Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Saturday morning we woke up to a Winter Wonderland. I went around outside before breakfast and tried to capture it. I got the snow, but not the light. Phone camera. :(

Friday night I had got a simmering potpourri recipe from a friend. Jay had to run to the hardware store on Saturday morning, so I asked him to stop at the bulk food store and pick up the ingredients for me. The recipe: 1tsp of whole cloves, 1 tsp of whole allspice, 2 bay leaves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 orange.
While he a was gone I cut out and baked two pans of sugar cookies. He and the girls frosted them while I made lunch. Sugar cookies aren't my favorite, but oh the enjoyment for kids! Later on I baked the rest of the batch and frosted them according to my specs. Not that they bear the mark of Martha or anything.

This morning Mom came over for coffee. And then we met her again at Shilah's after lunch. A social kind of day. A good winter, soon-before-Christmas day.
I feel the week closing in on me though. I have plans for Wednesday and Friday. That leaves tomorrow and Thursday to accomplish some more Christmas baking and some sewing. Olivia has had a runny nose and has complained of plugged ears for the last ten days. Time to take the home remedies to the next level. But what exactly. Oh, I know the system well. Last winter she had four rounds of antibiotic. I just wanted to not do that again!!!! But anyway, that will at least fill up tomorrow morning. And then I also have a personal commitment to practice my Christmas community choir songs everyday this week and next week. The concerts are in less than two weeks. Time to really learn those songs!

Today at Shilah's, I assembled the potpourri. I had put the oranges in the dehydrator last night. I had only three oranges; that means three batches. It looks pretty in the bag-Christmas gifts. I gave one to Shilah to simmer right away. It smelled like a most aromatic pumpkin pie! :-)
I'm looking for a large orange envelope in the mail. That'll be the Christmas cards. Toward the end of the week I am expecting packages from Amazon. Last week I spent nearly a whole day internet shopping. The mostfun I've ever had Christmas shopping. And the girls played happily and turned my housekeeping into shambles. But oh so worth it when compared to a day trying to shop with them at the stores! It will be fun to wrap gifts and ogle them for a week or so once those packages arrive!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Hearth

Monday I went to the dollar store and bought a scrub brush. Today I gave the hearth a good scrubbing. After four years it was about time, don't you think?
Jay built this hearth four years ago. He had the frame welded together by a friend and he used stones from our own land. It's a good hearth; we like how big it is.
My excuse for not scrubbing all the ash and grime out of it before is that I didn't have a proper brush and I kept forgetting to buy one. Today I discovered a capital A in the rock work. And tucked in beside it a capital J. I thought that Jay must have laid it out like this on purpose, but he said he didn't. It must mean that-well who knows? But I like it that our first initials are in our hearth.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There were lots of them. I feel very blessed. And by the time I was done canning them I was grumpy. If someone has a trick for living a peaceful orderly life during canning season, please enlighten me! On our shelves we have pickles, tomatoes, grape juice, peaches, and pears. This year we've used almost all our jars. I have pumpkins yet to do, but that's just one day of work. What is your favorite use of tomato sauce?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm calling the scattered content of this post "Spokane" because it all happened in Spokane. But it's really not much about Spokane.
I took two trips to Spokane last weekend because Mom had a hip replacement done there.
It's been awhile since I have spent any time in the city- not much since the girls have been born. I realized how much I've changed, become more entrenched in my country ways. I don't like the traffic; it's so rude. I drive politely and gum up the whole works and miss exits and such. I don't care for the food; I don't know where it came from, and I have to pay for it. (but something so necessary I hate to complain about too much). I don't like the sensation of elevators as they rise and fall, and the personal space is pretty limited in there......
I also did a little shopping. Now I love nice things. I'm not snobbish about the Faded Glory brand, but I realize that spending less on things doesn't always save money. But my strategy has been the Goodwill. Picky Goodwill shopper. Well anyway, I tried Old Navy and I found I just can't bring myself to pay new prices anymore. I am a confirmed country girl. It feels good to know that. These were my discoveries on Thursday, the day of the surgery.
Saturday night we (Jay and I and the girls), stayed overnight. I stayed at the hospital with Mom, and Jay and the girls stayed at a motel across the street. That was an uncomfortable night. I slept in a hospital version of a lazyboy. I hope you never meet one. Also, I didn't realize how much patients are woke for who knows what all night long.
However, the most important impression made on me was listening to my mother pray for each one of her living descendants by name. Here she is, a little foggy from the pain meds, the four walls she's been looking at for two and a half days solid, and she can remember all 70 of her descendants by name. AND she makes the effort to pray for them. I remember when I was a teenager and pretty idealistic about all things spiritual, thinking that mom's prayers for her offspring were not selfish, but at least too limited. I thought she should be tackling more important issues, such as missions, the abortion issue, etc. Well, I heard her pray for her whole family by name, and then she prayed for an ungodly president, with respect, and I was ashamed and challenged. Some days I think I'm so busy that I hardly pray for my own two kids, much less Obama. I think it is so important to be faithful in those "little" things. God help me to do better!
Sunday we took the girls to Riverfront Park, even though all of us had had a rough night and were pretty much exhausted. The park is big compared to our little parks here in Smalltown, USA. It has a carousel that is about a hundred years old I believe.

