Thursday, October 20, 2016


Beginning July 1 and then every other week, we started receiving a box of fresh vegetables and organic food from our local organic farm, Nash's Produce, and I pick up the last box of the season tomorrow.  This is part of their CSA (community supported agriculture) program which you pay for upfront in the early spring.  This type of program has been around for quite a while, but it is the first time for us.

Trying all kinds of vegetables--some were completely unknown to me.  Celery Root--love it.  Chard (several kinds)--love it.  Collard Greens-love it.  Had no idea there were so many different types of cabbage.  Made fresh kraut, made salads, cabbage rolls, cabbage soup.  Had a lot of cabbage over the last few months!  Nash's is well-known for their organic carrots which are sweet and crisp.  I loved the red and golden beets, but the hubby did not.  Well, you can't win them all.

Fresh organic fruit including apricots, pears, and apples.  Newly pressed apple cider--very, very good! Wonderful cilantro, parsley, and onions.  The onions are a close second to the Eastern Washington onion, Walla Walla Sweet.

Nash's also grinds their own organic flour--very good.  Produces organic rolled oats--didn't know there was such a thing--very good.

The kitchen remodel threw a monkey wrench into the whole thing, so had to give away some.  Will try again next summer, for sure.  Support your local farm!  Sign up for your CSA program!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Kitchen Remodel - Complete!

We had our first dinner party using our newly remodeled kitchen.  Love it!  The mixed color scheme with natural wood (cherry) and painted sage green cabinets seem to fit this house.  The cheery tiled wall with mosaic and cream colored quartz counters really adds a spark to this cottage meets northwest home.

Removing the corner kitchen appliance garage and centering the stove top really opens up the counter space.  New large 30-inch oven and a microwave/convection oven adds to the function of the kitchen.  Previously there was a counter-top microwave and 27-inch oven.  It is no longer a problem fitting large dishes for baking and getting the microwave off the counter adds even more counter.

Replaced the kitchen desk area with a big open counter and unobstructed upper wall making a great place to arrange platters of food when you want a buffet-style dinner (like our dinner with guests last evening).  By eliminating some of the upper cabinets we are able to take in the great view of the living room.  The mosaic climbs all the way to the ceiling here and really adds interest.  Pull outs in all the base cabinets provides lots of storage--helping to keep our counters free of clutter.

The centered induction stove (love cooking on this--almost instant heat and easy to clean--nothing bakes on) has pull-outs on either side storing spices on the left and oils/vinegars on the right.   The large hood has lighting covering all the cooking area.  I love the modern stainless steel hoods that are out now in many kitchens, but we felt the wood added to the character of the kitchen.
Over the years and experiencing a few different kitchens, we found the under-counter stainless steel sink works best for us.  Lots of counter in this area too.  There was a Bosch dishwasher in the old kitchen and we re-installed it into the new kitchen.  Best dishwasher we have owned.  Quiet and washes all the dishes squeaky clean.

And finally a panoramic view from the kitchen into the dining room and out to the outdoors.  (You can see little Miss Heddie the Havanese.  She is confused about all this picture-taking.)  Really happy with the outcome of the kitchen!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Et Voila! A New Kitchen, Madame

The kitchen remodel is almost...almost done.  I am waiting here this morning for the carpenter to arrive with the last panel.  Maybe, it will be installed today.  We will see.  The kitchen was started mid-July.  Eleven weeks.  Anyway.  Here are the cabinets, counters and tile we selected.  If/when the remodel is finally complete, will post pictures of the entire kitchen.  May not enjoy the length of time taken, but love the results.

Cabinets are by Medallion, shaker style and two finishes.  Some cabinets are a natural light stain on cherry (above) and other cabinets are maple with a sage green paint (left).

Counters are quartz and they are a joy to keep clean.  They are Caesarstone Bianco Drift. A cream, mottled with gray.  Kept this neutral to avoid chaos with the mosiac tile on the wall.

The mosiac brings it all together and adds that color and spark the kitchen was missing before.  It is a mixture of copper, glass, and slate.  In one spot, we tiled all the way up to the ceiling.  The wall has become an art focal point all on its own.  This is Bedrosians Elume Ruby Silk.

To break up the mosiac, there is linear tile a quarter of the way up (runs through the outlets) and about 6 - 8 inches wide.

Much more to describe, but it will be easier once I get the photos of the complete kitchen taken and uploaded.

We are calling it quits on new projects for the rest of the year.   After installing new tile in both bathrooms and the laundry, new vanities in both bathrooms, painting the entire interior of the house, new shades in the dining room, redoing the master closet, refinishing and staining the front porch (it is large), new carpet in the master bedroom, new lighting in the laundry room, adding a workshop/room in the garage, the old kitchen cabinets installed in the garage, ripped out overgrown shrubs and trees and put down new bark, and loads of repairs and finally the kitchen.  We need some downtime!

The bathrooms have been described previously, but the other changes are fun to see and describe.  I will post on the blog this winter.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bloedel Reserve

We have lived on the Olympic Peninsula for a little over five years and still have so much to see and experience.  One place on our list was the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.  The garden is known as one of the most beautiful and it certainly did not disappoint us.  Finally made the 40 mile drive (I know, so close) a few days ago.  One of those days that starts off with a cloudy marine layer and burns away to a cloudless blue sky.  (Note:  All photographs are from the Bloedel Reserve website.  Saw all of the views, but my photos just do not do it justice.)

