Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

It's been a wild ride, but we're all moved in and enjoying playing house this summer. We love, love, love our new home. My husband built me a deer fence so I can try my hand at gardening -- so far not much is growing, but it's a learning curve, right? Munchkin is spending the summer entertaining the work crews paving the streets. I don't know how the kid does it, but he's so cute that they wave to him half a block away, give him stuff and even let him run the excavator (I'm pretty sure they broke some rules on that one!).
Speaking of Munchkin, I was looking back on my blog which I started when he was only two years old. I have a treasure that he will appreciate when he's older in all the cute stories I've been able to share. He's still doing and saying cute things, naturally, but he's a big 5-year-old beginning kindergarten in the fall.

Our lives have become so busy that it seems the right time to wrap up the blog. I've loved every minute of it, and especially enjoyed my excursions into the world of local eating. Have no fear, I'm still eating local. It's just that it's become the new normal and hasn't inspired posting as it once did. I'm still working on new ways to live a greener lifestyle, though!

So thank you so much to all my faithful readers. You've made writing fun. I'll leave the blog up and maybe some time I'll revive it, but for now, I'll leave you with one more "cute Munchkin story."

We have road construction happening in our neighborhood all summer. It's far enough away that we're not breathing their dust, but close enough that it wakes up 5-year-old ears at 7am every weekday. Early yesterday morning I caught Munchkin playing with his toys on the floor of my husband's home office -- a room Munchkin is not allowed to be in without permission. I asked what he was doing in there and he pointed to the open window as he said, "I'm listening to the 'beep, beep, beep!'"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moving in

Munchkin quote of the day: Dad, Dad, why is there an air compressor in the living room?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yahoo!

We closed on our new house this week! We'll get the keys at the end of next week and start moving in. If I don't post for a while, that's why!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What, no butter and syrup?

This morning as Scott walked out the door, Munchkin said, "Daddy, I hope you have a good day at work," (Awwww...) "and I hope pancakes fall on your head!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Somebody up there likes him

Munchkin had a very hard day yesterday. Much better today, but we're still holding our breath. So when we got him to clean up his toys this evening, after much stalling, and we sent him into his room to get into his PJ's, I was skeptical when I heard, "Mommy, come look at the ambulance." He had spent all afternoon building fire vehicles out of Legos. Also, our temporary housing is in a small gated community where there is little to no activity. I thought he was stalling again.

No, it turns out there were both a fire engine and an ambulance parked right outside his bedroom window! We made him get into his PJ's before going out to look. No one was there at first, and then out of one house walked Fireman Dave, Munchkin's favorite fireman.

For the first time in weeks, Munchkin went to bed without a fuss and with a big smile on his face. I told him he had just gotten a kiss goodnight from God.

Monday, March 29, 2010

No problem with his vocabulary!

Saturday, we made our annual pilgrimage to the tulip fields. In the early years of our marriage, we used to go to take pictures of the flowers. Nowadays we go to take pictures of the kid in the flowers.

In an attempt to get a cute pose, I asked Munchkin to smell one of the tulips. He bent down, sniffed a bright flower then stood up and declared confidently, "It smells like purple residue."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Overheard from the backseat of the car

We're driving down the road this afternoon and I hear...

Cute little voice in the back seat: Hand sanitizer, please?
Me: Why?
Cute little voice: (imaginary friend) Duck just spit on my hand!

Friday, March 19, 2010

At last!

Hi blogging buddies! I just wanted to report that as of today we have a signed offer on a really great house. It's been an awfully long haul and I'm beat, so more later!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Switchboard, please

Munchkin, very sweetly, on the phone, after he thanked Grandma for a gift she sent, "Please may I be transferred back to Grandpa?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

What a quack up!

Munchkin's imaginary friend "Duck" is endlessly entertaining. He must be independently wealthy the way he buys tools and construction equipment, owns every vehicle known to man (including four space shuttles) and has several houses. Munchkin says that whenever Duck needs money, he just goes to Sherwin Williams and they give him some. Duck is friends with other more famous ducks and in fact, sometimes he has playdates with Aflac Duck.

The other day, Scott mentioned to Munchkin that there is a radio station called KDUK. Munchkin was quick to respond, "That's a problem. Duck will have to send someone over there to tell them to stop using his name!"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tooth Fairy deconstructed

It's been a while since I've posted! We're still house-hunting like crazy and who knows what else, but I've got a cute Munchkin story to share...

Munchkin hasn't lost any teeth, yet, but some of his friends have. The other day he was asking questions about it. After I explained how a tooth comes out, he wanted to know what happens next. I said that he would put the tooth under his pillow and then the Tooth Fairy would come and give him money for it. Naturally, Munchkin wanted to know how much?!!! I told him that I didn't know, but when I was little, the Tooth Fairy gave me a quarter.

Munchkin then wanted to know if it was the same Tooth Fairy. He thought about it a while and then said, "California (where he knows I grew up) is really big, and it's really far away, so I don't think the Tooth Fairy could get here in time. I bet it's a different Tooth Fairy."

Good thing, too, because my Tooth Fairy was really incompetent. :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, no!

Fascinated with the olympics, Munchkin has decided he likes ski jumping, snowboard cross, nordic skiing, hockey and short track speed skating. He has no use for my favorite figure skating.

I decided to take him to an ice rink the other day and let him try out skating for the first time. Munchkin had delusions of grandeur which involved he and his buddies short track speed racing, which naturally Munchkin would win. I tried to prepare him for the fact that it takes a little time to learn how to skate fast.

We spent about half our time off the ice just learning how to walk while wearing ice skates. By the end, he could climb stairs without holding my hand. On the ice, he skated 5-year-old style -- holding the wall with one hand and my hand with the other. He started out slow and tentative, but by the second time around the rink he was running. I could barely keep up. He wants to know when we can go back.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do you think they need them?

Munchkin gave his imaginary friends witness protection names. He won't tell me what they are because it's a secret.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Who really won this battle?

Lego fireman got confiscated this evening. That's what happens when Munchkin throws a toy across the room instead of doing as he's told. Scott put the fireman on top of the refrigerator and Munchkin ran wailing from the room.

The problem turned out not to be the confiscation, but rather that the fireman would have to stay on top of the refrigerator all alone! He would get scared! He would get lonely! Munchkin was unconsolable until we added two more Legomen to be friends for the original fireman.

Right before bedtime, Munchkin asked me what it was he did to get the fireman taken away.

Friday, February 19, 2010

And the whinner is...

Last Sunday was a really whiny day. I don't know why, it just was. Tired of hearing Munchkin whine, whine, whine from the back seat of the car, Scott mimicked him. Munchkin was not impressed, so Scott tried out different wails and pitches. He knew he finally got it right when Munchkin said, "There you go, Daddy!"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It figures

Last weekend, Munchkin got to watch a little of his first winter olympics. Later, I asked him what his favorite event was. Did he like the skiing? The speed skating? No, he liked the "slide." He meant the luge. Great. Oh well, next weekend he's sure to see some of the snowboarding...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Coming soon to a blogosphere near you...

Munchkin, age 5, announced tonight at dinner that he was planning his construction blog for when he gets big. He's going to have pictures of his building projects as they grow. The first picture will be of the excavator, the next of the workmen laying the foundation, etc. I can't remember it all, but he had the steps in approximately the right order. I suggested a web-cam, but he wants to do it with pictures. My best guess is that you should look for his blog sooner rather than later. He's probably launch it now, but he just learned how to write his name and he hasn't learned all the rest of his letters, yet.

Monday, February 1, 2010

And the search goes on...

Yesterday we visited house #... what, 358? I should have started counting from the beginning, but now that I've made up a number I think I'll just keep adding to it. Anyway, the biggest problem wasn't that the house was too small, as I expected. It was small, but it had wonderful gardens and the roof was equipped with solar panels. No, the problem was that there are chemicals leaching into the ground water from an old dry cleaners in the area. They've tested the house and it is not OK. Cross that one off the list.

I didn't think I was so picky, but it's amazing how many weird deal-breaking problems we've encountered. Guess we just keep on looking.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It takes how long?

We recently put a bid on a house that is being sold as a short sale. Sadly, we got outbid, but when I was trying to explain to Munchkin how looooong it takes for a "short" sale, he asked, "Does it take the same amount of time to grow a chicken? About the same time as a baby chicken to grow up and then some more?"

I have no idea where he got this since we've never had chickens and don't even know anybody who has chickens, but he was about right!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dark Days Week 10: Easy Chili & Biscuits

As I was cooking dinner this evening, I realized it would make a great candidate for my Dark Days meal this week. I call this “Easy Chili” since I don’t bother with a recipe. For the chili, I sourced only some of the ingredients locally, although it would be easy to find them all with a little planning. The biscuits and spice mix did not include local ingredients, but they were made from scratch, so that should count for something. :)

Normally, I would bake corn bread to accompany the chili, but I was out of corn meal so I made “Easy Biscuits.” My family prefers them to cornbread anyway. “Easy,” to me, means that I can combine all ingredients into a bowl in one step, stir and bake without ever having to get out a mixer or rolling pin. Here’s tonight’s recipes. One of these weeks I’ll remember to take a picture before we eat it all up.

Easy Chili
(serves 3-4)

¼ to 1/3 lb ground beef (fresh from our cow in the freezer)
1 onion, diced (Farmers’ market)
1/3 cup bell pepper, diced (frozen from last summer’s CSA)
1 can diced tomatoes (grocery store for me)
1 cup water, local :)
1 cup red beans, cooked (I have local beans in the pantry, but I forgot to cook them in advance, so these also came from a can)
4 tsp taco seasoning mix (homemade, recipe to follow)

About 45 minutes before dinner, brown ground beef and onions until beef is no longer pink and onions are transparent. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer until time to eat. Pour into bowls and top each bowl with:

Dollop of sour cream (local Tillamook)
Small handful grated cheddar (Tillamook)
3-4 black olives, sliced (from far away unless you live in California)

Easy Biscuits
(makes 6-8 large biscuits)

1-¾ cups flour (I use part white, part whole wheat)
2-½ tsp baking powder
1-¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup milk

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until moistened. Drop by large spoonful on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 450 degrees, 12 minutes.

Taco Seasoning Mix
(I use this for chili, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc.)

2 Tbsp chili powder
5 tsp paprika
4-½ tsp ground cumin
3 tsp onion powder
3 tsp salt
2-½ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I omit because I don‘t like it so spicy)

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. To season 1 lb ground meat, cook meat until no longer pink then add 8 tsp seasoning and 2/3 cup water. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Helping Haiti

For anyone out there who is following the news reports coming out of Haiti and wants to help, I'd like to recommend an organization called Partners in Health. They are the group birthed out of the work of Dr. Paul Farmer, the author of Mountains Beyond Mountains. A while back I read the book and was impressed and really amazed at the work Dr. Farmer was doing and the compassion with which he was doing it. I wrote a review here.

Partners in Health has been on the ground in Haiti for 20 years. Their main base is just close enough to the capitol to be able to offer medical care for the wounded, and just far enough away that it was not badly damaged in the quake. If you're looking for an organization to which you can contribute, this is a good one. Check it out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Red flag


Munchkin got a new race track. It's hard to race with him, though. Every time a car crashes, it can't be re-set up until you call in the pit crews, the paramedics, the firemen...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dark Days week ???: Farming mom's stew

It's been so long since I've posted my dark days meal that I don't even know what week it is! I guess I'll find out when they do the recap. :) I've had a hard time sourcing local ingredients because as we got ready to move, I used up any stockpile from last summer. There is a small year-round farmers' market here, but but the number of vendors is down and it's also a lot farther away than it used to be because we've moved. (We're still hunting for our new house, found a wonderful one this past week and put a bid on it, but it's a short sale so we have no idea if we'll actually get it.) Anyway, my sister bailed me out by giving us a large box of home canned goodies and some found their way into my recent finally-local meals.

The inspiration from our local meal this week was a post from Farming Mom. I adapted the recipe since I don't have a wood stove and the casserole dish I used ran out of room. After it started boiling over in the oven, I quit adding ingredients. :) Anyway, in our version of the stew I used:

a packet of beef labelled "stew meat" from the cow in our freezer
onion (farmers' market)
garlic (farmers' market)
diced tomatoes (grocery store, since I didn't have any from last summer)
red potatoes cut into chunks (farmers' market)
one quart sister-canned green beans
bay leaves, chives & parsley, dried
salt & pepper

I browned the meat and then added the onion & garlic. Then I put it all into a casserole dish, added the rest of the ingredients, and baked at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. The stew itself tasted delicious, but the meat was really tough. Next time I'll put it into the slow cooker instead of the oven and cook it all day. The green beans were a great addition and I never would have thought to include them except that Farming Mom did.

To accompany the stew, I made "Yucky Bread." Yucky bread was so named when I gave the recipe to a friend who made it for her family. The kids said the bread was yucky, trying to keep everyone else from eating it so they could eat it all themselves, and the name stuck.

I normally use a bread machine recipe called "Cottage Dill Bread," but the book is buried somewhere in storage so I returned to my original Dill Bread recipe from the More-With-Less Cookbook. Local ingredients included Tillamook cottage cheese, Tillamook butter and a fresh duck egg from the market. I would have used local dill if I'd remembered I had some in my freezer, but I forgot. I made the bread dough in my bread machine and then formed it into rolls to bake in the oven. The smell of the baking dill bread is heavenly.

Friday, December 25, 2009

How Munchkin got another piece of fudge

Christmas eve, Munchkin nibbles all day on Christmas sweets including even a "treat bag" at the Christmas Eve service at church. He's excited for Christmas, he's excited because relatives are in town, and he's excited because he's had way too much sugar, including some in the form of fudge.

At dessert that evening, I told him he could have ice cream and one cookie. Munchkin promptly grabbed both a cookie and a piece of fudge. We made him put back the fudge, even though he insisted it wasn't a cookie. After he had polished off everything, he tried again to grab some fudge. I said "no," and he started to protest. It's Christmas, so I said, "Give me your best pathetic look."

Munchkin's little pouty face dropped another notch and he lowered his chin slightly, doing an absolutely perfect "pathetic little boy who needs some fudge" look. Everyone at the table cracked up, but Munchkin held the look, motionless until he got his fudge. Then he broke out into a big grin. It's scary how well he can do that.


Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wolf in sheep's clothing

The Christmas pageant was darling, with the opening number being all the preschoolers dressed like sheep and coming on stage on hands and knees saying, "baaaaa!" Munchkin was a model student and it is mere coincidence that he happened to be the cutest sheep on stage. We could hardly believe the difference from last year.

Afterwards, he shed the sheepy ears and went crawling over the rows of chairs growling like a bear trying to scare people.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Misfit

It's only hours until the annual preschool Christmas pagent, and my little preschooler just announced, "I don't want to dress up like a sheep tonight! I want to dress up like a dinosaur!"

Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Only a preschooler could...

... after whacking his shin on a footstool and crying and whining about it for at least half an hour, announce brightly, "Owwie ends with an 'e!'"

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dark Days week 3: Comfort food

Thank you to those who pointed out to me last week that the first law of moving says that one must not try to cook while moving. :) I assure you that after cleaning out the kitchen, we did indeed indulge in some meals out. Moving Van Day was followed by a meal consisting of turkey leftovers graciously given to us by our Thanksgiving hosts, but local fast food franchises also saw some business. Among those was a Hawaiian restaurant owned by our former next-door neighbor, who bought it at a garage sale when he found out that the double-wide refrigerator he really wanted came with a restaurant, but that's another story.

The day after Moving Van Day was one of the hardest because we still weren't done. As Munchkin and I drove to the U-Haul place to pick up Scott who was returning the truck, I was thinking about dinner. There is a locally-owned restaurant we love called The Glenwood. Scott takes me there when I need comfort because he knows the tomato-cheese soup works wonders. They have a nice variety of breakfast foods and light meals on their menu, but we always order the same things, even Munchkin. I don't know how many ingredients they source locally, but the place has a very local feel.

Anyway, I was thinking that we should go there for dinner when Munchkin interrupted my thoughts saying, "Mommy, I have an idea. We should go to The Glenwood for dinner." Naturally, I told him it was a great idea and we should suggest it to Daddy. We picked up Scott and before Munchkin had a chance to say anything Scott asked, "What do you think about going to The Glenwood tonight?"

When the waiter came to take our order, Munchkin said, without prompting, "I want a blueberry muffin! And bacon! And soy milk!" The waiter was great -- he wrote it all down and then asked Scott and I for our orders. Scott got the egg scramble he always gets (the one I copied for this post) and I got the half Alder Street Special with a big bowl of tomato-cheese soup substituted for the little cup of soup that comes with it, like I always do. We all felt much better afterwards.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Riddle's answer

What do you call a piano with no legs?

Flat.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A little riddle

Well, we're now half-way done -- we've moved out of our house and into a temporary location until we can find our new house. Whew! The most nerve-wracking part was watching the movers with my grand piano. Scott lightened the mood, though, when he made up a riddle: What do you call a piano with no legs?

