First Snow of 2020

When reflecting on the progress of this homestead, I can’t help but feel satisfied with the growth.  I don’t feel it day-to-day, or even month-to-month, but when I look at the year in its entirety, I smile with the accomplishments.  At times I have to remind myself that there was nothing here; it was just pasture when I began. Now I have buildings, a greenhouse, gardens…

I have resolved that 2020 is the year for finishing those unfinished projects.  There are plenty.  Like the bathroom tile that is about 80% done or the shed that needs to be painted.

January brought a little bit of snow providing a quiet morning that you only get on a snow day to reflect on the progress and see the possibilities to be.  Also, some stunning photographs.

I can see this windmill from my front windows and it is always showing me which way the wind is blowing.  It appears that I get strong winds from the north, and also strong winds from the southeast.  Hence Project Bees slated for 2020.  I need to move the beehives to a new bee yard and protected from this wild wind.  They don’t like the wind.

My neighbor’s house with glowing Christmas lights and a rising sun.  So peaceful.  Newly planted crabapples, maples and birch trees all look beautiful in snow.

A sleeping garden and sleeping chickens.  I plan to expand the garden out this year and fortify the chicken coop with wire at ground level to keep the burrowing mice out.  I’m feeding a whole nest of field mice.

Unfortunately, this snow only lasted two days.  I’m going to miss this view.  A new neighbor will be building near those trees in 2020.  But they plan to build a cute little farmhouse and that makes me smile.  They are also animal lovers and have horses, goats, etc.  So happy camper right here!

The lavender is sleeping under a blanket of snow.  I’m looking forward to making row markers identifying the different types of lavender.  Another planned project to finish with my girlfriends.

The new year is off to a good start and I’m looking forward to sharing more!

Keep Calm and Lavender On 💜

Debbie



Carnitas

It’s been awhile since I’ve added a recipe and I know the kiddos love carnitas!  Here ya go.  Super simple and your house will smell divine.  Any dutch oven will do, but I love the Wagner Ware.

Carnitas

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Carnitas

Ingredients:
4-5 lb. pork shoulder
2  green bell peppers, diced or thinly sliced
1  red bell pepper, diced or thinly sliced
3-5 Jalapeno peppers, diced
2 medium brown onions
1 lb. chorizo
3 juice of lemons
2 cups orange juice (may substitute papaya, guava, mango, pineapple)

1.  Brown pork on all sides in a dutch oven.  Salt and pepper while browning.
2.  Cover top of browned meat with chorizo and lemon juice.  Smother with onions and peppers.  Add orange juice.  Cover and bake in 350 degree oven and bake for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
3.  When meat is done, remove from pot and shred, removing any fat or gristle.  
4.  Return meat to pot with vegetables and mix together until well blended.  If there is too much liquid it can be drained off at this time.

Serve with corn or flour tortillas as tacos or burritos.
Also makes a great tamale filler with less veggies.


Sourdough Waffles

I’ve been making sourdough for a few months now. It has pretty much changed my life.  With a little planning (feeding and rising overnight), I have a fresh loaf of this fermented goodness.  

In feeding my sourdough starter every day, I need to discard part of the starter.  Sometimes I feed it to the chickens (who go crazy for it) and sometimes I use the discard in baking. Let me just say that sourdough discard makes the best waffles ever! I like this recipe because I don’t need to let the batter rise overnight. Keep in mind that if you need to double the recipe, you will want to feed your starter and not discard for a couple days to have 2 cups.

Sourdough Waffles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 cup discarded sourdough starter (unfed)
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or whatever oil you have ie, sunflower, coconut)
3/4 cup milk

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg and then mix in the sourdough starter, oil and milk.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Sometimes I will need to add a little more milk to get the right consistency.
  5. Pour the batter on the waffle iron and cook until golden brown.  

    Notes: Store leftovers and pop in the toaster to refresh.


Lavender Lemonade

Peaceful moments: On a warm day make this lavender lemonade and then sit on your porch and enjoy the sounds of spring/summer while sipping this wonderful concoction over a tall glass of ice.

Lavender Lemonade

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
5 cups waterphoto
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. dried lavender buds
1 cup lemon juice

1. Boil 2 1/2 cups water and add sugar until dissolved. Add lavender buds, cover, and steep for 15-20 minutes.

2. In a pitcher, add 2 1/2 cups water and lemon juice. Strain lavender mixture to remove buds and add liquid to pitcher.

Serve chilled over ice.


Is it spring yet?

I wish! It’s so deceiving because the sun is out and all I want to do is get into the gardens but it’s still too cold for planting. I know it’s just around the corner because the daffodils are beginning to pop up and are just about to bloom.  I planted about 300 daffodil bulbs in 2016 and then another 200 in 2017.  I sort have forgotten all the places I planted so this will be a fun surprise.

So check this out!  I didn’t come up with this one my own.  Thank you, Pinterest!

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I know, right?!  I had to share.  The perfect solution and re-use for a pallet.  I trimmed off about a foot and a half off the top, painted it for fun, and then screwed it into the studs.  Viola!  I can’t even tell you how much space this saves.  If you’re like me, you have the Sahara Desert of garden tools that somehow expands further and further out.  No more trying to line up the holes on the tools with the nails on the wall, either.  You know what I’m talking about.  I think because I can just plop it into the pallet bin, it will remain tidy.

