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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some Miscellaneous Christmas Memories

I' ve had a perfect day! I cleaned my house and classroom while I talked on the phone to a friend. I finished threshing my Love-Lies-Bleeding amaranth and my Elephant Head amaranth. I planted a large planter of Mammoth Basil. I went snowshoeing with Mr. Blueberry Eyes. I found a lost crusty bread recipe! What a good day!

In a few minutes, The Wood Artist will be home from an all day snowshoe adventure on a mountain with Brother Schnickelfritz. It has snowed all day, so I'm sure there will be great stories to hear.

I'm still glowing from talking to my best friend lastnight for probably an hour or more! We had a blast discussing projects and scheming a month together. It will be something crazy to pull off, seeing that she lives rather near the North Pole! But, who's afraid of a "little" driving?! We schemed some projects to work on, too! I was so excited, I didn't sleep for a long time!

So, here are some of my favorite pictures from Christmas.
Laughing Water is achieving the next level of a game by doing a dare - she let me draw this face on her. The middle picture is Christmas dinner just before it was consumed with relish. Then, Brother M.P. and Brother Schnicklefritz share a light moment in a game. I'm sad I didn't get a good picture of Brother Medic.

Tomorrow friends will come to celebrate the New Year. They will spend a couple of nights. We will cook and eat and talk.

Happy New Year, to one and all! - Nanette





Monday, December 28, 2009

My Best Friend's Blog

Yayyyyy! I've tried more than once to get my best friend's blog, HomeSweetYukon, on my sidebar, but to no avail. Tonight, I tried again and voila! There it is! I don't know if I'm just more computer savvy or what, but, whatever happened, you really should check out her blog. She is the most amazing, creative person I've EVER known! I want to be like her when I grow up! - Nanette

Threshing time





It takes me by surprise each year. Somewhere in the middle of Christmas celebrations I start longing for my garden. Strange. Especially because by the time the harvest is pulled in each fall, I'm so tired that I'm not at all sure I should garden another year. It is something like giving birth. After a few months, you can consider the joys once more, while the painful memories fade slightly.
So, this year, when the catalogs started arriving, I was, once again, infected with the gardening virus. When playing games with my family got a little tiresome, I pulled out the bean and pea pods that I'd picked last fall for seed-saving. I'd stored them in my garage in old #10 cans to dry. Granny Flash and I spent an evening shelling the seeds and labeling them. I saved most of what I will need for snow peas, green peas, green, yellow and purple beans, and some of what I will need for dry beans.
I'm just starting this seed-saving adventure and I like it. It will save a lot of money, come ordering time, and it gives a sense of independence - something I enjoy quite a lot. Not only that, I feel a little more in control of the safety of my seed!
The first and last pictures are of Jacob's cattle bean, which I grew last year. Unfortunately, cut worms destroyed much of the crop. So, we didn't get to taste them. We just saved the seed to try again.
I'm eager to try more dry beans. I want to see if homegrown, fresh dry beans are more digestible for Laughing Water, who is quite intolerant of legumes in general.
I haven't been receiving many comments lately and I'm worried that people are having trouble posting them. I'm not sure if that is the problem. If you are reading this, I'd love to hear from you. If a lot of people post, then I will know that the posting system is working.
So here is a question to post about: I usually plant my garlic in the fall, but didn't this year. Can I still plant in the spring and have a harvest?
TTFN - Nanette

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Handiwork of The Wood Artist

I have long intended to show some of the work The Wood Artist does. It is far past time. I don't have room to feature anywhere near the work he has done in these few posts, but I thought that I would share what he has done since November. This is a candleholder that was my Christmas present this year. It is the first in a set of 3 floor candleholders that I have requested. It is a sentimental piece because the wood came from a windbreak on my grandmother's ranch in North Dakota. My mother had to weed the trees in that windbreak when she was young. The wood is an aromatic juniper and boasts a sensational burgundy color that we have not found in any other wood. The Wood Artist used an oil-based sealer and was pleased that it preserved the rich color. This is a spalted birch piece that I got for my birthday.
The following posts feature other pieces that he made for other family members. He turns them on a wood lathe. He has never sold any of his pieces, but I think he could. The wood has to go through a long drying process so that is doesn't split. He makes a plan for each piece, but it often takes on a different pattern than he planned. Perhaps a pithy part needs to be taken out, or a fabulous color or fungus pattern preserved. It is as if each piece tells him what it wants to be.

More of The Wood Artist's work

This is the piece he made for my parents. He used a water base sealer on this and it made the red turn more mauve. This was his gift to Laughing Water.
Here are all of the Christmas gifts together with the globe.




