I'll Have the Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Orange Maple Butter, Please!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Picture via Bakerella's Flickr feed.
After reading Bakerella's post on these pancakes (orange maple butter on blueberry cornmeal pancakes), I think I'm ready to whip up some of my own. Of course, whip them up if I had a moment to spare these days. So far, Statistics is going well, but between two nights at class and other nights away studying, I can barely keep up with all the domestic chores around here, let alone the extras like baking bread and making tasty pancakes like the ones Bakerella displayed so well (aren't those pictures fabulous?). I'm not too sad that I don't have time to pick up sewing, expand the garden, or paint the kitchen, because it feels really good right now to be back in school. I didn't think I'd go back after I had Juniper; I was pretty overwhelmed that first year trying to figure out the two-kid thing. But now here I am, back in school, and it feels right. I've registered for Microbiology next term, then I'll be applying to nursing school this fall for next fall 2010-11. The fall I hope to start, Sam will be in Kindergarten, and I will look into some sort of daily preschool program for Juniper. So far, she loves the two hours twice a week she spends at a Parent's Time Off class at our local community center. She loves Teacher Katie and Teacher Candace. She works on art projects and proudly holds them up for me when I pick her up--very sweet. I can't deny that my life is busier than ever these days. Having said that, if it slows down at all, I hope to make Bakerella's pancakes--for DINNER!

Reusable Vacuum Cleaner Bags

Monday, June 29, 2009

I know Kenmore is in the money-making business, but why can't they offer a reusable vacuum cleaner bag? I don't know about you, but I'd be willing to pay a higher price for my vacuum if it came with a reusable bag. I've been able to find some reusable bags online, but I don't think they're compatible with Kenmore vacuums. The bag on our Kenmore vacuum currently needs changing, but before I head to Sears to buy another package of three, does anyone out there have any green ideas on reducing waste and saving money when it comes to replacing vacuum cleaner bags?

Childhood Memories

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I've been wondering lately when the moment will occur that leaves a lasting impression on Sam. Most of us can look back and recall our earliest childhood memory. Mine was on my 4th birthday of a giant teddy bear I received. I just remember the moment it was brought out at my birthday party--nothing else--and that moment has remained in my memory my entire life. So, I wonder for Sam what his first memory will be.

Has that memory already formed? I wonder what he'll say some day when I ask him what his first memory was, and I hope it will be a good one.

Juniper is still too little to have any lasting memories. Through pictures, videos, and my own memories, I hope to share with her one day what she was like at eighteen months.

A happy, thriving, comical girl who is full of life and brings joy to everyone around her.

Installing the Clothesline

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Landon's dad, Mike (also known as Grandpa), came over this morning to help install a clothesline in our backyard that he picked up at a garage sale brand new a few weeks ago.

As usual, Sam and Juni were interested in watching.

Juni was so interested she even considered pulling up a chair.

The first step in the process of installing a clothesline is to dig a hole using a post-hole digger. You want to dig the hole 8 to 12 inches in diameter and 20 inches deep. Taper the hole larger at the bottom and fill the bottom of the hole with small rocks approximately 3 inches deep.

3 inches of gravel is important for water drainage so the metal support pole for the clothesline will not rust and rot with time.

Now that the gravel is in place, it's time to mix the concrete.

Add water and stir--it's that easy.

Pour about six inches of concrete into the hole, then place the plastic ground sleeve into the concrete and push it down until it hits the gravel.

Add more concrete.

Adjust the plastic ground sleeve if necessary.

Add concrete until the concrete is nearly flush with the plastic ground sleeve.

Now it's time to get out your level. Insert pole into ground sleeve and use your level to align the pole vertically.

Once level and after the pole has been carefully removed, immediately run a small tube or stick down the center of the sleeve through the concrete until it reaches the crushed rock base. Remove tube or stick; this will allow any water to drain into the gravel.

After that, buy yourself a couple of packages of clothespins . . .

. . . take a load of laundry from the washing machine . . .

. . . and hang them out to dry! It takes about two hours on a sunny day for the laundry to dry, and you can read tutorials on how to hang laundry on a clothesline here. I'm not sure I'll have time to exclusively hang-dry laundry all our laundry this summer, since I'm in school right now and life is busier than ever, but even if I can set an initial goal of hanging three loads a week, it's a start. It's true it takes more time, but it's something I can do while the kids are playing outside, and it also feels therapeutic in the way that kneading bread does (not to mention the most important benefit of all--energy savings!).

If anyone has any helpful tips for hanging laundry, I'd like to hear them! I'm still learning, but the less I have to learn by trial and error, the smoother this transition will go for me. Having said that, let's all raise our strawberry-basil mojitos to green living!

P.S. I've learned since hanging this first load that with a staggered line such as this one, you can hang intimate apparel (briefs and bras) on the inside lines so your neighbors (and blog readers) don't have to know quite everything about you!

"Daisies" by Mary Oliver

Friday, June 26, 2009

It is possible, I suppose that sometime
we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
and what it means. I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead
oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their - if you don't
mind my saying so - their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example - I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch -
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.

LG LGenius "Happy Time"

Thursday, June 25, 2009
I like this idea (via Happy Mundane), which was introduced at a recent conference in Korea:


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Both Juni and Sam enjoy exploring our backyard veggie garden for ripe edibles, and have lately been picking and eating peas. I've decided to stick to fruits and vegetables the kids can pick on their own--things like tomatoes, peas, beans, and berries are easy to grow and fun for them as well. Our lettuce patch was attacked by leaf miners from some sort of black fly, and since I've been short on time lately, I've decided to stick to the easier stuff for now and hit up the local farmers' markets for the rest. How is your vegetable garden faring?


Back to School

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I started back to school--taking one class--Statistics 243, a required class for nursing--evenings for two and a half hours twice a week. Next term, I'll dive into Microbiology out at PCC's Rock Creek campus. Life just got a whole lot busier, but I have a good feeling about this . . .

Back from Climate Action Plan SW Meeting!

Monday, June 22, 2009
Just got back from the Climate Action Plan meeting in my neighborhood and am excited about what the city of Portland will be doing in the coming years to reduce our carbon impact by 80% by the year 2050. Many of the objectives in the Climate Action Plan aren't actions I think will be contentious--a lot of the proposed changes would bring a better quality of life to residents in Portland. For example, plans include expanding the urban forest canopy to cover 1/3 of Portland, 1300 new community garden plots, shifting residential garbage collection to every other week in lieu of weekly recycling and food waste pick-ups (my idea of a Utopian society), and more sidewalks, bike lanes, and ecoroofs! There is a lot you can do--in fact the city has a green team, which will hopefully lead to more efforts at the grassroots level and be useful in educating neighborhoods and increasing involvement from Portland residents (there are still way too many people who are not recycling the basics!). I'll keep you posted as I learn more--look for a blog post about Portland City Hall's front-lawn organic vegetable garden soon!

Climate Action Plan, Portland

Sunday, June 21, 2009
There will be several town hall meetings hosted at a variety of places around Portland in the coming weeks to discuss the Climate Action Plan 2009 to reduce local carbon emissions in the city of Portland by 80% by 2050. This draft for this 40-year plan will be discussed, and I'm sure will lead to interesting discussions. You can read the Draft Climate Action Plan 2009 here, and find a list of town hall meeting locations here.

Also, if you haven't heard of 350.org (the safe upper limit for Co2 in our atmosphere), their mission is to simply raise a sense of urgency and possibility for our planet about the climate crisis. On October 24th, the hope is the planet will stand together to call for a fair climate treaty. The treaty currently up for discussion amongst world leaders in Copenhagen, Denmark this December doesn't pass the 350 test. Check out this video 350.org has put together in hopes of sparking a grassroots movement. Share with anyone you can--we have very little time to turn this thing around. It's exciting that movements like this one might actually spark the action it takes to make it happen!

Things I'm Loving from the Blogosphere

Saturday, June 20, 2009
Okay, I think that just about does it for now. Oh, one more thing. If you haven't seen this clip from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, it's hilarious:

Julie & Julia

Friday, June 19, 2009
I'm looking forward to seeing this film sometime this summer:

Mess of Books

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I remember thinking I'd never see the day when Sam would stop pulling every book off the shelf, but then that day came and went, and it was some time later that I realized that he didn't do that anymore. But now we have Juniper. She will sit upstairs for an hour by herself and pull each book off the shelf, look at a couple of pictures, then toss it aside.

You'd think since she does this daily that it would be sufficient just to throw them into the bookcase randomly into disorderly piles, but no--she only enjoys pulling them from the shelf if they are organized. See those Magic Tree House boxed sets? If I take the time to put them back into their boxes, it means minutes of entertainment for Juniper. And so I sort these books daily and put them back, only to have them all pulled from the shelves again. Our CD collection works the same way. Oh, the joys of being a toddler.

Juniper's Monster Face

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Juniper's monster face is in high demand around here these days. Here she is, giving her best monster impression at 18 months (not recommended for those who frighten easily):

Cheapest Lead Testing in Portland

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Oregonian ran an article by Carrie Sturrock titled The dirt on testing soil for lead this past week that's worth checking out (thanks, Marnie, for letting me know about it!). Turns out Wyeast Laboratories is the cheapest in the area at $20.00 a zip-lock. You can take your own samples from various places in your yard, then drop them off for testing. Results showing lead levels in your soil doesn't mean you can't grow your own vegetables, but the where, what, and hows might change. Here's a segment from the Sturrock's article, which describes how one should grow fruits and vegetables depending on different lead level ranges:
Soil with lead at 50 parts per million (ppm) to 400 ppm has elevated levels from human activities, according to Dan Sullivan, an associate professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University.

At those levels, you can grow any vegetable but should limit children's exposure to the dust. Just wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

If the lead levels are between 400 ppm and 1,200 ppm, do not grow leafy vegetables or root crops, because they're much harder to wash. And if the levels exceed 1,200 ppm, then do your gardening in raised beds with clean soil.

Lead in garden soil doesn't have to be a showstopper, but in order to safely grow backyard edibles, it's essential to know where and how to safely do so based on the lead levels in your soil.


Up next? My father-in-law picked me up a new clothesline (still in its box!) at a garage sale last weekend, and I plan to get it up this weekend (with his help, hopefully). It'll require using a post-hole digger and mixing concrete (yikes!). I don't know how much laundry I'll get a chance to hang this summer with school starting up next week, but even if I can hang dry a few loads, it's better than none at all. Check back for a blog post on the clothesline sometime next week!

Monday Evening at Marshall Park

Monday, June 15, 2009

With the kids going to bed these days at 7PM, there isn't a lot of time in the evenings for activities after dinner. Tonight we made an attempt to take dinner to Marshall Park so the kids could play in Tryon Creek. On the way, Juniper practiced her monster face. Later this week, I'll post a video of this--really adorable!

Sam spent time stepping from stone to stone, something he is quite good at this (almost) summer.

Juni and I sat on an old stone bridge, watching Sam play in the creek below. We were only there an hour, but it was worth the effort to get out of the house and into the fresh air for a short amount of time before bed. If you don't know of Marshall Park, check it out sometime--it's a special place, and if you have time for a hike, you can hike into Tryon State Park from there, too.

Oh, and by the way--Juni picked out this outfit. She's very particular about what she wears. In fact, those new KEEN sandals in heliotrope were carefully selected (smile). If only I had the video to prove it!

Sam At Four

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I don't know if I mentioned yet how much I am enjoying Sam at four. He is thoughtful, curious, and inquisitive about everything, and I find I come up short on interesting answers more times than I'd like to his many questions. Despite his recent bee sting, he's still curious about bees. Landon took this photo of him this past week inspecting a honeybee on a salvia plant, which just recently bloomed and is constantly buzzing with honeybees.

Simple Pleasures

Friday, June 12, 2009

I was reading a blog post by Ez on Creature Comforts today about simple pleasures and I got to thinking about the simple pleasures in life. First of all, the fact that they are simple means you have to slow down enough to appreciate them. Secondly, there's the part about finding pleasure and seeing beauty in the mundane. Right now, it's the fresh plums in our fruit bowl and the first sip of my morning French-pressed coffee that are my simple pleasures. What are yours?

I can't talk about those first sips of morning coffee without remembering the old Folger's Coffee commercials. We all know Folger's didn't get much right in the way of good coffee (check out how weak the coffee looks in the commercials below), but their commercials fully captured those first sips of early morning coffee. Funny, but back then, "fresh-ground" and "mountain-grown" were the standards for good coffee. Just for fun, I thought I'd post a couple of my favorite Folger's coffee commercials from the 70's and 80's:

Why can't I wake up looking and feeling like this? Gotta love the blissful morning stretch.

Here's a funny Starbucks commercial:

E.E. Cummings on Spring

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spring is like a perhaps hand
by: E.E. Cummings


Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Beef and the Environment

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It wasn't long ago that I felt inspired by Sarah Gilbert's blog post about going car-free, and questioned whether or not I could give up our family car as she has done. Just this past week, I overheard a few guys at Grand Central Bakery discussing the percentage of their incomes that goes toward their cars (insurance, gas, car payment, maintenance, tickets, parking fees, etc.). We're actually seriously considering investing in a 2009 Subaru Outback in the coming weeks, and although I don't think we're ready at this point in our lives in this rainy state and with two kids to go car-free, it's an issue I consider to be a serious one and worth considering carefully (Portland's public transit and bike routes make this decision an easy one for many). I have a lot of respect and admiration for families like the Gilberts that have successfully been car-free for years.

Last weekend, Landon grilled up some veggies and steaks when we had his parents over for dinner, and I got to thinking about beef. Come to find out, cows are the 2nd major cause of global warming. Second. The first cause are powerhouses and the third are cars. Cows and the consumption of beef actually contribute to global warming more than all the cars we see on the roads. In Eating Beef More Destructive To Environment Than Driving a Car, researchers found that "The environmental footprint of producing just over two pounds of beef is greater than that of driving a car for three hours . . . " That's pretty much all it took for me to decide to give up beef. Giving up our car doesn't seem like an easy decision, though I would like to drive less, but when you realize that the two pounds of ground beef you just fried up for a taco dinner cost the planet the same as a three hour road trip, well, the decision to go beef-free, especially when there are so many other tasty alternatives, seems like an easy one. I'm not even a huge fan of red meat anyway, and although I crave a hamburger every once in awhile, I think I could easily transition to veggie burgers. I'm thinking I'm going to give up on pork as well (pigs are right up there with cows as big-time methane producers), though I'm not officially declaring myself pork-free just yet (bacon is just too good with eggs every once in awhile). And so I'm going to be a beef-free girl--I already have my Gardenburger patties in the freezer . . . step by step, I'm doing my part.

If you do eat beef, make sure you buy beef from grass-fed cows. This video is informative on the corn-fed vs. grass-fed issue:

Oh, and by the way, since we're talking about cows and all, check out Heather Smith Jones' moo pack--love her work! Her Etsy shop can be found here.

One Day's Work

Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Some days you realize there's a huge list of errands and chores to do and you decide then and there to attempt to get them all done at once instead of drag it out for a week or two or three. Here's what I did today:

1. Washed and removed stems & leaves from 18 cartons of strawberries (picked just yesterday at Kruger's on Sauvie Island!).
2. Dishes, breakfast, coffee.
3. Grocery list and menu planning.
4. Over to SE with kids to get Juni a new pair of shoes (the girl loves shoes and went crazy in the store, throwing tantrum after tantrum over more than one pair I wouldn't let her get--the girl is seriously channels Carrie Bradshaw, no joke).
5. Lunch with kids at Cha! Cha! Cha!
6. Coffee (indulging in treats makes days like today doable).
7. Les Schwab for new tires (over an hour wait!).
8. Target for a waterproof cover for Sam's mattress (the boy isn't night trained) and a few other non-food items.
9. Post office to mail off a bookmooch to the U.K.
10. Home. Stressful hour and a half where kids had melt-downs and everything felt chaotic, especially after getting some test results from some lab work I had done for a life insurance policy that has left me a little unsettled (I know, I know--probably nothing). Lots of whining and sibling rivalry, which shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.
11. Landon home. Head outside to get some serious yard work done.
12. Spend an hour edging--wanted to throw edger across the yard, but I managed to outsmart it somehow. Raked up many fallen twigs from recent storm last Thursday. Pulled more weeds than I want to count. Pruned. Trimmed. Fussed with edger. Mowed lawn with reel mower--takes forever, but hey, I'm not using any gasoline or electricity. Piled yard debris into compost bin and raked the surplus into neat piles.
13. Cleaned up, then ran to Fred Meyer for week's groceries.
14. Put groceries away.
15. Started another load of laundry. Decided to wait until tomorrow to clean living room (see picture #2 from yesterday's post) and fold couch full of laundry.
16. Sat down for the first time, but not a lot left to do for tomorrow other than maintain order and keep chaos to a minimum. After days like today, I try not to think about the night class I'm adding to my already busy life in two weeks. I have to admit, I'm actually feeling mostly happy about going back to school, but there are definitely moments after days like today where I feel a little nervous. Somehow, I know it will all work out in the end.

Juni's Messes

Monday, June 08, 2009

Shhh! The kids are soundly sleeping . . .

so it's time for a little housekeeping.

Within ten minutes, order is restored to the living room . . . until nap time reaches its end. Once awake with a fresh supply of energy, Juni quickly proceeds to make picture #3 look like picture #2 once again. For anyone wondering what my living room looks like when Juniper is awake, please see picture #2. For all other time frames, refer to picture #3.

Steve Martin on Banjo

Sunday, June 07, 2009
After seeing this clip of Steve Martin performing "The Crow" on Letterman, I ordered his new CD The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. Nothing quite grabs this girl like old-time banjo music! Speaking of good banjo, Jason Homey was tearing it up last night at the Doug Fir. The Clumsy Lovers' new CD is called Make Yourself Known--check it out! But back to "The Crow"--this song is also on Tony Trischka's 2007 album Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular.

Sam Graduates from 2nd Year of Preschool

Saturday, June 06, 2009
One more year of preschool and Sam will be in Kindergarten! He's growing up so quickly and changing every day. Congratulations on completing your second year of preschool, Sam!

Sam with his best preschool friend of two years, Garrett.

Green Cleaner for Wooden Furniture

Friday, June 05, 2009

Trader Giotto's Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the cheapest around, and now I use it to polish the wooden furniture in this old house, thanks to a tip from one of my new favorite magazines, Ready Made: Instructions For Everyday Life (thanks for the subscription, Heather!). It just takes a small dab on a clean cloth, and you can even alter the scent by mixing it in a separate container with lemon juice (2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice).

Here are some other ideas for green cleaning solutions for wooden furniture from Green and Clean:

1) This polish should to be made fresh each time you use it.
1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon water
Extract the juice from the lemon. Mix with oil and water.
Apply a thin coat on your wood surface and let sit for five minutes. Use a soft cloth to buff to a deep shine.
2) Use 3 parts light mineral oil and 1 part olive oil and a drop of lemon juice.
3) Use a little olive or lemon oil and some beeswax.
4) Hide wood scratches by rubbing with the meat of a walnut.
5) Use a soft cloth and wipe with a bit of mayonnaise.
6) Rub furniture with a cloth dipped in cool tea.
7) Mix 2 parts olive oil with 1 part lemon juice. Apply mixture to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe it dry.
8) 1/8 cup linseed oil, 1/8 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Mix ingredients, using soft cloth, rub into wood.
9) To remove water stains on wood furniture, dab white toothpaste onto stain. Allow the paste to dry and then gently buff off with a soft cloth.

Orange. Algue. Strawberries.

Thursday, June 04, 2009
Here are a few things I found in the blogosphere this week that I found to be particularly interesting:
Dreamy blue-green Hamptons bedroom: Benjamin Moore's 'Spring Mint' + white trim
Orange is making a comeback. How retro. I have to admit, I cringed a little when I noticed Fred Meyer's recent use of orange on their newly remodeled Hawthorne store; I cringed because orange is a color I still believe to be so 1970's . . . until I saw it paired with these colors on sfgirlbybay's Summer Lovin' post. Brilliant.

Cup and Table
is loving her algue--check out her post "i love my algue." Of course, I'd prefer some sort of air plant that grows in a similar shape for my walls, an ascetically pleasing vertical garden instead of the plastic version. Having said that, I have to admit, plastic or no, that I love the look and appreciate the design.

Speaking of design, Design Crush did a post today on the strawberry-basil mojito. I'm a long-time mojito fan, and it's strawberry season, so this is looking pretty darn good to me right about now, especially with all the hot weather we've been having! Check out the recipe and maybe I'll see you at the local liquor store tomorrow afternoon for supplies? Better yet--maybe I'll see you out on Sauvie Island at Kruger's this weekend in their strawberry patches. By the way, don't forget about Kruger's annual Berry Jam Father's Day weekend--should be loads of fun.

Life Lessons from Bees

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

First bee sting in July, 2007, 2 years old.
Once again, the garden is buzzing with bees of all shapes and sizes. From the time Sam's been a small boy, I've told him bees are for looking at and will always sting if touched or provoked. I was slightly amused by Sam tonight, who wanted to test what he'd always heard about bumblebees by reaching out to hold one, believing that maybe this bumblebee was nice and would just crawl around on his skin like all the other insects he's become obsessed with holding, only to be stung in the center of his palm. He was cupping it in his palms, after all. I wasn't there when it happened, but according to Landon, he came up to him with a quivering chin and said, "Daddy, I got stung by a bumblebee, but I'm going to be brave, and I'm not going to cry . . . " He then proceeded to burst into tears.

Life lesson learned--some things in life will always sting, and that's just the way it is.

Recut Trailers

Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I've been spending way too much time tonight watching recut trailers on youtube. Here are a few of my favorites:
Dumb and Dumber, meet Lurk and Lurker:

Silence of the Lambs--a heartwarming film classic!

Office Space or slasher/horror flick?

Sleepless in Seattle becomes the next Fatal Attraction?

And finally, Shawshank Redemption as a romantic drama:

Au Revoir Simone

Monday, June 01, 2009
Happy June 1st! Summer and all it brings is only three weeks away (though we've been fortunate enough to get an early preview of summer weather this past week)!

If you haven't heard the dreamy, sleepy-time music of Au Revoir Simone, you must check out their new CD Still Night, Still Light (2009). It's their third album, and from what I've read, it's their best. I just received my copy in the mail, and I love their sound. Here's a sample of track "Another Likely Story" from their new album:

And speaking of new albums--check out Around the Well, Iron and Wine's newest album. It's sooo good.
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