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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Little Catch Up

 Its been way too long since I posted.  Life took me by storm and my writing took a back seat.  I hope all my readers had a wonderful Christmas.  I've had so many ideas of things to write about, but time passed until I lost the spirit for them.  So, I guess I'll just do a "quick" synopsis of our life the last few weeks with a promise of more faithful posts to come.

Mr. Blueberry Eyes finally felt like he had studied parakeets long enough and took the big step of bringing home Butterscotch, a blue bundle of songs.  Scotch is a young bird and doesn't mimic yet, but he is learning to love Mr. Blueberry Eyes.  Lately, he has made violin practice a lot more fun!  Mr. Blueberry Eyes is fastidious about his care and amused the Christmas caregiver by his multitudinous and opinionated directions.  He even wrote down the bird's bedtime and posted it on its cage!

About three weeks ago, our kitty, Leo, got a blood clot that lodged in the sadle of the veins branching to his back legs.  I don't remember the name of the condition.  Our wonderful vet thought that there was a possibility of his recovery and we started a regimen of shots, pills, hot water bottles, massages and crating.  He improved slightly and then came down with a bladder infection and began urnating blood.  Since he still couldn't go to the bathroom properly, he started to get awful sores from urinating on his legs.  I bathed him frequently, but the sores got worse.  On Monday, last week, we decided that his quality of life was just too poor and that his prognosis was not a promising one.  We made the difficult decision to put him down.  It was hard on all of us.  I was comforted by the gentleness by which it was done and the peace he was in.  We had a graveside ceremony.
 The next day, my brother "Schnicklefritz" was married in a beautiful ceremony.  Our whole immediate family was in the attendants' entourage.  This fulfilled Laughing Water's dream, for certain!  The bride put me in charge of flowers, too.  I don't have much experience in flower arranging and virtually none in wedding finery.  Here is a picture of the bride's bouquet.  I was relieved that it seemed to work. 

I'll have to get permission before I post pictures of the happy couple as my brother is a little shy about notoriety.  But, I must say, I am incredibly happy for him and I adore my new sister.  She is intelligent, so pretty, and, she brings a lovely little man into the family, too! My brothers have done a good job picking life partners! 
Wednesday and Thursday were filled with frenetic preparations for the holidays!  I made most of our gifts this year.  (More on that in another post.)  Thursday night found us arriving at the grandparents' house and now I've just crashed and am enjoying being pampered!

This is so long I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading it!  A belated Merry Christmas to each of you!  - Nanette

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snowshoeing

 When we got home from church today, we all had an urge to get out in the snow.  The temperature has warmed up so that it is not so bitter cold as it was last week.  So we loaded up the snowshoes and headed for our favorite place in the whole wide world.  We tried a trail that had been closed due to grizzlies one of the last times we'd tried to go on it.  This time, however, the bears were fast asleep in their dens. 
 It didn't take long before we fell into a pretty good rythm.  The kids are still quite a bit slower than we are, so we stopped here and there for breaks.  The snow was specatular!  It was plastered on the North sides of the trees.  New snow was bunching into big globs as it fell onto our heads and eyelashes.  The trail gained in elevation quite a bit, but our snowshoes made us feel safe from slipping.

Mr. Blueberry Eyes has outgrown his little boy snowshoes, so he opted for trudging along in his snowboots.  He did fine, but we are going to try to get him a real live pair of snowshoes soon. At one point, he rolled down a steep bank and lounged against the trunk of a tree while he ate snow.  While we waited for him to rest, a fluffy brown squirrel sauntered sleepily down the tree.  While we were oohing and aahhing, he vanished into the tree.  The opening of his little tree hotel was hidden to us, making it seem very magical.
 The coloring made it all feel mystical, which was a tonic to my bruised soul.  Thanksgiving was pretty rough for me and I needed a good day.  Its pretty hard to stay in a funk when you are surrounded by such incredible beauty.  I didn't want to quit, but the kids were getting tired after about a mile.  I asked The Wood Arstist to start back with them while I got in a few more minutes of soul-time.  The trail took off quite steeply then, so I followed it curiously.  There is something really exhilerating about being a woman alone in nature.  The feeling is hard to describe - empowering, quieting, refreshing... I had only a few minutes, so I wasn't all that alone, but I did promise to grab a friend and head out there again soon.  Next time, I'll go further. 
As we came out of the woods, there was a park ranger waiting for us to make sure we weren't hunters.  I guess our drenched hair and snowshoes were convincing.  We didn't even have to get to the part where we say we are vegetarians, so, of course, we're not hunters!  We had a good visit with him.  Rangers are really first-rate group of people.  He lives very close there and told us about two mountain lions that hang out there. Maybe I'll take pepper spray with me next time.