Globe base

The latest addition to our wood collection is a juniper base for our globe. We had an old globe with a bent base. It was loose and wiggly and had a hard time standing up. So, The Wood Artist fashioned this lovely base. I told him that it completely upstages the globe! Now we need a globe worthy of the base! - Nanette








Dried Fruit Bread

Use bread recipe below, but add 3 or more cups of dried fruit toward the end of the kneading process. Form into loaves and follow baking directions.

I like to use raisins, dried apples, and dried apricots. I soak these in water for a time before adding them. I also like dried pears, but have learned that these mash easily and should not be soaked and should be added at the very end.

I do use a Bosch bread mixer for these recipes, but have used hand-kneading with great results!

Enjoy! And, I'd love comments about what you try.

Recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread

People have asked me recently for my recipes for cinnamon swirl bread and dried fruit bread, so here they are.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

4 c. warm water
3 T. dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in water.

1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T salt
1/2 oil (or more)
4-5 T. Do Pep (gluten flour)

Add to the above and mix.

6 cups whole wheat flour
6 cups white flour

Alternating white and whole wheat flour, mix to
make a dough. (Add slowly and stop adding when you reach desired consistency.) Knead for 10-15 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Place in a warm place and allow to raise until doubled in size. (I'm experimenting with leaving this step out. Let me know what you try and how you like it.)

Divide into 4 equal parts (or 8 if using small pans). For each piece, roll into a rectangle and spread with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll up and pinch the seams to seal the loaf. Place in greased pans and let raise. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.



When bread has "doubled" in size, place in oven and bake for 5 min. Turn oven temp to 350 degrees and bake until browned on top (about 25 minutes.)

We love this toasted with butter!











Friday, December 25, 2009

And to all a good night!


I know my posting has been scarce lately. I have plenty to say, but have been completely caught up with the season and family issues - some good, some very difficult. But, I promised I would try to keep my blog positive and save my downers for my journal!
It is Christmas night as I post this and I'm curled up on my couch with Laughing Water sitting beside me, smelling of freshly shampooed hair. We've had quite a holiday so far.
It all started last Saturday with a wonderful time with friends where we took this picture. That night was our annual pilgrimage to our local Christmas play. It was a delightful rendition of "A Christmas Carol". I made it only part way through, though, and spent much of the rest of the night in the E.R. with a loved one. (There's the "not-so-good" part.)
The next day, I snuck away from my household duties to try to get to the matinee performance with my Brother M.P. who had also missed the performance. It was fabulous!
The rest of the week was filled to brim with Christmas preparations. Lastnight found my family trickling in. Most of them actually spent the night with us, which was so fun! We had our traditional hot dogs and sauerkraut (homemade this time) and biscuits and gravy and lots of goodies. I tried a yummy brussel sprouts with candied, spiced pecans dish that I will definitely repeat! Then we gathered around the Christmas tree while The Wood Artist read the Christmas story to us. Then we opened presents. Brother Shnicklefritz spoiled us dreadfully! He gave so many gifts I'm afraid my children will be ruined! My Mom surprised us with snowshoes! Boy, are we excited to hit the woods! Alas! We have to wait for snow! The Wood Artist made some amazing works of art that I will feature soon.
This morning we had a Christmas brunch with my grandmother's buttermilk pancake recipe. My mom and I tried a low-calorie option that was amazing! We shredded an apple and mixed it with some cinnamon and Splenda fresh grated nutmeg. (I would have used stevia, but I was fresh out.) Then we put it in halves on the griddle with about three tablespoons of pancake batter on each half and cooked it until done. Then we topped with cinnamon and some whipped cream. SO, SO yummy!!!!! I will repeat that again, too!
After brunch, Brother Medic left for awhile. The rest of us played a game my Dad got for Christmas called "Would You Rather..." It is highly recommended. I will treasure the memories of watching my family hooting and screeching with laughter and groaning over the ridiculously impossible scenarios. A highlight was watching Granny Flash slow dance with a mop just to achieve the next level of the game! Delicious!
In the afternoon Brother M.P. and Brother Shnicklefritz helped Mr. Blueberry Eyes put together a rocket that was supposed to shoot 11oo feet into the air. Shortly before dark, we all trapsed out for the grand launching. It certainly didn't disappoint us. As the rocket shot into the stratosphere, so did my son's opinion of his Uncles!
Then came our traditional vegetarian Christmas dinner. Yummy! Now we are tired and in various states of retirement. My dad and The Wood Artist are discussing religion and I hear quiet murmuring from Mr. Blueberry Eyes' room where Granny is also retiring.
It will take me a week to recover, but we did have a great Christmas! I hope you did, too! - Nanette

Monday, December 21, 2009

Heeee Haawwww! (In the night)

I was trying to sleep around 2 a.m. the other night, but kept being awakened by strange noises. Thunk, bump. I thought maybe it was the Red Shafted Flicker that has decided to remove the insulation from our house. Clump, Boof. Oh, no. I left the vegetarian suet on the deck railing, waiting for The Wood Artist to put it in the feeder. Maybe it is a creature trying to feast on it. Bump, Clump.

