Picnic Police

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Holy hairballs what a week!! We spent multiple days breaking down camp and cleaning up the campground, making sure to leave it better than when we arrived for the wonderful people who let us stay with them, drove Zoe up to Portland to fly back to Santa Fe for a family function and moved all of our vehicles- RV, three cars and a trailer- to a BLM spot outside of Grant’s Pass. We stopped at a park in town the first evening and set up a picnic spot using large Rubbermaid totes for a table and a platform for the propane stove(it was over 100 degrees and we were urban, the wood stove inside is so not happening!), then used the tow platform covered in couch pillows for an outdoor ground couch. After a lovely meal of red pepper, tomato and black bean soup with chicken and fresh baked bread with brie for dipping, we were relaxing with the cops showed up. Three people, a dog and an epic picnic setup with no drugs or booze involved were able to make such an impression that people called the cops out of concern. Style has its price, and this one I am actually proud to pay. I managed to put on a picnic so epic it’s absurd. Fortunately the cops were nice fellows who were as shocked about us as we were about them, and it ended quickly and amiably with them giving us some advice about places to look at property options as well. So first thing tomorrow, hooray for government offices. 

Picnic Luxury Lunchboxes!

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One of the ways I have learned to live so cheaply, yet luxuriously is knowing when it’s worth it to put in the effort. I’d much rather do the extra few minutes of work to pack a lunch than to work for someone else the extra hours to pay for eating out. I’ve also found that if you eat quality food, you don’t need as much. Gourmet is truly achievable if you eat portion sizes. Have a few small luxuries and if there are certain people in your family or group who need extra calories, make that up with more staple fare- sweet potatoes, pastas, sandwich bread, eggs and other cheap but filling options.
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Here are a few ideas for picnic luxury lunch boxes:
bread with brie and apple slices, plus chocolate of course
bread with cream cheese, nut butter and jam,
yogurt parfait- yogurt, granola, and fresh berries, or a quality trail mix(my favorite is hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, shredded coconut and chocolate chips)
cream cheese, roast beef and fresh greens sandwich
shrimp with curry powder, fresh fruit , crackers with herbed goat cheese

If you have a chance to cook: sliced ham, brie, caramelized red onions, and a very light drizzle of honey, toasted like a grilled cheese is one of the most memorable tastes imaginable.

And in my world, lunch is not complete without a few bites of dark chocolate at the end, never forget the chocolate!
Siilin

Aside

Books-

Non-Fiction-

Survival Lessons
Alice Hoffman
4 stars
I didn’t think I could love Alice Hoffman more until I read her short memoir of her battle with breast cancer. No matter what you are going through in life, her words will be a balm to your soul.

French Women don’t get Facelifts
Mireille Guiliano
3 stars
As I personally develop more awareness of the toxins and chemicals in commercial products, I must admit to disagreeing with a number of her recommendations. I did however, find it interesting to read about life from the perspective of one who has been through so much change. I think it is good for me to remember that one day there will be consequences to all of my repeated actions in potentially drastic ways. Easy and mellow read.

Salt, Sugar, Fat
Michael Ross
4 Stars
Truly by the end of this, all I could think was that if as much time, energy and scientific resources went into agriculture and feeding people REAL food as goes into the fake stuff, al solid 25% + of the worlds health and other problems wold be solved. Only read this if you have a punching bag nearby(though that’s how I’ve been feeling about a lot of non-fiction recently)

Unless in Moves the Human Heart
Roger Rosenblatt
2 stars
Reminded me too much of college writing classes, all critique and academia, no beauty or passion. I’m not saying a writer shouldn’t know grammar, I’m saying one should be encouraged to learn rules and break them freely.

 Fiction-

The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
4 stars
Being a romantic, and a Victoria, myself, I found myself relating to this story on an unnaturally deep level. The simple premise, of a girl speaking through a forgotten language, speaks symbolic volumes. The entire style reminds one of flowers, simple on the surface and yet with every deeper though, becoming more and more complex, ending in an timeless message of growth. Sad, beautiful, wonderful read.

Game of Thrones- A Dance with Dragons
George R.R. Martin
Bah! I broke my rule- always wait til the series is ended, that way you can read it all, but no, now I must wait for the next book, unable to relieve the torturous misery! The pain! The pain!……

Like Water for Chocolate
Laura Esquivel
4 stars
A joy to read, sweet, easy, powerful.

 Restaurants-

Ashland-

Mix Sweet Shop-
Best Coffee place on the road so far- coffee, tea, desserts, quality food, wifi, cute basement area, and Strawberry terrariums, what more could one need?

