Living the Wild Life

Life can sure get crazy being a townhome-steader in Southern California, what with the wild predators always lurking about…

And that creepy-crawly sense of being watched, like, all of the time.

While on an alley Safari, we even saw this untamed Firebird.

Here, peppers miraculously grow in mysterious things called “containers.”

Sometimes even in rusty old lamp parts.

Of course, we have archeological digs here in SoCal, something every Townhome-steader should do.

Okay. You get the point. We’re not exactly roughin’ here.

Our archeological find, though, was pretty cool!

For my 30th birthday, my feller gave me a concrete bench to sit and admire my roses. (We lived in Paso Robles in a Spanish-styled bungalow surrounded by rose bushes.) About a year later, we moved to SoCal. Shortly after moving in, the association had some work done outside, painting maybe, or wood repair. I can’t remember. Anyway, after they finished, we noticed the top of my bench had gone missing. We looked everywhere, and couldn’t find it, so figured perhaps they’d broken it and simply thrown it away. I kept the two base pieces and turned them into plant stands, but I was SOOOO bummed, not just because I loved the bench, but because I loved the man who’d given it to me and the thought behind the gift!

Fast forward about fourteen years. While on the bedroom patio, we heard a sound. The night before we’d heard a similar sound, and woke to find a critter on the patio, definitely not domestic, but not one of our common coyotes either. We wondered if the critter was still lurking about, so I dropped to my knees to look under the shrubbery. I didn’t see a critter, but I did see something else, and said, “Hey! There’s some kind of man-made thing under all this brush.” It didn’t dawn on me what it might be until about a half an hour later. And sure enough! Buried halfway in dirt, underneath the thick foliage, was my bench top. How cool is that???

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THE FARM:

Good news and bad news on the farm front. We got our first little peppers sprouting on the mystery plant (Brian harvested seeds from some chiles, but can’t remember if they were from the dried ones we got in Arizona or from our New Mexico hatch chiles.)

And we have six lemons on our dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree!

Bad news. Aphids got to our entire batch of Poblanos. They’re not looking so good, but hopefully they’ll recover. Being new to the whole growing food thing, I had to get a quick lesson on how to get rid of them. After spritzing  with soapy water and then shooting a stream of water to the leaf undersides, they seem to be gone, but I’m not sure if the plants are too far gone to recover. If anyone has any further tips on aphid removal, please share with this novice farmer!

I also studied up a bit on feeding the plants, something I hadn’t done since transplanting the seedlings. PLUS… I figured out the yellowing leaves on my lemon tree were because I’d NEVER fed it! The plant vendor at the farmer’s market had just what I needed, so hopefully that problem will resolve. While there, we picked up some tomato, dill, tarragon, and parsley plants. Bit-by-bit we hope to grow our patio farm. We just don’t want to kill anything!! Wish us luck!

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THE LUNCHBOX:

First of all, I’m happy to say that finally, after five months making my lunch every day, it has become easy!! Yee haw! What took me so long, right? Oy. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself, too much emphasis on making something extraordinary every day. I still try to create fun things, but you know what? There’s nothing wrong with an ordinary almond butter and jelly sandwich every now and again. In fact, it’s always been a favorite… well, not ABJ exactly. It was originally  PBJ, but when I got a migraine every time I’d eat one (daily) I figured out peanut butter and I just didn’t mix, and now I know why, since Peanuts are a tyramine rich food, and tyramine foods are excitotoxins, thus, migraine foods.

So what else am I packing in the lunchbox? I’m still REALLY diggin’ springroll variations. Mine are never pretty, but they sure do taste good.

My new favorite? This one from Naturally Ella. Mom, I think you’ll especially like this:

Grilled Asparagus and Chili-Orange Quinoa Spring Rolls

  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dressing*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 3 to 4 handfuls spinach, lettuce, or Asian greens
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 to 10 rice paper wrappers
  1. Light grill. Toss asparagus with olive oil and place on grill. Cook until lightly charring and soft. Remove from grill and let cool slightly. Slice asparagus into strips and slice strips in half, horizontally, to fit into spring rolls.
  2. Combine orange juice, walnut oil, honey, and pinch of red chili flakes in a mason jar or other container that has a lid. Shake well and test for chilis- add more if desired.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together greens and cooked quinoa. Drizzle dressing over and toss until mixture is coated.
  4. Set up a rolling station with grilled asparagus, quinoa mixture, rice papers, a dish of hot water larger enough to hold the spring rolls, and a cutting board.
  5. Soak the rice paper for 10-15 seconds (you don’t want it too soft when taking it out of the water but pliable enough to roll.) Place rice paper on a cutting board and load with quinoa mixture and grilled asparagus. Roll, tuck, and fold in sides as you go. Continue with remaining ingredients.

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HOMESTEADING:

In addition to cutting all processed foods out of our diets, trying to buy organic as much as possible, and getting rid of plastics and teflons in the kitchen, I’m just starting to experiment in the beauty realm. How? By making our own shampoo and toothpaste to start with. I’ve gotta say, I’m not in love with the stuff I’ve made so far, although I think part of it is getting used to something different. Like some people prefer the bright orange boxed mac and cheese full of chemicals to the homemade stuff, my hair is longing for all of those unpronounceable ingredients in my old shampoo.

The Shampoo Experiment:

What’s in it:

I hoped by adding the oils and coconut milk it wouldn’t feel so stripped like using straight Dr. Bronners does, but my hair ended up feeling a bit gummy. Back to the drawing board.

Toothpaste. I really miss that super clean feeling from standard toothpaste, although even my dentist recommends just brushing with baking soda. I bought some peppermint oil to add to the baking soda, and even tried mixing some with a bit of coconut oil and vanilla, but haven’t found just the right blend. But I’m sure I’ll find my way to the right concoction eventually. When I do, I’ll let you know. And if you have any favorites or suggestions, by all means! Pass them along!

I did have great success with whipped coconut oil for body butter! I keep a jar of it in the bathroom and lather up after a shower. It’s awesome!!! Pop over to The Nurished Life and check it out.

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Considering the day is creeping away on me, and I need to get busy on my weekly food prep… AND… I’ve rambled on for entirely too long…

Later gators!

(Some bonus pictures, just because…)

One Response to “Living the Wild Life

  • Great blog Cakes…so glad u r coming up with new spring roll ideas..we love them too! The pics are incredible! Xoxo

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