Greetings from Redmond OR and 6 Randoms

I love the current meme that's been going around so considered myself "tagged" when the spoonful of sugar girls made the suggestion. And I agree with Tracey that Randomness on demand is not so easy but here goes with 6 random facts about myself:

1. I like to smell things: library books, paper clips, new fabric, wrapping paper, my babies' hair (especially my babies' hair), leaves, stones, sticks, bugs (yes, they do have a smell)...pretty much everything except the obvious stinky stuff. I think I'm an olfactory learner, or just plain weird.

2. I've based my reading book selections this summer solely on titles and covers. I didn't read the summary flaps or anything else about them beforehand, just jumped right in. So far, I've read 4 winners and 1 complete flop.

3. I successfully talked my OB out of inducing me on Holden's birthday, so Esme's bday is the day after Holden's. Had I known that "my kids have the same birthday" would make a more interesting random fact for this post, I may have reconsidered my options.

4. To live in Portland as a true Oregonian and not just an ex-pat, my in-laws made me denounce my Californian heritage by repeating "those damn dirty Californians" in my best Charlton Heston voice.

5. Brian and I are staying in a yurt at Champoeg State park next Tuesday! We've never stayed in a yurt, but it's cheap (like $35/night), close (first time leaving Esme, second leaving Holden) and I love saying "Champoeg" (pronounced "sham-POO-eeeeey") and "yurt" (pronounced "yurt") as much as possible.

6. A college professor once berated my "decorative use of punctuation" on an essay I wrote. I don't remember the course, the professor, or any subject matter that he (purposefully) taught, but that idea of punctuation as decoration delights me to this day (see "random fact #5 as an example)


And one more not so random fact, since this is a craft blog and all: I scored some cool vintage fabrics at the thrift store today and can't wait to brag about share them with you when I get home!


Veg Out

Our csa contents melded nicely with our harvested veggies resulting in a nice veg-full week. The garden harvest theme this week was definitely “chard” as we have it growing out the yin yang.
The cucumber, cherry tomatoes and parsley went happily into the quinoa tabbouleh. With my carnivorous parents being here, we did much sausage and steak grilling with green beans, salad, grilled chard, and grilled onions as sides. I also made veggie tacos with the cilantro, zucchini and chard, as well as a sausage, chard and goat cheese pasta. We happily plowed our way through our mountains of fruit and headed straight back to the berry fields for more.


The kids and I are heading to Redmond, OR tomorrow (chardless, thankfully) to do some Deschutes County Fair-ing, enjoy more grandparental spoiling and leaving Brian here for some heavy-duty house remodeling. I may pester sweet Grandma B to teach me all about serger-ing, too. Happy blog week everyone!


Tweaky Bloomers

New Bloomers
These little bloomers (or are they pantaloons?) of Esme’s are the perfect length for not-too-short-but-not-too-long summer pants or under-dress accessory. They get a lot of wear these days but sadly are on their last legs (pun intended).


My fear of pant-making, made rational by many painfully failed attempts, has intimidated me from hand-making her a new pair. Or pant-making ever again for that matter. Until I realized that…(cue lightbulb and big ding sound from overhead)…I can start from an already existing pair of pants! And thus so consequently, the Tweaky Bloomers were born.

Bloomers Detail

For these, I used a pair of lightweight cotton pants that looked more like bad golfing attire than cute toddler-wear so naturally sunk to the bottom of the clothing pile. I cut the bottoms off, added some ricrac of Esme’s choosing (sparkly of course), did a bunch of necessary and not-so-necessary tweaks to figure out the process and voila! Nuevo Bloomer-o’s.

New Bloomers

Can all pant-making be so easy, I ask myself? Sadly, not for me. But bloomer-making can be easy and for now, I'm happy with that. So to the list of things-to-look-for-at-the-thriftstore I can now add “bloomer-able pants” and will cross my fingers for a vintage-y linen-y dreamy blouse-ish top to go along with them.


stencil me

Butterfly Stencil Shirt

The AV department finally got off her (my) arse and downloaded these pics as proof that I didn’t spend the entire last 4 days on the couch feeling sorry for my huge-headed self. I only did that about 90% of the time. The other lovely 10% was dedicated to these freezer paper stencils (and a few others that I was too lazy to photograph, ahem).

Freezer Paper Stencil Shirts

Funnest project ever. I love the feeling of tearing the freezer paper off at the end and having a beautiful, crisp image in front of you. All blank, cloth surfaces in my house: beware!!!!!


and one more bit...

