Friday, December 31, 2010

Something Squirrely...

I'm finally getting around to posting a few pictures of the Christmas presents I received (ok, ok: bought for myself and had my family wrap up) this year. As you know, I'm a big sucker for the (cheap) vintage furs (***and before I get screamed at, please read my usual fur-related footnote at the bottom of this post).

I found this gorgeous dyed Russian squirrel fur wrap at a local store for $25. What made this find even more amazing - besides the awesome price - was the fact that in the pocket I discovered the original price tag and SIGNED sales receipt! This is a wrap with a history!! How wonderful! It was purchased on November 30th, 1959 by John S. Madsen for the amount of $115 plus tax and what I assumed was a delivery fee.

It's by far the softest, most exquisite thing I have ever had wrapped around me, and that includes my husband (*laughing* - sorry, honey!)...

***A Note about wearing vintage fur: I am not pro-animal-death-for-fashion. I think we can ALL agree that I adore animals and absolutely hate to see a single one suffer (I can hardly handle turkey slaughter season!). I have experienced all levels of life and death on this farm: I have brought animals into this world and helped them to leave it. Long story short: I. LOVE. ANIMALS. That being said, I enjoy vintage fashions, and (unfortunately for some) fur is a part of that. A vintage fur piece was made YEARS ago - I was not the woman who specifically requested it. I would NEVER wear or buy new fur. Therefore, I feel ok in buying and enjoying the vintage pieces because the animals were already killed years ago, and I am not supporting NEW fur coats and accessories. I feel as though it's better to wear the vintage fur, enjoy it, and know that in SOME small way that animal's death was not completely in vain, than to boycott it completely and truly have that animal's death have been for nothing. Whether you agree with me or not, that is MY stance on the matter. I am sorry for whomever I offend, but I love my VINTAGE furs, and will continue to wear them and honor the animals who gave their life for it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Back in Order to Move Forward

I always enjoy looking back on my goals for the past year, and seeing what I accomplished and what I didn't, what was a realistic goal and what wasn't, etc. In examining my 2010 goals, I see that I was definitely unrealistic about quite a few of them! But I have learned my lesson this year, and will try not to be quite so optimistic! On the positive side, I completed a large portion of my gardening-related goals, which is something that I am quite proud of. Here is a recap of my goals for 2010 (written in December 2009). My notes and thoughts on each of these goals follow in red:

Thinking ahead to next year makes me also ponder what goals I have in mind for 2010. I hate making New Years' resolutions, but I DO believe in setting obtainable goals for yourself for the coming year.
**OBTAINABLE goals is clearly still something that I need to work on...though I do prefer to think of it as being overly-optimistic (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, right???!)**

Here is my list:

1. Increase the size of my dairy goat herd (pretty easy, since I have 5 does due in February & March - fingers are crossed for lots of girl babies!!)
**Done. 13 babies, and though we had a few infant mortalities & stillborns (which, even when it is caused by something out of your hands, is still heartbreaking), we kept the 4 best doelings.**

2. Finish building my 4th raised bed in the herb garden
**Done (at the unfortunate expense of my back and wrists)!**

3. Finish landscaping the herb garden
**Also done, with the exception of the little transplants here and there...but I'm calling this goal accomplished!**

4. Plant one or more fig trees over Jugi's grave
**Planted 3, and an heirloom rose bush ("Bizarre Triumph," which I thought was oddly fitting)**

5. Have an amazing summer with the B&B business! Pay off 2 out of 3 large debts associated with moving to Oregon/getting the B&B up off of its feet
**Ok, totally slow summer season this year, but that was a bit out of our hands with the economy and all. Spoke with the folks down at the chamber of commerce, and they said this was the worst summer they'd seen in 30 years. Even so, our summer was certainly not for lack of trying on OUR end. Better luck in 2011 I guess!**

6. Get a cheese press, and have Ryan make hard cheeses for eating in Winter 2010
**Done! And delicious! I'm a total goat cheese Manchego convert now...**

7. Increase yacon crop (possibly 2 separate harvests in May and November: growing my yacon indoors this winter, harvesting it in May, and then setting it out again for another harvest in November)
**I actually managed to do this! And I managed to divide and multiply my number of plants for NEXT spring too! Yay me!**

