Tuesday, December 13, 2011

St. Lucia

This morning we celebrated Saint Lucia.

I've written about it before on Cowgirl Clippings.

This year is different though.

This year my darling Hannah has discovered Chapter Books. And not only Chapter Books but the Kirsten books. She started a week and a half ago and is at this moment half way through the sixth book! She has fallen in love with reading and this momma couldn't be happier. After finishing book three, "Kirsten's Surprise" she came and whispered, "Can we do that? Can we celebrate Saint Lucia." I tried to reply in my calmest voice, "Yes!" But I was really excited; I get to pass along some of my favorite traditions to my children!

Yesterday afternoon Hannah and I made the saffron buns (click the cowgirl clippings link above for the recipe). Last night at sewing circle I made her a "crown" to wear (I wasn't going to let her wear lighted candles on her head) and this morning I woke her up early and we made hot chocolate and coffee and she got dressed up in white with a red sash and the crown and woke everyone up to invite them to breakfast.

It was a wonderful morning of sitting around the table as a family, talking about the tradition of Saint Lucia, the bringer of light, but more importantly pointing us to the light of the world who's advent we celebrate at Christmas, Jesus Christ. And then also the reminder that we are to be lights in a dark world pointing others to Jesus.

And they got it. They understood this morning. They remembered Children's Corner on Sunday when Mrs. Porter talked about the light of the world. They connected the dots and it was a blessed morning indeed.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

First Deer!

* Warning* Warning*Warning*
If you do not want to see dead deer pictures do not read this post.

Remember this amazing view from "hunting" with the kids?

Well, Erik went back up there on the last day of the hunt and... got his first deer!
He called a friend to help him pack it out and they brought it home in the back of his friend's pick-up. The kiddos were all quite fascinated.

Even Marilyn thought it interesting.

Ah...my mighty hunter:
I know nothing about these things, but apparently it's a 3 x 3. Erik shot it through both lungs and took off the top part of the heart.

And for the last few days it has been hanging in our shed.

The other kiddos went back in the house to watch Shaun the Sheep but Hannah sat on a paint can and watched Erik skin the whole thing.

Last night Erik and I stayed up way too late cutting and wrapping most of it. The rest we stuck in the fridge and I'll probably work on it some today and try and get started on making our own venison jerky. I'm kind of excited about that part.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Yesterday Erik only worked a part day so we took the kids to Tillamook to get a few new pairs of rubber boots, had lunch at Denny's (Hannah and Ivan still had their gift certificates from the library summer reading program) and then came back up to Nehalem to go "hunting".

I was the only one who "shot" anything.

It was a gorgeous day and the views where amazing. No views of deer though. I think the deer heard us coming a mile away (at least).

Marilyn was hunting in style. The pink sunglasses only lasted so long though, and then they ended up in my pocket.

Clayton was the proud person in charge of the binoculars. I believe he is explaining to me the art of sighting deer. And he's wearing a tie with his sweatshirt. Now that is classy hunting wear.

We hiked down through some forest.

All the while looking for deer sign. Marilyn pouted because she wasn't quite sure that hiking through brush much taller than herself was any fun and momma wouldn't hold her.

The kids got really good at spotting deer prints, poop and rubs.

While Marilyn made sure that someone was still paying attention to her pouting and non-joining-in-ness.

And Ivan tried to hide like the deer.

We made it out of the trees to the logging road we drove up and started hiking back up to the van. Marilyn became the party responsible for the binoculars and as a result she and I lagged considerably behind the others.

But I eventually picked her up and made it back up the hill.

Erik had taken the boys hunting Saturday night and Sunday morning during Children's Corner at church the question was asked, "Does anyone know what time of year it is? What season?"
To which Clayton very promptly and loudly announced, "Deer!"

Looking forward to many more hikes in the future.

Monday, October 24, 2011


My fingers have been happily hooking with my crochet hook for weeks now.

I don't know if it's the fall weather or what but projects and ideas for projects have been swirling in my brain for weeks now and I start to go crazy if I don't release some of them.

So here are the projects that have left my hook:

A baby blanket for my new nephew William Heath Dante:
(Sorry I don't have a picture of the baby, I haven't met him yet.)

A little hat and booties for a friend's baby...

A blanket that I made for simple reason I wanted to try the pattern and I had a bunch of cotton yarn that I don't remember the project I collected it for in the first place. Love this one. The colors make me happy.

I suppose that doesn't look like tons when it's laid out like this but I've also been quilting like crazy. It helps that our church has started up a "sewing circle" on Monday nights and it's at a time that I can go. I've loved having Monday nights to sit and drink tea and work on projects while visiting with some of the women of our church.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Peanut Butter

This choosy mother does not choose Jif when it comes to peanut butter.

But I do hate stirring peanut butter. For awhile now we've been buying Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter from Costco. It's in smaller containers than the Costco Adams peanut butter so it makes for easier stirring. I mean, slightly easier though still difficult, annoying and messy stirring.

I hate stirring peanut butter. Oh wait, I already said that. And usually there's always a clump that didn't get stirred in, or you didn't quite get to the bottom of the jar so the end scrapings of peanut butter are dry. I've even tried those lid stirrers that they sell with the mixing wand-thing attached...yeah, doesn't work so well unless you buy little tiny jars of peanut butter (I don't).

Enter my mother, "Oh, I just dump the whole jar into my kitchen aid and mix it for a few minutes and then pour it back in the jar."

So thinking my mother brilliant, last time I was at Costco I picked up Adam's Peanut Butter in the big jar; saved myself a whole dollar (which, when you're shopping with a calculator and hoping to squeeze out a few dollars to buy that school work book for your kids in the book section of Costco, is huge) and I got more ounces of peanut butter to boot.

Today, I dumped the whole jar of peanut butter in my kitchen aid mixer and used the dough hook. Turned it on. Left it for a few minutes. Came back to perfectly mixed peanut butter. Poured it back into the jar and the mixer bowl was an easy clean up.

I think my mother is brilliant.

And not just 'cause she knows how to mix peanut butter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wool Dresses and Vests

Wool vests and dresses finished, worn, and loved; though Ivan thinks his vest needs pockets.

"I want a picture, my baby in my tummy." - Marilyn
'No, please put the baby down and stand with Hannah."

Um...where's Marilyn?

Uh-oh, Daddy took the baby doll away.

"Hey look, it's a earth!"

"Nope, that's the moon."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Take a good long look at this picture. It was taken at the Ecola Retro Party when Erik was AD dorm RA. Hannah found this picture in the "junk" drawer yesterday.

"Mom, were you wearing a wig?"


"The wig you let Aunt Mindy borrow?"


"Is daddy wearing a wig?"

"Nope, his hair really looked like that."

"Wow, he had a lot of hair on his chest."

"Okay, um...well that was a wig."

It's nice to know we've grown up a little since THAT retro party...

Friday, October 7, 2011

"sing me sleep" - Miss Moddy

Most nights my precious kiddos ask me to sing them a few songs while they are laying in their beds awaiting sleep.
Some nights I do.
Some nights I say, "Sorry but Momma is tired tonight."
Tonight I was exhausted.
But tonight I sat in the girls' room and sang and watched the eyes of my littlest slowly close. And the eye's of my oldest peer down from the top bunk and her mouth sometimes form the words with me. The words of the old hymns that I love and words of scripture that my dad has put to music.
And as I left their room I heard my eldest boy whisper, "Mom, can you sing US some songs?"
Life's not fair, but tonight I played fair and went and sat down on a bed and sang the same songs once more for the boys.
And it hit me in a new way.
I get to sing blessing and words of truth over my kids right before they slip off to sleep.
It's an honor and a privilege.
And I got goosebumps.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Marilyn's Abacus

This delightfully silly little girl:

Is quite a handful.
And she loves the abacus.

The other day she sat on the floor just inside the kitchen with the abacus and tested me on my numbers. She would move a bead and ask, "What number this mommy?" And I would look up from my dishes that I was washing and answer accordingly, to which she would reply, "Yeeeaaaahhhh!!" Indicating not that she was happy to be learning but that she obviously already knew the answer and she was proud of me for knowing.

And once I found her on my bed. The thing is, the door had been locked. I keep it locked during the day and use the little metal key to unlock it if I need to get in there. Marilyn likes to get in to my room and get into things, or get into my bathroom and use my mascara as lipstick. One day I used a little green screwdriver as I had misplaced the metal key. I did not notice that a certain little girl was watching closely. Near her on the bed this day, was the little green screwdriver.

Oh boy, do I like her.
She sure does keep me on my toes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rendering Tallow

I've done it.

I've rendered tallow.

Tallow is rendered beef fat whereas lard is rendered pork fat.

The terms are not interchangeable I've learned. It can confuse people that know the difference. Using the correct terms can also confuse people who do not know the difference.

It's a win-win situation.

The actual rendering is not all that difficult.

The cutting of the fat (or suet) into tiny pieces on the other hand gave me a blister. In many of the online tutorials I read they recommend using a food processor. I couldn't bring myself to get mine all greasy-dirty and then have to wash it. It fits in the dishwasher but I do hate washing it.

I don't know that I'll give you a step by step tutorial but these are the ones I sort of followed:

How to Render Beef Tallow

How to Render Lard and Tallow

With our half a beef we bought recently I got three 2 1/2 pound bags of beef fat. I've been waiting a long time for beef fat. Last time we bought a beef I asked the butcher to save me some fat. "Oh sure, not a problem." Picked up my beef, put it away; no fat. "Um...excuse me, I thought you were going to save me some fat." "It was a lean cow, there wasn't any fat worth saving."

I don't know much about cows, but I'd call that a lie to try and cover up the fact that they forgot to save it for me.

For my first attempt I mostly thawed one bag and started sawing away with a knife. It wasn't working really well, so I switched to another knife. I got a blister. Then I switched to scissors and kicked myself for not trying them sooner, they made it fairly easy.

I cut all that beautiful fat into little pieces and threw them in a big pot.

And slowly cooked it on the stovetop for what seemed a very long time. I stirred it occasionally.
And the disgusting smell of beef fat filled my house.
I don't even like the smell of the fat that comes off of beef roasts and things.

When I figured it was done (and I was done, I started too late in the afternoon and so I was up later than I wanted waiting for it to finish) I strained it through a scrap of muslin fabric laid in my mesh strainer. It worked perfectly and I just threw the fabric away.

I was left with this lovely golden liquid (that still smelled yucky).

I filled two pint jars with the golden liquid and let it sit overnight on the counter to cool and solidify.

In the morning it was creamy white and quite pretty looking. (But it still smells kind of yucky).

I've been reading tonight where the best place to store tallow is. Some say the fridge, some say the freezer but I have read a few things that say you can store it on the counter as long as it's sealed tightly. I'm hoping this is so because I've been keeping mine in the fridge and it's very hard to dig out of the jars. I've had to resort to using the ice cream scoop.

It still smells funny. Well, it smells like beef fat. And I still don't like that smell, but once it's cooked in something it sure is yummy. I made biscuits the other morning, using half butter and half tallow. The biscuits where light and fluffy and very very good. They almost had a "store biscuit" taste (and I've always loved, but hated to admit, that I like the taste of "store biscuits").

And Saturday night I made this pie crust:

How to Make Perfect Pie Crust

and filled it with apples. And we ate delicious apple pie for breakfast Sunday morning.

I won't say that it was the most amazing pie crust I've ever eaten. I still might even like the pie crust I usually make with all butter, better. But here's the thing, I use a lot of butter. And butter gets expensive.

So if I can cut my butter usage in half and get the health benefits of good tallow from grass fed beef, (Yes, real fats are good for you!) then that's a good thing.

Oh and I used it to fry potatoes/onions/fennel and zucchini in tonight.

Oh my!

They were very good.

So I think I'll just make sure the stove fan is running full force and windows are open when I render the other 5 pounds of tallow because render I will.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Show and Tell

Yesterday was my golden birthday, and as birthday's go it was pretty good. No grandiose plans or anything but my mom was here and she did my dishes and made hot fudge cake. And my sister Mindy was here and we hung out.

It was absolutely lovely.

That was yesterday and now I am another day older.

But I didn't hop on here to talk about age and birthdays or anything, I really want to show you my newest project.

This is one of those accordion style mug holder things that you can hang on the wall. I bought it at Cart'm. Yay for Cart'm once again.

And I took it apart because all I really wanted were the "hooks" or the pegs. Those along with a few shelf brackets and two lengths of pine shelving from the local lumber yard and I've got myself more hanging space and wall art. I've had this vision for this corner of my bedroom for awhile now but I could never bring myself to spend $1 or $2 per peg to build these shelves.

The purple shelf brackets are also a Cart'm find from about 2 or 3 years ago and they've been employed in various other locations in my house.

For some reason my bedroom has been the last place to really be made into the place that I want it to be but I'm working on it now and I really like how it's shaping up.

And just in case you're curious, this is the other corner:

I'm pretty excited about that white bookshelf hanging on the wall. It was $7 at the local thrift store and it answered my need for more bookshelves.