Bloedel Reserve is 150 acres with a two-mile walk through meadows, woods, marshes, bridges and boardwalks.  You emerge from the woods to a lushly landscaped pond complete with an enormous weeping willow and beyond a building which was the Bloedels' home from 1951 to 1986 (Read the Bloedel's family story on their website.   Interesting read).  I loved the house just as much as the gardens.  Not only are there views from the house of the woods and gardens, but also a bluff overlook of Port Madison Bay.  Spectacular.

The Reserve also includes a serene Japanese sand and stone garden, Japanese pond garden, and Japanese tea house.  This looks like a perfect spot to sit on a bench and sketch.  If only as an excuse to sit and meditate your surroundings for a few more hours.

A fairy-like moss garden literally carpeting the ground with over 50 types. 

This place is a world to itself.  Highly recommend seeing, if you get the chance.  I would like to plan a couple more visits to experience a winter and spring landscape.  Yes, this is definitely worth a repeat trip.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Good Eats - #3 Smoked Salmon Chowder (4th Sunday of the Month)

Our favorite restaurant locally has to be Kokopelli's in Port Angeles.  Along with many tasty entrees, they make a fabulous smoked salmon chowder.  I love clam chowder, but this is even better.  After a few tries, we were able to "kopy kat" the recipe and now we have it every 4th Sunday of the month.

Lots of salmon comes through our front door here on the O Peninsula (although this year has been a little skimpy) either from a good fishing trip or from friends.  A good portion of the fish is smoked by the husband and used either in a salmon spread for appetizers or in the smoked salmon chowder.  Every effort is made to use local, fresh ingredients.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

2 cups of small red potatoes, cut into quarters (Nash's Organic Produce, if we are lucky)
1 stick of butter (Sunny Farms Grocery carries a local butter)
1/4 cup diced onion (an eastern Washington treat is the Walla Walla onion, but Nash's for a good wanna-be)
1/4 cup flour  (Nash's actually grinds their own.  I kid you not!)
1 cup of smoked salmon (in pieces and de-boned)
1 tsp salt to taste (Sequim Tea and Spice shop fills my container with coarse sea salt)
16 oz Half and Half (or whole milk)  (Dungeness Creamery is about 2 miles down the road)
several diced stalks of celery (Nash's)

Place potatoes in saucepan and cover with water, cook on medium heat until tender.  (If I am feeling lazy, I let the potatoes cook on low in the slow cooker until they are tender.)  Remove potatoes from heat, drain and set aside.  In 2 quart saucepan on medium low heat to melt butter, add diced onions and celery, cook until onions are slightly clear.  Add flour to butter and stir briskly.  Mixture will start to thicken.  Add half and half a little at a time while stirring briskly.  Mixture should be creamy and thick.  Place salt, salmon, and potatoes in mixture.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring often.

Serve with crusty bread for dipping.  I know dipping is not well-mannered at the dinner table, but let's keep it real.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

No Waste Wednesday - #43 Homemade Lotion Version 2

Several years ago, I posted a "recipe" for homemade lotion containing beeswax, olive oil and essential oils.  It was great for getting rid of dry skin.  BUT.  It was sticky and greasy.  I found I used it more as a lip balm and nail cuticle softener rather than overall skin lotion. (See original post here from May 2013: )

Still determined to find a homemade lotion I loved, it was finally discovered in the Autumn edition of Willow and Sage magazine, page 10-13, by Lia Griffith.  Only three ingredients-- Aloe Vera Gelly, (6 oz.) fractionated coconut oil (1.5 oz.) and the essential oil of your choice.  I was skeptical when I bought the gelly and oil.  Both are clear.  But, when you whisk them together, it all turns fluffy and creamy white.  I add tangerine and vanilla oil for my scent (another blend for fall/winter is in order).  I think another batch for hubby with a bay rum scent will work nicely.  This stuff is not greasy at all and he actually likes it minus the girly scent.

Adding up the price of ingredients, the cost was about $10 for 16 oz. I can probably get the cost way down if I buy the gelly in a bigger bottle, but I wanted to test before committing to a large volume.  And I love that you can personalize the scent with essential oils and no un-needed plastic bottles (I reuse a glass container and canning jars).  If I believe the hype on aromatherapy, then the essential oil is an added healthy benefit of the lotion too.

A keeper!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

International and Domestic

On the domestic front, our kitchen remodel is almost complete.  The project took six weeks rather than the planned three.  Washing the dishes in the laundry room sink is not my idea of a good time.  Will post pictures soon.  Really loving the whole look and function.

Because we have been putting in so much effort and money into our new home, there is not much left to travel (time and money).  But, that is not stopping us from making plans.  Portugal seems like a very interesting place and we are looking into the Rick Steves' tour of Portugal for the Spring of 2018. 

The biggest downside to overseas travel for both of us has been the effect of jet lag.  It can almost ruin the trip. Even planning two extra days before the actual tour does not seem to get us past it.  But, we have a plan.  Met a fellow last December in Puerto Vallarta who travels extensively and he shared that jet lag has the same effect on him.  He has found a solution.  Rather than flying to his overseas destination, he travels on a relocating cruise ship crossing the Atlantic.  Taking 10 to 14 days, you are able to slowly get used to the time change.  The cost of the cruise is approximately the same as a one-way business class ticket.

So, our plans will include a transatlantic cruise in mid-April embarking in Miami and disembarking into Lisbon, Portugal.  Fingers crossed for making this work for us in a year and a half.
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