Peagreen Shop has some adorable, feel-good prints that make my heart smile. Here are some of my favorites.

Portland, a love affair

Yesterday, I visited some of Portland's wonderful spaces and places, the first being Nomad Piercing Studio where I finally treated myself to some of his hand-carved earrings.
My new earrings are a slightly smaller version of the blue-green one at the bottom center. He stains the wood while it's growing with elderberry and other natural berry dyes. I just realized that my girl Cascade is featured on the website in these fabulous earring that he stained with beet juice (she's the one who referred me to this place).
I also went to Ink and Peat so that my friend Amy could buy some earrings of her own. It's one of those lovely little shops where you just want to buy everything and walk out with dozens of ideas for sewing and decorating, including making adorable applique dishtowels, pillows, and aprons.

I had a beer at Eat, and I bought chile peppers, lemongrass, and more marigolds and nasturtiums at Livingscape.

Later, I helped Brian brew some beer. It was a crash course in the art and science of brewing. He converted his own mash tun from a cooler and has a pump and cooling plate. The coolest part is that he grandfathers the yeast from batch to batch. I've made some good homemade yogurt and sour cream, but that's nothing to this homebrew process.

Which reminds me that the next huge stage of this whole crazy gardening process (after a few weeks of mulching, feeding, and weeding) is food preservation. Since I'm afflicted with bibliophiliomania, I found this great reference for books on canning, preserving, fermenting, and dehydrating food. My library has been notified: I'm going to start from the top with Wild Fermentation and How to Store Your Garden Produce.

Yesterday's dinner included two courses from my garden. A big salad with endive frisee, kale, green leaf lettuce, lemon balm, spring onion, and spinach. Plus, I unearthed some new potatoes that I didn't realize I'd planted, so I sauteed them with spring onion and sprinkled chives and sea salt on them. (The potatoes were so delicious and so easy to grow, I've decided to go for it and grow some more.) We ate these with steaks from Afton Field Farm.

I'm currently trying to get my girl Laura to Lilith Fair. As I write, I'm listening to the talented voices of Portland vocalists and musicians hoping to go to Lilith this summer. You can listen and vote as well. I recommend Laura Ivancie!!!


raindrops and fizz

Yesterday, during the rain shower, I took these photos of the wild-flower bouquet that one of my students picked for me on my last day of school.
 May has been rainy and gray here in Portland. I think the warmest weather we've had so far this year has been in the 70s--No outlandish heat yet. I don't mind the rain, but I do wonder what it means for my garden.
I've discovered that marigold is an extremely easy plant to propagate. One of my starfire marigolds was looking a bit leggy, so I trimmed it and stuck the cuttings in water. Within literally a weekend, I had roots.
This marigold is blooming on one that I started from seed and then propagated off of that original seedling. This will be my second flowering plant that started as a tiny seed in February (the first is the tomato plant pictured below).
I took the cuttings and planted them in a little purse that a friend was getting rid of.
Brian has been making homemade sparkling tea. In the one below, he used rosehips, lemon balm, and orange peel. He brews a quart of ultra strong tea, puts it into a cornelius keg, and adds 5 gallons of water. The water must reach 38 degrees F overnight at 22 PSI before it's ready to drink. It's natural and fresh and thirst quenching (not to mention more exciting than boring old water).
My tomato plants are doing well--Most of them. I had a few casualties. One plant is flowering already. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but I'm rejoicing! I have so many plants, a few early flowers won't hurt anything.
For dinner, we feasted on a large mesclun and endive frisee salad that I grew from seeds! After harvesting these leafy greens, I planted another round of rocket arugula, mesclun, red deer tongue lettuce, and endive frisee, as well as swiss chard and collard greens, almost all in containers.


home heart

Sometimes it's difficult to get me out of the house. I love my boyfriend, my cats, my bees, my chickens, my marigolds, my orchids, my projects, my tomatoes, my herb spiral, my roses, my sunny windows, my books, my journals, my pillows, my bed. Hahaha! Knowing how much I love to sleep, I can't forget my bed!

wish list

Today, Modish posted about Loja de estar, great color escape if you're stuck in a cubicle or a cloudy Portland day (rain, rain, go away!). I find myself dreaming of my turquoise and red bedroom, similar in colors to this photo above from loja de estar (which is the main reason I'm posting this. A self-reference, if you will). This summer, I'm going to pitch a tent in my garden, and give my bedroom a full make-over: turquoise walls, red dresser, and possibly a new bedspread.
Also from them, I love, love, love this bike carrier. Hmmm, another possible sewing project?
I also love these adorable birds on wires, which have craft-night project written all over them!


