Orange You Happy

>> Monday, June 30, 2008

This picture is of some wild flowers (weeds probably) growing in our second garden plot. They’re too cheery to rip out and are harmless enough where they’re growing so we left them. Today, I saw amongst the small orange flowers these poppy-like ones. I know pretty much zippo about flowers but they sure are pretty to look at, including those innocuous ones.

And to continue with the orange theme, may I present our lunch in the garden:

Mmmm…papayas. We also feasted on organic bananas and Valencia oranges. Oh and lots o’water!

Hey, did I just say “garden?” Why yes! This is going to be a garden update. Orange you glad?! I just had to say that….this is where the orange theme ends.

This past weekend we worked a lot in the garden, I even took Friday off from work to go garden. Couldn’t help it – summer’s officially underway and the sun was shining so brightly – it was great to be out. And anyone who thinks Seattle doesn’t get sun or heat, think again! Saturday and Sunday were both over 90 degrees; for around here that’s really hot. For me, LOVED IT!

I was starting to get a little too much sun so we stopped at Target to pick me up a hat and sunglasses. I'd show you a picture of me wearing said summer gear but they all look like barf.

Saturday at the garden was the annual potluck and elections. Our first one. Hubby had submitted his name for board member but being a garden newbie we weren’t sure how the elections would go (I had a good feeling initially since he’s pals with a lot of gardeners). From what we’ve learned from the other gardeners who’ve been there a few years or more, the turnout was the largest (it was still small when you think there’s actually 100 registered gardeners but only about 25 or so were present). Even the number of nominations to the board was an improvement from the past. There are two officers and five board members and they said usually they have to scramble to get a full board. I suppose with all the new gardeners there’s more interest to be more involved. I should point out no one was exactly jumping at the bit to be president so last year’s prez offered with no opposition. Yay! Our garden neighbor volunteered for VP so double yay!

The elections were for five board positions. Three or four of the original five from last year submitted their names for consideration and three or four newcomers submitted theirs, including
Yardsnacker. All or most of the newcomers are first year gardeners.

Time to vote!

After the vote, I just knew hubby was a shoe-in. I could tell based on the people around me (does it count I could see some of their cards? hee hee! Plus I knew those standing near us who know and are supportive of hubby already would’ve voted for him). Then it became official: hubby is a community garden board member! Woo hoo! Along with one other newbie, two returning incumbents and one other person who’s newly elected but no idea if she’s a first year gardener or not.

Congrats Yardsnacker! You’ll do a great job!

Now, you’re thinking cool, it all ends here huh? Well, not so fast! After the elections, Jack, the Hopelink Food Bank Coordinator, got up to talk about the food bank garden. At the community garden, organic produce is grown and harvested each season for donation to this great charity to help many needy families and individuals. Jack manages the eight plots strictly designated for the food bank. That’s a lot of work! As participating gardeners, we’re encouraged to spend time helping at the garden with planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and etc.

Here’s a
quick article about the project from last year. The article mentions that the goal at the time was to donate a total of 5,000 pounds of produce to the food bank. In reality, they donated over 6,500 pounds. How great is that?! With our poor spring this year I wonder what we’ll be able to achieve – keep your fingers crossed that it’ll be abundant.

Okay, now back to Jack…he talked about how he’s been the coordinator of the food bank garden for the last five years and it’s becoming increasingly difficult, physically, to manage it daily because of his age (he’s 74) and recent back surgery (this guy’s a trooper though, he’s out there every day working and then trying to tend to his own garden in two other plots). So with that in mind, he asked for a volunteer to learn the ropes by his side this year and next so that the year after that he could fully retire. Again, nobody seemed eager to take on this responsibility but I just knew what was about to happen: hubby volunteered. That made me so proud! He’ll be an awesome coordinator no doubt. Everyone cheered and clapped (and probably sighed in relief) for hubby.

Thankfully, there are plenty of people who are willing to help out, including our friend Bessie. Of course, we will continue to strongly encourage others to donate their time as well. Or the slugs’ll get ya! Mwah ha ah ah ah!

So here we are first year gardeners one minute to hubby becoming a board member and assistant food bank coordinator the next. Yeowza! That’ll certainly keep him out of trouble for a while.

This will definitely be time-consuming and hard work but I believe the reward will be great. It’s impossible to not feel good when helping others. And before you think of me being super lazy and lame for not volunteering for anything I will certainly do my part to help out wherever and whenever I can….Just as soon as I get my suntan!


