Alpaca and Social Permaculture

I’m tackling spinning for the Yarn Along this week.   Little by little, I am working my way through a 4 oz bag of first-shearing unwashed alpaca fiber (isn’t the coppery color lovely?).  This buttery soft fiber was a gift from my sister some years ago.  She picked it up from Foothills Fiber in Hood River, OR. Originally, I was going to put this on the wheel, but both sets of bobbins are already full of other fibers, so I’ve been working on a drop spindle.  (I have 6 or so spindles going at any one time, so progress on any

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A shared meal

A quick update after Sunday afternoon chores are done.  Spinach-parmesan puffs (above) are cooling, a pot of 3-bean soup is simmering on the stove…looking forward to bringing them to our Sunday night homegroup in a bit, where we share a meal and fellowship with friends, and dig in to our new book together. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts. – Acts 2:46

“It’s a Girl Thing” Kits

The kits are finished!! Many, many thanks to the nine ladies and three girls who helped sew, and the ladies who purchased fabric and undies for this project! Together, we have blessed and changed the lives of eleven young ladies in Ethiopia in a simple, but substantial way.  Thank you!

Sewing Service – “It’s a Girl Thing”

I’ve been given permission to put up a section of a recent post from Andrea’s blog, Babe of My Heart: Every month, I have to deal with what most girls deal with…a monthly cycle. Sorry if that’s too personal to say–but it should come as no surprise to you. I take for granted that every month I stock up on the things I need…and I can get them in any size, weight and style I would like. And not only that–I complain about my cramps. I complain that I am a bit inconvenienced and I remind my husband that he

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Wednesday Harvest

A few things from this morning’s harvest.  Carrots, beets, 3 types of kale, lots and lots of chard, and buckets full of sugar snap and snow peas. So grateful for the constant stream of Teaching Garden volunteers today.  Folks were working hard from 9:30 am straight through to 4:30pm.    We’re feeling very, very blessed.   A big thank you to all of the helping hands!

Late June Garden Update

It’s late June at Salt of the Earth Urban Farm (home of the BCS Teaching Garden)!  Finally, some warm weather (mid-upper 70’s) has settled in (the tomatoes,  summer squash and bush beans look much happier) and everything is flourishing.  The harvest is increasing – every week, we are taking a few dozen cartons of organic snow and sugar snap peas, as well as boxes and boxes of lettuce, chard, kale, bitter greens, and a few choice boxes of herbs and strawberries to Birch Community Services.  We are still looking forward to the coming months and being able to take in

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New Pizza Recipe

The other night we tried out a new pizza recipe from Good Eat’s guru, Alton Brown. I really liked that the dough is made the night before and allowed to set-up in the fridge – this way, when I’m in a hurry to make dinner the next night, I can quickly take out the dough, stick the pizza stone in the oven, and quickly whip up some homemade pizza. Overall, I was pretty happy with how the pizzas turned out (one recipe makes two medium pizzas) – 2 chief issues – my husband didn’t love the texture of the dough,

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Early May Garden Update

Happenings in the garden this week so far:  Mustard greens, lettuce and kale are all getting big!  (Red Russian Kale in the foreground, with Mizuna mustard behind.) A volunteer and I got 20 tomatoes planted this afternoon – half in front, half in the back.  (I have room for another dozen or so, but am out of cages and will have to jury-rig some bamboo supports – the cages were donated, and I’m trying do as much free and homemade as possible.) I got 7 De Milpa tomatillos (they have beautiful purple fruit) in the ground, and am trying to

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Garden update

Slowly, slowly, things are taking shape in the garden.  Last Saturday, 9 volunteers came to help pot up summer squash, plant potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and continue dig up bamboo for the future raspberry bed.   And earlier, I was able to get 25 donated asparagus crowns planted. Baby leeks, onions, basil, cilantro, parsley and thyme are all happily growing in their pots, and I put in rosemary, lavender and tarragon plants in the front yard.   I still have to figure out where to put some mint (in pots!) and add several more herbs, but it’s a good start. More and more

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Yesterday afternoon, with my son on my back, the girls and I potted up the first of our tomato seedlings – all 51 of them.  (The one above is a “Black Krim”, a favorite of ours for salads.)  Another 26 little tomato-lets (started a week later) will be potted up this weekend, time allowing. (Above: Our eclectic collection of potted-up tomatoes – in sour cream and tapioca containers, large paper cups, milk jugs, juice bottles, hand-me-down pots.) It felt wonderful to spend the afternoon in the warm sunshine, kneeling with my children on the front steps, tenderly moving each little

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Why I haven’t been blogging the past week or so

We’re working on a converting our front lawn into veggie beds, and the unseasonably warm and dry weather has helped us get a jump start on sheet mulching.  Goodbye lawn, hello permaculture landscape!  While Tum Tum and I spread cardboard, straw, manure and compost, Little Hen and her Daddy were busy building cold frames out of scrap wood and old windows from the ReStore. (Firecracker was either resting inside, or resting curled up in a nest of blankets on the driveway, since she not only had strep throat, but then a head-to-toe reaction to the amoxicillin meant to cure the

