One more cup of coffee 'fore I go... to the valley below

A lovely photograph from Miss Allie Learn (click for better res) taken at dinner at the D St house. Elizabeth on the left and Matthew on the right. Classy.

Here are some pictures from the yard. Hope that you enjoy them. I hope they give you kind of an idea of how the garden is progressing, ie, very slowly. We are so poor it is hard to find money for expensive things like plant starts and also Kyle works a lot and Matt goes to school a lot, plus we are super popular so it is hard to find time. But it's comin'. See:The greenhouse! Still needs plastic. More on that in a minute...

This is where we chop the firewood, because we're hella mountain men.

Here is our lovely patio! Look how pretty the flags look in the sunlight. Please ignore the coffeecups and overflowing ashtrays.
Some beautiful flowers growing out back.
And here are some irises that popped up the other day! What a suprise! We thought that was just a random shrub!
What will be the tea garden, and on the right, part of the crown of an oak tree that Fenderson rescued from certain destruction. It is beautiful and complex. We don't quite know what to do with it, to tell you the truth. Something will come up, I'm sure.

This is going to be the main vegetable bed. This is kind of an "action shot" meaning that we didn't finish what we were in the middle of because we got distracted, so you, lucky reader, get to observe the process of turning shitty old lawn grass into sexy funky dirt to grow things in. This is largely done with sticks with pointed ends and compost.
Speaking of compost- here's the inside of the compost bin! I had to brave some stinky smells to take this picture but we are pretty proud of how much kitchen scraps we have been able to throw in here. We have been very disciplined about it. Peelings, gross leftovers, stale bread, anything. We are not cooking the eggshells before we throw them in because we are lazy but we are pretty sure it will work either way. We shall see .
These are only a few of the many compost bins. This whole fence you see behind them will be covered in beans, peas and scarlet runners. Maybe even hops!
Some of the flowers, cut and inside on the piano. Also here you can see a globe which has the USSR on it and a Japanese float from a fishing net. Yes.

Right before dinner was served the other night. Forgot to take pictures of people but doesn't the table look attractive?

Here are the seeds we bought at the store the other day:
Carrots, long and skinny
Beets, cylindrical? Do these taste different from regular beets?
Chamomile (yum, tea garden!)
Kale- earlier
Mixed Salad Greens
Cucumbers, normal
Sugar Snap Peas
Lemon Cucumber
"Early Wonder" Beets (these are round)
Sweet Basil
Zucchini Squash (don't worry, just one package of these!)
Summer Crookneck Squash
Different Basil (what is it called if not sweet? just basil? spicy basil? savory basil?)
Italian Striped Zucchini (oh, I lied)
Cilanto/ Coriander
Pole Beans

About the greenhouse: where can you get plastic for a greenhouse? Well, according to Mark Wigg, you can get it from Agri-Plas in Brooks. I intend to do just that. Yet again, Living Culture turns out to be insanely helpful and relevant.

The other night I was over at Casa Rafn, birthplace of Living Culture, and I discovered two things. One, they linked to this blog on their site! Haha yay our first link!
And two, I met Chris and Elizabeth, who are Minto Island Growers. They're awfully sweet people, very funny and charming, and I'd like to get to know them better and possibly go see their farm! Here is a link to their website.

Dinner this Saturday is a private pizza party in a closed restaurant. Top secret and very delightful, my friends are so wonderful.

Anyway this will probably be the last post for a little while, as Elizabeth is off to Costa Rica on Sunday and she very much doubts that Matt or Kyle will remember to blog it up. It's possible, keep checking back, and if nothing else, we'll see you on March 26th!


another day, another dinner

so you may remember that we went over to dinner at the D st house recently, and allie completely dominated us with her chicken. well we've upped the stakes- last night we made walnut broccolli asparagus onion quiche with a potato crust, green salad with home-made mango chili pepper salad dressing, and an oreo cake.
joe wiley came to visit which was nice because i never see that fool.
guests were allie brooke rachel sarah k and logan, the usual suspects. oh and matt made some more bread, this time it was egg bread and we all agree it was better than the regular old non-egg bread he made last time.
off to wash every dish i own! huzzah.


yoga time

haha it's yoga time bitches!


