Holiday, Paris

10 Days in Paris – Part 3

Dear Readers-
A special treat, my friend, Stella, recently visited Paris. I’ve asked her to share with us her adventure. Here is her final post with personal tips to make your own trip special. There is also links to chocolate shops where you can order these treats sent right to your home. 

come on in
come on in

[jump to part 1]

[jump to part 2]

Simple day by day itinerary

When you get your museum pass you will buy it for a 2, 4, or 6 day period. You can use the pass at as many places as you can manage during the time period you purchase. Be sure to check guide books or the museum’s website to see which days they are closed.

This is the schedule that worked for us:

Friday – arrived
Saturday – walked our neighborhood, farmers market
Sunday – lazy morning, walked Ile Saint Louis, watched street performers, Notre Dame, walked Left Bank
Monday- Fontainebleau & l’Oragnerie (activated Museum Pass)
Tuesday- Saint Chapelle, Archeological Crypt, & Musee d’Orsay
Wednesday – Cluny, Monuments & Architecture, Arc de Triomphe, Rue Cler
Thursday- Louvre
Friday- Jaquemart-Andre House
Saturday- Saint-Sulpiece, Sacra-Cour
Sunday- planned Bastille Market, Eiffel Tower; actually did- the Unity March

List of chocolate shops (yummm, yummm, yummm)

One of the delights of Paris is the small artisan chocolate shops. I tried as many as I could find. Some of the chocolatiers have more than one location. I’ve listed the location I personally visited. If you can’t make it Paris any time soon, take heart, you can order boxes of chocolates from any of these shops.

Maison Georges Larnicol

Near 14 Rue de Rivoli is Maison Georges Larnicol . There are many


unique chocolates to choose from. What I especially like at this shop were the macarons. Don’t confuse these with macaroons, which are an entirely different thing. For an explanation click here . Just looking at the pictures of macarons gets my mouth watering.

At 36 Rue Vieille du Temple is de Neuville– their chocolate

de Neuville
de Neuville

melted perfectly in the mouth with very delicious and inventive modern flavors like lemongrass ganache covered in dark chocolate. These may be my favorite

L’eclaire de Genie
L’eclaire de Genie

L’eclaire de Genie at (or near) 14 Rue de Parvee – chocolates and eclairs who’s flavors push the boundaries of imagination.

A la Mere de Famille
A la Mere de Famille

A la Mere de Famille at 47 Rue Cler from them I had a few ‘coffret de pates de fruits’ soft little fruit gelatins that were bursting with flavor and not sugary sweet. I also bought some chocolate wafers in different flavors they were also very good, but very delicate. They do not travel well in a bag so make sure the clerk puts them in a little box if you are saving them for later.


At 26 Place de la Madeleine is Fauchon  a highly touted department store in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Each “department” is staffed with clerks who take their job of providing high quality service to each customer very seriously. Come here to be pampered and doted upon, in the reserved French manner. The chocolates were good, but no better than any of the smaller places I visited.

Michel Cluizel
Michel Cluizel

Michel Cluizel is located at 2 Rue des Rosiers. We drank a lovely, smooth, rich hot chocolate here.


Josephine Vannier
Josephine Vannier – yes these are chocolate

A place I didn’t get to try, they were closed, but who had some amazing window displays  is Joséphine Vannier at 5 Pas de la Mule St

If this isn’t enough Paris Chocolate shops for you check out: ChocoParis with a list of chocolate, pastry, and ice cream shops as well as maps for chocolate walks. Wow! That’s the way to see Paris with your girlfriends.

A few other hints:

Metro – If you are going to be in Paris for many days, like we were, get a Metro pass.

Fast - Efficient - Fun
Fast – Efficient – Fun

If you are there for just a few days a booklet of ten tickets should serve you just fine. Rick Steves’ guide book to Paris does a good job explaining the pros and cons and how to get the pass.

Getting around– Plan on walking a LOT, as the Parisians do. Paris is NOT disability friendly. The sidewalks are uneven or narrow, steps are of varying heights, not every place will have an elevator or ramp. So if you need special consideration in this area plan accordingly.

