Thursday, December 31, 2009


Our frosted mailbox
the day before Christmas Eve

We have been out of commission this past week due to some nasty malware. During this time we were snowed in for four days over Christmas (it was lovely), enjoyed our four-day mini-vacation, and happily bunkered down during the frigid snowy-blowy days.

Happy New Year, or as the Swedes say, GOTT NYTT ÅR!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And then I ran quickly for a pen

Diego said the funniest thing this afternoon. His eyes were wide and his voice full of wonder; I could tell he was really pondering the conundrum as it came out.

"Is my body magic . . . ? Because . . . . . . .
. . . . . How does my body make a poop?!"

I dropped everything and scrambled for my daybook, wrote the quote down exactly because I always forget the precise wording, which is so crucial, then proceeded to explain as best I could, from chewing right on down to the colon. (It was brief, mind you.)

Without missing a beat, he immediately responded, "Oh" and then, "Now let's read The Secret Garden!"

And so we did. He is just wild about it, loving the mystery and intrigue. We just started today and read while Truen napped; unbelievably, we got to page 62 before Squeeze got home from work.

Sixty-two pages! He just kept on asking for more, and I obliged. (I enjoyed every single minute of it, too - The Secret Garden is a favorite from childhood.)

I think I'm growing a book lover . . . eeeeek! How exciting!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I have two recipes to share with you this evening, both of which my family has been enjoying thoroughly. They're out of my most favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

By the by, the cabbage recipe is for you, Ash. I expect a full report once you've tried it, what you think, how you like it, etc. And that's an order!


  • 2 TBSP butter (I use lard)
  • 1 head cabbage, about 1 1/2 lbs, cored and chopped
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime (I just splash it in from the bottle . . . not fresh, I know)

- Place the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat (a 12 inch cast-iron pan is perfect for this, but go w/ medium heat instead). When the butter melts, add the cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes.

- When the cabbage is limp but not mushy, add the garlic, salt & pepper, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.

- Add the ginger and cook another minute. Drizzle with the lime juice and serve.

Yo! Delicious. It is especially fabulous with fried eggs for breakfast, but would be a good side in just about any meal. Out of the boys, little Truen especially enjoys it. "Mo' cabbisge," he says. Diego eats it, but with a lot of complaining about how he hates cabbage beforehand.


  • 5-6 eggs at room temp., separated
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups milk or cream or combination thereof
  • 1/2 cup rum (optional)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

- Beat the yolks with the maple syrup until well blended. Stir in the vanilla and the milk and rum if desired

- Beat the egg whites and fold them in thoroughly. (You need not be too gentle; they should lighten the drink but not be discernable.) Top with grated nutmeg and serve.

This recipe is adapted from the original in the cookbook, because 1) I don't use refined sugar, and 2) I found that I like my egg nog much thicker ----> thus, more eggs.

We have the good fortune of having eggs from our own chickens, so I have no qualms about consuming them raw. I would feel the same freedom if I was buying eggs from a small farm/farmer/co-op. The milk I use is also full-fat and raw, that is, unpasteurized - so delicious.

A friend who was here last week said, "This tastes like a custard smoothie!" Yes, indeed. One could argue is that is the perfect tide-over snack or finish-'em-off dessert, full of all that good fat and protein. And sa-weet.


I would also like to comment here: I have talked about my old-fashioned hand-mixer before, the one we got from our old neighbor in Minneapolis, Wilburn. But I just have to exclaim about it again. I can't resist . . . I adore it for more than its beauty and intrigue.

It is so easy to use! I like it better than an electric mixer! It is easier to clean! It's fun! Kids like it! It is as quick as a flash, with no assembly required! I recommend it to anyone -- pick one up the next time you're at a thrift store!

Seriously, it's the best. I'm starting to get a little suspicious about all this electric stuff. Ultimately, it seems so unnecessary . . . just . . . superfluous. Like electric can openers . . . really??? Really.

(Whew . . . got that outta my system . . .)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And it's hard to hold a candle / In the cold November rain . . .

November Rain came on iTunes this evening . . . and honestly . . . I felt like I was 15 years old again. Isn't it amazing how a song (or any sound, really, or a scent or conversation) can transport you back in time?

My first-and-only "slow-dance" of my teenage years was to November Rain at the Homecoming dance my freshmen year of highschool. All nine miserable minutes and twelve exrutiating seconds of it. That was the same Homecoming where I hid in a side-room to avoid being tailed by another boy who I knew was going to ask me to slow-dance. (I was so scared . . . I just couldn't handle things like that at that point in my life.)

And I didn't return to another school dance until the middle of my junior year when I couldn't resist the fun anymore. I dealt with the slow-dancing dilemma by running around and pinching butts or snapping bras during the slow songs. I'm sure people looooooved me.

Another big song at that point in my life was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. And you know it was all the grandeuer and drama that pulled me in . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting over the fear of fever

I ran into this great article today, put out there by the Canadian organization Vaccination Risk Awareness Network.

I myself was fearful of fever when Diego was a baby, mostly because I was frightened that it would get "too high" and cause brain damage or kill him. Ultimately, I didn't really understand its purpose. And, honestly, out of pure inexperience, I was heavily influenced by conventional "wisdom". (I am so thankful to have broken out of that mold . . .)

Just like labor, let's work with our body instead of against it. Fever has a purpose. Fever is our friend.

Check it:

As loving and caring parents, we naturally want to help our children feel better when the inevitable fevers, flus, colds and various illnesses arise in childhood. Many will reach for popular over-the-counter remedies to suppress fever and alleviate symptoms in the belief that these products are reliable, effective, and safe. But how safe are they really? And what are the risks when fever is suppressed and symptoms masked? Does fever have a critical function in fighting sickness that we have lost sight of?