Me (after loud crash and cries erupt from next room): What happened?
Holden: I hurt myself.
Me: How did you hurt yourself?
Holden: Well. Esme and I were playing jumpstick and I landed on the jumpstick and hurt myself.
Me: Why is Esme crying?
Holden: Well. She was the jumpstick.

(I'm putting pressure on the visuals department around here to hurry up and post some pics!)


tid bits

First off, an overdue thank you to Tracey from Paper Dolls for Boys for bestowing this lovely award upon my undeserving and tardy-with-the-thanks self. I’m happy to call Tracey a friend, although we’ve only met online (isn’t blogging funny, and annoying, that way?) Watch for her soon-to-open etsy shop!

Second off, I managed to finally join the hoards of crafty bloggers that have partaken of the freezer paper stencil craze. And I too now am a freezer paper stenciling addict (I say with pride). It proved to be a perfect project for a stuffy-headed Sunday while the family frolicked, sans me. I will share pics tomorrow because I'm still too stuffy-headed to download the camera pics.

And thirdly, and thankfully, I found a use for our parsley via angry chicken's genius use of quinoa in tabbouleh. As soon as I read the post I ran to the kitchen and made it. Seriously, I was so excited. I wish I could tell you that it was the most amazing salad ever, but I couldn’t taste one single bite on accounta my head is still crazy congested. But it looked pretty. And more importantly, the parsley is gone.


Veg Day and Sniffles

We're in the midst of veggies and requisite summer colds around here. And in addition to the veggie mix, I now have an overabundance of fruit. FRUIT??? I totally did not factor piles of fruit into my veg equations.

But we’re surviving, and I have grand plans for these little fruit cherubs of mine, yessirree. That is, if I can hide them from my fruititarian children and if I can withstand the oncoming sniffles and coughs that will likely trail this sore throat/fever/chills combo. Summer colds suck.

Our veg week looked something like this:

Salad mix, Red Leaf lettuce: we eat oodles of salad so these were added to our garden lettuce harvest to create the most diverse family of salad mix ever to grace our crisper. My favorite salad dressing is a simple whisk of olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar with a dash of balsamic vinegar, tossed into the lettuce right before taking it to the table so the taste of lettuce is still the main flavor. I add any additional ingredients after tossing so they stay on top and don’t get all mushed together and turn into one giant ball of goat cheese/dried cranberry/walnut/whatever.
Romano Beans: These were yummy, I'm a fan. I just steamed em, that’s it. Yum.
Italian parsley: Still sitting in our crisper, patiently waiting while I patiently wait for some parsley revelation. Update: I just unloaded some parsley on my unsuspecting brother. Muah, ha haaaaaaa!
Chioggia Beets: Best things ever steamed and added to a salad with goat cheese.
Broccoli: The kids ate these up. I can’t get between my kids and their crazy broccoli obsession.
Summer Squash mix: Starred in Curried Tofu Scramble ala beloved 101 cookbooks
Cherries: Devoured.
Gold raspberries: Devoured.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m hoping ours will be sun-filled and sniffle-free!


this really is a craft blog...

Cherry Quilt Front

…not just a “look how cute and smart and funny my kids are” blog (although they are pretty darn cute. And smart. OK…and funny). So here’s a completed craft endeavor to prove it!

Cherry Quilt Back

Our new picnic blanket, cleverly disguised as a quilt. Or is it our new quilt, masquerading as a picnic blanket? Either way, it affords me another week in defending my craft-blogger name tag.

Cherry Quilt Detail

Since there’s no conventional pieced-together front, I guess it’s a double-back quilt. Which, I’m sorry but starts me singing “I want my double-back-double-back-double back-quilt” every time (I really truly am sorry for that).

Cherry Quilt Detail

My favorite part is the binding fabric: the first fabric I chose upon entering Fabric Depot and the final fabric I purchased after scouring every other bolt on the 75,000 SF floor (I’m not kidding, this place is ginormicous). My MIL, with her keen fabric insight, called it from the beginning but then patiently and knowingly followed me around, adored the other fabrics I picked out, but did not waiver on her initial instincts. Oh to be decisive! (Thanks tutu!)

Cherry Quilt Detail

I bought both cherry fabrics to make Esme dresses. But it being mid-July without nary a handmade summer dress to be seen, I felt it safe to assume the fabric was fair game. We can always rip apart the picnic blanket ala the curtain scene in Sound of Music if the dress-making urge resurfaces (unlikely).


Happy quilted picnicking!


a serious conversation may be in order...

Esme and I made an apple pie last week to celebrate her inauguration into pottyhood. She was sitting on the potty as she likes to do, and suddenly surprised both of us with a little splash. I think she shocked herself more than me, but we quickly recovered and celebrated with high-fives and a triumphant flush.


So aboard the “potty train” (as toddler Holden would say) we go, once again. And when I say “train” I actually mean more of a slow boat...we give her time, encouragement and patience and let it happen as it will. Or sometimes, won’t. Whatever. She’ll be in underwear sometime before her high school graduation and that’s all that matters.

Berry Picking

But, we still highly encourage things along because man, will we be happy when our diapering days are over. So the other evening, while Brian is getting Esme dressed for bed, he mentions that “pretty soon, you’ll be able to wear underwear just like Holden!” Esme processed the information for a second, beamed a smile and without missing a beat came back with, “Yeah! And me get peni$ too!!”

Oh dear. I think we’ve got some explaining to do…


The pics, totally unrelated to Esme’s gender conundrum, are from today’s excursion to Sauvie Island to pick some not-quite-ready-but-perfect-berry-picking-day-anyway blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Then we bought some pre-picked berries to make a not-quite-sweet-but-perfect-with-vanilla-ice-cream marionberry crisp!

Eating Berries

My berry-picking partners were perfectly sweet, as-is.


Veg…Whatever Frackin Day it is

Oops, missed Friday so here’s Veg Saturday instead!

We didn’t get through all the CSA veggies last week and now our own garden harvest is kicking in, but I’m determined to keep up. Not a single CSA veggie soul will be sent to the compost pile on my watch! [Edit: I just sent some improperly stored salad mix to the compost pile. And now I feel stupid. Like, alot.]

So here’s what we used from last week:
Carrots, zucchini, kale: pesto soup
Carrots, celery, onion, kale, zucchini: Pasta with lentils (recipe below)
Potatoes: sliced thin, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with rosemary and baked into “chips” for the kids.
Red onion: grilled. eaten. done.
English cucumber, dill, salad mix: yummy salad with feta
Cherry tomatoes + Raspberries: I saw these for one split second before they were obliterated by my children.

And here’s what we still have on hand:
Arugula + green lettuce from our garden. Piles and Piles. And more coming.
CSA Salad Mix (blaming our own pile of lettuce harvest on this one)
Rainbow chard (planned for tonight’s tofu scramble. Only a little bit wilty, hold on guys!)
Some dill. Although if he has to, Brian is prepared to eat it by the bunch rather than see it go to waste.
Some celery, beginning to glare at us from the crisper drawer.

And HERE’S what we received yesterday (which should’ve been my tip off that it was Friday). Can you say veggie overload? I obviously can’t.
Salad Mix (UGH!!!)
Red Leaf Lettuce (DOUBLE UGH!!!)
Romano Beans
Chioggia Beets
Summer Squash Mix
Cherries (already gone)
Gold Raspberries (already double gone)

And if you’re game, a simple recipe that adds a punch of nutrition to pasta night and makes a nice base for veggie additions:

Red Lentil Pasta Sauce
2/3 cup red lentils, uncooked (Lentils rock – high in protein, fiber, B vitamins and iron; no need to soak before cooking and although the red ones have less fiber than green, they cook a lot faster and have a milder taste that melds well with pasta, methinks)
1 stalk chopped celery
1 chopped carrot
½ chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 32oz can diced tomatoes (or fresh if you got em)
1 sprig thyme, rosemary or marjoram (or whatever herb calls to you as you stroll leasurely through your herb garden. Hee!)
2 cups stock

Cook celery, carrot, garlic and onion in olive oil until cooked through (about 8-10 minutes).
Add lentils (be sure to add these before the liquid and stir to coat in oil, otherwise they all clump together when the liquid is added), tomatoes, herbs and stock.
Partially cover and cook until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.
Salt to taste and pour over whole wheat pasta.

The sauce doesn’t thicken like traditional spaghetti sauce, but the lentils and chunky tomatoes provide texture. Add other veggies depending on their cooking time (zucchini works swimmingly). And grated cheese is a must! Enjoy!


Jam Gone Wrong

Today's post was meant to be titled something pretty and seasonal like “Summer in a Jar” or something inspirational like “Successful First-Time Jam-Fest!” But alas, the apricot dream jam concocted in my grandest of domestic plans was not meant to be. Not today, with apricots shipped from my parent’s backyard, at least.

The sad truth is that the sweet apricot youths that embarked excitedly on their final voyage were destined not for the cozy jam jars awaiting their arrival as hoped, but for the dreary, murky confines of the compost pile instead.
Along with their mushed-beyond-recognition existence, my dreams of eating apricot jam originating from a backyard fruit tree of my childhood home were sadly smashed as well.

Instead, I made an apple pie to commemorate the fine fruit that gave their lives for my snafu, and managed to save their seeds so that someday their offspring might very well realize the noble dreams of their heroic parents.

