TGI(veg)F !

Left to my own devices, I’m a completely uninspiring cook. So the fate of the broccoli, green onions, white turnips and some of the kale and parsley were….wait for it….stir fried!!! If you’ve gotta be stir fried, go fresh (speaking from the veggie’s point of view).

I roasted the beets and threw them in the salad mix, with walnuts and some kind of cheese or other, can’t remember. Again, boring, but I couldn’t surrender the amazing flavor of those beetlets to the beet cake. Just. Couldn’t. Do it. Sadly, the beet greens ended up in the compost bin after suffering the humiliation of boiling down for dye and then left to cool on the stove and forgotten for 3 days. Can you say MOLDY BEET GREENS? Ewww.

Rainbow chard finally got its turn as a side dish sautéed with garlic, curry powder and some dried cranberries.

I made a gratin out of the new potatoes and kale ala The Art of Simple Food (Alice Waters newest cookbook. I know – boring again. Even my cookbooks are all by the same author. I need to change that up).

Kale made a guest appearance in three separate dishes: the stir fry, the potato gratin and chicken + black bean enchiladas. Kale shined like a superstar in that last dish.

The strawberries were demolished at first site and we still have some parsley left, but other than that, everything got used up!! I threw much of the non-edible veggie mass and some stowaway spring onions into a chicken stock (or is it broth?) that I made from the remains of a roasted chicken.

I just picked up Super Natural Cooking (Heidi Swanson)
from the library and am so excited to dive in and change things up a bit around here. Has anyone read this? Any other cookbook suggestions?

This week’s bin includes: Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Carrots, Radishes, Walla Walla Onions, Fennel (my favorite), Rapini (not sure what this is, need to consult veg dictionary), Basil, Strawberries!!!!

Happy weekend everyone!


Love in the Mail

Check out the newest additions to our family!


A beautiful doll quilt, HAND SEWN!!!! by my amazingly talented miniature quilt swap partner! (Check out the adorableness in her shoppe, too!!)


Along with an equally delightful little HAND SEWN doll outfitted in the charmingest of little HAND SEWN dresses and knit caps.


I love the doily detail, the beautiful toile print (I’m a sucker for toile), the colors, the button...I love it all. She used soulemama’s mini quilts as inspiration, which is perfect as I recently purchased a couple of sm’s mini quilt prints.


Did I mention that it was all hand sewn?? I’m in awe. And I'm inspired to get back into craft mode, as I've been in a creative slump lately (have you noticed?). These gifts and sweet note lifted my crafty spirit.

Thank you, sweet swap partner. I’m “simply” delighted!


can't believe i'm doing this.

I was DARED to post a pic of my 1988 prom self. I’m always up for a challenge, so here’s me at prom…I think.

I mean, I know it’s me, but I can’t remember which poofy dress/poofy hair combo comprised prom night. Clever commentary absent as well since I obviously don’t remember much of the night. In fact, high school itself is pretty much a blur. Come to think of it, maybe I should retract my previous statement and say with 99.9% certainty that this is me at prom. Anyway, the pic says it all: obligatory late 80’s crimped hair, cakes of makeup and yes Tracey…lots of ruffles (although I’ve seen worse).

So there I go, burning my 18-year old self into blog memory forever. But imagine how my poor prom date would feel should he, during a late-night net surfing session, happen unwittingly upon the poofy prom version of himself. So, I Photoshop disguised him…and may have gotten a bit carried away.

If I get sued, I hold Tracey personally liable anyway. Since she MADE me do it, and all…this SO feels like high school.

So come on...post yours. I know you (don't) want to!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sew Me

Esme Sewing
My girl, hard at work on her little wooden butterfly sewing thing (for lack of a better description). She sews alongside me, which is one of the happiest parts of our days together. I always get a little giddy when she asks "let's do sewing, mama."

Holden Embroidery
I guess the foot tilt runs in the family.


Hand Made

No, sadly, not the dress. I wish I had the seamstress skills (and patience) to whip out a dress for every special event I attend.


I can only lay claim to the belt, which took all of 8 minutes to make. The fabric is from superbuzzy, my favoritest Japanese fabric supplier, and it tied my brown dress and unrelated red shoes together very nicely for a beautiful woodland wedding that we attended yesterday.


Speaking of unrelated, this is our garden, newly planted, which now takes up exactly half of our backyard.