Take a guess. I'll post the answer tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Counting the days

Yesterday at breakfast, Munchkin announced, "I know how we can get Christmas to come sooner! Tug on it with a rope!" When I laughed, he added, "We could pick it up with a crane!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dark Days week 2: Concoction

Really, I should call this meal, "Clean out the fridge before you move and cook it all in one frypan." The cookbook where I saw the original recipe named it "Sludge," but I didn't think that sounded too appetizing so I've renamed it, "Concoction." Just like last week's one-pot meal, this one can make use of almost anything you happen to have on hand. I forgot to take a picture, which is just as well since it tastes much better than it photographs.

So here was this week's local dinner. All ingredients came from the Farmers' market except where noted.

Cleaning out the Fridge Concoction
(Serves two adults and one preschooler who didn't like it, but that's his problem)

1/3 lb ground beef (from our share of a local cow)
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled & diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (Note: I've been putting garlic in almost everything ever since I heard the Croatians think it wards off the little piggy flu. Hey, it can't hurt!)
1 tomato, diced and bad part cut off
1 cup dried pasta (not local -- I already packed my pasta maker)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (I use local Tillamook)
Salt, pepper, basil (not local)

Fry ground beef and onion until beef is no longer pink. Add carrots. Wait a little then add garlic. Add tomato. Add two cups water and bring to a boil. When concoction is boiling, add pasta, basil, salt & pepper and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until pasta is done. Reduce heat, top with cheddar and cover until cheese is melted. Tell your family it's a gourmet meal.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Board games with Munchkin

Everything was going great until...

The green little gingerbread man fell over!!! Call the paramedics! Get the truck! Put him on a stretcher! He's hurt! He can't play anymore! Send in the red gingerbread man!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Purple Elephant in the press!

A long-time friend (we go all the way back to middle school!) has printed a review of my book The Purple Elephant on one of her blogs. Check it out here or drop by The Purple Elephant website to put your name in a drawing for a free copy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One local dinner (week 1)

The 3rd Annual Dark Days Challenge begins today, and I celebrated by cooking an almost an entirely local dinner without even planning it! For those unfamiliar with the challenge, the goal is to eat one meal/week which is made up of only foods found locally. Easy in summer, tougher in winter. Many people preserve summer produce and then use their stored food to create their local meals. I am trying the challenge with the added twist that since we are about to move, I have already used up as much of my pantry and freezer stash as possible. There's still some local food in there, but not much, so I'll be sourcing my ingredients weekly. For my purposes, local means the state of Oregon. We'll see how it goes!

Since we are moving in two weeks, I’ll count my blessings and write up this evening’s dinner for my first post. If I don’t post next week, it’s because the contents of my kitchen are packed and we’re eating take-out. (Shhh! Don’t tell Laura!)

Anyway, I think I’ve posted this recipe before, but it’s become an old standby and it’s sure great on a night we need a quick dinner. I call my recipe “Egg Scramble,“ since I can’t stand Scrambled Eggs. Pretty funny, but this dish contains so much good stuff that I hardly notice the eggs.

I purchased everything but the cheese, salt & pepper at a local farmers’ market. The eggs were huge -- the egg lady said her hens lay really large eggs this time of year, when they aren’t on strike. I lucked out and the chickens were working. I used only three eggs for two adults and a preschooler, but if they had been normal size I would have used four. Here’s my recipe, which I created based on a meal at a local restaurant. I never make it the same way twice. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures.

Egg Scramble

1 medium potato, skin on, sliced very thin (any variety will work, but red is prettier)
1/2 large leek, both white & green parts, diced (you can substitute an onion, but I think the leek tastes better and besides, the green adds color)
1 bell pepper, diced (red or orange is pretty)
1 large clove garlic, minced or diced
2-3 strips bacon, diced (we used up the bacon from our pig long ago so I also bought this at the farmers‘ market)
3-4 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I use local Tillamook)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large frying pan, fry bacon. Remove & drain. In the same pan, fry potato slices in olive oil. When potato starts to soften, add leek. Add bell pepper. Add garlic. Add fried bacon. Crack eggs into a bowl and beat slightly. Add eggs to frypan and stir until they are cooked. Turn heat to low, top with grated cheese, and cover pan until cheese is melted. Salt & pepper to taste. Serves 2. Tastes best with a hot homemade blueberry muffin on the side.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Delayed remorse

This afternoon, Scott was in the car when Munchkin began asking questions about Christmas lights. They talked a little and then Munchkin was quiet. A few minutes later, he let out a small cry.

Scott asked what was wrong and Munchkin wailed in the pathetic manner only a 4-year-old can that the gingerbread man didn't have legs anymore. At age two Munchkin ate an ornament off our tree, and he just realized what he did. Click here for the original post.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dennis the Menace moment

We closed on our house -- all done, signed, and delivered. Now all that's left is to pack, find a new home and move! Before I leave the "selling" part of the process, I had to share one story...

The whole-house inspection by Mr. Scary (not his real name) was almost complete and it looked like we would pass (whew!). The buyer took notes as the inspector walked her around the house making comments. He opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink, pointed to an electrical cord leading to the disposal and told the buyer that it needed to be tied up to something. As the inspector was about to close the cabinet, Munchkin piped up helpfully, "There's a whole bunch of ants in there, too!"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Imagination

After seeing three boys in astronaut suits at the preschool Halloween party, Munchkin came home, donned a suit which looked a lot like his footy pajamas, and built a spaceship. I was invited on a little trip to the moon.

Everything went fine until the engine broke. I finally got Munchkin to fix it so we could go home, but every time he repaired the engine, he pressed the "go back to moon" button. He said he didn't want to return to earth -- he liked floating on the moon.

I couldn't persuade him to stop pressing the button, so I asked what would happen when we ran out of supplies. If we ate all the food, wouldn't he get hungry? Munchkin didn't miss a beat. His friend Duck had a spaceship grocery store and he would fly up and give us everything we needed. Duck brings food to all the astronauts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Code silly: Stat!

While playing "paramedic" the other day, Munchkin asked me to record Elmo's vital signs. I jotted them down exactly as he recited them to me.

Heartrate: 50
Temperature: 90
Respiratory rate ("Mommy, what's repiratory?" "It's how fast the patient is breathing."): 1 mile per hour
Oxygen: 20-21
Blood: 14
Metal: blue

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Odds 'n ends

We sign closing papers tomorrow -- looks like the sale of our house is really going to go through! In the meantime, it's been pretty hectic around here and we still haven't found our next house.

Munchkin's going to be a Workman for Halloween, which is a big deal since up until a week ago he was going to be a fireman like he's been every year since age 2. He wants to be a Lowe's guy. I guess their advertising works.

In the midst of moving, I've decided to do (not so) Urban Hennery's Dark Days challenge again this year. The added twist for me will be that I will be between various houses and trying not to stockpile food for the winter, but still eat local at least one meal each week. We'll see how it goes. Here's the link if you want to join me.

Cute Munchkin story of the week: Scott told Munchkin something he didn't like, like it was time to go to bed or pick up his toys or something. Munchkin ran into his room wailing, "You're ruining my appetite!" Not.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Grace

Dear God,
Have a nice lunch.
Amen.

-- Munchkin

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scrap Soup

As we prepare to move, I am trying to use up stored food from the pantry, fridge and freezer. I think it's a little like trying to use up fabric scraps in a quilt. No matter how hard I try, I can never reduce the size of my scrap pile -- I always have to buy some new fabric to complete even a scrap quilt, and the new fabric generates new scraps. And the old scraps get smaller, but never really go away...

I recently dug out a soup recipe that I'd forgotten about. I have no idea where the recipe came from since my copy is hand-written on a scrap of paper. It included only ingredients that were already in my kitchen, so it was perfect for my purposes. But besides that, the soup turned out to be about the most tasty soup I've ever made! Here it is:

Chicken & Rice Soup
1-2 quarts homemade chicken broth
1-2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 small onion, diced
1 large leek, diced (use both white and green parts)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp each of dried basil, onion powder, marjoram & thyme (substitute fresh herbs if you have them)
2-4 tsp salt (to taste)
dash of pepper
1/4 cup rice
generous splash of lime juice

Saute onions, leeks & garlic in olive oil. Add broth, chicken & spices and simmer for 1 hour. Add rice, simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add splash of lime juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cuckoo bird

The other day, Munchkin was weaving a delightful story about his imaginary friend "Duck," when the story grew sillier and sillier. I finally said, "I think Duck's flown over the cuckoo's nest!"

Munchkin giggled, and then he said, "I just learned a new 'spression!" Giggle, giggle.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Munchkin, begging

Pleeeeese? Pretty pleeeeese? With sugar? and cherries? and ice cream? and sugar? and a tree trimming truck?

Can't remember what it was, but he got it for being so funny. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back in the saddle again

After a week filled with countless emails, phone calls, visits to various professionals, and more (at least it seems like more!), we have sold our house again! This time it's to some good friends and I think the deal will go through.

In the meantime, last Friday before I got home and got the message that the previous buyer had backed out, I had taken Munchkin to the park. It was a carefully chosen park -- chosen because it was in the neighborhood I'd really like to live in, and also because there was construction happening across the street from the park. While we were there, a mom walked up, a baby in a front pack and a 3-year-old in tow. Munchkin played with the preschooler while I visited with the mom.

A little bit into the conversation, it came out that she lived in the house next to the construction. Very long story short, it turned out that we bought our car from her husband 4 years ago. At the time, Scott drooled over their neighborhood and thought he might like to live there someday. Well, with the arrival of the new baby, they have outgrown their old house and are building a new house on the adjacent lot. The old house is plenty large, but it has only two bedrooms and they need three. We, on the other hand, only need two bedrooms.

We visited their house a couple days later and loved it. It's the best house we've seen in four months of looking. The only catch, well there's two catches, is that they won't be moving out until the end of next summer, and they have others who are also interested in buying it. They said they'd add us to the list.

We're going back in there next weekend with our realtor and are hoping to decide if the house is worth waiting for. Stay tuned for the next episode of "Life's little twists and turns..."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

At least he's honest

Making a motion across his lips, Munchkin recited, "Zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket!"

I asked if that was what teachers say when they want the kids to be quiet at preschool. Munchkin answered, "Yeah, but it doesn't work. I still jabber, jabber, jabber."

Monday, September 28, 2009

NASCAR, 4-year-old style

I wasn't here to see it, so this story comes courtesy of my husband, who gave me a couple hours of freedom last weekend while he and Munchkin watched NASCAR.

Scott had second thoughts about letting Munchkin see the race because when he turned on the TV, the first thing they saw was a giant wreck. Munchkin was hysterical - in tears and running out of the room. The Home Depot car crashed! The pretty orange car was ruined and orange was his favorite color! Scott said it was almost as bad as the time he accidentally squished imaginary friend Cat in the stroller.

All was forgotten when Munchkin realized that the pretty blue Lowes car was in the lead. Blue is really his favorite color (this week). Lowes won and the world was OK again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Easy come, easy go

Our buyer backed out today. The real bummer is that the way it happened means we have to do a bunch more work before we put our house back on the market. I guess no one ever said this would be easy, but it looked like we were done with this step. Sigh.

Friday, September 18, 2009

10 days

We sold our house today! Hard to believe, since we listed it on the 8th, but after multiple back-and-forths on the terms, we've got a signed contract. It's been only about 6 hours since we got the news, and already my son's & husband's stuff is back on the floor... Oh well, I'll enjoy not having to swap out towels a dozen times a day while we tried to pretend ours is a model home and not an actual dwelling. :)

So what's next? Well, besides the normal inspections, etc., we need to find ourselves a new house. Preferably before we need to get out of this one. I can't promise how often I'll be posting, but I'll be here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My new favorite dinner

It seems like everyone looking for a house decides to come right around dinner time. Either exactly when we would normally eat or, even more likely, during the time I would normally prepare the meal. Our real estate agent said it's OK for us to be around when people come, especially if they come during dinner, but I have a 4-year-old who doesn't want to move, so he says he'll tell people not to buy our house because it's on a busy street. Unfortunately, he's right, and given the chance he probably would tell them. So when people come, we need to get out of here before they arrive.

In the midst of all this, I stumbled on a perfectly easy menu that has an added bonus in that it makes our house smell heavenly. The recipe goes something like this:

About 2-4 hours before dinner time, dice fresh tomatoes into a bowl. Stir in chopped fresh basil, minced fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and let sit covered at room temperature until dinner. I've left out the quantities because it depends on the size of your family. I'd just add that you should go easy on the garlic the first time you try it. :)

When you finally get to eat dinner, boil some fresh pasta (I'm currently buying mine, but if your house is not for sale you could try making it yourself for even better results.) On each plate put a generous serving of pasta topped with the tomato mixture and grated Parmesan cheese. If you want, add to the meal a salad and a loaf of good bread. Sorry there's no picture -- my husband devoured every last bite and I didn't think to take a picture until afterwards.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tale of two dinners

Well, we did it. After months that felt like a marathon, we finally prepared our house to sell and it is now on the market. Now, all we have to do is keep it clean & tidy for all the hordes of people that will come and look at it. Ha ha. Remember, I have a Munchkin. One day I was washing windows -- not exactly a usual activity for me :) -- and I spotted him "helping" by breathing on my clean windows and "washing" them with his fingers. The best way to keep the house clean is to not be there.

Anyway, we had an end-of-the-summer and whew-we-did-it dinner to celebrate. I didn't realize until afterwards that it was almost completely local. So here's an idea for a wonderful, tasty, end-of-summer dinner. Everything's local except for the marinade ingredients and the sugar.

  • Broiled T-bone steak: from our cow and marinated with a homemade marinade (we were going to BBQ, but the BBQ is buried in the garage and we were tired)
  • Corn-on-the-cob: local, and served with local butter
  • Green beans: local
  • Fresh peach ice cream: homemade using local cream, milk, eggs, peaches & non-local sugar (the ice cream maker was buried, too, but I guess we were more motivated to find it!)
That was the night before we listed our house. The next evening, we went out to dinner since we had people coming through. The next evening, dinner was interrupted and I don't remember what we did. So the next evening, when Munchkin's preschool offered a free back-to-school BBQ for the families, we decided to attend.

I don't mean to be too critical since the dinner was free, they were trying to do it cheap, and the person who organized it is a very nice person who worked very hard, but dinner was too remarkable not to share. It was...

  • One small hot dog of dubious origin, barbequed
  • White little hot dog bun
  • Catsup, mustard and relish (which I skipped since I don't like goop)
  • Miniature bag of chips such as Chitos
  • Can of soda pop
  • Thin little slices of watermelon
I'm not sure I've ever eaten a meal containing less nutrition. The next morning, I woke up famished. Can anybody top this?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not likely

Moaning and groaning because Daddy insisted he wear the wrong shirt for Sunday School, Munchkin wailed, "Stop it, you guys! You're making me lose my appetite!!!"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And you think your service is slow

As a dial-up user, I thoroughly enjoyed this story of the carrier pigeon vs. the internet provider. Check it out. :)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32772500/ns/world_news-weird_news/?GT1=43001

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Confidential to kale's cute guy...

but I thought everyone else would enjoy it, too.

Munchkin just asked, sobbing, "Would you ask that guy that knew about the Scoops: Do Scoops cry? Please, will you ask him right now? And would you ask him if Scoops really sneeze?"

By the time he had finished asking all his questions, he had cheered up considerably.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Technically correct

As we drove past a pioneer cemetery this afternoon Munchkin cried out, "Mommy! There's a gardener in the park where the dead people are!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Swimming lessons

Life is crazy around here getting our house ready to sell, which is why I'm hardly posting, but I have a cute Munchkin story to share. If I don't write them down, I forget them by the next day. Anyway...

Munchkin has been taking swimming lessons off and on all summer. He's done great -- he's advanced from sheer terror to being the kid the teacher uses to demonstrate new skills. When he's not the center of attention, he spends his time teaching the other boys how to kick and splash.

This morning I observed the teacher trying to get Munchkin to jump into the pool without holding her hand. They went back and forth, but Munchkin grabbed her hand at the last minute as he jumped in. As we drove home, I asked Munchkin about it. He said that he told his teacher that he's not old enough to jump into the pool by himself, yet. I suggested that maybe he'd be old enough by Thursday (his next lesson). Munchkin thought for a second and then answered, "I won't be 5 by Thursday."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Local wildlife

Before I finish my Montana posts, I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite wildlife pictures from our trip...


Wait! What's he doing here?!!


This picture was taken with a wide angle lens. Please don't tell the rangers.


And here on a distant slope is Munchkin's favorite animal (if you look closely, you'll see it in the center, in yellow).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pot and kettle


Our first week camping, we were fortunate to have as neighbors two very nice 12-year-old boys who would place "chase" with Munchkin for hours. The second week we moved to the other side of the park and had neighbors who sat by the campfire every evening and played professional level bluegrass. It was lovely and Munchkin got spoiled by getting to fall asleep to the music every night.

There weren't a lot of kids around, however, so one afternoon when we ate lunch outside the lodge, Munchkin was delighted to find a 5-year-old boy and his 2-year-old brother. The boys played and played. After spending a little time only with the 5-year-old, Munchkin said, "Let's find out what the noisy one is doing!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The egg lady


At the end of our first week in a tent, we drove out to West Glacier, a town at the entrance of the park, to do some necessary laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Imagine my delight to learn that West Glacier hosts a farmers' market and it was happening that afternoon! A taste of local in a world of canned, dried and packaged everything.

