Friday, July 29, 2011

A great man passed

Arthur R. Dahlen, JR.My uncle Art was a great man. He was a former Marine, and smart, could fix anything, and an all around funny guy. When I was little he had a cool '64 1/2 Mustang. I will miss his sense of humor and his hospitality. The best thing he did was marry my Aunt Claudia and together they raised three of my favorite cousins. RIP Uncle and Godspeed.
My uncle's Yard Art Riding Lawnmower

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preserving (freezing) Swiss Chard

One of my favorite things in the garden is Swiss Chard... but it doesn't keep. I really want to preserve Swiss Chard. Other than dehydration (makes great snack chips, I always wondered how one would preserve it. After reading Martha Stewart's Swiss Chard Pie recipe and noting that she freezes it, I decided to look it up... I found this simple freezing method on

* Wash the chard well.
* Separate the stalks from the leaves. It makes it more convenient when you're cooking the chard later, since the stalks take longer to cook than the leaves (and, sometimes you only want to use one or the other in a recipe, not both.)
* Bring a pot of water to a boil, and fill a bowl with ice water.
* Blanch Swiss chard stalks for two minutes, leaves for one minute. Place them in the ice water immediately after blanching to stop the cooking process.
* Drain well, and place the stalks and leaves in separate freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers.
* Freeze for up to six months.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekly Challenge Update

Independence Days Challenge Year 4, Week 27
Plant something- nothing
Harvest something- beets, chard, radishes
Preserve something: Pickled 2 ½ quarts of Daikon. Dehydrated a stalk of celery (about 1/2 quart of dried celery)
Community: attended a community garden work party and potluck
Preparation: nothing
Repair, Re-Use, Recycle- just normal recycling; dug a big old plastic Folgers can out of the garbage, use it to save coffee grounds at work
Want not: did not want at all this week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pilot's B2P Gel Pen

Sometimes it pays to go to the office supply store... I had to run to Staples to get an ink cartridge and some paper, and I found these nifty little pens from Pilot. Called B2P (Bottle 2 Pen) they are the worlds first pen made from recycled bottles. In fact, not only are they made from recycled bottles, they are also refillable! And there is more... they carry a whole line of B2P pens- from gel ink to Permanent Markers to White Board Markers, even mechanical pencils! A whole line of earth friendlier pens and pencils. So here is hoping that other pen companies jump on the the green bandwagon. And I must say, the pen feels comfortable in my hand, the ink flows nice, and I really like the refillable part. Just in time for back to school!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden- Success and Failure

Some Oregon Springs tomatoes growing in the topsy turvy.
Oregon Spring seems to be a more successful variety for upside down growing!

This year, as always I tried some new things and methods with my garden, Here is quick recap on my successes and failures:


Amaranth- Everyone told me "No, No, No, it won’t grow". But of course I did not listen. I started my amaranth in the green house, while not as fast as I would like, it is now planted and growing.

Mushrooms- Started in a kit from Back to the roots, The first crop came up and was harvested in 10 days. Second crop taking a bit more time… But I am calling it a success!

Window Box Romas And The Window Planter Box- While not new, this is the first time I have successfully started my own from seed. In fact I started about half of my tomatoes this year from seed. The big test is can I save the seeds and start my own? They are a perfect match for the planter box I built, nice to have something besides a cherry tomato growing!

Green House- I would call using a green house to start plants a success, depending on if one has the patience for things to start germinating and growing. I plan on building something a little more permanent this year, rather than the giant Ziplock bag I now call a green house!


Agretti: I was so looking forward to this. I started in the green house and 0% germination. Sob! Maybe next year!

Chamomile: Always in search for something to make teas from, I was hoping to start my own Chamomile, but they failed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dealing With The Loss of A pet:

Sammy doing his Puss In Boots Impersonation

As most of you know, I have not had good pet luck the last couple of years. Partially my fault. I mean to say, that I don’t kill my animals off, but rather that is to be expected when one adopts older dogs and kitties. Not that it makes it any easier, but it is what it is. And my first instinct is to go out and get another cat. But I need time to grieve. But to honor Sammy Kat, I thought I would tell you how I cope with his belongings and such.

