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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