My whole body aches…

…and it feels so good! Gardening is sometimes tricky for me because my sciatica usually gets irritated after about a half hour. One of my goals is to eliminate that pain through healthier living and gardening is a big part of that. It has become one of my favorite forms of exercise. I spent the day gardening yesterday and ripped out some truly horrendous weeds. Their bulbs were down a foot or two, causing me to have to dig down and basically turn over and sift through my whole garden bed. I am thankful that my back lasted the whole time.

weedsMeet Italian arum or Orange Candleflower. It has a reputation for being nearly impossible to eradicate. So much so that the city of Portland recommends throwing the bulbs you dig up in the trash rather than the municipal compost! (I love that Portland has a municipal composting program. It was one of the reasons I wanted to move up here.) This plant, that looks nice at first, has been trying to take over my whole garden.

I don’t know who was in charge of the landscaping before I moved into this house buy for some reason they picked all the WORST plants! (Except the daffodils, I love my daffodils).

After much ado I was able to get my two new blueberry bushes in the ground.

Here they are, Jersey and Earlyblue.

They’re not very photogenic yet but they will be soon. Good luck little guys! I am pretty excited about the bounty of fruits and veggies I am going to have this summer, I’m well on my way toward a more self sufficient life. It’s a good thing too, the drought in California could have a major impact on the availability of some foods.

Garden progress:

I bought an apple and a pear tree! I am so freeking excited to get them in the ground! I did some reading on the subject and it looks like it’s going to be a little more work than I anticipated. To be fair, I was reading about how to start and orchard. Follow the link to Mother Earth News to take a look at the article I was reading. There are some great tips on planting, pruning and care for your fruit trees.

Pear TreesI also got a few more blueberry bushes at the nursery. I have one from last season that is hard at work establishing its roots but I recently found out that it is wise to have more than one plant for better pollination. Why I didn’t come across this information last year is beyond me. I feel like I did a fair amount of research. Oh well, crisis averted.

The Future of Fashion – A Sustainable Approach

What a great article on some of the other issues of sustainability in fashion. Make sure to click the link to sustainabledesigns.org for more information

Honi

c2136bb6b7cd74886ad47f7ba0022b2dGlobally the fashion industry is one of the largest in the world, as it is worth around $1.5 trillion annually and employs millions of people. Making a huge impact on the environment, it is important to have eco-friendly, sustainable and ethical considerations when approaching fashion as we as designers have a responsibility to our business, consumers, other designers, society, the environment and ourselves. “At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world’s pesticide is used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still two-thirds of a garment’s carbon footprint will occur after it has been bought” (Kenneth L 2015).

b274503bff06af7d411d685681162937If more designers and companies followed a sustainable approach it could make a huge difference. The industry could change the world, saving the environment with quality fashion made from eco friendly and ethical processes.

Sustainable…

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My Garden: a Work in Progress

gardeningLike many, I grew up reading the Little House on the Prairie series and it made a real impression on me. I still find it astounding that in our county’s infancy, under the homestead act, you could just go and build a house somewhere and that land became yours. The notion of self sufficiency, living off the land and growing your own food has always enchanted me. After years of living in apartments, I have finally moved into a place with some dirt of my own. One of my goals is to grow a significant portion of the produce my family needs and to do it consistently. I hope to share what I learn along the way so that we can all lead more self sufficient lives, free from chemical pesticides and mad scientist genetic engineering.

Garden BeforeSo without further ado, here it is, my garden this year. Let’s call this the “before” picture. I have kale left over from last year (score!) and some thyme. Oh! and weeds! yay! I’ll deal with them soon, I promise. My major accomplishment so far: I’ve torn out a bunch of mint. Don’t get me wrong, I love mint but it is super invasive. Seriously, this plant does not mess around. My dad warned me about this some time ago and like everything he tells me, I had to experience it for myself before just taking his word for it. This time however, I wasn’t the one who planted it. The mint came with the garden. When we moved in just about exactly two years ago the garden consisted of mint. period. I ripped out a bunch of it to make room for all the vegetables I wanted to plant. Fortunately it hasn’t strangled out anything yet, but I can’t get rid of it. Every time I pull weeds there are new little mint sprouts, super far away from the mother ship. I pull them out along with their roots leading back to from whence they came. Devil plants! (sort of) but boy, do they smell good when you yank them out. Heed my warning: only plant mint in containers!

Beds being prepped for asparagus etc.

