Sunday, July 29, 2012

A walk in the woods.

Yesterday was spent on a ramble in the woods just outside the city. We are lucky here that a short drive will get you out into the country fast and there are myriad places to hike. We came upon this lovely little creek that gurgled happily through the trees.

We stopped to admire these fabulous strands of lichen hanging off the trees. They looked like the curtains of a fairy bower.

We came across this old oak in the middle of a meadow that had numerous bunches of mistletoe adorning its crown.

The meadows were covered in pennyroyal, much of it in flower, and queen anne's lace. I found them delightful decorations for my trusty straw hat. There was a ridiculous amount of poison oak out there too--hopefully none of that came home with me :)

An assortment of feathers I found on the hike. I think they are from a hawk, a turkey and a stellar's jay.
I realized that I need to do a little more hike training (there was some huffing and puffing on this trip!) so I will be walking some up hills this coming month to get in better condition for a Pacific Crest Trail trip that we are going to take soon. Happy trails!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ditching the dryer!
When summer comes, I always hang my clothes outside to dry. I just can't run the dryer when there is free heat outside! Clothes dryers are one of the biggest electric-sucking devices in a home and consequently can cost lots of $$ to run. Besides, there is something romantic about clothes on a line. I hear that there are parts of the country that ban clothesline drying because it "looks bad". This makes me sad. Everyone should have the right to dry!

 I tend to keep things around even if their original purpose has been outlived because I figure I will find a use for it eventually. I was keeping around a couple of patio umbrellas that had developed some large holes. Then it hit me---I could make them into clothes dryers! I simply stripped the fabric off of the umbrella, bent up the ends of the spokes a bit and waaaalaaaa! A perfectly serviceable dryer! You can use clothespins, or hangers, as I do here, or simply drape the clothing over an arm (best when its not windy).
 If you are very tall, watch out for the ends of the spokes---eye poking hazard! That is why it is good to bend the ends up. I mention this because my hubby is 6' 4" and I felt like there were some times he was in danger of being poked :) Its harder to notice the ends of the spokes when they don't have umbrella attached to them.
Also, if you have black clothes you might want to dry those items on a rack in a protected area outside where the sun won't beat down on them directly---those UV rays will fade the black. Colors can be dried inside-out for more protection. If you are drying whites, like I am in the above pictures, you will find that the sun will help bleach them out. 
Here are some other laundry-themed items I found on Etsy and elsewhere:
lovely laundry sign from thebackporchshoppe
vintage collapsible wire laundry hamper from bisforbella

sweet child's hamper from ShabbyNChic
lovely linen laundry bag from therobinandsparrow
clothespins from prWhimsy
handmade laundry detergent from bksoapco

old-fashioned (but new) crank clothesline from victoriantradingcompany
You can find a simple recipe to make your own laundry detergent here from Living on the Cheap.
And finally, check out this article from the Spokesman-Review which gives some good advice on how best to dry your laundry outside.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tree People
 Another adventure at the 2012 Oregon Country Fair! For those of you who don't know, this is a huge 3 day event that takes place on a wooded property in Veneta Oregon. There are multiple music stages throughout, constant parades, vaudeville, puppet shows, speakers on various topics, outrageous costumes and a full compliment of artists and crafters. This event has been going on for some 40 years.

This year saw the addition of a massive metal and glass Rainbow Bridge Mayan Calendar. It rotates and lights up! The crescent holder is based on the Fibonacci sequence.
The Mayan calendar at night!

The amazing multiple hula hoop lady!
A dragon made of vines.
It is big enough to get inside!

Preparing for the parade

The daily marching band parade

A large crow sculpture that tops a recycling center.
These delightful folks were dressed as dandelions! Their bicycle helmet dandelion puff headdresses are especially creative!
 My favorite thing about the Fair is all of the great costumes people come up with. You never know what you are going to see. Some people come dressed in the same costume each year and become a Fair institution--others do a one-time costume.
This lovely lady was participating in "Lime Green Day". She is the Lime Green Fairy!
 Some times it is the small things that make the Fair. I happened upon this refurbished gumball machine that dispensed "cat fortunes". I got one every day! I did not get the name of the artist who created this but she has a wonderful booth full of awesome needle felted animals. I can track her down through the Fair directory and I will give her name when I find it.

My fabulous cat fortune!

This gentleman was about to do something with this amazing "Jack Skellington" style puppet. I had to leave so I never saw what it was, but the costume is impressive!!
 The Fair is filled with performances that happen at night after the general public has gone home. These shows are for all of the workers and volunteers who camp at the Fair and are integral to making the Fair work---security, parking monitors, information, medical, cleanup and all the people in the booths. This is a massive event attended by tens of thousands of people and it takes thousands of people to make it work.

This is a terribly blurry picture, but it is Lafa Taylor at the Blue Moon stage. You can't see it, but the electricity for this stage is being generated by 5 people on stationary bikes!!! Please check out Lafa Taylor here .
Here is a really short video (in which you can't see anything, sorry) of the Ginger Ninjas at the Blue Moon Stage. I still don't have a handle on the video feature of my camera :) This band tours by bicycle!! They haul all of their gear in bike trailers. See their website here . And here is a video for their song "Dick Cheney" which they played at the Fair:

The Fair is so massive and so full of things going on at all times that I can never give you a full accounting of everything that it is. This is just a tiny tiny piece----hope you enjoyed it!
A dragon bench. Fair thee well!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lavender and Tombstones

Yesterday my good friend and I went out to the country to visit a lavender farm that was having an open house.  Rows and rows of fragrant plants dotted the landscape.

See the dragonfly in the background? He kept moving around so he came out blurry :)

A lovely standing gong at the farm

We had a delightful picnic at the farm composed of ham, cheese and scallion sandwiches on fresh french bread and edamame coleslaw with sesame dressing. And of course, lavender lemonade.
I ended up buying several of the farm's products, including blackberry lavender jam.

Later, when we got home, I tried making some lavender mint iced tea. It turned out beautifully! Here is how I did it:

4 bags of black tea
1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
Fresh mint sprigs
Lots of Ice

Pour boiling water over the teabags and let them steep a good 5 or 6 minutes in a teapot that holds around 4 cups.
In a separate heatproof container pour a cup of boiling water over the lavender buds and steep 3 minutes.
Strain both the teabags and the lavender infusion and let them cool down to room temp.
Combine both liquids together in a pitcher.
Fill tall glasses with lots of ice. Pour the cooled combined lavender/tea mixture over the ice (it is best to not pour a hot tea mixture over the ice in your glasses because you risk the glass shattering from the temperature change). Garnish with a mint sprig. If you like your tea sweet, you can sweeten it in the pitcher or do it on a glass by glass basis. This recipe will supply two people with a couple of glasses each. If you find that the lavender tea is too strong, you can dilute with water to your liking.

On our way to the farm we had gotten a little lost and ended up driving about 6 miles farther up the road. We saw this rural graveyard from the highway. Now, if I see an interesting graveyard, I'm gonna stop because I appreciate the older tombstones. This cemetary had some graves dating from the Victorian/Edwardian era so I took some pictures. Common themes show up from this time period including doves, clasped hands, weeping willows, urns, anchors and foliage.

I was especially excited to see this fabulous faux bois Woodmen of the World grave marker made of zinc.
WoW is a fraternal organization started in the late 1800s. Early on, deceased members would apparently be entitled to a grave marker such as this one. This practice lasted into the 1920s and such graves can be found all over the country.

Another fine day! I hadn't planned on visiting a cemetary but that is the fun of letting the day unfold as it will.
Until next time: