Five simple things

Hello.

This "Five simple 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. 

Road Trip: McDowell Creek

I have to say, I am so glad we got this hike in before the 100 degree weather hit. Yesterday we got well over 110! Our poor black doggies were hot, hot, hot. We always try to accommodate them in the summer, like shaving fur, ice in their water, bringing them inside, but it's so dry that even we are all pretty toasty inside the house. The Bean has been slipping up and down his Slip-n-Slide on a regular basis this week and The Mr. and I have even joined him. So with that I can say that this hike would have been a pretty sweaty and honestly miserable time had we gone now, but the day we went it was a beautiful, cool day and was really enjoyable.

McDowell Creek is sort of the Valley's hidden secret. I don't believe it makes any travel brochures to any great detail, and if you live around the area, it is a great place to head to just to get some nature therapy and enjoy the hidden gem of Linn County. We tend to frequent this place a lot throughout the years past and the scenery always changes with the seasons. It's a great place to check out during all four season just to see the difference.

There's two falls along the path we took, Royal Terrace Falls and one we call "Horsetail Falls". It isn't named Horsetail Falls, but we gave it that name as you can see in the picture below. The one pictured above is Royal Terrace Falls and the one below is an extension of that falls, but we like to refer to it as the "Horsetail Falls."

This falls is the one we refer to as "Horsetail Falls," for good reason. The water running down the rocks looks like a horse's tail. 



It's a beautiful area to explore and hike.


The steps leading to the top of the falls is a workout, but once you reach the top there's plenty of places to take your mind off the five stories you just climbed. The photo above was part of my Instagram story. I try to do a story for every road trip we take, so follow along so you can see each one.

Check out the other times we've hiked the falls here.