Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

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On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

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I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

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Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

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I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! 🙂

Gorgeous Fall Colors

Last week the kids and I took a trip across the mountains with my Mom and Dad.

It was totally spur of the moment- one of those, “hey you wanna come with us?”

“um, YES!”

kind of things.
The weather had been foggy for days here, with no end in sight so when we had a chance to escape and cross over from dreariness to sunshine and warmth of course we jumped at it.

We dropped off a couple of deer at Owen’s Meats- the processor my family has used since I was a little kid, then we went around the ridge and over the river out to pretty much my favorite childhood places ever: Teanaway.

I’ve written about Teanaway before, here and here. It’s just one of those places that captures your heart and doesn’t let go, no matter how long it’s been since you were there last.

This time, the light was golden and it was warm out.

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The river was really low so the kids could walk on the rocks without fear of falling into swirling rapids…

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So we did a little exploring and found some cool rocks.

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My sweet Mama helping the kids across the river rocks. They were so cute!

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The trees were losing their gorgeous yellow and red leaves and it made for some pretty eye candy.

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We went nature-watching after we left the river, and drove around for a bit but didn’t see any animals. Then all of a sudden, when we were all looking out the side windows I looked out the front windshield and there was a 5 point bull elk RIGHT in front of us, standing on the side of the road!!

It was so majestic! Of course in the excitement, I forgot that my camera was sitting in my lap. 😦

But seeing him was really cool! He crossed the road in front of us, then faded away into the trees. What a great end to a relaxing day.

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We drove away as the sun was slowly sinking over the hills, wishing that we could just stay a bit longer.  Don’t you just love places like that, that bring life to your heart and are so beautiful it almost hurts?  I sure do. 🙂

Shellin’ The Beans

This spring we planted Black Beans from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and a couple weeks ago they were finally ready to harvest. I decided to plant the “Cherokee Trail of Tears” variety, mostly because of the cool story behind it.

When the Cherokee people were forced to leave their homes and march on the Trail of Tears to the reservations in 1889, they brought the seeds for this variety of bean with them from Tennessee to Oklahoma. Since we lived in Tennessee until last year, I though it would be fun to plant these beans. They did really well- the purple pods are so pretty! When they were beginning to dry out we picked them and hung them to dry over our kitchen window for about a week. I was afraid it would start to get rainy and they would mold if we left them on the plants in the garden. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about, since we’ve had lots of sunny weather up until a few days ago. But in Washington, you never know.

Once the beans were dried out, it was time for shelling. The kids and I took the bean vines out on the porch and got to work!

We had fun chasing the beans as some of them exploded and beans went all over the place.

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We ended up shelling around a pound of beans- definitely not enough to keep us from starving if we were living completely off the land, but for a first crop of about 8-10 plants, not too bad. I am going to save all of the beans for planting again next year and hopefully we’ll get enough to eat and save for seeds the year after that.

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The beans are super shiny and pretty- way more good looking than the dull black beans you get in the store. I’m excited about the prospect of eating them next year. It will be worth the wait, I think.

Have you ever planted heirloom beans? How did they do for you?

The Garden, She is Planted. Mostly.

So, I bet from the title of my post you can guess what I’m going to write about.

Yup.

Our garden is finally in the works- most of the seeds are in the ground and a few are poking their brave little heads above the soil to open their leaves to the world.

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This is a Cherokee Trail Of Tears Black Bean.

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I think this is a Calima Bush Bean. I think.

I am so pumped!

I really hope everything doesn’t die.

Sorry, that was bad English.

I really hope that most of the seeds survive- we’ve already lost all but two broccoli plants ( out of 6) and a couple of my tomato plants are about to bite the dust.
Thankfully, I have more seeds I can plant and replace the ones that died.
I also have a few crops that I’m going to wait until late summer to plant, like another round of broccoli, some parsnips, and turnips and then in the fall I’ll do another round of lettuce and spinach and cabbage.
Here is my garden plan: it’s super high-tech. See?

Who needs a fancy computer plan if you have paper and a pen?

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That’s the only way I know what is planted where; I didn’t take the time to label everything in the garden. Maybe I will after the plants all sprout, we’ll see. There are some pretty cute ideas on Pinterest.

