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A Morning Indoors

Hal is at ReWild’s Nature Immersion program on Fridays.  It’s the highlight of his week.  He gets to run around outside all day, learn primitive skills, and engage in loads of imaginative play with his friends.  He comes home tired, filthy, and very, very happy. It’s not just a benefit for him:  In a house with lots of kids, sending just one kid off for the day has lots of perks.  It not only provides him with adventure apart from his siblings, but it also reduces the conflict, mess, noise, etc in the house by a significant portion.  And considering

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Fig + 3 Citrus Jam Recipe

The dry summer and mild autumn here in Oregon have produced a pleasant surprise: the main crop of Negronne Figs have ripened!  In our cool climate, the only figs suitable to grow are those that produce a delicious breba (first) crop.  Many figs produce small, mealy breba figs that aren’t sweet and aren’t worth eating.  Some varieties – like my Desert King and Negronne figs – are prized for their sweet, abundant breba figs.  Most years the weather turns too cold for the later, main crop of figs to ripen.  However, this year the Negronne’s main crop has been producing

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Returning

I’ve always been a sporadic blogger.   Honestly, the last several months, it’s been easier to Instagram.   After a long, unintended blog break full of officiating roller derby, working in the garden, and writing for Azure Standard, the change of the seasons always draws me back here.  I have recipes and knitting patterns in the works, and hope to be back to blogging on a semi-regular basis…for a while at least…until derby and work and unschool life with four kids gets overwhelming again. Blessings on this tail end of summer.  Back tomorrow with a recipe to share.

Parkrose Market

I have had much time to blog the last several days, I’m working on stocking our Etsy store (Parkrose Market) with salves and balms and knitted things.  Trying to juggle all of my obligations at the moment is proving challenging, and I’m dropping a few balls here and there.  But, I’m still making progress and being anything less than busy doesn’t come naturally to me. I grow all of the herbs here (with the exception of myrrh), dry them in our solar dehydrator, and then infuse them into organic unrefined coconut oil and organic olive oil.  We use only local beeswax

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Herbal Salves

  The past few weeks, I’ve been working on batches of healing salves, both for custom orders and to stock our soon-to-open Etsy store.  We grow the herbs with all organic methods (of course!), and dry them in a solar dehydrator, utilizing only the energy of the sun. Other ingredients in the salves include local beeswax from natural beekeepers, and organic oils. The herbs (such as calendula, above) are infused into organic coconut oil and organic olive oil by sun-infusion or by simmering in a double boiler for 6-8 hours.  Don’t the blossoms turn the oil a lovely sunny shade? All

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Collector’s Item

Years ago, my kids crafted their own version of a universal child’s game:  collecting items from nature/the garden, assigning those items special qualities (fairy berries!  war paint!), and selling them in a “store”.  One child (usually the youngest) is “The Collector” and he gathers items to sell to the shop owner, who in turn, markets them to her remaining siblings and friends.  It’s kind-of the ultimate unschool nature table make-believe game. I managed to get a tremendous amount of yardwork done while the kids played, and enjoyed helping George, The Collector, find goodies to bring his siblings. Thimbleberry, grape, and

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Early June Garden

After a few months on break (WordPress troubles, another surgery), I’m back to blogging. A few shots around the garden yesterday (the one above shows part of our new rain garden).   Early June is so lovely.  Everything still tidy and unfurling.         It’s shaping up to be a very good year for berries.  The kids have been picking a basket of berries to accompany every meal, and snacking on them in between. All of the apples have set very heavily this year.  I did a lot of hand-thinning after the natural fruit drop at the beginning of

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A Late November Pause

Joining up with Ginny’s Yarn Along, and Frontier Dreams for the KCCO – Pausing from the work of the day to work on a warmer version of this scarf for a bit this morning – more Christmas gift knitting, of course. The kids and I are still on a seasonal/ethical eating kick, and after finishing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, we have started this book CD, and I’ve been thumbing through Edible Perennial Gardening.  A Michael Pollan book seems appropriate in this holiday season of time-honored, seasonal, traditional cooking: With Thanksgiving just a blink away, that’s all I have to share today.  Most of the day is

