June project

June 7th, 2012

So, I decided I wanted to make life more complicated, ya know?
First I decided that for the month of June I’d have my kids wear only home-made clothes.. because that’s COMPLETELY rational. Then I did hardly anything to get ready for it..
and then right at the end of May I decided to take on some new hobbies.
I started brewing kombucha (which I could speak at length about),
and I also started keeping chickens. (again, SO much to say!)

For now though I’ll post about clothes.
I like to sew. I dabble really. I do not use patterns because .. I just haven’t. I REALLY need to, that should be my next challenge.

I meant to take a photo the first day, but I forgot with all the other busy stuff going on.
June 1st:
Laurel wore:
Purple jersey top with crochet yoke. Grey “goblin king” leggings, and a 4 paneled stretch denim skirt with lace trim.
Alice wore:
Pink ribbed leggings, a blue striped jersey halter top with white bias tape straps, and her yellow ruffle skirt.

June 2nd:
June 2
Laurel wore: Gray jersey halter and a 4 panel houndstooth skirt with pink floral ruffle.
Alice wore: bright green spring top with blue plaid pleated skirt.
Both girls cheated and wore store-bought teeny short shorts under their skirts to keep their modesty while at school.

June 3rd:
June 3 Alice
June 3 Laurel jacket

Laurel wore:
Embarrassingly enough she wore the same clothes from the day before because she wanted to and it was the weekend and I really didn’t care! She did add her new “jacket” that is not only unfinished, but also rather odd. It’s actually a felted 2xl men’s sweater, so it’s not really “home-made” but it IS certainly re-fabricated or … up cycled or whatever you want to call it. I count it!
Alice wore:
Purple witch skirt. (I call it this because it was part of Laurel’s witch costume when she was 2..) A blue “princess dress up shirt” and a blue crocheted shrug thing that is horrible and.. yet again, unfinished!

June 4th:
June 4
Laurel wore:
Pink swirly bermuda length shorts with failed pockets (first draft.. .. ugh!) with umbrella shirt with pink ribbing bow straps. Ruby Gloom “jacket”
Alice wore:
Red Chinese dragon brocade skirt (seriously, from Chinese New Year) and the Spring Green shirt. Also a cape for good measure. .. She chose these items together.. but she didn’t have much to choose from so… it’s not all her fault.

June 5th:
June 5
Laurel wore:
Vintage pillowcase peasant dress.
Goblin King gray pants.
Alice wore: Whale pajama set, again, unfinished, and not pictured because she decided to be naked half way through the day, then played dress up, then found whatever from her drawers and put it on. I dont like to fight with the 3 year old about clothes.. she doesn’t understand me needing to keep up with my challenge..

June 6th:
June 6
Laurel wore:
Gray jersey top again,Red and polka dot skirt and Ruby Gloom jacket.
Alice wore:
Crabby halter shirt, yellow ruffle skirt, and blue and purple capri pants. (that self destructed the first day worn, rubbish!)

okay. Maybe I can update more than every 6 days so it’s not so exhausting. maybe.

I wish I was old enough to feel ways about stuff.

January 28th, 2012

I stopped blogging, largely because I felt I’d run out of interesting content. At some point I decided it was only appropriate to blog about stuff I DO and not the person I am, or my family, my kids, our life, etc.
Sometime after that I decided that the “stuff I/we do” was not all that interested.
These combined factors resulted in absolutely no blogging.

Recently a friend was talking to me about her dismay in finding that a lot of bloggers that she respects are actually just *people*. Hah! as if there should be some blogging guild in which you need credentials in order for you to have your own blog. .. and while I would agree that in some cases that’d be lovely.. I sure am glad that’s not the case.