I still have the trimmed off piece and I think I’m going to paint it and use it on the workbench.  I’ll come back and let you know what I come up with.

Have a great day, y’all!


In the garden: Growing Loofah

I’ve had some people ask questions in a garden group about growing loofah and I promised I’d share my experience.  It seems like loofah should come from the ocean, right?  Well, it’s actually from the cucumber family and grows on a vine with a beautiful yellow flower.

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I was having trouble with the pollination of some gourds in my garden the previous year, so I pollinated these myself.  It’s a very long growing season so start as soon as your frost ends.  Since I am now in the Pacific Northwest, I think I’ll grow in my greenhouse for the heat.

Let the loofah dry on the vine until the outer membrane is brown.

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The ribs in the membrane have a string-like thread running along the length.  Pull the thread and remove the membrane.  Some of the seeds will begin to fall out so have a cloth spread out to catch them.

IMG_7433Whack the gourd into a bucket and catch all the seeds.  Yay!  More loofah seeds to plant and share with your friends.  Your friends are definitely going to want to plant when they see your amazing loofah.

IMG_7435Rinse the loofah well.

One of the most amazing things I’ve noticed is that this homegrown and unprocessed loofa doesn’t mildew like store bought.  I cut up with a good pair of scissors and place a piece in every bathroom shower.  Don’t forget to put a few in the kitchen to scrub pots and pans.  If you are a soap maker, pour soap to harden inside slices of loofa.  Search Pinterest for more uses of this wonderful garden sponge.

You will have plenty to last the year or two and enough to share with all your friends.

 


Juneau ~ Juno ~ Junebug ~ JuJu-B

Meet my little pup, Juno.  Those eyes did it.  When I saw her looking at me I knew I was going to bring her home.  She was eight weeks old and the last one of the litter.

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This little pup is smart, inquisitive, confident, sweet, and definitely a mind of her own.  I’ve read all Siberian Huskies have these traits so when she looks at me and continues to run away from me, I tell myself she’s not only a puppy, but she’s a husky.  And huskies love to run!

IMG_7553She’s growing so fast!

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We’ve got a nice little routine going.  She gets me up early, I let her out, feed her, and then we go back to bed until the sun comes up.  We have tea, let the chickens out, and then at about 10:00 a.m. she cannot take it anymore and begs for me to take her to the dog park.  I call Juno the princess of the park.  When she arrives, her friends greet her at the gate ready to run.  Preferring to play in the “big dog” area of the park (or maybe she thinks she’s a “big dog”), she has no problem taunting the larger dogs to chase her.  The humans all agree that she is one confident girl.  She loves all dogs and will give each one a play pose until they play with her.  There are her favorites playmates and she usually leaves the park tired, happy and muddy.

IMG_7897What’s amazing is that within a hour or two, she is completely white again with no sign of mud.  This little girl’s silky and soft fur is like a non-stick pan and she cleans herself like a cat.  Also a husky trait.

People ask me all the time if she’s a white German Shepard.  You know, I just don’t know. I’m told she’s a purebred white husky and I have pictures of her husky parents, but who really knows?  She could have some German Shepard in her.  She has short hair for a typical husky, but huskies can have short, medium or long hair.  She does sometimes look like a white Shepard.  But she definitely looks like her mom, who is a pure white husky with those beautiful blue eyes.

She’s smart and catches on very quickly, mastering “sit,” “down,” “up,” look at “me,” “bed,” “wait,” “leave it,” “touch,” and about 75% of the time “come.”  Her prey drive is so strong that if there’s a bird to chase or another dog to play with, she will not “come” easily.  We are working on that.

Huskies are happiest when they are working, which means  weights and pulling.  When she’s a little bigger she’ll start wearing a weighted pack and I’d love to buy a Terra Trike so she can pull me on the trails.  We don’t have enough snow for sledding but pulling a three-wheeled bike would be ideal here.  Next commands to learn “Gee” for right, “Haw” for left and “Hike” for get going.

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This five-month-old beauty is quite something.  Warm and loving and my constant companion.


Lasagna Soup

I was browsing through Pinterest and lasagna soup came up in the feed.  This sounded so good to me on this rainy day!  I started searching through all of the lasagna soup recipes and combined a few of my favorite parts into this lasagna soup.  So simple.  Make this one for a quick meal on a cold night.

Lasagna Soup

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
Olive oil
1/2 lb. lean ground beefIMG_7732
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken broth
1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 – 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
3/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
10 lasagna noodles
1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
8 oz. ricotta cheese

1.  Start water to boil with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions.  You can cut into bite-sized pieces at this time or after cooking.
2.  Meanwhile, pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large cook pot (I use a Dutch oven) and fry ground beef and sausage until there is no longer any pink in the meat.  Remove meat and set aside.
3.  Add onions and garlic to pot.  You may need to add a little olive oil.  Saute until softened.
4.  Add cooked ground meat, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and all spices.  Simmer over low heat.
5.  Your lasagna noodles should be done.  Cut into bite-sized pieces if you haven’t already.  Add to your cook pot.  At this time you may want to add some lasagna noodle water (about a cup) to cook pot to reach desired consistency of your soup.  Let simmer until nice and hot.
6.  In a medium bowl, mix together shredded mozzarella, shredded parmesan, and ricotta cheeses.  Add a few tablespoons of chopped parsley or basil to the mixture, if desired.
7.  Serve soup in shallow bowls with a dollop or two of the cheese mixture on top.