There is plenty of scientific evidence validating the benefits of fever in fighting viral/bacterial inflammations and it’s important role in the healing process. Fever increases survival rate during infectious diseases – basic information that has yet to reach the majority of people who remain misinformed and misled by pharmaceutical and medical propaganda which still shamelessly advocates the use of antipyretic drugs at the first sign of fever. The myth that untreated fevers will lead to seizures and brain damage is perpetuated ad nauseum. Fever is maligned, misunderstood and seen as an enemy to be feared rather than an ally that signals the immune system gearing up for action.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


  • It's official: my favorite vegetable is cabbage. So versatile, so delicious. I could eat it every day, in every way. (I probably do.)
  • The days here have been in the negative digits and wonderfully sunny. I had forgotten what a lovely place our sunroom is in the winter months. I keep the heat at 60 F during the day, but bask in the mid-70's in mid-afternoon in sunroom. De-lightful.
  • I made egg nog for a mama-and-kiddie Christmas party we had at our house yesterday afternoon. For the record, I like more eggs than milk; the thicker the drink, the better. Yo, it is so tasty. And I'm still trying to avoid dairy . . . oh dear.
  • I ironed a tablecloth for the said Christmas party yesterday. We were recipients of Squeeze's grandma's old wooden ironing board this past year. Before that, we were sufficing (or not, because we NEVER iron) with a rinky-dink tabletop version that a roommate in college left behind one year. So, honestly, with this big, beautiful old-fashioned wooden ironing board, with an old-fashioned fabric-cord iron, I ironed the tablecloth in bliss, realizing that I may, in fact, really enjoy ironing. There was just something about the heat, the hiss of the steam, and watching the wrinkles disappear. I really enjoyed it. Seriously.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What?! Saturday again???

Seriously, I don't know where the time goes. I thought I just posted!

Today we are having a cozy day at home. It is delightful. Squeeze put up the wooden snow fence along our driveway. The wind whips any plowing obsolete within hours or, if we're lucky, days; so it will be very nice to not have to worry about that this year. Two years into this gig . . . we've finally learned.

I finished Persepolis this morning while Truen snoozed on my booz [bosom]. Wow . . . what a book . . . what an inside into the life of a child and her family during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. I found it to be very thought-provoking and moving. This was also my first graphic novel; I wasn't sure what to expect, but the story in this genre proved to be very compelling.

Now we are decorating for Christmas. The boys are bouncing merrily off the walls. And I am going to make real egg nog. Nummmmmmm . . .

Saturday, December 05, 2009

No joke

When I was a kid I used to wonder if we were all cartoons and if we were, why couldn't I see the lines around my body?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Knock-your-socks-off cornbread

We have been enjoying the most delicious cornbread EVER. Baked in a cast-iron skillet, the texture is scrumptiously crumbly, and the flavor is more similar to roasted corn vs. the cake-like or, conversely, hard-as-a-rock "essence of cornbread" that I am used to. It is divine! We have been groaning in delight about it for days.

The recipe is a "little more work" than the average cornbread recipe, but mostly in the fact that one has to plan ahead. But since that is the direction I am moving within the realm of the kitchen, it doesn't phase me. I am actually beginning to think it is easier.

It involves soaking the cornmeal in [pickling] lime water for 7 hours -- the flour in buttermilk or yogurt for 24 hours. Other than that, no different. Not more work, just a different approach to food preparation -- one that I am growing to love.

Soaking cornmeal with lime is a traditional practice, one that releases the full spectrum of B-vitamins; and arguably, fuller flavor as well. Soaking flour dissolves the phytic acid, rendering it more digestible, unlocks the full nutritional qualities, and adds to the light-fluffiness of a baked good. (Baking powder is unneccessary, thank you ma'am!)

Before making the recipe, one has to make the lime water.

  • 1 quart canning jar
  • 1/2 inch pickling lime
  • Filtered water to the top
  • Shake jar
  • Let sit overnight
  • The resultant clear liquid is your lime water
  • Pour carefully when using
  • Store at a semi-cool temp

Pickling lime is caustic, so handle carefully.

Once that is taken care of, you're good to go. Even better, instead of mixing up a batch 3 days before making a pan of cornbread, simply keep a jar of lime water on hand. That way, planning can take place a mere 1 day prior to the actual meal vs. several days.

[hee-hee . . . I realize how utterly outrageous that sounds to someone who isn't used to cooking this way . . . it must seem so looney]

The recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Truly, this cookbook has been a radical influence on my understanding of food: as nourishment vs. hunger-filler, traditional ways of preparation, vital nutritional fats, etc. It has given me a sense of direction, not to mention form and substance, to my whole foods gut instinct. (Which is, basically, "If it doesn't occur in nature, or you can't create it in your own kitchen, don't eat it.") And because traditional diets are based on seasonal and local food resources, this is emphasized throughout the book. I really appreciate that.


  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups lime water
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour*
  • 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

~ Stir in flour and buttermilk or yogurt and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours. (Those will milk allergies may use 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 TBSP whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of undiluted buttermilk or yogurt.)

~ Soak cornmeal in lime water for approx. 7 hours.

~ When it comes time to make your cornbread, blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into a buttered and floured 9X13 inch pyrex pan (or even better . . . a 12 inch cast-iron skillet). Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. (FYI: it cooks much quicker in cast-iron)


*The recipe calls for 1/2 cup spelt/wheat/kamut flour and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, but I accidentally used only the 1/2 cup spelt/whole wheat twice and LOVED the way it turned out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quite thrilling

We will be doubling our garden space this next growing season.