Mote under the Louvre
Mote under the Louvre

Louvre – if you can give yourself two full days in this museum. Also, if you don’t take a guided tour (which was terrific and I recommend doing so) be sure to find your way to the mote of the ancient castle that the Louvre is built upon.

tap-waterTap water – we found the tap water wherever we went to taste fine. In fact it was much better than the heavy chlorine taste in many American cities. Not as good as the sweet, fresh water out on Sophia’s farm. Bring a refillable water bottle. If you want tap water while dinning you’ll need to ask for it. Bottled water with meals, bubbly or not, available to buy as well as just about any other refreshment you can think of.

Pop up shops – You might find as you are browsing stores what is called a ‘pop up shop’. These are temporary shops that might only be at that local for a few months. They are worth a look. The inventory will be limited as it is often a designer trying to get their name and fashions noticed. I found several darling outfits at a pop up shop.

red boots on the lovely hard wood floor of our place
red boots on the lovely hard wood floor of our place

Sales – If one of your objectives for going to France is to shop you will want to go in January (starting the day after Epiphany) or July. The stores in France are only allowed to hold sales two times a year. You will find huge discounts during this time. I bought scrumptious red leather boot for half off!

Vegetables with meals – we found that very few meals

to balance out the chocolate
to balance out the chocolate

come with vegetables. The salads you see listed are usually a meal in themselves. Devlin and I would get one of the large salads and share it before our main course came. Had to do something to balance out all the chocolate!

Holiday, Paris

10 Days in Paris – Part 2

Dear Readers-
A special treat, my friend, Stella, recently visited Paris. I’ve asked her to share with us her adventure. Here’s her post about days six through ten. 

Though the Fog
Though the Fog

Day 6
Wednesday, Jan 7th – We noticed a briskness about the Parisians as people went back to work in earnest. The Metros were a tad more crowded. We started our day at the Cluny .

[jump to part 3]

"Devisement du monde" 1298 travel guide compiled from Marco Polo's notes. Though beautiful, I'll take my Rick Steves's "Paris" in my purse.
“Devisement du monde” 1298 travel guide compiled from Marco Polo’s notes. Though beautiful, I’d rather take Rick Steves’ “Paris” in my purse.

We had a special treat with a special exhibit on travel in the middle ages. It was amazing to see the maps and guide books produced during this time. This museum houses the famous Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries. Less well known, but just as fascinating were the tapestries telling the story of St. Stephen. We, once again, rented the audio guide with info on the whole museum. I enjoyed hearing St. Stephen’s story, one I knew nothing about beforehand, as we viewed each of the twenty-three scenes. We then went to the

Details that are often too high up to see are brought down to viewing level
Details that are often too high up to see are brought down to viewing level

Monuments and Architecture Museum at the Tracadero. Here are housed reproduction of many famous French Monuments and the facades of notable buildings, and parts of the interiors of others. It’s quiet fascinating to see how they reproduced some of these large treasures of France. It is also a good way to see places that, because of limited time, are beyond your travel plans.

beautiful flower shops dot the city
beautiful flower shops dot the city

As the work day ended we headed to Rue Cler, a pedestrian shopping area. I noticed on the Metro the people were even more subdued than normal. There were no musicians playing and hardly any murmured conversations. Everyone seemed a little on edge. I chalked it up to the holidays being over and the grind of work weighing on everyone. We poked around in a few stores and enjoyed dinner at the busy, but tasty, Cafe du Marche.

We returned to the apartment and logged on to the WiFi. My phone exploded with messages. One was a news link. I opened it and called to Devlin as I turned on the TV. We watched the news: Paris, the focus of every news channel around the world. Just three-fourth of a mile from our apartment was the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo offices.
As I write this, weeks later, it still brings tears to my eyes – to see the reactions of the Parisians, their solemnity and their respect for those who lost their lives and their respect for the victim’s families and coworkers. And the way the people and the government came together. No calls for revenge. Just a sense that even if we don’t agree with what is being said everyone should have the right to free speech. A few days later we had a conversation with some mid-20s young men. They find America’s whole “political correctness” to be a joke and that the American people are being muzzled by social policies designed to stifle freedom of expression. It was interesting to see this view, albeit just by two men, of modern American society.

Day 7
Thursday Jan 8th – the Louvre – all day from the time it opened until it closed. We again

under the pyramid
under the pyramid

did a guided tour with a lively guide. We learned some interesting facts. At noon I found myself under the pyramid. I hadn’t realized the time until the announcement for the call for the national minute of silence came over the speakers. As soon as the minute started a hush fell over the museum. Not a shuffle, not a sniffle. Everyone stood respectful and still. At the end of the minute the crowd drew a breath, but quiet for a moment. Then, starting soft and slow, and rising to a rippling crescendo came applause. As if on cue the applause cut off, just the echo ringing down the halls and people started to move about again.
I would love to have a few more days in the Paris so I could spend more time at the Louvre.
We ate dinner tonight at home – fresh bread with melted farmers market cheese and a little soup. Perfect.