I finally awoke The Wood Artist and asked him what on earth that noise was. He groggily said he didn't know. Flump, plump, bump, klump. "Maybe it is the water pipes," he said.

I decided to use the throne room as long as I was up. Kaboom, kabang! "Honey, those water pipes are coming through the floor to get me!" (O.k., a little storytellers prerogative here.)

I settled into bed again. Wood Artist says, "Maybe I should check the hot water heater down in our landlords garage." (We live above our landlords' garage.)

As I drifted into the twilight zone, I heard this horrendous, animal-like roar/groan. My first thought was that it sounded very much like a bear. But I quickly dismissed it, thinking that the bears are now in hibernation (and what would a bear be doing in the garage, anyway?) My next thought was that that hot water heater must really be in distress! Since The Mighty Hunting hound was sleeping soundly at my back ( and was very cozy, too), I decided to let The Wood Artist handle this boogie man on his own.

Turns out, it was a mule. Our landlady has a mule that turned sick. He had some sort of blockage and they weren't at all sure Fox would survive. He was groaning loudly, poor thing. And that perfectly explained the clop, clop sounds!

In the end, Fox did get better. Mr. Blueberry Eyes had a great time helping care for him. He has returned to the pasture.

In other news, we have been swept up into the busyness of the season. I'm happy to have my camera working again and will post more pictures soon.

TTFN - Nanette

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall Birthday Trip

Every fall I go on a trip with three other friends. It is a girls' weekend away that started as a birthday celebration. We chose Seattle this year. What an amazing amount of fun we had!

We stayed at a hotel near the Space Needle and walked everywhere. I loved Pike Place Market because it reminded me of the markets I shopped at regularly when The Wood Artist and I were first married and living in Hong Kong. There were gorgeous flowering kale boquets that captured my imagination.

We pampered ourselves with a pedicure and ate at the Sky City Restaurant and a lovely East Indian restaurant.

We took a ferry to Bainbridge Island and wandered along beautiful streets. One of the girls bought matching p.j.s for all of us and we amused ourselves taking goofy pictures.

Most of all, we talked and talked and laughed and bonded.
I got the picture c.d. today from one of the girls and I'm having fun going through the memories. It is fun remembering back. I thought I'd share. Thanks, girls! You are wonderful!

Tonight I made Chai Almond cookies rolled in powdered sugar. They are yummy! I love Christmas cookies!

An arctic blast has hit our area. Wind chills of 20-40 degrees below zero will be here tomorrow and Tuesday. Our house heater doesn't always keep up during these cold snaps, so we have to run the oven a bit. Our classroom has a wood stove, though, so we keep toasty in there.

We had friends over lastnight and gathered around
the Christmas tree and woodstove and visited until after midnight. Fun times!

TTFN- Nanette

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Tree Is Up


I'm sitting in my quiet home after everyone has gone to bed. I love these peaceful moments. Whino, one of our cats is sitting behind me, purring.
I'm missing Laughing Water tonight. She is staying with her grandparents for a few days. I'm delighted that she can have some bonding time with them. Even so, I miss her.
I wish I had had my camera today. The Wood Artist, Mr. Blueberry Eyes and I went tree hunting. After stopping at the local National Forest Headquarters for a permit and suggestions of where to go, we set out to find "the perfect" tree. The weather was frightfully cold, but we were dressed for it - mostly. My fingers let me know that they didn't think much of the gloves I'd provided for them!
We searched for some time and then found a truly lovely fir tree. I was slightly worried that it wouldn't look as full once we got it indoors. But, to my delight, it actually looked better! It is full and just delightful. I figure that if we could have found one that big, it would have cost $50-75. Not bad for a $5 permit! That is sustainable! (And, no I don't feel guilty about cutting down the forest. When I was young, my family and planted over 1 million trees. I've paid my dues!)
We set it up in our tutoring classroom that is separate from our house. It looks amazing. Mr. Blueberry Eyes and I decorated it after warming him up with hot cocoa and putting his favorite Christman music on. I did learn that it takes a long time to decorate a BIG tree!
The picture for this post is one of my favorites of my two handsome guys. It was taken this summer on a hike. TTFN - Nanette

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Remembering Fun Summer Times

Its Saturday night and homemade pizza has just been heartily consumed by the extended family. We are still at The Wood Artist's parents house. The guys took the kiddos to the gym for game night at the church. We have a puzzle going that is impossible.

I found some more great pictures from last summer that I thought I'd share. We are stomping through the National Forest Service wetlands counting frogs, snakes and tadpoles.