Thai Palace
We went here for Zoe’s 21st birthday, it was the only place close by that had alcohol and vegetarian food. We sat outside in the sun on the back patio, listening to a babbling creak while we stuffed ourselves silly on rice noodles, veggies and chili sauce, even leaving leftovers from two meals split by four hungry young people. The waitress brought Zoe a complimentary dessert of thai tea vanilla creme brulee’ that sent each of us into spasms of sugar and cream induced joy. The sugar feast was topped off with their “Buddha Bowl” of rum and juice in a deep stone dish, set on fire and decorated with fresh orchids, enough that we all stumbled back to the car and hung out in the park for a while before being able to drive home. Wonderful day 😀

Eugene-

Library- I want to live there, they have a coffee shop with dollar coffee and great prices of everything else, ebook collection, massive computer areas, the magazine section carries stuff I’ve never even seen before, and the staff is amazingly sweet. Truly, I would simply live at the library if they’d let me, and I’d live or commute to the area just to go there. I’m a little obsessed. Obviously.

Winco- is the best grocery store in existence. great produce section, bulk foods selection, amazing prices on everything. Yes, just yes.

Cush Cafe’
We got turned onto this little up and coming place by a friend who works here as one of the bakers. It is a giant renovated old house turned into the most complex coffee shop I’ve ever seen. They carry a moderate selection of gourmet drinks, including the most delicious decaf chai I’ve ever tasted with spices that will give a healthy burn on the way down, along with a collection of organic coffees. The food is amazing, with pecan pie, peanut butter chocolate chip, banana walnut bread, and espresso chocolate nut on the tasting list all passing muster with flying colors. There is a piano, a guitar and bongos, among other instruments always available to play, as well as a stage and pool tables set up in the back all ready for the regular concerts and open mikes hosting here every week. The back patio is beloved by the boys, as they have a place to be outside hammering away at projects and smoke. This place is a must visit if you are ever in the area.

Recipes-

 Vitamin bowl

Soak 3 types of beans(i use black beans, black eyed peas and kidney beans) in a 1 cup beans to 2 cups water ratio overnight. Add wild rice, quinoa, millet, and lentils at a 1 cup grain to 1 cup water ratio. Put on stove and cover, stir about even twenty-thirty minutes until all the water is gone. Ultimate cure for anemia and impossibly helpful for PMS and cramps. I add the mix to scrambled eggs, tortilla wraps, or add cheese, meat and curry paste for a filling dinner.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese
Spread two slices of bread with cream cheese, on one slice add avocado, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dill. Add slices of cheddar and/or pepperjack cheese, close sandwich and add to hot buttered pan, cook both sides evenly. Can also add bacon, or a fried egg for a breakfast sandwich. Also, spreading butter on the outer sides of the sandwich first makes for a more even crisp, if you are as particular as I am 😀

 Homemade Rice Free Sushi

spread 1/4 avocado across a piece of nori paper, lay a line of cream cheese and smoked salmon down the middle, roll and done! Can also use other canned/smoked fish or top with roe. I’m also found of adding chipotle chili powder for extra spicy flavor

 Camping-

Ashland-
Let me put it this way- we were camped for four days on the side of a small highway, right by the entrance to a private airport from which planes and helicopters were taking off and we never even saw a cop drive by, much less mess with us. It was a little disconcerting actually, but fun sights to watch over breakfast.

Eugene-
Sorry folks, staying with friends in this area, so all safe n snug with no fun cop stories(hopefully), but there have been so many cute kittens!!

Vending

Ashland-
More invites than straight sales, though the networking was definitely worth it as a lot of custom stuff was ordered.

Eugene-
Laid back street vending and a LOT of activity. The Saturday Market drum circle is very popular. There also happen to be a lot of feeds in this area, if that’s a need.

Maytime Market and Summer Wine

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World peace can be achieved with kittens, I’m sure of it. Maybe puppies too. Add a couple of otter and fox kits in there and we are omming our way into enlightened greatness. It’s been the greatest blessing on my soul to be able to wake up in the morning and take my coffee into the greenhouse to pet the fast growing kittens. Their eyes are just beginning to open now, and they are in the perfect fluffy roly-poly stage of playfulness to leave you laughing for hours as they try to walk around and tackle each other, only to fall belly up little paws waving to grab your finger. Bliss. This is followed with a close second of fresh picked strawberries at the Farmer’s Market downtown. We snapped up a pint right off, and I had to defend it to make sure any made it home for yogurt parfaits and chocolate dipped madness. By the time we got home from the market, Pam (who is everyone’s adoptive mom at this point) was making spinach and feta calzones fresh from the bounty of her garden, add a dash of Firefly (damn Fox for canceling that show!!) and a gentle rainfall to make the best night’s sleep in a few weeks and much needed after the exhausting fun of the Ashland adventure.

 Strawberry Madness
Melt about 1 cup of chocolate chips for a full pint of strawberries in a double boiler. Put 1/2 cup of heavy cream into a skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbs honey and salt, stir occasionally, let boil gently until the mixture thickens to a custard consistency. Let cool about 10 minutes while stirring occasionally. Dip strawberry in chocolate, place on try to cool, then dip into caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy your sugar coma.

 

A little boy runs across a farmer who has a truckload of cow manure.  The boy asks him what he is going to do with all that cow poop.  The farmer tells the little boy, “I’m taking it home to put on my strawberries.”
The little boy looks up at the farmer and says, “I don’t know where you come from, but where I come from we put cream and sugar on our strawberries.”