Day 8
Friday January 9th – a quiet morning. We went to the Jaquemart-Andre House . This

staircase at Jaquemart-Andre House
staircase at Jaquemart-Andre House

is unique among all the museums we visited unlike Fontainebleau or the Louvre, which were also homes; this is a house you can actually imagine people living in. Wife and husband, Nélie Jacquemart and Edouard André, were art lovers and they filled their home with wonderful pieces brought back from their travels, mostly to Italy. They even brought back a carved wooden ceiling for the smoking room. As a couple they made plans to turn the home over to the City of Paris as a permanent museum an act that Nelie followed through on several years after Edouard’s death. It is worth a few hours to visit their home. The professional audio tour provided enough information to be interesting and not so much as to overwhelm you.

Je Suis CharlieAs we walked the streets today we noticed many shops had put simple black placards in their windows with the words Je Suis Charlie printed in white. This is phrase being used all over the city, in the news, and on social media feeds. “I Am Charlie” with what I took to mean two ideas: a show of unity and sympathy for the victims and a warning that if we are not careful any one of us could end up with our freedom of speech being stifled. Chez Janou

For dinner tonight we had a special treat and went to Chez Janou at 2 Rue Roger Verlomme. Ah, delicious. A taste of Province. Each dish was so perfectly prepared. The servings were large, but the flavors so good we ate it all.

Day 9
Saturday January 10th – Another lazy morning. We left the house around noon and made our way to Saint-Sulpiece. Saint-Sulpiece is a beautiful, peaceful cathedral and I could see it as a place the faithful would come to worship each week. From there we made our way to Montmarte area. Sophia’s mom has some friends in southern France whose son, Nans (the ‘a’ is pronounced like in gnaw), had recently started working in Paris. And as you know friends of friends are like family so of course we met up with Nans and his friend Beniot. We started with drinks at a little café and visited for bit. Then we invited the young men to join us as we trekked up to Sacra-Cour. Of course, because of our late start, it was


getting dark by now and the day that had been predicted to be sunny and warm had turned cold and drizzly. Still, Sacra-Cour dazzled, shining white on the hill the rain making sparkles in the light. After a slow tour of the very crowed, but fairly hushed, cathedral we ordered a driver and went to the Champs-Élysées near the Arc de Triomphe. We made our way out of the drizzle and stopped for refreshments and talked about the day’s news, the shootings in the Jewish market and the further man hunt for the terrorists. A large black banner hung over the Arc de Triomphe proclaiming Je Suis Charlie.

Day 10
Sunday Jan 11 – Our last full day in Paris. All our plans went screwy, but it turned out to


be a pretty neat day. Once again we didn’t leave our apartment until late. This morning Devlin drawled around. We finally left the apartment walking down to the Bastille and the large outdoor market arriving there just before noon. We’d been told the market stayed open until one and figured we must have gotten the timing wrong. A sunny day – finally – so

Finally a sunny day there would have been lovely views from the top. Will have to go to Paris again.
Finally a sunny day. There would have been lovely views from the top. We will have to go to Paris again.

we headed to the Eiffel Tower getting their just before one, and it was closed! Also, the Metro’s were free. Something was up and I overheard a Parisian explain to another tourist that all monuments and museums would be closed for the afternoon because of the demonstration. I’d heard about Paris demonstrations and knew they could get a bit rowdy. Not wanting to face chaos Devlin and I headed back to the apartment. It took us two tries to get on the

Unity March
Unity March

Metro because they were so crowded with thousands of people pouring into the city. The Metro looked like the type you see in Japan where the people are packed in with no room to turn around or breath. Above ground, at our Metro stop, Saint James, the streets were getting full with people walking not just on the sidewalks,

France - Peaceful, Strong, Unified
France – Peaceful, Strong, Unified

but clear across the street. The cars went slow weaving between the crowds. We turned on the news (maybe we should have been checking it more often) and found out about the peaceful, Silent March of Unity. Back out into the city we went winding our way through the streets of Marais and enjoying the feeling of being part of the place. As requested it was a silent march with people walking along in small groups, voices subdued and everywhere you turned pins or placards saying “Je Suis Charlie”.