I’m glad to read things from imperfect people. I know there are mom’s out there, blogging during nap time.. perfectly setting up a few lovely pictures that are cropped “just so” to avoid capturing the breakfast dishes still on the table… sadly, we are often sure that they are SUPER Moms! Better than all of us! It brings out silly feelings of ineptitude (for me at least). It helps me to imagine that ALL of these mom’s have a dirty floor with dried mac and cheese on it.. or dont wash their own laundry, or eat fast food on a weekly basis. So if you ARE perfect, please dont tell me.. this perceived imperfection is what makes you tolerable to me. ­čÖé

So, in the interest in being really honest (I usually am overly honest and a big over-sharer anyway)
1. I smile when the cat gets up on the table and drinks the milk out of the cereal bowl. We dont have dogs, and the cat doesn’t really do the same vacuum cleaner type job.. so I celebrate the things he DOES eat. Mostly yogurt and milk from bowls in the am. Besides it’s adorable to see him standing on a chair with his front legs resting daintily on the table, delicately lapping dairy from a little plastic bowl.
2. until the cat learns to eat dried noodles, we get a roomba/scrubba/other-cleaning-robot our floor will probably always be .. a little gross. Maybe when the kids are old enough to do chores it’ll improve.. or when I hire that maid I’ve been dreaming about…
3. In winter I turn into a depressive slug. I watch tv. I eat badly. My face breaks into a rash because of lack of sunlight! I suffer allergies from dust because I never clean my house!

Okay, with that out of the way maybe I’ll post some things that will make me appear SUPER!
1. I learned to knit this fall. It has been fun and frustrating at the same time. I like it.. a lot.. it’s addictive and it makes really attractive fabric compared to crochet.. and yet.. I have no attention span.. which is why i have not finished any adult sized hats or scarves but all the baby dolls in the house have new hats and some have booties.
2.chinese newyear1
I sewed this, with no pattern, for no REASON! I found out my daughter’s class was celebrating Chinese New Year so I randomly made her a dress to wear.. because I’m .. crazy.
3. I started a ginger-beer/ale scoby today. I’m very excited to see how it turns out.
4. I’ve kept a sourdough starter alive pretty well all fall/winter so far. Tomorrow I may even try making that sprouted grain bread I’ve been meaning to make..
5. I am registered for two races this year. One is a 10k in March, and the other is a Half Marathon in June? I believe. I was really really excited about both, until I sustained some sort of silly foot/leg injury that’s been plaguing me for a few weeks, but I WILL complete them.. I may walk them, but I WILL complete them. That’ll be all the winning I need.

There, now don’t I feel better?

The wrong week!

August 23rd, 2011

I obviously chose the wrong week to do my yarditarian project!
Today I picked:
2 giant cucumbers
a handful of sunsweet tomatoes
1 smallish red slicing tomato
1 giant zucchini
4 giant patty pan squashes
many many green and purple beans, far too many for just one meal.
several nice pea pods
1 red pear tiny tomato.

Easily could have gotten most of my meals out of that amount of food.. especially with an egg thrown in here, some lovely local feta there.. a loaf of home made bread etc.

The giant squashes and cucumbers are a result of me skipping a day or two of checking the garden. For shame! Right now the giant squashes are being cooked down with an onion to become my much beloved curry base.. Maybe I’ll share the recipe someday. Maybe. ­čÖé

follow ups

August 19th, 2011

After so much posting I’ve really been thinking about blogging more often, unfortunately we’ve been in the process of trying to move all of my stuff over to new hosting, and the blog has been the last to go. In-fact right now it has still not been moved. I’ve been hesitant to post until after the move, but screw it!

I’ve been trying to do more local food. It’s difficult to keep my resolve without my very strict guidelines I used during the project. My new goal is to just make sure that about 80% of my food is from local sources. I’m not sure if I mean 80% volume or 80% calories yet, but maybe that’ll become more defined later.

I feel the need to defend myself, even though almost all of the feedback I’ve gotten from people has been positive. I *LOVE* exotic awesome imported ingredients. Coconut and it’s oils and milks! avocados! macadamia nuts, vanilla beans, quinoa! The list goes on and on and on.
The truth of the matter is though, our climate here in the Northwest has the ability to produce so much great food, shouldn’t the bulk of our food be local if it’s possible to produce it here?

To some extent I understand globalization and specialization and business and all that. (some extent = very little). For me and my family though, it’s important to eat things that haven’t traveled needlessly.