      The strawberry theme has been pretty predominant lately, when we were in Arcata a little stone shop, for some unknown reason, was giving away free strawberry shoots. We took one, put it in our largest coffee mug, put some dirt from the ground outside in it along with some St. John’s Wort powder and water to help with the transplant shock, and put it in the window by the driver’s seat remembering every time we drove somewhere to water it. When we got to Eugene we simply put it outside and forgot about it. Coming back from Ashland the other day, I looked over to find that it is actually starting to bud and is outgrowing it’s pot. I love nature, live, let live and eat strawberries for your lack of trouble.

 

For everything you ever needed to know about strawberries, plus more silly jokes, visit: http://strawberryplants.org/

 

 

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Myrrh displayed at Avdat, a stop on the Incense Route. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

As it turns out, strawberries (I truly did not plan the post to go this way, the strawberries are taking over my brain) are actually quite good for your teeth. Their high acid content helps to whiten your teeth and the high vitamin C content is good for overall immune system health. This is good news as with all the chaos I’ve been sorely neglecting my teeth. But I’ve been surprised at how healthy my teeth have remained even with the neglect. I”ve found that using an electric toothbrush helps a LOT esp if you tend to be irregular about it. I dip it in baking soda and cinnamon to use as a tooth powder and my teeth glow white. I’ve found that a good mouthwash is a distilled alcohol such as whiskey or vodka cut with a 1 to 5 ratio with distilled water and a single drop per cup of any or all of: tea tree, cinnamon, myrrh, or fennel essential oils. DO NOT SWALLOW. It won’t do any lasting harm to the vast majority of people, but essential oils are potent and can wreak havoc on your digestive system even in small quantities(though the recipe I gave is very dilute, hence it’s safety as a mouthwash). Diarreha is the most common reaction, often accompanied by a headache. But it’s very good for your teeth and doesn’t affect the kidneys, brain or nervous system the way excess flouride does. And besides being in standard toothpaste it’s also in any water that goes through a treatment plant and a variety of foods.

 

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Picture: One of Aaron’s hand forged knives. He invented the folding technique that gives the steel that wood-grain pattern

I had no idea my request for whiskey to make another batch of mouthwash would send the boys into such a tizzy. They decided they wanted to make their own and commendered all of the apples, peaches and strawberries they could get ahold of, and I had to fight them over my fresh local honey, lest it in up in the brew as well(they ended up using bulk honey instead). After a week of fermenting, it’s been strained and is sitting until all of the silt goes to the bottom. In between this, the boys have been leaving blackened fingerprints everywhere as they are handling so much charcoal nearly everyday. Aaron is teaching Sakka how to forge and he has now completed his first knife, and is now working on the hard part: sanding, hour upon hour……

I’ve been alternating between the knitting circle and my crazy quilt. I love the idea of crazy quilts- all the fun mismatched pieces of beauty I’ve collected over the years being blended together to make a work of art. I’ve been making mine multi-layered and have even added faux flowers and leaves to create patterns along with the embroidery. I love mixing things like this, practicing quilting, embroidery, ribbon embroidery and wool work all in one piece creates deminision I could never achieve otherwise and serves to keep me from getting bored with a project. I really think it’s all about figuring out the personal little quirks it takes for you to get things done, the same methods simply don’t apply to everyone. Though really, my bigger issue tends to be how I like to overload my plate. “I want to do all the things!!!” then a week later I’m huddled in the corner crying that I can’t keep up with everything. Pacing and Finishing are ongoing battles, but I get better every year as I become frustrated with the emotional strain of acting otherwise.

 

I’ve been asked the question before, why bother to knit socks or sew quilts or craft x,y,z when you can get it cheaper at the store? And really it’s about something beyond money(gasp!! I know, in this culture? is it possible?) but it’s true. It’s about 1.) simply having a channel to create something of beauty( I also find it quite meditative), 2.) being able to make it custom in ways you can’t find in a store such as size, color and oftentimes full designs, and most importantly 3.) not being part of the system of human slave labor, corporate overlords and environmental destruction. If we raise sheep or purchase wool from independent farmers, we are being ecologically and local economy conscious. If we make it ourselves we have an outlet for creativity, a means to show love to our friend family, and we are not participating in the cycle of slave labor forced on 3rd world countries. Sure, it takes time, but I can talk and knit/sew, or watch a movie and knit/sew or ride in the car and knit/sew and, well, you get the picture. It doesn’t really impede life at all, and in fact makes all the little pockets of idleness and waiting throughout life far less tedious. Though I have offended many people trying, I cannot read a book and have a conversation at the same time, so handicrafts must suffice. It’s also such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I finish a project. It’s there, in my hands, a little piece of my life and I can use it or gift it how I choose. I have simply found it a much more positive and powerful way to give of my life-energy, and have found I appreciate it more when it’s given to me in a likewise fashion. As with everything, it’s about not being part of the mainstream cycle.