December 30, 2013


Oh, I should be posting something about the holidays, but my heart is racing...

It has been announced that the 2014 International Symposium on ALS/MND will be in Brussels! Perhaps I will be so fortunate as to attend!  It would be hold double pleasure for me - a real professional highlight to join in on the single largest medical and scientific conference for ALS, as well as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a corner of Europe.

A million details would have to fall into place to make this happen.  So many dreams, so many challenges.  =)

December 23, 2013

Simple Pleasures

The sun popped out just as we were sitting down to enjoy a hot cup of tea.  (Water, actually, but that's awfully boring, so let's just pretend I had the day's blend.)

A ray of sunshine.
A beautiful china teacup.
The fascinating movement of steam.

All simple pleasures that so easily get overlooked in this busy season.

December 20, 2013

No Pancake

Well, well, well.
She's such a great kid that we have to forgive her.


When I told her that we were so torn up about the thing that I even had the Bible study ladies praying about this, she felt terrible...but she was laughing her head off while apologizing!

She still has 12 days of being a teenager.  =)

December 19, 2013

Meet Pancakes


PS Anyone interested???!!


Daughter's text:
So what if i told you i got a shelter puppy...and im bringing her home for christmas as dads christmas present

hahahahahahahahahahah you r such a joker!

No, like seriously...

You know how much i adore and love animals and pound puppies steal my heart!  but we just cant have another dog. how about aunt jo?

Daughter's email response:
Subject:  Meet Pancakes

Today my friend Sally and I went to (the) animal shelter and met the love of our lives!  Pancakes, 5 months old, extremely sweet, very lovable.  Totally potty trained and has all shots and papers.  I'm bringing her home for just a couple of days so that Elsie can get acquainted with her before we find her a permanent home.  :)

Much love,

December 18, 2013

Christmas Cactus

Yes!  It's blooming again!

December 16, 2013

Felling a Big One

In Washington, we choose only the best, biggest trees!

It's only when they are brought into the house that one begins to wonder about the wisdom of such things.


December 13, 2013

Holiday Mom Stress

Ah, happy Friday, my friends!

For all of you who are behind on Christmas, take heart.  You are not alone!  There are no Christmas cookies in my freezer, not even a hint of shopping has been done, the tree is still living in the forest, the laundry is piling up, and work responsibilities are growing.  The only thing I can brag about is that I replaced the Thanksgiving candles in front of the window with the blooming Christmas cactus.

The traditional preparations are slow to come this year, but I'm convinced more than ever that enjoying good conversations and sharing lives is way more important.  The Mom Stress of orchestrating perfect traditions and memories comes at a high cost for me...and so this year I am seriously working on prioritizing the most important elements of the season.

And so I share with you my new plan.

2013 Christmas Resolutions
We will cut down our tree when we are ready and can enjoy ourselves.  
We will swap out chocolate chip cookies for gingerbread.  
We'll eat waffles with the new fancy schmancy waffle iron and play games and skate with socks on the neighbor's slippery new floor.
We will fill our home with laughter and love around a warm fire.
We will remember what we are celebrating.

December 12, 2013

Corn Bread

What goes with chili better than cornbread??!

We enjoyed a large dinner with good friends and I volunteered to bring the cornbread.  It's kinda sad if you think about it, but I consistently get more raves about this cornbread than just about anything else I make. The trick, no surprise, is to use totally fresh and high quality ingredients.  I have the luxury of grinding my own corn (popcorn has the best taste) and flour (soft winter wheat for this recipe).  If you prefer buying ingredients ready to go at the grocery store (like most of my friends, who I'm convinced think that I am a bit crazy!), just make sure to buy everything fresh...I'd recommend purchasing new bags of cornmeal and flour and freezing them until needed.  Don't forget the chopped corn. =)

Evidence that it's good:

Fresh Cornbread
2 c. finely ground cornmeal
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sea salt
2 c. milk
2/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 c. chopped or lightly smashed corn (fresh or frozen and thawed)

Mix well, place in large glass baking dish, at least 9" x 13".  Bake @ 400° x 20-30 mins until lightly browned.

December 11, 2013

Brooklyn Update

The phone pic arrived today.
Potential job here.
And he slipped, before hanging up: "I love you, too."

My heart is full!

December 10, 2013

Waffle Iron

Yes, I have a weakness for kitchen gadgets.

We also have a strict budget.

So it was a happy, long-awaited day when I ordered a very special waffle iron that I have had my eye on for many months.  It was on sale and came with free shipping.  Woohoo!  Beautifully made, it is nonstick but also PFOA and PTFE-free.

See that waffle peaking through?  It was marvelous!  Simply marvelous!

December 9, 2013

Bird Prints

The snow and ice arrived, followed by 11° nights, with another storm expected tonight.

It made for a 4-1/2 hour commute to work.  No typo!  Here in the Northwest, we can drive in the wind and rain like nobody's business.  But snow?  Everything comes to a sliding halt.

On a happier note, we enjoyed seeing evidence of our feathered friends.  =)

December 4, 2013

Scrabble Tiles

I recently found a duplicate set of Scrabble tiles in the game cupboard and I couldn't bear to put them away.

I also discovered some fun Scrabble tile art projects using Diamond Glaze.  But I'm not sure I can part with these old beauties.  Perhaps I will have to purchase new ones.

Aren't Z's great??

December 3, 2013

Comparing Lights

This is our view out the (rainy) window at the top of the stairs.  Our neighbor goes all out with his Christmas lights...and there's still more to come!  Who knew how many angels and deer and candles could fit on one house?!

I used to be intimidated by this, feeling our simple greenery bough on the front porch was silliness in comparison.  But like many things in life, we have learned that we cannot compare ourselves to the "Smiths" next door.  We now smile and enjoy our neighbor's hobby, knowing it brings him great pleasure - and also smile our our own, smaller traditions.  =)

December 2, 2013

French Meringue Buttercream Frosting

It was a memorable Thanksgiving here, with lots of kids and friends and eating and laughter.  After awhile it didn't matter what we ate - we were just together.  =)

We also celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday, so it was time for something a little out of the ordinary. A 3-layered pumpkin cake did the trick.  I'm now really in love with 6 x 2" cake pans, which are way more interesting than the regular 2-layer pans.  I also tried my hand at a French meringue buttercream frosting.  It was fun to work with, but I must say, anything with 3 cubes of butter in it tastes like, well, butter!!

November 26, 2013

The Milk Waits For Tomorrow

Well, I managed to get to the bank, the library, the art store, and the airport post office.  But I completely forgot to pick up the milk.

So sorry, my dear.

November 25, 2013

Gratitude and Thanks

thank.ful (thangk-fuhl), adj.   feeling or expressing gratitude or appreciation

You know when life comes at you and practically knocks you off your feet?  Oh, it was one of those weeks for me that brought me to my knees!  Uggh!

In an effort to pull myself together, I forced myself to once again physically write out all the things I am thankful for, that silly little exercise that I work hard to cultivate as a habit.  It took a couple of hours, but I needed that time to still my soul and focus on all of the blessings in my life.  While I couldn't make the problems themselves go away, they lost their all-consuming power.

This is definitely not an easy thing to do when life is out of sorts, but I'm convinced more than ever that it is worth the effort!  We can train ourselves to take on the emotion of gratitude.  With enough practice it can become a mood, and then a trait.  It's a remarkable idea.

Someday we will see the whole picture and understand the whys in life.

November 20, 2013


He left for Brooklyn ready to take on the world.  Even the view from the train tracks was exhilarating.

She went back to college and friends.

Despite happiness for them as they are following their dreams, this momma has been crying for many days.  Saying goodbye to kids is so, so hard.

November 15, 2013

The Big Move

This weekend our son comes home before moving to New York!  It will be so good to see him and we are excited for what's ahead...but the mom in me is already feeling the separation.

Add in a very special daughter coming home from school and an early Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration...

Lots of memories in the making this weekend!  Hope you all have your own measure of memories as well.  Happy Friday!

November 14, 2013

Horse Hugs

I admit that horses scare me to death.  But as long as there's a fence between us and I sense some gentleness, I can't resist.

November 13, 2013

Romance on the Cove

3 of 859,421,377 little ways to tell you're still in love after all these years...

...adventuring together to find a secluded cove at sunset.
...being offered second position down the dike pathway to avoid spider webs in the face.
...listening again with a smile to exclamations about ducks, water fowl, and hunting opportunities.

I love you, Sir Bradley!

November 12, 2013

The Coast

It was an absolutely wonderful, long weekend at the coast!  We realized how tired we were and took advantage of the quietness and beauty of nature to slow down and relax.

Miss Elsie was a close companion.  Oh, there is so much excitement at the beach for a dog.  Sand! Rolling water!  Sticks!  Seashells!  Foam! Jellyfish! Feathers! Unlimited miles of running!  We felt like parents of a two-year-old discovering life.  Ha!

November 8, 2013

Cape Meares Getaway

Woohoo!! We're headed to the Oregon Coast for the weekend!  Sir Bradley has Monday off so it will be three nights and four entire days of rest, fun, and sand.  It will be cold and rainy the entire time, but up here in the Northwest we are hardy folk who have learned not to let weather hamper our adventures.  =)

The homemade yogurt is ready.  The cranberry orange pecan bread is wrapped.  Fresh eggs - check. New batch of granola - check. A cooler of fresh fruits and vegetables is still to be packed.  I can't say that I've ever packed quite this healthy before.  

That being said, hunting down a good bakery and enjoying a special treat is still on the agenda!!!  It will be good for the soul!!

November 6, 2013

Drying Out In Time To Get Wet

With the last batch of sunshine, everything dried out.  The leaves turned crunchy and the ornamental grasses started to shine, the details of which were all quite captivating!

November 5, 2013

Dancing Kids

There is only one center in the Northwest for medically fragile children, and the staff and volunteers there work hard to provide treatment, care, and love.  In front of the building is wonderful little statue of children dancing, something that, ironically, none of the center's children will ever be able to do.  But the carefree nature of the statue somehow brings hope of other joys these kids can experience.

November 4, 2013

Better Than Candy

So here's a new snack to consider, one that the good doctor just might approve of!

Take one luscious candy bar.  Trader Joe's Swiss bar is absolutely fabulous.

And then enjoy tearing open the delicate foil.

Ah, flowers!  Swiss flowers, of course!  (I made that up.)

So take a single square, add a dollop of peanut butter (or sunflower butter, in this case), and pile on as many raisins as will fit.

Dark chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit.  All good, right???!  Sorry that the last picture isn't more romantic, because it deserves to be.  This treat is to die for.

November 1, 2013

Pink Glove Dance

So as you head into the weekend, here are two quick video links to enjoy.

The original video was created by Providence (woohoo!) back in 2009 for breast cancer awareness... and it went viral.  Click on the following link and then on "The Original Pink Glove Dance". Yup, there are some pretty cute nurses in there, and that custodian can dance! Employees were untrained, unpolished, and unabashed as they danced through the hospital, and patients loved it.
Pink Glove Dance

And now greater things are coming from it.  Please take a moment to see this one...and remember to vote!  Prizes are awarded as donations to breast cancer charities.
Pink Gloves in Walla Walla

Keep dancing, my friends.   Happy Friday!

October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Sometimes the season calls for something special, something besides candy! Pumpkin Pie Granola was just the ticket this week...and it worked perfectly for Halloween treats at the office.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Pie Granola
6 c. extra thick, cut rolled oats
1 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1 c. pecans, broken
1 c. flaxmeal
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. honey
1 heaping Tbsp molasses
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. allspice
3/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
dried cranberries, raisins

Stir first 5 ingredients and set aside.  Dissolve salt into water, heating in microwave if necessary.  Add all other ingredients except dried fruit.  Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients.  Spread out on 2 cookie sheets.  Bake @ 350° x 30-40 mins, stirring every 10 mins until lightly browned.

October 30, 2013


I think most of us fully appreciate dishwashers and the time they save us.  But like many things in life, they become a habit, part of a routine, and often unappreciated.  The job of unloading, in fact, is something I dread.  Honestly?  I would rather put tubes in people, and that's near the bottom of my list.

Imagine my <<!joy!>> on a particularly tiring afternoon to open the dishwasher and discover it was empty!  Woohoo!!  My dearest Sir Bradley did it for me when it was clearly my turn!  Not only that, but he did it when he was pressured for time and I know he was exhausted.

Joy!  Joy!  Joy!

October 29, 2013

Dog Antics

See Elsie run.

See Elsie play keep away with her new ball.  That fun squishy feel is just too irresistible.

October 28, 2013

Oh, the Leaves

The colors are so beautiful!  They will quickly be gone, so I'm trying to soak them in while I can!

October 25, 2013

Friday Wishes

Have a wonderful Friday, my friends!  I hope your weekend is both exhilarating and relaxing!

October 24, 2013

Planting Kale

...Future home of winter kale that will grace my eggs.
...Moveable, to avoid hungry deer.  =)

October 23, 2013

Picking Walnuts, Cont.

My eyes finally moved from the cars to the orchard.  Such a gorgeous day!

The adventure began.

I did not fully realize the implications of the actual location of the walnuts.  One billion nuts were spread all over the orchard.  On the ground.  I failed to consider that one must bend and squat to pick up each little nut.

Bend, squat, stand.
Squat, stand.
Squat, waddle, try to pick up a couple, stand.
Bend, squat, stand.
Squat, stand.
Pray you can get up.
Pray more that you can walk the following morning.

28 pounds of walnuts...better than a gym membership!

October 22, 2013

Jalopies 2 and 3

Oh, it was quite organic indeed!

The property owner was puzzled as to why I would be taking pictures of the old cars, but he was happy to inform me that he sold one of them.

October 21, 2013

Walnut Picking

The walnut orchard was home to a few jalopies, leading me to believe we were entering an "organic" estate.  =)

October 18, 2013

Fall Leaves

Friday, color, fresh air, cooler mornings, sunny afternoons...all good.

Have a ridiculously amazing day!

October 17, 2013

Short Lived Fun

Miss Elsie went crazy with a wayward rose hip...she flipped it and tossed it and thoroughly enjoyed a wild chase as I tried prevent a million red polka dot stains on my carpet.

