Sunday, July 27, 2014

G r a t i t u d e * S u n d a y

 G r a t i t u d e  *  S u n d a y
{Sunday's heartfelt tradition. A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful. A list of gratitudes.} 
If you would like to join us, see below. 
Our gratefulness feeds one another. 
Throughout the week I've felt grateful for:

...The lemon blossoms that are completely covering our little lemon tree.
...Jeff and I getting some weeds pulled in the garden. (Nevermind we didn't get any other weeding done last week and that there's so much more to do, let's just focus on that small section we did finish.)
...The taste of blueberries straight from the bush into your mouth!
...Heavy rains watering the garden so well and having days where we didn't need to do any watering at all. (It almost felt like a vacation of sorts.) We were able to focus on indoor work and tasks, which was great.
...How easy chickens (and ducks) are to care for and what perfect animals they are for us to keep here.
...Cleaning out Bracken's clothes drawers and moving out everything that was getting too small, to make room for everything that fits.
...Tart yellow plums from our neighbor's. I love the tang of flavor each time you bite into the skin.
...Whenever we found ourselves all out in the garden together. It always seems to be our best quality family time.
...Starting to put food up for the winter, bit by bit.
...Working to start some good new habits (and writing it down to better remind myself.)
...Productive home days. Sometimes there's so much running around, a stretch of home days is always so appreciated.
...Jeff reaching over and touching my hand when he could tell something was bothering me. I talked it all out and immediately felt better. Just simply having someone care and listen, means so much.
...Food from the backyard. Each and every harvest from our own backyard feels so satisfying.
...Help from two friends at market yesterday. One playing with Bracken while another helped me with my knitting. (Thanks Heather and Inge!)

You can read more about the inspiration for Gratitude Sunday here


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Whether your week flowed smoothly or you had a rough one, taking the time to focus on what you're grateful for always makes things better and will bring you a happy heart!
What have you felt grateful for throughout your week?
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Gratitude Sunday

Friday, July 25, 2014

{this moment}

...Joining Amanda at SouleMama for {this moment}...
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. 
A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

morning in the blueberry field (& first applesauce)

On Tuesday morning we went blueberry picking for the first time this year. I promised Bracken that I would take him picking this week. It seems like Jeff and I used to practically live in blueberry fields every time summer came around. I can hardly believe it, but last year we only went one time. This year I hoped Bracken could control the amount of berries he shoveled in his mouth a bit more (because we don't enjoy seeing him make himself sick) and he did seem a little better than last year. This time was, by far, the easiest blueberry picking we've ever experienced in all our years of picking. It's a good year for blueberries and the branches were completely loaded. (I looked at those blue covered bushes and daydreamed about our blueberry bushes being that large and prolific someday.) We picked over 16 pounds after being there for just a short while. It started pouring on us at the end. I thought it was actually pretty fun picking blueberries in the rain, but it was time for us to get going anyway. After picking your own berries (even when the picking is abundant like it is now), it sure makes you appreciate the flats of pre-picked berries that you buy, in a whole new way. Because you realize a bit more how much work goes into picking that one flat of berries. And that doesn't even take into account caring for the plants. I have so much gratitude for the local farmers that feed our family.

We have a few different places we like to get blueberries each year and they taste different from each farm. That day, in addition to going picking, we bought some blueberries from our other neighbor as well and he shared some windfall pears and apples with us. He had more than he knew what to do with and while the apples were not exactly pretty, they made wonderful applesauce. At one point in my life I would have looked at a box of apples like that and considered it inedible. Luckily, I've learned the magic of applesauce making (and have become a lot less finicky about so many things.) So this week marked the first food we put up for the winter (besides dried herbs and garlic, that is.) Bags of blueberries went into the freezer and then some jars of applesauce too. Yesterday it was dark and rainy and I declared it "applesauce making day." Bracken loved working the Squeezo. He turned the handle over and over, then rewarded his hard work with spoonfuls of applesauce. I still make applesauce like this, only this time I didn't bother cutting up the apples, I just did them whole. It worked great and I definitely plan on doing that again next time. The apples were green and made a light colored applesauce. Later we added a handful of blackberries from the backyard, to the next batch, and it added beautiful color and tasted good too. Since I only processed one box of apples, I decided not to do a big canning project that day. Instead I put the applesauce in jars and put them in the freezer (not filling them up all the way, so they have room to expand.) It's been challenging for us to put much food up for the winter because we don't have a lot of money to invest in larger quantities of food at one time. So I've been thinking about wanting to put a lot of food up for the winter and wondering how to do it. Picking our own blueberries helps with the cost. Windfall apples from our neighbor are greatly appreciated. I want to make a lot of applesauce this year and plan on picking all the free berries available (blackberries and huckleberries) that I can. Yesterday morning, while I wondered about this, I got an e-mail from a sweet gardener not far from us who has an abundance of cabbage this year and wondered if we'd like some for making kraut. We arranged a swap with her, much to our delight. I know that if we trade here and there, grow all we can, and put up bits of food at a time, however much we are able to, that it will add up.