This weekend, we chose a new location - lots of sun with good, dark soil - and our neighbor came over with his skid steer today and broke up the dirt in preparation for next year's planting.

We follow quasi-lasagna gardening methods, but don't have enough compost/cover to start out the recommended way. So, we dig. Or, as it was, the bobcat dug.

Squeeze also assembled make-shift cold frames this weekend made from straw bales and old windows. Our nebulous gardening ambitions are starting to come to fruition.

It is so exciting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My brother, Bison Brent

My brother was here today, bringing furniture and boxes of books for storage, getting ready to move to Avon, CO this weekend -- four-turned-fourteen hours away from us.

He has lived in the Twin Cities for three years now, in school, studying theology; but now is done and moving on. His plans are to read himself into stupor (whatever he wants!) and work at a steakhouse called The Dusty Boot to pay off his student loans ASAP. From there . . . who knows.

I am really going to miss seeing him regularly; but it will be interesting to see what kinds of things he does next.

Snuggling with Uncle Brent

First snow of the season

Ahhhyes, very amused with ourselves

Monday, November 23, 2009


Here, alive, crabby.

That is how I feel today. I think I need a breather?

Squeeze is going to be home for four days in a row this week, thanks to Thanksgiving. (Thanksgiving Break . . . like in school?) I'm really looking forward to it. I want to just melt into one big glop of happy family and feel the freedom of loosening the shackles of the 40 hour work week. I can't wait.

Other than that, we are helping our friends prepare for a move to Portland to live closer to their children and new grandbaby. These guys. I am happy for them, knowing they will be living near the people they love the most, particularly during their twilight years; but I am very sad for our little family. We are going to miss them dreadfully. They close on their house in mid-December and then it will be adios.

The silver lining is that we are, yet again, recipients of a lifetime's worth of stuff. Things we will use -- a car battery charger, yard/garden tools, furniture, books, decorations, plants, kitchen stuff, etc. -- things that they won't be bringing with them due drastic down-sizing. It is comforting, because we will use it and always be able to think of them when we do so.

[This is also how it worked with our lovely neighbor in Minneapolis, Wilburn. He UNLOADED what-seemed-like his entire house on us, and I use things that were his almost every day. It makes me think of him and I like that.]

I'm still really going to miss them, though. And just like Wilburn, they'll join the ranks of my letter-writing rotation. But it just won't be the same . . . They both had such a gentle and calming presence. I really enjoyed them. We all really enjoyed them. Sad . . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two quotes

Squeeze: "What's going on, Do?"
Truen: "Don't know, Dada . . ."

- - - - - - - - - -

Diego: "Mama, I am hicking-up!"
Me: "Hicking-up?"
Diego: "Yeah! Hic!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

For the record

I've got a cow tongue boiling in a pot on the stove.

Right now.
In a pot.
And it turned white.

I have an old fear-and-avoidance of cow's tongue, since I was 5 years old, when I saw my aunt pulling it, long and drippy and bumpy, out of a pot of boiling water at my parents' house when she was out for a visit. As legend has it, I had "always liked it before" but wouldn't touch it once I saw it in its whole form.

Therefore, I was reasonably nervous when Diego asked, "What is that?" when I pulled the tongue out of its wrapping today. I made a quick decision and bit the bullet, saying, "It is meat -- the tongue of a cow" and it didn't even phase the ol' boy. He just ran around saying, "Meat! Meat! Cow meat for dinner!"

Okaaaay . . .

Thank goodness he was alright with it. He's only one year younger than I was when I could no longer hack it. My mom was raised on/around farms; she grew up eating organ meat and tongue, so it was definitely something I had "had before". Before seeing it, that is.

But, shoot. I have two in the freezer. I need to use them. And my picky sister tried cow tongue last year (that the same aunt prepared) and said it was good, so I thought I should go for the gold and get over it.

Here's the recipe I'm going to use: Delicious Beef Tongue Tacos

The only thing I'm really not looking forward to is peeling off the skin. Eeeeeegh . . . it gives me the willies. We shall see.

:: 9:00 PM UPDATE ::
Peeling the skin off wasn't so bad; unpleasant, but do-able. I shredded the meat, then chopped what I couldn't shred. The boys yummed it down, Diego said, "Yummmm . . . cow's tongue is tasty!"; I liked it well enough, but faced the familiar old mental block; Squeeze said he didn't care to ever eat it again, though I believe it to be more with the fact that it was a cow's tongue vs. taste or texture.

We did it! One down, one to go.

I'd do it again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Circular rotation

Truen's three favorite questions right now are --
  1. "Wha' daaaaat?"
  2. "Wha' 'appennned?"
  3. "Whyyyyyy, Maaaammmaaa?"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Because I never have enough time to write a well-thought-out, revised-to-my-standards post these days, I'm going to make a list of my current thoughts and activities.

I would like to post more often than I actually do, but such is life.

In stream of consciousness style . . .