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Thanksgiving meditation

Thinking ahead to next week, we’ve been reading through a stack of library books about Thanksgiving – simple children’s stories as well as historical and anthropological recountings. Worked into our everyday conversations is the topic of thankfulness, and what the act of giving thanks looks like.  In light of these conversation with the kids, I’ve been reading some Wendell Berry in the evenings, and was particularly struck by the notion that, no matter how much we toil and struggle, somehow the success of our effort lies upon something Greater.  And so, when we reap success in life, we can see the

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Oregon Autumn Tart

Sometimes, an abundance of ingredients in the pantry necessitates the creation of a new recipe.  We had bag of fresh local cranberries in the fridge, a few handfuls of lingonberries from the garden, and a glut of locally-grown hazelnuts.  A perfect collection of ingredients for a truly Oregonian Autumnal tart. Oregon Autumn Tart Ingredients: 1 sheet puff pastry For the filling: 2 1/2 C fresh cranberries and lingonberries, washed  1 1/2 C granulated or unrefined natural sugar (you can use 1 C for a more-tart dessert) zest of one orange (I prefer to use a microplane for a very fine

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Archangel

The forecast for today is miserable – snow, freezing rain.  In anticipation, we finished winterizing the garden and got the garlic crop planted and mulched (weeks and weeks later than normal).   The duck house and chicken coop have been mucked and loads of fresh straw added, since the birds are not yet acclimated to the cold weather just now coming our way.  With the outdoor chores done, we can keep to the house knowing everything is taken care of outside. I got a pot of white bean soup going first thing so I wouldn’t have to worry about dinner

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Elderberry-Rose Hip Syrup

A friend very kindly picked me loads of wild rose hips.  These red-orange fruits of fall are loaded with vitamin C, lycopene and beta-carotene.  They can be dried for tea, or used fresh for syrup and jam.  (Take note – the seeds inside are covered with irritating hairs, and if the fruits are cut up, the hairs need to be removed.  The seeds and outside of the fruit are edible.) Late in the summer, when our elderberries were in full production (and I was still out of commission), my husband picked and froze loads of berries for me.    Adding

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Homebodies

Autumn is settling in, and we’ve put the feather comforters and extra quilts on the beds.  My ankle hasn’t healed enough to drive yet, so we spend our week keeping busy at home.  Any moment it isn’t raining, we’ve been in the garden. Some images from our quiet week around the house.  Above: Hops, rosemary, and comfrey drying in a sunny window seat. Collecting columbine seeds for Christmas gifts, and a few to sow around the garden. Baking bread.  The kids can eat a loaf every single day, and I certainly don’t mind baking.  This is molasses-shredded wheat bread (my kids

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Early Harvests

  Some of the organic produce we have harvested in the past week and a half or so (thank you, volunteers for all your help!).  Slowly, slowly, the gardens are producing more and more food as soil fertility improves, perennial food plants begin producing, and the entire permaculture system matures.

Hidden Corner and Weekly Harvest

Our chicken coop is a giant monstrosity we acquired four years ago for next to nothing on Craigslist.  It got a window and bright paint and sits very happily in the back of the yard. Because it is so tall, I knew it needed a vertical climber trained up the side.  I chose Concord grapes, which my grandpa always grew, and remind me of childhood visits to his garden in Indiana.  Concords have a distinct flavor, which grape enthusiasts call “foxy.”  My kids aren’t especially fond of the flavor, but I love them. (There are plenty of other grape varieties

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Late May in the Garden, II

Welcome back!  Today we will walk through our sunny side yard garden, and touch on a few other elements as well.  When we bought our home five years ago, the yard was all sod, weeds, a split ornamental plum, invasive bamboo.  All of those elements are gone now, and we have been adding more perennial crops and improving the garden design as time and budget allow.  One of the first plants we began to add is the highbush blueberry.   Because plants can take five or more years to establish and produce a mature harvest, we wanted to get them

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Late May in the Garden Part I

It has been a long, long time since I’ve done a garden update.  Many things have changed as a succession of new plants have been added, and ten yards of wood chips spread about.   Nitrogen fixers and annual veggies have given way to a maturing system full of edible perennials and low-maintenance food cultivation.  So, let’s take a quick tour of the front yard and shade gardens, shall we? I consider the front beds adjacent to the street to be my “good neighbor” beds.  I try to keep them as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and let them serve as

