Monday, March 30, 2009

This year my garden goes high tech

While many gardeners are aflutter about the newest, shiniest echinacea or New Zealand rarity, I'm dreaming of going high tech this year. My All Geek Garden.

Instead of plants, I will have wires and wi-fi shrubs and cell towers. And flowers will be holograms. (My holograms will look better than Princess Leia and hopefully as good as CNNs). Instead of soil, my garden will be covered with motherboards. And some keyboards. But only the cute, clear, clicky clicky Apple keyboards.

Instead of pests, I'll reboot my garden after resetting my cache, and I'll be good to go. Birds will be replaced with Twitter, and then we'll all kill ourselves.

Just kidding!

But seriously. Now that I've set you in a panic with the above scenario (breathe in, breathe out, deep cleansing breaths, you can do it) just take in this beauty:

That's my summer office in the garden. Or it could be with this cool little office pod. Then I could see all of the weeds germinating while I'm stuck on a multi hour conference call. Or I could go cordless and pull those weeds while putting that conference call on mute. Hey now, that's not a bad idea....

But then I saw this little gadget, hat tip to my friend DaYo, who sent it along, right after we had just chatted about how he needed a time lapse camera to prove how amazingly fast bamboo grows in the spring in his Portland garden.
Hello, genius. A weather proof time-lapse camera that can record your growing prowess over the course of 4 months and 2 GBs. Read about it here.

My high tech garden is almost complete! World domination shall be next!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Memories like the corner of my mind

Looking and experiencing this:

Is making me wistfully remember things like these:
my private beach
cielito lindo
on the boat
palapas on the beach
now that's the way to do it
puerto vallarta coast
Essence of a vacation set in flickr.
I suppose I can buck up and blog about spring gardening in Portland, but my tan is fading and I'd really like to wear those pink and orange flip flops. Someone get me a margarita.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Some people go to the zoo to see the animals

Truckload full of crap
I go to the zoo to get their poop. Actually, it's called Zoo Doo, and it's composted elephant gold and it's now in our flower beds. Soon the earthworms will come up to the surface, grab some of that Zoo Doo, and take it back down into the soil, replenishing and feeding the garden with all kinds of good stuff. No, the Zoo Doo doesn't stink, but it does steam as it's shoveled out. Actually, it steamed all along Highway 26 as we drove away from the zoo. Hello Spring!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'm having withdrawals

guacamole: every day
Withdrawals of guacamole. And avocados. In the Mexican food pyramid, guacamole is at the top.

Pineapple is also on there. And El Pastor. But El Pastor does have pineapple. You can see it in the photo here.

El pastor to the left, beauty all over

See the meat near the flame in the far left? It's on top of a big slab of pineapple. When you shave off the meat, you include some of the pineapple. Sweet mother of god delicioso. It's just not replicable here in my Portland kitchen. It's best to not even try.

Other ways to enjoy avocados....
tiny tostadas
On top of those sweet pickled onions.

To see more photos of our culinary adventures in Mexico, from palettas to camarones, visit the Flickr set here. Buen provecho!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gettin' busy, gettin' gardening

After the harvest
...and an official welcome to Spring! Are you growing seeds? Are you building a new gardening bed? Expanding your garden? Starting a brand new garden for the first time? I know many of you are. And if you're growing veggies for the first time, my column out today provides tips and tricks for first time veggie growers in the Portland area. When, what and where. And a reference to a mullet. Yes. That's why it's called Sassy Gardener.

In our own garden? So much to do, so much to do. With the harsh winter, many "opportunities" have opened up in the garden, and most perennials died back to the ground. Now is a great time to be adding some amendments to our soil, and most of the major pruning has been done. But I really want to stay on top of the early weeds this year, and work to extend our edibles, both in the breadth of what we grow, and throughout the season. And then there's the new clematis I've got my eye on (deep blue purple with nodding heads), and adding floaty fillers and small detailed corners and focal points. Oh and then there's the new back patio, arbor construction, removal of the remaining invasive weeds, and grape arbor. Just a few things, you know.

