We're Here


Yes, we’re here but between Brian’s birthday today, Holden’s new co-op starting on Monday, colds, relapses, everyday life and…have I forgotten anything? Oh yes, Halloween!...the blog has trickled down to the bottom of the priority list. So, I’ll just cram this post with H’ween pics, if you don’t mind.


This year’s costumes: dinosaur and a chicken. Esme was supposed to be a dinosaur hatchling but I just couldn’t get it together enough to execute. I did rally, though, and managed to get the dinosaur costume off craigslist (from a friend, by coincidence!) And once E discovered that her beloved big brother was a chicken last Halloween, she immediately starting clucking and insisted on the chicken costume. Amen. I forgot the rubber glove chicken feet for the pics yesterday but rest assured, she will don that most important item of her costume tonight.



Last year’s costumes: Elvis and a chicken. I think our traditional Halloween theme is incongruity. Yes, that works well for us.


And the compulsory pumpkin carving pics. I was more worried about that sharpie being carelessly flung about the dining room than the knives. It was nice to see the kids “get it” this year, although Holden was pretty disappointed when he learned that the candles inside the pumpkins were there to make them “glow up” rather than “blow up.” It seems we miscommunicated that very important fact.


So grandparents, eat your hearts out. I find it funny that both sets of grandparents reminded us not to forget to take pictures of the kids in their costumes. Seeing as how we take pictures of things like our breakfast and our new shoes, I’m pretty sure the costumes won’t slip our minds. (you never do know, though so thanks for the reminder ;-)


And Birthday Bri: a few reasons that epitomize my adoration of you:

When you make me a grilled cheese sandwich and I can’t get to it right away, you stand it up on one end so it doesn’t get soggy.

When asked if dressing up as Monsanto for Halloween would be appropriate (because it’s the scariest thing I can think of) you decide that going as genetically modified corn would be scarier. And to make sure people would “get” my costume, you will dress as non-GM corn, non-distinguishable from my costume, because that is the scariest thing you could think of.

When your vision of our family all sitting down to happily carve pumpkins while the kids silently and carefully separate the seeds from the pulp goes terribly, hilariously wrong, you smile and suggest we ‘try again next year.’

I love you my caring, patient all-together nerdy husband. Happy Birthday (and happy Halloween to all!!!)


Chutney & Duck

Chutney Before

Aside from recovering from last week's cold (and subsequent sinus infection, ugh), I spent this weekend amongst some lovely ladies making green tomato chutney.

Saturday we cut, chopped, peeled, measured, stirred, spiced, munched, snacked and chatted right up until canning time when my energy reserves completely fizzled away. Hence, no pretty pictures of freshly canned chutney. But judging by the intoxicating smells wafting from the bubbling cauldron before I bailed, I'm sure it'll be a delicious batch and much more appreciated than the pile of green tomatoes on my counter (which are still piled, but not quite as high)

And, thank you Simply for tolerating my fever-induced babble session and taking the time to answer my burning blue needle question. How clever to google the answer! (I would blame my fever for not thinking of that but I've been wondering about this needle thing for awhile so...you do the math)

So FYI, according to Simply's search and another anonymous commenter (mom, was that you?) the blue needle is indeedy used for sewing knit fabrics. Knit fabrics scare me, so that little blue needle will most likely live eternally in its cute little case, but at least now I know I'm not the butt of the needle manufacturing industry joke. I also learned that there are special needles for all kinds of different materials, including my new favorite: "duck." Now isn't that just the stinkin' cutest name for material ever? I'm thinking of buying some "duck" to make some quacky duck totes, just 'cause I like its name. And I may just use my blue needle on it, too (hrmph).


I have no time for a cold

I wish I was posting pics of the cool new project I've been working on lately but truth is, I haven't been working on a cool new project. I've been nursing a cold instead. Blech.

I do, however, have a cool new project brewing in my stuffed-up head. And once the stuff is gone up there, I will make it and blog it. How's that?

A sewing-related question: does anybody know what the sewing machine needle with the blue end is for? I'm down to this last needle in a pack and have been avoiding it lest it have other-worldly anti-sewing powers or something. If I'm the only one in the world with a needle with a blue end, then kindly disregard this question. Maybe the needle manufacturers are just messing with me.