Here’s some perspective. Yes indeed, half the back yard and we're thinking of dedicating the entire front to herbs. That's our (soon to be not-pink) house in the upper left corner. Add these veggies to our weekly CSA allotment, and we're getting closer to our goal of getting off the grocery store grid. I say, bring it on, but may be eating my words along with a multitude of veggies when we're up to our ears come harvest time!


Veg R Us


Not even one week into it and I almost forgot about “Veg Friday!” [Me: Hmmm, what shall I blog about today? The weather? My new shoes? The veggies staring at me from that bin??? Aaack!] So here’s the fate of last week’s veg assortment:


Spinach + Carrots:
These guys became ingredients in Soup au Pistou ala Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Café cookbook, with major alterations of course. She uses a bean base, but I just made a simple veggie soup using chicken stock and throwing in any willing and able veggies (also used green beans, zucchini, favas, and...umm..something else that raised its hand) then just plopped the pesto in at the end. Alice would cringe if she were watching over my shoulder, but this is easy and fast and still healthy-ish. So there.


Basil + green garlic:
Green garlic makes crazy good pesto, so I made a whole lot of it. Aside from having it in pasta, I also used it in Soup au Pistou and made pesto mayonnaise which we used on sandwiches and hamburgers. I think pesto mayonnaise is the secret ingredient to a happy marriage.


Sweet onions:

Grilled with olive oil + salt + balsamic vinegar all wrapped up in foil together = YUM (thanks Tracey for the balsamic suggestion. It added the perfect zing to the sweet).

I'll most definitely keep better track of our dinners next week because it took a few too many brain cells to remember what we had for dinner last night. And that rainbow chard? Sadly, it's still sitting in the crisper waiting for it's turn in the saute pan. Patience sweet chard...your time will come!


This week we got: Salad Mix, Beets (yay!), Broccoli, New Potatoes, Green Onions, Kale, White Turnips, Parsley, Strawberries.


Can you see that tear in Esme's eye? Daddy couldn't wash the strawberries fast enough for our sweet berry fanatic.

Thanks for tuning in. Join me next week for more veg adventures, and have a happy & safe weekend!!!

Edit: The pictures confused my husband. So to clarify, these pictures are of the veggies that we received THIS week even though I'm writing about LAST week's dinners. He also wanted to add that Chocolate Beet Cake is another necessity for a happy marriage.


Riddle Me This

Is freezer paper ever known to just vanish into thin air? Or spontaneously and inconspicuously combust? Because I know I bought some, but it remains an elusive but irreplaceable item for the dinosaur freezer stencil shirt that I promised to make Holden today. And lord help me in the morning should he awake to an empty handed mama. Because 4-year-olds may sometimes glaze over when you ask their middle name or fumble with the memory of what they had for lunch (5 minutes ago), but believe me, they remember the exact moment in time, what they were wearing, what you were wearing, how the air smelled and your exact words when you promised that Tyrant Lizard King shirt. So, a-hunting I will go for that fricken fracken freezer paper!! Wish me luck!


Catalytic Beet Cake


Our catalytic converter was stolen from Brian’s truck last night, whilst we slumbered. When I called to report it stolen, the officer asked if we own a Toyota Tacoma...
Me (happily): “Yes!!! Did you find our converter???”
Police Officer: “No maam [I swear I could hear him roll his eyes]. There’s been a rash of catalytic converter thefts lately, all aimed at Toyota Tacomas.”
Me (feeling entirely stupid): “Oh. Yeah.”


I’m pretty sure I was the laughing stock of the police station. And he was right -- evidently, CC theft is the latest and greatest trend
around here amongst the thief set. The whole thing just makes me sigh (and feel a little silly for thinking our car part would be recoverable).


So to keep my mind off insurance claims this afternoon, we baked a resounding success of a Chocolate Beet Cake using this recipe.
I’m not sure how it survived, considering the fact that I only came up with 1 cup of pureed beets and misread the baking soda for baking powder. Either way, it was a nice surprise ending to our anti-catalytic day!


Fava Beans AGAIN???

Yes, yes. I know, I'm a little obsessed. But they are so cute and yummy and fleeting. And they really do signify Spring's arrival (despite the past three days of heatwave worthy temps around here).

Esme Fava

This past weekend Esme fell in love with the little bedded beauties, just as her brother did almost 3 years ago. I showed her how to shell them from their cozy beds and prep them for their bath, whereupon I was immediately dismissed from any more shelling duties with a curt "ME DO." So I left her to her work and was surprised to return to a freshly shucked pile of favas sitting next to a bowl of compost-ready pods!? That little girl knows her beans! After a quick parboil and ice water bath, they were eaten as quickly as I could remove their skins.

