Saturday, January 23, 2010

Excuses, excuses

Keeping up with this blogging thing is a wee bit harder than I'd anticipated! I've been tired lately (more on that to come...hehehe, nothing bad though); we haven't been doing much that's overly exciting; and last week in my few spare moments I was busy working on a little article that I was asked to write for the Safe Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign.

To boot, I mangled my right thumb in Chris' car door on my way to a haircut appointment on Thursday (Wednesday? I can't remember) and everything is taking me twice as long. Sooooo...good excuses, no?!

And it's been beautiful weather here--between the rain storms. But warm: in the mid-50s! Early spring? I don't know, but it's making me think about my garden.

Here are some picture highlights of the last few weeks. I only had 36 pictures, so I haven't even been photographing much!

These next two pictures are from preschool, almost three weeks ago now! We were finishing the alphabet, so I did a "zoo" and "alphabet" theme. For their snack, I gave the kids toast, peanut butter, raisins, kiwi and banana slices to make animal faces. Danny made a monkey (all by himself!) and Isaac just made a mess :) I haven't put pictures of the other kids, just because I've left this blog public and I'm not sure how the other moms feel about that. There are three other kids there though!

The next two pictures are from one of the gorgeous days we've been having. We got home from the gym and the boys wanted to have a picnic on the deck. They even moved their little picnic table to the sunshine! Notice Isaac's lack of pants? (How could you not, right?!) His diaper leaked while I was working out at the gym--I received an overhead page, luckily right as I was heading to get them anyways, with Isaac screaming in the background! Poor guy. Anyway, he didn't want a diaper on for the ride home, so he just stayed diaper-less until naptime.

This is Isaac with his friend, Woolly Bear Bear. That's what Danny names every caterpillar he finds, and apparently Isaac does now, too. Right after breakfast Isaac spotted the caterpillar through the sliding door, and insisted on going outside and playing with it. Notice the pretty sky, too. I can't believe this picture was taken at 8:30 am, it looks like 6 am! Luckily the boys don't make me get up that early (usually).

Woolly Bear Bear actually hung out on our deck for several days, right by the door. Danny kept feeding him clover, that I think he was actually eating. And then, I am sad to report, he disappeared one morning. The boys had been out playing, and I had a bad feeling. My fears were confirmed when Isaac came in, took off his boots and yelled, "Mama! What is that?" It was Woolly Bear Bear, crushed on our floor. :(

And here are the kids zoning out on a cartoon. I don't usually do this, but I was almost finished with my book and really wanted to keep reading when naptime ended!! They looked so serious though, I had to take a picture.

So not only did I mangle my thumb on Thursday (or Wednesday), I also exploded a Pyrex casserole dish all over the kitchen that same night. I had gotten Isaac to bed and wanted tea ready when I was done with Danny, and turned on the wrong burner for the teapot. The burner I turned on happened to have the lasagna from dinner on it. I heard a loud sound and Zeus scrabbling around, but I though it was just Zeus being weird (he does this a lot). Then I started smelling something burning...

I have no idea what would have happened if someone would have been in the kitchen (notice the huge knife on the floor, also, flung from the blast). Thank goodness Zeus' food bowl was on the opposite side of the kitchen island--but no wonder I heard him peeling out of the kitchen (dog claws + wood floor =  very loud and slippery). It was an absolute disaster. Nice thing though, we had a brand new Shop Vac sitting in the garage; Chris put it together right away and I put it to use! I've heard of this happening--the whole casserole dish exploding on stove burner--but stories fail to convey. So do the pictures.

Since then, I am happy to report that there have been no major accidents, though I did suggest to Chris that he increase my life insurance!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Failed Christmas knitting

I have tried to write two posts on this already, but one got very long winded and way too detailed; and the other, I just got mad all over again looking at my pictures, and quit.

Which is what I do when I get frustrated. I quit. Well, maybe not so much anymore, motherhood has taught me a few things...

