Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Our last soccer game was this morning. As you can see, the field and it's surroundings set the stage for a eerie start to the morning.

These trees belong to one of the only urban farms left in Des Moines. They have a few horses there that we've seen during the games. I am super surprised that anyone would keep animals like that there, because the planes come in to SeaTac Airport right over the top of them.

Sure is beautiful though!

Kinda reminds me of this:

from our honeymoon to Ireland in 2001.

Bunratty Castle

And thanks to Grandma's mad sewing skills, she made dreams come true for Ri this year:

"The Fairy Grandmother" made this costume for our little Nonarella!

Hope you all have a Halloween filled with more treats than tricks, and a blessed All Saint's Day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Candy Corn

Ri has this cute stuffed candy corn that tells jokes when you squeeze it.

This is one of our favourites, we hope you like it too.

What's a monster's favourite state? North Scare-olina.

Bah dump bump, chssshhh.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Cat's Out of the Bag

What do you get when you mix a cute little Halloween print with some broadcloth, a sheet of felt, and a few letter buttons? A darling little Halloween bag, that's what! Perhaps it's more accurate to to title this post as "The Cat's on the Bag".

A few posts ago, i mentioned my To Do list for the remainder of the month. On that To Do was an adorable little bag like this one by a very talented Western WA sewer, who graciously posted her tutourial on her blog.

Here they are...join me in a photo-documented fashion show sporting Nona's new t'n't bag.

It can be worn cat-side out.

And when one's eyes tire of looking at the caution yellow, it can be inverted to show off all it's orangy goodness.

Parents and children alike will love to use this bag for more than just goodie collecting--i can hear the comments you'll get now from errands to the library, grocer, toy store....anywhere --with such a sporty sack. "Oh, look at that, Martha, isn't she so seasonally hip with her cute bag!"

Another handy way to use this bag,
just incase you still haven't found a costume in time to go out T'n'Ting:

You can wear it on your head!

Okay, okay, so that last part there was a little Charlie Brown-ie-ish, and yes, if a grown adult showed up on your door like this, you'd probably give them a rock. (Hey, this costume's 10X better than the one i heard about from the Deacon at our church last night--last year, he had a 12 year old show up on his doorstep on Halloween all decked out in a sweet looking suit and when he asked what the kid was supposed to be, he replied, "A hired assassin." Obviously the kid knocked on the wrong house for candy, eh?) Seriously though, catching the scene with CB donning his "wholy ghost" costume is really the only reason we adults still watch the It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown cartoon. :o)

Frankly, i'm amazed that the bags actually turned out, under my leadership. Let's just say i have a love/hate relationship with sewing for now. Someday, i hope to be more advanced and clever at the ol' machine sewing. Thanks to Allison of Cluck. Cluck. Sew. for making this sewing achievement possible with her easy-to-follow tutourial!

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Tricks Than Treats

Hoping you all had a great weekend this past weekend.

I can't believe it's almost Halloween. Where did the rest of October go?

And i really don't want to believe that the rainy season is on us, especially with the potential flooding.

Today we are homebound...and not just sticking around the home, but stuck in the house. It's raining so hard that i think our chickens are going to have to find a way to survive yet another day inside the coop, or else they'd be swimming in the front yard. :o)

It's just one of those days where you need a little something in your morning coffee. Where you feel like if you donned every article of clothing that you own, you still wouldn't be warm enough (my dad refers to these days as the days when you need to "bring in the brass monkey".) :o) Where the computer has every intention of finding new ways to drive you batty. Where you wish God had blessed your child with just an ounce of concentration this morning, instead of 3 pounds of excuses about why she can't do 2 math problems this morning in less than an hour. Where, quite honestly, you'd just love it if you could just yell "DO OVER!" and everyone would just crawl right back into bed and sleep for another 8 hours. :o)


I have managed to get a little done today so far.

One of the numerous piles has been eliminated from the living room. And a few papers have been recycled from the dining room/school room. Word of advice for anyone homeschooling: the dining room can be a great place for your school, just that the dining room table is probably not the best work area. For the same reasons why a designated craft desk, or even better a whole room, is much better than trying to get craft projects done between meals. :o)

While cashing in on "me" time this morning, before Ri woke up, i finished a Halloween project.

We decorated the mantle.

I've managed not to fill up the kitchen sink with dirty dishes (per usual) before lunchtime!

Hooray me!

Since, as i mentioned above, our computer is on the fritz, the blogposts here may be a bit sketchy, but i will take pictures and have updates as this crazy contraption allows.

And if you don't hear from me by next weekend, i hope you and your families have a truly wonderful Halloween, filled with lots of cute litle goblins of the not so scary kind knocking on your door. :o)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Man, I Love WA This Time of Year!

It's been a doozy of a week--3 trips to Lakewood (20 miles from our place), 2 trips to Tacoma (16 miles from our place), 2 trips to Sumner/Bonney Lake (20+ miles from our place). Maybe i should be looking into purchasing carbon credits, eh? :o)

Here are a few highlights of the past couple days.

This is an ad for The Port of Tacoma...i thought it might be interesting for those of you who haven't been to Western WA before. It really is a picturesque area...too bad over developing has taken it's toll. That's Mount Rainier in the background you see, at it's feet are the Cascade Foothills (however it is a mountain range that runs N-S from Canada, through Washington, & Oregon, into Northern CA.) It hosts a plethera of volcanoes; some most famous to us being: Mounts Baker, Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Shasta. See those green splotches just to the left of the river there, almost up against the foothills? (that's the Puyallup River, btw, feeding into Commencement Bay) Hopefully, someday we'll own one of those!

We participated in a train ride on the city's rail line. Got a modest tour of the port.
Since my dad is a train geek of the highest order, he was very happy to hear that Ri was getting a real education that day. :o)
Truth be told, i think she likes trains just as much as him.

Then we visited the port. A bit of activity--more than i had anticipated, however, you can really tell that our economy is not doing so well. Last time we were here (1.5-2 years ago), big freighters like these were delivering a shipment of CATs and tons of foreign cars! While we spent 20 minutes here, we only saw one container loaded onto this ship.

It's never good when you return home from a long days drive to find this on your door....
too bad banana slugs don't need a solicitour's license, cause i could have called him in then.

This is a view of our beloved Mt. R from Bonney Lake.
We went shopping there with my friend, J, yesterday...acquiring crafting items for Christmas projects. I can't believe it's that time of year already!

We also made a quick trip to our favourite pumpkin patch.
Can you believe all these Giant Atlantic Pumpkins???

I was mentioning on my family blog last night that if only the Fairy Godmother had had a snail, maybe she could have turned it into a wrist watch with a timer for poor Cinderella. :o)

And of course, no trip to the patch is complete without a few goes at the pumpkin sling shot!!

This old building...i love this old building. It's in the area we wish to move to (right near the pumpkin patch.) If it wasn't so close to the hwy, i'd live in it! I hope someone comes to it's rescue soon. It has a neighbour in front of it that needs rescuing soon. I would think they would make great store fronts for a farm to market coop/locavore restaurant.

It's always nice to return home and see the amazing colours in town from the front yard too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kids Are Too Cute

We're off on another homeschooler's field trip in a few minutes, but the cutest thing just came out of Ri's mouth, so i had to jot it down.

We're getting dressed in her room, and the bedcovers are a mess. Half of the covers are hanging on the floor, most of them have been pulled from the bottom. I didn't even have to say anything, she just looked at her covers and said, "Boy! Ha ha! I must have gotten up in a squirm last night!"

Nona-ism # 6,995: "Getting up in a squirm" - slang for getting all wrapped up in the covers with your tossing and turning at night and making a mess of the bed when you get unwrapped in the morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Fall Yumminess

The winds weren't as bad here near the Sound as they were up in the Cascade Foothills, so we still have most of our Fall Jewels hanging around, even though the rains have taken their toll. The colours in our area are nicest by the river. Here's a smattering of pictures from the cities we've visited within the last week.

