Saturday, June 01, 2013

Kitty Naps

... and when kitty naps, the whole world slows down.

Mister Fu. Our Mysterious Fu. He only has two modes: Awake and zipping in every direction at once, and Asleep. Sound asleep. If he falls asleep in your arms, on your shoulder, across your neck, nestled beside you... cancel your plans, forget about getting anything done. He will snuggle you into his slumber mode. He will slow your heart rate, still your mind. Just breathe. Let go.

It's time we all had a kitty nap.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Garden Markers

The fabric scraps I cut and pressed keep finding their way into my projects and activities. My latest inspiration: Garden Markers!

The little pieces of fabric are already cut, with pinking shears, and folded in half. All that remained was sewing a seam... just wide enough to slip over the pruned twigs from our apricot tree. Dowels would work, too.
So far, my experiment is working... next, I slipped a scrap of paper into the fold of the fabric, so my Sharpie would not bleed through. Kale. Zinnias. Beets.

Here is the garden bed, tilled, amended with EcoScraps no poop, organic soil and planted with carrot, beets, kale, and zinnia seeds. We put a sturdy twig at the top of each row of seeds, and now all we need are some markers.

Kale! After all the work of digging, hauling, pulling weeds, setting the seeds... well, it's a tiny bit of a disappointment not to see something colorful right away. We are days and days away from germination, and it will be weeks before we can stand proudly and anticipate a harvest. Ah, the waiting game.

I like these garden markers. Our seeds are labeled. I am not too proud to admit: I do forget what seeds went where! And there is even some color and liveliness in the quiet garden bed.

No need to label this one!

But what about the carrots?

Maria took care of marking the carrot seeds! With a scrap from the goat gate, she drew a harvest of happy carrots, all the varieties.

{this moment}

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.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Organic Matters

This is a sponsored post. I am honored to share my thoughts on gardening with EcoScraps Garden Mix. EcoScraps is on a mission. They recycle food waste, that would otherwise be clogging our landfills, so that we can enjoy the healthy benefits of enriched soil for healthier plants. It's environmentally friendly! I love being environmentally friendly, and healthy, and I love doing what I can to ensure a friendly and healthy environment for future generations. So! When they asked me try their product I was delighted.

We have a fairly large urban lot, and we have children and cats and chickens and goats and bunnies... all kinds of activity and lives in motion, here. My policy in the yard, and home: no pesticides, no exceptions. It's an easy choice, because I am not offended by bugs or weeds, and I am eager to keep a safe and healthy home for us, for our friends, for our community. And besides, chickens like bugs, goats eat weeds. Heck, I actually enjoy pulling weeds. It's an odd meditative thing. My point is, I am comfortable with the trade-offs. We do not want to add to the chemical run-off streaming into the oceans. We don't want to increase the toxicity of the soil, the air, the water. We don't need to assault the earth with synthetic products that lose effectivity, cause chronic illness, kill beneficial life, and put our environment at risk. Wherever my children play, whatever the hens scratch and peck, I want to be sure that they are living in a cleaner, safer environment.

Even synthetic fertilizers put me off. Synthetically produced Nitrogen is a pollutant, they use nonrenewable fossil fuels to produce, and synthetic Nitrogen diminishes the health and fertility of the soil, making the soil and the plants weak. There is plenty of evidence, scientific and anecdotal, to prove to me that we are better off without pesticides and synthetic fertilizer, so let's just get to the good stuff! Because, there are so many wonderful resources out there, and good choices we can make!

We compost. I guess it's our own small scale Closed Loop Waste Model, just like EcoScraps'. Since our home composting operation is small, there are many times when we need to add a healthy, organic compost mix... like when filling new garden beds, or planting bare root fruit trees. Improving the garden soil is a key part in gardening success. And if there is one thing we want to enjoy, after digging, tilling, planting, watering, weeding and waiting... it's a successful harvest, from healthy and bountiful plants.

My mother-in-law saw all of our bags of EcoScraps Compost Mix waiting in the backyard, and she said, "I use EcoScraps, too!" She thinks it's good stuff. No poop. No chemicals. And working toward sustainability by reducing food waste in landfills: It is good stuff! And it's easy to find, too.