Love looking through these pictures during the
long, cold days of winter! - Nanette





Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful For


Thanksgiving dinner is eaten. Our tummies are happy. The children are playing happily. Good conversation is flowing. I'm thankful for family.


I look around at the people gracing our Thanksgiving Day and I'm thankful for each of them. Some of them have been close to me for a long time. Some I've met just today. Like the pilgrim's and native Americans, we've each come from vastly different backgrounds. We each have our sorrows and issues. And yet, we are together. We've drawn together to celebrate God's bounty in our lives. Background and worldview have nothing to do with why we are together. We are coming together in thankfulness and peace and bounty.


I've had fun going through some of this summer's pictures. The natural bounty we were blessed with this year was amazing. I am thankful for these things. Of course, I am thankful for all of the normal things, too - my husband, kids, family and friends. But nature ministered to me a lot this year and that is why I'm choosing to showcase it today. - Nanette


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It is a really lazy kind of day. We had a consultation this morning and from there, I've just been sitting around drinking herbal tea! This is so not me. I have plenty to do, but just don't feel like it! Really now! I need to kick it in gear.

The Wood Artist is working away at his lathe. Laughing Water is making batches and batches of her wonderful peanut butter cookies. (I can't believe she is old enough to do it ALL by herself!) Mr. Blueberry Eyes is bing-bonging around. And I..........am being lazy.

I did make a batch of goat cheese this morning. And, when Laughing Water is done with the kitchen I will start the huckleberry pies. I'm making two to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving.

Then I need to finish up the laundry and start packing. Have I said before I really don't feel like it? Why can't the suitcases pack themselves?! O.k. I'm done.

It would make my day to hear from all of you who still read my ramblings. What are you up to today? -Nanette

Monday, November 23, 2009

Birthdays and History Dilemmas

Today was great day. I cleaned and organized some spots in my house that were getting cluttered. That always makes me feel good!

School was good, too. I pushed the kids quickly through several history lessons. I feel a little frustrated with the history curriculum I've chosen. I like it for the most part. I like that it ties in Bible events into history, but I think it goes too far. We end up spending more time on Bible stories than other historical events. My kids get lots of Bible in Bible classes in our home school and at church and in family worship. I want them to see how the Bible ties in with history, but not to be the majority of the history. During Laughing Water's first trivium, I used Susan Wise Bower's "The Story of the World" curriculum and really liked it. This trivium, I decided to use another. I think it will still work if I breeze over the Bible stories and spend more time going deep in the secular lessons. I love the activities, etc.

Tomorrow I make huckleberry pies to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. Yummy! Can't wait!
I celebrated a birthday (I won't say which one!) yesterday. It was fun and relaxed. It was in keeping with my new resolve to take care of myself. No hype. Just my sweet family around me. The Wood Artist made me a LOVELY spelted birch candle holder. (I'll post pictures when my camera lense returns from the repair place.) Laughing Water gave me a travel Chai tea mug! Mr. Blueberry Eyes gave me a candle. My Bible class at church gave me a huge boquet of rose buds of the most charming, antique color. My kids also bought a fabulous huckleberry picker from the Wanderer for my birthday. I'm told by him that they bought it fair and square, but I'm told by the children what they paid and I'm thinkin' there was some subsidizing going on! I will be able to dream all winter of those legendary patches and how many berries I'll be able to gather for next winter!

I should settle in for the night. Why do I usually wake up now, when I should be winding down! TTFN - Nanette

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salsa and Adventures

This picture of Mr. Blueberry Eyes cracks me up. He is crawling out on the top branches of birch or cottonwood tree that had been felled by beavers. He is out over a river, but it is not as dangerous as it looks. We were having a walk with The Wood Artist's family and The Wanderer when we took this picture.

The kids have developed a funny tradition of wading through the shallow part of the river with The Wanderer in the late fall when the water is very cold. Then we rush them home and into a hot bath!

I made a LOT of fire roasted salsa with my abundant tomatillo harvest this year. Here is a picture of a batch of tomatillos, garlic and serrano peppers headed into the broiler. We will have a lot of yummy mexican food this winter!

I seem to be having a bit of trouble keeping up with all of my homeschool goals. I think I expect too much out of myself sometimes. We have to catch up on history and science. We've been doing them, but not as consistently as we need to. Another problem I have is that we tend to take more time on the lessons of history and dig a little deeper on certain lessons and that gets us "behind". But, I don't think that is necessarily bad. The learning is definitely taking place. It is just that my personality seems to enjoy checking off a list and this style of learning isn't quite as tidy. I still like it, though.

I'm using Sequential Spelling with Laughing Water twice a week to supplement her regular spelling workbook this year. I love the improvement I see! Mr. Blueberry Eyes seems to have hit a bump in his reading readiness. He was doing so well, but now shows a great deal of frustration and inability to do what he did so well a few weeks ago. I'm going to lay off the reading for a while.

