Thursday, January 31, 2008


Eh voila! Eva took a photo. It gives you the general idea. They turned out pretty well I think for my first gloves and are very very warm. Gloves seem to be the kind of thing that will get much easier the more you do- all of those tiny needles knitting tiny fingers- but they are also so exasperating that I am not sure I want to do more-all of those tiny needles knitting tiny fingers... We'll see.

Eating local in the pacific northwest...

I took down my other blog because it made me feel too fractured. I didn't know what to post where and I felt too much like an expert trying to educate people or something, which was not what I was going for. Stilted. My choices about what I eat and where it comes from have been evolving for several years now and it makes more sense to me at this time to discuss this within the framework of the rest of my life. So here are several of the links from that page that is no more-



Online Resources

And the posts-

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

a little on grains and flours and salt

Ok, after looking around, although not technically calling around, I found out a little bit about what Bob's Red Mill has to offer. Cafe Mama wrote to them and here is what she came up with. Basically, for flour there is spelt and some wheat local to Oregon and Washington. I have also found local wheat grown in Oregon, some even at the Farmer's Market. I found this little write-up on another blog that has some good stuff about grains. This in particular stuck out at me, as I think Shepherd's Grain is the place at the Farmers Market where I have also bought chick peas and lentils. It is hard to get each of the farmer's names when I am at the market because I go with my two small children and they are much more interested in Hot Lips Pizza...

And then another blog reminded me of a product I have in my own cupboard. Flour from the Fairhaven Cooperative Mill. This is local to the Pacific Northwest, though a bit far for Portlanders, locally speaking, technically. Still, I consider it local at this point.

Also on Cafe Mama, a resource for Washington salt! I consider that to be one of my favorite finds of the day!

Local Flavors

I just picked up a great book from the library, Local Flavors- Cooking and Eating from America's Farmer's Markets by Deborah Madison. I have another of her cookbooks, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and have found her to be a great resource and I enjoy her recipes. She gives a lot of information about what goes with which vegetable and makes it easy to ad lib while you cook. Local Flavors has some great market stories from across the country mixed in with the seasonal recipes and has so far been a lot of fun to read.

I plan on trying out this recipe for Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage very soon because cabbage is something I have a lot of right now. Cabbages are quite important in northern climates like this one. Although I have to say that I didn't realize just how important they were until this winter with my CSA. I have had a lot of cabbage and could not possibly eat it all myself. (I mean a lot of cabbage!) So I am happy to find another recipe! I also have a ton of sage growing in my backyard that will go nicely here as well. And plenty of potatoes from the CSA and my own garden. They are very sweet. I found out tonight, in case you don't already know this, that the cool soil makes root vegetables sweeter. My carrots are incredibly sweet as well.

Cabbage and Potato Gratin with Sage

1 lb potatoes
1 1/2 pounds savoy or other green cabbage (I am going to throw caution to the wind and use my newest January King Cabbage)
sea salt and pepper
4 TBSP butter
2 TBSP chopped sage
1 garlic clove
1 1/3 cups milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cups flour

This next part I paraphrased and assumes basic cooking skills-
Preheat oven to 350. Butter 8x12 inch gratin dish or otherwise. Peel (if you wish!) potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Slice cabbage into 1 inch ribbons.

Boil potatoes until tender. Boil cabbage for 5 minutes. Rinse cabbage in cool water and dry off excess water.

Cook garlic and sage in melted butter for 1 minute without browning garlic. Toss with potatoes and garlic. Whisk remaining ingredients together and pour over veggies in pan. Bake for about 50 minutes. Voila!

For me, all but the milk and Parmesan are local. And of course, the salt and pepper- although I would like to find out more about salt.

Eva has eaten up almost all of the peaches I canned last July. For some reason we didn't pick very many this year. We have a ton of berries, though, which is great. I made her an apricot-boysenberry-blueberry crisp tonight which she gobbled up. I used oats in the topping. Not local. Fruits yes, this grain no. Pretty good for a winter snack.

