Archive for June, 2011

Strawberry Heaven

June 30, 2011

You have got to love a home builder like ours (thanks Martha!) even more this time of the year.  Our rockery was planted with strawberries and sedums – both easy care.  Every day we are harvesting organic strawberries from our front yard.  One of our neighbors, with the sunniest lot and the most strawberry plants, invited me to pick a big bowl of her berries.  So of course, I made strawberry shortcakes using the Barefoot Contessa’s first cookbook.  You know it is going to be delicious when there is plenty of butter and egg oozing out of them while baking in your oven to set off your smoke detector!  (The alarm company wasn’t too happy to hear I was trying a new scone recipe.)

Next up was Strawberry Oven Jam, sweetened with some honey, from Sunset’s One-Block Feast Book.  Really easy, and did our whole house smell delectable! 

While that was baking, I then made Strawberry Lemon Balm/Verbena Syrup from Emelie Tolley’s The Herbal Pantry.  I am over the moon with this tasty creation.  I’ll do a future post on the homemade condiments that are filling up our refrigerator.  Having these on hand is making meal preparations way more creative.  Yesterday I picked from our garden: lemon balm, lemon verbena, chocolate mint (to make another herbal syrup), strawberries and rainbow swiss chard for dinner plus a big bowl full to share with another neighbor.

Our garden is my solace.  I feel rich from all its blessings.


Raspberry Rack

June 27, 2011

My neighbor Mark designed and created this brilliant raspberry support.  On a recent Saturday morning, he sketched it out, bought the wood, constructed it, and had it in place in his garden by lunchtime!  After I shared my admiration of his talents, he graciously offered to help me build one for myself.  Here is our creation.

Mark shared his box of handsome stainless steel screws with me.  I bought 12 pieces of 1″ x 2″ x 6′ cedar pieces.

For a trained architect, my neighbor kept the assembly process simple and easy.  So far no measuring.  Only eye-balling it.

The first bottom cross piece gets attached right in place.  No pilot holes necessary with this cedar.

After the bottom cross support is attached in both spots, a screw goes in the middle area.

The first completed section.

The second section is created on top of the first one.  No tape measure in sight yet.

The second piece is left on top of the first while the screws are attached.

Before I knew it, we had three sections completed.

Mark’s daughter, Lucy, showed up and was a first-rate raspberry rack assisstant.

Finally a tape measure is used to mark where the cross supports will go on the three X pieces we just made.  Measurements were made at 22″, 44″ and 66″

The connecting lower cross piece is attached starting in the middle.

Lucy attaching the middle cross piece.

Raoul assissting with the top cross piece.

Attaching the cross pieces is repeated on the opposite side.

Short pieces of wood were attached to each end for additional supports to go into the ground.  Raoul is hammering his end into the ground.

Hardly any waste from our 12 boards.

Many thanks to neighbor Mark for sharing his raspberry rack design, and building one for our garden!

Grandma Beth

June 23, 2011

Lucky me!

Seattle Tilth Visit

June 20, 2011

Last Saturday, Raoul and I attended a really informative drip irrigation class at Seattle Tilth.  We got there early so we could take a look around their wonderful demonstration garden.  This hoop structure of hops in a whiskey barrel = good fun and function in the garden.

There are informative signs and displays throughout the garden.

Tomatoes wearing some extra protection from this chilly spring (nearly summer) weather we’ve been having.

Potatoes growing in burlap bags that will be filled with more dirt and grow taller along with the potatoes.

A very clever and efficient pea trellis.  I wish I had saved an extra bike wheel from all my moving purging.

It took me a little while to figure out this was a monster lavender plant!

The community pea patch garden adjacent to the demonstration area.  This is my idea of great entertainment – seeing how everyone creates with their patch of earth.

Free Piano

June 16, 2011

Our antique piano needs a new home.  It is the most sentimental thing I’ve had to part with, as it came over on the boat with my family in the early 1900’s.  I inherited it when I was 16 years old, and have moved it to each of the  three houses Raoul and I have lived in.  There is no room for it in the fourth (and last).  We don’t play, and our sons have no need and/or room for it.

The piano is free. 

It needs a major tune-up, and is really heavy.  We need it picked up (from Mill Creek) by June 28.  Sooner is better.

If you are interested, please leave a comment on my blog.  If there is more than one taker, I’ll put the names in a bowl and pick.  Thanks!

A Good Library Morning

June 13, 2011

I am continually putting holds on books through our wonderful King County Library system.  Two gems were waiting for me today.  And the morning bonus was finding this tree, outside the front entrance, transformed into a whimsical piece of art.

The two gems I get to borrow are:

I never tire of borrowing books from the library – four whole weeks to soak up all the good ideas and visual stimulation.  (Every once in a while, after test-driving a book, I will decide to buy it.)  But usually I can let the book go, without adding another book to our stash.

Peace and Plenty

June 10, 2011

A big plus of riding the train from Seattle to Portland and back was the time to read.  My friend Christie had given me Peace and Plenty by Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of Simple Abundance – a major hit when it was published.  Her story is she made millions, lost millions and is sharing her wisdom about financial serenity.  This book struck a chord with me as Raoul and I finish month thirteen of trying to sell our former home, and supporting two homes in the process.  It’s been financially and emotionally unpleasant, to put it mildly.  I’ve had to face my fears over money.  And in my journey towards a simpler and more authentic life, examine the concept of what is enough financially.  Which spills over into what is enough stuff.

I have plenty, and am working on the peace part.

An excerpt from a book written by the actress Arlene Francis, quoted in this book, was what I needed to hear:

“As long as you are doing the best you can, you have nothing to fear.”

Portland Whirlwind Pics

June 8, 2011

I am back from a whirlwind visit to Portland to play with my best friend from college, Jodee.  I took the train, and really enjoyed the relaxing (and inexpensive) ride.  As much as I am trying to not be a consumer, these chairs created from old tires captured my fancy at Cargo.  I can’t stop thinking about how handsome they are.

I had heard that Portland had a motherlode of food trucks.  I couldn’t believe a city block, surrounded on three sides by these tasty choices.  It was so sad that we were full.  But our lunch of veggie burgers at little big burger was quite worth it.

And in true Portland greenest-style-around, a solar trash compactor.

Future Fun at Molbak’s

June 6, 2011


Please mark your July calendar for an entertaining event at Molbak’s in Woodinville on July 9, 2011 at 10 a.m.  I’m looking forward to presenting a seminar on  Garden Art with Sustainable Style.

View beautiful garden art and projects designed to be eye-catching and environmentally friendly.  Walk away inspired to add sustainable art to your outdoor living room.  Enjoy your garden more with ideas on how to live a greener life with a focus on fun and functional.  Tips for easy projects, fun for the whole family.

Sandwich Board Wisdom

June 3, 2011

Words of wisdom on a sign in front of Brooklyn restaurant.