It’s Official – I’m now a Master Gardener

I am so happy that I’ve graduated as a Master Gardener! But there is still a lot to learn.

Master Gardener Badge

Master Gardener Badge

Now I think back to last year’s garden. How I had to plant it three times, well I planted once and then replanted two times due to frost and other conditions. I sure wish I had known then what I know now. And yet, after all my classes I still feel inept. They say some people have green thumbs. My Mom is one such person. You should see her yard, front and back, it’s just beautiful. She has such wonderful plants, trees and shrubs.

I have learn to stand back and look at how things grow differently. Case in point, I willingly looked into a plant because a specific spider was present and I wanted to see what he was eating. (Of course when said spider decided he had had enough and quickly came running out I promptly jumped back assuming I was his next meal.)

What I need is a dose gamma rays to ignite my green DNA. So here’s to lush tomatoes, crisp green lettuces, juicy black berries, fresh green beans and fragrant herbs. Let the growing season commence!

 

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Blackberry Part…oh heck it’s Festival Time!

The weekend of August 16th-18th marks the start of the 25th annual Sutherlin Blackberry Festival. I am so happy to experience this event. Last year we had moved up here one week after the festival. While I did not compete this year, just you wait till next year!

This is a wonderful event. There are numerous booths where you can browse and shop for all sorts of fun things. But before we can get started on that, let’s bring in our flag honor guard.

Representing all Branches

Representing all Branches

I am constantly amazed at how seeing our flag fly makes me feel so proud.

Respecting the Flag

Respecting the Flag

Yep, very proud to be an American. A young lady, Alexandra,  sang the National Anthem and just nailed it. She was 11 years old. So wish I could have gotten her picture.

Come on! Let’s go to the festival.

There are booths set up all over offering food items, clothing, makeup, jewelery, hand crafted items, pet items you name it. One thing I bought that I now love are bowl pot holders for your microwave. I often times heat up soup or a bowl of oatmeal and have to reach in and grab that darn bowl that is hotter than lava hot freshly spewed from a volcano. Well now all I do is put my bowl on my holder and the put it in the micro.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.

What a neat idea. A bowl holder for the Microwave.Bowl holder with a bowl.Bowl holder with a bowl.

One of the neatest things is the raffle for a car and another for a motorcycle.

2006 Harley Sportster

2006 Harley Sportster

The winner of the motorcycle was Frank Harper of Texas (long time Sutherlin Resident).

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1

The winner of the car was Harold Wells of Oakland.

I’m going to do the next set of pictures a bit bigger since they are in a collage form. I didn’t want to make you have to scroll though for days.

Face Painting

Face Painting

These kids were so proud of the art done on their faces. It was just a joy to take their pictures!

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

Junior Boot Camp with The Body Shop Total Fitness

I just love the fact that the gym here in town, The Body Shop Total Fitness, gets so involved in promoting kids to get up and exercise! Well done Terry and Dianna Brock.

A ride for everyone

A ride for everyone

Yes that is a gun holster in the middle picture. Some really nice rides were on display.

Old is always better

Old is always better

There were nicer “old cars” here than I ever saw at Route 66! Just gorgeous vehicles!

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

And of course there’s the food! If you were hungry and couldn’t find something to eat here I would have been shocked. Bad thing is to walk by these taking pictures realizing you forgot to eat lunch. Let’s just say I got to taste a lot of different things. Folks are pretty friendly around here.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

For the cooking contest which included (but not limited to) – cookies, pies, cobblers, candies, jams/jellies, sauces and savory dishes. Rhonda Seekins of Sutherlin who took home 5 ribbons – three 1st place and two 2nd place! Wow nice job!

There was also a chili cook off. Now the only thing that I thought was ‘different’ were the categories – Men, Women and Texas Style. I didn’t know men cook chili different than women do. I think I would have done men and women together, made a category for junior division (15 and under), kept Texas style (no beans) and had another category for say white chili’s, chili verde etc.

2 winners from each category

2 winners from each category

What a great event this is! If you are ever planning to come up to Sutherlin, do make sure to time during the festival. At night there are bands, dancing and more food. Also you can tour some the best wineries Oregon has to offer!