Scott was quick to spot the huckleberry mini-size pies. I promised we'd get one after we'd looked around. Sad to say, he had spotted the last two pies and they were gone before we got back to that booth.

The hit of the market, though, was the egg lady. Laying on the ground next to her table was a bear rug that looked a little too real. We asked her about it and were treated to the whole story of how that bear had tried to eat her. She fought single-handedly and valiently. Even knocked out one of his teeth (See? This one!) but she was destined to become dinner until she remembered she had a knife. While fighting off the bear, she whipped out her knife and stabbed him (See? Here's where I got him!), thus killing the bear and escaping with her life. All the while, her husband stood by helpless, insisting that he couldn't use his gun because he might shoot his wife. The story was quite detailed.

We left for a while, but returned to the market before we drove back to our campsite. As I walked past the egg lady, she was entertaining yet another customer with the story of her conquest.

Friday, August 14, 2009

If only moving were this easy

Our first night at Glacier, we gratefully took one of the last remaining spots in the whole campground. By the next morning, it was clear that our spot was way too small as we were tripping over each other and grumpy. Like vultures, we walked the loop watching for a better spot to open up. Finally, we found a spot that was much better.

Scott was going to tear down everything and set it back up again at the new site, but I convinced him that we could save a lot of work if we picked up the tent and carried it. I wish I could have video taped it, but Scott and I walked the loop carrying the tent while Munchkin walked in front of us swinging his arms and calling out, "WIDE LOAD! WIDE LOAD!"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some people spend thousands to go to Disneyland...

We've discovered a way to get a better "wow" factor for our money, and we don't even have to leave home!

Somehow, our blissful vacation went from this:

to this:
Amid the chaos of getting our house ready to sell, I'm trying to hang on to the last remnants of peace and relaxation. I'm posting a couple cute stories from our trip. Look for them to show up each day at 4pm, PST.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sharp

I've been in Montana for the last two weeks. Hope you all enjoyed the couple of posts I postdated while I was gone and thanks to everyone who left comments -- I've answered them now. I'm looking forward to posting photos of some of the incredible views, but I'm still getting my photos transfered over to my laptop. In the meantime, here's a little "cute Munchkin" story from vacation...

Eating out with a 4-year-old is always an adventure. The first evening, we stopped at a Burgerville, which we all love. During dinner Munchkin asked for more catsup, so Scott picked up one of those large squeeze bottles they have in restaurants. As he began to squirt the catsup, Munchkin grabbed the bottle around the middle and squeezed hard, making a large pile of catsup on his plate.

After Scott regained control of the catsup bottle, he turned to me and said under his breath, "He's pretty sharp."

To which Munchkin replied, "Sharp wanted more catsup!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Another question of the day

Munchkin wants to know... "If a spider dies, does he go to heaven?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cherry pickers


This year we went at the very beginning of the season so that there would be low-hanging cherries for Munchkin to pick. I've never seen the trees this loaded before -- it was just beautiful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Universal language

We went blueberry picking last week. Munchkin wasn't really interested in picking berries, only popping them into his mouth (from my bucket). He had hoped there would be kids to play with, but when we got to the farm there was no one but grown-ups.

Finally, a family arrived, but I overheard them talking in a language I didn't recognize. I told Munchkin that the kids might not speak English -- a hard concept for him to grasp. He puzzled over that one and then he crawled beneath a blueberry bush. When the kids approached, he let out a "RRRROOOOAAAARRRR!"

There was a moment of stunned silence, and then the little boy responded, "RRRROOOOAAAARRR!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Scoop question, cont.

Thanks to kale's cute guy for contributing that Scoop only sneezes when he's got a cold. Munchkin now wants to know how he sneezes without a mouth.

Green bean is currently inquiring of her resident Scoop expert. Does he know?

Does anybody know?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Question of the day

Munchkin wants to know... "Does Scoop (a backhoe loader) ever sneeze?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yipes!

Just a quick note to let you all know I'm still here. We found an investor who might want to buy our house right away instead of us doing all the work first. If this works out, it will save us so much time and work in the long run. In the short run, we're scrambling to get everything ready to show him, and then if he buys it, we'll be scrambling to find a new house and move. It's exciting, but right now I feel like I'm in a juggling act in the circus. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Field of weeds

I've been working some hours at the farm where we are getting our CSA share this summer. (For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a CSA is where you purchase a share in a farm and then you receive a box of produce every week.) This morning, I "weeded" a row of potatoes.

When the farmer took me out to the field, she asked if I knew what a potato plant looked like. When I said "no," she showed me a plant and described in great detail all its features. It was pretty obvious which were the potatoes as they were about 18" high and the scraggly weeds were only about 8". I wondered why she was going on and on about the looks of the plant until I realized that the row I was looking at was already weeded. The other rows were a tangled mess of weeds about 18" high covering 12" high potato plants.

My job was to extricate the plants from their tangled prisons so that they could see the sun. Without sunlight, some of the plants had already died and others were stunted. I worked 1-1/2 hours and I only got through one row. I think I now understand why some farmers use roundup-ready veggies, much as I detest the practice. I've never seen such a crop of weeds in my life as are in the fields at this farm.

Last week I spent my farm morning washing mixed greens. There were 3-4 of us working for 3 hours and we only got through 3 boxes of the greens because we had to spend so much time picking out the weeds and grasses that had been harvested along with the salad mix.

The farm is organic so no weed-killer allowed, but I wonder. Isn't there a better way? Wouldn't it be more efficient to weed the rows of potatoes when the weeds were little? Isn't it easier to weed the mixed greens before you harvest them? This is this particular farmer's first year so it seems to me that she's learning some things the hard way, but what do I know. Has anybody out there run a sizeable organic farm and can you tell me if farming organically is really supposed to be this much work?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

His father's son

The other day, Munchkin asked me why he doesn't have a toy roller truck. I answered, "I don't know if I've ever even seen a toy roller truck, but maybe you and Daddy can figure out how to make one."

Munchkin thought on this a minute and then he said, "We'll need a lathe."

Like father like son. But then, after thinking some more, Munchkin showed that he's his mother's son, too. He asked, "Is there anyone that we could borrow one from?"

That evening at dinner Munchkin told Scott, "I want to make a roller truck. We'll need to use a lathe two times because I want a double drum compactor."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Love song

Heard through Munchkin's bedroom door at 7am (very loudly): Love! Love! Love! Love!...

Scott opens the door.

Munchkin (shouts): You can't come in! I'm not done with my love song!

Scott: I just want to give you a hug.

Munchkin (slams the door, leaving Scott outside): Love! Love! I love you! Love! I love you! Love! Love!...

Do you think Munchkin's missing something in the concept?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Long time no post

Thanks to all of you who are still out there -- no, I haven't fallen off the deep end or anything. I've just not been taking much time for blogging recently, and I haven't even answered some recent comments. Thanks, you guys, for stopping by and commenting anyway!

We are still deciding whether to move. House hunting is fun, but very stressful and time consuming, too. We had an engineer look at a potential problem at our present house last night and he told us that we need to tear up almost the whole backyard to fix it. And we thought the new roof would be the biggest expense!

I've received requests for more cute Munchkin stories. Maybe in a day or two. We heard the tragic news this morning that the 5-year-old cousin of one of Munchkin's little friends was killed in a freak car accident last night. Munchkin has also played with the cousin, but insists he doesn't remember her. I think it's his way of coping. It's hard to focus right now, but I wanted to share.

So anyway, thanks everybody for hanging in there with me. If we really get going with this house thing, my posting might be sporadic for a while, but I'm still here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Too smart for his own good

The other evening at dinner, Munchkin savored a big spoonful of Cool Whip that was left over after he'd eaten all his strawberries. (OK, it's not exactly local, or organic, or even containing any nutritional value whatsoever, but sometimes it's just fun.) Scott commented that someday he'd show him another use for that spoonful. Anticipating Cool Whip splattering the kitchen, I glared "don't you dare." Scott responded that if he didn't tell, someone else would.

Munchkin, of course, pressed to know what Daddy was talking about. When Scott told him he'd have to wait until he was a little older, Munchkin thought for a moment and then said confidently, "I'll ask Grandpa."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Annual shopping trip

Not far from where we live, there is a community that has an annual group garage sale -- group meaning about 130 houses. I keep a wish list and mark the date on my calendar.

This year, my list was slightly different than it was last year. I did so well finding clothes for Munchkin last year that I didn't need much, but I did need a few things for him, especially toys and activities. In the past I've been so successful finding everything on my list that this year I took "orders." Scott wanted a kayak, sports car and a popcorn popper and Munchkin wanted more Legos, Lincoln Logs, fingerpainting supplies and blue shirts (the color firemen wear).