Organic matters, because my family matters. And it's a comfort knowing that we are trying to do things better. Maybe only in small ways, but still... it feels good. When we broke open the bags of Compost Mix that EcoScraps sent us, Maria noticed how dark and rich the soil looked, how much moisture it was holding. And she smelled it, saying "It smells really good, doesn't it?" I agreed. And she went on to tell me about how composting veggies don't smell too good, but when they are done, and have become composted soil, it smells really good. Remind me to thank the gardeners and teachers at her school. I love that she is learning these things!

And thank you, EcoScraps! We potted a sea lavender for inside the chicken run, which Lady Betty Orpington appreciates. And our garden bed is amended with your good smelling EcoScraps Compost Mix and planted with zinnias, kale, carrots, and beats... organic, of course! We'll keep you posted on the garden, the chickens, and goats, too, and we'll join the Compost Revolution!

Lemon ReFresh

All I did was pick them, and I felt a fresh zest and zeal. What a lovely infusion of vim and vigor!

Maybe that's what got the bills sorted, paid, another load of dishes tackled. I even had the pep to make extra thoughtful week night dinners. And the new garden got started... the hard parts of tilling, and hauling, pulling weeds, and preparation.

Such vigor and vim from lemon zing! A squeeze over chicken, with garlic and herbs, made a delicious meal. A squeeze with local honey, to soothe Maria's throat. Another squeeze over cucumbers and mint, for a refreshing and simple salad. And today... revived again, I'll vanquish at least one laundry mountain, plant some green beans and cucumbers, then back into the kitchen to make Ruth's Lemon Bars... a double batch!

Thank you, Lemon Tree. You've been so good to me.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bunnies

Here is Malcolm, the Browncoat, and his dear friend, Inara. They were a pair at the animal shelter, waiting for a new home. Now they live with us at the Bird House.

Do you spy Lady Betty, our farm matriarch?

In the beginning the bunnies lived in the barn, corralled by a small gate. They're "litter-box trained," which is sort of nice, but not entirely foolproof, so I am happy the chicken run, or Camp Whoop-Up, is complete. Maria and I spruced up the rabbit hutch, and added a fresh coat of paint. Now they live in the hutch, secure in the run. And regularly, we bring them out onto the lawn for bouncing, hopping, and other bunny pleasures.

This is the first focused, in good light, facing photograph I've taken of Inara. She is shy. Very shy. Inara likes to hang back in the shadows, slip behind her friend. They lean on each other.

Everyone seems to be settling in quite nicely at Camp Whoop-Up. There is running water, shade, security, and the constant company of chickens, goats, and bunnies. We even had a giant grasshopper come by. (Hmmmm... haven't seen him lately. I did warn him about curious hens.) Most thankfully, we are loving the peace of mind the new installation provides us. The other night, when the coyotes came calling, my anxiety was brief, fleeting... the run, with it's covered roof, and 1" by 1/2" hardware cloth is one sturdy fortress. Inara and Malcolm may be timid and mild bunnies, but we hope they will soon realize they are home, loved, and safe.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Maria and I have been going to Nepenthe, every night, before we fall asleep. It's the book we have taken up, at bedtime, My Nepenthe. And since this year, we missed stopping at our favorite Big Sur indulgence, we decided to bake a bit of Nepenthe magic in our own home. I call them peanutbuttercookies, which I have decided is one word.

The book is like a Fassett family scrapbook, with bits and parts, history and imagery, and tempting recipes from the restaurant. We have always enjoyed our visits to Nepenthe, the setting and views, the warmth of the place and its thoughtful composition. Maria and I are enjoying the quiet, drowsy time, when we open the book and read a story, or two, and appreciate those appetizing recipes.

I have favorite cookies... hmmm, maybe it's like favorite flowers... who can actually pick just one? I cannot say peanut butter cookies are among my favorites, and I cannot explain why, or how, I could be nostalgic for a cookie that was never a part of my childhood. But, yes, I felt like they were something nostalgic, and I could not resist the compulsion to bake some.

It's not my recipe, and I don't have Romney Steele's permission to share it... but if you web search "recipe for Nepenthe's peanut butter cookies," someone is sharing it. I definitely used crunchy, natural peanut butter. What we didn't bake, we froze for baking later. If you haven't tried this already... shape your cookie dough in small balls, set them on the baking sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once firm, they can be stored in a freezer bag, or container. Any day you want, or need, some fresh baked cookies, you can take those frozen cookie dough balls right to the oven!

Maria enjoyed fork pressing each ball of dough. For our Ray Harryhausen Memorial Movie Night, we baked a double batch. Friends, and peanutbuttercookies, and Jason and the Argonauts on the big screen... sweet.