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Pieces of our Saturday

A morning spent baking a pecan pie thank-you. An early afternoon spent planting hyacinths and digging earthworms with the girls. A late afternoon of immense blessing – We have been given an enormous maple loom, made right here in Oregon.   We spent about two hours getting it dissassembled, carried up our narrow stairway, and reassembled. It will need a good bath, a shuttle, some new pegs, but it is a beautiful, beautiful thing – an amazingly generous and precious gift.  The girls and I can’t wait to get her in working order and teach ourselves how to weave shawls and

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Bartlett Harvest

Saturday,  I was blessed with the opportunity to ride with another family of volunteers out to Mosier, OR (in the beautiful Columbia Gorge) to glean pears for Birch Community Services.   The weather was very rainy, windy, and chilly, so I was grateful that the children could all stay home, snuggled up reading their latest chapter book with Daddy. The five of us wore large canvas pear-picking bags, and picked 40-50 lbs of Bartletts off of the trees at a time and then unloaded them into large crates.  Due to the windy, rainy conditions, I didn’t get any pictures of the

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Penelope’s Garden

Another day’s harvest at Penelope’s Garden.  Fourteen pounds of beautiful organic produce picked and delivered to Birch Community Services! The girls were excellent green bean harvesters.  Little Hen and I may have snacked on a few while we picked. For more bountiful harvests, visit Soule Mama, Mom in Madison, Red Dirt Mother,  Old Red Barn Co., Heirloom Seasons, and Green Thumb Mama. What are you and your little ones harvesting this week?


We were recently, unexpectedly, blessed to be able to trade a family friend some homemade jam and brownies for a Kelty his son had outgrown.  Best barter we’ve ever made, if you ask me! I love my Ergo and use it daily, but the Kelty is a much better fit for my husband.  We’ve been on two good hikes in the past week or so, and both he and Tum Tum have been quite comfortable. More on our hikes tomorrow with Friday Nature Table sharing.

County Fair

Last week we traveled north to Ridgefield, WA for the Clark County Fair.   The kids’ aunt and uncle, niece, grandparents, and great-grandparents met us there for an afternoon full of livestock viewing, carnival rides, and ridiculously unhealthy food. All of the kids enjoyed the hula-hooping contest, and my niece (with the white ribbon in her hair) took first place! And of course, we had to have a little fair food – this is a deep-fried Snickers.  So deadly. We spent a long time in the poultry barn – I kept having to bend down so Tum Tum could get a

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Garden harvest

Fridays are my days to volunteer at Penelope’s Garden.  This week’s harvest was 29 lbs delivered to Birch Community Services!! The raspberries are all done for the year, the mint bolted in the heat, but the tomatoes and green beans are in full production!  There were even some carrots and a new patch of basil ready.   (I must admit, I couldn’t help myself and snacked on some of the tender beans while harvesting – SO delicious!) The heat wave, followed by the cool snap in the weather caused the Walla Walla sweet onions to bolt and then fall, so that

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Some Waldorf Magic

Little Hen has been at Waldorf Art Day Camp (and thus immersed in magical-make-believe) for the past two weeks, .  Her sister misses her terribly while she’s gone (“Is it time to pick up sissy yet?  Is it time to pick up sissy yet???”), but we’ve been trying to do something special in the mornings – just Firecracker and me (and sometimes the baby in the backpack)  – a trip to the coffee shop for steamers, a visit to the craft store, a walk to the park, making brownies, that kind of thing. So, here’s some of what my artistic

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Berry Pies

Another family at church has welcomed  their first baby.   It’s our privilege to bring them dinner tonight (and ooh and ahh over their little boy), so the girls helped me bake some Blueberry-Raspberry- Marionberry pies to take for dessert (I love living in the Northwest!). Firecracker helped with the lattice top, and Little Hen shaped the edges (I love seeing a child’s hand in the process). We always make some extra dough so that the girls can make their own little hand pies, dusted with sanding sugar,  for a good morning snack. Some other yummy goodies with berries being made

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Songs for Saplings

Songs for Saplings have kicked off their US/Africa tour!! It was quite a thrill to see Dana in concert! Don’t miss the chance to catch one of Dana’s free concerts before she heads off to Malawi!

Sauvie Island Strawberries

Pictures from our weekend outing to Sauvie Island Farms.  We picked over twenty pounds of strawberries – we ate as many as we could fresh, baked a few cakes (subbing-in whole wheat for half the flour), then put enough in the freezer for two batches of jam and lots and lots of smoothies, pies, and other goodies. There couldn’t be a better way to spend a Saturday morning – picking strawberries with friends, and anticipating all of the good things to make from the harvest.  I love these early summer weekends! We’ll be back at Sauvie Island in July to

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Apricot Jam Prep

With three young children to look after, I often don’t have the time to make a batch of jam start to finish,  so for the last two years, I have made jam in stages.   Today was prep day for Apricot-Orange Jam – recipe at the end.  (The girls were nabbing and eating apricots off the counter the whole time!) Apricots are so tender and can turn so quickly, I like to process them as soon as I get them home.  (If it must wait until the next morning, I lay them out in a single later on a clean kitchen

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