Yesterday I picked 25 pounds of peaches. I picked 6 pints of berries. I picked a cucumber, a zucchini, an artichoke, and a handful of green beans from our garden. All of them grew here, in my city. There will be jelly and baked goods! It will be glorious. I will try to hold on to this feeling of being connected to my food for as long as I can.

Day 7 recap

August 12th, 2011

Breakfast was a “grab and eat random produce” type dealy again. I took a picture of the last 4 radishes from my produce box to prove it. There were radishes, blackberries that I picked the other night, a few peas, a garden tomato or two. (still none of my big ones are ready!!)
Day 7_1

For lunch we had biscuits again. This time I cut them with a fluted round cookie cutter and they were prettier than last time.
Day 7_2
I used some buttermilk from Alpenrose dairy and sunflower oil. I think my weird experimental first batch may have been slightly better.. how disappointing. Hah. These were promptly gobbled with the whipped butter I made and the honey berry jam that we also made. They might not have been perfect but they were darned good. Unfortunately I ate too many and sorta went into post-carb nap mode. I was able to get out of it by forcing myself to run up and down all the 3 flights of stairs to the laundry room and back to the bedrooms for some much needed laundry-putting-away-ness.

Dinner was pizza again, but this time with a crust that failed to rise. I was in a hurry, so I didn’t have time to properly troubleshoot it, but it was still on the tasty side of edible and everyone ate it. Home made pesto, home made crust, green beans from the produce box, onions from the garden, shredded garden squash, and feta from Dee Creek Farms.
Day 7_3
Try to forgive the terrible photo, again, I was hurried.

I left after dinner to go on a 6 mile + walk with a friend, which ended with us jumping into a local pond and swimming for a bit as the sun set and the moon came up. It was lovely. I came home feeling proud of my week of eating, proud of my activity, soaked from pond water and only slightly afraid that I might have parasites burrowing under my skin.

(our local Parks and Recreation unit posted information on the life cycle of “swimmers itch” parasites near the pond even though there was not any information of any cases confirmed from this body of water… sometimes information makes my skin crawl)

Today my family and I went to our County Fair. I was soo excited to be eating “normal food” but couldnt bring myself to splurge on much of anything. I had a bite of one of the kids hot dogs, and I shared a Chicken Gyros with Joel. It was chicken and tzatziki, onion, tomato, and lettuce maybe. Nice pillowy soft flatbread.. tasty but not amazing. Boo. I should have gone for the terrible stuff.. deep fried Oreos or something!
Anyway, we convinced the girls to skip the cotton candy in lieu of getting Frozen Yogurt this weekend instead as a treat, and got out of the fair before anyone vomited on the tilt-awhirl.

As soon as I got home from the fair I felt very badly. I had a terrible migraine, a sunburn, and a really lethargic awful feeling.
It got somewhat better, but after dinner (of a salad because I didnt want to feel sick anymore) I felt even worse. I cant tell if a week of diet change is catching up with me, or if the new things introduced today are wreaking havoc. Oh well, I’m hopeful it’ll be better soon.

I think I’ve decided to try to stick with local eating for a while. I did better limiting my proteins than I thought I would. I think I’ll try to only eat proteins that come from places near by. Fall and Winter will be difficult, and surely I will cave.. but hopefully next spring will awaken within me a desire to garden more thoroughly so that I can more aptly feed myself and my family with our little plot of land.

Day 6 Recap

August 11th, 2011

home made bread with home made butter and raw local honey
Day 6_1

open faced fried egg sandwiches with home made herbed aioli. (the gir’s had cheese on the top of theirs, I didn’t)
Day 6_2

Braised lambshank with veggies. Braised in home made vegetable stock and some local beer (I forgot to pick up some local red wine, oh well). Side of green beans from the Organics to you box topped with AMAZING feta from Dee Creek Farms.
Day 6_3

The lamb shank was good. If I could get them at a slightly lower price I think I’d do them often, maybe once a month or so. I’d never cooked lamb before, and I definitely think my technique could use some improvement, but still it was tasty! My soon-to-be 3 year old kept asking for more and more bites. It made me wish I’d bought a second one.

There were snacks… vegetables snacked on in the garden, lots of bread and butter, and sadly the last of my lamb-pepperoni sticks. *sigh*.
I picked up a lovely gallon of local raw milk. It tastes delicious.. I just cant decide what to DO with it.. I dont drink much milk.

When I crawled into bed at the end of the day, completely exhausted I told my husband I felt like I’d been eating ALL DAY LONG, and yet.. yet my stomach still rumbled for more.

I will hopefully give today’s recap this evening, but I cant promise. My body seems to be adjusting to this new way of eating.. it’s just so much *WORK* to feed myself. . . but there are good changes. I’ve lost 5 pounds in this week long project so far. I think about food differently. Things seem more precious.. and my children.. my children ate just bread and butter and green beans with feta last night for dinner and… they…begged for more. They havent been doing the project in full, they’re still eating cookies that come in boxes from the grocery store in between means and what not… but they have somehow gained an appreciation for home-made food throughout this project.. and that.. makes it worthwhile in and of itself.

Day 5. Feelin’ topsy turvy.

August 9th, 2011

Breakfast was weird, bits and pieces of things. I started to really *FEEL* the strife of the project. I tried to eat the last piece of cake that I made the other day but it was.. really soggy. I was grossed out and sad that my fast breakfast option was gone. Ick. I ended up eating half a lamb pepperoni stick, then going on a walk with my Mom. Then I snacked on peas and teensy tomatoes in the garden. I made an early lunch to make up for my small and strange breakfast.

Lunch felt monotonous also. A fried egg and some garden squash. Both of these items are very good… even some of my favorite foods, but.. well.. it’s been squash and eggs a lot around here recently. I snazzed the squash up with some breadcrumbs. The very last bit of the bread I baked on Day 1. It felt good to really use it all up. I shared the loaf with the kids as well, and I’m really surprised how long it lasted.
Day 5_1

After lunch I kinda laid around. I felt vaguely hungry, or maybe just.. full of cravings. I wanted chocolate, and bananas and peanut butter and avocados, and coffee. I wanted BUTTER slathered on things. I wanted bacon! I wanted to fire up the BBQ and do some Korean BBQ chicken. I just .. wanted.

Then I got an idea. To the computer I flew to use my google-fu. Oh! A biscuit recipe that uses oil instead of shortening/butter/lard ?? LOVE. I figured I could at least make biscuits and use some of the honey+berry sauce that my oldest and I cooked up last night. (We called it witches brew and Laurel had a great time stirring it up and chanting at it.) Then I remembered something amazing! I bought organic fancy local-ish whipping cream a few days ago! and I still had over half the little container.. I’d just *MAKE* butter.
So there it was.
Day 5_3
I used this recipe for the biscuits. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough of my fancy sunflower oil, so I just used a little more liquid to make up for it and it came out just fine. I used a combination of whey left over from the day 1 cheese making, and a splash of the whipping cream to substitue for the buttermilk. I also subbed in whole wheat flour for half of the flour. These turned out REALLY good. I think possibly better than my usual biscuits.. I’m not sure how.. maybe because I just really really wanted them. Also they were topped with homemade “butter” and homemade “jam”.

The butter was just overwhipped cream that was lightly salted. I didn’t wait until it completely separated, it was just too tasty and fluffy and magnificent as it was. The jam was just a ton of honey and a decent handful of berries and a little water in a sauce pan.. I thought it’d make yummy pancake syrup, but instead it jelled into a soft set jelly.

Day 5_2
The children loved them. Laurel said they were scrumptious. Alice hummed and chewed and made yummy noises. She tried to talk with her mouth completely full, but was unintelligible.

The biscuits were just the thing to pick me up. I went to the fancy shop downtown and picked up a local lamb shank from Reister Farms and some feta from Dee Creek Farms. I picked up another bottle of sunflower oil and some dried mushrooms from a local Vancouver company. I sure hope they are localy grown/harvested mushrooms, I sorta just took a gamble.

Dinner was home made flat bread with the left over cabbage roll filling inside with lettuce and feta. On the side there were amazing green beans from my Organic produce delivery box. topped with tomatoes (farmers market) and more feta. It was good.