The garden loved all the rain we got this week. This morning I went inside to get a colander to harvest a few things out there. Bracken asked me to bring him out a little colander. He put two peas and a little head of broccoli in his. (Later I looked and saw he had added some blackberries and a few calendula petals.) I harvested the very last of our lettuce, trying to eek out enough for a salad to bring on Saturday. (We'll be at Saturday Market this weekend, by the way.) Jeff planted more lettuce starts in the garden, but they have a ways to go. Green beans have been slowly making their way into a few meals and Bracken is constantly checking for more. I picked the tops of our basil plants and harvested some collard greens. Jeff recently made the most delicious greens from our garden. He steamed some kale and collards, then slow cooked them with some homemade broth, onions, and mushrooms from our backyard. They melted in your mouth like butter. I think they were the most delicious cooked greens I've ever had.

I love stacking rocks. I don't know why, it just makes me happy. Whenever I've gone hiking on trails and seen little stacks of rocks that people have left behind, it makes me smile. And I like to add one of my own to make someone else smile too. Years ago I put little stacks of rocks in various parts of our house. This week I decided to bring them outside instead. I want less stuff and clutter inside (and less things that require dusting) so am moving things like that outdoors. Bracken likes our new stacked rock art around the garden. Our garden needs more of them.

P.S. Because I always get asked everywhere we go, Bracken's sunhat is from Urban Baby Bonnets. The sun went behind the clouds and then we got rained on, so while we didn't end up exactly needing it for the sun while we were picking that particular morning, it also worked to keep his head drier when the rain came. It gets a lot of use and we really love it.

P.P.S. On Monday evening we were in our front yard when we looked up and saw a beautiful rainbow. I don't know about you, but I think they're lucky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

yarnalong: more primal fare & a grey cowl

...Joining Ginny's YarnAlong, sharing what I'm knitting and reading...
I finished both of the owl hats that I was working on and they went to their new homes. Now I'm almost finished with a grey cowl. (Gotta love how quickly the single skein projects in the bulky yarn knit up! It makes me feel so prolific.) I'm tweaking the cowl pattern that I'm working on and hope I'll have it this time. I want to be completely happy with it before I share it.

I'm still enjoying cookbooks, like last week. I finished 'Dishing Up Oregon' by Ashley Gartland. I liked the little features on local farms, restaurants, and food centered businesses that were scattered throughout and tucked between recipes. I was excited to see there is an Oregon Olive Mill! That was news to me. Now I'm savoring every page of 'Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals' by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier. As I read it, I think: 'Now here's a cookbook with recipes I will really make!' They are simple recipes, easy to prepare, and nutritious to boot. I love when cookbooks include a picture with every single recipe. This one has several pictures with each recipe: one with ingredients, one showing the process, and one showing the finished meal. There's so many good recipes, I want to make them all and plan on renewing this book from the library for as long as I can. 

How about you?
Knitting? Reading?

Monday, July 21, 2014

popsicle weather... & a spontaneous parachute

It's been hot here lately. Definitely popsicle weather. Last week Jeff made us popsicles and they were much enjoyed. Most days Jeff watered the garden in the morning while I made breakfast, but sometimes we watered in the evening. I watered a few times in mid morning and it was already getting really hot by that time. I seem to remember I used to move Bracken's pool every other day to  a new location last summer. This summer we have to move it every single day to a new spot because with the heat it kills the grass underneath so quickly.