  • We just started reading By the Shores of Silver Lake this afternoon before naptime. In the second chapter, Jack the beloved bulldog dies - and I could barely read through my tears. Diego simply patted me and asked, "Are you going to be okay, Mama?" His sweetness is my weakness. Oh . . . and my tender heart.
  • Speaking of crying . . . we butchered our cockerels two (or was that three?) weekends ago. Ourselves. All of Squeeze's family came for the event and we took care of 15 chickens in 2 hours, start to finish. We put them in killing cones, upside-down, and cut their throats. Watching the lifeblood pour from them was sobering, to say the least. I do believe I was also the only one to cry, out of 8 adults and 12 children. I only watched the first round of four and then I never went back to the killing cones. I didn't want to see it again. We then scalded, plucked, eviscerated, and put them on ice. Dealing with whole chickens is very familiar to me, so that part was cake. The killing? Not so much.
  • Questions it brought to my mind: This is how we get our food? What would it be like to watch a more intelligent animal, like a pig, being butchered? How do I ultimately feel about the reality of eating meat? What thoughts (if that is even possible) were going through their minds?
  • The butchering experience made me even more committed to locally produced foods.
  • We saved all the hearts, livers, gizzards, and feet -- the first three I will grind up and incorporate into meatloaf, for I am not brave enough to do otherwise (yet). The feet, I will put into chicken stock - they make it extra-rich and gelatin-y. Very delicious (mineral-licious, too).
  • I am revelling in darkness by 6:00 PM. I have honestly never looked forward to the winter months like I am now. In fact, I used to dread them (post-college, in the drudgery of work-life). Why? Because, finally . . . we can't work outside. We can actually relax and hang out together, enjoying each other's company. The evening meal is at a reasonable time -- 7:00-ish vs. 9:30-ish. It is delightful and I am SO GLAD I have many more months to go. You can quote me on that when I'm complaining about being stuck inside come February.
  • We are [finally] watching old seasons of The Office and I'm telling you, I think that show was written for and by people in their 30's. And I get every single sci-fi nerd joke they toss out: Dumbledore Calrissian? Yeah, I know him.

Monday, November 09, 2009


This is a terrific post, written by Carrien at She Laughs at the Days. She gets right down to the marrow of what haunts my mind on a semi-regular basis. How much can I give? Is needing time for myself selfish? How can I waste these precious moments?


Please, proceed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I was just going to post on how I noticed this morning that I am most pleased with life when I am intellectually or emotionally stimulated, but then it stuck in my craw that this is how everyone must operate and that stating this on the internet would be painfully over-obvious and silly.

And so on and so forth.
I wonder?


Monday, November 02, 2009

Where does the time go?

-- Little Trubies turned two the week before last --
Happy LATE Birthday lil' Pumpkin
Two days old

Two years old

(Sorry for the blurry picture, but I scanned the entire month of October and I couldn't find one good picture. They were all smeared or he was en route with his back turned. Does that say TWO, or what?!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From one mama to another: book recommendations

My friend Suzy Popchicks (not her real name) asked me if I had any book recommendations for a potentially-pregnant lady. Wellllll, yes. Of course, I took it over-seriously and hashed out an entire list of recommendations.

  1. Natural Family Living: The Mothering Magazine Guide to Parenting - Peggy O'Mara: It has been awhile since I looked at this book, but I appreciated it for its "natural" and holistic look at parenting - from childbirth and nursing to night waking and first foods. She also talks about "alternative medicine", which not many parenting books cover. I especially appreciated that at the time.
  2. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two - Dr. Sears: As an overview to babies and parenting, I thought this book was very good. Helpful and extremely thorough.
  3. The Happiest Baby on the Block - Harvey Karp: There were a few things that I didn't agree with in this book (an example: the author claims that babies should never be nursed lying down - pshaw, what a laugh!) but overall, I found it very insightful. Both my boys, but especially Diego, loved being swaddled as babies - it really calmed them down. The 5 S's - Swaddling, Side/Stomach Positions, Shushing, Swinging, Sucking - helped me gain a greater understanding of how to soothe my babies. I didn't have it from experience, but I learned quickly with a jumpstart from the information in this book.


  1. Vaccinations: The Thoughtful Parents' Guide - Aviva-Jill Romm: Out of everything, this is the book I wish I would have read before giving birth. Vaccinations are heralded as all-important in our society. But the truth is, there are a lot of extremely complicated factors that go into the decision to vaccinate. Contrary to how vaccinations are presented, you, the parent, actually have a choice in this matter: whether to forgo, go with a delayed schedule, or pick and choose what is right for your child based on your own research. You will be pressed from the very start to begin vaccinations (I'm not kidding: it will be immediate. It starts with the Hepatitis B vaccine the day or day after the babe is born in a hospital-based birth). Romm's book was the most balanced presentation of the history of vaccinations, pros and cons, and most importantly, the choices we have as parents. In my opinion, it is best to go into the decision to vaccinate with eyes wide open.
  2. Naturally Healthy Babies and Children - Aviva-Jill Romm: I reference this book regularly. It really helped qualm my fears of, "What do I do when...?" It has an A-Z listing of ailments with practical advice on how to deal with it. I cleared the only ear infection we have ever had in this household (a double, at that) with garlic oil and hot compresses. A fever needs to be assisted, not quelled; and so on and so forth. It has empowered me to take my children's health in my own hands, with a great sense of peace.


  1. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats - Sally Fallon: If only for the general nutritional overview at the very beginning, this book would be very good to check out. For the first time in my life, a nutritional paradigm made sense to me -- I feel like it gave direction to my already-existent "whole foods" outlook. Plus, with little ones, you are entirely responsible for their health and well-being. Kids don't have to live on chicken nuggets and mac'n'cheese (and other "food-like substances"). Introduce them to a wide variety as wee ones and they'll eat what you eat. The "kid's menu" at most slow-fast food restaurants? Total junk.
  2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health - Toni Weschler: If you haven't already learned about all your female reproductive organs and how they work, do it now. It is fascinating. I was angered (though 'anguished' might be a more apt term) by learning "everything" at the ripe age of 31. Things would have made so much more sense if I had "only known". Sheesh.
  3. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - Gwen Gotsch: I haven't actually read this book, but have heard a lot about it. I imagine it is a very good introduction to breastfeeding for the otherwise uninitiated.
  4. PUSHED: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care - Jennifer Block: This book is fascinating and particularly important for those who don't feel "quite right" about the current medicalized model of birth. I had inklings before my first babe, but didn't have any direction or true experience until I was thrust into it. I honestly don't know if it would have resonated with me pre-babies, but when I read it in the spring of 2008, it struck many-a-chord. A very important read. I was unimpressed with her comparison of birthing rights with access to abortion at the very end, but otherwise her observations throughout the whole of the book are extremely astute.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Root Cellar 2009

