Born in the Wrong Era

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Earlier I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner since I hadn’t marinated the chicken I got at the store yet.

I knew I had a lot spinach in the fridge, so I decided to make sautéed spinach with yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic and lemon juice sautéed in olive oil. I also decided to cook some of the tricolored quinoa I had in the pantry to add to add to my concoction, for some protein. I had also added a bit of salt as well.

On the side I had broiled some left over rosemary potatoes I had made the other night.

Before starting in on making dinner I had mixed up a batch of gluten free, vegan cherry brownies. I used apple sauce instead of butter, and I really like how they turned out.

After I had dinner and cleaned up the kitchen I went out to the garden and picked raspberries. I also checked the tomatoes and the lettuce. The tomatoes are still very green, and I had picked lettuce a couple evenings ago so there was not anymore ready at this point.

I am working with have I have available to me at this point. I would love to live outside of the city on more property, and have a larger garden. I would love to do more canning, and freezing of what I can grow and obtain fairly locally, as well as freezing meat obtained from hunting and fishing.

Part of this comes from the fact that I was raised in the city, where I have always been reliant on the grocery stores for all my food, unless we went to a produce stand, farm store or farm stand locally. Be even then, most of the meat I have eaten in my life came out of a package.

While there are certain items I would still need to pick up at the grocery store, I am the kind of person who wants to know where my raw food, especially and produce is coming from, how it was raised, and that it was butchered properly. I also want to be doing more to support my local farmers and helping them succeed. I prefer local food, when you buy it from the farm itself, it is a better quality, and has better flavor.

As I have gotten older, the quality of my food has become more and more important, as well as supporting the local smaller farms and such, over the big chain stores. The chain stores have been having so many issues with recalls on food for e.coli and salmonella and other contaminates.

I also love cooking and baking and using the best quality ingredients in what I create. There are times when I feel like I was born in the wrong era, because I do enjoy Homemaking, gardening, knitting, hard work, and all that goes along with it.

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Urban Gardens

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The past few months I have been becoming more and more obsessed with gardening, and urban gardening. I would love to have a home and yard of my own that I could turn into a garden. I want to be able to grow more of my own produce. That being said I have no real desire to turn full on crunchy.

One of the great things about living in Portland is all the nurseries around as well as stores that carry canning and preserving supplies, and all the farmers markets we have.

While I was out and about scoping out neighborhoods I kind of like, I ended up in the area where I worked a few years back. Just down the street from the gluten free vegan bakery that is near where I used to work, there is this little garden center place that is so cute.

As much as this city can be annoying, and I am not a fan of all the traffic or how expensive it is getting, there are many good points about it, like all the Homemaking resources we have nearby.

I love that whatever I couldn’t/ didn’t grow, are available within a couple hours drive.

What Living in a Small Town taught me about Who I am

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I am loving gardening and being able to go outside and work around after a rough day. There is something about working around the garden alone in the evenings.

Gardening definitely makes me miss living in a small town in the middle of nowhere this time of year. The towns I lived in while in college are college towns, at the same time there are families who live there, and the college is a welcome part of the community. With the exception of some of the freshman (thinking back to my own freshman year and lower division classes), the majority of the student body were there to learn. There were also a fair amount of older / non traditional students who had kids, in addition to the school not being a party school (can anyone say “dry campus”), made for a more family friendly community small town feel. Outside of town limits it was all farm land, whether they were growing grass for hay, hops for beer, or grapes to make wine, it is definitely a farming area. A lot of people who lived outside city limits also had gardens, some had chickens and or goats. There were at least a couple alpaca farms. It took leaving the city and moving there to realize that I am not a city girl.

It took living there to plant the seeds of wanting to live in the country, on some acreage where I can have a flower garden and a fruit & vegetable garden as well as chickens, maybe some goats, and so much more. I personally fell in love with living in the country, not super far from a small town.

Living there taught me how to appreciate the quiet and simpleness of a summer’s evening, and gardening once the sun is past it’s peak (between 5:30 and 7:30 pm), and enjoy watching the sun go down while sitting outside especially if there is a breeze.

Living in a small town where the regular TV stations didn’t always come through clearly, and many businesses closed by 7:00 pm, there wasn’t a lot to do like there is in the city. That didn’t bother me at all. It really helped me to appreciate the simpler things in life like the beauty of a summers evening, and going for a walk for something to do. It fits well with who I am. That slower pace of life, and enjoying the simpler way of life in terms of not having to be going from one store to another, spending lots of money, or constantly needing to go somewhere and do something is what works for me. If I ever have a family of my own, I would love to raise my kids near a small town.

Working around in the garden this week gave me time to think about how much more I want to do and what I want to grow and make for myself. While there is more of a resurgence of the Homesteading / Urban Homesteading Lifestyle out here in this part of the country, it seems like how much of what women did a couple generations ago (and they weren’t all urban housewives), is a chapter in the history books. Homesteading, even Modern Homesteading and urban Homesteading are a lot of work, but I love the way I feel at the end of a long day of work and being tired from actually accomplishing something.

This week I have picked about a pint of raspberries each day, and yesterday I picked some of my lettuce that I had planted earlier this week. I watered the garden, and kept a watchful eye on the tomato plants. It was a good thing that we staked the tomatoes last weekend. They have grown so much in the past week, it’s crazy. As of yesterday there were 11 flowers that I counted between all the plants. If we hadn’t staked them when we did, they would likely be falling over already.

Starting a Garden Journal

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Now that I have been getting more into Gardening, and hope to continue gardening well into the future, I decided to start a gardening journal.