Tomorrow I get milk from my secret raw milk source. This is serious stuff here. I hear it comes from a farm near to where we bought baby chicks to add to my mother’s flock. I am excited to have it, seriously… but on the other hand part of me wonders, why is this “local” milk so difficult to get? Why is the closest place to get milk of this quality a 40 minute drive away? Why dont we HAVE a local, commercially viable, natural dairy farm within 50 miles of EVERY large metropolitan city in climates that can sustain it?

In fact I went to a local grocery store to pick up a few things for the family after I did my shopping down town… they havent been doing the project with me unless I’m eating something amazing and decadent, and in enough quantity to share. I picked up some tortillas, milk (because tomorrow’s cereal must have milk, much earlier than I’ll pick up my raw milk), yogurt, and a pepperoni stick (because I keep sharing my expensive local lamb ones with my family and … I think I’d like to save my last one. ). The pepperoni stick was made in somewhat Nearby Tillamook. A place we drive through a couple times a year. A place I’d consider pretty local. I’m happy to say that the majority of cheese consumed in my house is from Tillamook. I decided they weren’t “local enough” to be considered in this project, but I am perfectly happy with them. They dont sell milk though here, and their yogurt isnt my favorite.
Anyway, as I walked through my neighborhood market I became more and more outraged at the lack of local food. Two different kinds of lettuce in the produce department proudly displayed a “Locally Grown!” sign but I could not find any information as to where exactly they are grown.. what city? what state? how many miles from this market?

I looked for things that should be viable crops here in the Northwest.. but most everything was imported. A lot of things simply didnt say. It bothered me. Why cant they put that little bit of information on their package?

After I ranted about this to my husband he said that he was pretty sure that Portland had a large dairy that I should be able to find products from in our local stores. On further internet inspection I see that this is true, and I may just be going out tomorrow to find some Alpenrose butter. Maybe I’d even buy icecream, knowing that the flavorings and sugar and all that are probably not locally sourced. Naw I’ll leave icecream for after this project.

Either way… the day is done. I am full of rants that have no end, no solution, no resolve. I feel dissatisfied with the world around me, and somewhat satisfied with my own efforts.

Day 4

August 8th, 2011

No food pictures today because seriously, it was boring

Breakfast: a piece of last night’s zucchini apple cake!
Snack : 1 boiled egg
Lunch: Left over gnocchi from the other night with a fried egg on top. (so tasty!)
Snack: 1/2 pepperoni stick I shared the other half with my mother and the kids. (I’m stingy with my spendy Lamb sticks)
Dinner: Salad (it was sorta pretty, but did you really need to see another picture of a salad??) It was lettuce, topped with some of the ground beef and veggie filling I made for inside the cabbage leaves. I made home made aioli to top it off and there were tomatoes.. and breadcrumbs.. I’m sure that sounds weird, but oh well. it was tasty.

Then there was blackberry picking and blackberry munching. yum! Tomorrow there should be some blackberry creations.

and now: some pictures of the garden so you aren’t left visually disappointed.

Day 4_2
baby artichoke!

Day 4_6
the corn and sunflower patch

Day 4_1
this red pear tomato will be the first red tomato in our garden this year.

Day 4_3
thai hot chili peppers. I’m super excited about these guys!

Day 4_4
patty pan.

Day 4_5
one of our volunteer pumpkins. It’ll be so cute! I’m considering scarring the girl’s names on the pumpkins, although they might be too large already now.

I took the “day off” and didn’t really create much of anything new, but I’m still exhausted. I’m ready for an early bedtime.

Day 3. The Good, the Bad, the Boring.

August 7th, 2011

Breakfast: fried egg and toast
Day 3_1
boring, I know.

