Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rediscovering Roots

My great-grandmother, "Minnie" on the far left and her Lithuanian family

The Ring

My great-grandfather, George Edgar Osborne, as a young boy.

Many years ago, I inherited a gold wedding ring from my great aunt. I never thought much of it, but toted it with me from place to place in a jewelry box with my other items. One day last month, while I was sorting through my jewelry pieces and deciding what to sell and what to keep, I came across this ring again. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there was actually something engraved inside of the band: "G.O. to M.G. 4-21" Well, that certainly had me pondering. Who did I know of with those initials in my family? There was only one answer: my maternal great-grandparents.

George and Minnie

George and Minnie Osborne

I know next to nothing about my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died (supposedly of appendicitis, but there is a family theory that this is incorrect) in 1934, when my grandfather was just a baby. As my great-grandfather, George, was too poor to afford to bury her, he had her converted to the Jewish faith in order to have her buried for free in the Jewish cemetery. Thus leading to the incorrect theory that my great-grandmother was Jewish.

My great-grandmother, Minnie, was full-blooded Lithuanian, and I'm pretty sure that "Minnie" is actually short for something else (probably much longer and harder for the average American to pronounce). This makes researching her quite a challenge. Thankfully, I know a bit more about my great-grandfather, George Edgar Osborne. He was born in 1884, and was married twice. I believe I have managed to track down the record of his first marriage in the Lackawanna County records. If I am correct, George married Gertrude McLaughlin in 1906, and she later died around 1914. We do not know the date of his marriage to my great-grandmother, but if the "21" in the "4-21" on the wedding ring is the year, then it must have been in 1921. I believe my great-grandmother was born in 1901, so if she married in 1921, that would have made her 20 years old (my grandfather confirms that she married young). George and Minnie had 3 daughters and 2 sons. My grandfather was the oldest son. Unfortunately, my great-grandfather was INCREDIBLY closed-mouthed about his life/marriage, so my grandfather knows next to nothing about his family. His paternal grandmother was a full-blooded native american, but we have no idea her name, her husband's name, or even what tribe she came from. Things like this frustrate me so much...so much of my history is lost, and I wonder how much of it I will be able to rediscover...?

Minnie with her 2 daughters

In any case, I am currently working to try and rediscover my roots. I recently managed to obtain some old family photos of my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents. I am sharing some of those pictures here. I love the pictures of my grandparents the best - especially my grandmother, whom I love very much (and am the most like).

Monday, September 27, 2010

B&B Guests & Farm Estate Sales -
What a Weekend!

This past weekend, we had a 2-night reservation for our larger guest room. The lovely ladies who stayed with us had won a free nights' stay coupon from the 2010 Oregon Cheese Festival Silent Auction (our coupon was part of a larger gift basket up for auction). So they experienced all that our wonderful B&B has to offer at half price! The first morning, we treated them to fresh honey-raspberry-cornmeal muffins (made using our own berries and cornmeal!) as an appetizer. For the main course, they had homemade cherry-fennel granola with yogurt, followed by individual heirloom melon cups with raspberries and mint! On morning #2, there was my own personal recipe flax bread (when drizzled in fresh honey, it tastes like CAKE!), followed by healthy blueberry breakfast cakes (flavored with orange juice and lemon verbena), and a final course of lemony quinoa with maple-sauteed apples. YUM-MY! The guests seemed to have a great time, and enjoyed the farm tour, as well as all of their free botanical bath samples!

This weekend was also when a L-A-R-G-E Farm Estate Sale was being held over in Talent. Ryan and I managed to sneak out on Saturday and visit it. There were so many amazing items for sale! I only had a few dollars with me, but I did manage to pick up a beautiful mink stole and a set of circa 1910-1915 silver spoons and forks (very art deco and GORGEOUS!!). The silverware was 10 cents each - talk about hog heaven! On Sunday, the B&B guests thankfully left early, allowing the whole family to head back down to the estate sale. Sunday was half off at the sale, and we all knew that we needed to go early! On Saturday, I had seen the most BEAUTIFUL double tea set of hand-painted Japanese china. The original price was $35 (way out of my price range), but on Sunday it was only $17.50! We arrived at the sale, and I raced into the room with the tea sets, just barely beating another lady who wanted them. HA! It pays to be small and swift! I hovered over them protectively while Ryan grabbed a box and newspaper to wrap all the pieces up in. Then we browsed some more! All in all, besides the tea set, I managed to grab an $8 oil lamp, an old Liniment bottle for my collection, and a set of lovely linen tea napkins, embroidered with blue flowers. I was quite pleased with the haul-away!

