Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


2014: Honor the Beginning

New Year's Day Sunrise

Stopping for a moment to reflect on last year before launching into the new year, I realized that possibly for the first year ever, my resolution has nothing to do with food. I’ve made some changes in the way I eat over the last year – and (don’t hate me) managed to lose several pounds without even trying but it all happened so gradually that it actually felt simple and uncomplicated, which pretty much sums up my preferred way to eat. So I want to give you a quick food tip and a brief cabin update before I get to my resolution.

Eating local, seasonal food goes without saying in our house. We’re hard core when it comes to shopping at the farmers market. In 2013, after almost 25 years of marriage, I’ve finally adopted Charlie’s unique method of “scissoring a salad” as the basis for everything else. Don’t ask me why he cuts greens with scissors when everyone tells you to tear, not cut, but I’m sure he has his reasons. Night after night, he gets out a large bowl, cuts up a variety of greens (which we always wash as soon as we get home from the market so they’re ready to go), dresses them with olive oil, salt & pepper, then piles whatever else I’ve prepared (often something carefully plated for a photo) on top. His version of the ever popular Chop Salad is something he could probably write a book on and might someday but this is it in a nutshell.

Scissored Salad

I use a plate instead of a big bowl but yeah, I’m now a convert to the “scissored salad.” What I’ve realized is, this is the best way not only to eat a helluva lot of greens, but also to eat a smaller proportion of the other stuff and it’s delicious too. Charlie is one of the healthiest people I know so he must be doing something right. Here’s a typical weeknight meal for me. It may look pretty spare but that’s just the way I like it — fresh and simple.

Simple Meal with Salmon

Enough about food — the other reason that I’ve lost weight is that I’ve been working outdoors ALOT. In 2013 we completed the exterior of our cabin on Orcas Island. Since I have no carpentry skills whatsoever, I ended up staining hundreds of shingles, siding, trim and doing a ton of schlepping – moving piles of construction debris, clearing brush, loading and unloading, you name it. Physical labor aside, there’s something very healthy about spending some time every day outdoors. I know how hard it can be, especially for a southern girl like me, but trust me, with the right number of layers, anything is possible.

What started out as this…

Original Cabin

Cabin in process

Has become this…

Orcas Cabin

The exterior is complete but there’s plenty to do in the interior. We recently had all the wood for the floor and trim milled from island fir at a local sawmill. Funky as it is, I love the feeling that we’ll be surrounded by wood grown and milled right on the island.

Saw mill

Saw Mill

While the floor is down, it still needs to be sanded and finished but that will have to wait until the trim is done.

When my help wasn’t needed on construction, I spent many hours in 2013 working on uncovering a lovely stream that previously ran underground through a portion of our property that we’ve named the Japanese Garden.

Orcas Stream    Orcas Stream

The stream only runs in the winter so my summer project was uncovering the beginning of a rock wall and beginning some terraced garden beds for herbs. Since it isn’t fenced in, it’s been a challenge to find plants that the deer won’t eat. Apparently, our deer haven’t gotten the memo that they don’t eat sage, oregano and catmint. The rosemary and thyme have been spared so far but by the end of the winter, the deer may be so hungry even those will be appealing.  I got lots of help from family & friends (thank you Mike, Adrian & Sally) on this project after discovering that dry-fitting rock walls is a lot harder than it looks.

Rock Garden Walls

Now that 2013 has come to a close and we’re starting out again, I could easily be tempted to resolve to finish what we’ve started by this time next year. We get asked all the time when we’re going to be finished. Sorry to disappoint but we’ll probably never be “finished” until we’re too old to work. But that’s the point of this project — the process of being good stewards of the land and uncovering the beauty that already exists there. One project leads to the next and the next.

Which leads me to the beginning of 2014. I hope to be ready for all the new possibilities, all the people I may encounter, all the adventures, whatever lies in store for this new year. Keeping an open heart is a big enough challenge that it may take at least a year to learn not to shut down even the tiniest bit. Letting go of old grudges, opinions about the right way, not trying new things out of fear, staying in the present moment — it’s a tall order but I’ve decided this is the moment to start by honoring the beginning. A chance to keep on with what’s working and let go of what isn’t. Happy New Year!

Heart Rock

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3 Responses »

  1. Oh my, Poppy, this has to be one of the finest *new year* posts I’ve read. I send out a hearty toast … to open hearts & letting go of all the unnecessary every things … most of all, as you say, to keeping on “with what’s working and let go of what isn’t.” Wise words, these.

    Your cabin is evolving like a butterfly about to burst its cocoon!!

  2. Poppy I loved this post — just a wonderful beginning to the new year – and today feels like that beginning even though it is the 6th. Happy New Year to you and yours and thank you for so well honoring the beginning!

  3. Many thanks for such kind words from three awesome women — Christi, Katy & India.