Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Hannah is 6 today!

6 years ago on a Monday morning at 3:30 am Hannah graced us with her presence.

My first words to her were, "Oh you look like a little wrinkled old man." Tender I know. That's when she decided to let out her first lusty cry and me in my slightly drugged and tired state quickly mumbled out, "Don't worry, you'll be pretty someday."

I think she's getting there, don't you?

She's vivacious and loving, funny and creative. She tells me at least once a day that she is an artist.

Happy Birthday my dear, I love you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Old and New

We've had gorgeous weather the last two days. The sun has done wonders for the growing things (my children and my garden). Yesterday Erik was home early from work and so he finished up the decking on the the back deck. Not wanting to stay inside on a such a lovely day I laid a blanket out on the front lawn, pulled out our old recliner and started taking it apart.

That's not really what you were expecting me to say was it?

Well, maybe some of you were.

I bought this recliner about 4 years ago at Cart'M and lately it's been starting to fall apart. The "wings" were loose and the arms were wobbly. I thought of taking it back to Cart'M but I hate paying to get rid of furniture and it wasn't worth re-selling.

So, I took it apart and put it back together a little differently. The basic parts of the chair frame were still good; why waste them? Erik no longer rolls his eyes at my projects (at least in my presence) and when I asked him to help me put it back together he grabbed his drill and kindly did just that. He's a good man.

I always forget to stop and take a before picture when I get the motivation to start pulling furniture apart but luckily for you I searched through my old pictures and found it in the background of a couple pictures.

Can you guess which babe this is?
Yep, it's Ivan and the chair is the beige wing chair in the background.

Here's one that's a little more recent, but not by much. This is Hannah and Ivan sitting on a birthing stool while we were waiting for Clayton to make his appearance into the world. The chair is in the background again.
And here is what it looks like today. The fabric will probably stretch and wrinkle as I didn't use upholstery fabric but for now it will work and that's all I ask.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Jam

For some strange reason we did not go through nearly as much strawberry jam this last year as we did the previous year. But it's kind of nice, it means I don't have to make as much new right now. I'm so not prepared for it to be the end of June.

Today though, it felt like summer and it smelled like summer. Well, it smelled like ripe strawberries and I definitely associate that smell with summer.

Yesterday the kids and I went down to Tillamook to pick up our half a beef from the butcher. On our way through I noticed that the Strawberry Ladies were parked at the Co-op with strawberries so I made a mental note and we stopped on our way back. I bought their last two flats and hopped back in the van to head home and the van wouldn't start.

It turned over just fine but the fuel pump wasn't kicking in.

The new fuel pump.

The one we just replaced.

But it wasn't so bad. We got to talk to the strawberry ladies, they oohed and awed over my adorable children, let me use a cell phone to call and let Erik know and then one of them prayed with us that our van would start. She had to leave but not 5 minutes after she left I turned the key again and it started. (We think it's the fuel pump relay or something like that and we'll replace that next).

We made it home and feasted on fresh strawberries last night. There's just something about freshly picked strawberries, they don't even seem like the same fruit you buy at the grocery store!


Today I made two batches of freezer jam. I love freezer jam. I love the taste and I love how simple it is to make.

The last two years I've used this (just follow the directions on the back):


You crush up berries to equal four cups. In the past I've used a food mill but this year I wanted chunkier jam so I tried my potato masher and my pastry blender, both worked well.



Then you mix the sugar and pectin together:


Add it to the berries:


And stir for 3 minutes:



Then ladle into jars, cap and let sit on the counter for a 1/2 hour. Then refrigerate or freeze.


I mopped out the bowl with a left over wedge of the dutch baby pancakes we had for lunch...mmm...yum.


Erik and I have been married for 7 years (yesterday was our Anniversary!) and in those seven years I have tried to garden many times. I have succeeded a few times and I felt like I was missing something the year or two that I didn't plant a garden. But I've not gotten my garden in before the 1st of June, ever.

So that was my goal this year. I even started seeds indoors for the first time. Alas, none of those starts survived and what with the rain and all I only got part of my garden in before the self-imposed deadline.

Well, I got most of my garden in before the deadline but the slugs have been horrible this year. They ate 5 sugar baby watermelon starts, 4 lemon cucumber starts, 3 pepper plants, 2 regular cucumber plants and a partridge in a pear tree.