8. Graft 100 heirloom apple trees (and pray for a 70%+ success rate)
**Yeah...FAR too optimistic on this one. Managed to graft about 25, but the insane hot/cold weather blips we had over the summer proved too much for most of the grafts that took. Of the 13 or so grafts that took, only 3 made it to the end of the summer. Sad day. I'm still determined to graft more apple trees, but I think this year I am going to stick to a goal of 20 or so.**

9. Begin landscaping the "Innkeepers' Backyard." My goal is to have it looking pretty (if not exactly finished) by the summer solstice in June, so that I can have a Solstice/BBQ party in my yard!
**I should have known this was far too large of a goal for a single year...We do have a queue of projects, after all, and this one is pretty far down the line...**

10. Build the outdoor dutch oven in the "Innkeepers' Backyard."
**See above comment**

11. Increase advertising for the B&B
**The slow summer meant we didn't have the extra funds to meet this goal, but I am REALLY hoping it's a goal I can accomplish in 2011!**

12. Increase types of medicinal herbs found in my herb garden
**I think it's safe to say I took this goal and ran with it.**

13. Grow more freaky cacti (from seed!)

14. Help Ryan to convert the larger Apothecary Suite closet into a walk-in library
**Refer to comments about advertising and innkeeper backyard.**

15. Begin converting the Solarium into a real conservatory.
**Let's call and greenhouse a greenhouse and check this off.**

16. Finish building planter boxes for the Secret Garden & plant more grapes, etc. in that area
**Thanks to contributions from kind souls, I didn't have to build anything! The wonderful addition of an old cast iron tub, a lovely little row boat, and an old animal feeder made WONDERFUL planter boxes!**

17. Obtain my nursery license and begin making plant sales
**I have decided that there is enough insanity in my life. Why add to it? Nix this one.**

18. Visit my heart sister, Elaina, and her (*fingers crossed*) baby!!
**Insane work schedule and lack of funds rather shot this one down. Sigh. Next year?**

19. Spend more time with my husband & appreciate the beautiful moments in life
**Totally and wonderfully accomplished! I love you, Ryan!**