 

Happy Anniversary!

I cannot believe it has been one full year since we left the big city and moved to the Great Northwest. So much has changed in the last year. We’ve learned so much of what it means to live in the country, and I think our lives have changed pretty drastically, but for the better not worse.

Let’s see…

1. Blackberries – harbor many critters. Always look before you pick. As you may remember it was while trimming these tenacious vines that I freaked out over a bug and broke my foot. You will often be investigated by bees and wasps as your fingers become stained while picking.
2. Foliage -Do be sure to trim blackberry vines back and other overgrown foliage because you never know what you will find. Case in point I have found the following – I have a pear tree I didn’t know I have, along with an apple and 5 cherry trees. Also found – an old VW Bug with no engine. A bumper to another car, a family of nutria, a pheasant nest, a skunk den (kept well away from that!) an old metal trash can and assorted bottles. Man that must have been one hell of a party!
3. Trash – you really must recycle everything you can. We don’t have trash pickup so we have to go to the dump. And everything must be sorted, glass – green, brown and clear. Cardboard – corrugated and non. Aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic bottles over here, and plastic containers over there. Newspapers, metal scraps, wood scrapes on the top side. Batteries in the shed and last but not least garbage.  But that is a lot of stuff to haul to the dump. So come October thru May we burn everything we can, which is a lot. Below are the steps to a bon fire. Which can be a big shindig for some. People will actually ASK you to bring them your clippings so they can burn them. They stand around, drink beer, tell stories and burn stuff. Seriously it’s an event! I’m actually looking forward to hosting one. And I can’t believe I just said that haha.

Must be safe first.

Must be safe first.

Must have emergency equipment available. There is also a hose attached to the well house.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Add a bit of an igniter.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

Toss in a burning piece of newspaper.

And whoosh!

And whoosh!

You can really feel the heat from just this small of a fire.

Time for me to get to work and  bank it in.

Time for me to get to work and bank it in.

Time to feed the second pile to the first pile and bank it.  Now it may seem this takes a while, but if you start piling all the stuff up over a period of time it dries up. So these piles go up like balsa wood. Takes about 3 minutes to burn it all down and if you’re not careful you might be painting your eyebrows on for a week or so. But once banked the bigger pieces on the bottom will smolder for 24 hours or more.

4. Rain. It’s going to rain in Oregon. Not near as much as I thought it would, but much more than down in California. This brings you to proper clothing and an understanding that water will get into things you don’t want it to and thus you have to deal with it. Proper rain attire in Oregon, a light jacket or vest, boots and hat (heavier coat if it’s a cold winter day). If you pull out an umbrella you’re not from around here. There will be large puddles so make sure you boots cover your ankles.

If there is a space for a molecule rain will get in, like a car in places you never thought of.

Innards removed

Innards removed

This is what happens when you hear a sloshing noise as you’re driving. And for a week you’re trying to figure out what is wrong. You go out one day and come home to take your groceries out of the trunk to find them soaked. Seems water had been leaking into a small hole under hood near the windshield wipers. This small stream (not drip) of water has been slowly filling every crevice under the under the carpet panel. When it got to full it spilled over into the trunk, but again under the carpet. It wasn’t until it reached maximum capacity that it started to soak the carpet. We are talking gallons of water. So much so that –

Starting to jack it up on its side

Starting to jack it up on its side

We had to start jacking the car up and tilt it on its side as much as we could to spill the water out. This was as we started the tilt.  So water can be a real problem.

5. Wildlife! And no I don’t mean the cows that live next door. Although, being from CA when we first moved up here they were fun to watch and I did consider them sort of like wild life. Then I learned what a pain in the butt they are. Did I ever tell you about the one that ‘crawled’ under the fence and ran amok in our yard? Well I had to wrangle that POS by myself down to the end of the property, through a large gate and back into his own yard. Boy do their feet cause a lot of damage. Anyway, back to wild life. So far it’s been just amazing to see all the different animals that come to visit us. We’ve had deer, geese, a skunk, a family of nutria, turkeys, a fox, ducks, osprey, a hawk that lives in our giant pine during the spring, a wild cat (that we do not have) and a bee colony of all things. Why it’s like wild country safari around here.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings - Oh My.

