Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Posting, snow, etc.

I've decided that I'm an every-other-day kind of blog poster. Trying to find the time or the insight to blog every day, even for a month, is too taxing to me right now. Maybe once I get the hang of it, I'll be able to whip out intelligent, insightful posts every day. Until then....

Snow is in the forecast again tonight, although they can't come to a consensus as to where or when or how much snow we'll get. I bought some onions as a charm to work against the snow. It only snows when I'm not prepared and am low on milk or something. Maybe I should've bought more eggs....

If you haven't figured it out already, Western Washington is not used to snow and ice. It really is a mess, cancelling school, closing roads, and tying up traffic for hours. We don't get enough snow here to neccessitate large numbers of plows, so unless you live on a main road, you're SOL. Ergo, snow, when it happens, is a huge deal.

On Monday night, it started snowing in earnest. I called Mr. E, letting him know that the forecast models said we were supposed to get 3" of snow. He said "Let me know when it's 32". At 33.3 and dropping, I called again, and he headed home. Fortunately or unfortunately, it stopped before it got to 32, so he had no problems, but just the same.... This is our snow dance.

I do love it when it snows (and I'm prepared!). Hot cocoa, a fire in the woodstove, goulash soup and crusty bread, snowmen, wool sweaters, and Mr. E, "snowed in", sledding on a nearby hill, everyone (with kids) out enjoying another taste of childhood, recalling the huge snows of '70 or '85. (Yeah, I'm a local.)

Next time, my bread recipe!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Winter is in the air! Not quite on the ground yet, though. It snowed heavily for a few hours today. Enough to cover the grass in white, but not enough to stick to the paved surfaces.

The mountains are expected to get over a foot of snow tonight. The boys are itching to go skiing. They'll need to wait a little while longer, though.

With Thanksgiving so early, I have yet to get into the "ho" spirit. The snow helps a little. Usually I have the house all decorated and the lights up the day after turkey-day, but I'm only a third the way there, and we're having a party on Saturday....

I made Impossible Beef Enchilada Pie tonight. Got down to the last ingredient - dang, no baking mix. So I found this one online. Darned if it doesn't work better than the store-bought stuff! No more buying baking mix! Even buying a small box, it goes bad before I've finished with it. I made a quarter batch of the homemade stuff. Yea!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

Bad poetry, but you've been warned....

My First Bird

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
I've ne'er made one before.
I'm really kind of nervous.
It seems like quite a chore.

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
O'er recipe books I pour.
My bird's a thirteen pounder.
I hope I don't need more.

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
I hope it turns out good.
And not like a rubber chicken.
Or tough like a hunk of wood

It's my first Thanksgiving turkey.
What more can I say?
Than think of me in the kitchen....
Have a happy holiday!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Light and Dark

It's a dark, damp, dank, dreary day. It was so dark at 3pm, I almost turned on the outside lights. It never got above 40 degrees, and rained intermittantly. Thunder rumbled, and hail, well, hailed.

After reading Simple Living's post on white space, I decided that it was time to declutter. I'm realizing how much stuff is slowing me down.

It's so much faster making lunches in the morning if there is counter space available. How much time is wasted looking for a place for this or that? How much time is wasted dusting things, and around things? How much time do I waste searching amongst stuff, trying to find the item I need?

So in the spirit of Flylady, I did five 27-fling boogies. And although not totally cleaned up, the lack of so much stuff makes me feel calmer. Flat surfaces free of stuff definitely bring down my blood pressure. I don't feel all the guilt of having it there in the first place. No embarassing messes. Anyone could walk in at any time. La! What an ideal! Okay, I'm not there yet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I have given up on my search for a heritage turkey for this year. I have found some non-organic, locally grown ones, however, so that'll have to do. The only ones I can find are fresh ones, so I'll have to wait until Tuesday to get my bird. I'll brine her on Wednesday, along with making the pies, starting the rolls, and making more detailed lists.

I am totally scatterbrained, which is not unusual, but this cold makes me more so. Even with a shopping list, I forgot half the stuff I went to the store for today. I kept getting sidetracked - OH! what gorgeous leeks! I must have a couple! Even though I have no idea what I'll use them for. Need potatoes for potato leek soup. Can't think of what else goes into it, though. Huge crowds didn't help at all.

Even at home, I can't seem to remember the most basic things. The boys' coats have mud all over them, and I've only now thrown them in the wash. Thing 1's hood needs to be sewn on as well. So much for an early night. I'll be knitting and watching Persuasion for a while....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Comments Anyone?

I had to delete a comment today. I'm not terribly sure what it said, as it was written in what I believe to be Portugese. English I can handle, although some words in The Queen's English and Australian English cause me to run for the dictionary (or Google). I took French in school, and have access to German translation. Spanish, if it's basic, I can sometimes muddle through, given its resemblance to French.

Other than that, folks, if I can't read it, I delete it.

Sorry to the poster if it was legit.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ecos Laundry Detergent

I just switched to ECOS Laundry Detergent today. I used Tide before, and had to use Tide Cold Water for anything washed in cold water during the winter. Powdered Tide simply won't dissolve in our frigid winter water temps.

My friend, M, usually gets all my boys' hand-me-down clothes, and she commented that she can always tell who the clothes come from because of the strong scent that Tide uses. I'd prefer no scent at all, but my local Costco doesn't carry Tide Free.

Trying to wean myself off oil as much as possible, I decided to try ECOS. It's vegetable based. I must admit, I was sceptical about how well it would work. It's a very thick liquid, and you use only 1/4 cup per load. More concentrated = less packaging. I like that.

I've run a few loads today, and everything has come out clean, and with no scent at all, even though it says it's "magnolia and lily" scented (granted, I do have a cold, but it's not that bad). I didn't have anything with stains on it in the load, or any mud-caked jeans or socks, though. I usually have a tough time with towels. They generally have an unclean smell to them, even though I wash them on hot and dump lots of borax or other laundry booster in with them. I detected none of that this time, and I didn't add anything extra.

So, so far, so good. Maybe now M won't know who the clothes came from.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Ugh. Sick. Brain non-functioning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Virus


There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand. This virus is called Weary-Overload-Recreational-Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your personal life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK, immediately take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work-Isolating-Neutralizer-Extract (WINE) or Bothersome-Employer-Elimination-Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I'm not doing so well at NaBloPoMo. Had lots on my mind the last few days, and instead of posting, or at least being generally productive, I've been pacing, researching stuff online, and basically procrastinating and being useless. I promise a better post tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Wind

After a weekend that seemed very chilly, since I was outside freezing my (insert body part here) off watching the boys' soccer games, it sounds like we're in for another wind storm. Depending on who you listen to, we're in for gusts somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60mph tomorrow.

So we'll be hunkered down, reading, knitting (me), playing games, watching the leaves fly about, what have you, since the boys are off school. I was thinking about taking them to the movies, but there's nothing good out right now. All the kids' movies are "rotten" according to my favorite movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes.

The snow level is dropping like a rock, and while it won't be snowing here, it will be definitely colder. Highs that had been in the 50s, will only get to the 40s. Lows will get closer to the snowflake mark, and we'll be watching for "lumpy rain".

Hold on to your hats, Northwesterners! Here comes round 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Oh, deer!

Deer and cars do not mix. They have a tendency to do damage to one another, and should be kept strictly separated.

I was on my way to pick up the boys from school, minding my own business, hands at ten and two, eyes on the road, when all of a sudden...

WHAM! And I see a deer's head, right there in the side window next to me. AAAAGGGH! Where did it come from? Where did it go?

There was no body, so I assume it was all right, though probably a bit worse for wear. It just darted into the road from tall bushes, right into the side of my car. My mirror was shorn off, although there was no other body damage to the car. I pulled over to check for a body, and to pick up the pieces of my mirror. Some twit coming the other way honked at me - okay, can you see that my car is damaged, and that I'm picking up car parts in the other lane? Apparently not.

So today's fun and games have so far included a massive online search for a new mirror (none found), and will continue with calling places to fix my mirror. Unfortunately it was a hit-and-run accident. I'm sure the deer didn't have insurance. If I see it again, I'll cite it for failure to yield right-of-way, improper lane travel, leaving the scene of an accident....