For those of you who can’t read my crazy drawing, here is what we planted:

Alaska Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, Zucchini, Sweet Postatoes, Soup Beans, Marigolds, Arkansas Traveller Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Calima Bush Beans, Zinnias, Red Potatoes, some other potatoes that were given to us, Black Beans, Amish Paste Tomatoes, Ox Blood Beets, Cherry Tomatoes, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Rocky Top Lettuce Mix, Spinach, Chives, Broccoli, Cilantro, Leeks, Chiogga Beets, Atomic Red Carrots, Half Long Guernsey Carrots, Radishes, Cabbage and Garlic.

Whew! I also have a bunch of herbs that are growing in containers, like Basil, Chamomile, Thyme, Oregano and some others that I still need to plant like Horehound, Borage and Yarrow.

I’m not sure where I’m going to plant those yet.

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For now, I’m just out there in the garden every day, pulling up grass roots and pesky weeds, anxiously scanning the dirt to see if any new seeds have popped up, and squealing when I find them. It’s the simple things in life. 🙂

Springtime Scenes

It’s been raining here a lot lately- it is spring in the Pacific Northwest, after all.

However at some point almost every day, there are breaks in the cloudiness and the sun peeks her head out.

Just enough time to pick some dandelions…

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and to do some cool tricks in the grass.

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The flowers are blooming so beautifully!

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There are baby cows next door and on the surrounding farms. (I know, they’re called calves. I just like saying baby cows better.)

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The kids got to see one being born last week- they thought it was the coolest thing ever. I missed it, so we don’t have any pictures. 😦  We were taking care of some friend’s cows, and the one day I didn’t go help feed them, a baby was born right in front of everyone!

How is it looking around your house? Is it still looking like winter, or are there flowers springing up everywhere?

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Happy Spring! 🙂

The Roof Is On the Coop!

Last week, we put the roof on the chicken coop.

By “we”, I mean my dad…  😉 Thanks, Dad!!

Hooray!!

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My dad put up cross rafters, then layered the sheets of roofing and screwed them down. We used the same roofing as on the house and sheds; so everything matches nicely.

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Then dad put up some chicken wire across the space at the top of the coop, for ventilation and so no predators can get in.

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Now our little chickies are warm and dry and can stay in the coop all the time! They’ve been in there since Wednesday and are loving the extra space to run around and clean straw to scratch in.

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We still have a few cracks to seal up and we’re going to concrete around the base of the coop to keep critters out (mostly our dogs) and then we’re going to build a chicken run outside of the coop. At some point.

And we’ll build real roosting poles and nesting boxes for the inside of the coop as the chickens get bigger. I think we’re going to use plastic crates for the nesting boxes.

Once the chicks get a bit older, we’re just going to let them free range in our fenced orchard and garden and hopefully they won’t get eaten by hawks. We lost a chick earlier last week because it jumped over the short partition we had over the doorway of the coop and got picked up by a hawk, so we may end up letting the chicks free range less than we expected. I’ve heard that stringing fishing wire over the top of your enclosure deters hawks, so we might try that. Has anyone had success with that? Let me know if you have! 🙂

Springtime Fun in Skagit Valley

On Saturday, our family went on a little adventure up in Skagit Valley, Washington.

Skagit Valley is in Northwest Washington, nestled next to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s full of beautiful fields, rolling clouds, small towns and quaint villages.  There are berry farms, dairy farms, tulip farms and everything in between.

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Burlington is probably the most “modern” town- all of the big box stores are there, like Costco and Target and Best Buy and the Cascade Mall is there. We go up to Burlington to go shopping every couple months.
Mount Vernon is just across the Skagit river from Burlington and still retains more of it’s small-town charm with a cute little downtown and artsy shops lining the streets along the river. Skagit Valley College’s main campus  is also located there.

Hubby had to go up to Mt. Vernon to get his Washington driver’s license and we made a nice day trip out of it.

After the business of the day was done, ( the kids and  I waited in the car while hubby got his license because Ellie fell asleep and it was raining like crazy) then we went to the Skagit Food Co-op for lunch.

The Skagit Food Co-op is like a grocery store/ deli/coffee shop where organic meats and dairy and produce is sold, as well as healthy dried goods, bulk items like oats and rice and dried fruits. There is also a pretty good-sized vitamin and body product section, as well as a mercantile upstairs that sells clothing, kitchen utensils and all around interesting stuff.