Seeds seeds seeds

Did you know that you can use food stamp money to buy seeds, plant starts and even whole fruit trees, as long as the plant is food-bearing and you purchase them at a store which also sells food? It's true.
Did you know that Kyle is probably going to be getting a very sweet job very soon? This, also, is true.
This weekend we went camping in the snow and drank whiskey and shot guns and lit fireworks and went in the sauna. Now we've changed our minds about the hot tub- we want a sauna! :)
Last night was dinner at the D St house- Bork Learn and RayRay made chicken, salad, onion quinoa, served with crispy bread and merlot. Played some apples to apples and as the night wore on, some horse.
Tomorrow night is dinner here and I've got to one-up them. Kyle and I are combining forces to make an asparagus quiche with a potato-greens crust and walnuts. Serving a huge-ass caesar salad with it and toasty bread, and for desert an oreo cake. The sides could use some work, maybe an interesting home-made dressing for the salad? Hmm. ???


Some upcoming events...

The chicken meeting at city hall! I can't go but it's on Feb 23rd
Salem Transition Initiative Relocalization introductory meeting on Feb 25th. Again- can't go. Stupid Costa Rica!
Feb 15th- Sustainable Community Gardens Project potluck at Marion Polk Food Share. I'M IN.

Brain Scramble

Found a link about this blog on fark.com today and was surprised by the negative tones of the other fark-ers comments. Poor woman. All she is trying to do is help the Earth. Admittedly her way of doing it might seem a bit extreme to some people (if you don't feel like following the link, I'll just tell you- she's trying to eliminate all plastics from her life) but I think that the more people we have trying out extreme changes to help the enviroment, the better our odds are of living on this Earth for more than another few hundred years. Anyway it really got me thinking about the plastics we use in our house! Here's the plastics I've used so far today, that I can think of:
Lid of to-go coffee cup from Coffeehouse... could have brought my own cup if I could ever remember to do that
Pen- what's the alternative here? Is a wooden pencil really better? Maybe a refillable pen so I never have to throw it away?
Plastic bag the home-made bread is being kept in, in the fridge- this is a re-used bag but I shouldn't have it in the first place, I should start bringing my own little (cloth?) bags to WinCo with me for things like salt and yeast. How hard is that, really. Maybe I could just take the empty glass jars I keep them in to the store with me, with their weight clearly labeled on them, and make the cashier subtract the weight of the canister from the weight of the item? Boy talk about annoying the hell out of an inept minimum wage employee.
Plastic disposable lighter
That's all I can think of, aside from major things like the plastic components in the laptop and fridge. Anyway tomorrow I'm going to make an effort to use nothing plastic and disposable! And I'm going to take those stupid bags to Fred Meyer to recycle them because they are honestly just taking up a huge amount of space and diminishing my cred.
Other things....
Kenney brought over the airlock and hydrometer for my homebrew setup! The only things I need to find now are some tubing (oh no plastic!) and some yeast! Hells yes. He's borrowing our bottle capper and when he brings it back he'll bring over some homemade cider. Also I gave him some rosemary- we had to hack the rosemary bush back a few feet recently and throw a bunch in the compost, because it was about to devour our house, but at least somebody is using some of it.
Turned off the internet- too expensive, barely works, and a bad habit anyway.
Recently got completely addicted to Salem Freecycle! May be better than Craigslist Free Stuff certainly more stuff is listed on it. Haven't listed anything yet (what do I have that I don't need?) but hopefully I'm going to go pick up 45 lbs of wheatberries soon! Wheatberries? What can you do with wheatberries? Well, eat 'em, and give 'em away to other people who also will eat them, and if all else fails, I imagine they'll make good compost.
http://salemdiet.blogspot.com/ NOBODY TOLD ME ABOUT THIS GUY. I missed it. Shit. Where does he live, like, five blocks from here? Maybe I'll invite him to the next dinner party we have? Should I invite a random stranger to my house? The answer: yes, always.
Speaking of dinner- Matt made two batches of home-made bread and they were DELICIOUS. Soon I will get him to post his recipes, although I think they are just from Joy of Cooking but with Smart Balance instead of butter and soy milk in place of milk, in the given amounts. The first batch was plain wheat bread and the second was cherry-oatmeal bread, the recipe for which called for raisins and not cherries but works either way evidently.
Kyle made up a great dish, too-
Slice up some sweet potatoes and yams 9maybe 2 or 3 of each?) into 1/2 inch rounds or maybe even 1/3 inch
layer 'em in a pan
put on some agave nectar (we use a lot of agave nectar around here)
throw in a bunch of fresh ginger
cook in the oven until it's done and then ingest
We're having a circus this summer (more on this in the future) and so I'm making some shrunken heads as a kind of a sideshow exhibit, one of those pay $1 to see the horrifying stuff type of booths, and here's how I'm making them:
You're going to need an apple and some whole cloves and some yellow food colouring. Also, a knife. For the later parts of this project I'm going to be using some mod podge, electrician's tape and doll's hair, and some rice and a needle, but you don't need that stuff yet. For now, just carve a face into the apple. You can peel the whole thing, but I left the skin on most of it and just peeled the face part- we'll see how that turns out, I thought it would add an extra bit of gruesomeness. Don't worry too much about making it look good- it will all shrivel up anyways. Just give it big blocky features. I made one of mine making a scared face. rub salt all over it. drop some yellow food colouring in each eye socket (this was my own idea and i don't know how well it will work yet but I thought it might look extra spooky)
Throw em in the oven! Probably put some tin foil down so you don't get salty apple juice all over the damn place.
Put the oven on the lowest setting possible and just leave it on all the time. If you have to cook something at a high temperature, remember to take the apples out and set them on the counter while you do this and put them back in once it's cooled back down.
I think after about 42 hours or so of oven I'll take them out, stick some string through them and hang them above the stovetop and leave them for 2 weeks. Then I'll start adding details like teeth, eyeballs, stitched lips, and hair. YEEES.
so the other night we were hangin' out, allie brooke logan and zach and jeff were over, and we were all playing loaded questions in the living room, and somehow the idea of a hot tub came up. we were all in agreement that hot tubs are fun. we also all agree that a hot tub is a great thing for at least one person in the neighborhood to have, and since they don't have the space over at the D St house, it falls to us and our huge-ass patio. We all greatly relish the idea of hangin' out in some bubbly water, and drunken naked hottubbing is a subject I am sure you are all familiar with and in favour of and so I will not address in detail here.
I found somebody on Freecycle who has a functioning hottub that we could have for free if we come and pick it up, and even if there is something mildly wrong with it, I am pretty confident that we would be able to fix all but the most major cracks or engine problems. We could either put it on the back porch where all the firewood is now, or Kyle was thinking, there's a big area of the backyard which is just ugly stupid muddy grass, but it doesn't get enough light for much of a garden there- maybe we could build a little gazebo type deal and put it out in the yard? Bury the cords?
1) they use a ton of electricity (i read that it's like $18 a month, but you can lower the cost by keeping the temperature turned way down when not in use and keeping it well insulated, which we oculd do)
2) they look like redneck peices of shit- this is why i like the idea of building some type of gazebo structure/hedgerow thing around it- i don't want the neighbors to think i'm a hot tub kind of a person! it's kind of emberessing! plus- the aforementioned nudity!
3) they use awful caustic chemicals. i did find this site advertising cleaning agents which don't contain chlorine. according to their copy the water is even greywater safe if you choose to drain the tub, which would be cool, because i wouldn't feel so bad about:
4) wasting water- yuck! what a hideous waste of water!
then again...