From top to bottom:
Squeeze's homemade wine, tomatoes under paper
grape jam, tomato sauce, salsa, fermented veg
(salsa, cukes, sauerkraut, pickled beets)
apples, apple sauce

Another view
Top shelf:
tomato soup, tomato sauce, misc.,
another wine rack

A view from the back:
carrots, cabbages
Wenk's Yellow Hots (hanging)

And a bonus shot:
Our basement wood burner,
which is hooked to the forced-air heating system
Notice the straw-filled nest in the window
(Squeeze loves his kitties)
* * *
The basement has a chute to toss the wood down
vs. hauling it in and down the stairs
The square piece of wood is packing wood (oak!) --
a business Squeeze goes to discards it almost every week

MAY 2016 EDIT:
This post gets a lot of hits. (Hooray for root cellars!) (They are the greatest.) Click on the years below to see more recent pictures of our root cellar.  It has gained in stature quite a bit in the last seven years.  Though I see I haven't posted pictures since 2013.  Goodness.  That was the year that I really caught my stride.


My food preservation notes. (Though now I would put almost everything in the freezer section over to the dehydrator.) (I love-love-love my dehydrator.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What I've been up to

  • Reading to myself.
  • Reading aloud to Diego -- the Little House books (we are Farmer Boy right now, which is the 3rd book) and I am enjoying it as much as he is! Squeeze even listens and relates it back to his remembrances of the television show. Trubies usually nurses or runs around and plays while we read.
  • Attempting to keep myself in the groove of forced organization and scheduled tasks. It is getting harder, though I am committed to sticking with it.
  • Enjoying snuggling at nap and bed times.
  • Organizing two Friends of the Library fundraisers two weekends in a row. My organizational skills - which come naturally in part, but which I was also able to cultivate during my 6 years at Wells Fargo - come in very handy for mobilizing volunteers and all the ensuing details of fundraising. I'm proud of myself.
  • We've raised $2,000 in less than a year -- not too shabby.

And now, to my books.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Robot pumpkins unite!

The boys were thrilled to carve pumpkins this year
Squeeze's pumpkin was yet another
--- ROBOT ---
(getting his bum tweaked)
ggg ggg ggg
I think mine looks rather quaint and happy-go-lucky

Friday, October 09, 2009

Which, in turn, makes me smile

Truen has been talking in his sleep --
  • "Food ready, Mama?"
  • "More raisins . . . more raisins . . ."

Monday, October 05, 2009

From the middle of nowhere, straight from my burning heart

The pain of a new idea is one of the greatest pains in human nature...after all, your favorite notions may be wrong, your firmest beliefs ill-founded.

~Walter Bagehot

This quote struck me square in the forehead this past summer. How true. I have noticed it in my own life, observed it in others, and can sense the undercurrent of it running throughout society.

But honestly, we all base our opinions on what we know from how have lived: the people we know, how we grew up, what we have experienced, and the environment we are surrounded by - be it social, physical, or intellectual. Is it any wonder that, collectively, we have strayed so far from "ideal"? Nay, that there has never been an Ideal.

We are all so different - even in our sameness, i.e. "culture". No one will ever agree. I don't believe it is possible to be on the same page. We must all agree to disagree and simply respect human life for what it is: valuable. Everyone else is as special as I am. As you are.

So why is this so hard to reconcile? The world is too big.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Deo for my BO

I actually had time last night to do a non-food and non-kid related activity:

I made my own deodorant.

I've been using this particular deo for the last year; it was a gift from my SIL. When it ran out, I wanted more. The recipe is very simple. (While making it, I felt amazed and actually thought to myself, "Lookie at what I have time to do!")

Homemade Deodorant

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
5 TBSP coconut oil
essential oil to scent to your liking (I used lavender)

  • Mix the baking soda and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • Add the coconut oil and mash until well blended
  • Add the essential oil and continue to mash
  • Store in a covered glass container

And there you go -- deo for your BO.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Snapshots from the Harvest

  • Vats of applesauce
  • Scads of potatoes (115 lbs) - the fingerling, La Ratte!
  • Tomatoes up the wazoo - sauce, salsa, soup
  • Green tomatoes under paper in the root cellar
  • Shelling the dried beans from the dried-up pods
  • Sore wrists and fingers, work-worn
  • Shorter days and a frenzied pace to get everything done before cold weather
  • 9:00 pm evening meals
  • 5 quarts of salsa fermenting on the counter
  • Tru-babes potty-training all the while (it is going so well)
  • Sweet Diego helping, and being of actual assistance, on the potato dig - so sincere and happy in his efforts (with the added joy of finding worms)
  • A slowly-filling root cellar, the scales balanced with a steadily-emptying garden
  • The feeling of true anticipation for winter -- snowed in with nothing to do
  • Looking at the root cellar and feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride
  • Happy, the end (not really)
  • 1 more month to go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Queen Victorious

After a pleasant work day with a friend - with an evening break for berry-picking - 60 lbs of tomatoes and a variety of peppers and garlic and onions became 16 quarts of salsssssssa and 3 quarts spicy tomato juice. It pretty much rules.

Needless to say, I am very pleased with myself.
Now . . . shower, and bed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

But it was so fun

Did I really just spend over an hour perusing Facebook while my children were sleeping when I should have been hanging laundry, making breakfast, and prepping for salsa-making?