This year for Christmas, I wanted to make more handmade things for Chris and the boys. I elected to make a new beanie for Chris and slippers for the boys. I had things started in plenty of time and was confident all items would be done on or before Christmas Eve.

Hahaha...right. Isaac's slippers I did first, and they went pretty smoothly.

Danny's...didn't. These slippers are knit with an inner-sole attached to the body of the slipper, then a separate outer-sole is knit and attached. I wasn't going to have enough of the wool I'd purchased (from Conway Family Farms, on the Clark County small farm tour, and I can't wait to go back and visit them), so for Isaac's I'd simply used up some stash yarn for the sole. I had to buy some new yarn for Danny's, and bought an aran weight wool, when I'd needed worsted weight. And then I stupidly knit with it anyhow, even after I realized my mistake.

Danny's first slipper had to be fully ripped out, half-way through the outer-sole (ie- almost done). I ended up using different yarns for the inner- and outer-sole, but no one will see the inside, right?

Ha, no one will ever see any part of either of them because the boys hate them. That's right, they refuse to wear them.

I was felting the slippers the morning of Christmas Eve (very last minute, b/c we open family presents on Christmas Eve), but they were dry and wrapped in time.

I did manage to coax Isaac into them long enough to model--Danny couldn't even be persuaded for this and he normally loves having his picture taken. I'm pretty sure in the bottom picture that Isaac threw them at me after taking them off.


Chris' hat...was apparently sized for newborn babies. I knit the medium size, and when I had finished, according to the pattern, I was pretty sure it wouldn't fit on even Isaac's head. My fears were proven true. It was wayyyyyy too short, and as it had intarsia work (my first), I was worried that the stretching around the circumference was going to distort the pattern when Chris wore it (also proven true, later).

So I ripped the hat back to where the wave pattern had ended (it was knit from the brim up, and no way was I re-doing all the intarsia!) and added 15 rows, which translated to probably 2 1/2-3 inches. I have no clue what knitty was smoking when they published this pattern as it is. Furthermore, I have no idea what the model's mom was smoking to conceive a child with such a tiny head. Um, anyhow...

Chris' hat was completed, minus the weaving in of 80 bazillion strands (thank you, intarsia knitting) and in his stocking Christmas morning. It looks pretty just laying there, doesn't it?

As I said above though, the pattern gets very stretched out and distorted on Chris' head. So it's now Danny and Isaac's hat. *sigh* Chris was nice enough to wear it Christmas morning:

I asked Chris if he'd like me to make him another one, and he declined because "I don't wear hats when I have hair". He hasn't been buzzing his hair, but getting actual real haircuts--and looks, ahem, hot. Not that I didn't think he was before, but the nice.

Tonight, he left the house in a stocking hat. I guess that was his nice way of saying, "please, for the love of god, do not knit me any more hats." next knitting projects are for myself. :) Right now I'm working on Ice Queen #2. The first I am sending to Tracey, my BFF for her birthday (which was December 26th); this second one will be all mine! But the Ice Queen turned out beautifully; I didn't take any pictures after blocking it, just because it's a gift and I don't want my fat head stretching it all out and getting my dark hairs snagged all up in it. Tracey is very blond and has a phobia of dark hairs on her clothes and carpet, which I blame on my dorm roommate our freshmen year of college...but that's another story!

So if you want some of my knitting, and don't get it: blame it on Chris, Danny and Isaac. I've been rejected too many times recently!

New Year in Long Beach

Well...let me amend my title. New Year's Eve was spent at home, on the couch, drinking wine with Chris. It's amazing neither of us fell asleep before midnight, but we made it.

New Year's day, we headed for Long Beach. There was clam digging for the weekend, and Chris has been very intent on becoming proficient in clam digging. And, judging by his haul, I'd say he has succeeded! He went with Tom (my brother-in-law) both nights, and they both got their limits, both nights! Good job, guys. I was very proud of Chris though, this was only his second time clam digging since we've been married, and if you haven't tried clam's fairly difficult. And cold. And gritty.

But, yum...fresh, fried razor clams? Nothing better. And complain though I did, through the cleaning, and then through the frying (I hate frying things: a) it makes a huge mess, and b) it stinks up the house), I ate and ate and ate my fill of clams. And my children? LOVE seafood. It's amazing. They scarfed the razor clams. They ate tons of steamer clams and crab and shrimp over the weekend (Grandma goes a little crazy on the seafood feasts when we're all in town). If only we could get them to eat greens that aren't disguised...

Anyhow, we had a fabulous weekend. Brenda, Tom and Zellie were there the whole time, also staying at my grandma's. I love having my extended family around, it brings back such wonderful feelings and memories of my childhood and adolescence. Brenda and I got to cook together, the kids all got to play (and fight), Tom and Chris seemed to have a good time together, Brenda made my grandparents watch Borat, we hooked up with Mom Sunday morning--nothing more you could ask for, right?!

Chris insisted on stopping outside of Chinook, to check out the swell of the river (this is the Columbia, if you're wondering). Of course the kids insisted on getting out. I took pictures from the warmth and dryness of the car :)

Danny and Zellie, in their "horse stall".

Chris and Isaac


The next two are for Dad:

Dancing...aka, running in circles and screaming

Zellie, eating the steamer clams straight from the shell!

Awww, I just want to hug you. Happy new year, my dear old dog :)

It's in their DNA.

Danny and Isaac, rocking Great-Papa.

Here's to many more wonderful memories in the LBW!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year...less plastic!

I haven't made a New Year's resolution for awhile now, but then today, a few things coincided to make me decide to make one (and by publicly stating it, I hope to keep it): use less plastic!

The first thing happened this morning: Chris had left open a few links concerning The Great Garbage Patch. If you're not familiar with it, it is a floating island, comprised mostly of plastic, hovering in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and San Francisco, in the Pacific Gyre (essentially a big swirl of currents, from what I gather). It is the size of Texas. TEXAS. Holy crap, that is disgusting. I watched a couple of you tube videos on it, shuddered a few times, and thought about becoming even more radical in my environmental fanaticism. Oh God, my family is really going to think I'm nuts now.

At the grocery store this morning, I was pissed with myself for having to use a produce bag. I don't use them for most produce...but brussels sprouts? Kinda necessary. When I got home, I went through my stash of plastic bags (separated into reuse or recycle) and dug out the produce bags. These went into my collection of reuseable shopping bags and will be going with me to be reused at the store, for future produce.

Then, I had in my email inbox a you tube video attached to a blog I regularly read. The video is about a woman and her family's quest to use as little plastic as possible in 2009, and the results. It's only 5 minutes, watch it and it will teach you something.

So--there it is. My resolution. I may even try to set aside the plastic I can't recycle, just to see how little I can do. Chris, you asked for it by leaving those pages up!

Things I have to do:
  • figure out better alternatives to ziploc baggies and saran wrap. I could use some good suggestions here, as these are my weak points. I'm probably better than most,'s hard. What do you do with the pack of raw meat that you need to split?
  • get Chris to regularly take our reusable bags to the grocery store (this is a hard habit to get into, and he does remember...sometimes). When he does forget them, get paper! We actually need some paper bags, b/c our wonderful friend Zeus has to have something for his waste to go into.
  • purchase as much as possible in recyclable or compostable packaging. ie- I did switch to Tom's of Maine toothpaste in 2009 (partly b/c of the no-fluoride option, partly b/c of the aluminum tube that I can recycle). Speaking of, I just need to make my own toothpaste.
  • guests will drink out of glasses! No more plastic water bottle packs (we only bought one of these last year, for convenience at birthday parties, and there are still bottles left).
  • figure out a way to get around the plastic garbage can liner. The woman in the video says that, since her family composts, they only have "dry waste", but what about meat waste? Maybe they're vegetarians. I may need to give bokashi composting a try...
  • no more cheap plastic toys!!!! Easier said than done when you have a family as enthusiastic about toy buying as mine. Things like Legos, I'm ok with b/c they last and can be sold when my kids outgrow them. Family, are you listening?
That's about all I can think of now...but I'll add more, and list any finds I may happen upon, or any brilliant ideas.

