Spring Planning

Winter sunshine has turned back into rain (not snow, boo!) so that has me dreaming of gardening and spring. I clicked over to one of my local farmer/florist inspiration blogs to see if her amazing sweet pea seeds were back in stock. I have been eyeing these for two years now and finally bit the bullet. Two I wanted were already out of stock so maybe I can remember to check earlier next year! I cannot wait to grow more of these in my garden. These are the beauties I picked for this year (photos from Floret website):

If you have not checked out Floret, you should. Now. It is stunning and Erin is such an inspiration for family, farming and following your dreams.

Frosted New Year

The end of 2015 was full for us. Even with our house mid-construction, we had a very Christmasy season with 5 days of family celebration and cheer. Matt got me the most thoughtful surprise gift: a Griswold cast iron muffin pan…one that I had been coveting for ages and then totally forgot about! We have made epic cornbread muffin 4 times in the new pan and let me tell you, oy! They are good!

I spent the week leading up to Christmas making mobile after mobile as gifts. I am refining my technique and cannot wait to make more! Next up is settling on a name for my little company and selling these beauties locally and maybe on Etsy.

Matt and I collected seaglass a few times but with winter tides it is hard to fit them in during daylight up here. Then on New Year’s, he and his brother explored a new beach and found my new favorite hunting grounds: perfectly tumbled and abundant seaglass!!! I have completely overhauled my previous collection in favor of these gems. We have collected three times now and it has been so fun to sort these beauties. Lots of pretty pastels, including my first pink!

In addition to frosted glass, 2016 has been filled with frost of the cold winter variety as well. The ground has been frozen for the past few mornings and we were treated to a snowfall Sunday afternoon. It did not stick around (much to Matt’s dismay) but it was beautiful to watch.

Happy 2016!

What’s Up?

Things have been pretty quiet around the blog these days. The rest of life is just so full! The holidays are here are we are busy as ever! Major construction project on the house, vacation, garden wrap up, new hobbies, family time and of course those run of the mill things like work and cooking and sleeping.

So lets to a quick update, shall we?

In early November we spent 8 days in Kauai with my parents. It was a fun trip, lots of good beaches and waterfalls. Awesome shave ice. The snorkeling was sub par (we are so spoiled!) and surfing was not what we had hoped for, but it was a good trip. Nice to get away before the holidays! And bonus, we got bumped on the flight home and have $1000 in travel vouchers to use! Now to plan another trip…

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When we came back, the weather had turned. We huge windstorm downed tons of trees and ripped out hot tub cover apart. Any suggestions on a good inexpensive place to get a new one? Replacing it was not something we had planned on. Ah homeownership!

We had hastily planted cover crop over 90% of the garden before we left, and most of it was up when we returned. How much it will grow in the cold weather will remain to be seen. The chickens are hunkered down for the cold too. The weeks of 24+ a week have shriveled to maybe 1-2 eggs a day. Half the girls are molting, poor Dude roo had a cold, and the new girls are slowing from the lack of light. They got a fresh layer of bedding and lots of produce scraps this weekend. Next project: growing our own mealworms.IMG_9065[1]

The garden has taken a backseat to what is happening indoors. Remember those ideas of remodeling the main floor of our house? Taking out walls and moving doors and rooms around? It is happening, people. As it stands, phase 1a is nearly done, phase 1b is in progress, and phase 1c and 1d are coming soon!

BEFORE (phase 1a and 1b)

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The house is divided up with plastic sheeting, dust is everywhere and thank goodness we are not hosting anything soon! Tearing into the walls of our house has been quite the learning experience! We are sharpening our skills (Matt is lead on demo and construction while I head up cleanup and supervision and supply runs) and really learning a lot about our house. For example: the main entry to our living room, in a main load bearing wall? No header. Someone did a chop job back in the day that we are now fixing right. Also, the house has random remnants of ventilation systems and lath+plaster. Totally random stuff that (thank goodness) and sawzall can handle! By next weekend we should be able to finish the new guest room and put up a Christmas tree!IMG_9126[1]

To keep sane during all this upheaval Matt and I are bonding over some new obsessions hobbies. Both require lots of time, looking at the ground, and meticulous cleaning and fun research. For him, mushroom hunting, for me, hunting sea glass. We realized that Vashon is a great place for both if you know where to look! I was inspired during our trip to Kauai when I saw a mobile/wall hanging that I wanted to buy, and instead decided to scavenge my own supplies and make it. Mild vacation interest has turned to full-fledged obsession! Saturday we took a mid-day demo break and hunted over a quart of glass! After being cleaned it is now sorted and on a tray in the very messy dining room. I cannot wait to find more and learn more about it! (PS – mushroom + sea glass road trips are in our future)