I know that moving is in near enough future, and depending on where I move, the longitude and latitude I am at may change a bit or a lot. Unless I am able to move to Alaska, which could happen, in all likelihood I will stay in Oregon, Washington or Idaho, as I love this part of the country and the growing regions we have out here. We have everything I want out here, in terms of agriculture and produce. Not to mention hunting and fishing.

Each year is different, and different vegetables grow differently at different elevations, in different climate zones and at different latitudes.

I decided to start keeping this journal to track all of that on a regular basis (daily or almost daily).

I am only needed to record longitude, latitude, elevation and town / closest town each time I move, just to know where I am at and to be able to go back and look as a reminder.

At the beginning of the season I want to track if I planted anything new, what I planted, and how many plants, as well as what plants returned. From there, when I do maintenance stuff like staking the tomatoes or transferring starts from the greenhouse to the outdoor garden. I also want to track when things first start coming on.

On the daily basis track things like high temperature, humidity, whether it was an overcast or sunny day, if there was rain, or that I watered. I also want to track how much of each item I harvest each day. From there, I also want to document if I was able to make a batch of jam or something like that from what I harvested.

Part of why I am writing it down is so I have it easily at hand to track and look back on, as well as the fact it will be easier to search than my blog. I also feel that I would bore you all and lose followers if I posted all that here on a daily basis.

Not to mention that this blog is more than just about gardening, even though that is taking up a bit of my time in the summer.

I want to keep things as well rounded as possible, with Homemaking, Cooking, Baking, Canning, Gardening, cleaning, budgeting couponing, Decorating, entertaining, and all of that,

This is the Life I Choose

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Earlier this week, one of the evenings I had been out picking raspberries, and I was been eaten alive by mosquitoes and cut up by the raspberry bushes.

The next afternoon I went digging in my closet looking for an old button down shirt that I didn’t really care about and hadn’t worn for ages. I found one that would work and put it on before going out to pick berries.

While the scratches from the raspberry bushes hurts, it’s the mosquito bites that concern me a bit more. While we don’t really worry about things like Yellow Fever or Malaria, or anything that is typically in the humid subtropical areas of the world, our biggest worries are West Nile Virus and to some extent Zika. Other than travel related cases where someone had travelled to a place where Zika is prevalent and gets bit, it is a pretty low risk still at this point in this part of the country that you could get Zika from a mosquito bite here. That being said it’s something I don’t want to take the chance of.

This evening I had gone out picking, and I got about 7/8 of a pint. The berries are slowly coming on. It is a wait and see kind of thing to see what the crop is like this year.

The berries I have gotten thus far have been gotten eaten. If and when I start getting a pint and a half to two pints a day, then making jam is a definite possibility.

There are a couple DIY hacks I would like to try in the future, such as homemade Citronella candles and using citronella essential oil mixed with fractionated coconut oil applied topically. I would also like to give some proper work clothes a try like some Duluth Trading Company clothes a try for the summer months (as well as some Carhartt for the colder months).

It seems that the older I get, the desire to grow as much of my own produce as possible, and do so much more Homesteading and DIY stuff. Knowing where my food comes from and what is in my food is a big deal to me. I realize that growing a garden, as well as going and locally procuring what isn’t feasible to grow on the small scale, hunting for and fishing my own food is the life I am working my rear end off to make happen for myself.

Learning to Garden

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While I am not able to do as much gardening as I would like, and can’t really dive in to it as much as I would like, because I live with others and where I live isn’t my own, I can only do so much.

With that being said, I am doing what I can and learning as much as I can while I am where I am at.

In the backyard of where I am living, we have raspberries, tomato plants, some rhubarb, an apple tree and an old prune tree.

The raspberries are what have really taken off and are what consistently produce year after year.

This June has been rather cool, so the raspberries are coming on a bit later.

Today is the first day I have gone out to see what I could pick, where I have gotten more than 2 or 3 berries off all the bushes. Between the bushes we have in the center garden area and what is along the fence line. The ones out in the middle get more sun and are better producers.

Once I have my own garden, I want so much more in the way of variety of what I grow. I want raspberries, strawberries, blue berries, various varieties of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, herbs and so much more. I also want a flower & rose garden out front.

I have so many garden goals, that I would love to pursue. I am all about producing as much of my own food as possible. I am definitely one of those who likes knowing where my food comes from, and I am a firm believer in garden to table and freshly picked / harvested food.

Ladies Retreat Homemaking

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I got home this afternoon from the Ladies Retreat I had gone on this weekend.

I was on duty yesterday morning, to help with breakfast. I was tasked with making something that was gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and soy free. To fit that need, I had made up an egg casserole with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, onion and unsweetened original almond coconut milk. I had also mixed up a batch of Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free cranberry orange pecan muffins using the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free muffin mix to make.

Having food intolerances and sensitivities is hard enough as it is, and it is even harder when you go away and are staying at a different place.

I love being able to cook for myself and others, and be able to meet a need and stand in the gap. The kitchen is the one place I am comfortable being when something needs to be done and help is needed.

Many of us who had gone took turns helping prepare different meals throughout the weekend which was nice.

I had done some preparations beforehand, and before I left. I had picked up some of the vegetables that are a bit hardier as well as a few snacks and dry goods. I had also baked the muffins the morning I left. I had stopped at the grocery store in Tillamook to pick up the more perishable items that I didn’t want to leave sitting out for several hours between the time I left Portland and when I would be able to put them in the fridge at the house we were staying at.