Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

A very mild, sweet, and simple Christmas this year. The kids got a few gifts... all of which they love, and we made treats for neighbors and family. We had a laid back Christmas Eve party with my family. It was wonderful. Today we are hanging out and watching videos and eating popcorn and left over sugar cookies... Don is working. Just a simple, quiet, and very perfect day.

The chickens though! They have been giving us Christmas gifts all week... every day this week we have gotten 4 - 6 eggs. For the last three days we have gotten six a day. Which means two dark brown, two green, and two light brown. One from each of my sweet girls. :)

Beautiful aren't they?

What is even more beautiful is that it is snowing right now. I have lived here 27 out of 29 years of my life and I remember one white Christmas... and today, it is snowing. So beautiful!

Just reveling in the simple beauties around me today.

Much love and a Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gosh... lots of deep thoughts this month

It is a month for deep thoughts I guess. Or for reflections. The new year is coming. In two days the earth will have come to her very darkest, and started the year a new. The kids and I will celebrate with candles and popcorn and probably a long talk and some mindless entertainment.

I too, am starting this new year of the earth; with a commitment. A few actually. I am not sure how they are going to pan out. I don't have a very good support system in which to back these things right now. It is not that Don doesn't support me, he just has a very hard time living with in means that make it seem possible for us to do things like think globally, buy locally, and not buy on credit. He wants and loves the gadgets. And rightly so. He deserves the gadgets. In a way... just as much as any good, hard working, public servant does. I am trying to find a way to get down to the brass tacks of what we want to do with our money and help him not feel deprived. We used to be good at that. When we REALLY had no money, those things come easy. But two years of tons of stress and doubling our income made the creature comforts seem easy to obtain, and more than a little necessary. How does one go about making it so the creature comforts of life are once again small, simple affairs?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I am a little bit heartbroken at this moment. My friend Tawnya lost her battle with cancer. She is a huge part of the two online groups I am part of... Her son Ben (the little one) was due the same week as Logan and we talked on our expecting board the whole time we were pregnant. Shared belly pictures. The group of us that were pg last winter were pretty tight. She had to have him very early due to finding her cancer was back last Nov, and I prayed that it would be a simple something... It wasn't. She fought so hard. They found it then in her knee. And then slowly, it started to take over. I have never seen a stronger fighter. She was so amazing. She did everything for these three boys. Her sweet boys.... oh god.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Compacting, credit cutting, and random thoughts

So I am ready. Ready to completely cut out credit from our consumer diet. It will mean that for a while I will be completely anal. And that is sort of ok with me. We have a lot of consumer debt that we accrued since Don went into college in 2002, and sometimes it is hard to see it all. But we are coming to a place where we have a lot of what we need, we have enough money each month to put a little back now.... by my standards, I mean.

I was thinking of doing "Not Buying It" for a while... but that won't work. I will be getting things for the kids rooms to organize their spaces. I will be getting things to stream line the things that I am doing in the house, and I will be getting things for the garden come February next year. So Compacting it is.

I am less than half way through Omnivore's Dilemma and I am ready to buy local beef. Chicken is harder... they cost more to produce. I know. I have 6 laying hens out there, that are only double the age for first culling and that means that since last February we would have only had 12 birds for the food and space and time it has taken to raise these chicks. That would be spendy if I was to sell that. But beef and pork, I can do local. I also want to get a whole share of the CSA farm this year. If they recover from the flood that is, which I have every hope that they will. They have a drop off point right next to the Library so I can even make it a double trip each week next spring. That will work out nicely. I am already itching to garden... December through Feb is hard for me... maybe time to build some cold frames?

I may give the farm my chickens. They lost their 4 hens and rooster during the flood. Another friend is giving them a rooster from their same stock... I would like to give them the laying hens. We don't have the room or the time for them right now. I keep feeling like I am neglecting them. And the money. Yikes... the tarp I bought for the coop is already breaking, meaning I have cold wet birds quite often this time of year. I put our old shower curtain over it... but if you are going to have chickens in the city, you really need to put some money behind it and build a nice coop. No one wants to see an old dog kennel converted into a innercity chicken coop... plus, I can't keep it from not smelling. But I love those birds, and the eggs they give us from their healthy outdoor lives, and lovely kitchen scrap diets... so I don't know what to do. Maybe one months worth of debt paying can go to building a new coop. I just don't know. Maybe I will just give them two or something.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Deep Thoughts and a great site

My friend Lauren sent me this link a little while ago for food for thought... and wow! It really got my brain working. I decided that more people had to see it... so I am posting it here. Enjoy!

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

I hate computer stuff. Blech......

How long is that going to go on? Before we have to keep up with stuff, just because they are necessary to life? Because right now, we have the bottom of the line computer. We are moving up to a newerish computer because ours isn't really doing what we want it to anymore. And so I am down with getting that. I am. But when will we choose what we have and what will become obsolete? How long will this computer last? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? And when we get rid of it, what will we be upgrading to? BETA to VHS to DVD and now what? And these things are necessary for "life" in our country.

Now, I am not talking about the things that are extra.... the Barbie clothes and the newest toys or the newest skinny heal shoes. I am talking about things used to communicate... and if you don't have them you don't communicate with everyone because their mode of communication has already past you and you are no longer 'convenient' to communicate with... so you drop off their radar. Not on purpose... but just because you haven't evolved.

Omg... what a terrifying prospect... and so now I am getting the new computer.

I don't care about shoes, or anything... those cycles I can stop. I can stop buying my kids thousands of $$ worth of Christmas crap from stores like Walmart. I can stop buying at the dollar store and keep buying at Goodwill. (But hell, even that is being exploited now.) But what about that other stuff? What is going to be done about that? And what else are they going to introduce that we have to maintain like the computers that are obsolete within two years of spending WAY too much money on them. What else are they going to invent that is going to change the way we live so drastically that if you don't have one you are "left behind".

Where is this all leading? (When will my husband think about this?!!?)

Sunday, December 9, 2007


The force of this flood is still humbling me. Behind this picture is my friends farm. This is her refridgeration container, on top of this car. This is what we drove by on Friday when we went out to help. Isn't that just staggering?

We drove out there for a friends party yesterday. The roads are clear. The street sweepers are working overtime to get the rest of the rural areas clean... but the roads are all passable now. Thank god. My friends are slowly digging out. They look so tired. They have been pulling off walls and counters and cuboards, and hucking them into the yard... where the rest of the mud is. They have heaters drying things out and windows and fans open, trying to stop the mold from setting in. They are amazing people.

The love that surrounds that area right now is just incredible. Groups of people that they have never met are mucking mud out of the yard and green houses. The love is incredible. I am humbled and at the same time very honored to be part of this group of people. It is a beautiful thing to watch a life be rebuilt and to see the love that it takes.

Today it is snowing hard again. We have about an inch already this morning and it started around 9am. It doesn't have the thrill that it did two weeks ago. But, man, the world is beautiful white and covered in ice. Let us hope that there is no more devistation because of this beauty.


Friday, December 7, 2007


Most of the damage was about 20 miles south of me (we live off Exit 101 now), where we used to live. Our old aparments off Exit 81 were underwater until the second story. The freeway that takes you South on this side of the country has been closed for 20 miles between exit 88 and exit 68 all week long. Last week, we got 3 inches of snow where we are. There was just a dusting in the valley. But in the mountains, they got 14inches. The next day, here, it all melted. The temp got up to 52*. In the mountains, it kept snowing. The day after that, here it hit 61*... in the mountains, everything melted... and headed down hill. A 30* jump in less than three days. Just amazing.

It has been a most humbling week for us out here. Here are some pictures of the damage:
This is Exit 79. The exit to my parents old house... this bridge is over I-5... the biggest freeway on this side of the country.

This is one exit down... next to his new house, which is up on the hill to the rt.

(He is fine and dry.)

This is the area between the two towns down there. Yes... that to the right is a roof awning of the local Sunbirds.

We have friends who have lost houses, farms, animals... and we are lucky. Some people lost their whole lives. Our dear friends organic CSA farm was a total lost. My friends and their new baby got out safe and sound, thank god. A farm next to theirs lost 30 cattle. Another farm close to their lost over 100, and these poor beasts are floating all over the valley. They have no idea when they will have clean water, many wells are contaminated with sewage from the overflowing septics.

Our favorite mexican restruant is that little orange building.

The road outside the local shopping center.

This is the freeway. Doesn't look like it, but it is the main interstate... under this water. Just amazing!

More of the freeway.

The power of this devastation is incredible. Let us pray that hope prevails.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Newest Crafty Stuff

Two days ago, a link of a link of a friend sent me to this site. The site is full of neat stuff to do. I picked the advent calendar for this week. And finished it this morning.

I am so enjoying this crafty time I have gotten in the last couple days. You will be seeing lots of craft and shows from me in the next week. I am getting things done. Mainly because I moved my entire sewing operation out of my cold garage (never got above 40* yesterday) and into the middle of the living room. Between that, a baby who gets into everything, and a backed up pile of laundry, the house is THRASHED. But man... am I having fun.

Another thing I have been making is bibs. I don't have snaps on these yet, and this is an AWFUL picture, but still, you get the idea. Undone edges seem to be my "thing" right now.

I also have three quilts in the works. *glee*
(Yes, this means I am getting more sleep for all of you who have seen the drama on my journal.)

You see this boy? The one who wears the cute bibs? Yeah, he was totally impressed.

Like, so impressed, he nearly fell over. LOL!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Inexpensive Decor

I love things that are free (or for the most part) that look like you spent money on them. That is one of my favorite ways to decorate. If you look on decor in my Tag line you will see many cheap, easy, crafty, but totally classy ways to decorate.

This is the reason I love Martha Stewart... although I usually can't afford her ideas, but she has such a great way of thinking of things. You want to celebrate? Well here are 25 different craft ideas for that celebration to make it look like just invested your whole life into this party, when you really didn't. I just love looking through her magazine (I picked up about 20 at a garage sale for $.50 a piece one time and continue to look through them for inspiration even today...) and getting ideas.

Being a simi-crafty person myself, I like to take ideas that out of budget and fit it to us and our family workings. This is one that worked out like that.

All this is, is 20# fishing line, with two punched paper stars glued together to create a 'floating' look. It was easy. I even used a glue stick. lol! But man, the effect, even from inside the house, is very charming, don't you think?

And here is my token picture of one of my babies. This is Cyan, with her new animal love from Ikea (Foxes are the "thing" right now)... the baby is in a sling.

Cyan's quote for that day:

"Come on Mama, every baby deserves a sling!"


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Recipes

Even though I lit the the ham on fire (long story) the dinner was a huge success. We ended up only having one dinner, but because I had bought both dinners worth of food we had an obscene amount of food. It was a literal feast... and we are still eating it today in the form of a turkey Shepard's pie and turkey soup, and of course, plates of leftovers went home with everyone last night. The menu ended up being cut just slightly to this:

Cranberry Chutney with cream cheese and crackers
Ham with orange brown sugar glaze
Mashed potatoes with sour cream and cracked pepper
Mashed sweet potatoes with caramelized shallots and heavy cream
Baked Delicata squash and cooking apples with hazelnuts and pecans
Pear and pork sausage cornbread stuffing
Green salad with reduced apple cider vinaigrette dressing and walnuts
Sweet potato rolls
(with butter from Cyan's cooking lesson on Wednesday)
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin cheesecake
(from Cyan's cooking lesson on Wednesday)
English tea cookies
Dark chocolate

And for the recipes:

Baked Delicata Squash with Hazelnuts and pecans

3 Delicata squash
2 Granny smith or cooking apples
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
salt to taste

Peal squash and dice both it and the apples with out cores (I didn't peal the apples). Put in a large baking dish and add nuts. Mix remaining ingredients except salt. Toss with nuts and squash mix. Salt and toss again (I used about a teaspoon and it could have taken a little bit more salt)
Bake in a 350* oven for 45 minutes or until the squash is super tender and nuts are soft.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with heavy cream and caramelized Shallots

4 lg sweet potatoes (not the yams... actual sweet potatoes)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 bulbs of shallots, diced
5 Tbs butter
Fresh ground cracked pepper to taste

Peal potatoes. Cut up into large chunks. Cover with water in a large pot and bring to a boil.
While these are boiling, take 1 Tbs of the butter, and melt it in a small frying pan. Turn the heat down to med low... and add diced shallots.
When the sweet potatoes are soft and breaking apart, drain, and put in a large bowl. Use old fashioned potato masher to mash them, and add the remaining butter, heavy cream, pepper to taste, and the shallots. Mix well. Serve hot. SO GOOD!

Pork Sausage and Pear Stuffing

Two pears (diced)
1 lb pork sausage (not links)
1 large bag cornbread stuffing squares
2 stalks celery (diced)
1 lg onion (diced)
2 sticks + 1 Tbs butter
1 tea Thyme leaves (dried)
2 tea fresh Sage leaves (minced)
1/2 cup yellow raisins
2 cups of water
2 cups of chicken stock or giblet stock from turkey

Melt 1 Tbs of the butter in a large saute pan. Add sausage and break up until browned and crumbly. Take out of pan and set aside on paper towels to drain.

Melt the 2 sticks of butter in a large stock pot. Add the 2 cups of water. Toss the butter liquid with the cornbread stuffing until liquid and butter are gone.

