to the boy’s school), we spied that Mike the bejkr was putting some bread with eggs into his mobile oven. Inspiration! We made some of our own. So delicious!

I also wanted to share a little inspiration that I’ve seen around the world wide web recently:

Have you been inspired by anything on the web lately?

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Filed under in the kitchen

Our Jumbled Mess of a Garden

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Welcome to our new vegetable garden! It looks like a jumbled, weedy mess right now doesn’t it? We’ll fix it as time allows. It is a big space and has the potential to get much bigger, but from this view we have boysenberries, then some sort of grapes, then rhubarb, then asparagus. Behind that tipsy fence of asparagus is a row of tomatoes and peppers we quickly planted, then another wall of asparagus then rows of flowering bulbs which I secretly shared with you a while back.
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Well, before I officially declare that there is a row of rhubarb, I wanted to ask you, this is rhubarb, right? It looks just like it, however it’s so miniature, each plant is only about 18″ tall at most and the stalks are as thin as pencils. We are used to the big, giant rhubarb.
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Because we had grown our tomatoes from seed and bought our peppers at a plant sale long ago, we quickly got them into the ground. As Scott was digging this stretch he felt a little resistance with his shovel at one point. Thinking he had hit a root or a rock or something he just jabbed the shovel a little harder with his foot, however when he brought the shovel up, there was the back half of a gopher snake in his shovel! Oh no! It took him a while to find the front half and when he did it still had enough life left to strike at him! This is a new kind of gardening folks! If we didn’t realize it before that was a wake up call that we’re out in the country now. We move forward hoping that no more snakes will be harmed in our gardening efforts.
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I took all these photos on an evening stroll with a babe on my hip, so I’m not thrilled with the quality, but I promise more photos in the future.
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This is the onion/grape/berry row. A tangled mess we’ve got on our hands, I tell ya!
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Look at these fuzzy things! I’ve never seen grasses like these but don’t you want to touch them? Me too, I do it every time I walk outside. They are only growing in one spot, well actually two specific spots in the garden so I’m wondering if they were planted intentionally. Do you know what they are?
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As I was strolling and taking pictures and having the left half of my hair ripped out of it’s ponytail by the wee one, Scott was high weed mowing a bit. He had gotten to about this point when we heard a yell across the yard from a neighbor, ‘quit what you’re doing, we’ll come over with the tractor tomorrow and mow for you.’ And they did, it’s all beautifully mowed now. These neighbors are something else! Those grapes that he is mowing by are a mix of Concord and Thompson Seedless. We’re anxious to taste them!

More to come!

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Filed under state of the garden

Life in a New Garden

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I’m sorry to have left you with such a long silence. We spent the first two weeks at our new house without internet and I have to admit, it was kind of nice. With a lack of internet, tv, telephone it was like being on a vacation. Add to that being without a dryer and adjusting to life without the aid of a dishwasher and I spent a lot of time doing things slowly without any sort of modern day distractions. It was nice. It was beyond nice. Above is the new view out our kitchen window. One of the best views in the house, which is a good thing, because of that whole lack of a dishwasher issue.
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Moving here has been overwhelming in every sense of the word. The sheer amount of physical work it takes to move a household was overwhelming. The generosity friends and family showed of by watching the kids and helping us schlep boxes and heavy furniture was incredible. Being here, in this most beautiful of spots, in the most amazing of gardens is overwhelming. Living in this house and realizing the vast amount of work we need to do to this house is amazingly overwhelming. I should also mention that there is not one piece of irrigation in this entire two acres of land. Not one sprinkler or piece of drip irrigation. All has been watered by hand all these years.
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One thing that we certainly didn’t expect was the warm welcome we would receive when we moved into this house. On our first morning of moving I drove over here to find at the front gate a basket full of honey, homemade peach jam, a blue Bell jar full of sea salt, a bouquet of homegrown flowers and a photo history book of the house we bought. As I mentioned, the couple that lived here before us, built the original house 60 years ago and raised their family here. Their granddaughter is now our next door neighbor and she left us this incredible gift. It brought me to near tears. It makes us feel like we are inheriting quite a loving history. Meeting the other neighbors, most who have lived here for decades, and seeing how much they help each other out is overwhelming. In the eight years we lived in town, we didn’t meet this many neighbors. I didn’t know this generosity between neighbors still existed in today’s world. We feel humbled by it all. We only hope that we can fit into this functioning community and contribute to it.
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We’ve also been enjoying inviting friends and family over to see our new home. They all know and have been along for the ride for our two plus years of active house hunting. They’ve patiently listened to all the ‘we made an offer’, ‘we got outbid….again’ heartbreaks we’ve been through. It has been nice to walk around with them all to show them where we landed.
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(Mildred hanging laundry in the early 1950’s)

It has taken me a while to find my footing in this new house. To find our new groove. But I think I’m getting there. The camera is again being used and I’m anxious to share our gardening adventures with you.

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Filed under Life in Sonoma