Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool, damp Monday After And Epic Weekend

It's cloudy, cool and damp Monday in the NW. Saturday was sunny and bright. Like the final day of summer. We started early. Out the door at 8:30 AM and into Portland to the historic Veterans Memorial Colesium where I sang the national anthem to kick off day two of the Bridgetown Brawl-the west coast semi final for Women's Roller Derby. For decades the Colesium was the only venue for big shows. Everyone played there from the Beatles to the Royal Lipizzan Stallions. Walking the halls, hearing the crowd, background music and announcements was exciting. The Rose City Rollers really know how to host and manage a big event. Every thing worked smoothly and it was a blast to walk to the apex of the track and sing our national anthem. A great experience!
Then we hustled south and east to the Fun On Foster Street Fair. Again gorgeous early fall sunshine, a great sound man/host (Joe Reed) and appreciative audience.
It's now early afternoon and back to Vancouver USA where I have voice and piano students ready for their Saturday work out as Eric loads for his evening gig. By 8 PM we are at the River Road House in Milwaukie, OR where Eric played bass with Mean Satisfaction. Live music, dancing and fun until 1 AM and we head North for the last time (or first time since it is Sunday now). A great day of music, fans, and being really happy that we have an economical vehicle. We're ready to do it all over again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This week in the 'couve

Here we are in the middle of May 2011 and the weather says "April" loud and clear. Lilacs are blooming, thunder storms are predicted and it is the coldest spring on record with only 5 or 6 days above 50 degrees F.

We are so lucky and blessed to have a greenhouse. It is full of 12 kinds of tomatoes, seedlings including scarlet runner beans, popcorn, anahiem peppers, banana peppers and bell peppers, watermelon, pumpkin, blueberries and a variety of pollinator attracting flowers.

The grape vine, filbert and apple trees are breaking bud.

Chives, raspberries and strawberries are blooming. Blueberries are setting on fruit. Lettuce, spinach, onions, scallots and garlic are growing well.

We intend to set out the bean starts this weekend so soil prep is under way. Will add coffee grounds, rabbit manure and compost after picking out at least one bucket of river rock. Sigh. Lots of rock for lots of projects.

Check out my book review at

What are you doing in your garden this week?

The new TwoRivers Music Podcast will be available later today at    Drop by and listen!

All images are by Eric Donaldson Tworivers. You can view his work at

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy first week of May!

We are still working our way through the coldest, dampest April in many years but the garden is growing.
Spinach, lettuces, onions, shallots, garlic,strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are doing well.

We assembled our new greenhouse over the weekend. What a job! Removed sod, chipped mortar from bricks (thank you craigslist) and got it together. 3 ft x 6ft of warmer growing area and the plants are loving it!

Experienced gardeners in our area look to the eastern hills to know when to plant out. If there is snow on the ridge top we wait. So... we are waiting. The greenhouse is stuffed with tomatoes, scarlet runner beans, popcorn starts and flats of seeds waiting to germinate.

The music business is perking along with additional gigs and improving statistics. You can check that out at music.

The new Podcast addition is available for listening at

Last week we suffered a huge set back when all the gear from my husband's day job was stolen. He is a professional photographer and this theft put him out of work. We are struggling to move beyond that.
So you can imagine that this past week has been a mixed bag. The photos on this addition, including the cd cover shot, are by Eric Tworivers. You can view his work at

Our cd is available for download at!  

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How we meet the challenging economy

By doing it ourselves and being creative. Growing as much of our food as we can. Learning about slow/real food and how to produce it for taste and good health. Working creatively.
As musicians we are greatly effected by the "slow" economy. As TwoRivers Music we teach, perform, compose, arrange and work hard to build a "job" of our own. One method is to host Open Mics in our area.
This last 2 weeks we have begun a new open mic with a twist. We showcase a featured player and, as a value added item, podcast the event. In a world of heavy competition you have to break out of the box. We know from experience that the featured performer format works but are new to the podcast . It has been challenging and exciting. You can listen in at the link below.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

This week in the garden.


It rained, poured actually most of the week but we were able to harvest four nice salads from the garden. Three kinds of lettuce, baby spinach and two kinds of kale. Those four salads have almost paid for the seeds we've bought this year.

Transplanted twelve tomatoes, a Sweet Basil and two Stevia plants to larger pots in the greenhouse - still too cold to plant out. Also planted twelve seed cells of Scarlet Runner Beans, Japanese white hull less popcorn, six Jack Be Little Pumpkin, six Sugar Baby Watermelon, twelve Anaheim pepper and six each of Chinese lantern, Snapdragon and Asters. Said greenhouse is getting full! It's a good thing we have a larger one to put up. Just have to dig up a bit of turf, spread sand and lay the brick we got from Craig's list. Might start that today as the sun is shining.