To the sausage pan (without washing) add the celery, onion, thyme, and sage. When onion turns mostly clear add in the diced pear, and saute' for another 5 or 6 minutes. If it starts to stick to the bottom at all, add a 1/4 of water or stock to loosen it all up. You want the stuff on the bottom of the pan in the stuffing... it adds a lot of flavor. When that is done, add the sausage back onto the pan and mix. Add raisins and turn over a couple times to coat them with flavor.

In a very large baking dish (I used a 10X15 Pyrex) put the stuffing bread, and the veggie sausage mix and toss. Add 2 cups of the stock, pouring over the top to moisten. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350*. Take the cover off and cook for another 15 minutes to brown the top. If a dry, add the last cup of stock.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

2 cups apple cider
Cinnamon stick
2 Tbs honey
1/3 cup really good Apple Cider Vinegar

Put apple cider into a sauce pan and reduce by boiling to 1 cup of liquid with cinnamon stick. Remove cinnamon stick and stir in honey and vinegar. Bring back to a boil for 3 minutes. Turn off and cool completely. Use over spinach salad with Feta cheese, sliced apple, and walnuts.

Recipes that were not written by me:
(With links... of course. :) )

Cranberry Chutney

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sweet Potato Rolls


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sunflower Quilt

I have been working on this quilt since early summer and it is finally done! I love it too.. it is too loud for most people, but I just love the oranges and 'body' of the design. It was the most fun to play with. The hang ups with it were completely machanical. Sewing machine broke, couldn't find a fabric to use for the back of it (as you can see that was fixed with the loudest fabric yet... I love it!), sewing machine broke again, then Logan decided not to sleep for a few months. lol... so it took a long time, but man... it is beautiful all finished and ironed.

I am thrilled to be done with it.

There are fabrics in this quilt from long before I was born. One of my favorites is the yellow with orange flowers just above the leaf in the center right. (There is a second square, finishing off the peice, under the flower and the red checker square in the center.) I have no idea when it was made, but it has been in my mom's stash in a 11X5 inch square for my entire life memory, at least. I have always loved it. When she gave it to me I promised myself I would put it in something worthy of the cuteness and creativity of the design.

I think I did it justice.

I am really enjoying looking at this quilt all finished. :D

And look at this cute little baby butt! He hasn't really walked any more than he did the day he turned 9 months, three weeks ago. 2 steps here, 3 steps there. But man, he can stand forever now... and loves standing next to his favorite love... the vaccuum. He follows it around going "ummmm... ummmmm..." pushing a block or one of his little Chevron cars while I vaccuum the house to keep him from tasting all the wonderful floor crunchies.

It is pretty much the cutest thing ever.


Thanksgiving Menu

So this year, due to circumstance, I am making two full Thanksgiving dinners. It is working out alright so far... but I am still in the shopping stage... lol...

Here is the menu for Thanksgiving Day:

Cranberry and green apple chutney
with orange zest cream cheese and whole wheat crackers
Turkey stuffed with cooking apples, onions, and sage
Cornbread, apple and pork sausage stuffing
Mashed potatoes with cracked pepper
Green Beans with garlic and Pinenuts
Baked Delicata squash with hazelnuts and pecans
Sweet potato rolls (with homemade butter via Cyan's cooking lesson the day before)
Green Salad with reduced apple cider vinagrette dressing
Pumpkin Pie with homemade nutmeg whipping cream
Dark chocolate. Shamelessly bought.

And the second meal on Saturday:

Pineapple/Jalapeno Chutney with cream cheese and multigrain crackers
All natural Ham (no sodium nitrate or MSG) with a orange juice and brown sugar glaze
Sweet potatoes mashed with heavy cream, shallots, and cracker pepper
Green salad with cranberries, walnuts, and feta cheese
Baked Delicata squash with hazelnuts and pecans
Rolls (my brother Jay is providing)
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cookies, shamelessly bought

To both dinners, my little brother is sweetly bringing apple cider and egg nog for drinks. My dad will bring hard cider. So drinks are not on me... thank goodness.

I am going to be a busy bee! It will be easy on Thanksgiving day because the husband currently has T/W/Th off, but between Thanksgiving day and the weekend? Wish me luck!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chanterelle Kale Linguine

1 Pkg linguine noodles
1 bunch kale
1/3 lb Chanterelle mushrooms
5 cloves garlic
3 Tbs butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 tea salt
2 tea balsamic vinegar

Cook pasta per package directions... toss with warm water to stop cooking and prevent sticking.

Melt butter and add olive oil. This brings up the flash rate of the butter and makes it harder to burn. Add the garlic, minced. Add mushrooms and toss with garlic butter until they start to get soft. Cut up the kale in small pieces, and add after the garlic has started to clear along with the vinegar (sprinkle over the greens to spread it evenly). Add a splash of water if it starts to scald at all while cooking. Salt to taste and saute' until kale is done.