Pet Dishes- Sammy had a number of ceramic kitty bowls. So I just reuse them as puppy bowls for Romeo. I don’t think Romeo minds eating out of a bowl that says “Tuna Fish Dreams”.

Pet Food- When Sammy passed, he had a whole unopened bag of IAMS here. And five cans of cat food. They all went to the food bank. The local pet store has a donation bin.

Litter-While Sammy put up with me experimenting with different litter (from wood pellets to Shredded Newspaper) he also left a whole bag of kitty litter… Which I will keep. I can use it this winter for traction in case of snow and ice and my car gets stuck. It can also be used for cleaning oil on the garage floor. And vomit. (Just sprinkle it on the offense and it should clump up- sweep and toss). Not that anyone around here just vomits. Just thought I point that out for those of you that have small children.
Litter Box- Gave away on Free Cycle.
Leashes, harnesses- I am keeping those for the next kitty. (I know me and I know the probability of another Cat in the house is huge! Open packages of food and treats go to Mom’s cat, as well as Flea Treatment.
Cat furniture- Sammy’s cat condo, scratch post, beds and such will remain (Again for a new cat)

Sammy was a Low Impact Cat in life and in death and is Buried under the plum tree in the front yard were he would look at birds all day from the front windowsill.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Preserving Celery

I rarely buy celery. Not that I don't like it, but I use one or two stalks and then the rest is waste. Not by my design, just by the fact it is too much for me! Now i am finding ways to preserve celery... In depth Info on celery suggests making a Mirepoix out of it and freeze the Mirepoix. Then one could always dehydrate it and use it soups and casseroles later, or a person could make their own Celery Salt. Who knew there where so many choices?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Either this was planned or the 70's were very good to me!

Imagine you are walking along a shopping district. Then all of a sudden this 6'2" Austrian woman starts yelling Ketch-up! Ketch Chup Chup Chup! and 50 Giant dancing Brats show up... Either the 70's have been good to you or It is a Flash Mob of dancing brats promoting the upcoming Brat Trot Charity 5K in Burien! Manuela Horn provided the singing, and I have no Idea who provided the dancing brats. Just a normal day in Burien, my fair city!

Video courtesy of the B-Town Blog

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weekly Challenge Update- Shroom's week

Independence Days Challenge Year 4, Week 24
Plant something- Started a second crop of mushrooms
Harvest something: MUSHROOMS, radishes, some kale
Preserve something: Dehydrated remaining mushrooms to used later; Dehydrated some sweet potatoes; kale chips
Community: Made up flyers to two garden events at the community garden; attended a “block party” in Olde Burien; previewed the new art gallery in Olde Burien. Donated what was left of Sammy's food to the food bank (yes, one of our food banks takes Pet Food for their clients who have pets)
Preparation: Got another rain barrel; was thinking for the porch but it is too big So I will put in the front yard.
Repair, Re-Use, Recycle- normal recycling, reusing some big pieces of cardboard for weedblock in front yard project; saving bag of kitty litter for winter (I keep it in car in case I need traction)
Want not: Nothing

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Mushroom Harvest Time...

Call me a Garden Science Geek! I heart my mushroom kit. I really helps since Back to The Roots have kinda adopted Ron Popiel's "Set it and forget" philosophy... meaning that it is so easy to grow your own mushrooms, a child could do it! I have harvested my first crop of mushrooms, dehydrated about half, and now my mushroom kit is endeavoring on it's 2nd Crop. I think this has been the best Gardening "Invention" since the composter! When My 2nd crop is grown and harvested, I am thinking I will compost the mushroom soil into my potted plants!
Here is some more info on Back to the Roots and their mushroom kits and how they handle waste! Note- I have moved the mushroom kit to the bathroom to see if the humidity from the shower increases the yield!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Food Poster Tour

Seems the National Agricultural Museum is having a tour of WWI and WWII era food and propaganda posters, And it seems it is very limited in sites. So here is a web tour of
When Beans Were Bullets: War-Era Food Posters from the Collection of the National Agricultural Library . So click the link and take a tour through history of Americans holding the country together during difficult and trying times.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pickled Strawberries

Want a super easy way to keep those strawberries? Why not pickle them. A great treat for summer- slightly tangy.