First Harvest

>> Saturday, June 28, 2008

Our first strawberry pickin's! They are shown amongst some fresh spinach given to us by another gardener. We're discovering though that SLUGS love to EAT our STRAWBERRIES! Slugs are gross and need to find a new place to live. Stupid ugly slimy things. Grr!

Hubby went out to the garden the other day and ate a bunch since they were ripe and didn't want the slugs to get them first. He said they were the best he's ever had. It was as though he'd never had one before. I believe him.

Strawberries are the best! Especially if they're organic and more especially if they're from your own garden.

Off to the garden now. Update to follow. Just what you wanted to hear. heh heh! Pretty soon I won't be talking about my garden for months so just bear with me for now.


Poetry Friday

>> Friday, June 27, 2008

Be the Best of Whatever You Are

If you can't be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley--but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can't be a tree.

If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass--
But the liveliest bass in the lake!

We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
There's something for all of us here.
There's big work to do and there's lesser work too,
And the task we must do is the near.

If you can't be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can't be the sun be a star;
For it isn't by size that you win or you fail--
Be the best of whatever you are!

-by Douglas Malloch



>> Thursday, June 26, 2008

Every couple of months (or possibly monthly) in my office building the local blood bank sets up station in the building's large conference room encouraging anyone and everyone who can donate blood to donate blood.

I went in hopes of doing my good deed for the day by donating a pint of my lovely red blood. The man who greeted me and verified my info to get me started pointed out that today was a special day for me if I was able to donate. Currently I'm at seven pints donated so far so today would've been eight. Eight pints equals ONE GALLON! Wow! With one gallon logged I would've received my commemorative gallon pin. Could you've imagined the celebration for such a milestone?!

Well, unfortunately, I have a history of "hit or miss" when it comes to donating that many times I don't bother with the blood drive because I'm turned down so often. This is due to my low iron. However, today I was feeling really good about donating. It's like the stars aligned for me that I took it as a good sign that Today is the Day. I mean I've improved my eating habits dramatically over the past year that there is no way I'll get denied today. Nope. Not for this lil lady eager to give away a pint of her blood. I'm in a sharing mood!

Can I just say that the worst part of donating is when they prick my finger? Ouchie! And I start to get anxious too as we're getting ready for this. I can just feel my blood pressure rise and my hands are clammy. I also start to freak when they're about to take my blood pressure and temperature too. It's this mentality of it's-a-test-and-must-do-well sort of thing. Weird I know. Back to the finger...I can't watch them stab my finger either. It's just too much. However, the big blood needle doesn't bother me in the least. It's just the initial process I freak out over.

After the blood lady took my blood sample she puts it in the machine to check the iron count. There's a chart they follow and the minimum required to donate is 12.5. I'm not sure what these numbers stand for but whatever. I had warned her that in the past I usually test low but in the back of my head I kept thinking, albeit nervously, that I'm going to score well on this test. I'm going to achieve 12.5 or better.

Sadly, no.

What?? But this can't be! You're saying my blood isn't good enough? It's good enough for me why not for someone else? UGH! But even if they were to test me again I'd still fall short (she explained that the test can't result in a false high but can result in a false low due to tissue matter getting in the way but the numbers would only be off by small margins in these cases) because I wasn't even close to the 12.5 minimum. Well, close in the sense that retesting wouldn't even matter. I was around a 10 so with a 2nd test I might improve to be somewhere in the 11's but it wasn't worth getting my finger pricked again. No thanks.

Geez, I was so disappointed. Here I was all geared up and excited to finally be donating but was DENIED! So much for helping someone today. The blood bank has turned down my loan, saying my credit is poor. I have an iron deficit!

It's a good thing I'm drinking some fresh watermelon juice right now. If you click on that link it's quite an interesting read but here's a snippet:

Melons [sic] intake is also extremely important for preserving our health because they are as rich in iron content as spinach is, which means they are the richest fruits in iron. Plenty of iron is found in red meat, too, but watermelons are more appropriate to be eaten because they are not that rich in calories as meet [sic] is.

This is something I wasn't even aware of when I began this post. How is it that I never knew this before? Good thing to know now. Time to stock up on watermelon. Actually, we've been having watermelon a lot lately but now we'll have it even more. Mmm...