I attended an educational conference a few weeks ago and sat spellbound by a professor of education from LaSierra (?). She talked about the danger of pushing a child to read before they are ready - even up to age 12. She said that if you push them, they will learn, but when they hit their integrated maturity level, where they would normally have started learning, they can develop neuroses. She talked about their fovial vision not being developed yet. I want to research fovial vision. I don't understand it, but I'm thinking that is what is getting in Mr. Blueberry Eyes' way right now. There is something about the way he isn't tracking on the words like he was for a while.

I find it so much easier to advise the clients I work with to wait with their children than to do it with my own!

Today is a lovely day, weather wise. There are nuthatches eating the vegetarian suet that The Wanderer helped Mr. Blueberry Eyes make a few weeks ago. It is almost gone and we need to refill the feeders. Maybe I'll share the recipe on here sometime.

We are going to do history and then study the planets and then have lunch and hit the road for an afternoon of piano, guitar, and violin lessons and ice skating lessons! Wish me luck. I'm really tired today! - Nanette

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kaleidescope

Our camera lense has been sent in for repairs, so I don't have any new pictures to share. In going through my old ones, though, I realized that there is a lot I haven't written about. So, here is a kaleidescope of our life recently.

* I have more time to write today because Mr. Blueberry Eyes is sick. He was up most of the night with a stomach bug. Of course, that means I was up, too. So, we are having a pajama day. Music and ice skating lessons have been cancelled. Laughing Water is faithfully doing her schoolwork in the LazyBoy chair. Mr. Blueberry Eyes is still complaining of stomach pain and has a little fever. A Clifford video is playing.

*I heard from the publisher I had submitted my manuscript to. It was a denial because his company doesn't do books like that. However, he took a lot of time to give me suggestions of how to go about getting it published. He was very kind and said that, in his opinion, I'd pulled off a good thing. He liked it! That really encouraged me!

*A few Sundays ago, we went to a cider-making party. These pictures are from that. It was great fun and SO pretty! We came home with a few quarts of fabulous cider to keep in our freezer for winter.

*I'm enjoying our homeschooling very much. Laughing Water is so fun to teach because she is extremely goal oriented. We added the study of logic to her curriculum this year and she is enjoying it! Mr. Blueberry Eyes is stretching me a little. He is a wild card, but is doing well, for the most part. He has suddenly taken a leap forward in reading music!

*I repotted some of my house plants yesterday and freshened up the decor on my cabinet tops. I am committing to taking better care of my plants. I may enjoy gardening, but I am really pathetic at keeping house plants. Our friend, The Wanderer, has entrusted his plants to me to keep while he is on his frequent and extended travels. I'm afraid I'm still learning how not to kill his plants!

*My garden is being neglected right now. I desparately need to go pull up dead plants and plant garlic. It probably isn't going to happen this fall. I was thankful that my father-in-law dug the carrots.

*Still waiting for the sauerkraut to finish fermenting. The pickles we made this summer, though, are yummy! Still making goat cheese. I think my favorite was the lemon-dill cheese, or maybe the garlic-basil.

*I'm spending the month of November trying to take better care of myself on several different levels. I'm trying to take more quiet moments to enjoy relaxation. That is easier said than done, being a homeschooling mom with a business! But, I'm trying! (I'm also trying not to freak about what isn't getting done! :)

TTFN - Nanette

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Porky


My cousin recently posted this picture to my Facebook page. I had seen it long ago, but it was such a treat to reconnect with it! I am sitting on the back, with my cousin in front. We are perched on Porky, my cowboy-grandfather's faithful horse. Behind us are the wide open spaces of the North Dakota prairie, near the birthplace of Sacajawea (North Dakotans spell it Sacagawea).
Porky was so gentle that we grandchildren often sat on his back with no fear. He became a treasured family pet and a large photograph of him hung in my grandparents' kitchen for a long time.
One day when I was very young (about 3 or 4), my aunt hoisted me up onto Porky's back in the farmhouse yard. She was called away for a moment and Porky started to wander down the road with me perched fearfully on his back. I had no idea how to steer him home again. He gently clip-clopped for about 1/4 a mile down the long driveway. My grandfather was returning from town at that moment with my uncle. They stopped when they spotted the tiny, lone rider headed for the highway. My uncle hopped on Porky with me and steared us back toward the house.
Just a little memory I thought I'd share. - Nanette

Monday, November 9, 2009

Head Over Heals For Tuma

My brother has recently acquired the cutest red healer pup. She is in that adorable puppy stage of soft and cuddly, yet adventurous. She is cream colored with rusty accents. So have I fallen for her? In more ways than one.