**Hell-bleeping-yeah I did!!!!!!!!!**

~~~~~ that we have discussed the goals of 2010, let's move on to my goals for 2011 (and see if I have learned anything about setting obtainable goals for myself!):

  1. Increase advertising for the B&B
  2. Double or Triple my corn crops
  3. Double or triple my squash crops (zucchini is NOT included in this!)
  4. Sell more produce & plants
  5. Come up with more amazing B&B recipes using even more ingredients from my garden!
  6. Have a decent heirloom apple harvest
  7. Plant more peach, apple, and cherry trees around the property
  8. Increase the size of my two garden plots thanks to the tractor
  9. Take a longer vacation
  10. Weave more
  11. Learn to better separate my business life from my personal life
  12. Spend more time with my husband
  13. Take a hike (I miss being able to do that)
  14. Try to have more of a social life (i.e. get OFF of the farm more)
  15. Have a successful melon or watermelon crop
  16. Go fishing with my husband (note I did not say CATCH a fish)
  17. Spend more time appreciating how blessed I am and being thankful for the little things
  18. Make it to 100 vintage hats (heehee)
  19. Wear earrings more often (what? I need some frivolous goals in here for fun! You can't be serious ALLLLLL the time!)
I'm sure that there are other goals I will think of, but I believe that's a pretty decent start on things...

Happy New Year, everyone! May your 2011 be one of those "Happy Golden Years."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Want To Be A Spoiled House Kitten

I stood over Jugi 2.0 and said, "You know...I've seen squirrels in that same pose..."

Must be nice to be a warm 'n' happy kitty!

Final Vintage Hats of 2010...

Here are my final two vintage hats for 2010:

Cutest little Merrimac hat with a matching feather accent, circa 1950's, from Meier and Frank in Portland! Yay for local vintage!!

My final hat for 2010 (and my Christmas Eve present!): a lovely little 1940's brown felt topper hat with a (slightly worn) band of mink and big felt flowers on the back. It's held on by a stiff circle of felt that goes around the back of your head, and with a large felt flower dangling down and attached to that band. VERY unique and pretty!

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

2011 has not even arrived yet, and already I've put in my seed order for next year's garden. As I have mentioned previously, I did not actually need to order very many seeds. I did quite well with my seed saving last summer, so we're mostly-set for next year. I have been putting my SSE membership to good use this month, ordering Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge tomato seeds and Papa de Rola pole bean seeds from fellow members. We will be growing many varieties from last year's garden, as well as some "new" heirloom introductions. Here's the unofficial 2011 gardening list (The names in bold red are the ones that are new-to-us for 2011):
  • Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears pole bean
  • Papa de Rola pole bean
  • Dragon's Tongue bush bean
  • Early White Vienna Kohlrabi
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Beauregard and Purple Sweet Potatoes
  • Walla Walla Onions
  • Egyptian Walking Onions
  • Negresse Potato
  • Ajawiri Potato
  • Kennebec Potato
  • Marina di Chiogga winter squash
  • Black Futzu winter squash
  • Ping Tung eggplant
  • Aji Dulce pepper
  • Aji Limon pepper
  • Roberto's Cuban Seasoning pepper
  • Chapeau du Frade pepper
  • Orange Flesh Purple Smudge tomato
  • Oaxacan Green Dent Corn
  • Anasazi sweet corn
  • Violet de Provence artichoke
  • Litchi "Tomato"
  • Giant Cape Gooseberry
  • Ground Cherry
  • Prescott Fond Blanc Melon
  • Piel de Sapo (aka "Toad Skin") Winter Melon
  • Catskill Brussel Sprouts
  • Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto Fava Bean
And of course the usual ridiculous amount of herbs!

Santa Baby...

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, an out-of-space convertible too, light blue
I'll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you'd check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo

Santa honey, I wanna yacht and really that's
Not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To a platinum mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, I'm filling my stocking with a duplex, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean a phone
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight

One of my favorite Christmas songs! *grin* Not to mention that it was a little bit fitting this Christmas...

Ryan and I were very, very good this year, and Santa was quite generous with us and the kittens.

It's been our tradition, each year of our marriage, to open a single gift on Christmas Eve. This year, I bought Ryan a 1924 edition of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," and we stayed up late on Christmas Eve reading the story out loud to one another. What a perfect way to spend Christmas Eve!

On Christmas morning, we opened presents with Grandma, Grandpa, and the kittens, while drinking hot Good Bean coffee (Yum!) and eating breakfast. Jugi was hysterical: he ran right over to the pile of presents and pulled one of HIS presents off and started running away with it! I just about died laughing! No one can say that our kittens are not intelligent (or wily!).

In honor of the 12 days of Christmas, Jugi received 12 Christmas jingly ball toys! We dropped them on the ground around him all at once, and I think he may have wet himself a little bit. Once he recovered, however, he was in hog -er, kitten - heaven. Adso received catnip-filled fish toys and a rubber ball that lights up when you bounce it. He played with those all day on Christmas. The kittens were quite pleased with their Christmas booty!

