Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Junuary = January in June, waterfalls, and clam digging

It's Junuary here in the Pacific Northwest. No, “Junuary” is not a typo: It's June, but it feels like January... rainy, dark, gloomy, when people drink more coffee (or in my case, eat more chocolate) than usual, trying to get their spirits up. April fooled us with summer weather – we swam in the pond two months ago, stored away our winter sweaters, gave winter the finger. Now, I feel like wanting to light the wood stove because I am cold, and my bones feel damp.

The only day of semi-sunshine was last Saturday, and since Steve had been working non-stop, and I also hadn't seen my sons for a week because of Gramma camp, I dragged us all out on a hike to bond as a family. The boys were pouting at first, because they missed their friends and were completely sleep deprived, but after ten minutes of hiking to the sound of waterfalls, they perked up to their usual delightful selves. I chose a hike famous for its waterfalls and old growth forest. Spending the day immersed in this kind of beauty and immersed in the company of my tribe felt refreshing for all of us.

Eva looks like she has a halo.  The ones of you who know her will laugh at that...

See the spiderweb?




Never ending fun: stacking rocks, and then trying to knock them down by throwing smaller rocks at them.  It's a boy thing.
A few days ago, the male members of our family went clam digging. This expression is a fitting metaphor, I think, because clams and geoducks (pronounced gooeyducks) look like... well... you know... a male member...
When Steve dug geoducks a couple of years ago for the first time ever, and came back with several buckets filled with what looked like giant elephant penises, I just about fainted. I told him then in no uncertain terms that there was NO WAY I would eat these things, no matter how expensive geoducks are in China. There, they sell for as much as $150 per pound. But here, in this sandy, filthy bucket, proudly presented to me by my husband, who had spent hours digging and pulling them out via hard physical labor... $150 per pound be damned, I would not touch these things. Only after Steve had cleaned them, rinsed them and pulled the skin off (shall I tell you about their resemblance to condoms?), did I look up a recipe for clam chowder. After all, Steve had made a huge effort hunting and gathering these bizarre offerings. The least I could do was to honor his manly demonstration of being a provider and cook these things up. The clam chowder turned out delicious.









Talking about providing food: My garden is producing a lot of food right now. Every morning, I harvest a big bowl full of spinach, swiss chard and kale for our breakfast. I then go over to the duck pen, collect their eggs, and scramble them into the greens. No wonder my immune system has been so great lately with all these vitamins and antioxidants! The kids are eager to help harvest our abundant peas.



This is the entrance to the veggie garden.  Blooming clematis and climbing roses.

One last piece of shameless self promotion. I am not very good at marketing my products and services. I am told that I offer great things, but how to get the word out there, and where to sell them? (Let me know if you have any suggestions.) So for now, I will show you my newest offering here, since so many of you commented on the pictures of me wearing my hand knit sun hat. I knit another one and now offer it for sale in my Etsy store here.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New venture

I apologize for my prolific blog entries lately, but there is so much going on right now that I can't let too much time pass in between posts. Let me start out by dazzling you with this, a bouquet of flowers picked in my garden this morning. This is what I live for – beauty, heavenly smells, nature... Taking this picture was inspired by my friend Erin from Floret Flowers. She grows the most beautiful organic flowers, and if it was up to me, she would be more famous than good old Martha Stewart-Schmooart.





The newest exciting thing that's brewing in my life this week is a new outlet for my chocolate addiction: goat milk soap with Cacao.  I've been making soap for a while now, but have never put it out into the world.  I just finished curing a batch of coco and lavender soap that I made a month ago, and I have too much of it, so I decided to sell it.  Please don't roll your eyes at me.  I know, I know... do I really need another venture?  I love this soap because it looks like a chocolate bar - good enough to bite into (which I don't recommend).  It is also very creamy, nourishing and healing, so if you are looking for a gift for a friend (or yourself), consider supporting me and my little family.  Of course the goat milk is from my precious goaties, and the calendula was grown in my own organic vegetable and herb garden.  You can buy this soap in my Etsy shop here.  If you do buy some, please don't eat it.  Wash yourself.





Other going on's this week included, of course Father's day.  Steve spent 14 hours of it on top of a tractor, mowing some of his restoration projects, getting bounced around and saddle sore.  He rented a tractor over the weekend for the cheaper rate, which means he spent two full days, literally from sun-up to sun-down, on this machine.  Do you know what it's like to inhale pollen and dust for that many hours, your spine compacting over and over again, the sun beating down on you, inhaling diesel fumes?  Well.  I feel incredibly guilty thinking of my man spending Father's day (or any day) in this manner, just so he can bring home the bacon for his family.  And does he ever complain?  No!  (Unlike his wife, who is holding down the fort at home...)  I wish they gave out medals or something for guys like my husband.
When he finally came home Monday afternoon, we sat in the garden with a chilled bottle of white wine, marveling at the fact that we were actually sitting down, relaxing!  A neighbor walked by astonished, unbelieving at the sight of us actually doing nothing.  It felt mighty nice.

This week also is "Gramma camp" week, when our neighbors' grandkids (and our kids' best friends) come up from Seattle to spend a week in the wild.  They've been here for three days, and I haven't seen my boys much since then.  They literally live up the hill where the neighbors live.  They all run wild, do art projects together, and get immersed in all sorts of activities.  It is magical for them, and it's quiet nice for me.  The house is much quieter without the boys, and Eva and I get to spend girl time together.  This morning, we had breakfast by candle light.  We also went to the river, finding snail shells, and then stopped by to check on the pigs (who are growing and growing).  She also helped me with the Greek yogurt, because she loves eating it, and because she likes watching it drain (and she likes the sound of the whey drip-dripping into the metal bowl).






I will leave you with some snapshots from the garden this week.  Have a wonderful week!

Honeysuckle taking over the house.
Honeysuckle taking over the Alder tree.
Honeysuckle taking over the neighbor's fence.  She the Ancona duck on the left?


These are Kiwi blossoms on our Kiwi trellis!  There will be lots of them this fall!
A foxglove looking foxy.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Forty-one

I turned 41 years old this week. It's official: I am now rapidly moving towards 50. I have more grey hairs than ever. I can't pretend anymore that I am in my thirties. It feels like I should move into midlife crisis mode and buy myself a Harley Davidson. Since I don't have any spare change for one of those, and since I wouldn't ride a motorcycle now that I am a mother (despite the fact that in my 20's, my only mode of transportation WAS a motorcycle – I even rode with my dog on it), I opted instead to ride my bicycle on my 41st birthday.

Since I am feeling so ancient, I thought I would throw in this photo of our bike ride showing off my muscles.  Actually, I was a little surprised to see them, since I have never flexed my muscles for a photo!
The family packed up to drive over the Cascade Mountains to Winthrop in the Methow Valley, only two hours away from our house, and in an entirely different climate. In the Methow, it is hot and dry, with very different flora and fauna. There's big sky, lots of dramatic, gorgeous scenery, and the kids' favorite ice cream place.
You drive over Washington Pass here...


... and then get here:


The bike ride was a blast! Steve hung out with Eva at the river and playground, while my two sons and I rode our bikes on an incredibly scenic road. Lukas' bike had problems shifting into first gear, which made it really hard for him, since the first ten miles were mostly uphill. Also, his bike has really fat tires, so the poor guy worked extra hard, and had an extra shitty attitude because of it. Kai and I tried to be sympathetic, but we were pretty blissed out on endorphins and nature. I called Steve to request a pick up for Lukas, which happened at the half-way point of the ride. Relieved of our cheerleading and slowing down for Luke, Kai and I blasted the rest of the ten miles at high speed. Kai kept yelling, “This is soooo beautiful!”, which made me smile even more. What a kid to ride with!


On my actual birthday, we hiked up Patterson mountain, four miles of non-stop beauty and bliss. At some point, I heard cowbells and was reminded of the alps, where I hiked as a kid. The cowbells belonged to a herd of mules, who took themselves for a walk without any people. It was a very surreal scene, but incredibly romantic. Eva walked a lot of the way, although Steve and I served as mules when she got tired and whiny.

See the mules sauntering along?

How very reassuring...
Daddy as a mule

Mama as a mule










We celebrated all this physical activity (and getting older, sigh...) with a stop at Sun Mountain Lodge, where the view is breathtaking, the rooms are sinfully expensive (we didn't stay there, of course), and the food is excellent. The walls are decorated with many dead animals, which is creepy and cool at the same time. On the deck, we consumed root beer, white Riesling, and a strawberry daquiri.  A perfect birthday!





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