Tomorrow we head out to find THE perfect tree.  I'll keep you posted. - Nanette

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hill

 These pictures are hardly representative of our day!  We're having frigid temperatures and high winds with a little snow.  We're keeping the house warm with space heaters.  Poor Old Faithful's hip bones get awfully stiff after he goes outside for relief trip. 

Still, it is fun to look back at the summer's photos.  I got so behind on posting my garden pictures when Blogspot was reworking things, so I figure I'll just keep posting garden pictures for a while.  Here is a beauty!  Its a seed globe of a leek.  I fully intended on harvesting it.  If I can make it out tomorrow, maybe I'll see if I can still get it - if the blizzard winds haven't blown it away.  It would be fun to see if I can start some leeks indoors next spring.  I'm on quite a learning curve when it comes to seed saving!  I'll have to look up just how to do leeks.
 I took this picture of my long cayenne thins on a warm, fall day.  I stepped into my hoop house to find it exceedingly hot.  My camera lense immediately fogged up.  I thought the effect was kind of cool!
This is the pole bean tipi I made for the kids this summer.  I was pleased with how it filled out.

So I guess the biggest news is that I've come to the hill.  Today was the big day.  I've been dreading it, but now that it is here, I'm accepting it.  Laughing Water threw me a party a week ago.  It was very sweet of her and she did a great job!  I know she had lots of help, too. 

It has me thinking many philosophical thoughts, like, "What have I done to impact the world in a positive way?"  "Am I just a consumer, or have I been a producer and made the world a better place?" I have a lot of great friends, which are softening the blow a little!  They tell me that 40 is the new 30 and that 40s are better than one's 30s, etc.  We'll see.  The support I'm getting at home is that The Wood Artist keeps reminding me that I need to update my blog profile.  He says it shouldn't say 30-something anymore....I could do without that kind of support!

As for me, I spent the day reworking my living room to make a more convenient sewing area for myself.  That is a gift for me! (Weird, I know.)  I think I will feel like being more creative with a workable work space.  First project up is to finish Laughing Water's medieval courtier's dress.

I've also been nursing a sick Mr. Blueberry Eyes.  Its looking like a trip to urgent care will be first-up on my agenda for the morning.  Poor little tyke had been battling a fever now for two days and now has a painfully sore throat and stuff up ears.  Enough of trying "natural remedies".  Its time for a doctor!  Wish us luck! - Nanette

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Things Never Change

I was pondering my life the past 2 1/2 years, thinking about my attitudes and how the economic downturn has affected them.  There have been pretty dark days that I hope I never have to repeat.  I don't like having to make every last decision based on the minutia of our income or lack of it.  But then, there are good things, too.  Here are some things I've learned:

In tough financial times,

*Applesauce smells sweeter.
*Homemade bread makes you feel rich.
*Sawdust does work for cat litter.
*Friends may or may not understand.
*Friends may say they understand when it is obvious that they do not.
*Forgiveness is still valuable.
*Your kids' laughter is still amazing.
*You feel like you won the lottery when you find something you wanted for free, or almost.
*Kissing still makes your heart flutter.
*A movie from the library saves you a theater ticket.
*Librarians are honest-to-goodness heroes and heroines.
*Watching your pet suffer because you don't have the money to get him help stinks. 
*Thank goodness for veterinarians who are helpful anyway.
*A good book feels and smells the same whether you paid full price, or borrowed it.
*Home-made gifts are more meaningful.
*Home-made gifts take a freaking long time to make.
*Good neighbors are a benefit in the salary of life.
*Snow is a free seratonin booster.
*Its scary when you don't have the $ for safe snow tires.
*Self-confidence goes up when you learn to do something you used to pay someone else to do.
*My house still gets dirty
*Children are better problem solvers when they have to earn their own money to get something they really want.
*Hot baths are a great self-comfort strategy.
*Parents are good people to have around.
*Good health IS wealth. (Like they always said.)
*Creativity blossoms when its needed.
*Soup IS good food!
*Butterflies and bees still bring a smile - especially when they all land on your homegrown echinacea right in front of your camera.