In some ways, however, estate sales always make me sad. It's like watching a flock of vultures (and yes, I know I am included in this statement) descend upon someone's private and cherished possessions. I guess it hits home because I know that someday, somewhere, this is what will become of my own home & possessions. I am a woman whose only family is either estranged or elderly, with no siblings or children...I suppose it's easier to bear because I am still young...Anywho, I don't want to get all melancholy on everybody, so I will quit that train of thought right there.

On a happier note, I am really (REALLY) looking forward to my mini-vacation with Ryan this weekend! For the first time in THREE YEARS, we are getting off of the farm! Things have been so financially tight since we moved here that we have been unable to finance a vacation until now (honestly, we still can't really afford to go, but we decided - sanity-wise - we couldn't afford NOT to go!). We decided to head over to the coast because I have been longing to visit Shore Acres after reading "A Gathering of Finches." Ryan and I plan to spend lots of time beach combing, hiking, and sleeping. It's going to be awesome! And we were truly blessed to have some lovely friends willing to farm sit for us (thank you, Steve & Cenya!!) in exchange for quality time with Gloria. *laughing* Well, okay, a nice house to stay in, a fridge stocked with goodies (both solid AND liquid!), and some thank-you gifts...

We really need this vacation! Ryan's been overloaded at his outside job, and with the last two weekends booked at the B&B, I have basically been working non-stop for three weeks straight. Not to mention that yesterday we also had to do a hay run...We are both EXHAUSTED and desperately in need of some R&R!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Slumming Again!

Grammy and I went yard sale-ing again this morning! There was a lovely little Estate Sale just down the road from us, and it combined my two favorite things: vintage goodies and cheap prices! For mere quarters, I snagged BAGS of beautiful old lace, antique linen napkins, metal zippers, and gold embroidery thread! For a few dollars, I purchased a stack of books on herbs and gardening. I bought an antique White Rotary sewing machine for $5, an old washboard for $2, and a beautiful black velvet dress/housecoat from the 1940's (the tag reads "Fashions by Marilyn, New York") for $4! Yippee!

The antique sewing machine has its original needle too! Though White's isn't as organized as Singer when it comes to manufacturing dates, I was able to estimate (based on the serial number) that the machine was made between the 1930s-1940s.

Five Years And Tomorrow

A friend from my college years recently sent me some pictures from our times together. The first one was right after our horrid geology field camp - it was the first time Laura tried sushi! So here are some of us geo gals with our mouths full of tasty fishies! Goodness, but I do miss SLC's sushi restaurants!

Then here are some lovely shots of my wedding. Ryan looks so young! I feel like such a cradle-robber!!!

P.S. - In case you are wondering about the title, it's from a song remix by Marmion. The song is called "Five Years and Tomorrow," and I believe the lyrics go something like this:

"I cried for five years
I was in tears for five years
I decided to make a difference
There was a call
A loving influence
Start tomorrow
But understand today
Get out of your sorrow
And meet the new way"

I may be misquoting the exact line here and there, but that's the gist. I always enjoyed that song 1) because it made for excellent driving music while I was commuting back and forth between SLC & Nevada (working on a mining claim), and 2) it always made me think of my life before Ryan - nearly 5 years in a horribly abusive relationship, and then I discovered a calling that took me far away and allowed me to heal and learn. I did get out of my sorrow, and I did find a new way of living.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's for Breakfast?

Today's guest breakfast included an appetizer of (my new recipe) honey-raspberry-cornmeal muffins (using our OWN Oaxacan Green Dent cornmeal and berries!!) accompanied by a local fig that had been quartered and decorated with a vibrantly yellow Evening Primrose flower. The wonderfully ripe fig sat on a bed of peppery primrose leaves sprinkled with table grapes from our vines out back. GOOD MORNING!

This was followed by locally grown, individual heirloom cantaloupe cups with chopped figs, raspberries, and mint. The second course was our famous farm fresh scrambled eggs with brown butter-fried sage and chives. Yum!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hello, Green Cornbread!

The Oaxacan Green Dent Corn harvest is finally coming in! This is by far the most BEAUTIFUL corn that we have ever raised. Mature ears range in color from blacks to purples, and as they dry become progressively greener in hue. When ground up, this corn makes a lovely green cornmeal. A very drought tolerant and dependable variety. Generally 1-2 ears of corn per stalk. Ears range in size from 6-8+ inches long. Average 105-120 days to harvest.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Well, after my earlier post about that beautiful blue hat I saw at a yard sale but didn't buy, I thought that that was the last of it. Well, lo and behold, who should I see at the city-wide Jacksonville Yard Sale today but that same lady selling that same lovely hat! So, like a drug addict, I whipped out my wallet and bought my hat - the hat that I had thought about every day since that yard sale weeks ago...and yes, in all irony, I DID pay her asking price. I didn't care at that point. I wanted my damn hat!


(Good to see you again!)

The hat has an adorable bow in back, and the inside label reads "Mr. John Classic." While this hat is 1940's in style, I believe that it was actually made in the 1960's (which is when this hat maker was popular).

Speaking of the Jacksonville Yard Sale, Ryan, my grandmother, and I had a great morning out! We did a lot of browsing, and scored many excellent finds! For example, for $5 I picked up a leaded crystal 6-goblet apéritif set that matched the wine glasses I bought at that thrift store months ago. I also purchased a BEAUTIFUL leaded crystal decanter set with matching goblets and serving tray. That decanter is HEAVY! For $1, I picked up a lovely set of white elbow-length vintage opera gloves (with pearly buttons!), a cute little vintage purse ($2), a lacy off-white dress from the 1950's ($3), and a vintage black fox (head) fur stole (I'm too embarassed to admit what I paid for that).

No excuse not to get all dolled up for drinks now!!!

Pictures to come later...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Apothecary Inn's Multi-Purpose Tomato Sauce Recipe!

Even though this early fall weather has me in a bit of a funk (I hate saying goodbye to my veggie garden for the year!), it also marks the beginning of the true harvest season: squash, tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc. I have been slowly bringing in an ear or two of Oaxacan Green Dent Corn. While most of the crop is not ripe yet, there have been a few ears ready for picking. The "ripe" kernels range in hues from yellow to blue, and grow even more colorful as they dry! I plan to grind them up and make a delicious green cornmeal! Considering that I planted a roughly 40 foot by 15 foot patch of this corn (and each plant has an average of 1-2 ears on it), I should be doing pretty well by the time everything is said and done! I was a bit disappointed with my squash harvest this year (and don't even get me started on the melons!), but the Oregon Heirloom variety "Sweet Meat" did an outstanding job. I have about 10+ specimens of it sitting in my field, and each one weighs an average of 15-30 lbs. I think we'll still be doing okay on squash this winter! The Delicata squash also produced quite well, though production began later than the Sweet Meat. My shelling beans - namely the Cherokee Trail of Tears beans - have been drying on the vine, and I have been slowly bringing them inside, shelling them, and drying the beans. I have a small seed bean pile going, and a larger eating pile going!

We have been canning a great deal of pasta sauce off of our garden harvest, as we are big carb consumers during the winter months. Pasta sauce is a wintertime staple in the Garrett household! Here is our recipe for it:

Tomato Sauce:

20+ pounds of heirloom tomatoes
10 Egyptian Walking Onions
2 medium (or 1 very large) zucchini
2+ lbs of bush beans
2+ lbs of carrots
1 pimento pepper
3 jalapenos
1 young chile negro
1 bell pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 heaping double-handfuls of assorted fresh basil
6 sprigs of thyme (pick the leaves off and discard the stems)
2 large sprigs oregano (pick the leaves off and discard the stems)
1/4 cup fennel seeds (garden fresh is best - pound seeds in a mortar and pestle to release flavoring!)
1 bottle red wine (pick something you enjoy drinking, so you can have a glass while you cook!)
Generous dollop of olive oil
small sprinkling of cayenne pepper flakes

Chop up all ingredients and put into a large stock pot. Fill pot with water until it just covers all ingredients. Put on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and leave to slow cook all day. We oftentimes cook our sauce over a couple of days, turning the stove off at night and covering the pot with a lid, and then resuming the simmer the next day. When everything has cooked down and the sauce is THICK, remove from heat. Pour into canning jars. We pressure can our jars, but use whatever method you are most comfortable/familiar with!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, I did finish my dress in time for Melanie's wedding. However, due to the warmth of the day (and the thick black velvet of the dress), I decided not to wear it. People have been asking for pictures of the finished dress, so here is one of me in the dress (ignore the hat - it totally does not go with the outfit! Don't know what I was thinking...?).

Overall, the pattern was surprisingly simple (this from a person who is terrible at sewing, so that should tell you something!). The bodice and skirt consisted of two pieces each that were easily sewn together. Originally, the pattern had a small hook and eye closure at the top of the skirt. However, given the tightness of the bodice, this was not a logical closure method. Thus, I modified the dress at the end with a 22" invisible zipper, which ended up working GREAT!

What I like about this dress is the excellent fit - it's tight enough around the waist to be flattering, but loose enough in the shoulders and hips to be comfortable. This is an outfit that you could dress up OR down. The other thing that I like about this pattern is the mock apron peplum. While I was originally disappointed that it was not a REAL apron peplum (and someday I plan to make the pattern again, but modify it to have an actual apron peplum - possibly attached to the bodice and flatteringly gathered at the sides of the torso), I liked how the lace really created an illusion of one.