So here’s to the romance of jam, the heartache of na├»ve confidence...and the optimism of our upcoming blackberry season (hee!)


Swap Scores

I was so focused on what to make for my sweet Toadstool Swap partner that I didn't noodle too much on what I'd receive in return. So I was very happily surprised today! check. it. out!


SO flippin flappin cute!!


I think I heard the larger-than-life and cuter-than-cute toadstool breath a transatlantic flight-worthy sigh of relief when I pulled it out of its parcel package. Even Brian loved the fabric (I'm guessing japanese?) and I adore the little door and window (I was secretly hoping for a little door and window, could you tell?)


So let's take inventory, shall we?
One large toadstool. Cute, possibly japanese fabric [check!]
One small toadstool. Cute, green on green super cool fabric [check!]
One button-eyed bird. Cute, possibly repurposed super cool sweater [check!]
One cheeky ladybug. Cute, just to be cute [check!]

I can assure you that once these guys are discovered tomorrow morning, my inventory list will be quickly depleted. Ms ladybug is fully aware of Mr snail's fate, so she's quite prepared for a future of toddler snoggling here at her new home.


Thank You Chloe!!!! Everything is much loved and appreciated!

Bikes, Trikes and the 4th of July

4th of July
I’m a little late posting this, as the excitement of the holiday and the smell of fireworks have cleared. But I want to preserve the memory of our sweet, restful weekend full of friends, fireworks and apple-pie eating on the lawn (and a little black bean brownie eating, too!)


Veg Friday (on Thursday)

Pesto Soup

I'm posting veg Friday early this week since tomorrow is already spinning out of control and our veggie crisper is already empty. So, hello Veg Thursday…

My favorite veggie combination this week was a salad with white turnips and sugar snap peas. Since the pea shells were almost as amazingly yummy as the peas themselves, I kept them intact and cut them about pea-width so each piece retained a little pea inside it’s comfy shell. I marinated the peas and turnips in an olive oil and rice vinegar dressing for about 10 minutes, then poured everything atop the salad greens. I usually add cheese and/or nuts to salads, but this one was too yummy to fuss with so I just let it be in all its green and white glory.

More Favas

As predicted (I warned you, I’m predictable), I made pesto with the basil and garlic to use for our beloved pesto mayo on grilled zucchini sandwiches, and then again in a pesto barley soup inspired by this article, although tweaked to reflect real life as I don’t have a fig tree, I’ve never been to the French Riviera and don’t have time to sashay idly through my garden at dinnertime to pick the perfect herbs. Although that sounds lovely.

Practically any fresh veggies work well in this soup, but I used zucchini, fava beans, cauliflower and kale. If you pre-make the pesto and barley and prep the veggies ahead of time, it’s a really quick, easy meal to put together:

Pesto soup with barley

Veggie assortment: zucchini, kale, cauliflower, favas, carrots, peas, onions, broccoli, or whatever ya got.
4 cups Chicken stock – I had some frozen stock this time, but usually use Better than Bouillion
2-3tbsp Pre-made Pesto

1 cup Pre-cooked barley

Prep the veggies:
Shell the favas, then blanch, ice bath and peel the skins off (did this ahead of time, too)
Dice zucchini
Cut ribbons of kale
Section cauliflower into small pieces

Heat up the chicken stock in a large-ish pot

Boil water in a separate pot and add veggies depending on cooking times:
cauliflower first, cook about 1 minute
then zucchini, cook about 30 seconds
then kale and favas, cook about 10 seconds

Drain everything and run under cold water for about 30 seconds, just to take the edge off. By this time the stock should be hot.

Add the pesto, cooked veggies and cooked barley to the stock
Salt to taste and grate parm on top

Holden was less than impressed with the barley, so I poured some soup over leftover whole wheat pasta instead. Esme gobbled hers up. She’s predictable – don’t know where she gets that from [ahem].

Have a happy and safe 4th everyone and i'll see ya next week!


Toad Stools

Toadstool Swap

Wow, that title is quite unsavory, hmm? I was going for the image of a little toad sitting on a stool, but I think it went another way entirely. Anyway, since my swap partner has received said TS, I think it’s ok to share them here now.

Patchwork Toadstools

This was such a fun project, and the instructions are here if you want to make one, or a dozen, for yourself. Warning: they're addictive and I got a bit carried away, but it’s the perfect fast and easy project for time-crunched crafters.

Snail amongst

I heard mr snail is quite happy in its new North Yorkshire accommodations.

Check out the flickr group for some clever and adorable ideas. The little toadstool houses are my fave (now why didn't I think of that?)!