How is your home treating you? With all the time we’re spending outside it is easy to overlook small problems. These problems could become big if not treated quickly. Recently we have been watering a lot in the lawn and garden, and so we have become accustomed to the sound of water running through our pipes. But we also noticed that we still had the sound of water even when the irrigation was shut off. We found out we had a small leak in our system. It could have happened during this past winter, but we’re not sure. We have called a plumber and found out it is in the line leading to our house. We may have to dig up a little of the yard. Better to do it now, than the middle of winter when it can become a huge, messy problem. While we are at it, we are thinking about getting the furnace tuned up too! You can never be too careful!

Al’s Fairy Gardens

You can ad a bit of magic to your garden either inside or out by making a portion of it a fairy garden. A fairy garden is supposed to attract and make a home for good fairies so they stay and bring luck and good fortune to your garden and your home. They are made up of small homes, furniture and chairs. You can build one in a pot or in a secluded part of your garden (to give them a little privacy). We stopped by Al’s Garden Center (503-726-1162) in Sherwood to chat with Amy and her daughter Rachel to learn more about this phenomenon. Since fairies need a space of their own you will want to include pathways, fences and arbors. This will encourage them to stay in your garden. Letting your kids build the garden will allow them to use their own creativity and imagination. Rachel built one in a large container, but they also had one on display in the nursery. It looked like some of the pieces had been move since they set it up. That is a good sign since it shows that the fairies had been there and using it. Getting one started is easy. You can even get a kit that has everything you need to get started. In a time when some people think that bigger is better, you can take the opposite route and make a home with your kids for the ‘wee people’ and have a great time doing it!

Strawberry Lavender Parfait

Hot days deserve cool treats! This week David wraps up the final one of the ‘lavender’ series of recipes with Kathy Gehrt, author of ‘Discover Cooking with Lavender’. Today she is doing a dessert, Strawberries with Lavender Yogurt Cream, one of the many tasty recipes in her book. She started with organic local strawberries, but you can use any type of fresh local fruit. She added 1 tablespoon of lavender sugar, which is regular granulated sugar that has been infused with lavender buds to get some of their light flavor. She also added balsamic vinegar to the strawberries as well. Then, for the topping she mixed Greek yogurt, lavender honey and Crème Fraiche. These 2 mixtures are layered in a dessert dish and you are done. It is quick, easy and delicious.

Basic Sauces – Bar-b-que Sauce

A couple of weeks ago we met with Chef David Musial who showed us how to make a good basic tomato sauce. This week we use that ‘base’ sauce to make a ‘kicker’ of a bar-b-que sauce. The tomato sauce that we made was pretty good and with just a couple of other ingredients we found that we can make a good all-purpose sauce. David used items like brown sugar, ketchup, dried chili and even a little beer. In just a few minutes we had a very delicious sauce that could be used for ribs or brisket. Print out your own copy of the recipe and try it for yourself.

Berry Martini

It is berry season in the Northwest and that means it is time for the annual Oregon Berry Festival. This festival is about everything ‘berry’. They even have the huge celebration happening at the EcoTrust building on the 22nd and 23rd of this month. Plus they have the Gala Berry Dinner Saturday at 6:30 at the Heathman Restaurant. The dinner will feature a six-course dinner showcasing Oregon berries. You can also enjoy berry appetizers and cocktails. To taste one of the featured cocktails we paid a visit to Janie Hibler the author of ‘The Berry Bible’ to have her whip up a blackberry martini. Janie uses fresh Oregon Marionberries to make her delectable drink. She starts with the juice of the blackberry. You wash the berries in a strainer and then mash the berries in the strainer and collect the juice in a bowl. It only takes a cup and a half to get enough juice to make the drink. Next you will want to make a ‘simple syrup’ which is ½ water and ½ sugar in whatever amount you want. Once you have all your ingredients together you can assemble the drink. Get a martini glass and coat the edge with fine sugar. Then put ½ cup of vodka in a cocktail shaker with ice. Janie used the new Lavishmint vodka, but you can also use a plain vodka. Next add a tablespoon of all your other ingredients including the berry puree, triple sec and the simple syrup. Shake it really well and serve. To really make it classy you can spear a fresh blackberry on a cocktail pic and garnish. If you are interested in trying this tasty recipe and many other berry themed treats, check out the Gala Berry Dinner at the Heathman. Check out the Oregon Berry Festival website for tickets. If you would like to attend the festival at the EcoTrust building, stop by on Friday or Saturday, the event is free!

Packing a Camping Container

It is time to hit the road! Getting into the great outdoors is one of the simple pleasures we can enjoy in the Pacific Northwest. But creating a nice ‘home away from home’ doesn’t have to mean dragging all your belongings outside to the wilderness. We met up with our friend, Sara Tetreault from GoGingham.com, to get some packing tips before we head out! Sara is the perfect example of the organized camper. She can fit everything she needs for a family of 4 in one simple storage tub. What we found interesting is that most of the supplies that Sara had she found at Goodwill and Value Village. We started with a wash tub. This is one thing you need to do dishes, wash vegetables, etc. She also had little baggies of soaps, seasonings, matches, napkins and paper towels these all fit into the washtub to save space. Other things included dish towels, aluminum foil, a small cutting board, and an oven mitt. The only cooking tools included were a spatula, tongs and a large knife. In the silverware bin she did have a small paring knife but it was part of the forks and spoons, and don’t forget the can opener and wine opener. As far as plates go she just had 2 large plates (for serving) and 4 small plates. Sara also had a small Boy Scout cooking kit, a sauce pan and an old cake pan. To finish it off she had a coffee pot and 4-5 cups and only one bowl. No other bowls because you can use your plate or cups for runny items. To add a touch of class she also had a couple of candle holders/small vases for decoration. It doesn’t seem like a lot and it isn’t. This is meant to make you think about what you really need to bring on a trip. As we mentioned before, this all went into one large storage container, including the table cloth. Finally Sara had a meal planner protected in plastic. Planning is a large part of being efficient on your trip and getting your meals organized is part of that as well. Next time you take a camping trip see how much you can do without and make your trip a real fun adventure.


Website design and content ©2009-2011 Gustin Creative Group.  Please send website inquiries to gustingroup@comcast.net
This page last modified
July 22, 2011.