Here's to seeing the good in bad times!  - Nanette

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Day of Snow

Today is the first snowstorm of the year.  We've planned this with great anticipation and we plan to celebrate!  We're taking the afternoon off of school.  Sinbad and scimitars will just have to wait until tomorrow.  We're going to celebrate the blustery day by going to the library.  This is a real treat because I usually order the library books we need using the online option our library provides.  But this time, the kids will get to paw through the books and sit and read in the little chairs.  I may even get to sniff through some engaging material for myself.  I'm on the hunt for a good book on c.d.

After that, we will check out a winter movie, maybe even "Frosty the Snowman", and head home for some chai tea and a little screen time.  Usually, we would break out our first jar of huckleberry jam, but the bushes just didn't cooperate this year, so we'll have to do without.

I'm pretty excited about Laughing Water's growing artistic talent.  This is a freehand drawing she did of a gladiator to add to her history notebook. 

So, I'd love to hear what you all do to celebrate the first day of snow.....Nanette

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Drying Up

 My kitchen is slowly starting to look normal again.  For months now, there have been piles of produce here and there, awaiting the freezer, the canner, or the dehydrator.  I tried several kinds of dry beans this year in hopes they would be easier on the digestion.  That part still remains to be seen.  I stacked them in these boxes until they were dry.  I think that in the future, we need large screens for more air movement.  Some of the beans molded this way.  But, I still got a delightful array of pretty beans.  I spent hours shelling them in the evening while The Wood Artist read to me.
I never get tired of looking at my Painted Mountain corn.  We got a good harvest this year and there is enough to have lots of yummy corn bread this winter.  It has been drying for weeks and will probably be ready to thresh soon.

Just my own little declaration of independence!  - Nanette

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Corny Day

 I can't believe my luck today!  Blogspot let me put several pictures on at once!  Now I can get caught up on old news!  A few weeks ago, this is what it looked like in our living room.  After such crazy summer weather, we still got a great harvest of corn.  Hurrah for short-season corn.
 The ears were plump and extremely sweet!
 We saved some of the silk and air dried it for tea.  Corn silk tea is thought help bedwetting.  It is yummy, too.
We froze the rest of it.  Here, Mr. Blueberry Eyes is helping take the corn off of the cob. - Nanette

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three Cheers for Zoe

Blogspot finally let me get one picture posted.  It won't let me do more than one at a time, though, so I can't show you any series of pictures. 

A couple of weeks ago, we visited the farm of some friends.  We got to meet Zoe, a beautiful, gentle Jersey cow.  I bought a share in her and received a 1/2 gallon of cream.  We brought it home and  poured it into quart jars and began to shake them.  We shook them until a bright yellow, creamy butter formed.  If we decide to do this on an ongoing basis, we'll have to get some paddles for my Bosch.  That would make it easier.  We've had a lot of fun eating the results of our labor, though!

I'm feeling crabby tonight, so I probably better not post any more, lest I ruin your night, too!  Just a bunch of small stuff.  I spent a lot of time at the vet with The Mighty Hunting Hound again.  It seems that she has an infected salivary gland.  That set me behind for the day. That meant that a reading lesson with Mr. Blueberry Eyes happened late - when he was less than cooperative.  I was steaming mad when I discovered that Laughing Water left me stranded in my classroom without my shoes and I had to walk to my house in my stocking feet.  I came stomping into the house and decided to iron, only to find that Mr. Blueberry Eyes had lain on my ironing board and bent it so it wouldn't rise to my height.  Then I had to leave dinner out while waiting for The Wood Artist.  Now it is  almost eight p.m. and I have to get up and clean the kitchen.  Oooo!  I better stop!  Sorry!TTFN - Nanette

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sabbath Celebrations

I'm so ready for a Sabbath rest tonight! Its been quite a week! Last weekend I went with 7 of the girls from my family to a women's retreat. It was an inspiring time and it was so fun to be with my grandmother, mother, aunt and several cousins. My grandmother went down a 350 ft. waterslide. The lifeguards said that she was the first 80 yr. old to go down it!