Ike and I decided to take a bike ride last Sabbath. We were going along having a great time, when we noticed that Tuma was having trouble keeping up. Her little puppy legs were going as fast as they could, but she just couldn't keep up with our bikes. Since my coat had a draw string on the bottom, I tucked her in to give her a lift. We had ridden only a few yards when Tuma decided she didn't prefer that method of transportation.

I felt her struggle and started to break, thinking, "Right brake should be harder....right brake, right brake." Unfortunately, Tuma decided to make a move before I had stopped. In a desparate atttempt to save her, my right hand flew to grab her. Of course, that left only the left hand breaking.....

Flying over the handlebars of a bicycle was not on my particular bucket list. It is not graceful. It does not feel nice. It is not creative, educational, or sustainable.

I was certain that my arm was broken, but after about 1 1/2 hours, I was able to determine that it was merely bruised. I have bruises all over my legs and my shoulders are stiff and sore. But, it could've been so much worse!

Oh, yes, I landed on Tuma, but she is just fine. - Nanette

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seattle Trip

Life has been a blur lately. Homeschooling the kiddos is absorbing a lot of attention. They started ice skating lessons a couple of weeks ago.

Last weekend I went on a trip with three of my girlfriends. We go on an annual trip to celebrate our birthdays around October/November. This year, we decided to be adventurous and headed for Seattle. We had an amazing amount of fun! We dined at the top of the Space Needle, took a Ferry to Bainbridge Island, and had wayyyy too much fun at Pike's Place Market. I bought a sweat shirt cardigan at a Tibetan shop. We ate Indian, Greek, and Thai. So much fun! I'll post some pics when I get the c.d. from one of the girls. TTFN- Nanette

Monday, November 2, 2009

Update Coming Soon

I apologize for taking so long to post. I don't have time now, but will be posting pics and story of my girls' weekend in Seattle! Great stuff! - Nanette

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Sauerkraut


This was a busy weekend. The Wood Artist's parents and sister and niece came last Wednesday in time for the kids' guitar/violin recital and stayed until Sunday afternoon. They helped out a great deal by getting in our carrots and cabbage.
The cabbage was already starting to turn, so I decided that it was time to try making sauerkraut for the first time. I've wanted to try making it for years, but have just never gotton around to it. A few months ago, my mother gave me a lovely German-made crock. So, lastnight, while The Wood Artist took the kids out to our root cellar to store carrots and potatoes, I got out my shredder. It was not as hard as I had envisioned. But it will be several weeks before we can try it out.
Today is blustery. It is dark and makes a person want to curl up on a sofa with a good book. It has come to my attention lately that I need to take more relaxation time and "me" time. I don't know how I'm going to pull that off, but I need to try. There comes a point when you burn out and I'm at that point.
I'm looking forward to going to Seattle with my girlfriends this next weekend. It is our birthday celebration weekend and we are going to have fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life in Mosaic

Laughing Water and Mr. Blueberry Eyes love mosaic art. I first noticed it when Laughing Water was four years old and in a group music class. She was given a coloring assignment and insisted on taking her time creating patches of color in a space that everyone else would have used only one color.
A few years later, I chanced upon some mosaic coloring books in a toy store. Over time, I purchased all of them. I knew they would be gobbled up, so I made copies of them. It didn't take Mr. Blueberry Eyes long at all to catch the spirit. It is fun to watch the careful planning and detail work each of them puts into a page.
Our life is a mosaic. Our family can't seem to do anything the normal way. Each person is complex and delightful. Mr. Blueberry Eyes, for example, is a daring wild child, hence the frightening picture I took a while back of him in this tree. (The hight is NOT distorted by the camera.) But he is so tenderhearted, he will sob hysterically in a mildly sad movie.

Laughing Water is gregarious one minute and shy the next. She can be spotted in a gazzillion different "looks" around the house. Once day she'll look like a nun and the next day she is a medieval princess. I can't quite place the era in this picture!
But then, I guess the children are not completely unlike their parents. I received a call from a pollster the other day. By the time she hung up, I think she regretted dialing my number. It went something like this: "Do you consider yourself a Republican, Democrat, or Independent?"
"Uuummm. Well, I usually vote Republican, but I really like our governor and he's a Democrat and I am really conservative, but I'm frustrated with conservatives for not paying more attention to our environment. I guess maybe I'm and Independent."
"Do you consider yourself an environmentalist?"
"Oh, no! I like to make fun of environmentalists! But I'm really into organic gardening. And I'm a vegetarian! Oh, dear. Maybe I AM and environmentalist!
And so the interview went until the polster was giggling so hard she could hardly go on!
Are we tortured individuals? Oh yeah! But boy, do we have fun! So here's to all of you mosaic peeps out there! Be yourself, however many colors that is! -Nanette

Monday, October 12, 2009

First Step

This is a picture of Mr. Blueberry Eyes threatening to eat the whole lot of huckleberries we had picked one day this summer. It was that day that an idea for a children's book came to my mind. I wrote the story in my head while I was working my way through a patch. Over the next several days, I edited it in my head. Then I sent it to a friend to have it edited. She liked it and suggested that I send it to an editor she knew. I was nervous, because I've heard how difficult it can be to get a manuscript looked at, let alone accepted!

Imagine my delight when another friend invited me to a children's conference where one of the main speakers would be this editor! I was SO excited! This weekend we went to that conference. I was looking for just the right opportunity to talk with him and it "just happened" that we had to wait outside of a conference room for the next meeting. EVERYONE ELSE walked away and I was left standing there with him alone! I thought to myself, "Well, I think this would be it!" He asked me to send it to him via email and then asked what the gist of it was. When I told him the short version, he said he liked it!

So, today, I emailed the manuscript to him. It is the first step. There are no guarantees. I could easily be rejected still. But, I do know that many aspiring writers would "kill" for an opportunity like I had! Say a prayer for me! - Nanette

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Chill Is In the Air

My brother called this morning to see if we had snow. We don't, but there is a wall of white to the North. I wonder if it will come down into the valley. I've promised the kids we will celebrate the first snow by opening a pint of huckleberry jam. Yummy!

Laughing Water is on a field trip this morning. There is a large industrial plant near us that ceased giving tours years ago. However, Laughing Water is friends with the granddaughter of one of the accountants at the plant. The granddaughter said she wanted to see where her grandfather worked, so he arranged a private tour for the two girls! Nice!

So, I've had a quiet morning with Mr. Blueberry Eyes. He is doing very well, in his reading and it was fun to have an uninterrupted lesson with him.

I'm stressing over the potatoes still in the ground. I'm stressing over the fact that I've not yet planted the garlic. I may just have to let some things go.

It really is time to grab a book and snuggle up to a cozy fire. Worked be hanged! - Nanette

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Making Goat Cheese

Yeah, I'm excited! I just made my very first batch of goat cheese. I've mentioned before that my doctor wants me to avoid dairy as much as possible. Also, Laughing Water has a real intolerance to soy, nuts, and beans. So, I'm always looking for things that help our diet be balanced, rich in calcium, and satisfying.

I had a long talk with a lady in my area who has goats and I was thrilled to get some milk from her. So, tonight was my first venture into the process. First off, I noticed that the milk was incredibly mild - not goat-y at all.

I rigged up a double boiler by filling my canner with some hot water and placing my large soup pot in it. I poured one gallon of
goat milk into the soup pot and began to heat it. After about 45 minutes, it had reached 180 degrees and I slowly added about 3/4 cup of brown vinegar. (I'm told you can use lemon juice, too, which I am eager to try.)


I stirred the milk with a stainless steel spoon while I slowly poured in the vinegar. The curds began separating from the whey quite quickly. I felt like Little Miss Muffet! My family came running at my shrieks of success and loved watching the process!

Then I poured it all into a collander that I had lined with a flour-sack towel. Under the collander, I had another bowl so that I could save the whey. When much of the whey had drained, I set the collander over the empty soup pot, so that the steam from the whey wouldn't come back into the cheese.


At that point, I added salt, basil, onion, garlic, and rosemary and began to fluff with a fork. After it was well fluffed, I gathered the corners of the flour-sack towel and tied them with yarn. I suspended the sack above my sink for about one hour to let it finish draining.

In the mean time, I poured some of the whey over Old Faithful's dry dog food. He has very bad teeth and we have to soften his food for him. I figure this is a nutritious, economical way to help him out!

In the end, I had about one quart of very yummy
cheese. Laughing Water got very excited about the
project and even wrote down some ideas for different ways
to season the cheese, including sundried tomatoes, dill and lots of other ideas!


In other news today, we finished getting The Wood Artist's new office set up. It is low budget, cozy and quite cute. I also made a big batch of salsa out of our
tomatoes and tomatillos. Speaking of which, I am SO overwhelmed with all of the tomatoes and tomatillos I still have to process. Anyone want to take some off of my hands?!

Sleep peacefully everyone. As for me, I'm going to dream of goat cheese. - Nanette

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Summer Is Past

These pictures are a mere memory of the intense floral beauty that was in my garden this year. Everything is frozen now - shriveled and dry and brown. What a difference just a few weeks can make! I must confess, I was not ready for fall. I love fall, but I wasn't ready for it. I'm glad I took pictures. They can help me reminisce when I can't quite remember the freshness of summer.

Tonight, the cold, north winds are blowing lustily and my kids are tucked in after a long day! Everything feels cozy.

I'm incredibly tired after a long week. I accepted a co-leadership position in one of the children's divisions at my church. So, my co-leader and I spent an amazing amount of time and energy re-doing the room this week. This week also happened to be the week The Wood Artist and I spent setting up his new office in our neighboring town.

