Saturday, December 29, 2007

merry merry

Well, I am having so much fun making sorbet and ice cream with my new ice cream maker! Santa didn't bring it, but Samuel did! He called up Grandpa and between the two of them, one certified ice cream maker was here for me to open on Christmas. What a fun surprise. I must say that he is reaping the benefits heartily as we have gone through nearly two rounds of sorbet (raspberry-boysenberry) and one of vanilla ice cream. What better way to perk up the days after Christmas)2!

And I am so happy to say that I can still pogo stick! Santa brought me and the kids pogo sticks. What fun! Each day my pogo-ing gets a little better. I still can't rival my childhood records, but I am having a blast trying it all out.

Christmas was extra fun because it snowed here as well. It did not stay around but it sure was pretty coming down. It started to do some pretty crazy Portland weathering with a little mix of rain and large snow flakes. The day before there was a big beautiful rainbow across the sky. Such a great way to celebrate the winter holidays!

Here are the kids "ice skating" out in the back yard. There was quite a bit of ice and frozen slush out there. Fun!

A close up photo of Eva's new talking baby; Ellen and Eva with their custom tattoos deluxe!

Everyone got custom tattoos and stickers, even Jack; Eva and talking baby in the sling. Eva said, "momma, this baby nurses too!"

Fun patterns for everyone with our new pattern blocks, one of my favorites!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Samuel just showed us this funny song "What do you get a Wookie for Christmas when he already has a comb". Any Star Wars fans out there? Bob? Adrian? This is for you!

It's Christmas Eve

It is indeed Christmas Eve and as Samuel would say, or has been saying all day long, "Does there have to be a day before Christmas? Why? Why? Why?" Needless to say, we have not had the most um shall we say joyous Day before Christmas, but it has been intense. We feel our intensity very intensely around here and today was no exception.

Here is some fun!

Jack asleep on some books. Need I say more?

Oh and I am so excited! One of my giant spider ladies that I kept track of during the summer and fall is still living! She found a little warm spot with a leaf near our front door and allowed me to take this photo, albeit hesitatingly. She is suspicious of me if I stay too long.

And here is my Pulla! It is a lot of fun.

Samuel and Eva with the big plate of cookies; Santa's cookies and eggnog (see the Santa cookie Samuel made!) Eva is sampling a big piece of Pulla in the first photo.

We made chocolate chip, oatmeal scotchies, sugar cookies with icing and brownies. Plus our neighbor brought us this big plate of assorted Christmas cookies she made. So that is a lot of cookies.

And this is what Charlie does when you come over near his cage. He really likes snacks and will eat most anything you suggest. He is an avid eater, to say the least.

And here are all of the babies all fancy for Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

sweater project

I finally picked up that sweater that I wanted to lengthen while everyone around here has been sick. Nothing like a house full of sick people and all the dishes done to open up an opportunity to do a much-put-off-task that I really wanted to do...

Here is the sweater, not quite long enough. Here it is with the scissors and part of the cast-on row cut off.

Here are the live stitches to pick up. And finally, here are the needles on the stitches.

The most challenging and tedious part by far was finding the actual row to pick up. My initial cutting was not quite straight enough and I took off far too much at some points so I had to go down two or three rows to find a full row to pick up. If I have to do it again I now know to cut on the cast-on row, not below it. Now that it is done with, though, the knitting is going smoothly. At first I was worried that the pattern would be slightly off because the knitting is in the opposite direction than the original knitting (so below where the cast-on row would have been) but whatever discrepancy there might be is so slight and easily covered by the pattern (k1, p3, k1...). What may actually turn out to be more of a concern is the color of the yarn. This yarn is individually hand dyed and each skein is different and the skeins I bought are slightly darker than any of the other ones I used for the rest of the sweater. This is also probably a minor concern and nothing compared to how fun it will be to have it the right length for wearing!

new blog site

Hey, I started up a new blog all about eating local here in the Pacific Northwest. I am having a lot of fun with it thus far. I have its link listed under blogs with all of the others!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Solstice

I had several plans for us today to celebrate Winter Solstice but Eva is sick again! (that's twice for both Samuel and Eva in a little over a week and a half). I am hoping to get us outside for a walk in the woods as soon as she is up for it. It is such a lovely time of year to be in the woods. There is a ton of moss and lichen everywhere and this time of year the evergreens really shine!