I was fighting some sort of a virus and felt unwell for a couple of days. I'm still tired, but am thankful to be feeling better.



Today, I took Mr. Blueberry Eyes out to celebrate the completion of his polite chart. He worked hard on manners for a long time and as a reward got to go on a "date" with Mommy. We went to his pick of a restaurant and then ran errands in town.

These are a few pictures of my garden as of about 1 1/2 weeks ago. Frost has since visited and some things are pretty much gone. Blogspot still won't let me upload very many pictures at a time, but I'm thankful to be able to do even a couple! Happy weekend! - Nanette

Another Try

I'm just trying pictures again. I seem to still having trouble. Will try to post more later. - Nanette

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Drama Unfolds

I've been obsessed with the Chilean miners.  I canceled history today and we were glued to the computer for most of the rescues.  What amazing courage and fortitude!  I found myself incredibly drawn to physical expression that the rescued, rescuers, politicians alike.  The Chilean president seemed so genuine and caring.  He was there with hugs, handshakes, pets and pats for everyone in a way that didn't come across as condescending or fake.  I was impressed.

I felt drawn into the human drama of each story - except for the man who invited his mistress and his wife to the occassion.  Apparently they had each discovered the other through this drama.  Not cool.  I could have gone without being enlightened!

I appreciated that most of them were obviously aware that there is a God who was present with them.  Of course that raises the difficult question of hundreds of miners in other countries who have gone to there death in mines.  I don't pretend to know the answers.  I only know that I was thankful for a feel-good drama to lose myself in for a while!

Now that I have the pictures working, I'll post more soon!  - Nanette

Trying Out the Pictures - Bear With Me!

Here's one of my latest delights - raddichio from the garden!

Technical Diffictulties

I have been trying for several days to upload pictures to my blog. I downloaded a new and improved something for my photos and, well, it got me into trouble. Since I'm really not savvy at the computer, this could be a real problem. I'll keep working on it! - Nanette

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Harvest Frenzy

These pictures are a couple of weeks old. We were making spicy pickles. Unfortunately, I forgot the garlic. Peeling garlic is not high on my list of favorite things to do. So, the day before, I had peeled a large bowl full of garlic so that I wouldn't have to do it on pickle making day. Alas, it remained in the fridge!
I wish the pickles would stay this lovely color! It certainly is inviting! I am having trouble with my pickles sealing properly. Several of my jars didn't seal, so, rather than processing them again and making them mushy, they are taking up room in my refridgerator until they cure.

Mr. Blueberry Eyes was a big help that day. I've been pretty excited to see his maturity level rising lately. He actually fell asleep with his reader next to him tonight. He was really excited about his new book. - Nanette


Friday, October 1, 2010

Bears and Bling

I was going to go to bed early tonight. I'm so very tired. But, The Wood Artist was just informed that my parents have three grizzly bears in their yard. He was off like a streak with the camera. It is 9:30 p.m., so I doubt he will get any really good shots, but you never know. I would have enjoyed going with him, but the children are in bed. Its hard to go to sleep without him, so I thought I would share some recent snippets of our life on here.
Mr. Blueberry Eyes has been practicing his violin faithfully. And I have been faithfully trying to ensure that he has the correct posture - for obvious reasons.
No, these are not rats. They are a recent experiment with baked, stuffed aneheim peppers. They were yummy! I stuffed them with a vegetarian burger, cream cheese and spices. Then I coated them with a garbanzo sauce and bread crumbs and baked them.

This week we picked the sweet corn from our garden. There was an abundance for fresh eating, plus, we froze 25 quarts. I have found that Sugar Buns corn from Territorial Seed works very well for our part of the country.