We also had a chicken vegetable soup this week with all of the different roots in the house. There were turnips and carrots and potatoes and rutabagas and celeriac and lots of herbs from my backyard and some I had dried and a surprise that I didn't even know you could eat, some verbena. Turns out it is great for stress and tension and I think we all benefited from that as well as the root vegetables' high vitamin counts. Now that I have become more comfortable with celeriac, I see that you can do so many things with it. The flavor is nice and you can use the tops just like celery. The root itself can be thrown into stir fries and put in soups willy-nilly. I added some to potato and leek soup this week and pureed it all with a hand blender. I am pretty sure you could roast it as well. I will try that next time I roast the rutabagas!

Monday, January 14, 2008

ark of taste usa

What a great resource the Slow Food USA site it. This is the Ark of Taste link for the US and I have it linked to the apples list. I was pleased that I had actually eaten some of these apples and not really surprised that some of them I knew through my grandmother who grew up on a farm in Southern Indiana. I know she spoke about the Winesap, for instance, when we went to the apple orchard when I was growing up. We u-picked Northern Spy and Winter Banana definitely the last couple of years (in addition to some more usual varieties) at Peterson Farm Apple Country out in Hillsboro, Oregon.

I was hoping to find something I could grow right now, or at least this summer. I am thinking about some of the beans or potatoes or maybe the beets or turnips, if I can find the seeds for them! I will check out local harvest first, probably, because I found some great ground cherry seeds through them last year, as well as loofah that I planted too late in the season. Next year!

Jacob's Cattle beans! And look, a place to get seeds locally (within the greater Pacific Northwest!).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

more on seed catalogs

It is kind of distressing to find out that even seed catalogs that purport to be independent (and local!) may in fact be associated anyway with agribusiness giants like Monsanto. Too bad. To me it is like Odwalla being bought by Coca Cola. Or Horizon cows being confined in small quarters. Or so many other slights like this that add up to being entirely certain where to turn next.

Barbara Kingsolver talks about the seed catalogs in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She also talks about companies like Monsanto a good deal. I went out in search of other sources for seeds after reading her information and found this interesting chat thread on Garden Web.

Here is a link to Fedco for seed ordering. I still like Territorial Seeds for some of their local varieties to grow in the Pacific Northwest. Kingsolver also gave me extra pause for thought when considering growing some more heirlooms in my garden. I grew a few last year but am considering more this year. There are a couple of plant sellers at the Portland Farmer's Market who seemed to have several different heirlooms- tomatoes, of course, but also peppers and eggplant (although my eggplant only grew the tiniest little eggplant last year!) and some others I am forgetting.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Territorial Seed Catalog

The day after Christmas I received the spring 2008 Territorial Seed Catalog. A welcome edition after a hectic and fun day. I have been perusing the pages and making lists of seeds and plants ever since. According to The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide, I can start planting in February- Outside! And of course it is fine to start planting seeds to grow seedlings indoors then as well.

What struck me as I was going through the catalog is just how much there is to grow already in February and I was remembering back to last year and just how much food those first seeds generate. Lots of spring greens and radishes and peas and spinach and green onions... Given that we live in a place where most people believe it is too cold to grow food for much of the year, it is always fun to be reminded just how much does grow here and for how long. I think it was in Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades (although I am not of those gardening books...) that the author pointed out that the Pacific Northwest has a maritime climate, much like England, but that by the time European settlers finally made it all the way out here, they had forgotten how to garden in maritime climates and instead treated this place as though it were in the Midwest or the East coast. We don't need to have just one big harvest here, but can really reap the benefits of a mild winter and grow crops year round. And that is really fun to remember and certainly can be inspiring.

These days we are enjoying a multitude of frozen berries that we picked and bought all summer long. I also have some peaches but have not broken them out yet. It reminds me to pick more and freeze or can more next summer. They are really filling in the fruit gaps well and with the local apples from Washington and also some yummy pears, the kids are eating quite a few local fruits. They have also been enjoying some very unlocal citrus in the shape of satsuma mandarin oranges. 'Tis the season for satsumas and today they declined buying any more. My youngest said they didn't taste as good any more and maybe their season was over. And maybe it is.