Okay, maybe they didn't eat the last one but I'm sure if I had a pear tree they would have tried.

Not really desiring to go buy slug bait, I thought I'd try a few different ways of killing slugs. I tried baby food jars filled with beer. I set 21 baby jars down in the dirt a little way and filled them with cheap beer and in a little under a week I drowned over 400 slugs! But then I ran out of beer (it's not something we normally have around the house) and the rain diluted the rest. So lately I've been slug hunting in the mornings with a salt shaker.

But I'm sure you didn't stop by to hear about slugs.

Here is this year's garden. This year I set 2x4 frames down into the ground and then spread newspaper and straw between all the beds. This way I don't have to weed the entire garden area. I'm thrilled with how it turned out and I'm excited for things to start growing.
Consider these the before pictures:

This is the bean trellis in the foreground:

Here are my tomato plants, I went with all small/ cherry tomato type plants this year in hopes that more will ripen on the vine:

Looking back at the pea and bean trellises, the peas are starting to climb:

This is my potato box. It's my first attempt at growing potatoes in straw, or at all, for that matter:
And just behind the potato box there are pepper plants in the tires. The slugs haven't touched these pepper plants yet and I'm really hoping they won't.

Oh grow garden, grow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I know, I know. I'm a day late and a dollar short.

Okay, just a day late, I don't know where the dollar comes in.

But better late than never.

I am very blessed. I have a wonderful husband who is an amazing father to our four kids :

And I have an amazing dad :
And I am blessed with an equally amazing father-in-law.

But I have realized one thing. I need to take more pictures of each of them. I really had to dig to find these pictures. My children and I are lucky indeed in how God has blessed us. I pray that my sons will grow into men of God like their dad and their Grandpas.

This year the kids and I put our heads together to get Erik a very special Father's day gift.

We got him a tie.

I know what you're thinking, "A tie?! You call that a special Father's day gift? Isn't that what all the comic strips portray as the obligatory gift that no one ever wants or wears anymore?"
But you see,my kids like dressing up for church and have special clothes that are specifically for church and Ivan has a tie. Hannah is always asking if she can pick out Erik's church clothes and really wants him to wear a tie sometimes but since Erik is the proud owner of only two ties (both of which are printed with loony tunes characters) it happens only rarely. And Erik, like I said, is an amazing father and is willing to put up with most of our crazy ideas and wear a tie for his daughter, so we bought him a plain black tie. He wore it to church yesterday and looked very handsome. Sadly I did not get a picture. Maybe next time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The other night my Clayton snuggled next to me on the couch and I kissed his head and just enjoyed that sweet peaceful moment. He's a strange one, that boy. He's a sweet heart and a fighter of bad guys. He loves sticks and swords and running. The thing that I've always thought strange though is that when he is hurt by accident, either by a misplaced blow of his stick that bounces back and whacks him, or a mistimed turn of the foot that sends him sprawling, he takes a breath to scream and in that time before he gets to that next breath if you try to comfort him you will be pummeled by little fists. In his hurt he just starts swinging. His little fists do not hurt that much but he is not ready to receive comfort. As a mother I want to run to him and pick him up and hold him, it goes against the fibers in my body to stand there and watch for the moment when he is ready to be comforted, but I'm learning.

As I was dwelling on these thoughts the other night I realized that I have often done the very same things to my Heavenly Father. How many times have I fallen and been hurt and then pummeled my little fists into the chest of the one who is waiting to wipe the tears from my eyes? In my hurt I just start swinging. Then I stand there accusing Him of not being near in my need, not comforting my hurt! Oh, the arrogance of me!

Child, I will not force my arms around you to hold you when you are not ready, but I am standing right here waiting anxiously for that moment when you will most need and accept my comfort.

Maybe my Clayton is not so strange after all.

Isaiah 40:11
He tends his flock like a shepherd;
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 66: 13
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you

Breakfast at Emily's

It's Popover Pancakes, sometimes known as Dutch Baby Pancakes, this week on Cowgirl Clippings. Super easy and really yummy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hannah Quotes

Slacking and then two posts in a row, this must be your lucky day.

Or mine, seeing as how I'm getting enough alone computer time to write two posts.

For dinner we had a huge salad and a little bit of fish. We were given a few fillets of fish...I have no idea what kind other than it was white and there was just a little piece left for tonight's dinner so it became the side dish to the main course of salad made with a million (Hannah and I discussed exaggeration today) types of veggies.

As our kids where scarfing down the salad and asking for seconds Erik looked at them a minute and said, "I'm so proud of you guys for eating and liking your salad, a lot of kids don't like food that doesn't come from a microwave."

That's when Hannah looked up from her plate, paused, and asked, "What's a microwave?"

I'm so proud.


A confession.

I have been slacking lately. In my blog writing (you've noticed, haven't you?) and, I hate to admit it, in my household chores.

The dishes need to be done. The laundry needs to be done.

But I have excuses; are you ready for them?

My garden is planted!

This corner of my backyard:

Now looks a little different:

There will eventually be fence slats up on the posts but I'm waiting for the concrete (cement?) to cure. Someone once explained the difference to me between concrete and cement and I have since forgotten which is which...did you know there was a difference?

And I am reading "The Curved Saber" by Harold Lamb. This is one of my dad's books that I read in high school and he kindly let me borrow it again. I love it and was thrilled to get on Alibris books and discover that someday if I ever have spending money I can pick up my own copy as well as a few other of his books. I'm particularly looking forward to some of his biographical and historical narratives on Ghengis Khan, Charlemagne and Constantinople, The Crusades and The March of Moscovy. Many of his stories are being reprinted in collections or volumes with two due out this year.

Yesterday I sat out on the back deck and read while the kids played in the wading pool and then next thing I knew I was surrounded with kids and books and they had all joined me for a time of "reading"; each kid with a pile of books to look through.

And that, in my opinion, is a grand reason for slacking in the household arts.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Breakfast at Emily's

This week it's Peach Muffins. These are one of my favorite muffins. The recipe came from my mom and I've passed it on quite a few times already but if you haven't tried these yet get out your muffin tins and head on over to Cowgirl Clippings for the recipe.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring...

Motivation is lacking in me today, which is really a shame because the two youngest kiddos are napping and the two oldest...big smile...are spending the week with Grandpa Cliff and Grandma Casey on Whidbey Island!
My parents are awesome.
It's raining and the kitchen is only partially clean and here I sit feeling guilty that I'm not up and doing something but sometimes it's just nice to sit.
On another note I am going to miss my helpers this week. Hannah and Ivan have decided that they love helping us clean the church. They are really hard workers when it comes to cleaning the church; I wish they could apply themselves just as well cleaning the house. About a month ago Hannah and Ivan got in a big fight and were hitting, kicking and screaming at each other. As punishment they were told they had to help us clean the church because we couldn't trust them alone together. The punishment wasn't that effective because they liked it. Ivan is very capable at wiping down pews and tables and emptying garbage cans. Oh and stacking kid chairs in the Sunday School classrooms. He inherited some of my "pattern neuroses". I asked him to stack the chairs and he was very excited to show me that he had stacked 4 yellow chairs then 4 blue, 4 yellow, 4 blue. This with no help or suggestions from me. The next week I asked him make sure all the "pencil holes" on the backs of the pews where filled with golf pencils, not only did he accomplish this but, "Hey mom, guess what? I made all the points go down, on all of them."

I think the rain is starting to get to me. I like rain but we've had a lot. Don't quote me but I think that our average rainfall for the month of June was reached by the 4th day of this month and it's still raining.

I'm off to brew a cup of tea and curl up in a blanket. That's the best plan I've had all day.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Breakfast at Emily's

Good morning! It's Thursday. Today over on Cowgirl Clippings is my grandma's recipe for Swedish Pancakes. We love them and I know you will too!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

They've Bloomed!

The fuchsias in my hanging baskets finally bloomed. I made my own hanging baskets this year by bending and shaping some chicken wire, then I filled them with moss and dirt and planted a bunch of flowers. I've been waiting and waiting for the fuchsias to bloom. They've been teasing me for weeks, just the buds hanging there, refusing to unfurl but then the brief rays of sunshine we had the other day coaxed them to open up and they are gorgeous. I've never planted fuchsias before, I had no idea how lovely they actually are: