Parkrose Market

January Garden Slumber


This is what gardening looks like in Western Oregon in January.


I’m trying to finish shoveling a giant pile of mulch off my driveway.  I’m down the last couple of yards, and even though it was 38 degrees and raining out, today was the day when I had room in my schedule to work on it.  So, I got to work.


Most of the garden is asleep in January, but I still make the rounds of all my perennials every week to check on them.  Each one gets a visual inspection for weather/rodent damage, disease, state of dormancy, etc.

The Goumi berry (Eleagnus multiflora) (left) and Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) (right) plants may lose their leaves in winter, but they still provide visual interest with upright shape and scores of thorns.  The Goumi’s thorns are only on younger growth, but their downward hook means it is easy to snag a hole in your pants as you walk by.  Sea Buckthorns are notorious for their spines, but I grow Siberian varieties, which are less thorny than their German cousins.  Both species are nitrogen fixers and produce their own nutritious tasty fruits, but their spikey nature means I have planted them on the perimeter of the garden – near enough to the pome fruits to provide nitrogen-fixing benefits, and where their own berries can be easily reached but not where kids will fall into them, or clothes become easily snagged on the spines.


Walking around today, I noticed that one of the rhubarbs in a particularly warm and sheltered spot has emerged early from dormancy.  The new leaves are always a vibrant blend of fuschia and chartreuse, with salmon and tangerine overtones.  Simply beautiful.


The rhubarb divisions potted up for our upcoming spring plant sale are all still dormant, but I can spy one in the upper right trying to wake up.


The backyard isn’t much to behold this time of year.  One can hardly tell there is an orchard along the U-shaped perimeter of the yard – it all blends in to the fencing with the leaves and fruit absent.  The rain garden in the foreground doesn’t impress much at the moment, either.  But soon sleeping herbaceous perennials and spring bulbs will start to stir from their slumber.

For the time being, the ducks have the run of the place -the rain keeps the chickens hiding much of the time, and the ducks follow me around as I take care of morning chores, although here they’re happily preening in the rain garden, in the midst of a downpour.  Always in their element in wet weather, the ducks.


Working outside every day in winter weather has taken a toll on my hands.  Every time I come in, my knuckles seem to be cracked and bleeding.  Potting up dormant berry bushes for the spring plant sale, in particular, has been really rough on them.

Because being out in wet, windy, cold weather so much was damaging my hands – and because my dad, a hobby woodworker, was experiencing similarly cracked and banged-up hands – I made up a special batch of lanolin-rich hand salve.


Lanolin is the waxy oil from sheep’s wool – because it is washed from the wool after shearing, and no sheep are harmed in production, it is a vegetarian (not vegan) product.  But because it is also an animal fat, made to keep skin & wool healthy out in the elements, lanolin is the perfect choice to use on hands that spend many hours outdoors or in rough working conditions.

Combined together with beeswax, lanolin makes a water-resistant coating against rain and wind.  And because lanolin is readily absorbed into the skin, it helps to heal and moisturize severely dry skin as it protects.

I’ll be back later in the week with more from the garden – evergreen plants that provide winter interest now – and nutritious fruit come summer!

If you’d like to order some of this batch of salve, you can find it here.

Snow Day Knitting


Joining Small Things for the Yarn Along today.  We’ve had what my eldest calls “knitting weather” the last few days – it’s been icy, and you just want to hide under a blanket and knit, knit, knit.



The last few days we’ve had snow, followed by ice and more ice which made the roads undriveable.  The kids initially did a lot of sledding and playing outside until the falling snow turned to ice and everything became a dangerously slippery mess.



The backyard garden isn’t much to look at, but I put out some seed for the birds and within minutes a flock of Dark-eyed Juncos had landed to fill their bellies.


The chickens hid inside their coop most of the day, but the ducks seemed to really enjoy the snow.  Even when the weather turned to freezing rain and their feathers were coated in ice, they stayed outside, looking contented.


Much like the chickens, I spent the bulk of my time staying out of the weather.  Afterall, it was “knitting weather”.


I finished knitting a few pairs of mitts, women’s S/M for my Etsy Store.


At the cuff, they will get needle-felted designs, but I’m still working out exactly how I’ll decorate them.  If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Back tomorrow with more crafting from winter break.



Top Bar Lip Balm


It’s dark so early now, I have plenty of time for indoor projects – this weekend it was making up a batch of lip balm for Parkrose Market.


Our lip balm is called “top bar” because we are top bar beekeepers, and the honey in our balm is from our bees.

As someone who is outside, working in windy rainy weather on a daily basis, I need a lip balm that will soothe and heal chapped lips and offer good protection.  I so make Top Bar Lip Balm with beeswax, organic sunflower oil, organic coconut butter to moisturize lips and fair-trade raw shea butter and vitamin E oil to help heal and protect them.


Bea loves to do woodworking with her Grandpa Bishop, and together they made me a little wooden lip balm holder for the display table at the craft bazaars I’m working the next few weekends.


She learned how to set up and use the drill press, and put 12 holes in a block of maple wood we picked up at SCRAP last week.


It makes for a neat and simple display, don’t you think?  Very much appreciate them making it for me.

You can find out Top Bar Lip Balm here.


Hats and History Lessons


Joining Small Things this morning for her Yarn Along.  I’ve been knitting up a storm in preparation for craft bazaars  later in the month, but took a break from those projects to make a little hat, on request, for Bea.  I have an abundance of odds and ends of grey wool, and she requested a grey hat with a sunshine on it, so it seemed like a perfect chance to use up those little balls of wool.

Bea is very interested in pre-Civil War history and instead of reading while I knitted and needle-felted her hat, we watched The Abolitionists on American Experience’s website.






I finished the hat before the end of the documentary, so for the last part of it, I put labels on the latest batch of salves and lip balm.  I reformulated the salves a bit to make them more shelf-stable in cold weather, updated the labels, and can’t wait to get them packaged for the upcoming craft bazaars at The Portland Village School and Bee Thinking.

For now, it’s back to finishing knitting projects for the bazaars, spreading mulch in the garden, and thinking ahead to the menu for Thanksgiving.

Beeswax Polish Kits


Introducing our new line of Beeswax Wood Polish and polish kits!  Made with local beeswax from natural beekeepers and sweet orange oil, our polish protects and conditions wood, and is safe for children.

Natural wooden toys, bowls, and furniture need to be buffed with polish a few times a year to keep their shine and prevent over-drying and cracking.  In Waldorf education, children take responsibility of their possessions through The Practical Arts:  this is where children are given child-like versions of adult responsibilities in order to master skills, increase independence and confidence, and prepare for adult life.  Kids learn to care for their toys, play kitchen items and utensils by polishing objects themselves.  This form of handwork teaches fine motor skills and teaches even very small children that they are capable of contributing in a meaningful way to family life.


Our 2 oz tins of polish are available on their own, and also in kits for children.  The kits include a tin of polish, a handsewn 100% cotton flannel polishing cloth, and 2 natural palm wood child-sized spoons ready to be polished.


We’re proud to add our polish kits to the inventory of local beeswax products for the Portland Village School’s Craft Fair and Bee Thinking’s upcoming holiday bazaar.