Monday, March 30, 2009

For The Boys....

This is where I get boring

I can breathe! I have been spending my time turning seedlings into starts, putting them in slightly larger peat pots, if I have them and nursery pots when I don't. I was unprepared for how fast and furious these seedlings would grow. It's been fantastic.

I am not even 70 %-- I am still coughing a little painfully and I get fatigued easily. Before the past month I would say I am SICK. However, in contrast to said month, I feel like a spring chicken. Gratitude! It's all about the gratitude!

And genius-- two shiny red shovels from home depot make for busy little boys all day long. They ate breakfast-- then went outside. YAY!

Last year's garden is still giving-- I have collards out there, chard, kale and one very gigantic leek. I am going to go take a pitchfork out there and look for carrots and potatoes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bronchitis (?) and gardening

Sick or not, I started those seeds and I am not sorry about it! I am genuinely surprised by how fast most of them germinated. Really super speedy seedies we have here!

However, I have not been so sick in years. I won't go into it here, but suffice it to say I do not exaggerate, and the sudden onset of flowering trees and bushes hasn't much helped. I may have lost some work time but I am determined to soldier on!

We're getting a delivery of Tagro tomorrow from some good friends, and hopefully THIS will be the week I get the raised beds and cloches in. I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Contrary Meme

Taken from Diana
15 Things you DISLIKE, HATE or CAN'T STAND & everyone else seems to like/love

The very best Tamales made by YOUR grandmother. Still gross.
(same goes for her specialty dish containing any variety of internal organs)
Diana wrote that. I am so keeping it. Because it rings true for me.

Diet sodas.
Martinis. I don't care if Martinis are cool now, and if they contain things martinis actually don't contain. I was over it before it started.

I can't make friends with RAP. I try. I can't. It's ok for certain applications, but as for sitting around on a Saturday, or going out at night, or road tripping? Hell no.

Country Twang Music. Makes my eyes bleed. New country? Really old Country? Soft rock faking as country and actually getting air play? Ok. Tractor, I'm-a-redneck-and-God-Loves-it Twang Country is not ok.

Summer vacation season - I don't want to be anywhere where everyone is going to be at the same time. Sweaty crowds are not my thing. I will take this and run with it. Summer also involves taking off more clothes than my body type generally makes attractive. It is the season of complete self-concsiousness and self-loathing for me.

Basketball, specifically NBA. They took a great, approachable sport that everyone can enjoy and turned it into fake, slick, eye popping commerce. Add "pro"-athleticism in here and we're good. No one should be paid that much to be a lout who literally gets away with murder.

Any horror film, especially those based on true events. I don't get the point. Aren't you terrorized enough by what really happens in the world? Taking someone else's tragedy and sensationalizing it into a date movie is horror enough.

There's quite a few I don't "get," but Vin Diesel and Clive Owen number among them.

Barbie, in any of her iterations. Yanno, Tara Reid, Pamela Anderson, etc etc

American Idol. Any other form of faux "reality" television. Even though I watch some. It's scary.

10. BOOK
My opinion here would really be offensive to some people I care about so I will just leave that one alone.

11. CAR
Giganto vehicles that are never used for their purposes. You do not need a Hummer if you live in downtown ANYWHERE. Suburbans, purchased only for the new infant, have no place.

Valentine's Day. I celebrate it in my own fashion, but I could reeeeeally do without it being considered a holiday.

Freezing Rain. I can deal with snow. I love the rain. Combine "freezing" with "rain" you get instantly ice-slicked roads, which I do not like. And there's nothing romantic or pleasant about walking in freezing rain.

14. COLOR.
That weirdass shade between green and yellow that dominated the 70s formica production. WTF was up with that?

Karaoke. Don't get it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has Sprung (?)

It is officially the first day of spring. Read that???


Happily, I have hundreds of seeds optimistically tucked away in homemade, optimum seed starting mix. They're loosely covered with saran wrap and located where it's warm. I look forward to hanging the lights in the garage so I can move them out there when they're ready. I look forward to putting out the frames for the square foot gardens we're using to fill the front lawn. I look forward to being able to work the soil in the big, back garden, that I do indeed plan to use again this year, much to my own surprise. The birds are going nutso in the backyard, and for all the world it sounds like spring.

But it's grey. It's raining. It's 48 degrees. The children are happily making kites and running them, outside, in between showers. The kids planted indoor terrariums a few weeks ago and we can happily look on those sprouts when we need a boost. We got the seeds started in time this year. Hopefully, we can keep them as happy, flourishing starts so that we can put them out and save a bazillion dollars on our Freedom Garden. Think Victory Garden, but no war effort.