In the end, there were no stains and she didn't enjoy eating her spoils.  The taste was bad even for a lab.

Sorry, Els.   =)

October 15, 2013

Rose Hip Tea!


Last year the rose hip tea adventure was a complete disaster and I swore I would never touch the stuff again.  It was just awful.  But as I mentioned last week, I learned that a friend's mother carefully removes all of the seeds and hairs from the rose hips before making her jelly.

The harvest in the fields were calling.

This new technique, however, is not for the faint of heart. With a little practice and the help of a pickle fork, I was able to clean one hip a minute.  That's a whole lot of time for one cup of tea.

I tried steeping them in the teapot with no success.  These are tough little berries. They must be boiled, and then smashed up a bit once they soften.  A final strain is needed.

And so here is the beautiful cup of tea, with a touch of honey.  Delicious!  I am truly amazed.  Wonders never cease.

October 11, 2013

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Cookies

Friday and cookies.  The combination is hard to beat!

For all my gluten free friends, here is a new discovery to top off your weekend.  And for my card carrying wheat friends, don't pass up this positively sensational treat!

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Full of chocolate goodness, these cookies are quite rich, with a fine, cake-like crumb.  Best served warm, fresh out of the toaster oven! 

1 egg
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark cocoa powder
2 c. Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose baking flour
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Whip the egg, butter, and sugars until thoroughly smooth.  Then mix everything together.
Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  These spread very little.
Bake @ 350° x 12 mins.  Makes 1-1/2 doz.

October 9, 2013

October Fog

You know it's October when...

...there's so much fog you can't see the valley. are ready for morning fires in the wood stove. can't wait for a hot cup of tea!

October 8, 2013

Off the Grid?

Cooking on a wood stove, giving up a blow dryer, reading by the light of a kerosene just kinda sounds romantic, no?  Living off the grid would be a lively and amusing challenge!

But off the internet?  Seriously????  We lost connection for 14 hours and I can't fully describe my disappointment, frustration, and vulnerability.

Some pioneer woman I am.


October 7, 2013

Rose Hips Again

OK, the wild rose hips are bigger than ever this year, and even though I remember promising to never, never try them again, well... I'm trying.  A friend's Romanian mother reportedly removes all of the seeds first, so perhaps that's the trick to making these taste good.  We shall see!

This year, however, I'm only using a portion of our lovely, wild of harvest.  If the tea continues to disappoint, I see some wonderful centerpiece decorations in my future.

More pictures to come!

October 3, 2013

Girls in the Dirt

It's seems, my dear, that you forgot your linen napkin.

October 2, 2013

These Hands

It was a good conversation at the table, and interesting to discreetly watch the hands through the camera lens as I listened to father and son talk.

I am thankful for these fatherly hands which have corrected, instructed, loved, wrestled, played, cleaned, encouraged, and comforted over the years!

Blessings indeed.

October 1, 2013

Harvest Jar Candles

It's October!  What happened?!

As time flies by, we're doing more small things to celebrate the change in seasons.  I let a few things slip when the kids left (what's the point, right?), but now we enjoy them for our sake.

So this year I hauled the scarecrow back out, picked the single pumpkin growing in the yard, gathered pinecones, decorated candles, and lit the kerosene lamp.  It was all very fun. =)

Harvest Jar Candle Instructions:
Muslin, fabric scraps, burlap, twine, canning jars (any size), and candles (any size) are all you need. Cut, fray, and wrap the fabric, then tie it all up with twine.  No glue needed.  I filled my jars 2/3 with dried beans to keep the tea candles in place.  It doesn't get any easier!

September 30, 2013

Stormy Weather

It's spring in Australia, and the apple blossoms are just popping out along with the peas.  Sarah at Chantille-Fleur shares that the wallabies are everywhere!

Here?  Hmmm...well, the fall season is coming on with a vengeance.  We're just waiting for the 2nd Pacific storm to hit.  Heavy rains, heavy winds.

The poor chickens have a cozy and dry nesting box, but down below, everything is sopping wet.  The sideways rain is unforgiving!  Tomorrow I shall have to give them some clean, dry straw.

I'm thankful for a house that doesn't leak and a warm wood stove!

Time for Pumpkins!

We discovered this little roadside stand while driving to Mt. Angel.

Never saw any tomatoes or watermelon, but there were plenty of pumpkins!

September 27, 2013

Mount Angel Abbey

It was a quick trip down to Mount Angel Abbey this afternoon.  It didn't fit perfectly into my schedule, but it was worth every ounce of maneuvering to make it happen.  The chapel and grounds were perfectly quiet and lovely, and I had a chance to sit and have a wonderfully deep and meaningful conversation with a good friend.

We are very different from each other, but I cherish our history together and our ability to have an honest, challenging, and encouraging friendship!  That's a real treasure!