Oh, and again, family? Listening? B/c you're all reading my blog, right? For my birthday, I want prettier cloth shopping bags, cloth produce bags, glass food storage containers, stainless steel bento get the idea. I'm serious about this. Oh, a set of stainless steel or enameled cast iron pots and pans would be nice, too, but that's kinda off topic...:)


Meyer lemon yogurt scones (soaked!)

Last night, on one of my billion trips out to the garage that I make every day, I discovered the container of Meyer lemons that I'd purchased on my last Costco shopping trip--with not a single one used yet. Time to get crackin' on those!

Lemon scones popped into my head, and I decided I would give it a go to try soaking the flour overnight, as I would already be using an acidic ingredient (the lemon juice), which you need to properly neutralize phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors found in whole grains, to make them more digestible, and the vitamins and minerals readily available.

Unfortunately, I lack the experience to just whip up a scone recipe all by myself, so I needed a recipe to base my experiment on (I just need to make sure to get flour/baking soda/liquid ratios correct). I went to 101 Cookbooks, one of my favorite cooking blogs, as she uses whole grains and all-natural ingredients (and lots of good vegetarian recipes!). She had a couple scone recipes, and I chose the Raspberry mega scone for my purposes. My scones ended up hardly anything like hers, but I figure I better give credit where credit is due :)

I actually hadn't planned on using as much yogurt as I did--but I'd forgotten that I was out of milk and cream. So yogurt was the only option, and it ended up working great. I love when cooking mistakes turn out good.

These turned out wonderfully fluffy and moist, and delicious, of course! I couldn't even wait to come post the recipe, I immediately brought my coffee to the computer, and started typing :) Hopefully, more this afternoon on our trip to Long Beach, but in the meantime...

Meyer lemon yogurt scones
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (made from soft white wheat; it'd be interesting to try out other grains here in the future)
  • 4 oz coconut oil, chilled, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar (I may try Rapadura in the future)
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (if you use regular lemons, you may need to increase the sugar, as Meyer lemons are slightly sweeter)
  • 1 cup of whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (I find Meyer lemons a pain to zest, just to warn you--the rind isn't as thick, and seems to be more oily)
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder (the original called for 3! That's a lot...)
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
  •  1 Tbsp heavy cream or whole milk
  •  coarse sugar (like Turbinado), for sprinkling
The night before:

In a food processor, pulse flour and coconut oil, until it resembles little pebbles in coarse sand (as with all biscuits in food processors, be careful not to overmix!!). Pulse in the sugar. Mix the lemon juice, yogurt, vanilla extract and lemon zest in a separate container, and pulse this in, until dough just comes together--this took a bit of pulsing in my processor. If the batter is too dry, add a little more yogurt (or heavy cream, or whole milk would work), a bit at a time. Place the batter in a glass bowl and cover to soak overnight.

In the morning:

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top of the dough, and work in, again being careful not to mix too much (we do not want to develop gluten for this!).

Sprinkle a work surface lightly with flour, and turn the dough onto this. Your dough should be slightly sticky, but easy to roll out--if it's too sticky, add more flour. Roll into a circle, or square, whichever you like, keeping it about a half-inch thick. Cut into shape and size of your liking--I did a circle with eight wedges. Just remember your cooking time may differ from mine if you do it differently.

Place on a parchment covered baking sheet (or a Silpat mat, if you have it, which I need to buy, so I quit wasting parchment paper), giving them as much space as possible. Brush with the heavy cream and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown where the scones touch the pan. Enjoy!