And what about that? What about buying and eating unlocal foods but that are so seasonal that you are really only buy them for a couple of weeks or a month each year. Like those fancy yellow manila mangoes in the spring? Joan Dye Gussow has a good argument for being able to import such luxuries and specialties if we can grow most of what we need locally. No need, for example, to import tomatoes in the middle of February (to name a favorite of hers) but it might be ok to buy an occasional avocado or some satsumas or how about a few grapefruit, if everything else is taken care of?

A woman I know had the goal to get her local eating to about 80% to allow for imports like avocados or chocolate or even sugar. It is an interesting idea and a little different from the many *eat everything local or bust* ideas that are swimming around. Both have a place to be sure and I think about the merits of each of them often. For myself, I am trying to eat as local as I can without driving myself or my kids crazy. And sometimes that includes satsumas in the winter and sometimes, like today, it does not.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

tis the season

Tis the season to look longingly at green vegetables in the grocery store. We bought a cucumber the other day at New Seasons. It was the first out of state vegetable I have bought since, hmmm, last February? I feel pretty good about that whole veggie thing. I am still working on a few other areas like eggs... I had hoped to find some local greens there as well but they only had mixed greens from California. The produce woman said people just didn't grow mixed greens here this time of year. Hmmm... My sister found some lovely mixed greens at Food Front Coop and we had a lovely local salad for Christmas dinner, along with tomato sauce and some tasty but definitely imported pasta. Ah well, we do what we can. How to make it more local? I guess I could buy local grain and make my own pasta. If you are up for it you can do most anything. Maybe New Seasons has some pasta I could buy instead that they made and that is local? I could check for next time.

The interesting thing about the cucumber was that my daughter was so excited about buying it and seemed to be starved for whatever nutrients it offered and yet when she ate it she was definitely frustrated. No, a cucumber imported from out of state in December is definitely a different vegetable than one you find during cucumber season right where you are. It ended up being dunked in large amounts of ranch dressing.

That said, we have been eating our frozen berries from the summer and really enjoying them. I wish now that I had frozen or canned some peaches this year because everyone seems to be tired of apples already and it is only December. Pink ladies are so tasty but I suppose you can even tire of those. I am not tired of them yet, not by any means. I am getting tired of cabbage. Maybe I will try to liven up the four or so heads I have in my refrigerator (you know it keeps forever...) with some of those pink ladies sitting out on the table. Apples and cabbage slaw or braised apples and cabbage or roasted apples and cabbage. Endless possibilities!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A local Pulla?

Last year on Christmas Eve I made a Finnish Pulla shaped as a wreath and really enjoyed it. I wanted to make another one this year and decided to figure out just how local it could be made.

Here is the list of ingredients from the recipe I used from Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan-

1 cup milk
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
4 1/2- 5 cups flour
1 stick butter
another large egg with milk for glaze

Ok, so I didn't use the cardamom this year or last year because, well, no one in the house but me would eat it and I didn't want to eat the whole braided wreath myself. Some may say that this would not technically be a Pulla, then, without the cardamom. Perhaps...perhaps not. Regardless, that part is taken care of for me. There is also no local source that I know of (yet!?) for either sugar or salt. Sweetener? Sea salt? I wonder about honey in a Pulla? I have some wonderful local honey. I even saw the bees who made it! The yeast is from far away as well. It is from a company based in Wisconsin (I'm from Wisconsin and I wonder if that counts a little bit...) but the product itself is from Mexico. Either way you look at it, the yeast is not local. That got me thinking about how the Finnish people long ago made Pulla when they couldn't import yeast made in Mexico for Wisconsinites. They most likely made some sort of starter from a natural yeast, like sour dough or something. I wasn't able to do that this year, so I gave up on the yeast as well.