Quite a way to end our stay in Paris.

(Next post – tips, tricks, and links to artisan chocolate)

Holiday, Paris

10 Days in Paris – Part 1

Dear Readers-
A special treat, my friend, Stella, recently visited Paris. I’ve asked her to share with us her adventure.

Effiel Tower

Sophia – Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog. I’m so excited to be featured here. I took a page out of your book and planned out each day. (Sorry for giving you a hard time with all your lists and things.)

Oh – my – gosh! Can you believe, for Christmas, Devlin gave me, us, a TEN day trip to Paris?

[jump to part 2]

We left New Year’s Day at 8 p.m. British Air Business Class – oh yeah! Comfort. Lay flat seats and real glasses, plates, and silverware to eat with. Totally spoiled.

My main goals on this trip – aside from a wonderful time with Devlin and seeing all the typical sites in Paris – was to ride a Ferris wheel and a carousel, and try as many artisan chocolate places as I could find. All objectives were met.

Winter Weather and Wardrobe
As my Swedish friend says, “There is no bad weather, just bad apparel choices”.

I found the weather to be remarkably similar to Portland, Oregon. Cold (mid-30s to mid-40s) and damp. It’s the damp that gets to you so layers, baby, layers. And a good scarf or two. Everyone wears scarves. Men, women, children, dogs (okay, not the dogs but some did have little rain coats on).

Though I packed footwear for all occasions, my go to shoes each day were Teva de la vina low boot. They are warm, waterproof, and comfortable. I also appreciated the good tread on the slippery marble steps and uneven sidewalks. Whatever shoes you bring, make sure they are well broken in. You don’t want any surprise blisters.

Smartwool or REI wool socks – soft and warm, but not bulky, and they come in fun colors.

As I said layers. Start with a thin under layer of a lightweight thermal. For luxury get silk though Cuddle Duds long underwear from Kohl’s also work quite well.

Top it all with a good coat. Waterproof (or sprayed with water-repellent before leaving) is a bonus. Remember hat and gloves. Though much time will be spent indoors at museums, you will still be walking quite a bit outdoors and the metro stations are cold. Besides you can have a lot of fun with these accessories. I also found an umbrella to be useful.
One other item to pack that is often overlooked, but very useful to have – binoculars. These are especially handy in cathedrals to get a good view of the high up stained glass.

Where to stay

quiet street view from the apartment
quiet street view from the apartment

There are oodles of web sites listing all sorts of accommodation. I’ll let you search those out. Devlin rented an apartment through Paris Nice Homes . We stayed in the Saint-Paul apartment. Pascal, the manager was a huge help in getting us oriented that first day. I loved being located in the Marais area. There is a ton of shopping in this region, a delicious patisserie (on the corner of Rue Tiron and Rue Francois Miron), and a real feeling of being in a neighborhood.

The Itinerary
This is the plan that worked well for Devlin and me. Of course, being a romantic getaway we did have a few lazy mornings and a few special dinners out.

Day 2 – Our first full day in Paris was Saturday Jan 3rd. We started out the day slow and eventually made it out of doors and wandered over the patisserie I mentioned. Fun little happening: While waiting at a small table in a tiny room packed with small tables as Devlin to place our orders, I watched a French family, mom, dad, three teenage kids, animatedly discussing plans and looking at a map of Paris. The mom turns to me and in rapid, but beautiful French, asks for my help. I felt flattered that I looked Parisian enough to blend. But being that I’d been in the city less than 24 hours and knew no French, I wasn’t any help.

We spent this day wandering the Marais area, picking up food for our kitchen at the

Intersection in Le Marais
Intersection in Le Marais

farmer’s market, and getting a feel for being in a city where we couldn’t understand anything around us. We had a fun and beautiful and surprising day. Surprising because everything I’d heard about the French and especially Parisians being rude was so not true. In every shop we visited, of course we always started out with a few polite French phrases, the clerks were smiling and helpful. Well, except the jewelry store, but isn’t that the way in all upscale jewelry stores?

Day 3
Sunday Jan 4th – lazy morning
We wandered along Ile Saint Louis with a stop at a crepe place for lunch. Then headed over to Ile de la Cite with a stop to watch street performers before getting in line for Notre Dame.