Enjoy!


Our Meatloaf

My mom makes a great meatloaf.  There is usually an ongoing battle of either meatloaf with Saltine crackers/catsup/tomato paste OR oatmeal/barbeque sauce.  Which one is the best?  I think this recipe that is a little of both worlds.  A simple meatloaf recipe on the blog for the kids’ reference.

OUR MEATLOAF

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. pork sausage (Italian, hot, or breakfast – it does matter)
2 eggs
1 med. brown onion, diced
2-3 celery sticks, chopped finelyIMG_7579
2 med. carrots, diced
2 cups rolled oats
8 oz. barbeque sauce
1 Tbs. chili powder
2 Tbs. Italian seasoning
2 Tbs. granulated garlic
2 Tbs. cumin
Catsup for the top
salt and pepper

1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl by hand.  Turn into an ungreased 9×13 baking dish.  Form a loaf in the middle of the pan, taking care to keep the loaf away from all sides.  A shaped and flat loaf help to cook faster and more thoroughly.

2.  Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour.

3.  Remove from oven and pour catsup or barbeque sauce over top and bake until sauce is hot (about 10-15 minutes).

 


Lavender Lemon Zucchini Cake

FullSizeRender 46.jpgSo your garden is overflowing with zucchini and you’re wondering what to do with it all.  Or maybe a few of your neighbors have gardens that are overflowing with zucchini and they brought you their zucchini…and pretty soon your counter is overflowing with giant zucchini.  Either way, this lavender lemon zucchini loaf can make quick work in freeing up your countertop and providing a winter’s worth of delicious mini treats.  Bake it and freeze it.  Or maybe give a mini loaf back to your kind neighbors.  This recipe makes two loaves OR six mini loaves.

Lavender Lemon Zucchini Cake


Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (or substitute 1 cup applesauce instead of the oil)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups shredded zucchini
zest of 2 lemons (reserve 1 tsp. lemon zest for glaze)
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried lavender, chopped finely (optional)

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. lemon zest

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350°.   Prepare 2 loaf pans with cooking spray and a dusting of flour.  Alternatively, you can make six mini loaves.  I love the mini paper loaf containers if I’m giving them away.  Check the packaging on the mini paper loaf containers for prepping instructions.  Mine didn’t need spray nor flour.

2.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and lavender buds.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, beat eggs until smooth.  Add oil (or applesauce) and sugar until smooth.  Add buttermilk, zucchini, lemon zest (minus reserved 1 tsp.) and lemon juice.  Mix well.

4.  Slowly add dry mixture into the batter until thoroughly combined.

5.  Pour batter into your prepared loaf pans.

6.  Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

While loaves are cooling, prepare the glaze.

For the glaze: Add powdered sugar, lemon juice, milk and lemon zest together.

Drizzle over each loaf.  Let cool before serving.

Note about shredding zucchini:  I use a spiralizer made by Veggiespize.  I like that it has an easy-to-use hand crank and it has three interchangeable blades.  I use the shredding blade that makes noodles like angel hair pasta.


The Beauty of the Olympic Peninsula

This week I want to share the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula.  I’ve traveled a lot throughout this scenic country and have spent time in many communities on our way to explore our state and national parks.  While traveling in an RV caravan on our vacations, I have fond memories of my friend Brenda calling over the CB radio and saying, “Deb, how about here?”  She was, of course, talking about our chatter of finding a beautiful place to retire.  I would have a lavender farm and she would have an animal rescue or farm next door.  Maybe grow some grapes…  These are the planted seeds that gave birth to my desire to live someplace beautiful.  And beautiful to me is no traffic, no tall buildings (except grain silos), a small town, fresh fruits and vegetables are grown within a few miles or my own garden, a small town with community events, no worries of leaving a bicycle outside overnight.  You get the idea.  I have found that place on the Olympic Peninsula.

My little town lies where the majestic Olympic mountains meet the ocean (technically, the Strait of San Juan Fuca) with a big river and many creeks.  I’m told the pioneers diverted the melting snow from the mountains throughout the valley and the reason why we have so many “creeks” every couple of miles.  I have a year-round creek that runs along my property and then there is another creek on the other side of me about an acre over.  The Dungeness River is the larger river here and is located about two miles from me.  I’m inland a couple of miles from the ocean so I can hear the fog horns, but I don’t usually get the fog.  I’m also a couple miles down from the foothills so while they may get a couple of feet of snow, I only get a dusting that lasts a day.

All of the photos shared in this post were taken by me except the photo above of Lavender Mills, which was taken by my neighbor under an incredible sky.  I love our skies.

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The wildlife here is incredible.  Almost every day I see something amazing.

 

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Bald Eagles

 

 

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Elk

 

 

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Swans

 

 

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Pheasant

 

 

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Swans and Elk

 

 

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Happy Cows

 

The many family farms provide everything one could need.  I love that some farms have kiosks out front with produce, eggs, and even trees for sale on the honor system.

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A few more scenic photos because I can’t just leave them out!

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I almost forgot the dynamic skies.  They change from minute to minute.