Ok i'm off in search of echinecea and ginger tea. Please excuse my stuffy-headed ramblings!


on the level

Rather than showing my not-so-pretty pile of WIP projects stacked up in my oh-so-messy craft room, I'll share a conversation with Holden that cracked me up today instead:

Me: I'm going to see my friend Ally tonight.
Holden (looking at me incredulously): Really?
M: Yes. Ally.
H: (laughing hysterically) Really? Are you tricking me?
M (remembering Ally is a Land Before Time character): No, not the dinosaur. D's mom, Ally.
H (still laughing hysterically): I don't believe you!
M: Yes, believe me! Ally is my friend, not a dinosaur.
H (still laughing, looking at me sideways): Someone's really named Ally?!

Yep. Walked right into that one...


Warms Me

Before I soup swap, I gotta share a few snippets from the weekend that are filling me with warmth as the temps outside quickly decline...

Sibling accomplishments

duck goose
Giggling games of duck-duck-goose. Or is that "duck-goose" since there were only two players?

Frenchy love. This is my sweet neice, Xev. Isn't she precious?

pumpkin faces
Pumpkin faces

Pumpkin Kisses
Pumpkin kisses

Pumpkin Grey
Pumpkins in grey

Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa

Friendly cuddles

And....Soup!!! Has it really been 4 weeks since the last soup swap? I don't have pics, so you'll have to trust me that this soup is as pretty as it is delicious. And be sure to check out the other soup swappers for more yummy recipes (thanks again Jessica, for organizing)!

Lentil-Tomato Soup with Greens

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c finely chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cumin (sometimes I omit this if I'm not in a cumin-y mood)
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 plum tomatoes, diced or 1 can (16oz) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c red lentils, rinsed
1 spring fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
Handful of various greens (optional; chard, kale, arugula, spinach...whatever you got!)
Yogurt (optional)

1. In large pot, heat oil on medium setting. Add onion and carrot; cook until softened about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook about 2 minutes. Add cumin and curry powder; cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add tomatoes; cook about 5 minutes.

2. Add Lentils, thyme, chicken stock and water. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally about 20 minutes. Add greens and keep simmering until lentils are tender, about 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, salt to taste and let sit about 10 minutes. Swirl in a plop of yogurt if desired.

3. Watch Fall outside while cuddling warm soup bowl.
(this is yummy with a little plop of yogurt swirled in, too!)

Happy soup day!


one down

Block for Beki

Here's my first block for the twelve by twelve quilting bee (check out the cool new space designed by Tracy!) The block is for arsty crafty babe who requested stripes. I hope she likes it (beki - you can remove the buttons if you'd like. they'll probably be a pain come quilting time).

Beki sent the Amy Butler flowers and coordinating pumpkin-colored fabrics and I pulled the blues from my stash. I adore the fabric she picked and can't wait to see the finished quilt!

And don't mind me. I'll just keep quilting away over here, ignoring the seemingly cataclysmic collapse of the global economy around me.



Apple Yum


Want the most awesome-est apple butter recipe that only takes 1/2 hour* of hands-on prep? It's here!

Quite seriously the yummiest apple butter I've ever made. OK, it's the only apple butter I've ever made, but it's definitely yum.


I reduced the cinnamon, added cardamom, and heeded the comment advice to use way way way less sugar: like 1/4 cup white, 1/4 cup brown and 1/4 cup honey. Also reduced the cinnamon and added cardamom. And it was still way sweet. I'm thinking of cutting the sweetener down to 1/2 cup honey only next time.

And there will definitely be a next time. This stuff rocks. I plan on getting more apples tomorrow and making a double batch for Christmas gifts (if you're on our Christmas list, please forget I just said that).

*the fine print: 1/2 hour if you have a handy dandy apple peeler/corer to use!


New Apps


First off, what is up with bloglines? Is it just me, or is anyone else having problems with dropped posts? I'm perturbed, but not enough to move to another reader yet. Because then I'd have to figure out how to change my sidebar links, and then clean those up a bit, and then maybe clean out the refrigerator while I'm at it, and then there's that pile of unfolded laundry...I'll hold out on fussy bloglines for a teensy bit longer.

Ok sorry. Here's what I meant to show you: pics from our apple-y weekend:


A jaunt to Portland Nursery's Apple festival, complete with apple tasting, pumpkin painting, peanut butter pinecone-making (including a little peanut butter knife licking by the little one, ahem), and our favorite local raw honey-buying.