1 1/2 cups of White Vinegar
1/2 cup of Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1-2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 1/2 cups of Strawberries, stems removed

Simply bring the Vinegar to a boil, add the sugar and salt to the vinegar, making sure it dissolves. Place the strawberries in a pint Mason Jar (or any jar with a good closing lid), adding the Cinnamon stick(s) about halfway. Fill jar with vinegar solution, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Seal with lid; let cool; refrigerate. Keeps up to two weeks in refrigerator, The pickling juice is good to keep later for using as a vinaigrette for salads and such.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sammy Cat 1997-2011

Well sad news from my world.. My little kitty cat, Sammy, Passed away last night. Sammy came into my life as a little Kitten 14 years ago. I was putting up Christmas lights the first year I lived in this house and he just appeared meowing. I thought he belonged to my next door neighbor, so I fed him and waited for the neighbor to come home. The neighbor said it wasn't his cat, but he thought he belonged to his neighbors who moved. Poor little kitten- abandoned by his family. (Some folks should never be allowed to have pets) Anyway, Sammy decided to live at my home. With my other cat Tuffy and me. Always a source of laughter, Sammy would eat cheese and tomato sauce like no ones business. And take on Tuffy the Huge in play fights. Tuffy outweighed Sammy 2-1 so it was great amusement to watch the petite feline, with speed and agility, fight with poor old Tuffy. Sammy got along great with dogs too.And dogs seemed to like him. Even Romeo wouldn't leave him as he left this world. So Rest In Peace Baby Kitty. Say hi to old Tuffy when you see him. Thanks for being my kitty over the years.

Everybody Polka now

A bunch of nice looking Silkie Bantam chickens at the Hilo Sunday Market

What amazes me about these birds is the fact they are allowed to run around a farmers' Market place. And they are so friendly to look at. Who could not want one or two or three?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Weekly Challenge Update

Independence Days Challenge Year 4, Week 25
This week: you will notice I added Try something new to the eat the food category and changed Waste not with Repair, Re-use, Recycle
Plant something- Some radishes, Malabar spinach; Started an Oyster mushroom kit, Planted two tomatoes- 1 Julia Child and 1 spoon,
Harvest something: Some peas, radishes, beets, kohl rabi, some broccoli leaves, Swiss chard ,beet and beet greens; Broccoli Yes after years of pain, I finally have grown a head of broccoli!
Preserve something: Dehydrated some sweet potatoes, (mainly as a dog treat, but use in soups also; Pickled some radishes w/ onion; pickled some strawberries! (Always wanted to try this); Made and froze some sugared strawberries.
Community: Contacted one of the local food banks about putting some Veggies in their flower beds for a fall crop. Awaiting a response.
Preparation: Bought a rail at Ikea and some little pot like containers that hang from it for making a window herb garden at kitchen window! Got serious in cutting down the blackberry canes around my shed
Eat the Food/try something new: Radishes; Roasted Beets, beet greens, steamed chard; peas, pickled strawberries,
Repair, Re-Use, Recycle- Repaired my "bush hog" put a new primer bulb on it, and repaired the blade guard (What's a bush hog?- Think of a gas powered Weed Eater with a saw blade instead of nylon line- my number one tool in cutting down blackberry canes)
Want not: Got some canning jars;

I grew a head of Broccoli!!! (Applause) If you have followed this blog for a time, you will know the battles I have had with demon broccoli; My years if toil in the soil are over... here is the proof:
Okay, not a giant head of broccoli but a head of broccoli none the less.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Growing Veggies a Crime? Only in America

What would you think if your neighbor put in a yard like this? Did you know that the president and first lady are probably criminals at least in Oak Park, Mich.? Nice front yard? yes. The city of Oak Park, Mich. doesn't think so. In fact they are in the nasty job of taking the owner, Julie Bass to court, charging her with a misdemeanor for doing it. Now you know how much I hate politicians, bureaucrats and government telling people what to do- while I am not an anarchist, one would think that the city would consider the cost of organic veggies, the fact that Urban Agriculture is in fashion; and just back down. But alas. They just don't get it.
Ms. Bass who blogs on"Oak Park Hates Veggies", was not looking for a fight. Christ, she was just wanting to put something in her yard after sewage work was done. And personally, I think she made a great choice.
Neighbors interviewed about the garden both support it — “I think it's a very wonderful thing for our neighborhood” — and dislike it — “I know there’s a back yard. Do it in the back yard.”

