New gardens

We’ve had a busy summer- what’s new? That’s a rhetorical question! Along with completing the new barn which I’ll detail in a future post, we did massive amounts of clearing including the east and south side of our house.

We’ve got a pretty sweet landscape set up in the front (north side) and a back patio on the east but there were areas that we just basically never got to in the last twenty years. It’s been really amazing getting so much light on the south side. duh. Having built our home twenty years ago, I think partly the trees have grown a lot and partly I didn’t know better when siting the house.

Here’s our back porch on the east side- above the stonewall is a cover crop of buckwheat.

Our plan is to do raised beds and bring the kitchen garden, well, closer to the kitchen! Like out the back door. I’d love to see this happen next year but it will depend on the soil condition. We may have to ‘grow” soil the first year.

Here’s the ‘before’ from the upstairs back porch.

And the after…

There are patches of buckwheat that haven’t grown well due to root systems and parts do to the back scratching on the ground  of pictured pooch. Ollie’s studio would be to the left of this photo.

Ollie’s studio

Here’s a glimpse of our kitchen windows and the studio where all the music magic happens.

The backdrop is called Mt Pickett

We are developing the south side as well which will be primarily fruit trees of various sorts.

Before looked like this after felling about five trees of varying height.

It was a rather emotional watching the clearing. Otis wasn’t too disturbed however.

But the payoff is light, air and planting fruit trees we can pick from in our pj’s.

And from above- not as bright a day:)

 And a photo from the west side. I’d love to create gardens all around with lovely nooks and pathways. Then I am gently reminded by my loved one to be careful what you wish for and what you create as it will need to be nurtured and maintained. We are already nurturing quite a lot on this property. Ourselves included.
 Downstairs here on the left is Chloe’s room which may evolve into a rentable room for farm stay adventures. I imagine a darling courtyard for sipping tea and daydreaming on flowers and fruits.
Something like what’s happening on the north side which is our entry. My dear daughter, Chloe landscaped this summer and we reaped the benefits.

And our kitty Luna likes to daydream in gardens too- and catnap.
Now the rains may have set in… there are very few apples this year so likely little in the way of cider, cider vinegar or applesauce. Quel dommage…

but I’m already planning for next year’s gardens.

wendy

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Summer salads

It’s so summer. I could almost say the hottest, driest summer I can remember. It’s been roughly 6 weeks that have reminded me of  growing up in Florida where virtually everyday the sun rises and stays out shining hot. Except here it’s about 70 degrees instead of 90. I’ll take it.

We earned it here in the PNW. I didn’t get the garden in till the third week of May because it was so wet. The four leggers and 2 leggers were slopping around in mud pretty much till the end of May.

Our four goat mama’s  cranked out three sets of triplets and one set of twins. We had a full house with 11 kids and 4 moms. And so we are building a new BARN. Ollie is so supportive of this venture- it also gives his farming roots a chance to grow and thrive…  The boat and/or sports car has been bumped to the next decade:)

We (well they) will be moving in by September and we’ll be ready to bring on the winter.

wendyellenthomas.com

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goat kids on the move!

It’s a sweet time on the farm when the kids are due. Anticipation, nervousness, excitement join to form a feeling that sort of keeps you on edge, and a little bit holding your breath and not realizing it. I actually start looking at photos of baby goats from the previous year. I’m constantly in the barn monitoring (but not sleeping there like some with many, many goats) I check the kidding kit and track down missing parts or say pull the same snot sucker, (baby nasal aspirator) thing from the bathroom drawer that I had used for my kids 20 years ago. This is still only our third year and I’ve not needed it previously but maybe this time. Our does have mostly done it all themselves with only a little assistance for a couple and they’ve all been born healthy.

Especially with social media, I see I’m not alone in this just post empty nest time. I love being a mom and in some little way I get to help “mother” the kids:) They can’t help but fill your heart. Their trust, vulnerability and curiosity are powerful. And it’s just plain fun and so amusing. Holding a baby goat brings you very much into the present and just gives you a moment to step outside of a sometimes crazy world.  I’m grateful we have the opportunity to experience this process and share it with others. We’ve so enjoyed all the visitors the last two weeks.  We are grateful for another successful kidding season with 11 out of 11 strong, healthy kids. And we will be looking for new homes in the near future!