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It’s a lovely place and I still cannot believe I actually live here.  I used to think as I drove through little towns what the people did for a living and how they liked living there.  As I drive through downtown, especially during the tourist season, I remember that feeling and now I am one of those that live here and I love being here.


Farmhouse Construction Update #2

There have been setbacks and there have been some gloomy days.  It took a new project manager to really get this little farmhouse back on track and I am now the number one priority of the company, or so they say.  It’s about time!

IMG_0007See the dusting of snow?  Believe it or not, the weather has not been the cause of the delays.  After the concrete foundation was poured and the framers showed up and began framing, it was clear that the subcontractor who was hired to put in the concrete foundation did such a poor job that the homebuilder actually said they couldn’t continue and had to bulldoze the whole thing.  Yep, the house and barn were completely bulldozed and hauled off to the dump.  It was a terrible setback.  Even though I would not have to pay for the re-do, I was pretty upset.  The build was already extremely far behind for a variety of reasons and excuses.  Let’s just say that it took five months to get to this point.  Ugh.

IMG_0015Much better.  This was a solid, level pour.  The forms came off and the lumber arrived and ready for the framers.  In the mix, the excavators had to come back and clean up what the bulldozers took out and had to re-do all of the excavation and drainage around the house and barn.  All of this work has expanded the footprint and created a muddy mess.

IMG_0015 2The framers began to frame in the house.

IMG_0011Truss day! This is an exciting day because the trusses allow one to really start to see the shape of the house.

IMG_6234The roofers completed the entire roof in one morning.  Amazing!

IMG_0018It figures that this barn/shop gets the most attention.  Most of the male visitors want this barn.  I don’t blame them.  It’s one heck of a barn and super tall for drying all that lavender.

So, windows are in, plumbing is done (with showers/baths installed), gas is done, electrical is partially roughed in, cabinet maker has measured for cabinets and fireplace has been installed.  I had to refuse the exterior doors, twice.  The first time they came unwrapped and were completely covered in mud.  The second time they delivered in an enclosed truck.  However, two of the French doors fell over inside the truck onto the other two French doors in transit.  Glass everywhere and I had to refuse the doors, again.

IMG_0020In the meantime, I have been working on the property.  This slice of heaven was once pasture and has extremely furtile soil and no rocks.  Seriously, I have not found a single rock.  Lots of digging and prepping for the lavender fields.  I also decided to add a little kidney-shaped hill for some interest.  I had 16 yards of soil brought in and Blueberry Hill was born.  Three crabapple trees (above) and four blueberry bushes call it home so far.  Along the street and outside of the white fence, 16 cherry trees (8 Rainier and 8 Bing) were planted and 48 lavender bushes (Royal Velvet Lavender) were planted.  Cubby (Cadet) has been mowing, limbing up trees near the creek and moving lots of dirt.

IMG_0012  It’s a sunny and beautiful morning and my job today is to finish cleaning up the street and start to hack out brush toward some hidden and neglected mature fruit trees along the creek.  When I first moved here, I found two cherry (one tart and one sweet), a pear, an unknown, and two apples completely covered in blackberry bushes.  When everything went dormant for the winter, I discovered a plum and a few other unmarked fruit trees that I need to clear from the pesky blackberries.  I’ll have to share with you all the 10-foot crazy and invasive blackberries overgrown along the creek.  Debbie vs. Blackberries.  It should be interesting.

Happy Sunday, y’all!


Lemon Snowbars

I love this lemony bar and I challenge you to have just one bar.
I think I’ve had this recipe since high school.  A classic and easy lemon bar.

Lemon Snowbars

1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbs. lemon juice – Meyer, if you have it
2 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting on top

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8-inch square pan.
  3.  Sift together 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup powdered sugar.
  4.  Cut in butter to pea-sized pieces.  Pour into greased pan.  No need to press down.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until golden.
  6. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and lemon juice until it thickens a bit and smooth.  (About 8-10 minutes.)
  7. In a separate small bowl, stir together 2 Tbs. flour and baking powder.  Add to the egg mixture.
  8. Your crust should be ready.  Pour the egg mixture over the baked layer.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Sift powdered sugar over the top and cool.

Farmhouse Construction Update

Construction is finally starting to rev up.  There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing the trucks pull up in the early morning hours and men drinking coffee while discussing the day’s work in my driveway.

It all starts with the excavator.  This is part of the project that I am in charge of and luckily I found a great excavator.  He does a lot of the prep work.  He clears the footprint of the house and moves a lot of dirt around.  Like a lot of dirt!  (He’s also the trench digger so think septic, electricity, cable, telephone, water from well.)

 

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Footprint cleared and ready for foundation.

Maybe it’s me, but there could be worse places to work while moving dirt around.  Check out the scenery!

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I find it funny that rain doesn’t stop the work up here.  I have seen the rain halt all work in California on many occasions.  These guys are like the postal service.  Not rain, sleet, snow or frozen ground will keep these guys from working.  Out there in freezing temperatures like it’s no big deal.  You’ve got to admire that.

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Rain + Sun  = Lots of Rainbows!

Next, the septic tanks went in and the pipes were connected to the drain field.  (I was lucky to find a property that already had a drain field that was put in by the previous owner.)  In my rural area, there is no city/county sewer or water system which is why I have a water well and my own septic/drain field.

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Concrete septic tanks perfectly placed.