Lunch: salad- pepperoni egg veggies oil and vinegar dressing.
Day 3_2

Dinner: stuffed cabbage.
Day 3_3
The stuffed cabbage wasnt great. The squash + diced tomatoes did NOT cut it as far as sauce goes. It really needed to be a flavorful and possibly spicy marinara type sauce..
It was edible and my husband said it was even “good” but I was left .. wanting.
I mean, my mother makes her stuffed cabbage stuffed with Rice-a-roni. Sure, it sounds trashy, but seriously, its like.. amazingly good. I couldnt even use PLAIN rice.
these were stuffed with local grass fed ground beef, chopped onions, carrots, celery, zucchni, and a little handful of breadcrumbs from that first and only loaf of bread I’ve baked for the project. The filling was okay, good even… but without that nice wet sauce to bake it in, bleh.
(fail #1. still edible but not awesome)

Dessert: zucchini apple honey cake with honey 7 minute frosting. topped with berries.
Day 3_4
Look! I almost redeemed myself. The cake wasn’t amazing. It was a zucchini and apple quick bread cake, very dense. sweetened only with honey. It lacked spice because Cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg and allspice… and a host of other spices do not grow here. . It was filling and okay. It would have made a better loaf bread than trying to use it as a cake.. perhaps I should have made an angel food cake with berry filling or something.. but zucchini is one of the only things producing in the garden right now, so that’s what had to be done.

The frosting though, the frosting was amazing! magic!
Whats in it??
Only 3! things.
4 egg whites
1 cup of raw local honey
and a pinch of salt.
Place all ingredients over a double boiler (making sure your mixing bowl top has enough room to hold about quadruple the initial amount.) and whisk with an electric mixer.. for about 7 minutes. Seriously.. I thought it was amazing and a lovely frosting. It could have benefitted from some awesome vanilla beans or something.. but.. I’m completely pleased with it as is.

Joel says he doesn’t like it as much as the stabilized whip cream frostings I usually make, but I think it’s a lovely alternative, so easy! So LOCAL.

Day 2

August 6th, 2011

Breakfast on the go this morning, I was in a hurry to get to the farmers market. I ate 1 pod of peas, 3 sun sugar cherry tomatoes, and 1 small heel of toasted home made bread that I baked up yesterday topped with some raw local honey. Since it was eaten in the garden mostly I just didn’t bother with a picture.
I was jealous of the kid’s shredded mini wheats with the hard white frosting and icy cold milk to go with it. Oh well.

Farmers market was lovely. I tried not to buy a bunch of produce because I feel that goes against the idea of the project. I DID end up leaving with a half pint of gooseberries from near by Cornelius, Oregon and also a half pint of giant sweet marion berries from the same farm. I also grabbed 4 large-ish red tomatoes from a farm in Battleground (just outside my city really)
The big treat/find that I grabbed though was a pack of 8 lamb pepperoni sticks. The farm is no more than 18 miles from our house, and this stuff is tasty! Protein has been hard for me, given that I pretty much am relying on eggs for protein… and eggs get monotonous.

Lunch was a pepperoni stick shared between me and the kids and toasted home made bread topped with pesto with sauteed pattypan squash, and a few pieces of sliced red tomatoes. (Seriously disappointing, I CAN NOT WAIT for my larger tomatoes to ripen. oh well) I found that the home made cheese from yesterday was hard enough to GRATE over the meal which seemed impressive and neat.
Day 2 Breakfast

I packed a hiking snack.
Day 2_17
and we dropped the kids of at their grandma’s house so we could go hiking and geocaching at Powell Butte.

Day 2_21
Isn’t he so cute?

Once we picked up the kids and got them home I set to making potato gnocchi for the first time. I had Yukon Golds from my produce delivery box, so that’s what I used. I cooked them up (in the microwave, for shAME!) threw them through the food mill, and then combined with egg yolk, fresh home made cheese, salt, and some grated fresh garlic from the garden. I gently folded in some flour until it created a soft pasta type dough. I pan fried them in the organic sunflower oil I’ve been using for this project.
When they were done I tossed them with sauteed vegetables, home made mixed herb pesto from the yard, and topped with more homemade cheese.
Day 2_24

For dessert, I wanted to be a teensy fancy because it’s our Anniversary today.. So I used a splurge item I bought the other day, the local(ish) whipping cream, and some of the berries I bought today at the farmers market. I whipped the cream by hand with a whisk and added in some of that awesome raw local honey. It wasn’t amazing to look at, but the whole family slurped it up. Forgive the terrible low light photo..
Day 2_25

So, that’s day 2!