I brought home these pretty little specimens: Cox's Orange Pippin and Elstar.

I'm hoping the smaller pile makes the tasty pie and the other pile is for sauces and cooking, at least that's what I gleaned from the apple aficionados at the festival.


And not included here are pictures from a cider pressing party because I, yet again, have managed to lose my lens cap and refuse to take my baby dear camera out into a world full of scratchy things.


Now, onto apple butter-ing!


nervous and excited...and nervous


This arrived today: beautiful uncut fabric, always unnerving. But this fat little quarter is someone else's beautiful uncut fabric which liquifies me into pure pre-cutting terror, just a tad.

I'm so excited to be part of this 12 x 12 quilting bee with a handful of extremely talented bee-ers. After perusing their lovely blogs and amazing projects, some new and some comfortingly familiar, I'm feeling a little like the "awed" girl out. Get it? Ha ha........ha. Errr.....

I do feel a little out of my league so am focusing on coming up with something worthy, something clever and something "stripey" as this month's recipient requests (the stripes were requested, the 'worthy' and 'clever' are my own manifestations, of course).

So, with stripes on the brain I moveth forward! Wish me luck!!!


Tweets 'n' Twitters


These little birds are headed for the shop, but not before they tweet along with me on twitter...my newest favorite repository of the random thought spillage that seeps endlessly from my mind.


And since reading twitter tweets always brings to mind haiku, here's my ode to twitter:

twitter, you beckon
concise is not my forte
but i shall partake

Won't you join me? Steph. This means you!?!?


Punch 'n' Pie


Well, there is no punch, but i did manage to eek out two pumpkin pies today amidst cleaning and shopping and re-cleaning and re-re-cleaning yet again. Holden's current jigsaw puzzle obsession phase, with his 15-20 puzzles that range from 100 - 500 pieces each (give or take a few), equals approximately 1,500 to 10,000 potential deep knee bended pick-ups and/or sibling battles to break up each day. But I digress... Back to pie.


Pie-making has gotten sooo much easier around here since Grandma G entrusted her easy + yummy + semi-healthy-ish crust recipe to me. Her trick involves rolling the dough out between wax paper to save time but most importantly, sanity, as the process of sprinkling a light smattering of flour on a work surface is not within my little helper's project scope these days. She prefers slinging entire fistfuls of flour (both fists, if I'm not supervising) haphazardly in the general direction of the work surface, if I'm lucky.


So, wax paper is my friend. And hopefully the pie will provide an extra bit of comfort during the haphazard slinging of (ahem) other substances during tonight's debate. Hee!


hello fall. hello rain.

Tricycle Puddle

I have to admit, I'm getting jealous of all the crunchy, orange-y red leaf adorned blogs I've been reading lately. All's we've got so far is a few crisp-ish days and lots and lots of rain. Portland has its own way of doing things. Dryness is not its forte.

Puddle Walk

So, we splash and splatter and wait patiently for those coveted days of dry, crispy fall to come.

Esme Pudddle

And take advantage in the meantime of the good photo-op light that the clouds provide!


and the winners are...

Firstly, thanks to everyone who left a comment. Your advice and tips are muchly appreciated! I’ve consulted with random.org (gotta love that name) and come up with two winners:

15 = Anne from Green Jello (who is giving away some great halloween items on her blog - quick, go comment!) will receive the placemat

8 = Kashoan from Kraftykash will receive the book (glad that worked out!)

Congrats and please contact me with your mailing addresses and I’ll send the stuffs out asap! Happy weekend everyone!

edited to add my email addy: melandbri (at) comcast (dot) net


Open, In & Out


My shop's open (yay!) and I'm excited to have made my very first sale (thank you Tracey!!) In fact, Tracey's Junkshop & Emporium was a huge inspiration for me to get off my blogging butt and open up my shop. Be sure to check out her cool vintage wares (and her hilarious toe chronicles).


I got a couple more placemats done (sorry for the crap rainy day pics). I'll announce two winners, one for the book, one for the placemat + fabric markers, tomorrow. If you haven't yet, please leave a comment on this post in order to be eligible for the giveaways!

Flower Placemat

And now I'm off to a friend's house for a "Knit & Groan" (we're watching the debate whilst crafting. enough said).