Just a month or so ago my shop looked like this, and getting to my bench required crawling over stuff including the tongue of the boat trailer, tripping over boxes for my husband’s toy business. Once I got to the bench, there was barely room to do anything.

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But then I decided to overhaul the Mustang, and I sold my boat (without ever getting it in the water! That’s the 3rd boat I’ve sold without ever using it!), we installed new LED lighting in the garage to brighten things up, and my husband cleaned up his stuff in the garage and re-organized. Then I unexpectedly sold the Mustang. Suddenly I had an empty, clean, well-lit garage.

I decided that now I have a garage back, I wanted to do some woodworking. Quite a few years ago I used to do scrollsaw work and intarsia and woodburning, and I wanted to do more. I like building things. Someday I’d like to build a new vanity for the bathroom, and do new countertops in the kitchen.

This spring I built this potting table to put on the patio and organize my gardening supplies. I found the plan on https://www.ana-white.com/woodworking-projects/simple-2×4-potting-bench

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So that really lit up my desire to build more things. For a long time I have had my eye on Steve Ramsey on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/stevinmarin and his Wood Working for Mere Mortals channel. So I finally signed up for his online woodworking class – The Weekend Woodworker – https://theweekendwoodworker.com/introduction/

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The first project was to build this neat little rolling bench, which has been awesome! He includes project plans and how-to videos and videos on each skill and tool, and safety videos. It went together just as expected, except I chose not to install shelves because my old miter saw is so big it took up the whole bottom shelf by itself. Even though I already have two benches, having one I can move around has been really useful!

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Second project was this little patio sidetable. Each project builds on skills and introduces new skills. I’m really having fun, and I can’t wait for my next project. We are all still trapped at home during the pandemic, so it’s nice to have projects to work on. And my garage is so clean and roomy now. I’ve sorted through a lot of things I don’t need, some of which I’ve had saved for years and never needed.

I guess I am a minimalist. All the things I get rid of take a weight off of me. Although I loved the Mustang, we joked that it was my albatross, a la the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and I was cursed to have it forever hanging around my neck. I couldn’t go forward and I couldn’t go back. It was so heavy, with the weight of being ‘my first car’, and the story that goes with it, one of the best stories a classic car can have! Now I have shook it off, and released myself from it. I have my garage space back, and I can do creative things of my choosing, and I am really loving it!

This year’s Garden – Spring

When we lived in the country, I had a lovely big garden that I worked very hard on. The last year I was able to do it I was really getting the hang of it, and grew lovely big tomatoes and squash and herbs and really enjoyed myself. But then I went back to work full time.

Eight years later, we no longer live in the country, but I still want my garden. One constant problem in our current backyard is the plum tree. It produces a bumper crop of plums every year, and the ones that fall on the ground get eaten by the dogs, who also chew up the pits, which are bad for them. So after surrounding the plum tree with a dog fence for a couple years, we finally put up a proper fence around it.

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And I thought, hey, this looks like a good place for a garden! So last year I did a little raised bed and put cauliflower and kale in it, and the aphids and slugs ate it up. I did a few tomatoes and basil in pots as well, and that was more successful. So this spring I decided to really go for it. I’ve always wanted tall raised beds so I wouldn’t be on my hands and knees weeding. But in order to have a nice garden in spring, you have to start well before that, by planting seeds in February.

I started out by spending early winter watching videos on YouTube, my favorite channel being The Rusted Garden . I find him very relaxing to listen to, and he makes it seem easy, gives simple instructions, and basically doesn’t add a bunch of drama to it. Just good, straightforward advice, and he’s even in the same planting zone, though on the other end of the country, so his advice on timing is pretty accurate for this area too.

I ordered seeds for a modest garden from Territorial Seeds, as I always did for my country garden. They are in Oregon, so I know they will sell stuff that works in the NW, and I’ve always had great success with their seeds (not so much with the usual garden center seed packets, those have generally been very hit or miss in germinating).


A month later, I was thinning them out and moving them into dollar-store pots.

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Next thing you know I was taking them out for visits to experience the wind and the sunshine, but bringing them back in if it got too breezy or chilly.

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So, this experiment was going well, time to get the garden in order. The garden area was covered in failing weed barrier. I want my raised bed plants to be able to reach down to the soil if they want to. So I pulled up the weed barrier where the beds are going. I also thought I would put a little shed in there, but once I spaced out the footings for an 8 ft shed, it was going to take up the whole garden 😦

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Chives went in pots, broccoli went in the existing bed, and we tore down the old arbor in the yard and temporarily piled it in the garden so the dogs wouldn’t get stuck on the nails in it. That sort of felt like we were going backwards for a bit.

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And those tomatoes and peppers just kept getting bigger! I planted six of each type I wanted to grow, and didn’t expect them ALL to do so well! I picked my favorites and potted them up, and offered free tomatoes to all my friends. This is mid April. Maybe next year I won’t start the seeds until March!

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I built raised beds out of 2x4s and cedar fence boards. I know they won’t last forever, but if I like them, I figure I can make them sturdier later. I filled them lasagna style – straw, grass clippings, old leaves, more grass clippings, dirt from the other side of the house, and finally 6 cubic yards (4 bags) of raised bed soil.

I should mention I had lots of help throughout the process.


Our yard bloomed early with Deadnettle, Grape Hyacinth, and some bulb I call bluebell. The fruit trees were blooming and the yard was alive with birds and bees and friendly bugs. I wanted to encourage this, so I just left it alone and enjoyed it!


Navi was doing a bit of rototilling over by the apple tree to take care of our mole problem. She got two of them!

They also followed me into the garden one day and caught a baby rabbit that was hiding in the Rosemary bush. Barclay caught it and let Navi have it and she ate the whole thing (ugh!) They will never forget that, and are always hoping to find something else hiding in the garden, so they are not allowed in there anymore.

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Finally we had a late last frost in early may, and a week later things looked safe to put my little friends in their new home! Two of the big heirloom tomatoes and one cherry variety here with two mini bell peppers, two more cherrys, a pepper, and a slicer in pots near the patio.

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Then I mowed the Deadnettle when it was done blooming, and the yard looks great! All the clippings went into the next raised bed, where I topped it off with raised bed soil, and planted greens. I know it was a little late for cool weather crops, because we started getting hot temps, but I wanted to try. Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Spinach, and Radishes.

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The pots by the patio were looking good, and I added pots full of parsley, cilantro and basil seeds.


About this time I realized the water by the house was a LONG way from the garden, so I looked online and found a used rainbarrel setup. This way I can fill the barrel every few weeks, and water out of the barrel.

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I added a third big bed for beans and cucumbers, and I will build a trellis for those, so I thought they could share a bed and a trellis. Then three low beds for squash, since they will need room to spread out. Zucchini, Butternut, and Acorn. I also mulched all the beds and pots with pine shavings.

I added some flowers outside the garden gate for color. Those pots inside have a bunch of different herb seeds planted, but they are slow to come up.

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The tomatoes are doing great, but I read that Marigolds and Basil are good companions, so I added some marigolds, and a couple different varieties of Basil in the bed.

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And that’s about it for spring. We are definitely heading into summer now (despite the monsoon rains we got the past week, with temps significantly cooler than the previous week which was in the 90s). The tomatoes are covered in flowers this week, and a few little tomatoes have started forming. It’s really amazing to see food growing from plants I started from seeds! It’s like a little miracle every time.

Nothing to do now, but kick back and enjoy our patio.

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Backyard remodel

Last year we did the front yard, taking out the overgrown bushes that the previous owner had put up to create a buffer between our house and the crack-house across the street, and putting in a nice lawn. That went very well, and it is still looking beautiful. This year the project is the back yard.

When we moved in the backyard was a formal garden, with pathways and sitting areas, a big dahlia garden, a vegetable garden, and a flower garden. The previous owner had been retired, and he obviously spent a LOT of time working on it. It was a maintenance nightmare for a couple working folks like us. So we had slowly cut back on the formal stuff anyway, but this year the lawnmower wouldn’t start in the spring, and by the time I got a new carb for it and got it running again, things were extra out of control.

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So we rented a walk-behind string trimmer, and I worked my butt off mowing it all down. I was kind of sad to see it go, because it reminded me of our pasture in spring, and I loved watching the grasses wave in the breeze.

With everything back under control, I figured it was time to begin the backyard remodel I had been planning. There were a few problems. As previously mentioned, Navi is a digger, so any gardening needed to be fenced away from her. Also, there is a plum tree in the corner of the yard, and the dogs enjoy eating the plums and chewing up the pits, which are toxic, so I had it temporarily fenced off with a dog x-pen, but it was not a permanent solution. I have this plan:

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Which I have deviated from slightly as my desire to have a garden got stronger. When we lived on the farm, I had a huge garden, and I worked really hard to get better and better at it every year, and I hated to give it up when we left. This year I finally got my act together enough to put in a tiny container garden with a few tomatoes and peppers and herbs. But I would like to grow our own lettuce and greens as well. So I took the corner marked Bushes on my plan, and fenced it off to make a garden, and keep the dogs away from the plums.


We had a lovely mild day, not too hot, not too sunny. Mowing and weed-wacking commences…


Then we went to Lowes and found a no-dig fence style we liked. They have stakes that you pound into the ground, and then slide the fence panels onto them. Tall enough to keep out the dogs, and they look nice.