I'm bummed I wasn't able to contribute today but I tried. Better luck next time I suppose. I really want that gallon pin. It's been many years in the making to get this far. :D



>> Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pictures of a tiger lily that greets us everyday outside our front door. The bush is full of buds so there's going to be a lot of them blooming soon this just happened to be first one to do so.


The Garden of Life

>> Monday, June 23, 2008

Who's excited for another garden post? Raise your hands! Oooh oooh oooh! Anyone? Hello? Bueller? Hmm...just what I thought. But I've got pictures.

Well, anyway...ah's been fun and a learning experience. We have said many times through this new experience "live and learn." Basically, we're learning many things as we go along or The Hard Way. Such is life right?

As you know, this is our first year gardening and whaddya know? we end up having the worst spring season EVER! Not enough sun or heat to get things growing. As a result, our tomato and pepper plants are looking kinda sad these days...wonder if we'll get more than these two tomatoes? Do you see the baby tomato left of the large one? Sniff...

A couple of sad looking plants. Bell pepper on the left and a tomato plant on the right.

Oh and my allergies. Ever present. Yeah, good times.

Deer keep trampling thru our garden, slugs keep slugging and critters have eaten some of our corn before they even had a chance to sprout. I think hubby planted about 10-15 rows of corn and there's maybe five plants here and there that are showing promise. How's that for sad? Half our carrots didn't make it and the watermelon is nowhere in sight. :(

Sometimes it seems we go out to the garden to water the weeds. And I swear just when I've pulled all the weeds they reappear two seconds later. Why is that? But they sure are loving life in our garden. Grr! No matter what the conditions are they'll grow anywhere. And why can't the deer, critters and slugs eat that stuff? The weeds are stealing all the good yum-yums from our plants anyway.

It's frustrating too, to see some of the other nearby gardens with big beautiful tomato plants or corn galore or other wonderful things we seem to be struggling with.

But it's not all bad. In fact, a lot is good. Our romaine and strawberries are abundant! Just need the sun to be steady-eddie for a few days to ripen those berries up. The other half of our carrots are doing their thing (two different varieties so I guess the one batch of seeds was just bad). The onions (red, Walla Walla, and scallions) and garlic are hanging in there - well, the Walla Wallas have been a little slow but I think they'll be okay. We were just about to give up on some cucumbers we're starting from seed when they all of a sudden sprouted. Ooh! This made me so happy to see! The various chard and mustard greens are coming thru finally. And even though we've been struggling with the tomato and pepper plants some of them are still alive (actually, all but one of the pepper plants are growing but they're scrawny) so we're still a wee bit hopeful they'll produce something. Might take a miracle at this point but fingers crossed.

This is the world's smallest ripe strawberry. Those seeds overwhelm the berry!

Here's some merlot lettuce from our neighbor's garden. Another neighbor, Bessie, as hubby refers to her, gave us some merlot lettuce since she doesn't like it so he transplanted those today. We seem to have faired well with lettuce thus far so we're hoping the merlot will do well too. I just love the color.

I've loved being out in the sun (when we've had it), working, witnessing growth and watching all the beautiful life there in the garden. I don't just mean what's been planted but the various birds and bunnies and squirrels and people even. :)

Yellow and Black...Mr. Bumblebee makes an appearance again on some yellow snapdragons (center left).

Some of the entertainment value out in the garden is priceless. One of the funniest things I saw was when I was visiting Bessie in her amazing garden (seriously, it's an oasis almost - she has four plots next to each other and has had them for years so she's worked very hard establishing her garden). This little squirrel, who's obviously not very afraid of humans, comes waltzing into her garden. He actually got quite close to me checking things out. Well, Bessie certainly doesn't want Mr. Squirrel enjoying his stay so she tries to shoo him away. He doesn't know "shoo," his mama apparently didn't teach him that, so she starts chasing him thru her garden and I'm laughing as I watch her run all over the place shooing the squirrel who is running every where but out. It was like I was watching Caddyshack or a Benny Hill-type show. I just needed the funny music to go with it. Okay, maybe it's just me who's entertained or maybe you just had to be there. Trust me, you would've giggled. I apologized to her afterwards for laughing but she laughed too; she wasn't happy about Mr. Squirrel though.

Speaking of entertainment, our community garden is situated in a very large park, so you'll find many things happening here besides the typical picnics and bbqs. There could be Cirque de Soleil going on in one part, dogs running around in another part and a rock concert in another part but this past weekend across from our garden there was fight. Yes, you read right. A fight. But this was no ordinary fight. This one involved grown men. In costumes. And props. I'm talking about a planned fight. I'm talking about NERDS! So consider yourself forewarned: Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!

