Thursday, August 27, 2009

Last Weekend

The blacksmith at the Heritage Museum made this in front of us and gave it to us to take home.
All three kids wanted a closer look at the various items in the Chinese Herbal Medicine Shop!
Beck and Chris in evening light.
Me and the boys out in the field.
Running in the field.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Easel Painting

Go on over to The Organic Learning Project for photos of the boys painting on the new easel that Chris built. And if you've been following our basement fireplace project, you can have a peek at the final result in the background!

Summer Weekend

We just got back last night from a long weekend spent at the cabin. And thanks to our nexus passes we were able to bypass the typical 3 hour summer wait lines and cruise right into Canada for some fun day trips. This time we visited a living history museum in Burnaby which was surprisingly un-crowded, spent a day walking on Blackie Spit where we got some nice sightings of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers hammering away on an old snag and soaked up some street music with a side of fries in White Rock. We were lucky to have perfect, balmy summer weather. The kids were happy, we were relaxed. It was lovely all around.

Of course, the day I spent getting organized and packing for the weekend almost killed me. All in a day I:

1. Put in 3 loads of laundy and folded 5
2. Baked bread
3. Opened all the mail and paid bills
4. Sewed 3 bibs with snaps (used the Amy Karol pattern in Bend the Rules Sewing - which I highly recommend!)
5. Packed for myself and 3 kids
6. Made a big batch of macaroni salad
7. Took care of the kids!

Hopefully tonight we'll get some photos of our adventures up here. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In the Pool

Suddenly it's the middle of August and summer just keeps marching by. Last week it was so incredibly hot we literally spent 5 whole days in my parents' pool. One day I realized we'd been in the pool for 6 hours straight and by the end of 5 days of this, I started to feel a little antsy. This week it's been unseasonably cool.

Yogi's new Playmobile nautical set was a big hit for underwater play.

Ember became very confident in the water and kept trying to swim on her own. She was jumping in, pushing off the edge, going under all the time, and happy and giggling the whole time.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Have you noticed the price of bread lately? We used to buy wonderful sandwich bread at our local bakery, but recently they've raised their prices to $5.50 + tax per loaf and it just kills me to pay that much. So, I talked to my sister who bakes all her own bread and consulted with an old friend who also does it, and they pointed me to this SUPER EASY NO FAIL bread recipe. I've done it several times now and have had 100% success. In fact, it's almost too successful because when I take it out of the oven in the evening and it's sitting there in all it's warm crusty loveliness, Chris and I tend to eat way too much of it!

I've taken the recipe and made it even less fussy than the NY Times version and it still works wonderfully. I like to mix it up in the morning and bake it either for dinner or after dinner when the kids are in bed. I also don't mess with the "damp towel" and I prefer a smaller dutch oven which makes a rounder loaf since it can't spread out so much. I also found that it has more sourdough-like overtones when you let it rise for 18 - 24 hours - which you may prefer, but I don't. Here's my version:

Super Easy Dutch Oven Bread


¼ tsp. active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
3 cups flour – + more for dusting. can be white, whole wheat, or a combo…
1 ½ tsp. salt
cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting (I don't do the dusting...)


1.In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Set aside for 10 mintues.

2.Add flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

3.Cover bowl with plastic wrap or plate and let dough rest at least 5 or 6 hours (the original recipe says “at least 8 hours, preferably 12 – 18 or even 24) at room temperature (around 70 degrees). The bread takes on a more sourdough like flavor the longer you let it rest. At 5-8 hours it tastes like a hearty peasant bread.

4.The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Use a rubber spatula to scrape dough down from edges of bowl. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

5.Sprinkle a board with flour. Dump dough onto board and sprinkle a little flour on top. Fold dough over on itself once or twice. Fold into a loose ball and put back in bowl.

6.Cover with plate or plastic wrap and let rise and rest for 1 ½ hours more.

7.20 minutes before dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.

8.When dough is ready (finished resting for the last 1 ½ hours – step 6), carefully remove covered pot from oven and lift off the lid. Dump or scrape dough into hot pot. Put cover back on and set into oven.

9.Bake for 15 minutes.(This is how I do it, though the NY Times recipe says 30 minutes for this step.)

10.Take cover off and cook 15 minutes.

11.Remove from oven and put loaf on rack.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hot, hot, hot

I just read that this past week was the hottest week in Seattle on record ever. It's still warm - near 90, but it actually feels pretty comfortable. Ok, enough about the weather!

The Beads

Yesterday when we got back to our house I saw that a little package had arrived for me. Remember a year ago when we got back from Ethiopia and I mentioned the string of ancient hand-hewn beads that we bought in a little shop in Aksum? The shop was full of very old and interesting artifacts. And in fact, the beads we bought had been found in farmers' fields in the area and they were beautiful, mysterious, and very, very old. Anyway, the shopkeeper carefully wrapped them up in a piece of newspaper and they've been sitting in that fold of paper ever since.

That is, until my sister-in-law visited in June. She's interested in jewelery and has a friend who is a jeweler and who owns A Small Extravagance, a jewelry shop in Kentucky. So, my sister-in-law took the beads back to Kentucky and with her jeweler friend designed my beads into a lovely necklace. And that was what was in the little package!

The Ethiopian beads are separated by tiny earthy colored sapphires. I love the whole look. So pretty, so unusual, a little exotic, and so full of special memories. The store we found them in was like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dusty and falling apart and bursting full of beautiful artifacts. We had spent that day walking through ancient tombs, sharing the dirt roads with camels, young boys with their goat herds, and women wrapped up in gauzy white Netela with jugs of water on their heads. In fact when we first walked into the shop I asked if it was a museum. So, finally, it's done and I'm wearing it and remembering our stories from Africa. And someday when she's all grown up I'll pass it on to Ember.