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Friday, August 19, 2016

Thoughts For Friday

I had this past Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off.  We spent a couple of those days in Astoria, Oregon.

You never know what to expect for weather when you visit the Oregon coast.  That's why I actually prefer to go in the winter because if it's rainy and windy, well, it's supposed to be then.  In the summer, it's a little disappointing to arrive to 50 degrees and rain.

Lucky for us, we had nice weather!

Even the beach was decent!  Not too windy nor too cold.

We visited the wreck of the Peter Iredale which ran a shore in 1906.

We also climbed the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column.

Unfortunately, we had to return to a heat wave and work.
On the bright side, the heat is helping the pepper plants!  This is a Purple Prince Hot Pepper Plant (say that 5 times fast!)  It's peppers will turn red when completely ripe.

That's all I've got for this week.  Check back next week as we're making progress on the backstep/oriental rug paint job!

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Nocino Part Deux

 It's time!  Actually, a little past time but we've had a busy summer.

I'm talking about time to make nocino, of course.  I wrote about our first time making it last year.  This turned out to be a pretty popular post so I thought I'd add a little to it as we're tweaking our recipe to make the best nocino yet!

Nocino is an Italian liquor made with unripe, green walnuts.  Use it similar to how you might use Kahlua or Bailey's;  in coffee with a little cream (because who doesn't want a little liquor with their morning coffee, right?)

Last year's nocino turned out quite good, however, I felt there was room for improvement.  It needed to be a little sweeter, in my opinion.  We used vodka in our recipe last year but I found recipes where people used rum instead.  Rum, being a little sweeter than vodka, seemed like a good idea.

So with a 1.75 liter bottle of white rum in hand, we made nocino part deux!

Instead of trying to cut the green walnuts like last year, we put them in a bag and took them outside and hammered the hell out of them.

Next we washed enough containers that sealed well and added a cup of sugar (one cup total split between however many containers you use.)

Add plenty of warm spices; cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, nutmeg, mace, etc to the containers.

Pour the rum and close the containers.  Store in a location that receives little sunlight like a closet.

In about two to three months (just in time for the holidays) strain the nocino through a cheesecloth and enjoy.

We're still drinking what's left of last year's nocino.  You can see how the walnuts turn the liquor dark.

Add a little coffee, milk, and whip cream and you've got a tasty drink!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

Hello and welcome!

Let's start right off with what's blooming in the garden! This is a Turtlehead bush; strange name, I know. Apparently it gets it's name because the flower looks like the head of a turtle (no worries, I'm not seeing it either.) This is a perennial plant which is awesome, but even better, it requires very little maintenance and by very little, I mean, damn near none! Once a year in the late Fall, I whack the bush back to the ground and miraculously every spring it grows back. Come mid to late summer it blooms and the bees love it.

Speaking of bees, I'm sure you've heard, our honey bee population is being decimated. Chemicals, drought, air pollution, global warming, and other factors have all taken their toll on the bees.  Easy enough to dismiss as they aren't nearly as exotic as a polar bear or as cute as a harp seal, however these bees...they are IMPORTANT!

Take my pumpkin plant as an example.  See the shriveled little pumpkin?  Apparently this was caused by a lack of pollination.  The female flower bloomed, the male flower bloomed, but no little honey bee was around to spread the male flower's pollen onto the female flower.  What's left is a sad, little, deflated pumpkin that never had a chance to grow into the Great Pumpkin it could have been.

We've taken this situation into our own hands now and we've been performing the duty of the honey bees ourselves.  What that translates to is getting up early to time the opening of the female flower, then using the male flower's stamen (complete with pollen) and rubbing it around the female flower.

Here's a video for a better description:

All this pollinating has left it's mark on me and I'm oddly perusing the male pumpkin flowers of my neighbors wondering if their stamen is bigger or better.  Needless to say, we need to do something about this bee problem and quick!  If you use pesticides in your garden, please stop and if you have some extra space to plant, try planting the Turtlehead bush, the bees love it!

We got some exciting news this week in our fair city.  One of our favorite breweries opened shop here in Portland!  Double Mountain Brewery is now open and serving beer and pizza (the Truffle Shuffle pizza is to DIE FOR!)!  We'll be making our way to check it out soon.

I had a busy weekend last week making soap.  I replenished my stock of Peppermint and Honey Safflower goats' milk soaps.

I made a slight change to the Peppermint soap, I added menthol to it! Prepare yourself for an AWAKENING shower or bath with this bar!  I've also noticed the menthol seems to have brought out the peppermint scent even better.

Both bars will be in the online store soon!

Have a great weekend and get out there and do something good for the honey bees!  Check back Monday, I've got a great drink recipe you'll want to try!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

The first annual(?) Home and Patio Sale wrapped up last Saturday!  It exceeded all my expectations!  We opened on Friday and had steady customers all day.  By the end of the day, nearly all the furniture had sold!
I apologize to anyone who may have come on Saturday.  We did have a few pieces of furniture left but the majority was gone.

 By the end of day Saturday, I was left with just this coffee table

and this patio table.

I ended up putting both my dining room sets in the sale

and they both sold!

Consequently, we were left with a bare dining room!
That didn't last long though, as I found a beautiful Danish Teak table at a second hand store about a mile from my house.