Moving on...

Here are some of the birds we see regularly:

I believe the Robin likes to get photographed.

And not sure what kind of bird this is but he makes the strangest, coolest sounds.

CAUTION: Extreme cuteness ahead!

Some bunny in some bunny's yard. ha ha! Lamest joke ever but isn't this the cutest bunny ever?

I can't believe it's officially summer now. Where has the year gone? The garden season is going by so quickly and it makes me a bit nervous. So send us good garden vibes please!! We will need them in hopes of harvesting something.



>> Sunday, June 22, 2008

I have a sweet tooth. Okay, I have a sweet tooth AND a salty tooth. But I've always loved the "fou-fou" type drinks, you know the sweet fruity ones? Yeah, so here's one I borrowed from a blog buddy's site who said it was okay to share with everyone. So if you like sweet juices check this one out:

Radiant Juice
1 large eating apple, quartered
1 orange, peeled but with some pith
2 large carrots, topped, tailed, and peeled if not organic
1-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced

Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth.

My notes: I didn't read the directions part the first time and ran all ingredients thru my Champion juicer. I might try the blender next time but the juice is awesome.

And voila! Doesn't it look pretty?


In the Green

>> Saturday, June 21, 2008

You asked now I answer. An indepth review of those green bags I had previously mentioned.

  • What are those green bags?
  • How do they work?
  • How long do they work?
  • Where to get them?
Green bags are great for storing all of your fresh produce to make them last longer. I had heard about them but first tried them when I was a customer of an organic delivery service and since it was the first place I knew of that had them I gave them a whirl.

One of the great things about these bags is they are reusable. I forgot to explain that to hubby in the beginning so some were mistakenly thrown away after one use. Whoopsie.

Using these bags you'll be saving your produce while saving money on disposable ziploc bags (if you use them), although, we're starting to reuse some of those too. No sense in wasting them each time if you can help it. Saving = yay! But the produce bags really work at keeping the various fruits and veggies fresh longer.

How? Well, according to legend they are made with Oya, a natural mineral form of zeolite that absorbs and removes damaging gases (i.e. ethylene gas) which are released from fruits and veggies after harvesting. Okay, I'll take your word for it, Ms. Debbie Meyer.

They last for multiple uses. I haven't determined how many times for me personally but the box says 10x. I just use them until they seem pretty hammered.

I have learned from personal experience that with some produce the bags are quite ineffective. For instance, strawberries and tomatoes. I believe that both of these fruits are better without the green bags and should just be cleaned as you need them.

What they are great for are apples, peppers, cucumbers and GREENS, lots o'greens. Green bags for clean greens, including romaine. When I come home from grocery shopping, I try to do all of the washing and prepping at once, especially the greens and then store them in the bags just to make things easier during the week.

To find these, of course, they can be found online...what can't be found online?! As I mentioned above I first got these from my local organic delivery service so if you utilize a delivery service check out their product list for these. I have since found these at my local Rite-Aid; a box of 20 (10 small bags and 10 large bags) costs about $10.

I totally sounded like an informercial huh? TV here I come! ha ha! Actually, I just like the bags. :>


For the Recipe Box

>> Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some of you were asking about the marinara sauce and the "cheese" I used on the zucchini post, so here are those recipes.

The Parmesan cheese topping is a recipe I got from Raw Goddess Heathy, which I blogged about here. I also include the link to her original post; you should check it out anyway as it includes an array of her incredibleness. When I grow up I hope to be like her. :D

The marinara sauce I found online. You can find many raw sauce recipes by just googling it but here's the one I like. Unfortunately, the website I found it from no longer works so I'm sorry to whoever I got this from but I can't give you credit as a result.

Marinara Sauce
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes*
1 fresh tomato
3 cloves garlic
1 TBS agave
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

BLEND! Add water in as needed for desired consistency.

*My notes: 1) I'm GUESSING on the amount of sun-dried tomatoes (BTW, I use dried sun-dried tomatoes and not ones packed in oil). The original recipe may or may not have indicated the amount but alas I have no proof; don't think you can go wrong whatever amount you use. 2) I soak them for at least one hour or more. Not sure this is required but I soak them so I can have a smoother sauce yet still thick. 3) For the fresh tomato I usually use a large one or a couple of small-medium romas. 4) Don't think the original recipe indicated whether to use fresh or dried herbs but I use dried herbs. Maybe once my fresh basil is grown I'll try that instead. 5) And then for me, it helps to have hubby on standby to tweak the spices as necessary. He's my saucey tweaker. ha ha!