So despite its grey and overcast beginning, despite my being on antibiotics for the first time in years, despite the errant economy, despite me forgetting to obtain tomato seeds; spring has come at last. The birds are partying and taking their fill at our feeders. And we are here, simmering beans on the stove and planting beans in our garden. Let's get a move on!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I was tagged with this fun meme on FB.

Copy this note, ask your child the questions and write them down exactly how they respond. Tag me back if you haven't done this, I'd love to hear the answers.

Ask you kids the following questions and write their answers down just as they say them ... Have fun ... lol

I asked G-girl, age 8

1. What is something mommy always says to you?
Brush your teeth or else your teeth get icky.

2. What makes mommy happy? Scratching her back

3. What makes mommy sad? Acting like you don't care at all about her.

4. How does mommy make you laugh? Attacking me with tickles!

5. What was mommy like as a child? I do not know that.

6. How old is mommy? 36

7. How tall is mommy? Don't know

8. What is mommy’s favorite thing to do? Be with her whole family, especially on Christmas

9. What does mommy do when you're not around? If I am not there, how am I supposed to know?

10. If mommy becomes famous, what will it be for? Probably kitchen stuff because she used to be a chef.

11. What is mommy really good at? Kitchen

12. What is mommy not very good at? Climbing trees

13. What does mommy do for her job? Being a Mommy

14. What is mommy's favorite food? I think it might be lasagna. (that's pretty close)

15. What makes you proud of mommy? I don't know. THere is a lot of stuff you do and a lot of it is when I am asleep.

16. If mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be? someone on Stargate

17. What do you and mommy do together? Stuff. We do this, we do that, we do about everything.

18. How are you and mommy alike? We're both girls and we both have brown hair. We both like to cook.

19. How are you and mommy different? Mommy can't do troll toes.

20. How do you know mommy loves you? Because she's my Mommy

21. Where is mommy's favorite place to go? With her favorite friends.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Peter Pan

N-meister was on stage yesterday, fearlessly and joyfully, as Boy #2 in Peter Pan. At least, a skit from Peter Pan. The teacher in his class at Broadway Center nailed it when she chose to have her class of 4 to 6 year olds run around on stage in their PJs singing "We can fly, we can fly!" It was truly adorable, and the audience couldn't help but laugh at the spectacle of it. We are happy to report, Nick was among those who remembered their lines and blocking.

The other classes were entertaining and exuberant, and I felt some comfort when my two kids in the audience with us not only sat through the hour, but did it with rapt attention to the stage. They recognized the skits from Annie, mouthing the words to the song along with the actors.

As for our actor, we brought him home after the cookie social ....

("Honey I am sorry, I don't think we can get through this crowd to get to the cookies,"

"Oh, I can GET through!")

.....and P-daddy fed him a dinner of fried shrimp. After supper, where he ate way too many shrimp, he lay on the couch and said "Daddy I really can't move." P-daddy carried him to bed, where he slept and maybe dreamed of Neverland.

Mom forgot both the flowers and the camera, so we only have these cameraphone shots of him onstage after the sharing was over. I think we will remember just fine. I had an acute awareness of being in the moment while we were sitting there, P-daddy with our kids, waiting to see N-meister come on stage. This is what the journey is; celebrating these little milestones along the way, but not our own. We were there with and for our kids. It was cool.

This morning we woke early to motion outside, which is alarming to those so sightless as we are without our glases. I squinted and realized the trees were white and the snow was coming DOWN. Argh, March in Washington. P-daddy's comment was apropos: "It was NOT supposed to do that today!" As of this moment we've gotten three inches on the rainbow bar and it's still a-coming.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Well, this isn't seasonal. Spring cleaning-- dusting and window wiping-- that's seasonal. Ripping things off the walls, that isn't so much a requirement of the season.


I am free-- free of the ugly chintz swag drapes in the living room. I may not love my Contemporary California architecture, but I no longer have to balefully notice those pastel pink and green things in the living room. I know they were expensive, and at some point in time, even tasteful. But they have never been, in this world, reflective of the tastes of my husband or myself. And now, despite having purchased adequate replacements, they are gone.

And I am fine with that!

If you also felt the anti-love for the swags, gimme a comment!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I have been under the weather for a few days, hence the flurry of activity on my blog. My stalwart denial that got me through the first bout of sickness in my household-- which in fact, seems to have kept me from getting it-- failed me for this last bit. At least this one was fairly gentle, except for the coughing-so-no-sleep part.

Yesterday, the sun came out after several snowy days. While it remained cold, we had N-man's last day at theater class to attend and some errands to run, so we just ate lunch and left. G-girl was having a day out at Daddy's office and the boys and I just toodled. We stopped by the Botanical Conservatory in Tacoma, where the boys genuinely enjoyed all the flowers. The one that struck us the most was not in bloom-- a "Giant Bird of Paradise." Wouldn't you be impressed by the head on that? Now the boys are as worked up about gardening this year as G-girl and I are.