But here is where it gets very local. Bob's Red Mill? Right here in Oregon. That takes care of the flour. Pacific Village Butter (from New Seasons Market) is also local. The eggs are from the Farmers' Market. I am also working on getting some local eggs delivered, hopefully soon! Ok, now with the milk there are a few local options that I have used in the past and I am sad to say I did not use them this time because my kids have been so sick and I don't usually keep cow's milk in the house normally anyway (just some cheese from Greenbank Farms). Now, if you want to use local milk, there is always Norris dairy, which they sell at New Seasons Market and which you can also have delivered or even pick up at the Portland Farmers' Market. I have also bought some wonderful local milk from Kookoolan Farms out in Yamhill. They also sell out at the Hillsdale Maket- but not milk, only chickens and eggs. Oh, and Cascadian Farms, which is from Washington, and definitely sells dairy.

I have much to say about making un-local recipes local and the ingredients needed for such ventures, but it is Christmas Eve night and there are still cookies to be baked (decidedly not local) and tomato sauce to cook (which, as it turns out, can be the most local food of all!).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last Portland Farmers' Market

Today was the last market day for the Portland Farmers' Market. It will resume next spring, the first Saturday in April. During the next couple of months you can still find fresh produce and other local goods at the People's Food Co-op Farmers' Market every Wednesday from 2-7 pm. The Hillsdale Farmers' Market also has a winter market that is roughly every two weeks on Sundays. I must confess I have never been to either one of these markets but would love to try them out. They are just not as convenient for me, although I do drive into Portland every Saturday for the Farmers' Market there rather than going to the one here in Beaverton. This is partially because we meet my sister there and she is in Portland and partially because I just like it better. There are so many markets to choose from during the summer months that you can find one on most days of the week depending on where you find yourself.

You can find great produce at the market, obviously, and I also enjoy buying local salmon and eggs and sometimes breads from local vendors depending on if I have an eggplant lying around waiting to be made into dip and my kids love the pastries from local bakeries and of course fudge! Malou's Chocolate Fudge is a favorite around here. I don't know how local the ingredients are, but he and his wife are definitely local. They are down in Milwaukee and make all of their own fudge and brittle.

And that is another reason that I love shopping at the market. Not only do we get to buy local foods, we get to support local people and their small businesses. Local is local and that is one of the most local ways of supporting of all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What to do with all that kale?

Kale grows well here. I have had an abundance of kale in my garden for several months now and have also been receiving some periodically in my produce basket. About the only time during the year when it isn't thriving is in the dead of summer when the sun is hot and the rain is nearly nonexistent. That said, many people wouldn't recognize kale if you tried to sell it to them at a farm stand my kids had over the summer. People who stopped were happy to buy the tomatoes and carrots but anything green and leafy they lumped together as just plain "herbs" and then kind of averted their eyes from mine to let me know that while they admired my growing it, they were not going to buy it. Nor probably eat it.

I love this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It can be modified depending on just how much kale you intend to cook! The parentheses are my own comments.

Kale with Cannellini Beans
1 1/2 - 2 lbs kale or mixed greens with stems and ribs removed (if you so choose)
salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil (or I use coconut oil sometimes for a change)
2 plump garlic cloves (or more depending on your garlic tastes)
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/3 cups cooked Cannellini, rinsed well if canned
freshly grated Parmesan, optional

Simmer the kale in salted water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve liquid. Chop kale into bite size pieces. In a large skillet, saute the onion in the oil with the garlic, pepper flakes, and rosemary for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it's reduced to a syrupy sauce. Add the beans, kale, and enough cooking water to keep the mixture loose. Heat through, taste for salt and season with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

I routinely leave out the wine and frequently saute the kale with everything else without boiling first and then braise it with some water. It is a very loose and versatile recipe. The Parmesan and red pepper flakes really add to the kale's flavor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Eating Local

Right now out in my garden there are carrots, some potatoes to be dug, an abundance of kale and some very large broccoli plants as well as assorted onions, herbs and some Calendula plants still flowering. And chard! I love the garden and all that it has to offer. Depending on the season, you can find a variety and ever changing venue of plants growing there and if I choose, I can also find dinner. The home garden is at the very heart of eating local.

