Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Northwest’

A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Cul...

A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Culiseta longiareolata). Size: about 10mm length Location: Lisbon region, Portugal Türkçe: Culiseta longiareolata türü dişi bir sivrisinek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had the craziest weather today, it was sunny and it rained, then the sky got dark and we had an amazing thunder and lightning storm, then the hail came… our swollen creek is running so fast it should join the Olympic swimming team.  The signs of summer are just not showing.  Sure it’s spring in the Pacific Northwest, rain is the normal, but I have a nice reminder of summer on my leg and it’s not a tan.  Apparently when I was standing in the rain talking to my neighbor the other night, I was being feasted on by mosquitoes!  I noticed my leg itched, scratched it to find a huge welt.  The suckers got me 6 different times on the same leg!  Ugh.  Isn’t it too early for mosquitoes?

I noticed that my jar of homemade lavender oil was sitting on the counter.  So itchy and scratchy I decided to turn that into some mosquito repellent.  We have a lavender bush and so does my best friend, with our flowers and the ones she gave me I put them into a mason jar then covered them with oil and let them sit.  After they sat for several months, I strained them out of the oil then packed the jar full again of another batch of flowers and put the oil back on top.  So essentially I soaked the oil twice.  I’ve been using that lavender oil as my repellent for the last couple years, I’ve just kept it in the fridge and applied it when I needed it.  Lavender oil works amazingly for mosquitoes, but you have to apply more often than you would the chemical types.  So I wanted the power punch this year, I mean if they are out already and eating me alive like it’s June then I think we’ll need some good defenses this year.  I went online and found that lemon and eucalyptus oil was the best oils to ward off mosquitoes, so I just happened to have a little bottle of essential oils.  So I put some lemon eucalyptus oil in my lavender.  Then I made a salve out of it. I wrote a previous blog about making salves here.

So I have my defenses for the year.  But that doesn’t take care of my current problem, how much they itch!  So I did a little looking and found some interesting ideas.  I took these ideas from this site.

  • Rub the bite with soap.
  • Apply an ice pack to the bite.
  • Mix baking soda with enough water to make a paste and apply to the bite.
  • Apply lavender and tea tree oils with a swab.
  • Rub a piece of freshly cut onion on the bite.
  • A dab of toothpaste is soothing, too.

I’ve done baking soda on bee stings, the onion just sounds like it would sting like crazy, and I don’t use conventional toothpaste…  The one thing the author suggests before the points above was to rub a banana skin on them.  We have tons of bananas around and so I was itching enough, and the results were pretty fabulous actually.  The banana skin took away the itch 100%.  I am not sure how long it lasts but I’m willing to reapply.  However a banana peel at work probably wouldn’t work, I think there I’d stick with some essential oils which could be easily applied in the restroom. 🙂  Happy mosquito season folks, hope they are not going crazy on you like they are on me.

Deutsch: eine Bananenschale English: banana peel

Deutsch: eine Bananenschale English: banana peel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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We live in Oregon, one of the best places on earth I might add, although I might be a bit bias. 🙂  One of the most amazing things happens here in the winter and spring time, truffles!  I have never been a mushroom hunter before I met Hubby.  He grew up in the Columbia Gorge where morel mushrooms are very prolific so he has a much better grip on this whole deal than I do.  The beautiful thing is you get to get out into creation and breathe the beautiful air, be among the trees, and get exercise to boot.  Generally an outing, especially this time of year, includes Hubby and myself and sometimes our dogs.  They enjoy running around like crazy wild animals while we search for the elusive truffle.  Our female is in “training” to be our truffle hunter, in fact the first day we got her she ate the first black truffle we found.  We have taken an occasional friend out with us and generally the same love we have for this scavenger hunt is then passed on to them.

