Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Workie....Less Bloggie

Wow, I just looked at my sidebar - only 18 posts in July. That's the lowest monthly tally since I started, hmmmm....I guess there's a lot going on around here.

What I was doing when I wasn't blogging:
*The garden is weedy but we've been eating lots of sugar snap peas, carrots, raspberries and more! I need to harvest some beets, I've been collecting recipes that I want to try. The radishes were yummy but there were so many they went to seed. Of course there are several varieties of lettuce...I need to eat more salads!
*I finished my research on solar power and ordered a system for the cabin! Three years of saving and planning and we finally did it!
*Need to do more research on gravity feed water systems for cabin, the pipes are in as of two weeks ago...yee hawww. All thanks to a groovy plumber named Gordy. Originally we talked about installing the pipes on our own, but then we decided to use a product called PEX - for which special tools are needed, and they're very spendy. Now I need to figure out where to put the holding tank so we have enough pressure to feed the hot water heater.
*Had three pallets of pavers delivered to lay out by the party barn, I've only got one down...two to go. Not gonna rush that one, I'm going to be 49 on Saturday and I definitely can't work as hard as I used to.
*Today I finally finished my plan for the front porch of the cabin, made up a materials list and went over the design with a carpenter...he liked the plan...whewww. I'll get to help build it, definitely a two person job - setting posts and such.
*Cleaned the cabin today to get ready for guests next week...we're "glamping" - that's glamorous camping for those of you unfamiliar with the term.
*Tomorrow I'll be cleaning here at the farm, getting ready for houseguests this weekend. Oh yeah...and weeding the garden, laying a few pavers, doing a little pressure-washing, maybe some painting....
*I think I need to get a job, so I can get some rest. ;)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Thank You Bobbie :)

Bobbie from Almost There gave me an award!

Well I'll be....I do believe I'm blushing.

I'm a self-confessed bumbling blogger, you don't even want to know how long it took me to figure out how to paste this little award on my post. It would be kinda funny if it wasn't so pathetic, given the fact that I'm still in a bit of a quandary on how I finally got it to show up. Sad but true.

Quite a while back somebody else gave me one too but I couldn't figure out how to pass it on...I guess that makes today a double-banner day. This old farm has experienced a technological breakthrough...too bad blogger/farmer doesn't know how she did it.

Any whoooo....I do believe I should be passing this along. There are so many kind bloggers out there. When I started blogging I didn't know much about blog-land. We'd been dial-up since '99 so there wasn't a whole lot of blog reading going on around here....we're talking really terrible dial-up service. When my friend Tami started blogging I had a great time reading hers, then she told me I should really be doing it too. Oh yeah...and Jerrie was always commenting on what Tami wrote - so of course I was reading everything she wrote as well. What the heck, nothin' to lose - I jumped in and started tapping away. What I didn't know about, was the gigantic network of kind supportive people out there...all tap-tapping away.

So I'm passing this on to some of my favorite bloggers out there.

Carletta and Quilly, because they're my inspiration bloggers. I check out what they're doing, try to figure it out and copy it, and cuz they're just plain nice people.

I try to see what Liberty Post and Melissa over at the Inspired Room are writing about. They're the gals that always seem to know what's shakin, what's cool...hey man...I don't even have to leave the farm to keep up on home, fashion, cool travel name it!

Dianne is another cool sister blogger, it's okay - I told her I was adopting her as a sister and she gave me the green light. Her wit and personality bear such a strinking resemblance to a dear friend I lost last's almost spooky.

I'd love to have a blogger-girl party out in the party barn here at the farm, invite these gals over, make some great food, pour them the libation of their choice...and have a great time.

Of course, Bobbie would be given the seat of honor...because....well, because she's Bobbie.

Mango request!

Quilly left a comment requesting my recipe for Mango Chutney. Hey Quilly...I thought I was supposed to come to your house to make it! Hey folks, Quilly lives in Hawaii! I think I really need to go there....all the chopping and simmering, doncha need some help Quill?

I made this for our annual progressive dinner / garden party last month. The inspiration came from a cookbook my mom gave me, Sam Choy's Cuisine Hawaii. Mom had the book for more than twenty years, she loaned it to me thinking I might want to try some of the recipes...well, of course I do!

