Friday, July 24, 2009

Jammin' Morning

I've been wanting to make freezer jam for a few years now. Between forgetting about it and feeling a lack of confidence (although unwarranted according to expert freezer jam-makers), I've just never learned. Until yesterday, that is!

Thanks to my sister, one of the aforementioned experts, I was encouraged and assisted to take the plunge! We went together to purchase half flats of fresh berries in season and the other necessary ingredients, a whole two (pectin specifically for freezer jam and organic sugar), not including the jars. Although the plan was to make it together at her house, I wasn't up to the task of packing all my supplies plus the new puppy, so I stayed home and 'jammed' by myself. ;)

I've truly been missing out all these years. Freezer jam is so easy to make it's almost silly! I made three batches- Boysenberry, Berry Blitz= boysenberry, blueberry and raspberry, and Berry Delight= boysenberry and raspberry, for a total of 15 half-pint jars of jam. (Yes, I named them, you know my obsession with naming anything!) It only took one hour. Oh my goodness, are they ever delicious!!! Tom says he can easily get used to having fresh jams around. Guess I'm stuck now. But it's a happy spot to be stuck! :)

I strongly encourage you all to take the plunge this year, too!!! For a great video on the process, go to Ball's Fresh Preserving website. There you'll find lots of luscious recipes. Enjoy!

P.S. The leftover berry puree makes fantastic smoothies, just add to yogurt! And extra whole berries can be frozen for jam making later, or whatever else!

Sunset Climate Zone 1A

Here is what the Sunset Western Garden book has to say about the climate zone in which our land is located:

" Zone 1A: Coldest mountain an intermountain areas

Marked by a short growing season and relatively mild summer temperatures, zone 1A includes the coldest regions west of the Rockies, and a few patches of cold country east of the Great Divide. The mild days and chilly nights extend bloom of summer perennials like columbines and Shasta daisies. If your garden gets reliable snow cover (which insulates plants), you can grow perennials listed for some of the milder zones. Along with hardy evergreen conifers, tough deciduous trees and shrubs form the garden's backbone here. Gardeners can grow warm-season vegetables as long as they're short-season varieties.

Winter lows average in the 0 to 11 degrees F (-18 to -12 degrees C) range; extremes range from -25 to -40 degrees F (-32 to -40 degrees C). The growing season averages 50 to 100 days."

Boy, do we have our worked cut out for us- learning what veg to grow, and consistently. I think a green house is definitely in order! :)

716,126,400 Lbs.

July 23rd, 2009 is an auspicious day in our family's history... We are now the proud stewards of 40 prime acres in Ferry County, Washington!!! Everything was signed, notarized, paid and recorded as of yesterday. In a jumble of tears and laughter with butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I relayed the telephone conversation to Tom. Can't believe he could understand a single word uttered! Then it was telephone calls to family and friends with the good news. Mrs. Minor, the dear lady we bought the land from, is thrilled for us, as well, and wants to follow along on our journey.

When Tom got home from work, one of the first things he said was: "I wonder how much dirt we own now?" That's a veteran dirt mover for ya! So, just how much?- 3 ft. deep, 1/4 sq. mile, at 3,699 lbs. per cubic yard... 716,126,400 lbs. of dirt... 358,063 tons. That's a lot of dirt! As well as trees, water, wildlife, big blue sky!

This is a major turning point. No more if's. Now the heavy work begins. We have a telephone meeting with a state certified sustainable architect/designer next week to go over our needs and move forward getting our house plans together for the building permit application. Exciting!!! In mid August, Tom will go for a weekend to survey for lay out the driveway from the front 40's easement to our future building site, the south meadow. We hope to have some preliminary work done- timber and road cut. Then, the end of September likely, we'll go camp on the land for a week, get a feel for it, design a site plan to submit with the plans for a permit, also Tom will put finishing touches on the driveway.

There's those butterflies again!

Photos (not the best, but they're all we have at the moment), also property line starts at the base of the hill (dilapidated building is not on our land!), all views are from the county road:
- above is view of length of property from north to south (left to right) with the spring and draw in the center.
- below is south section with meadow at top of hill (future building site)
- bottom is the north section with another meadow at the top.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Healthiest Foods on Earth

I came across this article today and thought it was outstanding! Here is an excerpt, to your health:

In Depth: The Healthiest Foods On Earth

"What is the best diet for human beings? Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free? Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that's based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.

People have lived and thrived on high-protein, high-fat diets (the Inuit of Greenland); on low-protein, high-carb diets (the indigenous peoples of southern Africa); on diets high in raw milk and cream (the people of the Loetschental Valley in Switzerland); diets high in saturated fat (the Trobriand Islanders) and even on diets in which animal blood is considered a staple (the Massai of Kenya and Tanzania). And folks have thrived on these diets without the ravages of degenerative diseases that are so epidemic in modern American life—heart disease, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis and cancer.

