You Know What I Did Last Summer

Can you tell what I've been up to in my first summer in Oregon?

It turns out if you put 12+ tomato plants in your garden, you best be ready for the tomatoes. Despite a historically hot and dry Summer 2018 here in Multnomah County, our Early Girls, Oregon Springs and San Marzanos thrived.

Being "job free" this summer had its perks. After breakfast and feeling fully caffeinated, every other morning I'd take my best garden assistant, Loretta the pup, for a walk to the community garden at Gresham City Hall. I'd tether her to a garden stake under a tree and give her a bucket of water, and she'd turn full Goat, nibbling at the weeds along the border of the nearby garden plots.

While Loretta grazed and supervised as my personal Garden Security Guard, I'd water every plant twice, filling up the "dirt collars" Scott built around each plant, which served as nice trenches for water. Then I'd pick off the ripe or nearly ripe tomatoes from each plant.


In The Zucchini Zone

Three zucchini plants.


Were we mad with garden fever, or just not paying attention when we planted two green and one golden/yellow zucchini in our community garden plot in June?

It's now August, and at one point last week, I couldn't tuck anything else in our crisper drawers because the zucchini crowded everything else out.

I can't complain, though, because it's turning out to be a versatile item in our kitchen this summer.

Here's a brief rundown of ways we're using these summer squashes, which are fruits, botanically, but we won't tell them that:

Raw zucchini salad with tomato vinaigrette, from Sheri Castle's The New Southern Garden Cookbook. Taking a vegetable peeler to a cold zucchini turns out to be a very good idea when you top the ribbons with a flavorful tomato dressing. Easy, fast, delicious. Creamy zucchini lime dressing, from Cooking Light July 2018. The secret ingredient: tahini. Give hummus the week off & try this instead. We'…

Tillamook County, Oregon - Almost Heaven (With Apologies to West Virginia)

I think I found my happy place.

A spot with miles of green cow pastures, cool coastal winds, tasty seafood, and spectacular hikes along the shoreline. And CHEESE. Man, there's a lot of dairy goodness there.

I'd been to Tillamook County once before, but a longer return visit this month - a spur of the moment weekend trip (aren't those the best kind?) - secured the place as one of my top getaways ever.

Named after the native tribe who occupied the areas around the Tillamook and Nehalem Bays, Tillamook County's tagline on its website, "The land of Cheese, Trees and Ocean Breeze," says it all. Located 70 miles west of Portland in northwest Oregon, its 75 miles of coastline, four bays, nine rivers, verdant valleys and Coast Range mountain spurs make for gorgeous views.

Plenty of rain during most of the year results in the greenest of grass, which turns out to be tasty eating for all the cows in Tillamook County. Outnumbering the locals, the cows are the supersta…

Feel Free: Budget-Friendly Garden Ideas

Cleaning out our car last week, I decided we're treating our little hybrid hatchback like a haulin' a&# truck for garden duties.

There are scraps of bamboo, scrapes from cement-laden fenceposts, and splinters from wood shims scattered around the car's interior. At first I was a little irked at the mess, but now that the garden is producing, I kinda see these things as little signs that we're using what we've got to do something right.

In crunchy Earth-friendly and frugal fashion, Scott and I found ways to avoid buying brand-new tomato cages (which can be surprisingly expensive when you need 10+ of them), fancy trellises, potions for keeping insects at bay, and shiny objects to deter birds from tasting our tomatoes before we get a chance.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle these ideas for making spare items function for free in your garden:

DIY with Bamboo: For once, the site Nextdoor is good for something other than watching your neighbors out-snark and gripe at each ot…

No Dog Days of Summer Here: Gardening in Gresham, OR

64 degrees, friends. 
That's the current temperature here in Gresham, Oregon, at 1:30pm PT on Monday, July 2. 
This southern-born transplant is in awe. Yesterday while reading on our patio in mid-afternoon, I donned a long sleeve because of a light, cool breeze. If I was back in Charlotte right about now, I'd be removing as many layers as legally possible.
It's a transition that's a welcome change. No more sweating off sunscreen or makeup, and goodbye frizzy hair that can claim it's own zip code? (Well, the hair is still kinda big.) I'm in! And Scott is no longer having summertime humidity Nicolas Cage-style freak outs.
Yet when it comes to gardening, the cooler temps and surprisingly dry weather so far are perplexing. After a bit of wrangling, we secured a large 20'x20' plot at Gresham City Hall community garden, which is walkable from our apartment. It took a full day to hack weeds out of the very rocky soil and hand-turn/till with a shovel and rake, …

Settling In & Ready to Cook - with Books!

One of the trickiest but also most rewarding things about moving to a new place is adapting to the food scene and culture.

A common response Scott and I heard when we announced our Oregon move to friends and family was "OMG. The beer. The wine. The FOOD." While we're very excited to try out many of the notable restaurants, plentiful food carts/pods, and the crazy explosion of breweries and wineries, I'm most thrilled about having access to the fresh local produce and seafood of Oregon.

Not only do I enjoy home cooking but let's face it -- it's often cheaper to make food than to dine out. Despite the sales tax-free shopping, Oregon food can be expensive, and with one of us (me) being on a brief "job break" at the moment, meal planning and sticking to grocery lists is an important budget focus.

Powered by Pimento Cheese, The Adams Make a Move for Oregon

If you review the photos on your phone, you will notice trends. Maybe it's cute baby photos, snaps of your pets doing something adorable and/or ridiculous, shots of your culinary feats or fails, or travel pics.

For me, my photo album is bookended with images of mayonnaise. 
I can explain -- really.
When Scott landed his planning job for Multnomah County, Oregon earlier this spring, we had many details to wrangle and projects to complete. Sell our house in Charlotte, North Carolina - ok, we can do it. Purge or sell many belongings -- that's FUN, let's burn it all! And successfully drive all our belongings for more than 2,800 miles in a 20+-ft. U-Haul truck, with the Ford C-Max with adorable, ridiculous #LorettaDog following along -- errrr, do what now???
The drive from Charlotte to Gresham, OR was my one hesitation. Not exactly known for my smooth driving skills, I rarely enjoy operating a motor vehicle, preferring instead to take frequently-delayed Amtrak train rides to se…