Other good news on the gardening front? I'm halfway through my OSU Extension Master Gardener training. Up next are my 66 hours of education and outreach, like answering your questions at farmer's markets, and answering the Master Gardener Hotline. Master Gardener Hotline? Yes! You can call your local county extension and get advice from a real live person. And who knows. Maybe it will even be me on the other end of that phone. Beginning March 30th, the Multnomah County hotlines to a Master Gardener will be open Monday through Friday, 10am-2pm. The number to call is 503-445-4608. Go here for more information and numbers for Washington and Clackamas Counties.

I'm so happy Spring is here, aren't you? Gettin' busy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Really seeing the world around you in color

Nayarit welcomes you in color
One of my favorite things about traveling are seeing colors. Noticing them, seeing them, capturing them. I tried to do a little of that on this latest trip to Mexico. The colors of Mexico are so saturated, deep, and alive.

The colors of Mexico show up in daily life: on walls, clothing, art, buildings, carts and tabletops.
Pink wall

In the heat of the day I swear you can breathe the colors in, and in the coolness of the turquoise sea and azul sky...
breathe in the sea

It surrounds us...
Isn't she pretty?

In Mexico you even eat color...
Salsas at the table

And when I visit Mexico, I wear color. Hello toes, so nice to see you in the sunshine again.
I wear colors in Mexico I don't wear in Portland.

To see more photos of colors in Mexico, see my Flickr set here.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Kansas state flower up close
My gardening column in Just Out has started up again. 'Tis the season!

And my first column in '09 is about bees. Did you know in Oregon we have native bees and European bees? One's a loner, one's into living in colonies. Figure out which is which and learn about keeping bees in your garden: totally buzzworthy.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blueberry + Lavender Scones = Deliciousness

I recently shared a batch of these scones with my Master Gardening class, and they were quite the hit. I thought they were good, too, but I think I found my target audience there when it comes to baking with lavender.

Gardeners in the Portland area know that lavender grows well since we have such gorgeous Mediterranean summers. Cutting your lavender back every year provides bushels of bouquets for coworkers, friends and neighbors. But saving some for culinary use isn't always top of mind. It should be, if only to make these blueberry lavender scones.

I blogged about harvesting lavender here, and every year, we pick blueberries out at Sauvie Island, filling our freezer with bags of blueberries to use over the winter. (Here's another great use of those frozen blueberries.) But the flavor combination of blueberries and lavender is a tender and fragrant one. Hint: Don't overdo it on the lavender: it only takes a little bit, or else you'll think you're putting a bath bomb in your mouth.

I've blogged about my drop scones before, here providing the marionberry and ginger combo. Here's my recipe for blueberry and lavender scones....enjoy!

Blueberry + Lavender Drop Scones
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Prep a baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper.

Into your standing mixer bowl, sift 2 cups flour, 1 T baking powder, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Cut in 1 stick unsalted butter (chilled, cut into 1/2 inch slices) and let it run just until the butter breaks down into small pieces, slightly smaller than peas but not so fine as cornmeal. You don’t have to have a standing mixer to do this: either use your fingers or two knives.

Add 1 Tablespoon culinary lavender and approx. 1 cup of frozen blueberries.

In a small bowl whisk 1/2 cup cream and one egg.

With mixer on low, mix in the cream/egg mixture just until everything sticks together.
I like using frozen berries because they keep their form and don't bleed their color into the dough. Just barely mix everything together.

Drop by large spoonfuls (1/2 cup or more) onto your baking sheet.

Divide 1 Tablespoon raw sugar (or lavender sugar, see note below) among scones and sprinkle on top.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, until your kitchen smells wonderful and scones are turning golden.

Cool on wire rack. They are best eaten warm, or the same day. Do not store in a closed container (they become soft and not as tasty.)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wink cruises St. Johns

wink is a rocker from LeloNopo on Vimeo.
And of course she cruises it with a little metal. Yes, my blog is becoming a vlog. Just for now. Enjoy a little time with Wink, will ya?