monday inspiration

Brian and I would like to buy a few acres of land, on which we will build a barn, a fruit/wine cellar, a garden, a home, a farm. Ideally, the land will be an hour or so west of Portland, towards the coastal mountains. There will be several colonies of bees, chickens to roast and chickens to lay, ducks (if we have a pond), goats, possibly sheep or angora rabbits or some other livestock. With this in mind, Hardworkinghippy's blog "La Ferme de Sourrou" serves as an inspirational blog, filled with photos and notes from her lovely French homestead. She writes, "I find physical work profoundly energising and the exercise helps us get rid of stress and prepares us to live as warriors and not as victims." They are off-the-grid and sustainable, using renewable energy, growing their own food, and raising animals, all things we'd like to incorporate onto our own land. She also has a flickr account filled with photos such as the one above of stevia being propagated.

Julie over at "Towards Sustainability" has set the goal of harvesting, photographing, and posting about at least one item from her garden every day. I love people who set hefty, slightly crazy goals for themselves like that.

Here's an article on growing strawberries by Gayla Trail. I'm also loving Grow Great Grub and would recommend it to any level of gardener because of the surplus of great gardening ideas and eye-catching photos. Here's an interview about the process of creating this book.  

For the arts, I'm loving the slightly whimsical, slightly eerie work of Tamya Mayers. She reminds me a bit of Tim Burton, a little bit fairy tale, a little bit gothic. Plus, there's a little bee!
I do like to cross stitch, and in the past year, I've designed and stitched two of my own pieces, with the itch to design some more of my own and an eye out for some ideas. I like some of stitchnotion's cross-stitching on Etsy, including this adorable sampler with little honeybees.

the moon was waxing above the waves

Last week, I gardened, sewed, and started my new waitressing job, followed by a weekend at the coast with friends, turn tables, a hot tub with a view, and tasty morel treats picked last weekend near Sisters, OR, including morel and fresh basil pizza made by Brian and amazing morel quiche made by Matt.

Although I will substitute teach as much as I can until the end of the school year (16 days to go), my summer will bring free days. One of the joys of working evenings is the plethora of yoga classes at my gym on weekday mornings. My whole body sings and thanks me after I do yoga, and now that I'm on my feet more, I'm going to try to heal and strengthen myself by doing yoga twice weekly.

Another joy of free days is having the energy to garden and sew before I go to work. I've started my friend Kara's new pillows and curtains, and I have a myriad of projects in mind, including more yoga mat bags for friends, gardening aprons, grocery totes, a wall-hanging book holder, etc.

Subbing offers little in the way of inspiration or activity, so I might use the time to create reference points for myself and others of blogs that I've found inspiring and DIY projects that I want to try. The first one comes from Design Sponge.
I love this colorful pouf that could be made with any assortment of textiles, from floral to paisley to solids. I want to make one to have not just for the color potential and extra seating but also as a place for kitties to curl up and snooze.


the neighbors call him "toes"

A student, when he saw that I have chickens and bees, asked if I also have a tiger. Why, yes, I do.
I used the manual setting on my camera to take these pictures. I still need to play with it and experiment, but I really like the lighting and color and detail in these un-altered photos of sweet Elijah, known in the neighborhood as Toes.