A huge crane had to place these concrete septic tanks.  If you don’t know how a septic system works, a pump will deliver waste from the house to the septic tanks.  The solids settle in one tank and the liquids spill over into the second tank, which in turn is pumped with fresh water to the drain field.  By the time the liquids get to the drain field through sand etc., it is absorbed and processed with microbes and Mother Nature.

On the other side of the house are these dry wells.  All of the rain downspouts will deliver the rain to the dry wells which are giant holes filled with river rock.  This prevents flooding.

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Dry wells to prevent flooding.  These are much larger than they appear in this photo.

Then the foundation guys arrive.  These guys form up the foundation for the house and concrete is poured from a pumper.

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After a couple of days, the concrete sets and it’s time for the “walls.”  My house will be built on top of these walls with a subfloor.

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When they kept telling me the walls are going up, I thought, you know, real walls.  I finally figured out that these were not the walls I was thinking.

Yay!  Lumber delivery day, part one.

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Offloading lumber.  You can see the concrete walls.

French drains going in around the house to deliver rainwater to the dry wells.

fullsizerender-37-copyMy construction zone.

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Framing guys were here working on Saturday and they will return this week to begin putting up real walls.  Next load of lumber for the second story will be delivered on Thursday so expect to see an update with something that looks like a real house.

After all the delays I’m finally going to see my farmhouse take shape!  Stay tuned.


Pomegranate Linzer Cookies

Traditional jam-filled Linzer cookies for Christmas.  I make them with homemade pomegranate jelly but usually they are made with raspberry jam and almond flour.  Wilton makes a Linzer cutter and you can find the traditional recipe on the back of the packaging.  One more thing to note: Cookies are usually baked and then jelly added between the sandwich.  I like to add the jelly first and then bake.

Pomegranate Linzer Cookies

1 cup shorteningimg_4491
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 cup flour, sifted
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup of pomegranate jelly
Powdered sugar

In your mixer combine shortening and sugars until creamy.  On slow speed mix in egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and set aside.  In another bowl sift together all dry ingredients and then combine with your shortening and sugar mixture.  Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thinly roll out dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8 of an inch.  Cut out cookies using your fluted cookie cutter.  In half of your cookie squares, cut out a small hole in the center.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of jelly onto each whole cookie.  Top with the cut-out cookie and gently press edges together.

Bake on parchment paper or an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

 


Fences

I couldn’t take it anymore!  I had to do something.  Anything.  So I built a fence.

I moved to Washington in May of this year and I had this crazy idea that I would be sleeping in my new farmhouse by Christmas.  Ha!  What I didn’t know is that nothing is done quickly on the Olympic Peninsula.  As I looked out the window of my 5th wheel and dreamed of what Lavender Mills Farm will one day look like, I felt discouraged.  Nothing had happened yet.

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Yep, that’s my temporary home!

Well, something had happened: Apparently, I am the only one in Sequim that works quickly!  Within weeks of moving to Sequim, I had my new Washington state driver’s license, registered my car, applied for and received my new address, had temporary power installed and run to the 5th wheel, had the water lines run from the well to the 5th wheel, had internet and Dish tv installed.  Not long after that, I had the plans for my house and barn approved by the County and even had the excavators out to prepare the site for the house.  I completed all of this on my own and waited for the home builder to begin.  And waited.  And waited.

Back to daydreaming while looking out the window; I had that ah-ha moment.  It occurred to me that I don’t have to wait for the house, I can start on the farm right now.  Yes!  I am a woman of action and I am not waiting any longer.  What will be the first and easiest task?  A beautiful white fence.  After receiving a few estimates I had the fence installed within a couple of weeks.

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What I didn’t expect was the psychological boost of a white fence.  I feel like I actually live SOMEPLACE.  That I’m not just squatting in a humongous open field.  This fence marks a location.  I have a driveway and pillars that welcome all to my place.  I have outlined my farm and now I can start to color it in.

So today I planted 200 yellow daffodil bulbs and that is another story…


The Beginning

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I am often asked the question: “What made you decide to move to Sequim?”

I visited Sequim many years ago on a family vacation and loved it.  Whenever I think about living someplace else other than Southern California, I would think of Sequim and it’s beautiful mountain views and valleys of lavender and farmlands.

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Many things happened in my life at the same time: retirement, the end of a 30-year marriage, my children beginning their own lives with a wedding and both moving out of the house to follow their dreams.  I became an empty nester and I ended up living in a quiet, five-bedroom house by myself.  It became clear that I needed to make a change.  I didn’t have a direction and to be honest, it was a lonely time.  The family home became a burden and felt very heavy.

I was talking with my boyfriend and he said, “What do you want to do?”  I responded, “I don’t know…I always wanted to be a lavender farmer.”  He said, “So do it. Look at flights and let’s go to Sequim and check it out.”  What?  People don’t just book flights and go check out towns, do they?  He prompted me again and I booked a flight to Seattle and made a reservation at a hotel in Sequim.  I thought it would just be a fun vacation.  We spent the week exploring and talking over every detail.  Could I really do this?  Could I really move so far away from my family?  Could I really follow a dream?  After all, it was just a dream.