This is a tree by the now City of Kent owned property, formerly known as Marco's Nursery. It's off of Frager Rd., next to the Green River, near the Ol' Fishin' Hole. All the plants that were left there will come out at some point in the future (Moose's dept. will be putting a project out to bid someday that will turn this property into a back channel for the spawning salmon.) Until then, this is one of the most colourful spots in town.

This is my favourite neighbourhood in Tacoma--Proctor. Lots of Craftsman style homes and walkable neighbourhoods close to the zoo and the Sound. Complete with a fabulous toy store, Irish shop, Italian restaurant, hobbie store, 1 screen theatre, and a couple grocers. Too bad the homes are on postage stamp-sized lots (if that!)

The farm we visited in Bonney Lake last week. Not many trees out that way, as it's an enormous ag district--strategically located just off of the new hwy that rendered the old hwy useless. Nicer this way though--not too many stores or cars out this way--since all that jive is now 2 miles south of this area! More cows here than fall colour! :o) But lovely rows of colourful pumpkins!!

This is one of the streets coming up to our neighbourhood. I think it's one of the only tree lined streets in our area.

This is a view of the Kent Ag District down by the apartments i used to live in near the Green River. One side of the river is developed, the other side looks like this still. Sadly, this all may be flooded this year. The men were out there last Friday, harvesting heads of cabbage as big as basketballs. This is at the other end of Frager Rd.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't You Just Love Dinner in the Fall?

Tonight is a quiet night at home for me. Moose made it home early enough to take Ri to her soccer practice, so it's me, a plateful of Fall goodness, a glass of Mother's Milk, and a chapter or two of The BFG (Big Friendly Giant).
It's a much needed night at home. It's some time to relish in the memories i have of my dear German exchange family, who just this weekend lost their patriarch. My "German Dad" lost his battle with cancer, but as my sissy tells me, that his quiet death during his sleep is what he wished for when the doctors told him chemo was no longer cutting it. Today my b-i-l honoured him with a Mass.
After i am done here, i have time to devote to craft projects and laundry. Although, wielding X-acto knives and scissors are probably never a good idea after one's had 2 glasses of Leibfraumilch, eh?
Working on Halloween and birthday gifts, party favours involving freezer paper stencils and housework.
Oy! Is a momma's work is ever done? ;o)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Honest Question

B-Day invites? Check

Ri helped run the copies and we've now got the invites in the mail. Don't you just love her robot she drew? Love, love, love it all!
She did ask her cute question again--"Mom, are we going to hang these on telephone poles?" I told her only if we could afford to mail 10 telephones poles to her family and friends. ;o) We decided that might be a bit much. :o)
Got receive many compliments from the staff at the printing office and passersby.
I hope the family and friends enjoy them just as much. :o)

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Different Sorta Cereal

She couldn't possibly be making something you ingest with this combination of ingredients, can she? C' know that was the first thing you were thinking when you saw this combination in that first photo. Bear with me....i promise it's good!!

When my parents came back from Brasil, my mom bought back lots of goodies from the grocers there to re-inact treats here.

One thing she brought was a bag of corn flakes--not like the USA kinda Kellogg's corn flake, but more like "mashed potato flakes from a box" kinda corn flake. While staying with friends there, they learned a recipe for a cereal that included these Brasilian corn flakes, Brasilian style brown sugar (which Mom says doesn't taste as sweet as our sugar), and peanuts used as an add in to something that looked like runny yoghurt (maybe kefir?)

Mom used our style of yoghurt, thinned with milk, and topped with this cereal. I don't know what she misses most from her trip: this cereal or Brasilian cheese bread.

Now, it's all gone.