Girls will be girls. Laughing Water had a great deal of fun glittering herself up this week.
Our weather has been spectacular. I so love Indian Summer and this year it is making a blockbuster appearance. We've had warm, glorious days and even warm nights. My garden hasn't frosted yet, which is amazing since many of the gardens around have. I heard the rumors confirmed by the weatherman lastnight that La Nina is strong this year and is expected to cause much snow in our part of the country. Now that I feel like I've had a little summer, I say, bring it on! - TTFN - Nanette



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simmering Salsa

I've made salsa before. I've even blogged about it. But for some reason, I've never canned any. A few weeks ago, we were having dinner at a cousin's house when the lady of the house broke out her last jar of handcrafted, home canned salsa. I was smitten. The flavor was amazing. I begged the recipe off of her and last Sunday, set to work. It is more work than I expected, but the end result was mouth watering! These long cayenne thin and habanera peppers are from my hoop house. The hand, by the way is not that of the grim reaper. I'm wearing gloves to protect my hands from the hot peppers.
Laughing Water took charge of the blanching operation. She thought it was pretty fun. All of the tomatoes were also from my hoop house.

Here is the pot of simmering salsa. I was delighted to learn that you can dice the tomatoes and let them sit for a while and then drain the excess liquid off. It makes for a thicker, chunkier product. I know most of you knew that, but I didn't.



My finished product. I left these on my table for days and kept looking proudly at them. It was pathetic! I'm planning more batches already! - Nanette


Monday, September 27, 2010

A Balancing Act

Life feels like a balancing act this week. I have a number of business issues going on that are requiring a great deal of concentration. One is an annoying, recurring issue that just seems impossible to put to rest. The other issues are happy. We have two consultations this week for new students! (Maybe last week's announcement that the recession is over will actually be true...eventually!)

It's hard to get my mind into anything efficiently because there is so much that needs my attention. My exercise routine...isn't. That must change tomorrow!We've hit on a great treat. We've dehydrated fruits and vegetable for years, but always threw away the apple peelings. No more! Providing the peelings are organic, you can just heap them on the dehydrator tray, sprinkle them with some sugar, xylitol, or other sweetener, add some cinamon and dehydrate them for a few hours. Yummy stuff!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Wild, Wacky, and Wonderful

Here's a few cool shots of what we've seen the last few days. This is a toy car that was left in the yard. I started to pick it up to put it away and all of these ant eggs fell out. The ants were justly upset by my intrusion. I left the nursery alone. I can pick up the car another time.
I'm pretty proud of these melons! This is the first year I've had a melon harvest. The watermelon was not ripe enough, but the canteloupe was amazing- so juicy and sweet!

We were pretty excited to see the pine siskins return to us this week. A few years ago, we had a lot of them, but for some reason, they've not been around for a while. I love this action shot - Nanette

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Settling Into a School Routine

Meet the shoe taxonomists. We're studying botany this year for science and yesterday we learned about taxonomy. To illustrate the concept, our textbook had us collect all the shoes in the house. (I truly didn't know we had that many!) The students were then assigned to separate them into 4 kingdoms. They could pick the criteria. They immediately landed on the idea of separating the shoes according to family members since there are four of us.

They further had to separate each kingdom into two phylum. They chose indoor/outdoor. From there, they separated them into classes and orders.

The "Mama" kingdom definitely had the most choices! I was amused and amazed at how they chose to organize it all. They really had to think about characteristics. Today, we had to record it in their botany journals.
We are settling nicely into a school routine. The kids have a new piano teacher and they both adore her. This comes in handy when trying to get Mr. Blueberry Eyes to practise! I'm particularly excited about his attitude, because was definitely an at-risk piano student! :)




Our landlady is boarding several horses right now. The kids were delighted when the horses' owner let them ride one tonight. Horse fever hit our family this summer hard and let me tell you, this is NOT helping! The children both want a horse so badly! It is a little anti-climatic to tell them that all we can afford this year are chickens! It doesn't quite cut it!