Bass has a response for that: “They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained.” The garden is a place for the neighboring school children to learn more about were their food comes from. A Facebook page and a petition has been started to help the Bass family out

So do a bit for Urban Homesteading freedom and sign the petition or even better... write the prosecutors office and let her know how stupid trying this case is.

Oak Park Woman Faces 93-Days in Jail For Planting Vegetable Garden:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happiness is a Big Woody!!!

Occasionally, I furry into things exotic and different. Things like Wooden Bike Frames and such. Sigh. I always wanted a nice Big, shiny, sleek woody. Automobile I mean. Now they have woody bikes! I found these really neat bikes with wooden frames on the interwebs. A guy at work has one of these Renovo's. Too pricey?

How about a pair of wooden fenders for your old Schwinn or Huffy then? New look at a fraction of the price. Of course you could always DIY it ... that is, if you're this guy:

Process: Woodgrain Bike Frames from Etsy on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


No- I am not dissing the republi-cons again... I am talking about Clam Dip. One of my favorite things about barbeques, family gatherings, etc. was the little tub of clam dip with the potato chips. Alas, clam dip has lost it's popularity (if it ever had any). Anyway I found a pretty good recipe for it:
  • 2 small packages (6 ounces total) cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed and finely minced
  • 1 can (7 oz) minced clams, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • dash ground cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


Clam dip directions
Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic together until smooth. Add minced clams and blend in with remaining seasonings. Chill clam dip thoroughly. Serve clam dip with chips, crackers, or vegetable dippers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bygel Kitchen Rail Herb Garden

I made a "window box again, this time using an Ikea "Bygel Rail" and some Bygel Containers. And I planted some herbs and put it out under one of the kitchen windows... Lemon Thyme, Onion Chives, Mexican Tarragon and Variegated Oregano are whats planted. The Bygel containers make perfect little pots the even have drainage holes and cost a whopping .99. This whole project set me back $5.95. I am thinking... A series of rails mounted on some Cedar boards might make a new Vertical garden. Y'all know how I love my Vertical gardens... hmmmm......
I only party down with the best at:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mushroom Growing

I decided to tackle another form of indoor gardening- Mushrooms! I got a couple of starter kits from Back To the Roots, and so far so easy to grow Oyster Mushrooms in your kitchen or a closet or any dark cool space in your home. Just cut some slits in the bag, and soak in a bucket of water for 24 hours, put back in the handy card board box, mist twice a day (the hard part!) and very shortly you should have your first crop of mushrooms!
Some of the features of the Mushroom kit:
  • Up to 1 1/2 lbs per crop (pearl oyster mushrooms)
  • Multiple crops (at least 2, though some have got up to 4!)
  • Grow your first crop in as little as 10 days!
  • Just 3 Easy Steps - Open, Mist, and Harvest (spray mister included).
  • All indoors - just set on a kitchen window sill and mist twice a day (mister included)
  • The soil inside is 100% recycled coffee grounds - safe & sustainable
  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed
At the community garden, one of the gardeners grew a patch of oyster mushrooms, using old coffee grounds from Burien Press for a growing medium...which is what got me interested in the Mushroom kit to begin with- They use coffee grounds as their medium. So watch the side bar to see how my mushrooms do!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Good bye ReadyMade

I already know that Lisa at condo blues heard the news that Ready Made is going away. My favorite mag? Seems the pinheads at their parent company decided to pull the plug. Nuts. Now what am I gonna do with my evenings? (;_;)

Friday, July 1, 2011

See... it is Hereditary!!!!!

Apparently this Urban Homesteading© thing is in my blood. This is my paternal grandmother and her "Leghorn" in the 50's. I KNEW I GOT IT FROM SOMEWHERE!
Thanks to my cousin Jay for this pic!