And there are so many other ways as well. There are CSA's (community supported agriculture), locally raised animals and eggs and milk, farmer's markets, u-picks, road side farm stands, local artisans, local bakeries and grains, food co-ops, local grocery stores, nuts and seeds like walnuts and hazelnuts, and of course so many local apples and pears and different berries and other fruits like cherries and apricots and peaches.

Even the smallest urban apartment can have an herb garden or tomato plant inside or on a patio. But you need not garden in order to eat local. And you don't have to only eat local to really begin to make a difference. Each little step can be a discovery of the seasons and what your area has to offer. Seemingly small decisions can have an impact, like choosing to buy the apples from Oregon rather than those shipped in from Australia. And like buying apples when they are in season, rather than say, strawberries.

Of course, like everything else, even these ideas should not be hard and fast rules cutting you off from enjoying yourself. If, for example, your four year old daughter is begging you for strawberries and cucumbers in the middle of February, well, it might be worth it to buy them for her, as I often do, particularly if there are already smart puffs in the cart. As always, it is the fun to be had with eating local that really keeps me at it and it is that process that I hope to share in this blog.

One last thing I want to add is that much of what I have to say here can be applied almost anywhere. I just happen to live here in the Pacific Northwest and so this is where I am doing what I am doing! Happy eating!

A homeschooling blog moment

A couple of wonderful unschooling moments...

Here is Samuel taking apart our old printer. And to think I was going to take it be recycled. A near miss to be sure. Yesterday he took apart the old coffee maker and a flash light, an old mouse and a calculator we bought back in Kansas that never turned on properly. All were slated to be recycled but were turned into a very fun day for Samuel. He gives me the plastic that is left over so that I can recycle it all next week at the great plastics roundup!

Here is Eva dressed up in her princess outfit. She is spraying her hair with detangler so that she can comb it out and cut some more off. All the while she is immersed in a royalty game using words like, "we are not amused" and "don't you think, dear" and "you mean you don't know what peculiar means, dear?"

Here comes spring. Our first bulbs pop up. Jack with a giant carrot from our garden!

Cats loving the sunshine! Agnes and Maxwell. Magoo still sits on the heater to keep warm.

I made a lovely crisp with blackberries and apples and some bread. The kids loved the bread with raspberry jam from the summer.

The rec center has a time each week for homeschoolers to come and use the open gym. So here we are with our friends Kate and Jack. We brought hippety hops and have since acquired more for just such occasions.

The seasons are on the move again. There are more rainbows again and days filled with sun then showers, sun then showers. Some of the first signs for me are the emergent bulbs and the birds. There are dozens of robins flocking all over this berry bush that I can see out the window from the computer. If you go out to get a picture of them they fly off in a spectacular whoooosh. There are red-winged black birds back at the feeder again and calling around the water at the park. And the geese have started their daily flights up and around the neighborhood, sometimes twice a day or more, calling back and forth to one another. I try to make it outside for each flight because it is quite dramatic and when they are gone they are really gone. I remember being shocked last year when I realized they weren't around anymore for their daily flights. And! I have seen hawks in our yard twice, sitting on the fence and in the maple! How exciting! They must come for the view of the bird feeder. Maybe a male red-tailed hawk, I am not sure. A little small to be a female. I only suggest the red-tailed hawk because I know of some that nest in the park nearby. But it could be a Sharp shinned or Coopers hawk as well. Not sure. Still lots of fun. We are off to Sauvie Island Saturday to do some raptor watching with the local Audubon society. I am really looking forward to it!