So yea, things are busy. And it is all good. Matt and I are great project partners. I am seriously amazed at how well we work together on things that could be very stressful. And we cannot wait to see this house transformation take place!IMG_9118[1]

All in Fall

How did we get to the end of October so quickly? We spent the weekend filling ourselves with fallness so that we did not miss this season (something we seem to have happened this summer!) Friday night was early birthday dinner at Matt’s parents, complete with 8mm baby movies.

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Saturday we headed for the mountains and had a glorious hike 8.6 mile hike on Mt. Washington. This not so well known trail was exactly what we hoped it would be: a good workout, beautiful views and not crowded! Mt. Rainer cooperated and made for a perfect lunchtime view.

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We had dinner with good friends on our way back through town and finally collapsed into bed around 10:30 back on the island.

Sunday morning I made a quick trip to the grocery store for fresh coffee while Matt rallied an 11:00 breakfast plan. Grey skies and sore muscles made for a slow morning. We played with the idea of going on another on-island adventure but opted for a garden winter-prep session instead. It felt good to be back in the dirt. We have been ignoring weeds and plants past their prime in favor of harvesting and other projects. The garden needed some attention. I weeded and removed old plants to make room for winter cover crop (part of our soil enrichment plan) while Matt removed more sod to expand planting space for next year. After about an hour we decided to invite the chickens in to help with cleanup. Since they do not free range anymore we missed their company. It was wonderful to have them in the garden with us.IMG_8382[1]

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After a fabulous vegetarian dinner (kale-veggie curry, chanterelles and broccoli) I headed off for another fall festivity: ladies night pumpkin carving! It was a fun island event to carve pumpkins for the Roasterie’s pumpkin tradition. I am looking forward to seeing them all lit up on Friday.

How was our weekend? Fall fabulous.

Fall is in the Air

I added another layer of blankets to my side of the bed. A headlamp is needed for flagging down the bus for the morning commute. Plus, our chickens are all in bed by 7…summer is quickly wrapping up.

Thank goodness the house painting is too. We are officially DONE with all the high up extension ladder parts (2 coats), and nearly done with a second coat on the rest as well. My back is thankful for that. Last weekend we went to the fair.

Matt picked up some odd jobs at the winery next door and we are making plans for what comes next, but right now, we feel ready for a break. A weekend surfing should be happening soon, then a weekend away to Port Townsend. We are ready for snuggling down for the fall.

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Crowing Hour

IMG_6086[1]Dude (our rooster) used to start crowing at 4:30AM. It was my internal alert that the alarm was going off in a half hour. These days my alarm prompts me awake at 5, and I snooze twice before I hear our backyard buddy make his inaugural morning call.

The days are getting shorter.

Time to get going with this paint. (good news…scraping is done!)

Solstice Strawberry Jam

A few weeks ago, I came home to Matt running frantically around the kitchen in the midst of his first jam making experience. He had run out of jars, was confounded by the amount of sugar in all the recipes, had way more berries than pectin…you can probably see it. I jumped in the car to procure more jars (thank goodness town is only 5 minutes away).

When I returned the scene was much calmer. The jars we had were filled, and the jam was the perfect level of sweet. We washed the final few, added the jam and off to the freezer they went. Fresh picked strawberry freezer jam round one was a success!

IMG_4546[1]As I mentioned, that was a few weeks ago. We have already plowed our way through two jars of this delicious treat; using it on toast, ice cream, in lemonade or milk…it is seriously awesome. So when the opportunity to pick more strawberries came up we jumped on it.

June 21: summer solstice. We picked another 18 lbs of bright red Shuksan berries on a weekend trip to Whatcom County. The season is winding down and the berries are smaller, but still oh so sweet and bright. IMG_4788[1]

We drove back to the island, took care of the chickens and sat down to an evening of hulling berries and watching Netflix. 18 lbs is a lot of berries, and we already had 17lbs made into jam, so we froze half of these. Today Matt turned the rest into round two of freezer jam. This time around we had enough jars, the right amount of pectin and a lot more confidence. Our freezer is full of sweet, solstice goodness.

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