Kitchen makeover

We decided to do some remodeling in our kitchen. I’m really digging the new open floor plan, although it is short on counter space.

Kitchen ripped out

Posted in Renovation | 12 Comments

Tiny bottle gourds

A basket of Tiny Bottle gourds from our garden has been drying inside for the last couple weeks. I am planning some messy kid crafts soon.

Small bottle gourds

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Corn pile of geese

We harvested Lee’s field corn a few weeks ago. I raked up all the corn stalks afterward and made piles for the geese. At the end of every day the geese had devoured almost every bit of it. Next year I want to herd them into the corn patch to make my clean up job easier.

Goose pile

Posted in Livestock | 1 Comment

Marina di Chioggia squash

I grew two Marina di Chioggia squash plants this summer and harvested a total of three squash from them. The culinary descriptions of this variety made me want to grow it. Surely there must be more uses for pumpkin flavor than just pies and lattes?

Marina di Chioggia squash in the front

I was shocked by how dense the pulp was from the first “Marina” that I cooked. It’s unlike any pumpkin or squash we’ve tried before. I have plans to make pumpkin soup, gnocchi, cake, and maybe a casserole or two. Is there a must-make pumpkin recipe I should know about? I’ve already tried roasting it and of course pumpkin pie is a given. šŸ™‚

In addition to the pulp, I dug almost two cups of seeds from the guts which we promptly roasted. We always use this recipe from Simply Recipes. Roasted pumpkin seeds never survive more than an hour at our house.

Seeds from a Marina di Chioggia squash

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Candied jalapeƱo peppers

Twenty two half-pints of candied jalapeƱo peppers later and I’m still not sure we have enough. They are a favorite staple in our pantry. Does anyone have a favorite way to use their jalapeƱos?

Candied jalapeƱo peppers

Posted in Skillset | 5 Comments

Crash, down came the shack shed

The rotting shed behind our house finally came down. All it took was a chainsaw, a tow cable and a truck to pull it over.

Shack shed

There was so much dry rot that I’m not sure how it lasted this long. We are still working on picking up all the pieces, but we are really liking the new open space in the backyard.

Down for the count

Posted in Cleanup | 4 Comments

Goodbye old friend

Jasper quietly went to sleep at the vets office on Monday. He was 20 years old.

We adopted him in 2004 at an animal rescue in Phoenix, AZ. We were there to help a friend pick out a cat. I was adamant that we already had one cat at home and didn’t need another, but within minutes of arriving this big orange cat jumped onto my lap and refused to leave. He was the first pet that was truly mine and he took his role seriously. If it was 2AM and he needed to stand on my back and purr in my ear, no amount of setting him on the floor could dissuade him. There will be other pets in my future, but none will be so endlessly and singularly devoted as Jasper.

By the time we moved to Oregon, he had grown from tolerating Robin to liking her, and eventually he loved anybody who came to the house. Life in the country introduced him to the outdoors, but he was much happier sleeping on our bed when he wasn’t sleeping on someone’s lap. He was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012 and given two months to live. Robin and I talked about how Sidney would never meet him. Instead, for the last year he’s been a model of feline tolerance. Sidney was obsessed with him and no amount of slobbery and often painful toddler love was too much. He had finally met his match and it was the best year of his life.

Jasper - Dec 2005

Jasper, December 2005

Posted in Pets | 4 Comments

JalapeƱo peppers galore

I picked a huge bowl full of jalapeƱo peppers today. There are still more on the plants, which is shocking to me. Over half of our plants were badly stunted by rodent damage, but with all this warm sunny weather most of them rebounded surprisingly well. Our last jar of cowboy candy (from 2 years ago) is in the fridge, so that is the destiny for all these new peppers.

JalapeƱo peppers

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I’ve got some pumpkins turning orange. Woohoo. I think fall is coming.


Posted in Gardening | 2 Comments

Seeing red … amaranth

I love growing amaranth because it’s so big, bold, and eye catching. Lee likes growing it for grain purposes. Right now we have three different varieties in our garden. One is a descendant from the Hartmanā€™s Giant amaranth we grew in 2012. It popped up in the middle of a walk way and for some reason we let it stay.

Lee with Amaranth on August 14th

This volunteer plant has turned into the Eiffel Tower of our garden. We never watered or fertilized it and it’s determined to show off. The main stem is over 3 inches wide at the base!!


As a child I once got a free packet of Love Lies Bleeding amaranth. I remember staring at the picture on the packet and thinking how beautiful it was. I’m not sure why I didn’t try planting the seed.

This year I planted that same variety but somehow it didn’t live up to my childhood fantasy. How could it, when I have Hartman’s showing off its magnificent splendor a few feet away? Lee is pretty impressed with Love Lies Bleeding though. It would be low-yielding for grain, but the drooping heads are neat. The annoying thing about this stand is I had the bright idea to plant it right next to the tomato row. Now my tomatoes are a challenge to pick.

Love Lies Bleeding amaranth

The third variety we have growing is Oeschberg amaranth. Lee and I were disappointed in it because, well….Hartman’s. In the seed catalog it was described as resembling an “octopus waving its tentacles,” and somehow our mental image of that and reality don’t match up. Also, it’s a 3 foot variety and we were expecting another 8 foot variety. It is very pretty but the foliage always seems stressed. This area of the garden has a known symphylan problem so maybe that is affecting it a little. I think the picture below looks like the amaranth is futilely trying to hold back the tide of squash.

Oeschberg amaranth

Posted in Gardening | 3 Comments