So let’s get to it…There’s a lot of goat kid cuteness all over the web- here is what we have to add.

First to give birth on April 3rd was Dinah our Lagerian (they don’t have their own wikipedia link). She’s a cross between a La Mancha who have the elf or gopher ear trait(we call them all nubby ears) and a Nigerian Dwarf. You hope for the butterfat of the Nigerian with a little larger size/milk capacity of the La Mancha who also have very sweet personalities.  She kidded, cleaned them and they were nursing by the time we saw them. She’s like that.

With her buckling Duffy.

goat kids

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White Kimchi with Pear & Fennel

Inspired by the fermenting demo at 610 Magnolia with Chef Edward Lee, I made this white kimchi with pear and fennel within days of returning home from the IACP conference in Louisville. It’s loosly based on the recipe from Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee.

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UCLA extension writers’ program

I spent Feb 9-12th in LA for a craft and courage writing class taught by Barbara Abercombrie at the UCLA extension Writers Program. She and the twelve people in the class took me and “my writing” I will say with confidence,  to another level. I am not shy to say it was for me more about the courage than the craft. Which I might think for many is a major hurdle. We often, undeservedly, call it a hobby.

writer-studio-signBarbara hit the nail on the head for me.”Coin or stamp collecting is a hobby, writing is a calling” And this isn’t to get all dramatic but writing can be almost this secret that you keep to yourself.  I’m not sure where it falls in the realm of passions such as gardening or cooking. Do we call those hobbies? Is meditation a hobby? Do we choose not to validate writing if it doesn’t earn money? Maybe it’s because writing is something we (I) can spend a fair amount of time on and there is no basket of greens and strawberries or a meal on the table as proof of my labors. Writing doesn’t often produce a tangible thing- at least not something you want to share. Maybe writing along with the meditation is increasing my gray matter!

Cue blog. I’m bumping up its priority in my life once again.

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#Womensmarch Orcas Island

I started to write a post on spaghetti squash, feta and sausage but had a hard time wrapping my head around food after such a monumental weekend. #womensmarch

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I haven’t done any blog reading the last three days and haven’t taken a pulse of blogs and politics. At least with the food and garden bloggers I follow. I’m sure there are countless political blog posts and I will be honest in saying I don’t follow many… ok – any. I read NYTimes online and I try to stay informed. And a visit to my Dad, who lives in a cabin on our property where MSNBC runs virtually 24/7, provides a strong dose of information.

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writing at wendyellenthomas.com

I often hesitate when asked to go outside of my normal blog routine. My days are often so filled that making another commitment to something, albeit not too difficult and even fun, I still quaver. But how could I pass up a chance to participate in this little tour that taps into how we go about this whole blog thing. I’ve enjoyed reading the process of other’s and felt inspired to articulate mine. Deliciously Nell over at I need a feed invited my to participate. You can look forward to hearing from Karista at Karista’s Kitchen next week. And it simply goes like this:

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Morning walk on the Detmold countryside

A few rambling thoughts today…

The views from the path I took yesterday leaving O’s work place left me contemplating life and the natural beauty I’m fortunate to experience. This was literally two minutes from the door to his band room. Detmold is a small city in North Rhine -Westphalia, whose history dates back to the late 700’s. And no, I didn’t forget the 1 in front of the 7. If you divided Germany into four parts, Detmold lies just under Bielefeld in the middle of the upper left corner. Standing tall just outside of town is Hermann the German, “a monument commemerating the Cherusci war chief Hermann or Arminius and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in which the Germanic tribes under Arminius recorded a decisive victory in 9 AD over three Roman legions under Varus.” There’s your history lesson for the day.. month..year.

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Plate to Page 2012 Somerset

Plate to Page Writing and Photograpy Workshop

Meare Court Farm, Somerset UK

 Three days in Somerset with the Plate to Page team and participants, left me brimming with renewed inspiration, knowledge, resources and friendships. The workshop, run by Meeta, Ilva, Jamie & Jeanne provided a wealth of information. To learn from women,who not only continually strive to master their crafts, but have also chosen to teach, share and mentor, was a gift… not to mention a lot of fun!