The more I looked at it, the more it made sense.  The affordability alone should convince one to make such a huge change.  Even if I didn’t make a profit on the farm, I would still come out ahead.  I kept running the numbers over and over.  I researched every detail.  At the same time, the 30-year-old house was making demands that 30-year-old houses do.  It was by far the hardest and scariest decision I’ve ever had to make.  I was on an emotional rollercoaster and I think I cried for weeks.

The next question I get is, “How can you leave your children?”  Yes, this one stings a little.  It reminds me when I was a working mother and my job demanded that I be present and I couldn’t chaperone a field trip and if I took a vacation day or was able to make an activity, the teachers would say to me, “So glad you can finally join us.”  Ouch.  There it is – that feeling of guilt that I should do more or give more.

My kids are grown adults now.  They are busy with their own careers and their own lives and that is as it should be.  I am so overwhelmingly proud of each of them.  They are successful and happy and that is all any parent can want for their child.  It is time for me to focus on my next chapter and that includes something I’ve always dreamed of doing and building a memorable destination for my kids and grandkids to visit.  The key here is FaceTime and quality visits, not quantity visits.

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So, now that I am in Sequim it feels right.  This is where I am supposed to be.  I wake up every morning and look at the mountains and I pinch myself because I cannot believe I live here.  I cannot believe that I am actually doing something I only dreamed of doing.  I feel so fortunate that I put aside all of the reasons why I couldn’t (believe me, I made up a lot of reasons why I couldn’t/shouldn’t) and I tore down the wall.

We really can do whatever we put our minds to do.  My soul is happy that I made a change and I’m chasing a dream.


Haying vs. Mowing

IMG_2998.PNGOne of the first things I noticed when I arrived to Lavender Mills is how tall the grass had grown. How on earth do I get this stuff mowed? I can’t purchase a mower yet because I don’t have anywhere to store it. I made a phone call to the only person I know in Sequim and she gave me a referral number. She also told me that it is not “mowing,” but “haying.” Good to know.

I made the phone call and the guy on the other end said he would be over in the next couple of days to “hay” it. Feeling pretty good about myself because I was using the correct terminology, I showed my ignorance when I asked how he is paid. I never imagined that he hays it for free and in return keeps the hay. I’m pretty sure this would never happen in California; I imagine I would be charged for hauling away my perfect hay.

Sure enough a man that I call Hay Guy showed up in a tractor and started haying. I saw this same guy all over the valley the next week working on various lots. He keeps everyone’s land cleared and keeps the hay. Win / Win.FullSizeRender 3 copy 4.jpg
I never actually met Hay Guy. He just shows up and waves at me as he drives by. He even leaves some of his big ol’ tractor equipment behind. After the hay is cut, he lets it dry out for a few days.

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A few days later he arrives with a different piece of equipment that flips the hay over to dry the other side in the sun.
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Another few days Hay Guy arrived with with Hay Guy Two and together they baled it. Very cool watching these guys work. One tractor takes the dried and spread out hay and puts it back into neat rows and the other Hay Guy drives over the neat rows and picks it up and spits out a perfect bale of hay.

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I never thought in a million years that I would have bales of hay. I have bales of hay!

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It was the next week that I noticed everybody, and I mean everybody, on their mowers mowing. Well, apparently after all of this work one must mow because the hay is still about four inches tall. I stopped a guy down the street who was mowing and he said he would come over and mow mine the next day.

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He showed up with a friend and this time I had to pay for mowing service. However, the guys were great and both work on a large organic farm on the weekdays. They even agreed to help plant my lavender and hook up irrigation when the time comes. Yes!


Awesome Wicked Cool Doors

Starting my 1,299 mile journey to Sequim, Washington from Santee, California, I had the brilliant idea to stop at an architectural salvage shop in downtown San Diego. I was looking to find some really awesome wicked cool doors for my farmhouse to-be. After all, how often do I have a trailer in tow to pick up and transport such awesome wicked cool doors?

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Let’s just say I think the doors were meant to be mine. There was a huge Art Walk going on downtown and I miraculously found a parking spot – on the street – for me and my trailer. I walked into the shop and standing before me were my doors. Tall and green and perfect! Just one problem: the doors are huge and my trailer is, umm, not so huge. I told the shopkeeper that if we could get them to fit I would buy them. Believe it or not I have photographic evidence proving that I had only one inch to spare. Success!

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After traveling on the road for some time with my mom and high school best friend, I discovered that the trailer’s roll-up door was not going to open. Not even an inch. The awesome cool wicked doors had settled and wedged the trailer roll-up door shut. I spent three days living in my travel clothes and borrowing literally everything from my two companions.

On day four it was time to return the trailer and somehow we had to get the bleeping roll-up door open. We stopped at an RV mechanic shop in Sequim and two nice men who reminded me of Laurel and Hardy came to the rescue and tried to force the roll-up door open. We tried driving and hitting the brakes hard for a shift. Nothing. My best friend tried her best Karate Kid move on the doors and nearly kicked a dent into the roll-up doors. Nothing. We tried jacking the door open. Nothing. At least an hour we worked on the roll-up door. Somehow we managed a few inches and I could start to unload my contents in the small gap. My bestie then got the roll-up door open about a foot and decided to slither up and inside the small gap. She did it! From inside the trailer she was able to hold the wicked cool doors up while Laurel and Hardy worked on the roll-up door. It worked. The roll-up door rolled up and my bestie celebrated by screaming F*** ya!