Even flowers bloom in winter in Paris
Even flowers bloom in winter in Paris

Notre Dame was as grand and beautiful as we expected. What I didn’t expect was the noise and jumble. So many of the side chapels were filled with storage and displays lined so much of the edge of the isle that it took away from the Cathedral’s intended purpose to house the worship of God. It felt so much more like a commercial enterprise. On other days we visited more cathedrals and these were calmer and more what I expected to see and feel.
After the cathedral we stopped at the tourist kiosk on the corner of Rue du Cloitre Notre Dame and Rue d’Arcole. Here we bought a Museum Pass that once activated will be good for six days.

From there we wandered along the Left Bank and lost (not literally) ourselves in the twisty maze of streets.
Late afternoon found us on the Metro headed to Jardin des Tuilaries. We got off at the Concord Metro stop and wandered around this area a bit. At sunset we caught a ride on the Farris Wheel where the DSC01537young couple who shared our basket became engaged – so sweet. We tried not to watch but you couldn’t help seeing it out of the corner of your eyes.

ferris wheel

Le Loir
Le Loir

For dinner we sought out a little place around the corner from our apartment on Rue des Rosiers called Le Loir. It is a tiny place run by a husband and wife team with Monsieur up front at the bar and Madam doing the cooking. Amazing food with a North African flair. They didn’t speak any English, but we could make out the menu, written on a chalkboard. In fact, with my pronunciation being so bad Monsieur picked up the chalkboard and brought it to me so I could point to what I wanted. We all laughed about his action. [photo]

Day 4
Monday Jan 5th– (Today we activated our museum pass.) We were up early and to the

A portion of Fontainebleau
A portion of Fontainebleau

Paris-Gare de Lyon train station to head to Fontainebleau. It’s a sweet little town with one of the oldest castles in France. The Chateau’s amazing architecture ranged through several time periods. Using the very detailed audio guide we toured the castle. We ate a late lunch at Le Delice Imperial (I had the salmon crepe) before catching the train back to Paris.
We ended the day at Musee de l’Oragnerie viewing Monet’s Water Lilies.

We ate dinner that night at the much touted Les Philosphes. The food was good, but my Mama’s French Onion Soup is better. Just sayin’.

Holiday Lights
Holiday Lights

Day 5
Tuesday Jan 6th – This day marks the day of Epiphany and the formal end of the holiday season in France. For our first four days in Paris the doorways and streets were strung with lights, baubles, and garlands.
Today we headed back to Ile de la Cite. Our first stop was at Saint Chapelle . Don’t forget the binoculars, as the stained glass windows tower about 50 feet over your head. The ceiling is a soaring 139 feet high. We used the well-produced audio tour for this cathedral. It provided a brief history as well as explained the stories depicted in each window.
Next we stepped down into the Archaeological Crypt.lights 2 To reach this you go down a nondescript stairway near the street in front of Notre Dame. Below ground you will find remains of Roman baths and other ancient architecture that forms the foundation of Ile de la Cite.
Our final visit for the day was Musee d’Orsay. This is housed in an old train station with beautiful architectural decorations. We did a guided tour. Our guide was quite lively and funny.
We had dinner at Le Rivolux next door to our building. I had a salmon fettuccine and we shared a salad. Quite good, but a lot of cream and pasta. Good thing I’m walking so much.

Fredric Moreau
Fredric Moreau

This night we went to a concert featuring Fredric Moreau and the Orechestre Les Violons de France. Amazing!! If you are planning a trip to Paris check out his schedule and see if you can fit in one of his performances. We saw him at the Madeleine a catholic church built in the Greek Parthenon style. The Madeleine is a wonderful venue. Mr. Moreau also tours the U.S. so maybe you can hear him close to home.


at Fontainebleau
a wood floor at Fontainebleau
the Seine
a ceiling at Fontainebleau
hall at Fontainebleau
Paris at sunset
ceiling at Saint Chapelle
floor at Saint Chapelle
Roman Bath ruins at the Archaeological Crypt
Sunset in Paris
A little music on the Metro
bikes, eco-friendly

Bicycle Ladies

Jennifer Worth, Jessica Fletcher, MJ

Riding a bicycle used to be thought of as kids play, a way for youth to get to school, or bike-women 1950s editedsomething an adult did for exercise. That attitude is changing. More and more people use bikes to get from point A to point B and beyond.

