Tag Archives: Garden

Happy New Year

I know, I know.

I’m a little late with my holiday greetings. But as I said in my family newsletter (which I just sent out a few days ago), better late than never, right?

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection the past couple of weeks, as is typical this time of year. And also looking toward the future of this year. Are any of you already planning for your spring and summer gardens? Now’s the time to order your seeds and in some cases, get them started indoors.

I just read this online article (How to Pick Your Vegetable Seeds Without Going Crazy) and it’s got me dreaming!

But alas, my biggest decision this year is that I am scaling way back on my plans for our garden. Any when you have a tiny plot anyway, “scaling way back” means that I don’t plan to do much of any gardening this year.

The reason why is actually pretty exciting. We are hoping to be in the process of actually building our house this summer. Which means frequent trips between Oregon and Nevada. And as I learned last year, my garden doesn’t do so well if I’m not around to care for it. Imagine that. πŸ™‚

So, I’ll probably throw some carrot seeds in the ground and call it good. Those were what did the best and we ate the most of last year. And I love that they are frost tolerant and you can leave them in the ground all season and just go out and grab some as you need them.

It kills me not to really be making plans for the garden. But the trade off is worth it as we make progress onΒ our house.

A couple days ago was a fairly mild day here in the Portland area, overcast but dry and not too cold. So I used the opportunity to get outside and do some yard work.

Almost done! And it's a good thing, too, because the debris can is almost full!

Almost done! And it’s a good thing, too, because the debris can is almost full!

I scooped up the walnut leaves and put them in the yard debris can. Yes, we have a compost pile, but not the right set up to cook the toxins out of walnut leaves.

Just after New Years, we had snow here. It was a rare treat for us in the Pacific Northwest. Normally, any time there’s snow here, it’s covered in ice. This was a light, fluffy, “dry” snow. At the beginning of the day it wouldn’t even compact into snowballs. The girls and I spent 3 hours playing outside.

Our back yard looked quite different with a thin layer of snow.


And then, that night, a freezing rain came in, covering everything in a layer of ice.

For this girl from the desert, ice storms are pretty magical. It is surreal to see ice coating everything. However, I am glad no one in our family had to go anywhere. One of those times I am thankful that my man works from home.

The hens don't mind a bit of snow.

The hens don’t mind a bit of snow.

We had a bit of sad news recently. One of our hens (“Pepper”) was killed by a predator of some sort. Considering it was during the middle of the day in broad daylight, we think it was one of the many neighborhood cats.

Flower Girl with Pepper this past spring.

Flower Girl with Pepper this past spring.

Now we’re down to three hens, one of which doesn’t lay very many eggs per year and none in the winterΒ (our English Game Hen). The other two, however, have laid fairly steadily this winter (after their molt), even without supplemental lighting (for more information on supplemental light in the chicken coop, see this great article from Jill at The Prairie Homestead). I would love to add to our little backyard flock, but then I think of how much we are hoping to be gone this summer. And I think of transporting them back to Nevada when we do finally go. And I think, three chickens is enough. For now. πŸ™‚

And in the mean time, we’re dreaming. We’re dreaming big!


“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121


First Frost


We had our first frost here in the Portland area this morning. November 22nd and we just now froze! Gosh, the growing season is long here!

I love frosty mornings even if it does mean a bit more work to care for the animals.


This morning’s chore was pretty easy, though. I just broke the ice layer in the chicken’s water dish and plucked it out. Not so easy when it get’s frozen solid.


Frost sure is beautiful. God’s design frequently amazes me.

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?


“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Summer Doings

I know I’ve been horrible at posting for months.

So, what have we been up to this summer?

Take a look and see!

We went camping:

We traveled to Nevada to work, see family, and spend time on the Homestead (click or hover over pictures to see captions):

We worked on house plans:Exterior views

And found a building almost the exact size of the one we are going to build:20150610_155031It’s cool (and helpful) to see the dimensions in real life rather than on paper.

We harvested cherries from our very own cherry tree:

Dad and Flower Girl planted the garden.20150609_161319

Princess Girl and her BFF ran a lemonade stand and made quite a lot of money!20150613_170558

One of my sisters came to visit and we made raspberry jam after picking the raspberries from her extended family’s farm!20150701_103628

We had some weird stuff happen in the chicken coop:20150702_102452

We were messy like a typical 2 and a half year old (there’s STILL specks of paint in the bathroom from this!):20150702_153057

We had our first tomato (and a couple more since then). Mmmmmm….


We played with sparklers to celebrate the 4th of July:

We traveled back to Nevada once again, then to Missouri for a family reunion (click or hover for captions).

We did other typical summer type stuff (click or hover for captions):

And we traveled back to Nevada once again so I can work – Β (click or hover for captions).

So, you know. We’ve kept busy.


Fresh salad!

Fresh salad, straight from our garden/yard. Yum! I needed to thin out the lettuce from the small garden, I picked some of the over-wintered-but-not-doing-so-well spinach from the big garden, and I found some dandelion greens in the yard. I had a head of purchased iceburg in the fridge and add to all that some borage flowers which just started blooming and you have a gorgeous salad almost too pretty to eat. Almost, but not quite. πŸ™‚


I love that dandelions are considered a weed, yet they are edible and good for you. And the borage is a volunteer which comes back every year.

Edit: For the health of you and your family, be sure if you are harvesting any wild edibles that they come from a trusted source not treated with any harsh chemicals! We don’t use any herbicides or pesticides or even any fertilizer on our lawn, so I know the dandelions are safe to eat.

How to preserve marigolds the “easy” way

The no-work, no-fuss way to get perfectly preserved marigold blooms:

1.) Have a child

2.) Grow Marigolds or otherwise acquire them

3.) When child is around 2 – 3 years old, buy said child a clear plastic beverage bottle

4.) Leave said child, in possession of said beverage bottle, in the care of husband

5.) Find said beverage bottle in toy box two weeks later with perfectly preserved marigold blooms inside

*Disclaimer: Author does not claim that step #1 or the intervening years between #1 and #3 is easy, only the end result of having preserved flowers, without having the do the work yourself. The author does not know why you would want to preserve your marigold blooms in such a way or how long they will last, she is just offering a unique and easy way to do it. πŸ™‚

(This article first appeared on Maridy’s personal blog in 2008.)

The city…grrr (And a garden update)

City living can get me down sometimes. Sure, there’s beauty here. I run across it all around. Like this lovely little scene just down the street.


Looks like a beautiful spot to explore and maybe have a picnic. Until you look to the side. And see this.


I understand why they have to set boundaries and protect the natural places. But the limits can be stifling to this country girl. So, I come home to my little garden and try to shut out the sounds of the city and dream of the day we’ll be back at Castle Rock.

And speaking of my garden, here’s some recent pictures. It’s just about time to start thinning the radishes and lettuce. I actually picked and ate a couple of the lettuce seedlings which had somehow* gotten planted amongst some of the carrots. It was a delicious foretaste of the salads we’ll be eating in just a little while.

*somehow – like maybe because a two year old was helping me plant? πŸ˜‰

20150321_180652 20150321_180707 20150321_180717

Seeing my little garden and how well it’s coming along helps me to better endure our time here. Gives me a purpose outside the house. And will eventually give us healthy food to eat. A win-win situation.

Garden Plot Update #2

20150217_101044Our first garden visitor!

So, I mentioned before that we planted our seeds on Feb 17th. What I didn’t show are our garden markers. I have used popsicle/craft sticks before with so-so results. Oh one hand they are cheap and easy to use. You write the veggie on the end and stick it in the ground. But I found that the sun and rain fades the lettering after a couple months. Just fine if you only want to know which row you planted your carrots vs onions in until they grow and you can tell them apart by their leaves. Not so good if you want to permanently mark your 4 different varieties of tomatoes so you can remember which type is which when it comes time for harvest. So, I thought I’d try a little experiment.

20150217_114825First, I wrote the info on the stick as usual. I used both sides. The front has what it is. The back has the expected harvest date so I can remind myself when I’m out in the garden and don’t have to refer back to my packets or journal

20150217_114854Then, I coated the end of the stick in clear nail polish. The polish soaked into the stick and dried very quickly, so I am hoping it will keep the letters from fading. At least until I can remember which variety of lettuce I planted where! I guess we’ll just have to see how it does.

20150217_123501And there’s the newly planted (and marked!) garden.

A friend of mine expressed some skepticism about planting so early in the season, but here’s one of the reasons I wasn’t concerned. I have shower doors! And they fit almost perfectly on my new bed. I guess this means I have a cold frame. I’m still working on a system to cover the gap in the middle, but for now, they work admirably.

20150221_132523They help heat up the soil during the day to give my little plants a boost, and they hold in just enough heat at night that the slight frosts we’ve had don’t touch the seedlings (even though everything that I have planted right now can tolerate lights frosts.)

20150221_184551And, if it gets really cold, the doors make it a cinch to cover the bed.

20150305_140335They are easily propped open so that I can work in there or to let out excess heat in case we have some really warm sunny days (hahaha! warm sunny days in the springtime in the Pacific Northwest? I crack myself up!)

20150304_103200Wait, what was I just saying about warm, sunny days??

At any rate, the shower doors also serve two more VERY important roles. One, they keep the free-ranging hens out of my seedlings!

And two, they provide the perfect table for a two year old to play with her dinosaurs and a pail of water. πŸ™‚20150305_141309-1

Stay warm everyone. And God bless!