And this morning to our delight, we happened upon a solitary fava sitting amongst the living room book pile. How it got there, I can only imagine (Holden thought fava fairies might've had something to do with it), but we were quite ready for fava pancakes (kidding).


Our Town, Revisted

Portland's endearingly eccentric McMenamins headquarters in McMinnville, OR hosted a UFO festival last weekend. I think the circumstances and these pics speak for themselves. So without any further ado…check out the highlights of the day:

Our first alien sighting…a VW Bus. Haven’t seen one of these in quite awhile and as soon as I saw it, I knew we were amongst friends.

I love Holden's look of “What…? We can’t just take over these comfy, perfectly placed parade-watching chairs???”

Holden’s rendition of a “happy alien,” complete with mezermerizing eyes and encapsulated space pod.

Where else on earth can you openly (and safely) high-five a storm trooper?

I’m short, and Holden already staked claim to Brian’s shoulders, so I couldn’t see much of the parade. I did catch sight of a few clever floats but the costumes were really my favorite.

This alien needs to know that there's better beer on earth than Coors Light.

I think the best costume award (or would that be CONSUME award) goes to my good friend, Tom. Appropriately double fisted, he embodied the true spirit of the day. Rock on Aliens!


Veg Love

We got our first CSA box today, WooHoo! I think I’m going to dedicate Friday posts to our weekly box content, my plans for the veggies, recipes and sources so that I can look back next year and have that info handy. I meant to do this last year, but never got around to it and now I’ve forgotten many of the dishes. So, be sure to let me know your secret recipes if your favorite veggie appears in our box!

(Speaking of weekly posts, and regarding my big plan to journal our progress in teaching our kids about sustainability, um…errr…the whole posting thing’s not quite happening. It’s not that we’re not doing those things, it’s just that whenever I sit down to write about it here it sounds all pretentious and preachy, ya know? And that’s not how I want it to be. So once again, I’ll take my own “goals not deadlines” advice and stick with mentioning our progress every now and then. OK, I feel better.)


So, this week's box contents:
Green Butter Lettuce, Red Leaf Lettuce, Spinach: Salads (duh)
Carrots, Icicle Radishes: The kids and husband will eat these up. Radishes are too spicy for me. I need a radish burper like the one in the House of Tomorrow cartoon.
Green garlic, Basil: pesto
Strawberries: Already demolished by the kiddos
Rainbow Chard: sautéed with garlic, dried cranberries and walnuts or sliced almonds. Sprinkled with goat cheese. I had a similar dish at Lorenzo’s, only made with kale. It was so yummy, I had to steal it and now it’s a favorite in our house.
Sweet onions: I’m not a raw onion fan, so we’ll probably grill these puppies. Cooks Illustrated advises brushing with olive oil, salt & pepper then grilling. Sounds good, fast and easy to me, sold!

Ok that was easy, now onto the follow through. Wish me luck!



I’m too tired to attempt cohesiveness, so here’s a bunch of random.

PlantMarkers Bookmark

More uses for our mega contact paper roll: plant markers & bookmarks. I got the bookmark idea from this cute blog, although I made the photo strip myself as the thought of dragging the kids to a mall photobooth overwhelmed me beyond words. Sitting in front of Photoshop, though. I could handle that.

We watched King Corn recently. It’s really good in an Inconvenient-Truth-scare-the-crap-out-of-you-and-make-you-want-to-go-live-in-a-cave kind of way. It’s an Instant Watch if you’re a Netflixer, which thankfully I am, otherwise I was number 153 on my local library’s wait list. And I slapped my head when I realized the filmmakers themselves were showing the movie and holding a Q&A session at our local library on Monday night. Frick frack frick for missing that.


Holden and I made popovers yesterday from Salad People. I love Molly Katzen. And I love hot popovers.

I’m about halfway through the Alice Waters Biography and liking it. How is it that I used to live 15 minutes from her restaurant and never ate there? Oh riiiiiiight. I was a poor, starving college student and couldn’t afford it. Bah.

Holden’s favorite color is “sparkly.” He told me so while we were making popovers yesterday.

This is my new favorite blog. I hope I’m blogging about growing tomatoes and making pasta from scratch when I’m 94 ½ years old.

Yesterday was raining and 62 degrees. Today was sunny and 92 degrees. Portland's weather is as random as this post. How's that for pulling it all together?