Mr. Blueberry Eyes and Laughing Water have both had the privilege of helping with a convalescing horse. He was a much beloved horse of a trail ride outfit. Unfortunately, someone shot him in the shoulder. He had to have his shoulder operated on and the bone chipped and smoothed to prevent muscle trauma. They never did find the bullet, but since there is no exit wound, they assume it is still in there. His shunt has to be irrigated twice a day.
Mr. Blueberry Eyes takes great delight in helping however he can. Here, he is walking the gentle beast to give him a little exercise. Laughing Water even overcame her fear of medical yuckies and helped apply vaseline tonight. She was rightly proud of herself.
It seems that there is so much happening that it is hard to keep up with journaling it all! I'll just have to do my best and hope I don't bore you all! What is exciting to me, may very well bore you all. But, I guess the purpose of a blog is to write about what one finds significance in herself! - Nanette






Saturday, September 11, 2010

Catching Up

Its been a month, now, since our friends from Kenya came to visit us again. This is Nahoshon sharing at Mr. Blueberry Eyes' Sabbath School. Nahoshon is 12 and he is such a joy to have around. He is very polite and kind. His eyes sparkle, belying the trauma of his past.
Here, we visited my parents' store. Benson and Nahoshon were fun to take around.

We took them to the mountains and found a little snow for Nahoshon to feel. I love the look on his face!
It was fun to hear first hand the stories of how they have used the things we sent to them in the 40' container a year ago. I was particularly pleased to hear of how they have started a sewing industry with the sewing machines, patterns, cloth, and buttons we sent.
I wish them godspeed. Oh, and I really hope that someone else sends another container to them. I would love to help out, but I'm not crazy enough to do it myself again! - Nanette


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

'Twas the Night Before School

This is my little brother. He leaves for a tour of duty in a little over a week. Our church had a special service of dedication for him and a couple of other young men who are in his unit. I really can't believe it. I always used to worry about my little brothers "having to go to war". It has actually happened! Fortunately, this time it is to a place generally thought of as safer than "the other". For that, we are thankful.
This family picture isn't complete. Brother MP and his wife weren't there that day. Still, I like the picture.
The Wood Artist is still feeling yucky tonight. Mr. Blueberry Eyes is still feeling a little punky, but was enough better that we could tease him about his less-than-finest moments yesterday. Today, he could laugh. That's good. I don't like seeing my peeps down.
So, tomorrow is the big day. School starts. Laughing Water is a sixth grader. Mr. Blueberry Eyes, a second grader. They are excited. I'm mostly ready, but there were a few things that didn't quite get done - mostly typing out the schedules I've scribbled out.
I did manage to pull in a few things from the garden. A dozen quarts of pickles are cooling on the table. There is still much to be done. Tomorrow is another day. - Nanette


Monday, September 6, 2010

Precious Days

Meet Yukon Lady. I don't get to see her often, for obvious reasons. She was my roommate in college. Like Anne of Green Gables and Dianna Berry, we were "bosom friends". Still are. We consider it one of life's great cruelties that we are unable to live in the same town.

She spent last week with us. We talked, laughed, cried, and sewed and sewed. She brought three of her four beautiful boys. Mr. Blueberry Eyes was in 7th heaven! Laughing Water enjoyed it quite a lot, too! And me? I was ministered to! I let the house go, and just soaked up every minute I could. Her calm, earnest and genuine spirit was such a blessing!
Here is an apron we made for my sister-in-law's birthday. Laughing Water had fun modeling this obvious "mature" article!


Yukon Lady made all of these little bags, except the little wallet. I made that. She gave me the one with the leaves. I can't wait to use it. The small leaves on the top are made of baked clay, also custom designed.
It was a sad day when she left. I cried as she drove down my driveway. I'm scheming about how I can launch myself onto the Alcan Highway (not exactly sure how to spell that) with my kiddos to spend a month or so with her. Maybe next spring?
In other news, I took my kids to a small theme park several hours away yesterday. We had fun and got started back too late. Granny Flash insisted I stop and get a hotel. I was relieved to do so since I was truly weary.
This morning, Mr. Blueberry Eyes awoke feeling sick to his tummy. He was sick in the hotel hallway. Mortifying! We traveled home today, stopping every little while for one "emergency" after another. We arrived home to The Wood Artist pasty-pale with a fever, chills, vomiting, etc. All is calm as I write this now, but we're very tired. I think I'll delay the first day of school until Wednesday - because I can! ;) - Nanette

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