Oh yes, I did. And that, my friends, is why I only go on Facebook once a month. It becomes my own personal black hole.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I don't know how he does it

Some how, some way, this little turkey wakes up an hour and a half into his nap, pretty much on the dot. On the dot. How?? But the better question . . . why???

There are no 2-3 hour naps for this kid (which is what Diego always did, and I see how wonderful that is now). It's an hour and a half -- one-point-five. He sometimes goes back to sleep if I snuggle with him, but not always.

And it has been that way from the start.

I wish that blessed nap was longer --
Good thing he's so cute.

♥ Trubies ♥

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The stats:

  • 20 lbs of Concord grapes, now grape jam (done with Pomona's Universal Pectin with 1/4 of the amount of sweetener, so you can actually taste the grape-y-ness of the grapes - totally tubular)
  • 10 more pounds of grapes, waiting to join their jammy-brethren
  • 60 lbs of tomatoes, now 15 quarts of tomato sauce
  • 30 lbs more tomatoes sitting in the kitchen, waiting to become tomato soup to go with our grilled cheese sandwiches this winter
  • After that, salsssssssa
  • 4 trays of apple leather in the dehydrator, drying
  • 1 gallon of apple wine fermenting
  • 10 lbs crab apples picked
  • 100-ish? lbs of apples picked
  • 6 guomi bushes discovered, loaded with berries (1 pint picked before twilight, mosquitoes and a crabbing 2 year old put a stop to the festivities)
  • 1/2 pint raspberries picked
  • 1/2 pint dessert gooseberries picked
  • (All the fruit was picked from our neighbor's place: the Polish beekeeping bare-footed 82 year old beauty queen, Walentyne . . .)

Yessssssssssssssss. It is so satisfying.

Friday, September 11, 2009


My cousins' cousin plays the upright bass in this stringband, Pert' Near Sandstone. I've been listening to them the last week and this here is my favorite song. It's terrific, and hearkens back to a period of time in my and Squeeze's relationship that felt very much like this. (We just couldn't get enough of each other, though.) ♥

Oh, and I spent 12 hours in the kitchen yesterday processing and canning 8 quarts of Barbara Kingsolver's tomato sauce (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and 5-ish pints of grape jam (picked at our neighbor's place, the beekeeper). It started out as 30 lbs of German Pink tomatoes and 10 lbs of Concord grapes at 2:00 PM. I went to bed at 2:30-ish AM, but it was well worth my efforts. Delish.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where I've been these past two weeks

My brother and SIL were here all last week, with Meeeeeeeellllviiiiiiin; with another brother and cousin here last weekend. Their visits overlapped on Saturday. It was pleasant visiting and good quality-time with my kinfolk.

Other than all that, I've been up to my eyeballs in grapes, tomatoes and apples - converting into jam and sauces - and we have started the process of bare-buns potty training with Little Truen. He is taking it very well, extremely responsive and totally pumped about his new Star Chart.

We've been crazy-busy. Now look at some pictures.

Melvin, obsessing at the Prairie Preserve

Andrew and Brenda about to disembark

The boys were not cooperating
(but snuggles o'plenty after the picture)

Looking off into the wild blue . . . corn

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Two interesting links:

First off, check out this story about a preemie born unexpectedly at 24 weeks due to an infection of the womb. She had an irregular heartbeat, wasn't breathing, and was placed on her mother's chest to die -- but she didn't -- her mom's skin-on-skin snuggle brought her back. No joke!

Secondly, check out this Etsy shop, Star of the East. Dreamy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Understatement of the year: the most amazing sky ever

These pictures were taken well over a month ago; but, in spite of their age, are well-worth posting. The sky was the most spectacular shades of blue and purple and red. The texture of the clouds made it seem as if you could eat them, and all the earth was tinted red. (Baby Truen, playing in a puddle in the driveway, was an orangey-pink, both hair and skin.)

Every part of the upper atmosphere - north, south, east, west, and every combination of direction - was different, and wonderous. It was an incredible sight; all we could do was stare upwards and try to take it all in.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

House jargon

Diego says,

"Skeeter Bikes", instead of Speeder Bikes
"Damana", instead of banana
"Audweady", instead of already
"Imn't", instead of I'm not

Truen says,

"Nuggle", for snuggle
"Buh-doh", for butter
"Bruh-doh", for brother
"Wey-si", for raisin
"Manana", for banana

Friday, August 21, 2009

And I'm okay with that

Aside from being a little flummoxed about my un-announcement, I truly am okay with not being pregnant. A few people have asked me if I'm okay . . .

And, yes - I'm fine. A bit perplexed with a dash of embarrassment, but I'm good. Though I was starting to get excited about the idea of a new baby and the thrill that goes along with it, I really did want more space between Two and Three.

As for the future, we shall see . . .

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This happens all the time, right...?

So, in light of my last post, albeit rather dramatic . . . ahem . . . I'd like to un-announce my pregnancy.

Yes, that is correct. The friggin' doofus that I am, I'd like to un-announce my pregnancy. Take back. Renege. Recant. Withdraw. Retract. Un-announce.


Unbelievable. So yes, while most everyone thinks I'm happily humming through my twelfth week of pregnancy, I am here to say, officially, that I am, in fact, NOT pregnant.

I thought I was.

Yes, I thought I was, but I am not.

How is this possible? What it does explain is my lack of extreme exhaustion and need to eat like an overworked team of oxen. What it doesn't explain is the strange tightening of my waistband, the ever-present need to pee, sore nipples, and why I hadn't had my period since the end of May. Shoot, I just figured every pregnancy was different.

Things this past week were starting to feel a little goofy, like, shouldn't my belly be a little bigger than this? . . . and why am I not tired at all? . . . and most alarming, . . . blood. So we decided it was time to take a pregnancy test. [Ahem, a first for this time 'round . . . coughcough . . . mmmmph]


So, ladies, please: un-congratulate me. I am NOT pregnant. What I AM, however, is a complete and total nincompoop. This whole deal was announced to my entire family while I was home (too-good-to-be-true, everyone-in-the-same-place-at-the-same-time) and then, doorknob that I am, to the entire internet via my blog. Yes, I thought I was, but I am not.

Most definitely not.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't do the math, it doesn't add up

9 years married +
13 years together +
11 weeks NOT pregnant =

Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Checking in

Head on over to my SIL's blog, "Rock Garden" for an in-depth photo montage from some big family events. That sibs picture just cracks me up!

Secondly, I'm re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-obsessed with the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. Go! Take the test and report back in the comments. I'm very curious to hear your results.

Once you get your letter combo, i.e. ISFJ or ENTJ, google it and click on "Portrait of..." Make sure you click on the Relationship section.

Muy interesante.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


The girls in "bookend" position in birth order

Brown-eyed boys - Blue-eyed girls
e/infp, enfp, istp, infp, infp
24, 31, 30, 21, 26
Love 'em

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This one's for the boys

KT, tell Luuuuuuke; and Amy, tell RC.  Shooooot, Dist - if you're looking at this, tell T. Spence, too.  (I don't think Runyan ever cared, but maybe he did.) 

I trimmed the old pits (with scissors) upon their suggestion, and I must say - I like the new look. 

Think bunny tails vs. Wookie.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chillin' in the heat

It is downright sweltering in Western WA.  Seriously. 

I don't have much else to say other than that.  We've been spending a lot of time with grandma and grandpa, great-grandma, and the great-aunts.  Think, "Gwamma, will you play Star Wars guys with me?" or, "Gwampaaaaa!" [insert frenzied snuggling here] and, "Gweat-Gwamma, I founds lots 'n lots of moths outside last night!" etc. That, and being serenaded by, "Life is Like a Mountain Railroad" by my grandma.  

[For Ashlik: "woof-woof, boom-boom - merry christmas, happy new year"]

Tru-babes [or "Do", as Diego calls him] has started a few new tricks, like throwing and hitting.  Think lots of, "Maaaamaaaa...Do hit me!"  Oh dear...  It doesn't help that Diego can be heard, on the presumed-sly, saying, "Do!  Hit me!"  Too tantalizing.

We are getting the house ready for my brother's wedding next weekend.  The ceremony and reception is going to be right here, at my parents' place.  It should be lovely.  I am really looking forward to it.  And my new(ish) SIL.  Awwww, shucks.  What a gal.  I'm quite fond.  I just went to her bachelorette party last night and watched her "pin the junk on the hunk"; though she was the last to go, and, instead, pinned her junk on another previously-pinned-junk.  Ha!  It was fun to see her outside of a family event.  I learned quite a bit of interesting tidbits about my brother, too.  (Another HA!)  It was fun.

And now, adieu. 

Friday, July 24, 2009


Here I sit, enjoying the silence, with my mom asleep behind me and my boys sawing logs above me, and my lover 1,300 miles away.  And all I can do is stare.  My mind is blank.  


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Here we are...

At home, in Western WA
"More later"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

But how/why/when/where did Darth Vader die? And why couldn't he live with his robot suit? How did he get burnt? Why? What about Obi-wan Kenobi?

This afternoon during lunch, I had an extremely lengthy, extensive conversation about Darth Vader with my four year old. Endless questions, endless answering.

Good thing I know my stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sad junkfood for the brain

I want to post, but have nothing to say --
I've stayed up waaaay too late,
Looking at this. Ay.

Monday, July 13, 2009


  • Our garden is beautiful - we are eating very well, with frequent 2-3-4 combinations of vegetables at each meal. Beets top of the charts, nummm. Red Swan beans with butter, salt, and parm cheese come next (but that just started last night).
  • Being a mother highlights faults and shortcomings like no other job I've ever had. Being a wife is probably second, but I don't think it even touches motherhood.
  • Tea parties are all the rage at our house again these days. Diego set up the little kiddie-table in the kitchen today, right below the low-lying window; the view was delightful and we dined on buttered ginger muffins, chicken bits, walnuts, banana chips, and alfalfa-mint tea.
  • Diego's naps are becoming shorter and frequently he does not fall asleep during snuggle time. He recently even started saying, "I don't know how to fall asleep!" It may be just a phase, as he is sleeping in quite late to make up for the lost time. Quiet Time has begun. He settles into an upstairs bedroom with books and his beloved pac(fier) and comes down when 1) the music goes off, or 2) the buzzer beeps.
  • I am purposefully gearing my life into a slower pace. This includes staying home a lot and focusing more on the daily routine. I am incorporating regimented tasks into my daily and weekly life, like "After Meal Clean-up", where Diego helps by clearing the table, wiping up, and tucking in the chairs; "Quiet Time"; and routinizing things like sweeping, cleaning the bathroom, and vacuuming. My living space is out of control and I need some assistance (structure) to help me manhandle it into submission. I hope to make it simply "what I do" in time.
  • So why is it...whenever I get a chunk of free-time, my motivation and To Do list totally dissolves and all I want to do it lay around and read?
  • I've started brushing my teeth with tooth powder (Eco-dent is the brand) vs. paste. I really like it and will never go back. The boys are even starting to take to it...yessss.
  • I will be at my parents house in Western WA for several weeks at the end of July/beginning of August. My brother Andrew is getting married and my sister has her senior show for the art school she attends. I can't wait to melt into being a daughter again. That feels so good. Squeeze will be coming for a long weekend as well - I am so glad that he'll be there with us, as he wasn't able to attend my other brother's wedding last summer. He'll miss the senior show, though...bummer.
  • Blahblahblahblahblah blahblahblah
  • My SIL was told "If I were Bond, you'd be my woman" at the post office the other day.
  • I've been dreaming about Nepali/Indian food recently - I want curried potatoes & cauliflower and poori like you couldn't believe. I am also nursing a serious obsession with Brazil nuts.
  • Both boys love Brazil nuts too, as does Squeeze. They are going real quick, like lightning, in this house.
  • I must read.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Where have I been the last two weeks....?