The recipe that caught my eye was for Baked Brie with Macadamia Nuts...oh yum. The brie was coated in finely chopped macadamia nuts and panko. I served the warm brie on a bed of baby greens drizzled with a Papaya Seed Dressing, a dollop of the Mango Chutney topped the brie. It was wicked good if I do say so myself.

The recipe for the Mango Chutney came from simply recipes

2 cups sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
6 cups mangoes (4 to 5), peeled and cut in 3/4 -inch pieces, I mixed it up and used some honey mangoes....I also chopped them a bit smaller than recommended
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, whole
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (hot), this kinda scared me because I don't care for really spicy food but it wasn't an issue at all

1. Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6 quart pot; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.
2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking.
3. Pour into clean, hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace; close jars. Process in a water bath 15 minutes.
Makes 6 (1/2 pint) jars.

* I didn't put it into the jars, I kept it in the fridge and used it on grilled chicken, fish, name it! I even used it in a wrap with cold grilled chicken, red bell pepper, lettuce and havarti cheese - that was dang good!

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Yee hawww....Saturday night!
Oh's just another rip-snortin' wild time here at the party barn, what's a girl to do?
How about.
Take the shot from another angle and show the people what's really going on.
Lest you thing my life is just one big glamorous adventure after another.
I'm going back outside.
I hear my paint brush calling me.
Have a great weekend!
Paint the town...or the barn...or whatever your heart desires.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Play Day for Peeps and Pups

Bergie had her first day at doggie day care today. She made a whole bunch of new friends. She's exhausted, she ran and played with her new friends for eleven hours...such a life this little girl has.

After I dropped the Bergster off at puppy play land I drove The Husband and his brother to the city to see a Seattle Mariners ballgame. Neither of them like city driving so they talked me into being their designated driver. I dropped them at the stadium, went to visit my girlfriends, made a little side-trip to University Village where I went crazy over the groovy kitchen stuff at Crate & Barrel. I don't like to shop or spend money but I think I could get in a whole lot of trouble at that place. I love kitchen stuff...the secret is out.

After the game I met "the boys" at The Metropolitan a word...yum! We had a great dinner and then drove back to farm country and picked up puppy-girl at the puppy playground.

It was a great day, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time....although I think Bergie would like to go back and see all of her new friends tomorrow....and the next day...and the next.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life is Full of Happy Surprises

Home again!
Oh what a fun weekend. Last Thursday, when I headed out on my road trip, on a whim I called an old high school girlfriend and asked her if she wanted to drive over and join me. Here's the deal, my friend lives a very busy life, she and her husband dairy farm and she has her own business ...I didn't really think there was a chance that she would take me up on my offer, short notice and all. When I called her (from my car, I was already under-way)...she paused...hesitated...and said "I'm gonna DO it!"
The next day she got in her car and made the three + hour drive to a place she's never been...all alone...remember - this is the girl that says her whole life has about a five mile radius. I was proud of her, and yes...very surprised.
The day after she joined me we decided to check out the blues festival that was in the little town where our cabin is. We met up with a lot of my old friends from different parts of the state, what a was so good to see everyone. We laughed, we talked non-stop, she met some of the friends she's heard me talk about over the years. We were so busy having fun that we completely forgot to take our lawn chairs when we left the blues grounds that evening. I didn't even realize it until the middle of the afternoon the next day. Fooey! The chairs weren't expensive but I was disappointed to think I had lost them.
On my way home the next day I stopped in at the festival, there they were...all alone, right where I left them.
I was surprised again...very surprised, and really happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sceduled Programming

The scheduled program of Garden Party Recipes has been interrupted for...
RRRRRrrrrroad Trip!

comfy clothes - check
cooler - check
dog crate - check
dog - check
sunglasses - check
full gas tank - check
top down - check

See ya next week ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Table Settings and Menus

Our annual Garden Party is all about the food, but it's fun to set a really pretty table too. This year I wanted to tie the color of the cocktail and appetizers to the setting. I borrowed moms seashell collection - piled it in the middle of the table around a vase that I filled with white roses and ferns from my garden and ta daaaa...the final result made me really happy. The photo below is of the table with the bellini cocktials. I did the napkins really casual because I was going for a beachy feel, not too contrived.
Our menus are always a big secret, but this year all three of us chose a tropical/beachy theme and menu...crazy coincidence. The photo below is of Karen's table, it was so much fun...she said the pots of grass were her starting point and she went from there. Lots of beach glass, driftwood, seashells - all down the length of the table....absolutely charming.
Tami set hers up under a tent on her patio...the dessert house is always "all about the lighting"...and this was so cool. She used a lamp from her bedroom as the centerpiece, it made for such a romantic setting. Sorry about the photo quality, I'm bummed I didn't get better shots at her house, I kept trying and failing..fooey.