I have awesome wicked cool doors for the entry to my studio at Lavender Mills Farm and it was totally worth it.


Beef Palace Meat Marinade

The Beef Palace is a butcher shop where I grew up and has been there forever. I came across this recipe for a meat marinade and it has to be at least 35-40 years old. Enjoy!

Beef Palace Meat Marinade

1 cup dry red wine
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 juiced lemon
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup oil

Whisk all ingredients. Pour over steaks and seal seasoned steaks in a zip lock bag until ready to grill.


Peanut Butter Cookies

You can’t go wrong with this standard peanut butter cookie recipe. Note that I like to roll the peanut butter ball on a plate with a little bit of sugar.

1 1/4 cups flourFullSizeRender
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 375°.

  1. Dry whisk together flour, soda and salt in a small bowl.
  2. In a mixer, beat butter and peanut butter together. Beat in both sugars and then beat in egg and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients.
  3. Prepare a small plate with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Also have a small cup with water and a fork handy.
  4. Roll in palms about 1-inch of dough and then roll dough ball in plate of sugar. Place on ungreased jelly roll pan. Dip fork into water and then make hash marks on each dough ball with the tines.
  5. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for a minute, then remove cookies to wire rack.

Store and eat them right out of the freezer.


World Peace Ribs (or steaks)

So called, because if everybody had these ribs, there would be world peace!

Marinade:
24 oz. lemon juice
6 jalapeños, diced small
4 Tbs. salt
3 racks ribs (OR 4 lbs. of steak – I like to use Tri-Tip)

Additional Ingredients:
need depending on meat choice below
12 oz. lemon juice
12 oz. light Mexican beer (Corona)

1. Add all marinade ingredients together in stainless steel sauce pan and heat to boiling. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

For ribs:
Need the additional 12 oz. of lemon juice and 12 oz. of light Mexican beer (Corona).
2. Place 3-4 racks on baking sheet (jelly roll pan). Pour 12 oz. of lemon juice over ribs. Pour 12 oz. of beer over the ribs. Salt and pepper. Tent ribs with foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours or more.
3. Place ribs on hot BBQ and baste with World Peace sauce. Grill until brown on both sides.

For steaks:
Need an additional 12 oz. of lemon juice.
2. Marinade steaks in 12 oz. of lemon juice for 1-2 hours.
3. Salt and pepper. Put steaks on grill and baste with World Peace sauce. Grill until brown on both sides.


Cranberry & Ginger Relish

This is one of my favorite cranberry relish sides. No cooking over the stove; just a food processor and a couple of minutes is all you need. I used to only make Cumberland cranberry sauce for the holidays until I tried this one. Now I have to make both. I adore this fresh relish and I especially love it as a sandwich spread after the holidays. I froze fresh cranberries just so I can have this all year.

Cranberry & Ginger Relish

1 (12 oz. bag) of fresh whole cranberries
Cranberry Relish1/2 cup pomegranate arils (optional)
1-2 tsp. Meyer lemon zest
1 Tbs. orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup finely minced crystallized ginger

1. Rinse the whole cranberries and add to a food processor.

2. Finely chop the crystalized ginger and set aside. (Note: Do not use your food processor to chop the crystalized ginger. Depending on the age of the ginger, it will either jump around and avoid the blades, or will become a gummy mess. Trust me on this. Just use a sharp knife.)

3. Pulse the cranberries a few times. Add the zest, sugar and ginger to the cranberries and pulse until the consistency is relish-like. Add the chopped ginger and pomegranate. Pulse a few more times to blend.

Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

There you have it. So easy and so delicious.


French Onion Soup

4 onions, sliced
1 baguette
8 oz. Gruyere cheese
4 oz. Parmigiano cheese, grated
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 qts. beef broth

  1. Place onions in a heavy-bottomed pot with 2 Tbs. of olive oil. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, slice baguette into 1/2-inch rounds. Lightly brush slices with olive oil on both sides and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, turn baguettes and bake another 10 minutes.
  3. Shave 2 oz. of Gruyere cheese (for the bottom) and set aside. Grate the rest of the Gruyere. In a bowl, combine the Gruyere and Parmigiano cheese.
  4. Remove lid from onions, turn up the heat to medium-high to carmelize onions, stirring continuously. Add 2 Tbs. butter and 2 Tbs. flour to make a roux. Add 2 cups beef broth and whisk until flour is completely dissolved. Add the remaining beef broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Line ramekins with shaved Gruyere crutons and ladle soup on top. Top with

Homemade Kettle Corn

I’m adding this for my mother-in-law who was asking about a recipe for kettle corn. You can make a big bowl at home. xoFullSizeRender

As we settle in for the evening, we only have to decide on regular corn or kettle corn. Both are delicious. This recipe makes a lot of corn, but my dog and I like to snack on it the next day.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar

In a heavy-bottomed pot, add 1/4 cup oil and 3 kernels. Place heat on high. Wait for the kernels to begin to pop. When the 3rd kernel pops, add the rest of the kernels and sugar. Put lid on the pot and shake. Popcorn is ready when 2-3 seconds elapse between popping.


Wash Day Is Beautiful

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As I was removing a load of laundry from the clothesline, it occurred to me that I haven’t shared with you the awesomeness of the clothesline. We’ve been making homemade laundry detergent for a couple of years and it only seemed right that we should try the clothesline.