The hardest part about sewing this pattern (for me, anyway) was gathering the skirt enough to fit the bodice without making it appear so poofed out as to be unflattering on my curvy figure. It took two tries, but I ended up getting it right. Now it has just enough gather to be flattering, without making me look pregnant.
I would absolutely recommend this pattern as a great dress for beginner sewers! As mentioned previously, I plan to sew it again but modify it to look more like an Emma Domb dress I saw for sale with the attached apron peplum...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Day Out

Today was Melanie's wedding, and Ryan and I were very excited to get dressed up and get out of the house! Originally, I was going to wear the lovely dress I just finished sewing (made after the pattern from the 1940's), but it was a warm day and the thick black velvet proved to be far too warm. So I switched to some nice slacks and a pretty sleeveless blouse, accented by one of my lovely hats!

Me grabbing a quick bite to eat before leaving the house

We had to stop at the vet first and pick up round #4 of antibiotics for Jugi beforehand. Ryan and I are so frustrated! Jugi and Adso are like two little kids who keep passing the same head cold back and forth. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the LAST time I need to medicate a kitten for a good long while!

Melanie's wedding was lovely, and we enjoyed being a part of it. She looked so pretty in her wedding dress, and I can't wait to see photos!

On the way home, Ryan and I stopped by a garage sale on Williams Highway. It appeared as though an antique store exploded in someone's backyard. There were SO many beautiful things, including an absolutely gorgeous blue hat with a bird of paradise feather extending off of it. The problem was that the lady knew what she had, and her prices were very high. This is my pet peeve: if you are going to have a yard sale (especially in a poor rural area such as Southern Oregon), you simply canNOT expect to get upscale store prices. It's a YARD SALE. You need to give deep discounts AND expect haggling. Anywho, she wanted waaaaaaaay too much for the hat, so I sadly put it back on the pile. It was very hard to say goodbye. Sigh.

I still think about that hat...

All in all, we had a wonderful time out! But I have to say, I was quite happy to come home, throw my jeans on, and have some quiet time with my family. I guess I'm a homebody at heart.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

My New Vintage Dress

My sewing pattern arrived today! And from that very moment, I have been hard at work sewing-sewing-sewing. Thank goodness it's an easy pattern, as I am no seamstress. But I can stitch a straight line (most of the time anyway), and follow basic directions. After about 5 hours "playing" away, I have the body complete and the skirt nearly so (and gathered!). The only problem is that the pattern does not have a well thought out closure. Their method of using a few hooks at the top of the skirt doesn't make sense to me for a dress with a very tight bodice. I am having trouble getting my arms into the bodice, so I decided to say a prayer tomorrow and cut into the bodice and insert a make-shift zipper. I have worked so hard thus far, and am so close to being done, that I think I might cry if I screw my dress up now! But I HAVE to modify the method of closure somehow, or I'll have a beautiful dress but no logical means of wearing it... The other aspect that does concern me is the extra material needed for the seam of the zipper in this already tight bodice. I may make it too tight by having to put in a zipper, and yes, I could rip the stitches out of the sides and resew (giving myself more leeway with a smaller seam allowance), but I don't want to have to!

Anywho, cross your fingers for me!

P.S. - I LOVE the vintage lace I used as an accent...I used it as a decorative band across the bodice, along the bottom of the skirt, and again as a mock peplum apron on the skirt body (the pattern really fooled me! I thought it had an ACTUAL separate peplum piece! But this is a pretty cool "cheater" method).

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Into the Deep...

Ever wondered what the Innkeepers' Quarters look like? Well, here's a glance at the sweetest suite in the house!:

The Bathroom...

We did the bathroom in hues of blues and whites, taking our inspiration from lovely Victorian porcelain pieces. For our bathroom door, we actually used an old exterior entry door with stained glass windows. Instead of the normal built-in cabinets for storage, we purchased an antique sideboard and treated the wood to resist moisture. For the sink/vanity, we bought an antique night stand and converted it. The sink bowl is a beautiful blue & white porcelain vessel sink, and is accompanied by a wall mounted brass faucet. The mirror is a fully recessed bathroom mirror with glass shelves.

A fully restored antique claw foot bath tub big enough to fit my 6 foot tall husband!

Double-jetted walk-in shower with fossil fish tiles (collected by me in Wyoming).

Oh, did I mention the bathroom also has heated flooring?

The Bedroom -

(These are early pictures, when we were just moving in)

A lovely wood stove to keep us warm on those cold winter nights! We used the thick moulding that lines three of the walls for our immense book collection.

Shoe storage! This is my closet...

My loom, where I spend much of my time during the winter...

View standing by the loom, looking at the "sitting area" around the woodstove.