September 30, 2011

Flock & Fiber Festival, Part II

Couldn't resist sharing these lovely creatures with you.  None of them minded my camera phone and I think some of them tried to smile at me.  The goats wanted to ask me if I'd take them home.  I would have loved to have said yes.                                                                                                      

Take a look...

Ummm...anyone home?  Can you see me?

These ladies' coats will make some fine, fine sweaters.

September 29, 2011

Flock & Fiber Festival, Part I

The annual Flock & Fiber Festival is a calendar event, not to be missed!  We enjoyed spending some time there over the weekend, and there were animals, classes, and fibers of every sort. Most of the products were local, but there were vendors from as far as Montana.  It was fiber art heaven.

But of course you find a lot of different ideas and people at these things.  Sir Bradley could hardly contain himself watching a rabbit-looking woman sheer her angora and unconsciously wiggling her nose. We saw another who's long hair might have gotten mixed up in one of her spinning wheels. And as we were headed out and fibered out, I saw this new fashion statement.

Laughter is good medicine.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

September 28, 2011

Rose Hip Tea, cont.

OK, I did the rose hip tea experiment.  It was a romantic type of day, with the sun shining as I was foraging down the bike lane and dreaming of delicious tea.  Such an ingenious plan to resurrect an ancient pioneer practice.

The hips were beautiful even though I did not wait for the frost.  I threw some in a pan, added water, brought it to a boil, and let simmer for 20 minutes.  I strained the liquid and added a touch more boiling water to dilute it down.

As you can see, the cooked hips looked like tomatoes.  Shouldn't have been surprised, then, that the tea tasted like tomatoes.  Cinnamon tomatoes, to be exact. There is a reason why tomato dishes don't call for cinnamon - they don't go together.  (And sugar, the answer to all my cooking woes, didn't help.)  What happened to slightly herbal flavor or something like a rose without tasting floral?

As I go back to the original websites, I see I missed the one that mentions that rose hips are often mixed with hibiscus to improve the taste and color.  Hmmm.  Since there is no hibiscus growing down our nontropical lane, I can see this quickly coming to an end.

Project #256:  Shelved.
Project #257:  Could they be strung for Christmas - you know, popcorn and rose hips instead of cranberries??

September 27, 2011

The Season for Crane Flies

Crane flies are the kind of pests I can handle.  They don't stink or bite or sting or infest anything. Chickens love them.

While I do not delight in bugs, I laugh today at how easy we have it in this category. =)

September 26, 2011


Retreat...not only a blast with friends, laughter, food, sleep, a even a little dancing, but a time for deep reflection and spiritual renewal as well.  Since I do a great deal of thinking on paper, the weekend involved writing, and what a delight it was to spend hours doing it.  Thoughts, plans, reflections, goals, decisions.  LOVED IT.

September 23, 2011

Red Pods

Boy, cameras don't lie.  They reveal exactly what you are focusing on...and for this picture I was intrigued by those red pods.  Fascinating.  Anyone know what they are??

September 22, 2011

Celebrating Wood Piles

We finally have enough wood ready for the season, cords and cords split and stacked to keep us warm.  We just added some beautiful madrone, which burns long, hot and clean.  Sir Bradley knows every type of wood, how much it is cured, where every piece came from, and what should be burned first.  He can't help it - it's the woodsman in him.  Me, well, I like to look at the patterns, lean in and take in a long, deep breath, and anticipate the first wood stove fire.  It will be any time now.

I think this year we we will have a First Fire celebration.  We shall have music, dancing, and hot chocolate (warmed on the stove, of course) with homemade marshmallows.

September 21, 2011

Jumping into the Season

OK, I give.  I'm thoroughly and whole-heartedly jumping into the fall season!  These miniature "pumpkins" were "Made in China", but they are real seed pods of some sort.  After satisfying my need to play with little things in rows, I gathered them up in a long, rustic wooden container and put a candle in the middle.

Bring on the season. =)

September 20, 2011

Zucchini Brownies

When you have zucchini coming out your ears, make brownies!  If you've got kids, it might be best not to mention the zucchini part - let 'em get hooked first.  Soon they'll come begging.

Zucchini Brownies
2 c flour
1-1/2 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa*
1-1/2 tsp soda
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c zucchini, grated
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c nuts (optional)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together.  Batter will be very dry until zucchini is fully incorporated.  Spread in 9x13" glass pan.  Bake @350° x 30 mins.

*I use cocoa from Bob's Red Mill - the darkest, richest cocoa I have ever used.  That's why the brownies are so dark.

September 19, 2011

Foraging for Rose Hips

Last spring I spied these wild rose bushes, and now I'm watching the rose hips get bigger.  I'm ready to go foraging and try my hand at rosehip tea...or maybe jelly...or syrup! But I just read online that one should wait for the first frost, which enhances the flavor and adds sweetness. Never in my life have I eagerly awaited the frost.  

Patience is not my strongest virtue.  Maybe I'll just pick a few...

September 16, 2011

Old-Fashioned Doilies



noun, plural -lies.
any small, ornamental mat, as of embroidery or lace.

Someone, somewhere, is to be thanked for creating this elegant little piece of artistry. Doilies are so old-fashioned, but they are graceful and gentle and pleasing to the eye. Perfect for a bedside table, under a dining room table centerpiece, or on a tray with a cup of tea.

If you have any in the back of a drawer or linen closet, get them out and put them to use!
And if your grandmother isn't here to say it, let me remind you that they MUST be ironed.  =)

September 15, 2011

Electricity, Honduran Style

I think a sense of humor is a sign of improving health, or at least a step in the right direction, no? This lovely electrical mess is seen everywhere in Honduras.  No wonder they have outages all the time - who can ever figure out where the problem is?

Reminds me of my heart.  =)

September 14, 2011

Hearts Beating

What you see is an example of normal sinus rhythm, an electrical tracing of a heart that's beating normally.  Hearts beat a kazillion times a day without any notice or glamour, keeping us moving, breathing, and living.  Thank the good Lord for yours today.  Do whatever it takes to keep it healthy.  Shoot, drop your mouse and run!

Today I unabashedly ask for your prayers that my rhythm would look like this again.  Modern medicine has done what it can, and so I wait for Divine intervention.  There is still a lot of living to be had, and as I contemplate on what that might look like from the confines of my house, it is quite sobering. I do realize that at some point all of us will be faced with the disconnect between our desires and abilities...but I prefer to continue healing and caring for others.  My life right now is all backwards!

My deepest love to all of you who are carrying me through this time.

September 12, 2011

Aunt Jo's Tarts

No, there is no picture.  Not even any crumbs to show for Aunt Jo's latest delivery of TWO tarts. This is what happens when you're lucky enough to get them but can't manage to hide them quickly enough.  I didn't get even a single bite!

They're made of pie dough, butter, and cinnamon sugar, but don't try it yourself.  They will never be as good as Aunt Jo's.

September 9, 2011


Yes, clothespins.  We live near the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, and that means wind, and lots of it.  Actually, we are fortunate to live in the lea of a big hill, so the worst winter winds go right over the top of us.  But the summer winds are delightful!  Thus, clothespins.  Without them, our laundry would be all over the Lower 40.

They also make great clips for closing bags of chips, crackers, etc.  They're far more durable and economical than their fancy schmancy counterparts.

Ever wonder who came up with such a brilliant invention?  Or where they are actually made? Who assembles millions of clothespins every year?  ("Hi, what do you do for a living?"  "I make clothespins.")

September 8, 2011

Laundry Line

There's still sunshine and that means hanging the laundry out to dry.  I don't have a romantic line like those photographed in fancy books (you know, the ones with flowing white sheets in the middle of a meadow - really, does anyone have white sheets?), but I do have a drying rack that is straight from Amish country and I'm sure that counts for something!

I love everything about this, for all the usual reasons and then some:
  • The laundry smells better...there's something about sun, wind, and fresh air that works.
  • Crispy clean towels and washrags...can't be beat.  The plush fuzzy ones aren't as real. =)
  • The art of snapping...who can resist the feel and sound of it?
  • Guarantees 5 minutes of being outside...
  • It's a fun rhythm of life...
  • It saves far as I can figure, I save about 50 cents a load.
  • I now know why there are pockets on aprons...for holding clothespins.  

September 7, 2011

Shorter Nights

OK, is it my imagination, or does it really feel like the season has changed?   The morning air feels different, the wind feels different, the leaves are starting to rustle, the sun sets earlier, and the birds are quieter.  How could fall be upon us already?

All I need is a little apple pie to get me in the mood.  =)  Would anyone like to help me with that?

September 6, 2011

And Summer Ends

School starts today and so Summer 2011 officially comes to a close.  It was a good summer.  We didn't travel the world, and I couldn't write a book about it.  But we enjoyed camping, July 4th celebrations, late-night games around the table, two fairs and a rodeo, lavender farms, fresh fruit, fresh flowers, meals on the back porch, cool drinks and good books on the front porch, kids, chatting with the neighbors, friendships, laughing till we hurt, and a puppy.  

It wasn't Greece.  But maybe it was book worthy after all.  

September 5, 2011

Family Camping September 1948

And so we wake up to Labor Day, a day of rest from the usual work routine.  May you enjoy it!

P.S.  Yup, that's my family:  Mom, Grandma, Uncle Carl, Aunt Jo, and Uncle Jim.  By the date stamp, I'm assuming this was an end-of-summer camping trip.  Aren't they a handsome bunch?  I don't know what Grandma has in her hair, but I like it. =)

P.S.S.  No, I only dream of Labor Day off.  When you're married to a teacher, it means unlimited hours preparing for students.  For now, I live vicariously through others!

September 2, 2011

Rocking Chairs

Our rocking chairs came straight from North Carolina and have provided hours of great enjoyment on the front porch.  For years they were nothing but an embarrassment to the kids, who begged and pleaded with us not to sit in them.  (No one else has rockers!  Can't you just put them somewhere else?  The whole neighborhood can see them!)   But we persisted.  They progressed from hiding when cars drove up the hill to just rolling their eyes.  Funny thing, eventually their friends started rocking away and after about ten years all was well.  

And so as we enjoy the last days of summer it's time to find a book, make one last glass of lemonade, and head out to the front porch.  Come join us.

September 1, 2011

Spiced Blackberries!

Blackberries and September usually don't go together.  But strangely enough, here in the Great Northwest we're enjoying a late blackberry season.  My theory is that because it poured down rain for a million years, we are now enjoying an unseasonably late showing.  So it's blackberry fruit salad, blackberry cobbler, blackberry jam, handfuls of just plain berries, and....SPICED BLACKBERRIES.  How cool is this new discovery?!  Truly novel and delicious!  (Well, OK, I found the basic recipe in an old book...the old and forgotten has become new!)  I can't wait to try this over baked brie or a pork roast.

Spiced Blackberries
8 c wild blackberries
2-2/3 c sugar
1-1/4 c vinegar
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger

Place sugar, vinegar, and spices in a heavy pan or Dutch oven.  Heat gently until dissolved.  Add blackberries and poach gently for 10 mins.  Remove the blackberries and pack into hot clean jars. Boil the remaining vinegar hard until it turns syrupy. Pour the mixture over the blackberries. Seal and process.