Starting our Oregon Christmas tree tradition
Garden of Eatin', Trees & Shrubs

Starting Our Oregon Christmas Tree Tradition

In years past, my husband and I always kicked off the Christmas season with a visit to a Southern California tree farm. Out in the suburbs of Orange County, we wandered past row after row of perfectly pruned pines in 75°F weather while palm trees swayed in the balmy breeze above our heads.

I liked to think it was just as much a novelty for him as it was for me. He grew up going to “real” tree farms in rural Northern California, and my family did what most families did — stop by one of the many Christmas tree lots that popped up in front of supermarkets after Thanksgiving.

We’d once considered doing the same — before we had a toddler in the mix and whimsical memory-making wasn’t as much of a focus — but I love any excuse for an adventure (even if it’s an urban adventure) and Will’s DIY spirit never turns down an opportunity to wield a saw, so the U-cut Christmas tree farm became a fun tradition for us.

After moving to Bend, I wanted to continue that tradition so our daughter would have something festive and outdoorsy to look forward to every year. I Googled “Central Oregon Christmas trees” with the hope of finding a list of tree farms near our house, but instead found out about the US Forest Service permits that blew my city-girl mind away.

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DIY mason jar koozie (plus a recipe for vanilla and bourbon mulled cider)
Recipes, Sips & Syrups

DIY Mason Jar Koozie (Plus a Recipe for Vanilla and Bourbon Mulled Cider!)

This post is in partnership with Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. All thoughts and words are my own.

Being a Fresh Preserving ambassador means I have quite the collection of Ball® Canning Jars in my kitchen (and my pantry, and my garage, and my laundry room)…. so much, in fact, that many of them are used for purposes other than canning and preserving.

If you open the kitchen cabinets, you’ll see plenty of jars alongside our highballs and mugs as I love using them as drink glasses. The pint jars are perfect for water (we sometimes even freeze them for frosty pints of beer) while quarts full of iced tea are a staple in the summer.

Mason jars are great for warm drinks, too, if you gravitate more toward the likes of coffee and tea. (I should add a disclaimer here that Newell Brands doesn’t recommend putting piping hot beverages in their Ball® Canning Jars, so wait for yours to cool off a bit before serving. You can also lessen the chances of thermal shock by swirling some hot tap water in your jars to warm them up first.) To buffer hands from the heat, I have a few sets of woolly koozies that wrap around my jars — just like those paper sleeves you find at coffeeshops, only the koozies are reusable and much, much cuter.

What seals the deal even more is how easy they are to DIY. No knitting or crocheting experience necessary, not even a sewing machine… all you need are wool socks, scissors, and needle and thread. (You’ll find the full tutorial below!)

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Simple spice drawer organization
House & Home

Simple Spice Drawer Organization

My previous kitchen was small, so small that it necessitated the use of vertical space to store my collection of jars (on a shelf suspended above the counter) and spices (on a magnetic board screwed to the side of a cabinet).

I’m in a slightly bigger kitchen now, but have the opposite problem: plenty of drawers and cabinets, but no vertical storage. For someone who keeps over 80 varieties of herbs and spices on hand, it’s an organizational challenge. But I finally came up with a neat, beautiful, and practical system for labeling, storing, and sorting all my containers, and it’s such an easy project that I had to share. (Plus, I’m an organizational geek to the highest degree and surely there must be others like me?!)

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Planting my placenta: an 18-month update
Garden of Eatin', Parenthood

Planting My Placenta: An 18-Month Update

If you’ve been following my parenthood posts on this blog, you may remember that after the birth of my daughter last year, I decided to take my placenta home and plant it under a tree. It was actually a container citrus tree, since we didn’t know at the time if we’d stay in California, and we wanted to be able to take the tree with us should we move.

Well, we’ve moved! And we brought the blood orange tree to Oregon with us, where it’s now overwintering in our insulated garage next to a window. It survived the long trek in a trailer and has been thriving since we potted it last year, and I know many of you were curious as to how it’s grown with the placenta buried under it.

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A natural and non-toxic mattress from Avocado Green Mattress
House & Home

A Natural and Non-Toxic Mattress From Avocado Green Mattress

This post is in partnership with Avocado Green Mattress. All thoughts and words are my own. Look for a special discount just for Garden Betty readers at the bottom of this post!

In my house, and in life in general, I try to find a balance between being mindful of health, money, and the environment, but also knowing which battles I should pick so I can enjoy every day and not obsess over being “perfect.”

That means I do most of my shopping online but seek out cool local shops for gifts, I don’t always buy organic but I try to grow what I can and eat in season, and for the last seven years — despite being a voice for green and healthy living — I slept on a conventional innerspring mattress.

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Bacon, chicken, and green tomato soup
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Bacon, Chicken, and Green Tomato Soup

If you’re like me, and you’ve been searching for savory recipes for your green, unripe, end-of-season tomatoes that don’t involve frying or pickling, you’ve probably realized they’re few and far between. And it’s no wonder why: In their immature stage, green tomatoes can be bland or bitter, too dry or too dense. On their own, they aren’t exactly culinary delights.

But once you simmer them in a luscious broth with a handful of aromatics and let the heat take the edge off their tartness, green tomatoes can become a star ingredient in a recipe. (Not to mention… bacon just makes everything better.)

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Roasted green tomato salsa verde
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Roasted Green Tomato Salsa Verde

Before we moved out of our home in Southern California, we had a long list of garden chores that included clearing out the “weedy” tomatoes that had volunteered freely in our lower yard (weeds that I’m deeply missing as we’re settling into the Central Oregon climate).

We harvested basketfuls of ripe tomatoes before tossing the plants into a big pile to be broken down and taken to our compost heap. I decided to rescue some of the green unripe tomatoes, as it seemed like such a waste to let them go.

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We made it to Oregon! Here's how it went down
Random Thoughts

We Made It to Oregon! Here’s How It Went Down

We picked the right time of year to move to Central Oregon!

The last time I moved, it was 2010 and I was merely moving 10 minutes away from my previous home. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I took less than a week to pack up the pugs, a few pieces of furniture, and our respective work studios, and only two weeks to fully unpack in our new house. As I remember it, the process was tiring but far from tedious.

Fast-forward to 2017 where it’s now been a month since our move from Southern California to Central Oregon, and we’re still trying to get our garage and office in order. If you’d seen what we started with, however, it’s rather astonishing what we’ve managed to finish in spite of some setbacks.

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