And last but not least.
I have a copy of the C.I.T.Y. petition which I am circulating amongst my friends. I only started earlier today and I have already gotten 20 signatures. That is nothing compared to 187 voter registrations in one day, my old record, but it is still something. This petition is easy to pitch to people and everyone has seemed very receptive of the idea. Later tonight I am going to take it over to the Rafns house and maybe to the Schulte compound, maybe even to the bar sometime next week. I hope this thing passes because I've already promised a lot of folks fresh eggs! :-)


Matt says: Hurdy gurdy progress! I have boards that have been cut. A few. Not many, but a few.
Kyle says: We moved a greenhouse over. We tried to do it with manforce but we had to use fossil fuels and Elizabeth Rescue Squad force. I built it myself at my old house which is nearby. It is to the left of the shed. I am going to start some seeds, I'm going to grow some lemon grass (or in the ground). We're going to grow salad greens and maybe some pees, sucka. The greenhouse has a roof made out of salvaged storm windows and the rest is two by three construction. That's it!
Here are some pictures of the epic greenhouse move-

Taking off the glass
Putting some 2 by 4s and some rods through it to make a framework to carry it with
Crossing Center st! Right after this picture was taken, our friend Preston came screaming around the corner, delivering a pizza in his beat-up old car with a Doors sticker on the fender, and almost ran into Kyle and Matt. Of all the people in Salem to almost run them over, it WOULD be Preston. He rolled down his window and yelled, "You motherfuckers almost made me get in an accident!" and then sped away. He is our worst friend but he is still one of my favorite people in the world. So it goes.
They only got about another two blocks before realizing that it would take all night to carry the greenhouse all the way (1o more blocks?) to our house, so I had to go back and pick them up in the truck. Then we all went back to the house and got some tacos! I learned from my cousin Trask recently that in order for these tortillas to be delicious-
YOU HAVE TO FRY THEM!!! YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO FRY THEM!!! First you heat some oil in a frying pan, then you throw a tortilla in. Let it sizzle for a bit, then flip that shit over. Then, once both sides are fried, use some tongs or something to kind of bend one side up and hold it for a minute so it forms into a taco shape. Then fill it with refried beans, spinach, chopped tomato, plain yogurt/sour cream, shredded cheese, and sliced avocado as quick as you can while it's still hot. This makes the tortillas crunchy. I realize that probably a lot of people already knew that but it was news to me and I was delighted by the prospect of never eating another nasty bland, cold, mealy tortilla ever agian in my life.
And here are some other pictures.