Toss with pasta and a bit more olive oil.

Top with some fresh grated Parmesan and fresh ground pepper.

It was so yummy! And a really good way to get my kids to eat dark leafy greens. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Well Trained Mind

This book was wonderful to read. I only got about halfway through the Pert Age (11 - 14) when I stopped because with Cyan only being in 1st grade, it didn't really apply to me.

They bring up many ideas. Things I agree with and things I don't. They have a strong emphasis on early education and how vital it is for the love to learn that most children loose through public schooling. Early reading is very crucial to her method.

She follows the classical education model, and provides TONS of resources, ideas and even schedules which have worked for her, her daughter, and her daughters children. It is a wonderful homeschooling resource and I recomend it to everyone... not just homeschoolers, but anyone who wants to know more about education in general.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finished... well, sort of.

There are a lot of improvements I want to make to this design every time I make it. I would love to find a way to make the hat stay in place and still be the Disney's Robin Hood Maid Marion style Cyan wanted.

I would love to be able to find cool vintage wood buttons for the apron on the bodice... I would love to find a way to make the lace not look so ornate and at the same time be "pretty" as required. But all in all, I am happy with the way this worked out.

Very sweet outift.

And this picture...

all I can say is; I love my girl. :)


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sewing Again!

I have been sewing up a storm again... it isn't that often I actually get my sewing machine dusted off lately. It is hard to find the time with Logan, and especially since my machine is in the garage, and it is COLD out there... but this week, I have found the time. And I made this beauty for Cyan for her Pilgrim/Native American Thanksgiving Homeschool Party. I will get a better picture of it soon... I haven't hemmed the apron, the top of the apron still needs to be finished and she took off her cap, but man... she looks so cute!
We also made sillouettes of our kids. I think I am going to minuturize these and put them in nice frames for the grandparents for Christmas. It will be hard to get Logan, but what a sweet gift it would make! (I am surely going to do this for my own home...)

And here is my sweet girl, in her pilgrim outfit, with her Native American trading beads that she just made in a repeating pattern, and a big grin. :)


Friday, November 2, 2007

A Good Trade

I traded some of my work for a half share of my organic CSA. My friend, Heidi, and the owner of the CSA, asked for a quilt with a veggie theme and 'greens' for her new baby girl and 'some extras'... so this is what I worked out.

A quilt that is themed with Sweet Peas, a pillow case to match, and a knotted doll. The quilt is all cotton, backed with organic cotton sherpa (it is like the inside of a sweatshirt) and tied with coordinating embroidery threads in greens and pinks.

The knotted doll is all organic cotton, with a hardwood ring... perfect for hanging on the carseat for little hands to grab and little mouths to play with. I am really happy with the way this all turned out.

I hope she loves it! It was a great trade!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A less scary article

Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, and one of my favorite non-alarmist, just good information authors, wrote this article about the food we consume:

Cheap Food Nation

A very good read and some great food for thought, with out the alarmist view of the inevitable death of us all. lol...

Wise Traditions

by Sally Fallon author of Nourishing Traditions

This article challanges the way we eat food today. Challanging that when 'they' say that half our diet should be made up of grains it doesn't mean processed grains, and that processed grains can actually be killing us and making our children more suseptable to disease.

I have never thought that cold cereal is good for you. But the main thing that has always held me back in buying it is price. Not nutrition. So when I read this, I was shocked to not only believe what she says, but understand that gut reaction that has told me that cereal isn't good for you. She doesn't use scare tactics... she uses plain facts. Some of which have been covered up by the billion dollar food market that keeps telling us these things are good for us.
Another thing that startled me was the way they put the fat back into milk. Now I am wondering if there is a way to get small farm milk from around here.

And orange juice... just make it yourself. Really.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Salmon Run

The salmon run meets the river close to our house every year in late September till early October. Tumwater Falls park houses about 1500 Chinook Salmon each year... they take the eggs around the first of October and send them to the rivers that need Salmon repopluated.

This year we missed the biggest part of the run, but we did get to see a bunch of Salmon swimming around their tank, and we got to watch the few that were left jumping up the Salmon stairs make their way to where they lay eggs and pass on for the next generation to take over.

It takes them three to five years go to the sea and back again. I didn't realise it was that long... Ones that come back before they are mature are called Jacks. There are a few every year, but most come back when they are ready, like clock work... 3-5 years after they started their lives there.

Pretty neat if you ask me.

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