Jennifer Worth, whose memoirs are brought to life in the BCC show Call the Midwife, shows us that it wasn’t that long ago professional women road bikes to do their job. With her box of supplies strapped to the back, and in a skirt, the midwives and nuns would ride their bikes to check on the women Call-the-Midwife--with bikes editedof the East End of London.

Jessica Fletcher, the beloved fictional character from Murder She Wrote, rides her bike all over her small town of Cabot Cove – from murder scene to murder scene. There’s no end to where a bicycle can take you.

An my friend MJ and her family will ride their bikes to her sons school, 20 miles away, or into the city nearest her, about 35 miles away, just for the fun of it or to attend an event. It is a common occurrence for her to ride her bike to the farmers market and come home with her basket and panniers filled with fresh produce and other goodies.

woman on bike

I don’t know the official name I call them market bikes or cruisers – bikes with comfortable seats, handlebars you don’t have to hunch over to reach, and a basket or two. They are useful for jaunts around the neighborhood or to your local market or to take you to a community event. You don’t have to worry about finding a parking space, if there isn’t a bike rack use a handy poll. There is something freeing about getting to your destination and back under the power of your pedal.

Where do you like to ride your bike to? Do you ride for utility or exercise?

Remember you helmet

You can link to MJ’s amazing blog Imaginary Bicycle here:

Holiday, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Jar


November wouldn’t be complete at Hawks Landing Farm without our Thanksgiving Jar. The concept is really simple. At the beginning of November we put a quart canning jar on the kitchen table along with a pen and strips of autumn colored paper. Whenever someone thinks of something they are thankful for they write it down and stick it in the jar. As we eat Thanksgiving Dinner we take turns pulling the slips out and reading them. Aaron and David have never known a Thanksgiving with the Thanking Jar. Friends and neighbors even get in on the act adding a message whenever they happen to be in the house. There’s still a few weeks until Thanksgiving, get a jar, or a mug, or whatever container you like, and start a new tradition at your home.

What are you thankful for?

eco-friendly, recycle


One of Aaron and David’s nicknames for me is “recycling nazi ”. You would think having grown up at Hawks Landing Farm, rinsing the yogurt cup and putting it in the recycle bin instead of tossing it in the trash can would be natural for them. On occasion I’ll have to correct them, but for the most part they are pretty good about it. Overall at the farm way more waste is taken to the recycling side of the dump than we put in the landfill side (we haul our own trash, in a rural area like ours it a cost saving measure). Stella, who lives in town, had to ask the city for two recycle cans. She finds that her family, on a weekly basis, will only have 1/3 of their trash can full where their recycle can will be completely full (and this is after all bulky boxes have been flattened).

Recycling is easy – once you create the habit of not tossing everything into the trash can. Before you throw something away ask yourself these questions:

Can it be used by someone else? Maybe the item can be donated to a local charity.

Can it be remade into something else? This is called up-cycling. We’ll talk about this more another time

Can it be composted? Almost all non-meat food scraps can be composted. We feed all fruit and vegetable scraps to the chickens and alpacas. Things like egg shells and Ryan’s coffee grounds go in the compost pile along with garden trimmings and the chicken manure. We’ll discuss composting in detail in a later post.

Most everything else can be recycled. Check with your local waste management company
to find out the particulars for your area, but in general if the item has the recycle symbol on it and is clean it goes in your recycle bin. Yes, clean. I know it can seem like a pain to rinse out that glass jar or plastic ketchup bottle, but it will only take an extra second and the benefits will be far reaching. If the item can’t be cleaned, foil with baked on food residue, pizza box oily from the cheese, then put it in the trash can.

A look a few cool numbers: [According to the EPA]

In 2012 each American generated about 4.38 pounds of waste a day of which 1.51 pounds was recycled.

Americans are recycling 34% of all waste.

This is good, but there is still 36% of our waste going to the dump that can be recycled.

This is where you, your family, and your neighbors can make the difference. Without being obnoxious about it become that family become that person who makes their friends roll their eyes when you remind them to recycle that can or newspaper. Be vocal in the office about making sure used paper gets in the blue bin and not the round file. Help move your community to being one in which 100% of what can be recycled is recycle.

You, by simple daily acts, can make a difference.


