Category Archives: 1

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Gifts for Teachers
I hope I’m not the last one rushing around doing last minute Christmas making! These boxes for the boys teachers are filled with shortbread, chocolate raspberry brownies, chocolate coconut cookies, and my favorite spicy ginger cookies. I added my christmas labels at the last minute, and we’re out the door to hear the boys perform, just like last year!


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We’re Still Around

Phew, it’s been busy lately! But we are finding some time to harvest and to build new beds for the fall garden. I hope you have a good weekend and on Monday I’m going to share our recipe for Fallen Applesauce.

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My Shampoo-less Hair is on MSNBC

I was reluctant to share about my no shampooing experiment the other week because I thought you’d all think me a little, well, gross. But it looks like now my dirty little secret is out nationwide on msnbc. Go check it out.

I’ll be back soon with more garden related (rather than bad hygiene related) news.


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Back into the Garden

I bet you were starting to think that there wasn’t much ‘garden’ left in this Sonoma Garden, weren’t you? Well now that all the other to-do list chores have been caught up on, we were able to plant a few things for fall which I’ll be sharing with you this week. The first thing to note is that if all works out well, we are going to be having cabbage coming out of our ears soon. We’ve planted both red and green cabbage, all starts from our favorite nursery, Sonoma Mission Gardens. We haven’t had great success with cabbage in the past, it just hasn’t formed very well. But being the gardening masicists that we are, we are trying again.

We’ve also grown some Napa Cabbage from seed. This is the first time we’ve grown that so I’m anxious to see how it works.
Napa Cabbage

And while this isn’t cabbage, look, the raddiccio is actually starting to form! We planted these seeds quite a while ago, maybe six weeks ago or so?
I was starting to feel pretty ho-hum about the progress of our yard at the end of summer, but now that we’ve pulled out all of the old, ugly stuff it’s rejuvinating to get some new happy green growth back.
Update: Carrie asked for some cabbage growing tips so I thought I would share some things that we’ve read. Now mind you we are not cabbage experts, so we are learning from this too. Cabbages like a sunny spot with well drained soil. They are also heavy feeders and heavy drinkers, so be prepared to give them ample nutrients and water. Heavy mulching is also a good idea. While the cabbages are still young you can interplant them with lettuce and radishes since they have such a short growing period. Where as cabbage takes anywhere from 60-180 days to mature depending on the type you are growing. If you want to read more, check out Mother Earth New’s article.


Filed under 1, Growing Challenge, Leafy Greens, Seeds, State of the Garden

Apples for an Anniversary

First Apple Pie
It was our sixth wedding anniversary this past weekend. Scott made an apple pie to celebrate. Which only seemed appropriate because he made one the day before we got married too. At the time we lived a few streets away from where we do now and we had an ancient Gravenstein apple tree in our backyard. He made countless apple pies that fall in our newly received pie pans. I remember my great aunt was amazed at his baking ability, she’d never seen an apple pie quite like his. So we served slices to all of our out of town guests before our wedding rehearsal.

Six years later, I’m continuously amazed by his abilities, not only at making apple pies, but in everything else he undertakes in life. Thanks for six great years together, Scott!

Apple Sauce
(few jars of applesauce were made this past weekend two with leftover apples)


Filed under 1, Fruit Trees, In the Kitchen

Inspiring Garden Links

More Lens Flares in my Garden
There are so many great blogs out there and so much good information to read about. Here’s a small list of what’s inspired me of late. What’s inspiring you? Feel free to add your comments about your favorite blog posts and I’ll add them and your name to the list!

How to Start a Worm Farm by Down to Earth, a great Australian blog
Money Lessons Learned by Square Foot Gardening , by Frugal Dad. Who knew that Square Food Gardening could teach you so much about investing? Sinfonian, are you a good investor after doing SFG?
Looks like Canning is Making a Comeback Judging by the popularity of my canning lid labels, it looks like canning really is become popular again!
How to Make Rain Barrels We’ve been curious about doing this ourselves. Has anyone tried it?
Never Pay for Onions Again A unique way to start onions

Update: If you’d like to read about how I’m such a horrible mother, check out my guest blog post on One Green Generation.


Filed under 1, Musings

Summer Harvest Beef Stew

Beef stew isn’t really the first thing you think of having for dinner in summer. But when everything is in season, why not? I’ve been making this version of beef stew for about 10 years now and it is my absolute favorite. Maybe it’s because it’s completely devoid of peas and carrots (oh, I do hate cooked peas and carrots so) or maybe it’s the surprising plot twist at the end of the recipe, but I have yet to meet a better beef stew recipe.
Without further ado, my favorite beef stew recipe:

Summer Harvest Beef Stew
1.5lbs. stew meat
3 bell peppers, diced
1 onion, chopped
thyme, bay leaf & red pepper flakes
2 c. chopped tomatoes + 1 T. tomato paste (or 2c. tomato sauce)
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 c. really good red wine
1 c. chicken stock

Coat beef in flour and brown in a large hot pan. Take beef out and put aside. Add a bit of olive oil to pan and then add garlic, herbs, peppers, pepper flakes and onion. Saute until tender. Add meat back in the pan along with wine. Reduce wine by half. Add stock, tomatoes and tomato paste (or tomato sauce). Simmer for an hour covered and 30 minutes uncovered.

Surprise Ending
Heat 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons sugar in small saucepan. When sugar is dissolved add into stew. Then add 1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder to stew. Stir well. Serve over roasted, quartered potatoes, egg noodles or rice.


Filed under 1, In the Kitchen, Recipes

Another Tomato & Squash update


It’s amazing what a few days will do. Our little San Marzano is getting so big and look, he has brothers!

The cucumbers (both lemon and japanese) and getting there and the beans are happy and growing. (oh and that’s Bo, our cat, in the background looking for bugs to catch).


beans and cucumbers

squash blossom

Oh, and remember how I wrote that although these portofino zucchini’s were planted at different times, they had all caught up in size? Well, the one we grew earlier from seed is blossoming earlier, so there you are, it IS worth it to start earlier after all. Below is it’s neighbor who’s seed was planted about four weeks later:

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Filed under 1, Growing Challenge, notes for next year, State of the Garden, Tomato

fast food the local way

new and old crisp
One frozen ziplock full of last years nectarine slices + Two stalks of this springs Rhubarb + One ziplock full of frozen crisp topping = A quick crisp of backyard fruit for dessert.

Crisp Topping Recipe: (Make extra to keep in the freezer next to frozen fruit for last minute sweettooth cravings)
1 c. flour
6 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
2/3 c. pecans
1 1/2 sticks of cold butter
Mix dry ingredients, cut the butter into it. Sprinkle over pie pan full of fruit and bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes.


Filed under 1, In the Kitchen, Recipes