Before Bracken was born I had a long period of time when I didn't get headaches, I was pretty happy about that, thinking perhaps I could say goodbye to them for the most part after making so many diet and lifestyle changes to improve my health. (I should have knocked on some wood. ha!) After his birth I got them on a rare occasion. Lately, though, I've been getting a headache every month, like clockwork, when I get my moon. (Meaning it's hormone related and I just went back and read this post a second time with tips about balancing hormones. I already do many of those things.) I got a headache Friday night that turned into a migraine. On Saturday morning I woke up to get ready for market and had a light headache lingering. I figured that as I got up and moved around it would go away. Usually a headache is gone when I wake up, but if it isn't it usually goes away once I get up and moving. But the light headache stayed with me and then started turning back into a migraine later in the day. I was just trying to get through the day and I wasn't myself at market that day. On top of that it was really hot and I'm not a person that does really well in the heat. At home I can escape to the cool of the shade or house, but at market that day I just felt like I was melting. (Thank you to the blog reader who came and bought the green cowl I knit! I was walking Bracken around and am sorry I missed meeting you in person!) I've come so far in my health, learning to take better and better care of myself over the years, but I still have so much to learn. The migraine was a loud wake up call for me to start listening to some things my body and intuition have been telling me I need. I got a good night sleep on Saturday night and then Sunday morning I woke up feeling incredible with the contrast, being pain free.

Apparently, even if I learn something the hard way, it takes awhile to sink in. Last week I had taken the SD card out of my camera to upload the pictures to my computer. I forgot to put it back in and took pictures only to later realize that none had been saved. Such a bummer. But I chalked it up to a learning experience and luckily, I didn't have that many pictures I cared about that time. Over the weekend, though, I took some pictures that were really special to me. I came home, so excited to look through them, only to discover that I had taken the SD card out on Friday night, given it to Jeff to upload the pictures and in our hurry to prepare for market (and in my migraine-state) we completely forgot about it. Double bummer. I wish the camera wouldn't work at all when there isn't an SD card in there. Hopefully this time the lesson will stick.

I didn't originally intend for this post to be about the garden, but I started taking pictures out there. I guess many of my posts end up being about the garden this time of year. This morning Jeff turned one of Bracken's play silks into a little parachute and gave his doll, Grandmother Larkin, a ride. I love when Jeff has spontaneous inspirations for fun things to do that delight Bracken so much. When he was first making something, though, and they were about to head out the front door to try it out, part of me wanted to insist that everyone finish their breakfast first before they went out to the yard on some adventure. But then I saw the light shining in both of their eyes and decided to go with the flow, not be a party pooper, and join in the fun. Bracken was so delighted and I had a blast taking pictures of the silk floating down after Jeff threw it up into the air. One time I got very close to the landing site and it landed right on top of my head. We all thought it was so funny and then Bracken said he wanted it to land on his head and ran towards it the rest of the time trying to make that happen. 

And to explain the other pictures: 

Our friend makes the most delicious guacamole. I love dipping carrots and celery in it. I've tried to recreate it, but was missing one of her secret ingredients: garlic powder. Need to add that next time.

We're getting some squash flowers and some runner bean flowers now. In previous years, I've never been so excited for them to flower before, but like I said, this year I felt anxious for them to because of our summer mason bees. Speaking of the mason bees, I love going over to visit their home when I walk by to see if there is any activity. Today I saw for the first time that there are some holes that are filled, you can see leaf material, which is a great sign because it means they're laying eggs in there. (We can save the cocoons through the winter and hatch them out again next summer.) I got pictures of one mason bee as it emerged from one of the holes this morning. As if that wasn't excited enough (to me, anyway), I went to harvest some calendula flowers, discovered a mason bee collecting pollen in one, and got pictures of that. I love seeing the back legs all covered in pollen. Mason bees are so cute and tiny. I just think all bees are pretty fascinating. 

Bit by bit we harvest the calendula flowers and the mullein flowers and it adds up (much more slowly with the teensy mullein flowers.) I know I mention those quite a bit, but every time we gather some they are so pretty that I want to take a picture. And every time I take a picture and post it here, I feel like it needs an explanation. We save some for the bees and I also leave some calendula flowers to let them go to seed.

A few ecchinacea flowers are blooming here this year. By the time I went to take a picture of one today, it was starting to fade, the petals shriveling up. 

Jeff reserved some of our cilantro in the garden to let it go to seed. He pointed out which plants he wanted to save so I wouldn't harvest them. He has always loved coriander seed, using it in his cooking as much as the supply lasts. When I first tried coriander seed when Jeff introduced me to it, I wasn't a fan. Now I find that funny because I really love it now. 

And the last picture? The flowers from the wedding have probably tripled in size since Jeff and Bracken planted them in Bracken's blue pot. (It's his special pot where he plants his own things. Right now it has two onions, one marigold and the flowers from the wedding. Hidden beneath the dirt are a whole bunch of "Bracken Appleseed" bits that he has collected at mealtimes.)

I think that explains them all. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your week.