An idyllic setting, located just outside of Taunton in Somerset, provided an inspiring undertone for writing and photography.  A large stone house accommodated fourteen lovely women and one brave man! Sharing rooms and bathrooms evoked an immediate feeling of community. After one first quiet meal, the ice broke and friendships quickly ensued.

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What motivates us?

What motivates us?

My alarm went off this morning at 7am (very reasonable). Today I sprang out of bed excited about ideas generated last night before closing my eyes. I’ll back up… before turning the light out, I day dreamed (or before sleep dreamed), of clever food blog names, struggling to discover something original. This is no small feat in this overflowing, or one might say saturated, depending on how you look at it, blog age. I held my arm in the air, waited for smart phone to find service and patiently waited for the answer to load each time I checked availability on a domain name. We have our internet on auto shut off 9pm- 7.30am for our ahmmm… teenager. But last night I just couldn’t wait till 7.30am. I came up with sugar and sauerkraut, trying to reflect food and the fact I live in Germany. Please don’t tell me if you think it’s ridiculous because I still like it and it’s available. Well, ok tell me because I haven’t paid 12.99/yr for it yet…and there’s still time to keep me from wasting my $. So as I was saying…I was motivated to jump out of bed today because I was excited about an idea. [SUCCESS/EGO]

                                                       Here from Pyschology Today:

“Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s the difference between waking up before dawn to pound the pavement and lazing around the house all day. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. So figure out what you want, power through the pain period, and start being who you want to be.”
 Sign me up! The who I want to be part… not the lazing around the house                                all day (well maybe some days)
  

The next thing I was motivated to do was take my pooch out despite constant wet rain and umbrella buckling wind. Why? 1) I want him to feel good/relieved 2) I didn’t and don’t ever want to clean up pee and poo. Who does? [NEED BASED]

I then was motivated to go to the gym. Out of sheer desire? Unfortunately not. Because I know it’s good for me? Sort of. Because I’ve gained 10 pounds since moving to Germany and barely fit in my bra or pants? Getting there. (I still love my body and am grateful for my health and mobility…[forced smile]). I could always buy new clothes- but I don’t love shopping for things i cannot eat and society leads me to believe I should be thin… and fit… for my health. [SOCIETY] The biggest reason? Because after trudging through horrible class taught by a woman whose neck would look stunning with my low resistance blue exercise band tightly wrapped around it, especially after she traded her easy resistance blue one for my medium resistance red one IN THE MIDDLE of class, feigning concern and handing me humiliation, “nur noch sechzhen” (only 16 more) she shrieked as I squatted next to my bench shamefully avoiding eye contact. Because after all that, I knew I would experience a sense of accomplishment. And because best of all, afterwards, I knew I would have coffee with a friend who would have shared aforementioned  hour of torture. [SOCIAL]    And let’s face it. Has anyone ever ever thought after working out. “God that was a stupid idea.” No. Period. (Note to self… blog post on german gym class:-)

And today I was motivated to write this post on motivation. [CREATIVITY] Actually, due more to the fact I’ve thought about it a lot lately. We are trying to figure out how to motivate Alice (fake name to protect identity- even though so far only friends and family actually read this and know my daughter’s real name – I’m planning for the future and you might not have known she loves the name Alice). Right… I’m trying to figure out how to motivate Alice to get out of bed in the morning. But frankly it’s damn hard. I can’t say I was particularly motivated in 8th grade to get out of my warm cocoon five mornings a week to knock elbows with other awkward 13yr olds. I decided money wasn’t a particularly healthy option and would get expensive for the next 4 and 1/2 years. Now I work with persuasion and pleading, not always met with success. [UNKNOWN] Feel free to give advice.

Now throw in the motivation to eat when hungry… [PHYSICAL NEED] eat when I want [NO PHYSICAL NEED] eat when I’m sad or bored [ NO PHYSICAL NEED]. And the other bodily functions I won’t go into detail about even though I do crave a good discussion on said matter now and again. I was after all a nutrition major and we love what and how it goes in and what and how it goes out. (yet another future post.)

We’ve covered in one day all but security in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There could very well be a part II to this post. But I can’t commit to that….(will have to see if mood strikes)

Coming soon to your area…..

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