Category Archives: Everyday Adventure

The Decision Has Been Made

Changes are coming to The Toy Box.

It will be a slow transition, but it is coming. We are fixen to sell our urban farm and hit the road. Being an American Gypsy has always been a dream, now we have decided to do it. We have two years to make the transition. There are moments that I am completely overwhelmed. There are times when I am dancing for joy.

Today, just walking the dogs seems precious. I will not walk this walk through the seasons again… once we go.

787 days from today, April 19, 2017 To Launch Day, June 15, 2019

2 more years of school, 2 more gardens… unless something changes.

Debs at The Toy Box Suburban Farm… Soon to be the Toy Box Life (humm, that could change)

Everett, Washington

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Learning about my Kelly Kettle

Fire in the hole!


Learning to boil water. That used to be a sarcastic joke I told about fellow women who were well educated and had a fantastic social life but could not cook. It has become a different kind of joke with my new Kelly Kettle.

I’m pretty sure I can light a quick cook fire that burns down to a steady bed of coals. I can turn pancakes golden brown without black spots, bring a pot of coffee to a boil and have a corner of the pit that is burning limbs to use for more charcoal if needed… in the rain! I’m rather proud of my fire-pit skills. I could hardly get my Kelly to flame. Oh the shame of it all!

How timely, here is help. Now I will look for fat wood (and not look down my nose at the thought of it being needed for a simple campfire). Funny, but after watching David’s video, I feel the need for a certain beach on the Washington State Peninsula.

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A Kelly Kettle

I was not supposed to be home when it came…. but I was.


We have not been camping for quite a while. Our income has not allowed it for a stretch of time. We still have to be careful, but it looks like we may be able to take a couple of trips if we can do it for the price of gas in the Big Green Bud. Now if I can just keep myself from buying too many new toys. Because I’m thinking we need this stove and pot (or at least the pot) Giggling is the sound of the day

3march-2-2017-kelly-kettle-1 Happy Birthday to me! I kept saying how much I liked Kelly Kettle, but did not think there was one in my future. They are not inexpensive. But there it was! Now there I am practicing on my back porch, giving it a go, bringing water to a boil, dumping it down the sink to get any factory finish out of it before we take it for a drive in the mountains. I am a happy girl!

By the way, the zebra pot has nothing to do with Kelly Kettle… it is just the next toy I want to get out into the wild with… Happy trails!

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Show up with Value

Curtis Stone, The Urban Farm Guy randomly gave his best piece of advice on a video I was watching. Show up with value.

BOOM (mind blown!) You want to make it as an urban farmer, show up with value instead of your hat in your hand begging for a the secret to easy success. How about as an evangelist? You have something of amazing value, not something to apologize for. Do you want to make it as a student? Recognize that it is the work that gives you value as a student. That is what makes you successful.

As a teacher, there are students that demand a lot of my time. Their parents are paying tuition and deserve my time but so are a lot of other parents; what can I expect from them? Sometimes I feel like Mary trying to “teach” Tom Sawyer a bible verse. Tom wants the prize that is offered and realizes that the work is a means to an end but entitlement (I want what I want and I want it now) means that he will not “Show up with value”. He will not do the work.

Do the work. show up with your best effort. The world will open doors for that. You can climb the ladder to success. If you expect someone to carry you then get used to the view from the lower rungs.

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November Project 1 Redo

Spring Bulb Lasagna Take 2

Camera battery fail. With a new battery and a new batch of spring bulbs (50% off!) I successfully finished the Bulb Lasagna planting video. I hope you try this beautiful project while your subsistence farm (or whatever kind of garden you have) rests for the winter.

This was a long video, I am planning a two minute teacher series for this project.


First Daffodils of Season 5

November Projects:
1. Spring Bulb Lasagna

2. Micro Greens

3. Planting Amaryllis Bulbs

4. Two Frog Cranberry Sauce

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Layered Spring Bulbs

Everyone has bulbs on sale for 50% off. Give me any vegetable (except maybe cauliflower) and I can grow it. Flowers? not so much.


I can grow flowering herbs for medicine, I can reproduce seeds which seems to involve flowers, I’ve got a nice stand of snap-dragons that I keep trying to kill by digging them up and moving them (but they bloom anyway). Johnny jump ups do OK for me… but then again, I eat those in bento or salad. WAIT… I’ve grown both sweet peas and sunflowers just for looking at. Maybe I can do this after all.