I am still hoping to make a soup- a lovely orange-y colored soup for the sun- and to light some candles. I also have some fireworks I set aside but we may have to wait for another day for those as well. And Samuel wanted to have a fire outside to roast marshmallows! Lots of fun planned for the longest night of the year. Darkness starts pretty early here. The official sunset today is 4:30 pm and that gives us 8 hours and 42 minutes and 3 seconds of daylight. Tomorrow there will be an added 1 second of daylight and the day after an added 5 seconds...
Dec 21, 2007 7:48 AM4:30 PM8h 42m 03s

I actually really like this time of year and although it can take a little time to adjust after day light savings time ends (don't get me started!), I find it to be a very calming time of year. I love the summer as well but it can be a little frenetic for me at times and no one in the house gets enough rest for months on end. Each time has a place, which I suppose is one of the points of the original solstice and equinox celebrations. I like to blur the lines of our Christmas celebration with the Solstice and remember the time of year and the traditions behind bringing trees and holly inside and hanging lights and giving warm gifts. It has given added meaning to me for the holiday season.

A fun little ditty (and we happen to have both holly and oak growing in our yard right now!)-
"The myth of the Holly King/Oak King probably originated from the Druids to whom these two trees were highly sacred. The Oak King (God of the Waxing Year) kills the Holly King (God of the Waning Year) at Yule (the Winter Solstice). The Oak King then reigns supreme until Litha (the Summer Solstice) when the two battle again, this time with the Holly King victorious. Examples of the Holly King's image can be seen in our modern Santa Claus. He dons a sprig of holly in his hat, wears red clothing, and drives a team of eight (total number of Solar Sabbats) reindeer, an animal sacred to the Celtic Gods (deer). Mistletoe and holly came into modern Christmas celebrations through the memorializing of this battle. The holly with berries are hung in honor of the Holly King and mistletoe in honor of the Oak King. Although the Holly King and Oak King are mortal enemies at the two Solstices - Yule and Litha - it should be remembered that they are actually two sides of one whole, and neither would exist without the other."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Around the house with Eva...

Jack, a slice of our Christmas tree, Charlie in his little egg carton house.

Here is a funny little story. Jack really enjoys getting treats and snacks from us. So does Charlie. These days Jack goes over to inspect what food tidbits are being given to Charlie. Frequently, he is not interested and gives Charlie a sniff in his cage and then wanders off, not really wanting a bit of egg or apple, for instance. Sometimes, however, he is interested in the food Charlie is given. On these occasions he usually gets a little bit for himself as well. The other day I gave both Jack and Charlie a little piece of banana muffin and Jack gobbled his up and then looked over at Charlie who was munching away on his piece of muffin. Jack decided to wait it out and sat down to beg for a little muffin from Charlie! It was very cute. Needless to say, Charlie did not give Jack a last bite of muffin before he finished like we usually do.
The kids have both been sick, one and then the other. Eva is moving toward wellness right now. Here is the tea she has been enjoying-

ginger root
(maybe red clover)
Mix the herbs and root together and steep in hot water until it is strong enough for you. This is great for your stomach and immune system.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A couple of links...

Here's a little ditty about the story of stuff from those who brought us the Meatrix. I eat meat (sometimes) and I buy stuff (more often than not, but surely with a conscience or at least conscientiously, as with most things...) and it is still good to keep this stuff in mind when you are out getting more stuff (or, in, as the case may be).

And here is this great link to some online pattern blocks. I stumbled across it when I was shopping! for pattern blocks for Christmas. We have really been enjoying this site and it is fun to see what patterns you can put together.

We also finished this extraordinarily fun book last night called The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith. We have been reading his books (including Babe the Gallant Pig and A Mouse Called Wolf) and came across this one and we really enjoyed it. Imagine my surprise when I went searching for his name and came across a movie! for this book that is coming out in a matter of weeks. I pay such little attention to goings on like this that it is a wonderful synchronicity for me to find this out! It is really one of the things that makes life so much fun!

Monday, December 10, 2007


We have been enjoying spending our time with Charlie, the rat who has come to share a home with us. We adopted him on Thursday and have been learning about all things ratty ever since. As it turns out, rats like to ride around on your shoulder. I had read about this before we adopted Charlie but I didn't realize how important it was. Samuel is working on figuring out a comfortable way to have Charlie ride around on his shoulder because his little claws tickle and scratch so. Eva is bypassing holding Charlie altogether and has decided to bond with him by feeding him little bits of everything she eats. This little rat has quite a varied diet and really enjoys his snacks. He will come out from sleeping when he hears us and let us know he would like a little nibble of something. Apple, almond, brussel sprout, squash, salmon, pumpkin bread, you name it, he is interested.

He is a afraid of the cats and shrinks back when they come into the room or close to him when he is out of his cage. He and Jack have been sniffing each other through his cage frequently. Jack is a little put off that Charlie receives treats frequently and wants to know what we are giving him that we are not giving to Jack. When I show him bits of apple or almond he is very confused. When I show him salmon or bread, he suggests I give him a bit too. No reason Charlie should get all of the snacks. Who does this rat think he is, anyway? Oh, the other funny thing about Charlie is that, like Jack, he will lick your hands and fingers if he smells something yummy on them.