And just like that

our car is registered again! Hooray. Our awesome mechanic (thanks Lisa!) fixed her up and took her through DEQ himself to make sure she passed! And she did! I took our mechanic cupcakes from New Seasons because I was so excited he took care of DEQ for me. I had already been there four times and the mechanic took her through twice (the last time being the last time!). And I wondered if I should make them all homemade chocolate chip cookies as a thank you but thought that might be overkill. But would you believe that when we showed up to pick up our car, someone else had left them a whole bag full of homemade chocolate chip cookies! They are truly much beloved mechanics over there.

The kids and I were so excited to get our tags from the DMV and Samuel wanted to put them on himself. High fives all around. What an ordeal. I feel lighter than air and so free today without the weight of an unregistered vehicle on my hands. Almost as though I didn't have anything to do. And of course we ran errands today and were giddy with the knowledge that the little tag on the car reads 12/09. And everything else that has been tricky with our little car over the last several months is taken care of as well! Hip Hip Hurray!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

what's goin' on

Currently there are no fewer than many things going on around this house. We have been looking around for a piccolo to rent for Samuel who has taken an interest and are sorry to say that we have found only one place that rents out piccolos and he is out at the moment. (We found another place I think but the man wouldn't rent it to us out of a moral responsibility to Samuel's future playing. According to this man, kids who start playing the piccolo now become too accomplished and quit when they hit high school because of peer pressure. So he wouldn't rent it to us. He would much rather Samuel not play the piccolo today then stop sometime in the next 11 years. Oh well.) We are on a waiting list and are the first people the other place we found will call if they remember they have a waiting list for piccolo rentals. We have been met with a lot of very practical and very uninspiring advice and information about Samuel being way too young to start playing a piccolo and how people neeevvvveeer start on a piccolo (they start on flutes) and a lot of this is why it is so hard to locate a rental to try out. Apparently, it is just not done. And we have been working on not letting all of this talk temper our enthusiasm. I have high hopes. Samuel's go up and down in frustration.

We have been reading some more great books by Dick King-Smith and I am happy to say he has a ton of them so we have lots and lots of reading. The kids are learning quite a bit about England while reading his books because some of them feature royalty, for example, and they are learning things like the Queen of England likes Corgis and all about farm life and more about pigs than you can imagine. One of the last ones we read was The Three Terrible Trins about some mice outfoxing some cats and a man with a glass eye. It was fun. We are currently reading Ace the Very Important Pig. More pig fun with a corgi thrown in.

Eva has been painting and today announced she wanted to be an artist when she grows up. She painted a lovely story about two monsters and herself standing under the sunshine with some beautiful pink flowers and little yellow to liven it up. It is drying right now and we found just the spot to hang it up.

The first bulbs are popping up out front and the wood violets are still blooming since November! I splurged and paid some gardeners to clean up the front yard and you can see all of the little bulbs pushing up. Our oak tree still has some leaves that will probably drop during this next round of wind we are getting during the next couple of days.

We were at Goodwill yesterday getting some jeans for me and a bread pan to make bread. I got rid of my aluminum ones in the last move and wanted glass this time. Eva was carrying around her momma squirrel and baby squirrel-y (who carries a red crystal). We went to the toy aisle after I found some jeans and Samuel found a dinosaur that roars and Eva found another stuffed chick (thank goodness because Chicky was looking for her momma) and the chick quacks when you squeeze his left foot. Eva said, "I never thought of a chick making a noise when you squeezed her left foot." Me either. I thought the sound was worn out when I bought it!

So, there we are, loaded up with jeans and new guys and a few puzzles I found for a dollar and Eva looks down at her hands and says, "Where is baby squirrel-y?" And I say, "You have to be kidding me...(in my head, I don't think I actually said it out loud)". And Samuel groans and we all look around at this gigantic Goodwill. This is no city Goodwill. This is a huge Suburban Goodwill, the likes of which I had never seen before I moved here. Goodwill at the next level. Mega-Goodwill. So we assume he is lost in the toy aisle and we start looking and I talk to another mom who has also lost a stuffed animal at Goodwill in the past and she said they had put it away and they did find it. Her little boy said he would help us find it but kept being distracted by finding a remote control to go with a car he wanted and the mother was distracted by the remote control car with no remote that she didn't want.