The only thing these diets have in common is that they're all based on whole foods with minimal processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat. Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.

All these healthy diets have in common the fact that they are absent foods with bar codes. They are also extremely low in sugar. In fact, the number of modern or ancient societies known for health and longevity that have consumed a diet high in sugar would be ... let's see ... zero.

Truth be told, what you eat probably matters less than how much processing it's undergone. Real food—whole food with minimal processing—contains a virtual pharmacy of nutrients, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthful fats, and can easily keep you alive and thriving into your 10th decade.

Berries, for example, are phenomenally low in calories, high in fiber and loaded with plant compounds that improve memory and help fight cancer. Studies have consistently shown that nut-eaters have lower rates of heart disease. Beans are notorious for their high fiber content and are a part of the diet of people—from almost every corner of the globe—who live long and well.

Protein--the word comes from a Greek word meaning "of prime importance"—is a feature of every healthy diet ever studied. Meat, contrary to its terrible reputation, can be a health food if—and this is a big if—the meat comes from animals that have been raised on pasture land, have never seen the inside of a feedlot farm and have never been shot full of antibiotics and hormones.

Ditto for raw milk, generally believed to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet by countless devotees who often go to great expense and inconvenience to obtain it from small, sustainable farms. Wild salmon, whose omega-3 content is consistently higher than its less-fortunate, farm-raised brethren, gets its red color from a powerful antioxidant called astaxathin. The combination of protein, omega-3s and antioxidants makes wild salmon a contender for anyone's list of great foods.

Another great food: eggs—one of nature's most perfect creations, especially if you don't throw out the all-important yolk. (Remember "whole" foods means exactly that—foods in their original form. Our robust ancestors did not eat "low-fat" caribou; we don't need to eat "egg-white" omelets.)

There are really no "bad" vegetables, but some of them are superstars. Any vegetable from the Brassica genus—broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale—is loaded with plant chemicals called indoles, which help reduce the risk of cancer.

In the fruit kingdom, apples totally deserve their reputation as doctor-repellents: they're loaded with fiber, minerals (like bone-building boron) and phytochemicals (like quercetin, which is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and to have anti-cancer properties). Some exciting new research suggests that pomegranate juice slows the progression of certain cancers. Other research shows it lowers blood pressure.

Finally, let's not forget members of the Alliaceae family of plants—onions, garlic and shallots. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties; hundreds of published studies support its antimicrobial effects as well as its ability to lower the risk of heart disease. A number of studies have shown an inverse relationship between onion consumption and certain types of cancer.

A healthy diet doesn't have to contain every one of the "healthiest foods on earth," but you can't go wrong putting as many of the above mentioned foods in heavy rotation on your personal eating plan."

Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S., is a board-certified nutritionist and the author of seven books on health and nutrition, including The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


It's only fair since Eoin and Greer have been formally introduced on our Blog, that I also introduce my darling kitty, Chanel. She is the sweetest, most playful, softest (everybody says so), prettiest kitty in the whole wide world! But I'm partial. Isn't her 'painted' face gorgeous? And those big green eyes. Well, I could look at her all day!


Then There Was......

...... a puppy!!! You read that right... a puppy... 9 weeks old, just a baby. Another English Shepherd, she is what's called a Tri-color- black, white and tan markings. We collected her in Seattle on Sunday, so we are quite an active household these days. I feel a bit sleep-deprived as I'm crate/potty training her at night- listening for whining, taking her out 1 or 2 times per night, hoping she goes so the length between trips will be longer affording me more sleep. She is doing remarkably well, smart as a whip and eager to please.

The introduction to Eoin went like a dream. It's hilarious to watch them playing! She is a real spit-fire, Eoin definitely has his paws full. Another dog to rough dog-play with is just what he has needed. Now he mostly leaves Chanel (the kitty) alone, much to her chagrin since she actually likes to cat-play with Eoin, only objecting when he starts to play rough. Chanel is very curious about the puppy, waiting until she is asleep to come and check her out, or just staring at her from across the room. A few hisses and growls as boundaries are set, but getting along fine.

I know, you're dying to know what her name is, right? We gave her a Scottish name, as with Eoin. It is the feminine form of Gregor and means "watchful, alert". Drum roll please......................

Introducing, Greer ~ ~ ~


And here they are together the first day ~ ~ ~

Greer and Eoin

I will be creating Greer's very own pages on our Highland English Shepherds website, with photo album and blog of her own. Watch her grow!