Tomatoes in the greenhouse.

Last week we had a Forsythia bush and two old, ratty Rhododendrons removed. The roots are under the house and sidewalk so could not pull them out. This means constant duty to keep them from growing back but it does give us a bit more space for edible crops.

Other news: First: We-meaning Eric-are working on a podcast! We have a new Thursday evening venue, The Sellwood Public House, where we are doing a showcase/open mic and podcast. AS soon as it is on line I'll post the link here. The talent is amazing! Second: Volume I of our cookbook should be available sometime in May! I'll let you know about that too. Third: Two of my piano students performed for an educators dinner and did very well! It's fun to watch them grow and progress.

I have a review of a lovely book at

It's fun and busy here. Hope your gardening week will go well.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Check out The Examiner

I'm writing as an organic gardener for The Please wander over and take a peek at what we have going on in the garden.

Oh, by the's raining. Welcome spring! Waiting for a delivery of heirloom tomatoes today, stevia and basil tomorrow and filbert bushes by Thursday! Going to plant watermelons in our greenhouse. Photos by the weekend!

What are you doing in your garden this week?

Thank you for your support! Keep gardening!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

SLOW sourdough, potato bread

Since September 2010 we have experimented with making our own bread. After a lengthy search of our town for a sourdough starter I ordered a dried packet from San Francisco (it is one of the "homes" of sourdough cooking) and began the process. We decided to go with spelt flour. Spelt is an ancient grain, actually the precursor of modern wheat, which has less glutin and higher nutrients than wheat.
From the beginning we fed spelt to the starter and began making bread.  There were some disasters along the way - a clay romantopf pan purchased at Goodwill exploded in the oven making a mess with a very distinctive sound - but the results have been quite edible. Our goal became a loaf with good crumb, savory flavor and a nice rise for sandwiches or toast.
That goal became closer last week with the discovery of "slow sourdough bread", a process of allowing the bread to rise over a period of days rather than hours. This resulted in the texture we were looking for but not quite the rise.

While watching the Horticultural Channel tv (BBC) on You Tube, one of the presenters made bread using left over mashed potatoes. "Ah, Ha" I said, "Let's add that to our sourdough and see what happens."

Three days rising, adding the spuds and a rise over night resulted in these nice looking loaves.

Now they are in the oven so we shall see how it turns out.

Slow Sourdough Potato Bread from the Tworivers Kitchen

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup spelt flour
Mix in a large bowl with enough warm water to make a soupy consistency. Cover tightly and leave it in a warm place. Every 3 hours add a half cup of flour and more warm water. Do this for 3 to 5 days every 3 to 5 hours or so.
The night before your baking time add
1 cup mashed pototoes
2 tsps sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup brown sugar

Mix well,  by hand if necessary, turn out onto floured counter and knead until smooth. Put in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface and cover tightly.
Next morning, gently punch the dough down, divide in half and place in oiled and floured baking pans. Let rise until double.
Preheat over to 375 degrees F.
Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and tested done.
Remove to cooling racks and enjoy.
Yes, this takes times but you can do other things, even go to work while the process goes on by it's self. A nutritious, affordable loaf of bread is a worthwhile result.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome spring!

Happy Spring Equinox! The days are appreciably longer. The nights a bit warmer. Crocus, forsythia and daffodils are in bloom.

Last week was the beginning of daylight saving time and we "sprang forward". A freak windstorm toppled our small green house prompting the setting out of lettuce starts.

This week scallots, red onions and spinach were planted. The lettuce is so promising. Soon we will have the first baby greens in our salads.

Our urban orchard of mini trees will begin this week when the Carmine Jewel dwarf cherry tree arrives.  As we are renters our orchard of mini-dwarf trees will be planted in large pots located toward the north part of the front yard. Soon the cherry will be joined by two mini-dwarf apple trees, a Beni-Shogun Fuji and Greensleeves. We choose them because of compatible bloom time, height and flavor. We also have four blueberry plants, a stand of raspberries and will have a new strawberry bed.

Another passion of ours is Slow Food. We eat seasonally - mostly from our garden and are great fans of our canning jars and two crock pots (different sizes) which are in use at least once a week and of sourdough bread. We began making all our baked goods with spelt flour and sourdough last September. The results have been good with pancakes, waffles, bread, crackers and chocolate cake. This week we began working with a slow process sourdough. Takes patience and a bit of planning allowing the bread to rise over a period of 36 hours or more. This first try we lasted the 36 hours resulting in a dense, tasty, very sour loaf with very good crumb. The next batch I will try to wait 48 hours but it is so tempting! Spread with cheese, sweet butter or our homemade peach jam the small slices are a treat.

Today, planting chives, nasturtiums and marigold seeds around the blueberries. These flowering herbs take care of bad bugs and invite pollinators into our garden/orchard. The same plants will go into the pots with the fruit trees.

Happy spring! The world is renewed and so are we.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What does organic gardening mean to you? A Vancouver perspective.

What does organic gardening mean to you? A Vancouver perspective.

Webster's Dictionary defines organic gardening as "a system of gardening that uses fertilizers and mulches consisting only of animal or vegetable matter". Wikipedia defines organic gardening as “Organic gardening is a form of gardening that uses substantial diversity in pest control to reduce the use of pesticides and tries to provide as much fertility with local sources of nutrients rather than purchased fertilizers”.

I agree with both but would have to add: the exclusion of any genetically modified organism and commercial pesticides and tending toward the use of heirloom plants and seeds.

I asked residents of Vancouver for their definition of “organic gardening” in 20 words or less and got an interesting variety of answers. “FOOD”, “ Manna”, “Sustainable, healthy, processed-chemical-free, local, fresh & delicious!”, “ good healthy food”, “Aside from the 20 words or less thing - more needs to be done to educate people about organic gardening - I've heard negative comments about it not being any healthier but, organic is not just good for us, it's good for the environment... “, “Work?”, “fresh wholesome food on demand (his garden is less than 10 ft from the door)”.

The idea of an “Organic Manifesto” has circulated for years. The first I read was written by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.d. In 2003.

The latest is by Maria Rodale, chairman and CEO of Rodale Inc. Maria is the granddaughter of J.I. Rodale.

Living in a fast paced world in which our food supply is vulnerable to disruption we, who are willing, should learn to grow, preserve, cook and share our food as close to home as possible. Using natural soil care, beneficial insects, companion planting, intensive gardening and seed saving is economical, good exercise and community building. Even one planter of herbs and tomatoes will enrich your life and prevent one or more gas guzzling trips to a store.

For the sake of your health and good eating now is the time to begin to “Grow” organic.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring weather

We had a "mini" tornado leaping through our neighborhood yesterday.You could see where it touched down- pockets of destruction and where nothing happened. Unfortunately one of the touch downs happened in my garden. Our small green house, weighted down with about 70 lbs of pots, plants and a bag of steer manure was yanked around and dumped on its face. Lost the flat of lettuce seedlings but other plants appear to be salvageable. This has given us a heads up on placement of the bigger green house. It's going to be anchored to the back fence!

Two crockpots on the counter this morning. One with homegrown, home canned spaghetti sauce and one with homemade baked beans. It's going to smell really good in here by evening. Have to mix up some sour dough bread, write and article and get busy. Reflexology clients this morning and music (me) and photography students (Eric) this afternoon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Our urban homestead.

Spent part of the week building a slide show of our 2010 garden, Fun, frustrating, productive. The garden and the video both.

I am writing for The You can read post, how to's, events, link to our videos at

Thank you!!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1948 Hamilton Beach Mixer

A new member of our family came in very handy this morning. 
This fall we were lucky to find a purchase a 1948 Hamilton Beach Mixer with the juicer attachment for less than the cost of a weeks worth of Starbucks coffee. We found the booklet for it at Vintage Books in Vancouver, WA for $4.00.
Today, with an abundance of mandarin oranges, we were able to make fresh orange juice.
Very easy to use, quick and painless clean up and great, fresh juice.
You can have the "good life" without spending too much if you take the time to look for it.

It's been a long time...

since I've had time to be here.
Fall got very busy musically. We played at Festivals and Markets throughout Oregon and Washington.

The garden thrived. We canned and froze the bounty we were blessed with and have learned to use  and enjoy it.

PromoPhoto was blessed with a new, wonderful client Road's End Pottery. You can see some of their work and Eric's great photos at!/album.php?aid=2055731&id=1511128434.
As the famous William Norris quote says “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. End of the Road Pottery will fulfill that need.

My partner, Eric and I got married at Winter solstice and the year closed in a whirlwind of music, food and photography with good friends and family.

Spring is nibbling at the edges. Wild geese in massive skeins criss cross the sky several times a day. Blueberry bushes are starting to bud.

Found a source for rabbit manure in sawdust and are mulching around with that. Some warm day I'll dig it in.
Planning more and better boxes for the raised beds. wishing for more blueberry bushes and perhaps a quince.

Right now we have blue sky, bright sun and 41 degrees!

Need to organize the laundry room, sort seeds and make a plan.

Happy New Year!