They also hold educational classes on natural living and wellness for the general public, which is cool. It’s kinda like a local version of Whole Foods Market.

We just ate at the deli and got some coffee and perused the selection of groceries. I expect if you’re a member (you pay an annual due and get discounts in return) , it may be worth your while to shop there but I found it somewhat overpriced for the things we usually buy- bulk steel cut oats and regular rolled oats were more than our local grocery store (which we consider on the more expensive end of things!) and the meat didn’t look any better than what we have  closer to home- it was the same selection for more money. I found a new appreciation for our local store after browsing around the Co-op.

They did have some really good local organic, heirloom seeds and seed potatoes/onions- if I hadn’t already ordered seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds I may have bought some there.

After lunch, we started moseying over to LaConner; a charming little town along the Salish Sea that separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland.

On the way we passed the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Fields.

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They are SO beautiful!!

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Every year there is a tulip festival for nearly the entire month of April and there are fields upon fields of gorgeous tulips and daffodils for you to enjoy.
There is an admission charge to park and get out and walk through the tulips, but you can see them just fine driving by- which is what we did.

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There are also some really neat barns and farmhouses around that area, which I love.

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After the tulips, we continued on to LaConner.

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It’s such a cute little town!!

We strolled around the square,

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browsed through some antique shops and a book store and then we saw a huge old section of a tree- it was like 7 or 8 feet around and just as tall. Incredible.

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Of course, we had to walk along the channel and see the boats.

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And no trip to a cute small tourist town is complete without  cheesy pictures- or ice cream!!
It was really good ice cream too- locally made with wild blackberries. Yum!

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When we tired of strolling, we got back in the car and headed over to Anacortes, back on Fidalgo Island.

There is a park  way up on the hill above the city called Cap Sante Park.

And there is an AMAZING view our over the water from it.

On one side you can see Anacortes; on the other side you see the oil refineries and then out across the sea.

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Part of Anacortes

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The Oil Refinery.

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Looking the other way, out to sea. Isn’t that a huge ship?

The park pretty much consists of really big rocks that are kind of scary to climb on. (really, just scary to let your 3 and 5 year old clamber over. I kept envisioning them falling the hundreds of feet into the water.)

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Of course, they were careful and were just fine, although I did freak out once when Ellie ran toward the edge. It seemed like she was right on the edge, about to fall when in reality she was still about 10 feet away. That’s more than close enough though!

Anyway, the wind was cold and it was dinner time, so we left and headed home.

What a wonderful day!

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If you live any where near Skagit Valley, it’s definitely worth visiting. We love it there.

Spring Is Coming!!

This morning the sky is gray and cloudy, and it’s still somewhat chilly

but…..

stepping outside onto the front porch, I hear birds singing.
Spring is coming.

There are daffodil shoots coming up in the backyard,

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The heather is blooming like crazy.

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Something else springing up from the ground, pushing its way through the black soil.

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Gorgeous white flowers are blooming along the front of the house-

they look nondescript from the top, but get down on their level and….

Oh my goodness. God is so awesome.

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The pussy willow tree is budding, as are several other little bushes around the yard.

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I’m so excited for everything to burst into green and color and for baby cows to appear in the field next door!

We had sunshine this past week, and it was 60 degrees!

The kids and my mother and I spent a lot of the day outside, pruning overgrown bushes and cleaning up; getting ready for new growth. The sun had warmth. It was wonderful!!  More days just like that are coming. And I’m welcoming them with open arms. 🙂

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My three-year old, Eliana took this picture. Amazing!

Our Life in Pictures

Hey, everyone!
It’s been a bit since I did an informative post, mostly because I’ve been pretty busy lately, but hopefully later this week I’ll have something to share . For now, here are some pictures of my beautiful everyday life:

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men's breakfast.
Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men’s breakfast.

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

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My to-do list today. I can cross off "blog post" now! :)

My to-do list today. I can cross off “blog post” now! 🙂

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

My fabric stash. I can't wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don't know what I"m going to make yet though.

My fabric stash. I can’t wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don’t know what I”m going to make yet though.

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They're a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They’re a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

We had  a lovely weekend full of bonfires, pruning bushes, easy dinners and lots of sitting by the fire reading. I hope you have a great week!!