I picked up these four chairs at the same place. *Love the fabric*

Now that my workroom is cleared out, I'm on the hunt again for free sidewalk furniture I can refurbish for another sale next summer!  Stay tuned to this blog for more furniture makeovers and make your plans for next year to spend the last weekend of July in Portland for the Home and Patio Sale, conveniently timed to be the same weekend as the Oregon Brewers Festival!

Last week my long awaited Boncho came in the mail.  This is the bike poncho I helped fund on Kickstarter back in February.  I'm excited to try it out on my daily commute to work, however, I'm not excited enough to hope it rains.  Let's just say when it does rain, I won't be COMPLETELY bummed because I'll have my new Boncho to wear.

Lora's Beauty Online Store is welcoming August and looking forward to Fall with the addition of a new goats' milk soap!  The Honey Ginger bar has made it's debut!  The spicy scent of ginger combined with drips of honey make this a great bar for softening the skin.  This is a special seasonal bar and will only be in the store while supplies last!

Enjoy your summer weekend and pick up few Honey Ginger bars to entice Autumn!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thoughts for Friday

It's Friday aaand it's the first day of the Home and Patio Sale!!  The sale begins at 9 am and will close at 3 pm on Friday and Saturday.  If you're in Portland, Oregon go to NE 15th and Fremont and follow
the signs!  These vintage aprons will be available in the sale!

Blooming in the garden this week is the morning glory vine.  I don't remember planting this, but it returns every year.  This is another flower the hummingbirds love.

It's called a morning glory because when the afternoon sun hits the flowers they close up tight.  Only in the morning do the blossoms open and show their beautiful color.

Well, another great summer beer festival is in the books for us.  The Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland is the holy grail of beer festivals.  This year over 80,000 people will be able to sample 20 different beer styles.  It runs from Wednesday until Sunday.  We always go on Wednesday to avoid the large crowds.

I'm working on another project!  Right now it's in the preliminary, preparatory stage.  Earlier this Spring, I had a new deck installed around the concrete porch in the back yard.  It was cheaper than removing the porch and for drainage reasons I've read it's better to build around porches attached to the foundation.

Anyway, that left me with a little concrete pad with paint chipping off of it.  My thought, with a little help from Pinterest, is to paint this pad similar to an oriental rug!  I'm not going to attempt anything too fancy.  Here's the "before" picture.  Hopefully I'll have a nice "after" photo to post soon!

Enjoy your Summer weekend and get to Home and Patio Sale!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Thoughts For Friday

Welcome.  Here we are at the end of another week.

I'm happy to report our garden yielded it's first zucchini last weekend!  This little squash didn't last long in this form.

It quickly became bread, of course!

I followed my tried and true Betty Crocker recipe, however I substituted 1/2 cup honey and 1 cup sugar for the 1 2/3 cup sugar.  I also added about 1/3 cup flax seeds.  The flax seeds give it a nice chewy texture.

You can substitute all the sugar for honey if you'd like.  I would have except I couldn't part with all my honey.  I bought some Nature's Best Oregon Honey at a farmer's market in June.  It is The.Best.Honey.Ever! Seriously, it tastes like sunshine in a jar!

Speaking of sunshine in a jar, those beautiful blackberries we picked last weekend made for some really yummy jam!  I made this jam using a low sugar recipe you can find here.

Summer in the city is an awesome time of year, except when you're trying to sleep.  Our house sits rather close to our neighbors.  We have pretty good neighbors so it's not a problem.  However, in the summer, when all the windows are open we can hear EVERYTHING our neighbors to the north are talking about.  That's why I picked up the LectroFan - White Noise Machine during Amazon Prime Day last week. We've used it twice already.  I can't believe I've lived and slept this long without it!  It really masks the noise without being loud and repetitious.  Works great to mask snoring too, just sayin...

The Sale To End All Sales is quickly approaching!  I'm referring to my Home and Patio Sale of course.  It's a week from today, July 29 and 30th.  If you want to see some of the great stuff that will be available, check out  #homeandpatiosale on Instagram!

This beautiful all wood love-seat will be available. Wouldn't it look great in a game room?

If you're in Portland, go to NE 15th and Fremont and follow the signs.  The doors open at 9 am so come early for the best selection!

Finally, here's a parting shot of my new Lavender Meringue Goat Milk Soap.  This will need a few more weeks of curing before it will be available in the online store.

Cheers to another summer weekend!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Evenings

There's something about a summer evening.  Is it the length of it?  The way the shadows stretch long across the ground?  The warmth?

Saturday evening found us at our favorite blackberry picking spot.  Although the day was mostly overcast, the evening sun made an appearance and warmed us as we fished and picked blackberries along the river side.

There are a few things in life I will not share because I do not want them over used.  The name of my hairdresser, an inexpensive plumber, and the location of our blackberry picking spot are among those things I don't divulge.

For several years (6?) we've made several trips a summer to our spot to pick blackberries.

We fish
and seldom catch anything...

We pack some snacks,

admire the wildflowers,

and of course, pick blackberries!  These babies became jam the next day!

Here's a great, low sugar recipe for making jam I shared last year.

Enjoy your summer evenings!