In happier news, our electricity usage was down 11% over the same time last year. Yea!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Using less water

Not sure how we managed it, but we used 30% less water during Sept/October than we did the year previous. Wooo-hoo! I'm sure the wet months helped - I didn't need to irrigate the garden. Still, that's quite a bit of water saved. Good job, family!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


One of my favorite fall foods is beef stew. I make it in the crock pot; it's the only thing I make in the crock pot.

Soups and stews are great, since it's the only way I can get Thing 1 to eat a vegetable. I tuck all manner of things in there, and he never knows what goes into him. Obviously he can tell peas and carrots, but he'd never eat a parsnip or a turnip if he could help it. Tonight's stew only had potatoes, carrots, and peas from the garden. I didn't put anything too wild in it.

We made Alton Brown's Southern Biscuits, which were pretty darn good. His recipe calls for a lot more baking powder and a lot less butter than mine. I tried out his method of using one's fingers to cut in the butter and shortening, and although messy, it worked well. You are able to feel any large chunks and smoosh them, whereas with a pastry cutter, you'd never feel them. I think a food processor would work well, so long as you didn't overprocess and heat up the butter and shortening.

That's all for today. I've been cleaning my mess room (computer/craft room), and have a headache, probably from all the dust! However, the room is much cleaner, and I should have it completed tomorrow, all ready for the Christmas rush.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I noticed yesterday that gas was up over $3 a gallon again. With soccer winding down, I'm thinking conservation again.

Being that we're a way from anywhere (Clif Bar's 2 Mile Challenge will get me precisely nowhere), it's almost necessary to drive for anything. I try to park in one place once I get there and walk to the different stores for my shopping. I drive in one direction for any "big box" shopping kept to one day a week, the library, grocery store and small-shop shopping, which is in the other direction, on another. Hopefully I keep my car in the garage for the other 5 days.

Thing 2 wants to start riding bikes to the store. I've thought about this in the past, and have even picked out a bike trailer to haul the stuff. But I'm pathetically out of shape, and our area is very hilly. I used to ride all over the place in my younger days, and I'd enjoy riding again. Heaven knows I need the exercise, but....

The roads we live on are heavily travelled by huge trucks that don't give a hoot if you're on the road or not. They frequently cross over the center line as you're coming at them in the other direction (in a car, I mean). There are several blind corners, and Mr. E is terrified that I'll die, and has strictly forbidden Thing 2 from riding on the road. Lots of bicyclists travel around here - it's very pretty - and I haven't heard of anyone killed or injured. I checked the local papers online, and even the big papers, and can't find anything for this area. Of course, even if a house burns down around here, it doesn't make the news.

Mr. E's answer is to drive our bikes down to the trails, and ride from there. Which is fine for a ride, but Thing 2's purpose (and mine) is to ditch the car in the first place. Get your exercise in while doing the shopping.

I guess I'll need to actually ride a bit before I start worrying about shopping on bike. Until then, I'll fork over the money for gas, and keep my shopping trips to a minimum.

If anybody knows what happened to Path to Freedom, could you please drop me a line? I haven't been able to view their website for days.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Gardening in November

Ooooohhh. Do I ache.

Today was one of those rare (for November), partly cloudy, warm-enough-to-get-by-with-just-a-sweatshirt days. So I spent four hours putting about in the garden. Which means I:

1. Planted the rest of the garlic, bringing me to a total of 80 heads.

2. Cleared one of my 100 sq ft veggie beds of weeds. You could barely see the broccoli, and the shorter spinach was completely lost.

3. Dug up some of the horseradish.

4. Cut down the crocosmia, black-eyed-susans, penstemon, and some other plants for the winter.

Monday and Tuesday are also supposed to be nice, so I'll head out in the afternoons to deal with the yard.

Until then, my bath (loaded with bath salts) awaits....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Baking Day

Today was baking day. Thing 2 and I managed four dozen chocolate chip cookies, a dozen blueberry muffins, and a loaf of light wheat bread before lunch.

The chocolate chip cookies were Toll House ones (no nuts). Usually I do the pan variety, since it's so much faster, but today Thing 2 gave me his best pathetic Puss-in-Boots-in-Shrek II look and asked "Could we please make circle cookies?" Apparently they just don't taste the same. Which, come to think of it, they don't. "Circle" cookies are much crisper. I guess I prefer chewy.

