Ahh...more is revealed!

I can't help it! Carnivorous Hippy and I sort of pinky-swore we wouldn't give away our secret! But, then I discovered that she told JD...and all bets were off!

Here's the finished product. No stencils. Just our freehand determination!

Carnivorous Hippy and BoggyWoggy Strike!

Watch out, world! We're in our mid-40's and we're bored!

My best buddy, CH, and I have decided to NOT age gracefully!

Instead, we're out, roaming the streets after dark, wearing dark pants, dark shirts, and dark hats!

We're up to no-good, mind you, but we WILL make headlines! Well, maybe not headlines, but definitely our antics will spark interest.

Read the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper for August 30, 2007. Page A-5.

Heh, heh, heh...

Watch your back, folks!


It's Harvest Time on the Ol' Farmstead!

Last night, I clipped several bunches of the most DELICIOUS grapes I've ever eaten! I planted "intelaken" grapes a few years ago, after tasting my friend's grapes. I just stuck the starts in the ground and crossed my fingers. The first year, I believe I overwatered. I went on line and discovered that grapes like abuse, so this year I've backed way off! Tah-Dah!!! My 2 vines have now produced more than 200 bunches of little green orbs!

According to:

Green seedless. Slightly hardier than Himrod. Medium sized fairly tight clusters. Berries are crisp, sweet and fleshy. Good for eating fresh, excellent for raisins. Early.

Last week I began picking tomatoes. We planted some cool varieties this year, including an Eastern European classic called "Purple Prince." Mine are "purpler" than this web-found photo!

I'm also picking the classic red romas! Yum! They are best when eaten right off the vine, still warm from the sun!A favorite in our house continues to be the little grape tomatoes. I like them so much more than any cherry tomatoes, mostly because they don't SQUIRT you when you take a bite. They also last longer and do well with refrigeration, unlike many other tomatoes!And, last, but not least, I've planted a TON of "Sun Gold" tomatoes. They are so cool! They literally sparkle in the sunlight!Here's what I do with the bulk of the bounty. TRY IT! YOU'LL REALLY, REALLY LIKE IT!

Val's Made-Up Tomato Delicioso!
Take a big batch of firm tomatoes, such as the romas. Carefully rinse and quarter. Pick out your biggest roasting pan. I'm lucky to have inherited my husband's mother's pan (I never met her...she died many, many years ago). Coat the pan liberally with good olive oil. I use Trader Joe's Kalamata oil now. Put all of the quatered tomatoes in the pan. DON'T REMOVE THE PEEL OR SEEDS! Try to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Now comes the fun part!

**On top of the tomatoes, pour on some more olive oil, a bunch of sugar, a bunch of salt and pepper, some oregano, thyme, and basil (fresh or dried). Using a big spoon, toss everything so that the tomatoes are well-coated.

**Cover with foil and put in the oven for 1 hour! DO NOT TAKE OFF THE FOIL!!! You want the stuff to steam up well.

**After an hour, remove the pan and toss everything around again. You can add more oil if you want.

**Now, remove the foil and reduce the heat to only 275 degrees. Yes, that's right. Now you are going to slow-roast the concoction! Roast at this temp for 2-3 hours. You can stir occasionally. It will get sticky as the liquid reduces.

**Now, lower the heat again! Get it down to 225!

Roast for several hours and remove. Let it cool.

Cook up some pasta.

Toss it with the sticky "sauce," adding grated parmesan and whatever else you like on your pasta. We like pine nuts and more fresh basil from the garden.


Cook up a whole bunch and freeze for your winter-eating needs!

More on the Captain...

This is what it's all about, folks! Anyone wanna join me for a sing-along?

Today was a "money-spendin'" day. Got the washer repaired. Had to put new tires on the van. Ugh...time for some EJ.


Fishing on the Alsea...

The beautiful Alsea River, about 12 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.
Absolutely PERFECT weather.
Absolutely HORRIBLE fishing!
We took the "big boat" west, toward Waldport, Oregon, to see if we could snag a few Chinook to complete the filling of the freezer. Left home about 6:30. Returned at about 5:00 p.m. empty-handed.

Here's hubby fixing my mess. While trolling, our lines continually got hung up on sea grass coming in with the tide. At one point, my friend (we'd brought her along) was in charge of driving the boat. Whenever a line gets hung, the driver usually puts it in neutral. Friend got excited and shifted into reverse!

My line then wrapped around the propeller, oh, let's say, about 200 times!

But, as the day came to a close, in spite of getting no fish, we all felt GREAT about relaxing on the river! Hubby and my friend are pleased about the day. We ended it in a tavern called "The Flounder Inn." A good cold hefeweizen and hot clam chowder make everything good!


Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy...

I usually log onto http://www.pandora.com/ on mornings like this, creating the perfect, motivational radio station to keep me moving and upbeat as I dust and clean.
Today, I'm into Elton John.

In 1975, the first album I ever bought was "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy." I had to ask permission, since I was only 12. My dad took me to the store to get it. Inside it had a magazine-like insert with all of the lyrics, photos, and artwork. I would lie on my bed and look at it over and over. It had things I'd never seen before! I STILL have that insert, and as soon as I find it, I'll photograph it and insert! I think it's inside my piano bench.

I had a stereo...a real one...that my parents bought me at a Zale's Jewelry Store in 1975! It was a Panasonic with 2 huge speakers, My dad would always buy me classical music...but I wanted to "rock," and who could be a better choice for a 6th grader than Elton John! I have every song memorized! I even sat at my piano and figured out almost every single tune! Throughout the 70's, I had a lot of friends who were also pianists...and we bought as many Elton John music books as we could afford and sang, played, and fantasized throughout many a sleepover. We didn't know that he was gay, but I don't think it would have mattered it we did...

He wasn't even gorgeous, BUT he was British. I also loved Freddy Mercury at that time, another gay musician with odd teeth. I would sit in my room with my big Koss headphones on, listening to the music, singing at the top of my lungs, at my piano (yes, it was in my room). My brothers would pound on the door and tell me to be quiet, but I didn't hear them because the volume was too high! When I'd finally finish one side of an album, I'd be really embarassed, realizing how loud my voice was! My middle brother, the mean one, would tease me for days and tell all of his friends. At school on the playground (6th grade was still elementary school then) they'd sing and follow me around. I'd be so embarassed!!!

But, it didn't stop me. When I listened to "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," my mind would take me places I didn't know existed! I thought about weird women, HP demands (what the heck are those?), and princesses. I was raised Southern Baptist, so you can just imagine how guilty all this made me feel...and I was always afraid my parents would find out!

I saw Elton in concert in 1978 in Portland at the Memorial Coliseum. He came onstage wearing a white tuxedo with a tall, white top hat. His piano was centerstage, placed on a rotating circle, meaning he sat at the piano and it slowly spun around 360-degrees throughout the entire concert, so we saw him from ALL angles! Seriously, I was in the 4th row back (when you're a member of a fan club, you get priority-seating!) and screamed the ENTIRE time! At one point, he stood up, walked to the edge of the stage and took off his hat...then he threw it into the audience!!! Oh My God! Girls went wild! I was so lucky to have parents who let me do this stuff. My mom was only 19 when she had me and she, herself, was into some pretty good rock music. She listened to The Rolling Stones, The Police, and David Bowie. I grew up with Bowie and Beatles...as well as Frank Sinatra and others. However, my mom remarried when I was 4 and things changed a lot. Less music, more stress.
Anyway, to this day, I play Elton John daily on my piano. My daughter, too, has picked up on this and plays "Your Song" almost as beautifully as me (wink, wink!), as well as "Border Song," "Tiny Dancer," and many, many more!


Today in the Garden...

OH, what a BEA-YOU-TEA-FUL day it is! It's cool, cloudy, drizzly, and windy. I LOVE days like this in Oregon! When I looked out and noticed a break in the sprinkles, grabbe my camera and headed out for some update photos!
This is the perinneal sunflower in my herb beds. It is now 9 feet tall!
Ummm...horseradish! We'll harvest this Fall!
A few hydrangeas under our kitchen window. I have loved watching them grow! Originally, when we bought the home, there was a horrid, huge white Rhodie here. I cut it back HARD each year and planted 3 hydrangeas around it. There's also a Pixie Lavendar hiding in there.
Black Locust in a pot on the old back patio!
Cardoon! It's now 14 feet high! I dry the flowers. Yes, it is in the same family as artichokes, but you don't comsume the fruit. Instead, you boil the stalks/stems.

Dood and Jim Dandy follow me everywhere, waiting patiently!
This is a Sea Buckthorn I bought in 1998. I carried it with me to this home in '01. Now, it is soaring in a back corner, at over 21 feet! It helps create shade to protect a bunch of hostas!
A view into the backyard from the gate. This is my hummingbird garden. It is right beside the new French doors to the dining room. Hubby and I open the doors in the morning and read the paper while hummers buzz within inches of hte doorway. This garden includes:
giant blue hyssop, cape fuschia, purple salvia, perinneal fuschia, pulmonaria, lamian vines, and more!
Here is a "Little Giant" fuschia.

I planted this Deador Cedar only 3 years ago. At the time, it was in a 4-inch pot! It's expected to rise to 80 feet with a 40-foot expanse!
Penstomen is a favorite with bees and hummingbirds.
Under the 70-foot oak is a small bed which includes columbine, 5 varieties of hydrangea, lavendar, hosta, pineapple thistle, beebalm, and lilac.
Pretty coneflowers, aka echinacea. Below, you can see he tips of a variety of flower called "Valerie!" Yep, it's named after me!

This is a sprig of Obedient Plant. It got its name from the fact that it grows straight up!
This is a nine-bark shrub. I love it very much.
Penstomen caught by a fish!
The famous "Flower Bed." It's filled with herbs!

This trumpet vine hides part of the compost area and provides a nice barrier to block out the home behind us.
A beautiful example of "baby blue" lacecap hydrangea.
This is called a "Turtle-Head Lily." When it is in full-bloom, all of the flowers look as though they are little turtle heads peaking out of their green shells!
The climber in the side yard. It is growing over the top of one of my favorite arbors! The arbor is rusty and old and has welcomed the flower invasion for many years. In the foreground, you see Persian viburnum.
My "sort of favorite" plant. This is a Himalayan Honeysuckle. It is now about 8 feet tall. In the winter, it dies back completely to the ground. Today, in spite of cool rain, it was covered with pretty little bumble bees.
A sad, wet clematis.
Spirea, coneflower, hydrangea, and iris in back of our tea area.
I can't even get into the compost area right now! It's been taken over by a volunteer squash of some sort! We decided to let it grow so we could see what variety it will be!
Joe Pye Weed peeking around the bottle tree! I originally got this plant from my grandmother, Dorothy Gilmore in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Oak Leaf Hydrangea. It LOVES its location!
These 2 love each other very much.
This is our little tea area. I made the patio many, many years ago. I honestly built it in less than 2 hours. Gravel, bricks, tah-dah!
Jim Dandy is sitting in front of the volunteer rudbekia that settled new our front door. Most know it as mini-Black-Eyed-Susan.
Hydrangew that are turning as Fall approaches.
Cherry-Bell Companula
My absolute favorite hydrangea. This is called "Black Stem Hydrangea." I've had it for years. It's gone through some very tough times, but this year it has BURST into bloom!