Monthly Archives: April 2012

Video: Bunting – No Party Required

If you’ve ever been on Pinterest, especially on any wedding board, you’ve seen bunting. (Exhibit A, above – image from here) It’s a whimsical party classic. I have my bff to blame for my love of bunting. Years ago, she made some bunting garland for a party with polka dots that made me grin. I’ve adored it ever since. When I texted her about this post, she answered in the most appropriate way, “I need more bunting in my life!” I couldn’t agree more.
So, this post and mini-tutorial is for people who need more bunting in their lives. This craft will give you an excuse to add color and fun to spaces just for the hell of it. You don’t have to be a bride to decorate with bunting. Spring is reason enough – no party is required! A sash over the window, on the rim of a mason jar, flair over the patio – any space that needs a little life is fair game.
Put those paper and fabric scraps and remnants to use and make yourself some bunting. I can only hope it will make you smile as much as me.

Bunting Abounds! Here’s a little more fun:

My Etsy cards (I told you I was hooked!)

Bunting Necklace! I can wear this around my neck? Love!


For the Love of Goats

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know about my longing to have goats. The farmer girl in me, suffering from Barnheart, the condition that Jenna Woginrich describes so perfectly as the “state of knowing unequivocally that you want to be a farmer but, due to personal circumstances, cannot be one just yet,” longs for the day when she can make cheese with the milk from her own farm. But somehow, I just can’t see how I’d fit in the chore of milking before heading off to teach a full day of school.

The reality of keeping goats on an urban farm in the city is not that difficult to imagine though. Jennie, goat owner and creator of the Goat Justice League, says you really only need a 25 x 25 foot space and I recently got to enjoy the company of the goats she keeps on her lovely little urban farm.

In her backyard, behind a beautiful, unassuming house in Madrona, lies a terraced oasis for her goats and chickens, which co-exist together in a spacious run. I was lucky enough to be invited to her farm after the recent arrival of triplet baby goats and I believe there is nothing more precious than that. I even got to hold one.

I stood in the middle of the dirt-floored run and snapped picture after picture as baby goats trotted up on to the hay feeder and leapt off of it in fits of wild baby goat energy! I cooed and pet their soft fur as a not-so-little one year old goat gently pressed her head into the side of my thigh to get my attention too.

I took it all in, trying to imagine what it would be like to live this life. I always wondered how I would have enough trimmings and vegetation for them to eat. Jennie had an ingenious set-up for snacking which was composed of a metal grid bungeed up against a metal grid placed between two fence posts. Foraged blackberry brambles  and other trimmings where stuffed in between the two grids. Mama and baby seemed to approve of the set-up.

Owning goats is surely a lot of work, but just from my half-hour visit, I could tell that it would be well worth the effort. And with so many experienced goat owners around like Jennie, sharing the knowledge they’ve learned along the way, owning a goat seems like an even more likely possibility.

If you’re thinking about owning a goat yourself, be sure to check out Jennie’s upcoming book, City Goats, which is sure to contain a wealth of information. It comes out this fall! Until then, you can check out the Goat Justice League site and her blog for adorable goat-related updates. I’m sure it will make you want to have a goat too.

Video: Planting tomatoes using the trench method

When I was at City People’s yesterday, I saw a sign in the nursery that said, “Spring is here. Tomatoes are not.” Most people will tell you that it is too early to plant your tomatoes if you live in the northwest. Just last year, I was sitting at the Master Gardener’s table at the farmers’ market giving people this very advice. And in a way, I guess I agree. Just putting your tomatoes out to survive the elements will not work. But with the right tools, you can get on your way right now.

I splurged one year on quality cloche plastic from a garden catalog – the thick kind that lets UV rays in. I’ve used it three seasons so far. When putting my tomatoes out this early, I put them under a cloche with that special plastic, doubled over (it’s quite big in order to allow for an expandable cloche as the tomatoes grow.) I put the cloche pipes in so that the frame is lower to the ground, thus keeping the heat closer to my tender new tomatoes. But, I digress. I’ve explained this all before. What I want to focus on today is how I put the tomatoes into the ground.

I once saw a bar graph that charted the average root depth of different plants and the tomato was one of the longest. They need space for their expansive root system and when you’re planting as intensively as I am, typically 20 tomato plants plus 10 other nightshade plants in one 3′ by 10′ bed, you need to plant (pun intended) accordingly. In this video, I’ll show you how I plant each tomato plant using the trench method in order to give the tomatoes the support they need.

I am to nettles as Bubba Gump is to shrimp

I think I can officially add “urban foraging” to the list I use to describe how I spend my free time. Open my fridge and you’ll see things precariously stacked in order to make room for the huge bags (yes, plural bags) of nettles I have stuffed inside. I realized the moment I answered the woman who asked me, “What are you going to do with all of those?” I am the Bubba Gump of nettles.

I am going bonkers with the nettles over here. And for good reason – they’re super healthy and tasty too! I’m going with the general assumption that nettles will taste great in anything calling for spinach or leafy greens.

I’m dehydrating trays and trays of nettles like crazy, which I’ll use later for tea. The tea I hope will help me through this year’s allergy season. I may have succumbed to allergy shots, but I haven’t lost faith in nature’s remedies.

Last night, I discovered another winner – nettle pesto. Before we go any further though, you should know that I use the term “pesto” lightly. When I say I made pesto, what I really mean is that I made a super healthy puree that tastes delicious and looks like the real thing. Vegetables in disguise. You know I’m not afraid of eating my greens, but a little healthy in the form of something that feels like a splurge is fun every once in a while.

Nettle Pesto

The final consistency of my “pesto” was pretty thick and a little awkward to mix into the pasta, but with a little patience, it incorporates beautifully. A little extra olive oil would help the pesto mix in more smoothly, but I was going for the healthy deliciousness angle.

about 1 cup nettles (stems and leaves), blanched, wrung out, and fluffed up
1/3 cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
squeeze of lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor except for the olive oil. Run until the mixture begins to become a smooth puree. With the food processor running, add the olive oil and process until incorporated and smooth.

Slather on anything needing a healthy dose of decadence. Enjoy!

Here are some other posts singing praises about nettles:

Five Things to do with Stinging Nettles – Freezing the tea in ice cube trays to use in soup stocks? Brilliant!

More Stinging Nettle Pesto

More Foraging Love by Seattle forager and author Langdon Cook

Stinging Nettle Paté

The Benefits of Foraging for Nettles and Dandelion – There’s a false Dandelion? I had no idea!