Wednesday, June 20, 2012

neighbors and kale chips

These little bits of summer here on the Palouse are renewing my joy and thankfulness about our move this fall. I've taken to timing how long it takes us to get everywhere all over again (pool: 6 minutes, Carli: 7 minutes, Lynda: 3 minutes if I hit the traffic on Grand right; church: 5 minutes...) There are so many parks to choose from and most of the time we go, we run into friends; the pediatricians office is a few minutes away; it takes about 10 minutes to get to Moscow and the farmer's market and the fabric store; our backyard and driveway are fun for the whole family; and our neighbors have come out from their hiding spots and we like them even more than we thought.

For example, I got a text from my neighbor across the street this morning inquiring if I was feeling better. so nice. I called my next door neighbor to see if she wanted lettuce and she laughed because she was about to call me to offer up some lettuce and while she had me on the phone she wanted to know if Sydney could come play tomorrow. I went next door the other way and shoved a bag of lettuce at them, barely asking if they wanted it, and they said they couldn't wait to give me tomatoes when they're ready. That is a nice little snapshot of our neighborhood. We live amidst really great people who are nice to us even after the kids were out in the driveway riding their bikes and yelling, "wahoo!" at 7 am earlier this week. I am so thankful!

And, of course, the garden. I hardly know what I'm doing, but I'm so happy when I'm out there with dirt under my nails and plants that want to give me food. Bits of poetry pop into my head most of the time I'm out there or hymns come to mind that suddenly need to be hummed. I know that by August I'll be weary of dirt under my nails and the morning/evening ritual of watering (I never water plants enough, so I'm taking to watering them twice a day). For now, I'm finding it amazingly therapeutic and motivating. I've never eaten so many greens in my life!

I learned today in my lettuce gathering what "bolting" means. good to know. My neighbor told me to dig those bolty lettuces up, so I did with only a little bit of sad sounds.  I'm glad that I decided to cut myself some slack in this first year of gardening and to be pleasantly surprised when things go right instead of being bummed and full of feelings of perfectionist failure when things go wrong. It's quite freeing.

After discovering what bolting was in the red leaf lettuce section, I panicked that the kale might also take a bad turn and we had kale smoothies for lunch (recipe here, sans celery for us). They were surprisingly good! While preparing the kale for the smoothies I realized I had enough for my entire extended family to have grande smoothies. So, I made kale chips (recipe here) and was giddy when Nick ate them and then actually ate more! He's generally opposed to kale and my plants are doing way too well for him to not help out with the harvest.

I realize this was rambly, but I have a mean cold and that's how it goes today. Mostly, I'm just overflowing with happiness, despite my cold and the kids' colds and ear infection and pink eye and it needed to flow out somewhere... thanks for listening.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

spring sewing endeavors

I've been sewing a lot lately and it's making me really happy. After my mid-winter funk it feels so good to be back to my happy self, with projects of my own on the brain and projects for others to pad my spending money a bit and make room for more sewing for us! perfecto! Oddly, I am especially loving the mending and hemming projects. No creativity is required and I can talk to my kids while I do it.

A friend from my mom's group commissioned a bag based on one that she's loved and used for years, but it was starting to give out. This is my favorite kind of project: making something for someone I know, based on specific wants/needs. I love the challenge and I love really thinking about someone in this way--what she wears, what colors and patterns she likes, what she does, what makes her uniquely herself. I find this an extra fun challenge when the person is different from me and will not fall in love with my bright, happy mulit-colored florals that I'm so very fond of.

Here's what I came up with after findng a free pattern online ( that ended up about 3x the size I wanted and then taking a bunch of measurements from her loved bag. It was so fun that I had a hard time parting with it, even though it wasn't necessarily my style.
My friend Kristen left this week for a year-long adventure, most of it taking place in Dublin, where her hubs will be teaching for the school year. I'm so excited for this great opportunity for her and her boys, but I was so sad she was leaving. So, I created the Adventure Bag for her, which I'm really excited about. My friend Carli urged me to make something bigger than usual and I'm so glad I listened (yes, she's always right). I think I might make myself one because I loved this one so much I didn't want to give it away!
Yet another fun project was making a carseat cover for my dear friend Lynda. She found a picture of what she wanted, I found a tutorial and sent her shopping on Hawthorne Threads and tada! These are terrible pictures, but you get the idea. I took these at Elias' b-day party and I'm somewhat convinced there is a smear of frosting on my lense.

What's especially fun about Lynda is that she has flawless taste, but is much more grown up in her color choices than I-love-all-colors-me. Next up for Lynda is a roman shade for the girls' room. We are currently in the research process. And she's the queen of research!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

making days

I love what I call "making days"--the days we stay home more and make stuff: from granola to bread to oatmeal cookies (notice a carb theme here?) or jam. They are relaxing days that feel productive in a better way because I soak in the togetherness of me and my kids and focus on making good things for us to eat and good moments to savor along the way.
Today was one of those kinds of days since Elias has had a crazy high fever and we needed to lay low and conserve our energy. It feels like we haven't had enough of these kinds of days since we moved into The Green Cottage because our friends and fun parks and the library and stores and all sorts of fun activities are so close and after years of feeling a bit isolated in Colfax, it's been hard to say no.
Sydney and I spent a fair amount of time in the backyard today, weeding and watering and bagging our apples (thanks, sis!) so we get to eat more of them than the pests. As with most times I spend in our garden, Annie Dillard's phrase about nature giving us, "unwrapped gifts and free surprises" popped into my head. It's especially true here, since the previous owners planted the apple trees and most of the lettuce we've been eating and the rhubarb that's simmering into jam as I type. This morning felt like pure blessing with my girl chattering away and climbing the tree while I bagged the apples. The sun was shimmering through the trees and it felt like a little bit of perfection. I realized that I ask my sweet little chatterbox to be quiet too often (usually so I can focus and complete a task or hear what someone my own size is telling me) and the seemingly silly little things she tells me will one day be bigger things, if I can show her I am a good listener and that I care about her every story and detail right now. So, I listened. And I learned quite a bit about bees and emergencies and non-emergencies and things that Joey says ... and it was good.

So, cheers to making days and the smell of fresh rhubarb and the expectation of organic apples!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our little man is 3!

It seems like just last summer that I was toting a newborn in a sling, but here we are at the big, bad three years old for our little man.

He is such a fun little guy and I am so enjoying all about him that is so different from our Sydney girl. From his man sounds to his "Star Wars face" to his huge hugs and "wuv you"s, he is a joy.

Elias got to celebrate his birthday, not once, not twice, but three times between two family celebrations and his first little friend party. He thoroughly enjoyed each celebration, but especially his store-bought Star Wars cake(s). He spent most of the first celebration saying, "Wet's go wook at my cake!"

He is growing way too fast for his mama, but he is growing into such a fun little boy that it doesn't seem so sad.