Sunday, January 29, 2012

Honey Wine

Our first experiment in home brewing, with what just happens to be my favorite alcoholic beverage--honey wine! When I saw a recipe for Ethiopian-style honey wine in Wild Fermentation, I knew I had to try it. So I gave it a go, and the resulting brew is quite tasty, though still very sweet (maybe we should let it sit a bit longer to let more of that sugar convert to alcohol).

The recipe we used has been reproduced here. We cut it down to 1/3 of the original recipe so that it would fit in a quart-sized jar for the initial step. The process was so easy (and the results so tasty) that we will definitely be trying it again!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Best Medicine

The weather finally got the best of us, and now three out of four of us have the cold that is going around the house. I took this video a few days ago and it reminds me that laughter is certainly one of the best medicines there is.

Oh, those goofy little children....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Snow Day

We woke up to a beautiful sight yesterday; a few inches of snow blanketed the neighborhood, with more still falling. Since we live in a city that is not well situated to deal with snowy roadways, this meant a day off from work for me! We enjoyed a little snow play in the morning, but unfortunately C has been unwell, plus D still isn't a fan of the snow, so we didn't stay out long enough for my liking. But, I was able to take a solo snow walk later in the afternoon, hiking over to the nearby botanical gardens. It was magical, serene and very refreshing!

 View from our birdwatching window

Good ol' kale, still hanging on!

View from the back deck

See that plaintive little elf staring out the window?
At the botanical gardens....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Beach in Winter

This past weekend, our dear friends were visiting from the Bay Area. We decided to head out to enjoy the sunny (though cold) afternoon before the forecasted snowstorm... and were rewarded with a lovely excursion to the beach, along with a beautiful sunset. A few pics from the afternoon:


Monday, January 16, 2012


A few days ago, the temperature started dropping. I took this photo of a salal bush in the front yard on a cold and frosty morning.

Then, yesterday, the snow started falling... and sticking!

We ended up with about an inch, just enough for a little sledding action.

It was D's first time in the snow (last year when it snowed, he was still just a little baby) and I thought he'd be as excited as the rest of us were! But, contrary to expectations, he got very upset about the snow sticking to his boots ("Boot. Snow. Dirty," was his mantra--even though he usually isn't bothered by things like this). You can see the beginnings of his discontent in the video below....

More snow is expected for a few days, so hopefully D will come around, and start to enjoy the rare gift of snow!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Garden Plans 2012

 Taking a little tea-and-brownie and seed-catalog-shopping break

This year, we are expanding our garden even more! We are in the process of making a new garden bed, which brings our total to... seven beds for annual vegetables and five main planting areas for perennials. Certainly, it will involve more maintenance than ever before, but we are up for the challenge. Though we have purchased a CSA in years past, this year we'll be a little mini-farm and hope that a good proportion of our fruits and veggies will come from our own land. It has been a strangely dry, warm winter thus far, so I'm sure that we will have some unusual weather to reckon with. Accordingly, we'll be planting a wide variety of crops, so that all is not lost if we have a late freeze or cool summer.

In case you're curious, here's a list of everything we will be planting this year (I'll probably be ordering most of my seeds from the Abundant Life Seed Company):
Broccoli, beets, green beans, red cabbage, carrots, lemon cucumbers, wild arugula, tah tsai mustard greens, purslane, spring & winter greens, scallions, snow peas, hulless pumpkin, radishes, summer squash, delicata squash, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms (variety to be determined) and... watermelon! (We found a variety that supposedly does well in cooler climates. We'll see how it goes, but I'm excited to try!)

We'll be planting lots of perennials this year (using the excellent book Gaia's Garden as a guide), including:
Pear tree, fig tree (maybe), goumi berry bushes, Chilean guava berry bush, evergreen huckleberry bushes, wintergreen and alpine strawberry (as groundcover), and possibly a couple hardy kiwi plants. 

And here are some other edibles that we will also grow (which we have either saved seed for, or are perennial):
Asparagus, rhubarb, garlic, multiplier onions, nodding onions, cilantro, sage, rosemary, parsley, lemon balm, oregano, thyme (2 varieties), lavender, mint, chives, garlic chives, fennel, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, Rainier cherries, apples, sorrel, perennial chard, oca, sunchokes, edamame, and fava beans.

Some of these were only planted last year, so will give a small harvest. But, after listing everything out, I'd say that we are well on our way to building a productive "food forest" right in our yard!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"My Name is Pilot Captain"

 C pretending to be an airplane pilot (apparently the airline has an unusual dress code!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chorus of the Bells

A little concert from C&D using the wonderful hand bells they received for Christmas. We join them midway through "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year Begins

Happy 2012 everyone! 

We started off our new year by tackling a big project: saying goodbye to our old plum tree. 

It was on its way out and we were ready to make room for a couple new fruit trees and garden beds, but we were still sad to see it go. 

We have many fond memories of our plum tree. Its fruit helped form the centerpieces for our wedding and contributed to many batches of plum jam and tasty fresh-off-the-tree snacks; its limb held a swing that C used to love pushing D in when he was a little baby. 

We will miss it, but it still has a place in our yard--we plan to use almost every bit of it for various projects around the garden, including a little oyster/shiitake mushroom farm. We're excited about all the possibilities as a new year begins!