During baking time, I got to explain all the reasons why you do this and that. Like why you use frozen blueberries, and not thawed (they don't explode as much). Or why you have to be careful how much you stir the batter (the muffins won't rise as much). And what the difference is between baking powder and baking soda.

I never got any of that when I was a kid. Almost everything came from a boxed mix. Which was fine. My mom isn't into baking from scratch; I am. So every chance I get, I like to learn about the reasons or the chemistry behind cooking techniques or recipes.

I taught myself how to make bread. It's been a long journey. One of the first batches I made, I made a quick run to the store while it was baking. When I returned home, I found out that the thermostat in the oven went wacko, and the bread was horribly burned. Black, really. I tossed the smouldering rocks on the back porch and forgot about them overnight. The next morning, I looked out the door to find a squirrel's rear end poking out of the loaf. He ate his way into the center, and was cleaning it out from the inside. A most bizarre sight to be sure.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice was my epiphany. I finally understood what dough should feel like. I had been adding way too much flour, and was rewarded with very dense bread. Although I have never achieved "windowpane", my breads are now light and tasty. And aside from cracking the window on the oven while trying to spray water on a baking loaf, I haven't had any disasters. Sourdough is my next hurdle.

I'm looking forward to my next baking day with Thing 2. He shows the same curiosity about food preparation that I did when I was his age. I hope I am showing him a no-fear, box-free path to baking.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Brrrrr. Woke up to 23.7 degrees. Anything that's not perennial is definitely dead now. The boys bundled themselves up complete with stocking hats and their heavy ski gloves before facing the elements at the bus stop.

Thing 2 is all excited. We're spending a good part of tomorrow baking. Chocolate chip cookies and one or two kinds of bread are on the list of things he wants to make. We're on our last loaf of white sandwich bread, and we could use some light wheat or whole wheat bread as well. I'd like to try out these Holiday Rolls too, as I think they would go very well with the turkey for Thanksgiving. I want to try them first rather than make them for the first time on T-day.

Forgive me for such a lame post. All I can say is I was attacked by a dementor today. Mr. E brought me a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard, which, although it wasn't chocolate, helped a little. Frankly, it was damn good. But all I can think of doing is crawling in bed with Sense and Sensibility, which I'm reading for only the fourth time.

Better and brighter tomorrow.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

National Blog Posting Month... But wait! There's more!

It's National Blog Posting Month! For those not in the know, it's an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month, where you're supposed to write an entire novel in a month. Being the novel reading type, not the writing kind, I decided to jump on this instead. All I'm supposed to do is write an entry a day. Much easier.

So if you haven't seen it, the latest in fast food, pancakes in a can, the Batter Blaster. How this can be labeled as organic is beyond me, especially since I'm certain that the propellant cannot possibly be so. You have to watch the demo. No. Really. You do.

So is this really such a time saver? I can whip up a batch of pancakes in the two or three minutes it takes the skillet to heat up, and while you're waiting for the pancakes to cook, do the dishes, already. I just throw them in the dishwasher anyway. A bowl, a liquid measuring cup, a dry measuring cup, a set of measuring spoons, and a batter spoon, and a small bowl to melt butter in. Wow. Tons of dishes to do. Heck, make up a huge batch on the weekend, stick the leftovers in the fridge, and nuke them for a few seconds. Even faster and they really taste just fine. Promise.

I wonder what the markup on something like that is. Not worth the money, in my opinion.

Thankfully, no store in my area carries it. Yet.

Ah, yes. Yesterday was Halloween. One of my fave holidays. When else do I get to dress up as the Slightly Wicked Witch of the Northwest (hiking boots, jeans, plaid flannel shirt, Gore-tex raincoat, and hat) and sneak candy bars? Especially Reese's peanut butter cups? I'm turning into a pumpkin....

Speaking of pumpkins, I rather like how my jack-o-lantern turned out, although it took WAAAAAAAYYYYY too long:

And this is of some of the maples in our yard a couple weeks ago, that I've been meaning to put up here, but haven't found the opportunity: