Abode {W}

Friday, August 10, 2012

Random post

In which I attempt to add a photo while blogging using my iPad. I know it can be done, but have been unsuccessful so far!Random post, random picture, but really want to figure this out!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Still here!

Wow! Two months with out a post! So much has happened since the last time I updated this blog! A new niece and nephew! Another strawberry season come and gone! My first child graduated high school! I have deliberately not blogged in this space for these last few months, as I needed to let something go for a season. Things have slowed down for the time being, and so I am feeling ready to begin this record of my days again. I have missed this!

Friday, June 1, 2012

 He is graduating  tonight. after being  chosen outstanding student at his school. So, so proud of him, especially looking back on the days of struggling to get him to speak and read.
This one? Is toilet training. So far it has been an epic failure. Not even the cute Thomas the Tank Engine underwear or the promise of an M&M for using the toilet have worked. I am not too worried about it though, and not pushing him, but, honestly, it is time!

Have a happy weekend! Pictures of the graduation and the subsequent  party coming soon!

Monday, May 28, 2012

a rambling update of sorts

I have realized lately that I am the type of blogger who writes lengthy, frequent blog posts in her head, but rarely gets around to actually blogging. On the other hand, the last few weeks have been full. Birthdays, parties, preparing for the farm season to begin, finishing up the home school year, and trying to keep food coming from my stoveless kitchen have taken a great deal of my time. I have also had some days of intense sorrow, and being weighed down by a profound sense of loss. My mother is slipping still further in to the abyss of Alzhiemers. Looking through pictures for my son's graduation slide show reminded me of all the loved ones we have lost who will not be celebrating this milestone with us. Friends who used to be a large part of our lives, who show up regularly in these photos of my children's childhood, and are now living elsewhere and not in touch with us. I have come to realize that this feeling may be with me for a while, as we have had a lot of loss  the last few years. However, I also recognize that, hand in hand with the sorrow, is also great joy. Children who I genuinely enjoy. Family that all gets along and is close. My husband who routinely makes me laugh so hard I almost hyperventilate.Loving what we do for a living. A little boy who talks in delightful toddler gibberish that only I can understand. Good coffee, roses in the garden, and new friends who have become just as dear as the old. My son winning the outstanding student award at his school. The sad days make these joys doubly precious.

Strawberry season will begin in just twelve days or so, and once it does, I will be getting a new stove. I have a list of new recipes I want to try when I do have a stove, with buttermilk berry cake being on the top of the list. In the meantime, I am kind of enjoying (my excitement is waning......) seeing how creative I can be. I was able to make kale chips in my roaster oven last weekend. They were absolutely delicious, and even my little girls loved them. I could only fit a small batch in to the oven, but they were gobbled up quickly and everyone clamored for more. I used Tuscan kale, which seemed to be a little bit more tender and less strongly flavored that the traditional kale. The boys bought it at the farmer's market, so it was very fresh. I drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with freshly ground pepper, and then added a liberal amount of fumee de sel. This is a fancy salt I bought this winter, which I have come to really like. It has large grains, so it holds up to roasting well, and it also has a slight smoky flavor to it. I know that any old salt would have worked just fine, and that there is no need to use fancy salt to make food taste good, but with my limited cooking options, playing with new ingredients has become my creative outlet in the kitchen right now!

I have some posts on child rearing and home schooling kicking around in my mind, and once graduation and the subsequent party are over, I will try to make cohesive thoughts on those subjects! On the other hand, by then I may have a stove, and all my posts will be pictures of my new toy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The whirlwind week

 The last week has been a flurry of (really, really fun) activity. My eldest turned eighteen, and about fifty people showed up for his party.
 These two children of mine have always been the best of friends!
 Road Rally contestants, moments before we started. The rally was a blast, and the Farmer and I won! We met at one place, and then were told our first destination. When we got there, we took a picture, texted it to the organizers, the were given our next clue.
 This was our final destination, a little restaurant in Amity, Oregon. I took no pictures (other than with my phone as we shot past our stops along the way) because we were in too much of a hurry tying to win the race.
 Inside the restaurant, waiting for the last contestants before ordering our meal. Turns out the last , contestants were in a ditch after hitting gravel and spinning out of control. They were fine, and so was the car. This place had great ambiance, and was very hospitable to our large noisy crowd.
 My delicious meal- ravioli made with local raised game birds, duck confit, nettles, and homemade cheese, topped with foraged nettle pesto and fiddleheads. Yum. Double yum! I also had a glass of Hefeweisen, which was the perfect accompaniment.
 Dear friends! Their daughter helped my children organize the route and send texts during the race.
 The restaurant had this wood fired oven and I was so tempted to order a pizza made therein. My niece ordered one, and it looked so good!

 The next big event was this weekends ladies tea held at my older children's school. I was in charge of the whole thing, and it was, in spite of being very stressful, really fun. We had an international theme, and each table was set to reflect a different country. Lots of really beautiful tables- these ladies know how to decorate!
 When I came in Sunday morning, this was on one of the tables. I knew this particular hostess was doing Scotland, but couldn't imagine what this would turn in to!That is real grass, by the way!
The round of sod was transformed into a picnic in the Scottish Highlands! This was such a fun and creative table, and won the award for favorite table! Below is one final picture, showing the school gym turned into a tea hall!Now that the rush of tea planning is over, I can focus all my attention on the upcoming strawberry season!

Friday, April 27, 2012

first lilacs

 The first lilacs of the spring, brought to me by Estelle. I love lilacs (in their natural form, not artificially scented lilac stuff....) and look forward to their arrival every spring. I always fill the house with them, so glad to have fresh flowers again!
I am now at the point of going crazy without a stove. I am completely uninspired and the fun of cooking has gone. I am still churning out the food, and I am told it is good (the above is curried chicken and potatoes from the crock pot), which is the most important thing. Just really, really, really looking forward to having a stove again! This weekend brings our first road rally (details and pictures to follow) and my eldest's eighteenth birthday! Good thing I have one more (secret) bag of Cadbury Mini-Eggs and a fresh pound of strong coffee to help me get through the business of the weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

{phfr} lovely spring edition

 Pretty- My pretty girls! 
 Happy- Blueberry bushes in mid-bloom! We have even had some warm, sunny weather, so the bees are happily pollinating the bushes. So ready for fresh fruit!
 Funny- My mother, hamming it up for the camera. Dementia has not robbed her of her sense of humor, or her sense of fun. She may not be able to hold a conversation, but she can make my girlies go off in to fits of hysterical laughter!
Real- While touring a beautiful, old courthouse in a nearby town we could not get Stuart to come away from the gumball machines. He was not interested in old pictures, beautiful wood-paneled walls, or gorgeous bannisters. When Robert finally bought him a handful of candy to lure him away, he dropped it all over the floor.

Joining Like Mother Like Daughter for a round of Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real, in which we share the ways we have found contentment and joy in the ordinary events of our lives!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


 One of the first things we did when the stove died was to buy an electric water boiler so we could still make coffee. Best thirty dollars I have ever spent. The mug? Bought at Starbucks with my sisters, because I love the Vespa scooter on it. When we went to Los Angeles a month ago, I realized that we drink a lot of coffee when we are together. Our pattern was Starbucks before boarding the plane, Starbucks upon reaching our layover destination, and Starbucks upon landing at our final destination.
 I am finally getting serious (I know I have said that before...) about losing some weight, and so have been eating a low carb diet for a week now. I have been making eggs with veggies, herbs, cheese, and meat for breakfast each morning. It is not only delicious, but I am not crazy hungry and cross by eight 'o' clock like I was when I just had toast and coffee for breakfast. I have more energy throughout the day as well, which is a grand thing as I have a super busy two weeks coming up. Even if I don't lose a bunch of weight, these two improvements alone are fantastic.
 Just threw this picture in because it spoke to me...the bright colors, the chubby crayons which I love because Stuart simply can't break them no matter how hard he tries, the beautiful little bowl with a happy memory attached to it.
Last but not least, we spotted this little guy in a tree this afternoon. The children and one of our employees spent an hour trying to catch it, as it was obviously someone's pet. They were unsuccessful and the bird flew away in to a neighbor's field. It was fun to watch it, it was such a pretty little bird. It made me start thinking about buying a little bird for a pet....a strong lavender mocha at a favorite cafe brought me back to my senses. I have just been complaining to the farmer that I just can't keep up with all of the demands upon my time!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter egg painting

 As funny as it might seem, I have never colored Easter eggs with my children. I am not crafty, (unless it is knitting!) and we usually spend Easter with my the farmer's side of the family at his brother's house. They always throw a fantastic party, with lots of eggs and goodies, good food, and catching up with relatives, all of whom are entirely likeable. I have just never needed to color boiled eggs before. However, this year, we threw a party for a a dear friend who needed a crowd of happy people to celebrate with her. I promised the children we would do an egg hunt, so on Friday we sat down and colored eggs. I bought a kit which had you paint the eggs instead of dipping them in dye, and that sounded like something my children would enjoy more than merely dipping eggs. So, we went to work, and they did indeed color the eggs. I have never seen brighter, shinier Easter eggs.
Love those chubby little hands!

Estelle, trying to paint her whole egg without getting any paint on herself.

This? Reminds me of my father. He always stuck his tongue out while concentrating, and he was a lefty.That little dimple? Also my father!
So, the eggs turned out to be bright and maybe a little garish, but the children were pleased with their work. I put the eggs down in the cooler at our store, because I was always under the impression that eggs should be refrigerated, even after being hard boiled. Turns out, this was a bad idea as the condensation which formed on the eggs caused the paint to run, and so anyone who took an egg also got vividly colored fingers. My friends all quickly pointed out that I should not have refrigerated the eggs. But, honestly, aren't you supposed to? Isn't it bad to eat eggs which have been out of the fridge for 48 hours? I thought my guests would rather not get food poisoning! I have my food handler's license, and have taken plenty of food safety classes, but honestly can't remember the protocol on this one! So, now I have a bunch of drippy, faded, vaguely nasty  looking hard boiled eggs  (which also got dropped as I carried them in to the house at 11:30 last night...) in my fridge, and no one wants to stain their fingers to eat the eggs! At least the party was a blast, the weather was great, and the Captain Morgan's punch my husband made was delicious! Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I am not a bad blogger....

I realize that it has been two weeks since I lasted posted on my poor blog. I started to feel badly about that, like a bad blog slacker. Then I realized that, had I been posting last week, my entries would have read as follows:

Monday-Felt sick but carried on until evening when I had to leave parrish mission service because I couldn't stop coughing. Home and in bed by 8, with the realization that I was indeed sick.

Tuesday- Got out of bed, couldn't stand up straight, showered, went back to bed, couldn't even sit up by afternoon, went to Urgent Care and got medicine.

Wednesday-stayed in bed all day.

Thursday- Stayed in bed all day

Friday- Got out of bed for a few hours at a time, napped most of the afternoon.

Saturday-Stayed out of bed all day, with only a two hour nap. Went to dinner with my sisters, stayed out way too late.

Sunday- Felt great all morning, had coffee and shopped with my sister and then met other sisters and mom for lunch. This was too much, and I got home and collapsed for a few hours. Dear friends brought us a meal, I was in bed by 8:30.

This week I am feeling much better, and am now trying to catch up on all the things I didn't do last week. Things like paying bills before we lose electricity and cell phone service.  Here's to good health, and some warm, sunny weather to go with it. I would love to open the windows wide and blow winter's stale, germy air out, and fill the house with the warmth and freshness of spring. If I did that today, however, I would end up with flooding in my house!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

{phfr} Beverly Hills edition

 Pretty- Diamond necklace at Harry Winston's. I have never seen so many diamonds at a time, and can't imagine wearing something worth all of my possessions combined around my neck, but thought the necklace was beautiful nonetheless!
 Happy- Late night tiramisu, coffee, and cribbage with my sisters. The restaurant was right along a busy street in Burbank, so we enjoyed watching people coming and going as we ate. It was pouring rain, which we as Oregonians are used to, but in this area, heavy rains occur once or twice a year.
 Funny- The dress looked like it was made of the non-skid mats we put under our throw rugs to keep them from slipping. Only, instead of being two dollars at Wal-Mart, this dress is offered by Dior for several thousand dollars.
Real- It was fun to wander down Rodeo Drive, but then, a few short miles up the road, we saw a lot of this. People who were sad, down-trodden, mentally ill, or addicts, trying to get a meal and a smile. It reminded me that while there is nothing wrong in luxury items in and of themselves, our real purpose is to be salt and light to those who are hurting and alone.  I was in Los Angeles and it's environs for my uncle's memorial service, and this week's {phfr} comes to you compliments of that trip! The pictures show a few scenes from a fun trip and wonderful time with my family, but the truth is, for real contentment, there is no place like home! Joining Like Mother Like Daughter for another round of {phfr}, visit them for more fun pictures and reminders to find contentment in the everyday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home again

Fresh vegetables and undergarments in the Versace store
I loved the collection of shoes these girls were wearing!
Would you be able to walk in these shoes? I might be able to after LOTS of practice...
A Bugati. There was a huge crowd of people taking pictures of this car, and it was worth a second glance. I have never seen one on the road before- it was beautiful!
This young man serenaded me on Hollywood Boulevard for a dollar. I think he was on something, and it was by far the strangest song I have ever heard. But it was an interesting part of the whole adventure!
My uncle's swimming pool. I spent many happy hours there as a child, I hardly left the pool when we were visiting.
I am sitting in my dining room, watching the snow fall gently, blanketing my daffodils and violets with a layer of fluffy white. Although the snow is beautiful and I am usually outside running around in it, I am now officially tired of being cold and seeing grey skies and snow. This marks the fourth snowfall in March this year, and I am ready for warm weather and sunshine. Just saying.

The weekend in Los Angeles was a wonderful get away. My sisters are a blast to be with, and even though the occasion was a sad one, we had a great time. Friday after landing, we immediately set out for Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. It was so much fun window shopping, watching all the luxury cars gliding past, and drinking our afternoon coffee outside with the sun warming us! I didn't buy anything, much to my husband's relief. Next stop was Hollywood, where we walked the sidewalk of stars and enjoyed all of the street performances. It was crowded and vaguely seedy, but we enjoyed being part of the crowd and absorbing all of the colors and sounds and sights.

The service for my Uncle Dick was on Saturday. It was a very nice service, with a lot of laughter as we shared our memories of him. There was no drama or weeping, and the people in his church were very kind and welcoming. After the service, we went to his house and were allowed to take anything we wanted from it. The executor of his estate (LONG, LONG story on that whole situation) called while we were there and urged us to take the beds, T.V., chairs, pictures, and so on. We politely declined on the furniture, and I ended up with a suitcase full of old family photos, which I am enjoying sorting through.

Sunday was a day of travel, and we all hit the ground running as soon as we got back in to town. My youngest sister to finish lesson plans for the week, my older sister to get her kids to a swim team party, and myself to an evening Mass. Fun trip, great weekend, so nice to be home!

The no stove/no oven saga continues, and I am really starting to get used to this. Last night I made pasta with bread crumbs and olive oil (pasta cooked at my mother-in-law's house, sauce made in my electric skillet), a huge salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and large crystals of black salt, and sauteed locally foraged mushrooms. It was all delicious, and I am starting to get a kick out of seeing just how fancy I can get without the stove! I know some people may wonder why we don't just buy a stove, but we really, really, really don't want to rack up more debt. We also don't want to just buy a cheap, used stove and end up replacing it a few years down the road. I really like to experiment and be challenged in the kitchen, as I love to cook and enjoy learning new techniques and being creative. This no stove/no oven thing has done that for me in spades! We are managing quite well, with three square meals a day. Roasted vegetables with peanut sauce and rice and quinoa patties on the menu for dinner tonight!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

this week

 This week was heavy winds which blew the top out of a tall pine tree along our driveway. It missed Estelle by a few inches. That was Monday morning, and Tuesday morning brought a dusting of snow. Yesterday was rainy, cold, and windy, and today is just the same, but the it is raining harder than it did yesterday. All month, I have been looking forward to my trip to Los Angeles this weekend, knowing it would be sunny and warm there. As it turns out, the expected high is only 61, and rain is forecasted for every day of the weekend.
 This week was lots of time spent by the fire, reading good books and playing games. The cat slept in his cozy chair all day, waking only to go outside for a few minutes. My husband made a Kentucky Derby pie last night, and we ate huge slices and drank lots of coffee and played pinochle. The busy farm season is almost upon us, and so we are all enjoying the last few weeks of slower paced winter evenings.
This week was discovering an activity which will keep Stuart occupied for hours. It is lots of little plastic circles, with plastic peg boards to put them on. You can make patterns on them, or (Stuart's favorite) use your little tractors, wagons, and construction toys to scoop them up, dump them back out, bulldoze them in to piles, and  load them in to the big dump truck. My friend Regina gave these to me years ago, and my older children would play with them every once in a while. Stuart is crazy about them!
This week was also discovering that I can successfully bake bread in my counter top roasting oven. Stuart loves to help me make bread, and came running in to the kitchen as soon as he saw me getting the flour canister down. The bread made in the roaster is not quite as good as using an oven (the bottom does not brown) but I am so happy to have hot, fresh bread again!

This week was also late night bowling with my sisters and my little girls, cribbage at our favorite coffee shop, afternoons visiting my mother, a planning meeting for the fundraising tea I am organizing, and packing for my trip. Books read, school work done, walks taken, bread baked, puzzles started, meeting friends for swimming, and new recipes tried. My flight leaves early tomorrow morning, and even though the trip is for a sad reason (my last Uncle on my father's side passed away), I am looking forward to a weekend exploring LA with my sisters. We have plans for Rodeo Drive and Disney fireworks in the late evening. I am bringing my camera and my husband tells me to play tourist and photograph everything interesting. I don't want to appear gauche on Rodeo Drive, but I know I will see lots of interesting things, and I certainly won't be buying!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

 We woke up on Monday to snow. It was only a light dusting when we awoke, but the snow came down steadily for another hour or so, leaving us with about two inches of snow. The children had a snowball fight, and I had a lovely walk around the garden, holding my camera as insurance against being a target.
 By ten 'o' clock, patches of blue were visible in the sky, and I knew the snow would be gone shortly. It was nice while it lasted, but I was actually glad to see the sun come out. I am ready for spring!
By mid-afternoon, the sun was shining brightly. We also had rain and hail, giving us a complete range of weather experience. In kitchen-without-stove-or-oven news, my son unearthed a plug in burner in one of the sheds, so I can use a (small) sauce pan. On Tuesday I made pan seared shrimp and fried rice for dinner, and last night we had pasta with salmon and a lemon/parmesan/vermouth sauce. For lunch yesterday, I roasted sweet potatoes with a soy glaze in my roasting oven. I made a 9x13 pan full of them, and I polished off almost half the pan-they were that good! One thing I have realized about this new kitchen routine is that I am no longer moving easily in my kitchen. I am used to having things a certain way, to having a smooth, fluid dance between counter, stove, and refrigerator. Now I am mis-stepping, bumbling, unsure of where to go next. Am I putting this in the roaster oven on this counter, or the electric skillet on that counter? Cooking the shrimp first or frying the rice first? In short, I have lost my kitchen groove! By the time we get a new stove, I will be so accustomed to this crazy juggling of small appliances to produce the good food I love, that I will have to learn a whole new set of steps. Maybe. Either way, I don't think I will mind!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday fun!

Estelle pushing Stuart across footbridge over the Willamette River

In the bubble room at the Children's Museum

I know this is a terrible picture (blurry, out of focus, etc.) but I like how her hair appears to be on fire!

View from the park-love the old buildings!

More neat old buildings, as seen from the park.
One of the challenges of a large family with a wide range of ages is finding family activities that everyone enjoys. My older children still enjoy playing at the park and taking walks, but the children's museum is out of the question. Yesterday, we went to the seven a.m. Latin Mass, where my husband led the schola and the older boys served. This left us with the rest of the day free. The farmer took the three older children to the beach (his mom had rented a house for the extended family and the younger children and I had spent the day there on Saturday), leaving the three youngers and I with lots of time for a fun outing. We began by taking Stuart to Learning Palace to play with the train set there, while I shopped for some new school supplies. Next on our list was a walk across the Willamette River, one of our favorite activities. Although I must confess to an irrational fear of the bridge breaking when I am halfway across. Our next stop was the children's museum, where we spent two hours playing and running around on their awesome outdoor play structure. Stuart loved the model train there, and kept trying to sneak back to that room. We left the museum to go to our favorite hangout, Napoleon's gelateria- also home to the best latte's in Salem. The gelato is delicious, but kind of expensive, especially for the whole family. Taking only three children was a fun treat. Our next stop was the Book Bin, where we each bought a book. Nancy Drew for Evangeline, a truck book for Stuart, a Tin Tin sticker book for Estelle, and a cooking book for me. Then it was off to Bush Park, to play at the playground where I always played when I was little. The girls quickly made a new friend, and Stuart spent the entire 45 minutes on the swing set. I sat on a bench and read the news on my phone. We then drove to Trader Joes, picked up some picnic food, and headed to the nearby (and totally charming) small town of Independence to check out their city park and have a picnic. The real reason for this trek was to get Stuart to fall asleep in the car (he did!) as he was showing signs (crying, whining, kicking...) of being overly tired. The park was beautiful, and by this point in the day the sun was shining, the sky was a clear blue, and it was actually warm enough to make being outside pleasant. It was so pleasant to have a day with nothing else to do other than enjoy being with my children. No pressure, no time restraints, just a day to do as our fancy dictated! I start the week feeling truly relaxed, and ready to tackle another week!