August 18, 2017

Friday things


We have been gearing up here for the eclipse on Monday. The Mr. took the day off because it's supposed to get a little crazy here. The highways in and out of the Willamette Valley are supposed to be bumper to bumper with people parked along the sides of the road the morning of the eclipse, just to get a peek of this "possible" once in a lifetime event.  The Mr. and I have always been "self proclaimed" preppers, so we have stocked up on some essentials that we think we might need before, during, and even after the eclipse is over. Just so we don't have to go anywhere for a few days. Honestly, people have already been setting up their spots for camping for the eclipse and the town we live in has already seen an influx of people flooding in with their campers and RVs, and we are hoping the town is ready for the gain in temporary population for this Monday.

If you haven't started preparing for the event, better get on that this weekend, or better yet, today! The Mr. and I made a list of eclipse-prep items that we feel we need, but some of these may help you get ready too:

1. Waters filled: We have two three-gallon and two five-gallon water containers that we fill regularly. The city water where we live is less than appealing, so on our weekly trips to Corvallis, Oregon, for food and supplies, we fill all four of them-equaling 11 gallons total for drinking water. We made sure to have plenty of water on hand for the eclipse and filled our bottles early.

2. Dry goods: I always like to have certain dry goods on hand, regardless of what's going on outside our home-Solar Eclipse, brain-eating zombies, you know, the norm. I like to have essentials like, flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, dried beans, corn meal, wheat flour, pasta, coffee, granola, cereal, popcorn, humus mix, refried bean mix, white and brown rice-to name a few. Always buy these items in organic to avoid any traces of "Monsanto's hands" being in your mixes. We always keep these in jars and fill them at the store using our own containers. It really does help doing it this way to cut down on waste.

3. Refrigerated goods: Having a few staples on hand isn't a bad idea. I like to keep these things to a minimum when "occasions" arise, but I doubt we will get an apocalypse during the eclipse, so it's a good idea to have a few of these at the ready. Items like, milk, butter, yogurt, pickles, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, orange juice (or other type of juice), grapefruits, oranges, strawberries, sugar snap peas, celery, condiments-ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, bbq sauce, salad dressing, etc., wheat flour tortillas (I like to keep two large bags of these because you can always roll things up in a tortilla, or in a pinch cut them into triangles and make homemade chips with them), jam, and we like to have on hand some fog city salad for a quick bite on the go, or just to add to a meal. It's delicious, healthy, and can be made with all organic ingredients.

4. Freezer goods: This is the part of the fridge to keep long-term items. We like to keep items such as, hamburger meat x3, chicken breasts x4, salmon patties x3, frozen peas and beans that we grew in our garden, frozen mangoes, frozen corn, frozen strawberries, frozen juice x3, hamburger buns (yes we keep our hamburger buns in the freezer because the ones we buy don't have preservatives and they go bad soon if we don't use them within a few days of buying them). Also, we keep our compost bin in here, just to cut down on flies and smell. Ice packs, and a small bag of ice is also a stable in our freezer.

5. Other: We also like to keep items like, peanut butter, honey, chips, tea bags, dried mangoes, peanuts, chocolate-covered coffee beans and raisins, regular raisins,  tomato soup x2, macaroni and cheese x4, bread, etc.

Of course, this list works for our family, but you can alter it in any way you need to be prepared for any occasion. Now keep in mind, these are staples that we keep in the cabinet at all times. Once we use something up, we replace it quickly on our next shopping trip. Having things on hand, like the list above, can really help you stay on your game if you ever need stuff in a pinch. If you are a last-minute person, then by all means grab your stuff the day of and rock it! Just be prepared for other last-minut'ers and get ready for lines and waiting.-Especially, the roads.

If you need more direction on preparing for the coming eclipse, you can get ideas here and here.

So, with that said, here are the things that made this week great!

1. This road trip

This past week The Mr., The Bean, and I went on a little road trip over to eastern Oregon. We went over mainly to see some land we were interested in and made a weekend of it. We also wanted to check out some more camp spots on the Cascades and we found just what we wanted. While we were in eastern Oregon we decided to see what Mount Bachelor looked like this time of year. The sun was setting when we got there, but the Bachelor looked great standing tall in front of the fading sunset.

2. These camping spots




We found a few more places to add to our camping list this coming fall. We are extremely excited about Trout Creek. It seemed like just the right kind of place to camp in the middle of the Cascade forest. Some of the locations had some amazing views! 

While we were checking out the different camp sites, The Bean decided to give every one of the water pumps at each location a try.

3. This land

We have been looking at plots of land in Eastern Oregon and this one above was one of them. We liked the area and how secluded and private it was, but the only issue is, it's listed as recreation property. We have considered buying for that purpose, but we would like to secure some land for living purposes as well. 

4. These boxes

Yogi Surprise hit it again this month with the Lifestyle Box and the Jewelry Box. Look how awesome the items were in this month's boxes. The theme this month was "Giving Back" and everything in the box was part of an effort to either donate to a cause or help a cause with the purchase of their items. You can grab a box here.

5. Last, but definitely not least are, these glasses

We are ready and waiting for the Solar Eclipse here. The Bean has been putting his glasses to full use this past week. I requested three pairs from Travel Oregon and the best part, they were free. The State of Oregon was prepared for the Solar Eclipse and added as part of their Oregon State Parks Guides and State Trip Planner. The glasses came with a Solar Eclipse Guide and a parks and recreation guide on the best places to camp. The entire booklet came in handy for us because of our planning more road trips this fall and it will help us find some great camp spots. 

Have a great and safe weekend and enjoy the Solar Eclipse!

August 11, 2017

Friday things


We have had the worst time here in the Willamette Valley with smoke from the wildfires that flank us all around. There's one burning in Medford, Oregon, one near Detroit Lake, one in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and another one in Easter Oregon near Bend, Oregon. There's a lot of smoke here from the British Columbia fires too. The breathing conditions here are less than okay. Our eyes are so red and they burn from time to time. This summer has been a hot one here and we hope the wildfires can get under control. One a positive note, we had a little bit of lightning last night and a bit of rain fell about 2:00 a.m. The sidewalk outside our front door was a bit wet, but as soon as the sun came up it was dry. Here's hoping we will get some more showers sooner than later. With that, here are the things that made this week great!

1. This skyline

Believe it or not, those aren't all clouds. Some of that in the sky is smoke. The sun setting on it though made it look pretty. I almost feel guilty posting that it was pretty because of how bad the conditions are where the wildfires are. Hopefully, they will get some relief soon.

2. This view

This is a shot of downtown Brownsville, Oregon. This is the area of the town where parts of Stand By Me was filmed. This day and this view reminded me of the scene where River Phoenix and Will Wheaton's characters come out of the store and are confronted by Kiefer Sutherland. With the older-style truck out front it took me back to that movie at that moment. Stand By Me Day is every year here on July 23(If you remember, another movie was filmed here that The Bean was part of)

3. This kid

The Bean had his state test on Thursday and he is now an eighth grader. I am so proud of him and the young man he is becoming, but it's hard to think of him as an eighth grader already. Unbelievable! The Mr. and I sometimes look at each other and say, "how did this happen so quickly..."

4. This house

A historic home here in Lebanon caught fire and was a total loss. This town doesn't have a lot of historical homes left, so this one is quite a sad one. It was built around 1912 and was part of the historical housing system here in the town. Unfortunately, homes built in this time period didn't have fire stops and once it hit the walls the house was completely engulfed in flames. Such a shame.

5. This smoke

And lastly, speaking of flames, we've been dealing with quite a lot of wildfires here and the breathing conditions are getting worse. As I stated above, these conditions have made the burning eyes one of the worse complaints here, especially in our home. We are keeping fingers crossed for some rain and a little bit of wind to help blow some of these smoky skies away. The sign below should tell you how bad it has gotten here in Oregon and other parts the last few weeks. Our family will definitely be doing a rain dance in the coming days.

Have a great weekend!