This weekend a avid truffle hunting friend invited us to a truffle foray, it happened to be about 10 minutes from our house so…why not!  We haven’t spent a lot of time around other truffle hunters before and it was an adventure.  We arrive at the tree farm to find there were probably 100 or so people there.  Every where you looked there were people on the ground with hand rakes searching for the little nuggets of goodness.  There were people who brought their dogs and dogs in training, it was really a fun atmosphere.  We paid our $5.00 to hunt and made our way away from what seemed to be the bulk of the people.  On our way down a path a voice said “do you mind if I follow you?”  We turned to see a woman looking a bit lost.  She was only told to bring a rake and stood amongst the trees bewildered, obviously she had not done this before.  We aren’t the secretive type of mushroom hunters, some people think they have secret spots, but if you’ve ever been to Oregon… everywhere is a “spot!”  The amount of doug fir trees we have is mind blowing, truly there is no way to “rape” the land, there is so much land that there is no way that all the truffles could ever be dug up!

Our new friend was apprehensive thinking that we wouldn’t allow her to follow us, but really what fun is there in that?  Why not share the info we have acquired over the past three years?  Because of the amount of people there, there were not many unsearched areas but we did find a place to settle down on to the cold ground.  We began to rake back the duff and into the soil, after a few minutes, success!  Out popped a white nugget of happiness.  I showed our new friend who I think got a renewed sense of hope.  She found a spot to start looking but nothing came up.  Finally she went over to watch over Hubby’s shoulder and he let her start looking in his area.  Her first truffle was found not too much longer after that, which was celebrated with lots of hoots and hollers.  How fun and amazing it is to find your very first truffle!  Her friends must have heard our celebration and in a few minutes they were calling her name.  We were surrounded by a group of older ladies who were so interested to pick our brains.  How did we keep them? How long have we been doing this?  What did we know that we could share with them?  Could they join us sometime for a hunt in our spot?  It was lovely.  I LOVED sharing the info we had with them.  But the crowded tree farm began to be a bit too much for us, we were use to large forests that go miles and miles with no other people around and you don’t have to search for an area that someone had not already dug.  So we bid our new friends ado and passed on our phone number so we could connect later to take them REAL truffle hunting.

Since this was a large event, there was doughnuts and coffee so we went and grabbed a little bite.  There were lots of people standing around eating, talking and sharing their finds.  Next to us was a couple, they were unsure of what they found and wanted me to look.  I showed them our few truffles and let them smell them.  Truly truffles are for flavor, not a mushroom you slice and eat.  And just because I’m kind of a truffle geek, truffles truly aren’t mushrooms, they are tubers but most people do call them truffle mushrooms, so there is your truffle trivia for the day.  So I’m looking through their finds and mostly they had nothing.  There were some marbled looking, something, but they were not truffles.  They had a few pieces of truffles but not a whole one.  After some casual conversation they said they were from Michigan.  Most people who live in Oregon these days, didn’t grow up here (present company excluded), so it’s not uncommon to hear that someone is from somewhere else.  However, what they meant was, they actually flew in to Oregon JUST to come to this foray!  Talk about true truffle people!  They had never been to the Pacific Northwest, but the husband was a mushroom hunter back home and always wanted to find truffles.  So for his birthday his wife booked this trip for them.  I couldn’t let someone who flew all the way from Michigan to truffle hunt go home with broken pieces of truffles.  Hubby and I agreed, we had to take them out for some REAL truffle hunting.

The couple seemed shocked that we wanted to do this, but we’re nice here in the Pacific  Northwest, that is the kind of things we do.  Off we went on our adventure.  We took them to our “spot” and started showing them how we did things.  We learned they had booked a trip with some guide who ended up taking them for $400, how lame is that!?  But ultimately they got the local guided tour.  Just as expected we started finding truffles, it’s such a joy!  You can look and look but when you uncover that first one there is just a beautiful thing about it.  Similar to finding a needle in a haystack.  We ended up sending the day with our new friends, we found  one of the largest white truffles we have ever found, we took them on a bit of a road trip into the beautiful Oregon mountains, and ended up at a best kept secret restaurant that locals know about but not too many others.  They left with real Oregon truffles and we sent them to the Oregon coast the next day and suggested they check out the Tillamook Cheese Factory, which I hope they made it to.  It was one of the best and most bizarre weekends I think I have ever had.  My body is still sore from all the work that I did, but I also know I’m alive because of it.

If only I could start a truffle guide service, now that would be the ultimate dream job!  Cheers to our new Michigan friends, I do hope we see you again and safe travels home, even though you’ll probably never read this. 🙂


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