Before starting, Ray hauled a pot that was once a home for a Meyer Lemon tree, peas, multi-colored snap beans and tomatoes. It is big enough that he needed a hand truck to roll it to the back yard. It should be perfect.

It has been a long time since picking up a video camera. My battery died a long time before I was finished. The end of the video is a silent move. I’ll keep you up dated on the blooms. If this works they should start in late February.

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Generally I find a way to live with God’s creatures. Slugs eat stressed plants but my chickens happen to love both slugs and slug eggs. Ants, spiders, squirrels and mice, even snakes find places in my garden. I do not enjoy any of those creatures the way I enjoy birds but we manage to coexist. Rats are a different kind of pest. They are as smart as they are hungry. And those tails! creepy!


Bomber the Jack Russel on Patrol

It did not take long to realize that there were all kinds of wildlife, including rats, living on the unkept bluff behind our property in Everett. We stopped feeding wild birds to keep the rats away. After we got chickens, we would occasionally see rats, but usually it was because Bomber, our Jack Russel terrier had killed one and left it laying. Sadly, Bomber is getting older, and while he still loves to hunt, he is not as fast as he once was. Rudy, our Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix, does not have the jaw strength of a Jack Russel. Bomber bites them once on the neck and they go down. Rudy bites them multiple times and  nothing happens. The rat just gets irritated. I’m pretty sure that Rudy believes that if all he can do is irritate them then he should do a really good job irritating them. He yaps loud and proud… which brings Bomber running to put them down.

Two very mild winters and an older Jack Russel has given us a plague of rats. I hear it is a problem all over western Washington. Ray cleans up the chicken yard every evening. The chicken food is removed from the pen, replaced by an identical feeder with pellets that look a lot like chicken food but are actually rat killing pellets (Ray assures me they are not poison, but something that stops up the digestive system) Rats are VERY smart. Ours will not eat peanut butter because they have seen other rats die in peanut butter baited traps. They will not eat the bait that goes in the big black traps anymore (but they will nest in those same traps), they disappear when they hear the back door open, knowing there is a good chance Ray will be out with pellet guns to shoot them. I’ve dropped the rocks left from sifting the chicken yard soil into the holes they dig. The next morning I see those same rocks thrown all over the place and the hole looking like it was never touched.

tomato-in-greenhouse I still believe in live and let live, despite the battle of the rats I have been describing. But I do not grow fruits and vegetables as a hobby. I am a subsistence farmer… an urban farmer, but still a subsistence farmer. In the summer of 2014 and again in 2015 out “farm” kept us off of food stamps. We grow what we eat and put up the excess to get through winter.

This summer, while checking our apple tree, I noticed some of my Yellow Transparents had big chunks missing. I wasn’t too upset. I tithe to nature. I plucked that apple off the tree and tossed to over the fence for the wildlife. I could not pick enough apples for a pie, every one had a bite out of it. Gurrrr! By seasons end, not a single ripe apple could be picked, they were all eaten by rats.


Ray set up his game camera in the greenhouse

In my greenhouse, my sanctuary, I’ve been watching a beautiful Brandywine start to ripen up after all the other garden tomatoes had been tossed into the compost for winter. I went in one morning and found that the ripe section of the tomato had been eaten while the green upper half lay on the ground, discarded by some creature. There were also remnants of ripe red peppers laying on the ground. A feast… but not our feast. OH! ITS ON! Traps were set, even the game camera was put up. I couldn’t believe it was a rat who ate whole tomatoes and peppers. The pictures confirmed that it is a rat. I’m sure I even caught one. The soil around the trap was disturbed (and when I say disturbed I mean there was evidence of such a struggle that I felt sorry for the rat) but the trap was empty. I did notice that what was left of the peppers had been gathered and returned to the pots they were picked from. How strange was that! They no longer eat peanut butter, not even the expensive coconut oil peanut butter I gave them (it was Jif that they quit eating before) I thought they had moved out, but the camera caught them again a few nights later. Last time I checked, the tomatoes in this post were still hanging on the vine to ripen. Today there is a truce, but I doubt the war is over.


Jenney e il Piccolo

Debs at the Toy Box subUrban Farm in Everett, Washington, waking up to a pink sky and wet feet this November 6, 2016. Did you remember to set your clock back? Me either. (thank you Mr. Gates)

Morning devotions on Rainsong. The meaning of words and how one Greek word changes the flavor of Mark 2:18. I think you will like it.

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