Beet-y Playdough


I made some homemade playdough today using this great recipe (found via Crafty Crow) tweaked ever so slightly (you know me) by omitting the Koolaid and substituting natural beet dye for the water. The Koolaid gives a rich, intense color, but I knew my kids would end up eating all that yummy-smelling dough. I’m also trying to avoid shelling out the big bucks for the natural food dyes from Whole Foods, so decided to go the cheap crafty route.


I made the dye by cooking down beet greens in about 2 cups or so of water (enough to cover) for about an hour, then left it on the stovetop to cool overnight. I got a little less than 1 cup of liquid so added some water to make 1 cup as the recipe called for, then followed the recipe from there. The best part is kneading that nice warm dough at the end, especially on a rainy, cold day like today.


The color would probably be more intense if I included the actual beets, but they’re just too yummy for me to sacrifice and I’m happy with the cute salmon pink color. I also tried cooking down some carrot greens, but they emitted a puke green color and I didn’t want to scare my children away from playdough for life. So we’ll stick with pink for now!


If you try this, have faith. When I first started cooking the dough I didn’t think the liquidy slop would ever form a ball and I started to convince myself that the beet juice was throwing off the chemistry. But lo and behold, a ball formeth!!

My mom found a cool set of wooden playdough toys at the thrift store, so we're all quite the happy playdough peeps!


dot dot dot dot, dash dot dot dot

A quilt for my BFF.

I can’t tell you how hard it was to keep this quilt a secret, and she was such a good sport about it. Even when I hint-dropped that I had a “surprise,” she did not press me as she knew I would cave. Instantly. With only the slightest of provocation.


That’s what’s so great about her: she knows me better than I know myself, and quite often saves me from myself (especially when it comes to surprises). Not to mention the fact that she has crazy good thrift store karma. She is my lady luck of thrifting.


When she and I were at Bolt last week and she so casually picked out the perfect missing fabric to this quilt, I nearly blew the surprise. But I bit my tongue, turned bright red and let out a little squeal instead. Just a tiny one, because I wanted this to be a surprise that she would love. And I think it was, and I think she did.


I named it ‘dots and dashes,’ a reference to that secret code that only the bestest of friendships share…and also because there’s lots of dots and dashes all over it, hee!

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl (even tho we already celebrated it, but you can never get enough HBs, right?)



Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there, mine and yours and you!! I think Holden summed it up best when he asked before trotting off to bed, "Do we get to have Mom's day again tomorrow?" Well, hmmm...more of this?

Mothers Day Outpost
My spot on the couch with
my new book (which I love, at least the first two chapters...thanks mom!) atop the quilt of my craft day labors which is not for me but it needed some breaking in before being handed over to its sweet owner (will save that for tomorrow's brag post!)...

Mothers Day Kids
My sweeties, being sweet to each other...

Mothers Day Kids2
Inevitably being not-so-sweet to each other...

Mothers Day Esme Jump
Finding new exciting uses for comfy spot, along with LOTS of giggles...

Mothers Day Brownies
The making of sweets, from my Sweets...

The handmade gifts hidden (quite visibly) under the living room sofa...
The sweet "Happy Mother's Day to Meeeeee" song sung from my little girl...
The multitude of hugs and kisses and special foot rubs all day long...

Yes, little Holden. I think I could stand another day of this!


Domestic Physics

As Esme feverishly dismantled the kitchen this evening while I cooked dinner, I was reminded of my favorite physical law: entropy (aka, the only thing I remember from freshman physics). I love the idea that by creating order, disorder is being created at an equal and opposite rate somewhere else in the world (or something like that. I got a C-, ok?). This is reassuring to me because it means that no matter how hard I try, there is never going to be perfection in this household. So really, I don’t try very hard.

Playroom Pillow

The laundry isn’t folded, emails aren’t answered and the floor’s not swept, but I have a craft project ready for the kids after nap, a good dent in some upcoming (top secret!) crafty gifts and my mind and body are rested and ready for the remainder of the day. So for me, entropy is a free ticket to enjoy some simple pleasures without feeling the guilt of the looming…ever looming…undone domestic chores.

Playroom Pillow Back

I’m not sure that my college professors had this in mind during their lackluster lectures on physical laws, but I think it may be one of the most useful lessons of my education.

Pajama Day

Sadly, this law also applies to the craft room. Here is the aftermath of my latest (top secret!) projects.


Tomorrow, as a pre-mother’s day gift to myself from my husband (wink), I’ve been given a majority of the day to dedicate to said (top secret!) craft projects. So peeps…I’m going in! If I’m not out by Friday, you’ll know that entropy has run amock in this house!

Ducky Park