Eva wanted to go find their lost and found. We finally did find an employee, the manager I think, and talked to her about baby squirrel-y and she was helpful. She took down our name and number and wrote down "lost stuffed animal, squirrel" but not the part about the red crystal that the kids kept adding for clarity. She also told us what I had already thought, that Goodwill does not have a lost and found. Basically, they assume anything they find there is property of Goodwill and it is shelved to be sold. Of course, there are exceptions. If you lose your wallet or your purse, for instance, they will set this aside for you (if they know it is yours; I think an empty purse or wallet would be shelved.). But Eva was crying and the woman was touched and she said she would help us look. She was optimistic and had just the right amount of practicality and optimism that we needed to resume our search. It was on the way back to the toy aisle that Samuel and I simultaneously remembered the bread pan and we said at nearly the same time, "It is in the glass aisle!" We headed right over and walked down the aisle looking at Eva level. I looked up slightly and what to my wondering eyes should appear? You guessed it, baby squirrel-y! I squealed. We all shouted hurrah! I told another woman in the aisle the she had witnessed a miracle that day. She smiled. The manager heard our hurrahs and came right over asking if we had found it. She was happy and congratulated us. We ran into the woman with her son from the toy aisle and she said, "That's just the size of the one we lost; same color too." Smallish and brownish, about 2 1/2 inches high, holding a red crystal. Yep. We found baby squirrel-y. It looked like the other woman was getting the remote-less-car after all.

I told the woman at the check out that we had just spent the last hour looking around for baby squirrel-y and held him up (or is is her? I can't keep it straight.) She said, "That's why I always have 'em leave things like that in the car. It is too risky." Yep. But sometimes, the squirrel family really really really wants to come too. I wonder if they will feel so adventurous next time? Maybe it will be baby kitten's turn by then. He can stay in the car alone.

On a totally different note, we have been enjoying this book, Totline's Alphabet Theme-a-Saurus by Jean Warren. Predictably, it is an alphabet book, but it has a lot of words with pictures (great for visual learners) and a lot of songs about the letters (I love music learning) and also some activities. Eva is loving it. Today she said, "Everything starts with E." And I told her, "Yes, the word everything does start with the letter E." She was thrilled. She also loves the idea of a big letter and a little letter. "Like a momma and baby letter!" Yes!

This week I have made bread, spread it with homemade summer time raspberry jam, made orange sorbet, made beet risotto (it is a lovely color!) and many many many pita pizzas...There is a squash roasting in the oven that I hope will inspire me for dinner. I got this great book from the library that I love looking at called African Crafts by Judith Hoffman Corwin and I am hoping to make banana fritters. If anything, the pictures are an inspiration for knitting patterns. Oh, and the kids and I watched The Gods Must Be Crazy last night. I had never seen it. We all really enjoyed it, although the kids kept saying there wasn't enough of the Bushmen. Their way of life was certainly appealing!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The kids and I went to see the live walking with dinosaurs show this week. It was a lot of fun and really well done. The dinosaurs were huge! I had no idea what to expect when I bought the tickets, nor did I know what to tell the kids we were going to see. We have really enjoyed the whole series from the library, particularly one that we ordered recently called Prehistoric Park where Nigel goes through a time warp and brings back extinct creatures for his gigantic wild life park. You can see a little of one show here. Not quite the same as live, but you get the idea a little. It was big fun.