Here are some funny things he does:
He runs across the room to where his cage is when he wants to get back inside.
He does that funny scrunching back-up move that little rodents do when you block off his exit.
He pulls food through his cage bars with his hands!
He rides around on your shoulder and runs up your arm to get up there quick when he is afraid.
He makes little whisper scooching noises around your ear when he wants to get down.
These are just a few and will give you an idea of the fun we have been having!

On other fronts, we went to see an interesting art exhibit with mosaics last week, followed by a trip to the candy store. We also saw a play of Beauty and the Beast put on by a local children's theater. Samuel loved it and wanted to watch it again on video when we got home. Eva, unbeknownst to me at the time, did not enjoy the play (at least not much) and refused to watch it again at home. She said that while it did have a happy ending, the story was just too sad to watch and she could not bear it. So there you have it.

We are getting all set for Christmas. We got our tree this weekend and put it up. The cats always love this time of year, what with bringing a tree into the house and all. Maxwell just runs all over now, frisking about and jumping in bags and on papers. Charlie is also intrigued by the tree and rushes up to run inside and...I am not sure what he will do if he gets inside the tree because I have never seen a rat and a tree before. He thinks it looks grand. All shiny and bright and tree-like. And Jack found his Christmas bone and was quite upset when I hid it away again. So near yet so far.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Oh the rain came pouring down down down...

Well, no one would deny the rainy season is upon us. We are having a ton of rain and if you go outside it is pretty Weathery Weather. Lots and lots of rain and wind and it is still pretty warm, in the high '50's, so it isn't bitter or anything. And yet, as much as I admire the weather, we are spending quite a bit of time indoors. Samuel and Eva are ricocheting off of the ceilings at this point. The scooter was brought into the living room this morning and there is also a jump rope, evidence that some one(s) were feeling very active! The trampoline is ready for action.

Lots of games, lots of art projects, lots of puzzles, lots of videos. We watched a great Nature program last night about the wild horses of Mongolia. Right now the Care Bears Nutcracker! is on. I am hoping to watch Fiddler on the Roof later on.

I made an excellent carrot soup a couple of nights ago and then a tasty chicken and root vegetable soup with rutabagas, carrots, turnips and purple potatoes. Both were so good and I definitely feel a part of this fall vegetable season now. I am thinking of making some bread but am undecided. Maybe not. There is a request in for brownies which will probably happen later today after we go out again! Right now everyone is resting up from the big trip to the library we just went on. There isn't a lot of motivation from anyone except Jack to go out. And even Jack ducks his head when he heads outdoors!

Part of the restlessness is part of the season. Christmas and what this means is coming closer each day and Samuel is really wanting to DO something, anything, to show Christmas that he knows it is approaching. Last night we got out Christmas music and we have been reading Christmas Stories and Eva watched the Grinch this morning. Yes, it is coming. And yet, no matter what we do, it is coming at a frustratingly slow pace. Each morning the kids rush into the kitchen to eat their piece of chocolate from their advent calendars. Samuel suggested that if they ate them all, perhaps it would be Christmas finally! Next year he wants to make a Custom Advent Calendar with large chocolate Santas for each day so that you can eat the candy all day. And I am not sure how many boxes of candy canes they have gone through already.

I have been knitting a lot. My gloves are nearly done. I finished Samuel's hat. I quit the scarf I think I wrote about last because it was too scarfy. My sweater waits on.

Eva's hat (mittens from last year); Eva's poncho; Samuel's hat (mittens from last year)

I would have loved to have posted a picture of Eva in her poncho and yet it was not meant to be- yet! Ever hopeful am I. I tried to take a picture of her in her poncho a couple of days ago and it turned into this really complicated photo of her with the poncho on and her stuffed animal Chickie on one shoulder and her stuffed animal Mom Cat on her other shoulder and her two arms up holding the animals onto her shoulders and me trying to kind of pull down the poncho so that you could see it better and how it drapes... and then Samuel wanted to be in the photo so he got a couple of his stuffed animals and put them on his shoulders and then they weren't really looking at Eva's the way he wanted them too so when I took the picture he was scowling. So then I took another photo and this time I was finally in the flow of the way things are and I was laughing and then Samuel was laughing and the animals fell and Eva was looking at Chickie and you couldn't really even tell that she had on a poncho. And I was going to post this photo, but just now when I uploaded it onto my computer, the computer and I misunderstood one another and I cannot find where the computer put it. So there is no longer a photo for me to post. So I posted just the naked poncho, with no body in it. And you see how it goes...