bee friendly

Last week, I spent the evenings tending the urban homestead. My biggest project was planning, tilling, and planting my bee-friendly garden, a small circular flower bed in the front yard, facing west.
Here's a shot of me happily planting away. The garden may not 100% include things honeybees love, but it should attract various bees, as well as hummingbirds and butterflies. In the center of the bed is an old tree trunk that I hollowed out and threw a handful of oyster and muscle shells in. I've discovered it makes an excellent watering hole for the bees, so I've abandoned my plans to plant anything into it for now. Here's what I planted around it: asters, tangerine marigolds (my own starts), other marigolds, butterfly weed (my own starts), alyssum (from seed), cosmos (from seed), sunflowers (from seed), nasturtiums (from seed), Trollius chinensis or golden queen, lupine, foxgloves (my starts), hollyhocks (my starts), thyme, and pincushion flowers (my starts). It doesn't look like much yet...
I also managed to decorate Brian's mixer lid (formerly it just had a picture of an inflatable mattress and some clear red tape on it). I took a bunch of stickers and postcards and whatnot that I'd collected and collaged them while watching "Bee Movie" last week.
The bees are doing really well. Their population is up, and the comb is increasing. They went through a quiet phase, neglecting housekeeping and not increasing their comb. For one, it was rather chilly out, and for another, their population was probably quite low, as it had been a month since I'd introduced them to the hive. But they now seem to be thriving and working hard.
The comfrey is about 5 feet tall. Tall enough that some of it is starting to topple over. The good news is that the chickens love it, as do the bumblebees. They're all over it.
I have a love-hate relationship with comfrey. It's so invasive: in fact, I need to go out and weed some of it from my vegetable beds, but if the bumblebees love it, so do I. It's also great for making compost tea; the leaves are loaded with nitrogen. Plus, I did see a few honeybees on it yesterday. And it's quite gorgeous until it topples over.


grow and grow

Here's some gardening advice and inspiration for the weekend! This no-till method a.k.a. sheet mulching is what I did in my raised beds last October, giving the materials nearly 7 months to decompose before planting. This chart with notes comes from Renee Gardner's "Petals and Pedals," a weekly guest post over on Modish.

Also, in the pursuit of learning how to grow my bergamot, chamomile and other herbs and flowers for tisanes, I found this little article by Julie which left me disgruntled that I'd thrown out my lemon verbena when the leaves fell off and determined to grow more. I found that it was easy to grow from seed last year, and it's got a delicate flavor. I am determined to grow my own German chamomile this year, even if I only manage a bit in a container with my bergamot (as pictured). I also never thought to try violets.

Another bit of advice I read somewhere was to plant borage with chamomile. I did scatter some borage seeds in a beneficials/wildflower bed that I'm attempting. Borage is a good companion plant for tomatoes and strawberries and pollinators love it. Plus, it's an anti-inflammatory and the flowers and young leaves are a nice addition to salads. (Speaking of which, I ate my first home-grown salad last night with kale, lemon balm, spinach, arugula, and other assorted greens. Yay!)
And for the ambitious beekeeper, Mistress Beek has posted directions and photos on catching a swarm. If you ever see a swarm of bees, call your local beekeepers' association. I have as yet to experience this not-so-rare but magical phenomenon, and when I do, I'd love to help in finding those ladies and drones a home.

(One of my students made me a lego bee as a goodbye present!)


plant, paint, collage, sew

My project ideas continue to exceed my talents and my time allowance, but that's okay. I'd rather have too many ideas than none. Ideas excite, entice, and enchant. In one week, I'll be handing in my classroom key and entering the world of waiting tables and working around the house on projects such as these (rather than working 50 hours or more a week on teacher stuff. But**sigh**I do love teaching):

I really really want to make a wall planter board. I first saw them at Portland Nursery, and am currently keen on building my own using hens and chicks and perhaps other rock-wall loving plants/succulents.

Part of my front yard is a complete mess of weeds rather than grass, so I've started the job of digging it up and turning in into a bee-friendly garden rich with foxglove, hollyhocks, sage, thyme, buttercups, cosmos, and asters. Plans are in the works.

B-rye uses an ugly fugly box lid to store his mixer in, and I'm going to deck it out all styley cool via collage and perhaps some spray paint. I'm looking forward to that little task.

Since my side of the bed is up against the wall, I want to make myself a colorful linen wall hanging to hold my books, a journal, and possibly a water bottle. I think I'm going for red and turquoise for bedroom colors.

I have been commissioned to sew my friend Kara's curtains, an exciting and slightly daunting task that I intend on facing with full exuberance next week! The Amazing B made my sewing table yesterday which is located right in the heart of our house, next to the hearth, in the living room. So I can sew while we watch movies and hang out.

My gift-giving is still in the conceptual phase more than anything, although I did give away seeds last week. But my gift plans are further advanced, including a semi-developed idea for a mother's day gift and a baby gift for a new mom. I'm skimping on details in case these special people read this post.



Happy Mother's Day to all of the amazing mothers out there, especially to my own. I am blessed to have her.


The Midnight Knitter Strikes

I've heard of guerilla gardeners and guerilla gifters, but I've never heard of guerilla crafters!