It is not done yet, but I think it will be rather homey when we get done. Tomorrow is the last big push before classes start on Monday.

Homeschool was fun this week. We got a glow-in-the-dark solar system set up in Mr. Blueberry Eyes' bedroom and purchased the materials to do the same in Laughing Water's room. I was excited to find a pull-down map that we've been wanting for a long time on Ebay.

Laughing Water and I had a Mommy-Daughter date in town on Friday. We did a few special things together and then ran errands. She is feeling a little neglected, I think, so I'm trying to make sure my activities include things that fill her love cup.

I did manage to sneak out with some of my girl friends Wednesday night. That was fun and we had some good conversation, although, I must admit to feeling needy myself lately and could use a lot more close times with friends.

I'd love to hear from my blog friends. So here are some questions for you: What do you do to fill your children's love cups? What do you do to nurture yourself? - Nanette

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bringing In the Harvest


Our garlic harvest this year was fabulous. We have plenty for winter eating AND planting. It is drying in our garage now, and I hope to plant it in October.
We've been working on wrapping up the garden. It is a huge job and makes me think I overdid it this year. My Painted Mountain corn harvest was poor, but we still have enough for seed-saving and a few batches of corn-bread.
We got a stunning harvest of tomatoes and tomatillos. I've even tried to sell some of the tomatillos, but I'm learning that not many people know what to do with them!
I got into some mold when I pulled up my pea plants and it got me sick again. Yucky!
There is still so much to do! We have yet to harvest the onions (around 400 pounds), potatoes and carrots. Part of the beet harvest still has to be pulled in. I'm excited, though, because I've managed to save 5 different kinds of bean seed, two kinds of pea seed, and will likely be able to save a LOT of amaranth seed.

We had a wonderful treat the other night. The Wood Artist's Cousin and his family came to see us. His wife brought fresh, homemade goat cheese that was herbed. Oh, I can't describe how yummy it was. I didn't taste goaty at all! She has promised to help me learn how to make it. My doctor wants me off dairy, so I'm exploring goat products more! I had some of the cheese on spaghetti and it was fantastic!
I haven't been good at posting for a while because I'm very busy with our business right now. It has taken quite a jump the last two weeks and we are delighted. Maybe this downturn is over. I hope so. Let's hope this is a trend! We are expanding and setting up a new office in another town. The Wood Artist will run that one. Good things are happening. Prayers are being answered! - Nanette

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corrections

Just went back and edited "Random Musings". Sorry! I was so tired that day and had more interruptions than you can imagine! Didn't mean to post with so many mistakes! Sheesh!

Fantasy Fulfilled!

We made it up the mountain in search of our "mother lode". The Wood Artist had seen a patch of huckleberries on his long mountain bike trip. We were unsure, however, if they would still be there when we got there a week later. We took our friend and two of her boys with us. It was about a 3 1/4 mile hike up a very steep mountain.
As we neared our destination, we met two backpackers. We asked them if they had seen any huckleberries. They said that it looked like they were drying up. But when we asked if they had eaten any, one of them said, "No! I'm afraid to eat anything out here!" I was very amused.
We kept hiking and then came to where The Wood Artist remembered seeing so many. Sure enough! They were there! And it was a "mother-lode". These backpackers had walked right through a huge patch of the most delicious, big, huckleberries! They hadn't even tasted them! Poor guys!
Well we started to pick. We tried out some pickers that The Wood Artist is perfecting. They needed a little more perfecting, so I ended up picking by hand about 1/2 the time. The Wood Artist had one professional picker that worked well.
We ended up leaving the patch that day with 5 gallons! Our friend got about 1 to 1 1/2 gallons, since she had to leave early. I've always fantasized about picking 5 gallons in one day and now we've done it!
It was great fun to hear the children playing together as they picked. They started "staking claim" and "buying and selling" their prized patches. The two little guys (Mr. Blueberry Eyes and his friend) picked a downright impressive amount for their age!
And now, I have bags and bags of the purple gold in my freezer just waiting to be made into pies. Fantasy fulfilled! - Nanette

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Solar Model

We had a fun science project today in our homeschool. We made a model of the solar system out of balloons. The planets were roughly representative of the relative size to each other, but the sun was much smaller. It also didn't represent the vast space between the planets, but was still a great project that gave the kids some understanding of our solar system.

We attatched index cards with the names of the planets written on
them so that we can recognize them at a glance. Laughing Water and Mr. Blueberry Eyes both were enthusiastic about helping with it.

We are studying Astronomy this whole year. The kids are putting their notebooks together now. I'm pleased with how Mr. Blueberry Eyes is being as particular as his wiggly, seven-year-old self will let him. He even did a small narration today in history, which was very exciting for Mommy as his language/communication skills are still not as strong
as they should be. - Nanette

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