Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Truman's First Pet

Randomly last year, I kicked over a small log in our yard only to find a beautiful salamander. Since then, I continually kick over small logs in the hopes of finding a little critter to show Truman. He has been watching me, and he is now also on the hunt for critters. He moves leaf litter to look for beetles, digs in the dirt to find worms, and spots spider webs on the side of the house. He found an inch worm last week and he was ecstatic.

Two days ago when he found a larvae inside a rotting log, my first thought was, "gross." My second thought was, "Can we keep him?" We built a little habitat for him a jar, poked some holes in the lid, and we plan to watch him metamorphasize. The naturalists at my work think it is eaither a slug or a beetle. I am hoping for a beetle because that will be a more dramatic transformation.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tortilla recipe

I really love to make different foods from scratch. Like a lot of people, I am caught up in the DIY movement. I have tried a lot of things that have been good and some have been a waste of time:

  • Ketchup: Totally worth the effort
  • Yogurt: I used a great recipe that didn't require any special equipment OR a thermometer, but yogurt is so cheap so I always felt like I was investing a lot of time for little savings.
  • Graham crackers: Not worth the time. Make some cookies for God's sakes.
  •  Fruit roll ups: An absolute favorite. I typically make them whenever I am trying to impress another mama (oh, goldfish? no thanks, we have some homemade fruit roll ups we made with strawberries from our CSA)
  • Bread: Worth it, but I never mastered it and I don't really have the time.
  • Enchilada sauce: Amazing. So worth it and very easy. Let me know if you want my recipe.
  • Mayonnaise: I have had mixed results. But it is so much better than store-bought. It doesn’t always work for me. The temp of the ingredients and the amount of patience one has for pouring the oil make the difference between perfect lemon-garlic aioli and an oily mess.
The one recipe that has changed my life is homemade tortillas:

The recipe is very basic:

2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 cups of whole wheat flour
10 T Butter at room temperature
1 T Baking Powder
1.5 tsp Sugar
1.5 C water

Cut the butter into the flour. Don't be lazy and use cold butter, it won't work.
Add the remaining ingredients
I mix it with a wooden spoon for a few minutes and then just turn it over on the counter and mix it with my hands/knead it until it is well combined
Let it sit covered on the counter for an hour or two
Roll it into little balls, about the size of a satsuma
Flour the counter and roll out each ball

Add oil to coat the bottom of a pan. Turn heat to medium. Cook until bubbles appear and then flip it and brown the other side. I typically have to add oil after every two tortillas.

This recipe makes about 24 tortillas.

Add a little salt. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: Ice Bear by Steven Kazlowski

Ice Bear. Graaaaarrrr.

I love this book. It is mostly pictures about big bears that live on the ice. They hunt seals, wrestle in the snow, and swim in the freezing water. This is a family favorite and mom and dad are happy when I reach for it. "Stunning" my mom always says. "Let's go to Alaska" my dad always says.

My friend Leon gave me this book for Christmas. His dad, Steve is the photographer and author. If you want to hear him speak, he will be at IslandWood in a few weeks:

Thanks, Leon!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My little bird watcher

Truman is very interested in birds and wildlife right now. He is especially into "huntin' coons" (looking for raccoons) and learning the names of the different bird species that are in our yard (lately: thrushes, juncos, wrens, humming birds, chickadees, and sometimes a towee or two).

Welcome spring!

Full moon fire!

Beers. Friends. Bonfire.

Happy 36th Mr. Shutt!

Inspiring teachers

If you read the news and are paying attention, you know that there is a lot of bad news about public schools. In Washington, we like to balance the budget on the backs of schoolchildren and it is depressing.

I have to remind myself that our schools are not dismal places. That really amazing people are teaching kids, and that public schools can inspire young minds.

When I stop by Jason’s class – the kids are filled with life. They are always out of their seats. They use these amazing tools – clickers and probes and computers – to learn physical science.

I was glad when the Bainbridge Schools Foundation asked Jason if they could feature him (and three other teachers) in a short documentary about teaching in our community.

If you don’t have eight minutes to watch, he is at 1:55 and 4:08


Monday, March 5, 2012

The cutest things you do

Dear Truman,

You have started calling yourself "Dodie". You can't quite pronounce Truman, so Dodie has become the name you use. It melts my heart. Multiple times each day I hear you saying, "Daddy, mommy, doggy, dodie." You always have the biggest grin when I tell you, "Mama loves dodie."

You also love to play a game called "Big Baby". After tubby time, you always shout "BABY" as you climb out of the bath. I wrap you in a towel, you fake cry, and I carry you to daddy for snuggles. This weekend you wanted to spend some time in your beautiful cradle playing Big Baby. Your daddy thinks I might be creating a monster by encouraging this game, but I think it is just so sweet. You are not much of a snuggler or cuddler, so Big Baby is mama's chance to smother you, rock you, and feel your heartbeat next to mine.

Tonight you wanted us all to pretend we were baby lambs. And when I put you to bed you patted your chest and said, "Dodie, lamb".

You are world famous for your hugs. People always comment on how enthusiastically you will wrap your arms around their neck and give them a warm squeeze. You are also very loving to cats and dogs, always petting them so gently and trying to sneak in a little hug if they will allow it.

When I put you to bed at night we always say goodnight to all the animals in our yard. Goodnight owls. Goodnight thrushes. Goodnight worms. Goodnight voles. Goodnight salamanders. This little routine is our special way of getting ready for sleep and it always seems to make you happy and settled to think that your animal buddies are snuggling up in their nests at the same time as you.

Goodnight Dodie. You are a precious gift.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Missing the farm

We stopped by Seabold farm this week. The farm where we lived for 3.5 years.
It is a special place to me and I have been thinking about it a lot lately. We lived in a tiny apartment and spent most of our evenings and weekends outside, admiring the view while we repaired fences, weeded the garden, and collected eggs. We learned how to press cider. Make honey. Prune apple trees.
It is also the place where we lived when Truman was born.

When we moved to our current house—the house surrounded by giant cedar and fir trees—we were thankful for the respite from the farm. We were tired of all the additional work.

This year, as winter moves into spring, I am really missing the farm. I miss getting my hands dirty and making farm-to-table meals. I miss the sunshine. And I really miss the lambs. Their promise of spring. The taste of meat that you know was treated humanely and killed with great respect.

I heard the current caretaker of the farm is moving on and I admit that I spent several days scheming. We could rent out our house and move back! We could live in 500 feet again! Spending every Saturday in the garden and orchard is not a bad way to live! I could talk Jason into it!

 Ah. The grass is always greener. It is so easy to forget the gifts of the present moment. So once again, I am reminding myself of today’s gifts: Giant cedar trees. Dozens of Thrushes in the yard. An owl and a coyote. Salamanders mating in the pond. A mossy, muddy yard that requires very little attention. A gravel driveway, filled with potholes that we can’t or won’t repair, but that make perfect puddles for Truman. Saturdays that allow for relaxing and traveling.

And beautiful memories of our farming adventure. Stories to tell my grandchildren when I am old and gray. A chapter of a live well lived.