To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In three short weeks...

The days will start getting longer again. Thank goodness because it's getting real dark, real early and I feel like I'm in hibernation mode. It's a struggle to stay awake when I get home from work because my body is telling me it's time to sleep, but my mind knows it's only 5:30. Shoot, even the little puff balls (Sparrows) are curled up and sleeping under the awning when I get home. It's crazy!

Okay, I know I can't really sleep the days away, but I can slip into my pajamas and enjoy the quiet and comfort of home, and that feels pretty luxurious. I have plenty of projects to keep me occupied and I continually look for little moments to bring joy and brightness to my evenings. And I keep reminding myself that without the shortened days I wouldn't get to see the stunning blooms from the Christmas cactus. Tell me this wouldn't brighten up even the gloomiest day. Dang these are gorgeous!

I do spend a fair amount of time in my office working on sewing or scrapbooking or knitting projects. Or painting, or felting, or writing, or reading, get the idea. The picture below is a recent repurposed project from the leg of pajama pants. It has now become a bag to hold all my cookie cutters. Crazy easy and required just a little bit of imagination to make it something useful. I've got several more projects in the works, but not yet finished. Soon. 

This is another of the few good things about the shortened days. This is a sunrise and they're much easier to see when the sun doesn't come up until nearly 8 a.m. I went outside to put the recycling in the bin and saw this through the houses in the backyard. Just beautiful. I couldn't enjoy it for long because I was shivvering in my pajamas. You know, the ones I put on last night nearly the moment I walked in the door, just after feeding the cat. ~grins~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spur of the moment


5 p.m. - B and I are at a birthday party for the delightful Miss M. It's winding down. One moment B and I are discussing where we want to go for a sunrise paddle tomorrow and the next we're planting hurried kisses as we bid goodbye to our loved ones. We have a plan and not surprisingly, none of my family thinks it odd.

7 p.m. - Upon leaving the party, we quickly hit B's house to get his boat, the storage unit to get sleeping bags and minimal gear, my house to get my boat and now we're on the road heading North

9 p.m. - We've just pulled into a campground and are marveling at the number of stars in the sky. We'll sleep in the woods tonight, get up early and slip into the water for the sunrise. I tell you it was a brilliant idea.

Peaceful...calm...beautiful. This is why we paddle.

Here it comes...

Reflections are stunning on this river/pond. It's the backwater between 2 dams and we've paddled here several times.

See? Beautiful. Those ripples on the water are from B's canoe having just passed by.

We paddle upriver, slowly, enjoying the morning and the quiet. We spy swans on the other side of an island. B goes to the right to get pictures and I swing around to the left to drive them toward B. But wait! What's this? Incredible! I have the honor of witnessing an adult Bald Eagle teaching a Mudhead (immature eagle) to fish. I forget about B because I'm too busy watching this training and snapping pictures. Seriously, how many people actually get to witness this?

I did eventually turn back to the swans. Five of them and they do as expected when caught between the two of us. B has wonderful pictures of them taking flight, but I was watching and grinning. Goodness, they are regal. Two Mute Swans and three Trumpeters, most likely on their way South for the winter. B noticed one of the Trumpeters was tagged so after reporting where it was sighted, we discovered the swan had been tagged in 1999. That's pretty cool.

Sometimes the reflections are just darned funny. Looks like crazy hair and mega-teeth.

See this? This, is snow, and I'm telling you it's the coolest thing ever! Yes, I love snow and I was thrilled to find it in the woods. That means it's only a short while before we get a good snowfall around here. Bring it!

So, anything exciting happen to you lately?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A 'packpack'.

The ever delightful Miss M is having a birthday soon and you know a Grandma gift is in order. It has to be the handmade, heartfelt type since I rebel against gifts of toys. The idea came together as a compilation of repurposed items and a bookmarked idea on Astrid's blog. And because I think it's way cool Miss M says packpack instead of backpack. hehehe....I'm just giddy with love for this!

The owl applique comes from a shirt she outgrew, but it was too cute to let go of. I know, I wrecked the shirt, but now she/we can enjoy her owl for many years. The fabric for the outside and the lining are both thrifted and repurposed and they go so well with the cute little applique. The color on the top photo is a little off due to the early morning lighting in spite of the fact that I used all of my lighting knowledge to get the best shot I could. It's tough, man. The next photo of the back is more accurate for colors.

Perks: an outside pocket, a drawstring closure and a magnetic clasp not to mention the cute factor.  Overall, I would say this was fairly easy, but not for a beginning sewer, mainly because it's an interpretation of a Japanese pattern and that always requires one to use their own knowledge of 'what's next'. Still, I thought the directions were pretty straightforward. However, you must remember that the pattern sizes are in cm and NOT in inches or you'll end up with a couple really big pieces. Trust me on that one.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mmph, Crunch, Mmmm...

Oh, sorry, I was eating and didn't see you there. Want some? Yes, you do, you really do.

Five easy ingredients, mixed, roasted, cooled, devoured. The love for this is unanimous and it has instantly become the new family favorite.

May I please introduce you to:

Cranberry Crunch
1 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 c whole almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
3 T maple syrup
1 c dried cranberries

Mix together pepitas, almonds and sunflower seeds. Toss with maple syrup. Bake 300 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Let cool and toss with dried cranberries.

To be fair, I got the original recipe from here and as you will see, I've adapted it just slightly. This is on the list to be given as Christmas gifts this year. Try it. I know you'll love it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some munching to do.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You must be kidding me!

See that....thing....below? Uh, that's a squash. No, it is not a gourd. It is an honest to goodness squash. A Cashew Squash, to be exact. Yeah, and that jug it's leaning on? Yep, that's a gallon jug of baking honey just to give you an idea of how big this beast was. I admit, I was intimidated by this baby and it sat on my kitchen counter, taunting me, mocking me for 3 weeks. I can't tell you the number of times I heard, "what is that?" when people came to visit. I began to refer to it as my nemesis.

But I'm a determined soul, if nothing else, and this weekend, after finally tiring of the relentless mocking, I fetched my biggest knife and chopped her up into pieces (in honor of Halloween?). It wasn't easy because even my biggest knife wasn't really big enough. I think a chain saw would have been in order. It took two loads in the oven to get it all roasted, but now my freezer is chock full of delicious Cashew Squash. It's much milder than I thought it would be, but still delicious. Squash Quinoa Soup anyone?

Squash Quinoa Soup

2-4 cups cooked squash ( like my soup thicker so I add the full 4 c)
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 c Quinoa, well rinsed
4 c vegetable broth
1/4 t red pepper powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In large pot, saute onion in oil about 5 minutes, until transparent. Add minced garlic and saute for just a moment until you start to smell the garlic. Add Quinoa and squash and saute 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth, red pepper powder, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Notes: You can use any squash you prefer and the monster squash is not necessary, but it was fun. I added the red pepper because this particular squash is very mild, but I think I'll try it this way with butternut squash too.