Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the verdant hills of north portland

I do love these tiny beet sprouts and their purple stems.

DINO KALE! RAAWWR! If only the leaves were dinosaur-shaped.

These peas are growing so quickly that I don't think I can afford to wait until the weekend to put up the trellis. Uh oh.

The chard is the only green in the self-watering containers that is still going strong. Perhaps we didn't trim the mesclun mix back enough (too much?), but they're bolting like banks from Bernanke. (Does that make sense? Topicality isn't my strong point these days. Bolting like hysterical tourists from Mexico?)

Hops! Mt. Hood variety. I biked them home and they've been reacting well to the transplant. A home-spun dry-hopping this fall? A girl can dream.

Remember when this strawberry was but three leaves and no flowers? They grow up so fast...


Pretty little spinach, row on row.

Arugula! Better, cheaper, pepperier than the store-bought stuff by a mile. Verily, by a hectare.

Monday, April 27, 2009


woodpeckers rattle
as dogwoods slink into bloom
how alive we are

wafts of hops and malt
as I pass widmer's mash tuns
a shame their beer sucks

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In your face, Houston!

That's right, suckas. 107-103. In your collective face. Even you, Brooks, although I secretly hope you and Pretty Boy Roy will swap someday soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

it's true

The greens taste better when you grow them yourself. These salads were picked about 30 minutes before dinner. Subsequently devoured with just a hint of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The mesclun had a thickness and - dare I say it? - meatiness to it that I seldom encounter in salads. Our baby rainbow chard is downright sweet. Yum.

food not lawns!

Sugarless Update: Easter ain't easy without sugar. I allowed myself a little hit of celebratory dark chocolate, but have been otherwise confined to agave when sweetener is needed. This has been a great excuse to avoid the peanut M&Ms at work. I can be strong. Aiming to drastically reduce my intake of refined sugar has been a far more manageable goal than cutting it altogether, but I've still gone over a week without any at all. Again, major progress.

Garden Update: We kick ass. Here's the 7'x4' raised bed in the front yard. Contains (left to right) arugula, oregano, mesclun mix, bitty kale starts. (I had a dream about tupperware cloches for the little things - that will probably happen today.)

The backyard. Note the raised beds and tomato planters on either side of the door. Also note the buckets, which are the self-watering containers that I may have raved about recently.

Detail of the left side. Left to right: directly sown peas and spinach in the large bed, strawberries in the repurposed peach crate, empty bucket, lavender in a pot, future site of tomatoes. In the right bed (not shown), we've sown beets and will plant jalapenos and broccoli later.

We made this raised bed yesterday out of cinder blocks that our landlord had just abandoned in the backyard. Soon to house tomatoes and basil. It didn't take too long, and I think it looks rather awesome, especially since we had to build it up around the rosemary. Salvaged materials are beautiful.

Self-watering containers! There are holes in the upper bucket that allow water to wick into the soil and condense back into the lower bucket reservoir. Here's a better description of how they work.

Mesclun mix and rainbow chard are totally BFF with their SWCs.

Tomatoes and jalapenos. We have more seedlings than we know what to do with. The little blue house has experienced a bit of a population explosion.

We may need to start a CSA once all this gets rolling! We're not even done planting, and I haven't yet made the bean poles.

ETA: Forgotten link for SWCs

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

morning commute haiku

dumpster convention
oddly devoid of pigeons
but a good band name

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

morning commute chronicles: signs of.

There's a difference between year-round bike commuters and the fair weather variety, and it's not just the self-righteousness, although that's certainly the most strident feature of Portland's rainy cyclists. The faded raincoats and worn panniers belie the sunglasses and shorty-shorts. We've been eroded for months; our rust and mildew, resistant to scraping, is starting to dry and fall away with the sun. Our bikes stay clean longer, and look shinier and newer than the garage-protected sleeping beauties that took five months off. Looks of confusion - when did the Broadway Bridge get so crowded? why are there so many cruisers? I didn't know they made saddles that wide! It's like a surfboard! - pass over our faces (which, I'm certain, are slightly more aged due to weather-beating) on sunny days like the ones we're having now. Timid riders who have forgotten the fearlessness with which bikers can own the roads look askance at the bikers who juke in and around traffic with ease. The bike racks of Portland will soon be over capacity, so I'm enjoying this shoulder season with all the human signs of spring. Welcome back, prodigal bikers!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sugarfree Day 4 again/Victory Garden 2009

It occurred to me when a friend offered me cookies sweetened with maple syrup, and as I considered agave-ing my oatmeal, that I should probably define this project as a No Refined Sugar situation. Cutting sweets entirely ain't gon' happen in a month for this girl; that would most definitely be a set-up for failure. That said, the above cookies (cashew butter crunch somethings) are badass, and I'll post the recipe once I make the suckers.

But back to not setting myself up to fail. Cutting refined sugar is manageable in some ways. I can at least identify which foods are likely to be sweetened with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. "Baked goods and anything processed" has been a pretty handy rule of thumb. Drinking a cup of mint tea or just a big glass of water have not been entirely satisfactory fixes, but they've worked well enough to get me through two three-day stretches without sugar.

Enough blah blah blah, though. Victory Garden 2009 is well on its way. I (with intermittant help from friends and girlfriend) built three raised beds. The tomato and kale seedlings are going to town on our kitchen table, and the peppers are starting to sprout. The starts (so far: oregano, lavender, strawblies, arugula and mesclun mix. to come: mustard greens, beets, collards, leeks, onions, potatoes, garlic, runner beans, basil, mint and cilantro) are hardening off in the glorious sunshine that we've been getting. The chard and salad greens in the self-watering containers are doing smashingly. I plan to make a vaguely propagandistic sign for the raised bed in the front (it's the big one - 7' x 4') about victory over economy, food not lawns, or something like that. Any suggestions on the text are welcome.

Pictures of the garden and seedlings and the rest of it to come. Really this time.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Sugarfree Day 4: Ink and Cookies

So I broke already. Three days without sugar is probably the longest I've ever gone, frankly, so I'm pleased about that. Break it down: I went to Icon Tattoo to see the raddest tattoo artist ever (she birdwatches, has chickens, wants to be my mom's valentine and makes puns WHILE TATTOOING) and got myself further inked. Sitting in that chair being needled for hours without dinner makes a girl thirsty, antsy and peckish; when all was said and done, I took the cookie I was offered without thinking twice. (They were wholesome, if it makes things any more forgivable.)

So I traded the integrity of my no-sugar pledge for some ink and a cookie. All told, I've got no regrets. I'm back on the sugar-free wagon, again at Day 1.