Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trellis and fence, part one

When you live in the city, no matter how large your city may be, privacy is always worth investing in. We do live in the city limits. We like where we live, and we like our neighbors. But to be honest, as we prepare for our retirement years, privacy becomes more and more the needed space we want.

Our desire for privacy, sent us looking for a different home. One, way out in the country. Not a good idea when it is only two more years before retirement. Not to mention the cost of selling and buying a different house, to make into our new home.

So my wise husband then suggested that we turn what was going to be a simple trellis line, into a trellis and fence line.

Like all projects at home, it always starts with a shovel!

Eight 10 foot, 4X4 posts require 8 large holes, plus 8 eighty pound bags of cement, and lots of mixing in the wheelbarrow.

We purchased 10 posts. Two were cut into four pieces and using a half-lap made the overhang for each post.

The first post was placed at the far end of the property. This happened two days ago so the concrete would be cured before the rest of the line was completed.  The second post was placed at the opposite end (street side), right where the gate section needed to be rehung.

Once the two end posts were in place, a new string was strung to keep the line straight and the remaining posts were set in cement.

This required mixing a total of 640 pounds of dry cement and the water needed to make a proper cement to set the posts in. My husband not only mixed the concrete and set the posts before noon, he has earned a well deserved thank you and a cold beer!

As soon as the concrete has cured, we will hang the gate section and then we can start the fence.

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
DIY @ little house in the suburbs

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dandelion Salve

In our quest to remain self sufficient we try learn something new everyday. In some cases it is a reminder of what we recall our parents doing or accomplishing, but it remains a lesson none the less.  With so many folks returning to a do it yourself lifestyle, there is a wealth of new information to review. This is important because often times, something tried without having a set rule about how it must be done, can lead to a new way of doing things.

We had a nice crop of dandelions in the backyard. And while we did not plant them, it seemed like a good idea to do something with them. I had noticed a salve recipe I thought would be fun to try, and for some reason we are noticing more of those aches and pains that some older folks speak about......

A few days later, before he mowed, my sweetheart gathered the flowers for me. They were a sight in the bottom of the pitcher, and actually I had to ask what they were. When he told me, I was thrilled and thankful. It is a lot of work to go around our big backyard and pick just the flower blossoms, so your wife can make a jar of salve.

They have been steeping in olive oil (about 3 weeks time) since being picked, quickly washed and then air dried for a couple of days. But which recipe? Many call for more oil than I have and might ever have, one never knows how many flowers will be harvested. As I continued to read each recipe, the ingredients are almost identical with only small variations from recipe to recipe.

At that point I decided to go with parts instead of standard measurements. Recipes given in parts are perfect for any amount of the main ingredient you have on hand, and for this recipe, the main ingredient is infused oil. Once you have decided on a recipe using parts, the only decision that remains is whether it is parts by measure or parts by weight.

Dandelion Salve
adapted from: everyone

2 parts infused oil
1 part coconut oil
1 part bees wax pellets
1 or 2 drops of orange or lavender oil - I did not use for this batch

Gently heat the infused oil, coconut oil and bees wax over very hot (but not boiling) water, a pyrex measuring cup works well to sit in the pan of water.

The wax pellets will be the last ingredient to melt.

When the wax has melted, remove from heat, let cool slightly, add scented oil if using. Pour into a storage jar, let cool completely. Label and use.

This is touted to be good for sore muscles, dry skin, etc.

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
homemade mondays @ frugal by choice
tuesdays with a twist @ back to basics
hearth and soul @
garden tuesday @ sidewalk shoes
maple hill hop @ maple hill 101
tuesday garden party @ an oregon cottage
DIY @ little house in the suburbs


Saturday, May 23, 2015

From garden to table, with a vacation in the freezer.....

When you share your thoughts with others, you automatically become a philosopher. You are not necessarily declaring you know more, you are simply saying what it is you think about a certain topic, what you might want for yourself or your life, or some of the things you will actually accomplish. (It also helps if you don't say it all in a preachy know it all style of writing.....)

While I work hard to fill the freezer with all the lovely vegetables my dear husband grows, for some reason after it is in the freezer, safe behind a secure door, resting at zero degrees, the freezer is NOT the first place I gather food from, when preparing a meal.

I have been working on this lack of strategy for the last year and while I have made improvements, I still have a ways to go. There are several thoughts and practices that could help resolve the problem. There are practices in place for some cooks and gardeners, such as eat from the freezer month.

But while I tend to think that this is helpful, it does not resolve my own disconnect from the garden to the table. That disconnect is what I am determined to resolve. Here is my strategy line up:

Have an outline of side dishes for the week. Because we share in meal preparation, we don't meal plan. My husband enjoys deciding what he will make for dinner, and I enjoy that creative process after working away from home all day. Vegetable side dishes have become my favorite dish to cook.

Cook with what you have.  Adapt the carefully grown, picked and processes foods you already have into the recipes that you want to try. Let's be honest here, green beans in a green bean recipe, really can be the green beans you already have on hand......

Try new recipes and cooking methods. This sounds like a no-brainer but the truth is, if we serve those beautiful vegetables cooked the same way each time, we will grow tired of what we have on hand and possibly stop eating it.

Maybe you should not use the freezer. It came to to me the other day, that instead of freezing all the rhubarb, maybe I should can some of it. The reason? I keep cooking it the same way, and I could just as well can the rhubarb with the same result.