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Midwinter Sunshine

  Off the needles:   A simple pair of mitts for a gift exchange, to which I added a little needle-felted embellishment. Ruth painted a cheery sun on the card and we sewed a drawstring gift bag to round out the gift, and packaged it up.   It was sent it on its way across the country, where it will bring a fellow Grinnellian some Christmas cheer. To bring our own family a bit of sunshine in midwinter, a batch of sunny bright marmalade was in order.  I was planning on plain old orange, but when I managed to get

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December Afternoon

Knitting a few rows on some Toasty mitts , Daily checks on fermenting veggies.  Jalapeno Purple kraut all finished and getting jarred up for gifts.  Plain sauerkraut coming along nicely.  It will be ready to serve with Christmas dinner. (The weight goes back on top when I’m done checking, so all cabbage is submerged below the brine.) Vying for space in front of the heater vent to thaw frozen fingers and toes, Enjoying the ever-rotating display of Christmas decorations the children arrange and rearrange as they play with them. Back tomorrow with a recipe for the coming Solstice, and some

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  Despite having taken oodles of photos and having several posts drafted, WordPress is being fickle.  Beyond fickle.  Looks like we might have to reinstall it or some such frustration.  Photos won’t load properly, won’t edit, disappear, load distorted on iPad but not on PCs…it’s a big mess I haven’t got the time to fix at the moment. As soon as things are repaired, I will be back to regular posting. Thanks, Angela

Pickled

  Do you ever fall in-and-out-of-love with a craft or recipe?   Do your habits and hobbies have a seasonality to them? When a skill or hobby piques my interest, I tend to research everything on the subject, and fully submerge myself in it.  I get a little obsessed.  And then, sometimes the interest wanes (like making rag rugs).  Or sometimes it becomes cemented in the rhythm of our family life (like baking bread).  I like to knit in the winter, sew in the summer, but bake and garden all year long. (On a side note, I think this is

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From the Fig Tree

A cascade of very fresh, very ripe figs the kids poured out onto the kitchen table.  They are from a neighbor’s tree.  She doesn’t know the variety (they are actually her next-door neighbors, but a large portion of the immense tree overhangs her driveway, and no one family can consume the vast quantities of fruit. The figs are pale green with a pink flesh, and very soft and sweet.  I think they may be “Desert King”, which does quite well in our climate, and typically produces a large good-quality breba crop (we have a young one in our yard, and

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Permie Book + New Socks

  Taking a break from a busy day to quickly join the Yarn Along.   I have a penchant for permaculture books, and something about reading up on landscape design and permaculture theory just pairs well with knitting.  This morning I finished The Resilient Farm and Homestead while casting on a pair of socks. The book is well-written and not-t00-technical.  It is geared toward those folks with property, and/or those new to the ideas of resilience and permaculture homesteading.    While I may not have enough land for sheep and goats and a duck pond, the book still had a lot to offer, and

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Saturday in the Garden

Most of the currants have been a dud this year, the strawberries are nearly gone, and the blueberries not-quite-ripe yet.  But the raspberries!! Oh, what a fantastic year for raspberries.  Many, many pints have been delivered to BCS, and many more wolfed down by neighborhood children flocking to our backyard. Breakfast, snack, dessert – we cannot get enough of them.  The kids are especially loving them blended with plain kefir, a little honey, and ice cubes for a smoothie snack.   Now that garden chores are finished for the day, we’re off to a Bonsai festival.  And then the girls have

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Gratitude

  Joining Taryn of WoolyMossRoots for her Gratitude Sunday: -Very glad to have a little free time to return to blogging, and catch up on some of my favorite blogs. -And grateful to return to some much-beloved routines and habits (like baking bread nearly every day, knitting, reading aloud to the kids in the afternoon, making pickles).   -Grateful for the intense and much-needed rain this week, followed by a bolt of growth all over the gardens. -Feeling very blessed to have such kind and thoughtful neighbors, who lavish such unconditional love on my kids. -Bittersweet to see my youngest,

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