Let’s Make a Toast

I recently made the Almond Toast from the Café Gratitude book. Whoa! Are these puppies good! Not that I eat puppies mind you but these toasts do have a crunch and texture like toast.

The first time I made these they were half eaten by hubby, who obviously loved them, so there wasn’t enough left to do anything with them. Not that I cared; they made great snacks. I made them again, a double batch, with the intention of making half the plain version and the other half the rosemary version but was too lazy to do the rosemary one as it was getting late in the evening when I was doing this. Again, I missed out on doing anything more with these than eating them with salads or as snacks. My intention is that for next time is to make the tomato-basil bruschetta topping for these. You know it’s gotta be good! Serve them up as an appetizer to zucchini pasta with pesto…oh now, that sounds divine.

I did the lazy-man’s way of dehydrating these. My M.O. if you will. You’re supposed to take the mixture and make a loaf or a log and then cut half-inch slices or something like that but instead I just spread the mixture out on teflex sheets like I would for crackers and cut squares and dried them that way. Worked for me! Maybe one day I will make them the way they're supposed to be made. They'd probably look a whole lot nicer.

Please excuse the lack of appetizing presentation in the photo but this is all that was left of the first batch so I tossed them in a bowl and snap! and as I mentioned I didn’t do anything with them except eat them.

If you have this raw recipe book and haven’t yet made these almond toasts, I *highly* recommend doing it now - there's other yummy variations of this recipe besides the rosemary one. Or if you’re remotely curious about the book you can check it out at the library. It’s worth owning IMO.

Enjoy your week!


Like That's So Junior High!!!

>> Saturday, June 14, 2008

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone:

blog readability test

TV Reviews

I snagged this from Mama's Losin' It.


Summer Lunch

Our lunch, Cabbage Mustard Garlic salad, recipe courtesy of Leora:

Mine doesn't look as lovely as hers but it was oh so very D-LISH!

The following is Leora's salad recipe:


1 savoy cabbage or napa cabbage
olive oil to coat
brown mustard to coat
2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves
salt, pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 fresh orange or lemon
for color: bits of shredded purple cabbage and/or carrot (optional)

Chop the cabbage into bite size pieces (that’s the most complicated part of this recipe). Add the shredded carrots and/or purple cabbage. Put in a large bowl. Coat the cabbage with olive oil. Then coat it with mustard. Crush in your garlic cloves, and mix. Sprinkle with salt and/or pepper to taste. Squeeze on lemon or orange juice, and mix well.

Tip on shredded carrots: you can use your food processor, or you can peel off little piece of carrot with your carrot peeler.

My notes: I used napa cabbage. I have never used it before or recall ever having it but I really love it. It's mild and soft (I did cut out some of the hard white part [chevron style]) and not cabbage-y tasting. I didn't have any purple cabbage for added color -it does make it look really pretty as evidenced by Leora's photo. However, I did use carrots and green onions. For the brown mustard, I only had organic Dijon mustard, Whole Foods 360 brand. It's good stuff. And for the citrus juice, I used a full valencia orange. Lemon I'm sure is super good.

Hubby LOVED this salad! He was sad to learn we had no leftovers. Guess I'm off to the store to buy more napa cabbage for us.

Thanks Leora!



>> Thursday, June 12, 2008

…it’s what’s for dinner. Remember those old beef commercials? Yeah, replace beef with whatever is fitting instead. In this case, it was zukes.

Now, I’m sure a lot of you have had zucchini pasta in some form or another. It is good isn’t it? When making “pasta” I used my trusty vegetable peeler for fettuccine type noodles but really wanted a veggie spiralizer; just unsure which one to buy.

We recently bought the
Lurch Spiralo, which is super. Of course, I’ve never had a spiralizer before so I can’t compare it to anything else but from what I understand about the others out there this one is better, possibly best. I dunno - I just know it works for us. It makes beautiful looong ribbons of noodles out of anything you can spiral. Oodles of noodles! Yay!

The entrée we served up….ta da! Zucchini spaghetti with marinara sauce top with a nut "parmesan cheese."

Next time I'd like to try topping my pasta with Carmella's alfredo sauce. This sounds like the real deal.

Now go eat.


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