Organize the freezer like a book.  Post the table of contents on a dry wipe board. Store the packages together in groups (chapters). You can find what you are looking for and know what you have on hand. In this way you can also see what you need to cook with.

Serve more vegetables. Nowhere is there a rule, a law or even a commandment that declares only one vegetable is served at a meal. Just a thought.....

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
weekend cooking @ beth fish reads
motivation monday @ a life in balance


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

This year's garden? It is off to a great start.

Spending the last year improving the garden beds, should yield more food. And from the looks of the gardens, this will hold true. In 2014 we had standard beds, cut from the soil. This year, raised beds were built, lots of good top soil, compost and manure has been added. Here is our growing progress for May:

Sugar snap peas pods.

Pole beans.

Bush beans.


Blueberries and raspberries.

Blackberries and red currants and one gooseberry.

French breakfast radish.



And of course, my favorite rhubarb!

How is your garden growing?

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
garden tuesday @ sidewalk shoes
tuesday garden party @ an oregon cottage
maple hill hop @ maple hill 101
tuesdays with a twist @ back to basics
home acre hop @ on the home front

Monday, May 18, 2015

Outdoor living spaces or come, sit, relax!

In addition to growing organic food, the other commodity we are working on, is relaxation.

In order to produce relaxation we wanted comfort, shade and quiet. Once those qualities were established, we went with what we do best. To surround ourselves with our favorite things. A pair of comfortable outdoor chairs, some pottery oil lamps, a bit of shade and some decor to enjoy as well.

Tucked back in the far corner of our backyard, this little space is so relaxing. About all we hear is the breeze streaming through the wind chime and the birds singing.

The shade sail is perfect, allowing for light from the sun, yet not the glare.

This lamp table was made from re-purposed fence boards. 

While we were relaxing on Sunday, we checked the nesting box to see if any bird families had moved in. Sadly no, then we realized the nesting box had no perch to land on before entering. 

To fix that, we made one out of an old slotted spoon bowl, that had been flattened.  Maybe this perch will provide the needed amenity to have a bird family to take up residence.

While my husband was up on the ladder, he took a photo of the garden, from the tree top,

it really is beautiful!

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
hearth and soul @
home acre hop @ on the home front

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The trouble with rhubarb....

I have a fondness for certain foods. I don't think they are used often enough in the average American diet and because I am usually a champion of the underdog, I will try and come up with an exceptional recipe using these foods. On that list is my favorite, the rhubarb plant.

Rhubarb is gaining in popularity once again and for good reason. Once established it is hardy, and there for you, year after year, just like a good friend. Rhubarb is also easy to grow, or some would have you believe. Not me however. I have struggled for the last 5 years (or more, some of these plants came from another home of mine...) to get this rhubarb bed going. But I must confess, the green thumb in this family is my dear husband.

I prefer crimson rhubarb, because it is pretty. In the garden while growing and in any recipe once cooked. But never you mind all that, if I am offered green stick rhubarb cooked up in any recipe, I will enjoy every bite of it. Rhubarb pairs well with many other foods, making it a natural for any home gardener.

One recipe I return to time and time again is a simple poached rhubarb. The recipe is offered with a range of sugar, so that you may make this up for different serving needs. When served as a poached fruit, I use the smaller amount of sugar. Cooked this way rhubarb makes a wonderful breakfast along with a slice of toast and a spoonful of vanilla yogurt. As a dessert sauce or the actual dessert itself, I use the full amount of sugar listed. Keep in mind that rhubarb is tart, and that tartness won't be covered up with sugar.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. This is made a couple of times a month in our kitchen.  While I call this poached, this original source calls the method steamed, and it is, with nothing added during the initial process. This is a very easy recipe, mostly hands free (no stirring) and really delicious!

Poached Rhubarb
adapted from:  A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn
equipment needed: a double boiler or adapt by using one pan sat inside a larger pan

1 qt sliced rhubarb (about a pound or so)

1/2 - 3/4 c sugar
1/4 t soda
dash of salt
1/2 c boiling water

Fill the bottom pan 1/3 full of water, fit the top pan on top. Add the rhubarb to the top pan, cover. Bring the boiler to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let rhubarb steam for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Do not stir, or you will end up with rhubarb sauce....

When the rhubarb is tender, combine the sugar, soda, salt and boiling water. Stir until dissolved, gently pour over the steamed rhubarb. Cover and steam an addition 2-3 minutes. Carefully pour cooked rhubarb into a serving bowl, and let cool.

Makes approximately 1 quart of poached rhubarb.

Thank you for visiting such a busy backyard, as alway we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
happiness is homemade @ mommy on demand
homemade mondays @ frugal by choice
weekend cooking @ beth fish reads
hearth and soul @
home acre hop @ on the home front

Friday, May 15, 2015

In three years.....

We love this yard. It has everything we want and need.

Quite spaces. Trees. Birds singing and squirrels scampering.

And of course our garden space.

It has been a lot of work, but in the end, so worth it. It sustains us, feeds us and shelters us from the heat. We have more plans and I look forward to sharing them, right here. But for this evening, I simply wanted to show what three years can do!

From left to right: When the house was purchased, then about 1 1/2 years later, and finally today, at the 3 year mark. Look closely, each picture has the tall junipers that form the dividing line between our property and the back neighbor. 

Than you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Let me introduce you to our new blog!

For us, life begins in the backyard. We garden, we create, we relax, and have fun with family and friends. We hope to see you here often!

Than you for visiting such a busy backyard, as always we appreciate your time when you visit and your wonderful comments!