We have been taking care of our car lately, trying to baby it a little to get it to pass the DEQ tests so that I can get it registered. We thought for sure it would pass this time. We had a bunch of work done this past week and I drove it over yesterday. I was so confident and happy. And yet, the man at the DEQ said, "She's not passing for you today." Not the words I had been hoping for. I was thinking there should be some sort of exemption for me on this one. I eat local food, I buy a lot of used clothing, I don't use much fuel or eat very much meat. Can't I just not do this DEQ thing this once so that I can register the car and then I can go about continuing to fix it or whatever needs to be done? Can't the people who eat all of the out of season food and live in very large houses and leave lights on when they leave the room do the DEQ thing to help their footprints and I can opt out this time? I don't drive that much or that far. Obviously I know what would happen if they did have an exemption. Oh well. It is still too bad everything has to be so black and white and that my car didn't pass!

here's a fun one

Five dangerous things you should let your kids do (of course if they don't want to, wait until they do!)-

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Well, I have been out of it with illness, and the kids as well, on and off for a little while now. Today we forayed out of the house to get additions for our life. Groceries and a trip to the library filled in the pieces well. I finally got a copy of Animal Vegetable Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver after waiting since um June maybe. Well worth the wait I think as I have already started reading it and am really enjoying it. More of the same type of local eating talk that is found in This Organic Life or Plenty and she is fun to read as well.

We watched The Education of Little Tree yesterday as I attempted to sit still for a while to rest. What a really inspiring movie. Someone on an unschooling list I am on recommended it as a good unschooling movie and I have to agree. I am tempted to read the book as well but for now my reading plate is full as I also received Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller from the library. And I am reading a few metaphysical-ly books as well. Much to enjoy.

While sick I spent a good amount of time knitting and I finally finished my sweater! Hooray! I am actually wearing it as I type right now. It is very warm and comfortable and I have spent so much time with it that it felt just right putting it on, as though I had been wearing it for years, which in a sense, I have. Hauling it around for at least the last several months. I am quite happy with it and can also see how you could nip and tuck at a garment forever, searching for just the right...length or width or feel or drape or whatever. It is fun. Now I am going to finish those gloves that I left the last three fingers off of the second hand.

Finished sweater! Samuel's photo of me in my finished sweater!

Santa brought the kids each a watch this year and Samuel is making great strides in learning how to read one. It is great for one of us to have a watch because I don't wear one and Samuel likes to know what time it is. What better way to learn to tell time! He has the second hand down and even timed me last night when I said five more minutes. Hmmm. I wonder how literally he is going to take this time thing. We talked extensively today about what a complicated system it is and Samuel asked numerous questions about why they made the clock the way they did and why it was so complicated and how it would be better if they just had one hand to look at.

Eva has been having a lot of fun playing with her playmobil wildlife care center and with the pattern blocks. She loves her orca whale and shark and take them in the bath whenever she gets a chance. She has also, apparently, been taking many pictures because I just looked at the pictures on the camera and there are a slew of Eva shots. Some of them I am not sure of and others are definitely care bears sleeping in little beds and such, as well as several of Samuel with his newest guys Maxilos and Spinax.

Jack has since torn up his Christmas squeaky and we presented him with a new one today which he promptly took away into a corner to squeak.

Samuel and Evan playing chess, Samuel with Maxilos and Spinax, Maxilos and Spinax at last!

And here is Charlie, who really likes to take his time getting out of his cage. He is quite cautious when leaving, so much so that I can go across the room, get the camera, take his picture, return the camera, come back over to offer my hand and he is still thinking about it. He is not, however, cautious about taking snacks and takes those promptly from my fingers. Anything. Pretty much anything. He wouldn't take the dried apricot I offered him the other day. But he does look forward to eggs and toast in the morning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy Happy Happy

Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me-ee,
Happy Birthday to me!

Much fun today celebrating my birthday. I had planned a couple of outings and adventures for today but Eva and I are still under-the-weather AND it is raining [a lot], so no walk in the woods today. No matter how much Jack wants to. And rather than running about town having tea and Indian food, Ellen is kind kind kind enough to bring the Indian food to me. She is also bringing over a much appreciated birthday pie! And pizza [hot lips!] for all those who don't dream of Indian food on my birthday each year. The kids have already had cupcakes and there are plenty more for all day cupcake fun.

Thank you everyone for all of the bountiful birthday gifts and well-wishes. I enjoy your loving thoughts! Many joyful times to you on my birthday as well!