Check out the menu for dessert at Fred and Tami's, she had it set up on a little corner shelf in the tent - each corner held photos of past garden parties. This photo is from the first year...I think that was 2002. The menus at Mark and Karen's house were set into scallop shells at each place setting - what a great idea..I tell ya, these girls are like idea machines...sheesh...if I didn't like them so much I would be intimidated.
The photo below is my menu, I'm not much of a paper crafter but I do cruise the paper aisles at the craft store when the garden party rolls around every year.
Next post? The food....ohhh...the food. It was crazy good I tell ya, I love my foodie friends!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Slushy

Okay, so I'm abandoning the good ship Black and moving on to Garden Party recap...I've had requests for recipes so I gotta feed my peeps!
The photo captures a bit of my table setting and of course front and center is the cocktail I chose to accompany my appetizer menu. Oh yeah, we liked it...a lot - a whole lot.

Here ya go folks.
I made the peach mixture the day before and put it in the freezer, if I did it over again I would do it more than one day ahead. You were supposed to be able to make round scoops of this stuff, sorta like ice cream but the sugar and liquor content made it too slushy to scoop.

Peach Bellini Slushy
1 16 oz. bag frozen peaches - thawed
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup Proseco
Chambord for drizzling

Heat the sugar and water until the sugar melts, let cool. Put the peaches in a blender on low-med, add cooled sugar water, orange juice...then slowly add 1 cup Proseco. I put this mixture into the freezer in a tupperware container.
When you're ready to serve put a big scoop of the peach mixture into a pretty wine glass (about 1/3 full) drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of Chambord then add some very cold Proseco to the glass and stir. The mixture will fizz so fill the glass slowly. I garnished the glasses with little key lime and kumquat slices, very unusual and pretty dang cute.

So, I've tried these with Champagne, they taste a whole lot better if you use the recommended Proseco - those Italians know what they're doing I tell ya. I've made the original Bellini recipe and even ordered it at Harry's Bar in Venice. This slushy version is a fun twist that I'm quite fond of. I had something similar at The Boathouse Restaurant in White Rock, B.C. and I've been wanting to re-create that recipe ever since, they have them in a giant slushy machine - I need one of those things for the Party Barn!
Tell me what ya think Mar!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Settling Dust and a Meme

Allrighty then, the garden party is over and the dust around here is settling. This whirling dervish farmgirl has found center and I'm playing catch-up. Dishes, laundry, mail, phone calls, e-mails...oh...and blogging!
While I was flying around making the garden pretty and prep-cooking Diane Mandy over at
Martinis for Two tagged me with a meme. She's on my list of blogs I really enjoy reading every day so I'm more than happy to oblige. I've done one similar to this so some of it may be a bit repetitive.

Five Habits Meme

What was I doing ten years ago?
Working as a corporate trainer for a company that sold framed art. Work involved a lot of travel, mostly in the western half of the United States. My job required that I have a Seattle residence so we had an apartment in West Seattle that looked out over Elliot Bay...I loved watching the ferries go by. I was also taking classes to become a garden designer, I missed a lot of class because I was often in another city for my job.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect non-weight gaining world:
artisan cheeses
Twizzlers, creepy huh...I can't help it, I like the cherry flavor
ice cream, my fave is Dove with the chocolate on top of the pint..wicked good
pistachio nuts
really great breads, dipped in herbed olive oil

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:
same as above but pretty soon I'm going to have to knock it off and eat:
veggies from the garden, raw and chilled
fresh seasonal fruits
soda water with lime
cold poached chicken - really...I like that a lot
cold poached wild salmon

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Build a small, green, eco-friendly house at the end of a dead end road.
Give money to my friend K to set up a shelter to train assistance dogs.
Set up a foundation so that kids who want to play sports have the money to do so.
Turn the farm into a park in memory of my late father-in-law.
Send all the kids I know to college, but they have to keep their grades up.