Homemaking, Recipes

Cider Season

cider in pot

The Harvest Festival at Hawks Landing Farm is a much anticipated fall tradition with families coming all the way from Portland and Beaverton to attend. Crafts people and vendors, most from the local area, enjoy sharing their wares with the public. One of the most visited booths is the Woodville Garden Club’s Cider Stand. Kids and adults have a blast working the hand cranked apple press and enjoying a fresh, frothy glass of chilled cider. As the day wanes and the air takes on a decided fall crispness the spiced hot cider is much in demand. I asked Tina, the garden club’s reining Cider Queen, to share with us what makes their treat so tempting.
~ Sophia

Sophia, thank you so much for asking me to share the Garden Club’s, not so secret, hot cider recipe.

cider ingrediants

It’s really quite simple and so much better for you than the artificial flavor sugar laden packets of “cider” mix.

Gather a few ingredients:
A jug of cider (fresh pressed is best but any kind you like will work)
An orange
An apple
Whole cloves
Cinnamon sticks
Whole allspice

cloves and orange slices

With the peal ON cut a few slices from the orange.
Insert whole cloves into the orange slice (this is a great thing for little ones to help with)

Place the allspice in a loose tea holder.

apple slices

Cut a few slices from the apple, cross-ways so the little star shows.

Pour the cider into a pot, add the clove studded orange slices, apple slices, allspice, and cinnamon sticks.

Let simmer on low until warm.

The longer it simmers the more intense the flavors will become.

mug cider

If you are serving a large crowd or want to keep the cider warm for hours use a crock-pot set to warm. If you have leftovers remove the spices and apple and orange slices. When cool pour into a container with a lid and keep in the refrigerator. It’s easy to warm up a cup when wanted.
Happy Fall!

Do you have a variation on a hot cider recipe? Feel free to share it.

Cleaning, eco-friendly, Homemaking

Fresh for Fall – homemade cleaners

By this time of year the Harvest Festival is well over and the boys and I find ourselves in the familiar rhythm of home school lessons, sports, and getting the place buckled down for winter.

school books

Being that we live in the Pacific Northwest, our summers are mild and the windows are open pretty much day and night. Between that and all the going in and out [especially since some people – Aaron and David –don’t always remove their shoes] by fall the house has collected a layer of dust and grime that only a deep cleaning will take care of.

I’ll spare you the details of our cleaning route, but the nitty-gritty day-to-day happenings of farm life is far from glamorous. Stella keeps trying to get me to hire her cleaning lady, who is wonderful, but there are some things I feel I need to do myself. Besides, there have been too many sleepless nights over the past three years and vigorously scrubbing at that grout line around the tub at 2 a.m. may have been one of the things that helped me keep my sanity.

cleaning supplies

What I will share with you are my all natural, super cheap, cleaning recipes. Be warned, the disinfecting spray contains vodka and if your liquor store is on the main street of a small town and your pastor sees you coming out of it one day with a brown paper sack, and he knows you don’t drink, you might get some raised eyebrows and concern that your new Hollywood beau is a bad influence on you. Just saying – you might want to go to the next town over to get the least expensive vodka you can find. For goodness sake don’t waste money on the higher priced brands, you’ll be spraying this stuff around your toilet after all.

A note about essential oils:
-they are optional
-I like to use orange oil (reminds me of a special someone)
-use the scent you like
-many have antiseptic and antibacterial properties among them: cinnamon, clove, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, orange, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and tea tree

spray bottles

Disinfecting Spray
(spray on grime free surface and let dry)
Mix in a spray bottle:
1/4 cup vodka
1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
1 cup water
20 drops of essential oil

1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Citra-solv
1/2 teaspoon Castile Soap
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon essential oil

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Castile Soap
1 3/4 cups water
8 drops essential oil

When I need scrubbing power I use baking soda or Bon-Ami cleaner

What are your favorite natural cleaning products?
What tunes to listen to when tending to household chores?

Put on your favorite play list, round-up your helpers, and make it a cleaning party. 

Until next week



Leaves to Mulch to Plants

Ryan_park_lawn_sunset- cropped

Hi All! Last week I promised you a way to use up those piles of leaves you just had to rake up. As a bonus you’ll also end up with a new useful spot in your yard.

When Michael and I bought Hawks Landing Farm it was run down. We moved in during the fall so as to have the winter to get the outbuildings and house fixed up. Not only did we have the huge expanse of pasture, but surrounding the house were acres of lawn. This would have been great if we wanted a soccer field or to do as one neighbor did and put in a baseball diamond complete with backstop and benches. We had another vision, creating a working farm.