Here is a delicious rainbow cake that I made! I got the recipe from this excellent site . This cake offered undeniable proof that our oven runs much too hot. The top edges of the cake were black before it was done in the center. I had to chip off the burnt bits before frosting. My friend Zach Bendt is modeling this cake for me. I also made a batch of cupcakes with the leftover batter, two of each colour. Using Sprite instead of eggs, oil and water in cake recipes works like a damn charm.

Here is a piece of pizza made by Kyle, who used to work at a certain very fancy pizza joint in Portland, with a birthday candle on top to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday! It was wonderful. Next time we're going to make the pesto fresh, though. Speaking of pizza, if you have never been to Christo's pizza in Salem, SHAME ON YOU. It is delicious. Go tonight.

And here is a bruise on Elizabeth's knee which was from falling off of Kyle's bike trailer, drunk in the middle of the night, as he went around a corner. The thing to remember about bike trailers is that even if Sarah Killion or Brooke Pukerson can fit onto them safely- Elizabeth is much larger than Sarah or Brooke! Probably larger than Sarah+Brooke! Thus the late-night tumble resulting in a headache, a boo-boo on her knee and injured pride. Aside from that she is uninjured.

My God, look at all of this firewood! This is from cutting down an entire fucking orchard. This isn't even probably 1/5 of all of the firewood. Elizabeth was in charge of using the long pruning shears to turn a brancy-ass tree into a bunch of logs, and then Elizabeth's dad was in charge of taking it down into component pieces with the chainsaw. From there, Kyle hacked the logs to bits with a chopping maul and loaded it into the truck. Matthew Moore and our new friend Logan Dunn were waiting at the house to unload the wood upon our return. It worked out very nicely. Some of the wood is still too green to really consider burning anytime soon but some of it had just been laying around for a while already, so we had a nice fire last night, most of the wood I think was cherry but there's some elm too.

Kyle put some toast in the toaster oven and forgot about it and burnt it so black it set off the smoke alarm and filled the whole house with smoke and it still smells like burnt-ass toast in here. He also learned that it is almost impossible to cook the cheap-ass flounder from WinCo into anything edible. He tried twice. Elizabeth discovered that the chocolate-covered pomegranate candy in the bins is SO GOOD that she had to hide the candy dish in the coat closet and only put it out when company is over or else she'd weigh 5,000 lbs.

Yesterday when Matt and Elizabeth were on their way to Christo's for DATE NIGHT they ran across a pile of freecycle! On 14th St across from North Salem High School someone had put out an ironing board, an old mini charcoal grill and a mirror! We didn't take any of it since we already have all of those things, but it was wonderful to see someone putting use-able items out on the sidewalk for others to take, instead of straight into the trash.

Which brings me to dumpster diving.
I (Elizabeth) have never done this. But I'm going to.
I've got a flashlight, a pair of gloves, some superglue, and an unquenchable thirst for free cool shit. Also a guilty conscience from living in this wasteful society, in a thing so wasteful as a house in a city.
I've been mentally taking notes about places I'd like to hit up, and here are a few of them-
Toy store
Natural foods store
College campus (behind the art building and behind the science building)
etc etc etc! Any other ideas?
Stay tuned. Maybe tonight or the next fine warm night we've got I'll go out and see what I can find. Of course I'll put it on the internet because what good is free cool shit if I can't brag about it? Also I intend to recycle all the recyclables I can find. I read that for every seven pounds of recyclables you can pull out of the garbage and recycle you save one gallon of gasoline, or, you know, prevent/offset one gallon of gasoline being burned and put into the atmosphere, or whatever. SEVEN. that's the important part. SEVEN.

Leaving for Costa Rica in... 14 days!


here's some dinner kyle made

that's bacon for the meat-eaters, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beets, carrots and keen-wah (however that is spelled?) with yogurt. icewater. later- raspberry muffins courtesy elizabeth.
later today we're moving a greenhouse! i'll explain later.