Visiting and being visited, with a wedding tossed in --
Lots of laughs and good conversation

The guys

Heart to heart with Uncle Ry

Diego passed out in the pew
BLS yukking it up with Luuuuuuuie

Totally. zonked.
between the ceremony and reception

This man was an angel
He seemed to enjoy the boys (and they loved him)
I think he liked their toys, too

Ta Bunz!
His Little Buns!
and Baby T

RC and his lovely brown eyed lady

Diego and the Ladies

Luuuuuuuuke and KT

Working hard for a gourmet brekkers

Playin' hard with the Billinator's (like pollinator)
C-3PO Collectors' Case

Relaxing in the backyard with Darth Veda
(the dog)

July birthdays
(Truen was looking at baby turtles...)

Fireworks with the Cousins
Can you spot the cousin who was plugging his ears?

The Fearsome Foursome
Diego, Truen, Jackson, and Claire
Oh, baby

What a sight: mid-July garden

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pa rulz

I started reading Little House in the Big Woods to Diego last week. He is mesmorized while I am reading it, eagerly waiting (of course) for the pages with illustrations on them. [I try to hold those pages open while I'm reading non-picture passages.]

The "Little House" books were one of my favorite series as a child, as I am sure they are special for many. I re-re-re-read through them the summer before I went to college, knowing it might be awhile before I could re-re-re-re-read them again. And I re-re-re-re-re-read them after I was married, too. My perspective changes with each re-reading. I am noticing that this time around, too (fancy that).

Diego is enjoying Little House in the Big Woods, just as I hoped he would. We are already re-reading favorite passages, like the story of Laura's Grandpa being chased by the black panther through the Big Woods.

The first evening while snuggling in bed, I asked him, "What do you remember about LHitBW?" and I think he's got a bit of Pa Obsession going on.

Here's what he remembered:
  1. When Pa butchered the pig; Laura and Mary played with the blown-up pig's bladder like a balloon.
  2. When Pa shot the bear holding the pig.
  3. When Pa hung the two deers he shot high in the tree, so the wolves wouldn't get them.
  4. Pa, building the hickory-smoker in the hollowed out tree. It had a roof!
  5. Pa, playing "Mad Dog" with Laura and Mary and scaring them half-to-death.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Can you? Hear it?

Totally tubular. Seriously.

Both the boys and I have been loving this book: Can You Hear It? by Dr. William Lach

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Food Renegade

This girl tells it straight and strong: I love it. She and I are on the same path, and so much of what she says speaks to me. Preach!

I think I might be obsessed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's hard to undo three decades of damage

Fat is where it's at: For decades, fat has been blamed for everything from heart disease to obesity to cancer. But new research shows that fat can be good for you.

As the obesity epidemic was later to arrive in Europe, the pro-fat backlash isn’t yet in full swing there, but signs are emerging. A recent study in the NEJM fingering total calories, not fats or carbs, as responsible for weight loss, made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. And anecdotes abound. British celebrity chef Anthony Worrall Thompson has been blatant about using lard in his restaurants. In Norway, sausage consumption is up.

Even mainstream nutritional experts have recanted. The blanket message that "fat is bad for you" has few remaining adherents. The AHA, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Council on Science and Health have all modified the message, from their original admission that unsaturated fats are good for you to the grudging acknowledgement that even trans fats may not be as bad as they’ve been portrayed to be. "We should apologize for making people think about ‘percentage of calories,’" says the AHA’s Eckel, adding that the focus should be on total calories. "You want to eat steak? That’s fine. Just make it six ounces rather than 16."

To undo decades of fat-phobia, it’s going to take a more rousing endorsement. And for that, it’s necessary to leave the realm of science and enter the kitchen, where it’s easier to consider the possibilities. Take guacamole, or the pat of butter that finishes a risotto or a chocolate pudding. McLagan includes fat in everything from salad to dessert, with recipes for grilled steak and red wine sauce topped with bone marrow. For a sweet, try salty bacon brittle with pork cracklings. These are beyond rich—the animal fats give the dishes depth and an almost medieval earthiness—and they’re delicious, enough to make even confirmed skeptics salivate.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The boys' Nature Shelf

We are following the idea of the Montessori Nature Shelf at our house. Diego (and Truen, too, though to a lesser extent at this point in time) finds all kinds of interesting things, from skulls and chesnuts to dried up toads and hummingbird nests - and everything goes straight to their "Special Shelf", as we've been calling it.

It is a window sill in our sunroom, right by the back door, and both the boys enjoy spending time going through its contents. Pinecones, walnut shells, snail shells, feathers. Pretty rocks and seeds. Bird eggs are the one exception - they go on the window sill above the sink. (Baby Truen would crush them!) Did you know swallow eggs are white with brown speckles?

I've always been one to pick up whatever-looks-interesting off the ground (I had rock collections galore), so nurturing this part of their curiosity comes very naturally. I think I might enjoy it more than they do. Lovely.