The corner already has a brick outline, but it was curved, and the fence could not curve as much as the bricks, so we made the fence line fairly straight and left the curved areas outside it for planting some bushes to soften the area up. We also got a nice no-dig gate that fit perfectly in the little entrance-way.


Completed. Now the dogs are unable to get to the plum tree, or any planting beds I want to put in there.

We continued mowing and trimming around the rest of the yard.



Much better! Still needs clean up, but it will get there. This is where I want a stone patio eventually.


Dave gets a well-deserved rest and smooches from Barclay ❤


Day 2


The garden area has these two brick circles, one on either end. This one had a greek statue on it, and it shifted and she fell over a couple winters ago, so now she is up on the patio. I am not fond of these brick circles, they look sloppy, and appear to be full of debris – broken bricks, old tile, etc. I want to take one down and reuse the bricks to outline a garden bed.

So I started tearing the other one apart, and discovered 1) it gave shelter to the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen and 2) it was hiding a stump! I picked through the bricks one by one, brushing off spiders and tossing them into the fenced area, then arranged them into a curvy garden bed.


Leaving behind the stump, which is much less obtrusive than the brick circle had been.



Meanwhile Navi dug holes big enough to stick her whole head in! That’s the next area to work on.


But that’s enough work for one afternoon. I stickballed Barclay until he was worn out and jumped in the tub to cool off, and called it a day.


Bonus – tomatoes growing in my container garden – yay!





Making Prunes


Our house came with a plum tree


We didn’t know what kind of fruit tree it was until plums started falling off, and the dogs were eating them.



They were very tasty, but more plums all at once than the three of us could eat (me and the dogs, Dave’s not interested in plums)

So I dug out the dehydrator


A bucket of plums turned into four trays of plum-halves.

About 15 hours later, I had prunes.


They are super sweet!


I went ahead and froze them to ensure they will not mold. I thought I had them dry enough, but not enough to trust putting them in the cupboard. Even though they are taking up a little freezer space, they take up a lot less space dehydrated than they would if I’d just frozen them fresh.



When we first moved here, Barclay and Navi loved digging up all the carrots the previous owner had planted in the garden. After the carrots were gone, I thought the entertainment was over. We ignored the rest of the garden, including the row of parsnips, and let them grow. They got quite tall – taller than me!


Then Barclay discovered that parsnips are fun to chew on – like carrots!


All he has to do is dig them out and haul them away.


These are sure big!


Nom nom nom…



Good stuff!


End of Summer photos


This has been a weird summer. I’ve been working full time, with a ridiculously long commute, and the end result of all that is I feel like I wasn’t even home for the summer. Hopefully things will get better soon.




I abandoned my garden, and it’s all overgrown and weedy. I planted a few tomatoes in pots on the front deck, and they might kick out a few tomatoes before the winter comes, if we’re lucky. BTW, that’s Saki next to the tomatoes, they were visiting.




Mostly we’ve been working on cleaning the house and getting it ready to sell. It’s coming along better than I expected. But that’s another post.

Today I went out in the late afternoon and took some pictures around the yard. No particular reason. The light was so beautiful, I couldn’t help myself.








This picture was not in focus, but I liked the pose, so it seemed like a good use of one of those funky filters. Look at me, I’m being artistic!




My little perpetual-motion machine stops for a rare picture! Good girl, Navi!




Barclay just wants to play stickball, he’s obsessed with it!




Here’s another picture which came out overexposed, but is saved by one of those funky filters. Makes it look like I intended that ‘glow’!


Overgrown, overrun…


It has been a long, cool, rainy spring. We had a little dash of summer weather early on that got our hopes up, then it got dreary again. Of course there’s been a few nice days thrown in here and there, but with my new work schedule I’m mostly limited to working on the yard on the weekends, and many of those have been rainy.

This happens every year – it’s wet and rainy, and we can’t get out and mow the field because it’s a wetland. By the time it’s dry, it’s too tall. And are we ever there this year!


We got a little mowing in, but the rest is too tall to mow now. We’ve already looked into renting a tractor or a walk-behind brush mower to knock it down with. As soon as it stops raining long enough for it to dry out a bit, we’ll go rent one for the weekend.



The waving tall grass is actually kind of pretty, except every time I look at it I just see all the work ahead of us to get it under control.



Here’s Navi playing in the grass behind the water trough. Yeah, it’s that deep.



There she is!



There’s Barclay, prowling through the jungle.



The worst part is the garden. About a month ago I spent a couple hours cleaning it up, and it looked great. Now I haven’t had a chance to visit it for a few weeks, and when I went out there, I just wanted to cry Sad smile



Nothing a couple hours of hard labor won’t fix! There’s still more to go, but I didn’t want to hurt myself trying to do it all in one go. I got my exercise for sure today!



Following directions – green tomato salsa

Last year my favorite thing of all the food I canned was the green tomato salsa. It was seriously YUM – and I just finished my last jar of it, so it was the perfect time to make more. There’s no shortage of green tomatoes right now either.

Lots of green tomatoes! Don’t worry, there’s still plenty left to ripen (if they ever do).

I spent a couple hours chopping all the onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes, in fact I spread the job over two days! Finally, I had it all in the pan, with the liquid – a mix of lemon and lime juice, and spices.

I boiled it, meanwhile I boiled the jars, and soon it was all ready to put together. I was following a canning recipe exactly. I had a little assembly line set up. I thought I had it all but I forgot one really important step! After you fill the jars you’re supposed to use something to gently get rid of the bubbles down inside the jar before processing. I realized just as I put the last filled jar into the water bath that I hadn’t done this! I pulled the jar back out and looked at it, and sure enough there were big air bubbles throughout the jar. I was really disappointed in myself – I’m supposed to be a master food preserver, and getting out the bubbles is basic stuff! I went ahead and processed them.

The trick is that if you realize you screwed up within 24 hours, you can reprocess the food safely. I had Dave pick up some more jar lids, and once it was cool enough to handle, I opened all the jars. I noticed the salsa was pretty chunky, and I remembered my teacher saying it should be kind of thin, so I dumped the jars, two at a time, into the blender and gave them a quick spin before dumping them into a pot.

While that heated to a simmer I washed the jars and got them heated up in the water bath again. Then I refilled them with the blended salsa. This time the salsa was so thin there weren’t any air bubbles to worry about. I lidded them up and processed them like before.

There are very few small bubbles visible in the jars after processing, but that’s ok. It was worth the time to reprocess these. All I lost was a few lids, and that’s better than having to throw out spoiled salsa a few months from now. I think I will be enjoying these until it’s time to make more next year!


Garden Update

I am finally reaping the rewards of having a garden!

Tomatoes! Fresh tomatoes make it all worthwhile! Almost every year for the last ten years I’ve tried various types of gardens – container gardens, square-foot gardens, a big garden in the ground in freshly tilled pasture, and last year a lasagna garden, which was my biggest success in terms of big healthy plants, but because of the weather I only got green tomatoes. This year has been iffy – cool and wet – and I’m finally seeing some rewards – big yellow tomatoes! They are so soft and sweet, I can’t believe it, I just want to gobble them all up fresh off the plant! The varieties are Azoychka and Taxi, and Black Cherry tomatoes. The Azoychkas are particularly nice!

I got some squash, but my results there are hit & miss. I think slugs have been dining on them, since they are so close to the ground. The parsley was destroyed by some digging rodents, and the same with the cukes (luckily I already picked some and made my pickles for the year).

Also on the counter is some rosemary I trimmed off my little rosemary bush which seems to be happy out in it’s container in the garden. I can’t believe how good it smells, I’ve never gotten any from the store that smelled that strong! I think I might need to roast a chicken tomorrow just to use some of that Rosemary!


Garden Update

Well, it’s been a long cool summer here, with frequent cloudy days and surprise rain showers. That has led to a late planting window, followed by an invasion of slugs like I have never seen before. Every year I learn something new about gardening, and I think this year I learned to just relax and let it go, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen, and there’s only so much you can do when you’re fighting mother nature!

In the background you can see the neighbor’s humongous shop, still in progress! This view shows the stuff that’s doing most of the growing this year. Big healthy cucumber plants, and tomato plants, and some good sized herbs and onions.

This row is mostly onions and leeks, and a couple broccoli plants hanging in there. Mostly invasive grass and weeds I’ve been fighting all summer.

Big squash plant, but I’m having a hard time getting any squash off it because the slugs start munching on them before they are ready. I need to get out there and prune it back. In front you can see my very yellow parsley plant. I was puzzled, because just last week I went out and clipped some parsley off it for dinner, and I was really happy with how it looked. Looking closer, I see there are holes under it and some critter has clearly burrowed under it and killed it! Give me a break!

This row has two pickling cucumber plants, and a volunteer chives in the very front. I found a lot of cucumbers under those leaves, but I’ll save that for another post.

I stepped past the next two rows to shoot them from the other side, because those are my 7 tomato plants. They are pretty large, and seem to be growing fine, but they are loaded with green tomatoes. No telling if they’ll turn red (or yellow), but we’ll wait and see. I have a feeling I’ll be canning green tomato salsa again this year.

The only tomatoes turning ripe are these black cherry tomatoes, and only a few of them.

Although this isn’t garden, it’s my pasture, and it looks beautiful. We had a neighbor come spray it with WeedMaster this year to kill the invasive weeds, and it looks like it did the trick. Dave mowed it last week and found more grass growing where there used to be lots of weeds. They aren’t gone, but their numbers are down!

The hill looks really good. It usually is very scrubby and covered with daisy, but it looks very grassy now.