August 4, 2017

Friday things


This "Friday things" is being posted as I sit with a glass of ice-cold water in front of the air conditioning unit that sits in our front sitting/dining room. It is sweltering here in the Willamette Valley and our poor water sprinkler has been overworked this week trying to keep up with the heat of the days. We reached well over 110 degrees and the sky here is blanketed with a smoky haze from the wildfires we are flanked with here. This weekend is set to be in the 90s all across the board and well into next week. The Bean has been cooling off with his slip-n-slide we got him to replace his pool, but nothing beats a cool shower before bed lately and an ice pouch under the pillow, or near the feet. We are keeping cool and the weather lately makes me think of Arkansas summers a lot. According to my dad they are having a cool spell with 60-70 degree nights. We always seem to get the opposite of their weather. Besides the hot temperatures there were a few things that made the week great, and here they are.

1. Our garden.

Cucumbers and Pole Beans 

PITA escaping the heat under the zucchini plant.

Broccoli and a tiny yellow bloom making it's way into the world from our watermelon vine.

Roma tomatoes and our strawberry plants still giving us a strawberry or two every few days.

And the wonderful supply of cilantro going strong. I am planning to make some homemade salsa before the summer is done. More on that later.

2. This nest.

We went for a walk to check out a small brush fire that was behind our house a few days ago and came across an osprey guarding its nest of babies. There were two of them flying in and around the nest for about 10 minutes and we were fascinated. One of the osprey brought in a small trout from the river that's nearby and we watched as it landed and disappeared into the nest to feed the young ones. The Bean tried to get a closer look, but the osprey parents were making noises to tell us to buzz off and leave them be. We took a few shots and then left them alone to eat dinner.

3. This plant.

This is Bull Thistle, or Cotton Thistle, and I was shocked to see if growing in the field behind our house. It's right by the fence line and in many areas it's considered invasive, but to me, I want to try and harvest it. I have heard that these plants can be eaten once the prickly parts are removed. I am in the process of doing more research on this plant before foraging it. Hopefully, it won't be mowed over before I get a chance to harvest it. Keep in mind that most weeks, or what people consider weeds, can be used in some way.

4. This clothesline.

With it being so hot here lately I've been taking advantage and hanging our clothing out to dry. Line-dried sheets are the best things.

5. This brew.

This picture was taken in hast because this step was needing to be done within a few seconds of the boil, but The Mr. and I have brewed our first batch of beer and this is the hops going in. We had to use prepackaged hops this go 'round, but we have hops planted currently that will mature into adult plants and give us the hops we need for future batches. We are pretty pumped for our first wheat beer batch and can't wait to share updates on it in the future.

Have a great weekend!

Our Garden Currently: Instant curb appeal in less than an hour

Creating curb appeal is something we all want to have for our homes, but getting that curb appeal can be a bit tricky if you don't know what to do. Here we did a simple curb appeal on the Hiatt Street home and before we even finished we had people telling us it looked great!  Here is what we did and hopefully it will give you some ideas on how to bring some curb appeal to the front of your own home.

We started with a boring front with nothing to look at other than grass and a few flowers in the front flowerbed.

The Mr. lined out the measurements of what we had in mind and began digging away at the grass to remove as much as we could.

The Hawthorne trees in the front of the house look great at the beginning of spring, but we wanted to make them appeal interesting year around.

We started with a small area on either side of the sidewalk and it took off from there...

We then dug out the grass on the sides of the sidewalk all the way up to the front step. Once those were done we filled in a shallow layer of bark mulch on top of the cleaned out grass.

We then measured out a circle around the bottom of each tree and lined it in the old chimney bricks. We filled that circle in with a shallow layer of bark mulch, too.

We purchased a few plants that we think will mature and work perfect in the area. Lavender, candy tuft, and two filler plants for the back part of the space.

We placed a fast spreading ground cover along the narrow paths on either side of the sidewalk and placed solar lights along the path.

We recently placed another layer of bark mulch on top of the first layer and this is how it looked as of March 2017. From the before to the after it is definitely better to look at now than before. 

We decided after a season of the changes to make a few more adjustments to the setup. This is how it looks as of August this year. We took out the solar lights that were there and replaced them with globe spheres. The top of the solar lights went over them and they look great now! We also widened the path so the Sandwort (Arenaria montana) ground cover could spread more. We love how it's coming together and more changes may be in the works soon. We'll see how this works through the winter and make changes if needed this coming spring.