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Clothesline with partial shade. Hubby was working on a project and needed temporary shade. The clothespin bag at the end was a Martha Stewart bag that had a Christmas ham inside. Seriously! It was the perfect size and hubby ran a wire hanger through to keep it open to receive clothespins.

We installed a retractable clothesline similar to this one at the top of the fence. The line can then be drawn down the side of the house to a hook near the gate (preferred) or the opposite way to a hook on a patio cover post. What’s really great is that the clothesline is low so our neighbors can’t see it (HOA/complaint avoidance – just in case 😉 ) and it is retractable so we can put it away.

I can honestly say that hanging clothes on the line is just as easy as throwing in the dryer and in fact, the summer sun dries the clothes faster than the dryer. It’s true! Our whites have never looked so white and I haven’t had any trouble with fading brights or darks. We do have a little bit of shade so I do try to hang brights and darks on the shaded part of the line. Hubby thinks the clothes are actually easier to fold. Now, I will admit that towels and sheets are not as “soft,” but we got used to it quickly and I actually prefer the fresh, clean smell over the softness. The towels seem to absorb better without all the chemicals added to make it soft. Not to mention the cost savings of using free sunshine. Did I mention it’s pretty? It reminds me of the streets in Europe where they still hang their clothes across the line and people stop to take a photo.

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Since I didn’t grow up using a clothesline, I did have to look up the proper way to hang items. Yes, there is a proper way: pin at at the hems and not the shoulders, hang pants by the waistband, hang socks by the toes. There are many tutorials on the Internet. Try it out and let me know what you think; skies are clear and warm this week.


Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

2 cans refrigerated crescent dinner rollsIMG_7529
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Chop the pecans and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the remainder filling ingredients together.

3. Unroll one can of crescent roll dough. Do not separate the dough at the perforations. Working on parchment paper with one entire sheet of dough, press all the perforations closed. Your dough sheet will be approximately 8×13.

4. Spread filling on top of sheet of dough. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the filling.

5. Unroll second can of crescent roll dough and repeat No. 3 above.

6. Place second sheet on top of filling. Cut stacked dough into 8, 13-inch strips. (We like to use a pizza cutter.) Twist each strip 5 or 6 times. Shape each piece into a coil and place on jelly roll pan. The twisting of the dough will help to keep the filling inside and also a caramelized edge.

7. Bake at 375° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.


Berry Cobbler

You can use almost any berry for this basic cobbler recipe. I picked a few apples from my tree today and made an apple and strawberry cobbler that brought smiles in the house.  I usually use boysenberries, but if you have a bunch of fruit in the fridge that is going to go bad before you can eat it, cobbler is the solution. A peach cobbler with ice cream on top will make your day!

Berry Cobbler

4 cups fresh berriesIMG_7512
1/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. butter, cut up
1 cup Bisquick or biscuit mix
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 cup milk or water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar (for topping)

1. Butter an 8×8 pan.
2. Mix first 6 ingredients and pour into prepared baking dish.
3. Add butter pieces over the top of the fruit mixture.
4. In a small bowl, mix Bisquick, 2 Tbs. sugar and milk. Dollop over the fruit mixture. I don’t worry about spreading around – it will spread during the baking process.
5. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tsp. sugar over the top.
6. Bake at 425° for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Berry Cobbler Fruit

Green Apple and Strawberry Cobbler. Just need to add the Bisquick mix on top.

 


Growing Loofah

I am so happy with my garden loofah. I’m told one can eat the fruit when small, but I let them grow and dry out because I wanted to harvest the loofah! Growing even one loofah plant will produce a life-time supply of seeds.

Loofah is part of the cucumber family with gourds and pumpkins. I know, crazy, right? A lot of people have told me they thought it was from the ocean. The vine is pretty and flowers profusely with yellow flowers. The male flowers in clusters that provide weeks of blooms per cluster.

Loofah Male Flowers
Cluster of male flowers.

The female flowers singularly and when pollinated, continues to produce the fruit.

Female flower and fruit
Female flower has withered and fruit is beginning to grow.

Ants love the flowers and I just let them go about their business. They don’t affect the flowers, nor the fruit.

I planted in the spring and it grew up a post and across the gazebo; a long growing season. One plant produced three nice-sized fruits. There were a couple that did not get pollinated.

Growing Loofah

About two weeks ago, the fruit started to dry out on the vine. You want to pick the fruit when it’s dry, but not too dry. If will be easier to pull the skin off in one piece if it is not dried out completely. This one is brown, but a little soft, too.

Dried loofah ready for peeling.
Dried loofah ready for peeling.

Break off the end and begin peeling. The ribs are connected with a seriously strong string-like fiber. You could probably sew something together with that fiber! The skin peels off rather easily and you will see the seeds inside the fibrous membrane.

Peeling the skin off the loofah. Brown seeds inside.
Peeling the skin off the loofah. Brown seeds inside.

Check out how many seeds are inside each one. Just shake the loofah and the seeds will fall out at the ends.

Loofah with Seeds

I’ve been using loofah to exfoliate for years. Now that I have a nice supply of seeds, I will try out a piece of loofah at my kitchen sink because I’ve heard that it’s wonderful for cleaning dishes.

If you want to read more about loofah, I suggest this website.