Besides the practical gifts of household items (T.P., dishwasher soap, etc.), there were several hand planes & a saw for Ryan, furs for me, as well as socks, vintage hats (those were only for me), chocolates, clothing, and more! Jugi and Adso got Ryan several nice work shirts and ties for the holiday (they have good taste, I must say! My favorite is a long-sleeved tan work shirt with a gorgeous deep red tie). I received a lovely 1940's sapphire-blue velvet dress (which I wore later for Christmas dinner). Grandma and Grandpa received several gifts of coffee for Christmas. Everybody was thankful and very pleased with their gifts.

We spent a few hours chatting together and watching the kittens play, then Ryan and I decided to go get showers and begin cooking the final dishes for Christmas dinner. We cooked an ENORMOUS 28-pound ham (off of our mutant 400-lb. pig) overnight, and besides that I was making some squash & potato side dishes. Christmas Dinner was the 2 pm early bird special for Grandpa, and Ryan and I dressed up in honor of the occasion. As you can see in the above picture, I am wearing my blue velvet dress and "new" vintage hat, and Ryan is wearing one of the shirts and ties that the kittens got him. Everything was delicious!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vintage Hats of 2010

Here's the Year in Hats - er, Review...

Huh...I may have a slight addiction...?

(P.S. - Don't show this to Ryan!!)

(P.P.S. - There's one more on the way!!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice To All!

Today marks Yule/Winter Solstice (aka the shortest day of the year)! This is one of my favorite holidays, and Ryan and I have always exchanged some sort of handmade gift on this day. This year, I made him horehound cough drops (a labor of love using my own dried horehound from the herb garden), and he made me a beautiful Bloodwood pendant! I can't wait to bead a necklace for it!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Looking Ahead

I've been doing a great deal of pondering lately about 2011's garden. I went into my pantry (aka "Seed Storage Facility"), took out all of my seed packets and containers, laid everything out on my kitchen counter, and took inventory of what I already had and what I will be needing for next year. Turns out, I have an ENORMOUS amount of seeds in my possession, both from my own personal seed-saving, and from the 25 cents or free pile at local gardening stores. It cracks me up that so many people don't realize that many seed varieties will keep for 5 years or more if properly dried and stored! Around December and January, most stores will begin to heavily discount (or just give away) their seed packets from the previous summer, and this is when I strike! So yes, I have a large amount of seeds already at hand! See the below picture if you don't believe me! ;)

2011's garden will be bigger and better than last year's (yes, I always say that, but it continues to be true!). With our new tractor, we will finish tilling over the soil in the 2nd pasture garden, and therefore be able to plant the entire area. We will also be able to till more soil in the main pasture garden, which means an expansion of that plot as well. You will continue to see 2010 favorites growing in our plot next year: Oaxacan Green Dent Corn (though I will be doubling - or maybe tripling - the amount grown last year), Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato, Quinoa, Chile Negro, Yacon, Dragon's Tongue bush bean, Cherokee Trail of Tears pole bean, and a return of 2009's Marina di Chiogga winter squash (just to name a few!). However, 2011 will also bring some new-to-us heirloom varieties: Black Futsu winter squash, Anasazi Sweet Corn, Piel de Sapo Winter Melon (aka "Toad Skin"), Pineapple Tomato, Buckshorn Plantain, and some rare pepper varieties such as the Chapeau du Frade. I'm incredibly excited to try (and taste!) these "new" varieties!

Stay tuned for more updates as the gardening season approaches!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vintage Hat #3...

Here's a famous hat from the late 30s early 40s. In the late 30s hats went vertical and were often decorated with dramatic feathers. This hat was originally purchased from a theater professor who said that it is just like one worn in a Katharine Hepburn movie.

The hat body is composed of black velvet intricately quilted with top stitching in diamond shapes on the crown and the quilting encircles the brim. The crown is stiffened with starched organdy? and the underside of the brim lined and quilted with velvet. A black grosgrain ribbon encircles the crown with a huge bow in front. Piercing the bow is a pheasant spike in russet, brown, gold and orange, shading to red orange at the tip, a yellow orange curlicue and a fuzzy red feather. The label reads "Original Shorlon Model" with a small tag at the side showing the size to be 22.

I purchased this hat off of the Etsy store Raven Vintage.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vintage Hat #2

Here is my "famous" vintage hat: it was apparently featured for a few brief moments in the Woody Allen film, "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion." I begged Ryan to buy me the DVD (since I have never seen the movie), and this weekend we plan to watch the movie with some friends and play an elaborate hat version of "Where's Waldo." I can't wait!