And there are two other problems:

1. My daughter really liked it.
2. You can't get the type of corn flakes here.

Enter (me):
Faster than a whirling food processer,
able to make tasty things in a single pot...
it's Anthony Bourdain, no!
it's Emeril LaGasse, nein!
It's, it's....
Experiment Girl!
To the rescue.

In a food processor of some sort, combine (in this order, so you don't end up with chunky peanut buttery goo--chunks being that of corn flake particles):

1.5 cups of US corn flakes, 1/2 cup peanuts, and 1TBSP +1 tsp of Sucanat

Whirrrr the devil out of it until it looks like this:

Use 1/2 cup of this crumbly mixture on top of 1 cup of yoghurt, and you have a yummy breakfast of healthy mush (a no cook porridge of sorts,really) of a different kind that tastes just like you are eating a bowl full of straight peanut butter!

Only this,
won't leave you asking your family the question, "Do my thighs look fatter to you?"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and ....

Cinnamon Sticks!
We decided to try our hand at homemade applesauce yesterday. We won't stop at anything to enliven the dready homeschooling days of October. It was official a month in to homeschooling yesterday, so i was pining for something fun to do with Ri. I feel like we've been all about the book work--not that she doesn't like that part of it, but i had invisioned more hands-on projects.
So with a few inspiring web recipes i found, we ended up working this out, all on our own. That seems to be the beauty of applesauce--you can't go wrong with apples and spices to your liking.
Ri in her adorable apron thoughtfully made by Patti (of Osage Bluff Quilter fame!)
This was Ri's first time using a "knive", albeit a butter knife. Let the "that's not a knife" joke fly. :o)She said she really loved this "chopping apples" duty. We left some of the skins on, in hopes that our applesauce would turn pink, like the peel and core sauce made by the ladies of Little House in the Suburbs fame; alas i think we needed more peel. And i don't think the chickens would have been to happy with that. ;o) (boy did they sure love their apple trimmings with oats, millet, and oyster shells yesterday!)

So with 3 lbs. of apples chopped, 1/2 cup of h2o, two cinnamon sticks, and a squeeze of 1/2 a lemon, we set to boiling. 5 minutes in, we turned it off to tend to some serious business with our dear friend, J---visiting at the local health food store bakery. We came home, and turned up the heat again--for 15 -20 more minutes. Then we turned off the heat and let it stew for a couple hours with a lid on while we went to dance class and religious ed. Last night, i tried it...and i love it! The only addition i made was about 2 tbsp of brown sugar--i suppose you could use honey too.
Nummy, nummy!
I can't wait for breakfast this morning!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ummm, Fall

Suddenly, running errands isn't such a boring thing.

This time of year, it's a contest to see which city's trees are the yummiest! ;o)

These are the trees in Federal Way, at our local market and our local craft store.

I was hoping that we'd get to visit a few more cities before the storms arrived, but it looks like today's wind advisory is going to deliver a doosy of wind gusts today, so most of the leaves will be a bit ragged around the edges or on the ground by the time our farm field trip comes up on Friday. Bummer!

Turns out though, you don't have to wander too far from home for some nice Fall colour.
(i'm happy as a clam that our deck is almost done!! our house looks even better than i though it would in these colours, but the lingering gut feeling is maybe i should have tried harder to come up with something a little more 50's-ish than something leaning a little more arts and craftsy. whoops!)

Here at home, back by the chicken coop, those lucky chickens get to stare at this pretty backdrop all day. Well, maybe they aren't the luckiest of all creatures, because they have to endure upper 40 degree temps most of the day, but at least they have something purdy to look at while they are scratching away at the dirt.
It's almost unbelievable that a beautiful tree like this could house those stinkin' masked banditos that want to get their hands on a few drumsticks for a midnite snack. Moose has been checking on the girls and Stormy late at night because Saturday night, he found 3 raccoons sitting in the trees here, mapping out a plan to get some finger lickin' goodness of their own.
And just the mention of the craft store would lead you to believe i was working on a project, eh?
Whelp, i'm working on 3 projects!
Sacked with projects--just like Momma taught me. :o)
So here's the "TO DO" list:

1. Finish the birthday invites.

2. Work on my Halloween projects, including a couple cute tote bags like this. Our theme will be a screeching black cat on cute orange cloth with black cats on it and with a yellow broadcloth lining.