Cash in hand, I set off Saturday morning to see what I could find. The selection was very different this year from previous years. Everybody was selling furniture -- tables, chairs, beds, sofas, sofabeds, freezers, entertainment centers, desks, china cabinets, end tables, and I even saw two kitchen sinks, one of which was complete with cabinet. If you need furniture, check out garage sales this summer.

I didn't need any furniture so I came home with:

For Munchkin: jacket, vest, shoes, mittens, snow bibs, 6 pairs of socks, Candyland, 3 puzzles, a toy truck, fingerpainting paper, washable markers, more Lincoln Logs, and 3 blue shirts.
For Scott and me: 1 video, a popcorn popper and a pizza peel

I found Scott a like-new kayak, but he decided he didn't want it badly enough to pay $50 for it. The sports car was even more expensive. :) Also, I learned that no one sells their Legos. The pizza peel cost one dollar, so I purchased my breadbaking stone and peel for under $5. I don't dare tell my friend who bought new and paid over $60. Her stone broke, but my $3.79 tile is holding up just fine.

In all, an enjoyable way to spend a morning and a mere 20 bucks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

You try to raise a green kid...

But then he dumps out his barrel of Lincoln Logs, gets his construction equipment and plays "logging show." For days.

On a brighter note, this morning at a friend's house, he removed all the decorative wire fencing surrounding her flower garden and put it in the "recycling bin." He said he was cleaning up.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Walkabout

I stumbled across a cool website as I was browsing online for houses. The site (http://www.walkscore.com/) will rank an address on a 1-100 scale of how easy it is to walk to the grocery store, library, etc. It's not perfect, but it seems to be a pretty good guage. Our house ranks a measly 25. How about you?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Little Fish that Got Away

The other night we went to Munchkin's first-ever school music/drama program. The preschool class were the fish and they looked darling in their little costumes as they "swam" all over the stage and made "fish faces." One little fish swam quite a bit faster than the rest... but he at least stood still when the fish lined up and sang their song.

Then it was time to leave the stage and he decided not to leave with the others but instead come down the front steps to sit with us. We encouraged him to go back up with his classmates, so he climbed back up the steps and stood, by this time all alone on stage, trying to decide whether to stay or to go. Once decided, he announced in a loud and clear voice that he didn't want to do this anymore, and he walked back down the front steps. Scott was taping with our camcorder, but sadly, didn't get the whole thing so America's Funniest will just have to do without.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I try so hard to buy local healthy food...

But then Munchkin gets sick with a nasty little bug and I take him to the doctor. The doc says he'll be just fine if I follow her strict orders to not let him eat anything that's not on her list: bland white bread, rice crispies, white soda crackers, instant mashed potatoes, canned chicken broth, pedialite popsicles and maybe just a little white grape juice since I tell her he won't drink Gatorade. My husband summarized the menu as, "All the stuff you never buy!"

I'm happy to report that Munchkin is better now, and back to eating real food.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Schmoozer

Munchkin has no scruples about using his charm to get what he wants. He's gotten sets of rubber gloves from every medical practitioner he's ever seen, and half of the firemen in our town. He'd have quite the collection by now, but I toss them out after he's shredded them by stretching the gloves over his shoes.

The other night, we went with our realtor to look at a house and the owners had placed a basket full of those little blue footy things for people to wear on their shoes. Munchkin took off his shoes, and then insisted on wearing the footies because he said his socks were dirty. I was just waiting for him to ask to keep a set.

Munchkin waited until we were all the way out of the house and the realtor had locked the door before he said, "They have a lot of footies... I think they have too many footies." Guess who schmoozed his own pair.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

House hunt

We're poking around trying to decide if we want to take advantage of current market conditions and move into something with a little more space. Our house hunt so far has yielded some choice comments from Munchkin. Yesterday he said, "I want a bigger yard... and a bigger house... so I can make a bigger mess!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another funny search

Just looked at my recent stats and saw that someone arrived at my blog searching on: "where do you get donna the duck chocolate". Anybody know?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Big dreams

"What I want...
is a whole pallet full of blue tape...
and I'll need a fork-lift to move the pallet."
-- Munchkin

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sourdough bread, Part I

A while back I wrote about taking an artisan bread making class and my desire to bake real sourdough bread. I've been working on it and have found that the road to good bread is paved with stinky starter! I'll backtrack...


For my birthday last month, Scott gave me Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg. I read it from cover to cover, but have yet to try many recipes in it. I've made the boule, which was also my favorite recipe from class. It's very tasty, easy and my family likes it. All good reasons to keep making it, but it's not sourdough. Hertzberg says that if you leave the dough in the fridge for several days, it starts to develop a mock sourdough flavor. My problem, besides the fact that I don't have enough room in my fridge for a huge bowl of dough, is that I don't have the patience to wait that long for my bread! So I've never baked anything even remotely sour by this method. Hertzberg's book is very popular and I also enjoyed it very much. I will go back and try more of his recipes. The only complaint I have is that he is pretty opinionated and it gets old after a while.

So mock sourdough just wasn't making it. Next, I got a cup of real sourdough starter from one of Scott's coworkers. She had purchased the real thing online and had so much she didn't know what to do with it all. It came with four pages of small type instructions on the care and feeding of the starter. I really, really tried to follow the directions. So I bought non-chlorinated water since chlorine purportedly kills wild yeast. I bought it and I set it on the counter, and then I transfered my starter to a larger container and carefully fed it flour and nice warm tap water. Oops.

I didn't know if I'd killed it or what, so I placed the tap water starter on the windowsill and then looked at the jar the original starter had come from. There wasn't much there, but there was some since I hadn't scraped the jar. I fed that, too, with flour and the right water this time and then I set it next to the other. After a couple hours, the non-chlorine starter definitely looked healthier. I decided to use up the chlorine starter in pancakes for dinner. Dinner time came, and I followed the pancake recipe exactly, not remembering until after they were eaten that I meant to use the starter.

The starter also came with a recipe for authentic sourdough bread. The recipe was daunting, taking days to make the loaf. I decided to take a little shortcut... I combined the boule recipe from the cookbook with the recipe from the starter into a concoction I hoped would yield delicious sourdough bread. I made enough to bake three loaves. The first was a shape I'll call "the lump." It ended up about one inch thick -- perfect for ordeurves, and not a hint of sour taste in it. So I refrigerated the rest of the dough for a day or two and then tried again. This time the dough was much firmer and I could make a little taller loaf. I baked two loaves, took them out of the oven too early, and just smiled when everyone commented how "moist" they were. They tasted fine, luckily, just not sour.

My saga continues. Stay tuned for the next episode of "How the Sourdough Turns..."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're number #171,394!

Well, two or three cool people out there in cyberspace have purchased a copy of my book on Amazon! I don't know who you are, but thank you and I hope you love it!

I noticed the first purchase a day or so ago and was delighted to see that I now had a ranking: 250,ooo and something in books. :) Then when I checked again later (for the exact number, so I could write this post), my ranking had dropped to 500,ooo and something. Whoa! The ranking must have a factor in it for how recent the purchase is. Anyway, with someone's purchase of two more copies, my ranking has broken the 200,ooo mark -- for now. Please humor me while I enjoy all this cool stuff. What can I say -- it's my first book. :)

By the time this posts, I'm sure my ranking will have changed again. If you want to see the listing, the link is here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers' Day

As a Mothers' Day present, Scott offered to fix a couple things around the house that needed fixing. I'm not sure if it was more for me or for Munchkin. As they worked, Scott whispered to me, "The tool box wasn't really necessary." :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"The Purple Elephant" Released!


I'm excited to announce the release of The Purple Elephant!

For those new to my blog, The Purple Elephant is my first book. It's a children's chapter book intended for ages 5-10. The Purple Elephant is a delightful story containing all the old-fashioned ingredients: an adventuresome prince, a reluctant princess, a friendly fire-breathing dragon, a wicked wizard and a generous dose of humor. I hope you will all love it!

For more information, check out: http://www.the-purple-elephant.blogspot.com/.

The Purple Elephant is available at Amazon (free shipping available for orders over $25), or you can order from CreateSpace (at CreateSpace use discount code 87M36Q72 for $2 off per copy now through May 31). Retail price for 78-page book with color illustrations is $15.95.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The hidden cost of preschool (update)

This morning I called the insurance and was told that we have a previously-unknown-to-me clause in Munchkin's policy that says that they waive the deductible if the medical care is due to an accident. Once they were convinced that Munchkin's accident didn't occur at work (dragging a pretend fire hose doesn't count as "work"), they said we're home free! The doc's office probably owes us a refund on the amount we already paid. How often does that happen?!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The hidden cost of preschool

You're probably thinking I'm going to write about the tuition, or the enrollment fee, or the incessant fund raisers (definitely a hidden cost!), but no, I'm talking about the medical bills. No, I'm not even talking about the visits to the doctor for the strange and exotic viruses the preschooler gets from his little friends, although those visits certainly add up. I'm talking about the bills for the stitches. From injuries incurred while running into the preschool's wheelchair ramp. While dragging a pretend fire hose.

