The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
So glad to see the return of Slow Living Essentials, and sharing some of my July (not to mention reading the many other awesome blog posts on new-host-extraordinnaire Greenhaven!)…
We are finishing off our 2013 salmon share from Iliamna Fish Co. and with the summer’s heat AND harvesting kicking off earlier than usual, we marinate the whole filet in rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic, then pop it on the grill in the backyard, then serve it with some pearl couscous on a bed of fresh spinach and (my favorite) yellow cherry tomatoes. Yummers! The nice thing about this summer as a married gal now? Husband cooks at least half the time, woo hoo!
Jam, salsa, kimchi, pickles, and sweet relish so far have been canned, and we froze raspberries and blueberries from our picking out on Sauvie Island. While I enjoy canned peaches, this year I decided to pass on the process as I just don’t eat enough to miss them when they’re gone…and I was kind of dreading the process of skinning them with the boiling water (I always over-or-under do it and that mixed with lots of sweating? I think I’ll survive without it for one year!). Anyhow, the peppers and tomatoes are reminding me that I’ll have plenty of work soon!
Using my new makeshift “canning station” (pictured above) is awesome! Until I get an outdoor kitchen with regular burners (bucket list!), I’ve found this is MUCH better than doing it in the kitchen. I’ve had to transition from the traditional giant pot with rack to using a stockpot, and with that came finding a new rack solution. First, I tried the rag at the bottom – but it moves around in boiling water a lot, making it an adventure in placing the jars on it. Second, I tried the canning rings all-tied-together – but it is both unstable for smaller jars to balance on and moves around. So now, I’m moving to the Ball polypropylene rack which fits into stockpots. I’ll return to the big fella someday to make the process quicker, but this works for now.
Our big project around the house this month was in fixing up our downstairs bedroom. Formerly the room I used to use as a short term rental, it’s going to be our kiddo’s room when we start our family next year, so we thought, might as well work on this when we have both the energy and time rather than mid-pregnancy :) The grass-green walls (zero-VOC Rodda Horizon paint) were Dan’s idea, the dresser was found on the street a couple of years ago which I’d painted (then Dan repaired the broken drawer, which was probably why it’d been dumped), and the new Mad Mats rug we picked up at Garden Fever - it’s made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, is soft underfoot, is perfect for a basement since it won’t pick up moisture, and it picks up the green in the walls without being obnoxious :)
Lesson learned: Never take your paint to Home Depot to match another brand’s color even if they say they have that code in the computer – we learned the hard way when we tried to get a better deal using their no-VOC brand when we ran out and it looked like pee on the walls (thankfully we didn’t have much to re-do!). :-)
Ah yeah, everything is coming up delish in the garden thus far. We’ve harvested most of our potatoes (this year we tried them in pots which initially was great but with the fella’s obsession with spuds, they will be back in regular beds next year) and all of the garlic, and are watching our tomatoes, corn, peppers, onions, pumpkins, cucumbers, herbs and more go bananas in the garden. Wheeee! (These taters by the way went to make a super easy potato-peanut curry that the hubby loved!).
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I want the upcoming years to look like, and with what I’ve been able to accomplish professionally that’s allowed a lot of simplification, I want to continue on that track. One thing that I am madly in love with, but that does put a significant dent in the wallet, is my yoga practice. While $7/class doesn’t seem like much, three to four times a week does add up each month, and so with that I talked to my husband and we’ve decided to reduce our yoga classes down to once a week, and replace those with walks out in nature and a yoga DVD I have at home. I adore the camaraderie of my yoga classes that I’m in and my teachers are the awesomest gals ever, but for right now, I need to start to meditate at a cost that’s less to the wallet if I want to ensure I can live a simpler life in the coming years. For now, this is right for me. Above is a walk we took recently at Oaks Bottom in Southeast Portland, an area rescued decades ago by the city to prevent further commercial/industrial activity. Nice :)
I’m working on my book – from coffeehouses and pubs and my big comfy chair in the living room. Inspired by several women I’ve met recently who’ve kicked ass in this and other arenas, I’ve stopped the excuses and now set aside a full day a week for this, my first endeavor into being a bona fide book author. My pet writing project has been postponed to focus on a book that focuses on what I love most professionally – helping those in their careers. As a longtime recruiter and career coach, what I am passionate about is listening to others stories and doing everything I can to empower them to get what they want in their careers. Couldn’t be more thrilled to be knee-deep in this project!
This month left me a bit crazy busy on the work front, but I did continue to give 2% of my pre-tax income to local nonprofits, with July’s donation sent over to the good folks over at Rose Haven, a women’s shelter making a tremendous difference in the Portland community. As for my husband, he’s been busy volunteering with Port City Development’s Project Grow, part of Albertina Kerr, two days a week, and donating his time regularly in the kitchen at the Oregon Public House, the nonprofit pub in our neighborhood. He’s loving it, and it’s been a great chance for him to give back while awaiting his green card to complete processing!
Thoroughly enjoyed learning about book-mending from Pat the Library Goddess at PDX Skillshare! I’ve got a bunch of old books and my beloved Good Housekeeping cookbook that I’ve had since I was 19 years old that is falling apart, so I can’t wait to get some archival glue to work on those during the rainy season! My husband and I split to different classes at this event in order to maximize learning – so while I was at this, he was learning about making yogurt (now he’s gone dairy-free, so bummer for him!).
Happiness is all around us this summer. Two and a half months of wedded bliss. “Love is lovelier the second time around” as was once sung and I believe that wholeheartedly. Nothing like having your best friend by your side. Being forty rocks!
And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald