Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I need your help

Some new things are brewing here at Marblemount Homestead.  We are really excited about taking things to a new level with our offerings. I will keep you posted, but for now, I ask you to help us out by taking a few moments (literally) to take this survey. I want to make this blog terrific, and would love to hear from what you think and need from me.
In the survey, I promise to send a bar of my own handmade goat milk soap to one randomly chosen person who responds, but since I am new to this whole survey thing, I realized later that it's anonymous.  So if you respond and would like to be entered into the drawing, just do the survey and then send me a line that you would like to try out for the soap.

Thanks so much!

To take the survey, please go here to my website and scroll all the way down to the survey.

Click here to take the survey.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Blessings, Christmas, and a birthday

Lately, I've been bursting at the seams with gratitude.  Everywhere I look, blessings lurk.  It's amazing, humbling, and gratitude-inducing.
Steve's parents are visiting and celebrated Christmas with us.  It was beautiful and mellow.  We sang Christmas carols on Christmas Eve (a tradition from my German upbringing), accompanied by Kai on the fiddle and Luke on the guitar.  We have been cooking and eating like kings.  I love watching Gramma and Grampa love up my kids.
And I am grateful that Pluto, my 14 and a half years old, trusted dog friend, is still with us this year.  He limps more every day, and seems to stink more every day as well, but I don't mind, and he doesn't either.

The other major celebration in our house was Kai's birthday.  He is 12 years old now, and heading towards teenage-hood.  He doesn't show any signs of broody teenage shenanigans yet.  On the contrary: His friend Alden came over for a playdate and sleepover, and in the evening, they all cooked dinner together.  It was a sight to behold: two twelve-year olds and a ten-year-old rubbing shoulders in the kitchen, chopping onions, browning meat, sauteeing vegetables, chatting about the best way to fillet fish, discussing the latest football scores.  It warms a mother's heart, it does.

Birthdays are a big excuse to bake up a storm.  I whipped up my famous sour cream coffee cake, fancy as can be, and also made a gluten free sweet potato and almond cake.  Add maple syrup sweetened whipping cream, and life's good.

The boys went fishing on a drift boat borrowed from a friend.  They saw so many bald eagles they lost count.  They fished their hearts out and got chilled to the bone, but that didn't stop them from having fun.  Kai brought home a hefty Dolly, which graced our dinner table the next night.

Since Kai took the spot light in this post, let me mention my other two kids.  Here is Lukas with a cowl he knit all by himself.  Yes, I know, I am bragging.  But my son?  Knitting a cowl?  All by himself?  
And little Eva with her new Christmas present.  This kid better learn to bike, because summer is coming!  (Eventually).
Happy Holidays to you!  May you feel lots of gratitude and many blessings!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A fishing tale, whereby my sons are kicking a pro-fisherman's ass

The other day, Steve was gone for two days, so I took the kids fishing. Mind you, I know nothing about fishing (they do). I just stand on the side lines, watch Eva so she won't fall in the fast moving river, and cheer like a lunatic when the boys land a fish. A fancy car was parked at our favorite fishing spot, and after walking to the fishing hole, we saw a professional-fishing type dude doing fancy fly-fishing moves where Luke and Kai usually fish. The guy was decked out in fancy fishing gear, with waders and Gortex, while my boys wore their usual hand knit wool hats, jeans with holes, and dirty jackets. The man seemed slightly annoyed by our arrival and didn't acknowledge it. Ten-year old Lukas promptly fell into the water as he crossed a slippery log over a small slough to get to the actual river. I watched Gortex man contemptuously glance at my son dump water out of his boots.
Unperturbed, Lukas continued onward in his wet jeans, digging in his rusty, decades old tackle box for the right hook. Five minutes later, Luke pulled in a Dolly Varden, to excited shrieks from me on the other shore. Gortex man, who had probably been unsuccessfully fishing there for hours, spared another annoyed glance at my son, who deftly killed the fish with a whack on the head.
Gortex man decided that the spot he was fishing at (50 yards away from Luke) wasn't so great after all and walked over to Luke, never even saying Hello to him. He did some more fancy fishing moves downstream from the boys, and five minutes later, my son landed another fish. More annoying (bordering on incredulous) looks from Gortex man, more whooping and hollering from me.
The whole thing from start to finish had taken 20 minutes, and we soon walked away with two beautiful fish for dinner.
Gortex man never said Goodbye.

What's so cool about this story is not that my ten and almost twelve year old sons kicked a pro fisherman's ass, but that Lukas then proceeded to gut the fish all by himself at home, me standing by cluelessly, taking pictures and asking him questions about what he was doing.  He wielded his sharp knife expertly, cutting out guts and all other kind of slimy innards without flinching.  The dog and cat, attracted by the delicious fish smell, supervised.

Other news from the homestead: It's getting mighty Christmassy around here. I love the Christmas tree lights casting their warm glow in the gloomy, wet December weather.  I adore the cozy fires in the wood stove.  I am knitting my bootie off for my gift giving.  And there is, of course, the baking. Pinwheel cookies. Vanilla wafers. Lebkuchen. The smell of grated orange zest, cinnamon, melted butter and vanilla. Sticky little hands forming interesting cookie shapes.  Happy little faces sampling raw cookie dough.  And a mother feeling blessed beyond words by her good fortune.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I can hardly believe it!

Lately, our lives have revolved around food, Santa, nature, and fish. I don't know if y'all are sick of photos of Luke and his catch of the day, but he's been bringing home Dollys, Silver salmon, and Steelhead. This boy knows how to provide for his family, and he's only ten years old. I admit it: I am proud.

Here's another thing I'm proud of: I totally revamped my website. You have to understand one thing about me: I'm not a technology savvy person. However, in spite of myself, I have managed to make a beautiful website that has gotten a lot of awesome reviews. I can hardly believe it. Check it out here and tell me what you think. Honestly, I am looking for feedback, and that includes negative constructive feedback.

The food I was talking about earlier? Here is some of it. Home made pizzas. Apple pie with the last of our stored apples from the Liberty tree out back. Baked fish with carrots, leeks and kale from the garden. How these vegetables manage to survive with all the deep frost is beyond me. They soldier on bravely in the freezing wind. I love them so.

Steve looks like he's drinking wine, but it's actually salad dressing he made.

I hesitate doing this in this blog space, but I feel I must, because a lot of what we are about is running our small businesses. My small business is giving you 25% off before Christmas, because I want you to support local (me), and I know you haven't done all your Christmas shopping yet. Go here, and enter coupon code “Christmas” at checkout. Thank you!

Let me leave you with impressions of our week. The sun came out once, it really did. But don't let that fool you. It's been mostly grey downpour, causing the rivers to flood.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This is important

I need to tell you about something, because I think it's important.  It's one of the most beautiful things I have heard in a long time.  Every time I listen to it, I get goose bumps, and chills run up and down my spine (which could be annoying, if you think about it, except it isn't, because it is so gorgeous).
I'm talking about my very dear friend Andrea's CD called "Sacred Breath", where she reads her wilderness-and-nature-inspired poetry, set to ethereal flute music by our friend Peter Ali.
Both of these people should be world-famous, they are that good.  They are famous in our state, but really should be known everywhere.
Truth be told, I usually am not crazy about  poetry.  But there is something about Andrea's way with words and images that stir my soul (and give me the aforementioned goose bumps).  Coupled with Peter's absolutely gorgeous flute playing, and... swoon!
So here's the thing: I urge you to get one (or more) of these CDs as a Christmas present for someone (or yourself).  Then you would see hear what I am raving about, and you would also support someone local, someone I care about a great deal.
Instead of supporting a big corporation, your purchase would go to a real-life, blood-and-flesh family.  And no, I don't get kickbacks on this.  It's just so darn good, and I want everyone to buy this CD.  Okay?
Go here to her online store and get it now.  Thank you.

Here is what the description says:

Poems inspired by wilderness from our very own author, Andrea Weiser, set to ethereal flute music by Peter Ali. These 12 original poems will nudge your soul. The beautiful tones of Native American and nordic flute music are all original by Peter A. Ali, as he responds to the imagery and depth of each poem. Hear eagle, wind, river, the core of a grandfather tree in the voices of flutes as you travel on a metaphorical journey. Professionally recorded at Fire Mountain Music of Mt. Vernon, WA, the sound is crystal clear. Presented with gorgeous cover art by our local favorite, Don Smith. Each cd case is made of 100% recycled paperboard, cd label hand applied with a permanent sticky back. Artwork ink on the cd itself is non-soluable, so even if you are in the Pacific NW it won't get ruined in a drizzle. This is a unique product that will open your heart space. A perfect gift for someone you love. Experience what live audiences already know--these two voices will heal you.

PS: If you want to buy more local stuff, you can also support Steve and me and buy Christmas gifts in our online stores. Here is Steve's, and here is mine.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to make a Christmas wreath

It's inconceivable to think that we suffered a heat wave three months ago.  I try to remember the sensation of blistering hot sun on my face when I bundle up my little daughter for an excursion into the woods to collect greens for a Christmas wreath.  I remember swimming in the creek a few months ago, while I admire a frozen cascade of icicles decorating the same creek now.  Yes, winter is here.

The cold weather means it's sunny - a rare treat in our rainy Northwest Mountain region.  Eva and I took advantage of the sunny weather to collect materials for a Christmas wreath last week.  Fortunately, our yard is filled with hemlocks, cedars and firs, so the only thing we had to hunt for was holly, which we found at a neighbor's a mile from our house.  
Here is how I made our Christmas wreath this month:

Step one: Gather green stuff.

Step two: Try not to be distracted by the ducks, who quack at you while you cut fir boughs, because they are cold and hungry, and their water is frozen, and they want to be let out of their electric fence so they can waddle around in the yard.

Step two and a half:  Feed the ducks before you head in the house to make your wreath.

Step three: Head into the house for hot chocolate, then find an unused wire clothes hanger and bend that into a round shape.  Put all your greenery on the kitchen table and try not to get poked by the holly.

Step three and a half:  Grab a bandaid and cover the bleeding wound inflicted by the prickly holly.

Step four:  Cut your bunches of greenery to about six inches or so and bundle three or four branches together.  Attach them to the clothes hanger with craft wire.  Repeat the procedure an inch or so below to cover up the area you just wired together.  Repeat many times.  Beware of the holly.

Step five:  Hang your beautiful wreath by the door on a nail and admire it.  Instruct your two sons not to slam the door too vigorously, so the wreath will survive until Christmas.
Then go outside again, because there is rain in the forecast, and the sun is just too tempting.  Take your old, old dog for a walk.  Be grateful for your life.

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