And now here we are a month later, and I still haven't posted. I went to Spokane again today, but that really has nothing to do with this post.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back To Eden Project (What We Think Of It After Our First Season)

Two weeks ago I had a post on this subject drafted, almost ready to be published. I got too busy to finish the post, and then the information became obsolete. Had to start over.
I will say right off that if we had any problems with the woodchip mulch they all came from one problem. That is, the mulch kept the soil too cold this June and July. June was cold and rainy and everyone's garden looked cold and wet. July came in all her lovely, hot glory and the gardens took off. Except ours didn't. While others were harvesting green beans, ours were just blossoming. While others were harvesting cucumbers and zucchini, our plants were dropping unpollinated fruit right and left. Needless to say, I was sad. But then the beans began to look like this about the beginning of August.
And they're still at it.
By the end of August, the potatoes finally perked up. This spring they were taking so long to emerge through the mulch that Jay thought maybe they were buried too deeply. So he scraped away some of the mulch for about half the plants. Ironically, when they did come up, it was the plants that he didn't help that thrived. The rest were stunted. In August, the stunted plants either died off, or took off. At least some of them look like this.
The carrots were planted late. They're doing fine. They are so good; there is nothing like a fresh garden carrot.
I had sadly given up on the winter squash, the pumpkins, and the ornamental squash. They got big and spread out, but they seemed to just not pollinate. They say that they don't pollinate in hot weather. Sure enough, when it cooled off they began to set fruit. Sad, because I think they're out of time. If only they'd been ready to set fruit before it got hot. If I cover them at night maybe I'll get some....

Conclusion? I think we started out too cold this spring. We put the mulch down while it was cold and wet, and it stayed cold and wet for awhile after it was laid. I hope that this next year the soil and mulch will warm up a little more quickly. Maybe the soil won't get as cold this winter? Or maybe we can pull the mulch back from ths rows to warm the soil sooner. But really, I do believe that soil temperature seemed to be the only problem. I absolutely love the absence of weeds! We did have to do some watering. Every summer we have 4-6 weeks of sunshine without rain. The mulch helped us through that time for sure. We watered, but very little in comparison to most years.
Jay also has a row of baby trees, some blueberry plants, and I have flower beds that benefited from the mulch. It was so nice to see these things thrive instead of just "hang in there". And the herb garden? It went from a dusty weed patch to a bonafide overgrown mass of herbs.

And now for my true love: these too, waited until the last minute to do what they were meant to do, but oh the joy! :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Morning Small Pleasures

Olivia used up my soap. Shilah gave us some homemade bar soap this spring. I liked it of course. Jay didn't like the tea tree oil in it, but he liked the way it made his skin feel. So the lady at Farmers Market gained a customer with her patchouli scented handmade soap. Well actually she gained three customers. I'm always up for a little pampering, so if Jay is approving I won't have qualms about $5.00 -a -bar barsoap. And little Miss Olivia jumped on the bandwagon too. My bar of soap disappeared very quickly this time because I couldn't seem to keep that bar out of her little hands. This morning's fun was a beautiful fall sunshine and blue sky. (Yes, some people did get frost last night.) The soap, and a yogurt smoothie, and six locally grown tulip bulbs, all purchased at ths Farmers Market.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

I don't think I can complain about these sunflowers. They're making me happy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Camping at Boulder Creek

     We went camping last weekend. We left Saturday about 11:00 or so and got home on Sunday about 1:00.
     It can be good to leave your house and habits. When we go camping we go where there are no bathrooms or kitchens. It is good for me to get that basic because I become so grateful. I have thoughts about my ancestors being tougher than me. About how they might have seen six loads of laundry on my floor as a chance to see my washer do a days work in, well, a day. But hardly any effort on my part. And as much as I sometimes resent my tiny, unhandy kitchen, really, what can I say? When I go camping, I ask Jay questions such as, "If I were exiled to the woods, how long would it be until I didn't live on a dirt floor?"
     Well anyway, we had a nice time camping. We cooked good food, played in the river, and watched shooting stars. Of course, everything has a special delight when you're introducing your children to it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Garden Update

It's time to update on the garden.
By now I was hoping for huge plants and lots of produce. Reality check. The plants are growing and we will most likely get crops. But due to the fact that we planted late, the cold spring, and the soil and woodchips getting to know each other, things actually seem delayed.
Jay planted the potatoes in the mulch early in the summer. They seemed to be coming up slowly, so he pulled some of the mulch back a bit to help them along. Well, the ones he didn't help are the tall ones. The plants he helped are apparently stunted.
The green beans are in different stages of growth because, even though they were planted at the same time, they came up in stages. Also, the mulch was laid pretty thickly where the beans were planted, so they ended up being planted in trenches.
All of our squash, pumpkin, and cucumber plants were extremely delayed. I think their roots were too cold.
So, those are the not so great things about the mulch. We're still excited about the absence of weeds and the moisture retention. I think as the mulch breaks down and becomes new soil, that the other problems will go away too. So at this point we aren't discouraged; we're just in the learning curve of making it work.
Next, I'd like to do a post of some of the fun we've had this summer.