After the numbing medicine took effect, Munchkin was a real trooper. He watched in fascination as the doctor sewed him back together and he can't wait to go back and show his stitches to all his friends. And in case you ever need to know, if your child is considerate enough to get his injury during business hours, you can take him to his pediatrician instead of to Urgent Care or Emergency. We've been told it's much cheaper although we haven't received the rest of the bills, yet.

Recovering later that afternoon, Munchkin played "paramedic" and doctored up all his buddies.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where'd he learn that?

After listening to Munchkin make fire engine siren sounds for over and hour, Scott held out his hand and said, "This is an imaginary cork," and he pretended to put it in Munchkin's mouth.

Munchkin reached his hand to his mouth and said, "I took it out!"

Scott waved his hand around and said, "I'm putting Gorilla Glue on it."

Munchkin reached his hand up again and said, "I have solvent!"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The goal

Last weekend, Scott and I enjoyed a nice time away while Muchkin stayed with his grandparents. Before we left, Munchkin announced, "I'm going to wear out Grandpa in just one day! Then I'm going to wear out Grandma!"

When we returned, we asked Grandpa if Munchkin had succeeded. He answered, "He sure tried."

Back at home, we asked Munchkin the same question. He said sadly, "No, it took two days."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: Fix-It Duck

It's been too long since I've posted a book review, so I wanted to tell about our newest favorite kids' book around here. Munchkin picked up a copy of Fix-It Duck by Jez Alborough from a display at our local library and it has delighted the whole family. (Maybe that's because Fix-It Duck reminds us so much of Munchkin!)

Jez Alborough's illustrations are clever and colorful, his verse is fun and the duck is lovable. What a find!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bread

Back in February I had the pleasure of taking a 2-day class in artisan bread making. I can’t believe it’s taken me until now to write about it, but life has been busy. :) Anyway, the class was fascinating.

My hope was that the class would cover sourdough since that’s my first love in bread, but instead it covered five varieties of artisan bread, all requiring a long first rise. We made up the "bigas" (a really fancy word for flour, yeast and water) at the Friday evening session, and then Saturday morning we turned them into bread, baking everything before the class was over that afternoon.

The instructor was a stickler for details, carefully measuring all ingredients by weight and using a timer for mixing times and rises. Frankly, she was too picky for my taste and so I got a real kick out of what happened to one of the other teams. The instructor sent home a biga with a member of each team and threatened them with certain doom if they didn’t refrigerate it promptly at 9:30pm and then take it out of the fridge by 6:00am. The next morning, everyone brought back their bigas and they all looked about the same except for one. A sheepish-looking lady had forgotten to put hers in the refrigerator at all, and her biga was so large and puffy that she couldn’t hide what she had done. The instructor tsk-tsked, but it was too late. Success was futile – the bread would collapse. A member of my group whispered to the mortified student that she should just punch it down a little. When we baked the bread, no one could tell the difference between hers and the rest.

I recognize the importance of exactness in the baking of bread – probably – but it doesn’t fit my personality. I’d rather work by feel or estimate, and since I’ve never had a loaf fail I don’t see a problem with my approach. Out of the five recipes we used in class, I found one that suits my style perfectly. It’s called a boule and I’ve now made it several times to rave reviews.

The friend who took the class with me purchased a fancy mixer and a beautiful large baking stone, which I’ve priced out at kitchen stores for about $40. With them, she bakes fantastic bread. When I use a mixer, I use one that used to belong to my husband’s late grandmother (the thing outlived her!). I drooled over the expensive baking stones in the kitchen store and then I went to the local hardware store and bought an unglazed stone tile for $3.79. I could have purchased it for $2.49, but I wanted the pretty one.

The class was worth it for a lot of good tips and I’ll probably never walk through the bakery stands at the farmers’ market and look at the bread the same way ever again. Now, I see loaves of artisan bread and think, "I could make that!" I’ve put in a hint for the bread baking book that the boule recipe came from for my birthday, and a co-worker of my husband’s has offered me some sourdough starter. I think with the book and the starter I can adapt what I learned in the class to the baking of sourdough bread. I can hardly wait!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Drumroll, please...

Scott has finished the cover for my soon-to-be-published book, The Purple Elephant. Check it out on The Purple Elephant website!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Market Day

Earlier this winter, I discovered a tiny farmers' market nestled behind a local bakery. It's probably going away soon when our larger market opens for the season, and I'll miss it because this tiny market is just my speed.

Last Saturday was rare in that I didn't really need to buy anything that is sold at the market, but I was out and about with my husband, who had never been there, and my son, who begged to go say "hi" to the "egg lady" who knitted him a hat. We were in the neighborhood, so we dropped by.

The "egg lady" recognized us at once, and didn't seem to mind a bit that we didn't need any eggs. Instead, she entertained us with stories about her mischievious geese who sit on duck eggs (or was it ducks who sit on goose eggs) and she gave Munchkin a pretty postcard while explaining that the lovely duck whose photograph is on the card is a real pain in the you-know-what. We left her booth smiling.

Another farmer I know isn't there anymore since she ran out of apples two weeks ago, so we bought apples from a different farmer who appeared to be totally delighted to sell to us. (Some of the apples turned out to be pretty mealy -- maybe she was glad to get rid of them!) We've been so spoiled by the great tasting apples from the sold-out farmer that we're joining her CSA when it opens for the season and if it turns out she needs me, I'm going to host a CSA pick-up location.

I love eating local.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What do you make of this?

I'm not much of a doom-and-gloom sort of person, and I usually dismiss the-sky-is-falling newsflashes out of hand, and this one sounds like the things I usually attribute to crackpots, but I've got a lot of respect for this guy.

A while back I mentioned a letter written by Times Square Church pastor David Wilkerson about the present economic collapse. Whether his total prophecy will come true or not still remains to be seen -- it's not over til it's over -- although for many people it's already come true. Anyway, David Wilkerson has another letter out and this one is totally alarming. The website policies state that I can't post an excerpt, so here's the link. In short, he's prophesying that a major catastrophe is coming to the US, soon, and he's stocking up on 30 days of supplies to prepare for it.

The letter sounds like the crackpot letters I normally dismiss. It really does. But David Wilkerson isn't a crackpot and he has a history of giving prophecies that turn out to be correct. So I don't know what to make of this. I sure hope he's lost it on this one. What do you think?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Buzz

Munchkin changes his name and/or profession every few days. It's hard to keep track of sometimes. As of yesterday, he's an astronaut and at dinner tonight he announced, "I'm Buzz Aldrin! Don't mess up my name!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Better than Disneyland

It's been a stay-at-home spring break week this week. Munchkin and I are off, but Scott is working, so we've been finding local stuff to do and today I hit a home run. I took the little guy to the largest construction site I've ever seen. We watched for three hours. I could hardly tear him away. And you know his favorite part? The construction job he now wants to have? He wants to be one of the guys who use fire hoses to spray the mud off trucks as they leave the site. You see, the guys who do that job wear gloves.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Too funny

This evening, Scott and Munchkin were playing on the floor when Munchkin took a flying leap into Scott's lap, knocking him over backwards. After a moment of pride at what he had accomplished, Munchkin got a pathetic look on his face and said, "I knocked over my hug... I need a new hug."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eduru

There's an interesting phenomenon when it comes to people feeling compassion for others in need. I don't remember where I read the research on it, but we will give more to a single need than we will to a much greater group need. We care more, for example, about one child who falls into a well (anybody remember Baby Jessica?) than we care for a whole village where kids are dying because they don't have a well. Maybe it seems more possible to help the one child than the whole village, I don't know.

I've found a charity that makes the most of this very human tendency. Through Compassion International, I've been sponsoring a girl named Eduru who lives in India. Compassion has a program where you pay a small amount of support each month which pays for a child's education, food, medicine, recreation and church-based training. The biggest benefit, though, is that you can correspond with your sponsored child by mail. If there is a language barrier, Compassion arranges for the letters to be translated.

