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Monday, June 21, 2010

Project 365: June 14th through June 20th

June 14th: Dotty's All You Can Eat Tacos...and today is not Wednesday. I get sandwiches here sometimes for super cheap when I forget my lunch. I highly recommend their club.

June 15th: Making blueberry lemon balm cake.

June 16th: Mio sushi for lunch: Double crunch roll, yellow tail roll and salmon nigiri.

June 17th: Wake me up...wake me up...

June 17th: Shopping at Lane Bryant Washington Square with Jen.

June 18th: The master gardener's rose garden I walk by every day during my breaks at work.

June 19th: Wine tasting at Stoller Vineyards.

June 19th: Crepe party at Julie and Brent's. Brent made me this amazing crepe: gruyere, chicken, bacon, roasted red pepper, grilled asparagus, spinach, and carmelized onions.

June 20th: The first water lily bloom.

Don't Be a Chicken! Get Organized :)

Today let us discuss organization...because, as any of my friends can tell you I am a card carrying member of OCD Anonymous only it is hard to be anonymous when I randomly flip out and start doing people's dishes at parties. I prefer to think of it more as "chaos challenged" myself but either way, I adore places like Ikea a little too much for a few reasons. The primary reason being that they have TONS of organizational options for those people like myself who cannot get enough. I swear I get new hobbies only so that I can conceptualize ways to organize them as pathetic as that might sound. To me when Martha Stewart starts talking about ribbon sorters and paper organizers I get all worked up and flustered. Before you start suggested therapists for me, I will at least share my latest in organizational feats: The Kitchen Pantry...dum dum duuuuuuum...

Next, I will mention a current project I am helping out with...getting chickens leagal in the city of Beaverton, Oregon. Here are a few pictures from the first ever Beaverton town hall and we were happy to report that only one person showed up who was anti chicken! We were thrilled and amazed at that especially since the room was very full! And here is a mascot of ours Grace, aka Squidgy and one of her awesome moms - Tracey. Her other awesome mom Lannie made these fantastic Bright Green Beaverton chicken signs with feathers :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The State of Things

I can hardly wait until I get the funds to finish all of my pathways. They will have a few large flagstones with riverrock and small stepable plants growing up against them.

I started this Ameria maritima ‘Duesseldorf Pride’ under our grape arbor and I just love it. This is the first year where it has really come into its own. Behind it is my oregano which has just gone insane this year.

My delphinium is doing lovely now that it finally decided to grace us with blooms.

Yellow pansies and varigated ground ivy.

Speedwell and Morrocan Mint

Avalanche Sandwort in the front and St John's Wart in the back.

Hostas, Ferns and Hydrangea with a small creeping fuchia.

The edge of the new shade garden where I have started what will eventually be a glorious Jasmine and Calle Lilly garden extraveganza.

The state of things...nasturtium seedlings and red sunflower seedlings.

My blue star creeper is not just creeping but also blooming.

Bernadette and Catalina doing what they do best- bug hunting.

The new sun garden.

My victory shade garden.

Shade Garden with the cedar trees.

My ivy garden.

The bachelor buttons and calendula have started taking over.

Pineapple mint - a new favorite.

My girls...

My mini cattails are looking lovely.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Strawberry Jam

Last weekend a small band of my friends and I decided to get an early start on strawberry season at Kruger Farms in Sauve Island, Oregon. The afternoon involved several trips to the beer garden for the guys and ears of corn fire grilled.

Here is Julie with Mr Jaxon on his first trip strawberry picking. We first met Jaxon at the Pumpkin Patch before Halloween on Sauve Island.

Brent, Julie, Jaxon and Christina

Mr Jaxon's first time on a wagon!

Jen and her awesome parasol, Spencer pulling Jaxon and Christina, the proud mom snapping photos.

Cutest proud parent moment ever - who can blame them since their son is a sweetie.

And this was taken while I was sitting in a strawberry field picking berries. The rains have been just crazy this year in Oregon but we still managed to get a pretty good haul of sweet berries.

Start by rinsing off your berries - be thorough and only do a pint or two at a time so your collander is not too crowded.

I try to make jam as soon as possible after picking the berries to maintain the fresh color and taste - jam turns out much better with the freshest ingredients. Here is me mashing them up in my heavy stock pot. Some people puree in a food processor but I prefer doing everything by hand because I like the fruit chunks that come with homemade jam. I just take extra time mashing and ripe berries should mash pretty easily. I refuse now to buy jam in the stores after making my own. Plus there is something special about knowing you not only made it but you know exactly what is in it as well! For one batch of strawberry jam you will need 6 very full pints of berries. After you have completed the mashing process add 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice to the berries. This helps also maintain the color of your berries during cooking though because of the amount you will add more sugar to compensate.

Add one box of natural fruit pectin (make sure it is the cooking style and not the no sugar or freezer jam styles - this recipe is for processed jam with sugar). Cook the jam over medium high heat and bring to a full boil (the kind which does not cease when stirred). Once it comes to a boil cook, stirring constantly for one minute and add 7 1/2 cups sugar. Stir in the sugar quickly and bring back up to a boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and let settle for a few moments and then skim as much foam off as possible before ladling into jars. There are three must haves for canning - a canning funnel, a jar lifter and a proper ladle. Make sure to leave 1/4 inch minimum at the top of your jars.

Processing jars is easy - you want at least an inch of water over the jars when processing. I do not have a canner. I use a standard large stock pot filled with water and I put a steamer tray raised about 1/2 inch from the bottom of my pan to process my jars and it works great. Boil the water and process each jar 20 minutes. The secret to not loosing jars is to make sure to keep your jars hot. If you make the jam fresh and process immediately you should be fine. If you are waiting to process though you will want to put the hottest water possible in your sink and let the jars bathe while waiting for your water to boil.

I use Avery round labels #8293 for the tops of my jars and I process alot of jams and jellies every year as gifts for Yule.

I, of course, wait until the jars had cooled and dried before labeling.

Make sure to let your jam settle for a minimum of six days before refrigerating and eating because it needs to set. Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Project 365: June 7th through June 13th

June 7th: Patrick made me, him, Richard and Jen amazing stuffed salmon burgers on onion buns with Tillamook Swiss, red bell pepper and lettuce from Kruger farms and also grilled asparagus from amazing...

June 8th: Town Hall on chickens - Lannie and Tracy made these adorable signs for all of us. The night was amazing since only one anti chicken person showed up out of a room full of 100 people!

June 9th: My wonderful husband spoiled me with sushi dinner and these are two favs: salmon nigiri and a yellow tail roll.

June 9th: Working at the hotline. The elevator has been under repair for some time now but I love the sign saying new controls are in and the ceiling is "coming soon"!

June 10th: The great bathroom revamp 2010. I began the Venetian plaster project on the first bathroom (both are being redone using this product). Macha lent a helping furry hand supervising since it is, after all, her bathroom.

June 11th: But this is my tree. I wait by it every day when Patrick picks me up. These days it is looking ever so lovely with all its foliage compared to the winter shot I took of it dark and barren.

June 11th: My delphinium finally began to bloom and it looks to be putting on a wonderful show since it has an amazing amount of stems fully loaded with flora.

June 12th: Jen and I and our carnage. She and I share a shell fish addiction and when we do an epic shopping trip like Saturday then we need our cockroach of the sea!

June 13th: Dinner with Robert and Heidi: They made pesto from basil and garlic they got at Beaverton Farmer's Market which we put with some of our linguine, grilled swordfish and grilled asparagus. And yes, it tasted even better then it all looks.

And if you would like to see all my photos this far for Project 365 you can find those and