We left there and parked down at Freighthouse Square to take the train in to the theater district. Despite the ambient reek (more of the Aroma of Tacoma) from the old, old timber and tar from its original construction, it is a great example of reclaimed spaces and urban hubs. In addition to the funky shops and unusual food court, the Sounder (Puyallup to Seattle) commuter train departs from there, as does the Tacoma Light Rail, a free electric train that seams downtown Tacoma. There is even free parking in the garage for those who take the light rail, but I have yet to find the right entrance for said free parking.

Little Boys. Free Train Ride. You do the math.

While wandering around, we discovered a new festival (yay!) that will be right up our alley. April is already filling up but I hope we have time to attend The Spring Fairy Festival!

Monday, March 09, 2009

So it snowed after all

We didn't get the accumulation our friends in the Puyallup Valley enjoyed, but we sure did get some blow! My daughter tells me that it was snowing this morning when she woke up and my friend, a scant fifteen miles away down the bay, reports that it is currently snowing there as well. March in the PNW. Yay.

Yesterday, despite the weather, was enormously productive. I made gallons and gallons of soup, all of it organic and a good bit of it from our frozen garden stores. I read "vegetable" one too many times in my garden planning and that brought it on. What better go with head colds and snow outside than bowls of steaming soup? So we ate potato-leek and hearty vegetable, and were able to put away a lot of that for future, easy meals. The work we have been laying down is starting to come back to us. These weren't skimpy or desperate meals, but they both came from what we had put by. It felt good.

Lunch, as it happens, involved sprouts on sandwiches as well. My batch of sprouts this week was a bit ....large.... so I was happy the kids were enjoying eating them!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Time Change

If only we could change the times as quickly as we change our clock! I don't think it's fair I have to climb up the walls again to the change the clocks. I clearly remember doing that just yesterday last fall. Arizona has this one right!

The wunderground forecast for my zip code is for snow, all day, 60 percent chance. Happily, I note that I haven't seen one flake.

So far decluttering, for spring and for gardening*, has meant cleaning out the garage with the help of some dear friends, and moving the king sized bed by means off waggling my eyelashes at my dear sweet husband. He moved the bedroom around to accommodate a new (to us) chest of drawers and a craft table I got last year at a yard sale. Hopefully, this will mean a LOT of stuff moving out of the garage and into the bedroom and into steady use. I thought by having the beadwork equipment in the garage, I would use it more, but I don't use it out there at all. Either I am too cold, or there is a van in the way (imagine! in a garage!) or there's so much winter-crap all over the place I couldn't reach the beads anyway.

This way, hurt or not, if I don't use my beads, they're going. And hurt it will, but I don't want hangers-on clutter in my life, of any kind. Life is good, and I want it to be a light life.

When gardening* season comes, the kids and I spend so much time in the outside that we completely neglect the interior. I have a month or two where I can ready the house for this, by getting rid of the winter closed-up smell and by engineering the house into easy-maintenance mode. Similar to the learning curve Betsy mentions here, with every year we strive for voluntary simplicity and sustainability, the needs we have for our home change. We have no outbuildings or basement, so we need space in the garage to start seeds and store the excess canning, not to mention all the reasons you use a garage for in the first place. The kitchen had to be re-ordered last fall to reflect the work we do in there, from canning and brewing to sprouting and baking. Gardening directly feeds into those processes (pun fully intended) because when we do begin to harvest, we have to have a way to process and preserve it. Now that the kitchen is in order--if not pretty-- we can now accomplish those tasks much more efficiently.

I mentioned a month or so ago how much I missed bar stools. Reeciebird really came through for us with a set of barstools her mother was trying to rehome. Yesterday, D-meister sat at the counter and watched me cut onions while he had some tea and a snack. "Whoa!" he said, admiring the knifework, "That's cool!" He'd never seen me slice onions before! The stools-- the proximity to my workspace they give my kids-- have already fulfilled their purpose. That's another big mark in the gratitude department!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Earthbound Farms Free Lettuce Seeds

In celebration of Earthbound Farm’s 25th anniversary, we’re giving away free organic heirloom lettuce seeds!

Getting your hands into the soil, whether it’s a sunny garden acre or a few containers on your window sill, can be an enjoyable pastime and great fun to share with kids.

Twenty-five years ago, Earthbound Farm started in a backyard garden in Carmel Valley, California, where our founders, Drew and Myra Goodman — a couple of New York City transplants — wanted to grow their own fresh, healthy food. (Read the whole story.) More than raspberries and baby heirloom lettuces flourished in the warm valley sun; what took root was an unshakeable commitment to organic food and farming.

With these free seeds, we want to share the excitement our founders felt when they planted and nurtured their first crops. Tend your little garden carefully and you’ll harvest your own beautiful, delicious heirloom lettuces, just like our founders did back in the early days.