I have to admit that Eduru's letters have been a little unsatisfying. Some sponsors report great relationships with their sponsored children, but many have an experience similar to mine. At the beginning, Eduru's letters were mostly form letters. Now that she is composing the letters herself, they are still pretty general and vague. Once in a while, though, I learn something that really puts my own challenges in perspective. Eduru's father is a day worker, which means that sometimes he works and sometimes he doesn't. Her mother appears to be chronically ill, and there are other children in the family. Once I received a letter in which Eduru reported that the recent monsoon had damaged their house and her family didn't know what they were going to do. Another time, I sent her something for her birthday and she used the money to buy a large pot, I presume for cooking. She was seven.

I've found that through the experience of sponsoring one child, I can see a clearer picture of how many others also live. There are a lot of really good charities out there and I wouldn't suggest to anyone that they drop a favorite and add this one, but if someone wants to know a way to make a little difference and see the results, Compassion has a great program. We really do have so much.

(This is my contribution to the APLS March carnival: Where do you want to give?)

Friday, March 13, 2009

I bet he does

Sorry I've been so quiet this week -- I've been sick, as has Munchkin. We've got different bugs, so let's hope we don't pass them back and forth or give one of them to Scott. Anyway, this evening I commented that I was really tired of blowing my nose. Munchkin suggested that he and daddy could climb into my nose with tools and fix it. So naturally, Scott suggested that what they really needed was an auger.

Munchkin didn't know what an auger was, so Scott described it. Munchkin then said that he had seen one before. He said, "Grandpa keeps it next to his Dangerous Saws."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Do you think they found what they were looking for?

It's educational, sometimes, to look through the stats on my blog and find out what key words bring new readers. Most people follow google links for something normal like crayons, chocolate, or a book review, but after reading the most recent list I got the giggles. Someone arrived at my blog searching for "fridge door is making a sound like a cow when closing."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Learning curve

Munchkin is learning about the calendar at preschool. Tuesday, we were riding in the car when he started reciting the days of the week all out of order. He's always had trouble with that.

Thursday, Scott reported that Munchkin recited his days of the week mixing up only one, which is a kind of record.

Friday, out of the blue, Munchkin announced, "Tomorrow is the first Saturday of the month!" Shocked, I confirmed his statement. Munchkin replied, "That's when they do the kids' stuff at Home Depot." (Last November, we learned that there are workshops for kids at Home Depot on the first Saturday of each month, but we've never remembered to take Munchkin to one of the workshops. To my knowledge, we haven't talked about it since November.)

I shared the story with Scott, and so Friday evening he asked Munchkin how he knew so much. Munchkin said very matter of factly, "I have a memory like a steel trap."

(Sadly, by Saturday, Munchkin was running a 101 degree fever and was in no shape to go to the workshop. But it turns out they're running the workshops every Saturday this month. We'll try again -- I think he's earned it.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Adorable Day

Happy Adorable Day, everybody!

In honor of Adorable Day, Munchkin is dressing up in a "bunny suit." Maybe I should explain...
Wednesday, we went to the library and picked up a new load of books. One of the books was about firemen, and there was a page where the firemen, Jimmy and Gary, were wearing hazmat suits, which they call "bunny suits." That was all Munchkin needed. He has carted around the book for the last three days while he cleans up hazmat spills around the house. His suit looks suspiciously like his pajamas, so I made him a little helmet.

For those unfamiliar with Adorable Day, it is celebrated on the first Friday in March, or whenever after that you remember it. To celebrate Adorable Day, do something adorable. It can be as simple as taking a picture of your adorable kid, or cooking an adorable dinner, or doing something for your adorable spouse. The possibilities are endless.

Scott and I invented Adorable Day about 10 years ago and have celebrated it ever since. He wanted to bring our balloon blower to work this morning to blow balloon animals for his co-workers, but found out this morning that we didn't have enough balloons left to do it. But it was an adorable idea.

For more adorable stuff, check out this site for some adorable pictures.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ack! What's wrong with my omlette?

Sunday evening I cooked a simple dinner of cheese omlette and homemade blueberry muffins. I used up almost the last of my frozen blueberries (sob!), leaving only enough for one last batch of pancakes. As I was cooking the omlette, I noticed it was a strange color. I mentally reviewed my ingredients -- no, same as usual -- but the thing looked anemic. It looked practically white.

Then, it dawned on me that I've been using "real" eggs for a long time, now. In fact, I've recently been cooking with duck eggs, which are even better. I can get farm-fresh duck eggs about 25% cheaper than I can get chicken eggs right now, and they are lovely with huge orange yolks. But last week I ran out of eggs and so I purchased "cage-free, vegetarian-fed, yadda, yadda, yadda" eggs from the grocery store. Hence, the white omlette. Boy, am I spoiled.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How do firemen do what?

As Munchkin is still stuck in fireman mode (it's been going on for over two years, but intensely in the last two weeks), this afternoon I drove him to a couple new (to us) fire stations. Most of the stations didn't have anyone at home, but we finally found one that had a couple firemen to talk to.

Munchkin has been asking all sorts of fire fighting questions to which we don't have the answers, so we've encouraged him to ask a fireman. Never one to be shy, when we entered the station and saw the firemen, Munchkin began with his most pressing question.

What do you think a 4-year-old boy who is still learning how to control certain bodily functions wanted to know?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Big kid

In the grocery store this afternoon, as Munchkin and I approached a line for the checker, Munchkin started making all sorts of silly sounds. He asked me what "they" would do when they heard him, and then he continued his noise. I didn't have the chance to answer before I heard an equally silly noise from behind me. A bent over old man (maybe in his 80's?) from the next checker line over was matching Munchkin's sound effects.

Munchkin was stunned at first, but then he broke into a big smile and said, "beep, beep!"

The man beeped back and then said, "When I was your age, the cars didn't go 'beep, beep,' they went, 'ga-goo-ga!'" He didn't sound like I do when I say, "ga-goo-ga" -- he sounded like a car.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

They said, "hello"

Please tell me I'm not the only parent whose 4-year-old walks down the tool aisle of a store, sits on a shelf and begins a conversation with the bandsaw blades.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nature and the environment

I have had the opportunity to experience nature at its finest since before I can even remember. From the time I was an infant, my parents took me camping in national parks. We would spend weeks during the summer traveling – to the Olympias and Mt. Rainier in Washington, the Rockies in Colorado, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Canyonlands in Utah, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Glacier in Montana, the Canadian Rockies, the list goes on, but those are some of the highlights.

Closer to home, we would go to Yosemite at least twice a year, sometimes more. In the summer we camped at Tuolomne Meadows and in autumn we would drive to the Valley Floor to see the leaves turning color. Sometimes we’d visit in the winter or springtime as well. I grew up floating on an air mattress in the Merced River, scrambling up the rocks of Lambert Dome, scooping up water from the Soda Springs (and adding Kool-aid to it to make it drinkable), and shivering in my sleeping bag in the chilly temperatures at 8000'.

When I grew up and moved to Oregon, I found a good hiking book and explored the Cascades – the trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness and the Jefferson Wilderness are my favorites. I got the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Kenya on a safari. Scott and I traveled to Mount Rainier, Crater Lake and Yosemite the first year we were dating, and we didn’t slow our pace much until Munchkin was born. Now, we’re returning to our favorite places hoping Munchkin will absorb some of the wonder even as he digs in the dirt at the campsites. :)

All this to say, I love beautiful places. There is nothing man can create that can possibly compare with what I see in the natural world. As a Christian, I wonder if God is giving us just a little taste of heaven. My environmentalism began both from my parents’ influence and also John Muir’s influence. John Muir’s fingerprints and philosophy are all over Yosemite, and the tragedy of Hetch Hetchy probably did more to promote his cause than anything else. It’s a tragedy that is still going on – they could decide to drain Hetch Hetchy tomorrow and let the land begin to recover. OK, this isn’t a post on Hetch Hetchy, sorry.

Long story short, that’s how I started out caring about the environment. That was before I knew about global warming, melting glaciers, smog clouds over China, mountaintop removal and the great pacific garbage patch. It turns out that there’s a lot more reasons to care than just preserving the natural beauty. This is much bigger than "I want to take Munchkin to see the glaciers before they’re all gone." People are suffering because of our failure to live sustainably. Deserts are growing, the sea level is rising, the coral reefs are dying, animal species are going extinct. The entire globe is sick.

The saddest part is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Even now, we could make changes that would allow the land to start to heal, allow threatened species to begin to recover, and improve the quality of life for the undeveloped world. There are a ton of good ideas out there that would make a positive difference.

I don’t have a neat and tidy way to wrap up this post. I’ll tell you one thing I find encouraging, though. My 4-year-old son asked me the other day if I would take him somewhere where he could watch solar panels being installed on a roof. And if we could put solar panels on our own roof when we get a new one. I think the youngest generation gets it.

This is my better-late-than-never contribution to the APLS "Nature and the Environment" Carnival. For more entries, click here.