3. Then, to get 9 t-shirts decorated with the ol' freezer paper stencil trick (hoping Moose won't mind one of his undershirts being used as a guinea pig, as i've never done a project like this before.)

I'll wait for the big unvieling later...once we see if any of these projects are a success or not. Please, Lord, let the shirts be, because i cannot off the top of my head think of a great book that would have a roller skating theme for kids between the ages of 4-9. :o) Traditionally, we purchase story books as party favours for our birthday guests, figuring by the time all that regular "favour" gunk is purchased and packaged, we could have purchased a book per family at the local bookshop with the homeschooler's discount. :o) But this year...really has me stumped. So shirts and four hours of skating it is! :o)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yummy Fall Goodness: In A Cup

Oh, how i love the lovely ladies at our local market's bakery.

The whole staff actually is wildly cool, being that they are foodies of the neatest order--working in an upscale grocery where most items are either haute-y taute-y $200 vinegar in a plexiglass case and the like or prepacked for single "grab -n- go" urbanites with their seemingly plentiful dollars in their wallets. But the staff there, they aren't paid wages that can afford to shop at their workplace (which is completely and udderly sad!), however, they are quite creative and crafty--and thankfully willing to share their wonderfully tasty ideas!

Last time i was there, Greg, a produce clerk from Russia, illustrated this beautiful recipe for Kubotcha squash, in his sexy Russian accent, the way they make it in his family--oranges lying in the bottom of the pan with squash on top and the juice of the oranges poured all over, roasting in the oven. Yummy!

This time, it's the bakery ladies with their fancy "Pumpkin Sauce" for the pumpkin lattes.

1 -30 oz Pumpkin Pie mix (the canned pumpkin with the spices added)
14oz canned evap milk
1 can condensed milk
cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg to taste.

Oh, baby!! And i like how you could adjust it to include no sugar, practically!! Yee-haw!! And the fact that if you drink it straight, it tastes just like you're guzzling pumpkin pie filling before you pour it into the pie shell. Not that i've ever done that, mind you. ahem

Also, since i am coming to you from the land of the people who for some reason refer to themselves as "coffee aficionados" (a title won purely by the amount we ingest rather than actual production of a product from our region), i will share with you a little tidbit of info i learned from the morning news about coffee.

It takes a special person with a gut o' steel to enjoy his cup of Trucker Coffee, and worse off is the kind that looks like someone took brown crayons and swirled them around in a boiling mug of water for a few seconds. The recipe that really knocks your socks off ,when it comes to coffee, is this:

2 TBSP of grounds : 6oz h20 brewed in 210 degree F water, preferably brewed in a French press, no less. :O)

With this 2:6 ratio, you'd never be able to put the appropos amount of grounds in the basket for a 12 cup coffee maker, so you'll have to adjust your measurements if you're brewin' up a batch with your # 1 assistant, Mr. Coffee.

I've tried it with my little 4-cupper, and i have to say, it makes for a more mouthier joe.
My advice though is to get yourself a thermos to pour the rest of it in, as if the liquid sits on the burner too long (eg 30 minutes), it's starts tasting like it's coming from the local Flying J.
**blech** And when you have that, you might as well just resort to unfiltered coffee like the Greeks and Brazilians. Mind that last ounce though! :o)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Seattle By Night

Whew! What a week! We've been everywhere and back it seems like--well, except home long enough to sleep.

Wednesday we had dance class and Ri's religious ed class at her Fr. Uncle P's church, 20+ miles apart with only 30 minutes to get there. :o) Thurs. was an all day trip to Grandma's and Grandpa's in Sequim--beautiful farm country about 2 hours from here, you may have heard about it from the lavender festival. We drove around the Tacoma Narrows on the way there, so we treated ourselves to a ferry ride on our return home. The photos above are from that ride.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


No longer just a funny saying that my friends used to scream at one another when we were in high school for blaitent attention grabbing, but also a crop i harvested from the yard today.

We planted a variety by Botanical Interests called Luscious Bicolour. The main reason why i was soooo attracted to it was for it's short harvesting date: 75 days. Lots of the corn that we see around here is more along the 90-105 day span, and we usually don't have that long here in the Pac NW with our false start summers in June that sometimes are known for creeping into the first week of July.

We did get a few ears from it--from 1 packet, we attained 3- 6 foot long rows, which yielded 5 ears for us to eat and 5 for the chickens and a few undeveloped ones.

I have to say, for all the work, i am not sure it was worth it. Might i try it another year, sure. But with the way this summer was this year, we should have been swimming in corn--the first time we planted was a summer like this one & we had twice as many rows that yielded 50+ ears of corn.
And tomatoes--oy! These are the first harvest. Things were truckin' along so good there and then Labour Day came. The cool air from the Sound at nights comes over the hill and stops the pinkish toms ripening in their tracks. I probably have enough red ones for a couple batches of pasta sauce, so Ri and i will start cracking on that this week.

Lone wayward carrot that has survived the drought we've placed on it. Hopefully there will be just a few more of these babies, but if not, at least the tops will give the chickens something good to munch on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Most Wonderful Time

October is always an exciting month around here. I'm one of those people that drops everything for my kid (or at least i try to.) She is the best thing that happened to me since Moose. :o) And her birthday is coming up in November.

I am also one of those people that likes to go all out (with effort) when putting together a party and enjoying our special time with family and friends. And because of that, i start asking Ri what she'd like to do for her birthday around August, making the final decision in Sept. and doing a little foot work on the subject matter. Around the middle of Sept, i start dropping hints Moose's way and mentioning we act soon. By the first week of October, i usually shut down and it's all birthday planning, all day around here.
Ri would like a skating party this year for her b-day. So we spent a good part of Thursday and Friday last week designing a kickin' invite for her party. I "Google" searched some of the roller derby ads and flyers and showed her the many different styles of them. (Which meant i also had to explain that flyers with some of these things, like girls in fishnets with bun huggin' shorts on were not appropos for any age of birthday or otherwise--which she kindly replied, "I know that Mom. It's just disgusting and i would never do it.") :o) Good girl!

So with a focus on the elements we did like and a stack of tracing paper, slowly evolved this mock up of a sweet invitation you see here:

Ri is super excited! She's worried that her friends will think it's too "old fashioned", and so they won't want to come. I told her the only people who had to be excited about her invitation were her and her parents. :o) We like the sweet old schoolness of it. I was telling about how when i was a teen, people used to make these up for parties or such and hang them around the areas at school or....?

Today we are going to work on putting colour into it. This is where i really wish i knew Photoshop! :o) I need to figure out how to put a background in here, while keeping our design intact. It looks decent enough, so i think i may have missed my calling! I could have been designing promo flyers for U2 right now.....or something. :o) Then again, i wouldn't have my Nona or my Moose.

And you know it's good when after we laid out the design, Ri asked excitedly, "So, Mom, are we
going to staple these on telephone poles???"

I've taught her well...she's now officially ready to go to college. :o)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Moose is on the news

Yesterday, Moose had a public meeting regarding the potential flooding in the Valley. Here's a quick video from the local evening news with highlights of the meeting. Even an appearance by Moose at -2:14!

Enjoy! And if you are in the area, go to the meeting on Thursday 6 - 8pm at the Showare Center and get informed! Better yet, ask where you can help put your volunteer power if you are a resident that won't see any immediate flooding in your area!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zebra Farming?

It looks like we've taken to zebra farming around here, but it's just our poor knock-knuckled Looster,

who's grown this fabulous green plummage.

And is the only chicken we have that could classify as a neon sign for hawks!
Crazy Looster.