Chris and I moved to Portland two years ago to a place with the first thing we could call a “real” garden since moving in together. The first spring we were here I bought some asparagus to plant. Asparagus is another one of those “where has this been all my life?!” vegetables. After reading about growing asparagus on Pinterest I learned that it takes a whole year to establish itself so you can’t harvest it until the second year. Two years ago I didn’t know whether or not we’d be living in the same house in a year so I didn’t plant it. (the “crowns” I bought died by the time I tried to plant them the next year) Two years later, it looks like we’ll be her for a while. We seriously lucked out on this house. The location is incredible.

asparagus startsI bought asparagus starts again this year and have one of my beds all ready for them. Stay tuned (as in a year from now) to see how they turn out. Seriously, can you stand the suspense?

This year I also plan to plant snow peas, which did well for me last year, and brussels sprouts (another of my new-found favorites.)  I love being able to wander out my back door and grab a handful of herbs or veggies to go in whatever dish I am cooking. I’d really like to grow a substantial ammount of all the produce we eat. A double whammy carbon reduction if I eliminate having ship food from who-knows-where and having to drive to the store.

I am also going to plant a dye garden. There are so many beautiful colors you can get from plants and I’m hoping to get as much mileage as possible out of the limited space I have in my yard.

[Just checked the seeds I still have left over from last year, there are more than I thought. I’ll let you know how it goes]

These are a few of my favorite things:

I love all kinds of stuff. Plain and simple. Music, wildflowers, spring blossoming trees. Part of my game plan for more intentional living is to deeply appreciate the small things, dwell on the day to day, wallow in the wonderful. Dirt under your fingernails, innocuous spiders scurrying around in the garden. Blackberry picking, hot tea, the smell of an old book. And to go out searching for more beautiful experiences. Cool breezes, sunshine, campfires. I just want to feel good all the time and I believe that comes from connecting with nature and the people and things around you. Disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with what is real, tangible, touchable, smellable. Each week I will share a few of my favorite things with you (Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music being among them) in an effort to take a moment to reflect and revel in the things that make me feel truely happy.

You know that thing where you’re just going about your life and you come across something that makes you say, “Man, I LOVE grapefruit!” or “OMG, where has arugula been all my life” (or whatever it might be?) I’m gonna write about it, dwell on it. I want to make that moment last as long as I can.

To tell you the truth, I am a rather cynical person most of the time. It’s not something I am particularly proud of and I would love nothing more than to try to increase the positivity in my life. My paternal grandfather (who passed away the day after my birthday this year, at the age of 89) was part of the Optimist International club. As a teenager I remember receiving a plaque of the “Optimist Creed” on my 18th birthday, just like all my older cousins had before me, and thinking it was “nice” and “cute” while rolling my eyes. I read it once an stuffed it in a drawer. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, I have learned the value of slowing down and being thankful for things, of looking for the good in life, focusing on the positive, the little things. Though I viewed it as cheesy in my youth I now see appreciate its wisdom.

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

I love fresh air. Walking along a creek in the woods and smelling the pine, the dirt. Dirt smells SO good. Seriously, so good. Have you smelled dirt lately? Do it! It’s so good. I’m telling you, little things like that are where. it’s. at.

Tune in each week for the little things that I am groovin’ on at any given moment. And don’t forget to stay tuned in to the insignificant pleasures in your life. Like listening to “Such Great Heights” with headphones. Yeah, the percussive feeling right at the beginning when it alternates ears. That.

 

A trip to SCRAP

a look at SCRAP in Portland, OR
SCRAP – It’s like a thrift store for crafts!

The first step in starting my clothing line is cleaning out my sewing room so that I have a functional space to work. Going through boxes of old fabric acquisitions, scraps, and unfinished projects was really difficult process at first. I didn’t know where to start and I have a hard time throwing things away so I tend to just move things from pile to pile. I feel bad being wasteful and contributing further to our landfills. I keep bits of things, thinking someday I will turn them into something – a quilt, a bag, stuffed animal. All the ideas I had when I first obtained said random piece of fabric rush back to me. The thing is: I am in all likelihood NOT going to turn all this random fabric into some great work of art. But someone might.

Here in Portland there is a magical place where I can donate my odds and ends so that they can make their way to some crafter that will actually put them to use.

SCRAP is nonprofit organization whose mission is “to inspire creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community.”

And it’s a wonderland of goodies and craft supplies, all donated, all diverted from the garbage. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend stopping in (also go to the ReBuilding Center, it’s the same kind of thing but for building supplies)

So I loaded up my trunk and headed to SCRAP. When I arrived, much to my chagrin, I saw that they were not accepting donations because they are moving! All the way across the river (it’s not really that far, I’m just complaining) Looks like I will have to haul around my donation for a few weeks.

I did however find some fun stuff. I wound up with a super retro 1977 book on Tatting, in all its earth-toned glory and a calendar from the Union of Concerned Scientist featuring entertaining cartoons about science deniers. Score!

Look for an update about SCRAP’s new location, later this month.