When I saw this hat it was another case of love - or lust? - at first sight. I had never seen a color combination or style quite like it. I believe this is a very unique hat. Now, you may laugh at me and say, "Jillian, you claim love at first sight for ALL of your hats!" My response to you, dear reader, is this: yes, you are correct. I believe that hats are like art - if you don't absolutely love it, and HAVE to have it, you shouldn't buy it. I see a great deal of hats that I "like" out there, but I know that if I bought them, they would sit in my closet and never be worn, and suffer the exact same fate which I was supposedly "saving" them from. However, if I see a hat that makes me experience the same set of emotions as thinking of my husband covered in chocolate, I know that I will wear it often and cherish that chapeau!

Hat #3 pictures coming soon...

My Favorite Time Of The Year...

The seed catalogs have begun arriving in the mail, and I am in paroxysms of ecstasy!!! This is my favorite time of the year: pouring over the seed selections, writing down everything I want to try growing this year, calculating the total, pairing down my seed order, recalculating, and dreaming some more...I adore gardening! I think what I love most about this time of the year is that there is SO much possibility. Nothing is set in stone, and I am free to day dream. I can start planning out what I will plant and where, how I will rearrange my garden, etc. Now that we have our handy dandy tractor, I am going to be able (with Ryan's help of course!) to GREATLY expand my two pasture gardens without sacrificing my back and my wrists (which I did last year - and have forever since then suffered chronic pain in those areas). Though I had an absolutely amazing garden last year - and I believe I have every right to be proud and brag about how well it did - I still want to expand. I saved many, many seeds from my garden, but of course there were the usual crops that did poorly (and therefore I couldn't save seeds from), or I decided I wanted to switch out one variety of vegetable for another, etc. This is where winter's seed catalogs come in. I believe the potatoes sense my happiness and optimism - they are already trying to sprout in their containers. *grin*

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vintage Hat #1...

(I was a very, VERY good girl this year!)

The first of three "new" vintage hats arrived for me today! It was love (or perhaps lust?) at first sight for me on this hat...I have never seen anything so beautiful before! It is a late 1940's black panne velvet cap edged all around the front with a chain of sparkling prong-set clear glass rhinestones & finished with a subtle (hahaha) 17" long spray of elegant egret feathers! There is no label on the hat. I purchased this from HeadHunter Vintage on Etsy - a TOTALLY awesome store! I had a really great buying experience with this seller.

I've always wanted to own a hat with egret feathers...I'm wearing this out on the town tonight when my husband and I go out for drinks.

I expect hat #2 in the mail any day now...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Catching Up

I picked up this unfinished "holiday" skirt at the Goodwill ages ago, and finally got around to making it wearable. The waistband needed stitching, and it didn't have any method of closure, so I added those as best I could. The waist is a little big on me, but I like the colors and shine of the skirt! It's a calf-length, VERY full gathered skirt, with strips of autumn- and gold-colored brocade in between strips of gold satin. As I said, the waist is still a bit big on me, but not so bad that I feel like I have to go back in and fix it. In the picture, I am wearing the skirt with a purple velvet Banana Republic shirt I found for $1 at the thrift store the other day. Now is a great time for thrift store deals: most places around here are having 50% off sales! Yippee!

Excuse the poor picture - it was windy and rainy today.

To add sparkle, I am wearing my family heirloom Juliana necklace. I used to play dress-up with this when I was little. My grandmother got this for free from her work in the 1950's/60s. I have recently learned that it's worth something between $275-$575. Isn't life funny?

The shiny, fairy-like quality of the outfit reminded me of a similar ensemble I wore for my high school senior pictures. Recognize anyone you know? ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Celebration of the Garden's Bounty

This year, our Thanksgiving will be a celebration of our garden's (and farm's) bounty. We will be cooking our own turkey (the 2nd largest tom - 19 lbs. - which was grown and raised on our land), and the stuffing with be made from scratch using Ryan's sourdough bread crumbs and herbs from the garden. For sides, there will be maple-glazed sweet potatoes (our own Beauregard and Purple Sweet Potatoes! What a colorful dish!), mashed potatoes (again, our own multi-colored tubers), "pumpkin" pie using one of our heirloom Sweet Meat winter squashes (and my famous flaky pie crust), a cranberry-yacon-fennel relish that uses our yacon and fennel bulbs, and of course some of Ryan's famous sourdough rolls (hot out of the oven!). With two kittens and two grandparents to share it with, what more could you ask for?

Oh, and let's not forget the appetizers: homemade sourdough crackers with our own turkey liver pate!

After the meal, there will be popcorn and family movie time. The movie choice? An old classic with Hepburn and "Bogey": The African Queen

May Your Holidays Be Merry & Bright

Get into the true spirit of things this season!


Ryan & Jillian
(Spreading cheer wherever they go)