Five jobs I have had:
Corporate trainer,
Sales & Marketing for a wholesale nursery,
Director of Sales & Marketing, Industrial Packaging,
X-Ray tech,
Manufacturer's Rep

Five Habits:
I make a triple espresso every morning,
Check the prime rate on the WSJ site,
Read too many blogs - my other hobbies are suffering,
I love to start projects, don't always finish - and I don't care,
Reading a book at night is a must...I feel robbed if I don't.

Five places I have lived:
All in Washington State -
This Old Farm,
Friday Harbor,
Roche Harbor,

Five people I'd like to get to know:
I'm sorry, I have meme paranoia. I was tickled that Diane tagged me and am pleased to be a part of her meme. When I was a new blogger I read a rather hissy post by someone who didn't like memes and it freaked me out.
If anyone would like to participate please join in on the fun!

Project Black, Take Four

Photo Frame Place Cards
For our Progressive Dinner / Garden Party we often make place cards for our guests. My friend Tami put a little twist on the idea, each guest had their own photo at their place setting - I've often wanted to do this, dang...she beat me to it! The photos were all from previous garden parties, there are a few to choose from since this was the seventh year of this event.
The photo above is of The Husband at the party last year, that guy ever tan! Last summer was a sunny one here in the northwest.
These black mosaic frames were really cool, and woohoooo...they qualify for Project Black!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Project Black, Take Three

I'm a day behind on my posts for PB, last night was the 7th annual progressive dinner/ garden party that we do with friends. It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun.
Imagine my delight when I walked up to my friend Tami's patio and her table setting was all in black and white! Yippie! It was so incredibly beautiful I could hardly stand it.

This morning I got out my camera and loaded my pictures onto my trusty little laptop, excited to blog about the event and thrilled I had a photo from the evening that would work for Project Black. When I went to sign on to the internet I got nothin' except an error screen. Ohhh nooooo!
I was flipping out, thought for sure I had some kind of virus. It was then that I realized that I'm a serious blog-a-holic. I went to the other computer (no pictures on that one) and I could get onto the internet, my suspicions were confirmed - the problem was with my sweet little laptop computer.

After hours of trying to figure out what was wrong I found the answer. My computer has been attacked by the dreaded BLACK DEVIL DOG VIRUS - BEWARE.

Here's what to look for when you suspect that BLACK DEVIL DOG VIRUS has attacked your computer or anything that may be connected to your device.

My table for last night is still set up in the back yard, I think I need to go attack those leftovers. See that bottle? I think it has my name on it.
If you'd like to see more photos of the garden party I'll be posting all about it soon. My friend and fellow blogger/garden partier Tami blogged about it today too, she's posted some great pictures - I know she would love it if you stopped by.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Project Black, Take Two

Oh my goodness, I just love the center of this poppy out in my garden - the color, the contrast, the amazing geometry of it all.
I'm getting ready for a party so this post is really brief, I'm hoping to pop on over to check out the posts of all of you cool commenters this Saturday. I'll definitely be wanting to do some sittin' down and relaxing by then.
Poppy (he he) on over to Anna's blog to check out more groovy Project Black photos.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Project Black

"It's not that I don't like those other girls...but sometimes all of their mooing and chewing just gets on my nerves...ya know?"
Oh my, Anna Carson started another project - and I really want to play along. I'm just a teensy bit busy but I simply can't resist a photo challenge. Like the title says it's Project Black...if you're interested in playing along or would like to check out the other participants just pop on over to Anna's blog.
I've been tagged by Diane Mandy over at Martini's for Two, I'm planning to play along with that one too - hopefully tomorrow I'll have a little sit-down time. Hope hope.

