Less than a month left
Random Thoughts

Less Than a Month Left

We’re knee-deep in boxes, tape, and bubble wrap around here, and though we technically still have a month left of our current lease, our moving pods come in a couple of weeks — so we need to wrap things up, fast.

There’s a whole lot of Craigslisting, eBaying, and Goodwilling going on, and I’m continually amazed at how much stuff can accumulate in our lives in such a short time! I mean, why did we keep all those disposable chopsticks and soy sauce packets but never use them? Why did I hoard double prints of all my pre-2003 pictures (before I bought my first digital camera) and drag those boxes with me through five different moves? (Saying “double prints” really feels like I’m aging myself here! Haha.)

Watching all that clutter exit the house brought such a rush of endorphins that I wish I had the same super-charged motivation to purge at other times of year too.

With good progress being made inside the house, we’ve started to focus on organizing the yard this week: inventorying tools and equipment, cleaning out the chicken coop, trimming trees and mulching beds, and dividing herbs and taking cuttings. (I seriously think the last time the yard looked this neat and manicured was when we first moved in! And um, that was seven years ago.)

Continue Reading

Freshly canned balsamic fig jam with black peppercorn
Random Thoughts

Five Things Friday

The five little things that made my week…

1. If you’re a canner, you know that little pop! of your lids sealing after coming out of their boiling water bath is music to the ears, amiright?!

It’s been insanely hot and humid this week in Southern California, but I’d promised my friend I’d teach her how to can, so I was so thankful that Ball sent me their electric water bath canner to try. Instead of heating up the stovetop (and the rest of the house) with a huge pot of boiling water, I just plugged this canner in — near the door, where we had a cool breeze — and putting up a small batch of balsamic fig jam was totally bearable in this heat wave.

I liked it so much that I ended up donating my old enamel canning pot and will be bringing the new one to Oregon with us. It’s surprisingly lightweight, and the electric base nests neatly inside the pot (along with all my canning tools), so it’s just one tidy package to store. I’m looking forward to canning in my new backyard when it’s nice out!

Continue Reading

Moving on up... literally! (Climbing in Smith Rock, Oregon)
News & Events

Moving On Up… Literally!

Climbing at Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon.

Oh man, so much has happened in the last couple weeks that I’m struggling with where to start on the big news, so I’ll just get straight to the point: We are moving 900 miles north to Bend, Oregon, in October, and we’re beyond thrilled!

Continue Reading

Surviving a heat wave: 6 hot weather watering tips
Garden of Eatin', How-To

Surviving a Heat Wave: 6 Hot Weather Watering Tips

This post is in partnership with Gilmour Garden and Watering. All thoughts and words are my own.

It’s here — the dog days of summer. Or should I say, it’s been here, as we’ve been feelin’ the heat for the past few weeks with seemingly no end in sight.

My Southern California garden is accustomed to the sultry weather this time of year, but it’s not any easier on the plants than it is on me. We have a full south-facing garden and September is generally the hottest month for us coastal dwellers, when Santa Ana winds blow in from the desert and bring extremely dry, hot and dusty winds that amplify an already dry season.

Continue Reading

Easy peasy homemade tomato sauce (no peeling required)
Canning, Freezing & More Preserving, Recipes

Easy Peasy Homemade Tomato Sauce (No Peeling Required)

When I was new to gardening (and new to canning what came out of my garden), homemade tomato sauce was one of those projects that always felt a little intimidating. Every recipe I came across called for boiling a pot of water, blanching the tomatoes, plunging them into an ice bath, then making X-shaped slits in the bottom to release the skins. Some recipes went a step further, telling me to run the peeled tomatoes through a food mill to remove the seeds.

Frankly, it doesn’t sound all that bad… until the first time you’re faced with a sink full of tomatoes (especially smaller tomatoes) that need to be peeled, one by one. All that work, all that mess… I actually started to dread the peak-of-summer harvests when I had more tomatoes than I could use right away!

Continue Reading

How to safely freeze liquids in mason jars
Canning, Freezing & More Preserving, Recipes

How to Safely Freeze Liquids in Mason Jars

It’s that time of the year when our freezers are probably seeing a lot of action as tomato sauces, vegetable soups, and all kinds of seasonal bounties start making their way from the garden to the kitchen to — eventually — this winter’s dinner table. A severe lack of space in my own freezer means I’ve skipped my old standby of freezing whole cherry tomatoes in favor of tomato purees that are ready to spice up for homemade marinara sauce, soup, and ketchup.

And that brings up a question I’m often asked: What’s the most ideal way to store these liquids in the freezer?

Continue Reading