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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


Surprising Results in Pumpkin Purée Blind Taste

Pumpkin in the house!
We had a blind taste of pumpkin purée this evening with very surprising results.

Pumpkins1) Grocery store Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin purée
2) Libby’s canned pumpkin purée – 100% pumpkin with no additives
3) Homegrown Sugar Pie pumpkin purée

All three purées were similarly prepared. I baked both the homegrown and grocery store pumpkins and then processed and used an immersion blender for a smooth consistency. I did not add anything to the purées so it was just 100% pumpkin. Pumpkin is not a sweet squash, but a great addition to recipes.

RESULTS

First Place: Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin was the sweetest of the three and our favorite.

Second Place: Sugar Pie pumpkin. It was a close second behind the Jack-o-Lantern. This pumpkin was grown last year, processed and frozen until yesterday. It was good, but not quite as sweet as the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin.

Third Place: Libby’s canned pumpkin. Bleh! Not nearly as good as the fresh pumpkin. Tasted a little like the can.

We did not try this year’s fresh homegrown Sugar Pie as I had already processed and froze it all.

I was sure the canned pumpkin was going to be the one to beat.  Fresh pumpkin purée is easy to make and a favorite to use in recipes, but I was very surprised at the noticeable difference in taste. Easy to grow, but just as easy to use your Jack-o-Lantern after you’ve carved it for Halloween. We used a battery-powered candle inside the Jack-o-Lantern instead of a flamed candle. This keeps the pumpkin from “cooking” before I’m ready to process the whole thing. When carving your pumpkin, make sure you are thorough in removing the inside seeds and pulp and bake the next day because you don’t want fuzz to start to grow.

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Dragon Fruit

Yesterday we went to 99 Ranch Market to buy oysters for the BBQ. As I was browsing through the produce I saw this crazy looking…something…I wasn’t really sure what it was. It was interesting looking: bright, pretty and about the size of a softball. A fruit I imagined, but what kind of fruit? The sign was labeled Dragon Fruit and I remembered that I had recently seen a Dragon Fruit plant for sale at Lowe’s. The tag at Lowe’s said it is a super fruit – antioxidants, vitamin C and low in calories. A cactus-like plant.

Seeing the Dragon Fruit in person peeked my curiosity and I had to purchase it. We brought it home and I looked it up to see how to cut and eat this Dragon Fruit. The whole family gathered around as I cut it open. What a beauty!

I scooped out the inside of the Dragon Fruit and then diced it up and placed it back inside the “bowl” of the fruit like I had seen in articles on the Internet.

The flesh is soft, bland and just slightly sweet. It smells like a plant. The seeds are very crunchy but easy to chew. It reminded us all of kiwi. I think it would make a nice addition to a fruit salad. Definitely a show stopper in the color and contrast. I may buy it again to add to a salad, but I’m not running down to Lowe’s to purchase the plant for the garden.

A New Visitor

My garden is a big part of my home life.

I live in a typical suburban neighborhood in San Diego county, but on the edge of a 6,150 acre regional park. The park brings rock climbers, hikers, mountain bikers and lucky for me, a little bit of wildlife.

This gorgeous quail is a new visitor to my suburban farm.

He seems to like the thistle seed I feed the goldfinches.

He’s very shy.
I can confirm that if you provide native plants, host plants, shelter, food and water – the wildlife will come.

Project Peppermint Bark

Who doesn’t love peppermint bark?  Peppermint bark snowflakes for my co-workers.  Bottom layer of Wilton dark chocolate and top layer of Wilton candy cane white chocolate.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, pipe into the snowflake cookie cutters, cooling between layers.  When completely cooled, pop out of form and wrap in bags.  Super simple and tasty!  I love the way they turned out and how about the cute top hat that I found at Michaels to present the treat bags?