Oh, Sweet Pea

I'm a pretty good gardener, except for the fact that I have too much garden for one woman who has a lot of other interests. What I'm lousy at is harvesting. I don't pick my flowers, I want to...I just don't get out there and do it. It's that whole but first mentality. I'm going to go pick a bouquet but first I'll throw in a load of laundry, make a couple of phone calls, take out the trash, when I take out the trash I'll quick set the sprinkler in the patio garden, oh dang - I forgot to put those new perennials in pots on the front porch, is that the phone ringing? And so it goes.

My peonies were gorgeous this year, didn't pick 'em, same with the first flush of roses...didn't pick those either. Now my sweet peas are so pretty...and fragrant! A bouquet of sweet peas would be lovely in the bathroom next to my sink, today I'm going to pick a bouquet...for sure...but first I'll quick clean the bathroom counter, oh...and look at that dirty floor - I should give it a quick vacuum and wipe it down with a cloth.
See how it goes around here?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Foodie Frenzy's crunch time. This coming Friday night is "Garden Party". It's the seventh year that we've done a progressive dinner/ garden party with two other couples. The first year we all nearly killed ourselves making our gardens beautiful...we set pretty tables in our gardens and made delicious food. The next year we declared it was going to be "all about the food".

It's possible to do it all, the garden, the table settings, the pressed linens, the flowers...and of course the food! But in order to do it all this middle aged woman needs a whole bottle of ibuprophen (or vicodin) and a week to recover. Martha Stewart has staff, I don't...nor do my friends. Hence the unanimous decision that Garden Parties would be all about the food. I'm still working on the garden but not in a frenzy, the frenzy is in the kitchen!

One couple does cocktails and appetizers, another does main course and then it's dessert at the last garden, every year we rotate - last year I did dessert and this year I'm back to favorite! The menu is always a secret so I can't post about what I'm making until after the event. Speaking of menus, the photo is a menu from a dinner party I did last year for moms birthday, I love making's fun for the guests and it's a great way to keep track of what I made over the years. Last year I made a dessert menu but the font was really fine so a photo wasn't possible. Here's what I served to my guests.

Dessert Menu
July 14, 2007
Raspberry Bellinis
Roasted Peach Sorbet
served on
Pistachio Waves
Fresh Okanogan Peach Slices
Dark Chocolate Lime Souffle
Whipped Lime Cream, Raspberry Coulis
Fresh Local Berries
Banyuls Rimage, France 2003
Frennch Roast
Okay folks, I'm off to the's time to do some prep cooking!
* bloggers note* why won't blogger let me put spaces in my menu so it's easier to read? grrrr

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm done sharing

I worked really hard this spring transplanting my raspberry canes. I amended the soil, dug up the old canes, planted them, mulched heavily and then watered really well so they wouldn't suffer transplant shock. The plants were looking great, they blossomed, set berries, those berries started to ripen as I watched in anticipation - ice cream in the freezer and ready to scoop. Well...somebody else was watching too - birds, big mean raspberry eating birds. I finally got a berry yesterday, the birds must have gone on a little 4th of July holiday.

I'm trying to be kind and share, but I've had it. The berries are going to the birds. And the bunnies....oh those dirty rotten bunnies. They have been dining on arugula, beets, sweet peas, sugar peas - all of this is organic mind you, those must be really healthy bunnies.
Oh yeah, they also have a fondness for carex, echinacea, geranium, pennisetum rubrum...just to name a few.

I don't eat bunny, but if anybody out there does...come on over, help yourself...I have a good crop, I hear it tastes like chicken.
I know, that was kinda creepy - but I'm cranky.

What's a farm girl to do?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

A little bouquet of red, white and blue

From This Old Farm

to you.

Have a great holiday!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A little piece of quiet

I'm working on a construction project that is three and a half hours away from the farm. We're building an off-grid cabin....well, we're not really building it, we're making an existing structure livable. I try to go and work for a couple of days every week in the summer, sometimes it doesn't work out and I don't get there for a few weeks in a row. While I was driving home night before last I stopped and took this shot. I often see cars pulled over in this spot, folks are out of their cars taking pictures. That night there wasn't a car in view, I loved it that I had the road to myself. In the nearly three years I've been making the drive I've never stopped here, never stood and looked at the view. I'm not that kind of girl, I want to "get there"...that's kinda dumb...I need to get over "getting there" and do more work on "being here".
Cuz really, no matter where ya go, there ya are. What's the rush?