That lawn needed to go.

There are several methods to use for lawn removal. Being dedicated to sustainable and organic practices we ruled out chemical means. Another option would be to rent a machine to remove the sod. This is fairly labor intensive and comes with the need to dispose of the removed sod. Not having the money to rent a machine or the place to dispose of the sod we passed on that option to. What we did have was the whole winter season, a pile of moving boxes, and drifts of leaves from the orchard.

mulch layers cropped

The method for making planting areas out of lawn is fairly simple. We marked out the area we wanted the planting beds. In our case it was two fairly large spaces – one for commercial flowers and the other for vegetables.  You can make your planting beds any size you want.

First we cut the grass at the lowest setting letting the clippings fall into place.  From the dairy farm down the road we had picked up a load of manure. If you don’t have access to a farm bags of manure from the home improvement store work just fine.  Between the grass clippings and the manure we put down a layer about an inch thick.

Next we lay out the cardboard. You should have seen Aaron, almost five, tromping along beside us dragging out pieces of cardboard as tall as himself and putting them in place. Make sure any boxes you use are free of tape, stickers, and staples. You can also use thick layers of newspaper, remove the glossy ad sections. One trick to getting the boxes or newspapers to stay in place as you work, wet each layer thoroughly. Also, make sure your edges overlap by at least an inch. You don’t want any gaps where vigorous grass and weeds can poke up.

boxes Lisa Risagar cropped
photo by Lisa Risagar

From here it is just a matter of adding layers.

First layer: organic matter – eight to twelve inches deep. Here is where the raked or mulched up leaves come in handy. Other material that can be used is straw, spoiled hay, wood shavings, stable sweepings, rabbit droppings, or any organic matter you can get your hands on. Friends out at the coast have even used seaweed. Grass is okay, in small quantities, when mixed in with other organic matter.

Second layer: compost. If you’ve had a compost pile going now’s the time to use it. We were fortunate because the former owners of our property did have a compost pile, of sorts. We were able to add this to our layers. You can also get bags of compost from the store.

Third layer: more manure – anywhere from a fourth of an inch to an inch.

Top layer: a weed free cover layer. Make this about two inches deep. This can be straw, raked up leaves, wood shavings, or sawdust. Be creative here. Get to know people in your community. Is there a wood worker you can befriend? Bring a pie and the offer to sweep up his wood shavings. We befriended the owner of a tree trimming and removal company. He was having to pay to dump his wood chips. Now, every few months he brings a load to our place. Most of the time we use it as is. Sometimes we run it through our chipper making the pieces smaller and use it for bedding in the barn, or a top layer of mulch in the now established flower beds.

With a soaker hose or sprinkler set to low gently soak the layers.

If you want you can immediately plant in the layered mulch. Brush aside the top protective layer, put in your seeds or plants, and then replace the top layers. This type of planting area is much better six months later when all the good nutrients have had a chance to mix and mingle. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, fall is the time to set out a new area for planting in the spring.

Happy Mulching!


photo by Sarah Macmillan




leaves cropped by Ben Dalton
Ben Dalton (cropped)



the bane of many homeowners, especially those with lawns. Our parents taught us – rake up those leaves. Then they were typically bagged and hauled off to the dump.




                                               A waste of time

                                                                A waste of energy

                                                                                A waste of resources

There are better things to do with leaves then shove them in plastic bags and consign them to the trash heap.

If you do have lawn, and your leaves are relatively disease and pest free, use your mower and mulch them in place.  Michigan State University did a study and found that when the leaves were mower mulched the lawns did not suffer any ill effects and in the spring were actually healthier than their unmulched counterparts. This is the method we use in our orchard. As a bonus, the chickens love to scratch and peck around in the mulched leaves for tasty bugs.


The best way to mower mulch the leaves into your lawn is to mow with the bag removed. Mow in the direction so the leaf litter and grass clipping are blown to the section you will next mow so each leaf will get passed over a few times. The goal is to cut the leaves into dime sized pieces. If after the first pass the leaves are still to big cross over your lawn again at a 90o angle. Depending on the amount of leaf fall you have you may need to mow more than once a week.

The leaf bits will sift their way down below the blades of grass giving back nutrients and energy just when most North American grass is at its prime root building phase.

Next Week: But I really need, or want, to rake those leaves – what do I do with them?

colorful leaves Ctd 2005 cropped
photo by – Ctd