Ducks, Geese and Goslings – Oh My.

The Bee Keepers

The Bee Keepers

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

3 of 7 deer that regularly visit.

The Turkey Ladies

The Turkey Ladies

Run little Fox

Run little Fox

Stay back from ol' Stinky

Stay back from ol’ Stinky

Nutria Family

Nutria Family

6. And I think this is the most important. Friends. I have been so fortunate to meet new friends and start enjoying their company. We have Kish Doyle and Anne Wickersham, Rick and Velda, Terry and Dianna and some wonderful neighbors Phil and Kimberly.

Life is pretty good up here in the Great NorthWest. Including the views. This is sitting in my chair looking out my living room window. My window is much bigger, just focused on the middle and those gorgeous clouds.

Gorgeous Clouds

Gorgeous Clouds

So often after rain storms I can go out to my back patio and find a rainbow, and in this case two!

Fantastic Rainbow

Fantastic Rainbow

I have finally started to feel like I really live here and not just staying over for a long visit. I no longer catch myself driving to the grocery store ‘remembering’ how I used to go to the store or how I used to shop. Now I think about my day in Oregon distance, uncrowded freeways, no graffiti and friendly folks. I ponder the weather more here than down South and the old phrase “..if you don’t like the weather wait 15 minutes…” has become a familiar saying.

We have been so fortunate to retire here. Here’s to many, many years!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Blackberry chocolate chip ice cream makes you beg for a briar patch.

We all know how I am totally embracing the country life and all it has to offer. And this time of year it’s Blackberries. If you’ve been following my blog you know I’m not very conventional so I started with Blackberry Martini’s and then on to Blackberry BBQ sauce. Well I knew I would end up making some ice cream. But not sure on the recipe. Until I was introduced to this blog and the first recipe I see is Blackberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I present to you – Gourmandistan! Indulge your tastebuds folks.

It’s Blackberry Season!!

I don’t think you fully grasp what I’m saying here…Blackberries, oh small little berries that are sweet and bursting with flavor how I love you.

So with the season officially upon us it’s time to embrace all the berries have to offer, which is a lot! What’s the first thing I made, why a martini of course!

After a couple of hours of walking around our property I was able to gather about 12 cups of berries. Granted I won’t use all them in the martini. Why that would just be silly, gotta leave room for the vodka!

What you will need to make this luscious concoction is about 2 cups.

2 cups of love

2 cups of love

Let’s get a close up shall we? Are they not just gorgeous?!

Close up of the goodness

Close up of the goodness

Next you will need to puree them with a bit of sugar about a tablespoon.

Into the food processor

Into the food processor

Ok I admit it..what you saw measured in the pyrex cup did not all make it here. There was a causality of about 5.

Blend them up really well so you’ll get maximum juice.

It will be thick almost like a syrup

It will be thick almost like a syrup

And strain them by pressing a spoon or spatula over the pulp. This will speed up the process of getting the syrup and remove the seeds which not pleasant in a martini. Use a metal strainer. I don’t recommend cheese cloth as it will absorb a lot of juice, and you worked too hard picking berries to have it end up in cheese cloth!

Strain it to remove seeds.

Strain it to remove seeds.

Put all the ingredients (listed below) into a shaker and you will be rewarded with this –

Liquid refreshment is served

Liquid refreshment is served

Oh yes! I see you licking your lips. It really is that good. I think I could really begin to enjoy summertime.

Ingredients –

Serves 4

1 cup vodka
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce of berry syrup
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup (equal portions of water and sugar – heat a bit to dissolve)
Ice
Fresh berries for garnish

Rim side of martini glasses with lemon juice and roll in bakers sugar (white sugar that is more fine than table sugar. But if that’s all you have go for it!) Put glasses in freezer while you mix up the ingredients.

Fill a shaker with ice and add all the ingredients and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain into glasses and garnish with berries.