Devil's Food Oatmeal Pancakes

I got a request on facebook for my recipe. It's not all that elaborate, but it does create a very rich, dessert-type breakfast. Even my notoriously sugar-houndy kids could only eat one each, if they could even manage to finish that. *I just found a recipe online that makes a similar cake, but it replaces one cup of the water for hot coffee. Oh I am SO all over that the next time I make these!

Devil's Food Pancakes

2 C water
3 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla (use vanilla or omit. no nasty subs)

2 C white flour
1 C quick oatmeal (not steel cut)
1 T baking powder
1/2 C sugar
1 C cocoa powder (dutch)

1 C chocolate chips (Trader Joes' semisweet are dairy free)

Preheat griddle to 350 F

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips, blending well. In a separate measure, blend all the wet ingredients until emulsified. Pour wet into dry, stirring until combined, but do not beat or stir too long. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Spray griddle with nonstick spray and ladle equal parts pancake. Flip when bubbly and dry around the edges.

Serve with sour cream or whipped cream, and a side of fruit.

dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free

Friday, March 06, 2009


Spring is beginning to show itself in the PNW. The trees are budding in the far away sky, and pollen now dusts our cars each morning like facepowder from the hands of a toddler. Writing has taken a back seat to teaching my six year old to read, planning our garden efforts and clearing out, clearing out, clearing out. I feel like we're forever purging.

The economy has not directly hit our interests, but we do have it looming over us. Until April, I will be wondering in the darker recesses of my mind whether this garden is even something we should be concerning ourselves with. One of my favorite garden trinkets, though, is a garden plaque which references the inherent optimism in planting a garden. So I will plant the garden and expect to harvest the fruits of our labours in one fashion or another. The Dalai Lama says "If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry." This I am taking to heart and consider it every day.

So while I mean what I say about worry, and while I have in most ways kept a pleasant outlook for the sake of my health and my children's daily life, I still find myself depleted. It takes a lot of energy to keep the sadness and despair at bay. I look around at the state of things locally, where every day I see a new shell where a business had recently thrived; where I read of homeschoolers in common groups putting their children in school so the mothers can take minimum wage jobs so the family can keep the lights on; where people I personally know are losing their home and lying to the kids about why they are moving, in yet another parental attempt to preserve something of a happy childhood for them; it all presses in and makes maintaining a status quo work.

I am not depressed or overtly anxious, but I remain contemplative and far more serious than I would otherwise like to be, with a contrasting and overriding sense of complete gratitude for what we do have, and the options that stretch before us come what may. There has been plenty for me to write about, to share, but I have this sense of survivor's guilt, as if to share it all in my typical blithe revelry would be disrespectful to the many who are hurting so much.

So there it is. The birds are singing, the days are lengthening and I will plug along with a spirit of work, to drive away the idleness of hands that might otherwise make a painful spirit.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Seattle and a Garden Show

I spent a Saturday in Seattle recently, ostensibly to attend the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. After a largely rocky (off blog) year, a dear friend took me to Seattle, her treat, and we had a really good day. Seattle is one of my favorite places, and exploring it on foot, sans kids, makes everything a lot easier to enjoy. We enjoyed the show itself, then took in lunch at Lowell's in Pike Place Market, then really delved into girliness as my friend got herself a makeover and a new cosmetics bundle at Sephora. It was well overdue for both of us and I am grateful she planned that out-- even involving my husband, who himself gratefully kept the secret. I don't think she threatened him, but he had to have been happy I had someone ELSE with whom to go to a garden show-- he's been dragged to many a show with his wife.

The garden show itself was invigorating and inspiring-- even exciting if you're a garden nerd like me-- and I came home inflamed to at least get it all laid out. The display gardens were especially edifying because I actually did see some things I had never considered, like an outdoor chalkboard for an outdoor classroom. As nature-heavy as our life-learning is, it is surprising to me that I never even considered that! See the pictures of it here: Garden Fresh Living. I have a flexible vinyl chalkboard with grommets in it for hanging, and I think I will be mounting it somehow on the side of the treehouse we built last summer. We have a hammock my father gave me for my birthday last year and I am considering hanging it out there as well, for a reading nook. I hesitate, and may untimately scrap that plan because it is a Pawley's Island and the second someone turns it into a pirate ship, I think I'd come unglued.

It was great getting out and revelling in the positive and the uplifting. It was wonderful to laugh too loud and to be among throngs of people who were at least tangently interested in things that matter to our family. Further, I am grateful that I did not actually squish the guy I literally bumped into as we were exiting to the parking garage. I came short just soon enought to squeak, "Oh Hey Ciscoe!" as we dodged our near miss. Serves him right, not looking where he was going! :p